Saturday, February 27, 2016
Scorched Haven-- Part Two
And I have good news! The Green's Hill Werewolves are moving to DSPP. This is very generous of them-- and I'll be so happy to have all of The Little Goddess at home with my DSP family. So yay!
And in the meantime, it's Ficlet Weekend (Or Fanfic Friday, but on a Saturday and Sunday, you know, for alliteration) and away we go!
Oh-- a note on "Lipsky". A long time ago when Rhys Ford read Racing for the Sun, she said, "Where in the fuck is Victoriana? I didn't know there was anything but fucking desert east of Santee."
I said, "Victoriana is in Racing for the Sun. That book is the only place in the world you will ever find anything but fucking desert east of Santee." Thus it is with Lipsky and this story.
* * *
Someone was wandering into the cabin.
Zeb woke up, still in his wolf form, when he heard the voices.
"Dude-- you're sure no one's up here?"
"Naw, man. My grandpa died two years ago-- no one's used this place since."
A rough guffaw. "Someone's used this place."
"Oh, gross! Seriously! If you're going to get laid, maybe take your rubber with you!"
The floorboards creaked and the voices assumed a sudden intimacy. "Why use rubbers, dude?"
The smack that rejoined this remark was surprisingly satisfying. "Because STD's, moron. When I put out, there had better be rubbers involved."
Oh. Oh dear-- Zeb was apparently underfoot a romantic rendezvous of the two-peened kind. Well, at least one of them had a modicum of sense--because young people? Not always carriers of that particular disease. Zeb was living furry proof.
"Are you saying I'm an AID's baby? Fuck you, man!"
"Aw, Jesus Denny-- don't be a douche. I'm saying safety first."
"Yeah, well, whatsa matter, Colton--you afraid of getting knocked up and stuck here?"
"Well, not knocked up," Colton muttered. "I'm just saying--I thought, you know. Making out in my grandpa's old fishing shack should maybe not change our lives!"
"So, I'm forgettable? Geez, thanks a lot!"
"No! I'm not saying that--c'mere." Colton's voice sank to a cajoling tone, and Zeb thought No, Colton, don't do it. He just wants to get you to give in so he can fuck you and leave you and not have to feel like a jerk because he forgot rubbers and lube! Well, some of Zeb's first sexual experiences hadn't been... pleasant. And Colton sounded like a smart kid.
"No, man," Denny sulked. "Cause what? You give me a blow job like always, and don't put out, and then you're on the first train outta Lipsky? And it'll be okay with you, right? Cause nothing 'life changing' happened here, and I'll just be some guy in your rearview."
"No!" Colton said, legitimately hurt. "I, you know, thought we could bail together."
Nope, Colton-- this kid's got small town myopia. Wherever the hell "Lipsky" is, he's sure it's the epicenter of the universe quake.
"Man, you know that ain't happening. Junkyard'll never allow it!"
"Well who in the hell is Junkyard and why does he suddenly get a say in our lives?"
Suddenly Denny's voice sank, because uncertain and quavery--a child who had been disappointed in his elders. Reluctantly, Zeb felt some sympathy. "It's... I mean, unless you go to one of Junkyard's meetings, you don't get it. I mean, it's not fair, but... but we just need to listen to him, that's all."
There was some squeaking overhead, and the voices grew closer together. Suddenly Zeb got the sense that these two boys had known each other for a very long time. In that moment, Denny wasn't the villain and Colton wasn't the hero-- they were just... boys. Boys trying hard to deal with life in a nowhere town somewhere to the west of the Grapevine in the Tehachapi Mountains.
"Denny... come on. He's a guy. He's sort of the bully who ran the junkyard, right up until last Christmas. Why should that change? Why's he suddenly got hold of us like this. We should be able to come and go as we please, right? I mean, we're twenty years old! Why's he get to say whether we get to go to college or not?"
"Because he just does." Denny's voice had the hint of tears. "And now I can't leave this place, ever. And you're planning to leave me!"
Zeb smelled it then. Oh, man-- he hadn't smelled it before. Maybe because his own blood scent had been so strong, and maybe because he'd needed to recover, but he smelled it now.
There was something wrong with Denny's scent.
It was werewolf--definitely werewolf--with a little bit of ick thrown in. Oh. Oh man--this is what those wolves had smelled like last winter. Including the one who'd gotten his heart ripped out and who'd carried his switchblade in a plastic bag up his ass.
Zeb hauled himself up to his feet and slunk to the edge of the porch, looking around. Had these kids come alone?
He smelled exhaust and cocked his head. Car-- old Nissan sedan--a college student's car.
"Denny? What are you doing? Man, that looks painful... oh my God!"
Of course. Denny wanted to keep Colton with him-- what better way than to give him the eternally furry clap? Not the act of a sane man, but then, those boys who'd shown up from SoCal and threatened Green's Hill hadn't been sane.
Zeb didn't have time to think--he should have thought, because what he was about to do might kill him, but he'd gotten invested in the characters of the little peep show in the fishing shack. Denny loved Colton in that wholly selfish way that young men had. Colton wanted to raise them both up, but Denny would rather drag Colton down. Except this was scary, it was for real, and it was irrevocable, and if someone had been there to rescue Zeb from his first shot of heroin, he would be forever grateful now.
Colton's voice inside the cabin rose to a frightened shriek. "Denny!"
Zeb heard the rattle of claws on the floor of the fishing shack, heading for the door and knew Denny had taken the bait.
Balls out, no holds barred, Zeb started running.
* * *
As tired as he was, he was also full grown. And smarter. And he knew how to use water and he knew how to think through a problem.
He escaped hot pursuit by jumping in the lake, swimming to an inlet, and running back around to the service road the kids had used to find the fishing shack. He stopped for a rabbit then, because starving, but after that it was just a matter of following his nose to the car by the shack.
And, huddling on the porch, peering into the falling darkness, he found Colton.
Well, hell. Zeb got a little closer so the kid wouldn't have the dark as an excuse, and changed.
"Oh my God!"
"Kid, look-- don't be so loud. I think he swam by me in the lake and hopefully has another six miles to go, but that guy was going to bite you and we don't have much time!"
Zeb gaped for a moment. "That's what you're worried about?"
The kid's jaw snapped shut, and Zeb got a chance to actually see him. Not a bad looking kid--about 5'7", powerfully built. Not a waif like the conversation had implied. In fact, he probably weighed more in sheer muscle than Zeb, who had a few more inches on him. Zeb had an impression of dark hair and dark eyes in tanned skin, and, well... a stunningly male handsomeness to him.
Zeb hadn't expected that. This kid was fully blown hot, and, well, surprise!
"What-- where's Denny?" The kid's jaw trembled. "Did you... did you eat him?"
Zeb curled his lip and wrinkled his nose, knowing the gesture was more wolf than human. "No. I just... eluded him. But it won't last for long! Who's car is that?"
"Mine," Colton replied, and Zeb shook his head.
"Then what in the hell are you still doing here?"
"My parents won't let me go away to school-- they think it's too dangerous." This said with big, guileless eyes and a vulnerable quiver to his full lower lip.
Zeb couldn't hardly stand it. "Kid, you are killing me."
Colton seemed to pull himself back to where he was supposed to be. "Denny is my friend-- I mean... I can't just leave him!"
Oh hell. "Look, Colton? He's... he's sick. I mean, the kind of werewolf he is. There's something wrong with them. I..." He grimaced. "The blood on my shirt? Most of it's mine--because there was a werewolf running through the brush shooting at me with a rifle-- how's that make sense?"
Colton gaped. "I don't understand."
Off in the distance Zeb heard it--the bay of a wolf who had just caught his scent. Fuck.
"Kid--look. Do you have a gun?"
"Good--so you can either hop in the car and take me to fucking Bakersfield, or I can throw you over my shoulder, lock you in the trunk and drop you off when we get there." Way to go, Zeb! Scare the kid to death!
"Why Bakersfield? Is that where you live?"
"No-- but that's the outer edge of the turf war you just got involved in. What's it gonna be?" Denny bayed again, and fuck if that kid wasn't making time. Zeb knew his werewolf strength and speed, and he had some control after three years as a wolf. While using wolf-speed to zoom closer to the building, he closed his eyes and fixed turned only his claw. With a swipe of his paw he took out the railing of the fishing shack porch and then looked at the kid, knowing his eyes flashed gold.
"I don't want to steal your car, kid," he growled. "And I really don't want that fucker to bite you--but either way, I've got to get back to my turf and warn people that shit's about to get real."
Colton's eyes grew huge, and he unconsciously wet his lips. "Bakersfield?" he asked, voice high. "Is that as far as I can go?"
"Wherever you're going--take me. Or I"ll take you. I'll get out, right now--just say I can tag along."
Zeb almost laughed. "You make that call when we get there," he said urgently. "But right now?"
Colton was nodding when Zeb heard another wolf bay, this one from slightly further away. Oh fuck.
"Kid, fucking move!"
They were in the Nissan, speeding up the trail when Zeb looked behind him and saw four wolves breaking into the clearing with the shack. All four of them sniffed the air, probably smelling Zeb and Colton in the car, and howled, and Zeb's heart threatened to throttle him with the pounding in fear.
"Faster," he whispered. "Faster, kid, faster..."
Colton didn't respond, but the car jolted ahead and gave a slight fishtail. Zeb heard something bump on a divot in the road and he wondered if they were going to have to steal a car on the way back across the fucking state.
And then all he could focus on was relief as they hit actual road and sped away at faster-than-werewolf speed.