It's been a while--and t's necessarily short while I edit and write other things,
but I think we needed this:
Colton's healing wasn't comfortable. His breathing may have evened out--he even spoke--but his body kept twitching, like a puppy with fleas.
"Hurts," he grumbled, and then sat up. "And starving."
"Yeah," Zeb replied, looking around. "We need food. Green said there's a gas station nearby but--"
"Starving!" Colton cried, puzzled and apparently in pain. Well, he'd been losing blood, and he'd just had to reknit tissue and bone, and the change left everybody hungry.
"Okay!" Zeb said, asserting some authority over the panic. "Here's what we're gonna do. We're on a back farm road--" He closed his eyes. "--I smell plenty of game. There's jackrabbits all over the fucking place. Gophers, voles, feral cats--"
"Cats are apex predators, buddy, and don't you forget it. If it's got a collar and smells like people, feel free to let it wander. If it's got scars all over and thug-walks to intimidate you? Eat it. It's dinner. But you can't go wild. Just enough to tide you over, okay? You need people food too."
"Woof," Colton muttered, fidgeting. "Seriously? People food?"
"Yes!" Zeb felt a surge of panic. All of this, and some farmer with an Uzi could take him out. "Look," he growled, pushing forward until his was nose to nose with his new recruit. "We're going out hunting, and you're eating and drinking until you can think straight. And then we're coming back to the car, you hear me? I did not get you out of that shitty town and then convert you to have you go running amok killing cows. I'm getting you to safety if I have to drag you there by the scruff of the neck!"
"Yes sir," Colton said, and to Zeb's surprise, he didn't sound sarcastic in the least. "How do we do this? I would like to be a wolf now so I can eat." HIs voice cracked tearfully on the last word, and Zeb decided not to try his patience.
"Okay, clothes off."
"Otherwise you shred them or lose them in the dust. Believe me, son, this is not the time to get modest. YOu're about to see more people naked than you've ever wanted to in your life."
And to prove it, Zeb walked over to the passengers side of the car and started to unbutton his shirt.
When he'd first moved to Green's, this part had freaked him out. Naked people in the living room, playing cards, naked people in the kitchen, cooking food. Naked people in the garden, fucking like lemmings-- you named the place, and someone was going to be missing their trousers.
But he was a werewolf, and that was pretty fucking cool. Eventually being amazed over being something that cool had trumped being freaked out because people were naked. Colton would get used to it eventually.
He folded his clothes neatly and kicked out of his shoes, and turned around to see Colton looking woefully at his blood-soaked shirt and jeans.
"Not sure I"ll want to wear these again," he muttered.
"You got anything else in the trunk?"
Zeb tried not to stare. Yeah, sure. Naked people naked people blah blah blah blah-- this kid was built. And obviously over eighteen.
Wide shoulders, olive skin, dark nipples, muscular pecs. Whether he'd been in sports during high school or threw hay bales around now, it didn't matter. He put Zeb's rangy, stringy muscles to shame. Even the sobering view of his blood, drying to his skin around the now-closed wound, couldn't take away from the magnificence of that amazing body.
And hey. Wolves didn't mind licking dried bloo
"I do," Colton said, smiling shyly, pulling Zeb to the real concerns. "Same stuff I had for you in the backseat, actually, but not as clean. It'll be enough to not attract attention I think."
"Good- sometimes these little service stations have shorts and tank tops and stuff. We'll buy some of that if we have to, as long as, uh..." Zeb's lower body was starting to tingle.
"Yeah," Colton agreed. Well, Zeb was probably not his first choice in rescuer. Besides being stringy, he had a narrow face and ordinary hazel eyes under dark brows. Green may say constantly that all his children were beautiful, but Zeb was pretty sure he was the exception. "Uh," Colton fidgeted, "where should we put the keys while we're gone?"
Zeb reached into the car and pulled them out, swinging the lanyard back and forth. "Here," he said. "You take the keys, I'll take my phone. We've got to be back in an hour, because we don't know when our friend the bad cop is going to track us down, okay?"
Colton nodded and slipped the lanyard over his head while Zeb did the same.
"So... what now."
Zeb smiled. This was actually the fun part. "Okay. Close your eyes, and smell. Tell me what you smell."
"Car exhaust," Colton said promptly, which was good, because the cars were at least six miles away. "Dust. Uh... mown grass. Hay." He paused and breathed, calmed, as Zeb was, by the natural smells under the car exhaust. "Trees. Fruit trees--sweet wood." Breath. "Oooh... a rabbit!" Zeb felt his body stiffen as he became self-aware. "Wait-- how'd I k now that?"
"Don't worry how," Zeb said. "Look, kid--usually you'd have a month before you had to do this. Or a week--whatever until the full moon. But we've got an hour to get you fed and to get some of your adrenaline bled out, so just... close your eyes and smell the smells. And the next time you smell rabbit, think about dinner."
They both closed their eyes again. "Okay," Colton murmured. "Dinner. Rabbits. Jackrabbits. Muscles. Mean. Hot. Hot, hot blood... "
Zeb opened his eyes when he felt the change wash over him, distorting his bones, pulling at his muscles and skin. Colton's eyes were still closed, but he was no longer human, hair sprouting form every pore, muscles and bones bending, twisting organically, changing his shape as fluidly as sand going from one bucket to another.
When Colton spoke again, it was a growl.
Zeb met his eyes, and saw wolf's eyes, tranquil and accepting, staring back. Zeb lifted his muzzle and smelled. Yes. There they were. Rabbits--a whole group of them. Wild rabbits--right through that forest and down that ravine.
Zeb could smell the fresh water.
He gave a jerk of his muzzle in Colton's direction. C'mon, kid, let's hunt.
He had a rookie to feed.