Three days later…
“This is bullshit,” I said furiously while packing my belongings. Adam looked away, but didn’t respond. “Why did you even bring it up to them?”
“Dude, I panicked. They said I couldn’t qualify for another year if I couldn’t find another half-turn to live with.”
“And you brought me up without asking if I was okay with it—which I’m not!”
“You’re really gonna be selfish about it?”
My face grew hotter, and it took everything I had not to throw the half-turn through a window. “Let me tell you what selfish is, you little shit—”
“Okay, okay,” Adam interrupted. “What else am I going to do, Art? I need you. Please.”
“Go live with your parents. Take Austin with you.”
“I can’t do that.”
“Why not? Every time when I bring it up, you get all defensive. If my parents cared enough to let me stay with them, I’d do it.”
Adam sighed. “I already asked, but they won’t let Austin live with me. It’s too risky not having him around.”
“What do you mean?”
“Half-turns, man. Why do you think humans don’t want us around? We’re always horny, and if we don’t get fucked, we get angry—like really angry. It’s scary.”
“I feel that kind of rage right now, actually,” I joked, folding a pair of torn briefs before placing them in the bag. A little memento from the other night on the beach with Simon.
“I’m serious. You haven’t been half-turn long enough to know. I’ve been like this since I was sixteen, but the real shit only started happening like six months ago. Austin’s been unusually attentive, but that makes him worse in a way. He keeps sniffing me more, too.”
“What’s with that? I catch Simon sniffing my underwear and shirts all the time.”
“We’re like catnip to a werewolf. Wolfnip?” Adam snapped his fingers. “But getting back on topic here. Are you really gonna make me break my kuu and live in Stonebrook? I don’t know what I’ll do if that happens.”
After a brief pause, I slumped forward, knowing I was going to cave.
“God dammit,” I whispered, barely audible.
“What was that?”
“Fine,” I said. “It’s going to be cramped with two werewolves, and I don’t know what this place looks like.”
Adam looked around. “And this isn’t? I’m sure whatever they give us will be bigger than Derrek’s shack.”
“Yeah, but at least I can sit on the porch or on the beach, which makes it bearable. What am I going to do in Norwich?”
“Walk in the woods.”
“You mean the haunted woods?”
Adam rolled his eyes. “I’m sure they’re not really haunted.”
“I’m being facetious so that I don’t end up screaming at you. If you guys argue, take that shit outside. I don’t want to listen to it.”
The half-turn flinched before looking down at the floor. “We don’t really argue. I usually just end up agreeing to anything, and Austin knows I need it. He’s been getting me to do some weirder shit, but every time he starts, I just let him do whatever he wants.”
“Well… That’s awful. Why the hell did you choose this guy?”
“It’s not like it’ll last forever,” Adam said. “And To answer your last question, let me show you something.” He paced through the room and snatched his backpack up from the corner, unzipping one of the front compartments before pulling out a dirty, folded envelope. “I keep this to remind myself that he used to be kind of cute… and really dumb.” He pulled out a crumpled sheet of paper from the envelope and handed it to me. “Recognize this?”
“Oh lord.” I began reading Austin’s resume. “Ex-military can protect, am better than other were-wolfs. Just look at me.'” We both broke into laughing fits. “Oh my God, it looks like a twelve-year-old wrote this.”
“It gets better.”
“‘Can fuck you til you cum, ask for demonstrashon.'” I wiped a tear from my eye. “This poor guy.”
“Read the bottom.”
“I’m a loner, have a past, don’t ask about it.”
Adam gave me a sad smile, and the atmosphere of the room turned somber. “He wanted me to ask about it.” He grabbed the resume and held it up. “I don’t know if it was a cry for some kind of attention, but I picked up on it. Maybe I shouldn’t have. They really fucked him up in the marines.”
“Werewolf things. Same story, just a different and more deadly set of circumstances. They heal really fast, but they aren’t immortal. Those evil assholes used Austin as a crash-test dummy, testing the effects of dirty IED’s, chemical attacks, you name it. The poor guy was so toxic and radioactive sometimes that they’d have to put him in solitary confinement until they could decontaminate him.
“There aren’t that many werewolves in the army, and the ones that are there usually join out of desperation and stick together, closer than family. He was really close with the only other two on the base he was at, but they disappeared one day. Austin doesn’t know the details, but there were rumors of a new nerve agent that could kill werewolves and not humans. I guess they wanted to be prepared if a rogue country decided to weaponize us. He’s convinced that’s what happened to them.”
“I always wondered about that. I don’t know the details of the Palone Treaty. I’m surprised more countries aren’t using werewolves as weapons.”
“I’m not. They’re dangerous and hard to control, and the world obviously thinks it’s a terrible idea, hence the treaty. Austin was never going to war, and he kind of knew what he was getting himself into. He didn’t have much of a choice from what he told me, and it was all pretty fucked up. So, one night, he packed a bag of stuff and peaced out. I don’t think the government has actually been looking for him, because they would have found him by now. But Austin’s really paranoid, and I don’t blame him. So, I accepted his kuu more out of pity than anything, and the rest is history.”
“Well, now I feel terrible for not liking the guy.”
“Don’t. He’s not a likeable person, but I thought I’d give you some context for the next time he does something shitty to me.”
“That’s not really an excuse,” I said, sitting down on the couch a few steps from the hammock I’d been sleeping on.
“I’ll hold out until I turn, and then we’ll both be free.”
“Isn’t there anything you guys like about each other?”
Adam hummed, seeming to contemplate the question a bit more. “I mean, the sex is pretty good, even the kinkier stuff.” He looked away. “And he cries.”
“He doesn’t know that I hear him, but he cries just about every night. I’m so torn because I feel sorry for him, but damn, he makes it so hard to even feel that lately. He’s miserable, and I’m just an easy target.”
I thought back to Austin and Simon the other day. Their rivalry was hard to pin down, but they both seemed to enjoy the others’ company.
“Maybe this little fuck-up with the government might be a good thing,” I said, zipping my bag closed. “The city is pretty miserable, and maybe Simon might be a good influence.”
Adam burst into laughter again. “Are you serious?”
“Hey, don’t write the guy off. He surprises me sometimes, and he treats me a hell of a lot better than Austin treats you.”
Adam stopped laughing.
“They both seem to like each other… at least I think they do.”
“Derrek hates him,” Adam said. “I think it’s more Alpha mentality than personal. After he went full werewolf, he got huge and started fights with Derrek every chance he got. In case you haven’t noticed, Derrek’s pretty chill and super friendly, but you don’t want to fuck with him.”
“I really like Derrek.” There were moments I actually considered living here, despite how cramped it was. Even though it had only been a few weeks, I was really going to miss the guy. I never finished learning how to swim.
“Everyone does. He’s pretty cool, and you won’t find a better friend.” Adam’s smile faded. “I should probably apologize to him for the other night.”
“Being a half-turn sucks. I’m sure he understands.”
“Agreed. I want to be carefree like them,” Adam said, plopping down on the couch next to me.
“I just want to go back to being human,” I said. “Who the hell starts turning at twenty-two? I thought my life was finally going somewhere.”
“It is going somewhere. Welcome to hell for however long this lasts.”
“I wonder why some people turn while most don’t? No one in my family is like this.”
Adam shrugged and pointed to Derrek’s bookshelf. “What’s that book say about it?”
“Oh that?” I shook my head. “It was a bunch of nonsense about magic and curses… and aliens. That part was actually more plausible, if you can believe it.”
“It’s always aliens, isn’t it?” We both sat in silent contemplation for a few moments. “Being ignorant is kinda fun though.”
I turned to Adam, impressed that there was some actual depth to this conversation. “What are talking about?”
“Think about it. If we understood everything, it takes the mystery out of life. Demons, witches, aliens and gods are a lot more interesting than boring theories from nerds.”
Well, I thought the conversation had depth.
“The universe is pretty strange as it is, without all that stuff, and our understanding of science keeps changing.”
Adam shook his head. “Nerd.”
An old, unmarked moving truck slowly rolled onto the beach in front of Derrek’s house, its brakes squealing as it stopped. Simon was driving, and Austin sat in the passenger seat. I ran up to the vehicle as the engine cut off and Simon hopped down.
“I thought you didn’t have a license.”
The werewolf’s only response was a shitty grin.
“You wanna get to Norwich with all yer stuff, right?”
“Yeah, but it’s not gonna matter if we get pulled over.”
“Well, I’ll just have to drive reeeal careful, won’t I?”
“How’d you even rent this?”
“I got a friend that owed me a favor. He’s gonna come pick the truck back up after we’re done with it.”
I closed my eyes and rubbed my temples. “You’re going to make me stroke out.”
Simon laughed and slapped my back. “That’d be a first.” He glanced over at Derrek in the distance, who was sitting high in his chair, surveying the water. “Wonder if he’s gonna see us off?”
“He’s working. We should go say goodbye to him.”
“You guys go do that. I’m gonna go wake Adam up,” Austin muttered as he stomped toward the house.
“We don’t have time for another three-hour fuck session, just so you know,” I called after him.
He held up a middle finger without turning around.
“What a prick. This is a terrible idea,” I said under my breath. “Why did I agree to this?”
“Because yer helpin’ out a friend, and there’s nowhere else to go. Besides, Austin ain’t bad. He’s still a kid himself, and he’s seen some shit.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Give him a chance. We’ll have a good time if you know how to look at life a little better than you do.” He wrapped his arm around me as we walked along the beach toward Derrek. “Stop worrying so much and enjoy being young.”
“How do you do it? How do you not give a shit about anything, even when you really should?”
“I’m old,” he replied with a wily grin. “Drugs helped a lot back then, but now I just don’t let things get to me. I ain’t a well of knowledge, but I do got a lot of experience. All them years, things always worked out somehow.” He looked down at me. “Hell, even this worked out. I found a half-turn who’s smart and hot… and didn’t know about my history to refuse my kuu. What’re the odds?”
We approached the lifeguard chair in front of the tower where the other lifeguards usually stayed.
“You guys heading out?” Derrek asked, still scanning the choppy water, his attention narrowing on a few children wading in waist-high surf.
“Yup. Gotta hit the road now if we want to get to Norwich before midnight,” Simon said, giving pause for a moment. “Thanks fer lettin’ us stay here.”
The huge werewolf didn’t look down; instead, he nodded. “I’m actually going to miss having you guys around.”
“Wish you could come with us,” I said.
Derrek jumped down from the chair and pulled me into a hug. “You’re a good kid, Art. Just keep the old fart out of trouble.” He let go and took a step back. “If you guys ever get the chance to come back to the beach, I’m not going anywhere.”
Simon ran over and held his arms out, his tail wagging fast at first, but slowed as Derrek stared him down.
“Eh, what the hell.” Derrek wrapped his arms around Simon, and both of their tails swayed in time with one another. “I’m gonna miss pounding that ass into hamburger meat.”
“Uh, yeah.” Simon’s tail lowered between his legs. “Gonna be givin’ the old hole a rest fer a while.”
“Heh.” Derrek pulled away and looked back out to the ocean, making sure the children were still safe. “These little turds have been turning my fur gray all morning.” He turned back to us again. “Drive safe, okay?”
“You got it, bud.” Simon slapped Derrek’s arm and headed back toward the truck.
“I meant what I said, Art. If you run into any problems out there, you’ve got my number.” He stared at Simon, who was out of earshot. “I think you guys are going to be okay. All things considered, Simon’s a nice guy, if he’s not using. Just do me a favor and look after Adam.”
“What is your take on Austin?”
Derrek paused, gritting his teeth. “He’s fucked up in the head. When he was a half-turn, he was puny and had a big-dog complex. He hated himself, hated people, and hated life. I tried to help him, but sometimes you gotta let people make their own shitty choices. I’m still surprised he even managed to get Adam to like him.”
That reminded me of something.
“Sorry to change the subject, but do you really have a boyfriend?”
Derrek’s expression turned into what I could only describe as dreamy. “Sure do. He’s the perfect guy.”
“We’ve been here for, like, three weeks, and I’ve not seen any evidence of this.”
“He’s shy. We meet in private a lot, but one day, hopefully he’ll get up the nerve to live here.” He scanned the ocean again. “There’s a lot of weird and wonderful people in this world: human, werewolf…” He paused and took a deep breath through his nose. “Other…”
“If you come back to my beach, I’ll make sure you get to meet Bobby. He’s the sweetest guy, and I love him as much as the ocean.”
“Is he really half shark?”
“How’d you hear about that?” Derrek let out a laugh. “He’s the only one I’ve ever met, and the poor guy can’t swim. He just… sorta sinks. I don’t know why he gets so hysterical. It’s not like he’d drown.”
“Okay, I definitely want to meet this Bobby now.”
“Then you know the drill. Come back and see me, and you can meet him.”
The hours passed at a snail’s pace as Adam and I were crammed next to each other. Simon drove, and Austin sat near the other door. Evening had arrived, and the sun was a sliver of fire over the hills. It was beautiful out here, but frighteningly rural. Every small town we passed had one gas station, and there were at least fifty miles or more between them.
Small mountains covered in forests of tall evergreens dominated the landscape, and the weather was cooler and dryer out here, away from the coast. Simon was singing to the radio while Austin stared out the window, not having spoken much since we left White Dunes.
“I’ve never been this far before,” Adam said, gawking at the sunset.
“Really?” I asked. “I used to live in Montana before I moved down here.”
Simon stopped singing. “You never told me that. I heard it’s pretty up there.”
“The west side is pretty. The rest of the state sucks.”
“Why’d you move?” Austin asked, breaking a couple hours of silence.
“Parents kicked me out, but my aunt let me stay at her place until I graduated high school and had enough money to get out on my own. She was cool; kind of the black sheep of the family, which is why we got along so well.”
“That sucks,” the werewolf grunted, turning back toward the window.
“It was a while ago.”
“It’s crazy that parents just leave their kids like that,” Adam said. “Maybe I should call my mom.”
I turned to him in frustration. “Why the hell haven’t you called them yet?”
“I didn’t know what to say. We haven’t talked since they said I couldn’t let Austin live with me.”
The larger werewolf huffed but said nothing.
“I don’t blame them,” I replied, catching Austin’s attention.
“You don’t know anything about me.”
“Well, take the stick out of your ass and say more than two words then.”
Austin clicked his tongue. “You’ve sure got a mouth on you for a half-turn.”
“C’mon guys,” Simon said casually, turning the radio down. “We’re all a little cranky, but we’ll be there in a few hours.”
“If we’re all going to live together, I don’t want to walk on eggshells in my house.” I pulled a bottle of water out of my backpack and put it to my lips, hoping Austin caught the emphasis. “You should be kissing my ass for—”
“Austin, where’re you from?” Simon interrupted.
The werewolf didn’t say anything at first, but Adam shoved him with an elbow.
“Littlerock Arkansas,” he growled.
Simon’s face lit up. “Shit, no way. I’m from Black Springs.”
“Where the hell’s that?”
Simon scratched his head. “Don’t really remember. I think it’s a little town on the west side of the state.”
“That would explain your dumb hillbilly accent.” The larger werewolf cracked a toothy smile for the first time while fidgeting with the broken lock switch on the door. “I didn’t live in that state for long, so I don’t really know much about it.”
“Did yer family do a lot of moving?”
“Fuck family.” Austin’s response came sharply before he went silent again.
Simon’s ears fell to the side, and he turned up the radio, this time at a lower volume. I expected him to get angry at Austin’s predictable ‘edgelord’ response, but that didn’t happen. Simon was a smooth-talker with an astonishing amount of empathy, and it would have been out of character for him to make the confrontation worse, at least not directly.
“How much longer?” Adam asked, squinting to get a better look at my phone’s screen.
“Two hours and forty minutes,” I replied. “I can’t wait to sleep in my own bed again.”
“I can’t wait to sleep in yer bed again, either,” Simon added, running his clawed hand along my inner thigh while keeping his eyes on the road.
I glared at him.
“Aw, don’t look at me like that. Think of how warm you’ll be when it starts getting colder. Remember when you fell asleep with my dick still in you? You looked so cute. It can be like that every night.”
“I slipped into unconsciousness because I was exhausted.” It was hard not to think about that night without getting uncomfortably hard. Simon had a huge dick and decades of practice using it. He was the only one I’d ever been with who could bring me to a hands-free orgasm, over and over again. “Just don’t piss me off, and I won’t make you sleep on the floor… like a dog.”
Simon’s smile widened to a sinister grin.
“I mean it.”
My threats didn’t work on him anymore, and Adam’s description of what was in store for this new body was all I could think about lately. Were the cravings really going to get worse than this? I went from thinking I had all the control to now knowing it was actually Simon who held the cards, similar to how Austin kept Adam coming back. There were major differences, and the more I thought about it, the more I may have lucked out.
The werewolf leaned in, and our lips met in another one of his impressive kisses.
“God dammit! Keep your eyes on the road,” Austin shouted, grabbing onto the ‘oh shit’ handle as the truck veered onto the rumble strips.
“I got it, I got it,” Simon said, centering the vehicle again.
“It’s not… terrible,” Simon said while looking around the darkened living room. He flipped on the light switch and a few roaches scattered into the cracks in the walls. “I’ve lived in worse.”
Adam slipped into the hallway, turning on more lights. “Is it too late to get a hotel?”
I was in a strange state of mind: shocked at how awful the place looked, but too tired to react.
Austin ran his claws along the crack in the paint. “Needs a little work, but at least it’s roomy.” I had expected him to complain the loudest, but he didn’t seem fazed at all. When he opened the door to the garage, his tail went from limp to a rapid wag. “Hell yeah!”
“What?” Simon asked.
“Look at all this space. I can actually use my tools.”
Adam peeked around the corner. “What tools?”
“I had to keep them in storage because we didn’t have any room in that shitty little apartment.”
The half-turn stomped on a small roach skittering past his foot. “Ugh. I can’t live here.”
“They’re just bugs, damn. Try sharing a dumpster with rats some time,” Austin said, closing the garage door. “This place is a palace, if you’ve ever lived on the streets. Ain’t that right?” He gave Simon a nudge.
“Sure is.” Simon peeked into both of the bedrooms before examining the one bathroom we’d all end up sharing. “Just needs some cleaning and a bit o’ love.” He looked over at me. “You okay?”
“I…” I trailed off, letting out a sigh before walking toward the door. “Let’s just get our beds. We’ll deal with this tomorrow.”
Later that night
Simon tried to get me in the mood, but that was the furthest from my mind. It was hard to perform on a bare mattress on the floor while surrounded by filth.
“Yer not seein’ the possibilities,” he whispered. “I bet we’ll have this place looking like home in a few weeks.”
“I’m almost afraid to look at the town now.”
His arms tightened around me. “It’s an adventure, Art. You gotta live in the moment and think about the cool shit we can do here.” He leaned in, his cold, wet snout settling on the crook of my neck. “And yer lucky you ain’t gotta go through the rough times alone. Having those two living with us is pretty lucky, too. When you hit yer full turn, you want to be around other werewolves more, especially the older you get.”
“When do you think I’ll get to be a werewolf?”
“Hmm…” Simon slipped his hand under my pants, running his finger along the cleft of my ass. “You don’t have a little tail, and there ain’t a lot of fur, so it’ll be a while. I know it ain’t fun, and sometimes it can hurt, but try to enjoy the good parts.” His thickening cock dampened the backside of my underwear.
“Not right now, Simon.”
“You’ll feel better. Trust me.” Simon’s long tongue trailed along my neck. “When have I ever been wrong about this?” He lifted me on top of him before sliding my boxers off, and that was all I needed to send me into a frenzy of heat and arousal. There wasn’t as much pain as the broad tip of him slipped inside. Another interesting thing about the half-turn state—I rarely needed preparation anymore.
The light flipped on, and Austin walked into the room, his nose furiously sniffing the air.
“Looks fun. Got room for another?”
“Hell yeah,” Simon said, catching himself as I grabbed a tuft of fur on his neck. “Uh, that’s if it’s okay with Art.”
“Get the hell out of here!” I shouted, throwing a pillow at the werewolf’s head. Austin snorted and left the room, closing the door behind him.
The Next Day
Adam and I spent much of the morning cleaning the layers of grime and rust from the kitchen and bathroom, while Simon worked on the floors. Austin was busy patching the walls, and he’d need to head into town later to buy paint and necessities with the little money we had left.
After tossing the scrub brush into a blue plastic bucket, I rinsed my hands and walked through the hallway out the back door. I hadn’t really gotten a good look at the entire yard yet, but as the late morning sun unveiled what was hidden last night, it brought a smile to my face.
The backyard was wild and overgrown, but had a vine-covered fire pit in the middle. Where the backyard ended, the woods began. It was pretty, and as Simon put it last night, I could kind of see the possibilities. Maybe I’d make a garden, or clean up the fire pit to host nightly bonfires. Perhaps we’d meet more people and invite them over for games and drinking.
“Why are you smiling?” Adam asked. I hadn’t noticed him creeping up behind me.
“I haven’t had a yard since I was a kid.”
Adam kicked a small rotten log out of the way. “I want to go back to the city.”
“Well, nothing’s stopping you,” I muttered while walking the perimeter of the property, Adam trailing behind.
“I bet there’s not even a nightclub in this town. Just a bunch of old-people bars.”
“You don’t have to sell this place to me. I’m already liking it.”
Adam huffed like a child throwing a tantrum.
“I’m just trying to look on the bright side for once, and you’re not helping.” I pointed to the woods. “You think it’s really haunted?”
“Who cares?” Adam whined, looking back at the house. “I don’t like the way it smells here.”
“What are you talking about? It smells better than car exhaust and dumpsters.”
“You don’t smell it?”
I took in a deep breath through my nose. “All I smell is bleach. I think I may have brain damage.”
Adam shook his head. “It’s not a scent I can describe. I don’t know. I’ve been noticing weird shit like that lately. Nothing seems to smell good or bad, but it’s… different. Like information being shoved into my head that I can’t make sense of.”
I took in another whiff of air and shrugged. “I don’t know what to tell you. I smell nothing.”
We both stopped at the edge of the woods.
“Austin’s being weird,” Adam said, shifting the subject again.
“He seems to be his same unpleasant self to me.”
“That’s the weird thing. He’s not. Last night, he was rough, but he wasn’t mean about it. And he hasn’t argued with me all day.”
I shot the half-turn another confused look. “Why is this a bad thing?”
He ran his fingers through dreadlocks, scratching the back of his head. “When he’s quiet, it makes me more nervous than when he’s angry. It usually means he’ll be extra mean later.”
“Simon and I will put a stop to it.”
“How? You think Simon’s gonna be able to take Austin?” Adam laughed. “The guy can’t even fight his own appetite.”
“He pretends to be stupid and passive, but he’s pretty good at diffusing bad situations.” I thought back to our unfortunate interaction with the police a couple of weeks ago. “Sometimes.”
Adam turned toward the house. “We should probably finish cleaning this dump.”
“Come on. It’s not that bad.”
“Fine. Let’s finish cleaning this—how do real estate agents make shitty houses seem appealing on Zillow?”
“Oh yeah. Let’s finish cleaning this quaint little home with a lot of investment potential.”
I opened the door, and we both stepped inside to the sound of a disc sander whirring in the living room.
“I didn’t know Austin had tools,” Adam said, keeping his voice low. “I didn’t even know he knew how to do anything other than lie around the house scratching his balls during the day.”
“Did you see him smile when he saw the garage?”
Adam muttered something I couldn’t hear before speaking up. “Yeah. We’ll see if it lasts.”