You Lack Integration and a Cheap Pursuit

Adam Lambert/Tommy Joe Ratliff. NC-17. ~60,000 words. Werewolf AU containing underage rebellion, sex, drugs, alcohol, and rock ‘n roll.
Tommy has a plan. A very careful, weeks-long in development, not-so-shabby plan. The internet’s pretty good for learning shit, but his mom’s crazy, and disappointingly computer-savvy. Way more savvy than Tommy is. Tommy found out about the clubs through news articles, a few details through some message boards not filtered out by parental controls tighter than Fort fucking Knox, but not the real nitty-gritty stuff. Like if weres can smell how old you are.

Oh shit. This guy is totally gonna sniff him.

Tommy has a plan. A very careful, weeks-long in development, not-so-shabby plan. He’s in black, with a little bit of black, some more black, and the battered, black leather jacket he found at a second-hand store, the smell of smoke and gasoline sunk so deep into it nobody else wanted to even touch it. He tried spiking his hair up in a badass mohawk, but the shit he bought at the drugstore wasn’t strong enough to keep, or even get it there, so it’s flopped sideways and kinda cool-looking anyway, like he did it on purpose. It shows off his hair buzzed close to his skull on the other side, dark roots stark next to pale blond.

He likes it better than a mohawk. Whatever. With his eyes lined in more black, he’s rockin’ it.

The dude on the door is eyeballing him like he totally thinks Tommy’s rocking it, and he’s also totally not buying it. Maybe the guy can smell the booze on him. Tommy’s not drunk or anything really stupid. He’s got a little buzz on, just enough to have the guts to come out here. The internet’s pretty good for learning shit, but his mom’s crazy, and disappointingly computer-savvy. Way more savvy than Tommy is. Tommy found out about the clubs through news articles, a few details through some message boards not filtered out by parental controls tighter than Fort fucking Knox, but not the real nitty-gritty stuff. Like if weres can smell how old you are.

As far as Tommy figures, illegal underground clubs are illegal underground clubs, and not so big on carding people. Anonymity, right? And like, weres are technically fucking illegals anyway. It’s not like the fine state of California is going to go around issuing licenses to people they refuse to admit exist. Weres probably wouldn’t even want licenses anyway. They don’t do shit the way humans do.

Which is like, the total basis of Tommy’s plan. Concocted in the dark at quarter past midnight two weeks ago, hunched over some PBR swiped from Mike’s dad’s stash and the otherworldly glow of his dinged-up laptop while he surfed nature sites. Wolves, the internet helpfully told him, are territorial motherfuckers. Total ‘trespassers will have their throats torn out’ type of shit. But they’ve got whole systems of communication, body language and vocalisations, and Tommy’s plan so does not involve bleeding out face-down in a puddle of his own piss in an Eastside back-alley.

Taking a deep, steadying breath, Tommy meets the guy’s gaze, holds it for the count of two, long enough to say, “Hey,” and drop his arms loose to his sides before he cuts away. The guy’s built like a fucking tank, and Tommy’s got no illusions about how quickly he could end up a smear on the sidewalk without the whole super-human strength thing. He’s hoping leaving his throat and belly vulnerable is a good enough show of submission. No way does he want get close enough to lick this dude’s face.

Not that he knows that’s something werewolves actually fucking do. He’s working with shit information here.

The guy grins, baring two shockingly-white rows of very human teeth. Arms folded over his chest, he jerks his chin at the door.

Keeping his head down, Tommy says, “Thanks,” and hauls ass inside before the guy sniffs out how close he was to shitting his pants.

Heat and noise plough into Tommy like twin linebackers. He staggers, grabbing onto whatever the fuck he can reach, which fortunately turns out to be a wall plastered with ratty posters and not somebody twice his size and meaner than a pitbull. Shit. If these guys have got wolf-level hearing, sensitive enough to catch the whisper of falling autumn leaves, then their fucking eardrums must be bleeding. His head’s gonna explode.

Gulping down air, Tommy shoves away from the fall. This place reeks. Like, seriously fucking reeks. Beer and sweat and this weird, thick musky smell that tastes wild clinging to the back of his throat. He gives breathing through his nose a shot, trying to pick out what the fuck that even is, and instantly regrets it. It’s so sharp and sour it feels like it seared his fucking nose hairs.

Scrubbing furiously at his nose and pulling small, shallow breaths in through his mouth, trying not to taste the sweat on the air, he presses deeper into the club. There are fucking hundreds of people in here, and of course every last one of them is like, two feet taller than him, minimum. Hunching his shoulders, figuring he might as well use his size to his advantage, he worms his way through the crowd. It’s way too dark for him to see the floor, the flashing lights only throwing him off when he tries. This is totally what the dead poets his English teacher loves are talking about when they go on and on about being cast adrift in the roil of foreign seas, holy shit. By the time he makes it to the stage, a few rows back because he’s crazy, okay, not fucking crazy–he’d like to come out of this one unbroken rib at least–he’s drenched in sweat, tee sticking to his back, hair clinging to his face. Ducking down, he peers underneath somebody’s raised arm. His eyes going wide.

Now this is a motherfucking rock show.

There’s a whole fucking platoon of performers, dressed up in the craziest, fucking sexiest shit ever, leather and metal, thigh-high platform boots, and so much fucking bare skin it’s like he’s in the middle of a fucking porno. There’s a girl smack in front of him in only a pair of skintight shimmering pants, her chest bare, a hand each from the two guys behind her cupping her breasts as they dance, moving so fast when they spin and twist that she’s only really naked for a second or two at a time.

Way back in the shadows, surrounded by fucking torches, ’cause it’s not like this place has a fucking fire code or something, is the band. He drags his gaze away from the dude with the spiked beard shredding it on guitar to centre stage where there’s this other guy, the singer, dressed in the same clingy, shiny pants as the dancers, and a jacket made out of the same stuff hitting him past the knees, hanging open. Tommy’s eyes catch first on the dark trail of hair low on his belly, the sharp, smooth jut of his hipbones, then his fucking dick. His dick, hard and thick, outlined so fucking clearly. Tommy’s mouth goes weirdly wet, his stomach tight, a sharp thrill arrowing straight to his cock. He’s checked out some porn before–his best friend Mike’s so fucking stingy with it he had to steal Mike’s laptop and watch it with the sound turned off while Mike slept, whatever–but this guy is real, right fucking there, and there are all these guys and girls crawling on all fours around him, writhing on the floor mostly fucking naked, pawing and licking at his boots, and when Tommy finally looks up, past the angry red clawmarks he totally missed before, to see the guy’s face, his dick jerks. He’s seen singers get into it. This guy is really into it, like everybody in the audience is giving him the best blow of his life all at the same time.

The music crests, peaks, the guy’s voice screaming over it as the chick on her knees in front of him rears up to dig her nails into him, rake them from collarbone to groin, more vicious red marks blossoming in their wake. The crowd’s roar surges, the whole room shifting forward at once, carrying Tommy with them like he’s caught on the tide. He’d be flat on his face except they’re crushing too close, bodies on all sides holding him up.

And then the silence comes crashing in. Three sweet, startling seconds of it before the cheers go up, deafening applause, howls sweeping through the crowd. While Tommy’s still trying to catch his breath, his heart thundering in his ears, the music picks up again, a dark, creeping baseline thrumming up through the floor, stalking like shadows in the dark.

The singer moans along with it, soft, melodic, lone-wolf haunting. A shiver goes through the crowd. Whether it’s sympathy or anticipation, Tommy doesn’t have a fucking clue. When it crawls up his spine, it’s something else entirely. He can’t stop staring at the guy singing. Literally just cannot fucking rip his gaze away no matter how hard he tries. It’s not even, it’s not like Tommy really desperately wants to bone him or anything. He’s just so fucking compelling.

Considering he’s boring holes into the poor dude’s skull, it’s not really surprising when the guy looks straight at him. Except for how it totally is, because Tommy’s the fucking smallest shit in here, and the lights are jumping around wildly, throwing the club into stark relief then darkest black, the torches on stage barely making a dent. And the guy is staring right fucking at him. He swallows hard.

The singer drops into a crouch, voice rising in counterpoint, sliding down again to a warm hum of sound. He crooks a finger, and Tommy stupidly tries stepping forward. He’s already burning up in here, but a fresh wave of heat spikes beneath his skin. Way to be a fucking attention-starved moron.

A wicked, knowing smile slant the singer’s mouth. “You,” he breathes, more sound than word, and it’s gotta be a lyric, it’s fucking got to be, but he sings it again, soft and intimate, hand outstretched, waiting.

This time when Tommy tries pushing closer, the crowd lets him eke through. His lungs are squeezed so tight he can barely breathe. He’s pretty sure his ribs are creaking.

Rising slowly from his crouch, the singer laughs, smooth and dark like the slow creep of sin. Tommy shivers in its wake, desperate to get closer. His skin’s crawling with the need to touch. He wants to rub his face in the guy’s chest, let the guy crawl inside him, eat him fucking alive, and that is so fucking scary, so bizarre and foreign and downright terrifying an urge, that Tommy freezes.

The singer throws his head back, laughing, arms in the air. “Howl for me, motherfuckers!” he screams, and the entire place goes up. Howl after howl after howl, rising in pitch, melting and melding together. It sounds like a promise, like a threat, like a warning that the hunt is fucking on. Tommy scrambles back, heart in his throat, throwing wild, terrified glances at the people around him. Because they’re not people, they’re werewolves, every last fucking one of them, teeth bared and eyes glinting, and Tommy is fucking prey.

He bursts out into the alley, stomach still churning with the expectation of sharp, vicious claws biting into flesh. Everybody’s seen the photos the Coalition keeps putting out of werewolf attacks. The mauled corpses, half-eaten, the twisted horror forever frozen on victims’ faces. He’s so sure it’s all bullshit. Hate-mongering propaganda. He is so fucking sure, and he takes off running for his life anyway, scared out of his fucking mind with his heart rabbiting in his chest.

Four blocks away, he slows, lungs burning, eyes blurred by tears. He’s gonna throw up it hurts so bad. He stumbles into another alley, crouching in the shadows with his head between his knees, praying for the dizziness to pass. Some days, he really fucking wishes he didn’t hate sports so much.

He jolts at the scrape of nails on broken asphalt, head snapping up, staring wide-eyed into the dark. Nothing but the skitter of dumpster rats. Nobody followed him. The fucking coolest party ever is on the go back there, some were isn’t going to slip away to trail after the scrawny stick of a kid that thought he could crash it.

Which is pretty much the final thought of every horror movie victim ever. Tommy shoves away from the wall, panting shallowly. It’s not too late for him to catch a bus once he makes it out of Eastside.

He does it in record time, alternating between jogging and walking really, really fucking fast. After swinging onto the bus and shoving some change into the machine while the driver gives him this look like he knows exactly what sort of trouble-making kid Tommy Joe is, up to no good out here in his black leather and eyeliner, he feels slightly safer. He makes his way down to the back, slumping into a seat with his feet up. Outside, beyond the yellow pools of the streetlights, the world looks dark, menacing. Like there’s a pack prowling at the very edges waiting for him to take one wrong step to pounce. He’s so fucking glad there’s a metal wall between him and the looming night.

Three transfers later, the bus dumps Tommy five blocks south of his house in boring suburban Burbank. The streets are well-lit, and there’s the noise of someone throwing a patio party a few houses over. Eastside is miles and miles away. He should probably take the long way around, but the playground shortcut is right there, full of wide open space, and it’s not like it’s really dark. Besides, he’s still kinda worked up. The half-smoked joint in his jacket pocket is totally what he needs.

Lighting up, he heads away from the street. The first toke is good, spicy-sweet, hits him quick and hard. He figures it’s the adrenaline making him burn through oxygen faster, his blood pump harder. On legs still unsteady from his crazy-mad run from the club, Tommy wavers over to the lopsided merry-go-round and plunks his ass down. The chill of the metal feels good seeping through his jeans. He drops slowly back, one arm stretched out to get as much contact as possible while he takes another draw. Smoke curls lazily around the moon, hanging fat and full in the starless sky, when he breathes out. The noise of the patio-party stretches all the way in here past the scraggly bank of sheltering trees. Somebody’s dog starts yipping.

Tommy sighs and smokes the last of his joint, stubbing the roach out on a handlebar and stuffing it back in his pocket. The nervous jitter’s mellowed out some, but not nearly enough he’s ready to head home. He broke curfew more than two hours ago. He’s not looking forward to the shit that’s gonna meet him when he gets home. Heaving another sigh, he climbs to his feet. Might as well get it over with. The sooner he’s back in his room, the easier it’ll be to pretend tonight didn’t happen. It was stupid to not tell even Mike about his plan, in case something happened, but he’s glad he didn’t. Now he doesn’t have to ‘fess up about what an utter chickenshit he is.

Weaving only slightly, he starts off for home. Tree roots and rocks and shit keep getting in his way. Hunching deeper into his jacket, he detours around them, the space between his shoulder blades tingling when he crosses out of the playground into the field where his mom tried to get him to join the soccer team when he was seven. He absolutely hated it. Kids running circles around him, screaming in his face, trying to knock him over with the fucking ball because he was so much smaller than everybody else. And the coach, this big brick shithouse of a guy, couching down to ruffle his hair and call him squirt, or sport, telling him to man up and take it, and fuck, how that annoyed the crap out of him. Man up and fucking take it, what kind of bullshit lesson is that to teach a kid getting his ass walloped on a daily fucking basis?

“Bullshit,” Tommy mutters under his breath, sunk so deep in the memory he’s getting kinda annoyed now, “bull-fucking-shit,” and it totally fucking figures he trips on nothing, fucking nothing, like even the grass still has it out for him. He grunts a curse as the jolt goes all the way up through his palms into his shoulders, his knees to his lower back. And then he sighs again, the frustration bleeding out of him, because it’s his own damn fault, out here smoking up in the middle of the night. He rolls over, thumping onto his ass, poking at the knees of his jeans and his stinging palms. There’re little speckles of blood in the dirt smeared on his hands. Jesus, he went down hard. He flops back into the grass, letting it have him if it wants him so bad, and tells the dull sky, “Fuck my life.”

Pure genius, he passes out. Only for a couple minutes. Or maybe, like, an hour at the most. All he really knows for sure is he closes his eyes, and when he opens them again, scuttling clouds have hidden the moon and it’s dark, really fucking dark. Bits of grass are poking him in the side of the face. His palms still hurt. And there’s this really fuck-off giant wolf staring at him.

“Holy fuck,” Tommy spits, bolting upright. It is seriously fucking huge. Wolves are like, ninety pounds at the most. The fucking most, okay, he knows this shit. This one is fucking twice that size, and it’s close, really way too fucking close, like, one big leap and it’ll be on him.

It lifts its head, scenting the wind, a low rumble building up in its throat.

“Shit. Shit. I’m sorry, okay?” Tommy does not fucking want to end up a mauled corpse on the fucking soccer field. He is so fucking sorry it’s not even funny. “I fucked up. I won’t do it again. I won’t tell anybody. I’m a snot-nosed little kid, okay, I’m like, acting out and shit, oh fuck.” As it pads silently closer, he scrunches down in the tiniest ball he can manage, protecting his belly and lacing his hands at the base of his skull, hoping that’ll be enough to keep it from snapping his neck. Adrenaline burns through his veins, urging him to get up, run, fucking run. But there’s nowhere he’d be able to run to fast enough.

A hot whuff stirs Tommy’s hair. “Fuck,” he rasps, squeezing his eyes shut, “I’m really, really sorry, please don’t, I don’t wanna get mauled, I-” breaking off with a pathetic whimper when its cold nose touches his ear. Snuffling breaths send shivers shooting all up and down Tommy’s spine. He’s never been so fucking scared in his life, and that includes the time his mom almost fell asleep at the wheel dropping him off at school right after Dad ended up in the hospital the first time.

The wolf noses harder at him. He sucks in a startled breath smelling of pot and grass and the thick, musky wildness clinging to the wolf’s fur. He tries scrunching down tighter, but the wolf paws at him, sharp nails scraping up his forearms where his jacket’s rucked up. It snarls, angry, and Tommy bites back a hiccuping sob, sure this is it. The wolf’s gonna rip him to shreds. He’s gonna fucking die a block away from home where his mom’s probably up drinking way too much coffee worrying about him.

It’s kind of a total shock he’s still breathing three minutes later. The wolf’s backed off entirely, and Tommy does not trust that, no he fucking does not. It’s patiently waiting for him to untuck himself from his protective little ball. It’ll go for his throat the second there’s an opening. He stays hunched over, ignoring the burn in his back, the terrified cramp in his guts, the ache in his chest where he’s not getting enough oxygen.

The wolf huffs softly, like a question. Tommy flinches. It huffs again, sounding further away, and Tommy risks a tiny peek. It’s sitting on the grass about fifteen feet off, tail curled around its paws, watching. Waiting. Fucker.

“You’re a dick,” Tommy tells it, because this shit is worse than all the snuffling.

One of its ears twitches.

“You heard me. A dick.”

It yawns, totally unimpressed. Which would be funny except for the fucking forest of teeth gleaming in the fresh spill of moonlight.

“Okay.” Tommy eyeballs the wolf warily. It doesn’t really look like it wants to eat him. It looks totally calm. Relaxed, even. Like in the pictures Tommy’s seen of wolves hanging out watching cubs play. The pot and the fucked-up adrenaline kicking around in Tommy’s blood makes him say, “I’m not a cub,” which it totally stupid when five minutes ago he was pleading with it not to kill him because he’s a dumb kid.

It actually fucking laughs at him. Or makes a soft whuffing noise that feels like a laugh, anyway.

In a really idiotic burst of bravado, Tommy says, “Look, if you’re not gonna kill me, can I go home so my mom can take a shot at me? I’m out so fucking late, you don’t even know.”

Obviously, the wolf doesn’t say anything. It shakes its fur out a bit, but Tommy’s pretty sure that’s not an answer. Either way, Tommy’s only got two choices. Either he stays out here until he falls asleep and hopes the wolf doesn’t eat him–maybe that’s how he got through it last time; prey that’s flaked out on you is no fun at all–or he stands his dumb ass up and hopes the fucker really isn’t waiting him out. He is never leaving the fucking house again. Mom’s going to have to home school him.

Tommy nervously wets his lips and scrubs them dry again on the back of his scratched-up wrist. It looks like he got into a fight with a fucking rabid kitten, seriously. “Okay,” he says, rubbing his palms off on the legs of his jeans. “I’m gonna get up. You, um. You stay there.”

Like a geriatric without a walker, Tommy climbs agonisingly up to his feet. He keeps a cautious eye on the wolf, ready to hunker down again like a pillbug if it so much as twitches. Once he’s up, and as-of-yet unmauled, he hesitates. The wolf looks over its shoulder and lazily licks its muzzle. “Yeah, right,” Tommy mutters. “As if I’m falling for that shit.”

The wolf abruptly stands up. Tommy backpedals so fast he almost trips over his own damn feet again, heart catapulted straight up into his throat. When the wolf doesn’t make another move, Tommy freezes. All he wants to do is run for it so fucking bad. But he’s seen every scrap of footage National Geographic’s got, and even if he’s a fraction of the size of a fucking buffalo, he’s gonna stand his fucking ground. Anything that tries running ends up dinner-to-go.

With a snort, the wolf takes three lazy steps forward. Tommy takes three involuntary back, then another half-dozen on purpose as the wolf keeps coming, like it’s chasing him down in slow motion. When his heel scrapes on the sidewalk, Tommy throws a startled glance down, then hisses, “Shit,” because that was so fucking dumb, oh Jesus, so fucking stupid, that’s all it was waiting for to pounce.

Except, it doesn’t. Waiting patiently for him to get his balance back, it starts herding him across the street, down past the rows of dark houses one after the other.

About a dozen feet from his own front door, Tommy asks, stunned, “Did you just fucking walk me home?”

Like the wolf totally doesn’t appreciate Tommy poking fun, its tail goes up and its head goes down, teeth bared. Tommy holds up both hands, palm out, tripping over apologies–he’s seriously got to learn to keep his dumb mouth shut. But the wolf’s not looking at him. Its fixed on the shadows by Mrs. Peterson’s mutant begonia, snarling low and threatening deep in its throat.

“Oh, fuck me.” Another wolf. Big, black, and one of these things is fucking terrifying enough, why the fuck did two have to stalk him home.

The wolf by the flowers snarls at the first one, snapping its jaws on thin air like it’s really, really pissed. Tommy flings at glance at his wolf, then looks back at the newcomer, then the shadows deep and dark all around. Who knows how many of them are out there. It could be dozens. A whole fucking pack.

Motherfucking fuck this shit. Tommy takes off for the door.

Chaos explodes in his wake. Snarling and snapping and growling, the tear of claws into turf, the heavy thud of bodies and pained yelps. Whatever the fuck’s going on, he’s not stopping long enough to find out, or check on who’s winning. He thumps into the door, jamming his key into the lock and almost breaking it off as he wrenches at the knob. Slamming the door shut so hard the house shakes, he throws all the locks, and stays pressed against it like the strength of his will alone can hold it fast. Outside, he hears the noise of the wolves still fighting. One of them eventually’s going to win. Either’s big enough to break through a window. Fuck, one could probably take out the door if it wanted.

He needs to call the fucking police. Or a swat team. Maybe a motherfucking ambulance, because it sounds like one of those wolves isn’t walking away from this shit. Is that what they fucking do? Fucking stalk smartass kids for kicks and maul each other in the middle of fucking suburbia? No way. Just no way. The Coalition can’t be right. That wolf could’ve fucking killed him seventeen fucking times between the park and here.

“Tommy?” his mom calls from the top of the stairs.

“Fuck! Mom!” Tommy whips around, back to the door. “Jesus, you scared the fuck outta me.”

“Language,” Mom says, scowling.

Tommy flaps his hands at her. This is no fucking time for fucking manners. “Look, I know, I’m so late, you’re totally right, but Mom, Mom, there’s-”

“Yes?” she prompts, looking seriously annoyed. “It’s quarter past five in the morning, Tommy, and I’m visiting your father in two hours. Stop slamming doors and go to bed. We’ll talk about your curfew in the morning. I’m not happy.”

“But,” Tommy says, “but, the-” Apparently, the nothing, because outside’s quiet. Dead fucking quiet. Heart in his throat, he goes up on his toes to risk a peek out through the little semi-circle window set in the door. Seriously, fucking nothing except some torn-up grass and a few crushed flowers. What the fucking fuck.

“Bed,” Mom says, smacking her palm down on the banister. “Now.”

“Okay!” Tommy shouts, then winces. Never mind setting off the wolves again, he’s about to send his fucking mother into rabid rage. “I’m sorry. I got, um, with Mike. And fell asleep. And worried you’d be worried.”

She softens maybe a fraction of a fraction. “Alright. We’re still going to talk about it, though. Thank you for being concerned.”

“Sorry,” he mumbles.

Halfway to her door, she pauses. “Next time, honey, just call and let me know you’re staying the night. It’s a good neighbourhood, but I’d rather you not be out walking the streets this late.”

“Okay,” Tommy repeats. “I’m sorry. G’night.”

Her bedroom door closes with a quiet snick. Tommy whips around and stares out at the lawn again. As intimidating as she can be, there’s no fucking way his mother scared off two werewolves. Motherfucking werewolves. Right out there! Fighting to, like, the death. He can’t fucking believe it.

Bonus, he’s not puppy chow.

After a few tense minutes squinting at the dark, and before his mom can get mad at him all over again, he books it up the stairs. Carefully closing the door, he circles around the foot of his bed and creeps to the window, the blinds up, the calm night lit up pleasantly by yellow streetlights. It doesn’t look like the type of night where somebody wakes up dead the next morning. If he’s got to choose, he’ll go with one of the wolves kicking the can over him any day. Well, maybe he’d feel bad about it, though. He’s not sure what the fuck the black one wanted, but the grey one hadn’t been too bad.

A flicker by one of the lopsided trees in the backyard catapults Tommy’s heart back into his throat. It turns out to be nothing, branches waving in the wimpy breeze. He can’t help thinking maybe one of them’s still out there. If it walked him home, it’d probably stick around until it made sure he was settled in, right?

Shuffling away from the window, Tommy grabs his beat-up old acoustic, flicks off the lights, and sits down on the bed, fully clothed, boots still on. After a second’s thought, he scrabbles at his pocket, getting his cell out. If he hears one sound, one fucking howl, he’s calling the police so fucking fast, and he’s not gonna be one bit sorry when they put down every single were for five miles.

*

Tommy wakes on top of the covers with a vicious crick in his neck and a cramp in his hand from clutching his phone while he slept. Sunlight pours through the blinds he didn’t close. His mouth is fuzzy and disgusting, his eyes crusty, and his clothes are twisted and sweaty and gross. Heaving a grunt, he rolls over, hiding from the mid-morning blaze. Summer is fucking brutal.

Half-asleep, he listens for the noise of Mom puttering around downstairs, hoping he’s at least woken up in time to catch breakfast. Everything’s quiet. Too fucking quiet. Electric fear jolts through him. Motherfucking werewolves on his front fucking lawn. He scrambles off the bed, nearly taking a header into the wall when his foot tangles in the sheets draping across the floor, and slams into his door. Wrenching it open, he yells, “Mom! Mom!” and pounds down the stairs, swinging into the kitchen. It sparkles merrily in the bright sun, totally empty.

As he whips around in a panic, heading for the front door with visions of blood-smeared grass and mangled corpses in his brain, he catches sight of a note pinned to the coffee maker. Snatching it up, he reads it twice, then a third time, heartbeat thundering in his ears. “Oh thank fuck,” he groans, sagging against the counter. He’d forgotten all about her plans to visit Dad. Fuck, he’d thought she would’ve woken him up so he could come along.

Dad might be out soon, she said yesterday, if he keeps getting better and better like he’s been doing. She knows the hospital freaks Tommy out, and thinks seeing his father hooked up to oxygen and so exhausted all the time isn’t good for him. But Dad’s on the mend. Totally kicking ass, and he said last time he can’t wait to see how much better Tommy’s gotten at guitar.

Tommy feels really guilty all the time that maybe she’s right, and he doesn’t want to see his dad that way. And then he goes and almost gets his face chewed off by werewolves at three o’fucking clock in the morning. He’s such a fucking shit.

But she totally knows he has plans to hang out with Mike today, and there’s nothing in her note telling him to keep his ass home. Normally kicking it around the house is so his thing, watching movies and fucking around with chords he hasn’t yet mastered, but if he’s got to stay in today, he’ll go fucking crazy. Absolutely batshit mental.

To help with the guilt, he does the few dishes in the sink, even drying them and putting them away, and flings shit around his room so it looks slightly less chaotic than usual. Satisfied that’ll mellow his mom out enough she won’t kill him the second he comes home, he scribbles on the back of the note she left him that he’s out with Mike and will definitely, for sure, no doubt at all be home for dinner.

Outside, there’s no trace of the wolves. Not a blade of grass out of place, not a smudge of dirt to be found. Fucking unreal.

By the time he makes it downtown, Mike’s texted him three times. Once to make sure Tommy’s not dead (Mike doesn’t know anything about last night, but sometimes he knows stuff, and maybe Tommy’s kind of got this habit of getting his ass into places it shouldn’t be), once more to remind him that they’ve got a movie date (Mike actually calls every time he goes outside the house with somebody a date; Mike has dates with his fucking mom), and a final time to say he’s at the bakery drinking a delicious icy cool caffeinated beverage, and doesn’t Tommy wish he had one. Tommy does wish he had one. Just to gross Mike out, he stops by California Pizza King on his way so he can have pizza and coffee.

Predictably, Mike makes a disgruntled face. “That’s disgusting.” He hands over the coffee Tommy totally knew Mike was going to buy for him.

“You’re, like, the best fucking date ever,” Tommy says, greedily sucking up half his drink through the too-thin straw.

Mike gives his shoulder a companionable bump. “Don’t you forget it. And don’t forget it’s your turn to buy tickets.”

Shit. Tommy totally forgot. He used up way too much of his pay from his job at the music store downtown on bus fare last night trying to avoid being eaten alive. As if it actually fucking helped. Next time, he’ll remember werewolves can apparently fucking track a guy on a bus for forty fucking miles. Not that there’s going to be a next time he goes out fucking looking for weres. Just, if he happens to run into a pack or something.

As they cross the street back to the AMC, Tommy busily scrounging through his pockets trying to find enough change to afford two tickets and trusting in Mike to keep him from getting run over, Mike keeps glancing back over his shoulder.

“Dude,” Tommy says, coming up with a ten dollar bill from absolutely fucking nowhere, “what the fuck are you looking at?”

“That guy, man.” Mike jerks his chin sort of randomly. “I think he’s checking you out.”

“Mike, dude, I told you to switch to decaf.” Oh hey, another five in change. Awesome. He’ll probably only half to bum, like, half the price of one ticket off Mike.

“Okay, a,” Mike says, elbowing Tommy in the side, “decaf is a fucking crime against nature and that’s not a funny thing to joke about. And b, I’m serious. He was eyeballing you at the bakery, and now he’s, like-

Tommy cocks an eyebrow. “Going to watch a movie?”

“Look,” Mike hisses, shoving him. “Just like, look, over by the IKEA.”

Rolling his eyes, Tommy glances over. A weird chill snakes down his spine. If Mike hadn’t said anything, he might not have noticed the guy at all, but oh man, once he’s looking, he can’t miss him. This guy’s tall and fucking built, not like body-builder built or anything, but just fucking built in a really awesome way, long lean legs and subtle, smooth curves of muscle in his arms, his tee clinging to a broad chest, shoulders to match, and totally rockin’ pitch-black hair and aviators and holy fuck, Tommy’s gonna pop wood.

“Put your fucking tongue back in your mouth,” Mike says. “He’s fucking stalking you.”

Please, Tommy thinks, like, any fucking day, bring it. “Pretty sure grabbing some coffee and a flick doesn’t a crazy stalker make, man.”

Mike doesn’t look convinced. He also seems to realise Tommy’s being the voice of reason here, which is so fucking out there it’s enough to knock him back down to earth. “Yeah,” he says slowly, “I guess. But he’s giving me the weirdest vibe.”

“Is that why you’re practically fucking pissing on me to stake your claim? Afraid he’s gonna try to, like, pick me up, and I’ll ditch you for the hot older guy with the platinum AmEx?”

“I’d ditch you for a platinum AmEx.”

“Fuck you,” Tommy says, mostly a laugh. “I wouldn’t ditch you for a burrito.”

“Poor misguided sap,” Mike says, but he ends up buying both movie tickets when he gets a load of the dregs of Tommy’s pockets, so Tommy’s feeling pretty safe in the sap department.

Before they go inside, Tommy tosses back one last glance. The guy’s moved to a bench, ankle on one knee, arms slung over the wooden back. He’s totally not paying one bit of attention to the two kids heading inside the theatre.

Tommy shivers in the blast of air conditioning that hits him as he crosses the threshold, the space between his shoulder blades tingling.

*

“I seriously gotta get home,” Tommy says, holding up his fist to make Mike knuckle-bump him, because there’s not much else in the world as awesome as Mike’s too-cool-for-this-shit frown. Especially when Mike always fucking caves and gives the lamest bump ever. “Promised I wouldn’t be late for dinner.”

“Whipped, Ratliff,” Mike says, shaking his head sadly. “Whipped.”

“Totally,” Tommy agrees, nodding fast as he backsteps down the sidewalk. “Whipped like you had that coffee ready and waiting.”

Mike flips him off and starts walking away.

“I love you, Nash!”

Flapping a hand, Mike keeps walking.

“For your dick!”

It’s distant and thready, but Tommy catches Mike’s giggly laugh. Score. He can always crack Mike’s shit up.

Jamming in his earbuds, Tommy cranks the volume and heads for the bus stop. It’s his own fucking fault he’s stuck heading home while Mike’s headed to the arcade for some quality old school gaming. The ones Tommy’s got at home are pretty cool, and pretty much one-player anyway, but it’s hanging with Mike he’s missing out on. Might be a good thing, though. Another hour or two around him and Tommy wouldn’t be able to keep his mouth shut about Eastside. Not that he actually fucking thinks the weres will know if he spills to another kid–they’ve kinda got to expect that shit–but he did promise.

All day he’s managed to not think too much about last night. Now, on the bus staring out at the bright, cheery afternoon, it’s hard to believe it even happened. It doesn’t even seem real, like a nightmare, or a scene from a movie.

Tommy’s phone starts buzzing. Startled, he pries it out of his pocket. guy still following u?

fuck off, Tommy texts back, rolling his eyes. It’s a fucking ten minute bus ride. Mike’s such an old lady about shit. jealous i’m gonna get some?

so jealous. condom bouquet for ur grave.

Fucker. Man, he fucking loves Mike. He’s seriously got to not get his ass grounded, because if he’s got to go the summer without Mike, he’ll die. Mom’s way too much of a softie to ground him, anyway. He’d have to do something seriously shitty, like blow up the house.

Or get her mauled by werewolves, that’ll do it. Christ.

As he hops off the bus on the other side of the park where the wolf had found him last night, he looks around warily. There are a lot of trees, lots of cover. Coalition bullshit says weres are more active at night, but don’t think for a second that makes the day safe. Standing out here, kids laughing and yelling, the sun high in the sky, it’s hard to feel threatened. Tommy gets another shiver as he walks past the soccer field. By the time he’d made it here last night, he’d been pretty sure the wolf wasn’t going to eat him. Scare him, teach him a lesson about ending up places he’s got no business being, but not hurt him. Until the other wolf showed up, anyway. Tommy doesn’t even fucking know what the fuck anymore.

His mom gives him a grateful smile for getting home on time. He helps out in the kitchen while she tells him about her day, how Dad’s up and moving around now, and he kinda wishes she’d woken him up this morning. He doesn’t say anything, though. She’s got enough to deal with. He’s a total shit for going out last night, but he’d had to see. Rumour says the shows move around a lot to keep from being raided, and once he’d found out for sure where it was gonna be last night, he couldn’t miss his chance. He seriously fucking couldn’t.

Over dinner, he expects Mom to bring it up. Instead, she says, “Dad asked if you’d looked at your options yet.”

Fucking dirty pool. College is the last fucking place he wants to go after high school. But she knows he’s feeling guilty, and she’s got him worked into a corner here if he wants to go out tonight. He shuffles some broccoli around on his plate and makes some noises about reading the brochures, at least the ones that have decent music programs.

“You’ve got time to bring your grades up,” she says evenly. Not accusingly like she did back when he was in junior high and he couldn’t even fucking take it, he started fucking bawling right there in the fucking school parking lot because he was fucking trying already. Fucking Bs and the occasional C (fucking gym) are pretty decent grades, but he’s not ever gonna be the numbers genius his dad is. If his school had a music department, his average would be a hell of a lot higher. Music he can fucking do.

The rest of dinner passes in a horrible black haze. He eats what’s on his plate so she’s got one less thing to worry about, since she seems to think him being fucking skinny means she’s starving him, not that he’s got crazy metabolism–see, he fucking pays attention in class–and slinks up to his room to blast some Manson straight into his skull. There’s a sucktastic lump of bile-drenched broccoli sitting in the pit of his stomach making it ache. Gross.

He drifts off rubbing his belly, waking up what feels like a whole day later but is only a few hours according to his buzzing phone. Outside’s gone quiet. Scrubbing his eyes, he squints at the text from Mike.

thought u were coming over?

college 4 dinner

fuck, Mike says, and Tommy grins at the way he can hear it in his head, vehement and sharp and totally on his side. u gotta tell em.

Tommy rolls onto his side. He’d slept off the worst of his stomachache, all he needs is Mike stirring it up again. fuck off i know.

sorry, comes back right away. Tommy knows Mike means that one, too. come over, i got stuff.

Fuck yeah, Tommy’s coming over if Mike’s got weed. He texts, on my way, motherfucker and pounds down the stairs, darting past the living room to call out that he’s headed over to Mike’s.

“Back before midnight this time!” Mom yells as he’s bolting out the door.

Mike’s place is close enough he doesn’t bother with a bus. The walk and the evening air warm with the last of the day’s heat, and the promise of a good, mellow high, are taking care of the twisting in his belly. Mike’s right. He’s gonna have to tell his parents soon he doesn’t plan on going to college fucking ever. His job gives him decent walking around money, and once he’s out of school he’ll be able to switch to full time. That’ll be more than enough to keep him afloat while he’s looking for gigs. As long as his parents don’t kick him out too soon, he won’t have to worry about his own bills, and if he gets some shows that actually fucking pay, he’ll be able to help out more with the ones his mom and dad are already dealing with. Win fucking win. College is a stupid fucking idea.

A couple blocks from Mike’s, he gets another text. how about that dude, tailing you yet?

Tommy takes a look around, spotting a couple out walking their teeny puffball dog and some kids on bikes, then rolls his eyes. The movie theatre guy is not fucking stalking him, what the fuck. u toking without me?

parents are at aunt’s for the weekend, Mike sends back.

Mike’s family is kinda awesome like that. The back door’s open when he gets there, so he lets himself in, slinging his jacket over a chair in the breakfast nook on his way into the den.
The Royal Tenenbaums
is playing on the big screen. Mike’s hand shoots up over the back of the couch, joint stuck between two fingers.

“I totally don’t love you for your dick,” Tommy says, taking the spliff and helping himself to a good, long draw.

“You love me for my stash.”

Holding the smoke in his lungs, Tommy nods fast, rounding the couch to flop down by Mike’s feet up on the cushions. “Good stash,” he croaks out, letting the smoke escape. “Oh fuck me, so good.”

“Beer’s in the fridge,” Mike says, covetous eyes glued to Margot’s giantass fur coat. Tommy’s up in a flash, back the way he came. “Only one, motherfucker!”

Tommy grabs two, bottles clinking as he closes the fridge. It’s still a good half hour before true dark, but Mike’s parents have so many fucking trees around their house it’s like fucking midnight already. When he’d left the house, he hadn’t thought about how he’d have to walk home. Alone.

Maybe if he calls and asks really, really nicely, Mom’ll let him stay the night. She might not even mind that Mike’s parents are out. Tommy’s not exactly loud, but when Mike’s over, he’s like a fucking elephant stampeding around the place. Quiet doesn’t even begin to describe Mike around adults. Fucking ninja. Mom thinks he’s the most polite young man ever. She’d never think he’s also her son’s fucking dealer.

Not that Mike actually charges him. More like Tommy buys him shit sometimes, and sometimes Mike gives him pot. Whatever. They’ve got a system.

“So, this dude,” Mike says the second Tommy’s ass is back on the couch.

“There is no dude!” Trading the joint for a beer, Tommy takes another too-fast hit. It sticks weirdly in his lungs, almost choking him, but he keeps it together long enough for it to work into his blood. “What the fuck is up with you?”

“I’m fucking telling you, you didn’t see that guy checking you out.” Mike waves a hand vaguely at the joint. “I thought he was going to come over, seriously.”

“Bullshit.”

“Don’t blame me when you turn up on a milk carton,” Mike says, and drills his toes into Tommy’s thigh when Tommy won’t give up the spliff. “Fucker.”

“Not gonna end up on a fucking milk carton.” Tommy steals another toke, then maybe one more, way too soon after the other. Mike doesn’t even fucking know. Tommy could end up one of the Coalition’s nightmare stories, dumb kid that thought he could handle getting tangled up with the weres, never even found his fucking body. Except they’d never know. Nobody would fucking know what happened to him, he’d be one of those missing persons posters at the grocery store, his digitally-aged face staring out at people who don’t bother to even read his name. “Fuck,” Tommy says, dragging it out as he lists sideways onto Mike’s legs. “Fuck, man. Fuck.”

Absently patting his shoulder, Mike takes back the joint. “Knew you’d see the truth.”

Obviously Tommy had given it a moment’s thought, okay? After last night, he’d like to see someone not consider that maybe the guy had something to do with the wolves. But it’s probably a total coincidence. Mike gives Tommy shit all the time about people checking him out, especially when people aren’t, because Mike’s a dick like that. Mike’s a dick, and the weres are done with him, and he’s not gonna end up on a fucking milk carton.

“Fuck you,” Tommy says, heaving up to his feet. “I’m putting on a different fucking movie. Save your Wes Anderson jerkoff for when I’m not here, filthy dirtbag.”

Behind a lazy curl of smoke, Mike’s eyes glitter. “‘Cause it’s so much better sitting next to you when you got a hardon for Mary Tyler Moore.”

“That lady is classy.” Tommy points a warning finger at Mike as he digs out the box set of The Munsters he got Mike two Christmases ago. “Classy.”

“You’re fucking classy,” Mike says, giggling, which makes no fucking sense at all. Tommy’s got to be baked, too, ’cause he says, “My dick’s classy,” which makes even less fucking sense, and just like that, all the shit’s okay.

Mike is fucking aces, man. Aces.

*

Okay until Tommy’s getting ready to head out, anyway, and Mike’s perched on one of the stools in the kitchen watching him struggle into his jacket. “You sure you don’t want me to walk you home, princess?”

Somehow, Tommy’s managed to keep his mouth shut about last night. But Mike really is fucking psychic; he knows something’s up, and he’s not convinced it’s the whole college thing anymore. The only thing that’s saving Tommy from spilling his guts is that Mike’s worried it might be about Tommy’s dad, and Mike doesn’t like bringing that up unless Tommy brings it up first, because Mike really, seriously is a hand-wringing grandma.

“Sure you don’t wanna suck my dick, sweetheart?” Tommy counters, finally getting his arms in his jacket’s sleeve and shrugging it on. “I know you’re gonna rub one out the second I’m gone.”

Mike sighs dreamily, slumping against the kitchen island. “You’re the best I never had.”

Flipping him off, Tommy’s out the door and down the walk, his phone already buzzing with Mike’s cheeky, miss you so much, pining, death imminent. It isn’t until Tommy’s a few blocks away that the quiet of the night penetrates his smoky brain. Quarter to midnight is way too early for it to be this fucking dead on a Saturday night. Most of the houses even have lights on still, but the roads are empty. Nobody’s taking out the trash, or letting out a dog to do its business, or kicked back outside enjoying a drink and the warm night. Fucking silent like the grave.

“Chill, Ratliff, you big fucking pussy,” Tommy mutters under his breath. “They’re not gonna shut down an entire fucking neighbourhood to take you out.”

Passing by a tall privacy hedge, he picks up the pace, shooting nervous glances into the shadows. About a block from the park, he breaks into a jog, light-headed and unsteady. The pot’s doing a total number on him. Keeping pace with Mike toke for toke is always a bad fucking idea. Nothing’s even fucking happening. Looking over his shoulder again and again, there’s nobody behind him, no fucking wolves on his tail. His nerves are buzzing anyway, stomach twisting, useless adrenaline burning through his veins. There’s phantom snarling at his heels, heat on the back of his neck like the fucking wolf breathing down it again. He breaks into a run at the playground, hitting the soccer field full fucking tilt with his heart crashing into his ribs for no fucking reason other than he’s a total chicken shit. There’s light warm in the window of his living room, a flicker of the television through the curtains. He barely manages to slow down enough so he doesn’t slam into the door again, wrenching it open too fast anyway and stumbling inside.

“Tommy?” his mom calls.

“Tripped on the mat,” he shouts back, closing the door as fast as he dares and booking it upstairs before she gets up to see what he’s all worked up about. He’s probably aired out plenty, but he’s still buzzed, and his mother can be fucking scary when it comes to figuring out all the shit he’d really rather she not know. Figuring it’s the safest place to hide out, he slips into the bathroom, plunking his ass down on the edge of the tub and dropping his head into his hands. His breathing’s harsh and fast still, strained, and his head’s spinning so fucking much it’s like he’s back in the park trapped on the merry-go-round. Fuck.

Lifting his head, he risks a look in the mirror to see how blown his eyes are. He’s flushed and sweaty, colour high in his cheeks, and yeah, he’s pretty fucking wrecked. Mom gets a look at him now, she’ll know exactly what he’s been up to. What he wants is to cool down in the shower. With his luck, though, and the way he’s feeling right now, he’ll end up taking a header into the tile. He settles for splashing some water on his face and giving his teeth a half-assed brush before he slips into his room, quietly closing the door behind him. Shucking his jacket, then his boots and jeans, he notices the blinds are still up, the window open. He gives his jeans a toss and pads over barefoot to close it, and freezes with his hand halfway to the cord, his chest squeezing so tight his ribs creak and his lungs burn and his heart fucking heart stops mid-beat.

There’s a wolf sitting in his backyard. A motherfucking wolf in his motherfucking backyard. Again. He stares at it, hoping it’ll dissipate like smoke in the wind, a product of his pot-soaked brain. It stares calmly back, yellow eyes unblinking.

“Oh fuck,” Tommy whispers.

Like it heard him, the wolf stands up, shaking out its fur. It’s not the black one from last night, but the light’s weird, he can’t tell if it’s the grey one or a new one. Without a glance back, it leaves, melting into the shadows. Tommy stays at the window for a long, long time, staring at nothing, hoping the longer he stays here, the soft drone of the television in the background, the easier it’ll be to convince himself that didn’t happen.

It doesn’t work.

“Tommy,” his mom calls, footsteps moving into the kitchen. “Tommy, honey, do you want a Coke?”

“No,” Tommy croaks, quickly clearing his throat and raising his voice. “No thanks!”

Finally closing the blinds, Tommy slowly backs away from the window. He thumps down on his bed when his legs hit the frame. The Coalition says weres like to send messages, make examples of people. Message received, loud and fucking clear: they’re not done with him.

All he can hope for now is they’re not waiting to make an example out of him, too.

*

Sunday, Tommy doesn’t go out. Or Monday, or Tuesday. That’s not really weird for him. Mom doesn’t notice anything’s off, and Mike’s still got that clue but he’s not pushing. On Wednesday, Tommy’s starting to get antsy–turns out choosing to stay in his house is way different from being caged up in it–and he goes with his mom to the grocery. The entire time his head’s on a fucking swivel. He stares hard at everybody, especially the lady in the freezer section with nails so fucking long they’re practically claws, like he can tell by looking if they’re weres or not.

Movie theatre dude doesn’t make an appearance. The only reason Tommy’s so fucking fixated on him is because of fucking Mike.

By Thursday night, Tommy can’t fucking take it anymore. Every night this week he’s crept to his window like a total freak and peered out into the dark, waiting for a flash of yellow to send ice-cold dread down his spine. This time, after spending most of the night downstairs with his mom watching crappy television, he’s pissed right the fuck off with being made a prisoner in his own fucking home. He leaves the light blazing as he marches his ass across his room, yanks up the blinds, flings open the window, and fucking screams like a little girl when he finds the wolf fucking there waiting for him. Snapping his mouth shut, he scrambles back and almost trips over his guitar.

Holy fuck. Obviously he hadn’t expected it to actually fucking be there. Man, these fuckers are smart. Way to lull him into a false sense of security. The anger had been good. Made him feel brave, reckless. Now he’s fucking scared shitless again.

And the wolf’s still out there.

Swallowing hard, Tommy edges back to the window. He hangs back too far, unable to see a fucking thing. Which is fucking ridiculous, okay? He doesn’t need to fucking see it for it to be able to break into his god damn house and tear his throat out while he’s sleeping.

Taking a deep breath, he steps fully into the window frame. The wolf cocks its head curiously.

“I get it, okay?” Tommy says, halfway between a whisper and a squeak. “I said I was sorry. Please stop terrorising me.”

The wolf yawns.

“Exactly, right? This is a total fucking drag for you, keeping an eye on the boring punk-ass kid. I’m not gonna do anything.” Tommy’s gripping the windowsill so hard his knuckles are turning white. “I fucking promise. I really, really fucking promise. Okay?”

Looking unimpressed, the wolf stands up. It turns away, Tommy silently chanting yes, yes, leave, please fucking leave at it as hard as he can, but it only takes a few steps before it turns back. It looks at the street, then back up at him, expectant.

“No fucking way.”

A low, warning growl echoes through the soft night air.

“No. No.” If he goes out there, he’s toast. He’ll go down so hard, so fast, probably wouldn’t even fucking know what hit him except he would’ve fucking walked right into it like a complete moron.

The wolf looks at the street again, then him, the street one more time. Its lips peel back in a quiet snarl.

“Fuck you,” Tommy says, and slams the window shut, yanking the blinds down so hard one of them snaps. Trembling with an adrenaline spike, he hits the floor beneath the window, knees drawn up tight to his chest. He waits for the howls to go up, one last warning before he’s totally fucked. Christ, he’s so fucking sorry he brought this shit down. The five fucking minutes he got to see of the show weren’t fucking worth it.

Except nothing bad’s really happened yet, and the show was fucking amazing. The whole stalking thing’s thrown him for a loop, but he remembers pretty clearly the press of bodies, the manic energy, the dark, slinking rhythm of the singer’s voice. The way it felt like the guy was staring straight at him, into him, seeing all the raw parts of him, meat and bone and soul. Tommy closes his eyes tight. He wants it to be him out there. The guy he’d watched on stage that night, Tommy wants him to be the wolf that chased him home, who stopped the other one from hurting him, who sits out in the dark keeping watch. It’s stupid and crazy and he’s nothing but a dumb fucking kid sitting here hoping that’s what this is about. Like it’s fucking romantic or some shit.

Because, yeah. Tommy’s got some pretty romantic notions about werewolves. He’s read all those books, seen all those movies, had all those dreams. And even now, with the truth snarling in his face, all he can think about it what it would be like to belong to a wolf. For someone to want you so much they put an actual fucking claim on you, one that every other person honours and respects. For someone to keep you, protect you, forever.

Objectification, the Coalition says. Dehumanisation. Tommy doesn’t fucking believe it for a second. He knows it’s not the most healthy thing in the world to want. But wanting to be wanted, that’s not so fucking strange.

Scooting over to the bed, Tommy gropes along his tangled sheets for his laptop, pulling it down onto the floor. There’s got to be somebody out there he can reach. Some fucking site that hasn’t been shut down, or flagged by his mom’s fucking Fort Knox lockdowns. Something to tell him he’s not off his fucking rocker, and he’s reading this right.

Three hours later, his eyes are burning, and he’s got nothing except an ache in his chest and a lump in his throat.

*

Friday morning finds Tommy alone in the house. He’s already ignored three calls from Mike. If he doesn’t answer soon, Mike’s going to come over here and bitchslap him, and he’ll totally deserve it, except if he answers, the whole story’s going to come pouring out of him the second Mike says hello. He can’t risk Mike talking him out of tonight. Mike’ll do it, too. Give Mike five fucking minute and he can talk Tommy into or out of all kinds of shit. So, yeah. No answering the phone. Or the door, if somebody knocks.

The day passes molasses-slow, the heat thick and cloying, making Tommy’s clothes stick to his skin. He showers a second time around six that evening, standing under the cool spray letting it beat his skin numb. It doesn’t do anything for the hot roil in his belly. Around seven, he starts getting ready, having to stop and breathe slowly counting backwards from ten before his hands are steady enough for him to put on some fucking eyeliner, and it still ends up a total mess compared to the other night. Frustrated, he smudges his fingertips through it, smearing black over his eyelids, then comes back and darkens the line again. Like this, his eyelashes look heavier, thicker, his eyes wide and dark. He leaves the long part of his hair soft this time around, spiking up the back. Same clothes, same black leather jacket, and he’s ready before the sun goes down.

His mom’s out at Aunt Jo’s, so he leaves her a note, carefully propped up on the coffee maker, saying he’s out with some guys from school. Mike still doesn’t have a clue, but he’s the only one Mom’s got a number for, and he’ll cover. Even pissed at him, Mike’ll cover.

Taking the Metro’s faster than a bus, but the line stops miles from Eastside’s border. Tommy ends up waiting forty minutes for a bus to trundle up. He pays without looking at the driver, slumping past empty seat after seat until he gets to the very back. A couple people get on as they wind through the streets, getting off again at the busier intersections, where the lights are all bright and there are dozens of more people milling around. Only Tommy stays on until they’re past 5th Street. He hops off about five blocks east from there, ducking his head as he exits so the driver can’t catch his gaze.

The club’s probably moved by now. It’s been over a week. But it’s his only chance. Fuck, he’d probably talk to the guy that had been on the door now. If it meant he’d get some fucking answers, he’d even lick the guy’s face.

At the mouth of the alley, he knows he’s too late. Everything’s quiet. There’s fresh garbage heaped by the dumpster, some of it spilling out over the top into the alleyway, no sign of it being pushed aside to make way for the crowd. He keeps going until he hits the black, gaping maw of the doorway. Touching the door hanging drunkenly off its hinges, he traces the clawmarks gouged into the thick metal like proof he didn’t need. Like a mark, a sign, a fuck you. We were here.

Tommy steps inside, staring blindly into the dark. His eyes adjust slowly, the shadowy light from outside barely penetrating the blackness. Breathing slow and shallow, he remembers the crash of the noise, the heat, the solid press of bodies, the thick, wild smell clogging his mouth and nose and lungs. The air still feels heavy with the memory of it.

Something stirs the air by his face. Startled, he sucks in a quick breath, jerking back. His laugh rings out empty and hollow. He’s totally psyching himself out. There’s nothing left here but missed chances. If he’d had the balls to stay, if he hadn’t let the fucking Coalition’s bullshit freak him out-

“Fuck,” Tommy spits, whipping around. He kicks at the crooked door, pissed off all over again, anger spiking to rage for no good fucking reason at all–he doesn’t get like this, doesn’t fucking act out, get ticked off so easy. But he was so fucking close, and it’s his own fucking fault.

And when a hand clamps onto his elbow to pull him back into the dark, he screams. Another hand comes down on over his mouth, his fucking nose, muffling the ragged noise torn straight up from the pit of his stomach. He twists and kicks and tries to slam his elbow back into the guy’s gut, or his motherfucking balls, but the guy’s other arm comes around him, clamping down tight, yanking him around to crush him face-first against a wall, the guy solid and immovable behind him. He aims to take a chunk out of the guy’s palm, giving up with a shocked whimper when his arm gets twisted hard behind his back.

“Stop,” the guy says, gentle like he isn’t fucking tearing Tommy’s arm out of its socket. His grip loosens on Tommy’s mouth, but his hand doesn’t move. “Stop, I won’t hurt you.”

Tommy greedily sucks in air. The urge to scream is burbling in his chest, wild and crazy, the urge to fight, run, hide. Stomping it all down, he manages a shaky nod.

The guy–the were, Tommy fucking knows it’s a were; that smell is clinging to his skin, crawling into Tommy’s lungs–drags in a slow breath. He lets go of Tommy’s arm, and it drops dead to Tommy’s side, pain shooting through his back. Tommy bites back the hurt noise that wants to come spilling out of him and concentrates on staying really, really still as the guy leans closer, arm propped on the wall to box Tommy in as he sniffs at Tommy’s neck, hot breaths stirring his hair. Squeezing his eyes shut tight, Tommy bows his head as much as he can trapped like he is. A soft growl pushes through the dark.

“Tell me your name,” the guy says, his mouth brushing close to Tommy’s ear as his hand falls away from Tommy’s face.

Shakily, Tommy says, “Let me up.”

The soft touch of lips becomes the hard edge of teeth scraping over Tommy’s spine. “I want your name.”

“Fuck,” Tommy says, something sick and black twisting through the fear in his belly. “Tommy. Tommy Joe.”

“Tommy,” the guy says, his voice soft again, still rough, like nothing Tommy’s ever heard before. “You shouldn’t have come back.”

Bile burns the back of Tommy’s throat. “Don’t tell me what I already fucking know. I had to.”

The weight holding Tommy pinned eases. He doesn’t dare move, and it’s not like the guy’s actually letting him up. Tommy can still feel him, pressed close from chest to thigh. He wishes he could fucking see.

“I saw you,” the guy says. “So small, almost hidden in the crowd, but I saw you. I smelled you the minute you walked in the door, so fucking good.”

Tommy’s heart gives one hard thump. “I’m not running,” he says, starting to turn around carefully, taking it as a good sign that the were backs off enough for him to do it. “I’m not gonna run this time. I’m not, I just- I want-” The guy, the fucking singer, eyes so blue their colour shines bight through the dark, quirks a smile. He’s exactly like Tommy remembers, and so fucking different. Not so otherworldly now, but still not a part of the one Tommy lives in. He’s gorgeous, the steady thrum of something wild and free and vicious clinging to him like a drumbeat, beautiful and deadly and fucking unreal. His face is human, but there’s nothing human in it. Tommy drops back against the wall. “Jesusfuck.”

The guy lets out a pained noise. His gaze darts from Tommy’s throat to his mouth to his eyes and back, so quickly Tommy can barely follow, and the next thing Tommy knows the guy’s got a hand buried in his hair, wrenching his head back to shove his face against his neck. A shocked, dark thrill courses down Tommy’s spine, arrows into his belly. He leaves his hands loose by his sides, breathing hard. This doesn’t feel anything like he’s about to get his throat ripped out.

Up until the guy bites, and then Tommy’s panicking, hands flying up to push at his shoulders, a ragged scream echoing through the emptiness. The guy digs in harder for a brief second, long enough for Tommy to get seriously freaked, and then tears away, panting. His eyes are slipping to yellow, his teeth bared, shockingly white and wet and inhuman.

Going against every urge screaming through his body, Tommy keeps his chin up, throat and belly vulnerable. He can’t let go of the guy no matter how hard he tries, so he clutches harder, holding on, not pushing away.

“You need to go,” the guy grates.

Not even sure he’s got a voice left, Tommy manages, “You gotta let me.”

“I don’t want to. Fuck, I don’t want to.” The guy closes his eyes, nostrils flaring as he sucks in a hard breath. “I want to keep hunting you.”

“The park,” Tommy says, and doesn’t need to see the guy’s short, sharp nod to know he’s right. “The movie theatre?”

“Yes,” the guy growls, fingers scraping over concrete as his hands curl into fists on either side of Tommy’s head. “You didn’t run for me then, but that night, on the way back from your friend’s, you ran. Oh, fuck, you ran, and it was so good. I wanted you. I want you so much.”

This is crazy. Tommy’s finally fucking cracked. It’s like he’s drunk and high and fucking insane all at once. But his voice is steady when he asks, “What’s your name?”

The question startles the guy into opening his eyes. He hesitates, watching Tommy’s face, before he says, “Adam.”

A sharp thrill spikes Tommy’s blood. His wolf has a name. “You said you wouldn’t hurt me.”

“I think I already did,” Adam says, flicking a glance at Tommy’s arm. “But that’s not what I want.”

“So prove it.” Tommy would really like to fucking know where this stupid bravado thing he’s got going on is coming from. Wherever the fuck he’s digging it up, it’s working. Mostly. “Let me go. I can’t get away from you, you know where I live. But let me go home.”

“And then what?” Adam asks, doubtful.

“Hunt me.”

Adam sucks in a sharp breath. “What-”

“You said that’s what you wanted, right? So do it. Hunt me, and when you’re tired waiting, make me run.”

“You,” Adam starts, darting in again to quickly smell Tommy’s skin. “You’re not pack. You’ve never been with pack.”

Not exactly sure what that means, and pretty sure if he doesn’t even know what Adam’s asking, the answer’s no, Tommy shakes his head.

“But you want to play.”

“If you’d wanted to hurt me, intentionally do it, I mean, you could’ve by now. Maybe it’s kinda shaky, but I’ve trusted people for less.” Tommy shrugs, like it doesn’t matter to him one bit or not if this fucking gorgeous were he’s stumbled upon wants to screw around with him. “If you wanna.”

“You don’t even know what you’re offering,” Adam says, his eyes narrow.

Not a fucking clue. But whatever it is, Tommy wants it so bad he can taste it. “You’ll show me.”

Adam watches him a moment longer, then takes one sharp, decisive step back. Tommy gropes along the wall, finding the edge of the door. He’s got no idea how this is going to pan out, but as long as he’s still breathing, it’s good. It’ll do.

“I’ll find you,” Adam says, his voice echoing weirdly through the dark as Tommy steps out into the alley. “If you run, I’ll find you.”

Turning his back on the door, Tommy walks carefully up the alley, his steps even, measured. It’s taking everything he’s got not to make a break for it, but he’s not ready yet. He’s not sure he’s ever gonna be ready. “If I run,” he says when he hits the street, sure Adam can still hear him, “I want you to.”

*

The only thing Tommy can do then is go straight to Mike’s. No matter what, he’s fucked now. Locked into something he doesn’t know how to get out of, and even if he knew, he’s not sure he’d want to. He shows up on Mike’s stoop about an hour to his curfew, about to knock when he remembers that Mike’s parents are stupidly early risers. Hauling out his phone, he texts, im in ur backyard to Mike and circles around to the fence, lifting the latch to let himself in. He plops down on the verandah as the glass door behind him slides open. Mike pads out, hesitates, then sits silently down beside him, bare toes in the grass.

“I found a were club,” Tommy starts, and the whole thing comes tumbling out of him, bursting free like it’d been waiting for its chance. Mike stays quiet the entire time. Most of the time he’s looking out at nothing in the yard, but sometimes his gaze catches on Tommy’s face, the makeup, the hair, the clothes. When he gets to the part about tonight, about Adam, Mike’s breath hisses between his teeth, but he still doesn’t say anything.

“So, uh.” Tommy scratches at the back of his neck. “That’s it, I guess.”

“Okay,” Mike says slowly. “Now what?”

“Now what?”

“Yeah.” Mike twists around to sit sideways, facing Tommy. “This guy hunts you for another couple of days, and then what?”

“I… don’t know?”

“You don’t know,” Mike says flatly.

“How am I supposed to fucking know? I’ve got shit to go on here, Mike, fuck. The guy fucking smelled me. In a room full of fucking werewolves. I’m not going anywhere he doesn’t fucking want me to, okay?”

“You’re totally okay with that,” Mike says, so far from a question it’s not even funny, except for how it really, really is. Tommy shrugs, trying not to grin. This is all so fucking insane. “Okay.” Mike slaps his hands down on his thighs and stands up. “I’ve got a laptop and an unmonitored internet connection. Let’s go.”

A whole week’s worth of tension melts from Tommy’s shoulders. He clambers up, relief making his legs watery. “Thanks, man.”

“Whatever.” Mike hauls open the sliding door, stepping back for Tommy to go in first. Before he can cross the threshold, though, Mike touches his arm. “It looks good,” Mike says, gesturing at his face. “I like the hair.”

“You totally want to date me,” Tommy says, letting their shoulders bump. “You think I’m pretty.”

“Yeah, except your boyfriend could eat me for lunch.”

Tommy can’t help it. He cracks the fuck up, doubled up against the kitchen counter laughing so hard his lungs ache, and Mike keeps shaking his head, grinning, patting him on the back waiting for him to get his shit together long enough for them to go upstairs.

*

In the half hour Tommy’s got before he’s got to make a break for home, they find out way too much, and so not enough. At least eighty percent of it is rumour, wild speculation, or total Coalition bullshit. Tommy immediately vetos all the sources that bring up humans as a potential food source for weres, and the ones that get a little too into some freaky sexual detail.

“But that could happen,” Mike says, looking at a totally improbable artist’s rendering of a giant wolf climbing on top of a naked woman, bound and gagged on her hands and knees, tears streaming down her face. She really doesn’t look one bit happy to be there, and Tommy is so not blaming her. The wolf is fucking four times her size. It could swallow her fucking whole. “What if that’s what this dude wants?”

“I’ve seen him as a wolf,” Tommy says, determinedly clicking away from the page. “He’s not that big.”

Mike snorts.

“Shut up. He’s not gonna fucking, not like that.”

“But he could.”

“But he’s not fucking going to.”

“Okay,” Mike says, holding up his hands. “Okay. He’s not going to.”

Gnawing on the inside of his lip, Tommy quickly navigates around a few more pages. There’s nothing fucking useful anywhere. There are lots of stories, myths and legends and stuff, centred around weres finding, and sometimes losing, their mates, but all that stuff is talking about two werewolves, not a were and a human. It’s like the subject’s total fucking taboo. Weres and humans don’t mix, period.

“Huh,” Mike says, trailing Tommy down the stairs, his voice low. “I thought there’d be more.”

“Me too. I mean, I’d fucking hoped.” Tommy’s got some ideas. Ideas that he didn’t need that fucking illustration to come up with, fuck.

Mike goes up to the door, flicking open the locks. “You think he’s out there?”

“Probably,” Tommy says, and stuffs his hands in his pockets. “Yeah, he’s out there.”

Flicking a glance at Tommy, then up the stairs, Mike pulls open the door. He stands in the threshold, taking in the street, the darkened windows, the quiet hush of night. “You sure I can’t walk you home?”

“Dude, thanks, I mean it, but what’re you gonna do, get a baseball bat?”

Mike frowns. “Yes.”

Shaking his head, grinning, Tommy says, “I told you, it’s cool. Adam’s not going to hurt me.”

Mike doesn’t look convinced. “He’s not the only wolf out there.”

“Pretty sure he’s already, like, staked his claim and shit, with the whole knock-down drag-out wolf brawl that first night. That somehow my mom totally fucking missed.”

“Your mom, man,” Mike says, leaning on the door. “When she’s out, she’s out.”

“Fucking lucky for me. So, look.” Tommy rests heavily against Mike, making his shoulder slide over the door. “I’m gonna head out, and you’re not gonna fucking, like, grandma yourself into an early grave, okay? Nobody’s gonna fucking jump me.”

Mike shoves him off. “Fine, fuckface, but text me when you get home. I fucking mean it,” he hisses when Tommy waves a hand. “Text me or I’m calling your mom!”

Tommy flips his wave over to give Mike the finger. Satisfied this means Tommy’s gonna text, Mike closes the door, leaving Tommy alone in the street. Except Mike’s probably running up the stairs right now, watching through the hall window, baseball bat clutched in one fist ready to bust some were ass. Fucking Mike, man. Crazy.

Crazy like Tommy is, walking home with his hands in his pockets, one earbud in. The music’s down low, and he doubts he’d hear anything unless Adam wanted him to, but he knows Adam’s out here. Watching, and waiting, keeping pace with him as he crosses the street, though fuck if Tommy can catch sight of him anywhere. It’s more that Tommy can feel the weight of Adam’s attention on him. Now that he’s sure it’s there, he doesn’t know how he could’ve missed it before.

But then, he didn’t miss it. He felt the itchy, crawly sensation on the back of his neck, between his shoulder blades, but hadn’t known what it was. His mind playing tricks on him, he thought. Getting worked up over nothing.

“It would’ve been cool if you’d said something before,” Tommy says, so quiet he can barely hear his own voice over his music. He wonders if Adam’s tailing him as a wolf, or if he’s as smooth and silent in human form, too. “Like, in the park. If you’d said you- Y’know, if you told me what you wanted.” Nothing. Not even a whuff to let him know Adam’s listening. He hunches his shoulders, jamming his hands deeper into his pockets. “Is it, like, are we a thing now? Is this a thing? ‘Cause it feels like a thing. Like, dude, you’re fucking walking me home. Again.”

When there’s still no response, Tommy falls silent. There’s only so much talking he can do without some sort of feedback. For the few blocks left to home, he thinks about the night he got into the club, when he showed deference to the wolf on the door, and the way Adam reacted to the same thing earlier tonight, so totally different. The first guy mellowed out. Adam kinda went nuts. Adam fucking bit him.

On the sidewalk by his house, Tommy stops. He turns to face the shadows in the park across the street, wondering if Adam’s hidden in them. Instead of totally creeped out like he should be, he feels safe. At the same time as he’s not afraid of Adam, he is. He wants things he doesn’t understand. Adam could fucking tell him. Adam should’ve fucking told him, and not let him get away with that shit at the club.

“I don’t care that you want to hunt me or whatever,” Tommy says, head down, hand on the door. With his music off, the whole world’s gone quiet. It takes him a couple tries to find his voice again. “Whatever you’re getting out of this, I hope it’s good, because I’d rather be making out with you than standing here talking to the fucking crickets.”

There’s nothing but more nothing. Tommy sighs and goes inside. He takes his time getting ready for bed, texting Mike so he doesn’t freak, delaying the inevitable. Expectations low, he checks his window.

“Had it right the first time,” Tommy tells his empty backyard. “You’re a total dick.”

*

Tommy stares at the hickey on his neck. A fucking hickey. He hadn’t had time to notice it last night, and Mike hadn’t said a fucking word, and he’s got a motherfucking hickey on his neck. It’s tiny even, not like, this big fucking monster of a bruise, which doesn’t make any fucking sense. Adam had chewed on his neck, for fuck’s sake. Felt like he’d taken a fucking chunk out of it.

Jesus Christ, Tommy’s got a hickey. He sits down hard on the toilet lid, jeans hanging off his ass. He’s got a hickey, and it’s way too high for any of his shirts to hide. His mom is gonna sniff this shit out like a fucking bloodhound, fuck.

Three minutes spent on a quality freak-out, Tommy throws his ass into the shower, then into some clean clothes, and then downstairs into the kitchen. Might as well get it fucking over with. Mom’s leaning against the counter by the coffee pot, mug in one hand and magazine in the other. “Morning, honey,” she says, glancing up with a quick smile. “Are you going out with Mike today?”

“Gonna hang at his place,” Tommy says, carefully getting a mug out of the cupboard and filling it up. He keeps flicking looks at his mom, waiting for the shoe to drop or whatever.

“Alright, as long as you’re not making a nuisance of yourself.” She turns a page. “Are you home for dinner?”

“Um, I’ll call?”

“Okay, honey.” Pushing away from the counter, she presses a quick kiss to his hair and shuffles off to the living room. “Have fun!”

“What the fuck,” Tommy mutters into his mug.

At Mike’s, they try searching for better info, and end up with more of the same. Halfway through, Tommy confesses his stupid one-sided conversation, and how Adam didn’t even fucking, like, give him a howl or anything. Tommy totally realises he’s sounding like a lovesick chick here, but what the fuck, man. “Like, what the fucking fuck.”

Mike gives him a look, all, how the fuck am I supposed to know?, and shrugs. “Maybe he was busy protecting your questionable virtue?”

“Fuck you, it is not fucking questionable. My first fucking hickey, you loser.” Tommy jabs a finger at his neck. “My first.”

“Okay,” Mike says, like he’s actually giving why Adam didn’t jump Tommy’s bones on the way home last night some serious consideration. “Maybe he’s easing you into it.”

Tommy scowls. He’s seen porn, okay. He knows what goes where.

“Shut up,” Mike says. “It could be different. You could be right, and hunting you means he’s, like, courting you.”

“Dude, I can’t fucking believe you just said courting with a straight face.”

“I read it.” Mike clicks around through their collected bookmarks, bringing up a page with white font on a black background, and Jesus, how the fuck did Mike even manage to look at that long enough to read it. “Yeah, here.” He points. Tommy’s eyes nearly fucking cross. Fucking font. “Werewolves mate for life.”

“I knew that.” Or, he’d sorta guessed. Wolves do, and a lot of what wolves do seems to carry over to weres, so. He shrugs.

Mike looks at him. “You don’t think maybe he’d wanted to be a little cautious about hooking up with a human kid? For life, man.”

“Making out isn’t a fucking marriage proposal,” Tommy grumbles.

“You’ve thought this through, right?” Mike’s got his serious face on. “I mean, really thought it through.”

“Nothing’s even fucking happened yet!”

“The government fucking refuses to admit they exist,” Mike snaps. “Police get in more shit if they shoot an actual wolf than if they shoot a were, Tommy, you-”

“You’re overreacting,” Tommy says, shoving off of Mike’s bed. “Maybe all he wants is to get laid, okay?”

Mike wavers. For a second, it looks like he’s gonna lay back into it again, but he shakes his head, mouth quirked. “You would be totally okay with scratching a werewolf’s fucking itch.”

“It’s cool, right? Crazy, but fucking cool.” Tommy can’t help grinning. “A fucking were wants to get all up in my business.”

“You fucking hope he does, freak.”

“Oh man.” Tommy sits down hard on Mike’s swivel chair. “I’m gonna get laid.”

“Shut up about your non-existent sex life and get over here, Ratliff,” Mike says. “I’m not your fucking pimp.”

In a daze, Tommy dutifully gets up and goes to sit on the bed, staring at the computer screen not seeing a damn thing. He’s going to get laid.

*

That night, Tommy resists the urge to hide out in the bathroom for two hours fussing with his stupid face. Mom’s already giving him some weird looks, like she thinks he’s got a girlfriend and won’t tell her, so he stays in his room practicing chords until his fingers ache. Since she doesn’t have work in the morning, she’s up late watching all the shows she missed during the week. It’s driving Tommy nuts. Normally he doesn’t give a shit, and sometimes he’ll even flake on the couch with her, but the one night he wants her to crash out early, she’s a fucking junkie.

Finally, around one in the morning, she knocks softly on his door. “Still up, honey?”

“Yeah,” he says as the door opens a crack, letting in a sliver of the hall light. He’s been not-watching The Addams Family DVDs on his laptop for the last two hours. “Probably gonna go to bed after this one.”

She smiles, coming in to give him a kiss goodnight. “Maybe one more, as long as you keep it low.”

“I got headphones around here somewhere.”

Ruffling his hair, she says, “Even better,” and closes the door quietly behind her, already half-asleep on her feet. His mom, seriously. Like a zombie.

The twenty minutes it takes for her to finish puttering around and go to fucking sleep already feels more like three days. He jiggles his leg impatiently, the laptop on mute so he can hear the creak of the bed as she lies down, her grateful sigh to be finally fucking horizontal, and then the soft snorty noises she makes right before she’s really deeply asleep. He waits an extra ten minutes just in case, even though it’s fucking killing him, he’s so fucking hard already and there’s no fucking reason for it, he’s just so stupidly fucking excited. Then he’s scrambling out of bed as fast as he can, creeping downstairs with his boots in one hand, sneaking out the door and making sure it closes silently behind him. He jams his feet into his boots, not bothering to lace them up, and jogs across the street. The soccer field is wet with dew, soaking his laces. He stops long enough to tuck them inside his boots so he doesn’t actually kill himself, and heads for the playground.

It’s empty when he gets there. No surprise. Rubbing his bare arms and wishing he’d grabbed a jacket, Tommy sits down on the merry-go-round. The metal’s cool compared to the night air, seeping through his jeans.

He’s not sure how long he waits. He’s not even sure how he knew Adam would be out here. Expecting the wolf, he gets Adam, human-shaped Adam, melting out of the shadows beneath the trees. Tommy shivers. Adam looks good in the night, like he belongs. Like he’s a sliver of it only playing at human. It’s so fucking hot.

“Hi,” Tommy says, testing out his voice. It’s only a little shaky, rough like he’s just woken up.

Adam doesn’t say anything.

“I, um.” Tommy bites at his lip. He’d been hoping if he got his ass out here, Adam would make the first move. Adam totally seems the type, with the whole shoving Tommy up against a fucking wall and everything. He scrubs a hand through his hair. “Listen, I, um-”

“You said I could hunt you,” Adam interrupts, finally stepping away from the trees. The first thing Tommy notices is that he’s fucking barefoot. He’s in battered jeans and a tee and he’s barefoot. Tommy can’t stop staring at his toes.

“I’m not backing out.” Grabbing onto one of the bars for support, Tommy gets on his knees on the merry-go-round, watching as Adam steps from the grass to the hard-packed dirt. “I just,” and Tommy doesn’t actually fucking know. Adam’s right there in front of him, close enough to touch but not doing it, and Tommy’s skin is buzzing, nerves thrumming, heart kicking at his ribs. And Adam’s not fucking doing anything.

A frustrated noise bursts out of Tommy. He shoves up, his hand on Adam’s chest for balance, Adam’s heat seeping through thin cotton into his palm, so fucking hot it’s unreal. He thinks he meant to go for a kiss, but he’s never kissed anybody before, not even on a dare or some stupid party game where it’s not even a real kiss. He ends up with his mouth on the corner of Adam’s instead, not a real kiss yet either, and he could make it one easily but he doesn’t. He waits and waits for Adam to do it, make a fucking move already. Adam’s strung tight, tension singing through him, and Tommy thinks, fuck this shit and licks Adam’s mouth, a soft, slow drag of his tongue with his heart in his throat and his stomach fluttering and his head somewhere in National Geographic, and fuck, fuck, Adam’s got to know what he means, fucking licking the guy’s face, he’s fucking got to.

One of Adam’s hands comes up, fingers shoving into Tommy’s hair, tangling. “Don’t,” Adam says, barely a word. “Don’t tease me with this.”

“I’m not.” Tommy swallows hard, trying to clear the lump in his throat. He’s so turned on it’s a fucking miracle he can even see straight. “I’m not teasing.”

Adam drags in a shuddering breath, air rushing cool over Tommy’s damp lips. Tommy expects a question to follow, something like, how old are you or do you know what you’re asking for, but what he gets is nothing even close to that. He gets Adam’s fingers on his jaw, tilting his face up, Adam’s mouth, lips parted, rubbing over his, hot and damp and amazing. He gets Adam’s other hand sliding from his hair to his back, pulling him in closer. His hand catches awkwardly between them and he flushes, embarrassed at his total lack of anything even remotely resembling smooth. Adam doesn’t seem to notice, or care. Their mouths keep bumping, almost-kisses, and Tommy’s going crazy, his skin’s on fucking fire and his dick’s screaming at him, fucking throbbing he’s so close to losing it.

“Lie down,” Adam says, trying to guide him, and Tommy says, “Yeah, yeah,” totally intending to, wanting to see what’s going to happen next, dying for it, but Adam’s pressed so tightly against him, it feels so fucking good and Adam’s thigh is right on his dick, right fucking there Tommy can’t help grinding against it. Adam sucks in a sharp breath and Tommy blurts, “Sorry, I can’t, fuck,” and Adam doesn’t try to stop him, doesn’t even have a fucking chance Tommy loses it so fast. All the anticipation coiled tight in his belly snaps like a rubber band strained to the limit and he’s clutching at Adam’s shoulders, face shoved into Adam’s chest to muffle the racket he’s making as he comes so hard he can’t even fucking breathe.

When he lands back on Earth, Adam’s the only thing holding him up. “Fuck,” Adam says, tight and disbelieving. He shoves Tommy down, Tommy’s elbow catching on the bar before his back hits cold metal, and pushes his face into Tommy’s belly. Tommy gulps air, none of his limbs working right. He fumbles for a grip on something, like fucking reality, but Adam’s yanking his shirt up to get a bare skin, wrenching at his jeans, and then Adam’s fucking licking him. Licking and kissing and sucking, working his jeans down past his hips, over his thighs. Tommy sucks in more air at the shock of cold metal on skin. Jesus Christ, he’s fucking naked in the middle of the playground on the fucking merry-go-round.

And Adam’s staring at his dick. Both his hands are on Tommy’s bare thighs, holding him down, thumbs moving in restless circles that send tiny zings of something fucked-up and amazing straight into the pit of Tommy’s stomach, and all he’s doing is fucking looking.

“It’s, it’s the same, right?” Tommy asks, heat prickling along his neck. “Like, it’s not, fuck.” He squeezes his eyes shut. Fuck Mike and his fucking research and all those fucking pictures. “You’re not gonna do it if it’s not gonna be good?”

Adam lets out a harsh, pained noise. The go go go that’s been clamouring around inside Tommy all day’s finally eased up, but it’s still there, lurking, fucking waiting for its chance. All he’s been able to think about since Friday night is how Adam felt against his back, how turned on Adam had been shoving him around but hadn’t done anything about it, and what it’d be like if maybe Adam did. If maybe Adam would go down on him, if Adam would want Tommy to do that too, or if Adam would want to fuck him, for real fuck him, push him down and push up inside him.

And just like that Tommy’s back to where he started, so hard he aches, and Adam’s watching him, eyes dark and intense and so fucking inhuman–like, they look human, they’re human shape and colour and everything, but they’re not human. If Tommy ever wants to spot a were again, all he’s got to do is look in their eyes.

Holding Tommy’s gaze, Adam sinks down. He noses at the inside of Tommy’s thigh, and Tommy spreads his legs automatically, wanting more when the warm tickle of Adam’s breath is enough to make his dick jerk. Adam keeps going, mouthing at Tommy’s balls, which is fucking shocking and duh and so good, so, so good when he licks, tongue rough and rasping. Tommy shoves his arm over his mouth trying to shut himself up before he gets loud enough to wake up the whole neighbourhood. He’s waiting for Adam to talk, say something, anything, but Adam’s intent on what he’s doing, which is driving Tommy out of his god damn mind. Adam’s tongue drags over his hip, along the tendon close to his cock, up past it to lick at his belly. The come smeared on Tommy’s skin is cool, drying tight, even cooler in the wake of Adam’s mouth.

“Oh fuck,” Tommy groans, hands clenching into fists, easing, his nails catching on the merry-go-round’s studded platform. Adam’s tasting him, his skin and his come, learning him like Adam had learned his scent the very first night they were out here. “Please do something. Fucking do something.”

“I am,” Adam says, making Tommy jerk and whine with the brush of soft lips on skin, and flush bright red with embarrassment again, because fuck, what kind of lay is he, fucking squirming all over the fucking place? “I’m waiting for you to tell me what you want.”

How the fuck is Tommy supposed to know? Jesus, he’ll take anything. Everything. It all sounds so fucking amazing, like, having Adam there is fucking amazing, having another person touching him is so mindblowing he can’t fucking even- “Anything, whatever you want, I’m gonna fucking die.”

Adam laughs. Tommy shudders, because Jesus. “You’re not going to die,” Adam says, crawling up over him, heat pressing down. “I should’ve known you haven’t done any of this before.”

“I know how to fucking get off,” Tommy busts out. For fuck’s sake, he’s not that fucking virginal. Him and his dick have had loads of good times. Heh. Fucking loads.

Then comes the dreaded question, the inevitable, “How old are you?” like Adam’s actually fucking curious and not like he’s gonna use it as an excuse to leave Tommy hanging.

“Fucking old enough, okay? Stop fucking-” Before Tommy can do much more than lift his hands, Adam’s got his arms pinned above his head by his wrists. Pure lust rips through Tommy so fast he gasps, this flashfire need lighting him up everywhere, and Jesus, fuck, fuck, Adam’s right, he’s never done anything like this.

“Okay,” Adam says, as if that’s really the end of it. “Tell me if you want to stop.”

“I don’t want to stop, you haven’t even fucking done anything, I can’t fucking believe- fuck.” Tommy’s mouth snaps shut so hard his teeth clack. Adam’s mouth is on his dick. Adam’s mouth is on his dick, and it’s hot and wet and so fucking slick, this smooth, slow pull because Adam’s actually fucking sucking on him, like his cheeks are hollowing because he’s sucking, and Tommy should’ve fucking figured because, ha, it’s called sucking dick and all, but he didn’t know. He seriously did not have a fucking clue.

He figures out Adam’s let go of his wrists only after he notices his fingers are tangled in Adam’s hair, tugging and pulling and he tries to stop that shit ’cause he’s heard some pretty nasty talk about the assholes who yank on your hair when you’re trying to give head, but he can’t. He honestly fucking can’t. It’s like his hands aren’t even his anymore. Adam’s tongue is doing this thing, this crazy-awesome flicky-twisting thing, making Tommy’s toes curls in his boots, and he’s holding Tommy down by his hips, sweat gathering in the small of his back and salty-sharp on his lips, prickly. He’s being a total noisy fucker about all of this, too, choked-off moans echoing through the dark, small thin sounds that can’t be coming from him except they fucking are, as Adam goes at him harder, encouraging it, this endless feedback loop of so fucking awesome that bursts out of Tommy on a ragged shout. He can feel Adam swallowing around the pulse of his cock, almost enough to set him off again except he’s still in the middle of coming for the second fucking time already tonight.

“Wow,” he croaks, staring up at the night sky blotchy with city lights. He’s floating up there somewhere with the thready, scuttling clouds, his brain ten million miles away and somehow still connected to his body, the weird, glowy aftershocks as Adam nuzzles at his belly, the side of his dick. Give him five minutes, he could probably go again. That was fucking amazing. Adam’s nose pushes at Tommy’s ribs, his chest, the crook of his neck. It tickles in a vague, not-quite-there way. “You sniffin’ me again?”

Adam huffs agreeably, nipping at the mark on Tommy’s throat. Tommy hisses, ducking his chin on instinct, lifting up again a split-second later because it’s not like he actually fucking wants Adam to stop.

Two great orgasms hot on the heels of one another have either killed off way too many of Tommy’s braincells, or loosened his tongue to the point of stupid, because he says, “Smells good, huh? Like, um, good enough that maybe you’d let me try it out?”

“Oh my fuck,” Adam says, face buried against Tommy’s throat, and it’s so normal, so fucking human when Adam’s anything but, Tommy bursts out with the giggles. Like he’s fucking high or something, crazy.

“I’m not laughing at you,” Tommy says, biting his lip, barely keeping his giggles in check. A pissed off were is the last fucking thing he needs. But Adam’s not looking at him like he’s a snack–or actually, Adam sort of is looking at him like Adam would maybe very much like to eat him, but not in any way that Tommy won’t be able to mostly walk away from. And maybe a little like Adam thinks he’s cute and shit. There’s a fucking trip. A werewolf thinks he’s cute. “This is really kind of crazy, y’know? I want to do stuff and I know what stuff but I don’t even fucking know, it’s just nuts.”

“Okay,” Adam says, easy as falling off a fucking cliff. There’s a soft snick, the drag of a zipper. Tommy’s pulse shoots from mellow-yellow to three-point-five-seconds-to-lift-off. Adam pushes up on his hands and knees above Tommy, jeans open in a pretty clear invitation. One that Tommy’s way too slow to take him up on, since Adam feels the need to say, “Go ahead.”

“Sorry,” Tommy blurts, jolting into motion. He can’t see a fucking thing like this, the shadows are too deep and the streetlights too far away, but he flicks a glance at Adam and pushes his shirt up anyway. And Adam lets him. Expecting some crazy gym-hardbody, because the guy’s a fucking wolf, Tommy’s shocked to find a thin layer of softness over lean muscle. He presses harder, feeling Adam’s stomach shift as he breathes, and of course, right? Like, of fucking course Adam’s not some fucked-up steroid-ridden LA freak. He’s solid and real, strong, and even if his eyes are wolf-wild, this body is pure human. It feels so good Tommy wants more. He wants all of it. He pushes his hands up the back of Adam’s shirt, muscle flexing and skin shifting when he presses hard, finding all sorts of places to grab on and squeeze, feel bone and tendon and flesh. Before he knows it he’s got his hands down the back of Adam’s fucking pants and he’s groping at the guy’s ass. Shoving impatiently at Adam’s jeans gets Adam helping him push them down over his thighs, and then Tommy’s got to grab onto those, pull Adam closer so he can trace the cut of Adam’s hips, following them in to the thick weight of Adam’s dick.

“This okay?” Tommy asks. Adam’s breathing has gone fast and shallow but he nods tightly, so still Tommy’s not sure if it’s a good thing or not until it hits him maybe Adam’s not so much enduring Tommy having his boring grabby-hands moment here as much as Adam’s working really, really hard at not jumping him again before he’s done. Which, hey, that’s a pretty fucking nice thought. So nice it’s all he needs to spur him on that little bit more to get his hand wrapping around Adam’s dick, and then, holy fuck, he’s got his hand on Adam’s dick. It’s thick and hard and soft and so fucking hot, heat seriously fucking pouring off him like being too close to a stove element. That is his dick in Tommy’s hand.

Adam says, “Fuck,” ragged like it’s torn out of him, his head bowing. His hair, clumped into soft spikes with sweat, brushes Tommy’s cheek, and even that is incredible, Tommy’s nerves lighting up in its wake. He pushes into Tommy’s lax fist, a stuttering drag that turns slick when Tommy’s palm skids over the head, slides back down on precome. Sucking in a hissing breath, Tommy grabs onto Adam’s hip and squeezes, shifting his hand to spread more slippery heat around, make the next push easy. Tommy keeps trying to do shit, thinking that maybe Adam would like it more if he firmed up around the head, or if he twisted his wrist a little bit, but every time an idea hits him Adam fucks it right out of his brain again. Tommy ends hold holding his hand mostly steady for Adam to fuck it, wishing there was more light, that it was the middle of the fucking day so he could see Adam’s cock, the wiry curls brushing his knuckles. He’s thinking about Adam’s fucking pubes and he’s ready to go again, probably only needs something to rub against for a couple seconds.

“Jesus,” Tommy says, tugging on Adam’s hip, skidding his hand up to fist the back of his shirt, trying to haul him down, “stop for a minute, c’mon, get down here, I want,” and that’s as far as he gets before Adam drops down to one elbow, the angle even weirder now with Adam listing halfway on top of him. Planting his boots with a metallic clang, Tommy thrusts up, his dick dragging along Adam’s belly, catching on the hem of his shirt. When Adam finally fucking gets with it, settling on top of him with their dicks pressed together, Tommy yanks his hand free and grabs onto Adam’s shoulders again, bucking up against him. Everything’s messy and slick and hot between them, getting messier, and holy fucking hell, like this Adam’s gonna come on him, he’s gonna come on Adam, it’s going to be so fucking good and amazing and holy fucking shit, Adam’s the one going off first this time.

“Yeah,” Tommy says, his mouth on total autopilot, “yes, do it, oh fuck,” because Adam’s grinding hard, totally lost, shoving and panting and going still as his dick jerks against Tommy’s belly, more wet heat spilling all over him. If Tommy could fucking breathe, he’s sure his mouth would still be going, but as it is, his whole world’s narrowed down to the scratch of hair on Adam’s belly, the sticky heat of Adam’s cock going soft against his, the way Adam’s nosing in under his chin, biting at his throat again, licking over his mouth and fucking inside it. Tommy’s orgasm is like it’s pulled up from his toes, long and stringy like melted taffy, gooey-thick, sweet, suffocating. On the crazy-fuzzy come down, he realises he’s clawing into Adam’s back and he jerks his hands away, stumbling over apologies because there’s fucking skin under his nails. Not a lot but he can feel it there. He seriously hopes Adam’s not bleeding.

Adam’s head slowly lifts. His eyes are full-on wolf now, rich glittering yellow. It’s the only part of him that’s changed, but it’s enough to poke Tommy’s post-orgasmic glow full of holes.

“I didn’t mean to,” Tommy says, holding his hands out, nowhere to go with Adam lying on top of him. How the fuck was he supposed to know he’s a fucking clawer? And like, fuck, maybe he’s a screamer, too, he heard somebody making a fucking lot of noise and maybe it was him, he’s- “It was so good, I wasn’t even fucking thinking-”

“You marked me,” Adam says, closing his eyes, breathing deep. He doesn’t sound angry.

“I- Yeah.” The jizz smeared all over Tommy’s stomach, sticking to his tee shirt, is a hell of a lot less sexy than it was three seconds ago. But it’s still not gross. Maybe if Adam wasn’t making that growling noise low in his throat, it’d be hot. Well, okay, the growly noise is kind of hot on its own, as long as it isn’t a bad sign. “I was kinda in the moment? Is that okay? I can, um, try to not do it again, if you want.” If there’s going to be an again. If this isn’t the end of the game, like, Adam’s hunted him, and caught him, and now it’s over.

“No,” Adam says slowly, like he’s testing the idea out. “No, it’s okay. I like it. But I wanted to know if you did it on purpose.”

This is not the sort of conversation Tommy’s used to having with his dick out. Most of those conversations are the kinds he doesn’t want to have, like when Mom comes home early and shouts for him to get his butt down for dinner and he’s really, really busy in the middle of jerking off, which is something she never, ever needs to know about. Not that he doesn’t think she knows he does it, but there’s knowing he does it, and then there’s knowing he’s doing it right at that exact moment. All kinds of awkward he hopes she’s really oblivious about.

This is a different kind of awkward. Kind of a hot type of awkward. Weird. “Is it better if I did?” Tommy asks. That might be something he should really know.

“Not better,” Adam says, “and not worse. But different.”

“Like, okay then.” The grin that’s wanted to take over Tommy’s mouth since orgasm number two finally gets its foot in the door. “Because that was all really awesome. The whole fucking thing, awesome.”

Adam laughs. A real fucking laugh, not all dark and intent, but genuinely pleased, kinda light almost. It’s seriously amazing. Tommy wants to hear it again right now. “Thanks,” he says, like he means it, and okay, there’s some post-orgasm etiquette Tommy totally hadn’t considered.

“You too,” Tommy says. “Thanks, and like, you’re welcome and stuff.”

Tucking his face against Tommy’s neck, Adam lets out a long sigh. “You should go inside before your mother finds you missing.”

Tommy’s not even gonna ask how Adam sounds like he knows it’s just his mom in there. “Dude, she sleeps like the dead. Nothing short of a coffee bomb is gonna wake her up.”

Adam bites at Tommy’s neck. It’s light, almost playful, but easy to tell he means business. “Go inside, Tommy Joe, or I’m,” but he cuts himself off, doesn’t say.

“What?” Tommy asks, jostling him. Teeth snap tight on Tommy’s neck. His heart kicks and his dick jumps. “Is that a, like. A promise?”

Adam’s answer is a rumbly snarl. Fuck, that is so fucking hot. Tommy grabs onto the back of Adam’s head, pressing him closer against his throat, relishing the scrape and tug of sharp teeth on skin in a way he never really considered he would. Fair’s fair; he marked Adam, Adam gets to mark him. He can’t get over the rough animal noises Adam’s making, caught between a growl and a whimper as he bites and Tommy holds on tighter, struggling to get his legs up, wrap himself around Adam’s heat. It’s fucking chilly out here with his clothes half-off, and Adam feels so good.

Planting both hands on Tommy’s shoulders, Adam shoves up. His mouth’s red and wet, shining in the dull light. Tommy swallows hard and tries to push up, wanting to kiss him, but Adam gives a warning snarl, holds him down so hard metal grates against his shoulder blades. “Go inside,” Adam says, pushing harder, like punctuation. “Now.”

Tommy’s gaze darts to the trees. He’s not getting the weird creepy vibe he’s had all week, knowing something’s out there watching him even though he didn’t know it, but Adam’s tone isn’t anything Tommy wants to argue with. Adam backs off, sinking down into the dirt at his feet on one knee, and Tommy stares for a minute, taking in how natural Adam looks like that, face tilted to the sluggish breeze, and how at the same time it’s the weirdest fucking thing.

Struggling up, Tommy tucks his spunk-sticky dick away and absently wipes his hand on his jeans. Adam’s backed up enough from the merry-go-round that Tommy’s got space to stand, his knees like jelly as Adam stares up at him, eyes so bright in the night, intense. Fear-tainted excitement starts crawling through Tommy’s belly, thickening up his dick again. He’s so fucked in the head.

“Go,” Adam says, his breathing deep and slow.

Tommy starts backing away before his brain gets a chance to tell his feet to move. “Are you going to chase me?” he asks, and what, what the fuck, that’s so not the question he’d had in his head.

An eager, wild noise slips out of Adam. “Do you want me to?”

“Yeah.” Tommy’s voice feels rusty, unused. There’s a good ten feet between them, now fifteen, almost twenty. Adam doesn’t so much as fucking twitch. “No,” he says, almost to the street, Adam so far away from him it’s like he’s waking up from a dream, but he swears he can feel Adam go tense, afraid, “no, I want you to catch me. I want you to fucking catch me, and-” and he doesn’t even fucking know. He just wants.

Turning around to make sure some car isn’t gonna come out of nowhere and splatter him all over the asphalt, Tommy strains for the sound of Adam padding through the grass. “Please,” he whispers, skin tight and itchy as he crosses the street, slowing as he gets closer to his house, not even sure what the fuck he’s asking for. All he can picture is Adam coming up behind him, pinning him again, crushing him against his front fucking door while the rest of the world sleeps on, oblivious. “Please, come on.”

Nothing happens. Pushing the door open, he slips inside, barely pausing long enough to throw the locks before he creeps upstairs. The laptop is still open on his bed, playing on mute. Making sure the door’s closed firmly behind him, he crosses to the window, leaning halfway out of it to breathe in the night air. Tommy can’t see him, but he knows. Adam’s out there, waiting. Wanting.

And Tommy’s so fucking willing it hurts.

*

The bus through Eastside is bizarrely normal during the day. There are a couple people that make the hairs on the back of Tommy’s neck stand up, but after getting a good look at them, he figures out it’s because they keep eyeballing him, not that they’re weres. A kid in beat-up Chucks, torn jeans and an old Queen tee isn’t so weird a sight–he’s not even rocking any makeup today.

Right before he hops off the bus, the middle-aged lady two seats up flicking glances at him, it hits him that maybe they think he’s the were. His throat’s all marked up, he’s got scratches on his arms, and he didn’t bother to try hiding any of it. He likes the way they look, red and angry against pale skin, likes the tug and pull as they heal. He wants Adam to be able to see them, smell them, still kinda raw. His face heats as he steps off the bus with the woman boring holes into his back. Maybe he looks like a victim. Maybe she thinks he’s one of those sad stories the Coalition likes to spread, about people who get tangled up with weres and can’t get out again, used and abused like junkies.

It doesn’t feel anything like that. Tommy’s the one who feels like the drug, like Adam’s addicted to him, chasing him, craving him. Maybe he’s a total fucking shit for coming out here, aimlessly walking dirty streets like bait trying to lure Adam out. He’s got no ID on him again, nothing valuable except some cash for bus fare. The midday sun beats down, scorching the city, making it reek of hot tar and stale garbage. It crawls down Tommy’s throat when he tries breathing through his mouth, clings. With their sense of smell, living in this shit’s got to be fucking torture for weres.

Under his breath, Tommy says, “Adam,” sort of testing it out. As if the name, like the marks on his skin, are a claim. Eyes track him, some following him until he’s walked almost a whole block, others flicking him a glance and moving on, uninterested. Every time it feels like somebody’s staring too long, Tommy whispers Adam’s name, wrapping himself up in it. It’s weird and stupid and he probably looks like he’s off his fucking rocker, but he doesn’t care. He’s not taking the chance Adam won’t come to him tonight. The game’s not fucking over yet. It can’t be.

When Tommy’s so deep in Eastside he’s wondering if he’s ever going to be able to find his way out again, the air changes. Underneath the stink of civilisation is something wilder, freer, way more dangerous to him and his unprotected belly, his clawless hands and blunt teeth. He stops at the mouth of an alleyway that looks the same as every other one in the city, dank even in the heat, smelly, riddled with shadows. Tommy can’t see him, but Adam’s here, somewhere. Adam’s found him. The crazy, eager thrill in his belly spills up fast in a grin he can’t hold back.

Tommy searches the doorways and the rooftops as he starts moving again, faster this time, with purpose even though he’s got nowhere in mind to go. There’s a scraping sound off to his left, maybe rats in the dumpsters, maybe not. He hesitates, trying to decide if he should move toward it or away. His gut says he’s the bait, the prey, and prey is herded, not lured. Skin buzzing, shirt clinging to the sweat slick in the small of his back, he turns and jogs quickly across the street, running away. Nerves start prickling at him, making him second guess himself, until there’s another sound, louder and closer, the scratch of nails on concrete straight up ahead. He ducks into the alley on his immediate right, this one smaller than most of the others, meant only for foot traffic. The noises come from behind him this time, soft and threatening, speeding his pulse and his steps. Somebody sane might question if it’s really Adam back there. Somebody fucking sane wouldn’t be out here in the first fucking place.

And they sure as shit wouldn’t be having the time of their fucking life, breaking into a quick jog, then a run, not paying one bit of fucking attention to where they’re going; Tommy’s careening through alleyways and parking lots, letting Adam chase him deeper and deeper until the buildings are old and crumbling and the sky’s blotted out by rusty fire escapes and broken balconies and crooked awnings haphazardly strung between them. Only when his lungs start to burn and he’s coughing, and his feet are sore from pounding the pavement, does he slow. He stumbles against a wall, shoulder propped against it as he heaves for breath. Hair clings to his sweaty face. His shirt feels like he jumped in a fucking pool.

Adam’s on him in a flash. Even expecting it, wanting it, he lets out a startled shout, twisting around too late. Arms clamp around his chest, trapping his arms against his sides, and teeth dig into his neck, making him shout and twist in an entirely different way. “So good,” Adam groans, licking at the raw, throbbing mark on Tommy’s neck, “you’re so, so good, I want you so much.” Exactly what Adam wants him for is pretty fucking clear, his hard dick practically fucking drilling through Tommy’s spine, making Tommy heat up even more on the inside, temperature cranked to fucking critical.

Tommy gasps, hears, “Yes, fuck, okay, just fucking,” come tumbling out of him, and Adam’s turning him around, pressing him against the summer-scorched metal of a battered door. Adam can’t fucking mean right here, anyone could see them, but when Adam presses closer, all Tommy does is spread his legs and open his mouth and let Adam inside. Adam licks at his tongue, hot and wet and so fucking dirty, hands running down his back, cupping his ass and lifting him up into the grind of Adam’s hips. The chase had Tommy half-hard, the kisses got him all the way there, and this rockets him straight to the fucking edge, clutching at Adam trying to hold on, get more of it before he goes head-first over the other side.

“You’re so hard,” Adam pants against his throat, and Tommy thinks, no fucking kidding, “I can smell it on you, how much you want this. You’re going to let me do everything to you. Anything I want.”

Nodding fast, Tommy stops and grunts, “Don’t fucking stop,” when Adam backs off. That is so not what he meant, Jesus fucking Christ. He grabs at Adam’s jeans, sure for one crazy moment he can smell how hard Adam is, too, musky-thick and earthy like the park after a heavy rain. His mouth floods wet. Fuck, he wants Adam’s dick in it. He wants to know the taste that goes with that smell so familiar and so very fucking different.

“Inside,” Adam says, shoving at the door. Tommy stumbles back, his support gone. Cool shadows close in around him. There are off-white and pasty green checkered tiles on the floor, a staircase leading up, with an old iron railing and cracked rubber bumpers on the edges of the stairs. It feels like the air in here should be old, dusty and forgotten, but it’s heavy with something else. Or Tommy’s mouth and nose are so full of Adam’s scent that’s all he can smell.

“Where,” Tommy starts, and Adam says, “Up,” pushing at him. He takes the stairs as fast as he can, Adam’s hand on his waist, then the back of his thigh, urging him on at the landing up another floor, then one more. He’s so out of breath he’s wheezing by the time they get to the top. Adam shoves past him, grabbing his wrist and dragging him to an unmarked door, through it into murky twilight.

“Down,” Adam says, barely more than a growl. Since that’s the direction Tommy had been planning on going anyway, before Adam interrupted, he drops to his knees. But Adam grabs at him again, pushing him down on his hands, manoeuvring around behind him to yank his shirt up, tear his fly open. Oh, Tommy thinks in a hot rush. Fuck, fuck, oh fucking Christ. He goes down to one elbow, tucking his chin against his chest, hiding his face. There’s carpet on the floor, thin and scratchy. He didn’t think- He’d wanted, but he didn’t think, not so fucking soon.

Adam’s hands on Tommy’s bare ass shock a thin, reedy noise out of him. Braced, Tommy waits, stale breaths shunted back in his face, his skin crawling with dread, anticipation. He’s so fucking exposed like this, more vulnerable in the dark with his ass up than he thinks he’d feel out in the middle of the alley flat on his back naked in the sunlight. Adam’s fingers side down his thighs, back up between them, palms flat to his ass with thumbs pushing between his cheeks, spreading him open. He shivers and bites his lip and tries not to whimper, because that is just so fucking embarrassing, such a fucking wimpy, childish thing to do. He knuckles at the hot burn behind his eyes and squeezes them tighter shut. Adam’s not going to hurt him. It’s not going to be anything like that fucking illustration.

Adam’s the one who whines then, shocking the fuck out of Tommy. He kisses the base of Tommy’s spine, breathing a quiet shushing noise, raspy and strained, cool on overheated skin. Another kiss, and another, moving closer and closer to Adam’s thumbs, and Tommy bites back a weird hiccuping noise, not a sob, not a fucking thing like that, he’s just wound up too tight, he can’t hold it all in. The moment Adam’s mouth touches his asshole, hot and wet and not one bit fucking shy about it, all fucking right up in there licking him, everything caught in his chest bursts sharply free. He’s not a fucking monk, okay, he knows about all the freaky stuff people get up to. He’s thought about it, imagined it, but he didn’t fucking know it felt like this, intrusive and dirty and like he should be fucking ashamed to like it. It’s so fucking good. Not as immediate as Adam’s mouth on his dick had been, but heavier somehow, sticky-hot pleasure squirming through him. Carpet fibres and old glue catching under his nails, Tommy shoves back against Adam’s face, fucking riding Adam’s tongue caught in some fucked-up limbo being embarrassed by what he’s doing and powerless to stop it.

“Adam,” Tommy moans, chopped up by short, staccato bursts of these fucking crazy, mindless noises he’s making, getting louder and louder, echoing off the walls. Adam licks him all over, sucks on his balls and mouths at his dick, nuzzling his junk like Adam’s trying to fucking scent-mark him, and then Adam’s sliding back up, biting hard at the cheek of his ass, squeezing harder, teeth scraping all the way back to his hole. He jolts, shocked all fucking over again. It hurts but in a good way, like when he’d finally been allowed to get his ears pierced, sharp and sudden and then the billowing ache that settles way down low in his belly. All it takes is recognising what the ache really is, like his body’s already wired a certain way and all he had to do was fucking realise it, to make him come. Adam climbs over him to pin him down as he claws at the carpet, losing it so fucking hard that through the bright burst of it, he’s scared. It’s too much, too intense, this’ll fucking kill him, and it isn’t until Adam’s shoving a hand underneath him, fisting his dick, that he realises he’s lost time, whole minutes gone and he’s hard again.

“What the fuck,” he rasps. He unclenches his hands, a sharp ache arrowing up from his fingers into his arms. His fucking jeans are down to his ankles, caught on his sneakers, and his knees are burning so bad it feels like somebody took a cheese grater to them. Sucking in a shaky breath, he’s about to ask Adam to let him up for a minute when Adam’s hand skids wetly over his cock, thumb bumping over the notch beneath the head and pressing hard to his slit. A wordless sound comes out of him instead as his hips bucks. His ass feels wet and open and weird, so fucking weird, but a hand on his dick is familiar, even the angle’s pretty much the same as when he jacks it.

“You can go again,” Adam says, and Tommy would laugh if he could manage it. Fuck yeah, he can go again. Adam gives him one long tug, then goes short and hard and slow, nipping at the peak of Tommy’s spine, nosing through his hair to find the shell of his ear. “Fuck my hand for me. Let me feel you come this time.”

Tommy hisses, “Holy shit,” his dick and his hips and his whole fucking body taking over, pushing him into Adam’s hand again and again and again. Wherever the fuck they are stinks of sex, fucking reeks of sweat and come layered over Adam’s wet-earth smell, organic and vibrant. Tommy fills his lungs with it until they’re bursting, and he’s clawing at the fucking carpet again, humping Adam’s fist like it’s his last chance ever to get some. He imagines what he looks like, half-naked on hands and knees, sweaty and flushed and straining, Adam watching his every move, feeling it pressed up against his back, and he fucking likes it. He’s turned on and kinda embarrassed and that turns him on even more, not like a humiliation thing but that he can do this, he can just fucking do it because he wants to, and Adam wants him to. Adam doesn’t fucking give a shit that he’s a stupid kid with a hair-trigger dick. The second time he comes doesn’t hit him as hard as the first, letting him ride it the whole way through to the end, Adam’s hand clutching tighter around his pulsing dick, come shot straight onto the floor and more of it squeezing free, spilling down Adam’s knuckles. Tommy collapses in a shuddering heap, one of his hands banging into the wall and the other into what feels like a fucking shoe. As soon as he’s got the breath, he asks, “Where the fuck are we?” in a voice that suggests he’s been a chain-smoker from the fucking womb.

“My place,” Adam grates, and whoa, what the fuck, Adam’s place, Adam brought him home? Tommy flails for a handhold as Adam catches him around the hips and hauls him up, his body totally not on board with any plan that involves moving. “Tommy, please.” Grabbing Tommy’s hand, Adam presses it against his dick through his jeans. His dick that’s so fucking hard, Tommy’s own gives a sympathetic jerk. Fortunately Tommy’s gonna need more than five minutes to get going again.

“Oh fuck yeah,” Tommy says, scrambling around awkwardly, kicking off his Chucks and his crumpled jeans. His thighs are a sticky, cooling mess, and while that would drive him nuts on his own, here in this small dark space with Adam, it’s so fucking hot he could die. There’s more light when he’s finally facing Adam, spilling in from probably the living room a little further down the hall, more than enough for him to get Adam’s jeans open and shoved down and his hands all over Adam’s junk. “You want me to suck you off, right? Can I do that?”

Adam’s dick practically leaps with joy in his hand. Taking that as a yes, Tommy dives down, Adam’s hand coming up to catch in his hair and push it back delaying him barely a second. He stuffs his mouth as full as he can get it, testing out the texture and shape of Adam’s dick, and the taste, oh fuck, the taste spreading all over his tongue, so good he draws back, searching for more. His hand loosely holding Adam steady, he pushes his tongue at the slit and sucks, feeling Adam’s thigh go tight under his other palm, muscles bunched and flexing. Adam’s hand in his hair jerks, clenches hard. Tommy groans eagerly, so immediately in love with the idea that he can make Adam react so strongly that he has to do it again, sucking harder, flicking with his tongue, remembering only when Adam pushes that he’s got Adam’s entire fucking dick to play with. He takes more of it into his mouth, way more at Adam’s urging than he thinks he can handle, but it’s a smooth slide filling him up. He’s so fucking relaxed right now, two-orgasm drunk, that he thinks he could maybe push it further, see what Adam would do if he got it wedged into his throat, but he likes the way everything’s going too much to try for it.

Once he gets something like a rhythm going, it turns out it’s more work worrying about keeping his lips tight and his tongue firm and his teeth out of it than he thought it would be. Even with all that, it’s fucking amazing. Like, he can feel every twitch of Adam’s dick, blood-hot and so hard beneath smooth, delicate skin, and there’s a fucking trip. Adam, big motherfucking scary werewolf, is as soft and vulnerable as Tommy is down here. Tommy’s got his dick in his mouth, millimetres from hard, blunt teeth, Tommy’s got his balls gathered up in his other hand, heavy but just as weirdly fragile, so easy to squeeze and tug and make Adam gasp, tremble, push harder into Tommy’s mouth. He’s always kind of enjoyed playing with his own nuts while getting off. It never occurred to him it’s the feel of them in his hand as much as actually touching them that does it for him. But oh fuck, it’s so much better when it’s Adam’s. There’s no immediate, driving need to come, nothing but the taste and feel and smell to lose himself in. Jesus Christ, he is in fucking cocksucking nirvana.

A part of him wants to stop and tell Adam all about this, make sure Adam really fucking gets what’s happening down here, these fucking life-changing revelations Tommy’s on his knees having, but a bigger part, the part he’s listening to, wants him to keep going. He can’t tell for sure that Adam’s close, but it seems like it, both of Adam’s hands in his hair, Adam’s voice ripped to shreds. There’s just enough time for him to wonder if he’s gonna take a shot in the mouth or if Adam’s going to let go, and if he wants Adam to let him up or not, before Adam starts yanking really hard on his hair. Figuring that’s his warning, he digs his nails into Adam’s wrist, so very much fuck no, he’s taking it right here like this. Adam tries a couple more times, saying something too fast and choppy for Tommy to understand, and then Adam’s shoving him down, bucking up, filling his mouth with sudden wet heat. Stupidly, Tommy forgets about swallowing, forgets how to swallow. His mouth fills up too fast and he chokes, spluttering, come going fucking everywhere, his face and his hand, and Adam’s junk and thighs and belly and clothes. While Adam’s slumped over him, breathing hard, Tommy stares at Adam’s sloppy dick. He did that. He made Adam come so hard, and so fucking much, he couldn’t even fucking keep it all in his mouth.

Grinning like a total fucking nutjob, Tommy surges up, spunk-slick hand skidding over Adam’s cheek as he kisses the fuck out of him, messy and off-centre and so terrible. He starts to laugh before he can fix it up, tiny hiccuping giggles he can’t hold back, like he’s fucking high or something. High on dick.

“I love your dick,” Tommy says, and okay, maybe he hadn’t pegged himself as that kinda guy–not the non-dick-loving kind, that’s kind of a total duh, but the type who likes to talk about it. “You’re like, it’s like– Fuck. Fuck! It fits in my fucking mouth, like, fucking right in there. Your dick fits my mouth.”

Adam’s staring at him, panting, eyes weirdly murky in the dimness, not quite blue and really far from yellow. His thumb skims the corner of Tommy’s lips, fingers unsteady on Tommy’s jaw. Tommy turns and nuzzles into Adam’s palm, remembering how it had covered his entire mouth and nose, liking how gentle it is now, almost tentative, but totally getting a kick out of how, if Adam wanted, Adam could shut him up again so easily.

Breaking away, Tommy skins off his shirt. Now he’s naked, and Adam’s pretty much mostly dressed, boots and all, and Tommy really, really likes the rough brush of denim on the insides of his thighs as he crawls over Adam’s lap, drapes his arms around Adam’s neck. He bites his lip, feeling the tug of thin smears of come beginning to dry, then presses his lips really carefully to Adam’s. With a noise like Tommy’s kicked him in the gut, Adam kisses him. It’s slow, wet and dirty, like, fucking filthy with the way Adam’s sucking on his tongue, nipping and tugging on his lips, licking and sucking again. Tommy’s totally on his way to another awesome boner, but it’s kinda fuzzy and distant, more like something to let hang around for awhile, keep making him feel good. By the time Adam’s kisses wind down, Tommy’s mouth feels sore and swollen, well-used and very much appreciated. Tommy’s really appreciative of Adam’s appreciation. He bumps their foreheads together. “Gonna offer me a beer?”

Adam huffs a laugh, the fingers of one hand tracing slow, lazy paths up and down Tommy’s bare back, touching without a purpose, just because. “I guess I should. But I’d have to get up for that.”

“Floor’s less awesome than it was ten minutes ago,” Tommy says, bracing a hand on Adam’s shoulder to give himself a wobbly push up. Which totally ends up putting his dick right in front of Adam’s face, and his dick is pretty interested in getting some of that appreciation showing in Adam’s eyes. Adam’s gaze slides up, meeting Tommy’s, as he slowly grins.

Rocking back off his knees, then up onto his feet without any help at all, Adam strips off his shirt and uses it to wipe off his belly. “Kitchen’s this way,” he says, adding his shirt to the heap of Tommy’s clothes.

Tommy bites his tongue to keep from asking if Adam’s really gonna give him booze. He’s not sure how old Adam is, but he’s definitely realised by now Tommy’s a good few years away from legal drinking age. Also more than a few shy of legal in any sense of the word. Adam’s a werewolf, though. Based on what Tommy’s seen so far, human laws don’t have much pull.

Instead of turning on the overhead light, Adam flicks on the small light above the stove. When he opens the fridge and bends down to pull two bottles off the shelf, Tommy’s gaze gets stuck on the long, smooth curve of his back. Before Tommy knows what he’s doing, he’s reaching out to touch. It feels like something he’s allowed to do now.

Adam smiles at him, straightening up. “It’s cheap,” Adam says, handing over a bottle, “so don’t expect much.”

“I’m kind of a lightweight,” Tommy admits. Though fuck knows it’s not for lack of trying. He glances around for something to pry the top off once he figures out it’s not a screw cap.

Setting the top of his own bottle against the edge of the stove, Adam gives it a pop with the heel of his hand. The cap goes flying off. “Here,” he says, holding out the bottle, condensation swirling around the mouth.

“Cool.” Tommy’s only seen that done in movies. His Uncle Joe tries that move all the time, and it usually ends in his uncle red-faced and his mom shaking her head sadly as she hauls out the bottle opener. Looking around the kitchen, Tommy takes a quick swig. It doesn’t taste all that awesome, but his experience with beer to date is that it’s not about the taste. He’s in Adam’s apartment, where they had the best fucking sex ever, drinking Adam’s beer. Everything’s fucking beautiful.

Though kind of frosty with no clothes on, holding a cold bottle. He shuffles over a few steps to where Adam’s leaning against the counter like some sort of amazing x-rated Levi’s ad, tucks himself in close to Adam’s side. Adam drapes a warm arm around him, pulling him in, cheek resting against the top of Tommy’s head. It should probably be weird standing around naked in the kitchen drinking shitty beer. It’s really, really not.

“So, um.” Tommy flicks the edge of his beer’s label with a nail. “You buy this ’cause it’s cheap?”

“I don’t buy it at all,” Adam says.

“Oh.” Adam probably can’t buy it. No ID. Tommy’s not so sure how the were thing works in other countries, though. Maybe Adam’s not even from here. “Are you, uh.”

Adam’s quiet laugh is soft and warm. “You can ask me questions.”

Wrinkling his nose, Tommy says, “They’re pretty dumb. And probably don’t even matter.”

“No, come on. Ask me.”

The naked thing isn’t weird. Somehow, having a normal conversation is. Like, Tommy’s built up this mental image of Adam either as a wolf, or as this stupidly hot guy he gets to bang. This in-between thing, the sexy guy he gets to hang out with, shoot the shit, that’s fucked.

Tommy ends up going with the ever-brillant, “How old are you?”

“Twenty,” Adam answers, easy as shit.

“What do you, um, do?” It’s a question Tommy’s always hearing. The second he asks it, he realises how fucking vague it is. “I mean, this is your place. Do you own it?”

“No. A friend of my family owns the building.” As if Tommy’s not asking the lamest, nosiest questions ever, Adam takes another drink, settling deeper against the counter to pull Tommy in front of him. Adam’s junk is soft against Tommy’s back. His fingertips, only vaguely cool, stroke across Tommy’s belly, finding the thin trail of hair there to follow it down, back up again. Tommy shivers. “I pay rent when he lets me. I do odd jobs when there are people willing to pay me under the table. I sing.” Adam’s nose touches Tommy’s ear. “You saw me.”

“That’s not singing,” Tommy blurts. “That’s fucking, I don’t even fucking know. So much fucking more than singing. It was incredible. Your fucking voice, man.”

Adam makes a sort of bizarre, shyly-pleased sound distantly related to a laugh. “Thank you.”

“I mean it,” Tommy huffs, suspicious that Adam’s not taking him seriously. “Music is my fucking soul. You’re really amazing.”

Adam says, “I’m glad you think so,” genuinely enough that Tommy figures he’s not gonna have to beat Adam over the head with his beer to make a point. Which is good, because cheap, shitty brew or not, it’s warming Tommy up from the inside out. He’s not really close to buzzed, but if Adam’s got any more to share, he’ll get there.

They stand in companionable silence for a few minutes, Tommy polishing off his drink, thinking about asking for another and playing back what Adam said. “That sounds rough,” he says, resting his head on Adam’s shoulder to look up at him. “Not having a job, I mean.”

“Lots of clubs hire me for one or two shows,” Adam says. “With the raids, most are afraid to keep me on longer, but people are decent to me. The pay’s fair. More than fair, considering they can’t list me as an expense.”

“Fuck.” Tommy’s eyes are prickling weirdly. From what he can see, Adam’s place is decent, and Adam’s warm and solid and healthy behind him. Not homeless or starving, and not alone if he’s got a family, friends, but it’s not fucking fair. Tommy can’t vote, can’t drive, can’t drink, can’t do any-fucking-thing, but he’s allowed to at least fucking exist. Shit, he’s even got a steady job. And he’s fucking worried about telling his mom he doesn’t want to go to college.

“What is it?” Adam asks, his face close, his tone not nearly as easy and relaxed as it was answering Tommy’s dumb questions. “Why are you crying, what’s wrong?”

“M’not crying,” Tommy grumbles. Shit. But he isn’t.

“You’re about to, I can smell it. Tell me what’s wrong.” Adam sounds like he’s gonna fucking wolf out.

“It’s not you,” Tommy says quickly, sure beyond doubt he doesn’t want to deal with a panicked, two-hundred pound wolf. “Just, I knew the Coalition was fucking bullshit. I knew it. And here you are, fucking, like, not even that much fucking older than me, and you’re nothing like the bullshit they spout. Not even fucking close, and they don’t want to even give you a fucking chance.”

At the mention of the Coalition, Adam tensed, but by the time Tommy’s run down, he’s loose again, holding Tommy close and rubbing at his arm. Which is dumb and cliché because it really, really helps. “Sometimes, they’re right,” Adam says quietly.

“Bull-fucking-shit-”

“I said sometimes,” Adam cuts in calmly. “We can be careless and violent and cruel. Sometimes we lose control and hurt people even when we don’t mean to. Other times we do things we know we shouldn’t.”

“How’s that so fucking different?”

Adam shrugs. “It isn’t. Claws and teeth or a loaded gun, they’re both weapons.”

Adam’s so fucking mellow about all of this it’s driving Tommy insane. It’s like he doesn’t even fucking care. Like he’s accepted it or some shit. “Except you can’t fucking license people to live.”

Catching Tommy’s arm, folding it against his chest, Adam says, “I agree with you.”

“Then why aren’t you fucking doing something about it!”

“Do what?” Adam asks, his voice still so frustratingly even. “Live my life the way I want to?”

“Yes,” Tommy huffs. It feels like he’s about to get schooled, and he’s not sure which direction it’s coming from.

“Go where I want to, and do what I want to, and bring home this gorgeous kid I saw at a rock show once, one crazy enough to walk into a room full of wolves, so I can stand in the middle of my kitchen and kiss him if I want?”

Tommy’s heart steadily picking up speed, it gives one hard lurch as Adam tilts his chin up to make good on that last thing Adam mentioned. Still sort of ticked off, Tommy refuses to go with it at first. For all of two fucking seconds, because yeah, he’s a kid, but he’s not fucking stupid. He knows a good thing when it’s fucking licking his mouth open, gentle and sweet, a pure current of electricity running beneath it, the promise that this could turn hard and dirty at any second. Hard like Adam’s dick is getting, rubbing against Tommy’s side and belly as he twists around to let Adam kiss him deeper. Tommy ends up clutching at Adam’s face, empty bottle shoved onto the counter, kissing back for all he’s worth. His mouth stings a bit, reminding him of what they’ve already done together, that there’s more Adam’ll probably let him do.

“Change’ll come,” Adam says, rubbing Tommy’s sore bottom lip with his thumb. “Until then, I’m doing exactly what I want to.”

So fucking ready to be done with minefield conversations, Tommy says, “Like me? I’m pretty into being done and all.”

Adam’s smile goes from surprised to sharp to smoking hot in three seconds flat. “You came out here today to seduce me,” he accuses.

Pretty non-conventional seduction, even to Tommy’s limited experience, but hey, whatever works. “I’m conveniently naked,” Tommy points out.

“I have a bed,” Adam adds, and Tommy says, “Fuck yeah, bed,” and drags Adam out of the kitchen, only a vague idea as to where this bed might be located in the scheme of things. He’s confident he’ll figure it out.

*

Though Tommy took a quick dip in Adam’s shower, brushed his teeth with Adam’s toothbrush, and took the long way home so his clothes would have a chance to air out, he’s afraid the second his walks into his house, Mom’ll take one look at him and know he spent the entire day drinking and fucking. Seriously, he’s pretty much a good kid. The sex is a new addition to his occasional booze and drug habits that he doubts she’d appreciate, but he tries not to get into trouble. Adam even had weed and he didn’t touch it.

More like Adam wouldn’t let him touch it, since it was bad enough sending him home half-cut, but not because Adam’s got some high ideas about kids and drugs. Adam doesn’t want Tommy’s mom getting between him and Tommy’s ass. ‘Cause then, Tommy thinks, sort of gleefully, Adam would have to do something drastic. Adam is really, really into Tommy’s ass. Literally.

Adam’s got a big queen size bed, and he pushed Tommy down on it on his belly, spread him out and licked him open again. Rolled him back over, his arms and legs fucking useless Adam had him so worked up, and went down on him so fucking slowly Tommy almost yelled his fucking head off. And then Adam stopped, like, cold fucking turkey, until Tommy came down enough to watch as Adam pushed his knee up and slid a finger in. Only one, and he was already so loose and wet he barely felt the stretch, but Adam was fucking it into him, pressing against his insides, rocking gently enough to let Tommy feel it, get used to it, and then Adam smiled this tight, wicked smile and pushed. Tommy’s been curious about his ass before, did some exploring, but he’d never found that spot. He came so fucking hard he saw stars. A whole fucking universe.

Fuck, thinking about it’s given him a boner, and he’s on his front fucking step. He can hear his mom inside talking on the phone. Fuck, fuck, fuck. What the fuck is his life.

“There he is!” his mom calls after he’s closed the door but hasn’t made it even close to the stairs. He cringes. He hopes they don’t have company. Please let there be no company. “Michael’s on the phone, honey! Did you forget to charge your cell again?”

“Um, yeah,” Tommy says, sufficiently sheepish for her to buy it. Since the last fucking thing he needed was to get caught in Eastside and for someone to call his fucking mom, his phone is upstairs, turned off, shoved way into the back of his nightstand with the only single, sad condom he’s ever owned, a tube of KY from his cousin Warren at his last birthday–a homage to the classic American Pie (even though it wasn’t KY used in the movie)–and the valentine he got from Lauren Harris in seventh grade, because it was a fucking zombie offering its heart up in one grimy, half-rotted fist. Lauren was pretty cool, and he maybe cried a little the day she moved to Wichita. Tommy’s pretty sure he could’ve fallen in love with Lauren.

She’d probably think it’s way awesome he’s got a werewolf boyfriend, too. Sorta-boyfriend? There was the initial awkward date (sorta-date), alcohol, kissing and groping and sex, and then tonight Adam walked him all the way out of Eastside to the bus. All that’s close enough to the whole boyfriend experience for Tommy to figure it counts.

“Honey?” his mom asks, holding out the phone.

“Sorry,” Tommy mumbles. “Dude, hey,” he says into the receiver, stretching the phone cord to its limit so he can lurk in the hallway like a kid with way too much shit to hide from his mother.

“Hey,” Mike says, nice and mellow. “So, you ditched me today. You get head?”

“What?” Tommy flings a frantic glance at the kitchen where Mom’s chopping vegetables. “What, dude, what, shut up.”

“Alright, go you, you got some. I hope you reciprocated. I didn’t raise no Scrooge.”

“You didn’t fucking raise anybody, Jesus, shut up.”

“Language,” Mom says casually.

“Oh,” Mike says, long and drawn out and super fucking annoying. Dude’s totally baked. “It’s okay, you know. I forgive you. I told your mom I forgot to ask you what time you wanted to come over for our really awesome pyjama party on Wednesday. You know, that night my parents are going to be in fucking Oregon or whatever. I get scared in the dark.”

“Wednesday?” Tommy scratches at the back of his neck, keeping a wary eye on his mom in the hall mirror. “I, uh, oh. Wednesday.”

“Sometimes you’re really slow, Ratliff.”

“You are the best fucking friend ever,” Tommy says fervently. “I love you like a brother, man.”

“As long as you don’t love me like a wolf.”

“Get off the phone, weirdo, so I can ask my mom.”

“Okay,” Mike says easily. “Call me, dude, or I’ll give her wolfsbane for her birthday.”

“That’s not funny,” Tommy says. “Mike? Mike? Shit.” He collapses against the wall, shoulders sagging. Mike would totally do that and think it’s hilarious. Fuck, he’ll have to ask Adam if it’s just a name for a weird plant, or it Adam’s going to, like, break out in hives the next time he trots through the yard.

“Come set the table, please,” Mom calls from the kitchen.

Tommy slumps around the corner and hangs up the phone. Mom’s staring straight at him. “Um,” he says, and goes to get plates.

“Is there something you want to ask me?”

Fuck Mike for dropping this on him without giving him time to think up a really, really good reason why she should let him sleep over at Mike’s when Mike’s already blown the whistle on his parents being out of town. Fucking Mike. Fucking Mike calling his mom while he’s stoned.

Going straight for it, Tommy asks, “So, can I?”

Mom’s eyes take on a suspicious glint. “Are you going to be there all night?”

“Yes,” Tommy says, not really getting where she’s going with that. “But, um, no. We might go catch a movie? With the guys, you know.” Guys, what fucking guys. Jesus. He’s got to quit saying that shit.

She looks at him for another long moment. “Alright,” she says finally, and Tommy’s brain goes, What? What? For fucking real, what?. “You’re never given me a reason to doubt you. I trust you’ll be responsible.”

Oh, ouch. Motherfucker. Direct hit. Tommy’s post-coital werewolf-boyfriend glow goes up in a mushroom cloud the size of fucking Canada. “Thanks, Mom,” he says, putting as much I’m-a-good-son into it as he can muster.

“You’re welcome, honey,” Mom says, smiling. “I’m glad you’re getting out more.”

*

Monday, Tommy goes with his mom to the hospital in the morning. Dad’s doing great, they’re talking about releasing him next week, but Tommy can tell they had a talk. They keep exchanging Meaningful Parental Gazes when they think he’s not looking. One of them’s going to try the sex talk again soon. The first time they gave it a shot, Tommy thinks his mom got a little too deep into the wine to build up the courage for it, and his dad thought every fucking thing she said was hilarious, so they eventually gave up after a stern ‘be safe, be smart, and don’t mix sex and alcohol, son, it’s never as good an idea as it sounds’. With the both of them being so fucking weird, it made a deeper impression than he thinks they realise. He’s never gotten drunk with anybody he’s ever had sex with until after they’ve had sex.

True, it was just the one time with Adam, but whatever. He totally listened.

That night, his mom has some neighbours over. They’re up really, really late, and Mr. Foon sort of takes over the entire backyard for his hourly smoke breaks. It totally kills any chance Tommy’s got to sneak out or for Adam to sneak in. Not that Tommy thinks that’ll fly, but by the time midnight rolls around and Mr. Foon is outside puffing like a fucking smokestack again, Tommy’s willing to consider the logistics of getting Adam in through his bedroom window.

On Tuesday, his mom wrangles him into cleaning the garage. The entire fucking thing. The whole time Tommy’s outside, he thinks about what they could do if Adam were to happen by. Tommy’s never seen him in daylight. And then Tommy stops, old paint cans clutched to his chest like he’s a Harlequin heroine, because he’s never seen Adam in the daylight. Really seen him in full daylight, not some back alley, knowing it’s him–the dude Mike pointed out at the movie theatre is a smudge in his memory, not even Adam at all. Adam’s eyes are probably fucking killer all lit up. And his hair, so dark fisted in Tommy’s hands, it’s probably like slices of fucking midnight in the sun. It’s like there’s this entire version of Adam he’s missing out on.

“Fuck me,” he says, shoving the cans into a more-or-less tidy pile in the corner. The first thing he’s doing when he turns eighteen is getting Adam a fucking cell phone and a god damn family plan. Adam’s got no job history, no credit rating, and no fucking phone. Maybe until Tommy’s old enough to switch off his mom’s plan, they can get Adam a pay-as-you-go phone from the 7-11. Adam’ll say he does fine without it, and could be he does, but the phone in the lobby of Adam’s building only makes outgoing calls for some weird, fucked up reason. Fuck, he wishes Adam would call.

That night, after being a moody little bitch all through dinner, Tommy says, “Going out,” as he stumps his way through the door. His mom doesn’t say anything, not even her usual back-by-whatever-time thing. She’s probably glad to get him out of her hair.

Tommy crosses the street without even looking, like a total genius. The playground’s empty when he gets there, too late for the usual suspects to be hanging around, and the park’s too close to the houses for it to be a popular spot with the evening crowd. He goes straight to the merry-go-round, sits down, and instantly feels like a tool for thinking of it as their spot. But it kind of is. Tommy saw Adam as a wolf for the very first time nearby. Tommy got his very first fucking blowjob right here. They kissed, for real.

It’s not too late for Tommy to go into Eastside again. Except the last two times he did that, he got lucky. What if he goes now, and Adam’s out at a gig? He can’t aimlessly wander the streets at night the same as he did in the day. He’s reckless and a little crazy, not fucking suicidal.

After about an hour, his ass his numb and his hands are freezing. He sticks it out for another twenty minutes, then shoves up with a sigh, shuffling his way back across the soccer field to home. Instead of heading inside, he circles past the exceptionally tidy garage to slump into the backyard, throwing himself down on the old swinging chair. Mom always forgets to put the cover back on it at night, so it’s a little damp and smells like mould. Gross. Too late now, though. He’s deep into his funk and smelly mould suits it fine.

Close to eleven, he gives up. He’s been out here marking the fucking wind for way too long already. If Adam were anywhere close, he would’ve scented Tommy by now. Adam’s obviously got shit to do.

A few more hours watching reruns on his laptop in bed, Tommy rolls over and goes to sleep. His window’s open extra wide, just in case. Hope’s a bitch like that.

*

“He’s not coming,” Tommy says morosely to his beer.

“You’re like fucking Rapunzel,” Mike mutters, busily rolling a joint. “He’ll be here.”

“If he can.” Tommy’s not quite ready to admit it to Mike, but he’s not so sure. Two nights a no-show. Two nights without even a twinge of that being-watched feeling. There’s only one thing that’s changed. Maybe Tommy wasn’t very good. Maybe he should’ve been more careful and not fucking kicked Adam in the shin when he came that last time. Adam had laughed, though. Said it was cute.

“Here,” Mike says, shoving a lit joint in Tommy’s face. “Let down your long fucking hair.”

Tommy falls on the joint happily. This is so what he needs. He’s got to fucking chill. So what if Adam doesn’t make it tonight? There’s always tomorrow. And Mike’s fucking awesome, hanging out in his backyard waiting for Tommy’s wayward werewolf to make an appearance when they’ve got full run of the house. To be fair, Mike’s got full run of the house a lot, so maybe it’s not such a big deal to him. Even before Tommy’s dad got sick the last time, his parents never really went anywhere. Homebodies, like him.

Through the smoke, Tommy thinks he catches a glint of yellow. When it turns out to be nothing, he chases his hit with some beer. The combination’ll knock him out pretty fast if he’s not careful. Not like he’s got something to stay up for, though.

“Hey,” Tommy says, elbowing Mike. “Let’s marathon, like, Halloween or something.”

Mike squints at him, inhaling slowly, the cherry flaring red. “Yeah,” he croaks through the smoke. “Yeah, okay.”

*

Instead of watching the series in order, they skip right from the original 1978 movie to Rob Zombie’s remake, picking out the best and worst parts of each one. They’re both pretty high by the time they pop in the second disc.

“Man,” Mike says in his stoner drawl, “cockroaches, socialites, and Michael fucking Myers.”

Not even sure what the joke is, Tommy immediately pictures Paris Hilton in a classic goalie mask and cracks his shirt right the fuck up. Which doesn’t even fucking make sense. It’s Myers, not Jason Voorhees. The picture’s in his head now, though, and it won’t fucking go away. Like a fucking cockroach.

Mid-cackle, something rattles the sliding door, sending Tommy bolt upright with a bellow. Mike blinks at him, totally not getting it, then the door rattles again and Mike hisses, “Shit,” staring across the hall into the dining room. Tommy meets his gaze when it slides back. No fucking way. There are no tits here. Serial killers to the next house down, please.

“Shit,” Mike says again, up on his knees, clinging to the back of the couch. “Dude, somebody’s out there.”

“Somebody?” Tommy echoes dumbly.

“Like, it’s not a wolf.”

“Oh my fuck.” Tommy scrambles over the couch, his foot tangling in the knitted afghan Mike’s had since he was, like, four, and still carries from his room to the couch and back again like a fucking teddy bear. He manages to kick free without falling on his ass and legs it to the dining room, slamming up against the glass, scrabbling at the lock. “Adam. Fuck me, Adam, Jesus, how’d you find me,” he babbles, kinda drunkenly, as he hauls the door open, “how the fuck, oh, fuck.”

“Hey,” Adam says, warm and happy and not like he minds Tommy kind of drunk and kind of stoned and clinging to him really kind of stupidly. Tommy thought he wasn’t coming. Tommy had considered that maybe, you know, once Adam had him a couple times in that big bed, Adam’s itch would be nice and scratched. Adam hadn’t said anything about coming out to see him again. Kinda implied, but hadn’t said.

Adam makes a soft whuffing noise, weird, but not bad, as he noses in under Tommy’s jaw, lips finding the marks hidden at the edge of the collar of Tommy’s shirt, then tongue, then, oh fuck yeah, teeth. Tommy never would’ve figured he had such a thing for biting, Christ. It makes his spine go liquid, stomach molten, every fucking time. Like he could melt through Adam’s fucking pores.

At the sound of footsteps behind Tommy, Adam tenses. More than tenses. Goes on, like, full fucking alert, like if he had a tail, it’d be standing straight the fuck up. Against Tommy’s neck, his lips peel back from his teeth in a warning snarl.

“Mike,” Tommy gasps, pushing at Adam’s arms. Fuck, Mike. Who so doesn’t fucking need to see Tommy turn into a horny whimpering mess in Adam’s arms. “It’s Mike, chill. He’s, like, my fucking brother.”

Adam’s growl cuts off. Lifting his head slightly, he sniffs the air. “You didn’t say you had a brother. He smells like you, not like family.”

“Yeah, well, you don’t look like teen wolf, McFly,” Mike says, as if that makes, like, a fucking iota of sense. Still, kinda totally hilarious. Tommy chokes back a giggle.

“I mean, he’s my best friend,” Tommy tries. “We were watching movies. On the couch.” He jerks his chin towards the living room, the muted glow of the television playing on without them.

Making a sound like he’s not so sure, Adam scents Tommy’s skin again. It takes Tommy’s substance-addled brain a second to figure out what’s going on, and once it hits him–Adam’s fucking scenting him for sex–he doesn’t know if he’s going to crack up for real, or fucking die. He settles for rolling his eyes and shaking Adam off. “Quit it.”

Face stormy, Adam says, “But-”

“But nothing, dude.” Mike’s got his arms crossed, a thundercloud to rival Adam’s a-brewing, and the sturdy, solid oak dining table between him and the crazy territorial werewolf. “Shit’s not cool. Guy’s fucking mooning around for days, and you show up acting like he’s been fucking, like, stepping out on you. Not cool.”

Wow. Mike’s totally gonna be a 1950s dad when he grows up.

For a minute there, while Mike and Adam are having their staring contest, Tommy thinks Adam’s gonna sprout claws, but then Adam’s shudders lightly, like a wolf shaking out its fur. “He is family,” Adam says, strangely respectful.

Mike looks floored. “Don’t, uh, and don’t you forget it.”

“I’m gonna buy you a cell phone,” Tommy says, which isn’t what he meant to say, but whatever, he’ll go with it. “So next time I can stay out all night, you’ll fucking know.”

Adam looks down at him, eyes widening slightly. “Is that why you’re over here?”

“Duh,” Tommy says. “Told you, Mike’s my bro.” Adam and Mike share another look, which is vaguely reminiscent of the Meaningful Parental Glances Tommy had to endure on Monday. Any second now, Mike’s going to declare that Adam had better treat his boy right. Heading that shit off, Tommy nudges Adam in the side. “So, uh. You gonna take me back to your place again?”

Nostrils flaring on a sharp breath, Adam’s grip on Tommy tightens. There’s a flicker of yellow in his eyes. “Is that safe?”

“Define safe.” Mike’s staring at Adam’s shifting eyes.

“Shut up,” Tommy tells him. “You said you’d cover for me.”

Mike snaps out of it with a blink. “Yeah, uh. Yeah. ‘Course. Got you covered. Go forth and fornicate, my child.”

“Fuckin’ A.” Tommy goes up on his toes to give Adam a quick peck, murmuring, “Gonna grab my shit,” and taking off for the living room. He hasn’t got much–phone, backpack, jacket–and he gathers it all up in a rush. Eyeballing the half-joint left sitting on the coffee table, Tommy jams it into his pocket. Mike’s got more, and he’ll never remember they didn’t finish it. Besides, even if it’s mostly Tommy’s ass Adam’s interested in, it’s not nice showing up at a guy’s place for a second time empty-handed. Half a doobie will totally do.

“‘Kay,” Tommy says, hustling his ass along, “am I gonna need bus fare or– What the shit.”

Mike jerks back from Adam guiltily. With the table still between them, he hadn’t been able to get too close, but Adam’s leaning across the top of it too. Adam smiles and says, “He likes my eyes.”

“Oh man,” Mike says. “Yes, please do make me sound like my lovesick friend.”

“Your eyes are pretty cool,” Tommy says, still wondering what the fuck.

“It’s probably ’cause I’m so baked,” Mike says, “but when they go from blue to yellow, it’s not this full shift thing. Like, little specks of yellow rise up through the blue, kinda like a mosaic, right, and then boom, wolf eyes.”

Adam grins, like this is the best fucking shit he’s heard all week. Tommy’s got to admit, that’s pretty cool, and he’s sorta jealous he didn’t notice before. There were other, way more shallower parts of Adam he’d been too busy checking out. “Cool,” Tommy says, hoping that sounds enthusiastic enough. “So, uh. Thanks, dude.”

“No problem.” Mike gives Tommy a companionable shoulder bump on his way past. “I expect to be best man at the wedding.”

“Wedding, fuck,” Tommy says, rolling his eyes and trying to cut a stealthy glance Adam’s way at the same time. Adam’s fucking beaming. Like, any fucking second now the top of his head’s gonna explode, he looks so happy. Despite Tommy’s best efforts, the warm pool in his belly spreads up and out, seeping all along his limbs straight to fingers and toes. He’s so fucking excited for this shit.

Giving Mike a final wave, Tommy slips out into the night with Adam. Adam’s hand settles on his arm to lead him slightly north of Mike’s place, perpendicular to the route Tommy would take home. When they hit the street, Adam’s hand slides down and wraps warmly around Tommy’s, and Tommy’s entire fucking body thrums happily. Jesus.

“This isn’t going to be much of a surprise,” Adam says, “but I like it when you’re jealous.”

“What?” Tommy tightens his grip on the strap of his backpack. “I wasn’t, dude. You weren’t doing anything.”

“I wasn’t,” Adam agrees. “But your gut reaction back there was for your friend to back off and stop looking at my eyes.”

Stop talking about shit Tommy was too much of a horndog to notice, really, but kinda. “Um.”

Adam gives his hand a squeeze. “So you’ll forgive my gut reaction at smelling him all over you.”

“Already did,” Tommy mumbles. “Do your eyes really do that, like he was talking about?”

“I don’t know. You can watch later and tell me.”

A swift kick of lust and anticipation and maybe a little bit of fear gets Tommy right in the gut. Maybe Adam’ll let him watch a whole shift. Adam’s already had his tongue in Tommy’s ass, and Tommy’s had Adam’s dick in his mouth, for fuck’s sake, there can’t be much about shifting that’s more intimate than that. Except, you know, Adam’s dick in Tommy’s ass. Oh fucking hell. Tommy’s probably gonna get fucked tonight. Like, in a couple hours, he’ll be in Eastside, in Adam’s big bed, and he won’t need to leave until tomorrow sometime. That’s more than enough opportunity for him to get it.

“I’m not going to be able to drive if you keep thinking about whatever you’re thinking about,” Adam says, aiming for casual.

“You’ve got a fucking car?”

Adam gives him a weird look tempered with a smile. “Not much of one. Did you think I ran everywhere?”

Plodding along in a daze, Tommy shrugs and says, “Didn’t really think about it?” which isn’t a total lie. It wouldn’t make much sense to go on the wolf express everywhere–pretty conspicuous, for one thing, and for another, it’d mean Adam showing up everywhere naked. Tommy had gotten so used to seeing Adam-the-wolf, though, he’d kind of assumed.

Another squeeze of Tommy’s hand in Adam’s lets him know it’s okay. But Tommy’s got to stop doing that shit, assuming he knows anything for real about Adam. Normal people fucking ask when they want to get to know somebody.

Adam’s car is parked at the edge of Tommy’s neighbourhood, where the residential area butts up against some grungy businesses sandwiched between storage warehouses. The light’s shit, making it a pretty sweet place for Adam to stash his car. It’s also pretty deserted, and there’s not much in the way of surveillance or a night watch as far as Tommy can tell, so it probably explains Adam showing up at his place as a wolf. Shorter trip from here, for sure.

Nervous energy swirling through Tommy’s insides, he gets in the car. The door’s not locked, and one glance around lets him know why. The car’s pretty much stripped to the bone. There’s an outer shell, some seats, a steering wheel. It looks like it limped its way out of the 70s. “Wow,” Tommy says, even though he didn’t mean to.

“I know.” Adam’s got a rueful twist to his mouth as he cranks the key. “Point A, point B.”

“I’m not talking shit about your ride,” Tommy’s quick to say. He’s not. Fuck, he’s so not. It’s going to get his ass into Adam’s bed way faster than the Metro and a string of buses. He fucking loves Adam’s car. “It’s smart, I mean. Like, less chance somebody’s gonna jack it? At least you got a fucking car. And your own fucking place. Christ, I can’t fucking wait until I can move out.”

Keeping away from the main thoroughfares–another smart move, considering Adam’s an illegal and Tommy’s so fucking underage–Adam takes them on a route Tommy’s never really been before. Everywhere’s shit, dirty and battered, dark and deserted. It makes him feel so fucking young. So fucking disconnected from everything.

“Tell me why?” Adam asks, pulling Tommy’s attention away from the rusty metal culverts heaped behind a broken fence, like somebody had plans for this place and didn’t have the chance to make it happen.

“Just, I do,” Tommy says, shrugging. “My parents are awesome, and I know they love me, but they’ve got all these things they want me to do. And, y’know, shit they most definitely don’t want me doing.”

Adam nods, silent. He’s one of those things that falls into the latter category. Booze, drugs, and werewolves. Fuck, Tommy is a shit son.

“I’ve been trying to figure out for a couple months how to tell them I don’t want to do college.” Adam never even had the chance, which makes Tommy feel like an ungrateful little shit. But it doesn’t change his mind. College isn’t for him. It’d be worse to waste the money. Then he’d be like those prep school jerks coasting through life on daddy’s money and wasting every fucking second of it. “I’d rather work. Try to score some gigs. That sort of thing.”

“You play?” Adam asks, carefully slowing down as they hit some traffic. He’s the fucking safest driver Tommy’s ever seen.

“Guitar.” Trying not to sound proud about it is a lost cause. Tommy loves that he can play, and that he’s getting better all the time. “I like the old school bluesy stuff.”

Adam’s teeth flash in a quick smile. “That’s so awesome. And that you know what you want, and you’re going to go for it.”

“Moving out’ll have to wait,” Tommy says. Now that he’s started talking, it’s like he can’t stop. They’re about halfway to Eastside, he guesses, and it’s like they’re in their own little world inside the car. It smells like Adam, and warm metal and grease, kinda unreal. Like one of those really vivid dreams where you can feel the cracked leather under your fingers, taste the air, but everything’s almost too heavy, so real it’s like its trying too hard so you know it can’t be.

Adam makes an interested noise, prompting Tommy to go on. “Uh,” Tommy says, trying to wrangle his brain back around, “like, oh yeah. When I graduate, my gig at the music store’ll be full time. I wanna be able to help out my mom, so I’m gonna hang around for awhile, slip her some extra cash instead of taking on rent and bills and shit of my own right away.”

“I did that,” Adam says, making Tommy’s heart jolt, like it means something that they had the same idea, wanted the same thing for their families. “My mom eventually kicked me out, saying I had to do something for myself for once, but I still send her money.”

“Sounds like a good mom,” Tommy says, grinning into the dark.

“Apparently, I’m a good kid,” Adam says, wry. “She doesn’t always understand my choices, but she does her best to support me.”

“Like the singing?” It’s be so cool if Tommy’s mom was into his music the way his dad is.

“A little like that, yeah.”

Reaching across the seats, Tommy gives Adam’s hand a squeeze. He’s not sure how he’s gonna keep this up without his parents finding out, but oh fuck, no way can they know. Not while they could put a stop to it, point blank. Or like, they could try, and he could fuck off and do shit anyway, but he doesn’t want that. It’ll be easier if they just don’t know. Which means keeping Adam a secret. That doesn’t sound so hot, either.

Tommy’s still mulling over if this is a thing or a fling when Adam takes his hand back to navigate the smaller, narrower streets of Eastside. As the old-style buildings rise up around them, the nervous twitter in Tommy’s stomach surges to the forefront. Thinking about all that shit totally distracted him from the really awesome sex he hopes he’s about to have. Fuck, he can’t wait to suck Adam’s dick again. Now that he knows what he’s doing, he’ll be even better at it. Adam’s gonna fucking love it.

Slamming the car into park, Adam says, “Shit,” and surges across the bench seat, catching Tommy’s jaw in one hand and shoving his tongue straight into Tommy’s mouth. Tommy flails a bit, stupidly, because okay, he totally didn’t see that one coming, and Adam moves fast, holy fuck, but he gets with it in pretty good time, opening up to let Adam have his filthy fucking way. Things way down low in Tommy’s belly go tight and liquid hot. He kisses back harder, trying to tell Adam with his tongue that Adam’s got carte fucking blanche here. Anything Adam wants to do to him, Tommy’ll fucking take it.

“Oh my god,” Adam says, pushing Tommy’s shoulder hard into the seat, twisting to get closer, “you smell so fucking good.” He shoves his nose in the crook of Tommy’s neck, his hands skidding down to wrench open Tommy’s fly, and Tommy thinks, oh, wow, holy shit, what? He’s gonna get blown in the front seat of a fucking Buick.

The second Tommy’s jeans are open, Adam stills, shuddering. He’s bent over Tommy’s lap breathing hard through his nose, sharp and loud in the closeness of the car. Tommy bites at his lip and squirms. Adam’s hand is right fucking there, poised to dive in his shorts and haul his dick out, but Adam’s not fucking moving. Tommy pushes at the back of Adam’s head, kinda insistent and rude. He can’t help it. That first move of Adam’s dumped his ass square in so-fucking-hard-it-hurts territory, and if Adam doesn’t do something soon, Tommy’s gonna haul it out and jack it himself.

What Tommy totally doesn’t expect is for Adam to yank Tommy halfway across the seat and shove his whole fucking face into Tommy’s crotch. Tommy does some more of that dumb, uncoordinated flailing, ending up with one leg crooked in the footwell and the other slung over the back of the fucking seat, spread wide open as Adam noses at him, sucking on his dick through his shorts. It’s dark out, and it’s Eastside at night so there’s not a lot of movement that Tommy can see, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there. Somebody could be watching them right now.

“Adam,” Tommy tries, his skin prickling with heat and unseen eyes. “We should, I guess–fuck–inside?”

Adam shivers and bites at his belly right beside his trapped dick. Tommy arches up, clamping his mouth shut on a sharp cry. Fuck, that’s like it’s on an express line to his fucking balls, making them go heavy and tight and about two seconds from fucking exploding.

“We should fuck,” Adam says, which isn’t at all what Tommy meant but shit, he agrees, he agrees so fucking much as Adam’s mouthing at the head of his dick, forcing one of those thready noises out of his throat. Tommy’s still being a total douche about it, too, holding Adam’s head down and grinding against his face, and that’s so not helping them get their asses out of the car and into Adam’s bed. Unclenching his hands from Adam’s hair takes every single ounce of will power he’s got left.

“For real fuck,” Tommy says, pushing his hand down to cup his cock through his jeans. Adam growls, annoyed at Tommy’s cockblocking ways, but Tommy’s totally serious here. “I mean it. Like, upstairs. Put your dick in me type of fuck.”

Adam groans so loud the car shudders. Or maybe that’s all Tommy, squished up in the seat trembling like a fucking leaf in a storm. He’s got no idea what he’s getting himself in to here. He can’t even imagine what it’ll feel like to have Adam in him, but fuck, he wants to know.

“Come on,” Tommy says, pushing at Adam’s shoulder. “Let’s go. Fuck, like, right now, c’mon, go.”

With a sound like it hurts, Adam tears himself away, thumping back against the seat. His eyes are pure wolf in the darkness, otherworldly and so fucking hot with his hair fallen in his face. Tommy paws at the door handle, wrenching it open and shoving his way out into the street. Looking around, he doesn’t recognise anything. The clunk of Adam slamming the other door echoes all the way down to Tommy’s bones.

“This way,” Adam says, taking hold of Tommy’s elbow. It could be pushy and weird, Adam dragging him along like that, but mostly it’s just hot. Tommy can feel in the tension singing through every line of Adam’s body how bad he wants this. The trip from the street to the alley, through a few more pathways to Adam’s building, up the stairs to Adam’s apartment, passes in a complete blur. Tommy would never be able to find the car again on his own.

Inside Adam’s place, neither one of them stops long enough to turn on a light. Adam probably doesn’t need them, Tommy doesn’t know where the switches are, and even if he did, taking the time to drop is backpack is way more than he wants to spare. Tommy shoves up in Adam’s face, grabbing it in both hands, and kisses the fuck out of him, sudden and surprising enough that Adam goes stumbling back against the wall. Hanging onto Tommy’s arms, Adam lets him get away with it for a few fucking fantastic minutes until the tension in Adam’s muscles takes over and he flips them, crowding Tommy to the wall instead. Just like that, Tommy’s trapped. Penned in on all sides, the wall, Adam’s arms, Adam’s body flush against his.

“Fuck,” Tommy spits, grabbing onto the back of Adam’s shirt, rubbing up against him crazily. “That’s so fucking good, I– I love it, shit, I fucking love it.”

“Come on,” Adam says, through messy kisses, “go ahead, lose it. We’ve got all night, Tommy, the whole night,” and Tommy thinks about all the hours they’ve got to fill and comes like a fucking freight train, breath knocked out of him and fingers cramping, tangled in Adam’s shirt. He slumps back so hard he would’ve gone down except Adam’s there to prop him up and kiss him back to earth. It can’t be really good for Adam, since Tommy’s way too uncoordinated to even try to kiss back, but Adam doesn’t seem to mind. He kinda seems to actually really like it, if the thick heat of his dick digging into Tommy’s belly is any indication.

Gulping air, Tommy squirms out of Adam’s hold. It’s a tight fit, but he manages to wriggle down to his knees, clutching at Adam’s hips to steady himself before he goes for Adam’s fly. “I thought,” Adam says, choked, and Tommy says, “We got time, right? We got lots of fucking time,” pulling Adam’s jeans down, underwear along for the ride, so Adam’s dick is right there in front of his face, hard and thick and flushed dark. He stares for a minute, wishing he could see more. Later. Fucking later, he thinks, and sucks the wet head into his mouth.

Adam hisses and fucks, both hands slapping to the wall. This is fucking perfect. There’s no weird angle giving Tommy a crick in his neck, he doesn’t have to worry about keeping his balance so both hands are free, one to jack the fucking massive amount of dick Tommy can’t cram into his mouth, and the other to push up under Adam’s shirt, feel the flutter of his stomach muscles, drift down and back to clutch at the meat of his ass as his hips get away from him and he fucks into Tommy’s mouth. Not ready for it, Tommy loses the suction, and pretty much all the air in his lungs.

“Sorry,” Adam gasps, nails scratching at paint as his hand curls into a fist. “Sorry, I, god. You’re so fucking eager. Tight and wet and tiny, fuck, I can’t wait to fuck you.”

Tommy pulls off, even though he doesn’t want to, panting hard. His dick is killing him all over again. Adam makes a miserable noise, his hand dropping down to cup Tommy’s head, his cock skidding over Tommy’s cheek. It’s wet and slippery and so fucking dirty, Tommy’s dick jumps, fresh heat seeping into his sticky-cool shorts.

“I gotta,” Tommy says, resting his forehead on Adam’s hip, “fuck, I gotta get out of these clothes.”

“Oh fuck yes,” Adam says, heartfelt and vicious. He grabs Tommy under the armpits and hauls him stumbling to his feet, already shoving his hands under Tommy’s hoodie and shirt to pull them off him. Tommy tries doing the same for Adam but their hands get all tangled up, slowing everything down way too much.

“Fuck this noise,” Tommy mutters under his breath, kicking off his shoes so hard one goes flying into the opposite wall. “Naked, naked, c’mon.”

“Bedroom,” Adam says, slapping at the wall. In the living room, warm yellow light flares. Tommy nods fast, wanting to stay and strip Adam down but wanting the fucking bed so much too. He settles for skinning off his jeans on his way down the hall, heart tripping and skin heating at the sound of Adam’s quiet curse when he finally gets them off. That kinda thing makes a guy feel pretty fucking sexy.

It’s only Tommy’s second time in Adam’s room and he knows where the sex stuff is. Beside a small, half-empty bottle in the nightstand, he finds a few extra pocket packets of some different kinds of lube, and a strip of condoms. Hauling the whole works out, he dumps it all on the bed in time for Adam to appear in the doorway, finally totally fucking naked. Tommy fumbles blindly for the lamp, catching it before it hits the floor with his haste to flick it on.

“Oh wow,” Tommy croaks. Why the fuck did he wait so long to get Adam naked? He’s sure he had plans to do it the last time he was here. Adam kept fucking fucking him, though, never giving him the chance. Lounging in the doorway, letting Tommy looks his fill, Adam is broad and lean, his legs fucking miles long, and his dick, okay. Tommy knows it’s shallow how his eyes keep sliding back down to focus on Adam’s package, but come the fuck on. Adam’s kneecaps are totally sexy too, and maybe he’d even really enjoy nibbling on them, but Tommy’s seen lots of knees in his time. Hard, naked cock, not so much.

Before Tommy realises what he’s doing, he’s clambering over the bed, wanting to touch. Adam meets him in the middle, the mattress dipping beneath Adam’s knees and sending Tommy tumbling into him. Tommy moans so loud his ears fucking pop. There’s so much skin. Everywhere, so fucking much of it, and Tommy’s pretty much groping Adam all over the place, arms and back, hips and thighs, pressing in tighter and tighter against him like he could crawl inside if only he tries hard enough.

When Adam grabs at his arms, Tommy’s almost expecting some crap like wait, slow down to follow. Ready to head that shit off–more time means more fucking orgasms, not slow the fuck down–Tommy tenses up. Which makes it really, really easy for Adam to knock him off balance and flatten him out on his back.

“Okay,” Tommy says, breathless as he drags his knees up, “yeah, yeah, okay, this is good.”

“Thought you’d like it,” Adam says, crawling between his legs, thumb at his lips tipping his face up for more kisses. Fuck, Tommy loves kissing. And bare skin. And dick.

“I love sex,” Tommy mumbles into Adam’s mouth.

Adam palms the back of his thigh, nudging his leg further up. Not sure what to do with it, Tommy tries hooking it on Adam’s hip. It totally works better if he’s got both legs up, though, so he goes with that.

“You’re really, really good at it,” Adam says absently as his eyes slip shut and he rocks down.

More than the thrill of their sticky cocks catching and dragging together rockets through Tommy. “Yeah?” he asks, not really meaning to. But he’d been kinda worried. A guy like Adam’s totally got to have tons of experience. Tommy’s gotta keep up here.

Adam nods, biting his lip, hips rocking faster. He opens his mouth like he’s gonna say something, but all that comes out is a hot rush of air as his hips lift, his dick skidding down to wedge between the cheeks of Tommy’s ass. And oh wow, oh fucking wow, that feels amazing. Tommy’s knees clamp tight on Adam’s sides, desperate to keep him there, hot, ticklish pleasure racing along Tommy’s nerves.

“You like it?” Adam asks, the tips of his fingers sneaking in, pushing his dick harder against Tommy.

“Do I fucking ever,” Tommy grits out, shocked at how much. He’d figured, you know? But holy fuck. “Shit, do it now. Right fucking now, c’mon.”

Adam takes his fingers away, which is so not what Tommy fucking meant. Lube, though, right. At least one of them has some functioning brain cells left. Tommy wiggles impatiently, trying to get Adam’s dick rubbing at him again while Adam gropes across the sheets looking for the most specific packet of slick ever.

“Not helping,” Adam warns.

“Feels good,” Tommy counters. If Adam would lie all the way down on top of him again, he could probably go for orgasm number two right about now. He tugs a little, trying for it. Adam’s fucking immovable.

“Oh my god,” Adam says, and darts in, teeth closing on a giant chunk of Tommy’s neck. Tommy doesn’t even fucking know what the fuck at first, because what the fuck?, and then Adam bites harder, slow and steady and easing up only when Tommy goes completely still. The second Adam releases him, Tommy starts squirming again, more to see what’ll happen than anything.

“Sorry,” Tommy says, squeezing his eyes shut. Adam’s biting so hard, he’s sure skin’s split, but it feels so fucking good. He’s not one bit sorry at all. Especially not when slick fingers find his asshole, rubbing all around it in a way that makes his lungs seize before Adam presses in. It’s too much at first, pushing a weak noise out of him. Then it hits, like, this fucking critical point where his nerves fry and it’s good, weird and foreign and really really fucking good.

Easing back, Adam licks the raw mark on Tommy’s throat. He stays close, watching Tommy’s face as his fingers move. All Tommy can do for a long minute is clutch at Adam’s back and let his body go, rocking with the rhythm of Adam’s hand. He feels thick and full and hot already. Trembling, because Adam keeps pushing on that spot, making the heavy feeling flare, weird pressure like he’s really gotta fucking go, like, go, both ways, but the signals get all crossed and he’s not sure which urge is screaming at him loudest. Sex is fucking messed up.

“Good, though,” Adam says, pausing with his fingers buried deep. He crooks them sharply, pressing against Tommy’s insides, making him arch and gasp. “Feel that?”

“‘Course I fucking felt it,” Tommy grates, “fucking jerk, fucking fingers are in my ass,” and he’s hot all over, turned on and a little embarrassed and weirded out and he wants to come so fucking badly. No wonder people are always going on about waiting to do this until you know you’re ready. All Tommy wants to know is if anybody’s ever fucking ready to share their skin like this. Tommy’s so used to being inside his body all on his own, he doesn’t know what he’s gonna do when Adam’s in it with him.

“But you like it,” Adam says, going a little faster, a bit deeper, really working to loosen Tommy up. He kisses the side of Tommy’s face, his chin, his mouth again. “I can smell how much you like it. I could make you come.”

Christ, probably. Tommy’s been so busy focusing on his ass and all the weird, amazing things Adam’s making him feel that he’d sort of forgotten about his dick. Now that he’s thinking about it again, he can’t stop, way too aware of it rolling against his belly, leaking all over him, pounding like his pulse has moved house way down south for the winter. He bites his lip, straining up to get more friction, no good with Adam’s arm in the way.

Tommy’s so sure Adam’s gonna make him wait–he’s pretty sure the second Adam’s cock touches his hole, he’s going off again whether Adam wants him too or not–that Adam’s slippery hand closing on his dick shocks the fucking hell out of him. Then he doesn’t even know what he wants more, grinding down on Adam’s fingers or fucking up into his fist. Trying for both gets him this jerky kind of rhythm going, heat building up between them, inside him, until he’s sweat-slicked and slippery and everything’s soaked in sex, he twists and arches and comes with a startled jolt. Then it’s even messier, everything slick and raw between his legs, dick and balls and ass so fucking wet.

Letting out a strangled groan, Adam surges up to kiss him. He tries giving as good as he’s getting, but so much of his attention is on Adam’s fingers slipping out of him, how weirdly open he’s left feeling, how he sorta wants to squeeze his legs together to really feel it, like poking at a bruise.

“I really need to fuck you, just like this,” Adam says, in almost as much of a mess as Tommy is, his chest heaving like he’s been running for days. He nuzzles at Tommy’s face, no more kisses left, like he’s too far gone to stay still long enough to even try it. “I can wait if you want me to. But, fuck, Tommy, I really want it, you have no idea how good you smell right now, what you fucking look like.” His hands push restlessly at Tommy’s thighs, stroking up over his ass, his back, digging in and holding on and slipping away again. “I need you to smell more like mine.”

That had been Tommy’s plan pretty much all along, but the way Adam’s talking now makes it sound like there’s more to it than maybe Tommy had counted on. It makes him nervous, and excited, standing at the edge of a cliff, wind howling. “Is it- Is that okay?” Tommy asks, shoving hair out of his face so he can see Adam’s. “I mean, I haven’t, like, before, so if you’re sure it’s okay?”

A trickle of humanity drains out of Adam’s eyes. He pushes up a bit. “What do you think I’m asking you?”

It doesn’t sound accusing. It doesn’t sound good, either. Tommy gnaws on the inside of his lip. He’s pretty sure they’re not on the same page here. “If you can, like, bareback me?”

Adam sucks in a breath so sharp it whistles between his teeth. He shoves up and off of Tommy completely, hunched over, “Fuck me,” cutting harsh and grating through his ragged breathing. A shot of panic slices through Tommy’s hazy glow.

“Adam?” Tommy asks, up on one elbow, afraid to move too fast. He’s never seen Adam shift before, but he’s seen a fucking lot of Hollywood. This looks a hell of a lot like Adam’s body is getting ready to break down and become something else entirely. For no good reason, Tommy flashes back on that fucking illustration.

“I’m okay,” Adam says, head still down, his fingers digging into the mattress. “Don’t be afraid, I’m okay.”

Cautiously, Tommy says, “You don’t look okay.”

Adam shakes his head, refusing to look up. “You surprised me. I got excited and angry and I wanted it so much, I almost did it. I could fucking taste it. Exactly what it would be like to have you like that, exactly the way you’d smell fucked raw on my dick. So easy to imagine.”

That one nails Tommy right where it fucking counts. He mutters, “Jesus,” squeezing his eyes briefly shut as lust claws through him. He’s got to fucking focus here. Important shit first. “Why angry?”

“Because you trust me,” Adam snaps. “And I could hurt you so easily, but no one warned me it would be like this. I knew it would be hard. I didn’t realise that meant it’d be close to fucking impossible to control myself.”

Tommy risks scooting closer. On the scale of Important Shit, this is fucking nuclear. “I, um, don’t really know– You mean not hurting me is hard?” There’s a fucking scary thought. Tommy’s really gotten off on what they’ve done so far, and while Adam hasn’t hurt him, he hasn’t been exactly gentle and tender, either. Not in a mean way. Like, determined and focused and an edgy kind of rough, not smack-my-bitch-up rough.

“Mating with you,” Adam says, and Tommy’s face flares neon hot. Christ. What a fucking phrase to trot out right now, while Tommy’s feeling all squirmy and weird and even more vulnerable than usual. “But I want it.” Dragging in a deep breath, Adam finally looks up. Flecks of blue show through the yellow in his eyes like stars fighting to shine in the sun. “I knew the minute I saw you. I didn’t even try denying it. It doesn’t make a difference to me that you’re human.”

Tommy plucks blindly at a loose thread in one of Adam’s sheets. Even with all the Coalition’s horror stories, he’d figured the whole inter-species thing didn’t happen all that often. Even if the packs wanted to keep it quiet, somebody would’ve stood on a soapbox and proclaimed their forbidden love for all the world to see. That’s what people in love do. So maybe Tommy’s the jerk here, since all he wants to do is keep Adam hidden and safe. Except they’re not exactly flinging the l-word around. Which is better, right? Mucking up the fucking works when they got a good thing going would be stupid.

Thinking he better do his part to keep this easy, Tommy says, “If it’s really that big of a deal, go ahead and use a rubber.”

Adam stares at him for the count of two, then busts out with this choked-off crazy noise. “A rubber.”

“Dude, I’m fucking lost,” Tommy admits. “I thought we got, y’know, a thing. It feels like a thing? And maybe it’s a big fucking deal and all, but it kinda isn’t. It’s just… what it is.”

More staring. It’s a damn good thing Tommy’s totally okay with all this naked stuff, or he’d be starting to feel weird about lying here all messed up while Adam gets his shit together. “It really doesn’t bother you at all,” Adam says eventually.

“That you’re a were? Christ, what, no. Or like, not in any way that isn’t making all this shit ten billion times fucking hotter.”

“You do have a thing for being bitten,” Adam says, gaze slipping down to Tommy’s neck.

“Yeah,” Tommy says, shuffling back as Adam uncurls. That’s more fucking like it. They gotta install a daily quota for Serious Shit That Needs to be Discussed. And possibly put a moratorium on doing so while sex is happening. “Yeah, like, get on up here and chew on me some more.”

Adam snorts a laugh. “You squirm more when I don’t.”

“That what you want? In the mood for me to squirm on your dick?” It’s way over the top, kinda stupid, but it makes Adam grin, and anything that makes Adam look like that is a-okay in Tommy’s book. Besides, corny or not, it’s still pretty hot, and it gets him thinking about the, like, logistics of being on Adam’s dick, literally fucking on it, and that’s nothing but fucking awesome. He wriggles around, getting comfy, letting his hands get back to wandering, going with the flow when they both seem to want to head south and get Adam all revved up again. Adam watches him the whole time, eyelashes fluttering when he gets a good, solid grip and jacks him a couple times. Adam hadn’t exactly gone soft or anything, even with all the serious shit flying around. Tommy’s gonna chalk that one up to him staying nice and naked. Something good to look at.

“Gonna suit up?” Tommy asks, feathering his fingers near the ridge. Adam’s got that one spot there that makes his cock swell harder every fucking time. He’s already pretty fucking blood-thick, but his body tries sending another pulse or two down south anyway, like it’s worth a shot.

“You do it,” Adam says, gaze glued to Tommy’s hands. “You come up with some really great stuff all on your own. I love not knowing exactly what you’re going to do next.”

Tommy flushes, proud. So what if he’s got zero notches on the bedpost, Adam likes the shit he comes up with. How fucking awesome is that?

The promise that this is gonna get even more awesome is the only thing that lets Tommy let go of Adam’s dick long enough to grab up a condom packet. His hands are slippery, sweat and lube and come, so he jams the edge of the foil in his teeth and tears. It’s not even all sexy-like, just, fuck, he’s gotta get the damn thing open. He catches Adam’s grin out of the corner of his eyes as Adam leans down, kissing his shoulder open-mouthed and slow.

“Like that,” Adam says, resting his forehead against Tommy’s cheek as Tommy fumbles around trying to get a good grip on Adam’s dick to fit the tiny little slippery shit of a condom over the head. “It’s hot because you’re not even trying.”

“I’m so fucking trying,” Tommy grunts, a triumphant zing shooting through his belly when the fucking thing starts to unroll nice and smooth. Putting on a fucking rubber shouldn’t be such a production, holy shit. But with Adam mouthing at his skin, stroking up the back of his thigh like that reminding him to get his legs up, it’s all pretty hot. Like it’s more real this way, less porno-perfect.

Settling back, knees spread, Adam runs his hands down Tommy’s sides to grip his hips, tugging him into, like, prime fucking position. He doesn’t ask if Tommy’s ready, either reading it on Tommy’s face that he so fucking is, or trusting that Tommy’ll say hang on a second if he needs it. Tommy’s stomach swoops. They’re so doing this.

“Breathe out,” Adam says, as his dick wedged up against Tommy’s hole makes Tommy’s breath catch and hold. Tommy nods, ’cause right, he knew that, breathe out, push down, holy fucking shit, Adam’s putting his fucking dick in him. “God,” Adam groans, inching closer on his knees, rocking a bit to sink in deeper, “god, yeah, like that.”

Tommy squeezes his eyes shut, concentrating so fucking hard on keeping his body loose that all he can feel is the stretch. Maybe he tightened up or something while they were having their fucking talk, because this is, fuck, it’s so fucking crazy. It’s more and more and more, making him feel heavier, fuller, this messed-up ache billowing out inside him. He arches away from it on instinct, but Adam’s holding his thighs firm, pulling him back down so he takes more instead. And then Adam’s thighs are brushing his ass, he’s halfway in Adam’s fucking lap, and he’s fucking filled up and pinned and he can’t even fucking see.

The bed shifts, Adam leaning forward, which makes his dick shift and Tommy twitches, gasping, as the pressure spikes to borderline unbearable. In the next breath, it mellows out again. “Move,” Tommy says, clutching at Adam’s shoulder, “fuck, fuck, move.”

Holding tight, Adam moves. It keeps going like that, spike and mellow, spike-mellow, until the mellow’s not so mellow anymore and Tommy’s making as much fucking noise on the pull out as he is on the push in. He tries not to claw the shit out of Adam right off the bat, but Adam figures out he’s holding back pretty quickly and plays fucking dirty pool, sucking on Tommy’s neck so flesh mounds thickly between his teeth. There’s too much to keep track of, the thick, sharp smell of sex, the filthy wet noise of it, the way Adam feels, Tommy’s legs around his waist and arms around his shoulders and Adam’s arms shoved beneath him, hauling him up off the bed and down into every smacking thrust. Tommy loses it somewhere in the middle, even more messed up, like Adam fucked it out of him. His cock jerks against Adam’s belly, rolling slickly in his own come, oversensitive but not so bad Tommy wants to do a fucking thing about it, and then all he’s got to do is hold on for the ride, his head fuzzy and body thrumming.

He tries kissing Adam a couple times, but Adam’s way, way out of it, eyes clamped shut and mouth open, breaths harsh. The third or fourth time Tommy licks at Adam’s lip, Adam shudders, the long, smooth roll of his hips turning short, choppy, jostling Tommy up the bed. Eyes flying open, Tommy holds on tighter, the smouldering buzz he’d been enjoying suddenly flaring bright. Tommy’s hard again in fucking no time, all lights green, go-go-go. This is all happening way faster than he can reload. If Adam makes him blow it again, that shit’s gonna be dry.

“Jesus,” Tommy grunts, throwing an arm up to keep from splitting his fucking head open on the wall. Braced, it’s so much easier to move with Adam, and Adam groans, going at him harder, knowing he can take it now. Adam’s so close he’s shaking. Tommy drags in a couple deep breaths, totally ready to throw some dirty talk into it, really get Adam there. What he’s not expecting is for Adam to fucking pull out. Slurring only a little, Tommy says, “What the fuck?”

Not saying a fucking word, Adam scoots back, grabs on, and flips him over onto his belly. Before Tommy’s got a chance to figure out which fucking way is up, Adam’s on him again, ass hauled high and stuffed full, and Tommy fucking screams, choked-off and shot. It’s so much fucking deeper like this, and Adam’s leaning back, really fucking going for it, like, straight up fucking pounding it into him.

“One more,” Adam says, words crazy and guttural around the edges, not quite human. “Put your hand on your cock, give me one more.”

Tommy’s got his dick in hand before his brain’s put a word in. He strips it hard and fast, pleasure cutting through him sudden, switchblade-sharp. He knows Adam’s not gonna come, not gonna stop, until Tommy beats it out. This time around he’s got to work for it, twisting, tugging, moaning way too loud because he’s not gonna make it, it’s too soon, even for him. But Adam isn’t letting up, biting at his back, his shoulders, pushing his head down to dig teeth into the back of his neck, right above the peak of his spine. When he finally fucking blows, it’s so sharp it hurts, barely anything pumping over his fingers. It claws into him all the way to his fucking bones, holding him frozen, and when it lets go, it’s like his whole body turns to water. With a wordless shout, Adam drives in hard, and comes.

“I can’t,” Tommy mumbles, not sure if Adam can even hear him, or if he’s making any sense at all–his tongue feels thick, clumsy, as fucked-up as the rest of him. “Fuck, can’t move.”

“Don’t,” Adam says, his voice still weird, strained. “Just. Stay there.”

No fucking problem, Tommy thinks, and like a total champ, passes right the fuck out.

*

When Tommy blinks gritty eyes open, it’s still the deep dark of night. At first, he doesn’t know where the fuck he is, because the light’s wrong, and the blankets are weird, and Jesus fucking Christ, it feels like he got into a fight with fucking grizzly bear. His neck’s hot and throbbing, his arms, even his fucking thighs, are clawed all to shit, and every single muscle he’s got is not having any of this moving business at all. Especially the ones in his ass.

A crazy grin tugs at Tommy’s mouth. He got rode really fucking hard and put away wet. It feels like Adam cleaned him up, since he’s not glued to the sheets, but he’s still kinda slick on the inside. He clenches up, curious, and gets hit with a sense-memory so vivid the ache flares way deeper than it should. It’s uncomfortable as fuck but still so good. Total Adam was here type of shit.

Oh man. Adam.

Gingerly, Tommy rolls over to find the dark shape of Adam beside him, so close they’re touching all the way down one side of Tommy’s body, but not cuddling. Kinda weird, given that Adam had been a total snuggler the other night. Maybe it’s not as easy to cuddle somebody while you’re both asleep. Scooting in, Tommy decides to give it a shot.

*

The bright light of morning is shining through cracks in the blinds when Tommy wakes up the second time. He’s rolled all the way to the edge of the bed again. Sighing, he flops back over. He totally wanted to wake up squished in Adam’s arms.

Finding the bed empty, he peels open his eyes. The bathroom door across the hall is wide open while Adam takes a leak. Watching him, gaze travelling over the broad span of his back and down the high, round curve of his ass, Tommy flushes dark and hot. Marks from his nails are all over Adam’s skin. Even from here, Tommy can see the four perfect crescent moons dug into the meat of his ass on the right side where Tommy had held on so fucking hard his hand cramped. Fuck, Tommy is a total beast in bed. Maybe it’s a good thing he hooked up with a werewolf.

Finished pissing, Adam gives his dick a quick shake, hits the flush and rinses his hands. He looks so fucking good it should be criminal. It is criminal, sorta.

“Hey,” Adam says, catching him staring. “You’re awake.”

Fighting off the urge to duck his chin, Tommy grabs onto the bedclothes, dragging them down in an invitation for Adam to crawl right back in here with him. Smiling, Adam pads across the hall, totally unselfconscious. Tommy gets stuck staring all over again. All that goodness walking towards him, he totally hit that last night. When Adam sits down on the bed instead of settling back in for more delicious sleep, Tommy scoots gingerly over, pillowing his head on Adam’s bare thigh. Adam smells warm, like sleep and sex. A guy could seriously fucking get used to this.

“I thought I’d take you out for breakfast,” Adam says, combing his fingers through Tommy’s hair. “After you soak in the tub for about an hour.”

“Stink that bad, huh?”

“You smell amazing,” Adam says, no joke. Tommy’s pretty sure he reeks. “But if I send you home like you are, your mother’s going to wonder exactly what you and Mike spent the night doing.”

“Aw, man.” Closing his eyes, Tommy tucks his face against Adam’s belly. Adam’s bare cock nudges his cheek, soft but plump, nicely intimate. He likes it so much he’s not even really thinking about making something of it, like a good-morning blowjob. He bets those are fucking awesome, though. “Guess how much I don’t wanna go home.”

“About as much as I don’t want you to leave.” Bending almost double, Adam gives him the sweetest kiss ever, hardly even a flicker of tongue at the corner of his lips. “I’ll run the bath for you after I grab a shower. I’d share, but the tub’s pretty small.”

Tommy really doesn’t want to waste time getting clean and going out when they could stay in here and get even messier. But Adam’s looking at him like this is maybe something Important, so Tommy heaves a sigh, waving Adam off. Besides, if Adam wants to go to breakfast with him, that’s a good sign.

True to his word, Adam makes Tommy stay in the tub until he’s good and pruned. When getting out’s a hell of a lot less painful than getting in, Tommy’s willing to admit Adam knows a thing or two about this sort of shit. Getting dressed–though Tommy really does want to hang around and do more naked stuff–Tommy ends up going commando, since Adam’s underwear are way too fucking big for him, and all the way two blocks south to a diner Adam knows, Adam keeps his fingers tucked in Tommy’s back pocket, really warm through a single layer of denim.

Over breakfast, they talk about all kinds of stuff, most of it centred around music. Adam’s gigs, were shows, the few bands Tommy’s been in, what Tommy likes to play, what they both grew up listening to on the radio. There’s so much overlap, Tommy’s practically delirious with joy, and he’s so fucking caffeinated on the seriously butch coffee this place serves that he feels like he’s going to vibrate out of his skin.

Way too soon, Adam’s parking a few streets away from Tommy’s house. Tommy gnaws on the ragged edge of a nail. “Are you gonna walk me home?”

“Of course,” Adam says, climbing out. “My mother raised a gentleman.”

A gentleman that fucks like a champ. Tommy so can’t wait to have more sex. Getting out during the day is no problem, but Tommy’s going to have to totally abuse Mike’s friendship for any nighttime jaunts. Fortunately, he doesn’t think Mike’ll care much. Adam even gave Tommy some weed to repay him with, after Adam found out Tommy made off with the half-smoked spliff.

Tommy’s insides pull off a fancy samba when Adam laces their fingers together. Seriously. The guy totally fucked him up the ass, spectacularly, and holding hands gives him butterflies. Tommy’s got it so bad.

“What?” Adam prompts, smiling that teeny tiny smile of his, the one that means he thinks Tommy’s being cute. Tommy’s never appreciated being cute so much in his life.

“Just thinkin’ about when I’ll get to see you again,” Tommy says, absently rubbing his thumb along Adam’s. Once he realises he’s doing it, he thinks about stopping, because man, that’s really transparent. Stopping would probably be worse.

“I have a show tonight you’re absolutely not sneaking out to see, so I’m not telling you where it is,” Adam says. “But if you want to go to a movie tomorrow, that would be nice.”

“A movie?” Tommy asks. It feels like forever ago Mike spotted Adam hanging around outside the AMC. Fuck, when Adam was hunting him, how crazy is that. “Like, a date kinda movie?”

Adam laughs. “What else would it be? You’re my mate.”

An entire country’s worth of fireworks go off in Tommy’s chest. He fucking knew it. They’re totally an item. A really hot, hot item. “Most people say boyfriend.”

“Mm hmm,” Adam hums, nodding. “That too.”

Wait. Too? What, ‘too’? Slowing down, Tommy tugs on Adam’s arm until he stops and turns around. “What do you mean, mate? As in like, wolf-mate? Not, ‘hey, we had sex’ mate.”

Something cautious, and maybe a little too ready to get upset, shows up in Adam’s eyes. Kinda like he hadn’t meant to say what he said, but he also totally did. “Tommy-”

“No, seriously, I’m not freaking out.” Not in a fucking bad way, anyway. Not exactly sane, either, because fucking shit, man, shit. “You totally mean mate for life, don’t you? Like wolves do.”

“I- Yes?” Adam winces. “I mean, yes. That’s what I meant. But you’re not a wolf, Tommy, I don’t know if it works the same way.”

“Yes,” Tommy says, the moment Adam pauses for breath.

“It definitely feels like it– What?”

“It totally works the same way. I am, like, crazy in my head over you.” Tommy barely resists the urge to fling himself at Adam right here in the middle of the street. He settles for squeezing Adam’s hand really, really, really hard between both of his. “Obviously my dick’s swaying the vote, but what the fuck ever. I will so be your lifemate boyfriend.”

Adam goes through about sixteen billion expressions. The entire gamut of human experience is right there on his face, flipbook style, heavy on delight and fear and a little bit of anger, like he’s not impressed with Tommy treating this so casually. But Tommy’s not. He’s so serious about this shit it actually fucking hurts right in the centre of his chest.

Afraid Adam’s going to suddenly decide Tommy really is too much of a kid for this shit, Tommy throws his arms around Adam’s neck and hold on tight. All the way up on his toes, his balance is for shit, but Adam steadies him with hands light on his hips. “I get that it’s a big deal,” Tommy says, muffled in the crook of Adam’s neck. Adam smells like skin and wolf, and Tommy shivers, remembering Adam pressed tight against his back, holding him down. “Really, I get it. But I still want to do it.”

Adam makes a sound stuck halfway between a growl and a whine, his grip on Tommy going tight enough to bruise. His arms slide around to pull Tommy in even closer, plastering them together in the noonday heat. Sweat gathers at the base of Tommy’s spine, in the backs of his knees and insides of his elbows, against his cheek where it’s pressed to Adam’s skin. It feels so good Tommy wants to crawl inside Adam and never fucking leave. He can barely breathe and he doesn’t even fucking care.

“I think I dreamed you up,” Adam says, soft in Tommy’s hair. “I woke up this morning and couldn’t believe you were there.” Tommy tries to pull back, because this is starting to sound like serious shit he wants–needs–to see Adam’s face for, but Adam hold doesn’t ease. “All I’ve ever wanted to do is sing, and be with my mate. I’ve been with people I probably shouldn’t have, tried to make myself believe they were it when they weren’t. Everybody told me to stop looking so hard, that you’d find me, but I couldn’t wait. And then, there you were. One quiet little human staring up at me from a sea of wolves.”

Swallowing hard, Tommy gives Adam another quick, gentle squeeze. It’s a good thing Adam doesn’t seem to need him to say anything. He’s kinda choked up here. It’s like, fuck. They don’t even really know each other, but it feels like they do. Like they’ve been friends for years, gone through it all, and this is the inevitable next step.

“I wanna go to your show tonight,” Tommy blurts. It feels important. Putting those two things together, what Adam said he’s always wanted, feels like something Tommy should make happen.

“Nope,” Adam says easily, like he hadn’t just spilled his wolfy guts all over the fucking place.

Tommy shoves at Adam’s chest, managing to back off a couple inches. He’s Adam’s mate, god damn it. He’s going to the fucking show. “You just fucking said-”

“Wolves, Tommy.” Adam’s got this stupid heart-breaking earnest thing going on, and it’s totally killing the righteous indignation Tommy’s working. “An entire warehouse full of wolves, and I’ll be on stage for most of the set. I wouldn’t be able to protect you.”

Tommy says, “I’m your mate,” kind of lamely. “Nobody would, like, do anything. Hit on me or something. I smell like yours, right?”

“I don’t know.” Adam’s thumb brushes lightly over Tommy’s bottom lip, where the skin’s split from their too-hard kisses last night and still sore. He looks pretty lost.

“Oh,” Tommy says. Hiding his disappointment’s a lost cause. Even if he didn’t wear every fucking thing he’s thinking on his face, Adam could probably smell it on him if he had a stubbed toe, for fuck’s sake. He’d totally bought the Coalition’s bullshit about humans getting tangled up with weres all the time. Not the part where it ended up in dead bodies found half-eaten in the desert, but the part where humans and weres actually fucking interacted.

“I’m sorry,” Adam says. Stepping back, he takes Tommy’s hand to get them moving again.

Tommy shrugs. “It’s okay.” It’s really not. But what the fuck is he gonna do, pitch a fit? “Take me to a show you’re not, like, performing in.”

There’s a big enough delay before Adam’s, “Maybe,” that Tommy knows it means Adam is actually saying no. Which is total bullshit. Bull-fucking-shit. But Tommy bites his tongue. He found one of their super-secret rockouts before, he’ll find one again. Eventually.

At the far edge of the park, Adam slows. “We probably shouldn’t get much closer.”

“Yeah.” Being pissed sucks. Except Tommy’s not even really pissed. More like all the aches and pains from last night that he’d been so fucking thoroughly enjoying on the way over are less awesome and more prickly, like an itch that’s been scratched raw. Feeling weird and conflicted, he lets go of Adam’s hand. “I guess I’ll, um, see you.”

Adam catches his elbow before he can go, making him turn back around. “I’ll pick you up for the movie tomorrow. Meet me here around eleven, okay?”

“Eleven’s pretty fucking early,” Tommy grumbles, even while his stomach’s swooping happily. Piled on top of the bitter disappointment at not being allowed into every part of Adam’s life, it’s kinda making him feel a little sick.

“Matinee.” Sunlight adds a nicely mischievous glint to Adam’s eyes. Fuck, Adam looks good in the daylight. There are even freckles sprinkled all over him, like somebody thought a few on his nose would look awesome but got totally carried away. “Not as crowded.”

“That’s not– Is it gonna be a thing?” Gnawing on the inside of his lip, Tommy glances around. Noises from kids playing on the jungle gym filter through the trees. “I get hiding it from, like, my mom and shit, but what’s it matter if somebody sees us at the fucking movies?”

“It matters if somebody sees me making out with you like I’m going to end up doing.”

Tommy can’t help it; he grins like a total moron and rocks up on his toes a little, like Adam might want to get a head start. “Yeah?”

“I want to do this with you,” Adam says. “You don’t even know how much I want to let everyone know you’re mine. But we need to be careful.”

“Really fucking careful,” Tommy dutifully echoes, his brain still stuck on ‘mine’. Hiding this thing they’re doing is smart. Lots of people wouldn’t understand. But it doesn’t mean they’ve got to hide it forever. Once Tommy graduates, he’ll be a full-time employed adult. They can do whatever they fucking want then. “Just so you know, I’m dying to kiss you right now.”

Adam’s smile is sharp and sudden. “I do like knowing that.”

“A lot,” Tommy adds, meaning both how much he wants to kiss Adam, and how much Adam likes knowing it.

When Adam squeezes Tommy’s arm, Tommy thinks for a minute Adam’s gonna haul him in and plant one on him anyway. But all Adam does is say, “Eleven,” staring hard at Tommy’s mouth.

Tommy nods fast, backing away step by step until he almost trips on the edge of the sidewalk and has to turn around to walk like a fucking normal person before he breaks his neck. He glances back three times before he reaches his front door. By then, he can’t see Adam through the trees, but he gets the feeling Adam’s watching him somehow, the same as Adam’s been watching since that first night.

“You’re home early,” his mom says from the living room when he finally stops staring at the park like a lovesick crackhead long enough to drag his ass inside. “I didn’t expect you until after dinner.”

“I, um. I got a shift tomorrow,” Tommy says, and immediately wants to slap himself. He’s going out with Adam in the middle of the fucking day, he doesn’t need a cover story.

“Oh?” Mom tucks a finger in her book. “I didn’t think you were covering for Dave’s vacation until next week.”

“Other Dave called in sick or something, I dunno,” Tommy mumbles, inching for the stairs. He totally fucking forgot he had a full thirty-hour week coming up. Maybe Adam can come visit him at the store. Holy shit, that’d be cool. “Extra cash for me.”

“That’s the best way to look at it,” Mom says, turning back to her book and releasing Tommy from any impending parental inquisition. He hauls ass up the stairs, backpack thumping against his knees. Once he’s in his room, he boots up his laptop, jams in some cords to hook it up to the pretty decent set of speakers he got on sale at the store, and cranks it as high as he dares with his mom in the house. Making sure his door is locked, he strips off his shirt and takes the first good look at his freshly cherry-popped self. Adam’s marks are all over him. Some are half-hidden by the waist of his jeans, so he shoves those off, then his underwear when he notices some mottled colour on his butt. It’s crooked and not really the right shape, but that’s Adam’s handprint right there. And higher up, too, there’s a smudge like Adam grabbed his shoulder, and there are tiny little red nips all down his back, more on his stomach and hips, and these small clusters of them all over his neck. It’s sort of fascinating and gross and holy fucking fuck, he had sex with his boyfriend the werewolf.

Shoving at the messy blankets on his bed, Tommy flops down on his back, hand curling around his dick. He doesn’t even need to close his eyes to blank out his room and picture Adam’s instead, the two-foot wide excuse for a closet overflowing with clothes, the way the sunlight slanted in through the narrow window, the thick, musky smell clinging to the sheets and the way it got stronger, filling his lungs, as Adam settled down on top of him.

Tommy’s cock doesn’t so much give an interested twitch at the memory as much as it goes from pre-show warm-up straight to a full-scale gut-clenching boner. Taking his hand off it to spit in his palm is the worst thing he’s ever done. Putting his hand back on it, though, that is fucking awesome. Wriggling down further onto the bed, Tommy kicks the blankets all the way off, his other hand dragging up over his hip to find Adam’s marks as he starts jacking. One firm press has his spank bank Rolodex flipping by so fast it’s like somebody’s tossed it into a tornado; Adam’s slow, dark smile right before they kiss; Adam’s thighs pressed against the back of his; Adam’s hard dick dragging over his belly, leaving behind a smear of warm, slick precome; Adam’s cock pushing inside him, so fucking slow, lighting up nerves Tommy didn’t even know he had, absolutely wrecking him; his body feeling hot and full and used and he jerks faster, fucking up into his fist, not even trying to drag it out. He comes in about thirty seconds flat, chest heaving like he’s been at it for hours. Maybe he’s always been a little quick on the trigger but that’s fucking insane. Staring down at the spunk sticky on his hand, shocked there’s anything at all left in him after last night, he grunts and flails half-heartedly for a tissue.

Fucking crazy, he thinks, and gropes for a sheet, hauling it up to his chin as he rolls over for a little afternoon nap. It’s not like he got much sleep last night, after all. And besides that, he doesn’t want to waste the whole night tonight, in case Adam’s feeling like a midnight stroll.

*

Adam doesn’t show up that night (Tommy forgot all about the gig, which is seriously fucking typical) but he’s at the edge of the park waiting for Tommy the following morning, looking smokin’ hot in this rockstar-casual getup and the sweetest boots Tommy’s ever seen, with like, at least twenty buckles per. Tommy resists the urge to take the last thirty feet between them at a sprint.

“Hey,” Tommy says, casually meandering up to Adam and giving him a friendly shoulder-bump. Tommy spent most of his way-too-early morning going over and over in his head about how he’s gonna be real, real careful about all this so Adam knows he’s in it for good.

Adam says, “Hey, baby,” and pulls him in for the best fucking hug ever. It’s so good Tommy doesn’t even care that Adam just blew his plan all to hell. Besides, Tommy’s a huggy guy. He totally hugs Mike all the fucking time. What the fuck was he thinking, play it cool and casual, Jesus. He hugs back so hard Adam grunts. “Figure out which movie you want to see?”

“Didn’t even look,” Tommy admits, and feels a little like a tool and a lot like he’s fucking awesome, because Adam gets this look on his face like he knows exactly where Tommy’s coming from with the not giving a shit about the movie at all. He leans close as they start heading for Adam’s car parked a few blocks away, out of sight of nosy neighbours. “I jerked off thinking about you and totally fell asleep. Sex coma.”

Adam squeezes Tommy’s hand so hard one of his knuckles crack. He looks like he wants to say ten million things, every last one of them x-rated, but all he does is start walking faster. That speaks volumes enough all on its own. Tommy skips for a few steps until he catches up, and then they’re bolting for the car, Adam cracking up laughing halfway there and Tommy flinging him happy, excited grins. Tommy crawls in through the driver’s side, half dragging Adam along and half being pushed in. Right before Tommy can get his limbs untangled enough to twist around and suck Adam’s tongue out of his skull, Adam says, “I have a lounge gig in two weeks.”

“Awesome,” Tommy says, ’cause it is, but obviously not as awesome as making out right now.

“I want you to play it with me.”

Tommy gapes. Like, literally, he is sitting there with his mouth hanging open and no sound coming out of it.

“If you want,” Adam says, shifting around so they’re more or less–mostly less–sitting in the car like normal people. “I realise it’s short notice, so don’t feel like you have to, but it seems important to you.”

“I could suck,” is Tommy’s brilliant response.

Adam gives him a look. “You’ve been playing since you were twelve, I doubt you suck.”

It’s really hard to think while Adam’s hands are on him. Even if it’s only on his knee. That thumb thing Adam’s doing on the inside of his thigh is seriously fucking distracting. Tommy sits up. “Are you for fucking real? You want me to play a show with you.”

Nodding, Adam scoots closer, his arm slung over the back of the seat so Tommy is nestled in close to his side. “It’s a simple acoustic set, probably only four or five songs. The house band usually backs me, but it won’t be a problem if I bring my own guitarist.” His smile goes lopsided. “You’ll have to do it pro bono.”

“What the shit, pro bono,” Tommy says, finally managing to close his mouth. Adam wants him to do a show. On stage. In front of an audience. Holy motherfucking shit.

“Tommy?” Adam prompts cautiously.

“I need to practice so much,” Tommy says, staring wide-eyed at Adam’s gorgeous, earnest, fucking insane face. “I’m working full time all next week, and then my regular shitty weekend shifts are starting up again, and two weeks, fuck. Fuck! We can’t go to a movie. I need my guitar. My piece of shit acoustic guitar.”

Adam’s hand closes over Tommy’s on the door handle, bringing him up short before he can spill out onto the pavement and take off for home. “So you want to do the show?”

Tommy stares at him some more. “Of course I want to do the fucking show.”

“Then don’t worry about it,” Adam says, gently prying Tommy off the door. “I’ll borrow one from a friend for you to use.”

“You sure that’s okay?” Tommy’s not really picky about his guitars, as long as people don’t fuck them up–scratches and shit are cool, makes the guitar more real, but fucking with the sound, that’s not on–but he gets that some musicians are.

Hiking his hips up to dig his keys out of a pocket, Adam nods. “We can swing by his place today, he’s probably still sleeping off last night.”

“Is he in your band?” Belatedly, Tommy tugs on his seatbelt and fastens it. Adam is like his grandma about car safety.

“I guess he is,” Adam says with a small laugh. He takes a few turns one right after the other in rapid succession, following the twisty route into Eastside Tommy’s starting to find familiar. If his parents knew how much time he’s been spending, and is going to spend, on the outskirts of pure were territory, they’d fucking flip. “It’s not so much my band as it’s something we do.”

“Because what are you gonna do if you don’t, right?” Tommy says. His mom’s always asking him why he spends so much time practicing guitar if he doesn’t really believe he’ll ever have a chance to be in a real band. It’s just what he fucking does. Like breathing, or sleeping, or fucking sex now that he’s had it. He’s got to do it, or it feels like he’s gonna die.

“Shit, don’t,” Adam says, his grip tightening on the wheel.

Tommy flushes. He didn’t mean it like there’s nothing else Adam could do. Fucking government. “Sorry.”

“No, I mean.” Adam breathes out nice and slow. “I can smell you. It’s distracting.”

Oh. Fuck, Tommy’s not even really turned on or anything. Just this vague, happy buzz at the edges of his consciousness. “I, uh. I don’t think I can help it.”

“Maybe I’ll ask Monte to bring the guitar over later,” Adam says grimly.

But, Tommy wants to be adult enough to say, we need to practice. A show’s a big fucking deal. It’s Adam’s fucking livelihood, and the only way he can advertise is by word of mouth. No way is Tommy gonna screw that up. “Your songs, though,” is as far as Tommy gets.

Adam’s voice is closer to a growl when he says, “Later,” and takes a right turn so sharply Tommy ends up plastered against the door, hanging onto the peeling plastic bar screwed into the upholstered roof.

“Oh, shit,” Tommy says, ’cause oh shit, they fucked yesterday, he’s still kinda tender, and even with all the sleep, he’s still tired, like, sex hangover. But he’s getting hard thinking about doing Adam in the daylight, getting Adam fucking naked again, crawling all over him and tasting every single freckle he’s got.

By the time Adam slams the car into park, Tommy’s so worked up he can’t even unbuckle his stupid seatbelt. Adam tears out of the car, yanking open the passenger’s side door and hauling Tommy out onto the broken asphalt. “Upstairs,” Adam says, trying to push Tommy ahead of him, “go, go, run.”

With the fucking massive boner Tommy’s got, he’s not running anywhere. He’ll be lucky if he gets a swift limp going.

“Please,” Adam says, shoving the door open for Tommy to get inside the building first. “Please, I want to chase you.”

“Fucking stairs,” Tommy says, stumbling across the threshold.

Adam’s wild around the eyes when he pushes Tommy towards the stairs, missing the mark by enough to leave Tommy pinned against the railing with nowhere to go. “Adrenaline makes your scent stronger. You already smell like sex and it’s driving me crazy. I want more.”

No fucking kidding. Edging to the side, Tommy finds the foot of the stairs. Obviously Adam’s not the only one who’s crazy here, since all it takes is one last look at the hunger on Adam’s face for him to make a break for it. Half a flight up, his thighs start to burn, but Adam’s right there on his heels. Adam could catch him, easy, but it’s the same thing as before, Adam herding him up, touching him when Tommy’s not expecting it to startle him into climbing faster for a dozen steps or so before his legs scream and he’s got to slow.

A growl from Adam shocks a wheezy laugh out of him and he grabs at the railing, tries to climb faster. He lurches onto the landing by Adam’s apartment out of breath, dizzy like he’s drunk, the low, steady throb of burning muscles shunted to the back of his mind when he gropes for the doorknob and twists it desperately, finding it locked. “Shit,” he hisses, surprised even though he figured this is where Adam would catch him.

Adam’s forearms thud against the door on either side of his head, Adam’s body a hard, hot line pressed against his back. “Up,” Adam says, grabbing at Tommy’s thigh, urging him up on his toes to line his dick up with Tommy’s ass–Tommy’s fucking sore, tender ass–and Tommy goes anyway, arches his back and lets Adam grind against him. It aches and it feels good and fuck, fuck, he’s gonna let Adam do him again.

“Oh my god,” Adam groans, scrabbling at Tommy’s fly. “I promised I wouldn’t hurt you. I promised, and I won’t, but I have to- I’ve got to-” and then Tommy’s jeans are around his fucking knees, his ass bare to the hallway and the grimy window with rusty iron bars tacked across it like a tic-tac-toe grid.

“Wait,” Tommy tries, rattling the knob again as if it’s magically unlocked in the last five seconds. They can’t do this in the fucking hall. Tommy’s legs are gonna give out on him any second, he’s not gonna be able to take a fuck out here. And then there’s the fucking lube, Christ, what the fuck is Adam thinking?

“Don’t,” Adam says, and, “It doesn’t matter,” like he’s reading Tommy’s fucking mind. The heavy thud of Adam hitting his knees on cracked tile registers first, then Adam’s hands on his ass, opening him up for the soft, wet swipe of Adam’s tongue. Already up on his toes, Tommy claws at the door, pretty sure that was a fucking yelp that echoed back at him as Adam licks him again, slow and gentle and thorough, and it feels so good on tender flesh that Tommy gives up a moan.

“God, yes,” Adam says, kissing him right fucking there, “like that, let me hear you.”

“Everybody’s gonna fucking hear me,” Tommy chokes out.

Adam says, “Let them,” thumbs curved in close, spreading the cheeks of Tommy’s ass even more so he can nuzzle at Tommy’s asshole, so up in Tommy’s business it’s not even fucking funny. “They can hear you through the walls anyway, baby. They smelled it when I fucked you.”

“Jesus Christ,” Tommy groans, hiding his face in his arms. If he said no, Adam would stop. He’s sure Adam would stop. But he doesn’t really want Adam to stop, because Adam’s doing all these things that feel really fucking amazing, not even involving any fingers, just lips and tongue and a sliver of teeth. And he never thought he’d be huge on the whole exhibitionism thing, but the idea of everybody knowing he’s taken, Adam’s totally fucking got him, like he belongs here doing what wolves do, not giving a fuck about time and place, makes his insides twist hotly, and he can’t see anybody watching so it’s almost like they’re alone anyway.

Either Adam can smell it when Tommy gives in, or feel it, or fucking something, because the next second Adam’s hands are rough on Tommy’s hips, shoving him flush against the metal door, Tommy hissing at the chill. The pressure feels good on his dick, even better when he rocks back onto Adam’s face. Fresh, damp heat spills out over his skin. His tee shirt clings uncomfortably. Reaching over his shoulder, he snags the back of it and hauls it up, relishing the scrap of cooler air that rushes in.

Groaning, Adam follows the hem up, tongue flat and stuttering dry when he gets to the base of Tommy’s spine. Which is good and all, it’s totally a spot of Tommy’s, but he had been right there, almost ready to blow from Adam’s tongue alone. He shoves back impatiently, trying to get his throat working long enough to add some words to the demand.

“Tommy,” Adam says, and Tommy nods fast, ’cause yeah, uh huh, this is him, practically fucking humping Adam’s front door, “Tommy, I want, let me,” as Adam fucking stands up, easily slides a finger or two into him. Tommy goes up on his toes again, the dull ache flaring to a burn and then settling back to that thick, full-up feeling.

On a ragged noise pushed up straight from the pit of his stomach, Tommy blows it all over the door. He slumps against body-warmed metal, flushed so hot he thinks he’s gonna burn up.

Adam breaks out into a wild laugh, making Tommy blush darker. “You’re so fucking gorgeous,” Adam says, biting at the side of Tommy’s neck as he yanks his own jeans open. “I knew you’d come for me, that you wouldn’t care if they saw you. You want them to know you’re mine.”

“No fucking shit,” Tommy says, aiming for bland and nailing breathless as the wet head of Adam’s dick rubs over his ass. He bites at his lip, wondering if Adam’s gonna do him on precome and spit. He feels fucking lose enough for it, even with the ache of being used still there, but he tenses up when Adam’s cock pushes against his hole. Then tenses up even more for a whole different reason, Adam’s dick riding the crack of his ass, thick ridge bumping over tender skin, sparking a low-grade buzz through the heavy, hazy glow. “Christ, you gonna come on me? You’re gonna fucking come on me.”

Catching the tendon strung tight between Tommy’s neck and shoulder in sharp teeth, pressure just shy of breaking skin, Adam moans, jerking off fast and hard, his dick grazing Tommy’s ass on every stroke. Not sure what the fuck he’s thinking, Tommy pushes back into it, messing up Adam’s rhythm. When Adam grabs onto him with a growl and shoves him against the door, he gets it, and it makes his face burn. “C’mon, harder,” he says, pushing past the quick shock of embarrassment, figuring if it’s who he is, then there are way worse things than fucking going with it, “really fucking hold me down, mark me up, want ‘em to fucking- fucking smell you on me,” letting his mouth run on without him, all his focus on the noises Adam’s making, low, throaty growls, a hitch when he’s close, this one breathless pause before he shoots. Come stripes Tommy’s ass, a wet, hot shock even though that was the fucking goal here, and he pushes back again, trying to get Adam to smear it into his skin without asking for it.

One of Adam’s arms worms between Tommy and the door, hauling him away from it so his weight settles against Adam, barely standing up on his own two feet anymore. He drops his head back onto Adam’s shoulder so Adam can kiss him through the last of it, and he doesn’t even care that he’s in the middle of a stairwell with his dick out and come drying on his ass. “Fuck,” he mumbles, kinda lazy and sloppy with Adam’s mouth on his, “I really fucking love you.”

Adam keeps kissing him, Tommy’s face growing hot, thinking maybe Adam didn’t hear. Or Adam is pretending he didn’t. Everything society’s ever told Tommy means it’s too early to say shit like that. Or it’s a dumb thing to say right after somebody’s gotten you off. Or he’s too fucking young to know if he means it or not, even with fucking kids younger than him spewing it left, right and fucking centre on television and nobody blinks twice. It’s not even that big a fucking deal. So what if he loves Adam already? It’s how he fucking feels.

“Stop, stay,” Adam says when he goes to pull away, “not done kissing you yet,” losing bits and pieces of words because he won’t stop licking into Tommy’s mouth. Tommy eases back, sorta into it, because he doesn’t think there’s honestly going to be a time when he doesn’t want to kiss Adam, but sorta not. Adam catches on pretty fast, giving him one last kiss like he’s got a point to make before easing back.

“What, man,” Tommy says, hitching his jeans up over his junk.

“Not wanting to take you somewhere that’s dangerous doesn’t mean I don’t love you,” Adam says, his chin on Tommy’s shoulder, his hands smoothing down the front of Tommy’s rumpled shirt.

“That’s not-”

“It might mean I’m perfectly capable of being a jealous territorial bastard, but it probably also means I want you safe.”

“Yeah,” Tommy says, “okay,” mollified for now. He gets it, but that doesn’t mean he’s gonna give up on it entirely. If Adam’s gonna be his one and fucking only, then Adam’s got to deal with the fact that Tommy’s a part of his world now. Even all the dirty, grungy, dangerous bits.

*

Tommy’s flaked out on Adam’s couch, head in Adam’s lap, studying the sheet music for the lounge gig when a heavy knock sounds on the door. Adam’s hand stills on Tommy’s bare thigh, thumb brushing the hemline of his shorts. “You expecting company or something?”

Adam only smiles and gives Tommy a quick, closed-mouth peck. “Don’t worry, he’s not staying long.”

“But,” Tommy starts, too late. Adam’s already up, halfway down the hall to open the door. Settling deep into the couch, Tommy listens to the low, rumbly greeting from whoever the fuck it is, his heartbeat going double time in the long, weighty silence that follows.

“You brought him here?” the new guy says, totally like he’s been gearing up for this fight on his way over.

“Monte, come on,” Adam says, the youngest Tommy’s ever heard him sound, “of course I brought him here. He’s my-”

“Your mate, I know,” new guy says grimly. “You said that about the last one, too.”

“I said I loved him,” Adam counters, “not that he was my mate. I did love him.”

“Look where that fucking got you. He’s human, isn’t he? I can smell him from here.”

“I appreciate you looking out for me,” Adam says, voice straining around the edges with anger he’s doing way better than Tommy is to control, “but even if I didn’t fucking know he’s mine, I’d still want him to be.”

“And it’ll probably be great until he gets tired of moving every six months, running from the cops, and spending all his money supporting you because you can’t get a steady job, and once the Coalition finds him, because you know they fucking will, they’ll turn him into another one of their fucking examples-

“For fuck’s sake, Monte, shut up!”

Monte, this short dude with a fucking crazy-ass beard, one of the guys Tommy thinks he saw on stage at the show, looks past Adam to Tommy standing behind him in the hallway, eyes going wide. Tommy doesn’t even remember moving from the couch. “Christ, Adam, he’s a fucking kid.”

“I think you should go,” Tommy says as quietly as he can manage.

“A kid,” Monte repeats, gaze hopping back to Adam.

“Does that happen?” Tommy asks, ignoring him. There’s some shit here Adam didn’t tell him. Shit that Tommy’s not so sure he wants to know, so it’s not like he can be pissed about it. “Is the Coalition responsible for those bodies in the desert?”

Adam looks down at the guitar held tight in Monte’s grasp. “Some of them,” he says, and Monte snorts. “Seriously, Monte. Shut up.”

Taking a stumbling step closer to the wall, Tommy lets it bear most of his weight. It’s not totally surprising. Fanatics are fanatics. There’s always gonna be somebody who takes shit too far. All that it means is they’re gonna have to be careful even after Tommy’s graduated. “Okay,” Tommy says slowly. “Is that guitar for me to use at our gig?”

Monte says, “Jesus Christ.”

Tommy pushes away from the wall, coming up behind Adam to take his hand. It’s kinda weird how much more grounded, how sure, Tommy feels when they’re skin to skin. “You made your point or whatever. We’re being dumb shits. I’m still not going anywhere.”

Not quite as certain, Monte says, “That’s what you say now.”

“And if it’s not what I’m saying later, than I’m an even dumber shit than you think.”

“It’s not gonna be that easy to protect him,” Monte says, and Tommy finally recognises the way he’s looking at Adam is the same way his dad looks at him sometimes.

“I’ll do it anyway,” Adam says stubbornly, daring Monte to disagree with him, at the same time Tommy grumbles, “If you’re so fucking worried, do something more useful than bitching at him.”

For a split second, all Monte does is stare. Then he bursts out in this huge, disbelieving laugh. “You really mean that,” he says, grinning weirdly at Tommy.

“Yeah,” Tommy says, thinking about Mike and how quick he was to put shit on the line for him. If Mike’s parents found out he was helping Tommy sneak around with wolves, they’d probably disown him. Not the same as the Coalition shit Monte’s talking about, but still bad enough. “Yeah, I do.”

Shaking his head, Monte holds out the guitar. “At least you’ve got heart. Don’t fuck up my guitar.”

It’s banged up in all kinds of ways, sorta like it’s been through some of that running from the cops Monte had been talking about, but the strings look new. Tommy lets go of Adam’s hand to give them a cursory strum, not surprised to find it already tuned. “Thanks,” he says, setting it down gently by the wall so he’s free to hold onto Adam again. “I’ll be careful with it.”

Monte eyeballs them, and their clasped hands, for a long minute. Finally, he says, “Alright. I’ll be around if you need me,” all gruff and stern. Between him and Mike, they’re surrounded by guys working way too hard at this overprotective father shtick, seriously. Adam’s so god damn in-charge all the time, it’s fucking weird to see him defer to anybody.

“Don’t be such a hardass next time,” Adam says, hauling Monte in for a quick, one-armed hug, still holding tight to Tommy’s hand. “I’ll see you on Thursday.”

Monte grunts and waves on his way out the door, but he’s got this look like he’s trying not to smile. As soon as the door’s shut, and the sound of footsteps thudding down the stairs fades, Adam says, “I can’t believe you sassed Monte.”

Tommy’s eyes bug out. “He was fucking yelling at you!”

“That’s what Monte does,” Adam says, laughter bubbling up. “He glowers and he bellows and he scares the pants off people twice his age, and you sassed him.”

“Stop saying sassed,” Tommy grumbles half-heartedly, picking the guitar back up in an effort to not catch the giggles he can hear in Adam’s voice. “Makes you sound like my grandpa.”

Adam catches Tommy up in a tight hug, yanking him off his feet to spin him around. Tommy burbles something about the guitar, but it gets lost in Adam’s crowing. “You didn’t even fucking blink. You pretty much told him to go fuck himself, and you were terrified of him, but you did it anyway. For me.”

“Don’t remember being scared,” Tommy says, hiking his knees up to clench tight to Adam’s hips since Adam doesn’t seem like he’s gonna put him down anytime soon. Maybe in a distant, oh-shit kinda way, since Monte’s a fucking wolf, but not, like, piss his shorts scared. Not like he was the first time he faced down a wolf without knowing Adam had his back.

“That was the most stupid, reckless, beautiful thing ever,” Adam says, nuzzling at Tommy’s collarbone. “Give me a fucking kiss.”

Guitar clenched in one hand, banging against the backs of Adam’s legs, Tommy grabs onto Adam’s face with the other and lays a big wet one on him. It starts off hilarious, exactly like Tommy’d planned, because this shit they’re doing right now is fucking ridiculous, but it doesn’t take long for it to ease into something sweet and serious and happy.

When Tommy finally eases up, his lips hot and stinging, looking into Adam’s face is like watching the sunset, all softly mellow and gorgeous, the beginning of the night instead of the end of the day. Tommy wants to start all kinds of shit with Adam. All fucking kinds.

“We gotta,” Tommy mumbles, fisting Adam’s hair to drag him back in again, “gotta, like, practice and shit.”

“Kiss me again first,” Adam says, and Tommy figures why the fuck not.

*

“Will you be home for dinner tonight?” Tommy’s mom asks, randomly stuffing shit into her purse. “I won’t be in time to cook anything, but we could order pizza.”

Tommy tugs at the stiff collar of his tee. It’s a pretty sweet shirt, promo for Rob Zombie’s newest horror remake, but the thing’s so fucking new it still stinks like plastic wrap even after a run through the wash. “I’m probably gonna hang out after my shift.”

“Okay, honey,” Mom says, totally distracted trying to figure out if she wants to bring chocolate chip cookies or brownies from the fridge for Dad. She ends up stuffing both in her purse to sneak past the nurses, and comes up with a handful of bills to shove at Tommy. “Buy something with at least one vegetable on it.”

“I eat vegetables all the time! You’re the one who was gonna order pizza.” Tommy stuffs the money into his back pocket. There’s probably no delivery in Eastside, but he and Adam could always take the car to pick up snacks before they settle in for another round of practice.

And blowjobs. Holy fuck, the blowjobs. Tommy’s never learned a piece of music so fast as the day Adam said they should totally institute a reward system, effectively combining Tommy’s glaring need to practice a couple of stubborn chords with his even more glaring need to get the fuck off every twenty minutes when Adam’s around. Somebody should’ve fucking told Tommy how awesome it was to sit around jamming with your half-naked boyfriend. The last week and a half of his life has been filled with so much sex and booze and drugs and music that he actually kinda feels like a rockstar. And it’s all been so super fucking casual. Not, like, binge drinking, or getting so damn high he blacks out, but a few mellow puffs here, a beer gone warm before he’s had a chance to finish it there, then a lazy, slightly-buzzed handjob to round the evening out. It’s fucking beautiful.

“I know, honey,” his mom says, yanking him to the present. He’s got all that to look forward to tonight, though. His shift’s over at five, and then he’s got a whole six hours to spend with Adam before they’ve got to sneak him home. “You’re a very responsible young adult. I’m proud of you.” She smiles like she’s only joking a little and kisses his forehead. “I’ll see you tomorrow if I’m asleep by the time you get home.”

“‘Kay. Tell Dad I said hi.” Tommy holds out her purse for her to nab on her way out the door, a flurry of skirts and hair and the scarf Tommy bought for her last Christmas. He waits until he hears the car start, pull out of the driveway, then gives it another five minutes for sure before he locks up the house and heads off for Adam’s car parked in the usual spot half a dozen blocks away.

Adam, resting with a hip cocked against the driver’s side door, long and lean in the sunlight, makes Tommy’s insides do weird, weird things. Fluttery, hot, twisty things. He’s got a guy that’ll pick him up and bring him to work, dropping him off with a quick kiss in the cover of the back alley, and who’ll be there when he’s done for the day, take him home and hang out for hours, sharing more kisses and music and deli sandwiches from the place around the corner. It’s all weird and grown-up and unreal. A big part of him still can’t believe he gets to have all that. It’s the same part that’s afraid somebody’s gonna snatch it all away again, and he’s got to hold on tight, so tight, never fucking let go.

“Hey, baby,” Adam says, smiling wide, the tail end of both lost in a garble as Tommy surges up to kiss the fuck out of him. He gets with the program pretty fast, hands sliding from Tommy’s waist to the middle of his back to pull him in, gentling the edge of Tommy’s frantic greeting. “Baby, everything okay with your dad?”

“Yeah,” Tommy says, clinging like a fucking burr, “yeah, he’s good. I just. Fuck, I got all messed up in my head for a minute. I’m okay.”

“You smell worried,” Adam says, the slight crease between his eyebrows growing deeper when Tommy lets out a crazy-sounding giggle. “Tommy?”

“No, seriously, I’m okay. ‘You smell worried’, Jesus.” Tommy rubs his nose against Adam’s chest, giving him a playful little nudge. “You smell like pot and wolf. Late gig last night?”

Adam’s grin goes soft. “Fucking awesome gig, but I’m more interested in how that new song’s coming. Did you get the bridge down yet?”

The unhappy twinge that popped up when Tommy started thinking about Adam’s gigs–the ones Adam seems determined to never let Tommy ever see again–gets buried under a rush of nerves. “I think so. I mean, I wanna run it by you, because I changed it up a little towards the end, and it’s your song and everything, but I think it’ll totally fit your voice better now. Really let it stretch, right?”

“I can’t wait,” Adam says, and not in that patronising way at all, but like he literally can’t wait to see what Tommy’s done. After they’re in the car and on their way downtown, Adam’s fingers laced loosely with Tommy’s between them on the seat, he asks, “Is it okay if I drop by the store early this evening? I’ll probably finish up my errands about an hour before you’re off.”

“Totally,” Tommy says, another one of those happy thrills zinging through him when Adam gives his hand a squeeze, smiling out at the thin stream of traffic. Tommy squeezes back. Fucking domestic bliss, that’s what this shit is.

*

“And then,” Dave-not-the-assistant-manager says, gesturing wildly, “then she says, she says she’ll see me fucking later. And I’m there, staring at this sweet ass of hers walking in the other fucking direction, and she’s all fucking- Hey, hi, can I help you find something?”

Tommy blinks. “She’s wha- Oh.” Adam’s here, standing between the vinyl bins and the Two Movies! 2.99! display. Tommy’s belly does that crazy swoopy thing again. He stares at Adam winding his way closer through the maze of Best Deal!s like a total dork, smiling stupidly. “Hey.”

Looking way too interested, Dave asks, “Friend of yours?”

“Yeah,” Tommy says, itching to take Adam’s hand. “This is the music guy that I was telling you about.”

One of Adam’s eyebrows creeps into a slow arch. “You were?”

Tommy does his best not to blush. He really, really sucks at lying, so he’s figured out the best way for him to get away with shit is to stick as close to the truth as possible. “Don’t let it go to your head or anything.”

“He’s only been talking about you nonstop all week,” Dave says, twisting and twisting the paperclip he’s been torturing for the last twenty minutes and grinning like a fiend. “It’s almost like he’s excited, y’know? Tommy Joe, bubbling with excitement. Weirdest shit I ever saw.”

“But I won’t let it go to my head,” Adam says wryly, gaze cutting sideways to pin Tommy.

“I’m gonna alphabetise the fucking jazz section,” Tommy grumbles, the big-ass smile taking over his face totally ruining his threat.

“What, you’re not gonna beg and plead for me to let you go early?” Dave thumps his chest. “Y’know I got the power now.”

“Speaking of going to your head,” Tommy says.

Dave gives Adam a look. “You see the lip I gotta deal with? And here I was, about to let him skip out a whole twenty minutes early so he could play rockstar.”

“It’s shameful,” Adam agrees, enjoying this shit way too much. “And he isn’t even alphabetising.”

“Fuck you both very much,” Tommy says, still grinning. Obviously he’s insane, since he’s getting as much of a kick out of this as Adam is. They’re not even doing anything, just sorta hanging out with one of Tommy’s casual friends, and it’s awesome. “See if I fix your lame progressions anymore.”

Adam sputters out a shocked laugh. “It wasn’t lame! It was a placeholder!”

“Uh huh.” Tommy folds his arms, putting on his best doubtful face.

“You little shit,” Adam says, his hand twitching like he wants to grab onto Tommy, maybe tickle him into submission like that one night last week when they’d been screwing around and it turned into an all-out war. Tommy totally lost, pinned on his belly in the middle of the tousled living room with Adam sitting on his legs, tears streaming down his face as he begged Adam to ease up just a minute, let him get some air. They ended up fucking right there, hard and slow while Tommy clung to Adam trying to relearn how to breathe.

The next breath Adam draws is slightly deeper than the last as he scents the memory on Tommy’s skin. It takes everything Tommy’s got not to shiver.

“So, uh,” Dave says, gaze jumping weirdly between them, “did you wanna take off early or not, man?”

“If it’s cool with you, yeah.” Tommy scratches at the back of his neck, trying to get a handle on his crazy hormones. It’s bad enough when Adam isn’t around that some random thing, like, the way the sun hits the chrome bumper on a car, or the smell of a dusty hallway with dirt ground into the corners, ends up reminding him of Adam and he pops wood so fast his head spins. Having Adam right here in front of him but not being able to touch is brutal.

Dave waves a hand, almost knocking over the stack of damaged CDs they’re supposed to be doing something with. “Get the hell outta here already.”

“Gone,” Tommy says, shooting bolt upright and making a beeline for the door. “Clock me out, dude. Got nothing in the back, let’s go.”

“I fucking love you too!” Dave shouts after them as the door swings shut.

“Sorry,” Tommy says, speed-walking for the alley where Adam usually parks. Adam’s presence hot at his back makes him want to break into a run, let Adam chase him for a few blocks before pinning him to a wall somewhere to shove a hand down his pants. “I couldn’t fucking help it. I was thinking about when we, like, in your living room, and fuck, that was so good.”

“Talking about it is not the best way to keep me from fucking you in the back of my car,” Adam says.

A jolt of lust-ridden adrenaline shoots through Tommy’s veins. Still a good dozen feet away from the relative cover of the old sedan, he turns around, caught up against Adam’s chest in half a second flat with Adam’s hands rough on his arms. “We should totally fuck in your car,” he says, stupidly eager.

“It’s not as awesome as it sounds,” Adam says, the tone of his voice totally backing him up but the razor-thin ring of yellow around his pupils making a total liar out of him. “I’d rather have you in my bed.”

“Or your kitchen,” Tommy says, wriggling free to back towards the car. “Or the hallway, or the living room, or your fucking bathroom when I’m all innocently trying to brush my teeth and you wake up horny.”

Adam says, “You were naked,” like that’s a totally legitimate reason for sneaking up behind him and palming his sleepy dick. It had been a pretty fucking sweet way to say goodnight, Adam’s chest solid at his back, arms looped around him, hands working his dick nice and slow between playing with his balls, slipping a little further back just to touch him a little. Would’ve been better if they hadn’t had to drag their asses out into the night to drive Tommy all the way home, but he’s totally not complaining.

Hauling open the passenger’s side door, Tommy uses it as a shield between him and Adam’s grabby hands. “No fucking until we nail this song.”

Adam’s eyes go comically wide. “That’s not fair! You’re teasing me.”

“Am not. I’m totally gonna deliver.”

“Teasing is not nice,” Adam growls, grabbing onto the top of the door like he’s thinking about ripping it off to get to Tommy. “I can smell you getting hard right now.”

“Because you’re fucking looking at me,” Tommy protests. And wow, way to sound like a total freak. “I mean, like, looking at me like you’re gonna eat me or something. You’re all,” he gestures vaguely, “wolfy.”

“That turns you on,” Adam says, sounding like it’s this big huge question mark for him while for Tommy it’s more like a twenty-foot flashing neon arrow.

“Yeah, shit, of course.” Inching away from the door, Tommy sits his ass down on the seat. A quick puff of breath gets the wispy bits of his hair out of his eyes so he can look up at Adam. “I’m not being a total objectifying douche, but yeah. The whole, you know, the stuff you do. Biting me and, like, fucking scenting me and shit. It turns me on.”

Sucking in a sharp breath, Adam glances quickly down to make sure all Tommy’s bits and pieces are inside the car before he slams the door. The car rocks, shocks squealing, as he hops over the trunk, Tommy twisting around just in time to see him land on the other side and wrench the driver’s door open. “You’re not kidding, right?” Adam asks once he’s in, one hand on the wheel and the other clutching his keys.

Tommy’s turn to stare. “Are you fucking kidding me right now? I mean, you, like, you’ve been there every time you made me lose it so hard I thought I’d fucking bust something.”

“Tommy, please,” Adam says, breathing shallowly through his mouth. “Tell me you’re being serious.”

“I am so dead fucking serious.” When Adam keeps breathing through his mouth all weirdly, Tommy scoots across the seat. “No, like. I mean it. I’m not fucking tolerating it or some shit.” If that’s the way Adam’s thinking, no wonder he only does it when they’re either fucking or about to. He thought it was just a thing that went with the preshow, like adjusting your dick or something. Foreplay, werewolf-style. “Do it now. Sniff me or bite me or whatever.”

With a sound like a whine, Adam tightens his grip on the wheel. He holds on until Tommy reaches across his lap, ready to crawl right fucking into it to get him to do something, and then he’s pushing Tommy down, pressing his face into Tommy’s belly. His breath is hot through Tommy’s tee, goosebumps prickling all along Tommy’s arms and raising the hair on the back of his neck when Adam tugs his shirt out of the way, nose grazing skin. It’s really, really sexual at the same time it’s not. All Adam’s doing is smelling him, a brush of lips every now and then, and it’s turning Tommy’s crank so fucking hard. They’re not even gonna do anything–can’t out here, too easy to get caught, and fuck, what they’re already up to is so bad–but it totally doesn’t matter.

Sitting up, Adam keeps scenting the close air, eyes heavy and dark as he watches Tommy breathe. Tommy’s cock twitches, filling out even more, his jeans so tight it’s kinda starting to hurt a bit. He shifts, trying to ease the pressure, and Adam makes that low rumbly noise, not quite a growl, the warning Tommy gets sometimes right before Adam starts fucking him for real. Biting hard at his lip, Tommy stills.

“Oh my god,” Adam says, closing his eyes. “You mean it.”

“Told you I did.” Tommy risks a tiny wriggle, breathing easier when the seam of his jeans quits pinching his nuts. “Totally pro-wolf over here.”

Adam barks a laugh, followed quickly by the startled giggle he lets out every time Tommy manages to surprise him. “C’mere,” he says, holding out a hand for Tommy to grasp, tucking Tommy in close to his side as he starts the car. “I really need to cuddle you right now.”

“Also pro-cuddling,” Tommy says, wriggling around again to get comfy as best he can with the gearshift in the way. “Gonna sniff me s’more on the way home?”

“You’re ridiculous,” Adam says, but when they hit the first red, his nose is buried in Tommy’s hair, his breathing slow and even and content. Tommy is so fucking good at this inter-species relationship crap, he should write a book.

*

From the dark of the wings, Tommy peers out at the audience. Looks like it’s mostly young professionals and classy middle-agers, pretty much the kind of crowd you’d expect to find in a lounge that charges fifteen dollars a cocktail. It’s a pretty high-brow joint to be hiring talent under the table. But then, places like this can get away with shit like that. Tommy doesn’t even look like he’s close to legal, but when he showed up at Adam’s side, the dude running the show assumed he was a werewolf and turned a blind eye to the frosty beer Adam nudged his way. As good as it was, it didn’t even make a dent in the jittering of his stomach.

“Breathe, baby,” Adam says, close behind him stroking a soothing hand across Tommy’s belly. “You’re going to be amazing.”

“We’re gonna be fucking awesome,” Tommy agrees. “But I might need to throw up first.”

Adam nuzzles in close to his ear, trusting in the shadows to keep prying eyes out. The house drummer’s still at the bar hitting on a chick with legs longer than Tommy is tall. “Ten minutes to our set. Time for a blow in the back if you need to relax.”

“Ugh, shit, don’t even joke,” Tommy says, pressing Adam’s hand tighter to his churning stomach. “I probably couldn’t even get it up right now.”

Pulling back a bit, Adam turns Tommy’s face up. “Are you really that afraid? You smell nervous and excited, not scared. You know you don’t have to do this.”

“Stage fright. I’ll get over it.” Fuck, he hopes he’ll get over it. They didn’t tell the house he was coming, just in case the guitarist decided that meant he could fuck off for the night and leave them hanging, but Tommy’s got no intentions of flaking out if he can at all help it. They worked way too hard. And the guitarist only knows the old arrangements, while Adam’s been practicing the new ones for days. Nope. Tommy’s going out there, and that’s it.

Tugging him in for a tight hug, Adam says, “Let’s set up. Give your brain something else to focus on.”

Breathing in and out a couple times, really slowly, Tommy nods. Distractions are good.

Except once he’s out on the stage, there’s no ignoring the curious gazes. He fiddles with his borrowed equipment, tuning and retuning and straightening out cords as the drummer finally weaves his way to the stage. Somebody brings out a couple stools, setting one for Adam right near the front of the stage and one for Tommy way, way in the back near the drum kit. Tommy grabs that fucker right off the bat and plants it all of two feet from Adam, maybe a couple inches back. Grinning, Adam reaches out and gives it a pat, mostly an invitation for Tommy to sit his ass down, but also letting him know they’re close enough to touch if Tommy really needs it. There are no fucking words for how much Tommy appreciates that one gesture.

Mic down, smiling softly, Adam asks, “Ready?”

“Yeah,” Tommy croaks, stilling nervous fingers on the frets. It takes him a little longer to lift his head, flinging his hair back from his face. “Yeah, fuck, c’mon. Let’s do it.”

Smile growing, Adam gives the guy in the wings the go-ahead and turns to greet the crowd. Tommy only hears half of what he’s saying, focused more on the familiar cadence of his voice, the way the dark presses close again when the drumbeat kicks in. The first few chords Tommy plays are too tentative. Tommy clenches his teeth, ignoring the drummer boring holes into his back as Adam holds off to let the rhythm repeat, giving Tommy a chance. Tommy’s not gonna disappoint him, or himself, or anybody else out there. He flexes his fingers, coming back in stronger, stronger again, until Adam’s voice rises to meet the music, meld with it, and then it’s so fucking easy. Not easy like he doesn’t have to put the effort in, because he does. Adam tends to improvise, linger, and the guitar in most of his pieces isn’t there for rhythm but to act as another voice to compliment his.

It’s easy like this is what he’s meant to do, be that voice for Adam, support and lift him higher and higher, a smooth push-pull that brings down the house long before the last note fades.

“Save some of that for later,” Adam tells the audience, plucking up the glass next to his stool and giving Tommy a warm glance over the rim as he drinks. “We’re just getting started.”

*

Fooling around in Adam’s car is exactly as cramped and uncomfortable as Adam said it would be, and about fifty billion times as awesome. They’re parked near the warehouses again, far away from the freeway, where the shadows are deepest. Tommy’s got about thirty minutes before he needs to be home or his mom’s going to start cracking down for real on this habit he’s got of being late for curfew. That’s so not enough time to even get to Adam’s place in Eastside, let alone do all the things that Tommy is fucking dying to do there, so this quick dirty handjob thing, fuelled by the adrenaline of the fucking awesome show they put on, is gonna have to be enough.

“C’mon,” Tommy says, hiking his hips up, “oh, fuck, c’mon, fucking, harder.”

“Ten minute walk,” Adam says, biting at Tommy’s throat, words humming beneath skin, thrumming all the way down to pulse in Tommy’s dick. “I can make you last fifteen.”

“But I don’t-” Tommy gives up talking with a grunt, grabbing onto Adam’s shoulder to fuck roughly into his fist. Fuck, he wants to come. Being on that stage with Adam wasn’t anything like he thought it would be. He wants to spend his whole fucking life up there, and here, stuffed in this too-small space, anywhere Adam is. How the fuck he made it through all the years so far without Adam in his blood is a total fucking mystery to him. It’d take more than a knife to cut Adam out of him now.

“God,” Adam says, his hand slipping over Tommy’s cock, wet with so much spit and precome there’s barely any friction at all, just this perfect endless slide that’s driving Tommy crazy. He wants to fuck so bad. “Baby, come on, get your legs up.”

Tommy says, “Fuck,” and kicks one foot free of his jeans, hooking his knee over Adam’s shoulder as Adam crawls above him, slick fingers sliding down to find his asshole, rub it wet and open so he can push inside. Tommy clenches tight, grabbing blindly at the door, the dash, as he rocks frantically between Adam’s hands. He’s so fucking close he can taste it, thick and salty at the back of his throat like he’s already had Adam’s dick in his mouth. “Gonna,” he pants, “gonna suck you off after, gonna fucking go to bed still tasting you, fuck, fuck, fuck,” and he loses it thinking about lying in the dark in the bedroom he grew up in with Adam’s come still slick on his tongue.

“Tommy,” Adam groans, fingers pulling free, palm rubbing over Tommy’s dick as it jerks, smearing the mess everywhere, “Tommy, just your hand, baby, give me your hand.”

Fumbling with Adam’s fly, Tommy gets one hand inside to haul his cock out, big and thick and shiny wet, and rubs the other over Adam’s hand, gathering up his come to slick it even wetter. Braced on one elbow, Adam gives a sharp grunt and fucks Tommy’s fist rough and ragged and really fucking far gone like he never is straight out of the gate like this. He tangles a hand in Tommy’s hair, wrenching his head back too far, so all Tommy can see is torn upholstery on the roof and the car door upside down, handle on top and window on bottom. Pure electricity dances down Tommy’s spine, bright yellow sparks making him firm his grip and ignore the ache in his wrist after playing way past their set for an encore so he can jack Adam faster, feel his balls draw tight and his dick pulse and the hot, wet spill of come all down his knuckles. He doesn’t want to stop. Adam feels too good in his hand, hard beneath impossible softness, blood-thick and heavy. Even when Adam tugs on his hair and whines, trying to get him to stop, he almost can’t. His arm’s shaking when he finally pulls his hand away.

“I need to fucking graduate tomorrow,” Tommy says, staring up through the shadows at Adam’s face. It’s getting harder and harder to drag himself from Adam, and the life he wants to have with him, to the one he’s got to live through first. School feels like a million miles away. Like Mars, or fucking Pluto–a place you hear about but never, ever expect to go.

Adam drags in a stuttering breath, then another. “We’ve got a few minutes yet,” he says, and kisses every last one of them away.

*

The Monday after their show, Tommy heads home alone from his shift at the music store. Adam’s got a gig somewhere north of the city, far enough away it’s an overnight thing, so he’s gone all Monday and most of Tuesday. It’s seriously fucking with Tommy’s head to be separated for so long. It’s not even that fucking long, only a day and a half, but he hasn’t gone a day without seeing Adam since they started doing this thing for real. Tommy can’t even call him, because they still haven’t gotten him his own fucking phone. He feels disconnected and too big for his own skin and he totally almost bit Dave’s head off today for no fucking good reason at all.

“It’s probably a mate thing,” Mike says, almost lost in the traffic noise as Tommy walks home with his phone glued to his ear, desperate for some kind of genuine contact with another person.

“A mate thing?” Tommy prompts when there’s nothing but rustling coming across the line.

“In myth, wolves pine without their mates. Real wolves are more ’til death do us part about it, and go find another one when the one they’re with dies. But yeah, pining. You’re pining, dude.”

“I am not fucking pining.”

“You’ve been on the phone with me for two hours. I listened to you do nothing but breathe for ten minutes, man. You’re fucking pining.”

Tommy gives a rock a vicious kick off the sidewalk into a scraggly patch of weeds. “It sucks that I can’t go with him. My fucking boyfriend’s in the band and I don’t even get to see the show, let alone bone him backstage.”

Mike says, “Yep. Sucks. You coming over to get high or what?”

“Fuck, I so am,” Tommy breathes. “Lemme go change out of this skanky shirt, leave a note for my mom, and I’m so there.”

“Rock on, Ratliff,” Mike says, and hisses a curse when something clangs. “Gotta go. Bring munchies.”

Stuffing his phone away, Tommy picks up the pace, cutting through the playground with only the barest twinge. It’s not fucking pining, though. He’s allowed to miss his guy, doesn’t mean he’s gonna waste away like some chick in a gothic romance.

When Tommy gets home, his mom’s car is in the drive. Sure she said she’d be at the hospital with his dad today, giving the doctors hell because they’re dragging their feet about him checking out, he’s not too worried until he opens the door and a miasma of doom settles heavily on his shoulders. “Mom?” he calls, running through the hall to the kitchen. “Mom, why’re you home? Is Dad okay?”

“Tommy,” she says, in a perfect, even tone that means she’s twenty seconds from going postal. At least that means Dad’s probably okay, since postal isn’t exactly her usual reaction to bad news about him, but it probably isn’t good news for Tommy. “Sit down, honey. We need to talk.”

Tommy inches around the doorjamb. “Can I stay over here?”

Mom sets her cup of coffee down very deliberately. Tommy swallows. Fuck. She knows about him sneaking off to Eastside every five minutes. She’s got to. He wracks his brain trying to figure out when they slipped up. If anything, they’ve been even more careful since Adam invited him to play the lounge gig. Neither one of them wanted to mess up his chance.

“I’m going to ask you only once, Tommy,” Mom says, and oh fuck, that is not good, “where were you Wednesday night?”

Jerking my boyfriend off in the front seat of his car. “Um.”

“One chance,” she says ominously.

“I, uh, had a thing.” Nervously, Tommy tucks a strand of hair behind his ear, huffing when it slides free again right away. “Like, a show?”

“A show,” she repeats. Either she knows exactly what he was up to Wednesday night, or she’s got the best fucking poker face Tommy’s ever seen. Since she lies about as well as he does, he doubts it’s the latter. “Where, Tommy?”

“At a lounge?” Fuck. Tommy clears his throat. “I mean, uh. At a lounge. Somewhere. I didn’t drink or anything! I was there, um.” Somehow, his mother’s eyes turn frosty. Like, a slice of the fucking Antarctic right here in the bright summer sunlight streaming through the windows. “I played with some guys I know.”

“You told me you were going to Mike’s.”

Shit. Shit. He knew that one would bite him in the ass. He didn’t even have to tell her where he was going. She hardly ever asks. “I know. I lied, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to! But I didn’t think you’d let me go.”

“If you didn’t do anything wrong there,” Mom says, every word carefully measured, “then why did you lie?”

Fuck, fuck, shit. This is why Tommy’s not made for a life of fucking sneaking around, he never has a god damn story ready for when he’s caught. “Because I didn’t think you’d let me play it.”

“If you think I’m not going to let you do something, that’s a good reason not to do it. Not a good reason to lie about it. But why wouldn’t I let you play?”

“Because, like, you want me spending my time getting ready for college. And I, um.” Holy shit, holy shit, d-day’s come early. “I’m not going to college.”

Wow. That was way easier than ‘fessing up to having a werewolf boyfriend. Score.

“Oh, honey,” Mom says, a suspicious wet shine in her eyes.

Panicking, Tommy shoots across the kitchen and nabs a handful of tissues from the box on top of the fridge. Fuck. Fuck. He knew this college thing meant to much to her, it’s not fucking healthy. “Shit, Mom, don’t cry.”

“I’m not crying,” she says evenly, taking the crumpled tissues and setting them down beside her cooling coffee. She totally looks like the waterworks are about to start, and shit, he’s never made his mom cry before, he’s such a fucking asshole. “I’m upset. I know you don’t want to go to college. I won’t say I hadn’t been hoping you’d change your mind. But that you had to lie to me about your music because you thought I’d try to stop you, sweetheart, I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Tommy says in a daze. “I, um. I’m sorry I lied to you about it. It was really important to me and I didn’t– But I shouldn’t have lied. I’m really, really sorry.”

“Okay.” Tugging at her sleeves, his mom straightens up. She’s got her Tough Corporate Chick Face on. “I realise this is going to sound very unfair, but you’re grounded.”

“What?” Tommy couldn’t have heard that right. He’s got pretty serious plans to mope the night away with Mike, some classic horror flicks, and Mike’s quality stash. “What do you mean, grounded? I didn’t do anything wrong!”

“You lied instead of talking to me. And not just about playing that show.”

“But I said I was sorry!”

“It isn’t any easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission, either,” his mom says pointedly, and calmly picks up her coffee to warm in the microwave. “It’s only for a week. You’ll survive.”

Tommy can so not believe this shit. Yeah, okay, he didn’t get busted. But fucking grounded. “Grounded,” he says, wondering if it’ll sound more real. It seriously fucking doesn’t. “You never fucking ground me.”

“Language,” she warns, so not joking even a little bit. “I’ve never grounded you before because you’ve never been bothered much by staying in the house. if you’re not careful, you’ll lose your phone, too.”

Slapping a protective hand over his phone in his pocket, Tommy quickly retreats half a dozen steps. “What about work?”

“Of course you can go to work. Straight there, and straight home.”

For a split-second, Tommy considers the merits of lying about when his shifts are. Knowing his mom, though, now that she’s on the warpath about something, she’ll fucking call the store to make sure he’s working. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. A fucking week. A day without Adam and he’s already going to climb out of his fucking skin.

“If you’re pissed off about me not going to college, fine,” Tommy snaps, and turns around to stomp up the stairs. “But I’m not gonna change my fucking mind.”

“Tommy Ratliff!” his mom shouts after him, but he darts down the hallway and flings his door shut. Angry, frustrated tears burn hot behind his eyes. Wrenching his phone out of his pocket, he quickly fills Mike in, crazy-ass typos everywhere that he can’t be bothered to fix. Mike’ll know what he means. And he can’t call. Fuck, he can’t call, he’s this fucking close to bawling his stupid head off.

Way to man up and shit! Mike texts back, totally missing the fucking point. Whatever the fuck that means. Congrats dude.

Yeah but now i’m stuck home, Tommy bitches. FUCKING GROUNDED FOR A WEEK.

Mike’s reply takes longer to come back. Tommy’s not sure if it’s because the fucker’s toking up without him, or is busy trying to come up with something that won’t send Tommy into a tailspin of dramatic lovesick insanity. He’s maybe starting to calm down a little, the urge to scream and cry and throw shit tapering off enough for him to sit his ass on the bed by the time his phone chimes again. Jerk off thinking bout ur bf, pinky. Like u do every night.

Fuck u. Usually he’s jerkin me off.

Dude i’m sorry. Want me to bust ur ass out?

Tommy makes a noise that is so totally not a sniffle, tells Mike it’s cool, but if he could drop by the store on Wednesday, that would be really awesome. He gets back a promise that Mike’ll be there or be square, which is just the stupidest shit but makes Tommy feel a teeny tiny bit better. There’s got to be some way he can get a message to Adam, and Mike’ll totally have some crazy ninja idea. Mike’s always got ideas. It helps that his mom lets him have the run of the fucking internet. Tommy would so be better at this shit if he had the knowledge of a hundred thousand devious teenagers behind him.

He kills some time practicing Adam’s songs, but that ends up making him sad and lonely on top of everything else. Resisting the urge to fling his old guitar aside–it’s not the guitar’s fault–he blasts some Manson, letting his mom know how fucking ticked off his is over this shit. Three songs in, he’s pacing his room, seething. She couldn’t fucking stop him if he left. Kids do shit like that all the time. Once she’s asleep, there’s nothing to stop him from, like, climbing out his fucking window.

Except he’s on the second floor, and he’s never climbed out a window before, and what the fuck is he gonna risk breaking his neck for? Adam’s not even in the city. He left Tommy here alone to go put on a show Tommy’s never gonna get to fucking see.

Facedown on the bed, teeth clenched so hard his jaw aches to keep the tears trapped firmly behind his eyelids, Tommy lets Manson scream and growl and snarl at him. Some motherfucking mate Adam is.

*

The next day, Tommy lurks around the house unable to focus on a damn thing. Movies are boring, his video games suck, none of the songs he tries to play go right. His mom’s home again, which means she fucking took another day off to hang around and make sure he stayed grounded. Of all the stupid fucking shit to do. She already takes day after day after day to be with his dad, it’s a waste to spend one on him and his single shining moment of teenage rebellion. It’d be a hell of a lot easier to stand the whole house arrest thing if she wasn’t fucking there, being all silently disappointed in him. He’s done way worse shit than she could probably even dream, and she’s treating lying about playing a fucking show like he robbed a fucking bank.

Around six, after he’s done all the stupid dinner dishes for the stupid fucking dinner he didn’t want to eat, he goes upstairs, shoves open his window, and leans half his body out over the sill, judging the distance. A bone would definitely break if he gave that shit a shot. He’d seriously kill for a joint or some Jack or fucking something right now. He was supposed to meet Adam by the warehouses an hour ago. Right around now, Adam’s probably listening to some tunes, frowning absently at his watch every now and then, wondering what the hell the holdup is. Tommy’s never been late. Maybe soon, Adam’ll start to worry. He’ll get all pissed off thinking something’s happened, fucking, like, wolf out or something, and track Tommy down by his day-old scent from the walk home from work.

By the time the sun goes down, Tommy’s decided Adam knows exactly where he is and is only waiting for the cover of darkness to come get him. Eleven o’clock comes and goes while Tommy fiddles with the playlists on his iPod. Then midnight rolls around, and rolls on without Adam making an appearance. One o’clock. Two. It’s way, way past his curfew. If Adam is at the park waiting for him, he’s gotta know by now Tommy’s not gonna show. Why the fuck isn’t he here?

Giving up, Tommy slumps off to bed. Another five fucking days of this shit. His life sucks.

*

Wednesday, as promised, Mike shows up at the store while Dave-the-manager and Dave-not-the-manager are out back for a smoke break before Dave-the-manager goes home and leaves his precious store in the hands of two well-meaning, music-obsessed kids. Mike takes one look at him and says, “Dude, you look like shit.”

“Thanks a fucking lot,” Tommy says, shoving fucking Aretha Franklin back into the bin where she belongs. It seriously pisses him off that people can’t put shit back where they found it. The next person he catches stuffing CDs into the movie racks is getting a fucking earful.

Mike holds up both hands, palms out. “Don’t snarl at me, wolfboy. I’m on your side.”

“He didn’t come by last night,” Tommy says, shoulders sagging. “I totally stood him up, and he’s probably all pissed off and hurt and wondering what the fuck he was doing screwing around with a kid, and I can’t even tell him it’s because I’m fucking grounded. Grounded!”

Giving his shoulder a brotherly pat, Mike stumbles back a step when Tommy whirls around, gesturing frantically with a New Kids on the Block Anniversary Collection. For fucking serious, Dave-the-manager has got to be fucking high when he orders shit. (Except five of these fucking things came in, and only two are left, which is just so fucking Twilight Zone, Tommy’s refusing to think about it.) “And even if I could fucking tell him, he’ll probably dump my ass anyway. Grounded, Mike. Fucking grounded. Who wants to date somebody that gets grounded and doesn’t even have the balls to say fuck it and jump out his bedroom window?”

“Somebody who’s not fucking Spider-Man?” Mike says.

Weirdly, that gets all jumbled up in Tommy’s head, and the next thing he knows, he’s bent double clinging to the side of a bin laughing his fucking ass off. Because no, he’s not fucking Spider-Man, in any sense of the word. He’s totally doing it with, like, he doesn’t even fucking know. A wolf. Michael J. fucking Fox circa 1985.

“Dude,” Mike says, awed. He keeps patting Tommy’s shoulder worriedly. “This is totally getting to you. It’s like you’re detoxing.”

“M’not fucking detoxing,” Tommy wheezes, struggling up.

“Okay,” Mike says, not buying it.

“What the fuck ever.” Dragging a hand back through his hair, Tommy shakes off the urge to giggle crazily. “Okay, so. I need you to buy a phone for me.”

“A phone?”

“Yeah, a phone. From 7-11. The cheapest fucking one you can find.” Tommy digs through his pockets for his wallet and fishes out a handful of bills. Seventy bucks is the best he can do until payday next week. “I’ll pay you back if it’s not enough.”

Mike, because he is the very fucking best, doesn’t ask any questions. Like why Tommy can’t go buy the fucking phone himself on his lunch (Tommy suspects Dave-the-manager might have gotten a call from his mom, which is just, so fucking embarrassing) or why Tommy needs a pre-paid piece of shit when he’s got a perfectly good phone. He takes the money, says, “Back in a few,” and heads off.

Tommy jitters the next fifteen minutes away. Dave-the-manger leaves a couple minutes later, after giving a few half-assed instructions about shit he wants done, which is the same shit he always wants done. Tommy nods dutifully and jitters around some more.

“Dude,” Dave-not-the-manager says. “You on something?”

“Your face,” Tommy tosses back, staring holes in the front door as he dusts shelves.

“Dude,” Dave repeats, affronted and kinda impressed, and goes into the back to log inventory or process out damages or fucking jerk off, Tommy doesn’t give a shit. How fucking long does it take to buy a damn burner phone, anyway?

Just as Tommy’s ready to make like Spider-Man for real and climb the fucking walls, Mike meanders back with a 7-11 bag kicking around his legs. Reading the back of a phone card, he says, “This is so cheap and sleazy. Awesome.”

“Dude, don’t activate it!” Tommy says, flinging himself around a bin too fast, whacking his hip off the corner. He stumbles, but aside from that, barely notices.

“Jesus.” Mike holds up the bag and the phone card like a shield. “Chill, man. I didn’t touch it. I bought you some fucking extra time, here.”

“Sorry,” Tommy says, pausing long enough in wrenching the phone free of the plastic to give Mike a sloppy hug. “I’m sorry, you’re totally right, I’m going fucking insane.”

“Seriously,” Mike agrees. He hops up on the edge of the counter. “So, you got the phone. What’re you gonna do with it?”

“I’m not gonna do anything with it,” Tommy says, finally getting the phone free. Staring at it for a minute, he shrugs and sticks it in his armpit.

“Uh,” Mike says.

“Shut up.” Tommy squeezes his arm down harder, like he could force the plastic to absorb his scent. “I’m gonna wrap it in a shirt after, you won’t have to get your precious hands all dirty.”

“Your life is really weird,” Mike points out.

“Fucking tell me about it.” Tommy hops around a little from foot to foot, trying to will himself into sweating a bit without really putting in the effort. “I’m pretty sure he could sniff me out of a dumpster, but why take fucking chances, right? And I was just gonna stuff it under a tree in the park or something, but with my luck, some bum’ll wander in and make off with it.”

Reaching behind the counter, Mike helps himself to Dave and Dave’s stash of post-smoke Tic Tacs. “Thought you were pissed he didn’t show last night?”

“I am. Sorta.” Grabbing a couple CDs off the counter, Tommy goes to awkwardly put them away with the phone still caught beneath his arm. “But, like, maybe he was tired and shit. You haven’t seen those shows, man, they go crazy up there.”

“You’re totally wigging out,” Mike says, and pops a handful of candies into his mouth. “It’s kind of adorable, Tommy Joe, I feel like I should film you so he can watch it later. Too bad he already knows you’re a total dork.”

“Shut the fuck up,” Tommy says. Flicking a quick glance at both doors, glad there are no customers and it takes Dave-not-the-manager twenty fucking minutes to rub one out in the bathroom, Tommy nabs another promo shirt from the box of swag, rips open the plastic, and quickly hauls his old one off to tug the new one on. It’s stiff and scratchy, and totally stinks. Careful not to let the phone touch anything but his hands and his old shirt, Tommy wraps it up tight and stuffs it in the plastic bag. “Try not to get your stink all over it, okay?”

Mike holds the bag out at arm’s length by the tips of his fingers. “What the fuck d’you want me to do with it? Wave it around?”

“Put it somewhere outside your house,” Tommy says. “Where your mom’s not gonna find it. Adam’ll probably catch the scent before he gets close to my place, and he’ll think I’m over there. Then you can give him the phone and my number and tell him to fucking call me.”

One side of his mouth quirked up, Mike says, “I could’ve just let him use my phone, you know.”

“Fuck off, he needs something to fucking take with him so I can fucking call him next time my mom decides she’s actually gonna be a fucking mom and cockblock me.”

“Dude,” Dave says from the back, slow and dragged out like he was either totally jerking off or smoking up or both. “That is so not cool. When did you hook up? I thought Mike was totally your girlfriend.”

Mike’s face twists sourly. He hops off the counter. “You are so fucking oblivious, man. Tommy J, later.”

“No, seriously.” Dave wobbles out to slump against the counter. “Who’s your girl? Are chicks literally throwing themselves at you now that you’re in a band?”

Tommy stares. Dave is un-fucking-real. He was actually afraid Dave would be the one person to actually figure out what Tommy was up to, with Adam dropping him off and picking him up every day for work. “You’re an idiot,” Tommy says, grinning. “I fucking love you, man.”

“Yeah, well, you’re fucking short,” says Dave. “I hope she bites your dick next time.”

When Tommy ends up fucking laughing his head off like a total loon all over again, Dave makes a disgusted face and goes to reorganise the graveyard of posters in the back nobody ever bothers to flip through. Tommy would tell him the truth that his dick is totally not what ends up covered in bites, but then he’d have to explain a whole bunch of shit, and honestly, it’s way more fun to listen to Dave bitch in the corner about crazy punk-ass teenagers. Since Dave is, like, one year older than him, it’s extra hilarious.

Tommy spends the rest of his shift listening to Dave spout shit like, “Dust the shelves, weirdo!” and tossing back, “I’ll dust your mom,” just to hear him gurgle. Tommy even only thinks about Adam maybe fifteen or twenty times. He’s totally not pining. He’s got a plan.

*

After dinner that night, Tommy’s hanging out his window again, pining. He flicks at a flake of loose paint, watching it tumble down into the grass. He hadn’t wanted to jinx it by thinking about it too much, but since Adam didn’t fucking show up anyway, it doesn’t matter. Today was the first day in over two weeks Adam didn’t pick him up after work. Not that Tommy could’ve gone anywhere with him, but he could’ve at least told Adam what the fuck was going on. Maybe since Tommy didn’t show up at the usual spot for Adam to drive him to his shift, Adam figured he didn’t need a ride home.

Tommy pries up another paint flake and crushes it under his thumb. It’s really, really hard not to think about all the terrible reasons why Adam isn’t even making an effort to get to him. There’s playing it safe, like Tommy’s doing, and then there’s being a total asswipe. And worse still, Tommy’s mom is gonna figure out really fucking soon something more than being grounded is getting him down. He barely touched his dinner again tonight, because apparently he totally is the wasting heroine of a fucking period romance.

Slumping down the stairs, Tommy collapses in the armchair and stares blankly at whatever sitcom his mom’s watching, just so he’s making a fucking effort at being social and heading off the inevitable grilling about what the fuck is the matter with him. She looks up at him for a long minute, then turns back to the show without saying anything. Maybe if he could talk to his dad without her around, he could get some fucking sympathy in this house. But probably not. The last thing his dad said to him when they chatted on the phone before eating was that he was really disappointed Tommy wasn’t even going to give college a try. Tommy didn’t even have the energy to give him the same spiel he’s been giving Mom for the last few nights. Like talking to fucking walls, both of them.

*

Tommy wakes with a start. His room’s lit in greyscale, a slight breeze making his open blinds clack against the window frame. Rolling over, he closes his eyes, firmly telling himself that’s what woke him and it’d be really stupid to get his hopes up.

He’s so getting his fucking hopes up. Scooting out of bed, he fumbles his way half-asleep to the window, scrubbing gunk out of his eyes. Feeling like a total tool, he whispers, “Adam?”

A soft yip, like from a dog, echoes through the night. Tommy grips the sill harder. “Please. Adam, c’mon, if that’s you, please.”

When the wolf steps out of the shadows, Tommy’s shirt bundled up in its maw, Tommy’s not sure if it’s Adam or not. It’s been so long since he’s seen Adam as a wolf. But it’s fucking got to be. What reason would some other wolf have to track him down?

“I can’t come down,” Tommy says, his whisper harsh. “I’m fucking grounded.” All he needs is for this to be the one time he wakes his mom up by sneaking out. She’d put him under house arrest for fucking real. “Adam?”

The wolf pads up to the back stair and drops the bundle. It whines softly, and then there’s a weird popping noise, the sound of something wet tearing. Breath frozen in his lungs, Tommy watches the wolf hunker down, panting hard, shaking even harder. It sounds like it hurts. A lot.

“Adam,” Tommy says, “don’t, not when I can’t,” but it’s too late. Bits and pieces of freckled skin show through the wolf’s fur, then more, like its shedding its coat in chunks. But there’s nothing falling to the grass, not even when it speeds up, the shape of Adam’s human body emerging from the wolf’s like a horror flick on fast-forward, all stop-motion jerky. When it’s over, Adam’s on his knees, glistening with sweat in the moonlight. And he’s really fucking naked. “Holy fuck,” Tommy breathes.

A noise like a choked-off laugh answers him. Adam stumbles to his feet, gripping the railing as he looks up, then off to the side, like he’s sizing up the place.

“No, Adam, no,” Tommy hisses, his grip on the sill the only thing keeping him from tumbling out the fucking window, “it’s too fucking high, you’ll- Jesus fucking Christ.”

Gaping, Tommy watches Adam scrabble for a handhold in the slippery shingles on top of the garage. Not finding it, Adam swings around fast, skidding almost to the edge of the roof before he takes another fucking crazy flying leap, bypassing Tommy’s window entirely. Tommy quickly backs his ass up, his heart in his throat, his eyes fucking bugging out of his head as Adam slinks in through the window, feet-first. He lands lightly, one hand braced on the floor, and gives himself a quick shake before standing up. There’s blood on his knees and his hands, and a pretty vicious-looking scrape on his thigh.

Tommy chokes out a noise and flings himself straight at Adam. “Fucking crazy,” he says, locking his arms tight around Adam’s neck, his legs around Adam’s hips. He kisses Adam hard, not caring that Adam’s stumbling back and almost going down with a thump because he’s here, Adam’s fucking here, he’s here and naked and Tommy’s never wanted anything so fucking bad in his life. “Fuck, fuck, I missed you, you’re fucking insane, my mom totally heard that shit.”

“I’m sorry.” Adam’s voice is quiet, strained. Turning around, he gets Tommy propped up against the wall to kiss him again, and again. “Mike told me everything. I was being stupid. And afraid. I’m so sorry, Tommy.”

“Shut up,” Tommy says, pushing impatiently at Adam’s shoulder. “Fuck, shut up, put me down.”

Adam lets go immediately, letting Tommy slide down the wall onto his feet. Adam feels so fucking good pressed against him Tommy’s eyes almost cross. And he smells fucking amazing, like sweat and wolf and warm night air and sex. Fuck, sex. Tommy’s missed sex so fucking much.

“You’re a total jerk,” Tommy says.

Brows drawn together in a sad arc, Adam nods. “You weren’t at the warehouses, you weren’t at the park, you weren’t anywhere. I thought you were angry at me.”

Tommy punches Adam in the shoulder. “So you fucking avoided me?”

“You were really upset when I left!”

“Because I couldn’t go fucking with you,” Tommy hisses, “not because you were going.”

Before Tommy can punch him again, Adam catches his wrist and pins it to the wall. “You were furious.”

“Was not.”

“You know I can smell it when you lie to me.”

“M’not lying,” Tommy grumbles, half-heartedly trying to twist his hand out of Adam’s grip. It feels way too good for him to really want to get away. “Yeah, okay, I really don’t fucking like it that you tell me I’m your mate and you let me be a fucking part of your life, but I didn’t want you to, like, just fuck off and leave me.”

“Baby,” Adam says softly, “I didn’t leave you.”

Finding a patch of carpet to stare at, Tommy says, “I know that.”

“Then-”

“‘Cause it fucking felt like it,” Tommy snaps. Remembering that his mom is right across the fucking hall, Tommy sucks in a deep breath. “I can’t tell anybody about us. It’s like, if you went away, nobody would even fucking know. Like we’re not even real.”

“It’s not like that,” Adam says, pulling Tommy away from the wall. “People know. Mike knows, and Monte. Half of Eastside knows your scent by now.”

“But they don’t know.” Reluctantly, Tommy lets Adam push him down on the bed. He figures they’re gonna have some heart-breaking talk or something, but Adam urges him to lie back, and that’s a way better idea. It’s been three whole fucking days since he got to touch Adam. A week since the last time Adam crawled on top of him and fucked him slow and hard and perfect. If they’re quiet, his mom’ll never fucking know.

“Know what, baby?” Adam asks, his hand warm on the sliver of bare skin between Tommy’s shirt and his old, threadbare pyjama bottoms.

Thinking he can get away without answering if he pushes Adam in the right direction, Tommy drags his knees up, settling Adam’s hips firmly between his legs. Adam goes with it, shifting up to brace his elbows on the pillow on either side of Tommy’s head. “Tell me,” Adam says.

Tommy huffs. “They don’t know that you’re mine. Some other wolf could just fucking, you know. Who’s gonna worry about pissing off the puny little human that can’t even go to a fucking show?”

There’s a long pause, then Adam says, “You’re jealous.”

“M’not fucking jealous.” Tommy digs his nails into the softness above Adam’s kidneys. “I just. Fuck.” He squeezes his eyes shut. He’s so totally jealous. The idea of somebody sniffing around Adam makes him see fucking red. “It didn’t bug you at all to go without me?”

“It bothered me a lot,” Adam says. “But as much as I love the idea of you wanting to stake a claim on me, I’m not willing to risk your neck for it.”

“You don’t even fucking know if they’ll do anything. Do you guys get into fights over mates all the fucking time or what?”

Warily, Adam says, “No. But it happens.”

“I get it, okay? You’re scared. Fuck knows I am. But if we gotta pick, I figure chances are way, way better that weres will tolerate me more than stupid fucking humans will tolerate you. A whole bunch already don’t give a shit we’re fucking all the time. And I want to be your mate.” No matter how many times Tommy says it, it still makes his stomach squirm and his face heat. There’s something primal in the word, sexual, but something really fucking vulnerable, too. “Not the half-assed excuse for one you can’t fucking bring anywhere.”

Not looking convinced, which hurts way more than Tommy’s ready to admit, Adam says, “I’ll think about it, okay?”

“Fucking think about it,” Tommy mutters, and starts squirming out from underneath Adam. “Leggo for a minute.”

Adam rolls off of him, looking way too hot all fucking naked like that. And half-hard, shit. It’s totally not fair that he can lie there with his dick slumped thickly against his thigh and Tommy goes from zero to sixty in half a second flat. “Do you want me to go?” Adam asks.

“Fuck, no. Jesus.” Scrubbing both hands through his hair, Tommy goes to the door and listens carefully. His mom’s snores are comfortingly loud. He gives the lock a jiggle to make sure it’s caught. “I haven’t seen you for three fucking days.”

A sly curve creeps its way across Adam’s mouth. Settling back, he tucks an arm beneath his head. “I think I should go.”

“Fucking try it,” Tommy says, skinning off his shirt. “The only thing you’re gonna do is put me on my belly so I’m not too loud.”

Adam’s eyes close briefly as he draws in a slow breath. Tingles skip all up Tommy’s spine, fanning out to prickle along his arms. “Smell something you like?” Tommy asks, grinning as he tugs his pants off, kicking them into a heap beside the bed.

“You’re terrible,” Adam says, sitting up. “Fuck, come here.”

No way he’s gotta ask Tommy twice. Scooting up the bed on his knees, Tommy straddles Adam’s lap, bracing a hand on the wall so he can get in really close, feel Adam’s chest warm and solid against his dick, a little rough with a smattering of short, dark hairs. “Fuck,” he says, hunching over Adam, cupping the back of Adam’s head as he nips at Tommy’s belly, damp breaths hot on bare skin. He grinds harder, faster, totally about to get himself off just like this. It’s been too fucking long, he can’t help it. Just like he can’t help moaning as Adam’s hands skim down his back, cup his ass.

“Tommy,” Adam warns, and Tommy nods fast, biting his lip. He manages to shut the fuck up until Adam’s fingers, blunt and dry, dip into the crack of his ass, then he’s jerking forward and moaning again, his dick skidding up to smear wet across Adam’s collarbone.

Adam says, “You weren’t kidding,” kinda guttural-sounding, and really fucking hot. The bed shakes as Adam tumbles him down onto it, pushing him over onto his belly and crawling on top of him, Adam’s dick rubbing against his ass. Hitching his hips up, he bites at the pillow, totally crazy because yeah, okay, he’s a fucking pillow-biter, but even that isn’t enough to keep him quiet.

“Sorry,” Tommy says, scrubbing hair out of his face. “I’ll be quiet, I promise. I really want you to fuck me. I’ve got stuff and everything.”

Adam groans, low and rumbly in his chest. “I don’t think you can. I love hearing you, baby, but-”

“Please.” Tommy shoves up on one elbow, scrabbling for the bedside table, the stash hidden in the back. “I know you really want to get your dick in me again. Just your dick this time. Fucking do it raw like you wanted to the first time.”

“Stop,” Adam snarls, dropping down over him to pin him to the tousled sheets, one hand covering his mouth. Tommy squeezes his eyes shut and groans, working really fucking hard not to make even more noise when Adam presses harder. The urge to buck and twist and make Adam give him what he wants almost wins out, but he somehow manages to go still, breathing harshly through his nose, waiting for Adam to choose.

There’s a quiet rustle as Adam shifts back a bit, then Adam’s hand is pushing up the inside of Tommy’s thigh, spreading his legs. Tommy breathes faster and draws his knee up, the sheets cool against his skin then warming fast. It’s really, really different like this, only having the touch of Adam’s hands to follow. He’s so used to being able to watch Adam at the beginning, not ending up on his stomach until Adam’s gotten him off and he’s dazed and floaty, and Adam’s so close to losing it there’s no way to pretend Adam’s anything but a were desperate for his mate. Now, Adam’s slow and careful working slippery fingers into him. If he thought that would make it easier for Tommy to keep quiet, he’s so totally wrong. In lots of ways it’s really fucking worse because he’s got all the time in the world to focus on the feeling of being stretched open, the heat of Adam against him, the way Adam’s dick jerks when Tommy shoves his face into the pillow to muffle another moan.

Adam kisses the back of his neck, his shoulders, anywhere he can reach without pulling away. It feels so good to grind against the mattress Tommy can’t help doing it, sucking in a breath and holding it when it makes his ass clench harder around Adam’s fingers. The ache’s not so deep this time. He pushes back trying to make it spike, chasing after the sweet mellow buzz that follows.

“Okay,” Adam says, sounding weirdly steady, “come on, up on your knees for me, baby.”

Swallowing a ragged noise, Tommy says, “Yeah, yeah, okay,” and pushes unsteadily up, feeling way more exposed than he maybe should. They’ve got this thing they do where it’s always face-to-face, because Tommy likes watching Adam and Adam likes watching him, or they’re pressed so close together, his back to Adam’s chest, that Tommy can feel everything Adam’s thinking anyway. This is different. Kinda scary. Really fucking exciting.

Even more fucking exciting is the press of Adam’s naked dick. It’s slick and wet but not as slippery as latex, raw when he pushes in, skin dragging on skin. Tommy curls his hands into tight fists in the sheets, chin dropping to his chest as he breathes and breathes and doesn’t whine like he wants to so fucking badly. Everything’s more this way. Bigger, rougher, slower. He doesn’t know if it’s better until Adam’s in all the way, panting hard and petting his sides and his back, waiting for him to be ready.

He’s really not fucking ready, but he pushes back anyway, biting off a shallow grunt when Adam takes the cue right away to go for it. Adam’s fingers brush his ass when Adam’s got to help push his dick back in, Tommy not loose enough to take it easily, and that’s a whole different kind of really fucking crazy-awesome, like being opened up all over again, pleasure like a long, slow stretch rippling through Tommy’s body. Choking back the noises that want to come spilling out of him is getting harder and harder, like the smoother the roll of Adam’s hips, the easier it is for Tommy to push back and meet him with the quiet smack of skin on skin, the less his chances of keeping his mouth shut.

“Fuck,” he says, dropping down to one arm, bracing his forehead against it. Tiny bright sparks light up all through the aching fullness. They’ve got to be making so much fucking noise. Adam’s fucking making a lot of it, soft, animal noises that are so fucking messed up and good, totally doing it for Tommy in ways that he doesn’t really want to think too much about. Like, he’s not thinking about Adam-the-wolf fucking him, he’s really not, but the idea flits across his mind every so often, this total random blip where he doesn’t really picture a fucking wolf okay, but some crazy mashup that’s both Adam and the wolf, and then his brain goes yeah, fuck yeah, if he could shift, he’d totally fuck Adam doggy style for real.

Adam makes this pained noise, wrenched right out of him, and grabs onto Tommy by the hip and shoulder, hauling him up to slam it home. And if Tommy thought it was going deep before, it was fucking nothing compared to this, thick and heavy and suffocating as Adam sits back on his heels and drags Tommy with him. Tommy’s spine snaps into a tight arch, his mouth falling open soundlessly, like Adam’s fucked his voice out of him. It takes him way too long to figure out Adam’s in the middle of losing it, grinding up into him with short, sharp jerks, and even then he can’t get enough air in his lungs to tell Adam to keep going like he wants, fuck it all into him, mark him so good no were would be able to tell where Adam ends and Tommy begins.

Mouth pressed to the side of Tommy’s neck, Adam pushes Tommy’s dick up against his belly, rolling over it with his palm and sliding down to play with his balls. And Adam’s settled in him so deep, grinding it in, making these tiny sounds like it’s too much but he still can’t stop, that it’s a fucking miracle Tommy hasn’t gone off yet. As soon as he thinks about how spectacularly he’s gonna blow it, he’s there, grabbing desperately at Adam, knowing he’s gonna shout so fucking loud and there’s nothing he can do to stop it. His nails dig into Adam’s wrist as Adam’s palm comes down on his mouth again, almost in time to completely to muffle his shout. He bites at the heel of Adam’s hand, tasting salt, biting harder when Adam groans, loving the feel of flesh caught in his teeth as Adam jerks him through it, come slicking Adam’s fingers, dripping down to speckle the hair at the base of Tommy’s dick. Adam combs his fingers through it and smears it down over his nuts, back up his cock, squeezing the last pulses out of him.

“Jesus Christ,” Tommy slurs behind Adam’s hand. He gives Adam’s arm a weak tug, turning his head to press his face in the damp crook of Adam’s neck. It’s starting to hurt, being on Adam like this, but he can’t move yet. His fucking legs are jelly.

“Hang on, baby,” Adam says, giving him a gentle nudge. Tommy bites down hard on a rough groan when Adam slips free, but Adam’s hands keep him steady as he stretches shakily out. He rubs his face against the cool sheets as Adam settles behind him, skin sticky against his. Adam’s hand skims down his back and curls over his ass, fingers pressed close to his hole. “Okay?”

Tommy manages a mumbled, “Yeah,” keeping his eyes shut tight as Adam’s fingers push a little harder, settling between the cheeks to actually touch him. It’s soft, barely there, but Tommy’s really fucking tender, aching, and it makes his heartbeat hitch.

“God,” Adam says, nuzzling his shoulder. “Tommy, oh my god, the way you smell. I can taste you.”

Tommy laughs, rough and used-sounding, because yeah, that’s totally the kind of pillow talk you’d get from a were. “Been there, done that,” he says.

Hushed, Adam says, “Not like this,” and all Tommy can really do is nod. He might not have Adam’s crazy instincts, but he totally gets it. He can still feel Adam in him. Like, for real in him, nothing separating them, just skin and sweat and come.

When Adam moves away, maybe to grab a shirt to clean up or something, Tommy makes a clumsy grab for him. “Don’t, like,” he says, and pauses, wetting dry lips. There’s a tiny, stinging crack in the middle of his bottom lip, where he bit too hard. “Stay for awhile, okay?”

Snagging Tommy’s shirt, Adam rolls back and gives Tommy a really light wipe-down, like he doesn’t want to risk rubbing his scent away. “What time does your mom get up for work?”

“Six, maybe?” Tommy says, and watches as Adam drops the shirt in his lap to nab Tommy’s cell off the nightstand.

“I’ll probably wake up when she does,” Adam says, setting the phone back down well within reach. “But just in case.”

“‘Kay,” Tommy says. His eyes are heavy, kinda gritty, so he lets them close as he listens to Adam clean up, then shuffle down to curl up around him. They’ve only ever slept together once. One time, and Adam hadn’t held him close like this. “S’gonna be the best part about living with you,” he mumbles.

After a long moment of quiet, Adam asks, really softly, “What, Tommy Joe?”

“Sleeping,” Tommy says, which isn’t the whole answer he’s got in his head, but before he can get with you off his tongue, he’s out.

*

Tommy’s finally fucking free. It’s Monday. Monday, and he’s only got a four hour shift that ends at two, and his mom’s going to be working late, and there is nothing to fucking stop him from spending every single minute of the next ten hours fucking the hell out of his boyfriend. They haven’t really had the chance to be together since Adam climbed out his window at, like, quarter to six in the morning last Thursday. It’s been better since he’s been able to text with Adam, and even talk a little, but hearing Adam’s voice without being able to touch him was a different kind of terrible. He seriously thought he’d go crazy.

Sitting on a concrete block outside the store, Tommy jiggles his leg impatiently. Adam’s not late. Even with Tommy’s fucking ass grounded, he’s been by to pick Tommy up, steal as many kisses as they dared, and then get Tommy straight home before his mom got suspicious. He hadn’t exactly said he’d swing by and pick Tommy up today, but he’s been by every other day without saying so. The only time he says anything about it is when he’s not going to be there. And he didn’t say anything, so that means he’s going to be here, and Tommy needs a fucking drink or a keg or for Adam to hurry the fuck up and be here.

The familiar rumble of Adam’s piece-of-shit car is the most beautiful sound he’s ever heard. He catapults off his perch and boots it across the parking lot, wrenching open the door before the car’s even rolled to a stop. “Hi,” he says, tumbling into the seat, hands already out grabbing for any part of Adam he can get. “I really fucking missed you.”

“So I see,” Adam says, eyes sparkling, pure human joy with the musky-sweet dash of wolf when he twists to meet Tommy’s kiss. The car rolls forward a few inches. Adam gropes blindly for the stick so he can shove it into park and keep kissing until the manic jitter in Tommy’s belly finally shuts the fuck up.

“I missed you a lot,” Tommy says, his lips still buzzing. Reluctant to stop, he drags himself away, thumping back into the seat to wrangle the belt out of the runner where it always sticks, and buckles up. The sooner they get back to Adam’s place, the better Tommy’s life is gonna be. He gnaws on his lip. Better to get some shit out of the way first, though. “And, um, I’ve been thinking.”

About to turn out into the street, Adam pauses, then slides the car back into park. “About?”

“I wanna meet your mom,” Tommy says. He’s seriously thought this one through. He’s had a whole week to stew over this crap. That’s way more thinking time than he’s devoted to pretty much any decision ever. Usually, he’s a solid go-with-his-gut kinda guy, which completely explains how he ended up dating a werewolf. “If there’s gonna be shit we can’t do, fine.” Not really, but he’s picking his battles here. “And since you meeting my mom would be like fucking Armageddon, I want to meet yours.”

“Huh,” Adam says slowly.

Tommy squints hard at Adam’s face. That’s not Adam’s panic face. Or his no-Tommy-and-that’s-final face, which he hasn’t successfully managed to trot out on any issue aside from taking Tommy to a were show. Mostly because Tommy’s not a total shit, okay, and he knows when an idea is crazy versus just plain fucking stupid. Here’s the kicker, though. “Is there a reason I shouldn’t?”

Adam’s gaze bounces from the rearview mirror to the street and back again. Tommy gnaws the fuck out of his cheek. “I honestly don’t know,” Adam finally says, “but the thought of you meeting my mother fills me with some sort of preternatural terror.”

“Jesus.” Tommy slumps into the seat. “Fuck, you had me worried. I thought, like, shit. Your mom sounds so fucking awesome when you talk about her, I was, like, convinced she’d be cool with me.”

“Up until she realises how young you really are and she guilts me into waiting until your birthday to even kiss you again,” Adam says sourly.

That brings Tommy up short. If his mom tried hard enough, she might–might–be able to guilt him into… no, actually, she totally wouldn’t. Tommy would lie like a fucker and crawl into Adam’s bed again anyway. “You wouldn’t.”

“I might,” Adam says, grim.

“You’d try and last, like, five minutes, c’mon. Even talking about not kissing me makes you want to kiss me.”

“Yes, okay, but-”

Tommy grins hopefully and scoots across the seat as much as the belt will let him. “I can meet your mom?”

Adam heaves a defeated sigh. “I’ll tell her we’re coming for dinner tomorrow night.”

“Fuckin’ A,” Tommy says, grabbing onto Adam’s shirt to haul him in for another quality liplock before they’ve got to get their asses out of here or risk plaza security wandering over to find out what the holdup is. “I bet your mom is awesome.”

“She’s something,” Adam says, dry as fucking toast as he flicks the turn signal back on.

Tommy gnaws on the side of his finger, taking another stab at getting rid of a cuticle that’s been bugging him all day. “She won’t care about the underage thing, though, right? I mean, if you really thought she would, you’d say so.”

Adam doesn’t even shoot him a glance.

“Or the human thing?” Nothing. Not a twitch. “Adam?”

“You wanted to meet her,” Adam says, a hitch at the corner of his mouth finally giving him away. “Here I am, giving you what you want. Don’t blame me for anything.”

“Asshole,” Tommy says, listing sideways on the seat so he can get a cuddle in. “If she’s anything at all like you, I can’t wait to meet her.”

*

“Shit,” Tommy says, fiddling with his hair as they follow the walk up to the front door of a small bungalow, well cared-for but still showing its age. If it weren’t for the battered, dirty backdrop of Eastside eroding away at its edges, it’d be easy to picture in Tommy’s neighbourhood. “Shit, now I’m nervous.”

Adam catches his hand and holds it tight to his chest. He’s got a bottle of wine held by the neck in his other hand. “If she catches you doing that, she’ll tell you all your hair’s going to fall out before you’re thirty.”

“Fuck.” Tommy clutches harder at Adam’s hand. Adam’s sort of doing that werewolf thing again where his scent gets stronger or something, and Tommy breathes it deep, trying not to think too hard about what it means that it calms him down every time. “This was a really bad idea. I mean, she’s your mom.”

“She is,” Adam agrees. “And she’s been patiently listening to you stress yourself out for the entire ten minutes it took us to walk from the car, so maybe you should knock on the door.”

“Oh Jesus,” Tommy says, and lurches for the stoop. The door opens before he’s got a chance to knock, and he draws up short, staring slack-jawed at it like a total winner. Not even sure what he was expecting, the small, dark-haired woman that stands on the other side of the threshold, smiling a softer version of Adam’s smile at him, fits perfectly.

Belatedly prying his hand free of Adam’s, Tommy holds it out. “Hi. I’m Tommy. Um, obviously.”

“Oh Adam,” she says in the exact same tone of fond exasperation Tommy’s mom uses on him daily, “why is it you always go for the shy ones?” Taking Tommy’s hand, she pulls him in for a hug. “Call me Leila.”

Recovering fast from being tugged away from Adam’s steadying hold, Tommy hugs back. Clearly she’s where Adam learned to give such awesome hugs. She even smells a little like Adam, on the wolfy side. It’s lighter and softer, but familiar enough it keeps the butterflies in his stomach from kicking up a whirlwind. “It’s really good to meet you,” he says.

“You too,” Leila says, smiling when Tommy backs up automatically to feel Adam standing solid beside him. “Are you going to come inside now?”

“Yes, please,” Tommy says, trying to physically will the stink of nerves he knows he’s spilling all over the place to fucking quit it already. He steps inside when Leila gestures, immediately cast adrift again without Adam’s warmth against his skin.

“Hi, Mom,” Adam says when Leila draws him in for his hug hello.

“Baby,” she says, rubbing his arms as she steps back. “It’s good to see you. I couldn’t have been more surprised when you said you were bringing him over.”

“He wanted to meet you,” he says, guiding her into the house so he can shut the door. He quirks a smile. “He was incredibly insistent about it, too.”

Snorting a laugh, Tommy says, “You caved like a house of cards when I asked,” and steps around the cute halfmoon table covered in fresh flowers that’s in his way of being plastered to Adam’s side. He’s being stupidly obvious about the clingy thing, and it’s probably coming across as immature and codependent and all those other things that Tommy so does not give a shit about right now. Adam’s mom is small and beautiful and totally has this look in her eyes like she wouldn’t mind at all ripping his throat out if he hurt her baby boy. Which, yeah, okay, Tommy gets that, but holy fuck, intimidating.

He breathes easier when Adam slides an arm around his shoulders, pulling him in close as Leila leads the way from the hall to the cosy-looking living room, taking a big, threadbare plush chair to let them have the couch. Up until Adam says, “I’ll get us something to drink,” anyway, letting Tommy settle onto the couch without him, gesturing with the wine bottle and totally running the fuck away.

Tommy stares at the patch of faded carpet where Adam used to be. “I could, um, help,” he says, moving to stand up again.

“Or you could stay and tell me a little about yourself,” Leila says.

Tommy plunks his ass straight back down. No way that was a polite suggestion. “There’s, uh, not much to tell?” he says, and hates how it comes out sounding like a question. He wonders how well I’m stupidly in love with your son would go over. “I pretty much just play guitar. But I’ve got a really good job at the music store on East Magnolia,” he’s quick to add, ’cause in his experience, parents like you more if you’re responsible, “the one that still carries vinyls and stuff?”

“Full time?” Leila presses, with that scary mom-ish crook to one eyebrow.

“In the fall,” Tommy says, and barely resists the urge to shrink away from her steady gaze. The hug out front was dirty pool, totally knocking him off his guard, making him think she’s all easy-peasy like his mom is most days. “When I’m done with classes.”

She makes a quiet mm hmm noise under her breath, like she’s not really buying it. But Tommy’s not saying a word unless she calls him on it point blank, so he smiles back at her, big and bright like he used on Mrs. Phelps when she caught him practicing chords in his head instead of paying attention to the Battle of Palo Alto for the third time in a row. How long does it take to open a bottle of fucking wine, anyway?

“Adam really hasn’t had a chance to tell me much about you,” Leila says. “It was only a couple of weeks ago he mentioned he was dating again.”

Tommy hides a wince. “Yeah, um. It was pretty quick? I mean, uh. Like.” Shit. Shit, shit, shit.

“Mom,” Adam says sourly, appearing in the doorway with the open wine bottle in one hand and three clean wineglasses caught by the stems in the other, Tommy’s total chickenshit saviour. “I told you not to grill him.”

“I’m not grilling him,” Leila says, and turns to Tommy. “Am I grilling you?”

Trapped, Tommy looks from her to Adam and back again. “A little? But I totally get where you’re coming from.” Tommy stuffs a piece of hair behind his ear and wills it to stay there. “I don’t know a lot about the way this thing works, only really what Adam’s told me, but I get that it’s kinda weird. Me being human, I mean.”

“And very, very young,” Leila adds.

“Mom,” Adam says darkly, finishing pouring the wine and handing her the first glass. He very pointedly hands the next to Tommy, practically daring his mother to say something about it. Tommy takes it gingerly and holds it cradled in both hands as Adam finally settles down beside him, arm slipping around his waist. Not so sure it’s a good idea, Tommy leans into him anyway, grateful for the comfort.

Adam gives him a little squeeze, pleased.

“She’s right though,” Tommy says. The wine Adam brought is a deep, rich red, clinging thickly to the glass when he gives it a swirl. “My mom says the same thing.”

“About you two being together?” Leila asks, surprised.

“No, um. She’s not anti-were or something stupid like that, but it scares her. I don’t think it’s really a good idea to tell her yet. My dad’s sick a lot.” When he risks a glance up, he finds Leila’s steady gaze square on him. “I guess that’s why I wanted to meet you. It’s bad enough we’ve got to hide from everybody else. Keeping it from our families sucks. I got the feeling that you and Adam are really close, and that you’d be happy to know he’s not going to be alone anymore.”

Adam draws back slightly to face him. “Not- What?”

“Not alone. Like, you have me now.” At Adam’s blank look, Tommy rolls his eyes. “You know about the part where I’m staying with you. We totally already talked that shit out. There’s even an apartment building Mike found online that won’t ask too many questions about the tenants, as long as the name on the lease is mine.”

“I know you didn’t mention anything about an apartment.” Adam frowns. “You said you were going to stay at home to help your mom.”

“I can do that, too,” Tommy says, fiddling with his glass. He should probably put it the fuck down before he spills red wine all over Leila’s woven rug, but then he wouldn’t have anything to do with his hands except cling to Adam for dear fucking life. “It’s cool if you don’t want to move out of Eastside, I don’t really care where we live. I just sorta thought you’d worry less about me when you’re out playing shows, that’s all.”

“Oh, Adam.” There’s a hint of a smile at the corners of Leila’s mouth. “You honestly didn’t realise?”

“Realise what?” Adam snaps, then heaves a breath and a short, dutiful, “Sorry,” before he goes on. “What about college?”

Tommy flicks a wary glance Leila’s way. She doesn’t look surprised. Adam probably already fucking told her he’s not out of high school yet, and she was totally letting him get away with creeping around the truth. “I told my mom I’m not going. ‘Cause I’m not. It’d be a huge waste of money. And college is pretty much the place you go to figure out what you want to do with your life, right? I already know what I want to do. Even if I’ll never be able to do one of your shows, we can do stuff like the lounge gig. Places that can’t afford a house band or whatever, they’ll get, like, two for the price of one. It’ll work. We’ll seriously fucking make it work, okay?”

“It’s not that easy,” Adam starts to say.

“I know it’s not gonna be easy,” Tommy barks, even though he doesn’t mean to. “Like hell I’m not even gonna try.”

“Tommy,” Leila says, scooting forward to the edge of her chair. “There’s a lot about Adam’s life I’m not sure you understand yet. Right now, it’s good. His friends are nearby, no one’s targeting him. But all it takes is one wrong step, one moment when you’re not careful enough-”

“So I’ll learn,” Tommy cuts in, gaze on Adam, the unhappy tension drawing his mouth tight. “You said mate. You fucking said lifemate, and you don’t get to take that back.”

Leila says, “Adam?” worry pitching her voice high.

“I did say that,” Adam says softly, kinda wonderingly. “I didn’t think you really knew what it meant.”

“Maybe I don’t.” Looking down at his wine, Tommy takes a quick sip. It’s strong and bitter and doesn’t give him a single ounce more courage. It barely even soothes his dry throat. “But just ’cause I might not know everything the word means doesn’t mean I don’t feel all the stuff that comes with it.” It’s not like he’s trying to pull some romantic, destined-to-be shit here, even if that’s sort of what it’s starting to sound like. He gets Adam, and Adam gets him. The thought of not going for this all the way makes him hurt. And he’s so running out of steam here. Adam’s the one he thought for sure would have his back. “I kinda thought you were right there with me.”

A slender hand on Tommy’s knee brings his gaze zooming up to meet Leila’s. “If I know my son,” she says, in a way that means she has no doubts at all how well she knows him, “he’s done a lot more to show you how he feels than he has talking about what that means for you both. I think you need to do more talking.” Her focus shifts to Adam. “A lot more.”

“We’ve been busy,” Adam says, totally looking like a grumpy, chastised kid. Tommy flushes hotly when both of Leila’s eyebrows wing up. “With Tommy’s guitar practice, Mom, god.”

“I’ve been mated,” Leila says primly, and oh god, Tommy is going to fucking combust, “I know exactly what it is you’re spending all your time doing.”

Throttling a weird noise in his throat, Tommy gulps wine. It burns hotter than fucking lava and he starts hacking up half a lung, waving his free hand vaguely when Adam rubs his back, asking if he’s okay. “Fine,” he croaks, and coughs up the other half. Only fucking mortified, Jesus fucking Christ.

“She does that.” Adam gives Tommy’s shoulder one last rub, then takes the glass out of Tommy’s hands before he tries chugging the whole thing and fucking dies. “Always when you least expect it.”

Since Tommy never expects shit like that to come out of a mother’s mouth ever, he’s in for a fucking treat. He can’t even blame it on wolf sensibilities. That’s way too human a thing to do to your son’s poor shit-freaked boyfriend.

Giving Tommy’s knee a pat, Leila stands up, says, “I’m going to check on dinner,” and heads pointedly for the kitchen.

“I’m sorry,” is the first thing out of Adam’s mouth.

“C’mon, she’s not that bad,” Tommy says, knowing full well Leila can hear every single word.

“She is,” Adam says flatly, with a dark glance at the hall. “But I meant for being too afraid to believe in you.”

“You totally believe in me. I never would’ve even got up on that stage without you.”

“No, that’s not what I mean.” Adam blows out a frustrated breath. “As much as I wanted to be right about us, I couldn’t help worrying about being wrong. I’ve been wrong before.”

Tommy isn’t even close to figuring out all the wolf shit, let alone the people shit, that’s going on here. All of this is brand fucking new to him. Even if Adam doesn’t talk much about the specifics of his life pre-Tommy Joe, Tommy’s not so naïve as to think it’s his first time for anything. Except maybe the mate thing. And hey, that totally gives Tommy a leg up right off the bat over anybody else that’s been here before him. He’s still trying to figure out how to put all the certainty he feels in his gut into words when Adam says, “There isn’t even a place we can be together. Your family doesn’t even know I exist.”

“So we fucking make a place.” When Adam’s thumb abruptly stops bumping over Tommy’s bony knuckles, Tommy curls his fingers in tight, holding on. “How much shit are you really gonna from other weres over me?”

“Not as much as you’ll get from other people,” Adam says darkly.

“Sweetheart,” comes Leila’s voice from the doorway. She leans against the jamb, arms loosely folded. “As stubborn as you are, and as much as I love you for it, I think you’re going to have to face the fact that you’ve met your match. When have you ever brought someone home to meet me?”

“You’ve met everyone, Mom,” Adam says. “You even met Monte’s wife before I did.”

“Always at your shows, honey,” Leila says, turning to saunter back to the kitchen.

Tommy’s grin is fast and seriously fucking ridiculously delighted. “You never bought home a guy before?”

“Not to meet her,” Adam says, pride warring with a decent dose of embarrassment. “Nobody asked. Hell, you didn’t even ask. You demanded.”

“Damn straight,” Tommy says, scooting in close. Leila’s not the only one around here who can play dirty. “But I bet you took all your other boyfriends to your shows.”

“Tommy,” Adam starts wearily.

“Every one!” Leila shouts from the kitchen.

“Mom!”

“I really like her,” Tommy confides while Adam’s busy scowling out at the empty hallway. When Adam turns back, surprised, Tommy shrugs. “She doesn’t take your crap.”

“She won’t take yours, either,” Adam says sourly.

“Whatever. I got you for that.”

Adam groans. “I knew this was a bad idea. Now you’re both going to gang up on me.”

“It’s for your own good, honey,” Leila calls.

“Yeah,” Tommy agrees. “Your own good.” He gives Adam’s leg a shove. “Now go help your mom set the table.”

With a sigh, Adam trudges off to the kitchen. Tommy gathers up the wine and the two glasses left behind, grinning so wide he’s pretty sure his face is gonna break when he hears Leila say to Adam, “I really like him. He doesn’t take your crap.”

Maybe it’s not gonna be easy, and they’re gonna have to put up with a hell of a lot of stupid shit, but Adam says, “I really like him, too,” with so much warmth in his voice, Tommy knows it’s all gonna be so fucking worth it.

*

Epilogue

Layered through the heat, the smoke, the steady pulse of the music filling the warehouse and throbbing in Tommy’s veins, is the smell of wolf. Adam’s scent is the brightest, sharpest, wound through every breath he takes, filling his lungs and his head, echoing through him like a touch. If it weren’t for Adam solid at his back, arm slung around his waist holding him close as they grind together up on the makeshift stage, he’d be lost in the animal crush as the crowd surges, bodies beating back at the music like rocks fighting against the waves, the metal beneath his feet shaking with it. He drops his head back against Adam’s shoulder, gulping air, his skin too tight and his clothes clinging to damp skin, and he wants Adam’s bare hands on him, pushing and holding and taking. His dick presses hard against his zipper, heavy and full, jerking as Adam’s hand smooths down his belly, underneath the guitar slung low across his hips, and angles in to lazily palm his cock, guide his hips in a slow, hard roll that gets Adam’s dick fitted perfectly against his ass.

“Beautiful,” Adam tells him, a low growl barely heard over the music, the word more in the shape of his lips against Tommy’s ear than the sound they make, but the mic picks it up, takes it and flings it like a challenge in every face turned up to watch. “Let them all see you, baby. Let everyone know.”

Nobody in here needs to see Tommy pliant in Adam’s arms to know they’re mated. Nobody needs to hear him moan for Adam’s hands, or see him twist for his kiss, or watch as he spread his legs and rides Adam through their clothes until they’re both desperate. Adam’s scent is sunk into every part of him, marking him deeper than the angry red mottle of Adam’s bite on the back of his neck, the same as his is sunk into Adam, his clawmarks on Adam’s back and chest and belly bared by the scrap of a vest he’s wearing. The urge to mark and claim is as strong in Tommy as it is in any were. What the rest of the world outside these walls may think of them doesn’t matter. In here, bathed in salt-sweat heat, all that matters is the wild clamour of music and instinct and fierce, primal joy.

End

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