Hymn Of Breaking Strain

I ran. Lungs burning, legs shaking, unable to see...I ran from what I had done, and what I was and what I knew I would do if I stayed. Ran away from her. From the look on her face, the way she curled into his body, the way her tears welled up when I was cruel to her. From the way it hurt to see her.

Or at least I thought it hurt.

I couldn't be sure. When I saw them was...bad.

Bad. What a fucking pathetic word. But it was. Bad. Very, very bad. Awful, horrible, terrible. Whatever.

So I ran. Aren't I a courageous sort?

I ran until I came to my parents' house. I live there. Though "live " is a fairly loose term for what actually goes on. Did I mention how evasive I am? I don't like to dwell. No, wait, that's not true either. I do dwell on things. I just don't like to actively think about them. I'll let them sit, simmering somewhere in the back of my mind until they blow up. Kinda like when I left a Crock-pot on for far too long and it...

Crap. Okay, deep breath and just do it.

So I'm at my parents' house, and who to my wondering eyes should appear? No, not Santa Claus. I gave up believing in Santa Claus a long time ago. No reindeer either.

See? There I go evading again.

My dad was out on the front porch. Which is kinda surprising 'cause it was something like 3 in the morning. He's never up at 3 in the morning. He's a business guy, up with the sun to make the long commute to wherever the fuck he works. But maybe, that night, he was too drunk or angry or something to sleep. Or maybe mom wouldn't let him have sex with her. Who knows? Who cares?

What happened next was unpleasant.

He looked at me, something like disgust and fear and a little hate in his eyes. And I couldn't bring myself to care. My father, one half of the couple that gave me life, looked at me like I was a worthless piece of crap and I didn't care.

That scares me. It should hurt, make me angry, something. And it doesn't. There's this big, gaping hole where my dad is. To tell the truth, there's just a big gaping hole everywhere now. Ain't that great? A black void where my "friends" and "family" are in my head.

He looked at me and stood up slowly. I could see the tip of the cigarette he was smoking glow red in the dark. We stood there, looking at each other, neither of us moving. You could feel the tension. Right. Sure. For tension, there has to be two people that care. There wasn't.

"Where's your girlfriend?" The question could almost be considered casual, I guess. His voice was calm, a little rough, and very stern. It was always stern. I don't think I've ever heard my dad laugh.

"She's probably at home." I shrugged. Cordelia would have gotten home okay. The Slayer takes care of her own.

Another look and silence for a few minutes. Maybe I'd get out of this intact.

"You didn't walk her home?"

Guess not. I sighed. "We met up with some friends who are walking her home." I started walking up the stairs, and he moved to block my way. Fuck.

"I've taught you better than that." He finished the cigarette, tossing it onto the ground and grinding it beneath the heel of his shoe. I hate smoking, have I mentioned that?

"Yeah." I finally got onto the porch and moved back into the shadows cast by the porch light. I figured that the less motivation I gave him, the quicker I'd be able to go inside. Alas, it wasn't to be.

He tilted his head toward the door, patiently waiting for me to go inside before him. Whee. Aren't we polite? Oh well, what could I do? I went in. He shut the door behind himself, and didn't bother to turn on the hall light. Shit. Lights on made things easier. Less harsh. It's easier to hide dirty little secrets in the dark. It's easier to hide a lot of things in the dark.

"You can't even treat a girl right, huh?" I didn't see the slap coming. It's hard to see with your eyes closed. I heard it though. "Miserable piece of shit."

I shook my head, ears ringing from a combination of the slap and the vast amounts of alcohol I had drunk. Yeah, I'm a miserable piece of shit all right. I can't even be civil to my ex-girlfriend. Or keep my hands off her. Hey, I bet if I told him that he'd be happy. Nah, he probably wouldn't believe me. At least it was open-handed. It hurts less.

He glared at me, sneering. I could feel it happening. Could feel the intense desire to make some remark that would result in at least another hit. What the hell, I deserved it.

"Sorry, Dad. See, I met this guy and he was just so fucking gorgeous that I had to go off with him. I figured Cordelia would be fine without me." I sometimes wondered if he could hear the sarcasm, or if he was so determined to believe that I was gay that he'd just hear the words.

His fist slammed into my mouth and I went down.

I guess he just heard the words. There was a trickle of blood at the corner of my mouth and I wiped it away. Wouldn't do to get blood on a silk shirt. I may know shit about fashion, but I know that much. I think. I looked up at him, hearing him breathe, harsh and fast and loud. That does seem to be the story of my life. Look at me wallow in self pity. Isn't this fun?

The wall was behind me, and I used it to pull myself up. He hated that.

Another movement of air and down I went again. I'd have a pretty bruise along my jaw, even with the faster healing. So of course, I pull myself up again. In my own defense, I'm just as much of a stubborn shit as he is. Probably more.

I didn't fight back. It never does any good, and I'm a passive person at heart. The only thing I did was stand up. I do have my pride.

In between blows I could hear him talking. Calling me things like a "short freaky mother fucker." Hah. If only he knew how freaky. And yeah, height is my damn fault. Like I asked to be shorter than all of the guys and most of the girls I knew.

Mom stopped him eventually. She always does. He won't hit her, won't touch her. Politeness is the hallmark of my family. Etiquette. Chivalry. Honor.

What a fucking antiquated notion.


I guess I had pulled myself up to my room. I don't really remember. The cover was warm and soft under my cheek. It's really amazing how much more intense some stuff can feel. Touch, taste, smell. Especially smell. Velvet feels nice and I rubbed my cheek against the bedspread. I would have to shave soon. Or not. I hadn't had a goatee in a while. Willow had liked me clean-shaven, and it wasn't that much of a sacrifice. Besides, it had been time for a change.

I stuck a foot out from under the blanket. Cold, but not too cold. I could make the naked run to the shower. Not like anyone was home. Don't get me wrong, I don't normally run naked to the bathroom, but I didn't have a clean towel in my room and I don't own a robe. And pulling on clothes just to take them off again in a few minutes seemed kinda silly.

No one was in the hall. From what I could hear, no one was in the house. Not a creature was stirring...except a grumpy, hungry werewolf. So I ran to the bathroom and got in the shower. The water was turned up hot enough that it hurt and I shook my head under the spray. I showered quickly, scrubbing hard enough to rub the skin raw. I don't know what I was trying to clean off, but I hope I succeeded.

The mirror was fogged up from the steam and I used my hand to wipe it clean. I stared at myself, noting the faint yellow bruises along my jaw and the side of my mouth. A few days of healing in a night's time. Same with the marks on my back.

I pulled a towel around my waist and headed back to my room. If it weren't for a midterm in my calculus class, I wouldn't be going to school at all. That's a lie. I was going to school because it was the night before the full moon and I had to be locked up like the dangerous animal I am. But first there was a calculus exam to pass.

I pulled out a pair of boxers - cheerfully decorated with the Grinch that stole Christmas and various other Seuss-esque drawings - and put them on, searching for a clean pair of jeans and a t-shirt to wear. I finally found some and sighed, putting them on too. I hated the color black too, sometimes. I grabbed a flannel off the back of a chair and I was ready to go.

The van started easily and I pulled away from the curb, driving quickly through Sunnydale, trying to get to school on time. Devon was waiting for me in the parking lot, looking pissy and pretty as usual. That boy really needed to learn to relax.

"Hey, man! Where were you last night?" He opened the door and glared at me. I was getting a lot of that.

"I was busy, Devon." My guitar case was in the back of the van and I pulled it out. No point in wasting a perfectly good day to being mopey. I planned on hitting the band room after calculus and practicing. Mr. Green wouldn't mind. He always loved it when a band member came back to the fold.

Devon was not so easily ignored. "And you're gonna miss the next two nights of rehearsal and a gig. Man, what's up with that? Don't you care about the band anymore?"

I sighed, rubbing my forehead. "Devon, if you're gonna do something like kick me out of the band, then say so. I have to get to class."

He shook his head. "No, you know I'd never do that. But you've gotta start showing up for rehearsal once in a while...the other guys, they're getting pissed."

"Yeah, sure." I kept walking towards the campus. Class then band, class then band. Then a date with a cage. I hoped Giles would have the decency not to have Willow or Xander watch me.


The calc exam was a cake. Stuff generally is when I make a little effort. So I made my way to the band room. It was filled with people, most of whom I knew. That's the way band is. Everyone knows everyone else. It's sorta like a family, except for the dating. Incest. Ew.

Mr. Green was in his office and I knocked on the door. He nodded and I went in, smiling a little. He hadn't changed. So, okay, it had been less than a year since I'd seen him, but still. Maybe he saw something new in me. There were frogs all over the office. Get it? Green...frogs? Yeah, I didn't think it was all that funny either, but it made him easy to shop for.

"Hey, Mr. Green."

"Oz. Have you come back to us? We really need someone to keep the drummers in line."

"Nataka's not drum captain anymore?" Nataka had been drum captain the past two years. Give him a set of quads and he rocked.

Mr. Green shook his head. "He moved down to Apple Valley."


"Yeah. And the Mikes are out of control." He grinned. "That's not unusual."

"No," I had to smile. The Mikes are infamous. "It's not unusual at all. I just wanted to know if I could practice in the uniform closet? Or the instrument closet?"

Mr. Green looked down at his schedule sheet. "Well...we have the Christmas ensembles practicing today...are you sure you don't want to help out?"

"With what sections?" I didn't really need to practice the guitar today. And I'd get good practice in the whole sight-reading gig.

"Percussion, mostly." He smiled. "They got it into their heads to do 'Carol of the Bells'."

"Oh. That's not good." I winced. There was a reason that half the percussionists were percussionists and it had nothing at all to do with talent.

He shrugged. "They're doing pretty well, actually. They just need someone to help them keep time. Are you up to it?"


I stayed through that period, and the next. Hell, I even stayed to watch the pageantry practice, and I hated the pageantry. Anything to stay away from the library until sundown.


Giles was lecturing. Somewhere in the back of my mind I wondered what the Monster of the Week was. Then I shrugged. It wasn't my concern anymore. Buffy and Xander were making jokes, nothing new there. Willow was researching something on the computer. Again, not a surprise. Cordelia was with them. That was a surprise.

They all got quiet when I came in. Oh fun. Cordelia smiled at me and waved. She's a doll. Giles smiled too. No one else did. Yeah, well, fuck them all.

The returned-books cage was set up, complete with hanging blankets to preserve modesty. I hated that cage. The beast in me hated that cage too. I glanced at my watch and sighed. I had ten minutes to sundown, when I had to be in the cage. Sometimes, I didn't change exactly at sundown, but it was better to be safe.

Ten minutes. Damn. Just enough time to do what I had to.

I walked over to the big table and everyone stared. Willow's eyes widened and she drew in a quick breath. Xander scooted his chair closer to her. It was sweet, I guess. I couldn't help noticing her. I never could. She was wearing that soft blue sweater, the fuzzy one, and a black skirt. She was, as always, beautiful. And guess what? I didn't feel a damn thing. I should have. Ever since the Incident, I've been angry with her, and I've wanted to hurt her, and love her. But now I looked at her and there was nothing. Nothing except a faint sense of disappointment and obligation. I had wronged her, and I had to make that right.

"Willow," I began. I had to take a deep breath before I could go on. "I wanted to say I'm sorry for what I did last night." Yeah, right. Part of my mind was screaming that she had deserved it. That she deserved way more than that. The other part, the one that was winning, said that one never ever touched someone else's girlfriend and that you never touched someone in anger. I had been angry and she was Xander's girlfriend. As much as I hated it, I owed them both at least an apology.

She started to speak and I held up a hand. "Let me finish, please. I shouldn't have touched you, much less kissed you. And I'm sorry." I turned to Xander then. This was the part that I had truly been dreading. "Xander. She's your girlfriend and I had no right to lay a hand on her. I apologize."

He just looked at me. I shrugged. Whatever; my duty here was done. I went over to the cage, brushing by Giles on the way. He stopped me, putting a hand on my shoulder and turning me towards him.

"What happened?" Giles' voice was low, concerned. He inclined his head to indicate the bruises on my face. Funny how no one else had really noticed them.

"Walked into a door. Fell down the stairs. Choose your lie." I gave him my best blank look. I had a lot of them.

He wanted to say more, I could tell, but he had the tact, or the reserve, not to. I will be grateful to him for that till my dying day. Giles let go of my arm and I walked into the cage, shutting the door behind me with a whole five minutes to spare.

Yeah me.


The actual transformation is an interesting thing. It's painful, for one thing. And fast. I kinda wish that no one else had been there to see it. Willow already had, Giles had too. But the others...

I looked up at them before I lost all hold on my mind. The looks on their faces...none of them, I think, actually thought it was me as the werewolf. Maybe they thought that I magically disappeared and the werewolf appeared. Maybe...I don't know. But whatever happened, no one was expecting what actually happened.

Bones pop and lengthen. Everything realigns. Muscles do weird, funky things. If I was an observer, it'd be interesting. As it is, it's pretty interesting until it starts hurting. And believe me, it hurts like a son of a bitch. Look, I made a funny. A pun. Yeah, okay, it wasn't that funny.

They watched, and the looks they gave me before I was fully the wolfie side of myself were of horror and a little disgust. I'm one of the monsters. Inhuman. Not one of them.

Aren't I always?


When I woke up the next morning, the library was dark and Giles was sleeping at the table. Poor guy, he worked so hard for so little. Buffy really needed to start appreciating him more. But, again, it was no longer any of my business to care.

Good. It's better not to care.

I pulled on my boxers and jeans before clearing my throat. He startled easily. "Giles?"

He sat up, rubbing his eyes wearily before putting his glasses on. "What? Oh, good morning Oz."

"Morning. You think I could get out of here?" I held onto the door, curling my fingers through the holes. Support is a wonderful thing. I'm always a little shaky the morning after. And hungry. Had I eaten that night? I don't know. That's the worst part about the whole werewolf thing. I never know what happens. I hate not knowing.

Giles blinked behind the glasses. I guessed he didn't wake up well. Neither do I. I much prefer sleeping in, and staying up into the wee hours of the morning. There are more interesting things to do at night. Or there were before I started hanging out with Willow and Xander over the summer. Funny how vampire slaying crimps one's nightlife.

He opened the cage door and I followed him into the office. It had become something of a ritual between us ever since we met at the Blue Angel. I wake up, he lets me go, and we have tea. It's soothing.

"I see your face is better." Giles poured the tea, never once looking up at me.

I shrugged. "Yeah."

"Your father?"

"Who else?" I took the cup he offered me and began searching for the whiskey I knew Giles kept in his office. I found the bottle and slouched down in one of the chairs.

"Isn't it a bit early to be drinking?"

"Just a wee bit." I opened the bottle and began to pour it in. "I won't drink it if you ask me not to."

Giles looked at me and took the bottle. I pouted. Yes, I actually pouted. Dignity, where have you gone?

"What happened?" He poured me another cup of tea. Giles pulled off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. Objectively speaking, he's an attractive man. Willow had a crush on him. He's absolutely brilliant too. And has the patience of God. I mean, you'd have to be patient to deal with Buffy and Faith and the rest of us.

"I went clubbing. Had a confrontation with Willow. Went home and got the shit beat out of me." I took a sip of the tea. "Nothing weird."

"I see." He's hard to read. Giles has had years of experience in hiding what he's feeling. And he's just a big ol' stud. I've never in my life met someone as adept at surviving as Rupert Giles. "Why won't you tell someone? Report it?"

"Report what? That my father, the respected businessman, beats his slacker, failure, piece of shit, faggot son?" I tossed back the rest of the tea and stood up. I glared at Giles. "They're not going to believe me, Giles."

"You don't know that."

"I do fucking know that. There would be no proof."

He stared at me calmly. "You deserve better."

Gee, that just gave me warm and fuzzy feelings. Too bad I didn't, couldn't, believe him. I looked down at my hands. I wouldn't lie to Giles. Ever. I respect him too much.

"If anyone asks, not that they will, I'll be at home." I pulled on my flannel. "I'll be back before sundown."

He nodded slowly, looking into his teacup. "You're too young to be so cynical."

That made me smile. I turned around once I reached the door. "So are you."

The door shut with a quiet click behind me. I could hear him laughing.



The next few days passed in something of a haze. The three days always do. Willow and Xander were being sweet and lovey at each other, Buffy and Faith were kicking as much undead ass as they could, Giles was being his usual bookish self, and Cordelia popped in and out of their lives, ignoring Xander and Willow and helping out as much as she could.

Cordelia is an amazing woman. I never thought so before, but the way she's handled everything is incredible to me. She continues to help them, hang out with them, even though they were thoughtlessly cruel to her. To me too, but I try to ignore that. Of course, I try to ignore them too.

I try to ignore a lot of things. Generally, I succeed. Sometimes though, it's not so easy. It's not easy to ignore my dad, or the things he says, or the fact that I have to be locked up every month like some kind of freak. It's not easy to ignore seeing the woman I loved kiss and caress another man. It's not easy to ignore an out of tune g-string.

"God dammit, Oz! Will you tune that?" Mike, the bassist for Dingoes, is a perfectionist. I have a theory that he's just an anal retentive shit because he doesn't have sex often enough. Not that I do, but I have an excuse. Well, a substitute anyway. Sex would be nice though.

Practice was a bitch, so I left.

So, I was finally free of the full moon and being a werewolf and where was I going?

To the club. To see Alexa. Though, for once, not to be whipped. That's the cool thing about being a werewolf. Tension practically disappears for a while. I was just going to visit, and drink, and listen to music. All the things that normal young men do.


I moved through the crowds of people, working my way to the back rooms. Alexa was back there with a client. She generally is. I watched her and had to smile. She moved gracefully, very much in her element as she lifted the whip and hit the bound woman.

I'll admit it, seeing them turned me on. I'm a teenaged boy. Fondling a grapefruit would probably turn me on. I shifted in the chair, feeling a vague sense of guilt at watching the two of them. There was an intimacy between them, moments of shared pain and pleasure that I had no right to watch. No one does. But we put ourselves on display, drowning in the feelings, letting go of whatever fears and boundaries we have for a few moments in an effort to feel as intensely as possible. Sometimes, the goal is just to feel anything at all.

I closed my eyes and sighed, listening. The whip cracked and I could hear the woman gasp softly. Then a soft moan. The cycle repeated itself, all the other sounds blending into a hum of noise, and I let myself drift. Time didn't mean a whole hell of a lot right then.

"O, what can ail thee, knight-at-arms, alone and palely loitering?" Alexa was done with her client, I guess. I didn't open my eyes, that would take away half the fun. She ran her hands along my thighs, coming to rest on my waist.

"The sedge has wither'd from the lake, and no birds sing." I opened my eyes and grinned. "Beautiful and literate. Be still my heart."

"Hey, I'm not here all the time."

"Too bad. That was quite a show you put on."

She grinned at me, raising a glittery eyebrow. "Like you were watching."

"I was at first."

"Uh-huh." Alexa kissed me lightly, curling her fingers into the waistband of my pants and pulling me up. "Here to play?"

I shook my head. "Not tonight."

"Darn." She pulled me along, looking for an empty room. She finally settled on one that just had a few people in it. "So what's up?"

"Not much. Didn't feel like staying at home tonight." We sat on the couch, my head in her lap, and she stroked my hair back.

"Do you ever feel like staying at home?"

"Not really." I reveled in the feel of her fingers running through my hair. "S'nice."


"Being petted." I closed my eyes again and smiled, turning my head into her hand. It was soothing, comforting. I could feel some of the emptiness inside being filled up with the feel of her hand in my hair.

She held still for a moment, considering me. I could feel the weight of her gaze on me, running down my arms, across my chest, along my stomach. She wanted to push things, take them past everywhere we've gone before. Alexa was all about pushing things.

"Oz?" At least she made it a question. Her voice was warm, soft. Part of me, lots of parts of me, wanted to give in. If nothing else, we'd be good together. I sat up, tucking my legs under me, and faced her. She touched my cheek lightly, stroking it with the back of her hand. She was warm, and soft, and beautiful, and looked nothing like Willow. I hoped that would be enough.

She kissed me, sliding a hand around to cup the back of my head and pull me closer. She's bigger than me, not that that's hard to do, and outweighs me by about ten pounds. So I climbed on top of her, knees on either side of her hips, keeping my weight on my legs. Just because I'm lighter than she is doesn't mean that she wants me sitting on her. That would be rude.

Alexa smiled and whispered, "I've never had someone sitting on my lap like this." We kissed again, deeper and longer. She slid her hands up my chest, sliding the buttons open slowly. I took a deep breath. I could do this. I would.

Her shirt was brushed cotton, incredibly soft and warm from her skin. I pushed it up, stroking the skin of her stomach. She pushed me back, sitting up and bringing our hips closer. Her mouth left mine to slide down to my neck, licking and biting gently. I shivered at the feeling of her breath against my ear as sucked lightly on my earlobe. There was blood rushing in my ears and rushing to other parts and I buried my face in Alexa's neck, where it curves to meet the shoulder. She sighed and I stroked my cheek along her neck as I turned my face. I could taste her pulse against my lips and felt the strongest urge to bite down, to taste her like I smelled her. She smelled like leather and metal and, oddly enough, vanilla. It was a smell I knew, one that I was comfortable with.

I didn't bite down, even though I could have, even though I wanted to. I just kissed her neck, losing myself in the feel of her beneath me. There was a whisper in the back of my mind, a gentle brush of power slithering through my mind, pushing all my focus onto Alexa, the smell of her and the taste of her, narrowing my attention onto her, excluding the people around us. I should have suspected something, but I didn't. Not even when a second pair of hands slid the shirt off my shoulders.


He, it was a he behind me, stroked his hand down my back, like you would pet a cat. Long, slow, and deliberate, moving down along the curve of my spine, stopping for a moment before sliding up again. It was calming. Or it would have been if I knew what was going on.

Alexa's eyes were wide as she looked at him. She put a hand on my shoulder, keeping me from running as far and as fast as I could. "Christian, he doesn't..."

"I know." His hand kept stroking my back, lingering on the base of my neck. He was warm, and his hands were rough with calluses. I was shaking; something about the situation scaring me out of my mind. Probably the fact that a strange man was touching my half-naked body. "You have a client waiting for you, you know." His hand never stopped moving, settling into a rhythm meant to soothe.

I wanted to run away and it must have shown on my face because Alexa leaned forward and kissed my cheek. "He won't hurt you Oz, I promise." She looked up and glared at Christian. Her next words were spoken to me, but directed at him. "He won't make you do anything you don't want to do."

Christian's voice was smooth, and he didn't hesitate a second. "Of course not. That would be wrong."

Didn't matter. I still wanted to get away. God help me if my dad ever found out I just sat there while some guy came on to me.

Alexa pushed me back gently, so she could get up. "Oz."

I just looked at her. She looked up at Christian again, then back at me before trying again. "Oz, you have to let me up."

I didn't want to. Duh. Christian's hands went to either side of my waist and he pulled me back and up, pulling me off the couch and against him. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.

"Oz? Are you going to be all right?"

No, I was not going to be all right. Why wasn't I saying anything? My mind was sending the words but they weren't coming out my mouth. Christian leaned over my shoulder, wrapping his arms around my waist, and whispered, "We're going to talk."

Oh the hell we were!

Alexa started to protest and he stared her down. That wasn't something I'd seen before. He focused on me again, and I didn't want him to. I wanted him to leave me alone. And stuff. Yeah.

His mouth was by my ear again. "You're a werewolf, yes?"

What? Oh, that just couldn't be good.

Christian looked up at Alexa and smiled. I could feel him smiling. What was up with that? "He'll be fine. I won't do anything to him, I swear."

Uh-huh. Sure. And I was the fucking king of Bavaria.

She went, glancing back at us doubtfully. My mind was shrieking at her to come back and get me the hell away from the guy. My mouth wasn't doing a damn thing. Dammit. Dammit a lot. Christian's arms loosened around my waist and I seriously considered making a run for it. I didn't, though. Why didn't I? Crap. Just...crap.

He slid around me, at least one hand on me at all times, keeping the physical contact constant. He was attractive, I guess. Dark red hair - dark enough to be almost brown - down to his shoulders, light blue eyes, slender. Taller than me. But then, who isn't?

Christian leaned forward, touching my cheek with his fingertips, and brushed his lips against mine. I blinked, lost in shock. He smiled a little. Was it wrong of me to want to hit him? I mean, first of all, having random people kiss me is not something I like. The fact that it was a guy, and that I have some issues with that didn't help any. And the whole him knowing I was a werewolf wasn't making me happy either. A sort of three strikes and you're out thing.

He sat back down on the couch, pulling me with him. I ended up in pretty much the same position I had been with Alexa, my knees on either side of his hips, straddling him. Such not a position I wanted to be in.

"Let me up, please." Why the hell was I still being polite?

He shook his head, grinning. "Can't do that. We need to talk."

"Then talk. I don't need to be sitting on top of you for that." I tried to get up, but he was still holding onto me and I guessed he didn't have any intention of letting me go.

"Oh, but this is so much more fun, don't you think?" Christian arched up, leaving me with no doubt as to his state To be honest, I was still pretty happy myself. It didn't help - hurt? - that his hands were stroking down my chest, brushing lightly over my stomach, and in general making a nuisance of themselves. Huh. Maybe Dad was right.

"Let me up."




"That's not a reason." I tried to get off the couch, rising up onto my knees and scooting backwards. Or at least, that was the plan. What actually happened was, I got up onto my knees, he held on to my waist, and we sat there like that, my stomach and groin dangerously close to his mouth.


He smiled again, leaning forward and licking a quick line along the waistband of my pants.


I sat back down. He smirked at me. "Are we ready to talk now?"

"Yeah. Whatever." So sue me, I was being sullen.

Christian looked like he wanted to laugh. To his credit, he didn't. "Would you be more comfortable if you weren't sitting on top of me?"

Maybe there was hope yet. "Yes."

He rolled us over, ending with me sitting on the couch and him straddling me. It wasn't quite what I had had in mind. And he knew that. I growled low in my throat and glared at him.

"You really have no idea what's going on, do you?" He shook his head and leaned forward, his hair making a curtain around our faces. "Aren't you part of a pack?"

"A what?" I'm not stupid, I know what a pack is. But why would I be a part of one?

"A pack. A group of other werewolves. Compadres. Amigos. Friends in fur." He leaned over me again, rubbing his cheek against mine, burying his face in my hair. Scent-marking me. "A family."

Family. I didn't need another one, thank you very much. "No. I don't have a pack." Maybe he'd leave me alone. Of course.

"You're all alone in the world...poor puppy." His mouth moved closer to my ear, nuzzling the skin just below it.

Poor puppy. Right.

He licked my ear. "Don't worry, you won't ever be alone again."

Just what I wanted to hear.

"Who made you?" He pulled away from me and sat back on his heels. The question seemed really important to him. Or maybe he was just trying to figure out how to get in my pants.

So, okay, I was a little embarrassed.

"My six-year-old cousin bit me when I tickled him."

He blinked and started chuckling. "You're kidding."

I glared at him. "No. I'm not."

"Your little cousin bit you?" He started to laugh.

"Yeah. What of it?" I was really not liking Christian. Which, I'm sure, had nothing to do with the fact that he was sitting on me, laughing at me, and being a general pain in the ass.

Christian shook his head, still laughing. I glared some more. So I tried, again, to get off the couch. The attempt was no more successful than the last one. We ended up with him pinning my shoulders against the couch and staring down at me seriously, while my hands were resting on his chest from my failed attempt to push him off. He leaned forward slowly, giving me time to move, or push him away or something.

I didn't.

I don't know why I let him kiss me. Curiosity, maybe. A perverse desire to be what people thought I was. A need to rebel. Or maybe it was just plain old want.

But he did. He kissed me. Hard, like he was trying to learn the taste of me. It wasn't by any means a nice kiss and I don't think it was meant to be. He bit my lower lip lightly, then licked it. He liked licking. That was okay. I wasn't too opposed to it either.

We heard Alexa's whistle at the same time and he sat up, licking his lips and grinning. I still wanted to hit him.

She sat herself down on the couch next to us and smirked. "That was very pretty. I think I'm jealous." Christian just grinned some more and kissed her like he had kissed me. I could feel him, hard against my waist.

Lord, oh lord, what had I gotten myself into?

Christian slid off me and cuddled with Alexa. I shook my head a little, grabbing my shirt and pulling it on. This was certainly a night to be remembered. I went from having no sex to almost having sex with two people, gaining a whole new family, and reaffirming my dad's beliefs about me. A red-letter day in anyone's book.

They looked up at me, watching me dress. "You're not leaving already, are you?" he asked.

"It's late, I should go." And try to avoid getting the shit beat out of me again. That was the part I didn't say out loud. Alexa heard it anyway.

"You don't have to go..." She stood up and wrapped her arms around my waist. "You can stay here."

Christian got up too, standing next to me, pulling my arm around his waist. "Or you can stay with me." He kissed my neck, biting and sucking hard enough to leave a mark. Great. Another thing that would have to be explained away. I knew him for one night, and already I thought he was a pushy bastard.

Alexa glared at him. Good. That meant I didn't have to. And even though staying in a place that was not the house sounded very nice, I had to say no. I wasn't quite ready for that. Somehow, I didn't think I would ever be ready to stay with Christian.

So I left, with a whole lot more on my mind than I went in there with. I just hate that.


I closed the door behind me quietly, hoping that no one was home or that they were asleep. I didn't want to deal with anything else. And I had a good idea of what would happen if my dad caught me sneaking back into the house for the second time in less than a week. So of course, I get caught. No one was happy. Least of all me.

It's really kinda funny how things in life make a circle.

Sometimes, I really wish they didn't.