Sunday, October 31, 2010

NaNoWriMo Character Exercise: Paul Baxter

I feel in love with Sarah the moment I saw her.

For a fourteen year-old kid from a shitty home who was falling fast into the Dark she was like an angel coming to save me. She treated me like a second little brother from the start and I loved it. I wanted to be a part of their family so badly...but shit happens.

What I know now is a hell of a lot different than what I knew then. Now I know Dev and Sarah are my family. Back then...I still wasn't ready to turn my back on my parents even if my mother was a falling-down drunk and my father was angry at everything for no reason. So when he told me to stop hanging around that do-good bitch (meaning Sarah and Dev's mom), I did it. I cut ties with Sarah too, completely ignoring her because I didn't want him to notice her. Devin he didn't care about so I kept right on being friends with him and he never asked what was going on even though I know it had to bother him. was agony ignoring her. That's part of the reason why I kept getting further and further lost in the Dark; because I no longer had her to help me out of it. And for some reason she just let it slide, like she knew exactly why I was doing what I did.

After I tried to kill Dev and left my so-called "friends" it was like nothing had happened in the time between when I started ignoring Sarah. That first morning after I slept on their couch, she woke me with the same smile that had been haunting me for almost five years and got me up for breakfast. It was eerily reminiscent of the first (and only) time before that I'd spent the night at their house. And it was peaceful. I spent that entire time just sitting at the kitchen table watching her cook, not even noticing that Dev or their parents had come in. My eyes never strayed from her and all I wanted to do was to just stay near her and bask in her calming presence.

So, yeah, trying to kill my best friend opened my eyes. And they all made me feel really welcome and at home somewhere for the first time in my life.

It was Sarah that made me realize what a monster I'd really become, though.

I'd be nothing without her.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

NaNoWriMo Character Exercise: Devin Ridgefield

I think the sense of a kind of kindred spirit is what first drew me to Paul. Or more him to me as he jumped in to defend me against a pair of bullies at the start of seventh grade. With Sarah moved on to the high school, I'd been the prime target for the bullies she'd once driven off and who I refused to touch. Back then I was still too scared of the need to hunt that would sometimes well up within me, to chase down something smaller and weaker than me...and I knew all too well that I could turn the tables on the bullies who only pretended to be strong.

Paul rose to my defense though. He was thirteen, just barely under the mark that would have put him a grade ahead of me, and he wasn't afraid of the bullies. And where Sarah was my safe place to run to when things got too much, he helped me stand tall and try to face what was coming. Sure, I didn't always succeed (shit, I failed more than I like to recall) but he kept me getting up. He's the one that taught me how to brawl too and got me my first drink two years later (don't tell Sarah about that one, she'd kill us both for being such fools). I owe him...I owe him a lot more than I can ever pay back, though he'd tell you he owes me the same.

Really I'm not sure when Paul found his magic but by the time we met he was descending. He wasn't going down fast (more of a casual saunter downwards) but he was going down. There wasn't anything I could do to stop it either except just sit back, be the best friend I could, and hope (not pray, I'll leave that to Sah) he came back. And he did, holy shit, he clawed his way back out of that darkness like a man who'd been drowning but it took a real kick in the pants.

I mean, he did try to kill me.

Paul, my best friend, tried to kill me at eighteen for spell components. It took me punching him in the face and giving him a black eye I'm still proud of to get his head right but he saw what he'd been doing. And what he'd done inadvertently to his then girlfriend Melinda who'd been through things I didn't even want to imagine and come out scared, angry, and power-hungry. Whatever he'd descended into, he dragged her right down with him and when he came up for air, she stayed at the bottom of the ocean. So he left, just like that, picked up from the condemned building where they and a few others of their group lived and started camping out in our living room on the couch. Maybe it was wrong to run...but I can't say I blame him.

Mom didn't take long to practically adopt him as a second son and I think that helped him. Paul never talks much about what his home life was before he dropped out of school and ran away but I've seen enough to know his parents couldn't touch the boots of the lowest-of-the-low if they were standing on their tip-toes (and that's on a good day). Living with us reintroduced him to Sarah, too, and to finally admit he'd been in love with her since he was fourteen - which was just one of the things he'd been running from at the time. And when Mom and Dad died, he was there to help both of us through it just like we were there for him.

I feel...bad though. The one thing I'm most grateful for about Paul?

He's walked the same dark paths as me.

NaNoWriMo Character Exercise: Sarah Ridgefield

I remember clearly the night Mom brought Devin home. He was this tiny scruffy little thing that just clung to her neck like she was the last safe place on Earth, eyes wide in a mix of awe, fear, and caution. That impression of him, all of five years old, is one of the clearest memories from my childhood.

Only eight and I can remember every second of that night like it was yesterday.

It never surprised Dad what she did; Mom did things like that. She gave a homeless man fifty dollars on one hand and brought a teenage girl surviving only by prostitution into the house for a simple bowl of soup. Mom was...amazing is the only word I can find to accurately describe her. She had a heart bigger than the rest of her and when she found Devin abandoned on the street she couldn't help but bring him home. Of course, neither of us found out until later that he wasn't officially a member of the family until he was nine but we had the papers to prove it so the how didn't matter.

Mom fought tooth and nail for her family. The only problem was she saw everyone as extended family. That's what got her and Dad killed in the end; she insisted they pick up this hitchhiker and, can only get so lucky with hitchhikers before you find one that's not looking for just a ride and maybe a meal.

That was later though. Growing up...things were good. Happy. We became a family fast and I took to the role of big sister like a duck to water. And, thinking back on it, we both knew there was something off about him even back then. Devin was an unnaturally quiet little boy (and he's still a very quiet man in general) and he always was watching when we were in public, his eyes darting everywhere as if he needed to see everything. Even when he was five and refused to go anywhere without his hand in mine, he was watching, keeping an eye out for me same as I was keeping an eye out for him.

I remember the first time I knew something was really really wrong was three years later when he was eight and I was eleven. He came creeping into my room that night and climbed in with me, not answering me with anything but a whimper and burrowing into my arms. In the end all I could do was curl myself around him and go to sleep wondering what was wrong with my baby brother and how I could make it better. I didn't know until much later that that was the first night he'd really felt the Wild, felt the need to hunt, to kill, and he'd sought comfort and solid ground in the only way he knew. And then the whole thing blew up in our faces with one horny teenager.

Oh, I beat the ever-loving shit out of Aiden Cormac a month after what he tried to do. Not because he tried to rape me, no, I had gotten around that lightning fast. No, I beat him senseless with a baseball bat because of what he did to Devin. He hurt my baby brother and I showed that little snot that I am damn well my mother's daughter.

I never told Devin I was afraid of him that first time he changed. Oh, I'm sure he smelt it with that nose of his but I never let it show on my face that I was terrified. I couldn't, not when I was his big sister or when I saw just how terrified he was, scared of me and our parents rejecting him. We never told Mom and Dad...but I hold out to this day that they'd have understood even if Devin never agreed. It took a lot of practice to figure out how to best hide it from them as well as how to control his hunting urges and both ended up being our start in hunting. At nineteen and sixteen we were the monster hunters of our block, spreading fear amongst the denizens of the dark and letting ignorant housewives sleep safely.

We were such innocent fools then.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Word of the Day, 10/9/10: Roborant

roborant: a strengthening medicine; a tonic; a restorative


 "Come on, Sarah," urged Paul, fingers massaging his unconscious girlfriend's throat in an attempt to get her to swallow. Fear trembled, half-born, in his belly for a moment then muscles moved under his hand and he sagged with relief as she finally took down the potion that was the only thing keeping her alive. He leaned down and kissed her cheek gently, murmuring, "That's my girl."

As he rose from the chair next to her bed, Paul became aware of a hulking shadow lurking in the doorway of their room. He forced a smile and said to it, "She's still with us."

"I know," growled Devin, his voice carrying a throatier, deeper note to it than it usually did. He stepped forward out of the shadows then and his appearance reminded Paul of how far his best friend had come in the past year.

And just how far he would fall - how far they would both fall - if they lost Sarah.

Instead of his normal rake-thin figure, Devin sported a physique that would have given most athletes an orgasm. His shoulders were three times broader than they had been and his chest and arms were bulked with heavy, powerful muscles that stretched his shirt to its limits. More muscle filled out his legs, tightening the baggy pants he wore, and he was six inches taller than his normal six foot nothing. And that was the end of what the orgasming athlete would notice as good before he wet himself in fear out of the other changes.

Devin's fingernails were gone, replaced by three-inch long black claws that Paul could personally assure were capable of cutting through a solid steel door with the strength of those muscles behind them. Short, dark fur was showing in patches across his skin but could be tucked away by a denying vanilla mortal as just making him a guy with a lot of hair. His hair, which had grown several inches and fell in a bristly mane around his shoulders, covered ears that now ended in a sharp point and were capable of hearing a mouse's heartbeat from miles away. Most obvious, most telling of just what his friend was, were his eyes: none of Devin's face had really changed except to become a little thicker, a little heavier, but his eyes were a bright burnished amber that wasn't possible in humans and full of a fire that was all animal.

Slowly Devin moved over to the bed and knelt, carefully taking his sister's hand into his own that was now over twice the size of hers. He stared down at her for a long moment, a muscle jumping in his cheek, then turned to look at Paul. "Have you figured out who did this yet?" he asked.

Nodding slowly, Paul ran a hand back through his hair before he answered.

"The poison's magical," he explained, "hence why my potions are working on it. It's slowly..."

"Paul," rumbled his friend, the underlying growl in his voice deepening as he spoke, "I don't care how it works. I want to know who poisoned my sister so I can tear them limb from limb."

"My bloody fucking ex, all right?" exploded Paul, running both hands through his hair as he started to pace. He heard something starting to rattle in the apartment as his magic reacted to his mood and continued in a rush, "Melinda Emerson. From back -"

Devin nodded and Paul trailed off as he interrupted, "When you were Dark. I remember."

Paul just snorted at that. "Her signature's hidden amongst the magical body of the poison but obvious enough to someone that knew her. Knew her magic." He shuddered and came to a stop with his hands planted on the back of a chair, fingers clutching at the fabric. God, he knew Melinda's magic all right. How could he not with the spells they had performed together? They had summoned impossible demons, pulled off feats of unimagined complication, and even taken their sex life to new heights because of how well they'd gotten to know each others magic.

There had been a point where they hadn't even had different base magical signatures.

That time, though, was long gone. He'd changed. From what he could tell, Melinda hadn't. And part of him wanted to have that oneness with her again, the connection that he could never have with Sarah or Devin.

Paul felt a heavy hand on his shoulder, claw tips carefully pricking his clothes, and looked up at his best friend. Devin knew. He had ignored Paul's behavior back then, just been his ignorant seeming best friend even though they had both known what each other was. It had been an unspoken agreement back then between them. That and that Paul wasn't to go anywhere near Sarah while he was Dark.

"I can track her," he said after a moment. "We should...we should try and talk the cure out of her first." Paul shook his head, unaware of why he was even saying this but he felt he had to. That he had to give Melinda one chance.

He'd tried to kill Devin for a damn spell component and been forgiven, given a second chance. She should get the same.

Devin had an expression on his face that said he knew both things but that he expected things to go bad. Which was perfectly fine - Paul expected them to go that way himself.

"Tag her," growled Devin, "and we'll go talk to her." He took a deep breath then, his shirt creaking with the strain, and looked over at Sarah. "Will she be okay without us here?"

"Right now my magic is battling Melinda's," answered Paul. "It should hold out while we're gone." He then shook his head, choking out a laugh, and said, "Maybe we should pray."

Devin blinked down at him at that then noted as quietly as he could, "It couldn't hurt." When Paul looked up at him in surprise, he shrugged his broad shoulders and added, "Maybe whatever likes her will listen to two of the Dark who just want something Light to live."

That made Paul smile - an honest, if tired smile - at his friend's much simplified way of looking at what they all were. "Okay," he said, moving over to the bed again, retaking his chair as Devin knelt next to him. His hand found Sarah's and then Devin's curled around both, securing them all together as one, as family.

Then he closed his eyes and made a wish.

Let her live. Please...for me, for Devin, whoever you are that listens to Sarah, that helps her, let her live.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Word of the Day, 10/8/10: Wassail

Wassail: an expression of good wishes on a festive occasion, especially in drinking to someone

Where are we bloody going?” asked Devin as he walked arm-in-arm with his sister. On Sarah's other side Paul walked with her hand in his and judging by the looks they were getting, people were taking it the wrong way.

He didn't care though. It was hard enough for him to get out of their apartment since he'd had no choice but to move in with them. It was annoying, painful, and embarrassing, but he couldn't stand to be away from Sarah at the moment. Even three months after his...ordeal...and he still broke into shakes when she wasn't close by.

And walking close to her, shoulders touching and her arm tucked tightly into his, was the only way he could go out in public.

Sarah smiled up at him and answered, “To celebrate!”

Devin wrinkled his brow at that. “And just what are we celebrating?” he inquired. “Apparently I missed the memo.”

Your recovery,” replied his sister in a tone that said she'd thought it was obvious. “After this month's moon -”

Ah,” interrupted Devin in a terse voice. He then saw her expression fall and winced, shifting a little closer to her. “I'm sorry, Sar. I don't...I don't have your faith in me for being cured.”

I know better, he added quietly to himself. It had been agony trying to hold back the transformation that had wanted to take over every full moon for the past months. He had never even considered that that part of the werewolf lore was true until he'd met Niamh. And then she'd turned him into the same monster.

Dev,” he heard Paul say, breaking him out of his thoughts, “your claws are showing.”

Devin looked down at that and clenched his free hand to hide the black claws that had pushed up underneath his fingernails. He was so numb to pain now that he hadn't even felt it.

Closing his eyes, he sucked in a deep, slow breaths to calm his heart. The second Niamh had entered his thoughts it had sped up in response to a rush of fear, anger, and – he was loath to admit it almost – need.

Even after all she'd done, part of him still wanted her, still loved her even. Which made the fear and anger all the worse.

Thanks,” he said once the claws had slid back into place and he wiped from from his healing nails onto his dark jeans. Paul just nodded in return and they continued on in silence until they arrived at the pub.
Devin balked at the door, pulling their little group to a halt, and his sister's hand found his. He looked down at Sarah's reassuring smile and tried to smile back despite not feeling it. Then he drew in a shuddering breath before saying, “Now or never, right?”

Sarah's smile was blinding. Over her head Devin and Paul shared a look, their long friendship enabling them to silently communicate.

They both knew full well that Devin wasn't cured and that he never would be really. For her, though, they'd both pretend.

Inside the pub they found a relatively quiet corner table and Devin settled himself in the corner itself. Sarah's knee touched his where she sat to his right and Paul ended up almost directly across from him. They ordered their usual drinks and sat in comfortable silence until they arrived.

Sarah lifted her glass, full of a fruity, red-shaded concoction, and beamed the two of them. “To Dev, my favorite little brother,” she began.

And only,” piped Devin with a laugh as he curled his fingers around his glass of Guinness. She kicked him playfully under the table and they shared a laugh.

Who I love dearly,” continued Sarah, “and wish only the best. May your troubles be few from now on and you no longer pick up women that hurt you.”

Hear, hear,” said Paul, lifting his smaller glass of Glenfiddich to clink against Sarah's.

Devin shook his head then lifted his glass to touch the edge against both of theirs.

To my sister and my best friend,” he intoned seriously, “savers of my life and sanity.”

Paul chuckled. “I'll drink to that.”

Me too,” agreed Sarah as her other hand found his under the table. That made him smile and he squeezed her fingers warmly in return.

Devin then closed his eyes and sipped his beer, smiling as he reveled in the well wishes spoken and the presence of those who accepted him despite all mistakes. They would die for each other if need be.

And that's what made them family.

Search & Destroy

Same 'verse as Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting) and Ain't No Rest For the Wicked; sequel to Howl, Night of the Hunter, and Was it a Dream?


Niamh smiled, humming a little tune, as she unlocked her apartment door. It was almost moonrise and she could feel it, her skin tingling as her true self shifted restlessly within her. She soothed it with a half-heard whisper, assuring it that soon they would be true to themselves again.

Still humming, she locked the door and began to strip out of her clothes as she moved across the dark apartment. The French doors that led out to her balcony allowed moonlight to spill across the floor and her belly tightened with anticipation as she moved towards it. Her panties were the last thing she slipped off, kicking them aside before she stepped into the welcoming moonlight. A smile stretched across her face as she stood naked before her mother, her goddess, her world. Niamh felt her true self shift, her skin stretching to accommodate it and she gasped out a plea for it to take her and make them whole again.

Her eyes closed in bliss as her body began to warp then she heard whispered words, loud as a thunderclap in the silence.

“Time to go to Hell,” where the words in an angry masculine voice and Niamh spun. She fully welcome herself, urging it to take her quickly so they could kill the intruder.

Then a circle blazed to life underneath her bare feet and the swift transformation stopped. Niamh gasped and collapsed on legs that were half between human and wolf, the frozen limbs unable to hold up the muscle she'd gained. She sat for a long time, staring at hands that bristled with claws but no fur, in shock.

Because not only had the transformation stopped, she could also no longer feel her true self.

How?” she growled through a half-formed muzzle.

I've met other therianthropes before,” answered the voice and with ears now hearing everything she recognized it.'re Devin's friend. Paul.”

The circle underneath her flared and Niamh screamed as her legs reverted to full human with a snap of bones that cracked the air like a whip. “Yes,” he answered, “and you made a mistake in hurting him, bitch.”

She bristled at the word then snarled, “He had no idea of the power our kind hold. How could I let him be content with only a glimpse at the true wildness of his soul?”

Oh don't pretend you were doing him a favor!” snapped Paul. “I'm no Jesus and neither are you. What's the saying: like knows like?”

What do you want?” demanded Niamh.

There was silence for a moment then he stepped out of the shadows enough that she could see his eyes. Niamh recalled then that Devin had vaguely mentioned him being a witch or something and she could feel it. It was underneath her in the circle, around her pressing against her skin, and in her even. And it was there in his eyes, blazing with fury and killing need.

She knew the latter well.

Niamh trembled then and knew fear again for the first time in many long years. And she knew the answer to her question before he spoke.

Paul answered, “I want you to suffer like you've made Devin suffer. You put him from Hell, made him kill innocent people, and I'm not sure his sister and I can piece him back together. He'll be there, oh yes, but he won't bloody well be the Devin before you. You took his control.”

So what?” asked Niamh. “Are you going to kill me?”

I'd considered it. But I thought of much sweeter revenge.”

She blinked then screamed as her body exploded with pain. Sobs came pouring out of her as she felt her body changing fully back to her human guise and when it was over she was lying sprawled across the glowing circle.

H-how?” she managed to stammer out.

I told you, I've met therianthropes before.” Paul stuffed his hands in his pockets and moved towards her with the smooth hunter's stride of a panther. Niamh flinched as he circled her then laughed before crouching down. He placed a finger on the edge of the circle right in front of her face and flashed a cold smile.

This,” he intoned, “is a circle of subtraction. One of my nastier former acquaintances liked to use it in fights: lay it down and let his enemy walk right into it. Then he'd activate it and suck all of the magic right out of them.”

Niamh's eyes widened at that. “Wh-what?”

He chuckled. “You are a creature of magic. Therefore this circle can draw every bit of the Wild out of you.”

She was confused as to what the 'Wild' was then remembered that was how Devin referred to his true self. Then she started trembling and asked, “Are you going to take it?”

Its already taken. This circle doesn't give. It just takes and takes until it's broken -” Paul smiled as he waved a hand in the air, adding, “Then it just goes away.”

No!” gasped Niamh but she was too weak to do anything.

Paul's smile resembled that of a skull as he growled, “Yes.” She watched his finger start to glow then he drew it across the outer line of the circle. And she felt her soul tear as her true self fully separated and was gone. Niamh started sobbing then and repeating, “You bastard. You bastard.”

She felt fingers on her chin then and looked up through tears at Paul's grim face.

Devin suffers through the rage of the Wild. And I could never bear the pain of severing that part of himself from him,” he said softly. “So it's only fair that you suffer through the pain of humanity. Of being normal and completely ordinary.

No,” she gasped, trying to reach for him but he moved away too quickly. Niamh heard him leaving but she kept reaching and begging, “No, please give it back, give me back. Please. Please.”

There was no answer though and she was left sobbing on her floor, naked and utterly, painfully human.

She had destroyed Devin.

And now his friend had searched, hunted her down, and destroyed her in return.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Was it a Dream?

Same 'verse as Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting) and Ain't No Rest For the Wicked; sequel to Howl and Night of the Hunter


Devin woke in agony.

A groan of pain slipped past lips that felt cracked and dry, through a throat that seemed to be tearing from the mere effort of expelling the cry, and he wanted to die. There was a rustle of cloth near him, the sound louder than it should have been, and he heard a soft intake of breath as if it was a loud as a freight train. The sound of water in...a bowl, maybe...was like a waterfall then there was a cool cloth on his lips, across his skin, tiny sips of water sliding into his mouth, and he moaned as his body sagged with relief.

At a touch of fingertips on his forehead, all of his senses seemed to explode and his nostrils flared as he inhaled involuntarily. The scent he breathed in was one he knew and in one quick flash the thoughts of home, safety, sister passed through his mind.

"Sar-ah," he croaked out and the fingers moved across his skin to gently touch his lips in a gesture of silence. Just that slight touch, though, was agony against his skin and he hissed as it felt like sandpaper scraping hard against him.

"You're safe," she breathed and her voice was so loud it seemed to be coming from everywhere at once. Devin winced, trying to flinch away from the sound, but his body hurt so much it didn't move very far. "Don't try to talk, little brother, you're still recovering."

From what? thought Devin as he slowly blinked open his eyes. Light seared into them and his throat ached as he moaned in agony, closing them again.

"Sorry," Sarah said and he hear her rise, wincing as her chair scraped across the floor. Every step of hers was agony on his ears and he could only lay there and just try to breath through that pain as well as the rest. By the time she sat back down there were tears welling out of the corner of his eyes and she dabbed them away as gently as she could with the cloth.

"Do you want to try opening your eyes again?"

Devin cautiously fluttered one eye at that and was reward with some pain still but nothing like the agony of before. He blinked both eyes a few times then focused on his sister's face above him, her blue eyes filled with a mixture of emotions that he couldn't even begin to comprehend. After a moment he opened his mouth and mouthed the most important question: What happened?

Sarah's violent flinch and her barely held back sob told him something had gone wrong. But what? He couldn't...he couldn't remember.

He couldn't remember anything from the past few days.

"Do you remember Niamh?" she asked and Devin frowned. The name didn't really ring a bell but...

A pretty little sprite of a woman flared into being in his mind's eye, dark haired and doe eyed with a body most women would kill for. She smiled, sweetly, innocently, then fangs replaced her teeth and she lunged at him with claws out as her body tore itself apart to let a monster loose. He shuddered, closing his eyes to try and will the image away but more just kept coming: her lounging across the couch in his apartment, the memory of her scent, bare skin underneath his fingertips as he explored her back, taste of her in his mouth, her body writhing underneath his as they had wild, needy sex on that same couch. It was the last that snapped him out of it as his brain screeched to a halt when they ended up breaking the back off.

He'd liked that fucking couch.

Devin shuddered again as he opened his eyes and mouthed, I remember.

His sister covered her mouth with one hand for a moment then lowered it so she could speak. "She was like you," explained Sarah. "You really liked her, I think."

Obviously, thought Devin as he sifted back through the revived memories. Otherwise I wouldn't have shagged her like a damn animal in heat.

"But she...she did something. To you."

He arched an eyebrow at that and Sarah said, " changed, Dev. When we found you, there wasn't anything human left. Just the wolf."

That...was impossible. He'd always had control. Always. Even during that first time when it had been activated because Aiden Cormac was trying to rape his big sister. He'd known what he was doing then and every time after that.

That couldn't have changed.

Could it?

Devin frowned and reached tenatively out for that other part of him, immediately slamming the proverbial door shut on it a moment later. He'd felt nothing but rage from that section of himself and this wasn't the time or place to deal with it.

Then he remembered pain, agony, bones cracking, fur spreading across his skin, muscles bulking underneath his skin, anger, rage, and sucked in a gasping breath that tore at his throat. He felt Sarah's hand on his shoulder, skin against skin, and Devin fought to hang onto that sensation as the Wild gave off an impression of stretching as it woke almost lazily. It seemed to smile at him, like predator to prey, then his mind was filled with bloodstained images:

A man torn to shreds, his life bleeding out onto the sidewalk as he gasped out a death rattle.

Woman running screaming in front of him before she looked back and fell. Then he was on her and Devin felt tears streaming down his cheeks as he could suddenly taste her blood and skin as the memory him tore into her flesh.

Stone crunching underneath his claws as he hefted his heavy body through a window into a room where a couple was making love. He wanted to scream, to cry, as he tore them both apart and howled to the heavens later as if he had won something.

Then there was Paul, his expression a mix of fury, revulsion, anger, and sadness as he came sprinting towards him. Devin's throat ached as the memory recalled a roar of rage expelling from him then his eyes fell onto the brass knuckles adorning his best friend's hands. The fight was over before it had even begun as Paul dove under his swift, brutal swipe and he never got another as both fists crashed into his jaw. He felt weightless lying down for a moment as the memory shifted as his body lifted into the air before crashing to the ground in a snarling heap.

"Dev," he heard Sarah saying then. "Devin, stay with me, please. Please, little brother, I can't lose you again." He groaned and somehow managed to fumble his hand upward to grasp hers, opening wet eyes to look up at her.

" a...dream?" he croaked.

A sob expelled from his sister then Devin was aware of what he thought first was a steady drumbeat until he breathed and caught Paul's scent. Turning his head, he looked up at his best friend and opened his mouth to repeat the question but he never got the chance.

Paul leaned down with a white square of paper in his hand and breathed, "It wasn't a dream." Then he flipped it over, revealing it to be a photograph, and Devin sucked in a agonized breath as he recognized the girl.

"Niamh," he choked.

"Yeah," answered his friend in a voice that was more growl than anything. Then he shifted the photo of Niamh behind another and held it out as Sarah's sobs grew in volume. As Devin stared at the picture, almost unable to believe it, his ears aching from the sound of his sister's cries.

She had been right; there had been nothing human about him when they'd gotten him back. And he remembered now, being that...that...thing.

That monster.

He wasn't aware that he was sobbing until Sarah wrapped her arms around him and laid her cheek against his. Devin clutched at her, trying to claw for support as his world had suddenly been turned utterly upside down, and he realized she'd always been that. She'd been the first who'd found out what he was, had even known something was wrong before he had, and had always accepted him. His big sister was his rock, his shelter, his safe place, and he suddenly wanted nothing more than to be the little boy again who'd go running for her room during a lightning storm to hide under her sheets as she whispered stories in his ear until he slept again.

Devin knew though that now, more than ever, he could never be that boy again.

He was broken.

He was a monster for real now, his form twisted by a woman he'd thought had loved him, a woman he had loved and who had been like him.

And there was no going back.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Night of the Hunter

Same 'verse as Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting) and Ain't No Rest For the Wicked; sequel to Howl


"What the bloody fuck are you doing just sitting there?" demanded Paul as he stormed into the apartment he and Sarah had shared for nearly four years. She was just sitting cross-legged on a cushioned footstool with her head tilted back, eyes closed, and her fingers clasped around the cross she'd worn since he'd met her so many years before.

Sarah's serene expression didn't flicker as she calmly responded, "Praying."

"Praying," repeated Paul coolly. He snarled and a burst of wild magic caused the flour and sugar containers on the kitchen counter to explode to puffs of white. "You're praying while Devin is out there?! The hell are you praying for that's more bloody important than your brother?"

"Revenge," answered Sarah, her voice dropping into a cooler octave that signaled she was getting angry. "He's gone and that woman has to pay."

Paul scowled then stormed across the room, gripping her face in both hands and hissing, "Look at me, Sarah. Look at me." When her eyes - the pretty blue eyes he'd fallen in love with, the eyes that had given it away that she wasn't related to Devin with his amber gaze and their parents matching blues - opened to meet his, he was torn between screaming and crying. He gathered himself though, settled into calm, and spoke in an even voice.

"He's not gone," he insisted in a rough voice. "Not yet. Maybe he's gotten lost but he's not out of our reach yet and you know that. There's nothing to avenge yet."

"How do you know?" asked Sarah as she stared up at him. Tears stared to well in her eyes as she continued, "You didn't fall asleep every night when he was little and started crying because he wanted to kill something. Or see him that first time!"

Paul shook his head and answered, "No." He was aware of the first time Devin had let what he called the Wild take over though and he completely understood wanting to protect Sarah when some fucking bully was trying to rape her. "But I think I know my best friend since grade school."

Then his hands slipped from her face to fall to her hands where they rested in her lap. He could feel the chain that held her cross pressing against his skin as he folded his larger fingers around hers and added, "And this isn't something you need to pray for."

Sarah stiffened and Paul lifted his head to meet eyes now glaring at him angrily. She tried to pull her hands away from his as she snarled, "So what am I supposed to pray for?"

"Getting Devin back. For Niamh to get her dues. But not for revenge."

As she continued to glare, he shook his head and said, "Sarah, the reason I fell in love with you, the reason why Dev wants to protect you so badly, is because you're the gentlest person we know. You're what kept him sane all those years when he didn't know what he was and thought he would be rejected by his family." Paul paused then finished, "And you're what kept me from going off the magical deep end a few times."

She just frowned at him and he sighed, looking for a better way to explain it.

"Love, Dev's a werewolf and the general consensus is that's a bad thing. Most people would rather see his head mounted on their wall than on his shoulders." Paul paused to see if she had gotten it but judging by her frown she still hadn't yet so he continued. "Much as we might pretend otherwise, we all know the proper term for me is warlock and that doesn't tend bring up happy feelings. I'm a little too willing to walk the darker paths to be a wizard."

"You're what holds us together," he kept on, tightening his grip on her hands as he prayed that she saw what he was trying to say. He didn't believe in God like she did but he hoped that whatever answered her prayers and gave her her power might lend an ear to a warlock just once. "Dev would have lost himself to the Wild a lot time ago if it weren't for you. And I'd probably be worse than dead from going too far into the Black. You're our connection to what's good, Sarah. It's you and only you that keeps us steady and let's us fight against our own nature."

Sarah's frown deepened at that and she intoned softly, "Everyone can fight against their own nature."

Paul sighed at that and shook his head. "They need a reason to though. Trust me, love, I know what I'm saying. I've given in to the darkness before and it doesn't let go once you've gotten a taste. I can pull back because of you."

"And you think Devin can fight off the Wild because of me."

I hope so, thought Paul but he didn't want to say that. Instead he squeezed her hands and said, "If anyone can bring him back, it's you. Niamh may have opened the door but you can close it...maybe not all the way but back near to where it was before."

She nodded slightly then asked, "And how does this all add up to why I shouldn't pray for revenge?"

He laughed at that and leaned forward to kiss the side of her mouth before he breathed, "Because you're all that's good in the world to us and we don't want you to walk the dark paths we do."

"What if I want to?"

"You don't," assured Paul as he rubbed his fingers against the back of her hands. "I've been in love with you since I was fourteen, Sarah, and I know that isn't the place for you. You're be there."

Sarah frowned and leaned her head against his as she breathed harshly, "Then who will hurt that bitch for what she did to my little brother?"

Paul felt anger swell in his chest and heard the containers rattle in the kitchen again. He moved one hand to grip her chin and tilted her head up so he could catch her lips with his own before he promised, "I will. And I swear to you on my magic, my life, and my love for you that she will pay dearly for what she's done."

Sarah's lips crashed against his then in a kiss that mingled need, thanks, and relief all into one giant ball of emotion. He could feel his skin tingling when it ended and smiled as he gently tugged her hands apart and pressed his fingers down on her cross.

"Pray for him back," he whispered. "Pray for Dev home and safe."

She nodded slightly then her eyes met his as she growled viciously, "Let's go find my little brother. And kick the ass of anybody that thinks they can take him for a trophy."

Paul grinned and began quietly going over every spell he'd ever come across or created in his head as he lifted one of Sarah's hand still holding the cross and pressed a kiss against her knuckles.

"That's my girl," he murmured before he pulled them both to their feet.

They had work to do.