The Other Monster

by Juou no zan (女王のザン)


There was a monster on the ground at Sam Steel’s feet. It was naked and flushed, and looked exactly like a human except for the horns and tail curling out from its skull and spine respectively. And, arguably, the look on its face.

Someone was speaking to Derek. He had been staring at the monster at his new leader’s feet instead of listening. He turned back to his guide. “What?”

The guy chuckled. “I guess it’s pretty distracting at first,” he said. “You get used to it, though. He’s one of the perks of being with us, you could probably take him tonight, being new and all. Sort of a welcome to the gang.”

Derek looked back at the monster. Sam was rubbing one of his horns, the way one might pet a dog. The monster was panting and fucking himself with his own fingers, cock leaking enough precome that Derek could see it even across the fire, smeared on his stomach. His thin tail curled and uncurled at its spaded tip in time with his fingers moving in and out.

The guy talking to him, who hadn’t actually introduced himself that Derek could remember, misinterpreted his silence and said, “Oh, have you not seen a monster before? By the way, monsters are real and we got a pet incubus for the gang. You can use him pretty much however. It beats jerking off. Hey, have you met Jerry yet?” The guy put his hand on Derek’s back and steered him around the fire.


True to what’s-his-face’s word, the monster was handed over to Derek with his tent. It was hours later, but the incubus was still naked and hard. His hair was a mess and his lips were red from having just been pulled off some other guy’s cock. He stank of sex, but otherwise smelled quite nice.

He looked at Derek expectantly, and when Derek did nothing but stare at him, started to reach for Derek’s pants. Derek brushed his hands away and shook his head. “Not tonight,” he said. The incubus frowned, but didn’t say anything. Derek hadn’t heard him say any actual words all night, but he had moaned a fair bit. “Get some sleep,” Derek suggested. The incubus stared at him a few moments longer, then didn’t quite shrug and laid down, not on or next to the bedroll, but at its feet. Derek turned out the light and laid down, but did not sleep.

Several hours later, when the camp was quiet and dark, Derek shook the incubus awake. He smiled and reached for Derek’s pants again, but Derek grabbed his hands with one of his and used the other to raise a finger to his lips. He draped his jacket around the incubus’s shoulders, shoved his things and bedroll into his bag, and pulled the incubus quietly out of the camp. The incubus followed him readily enough. When Derek let go of his wrist, he pulled his arms through the jacket so it was securely on him. He was quiet creeping through the fields, even without shoes, or any clothes apart from Derek’s jacket.

When they reached the trees and there still hadn’t been any noise or movement from the camp, now more than a mile away from them, Derek halted.

“You’ll need shoes to go through the woods,” he said in an undertone. He unslung his pack and started digging through it. “We can rest here a while but I want to get as far away as we can tonight, before they start looking for us.” He pulled his spare shoes out of his pack, then looked at the incubus’s feet. “I thought incubi could pass for human,” he muttered, “but I don’t know about those horns.”

“Can put them away.” Derek looked up at him. The incubus licked his lips. “Usually.”

“So you can talk,” Derek said.

“Drugged me,” said the incubus. “Or magic. Don’t know. Difficult to…concentrate.”

Derek handed him the spare shoes. “Put these on. We’ll have to find you some other clothes, but the shoes will help you keep up in the trees.”

The incubus took the shoes, but otherwise did not move. He stared at Derek, as blank–or drugged–as ever, then smiled, languidly, and bent down to put the shoes on.

He wore the jacket, but he didn’t close it, or tug it down, or anything. Even offered the option of modesty, he didn’t seem to care. He took a long time to tie the shoes, staring at them in between each step of the knots. Derek wondered how long it had been since he’d worn clothes.

“Alex,” the incubus said. “Is my name.”

“Derek,” he said. “You done there?”

Alex looked down at his borrowed shoes. “I…think?”

“Let’s go, then.” Derek reached for Alex’s arm again, but he flinched away.

“Easier to think when. You’re not touching me,” Alex said. “Less. Distracting.”

That seemed fair, so Derek nodded. “Keep up.”

They walked through the trees, heading deeper and deeper into the woods. Alex did not complain or say anything at all. Derek looked over his shoulder at him frequently, but was also otherwise silent. They found a stream, and followed it to a rock outcropping. The stream kept going, but Derek stopped.

“We can rest here until morning,” Derek said. Alex promptly took off his borrowed jacket and collapsed onto it to pry off his borrowed shoes. Derek pulled off his pack and unhooked his bedroll. He laid it out close to the rock, then dug out his extra blanket and tossed it at Alex.

Alex made a vague attempt to catch it. “Where are you taking me?” he asked.

“Away,” Derek said.

“Mm,” Alex said, shaking his head. “More.”

Derek unlaced his boots. He pulled out his other pair of socks and peeled off the ones he was already wearing. “I’m not sure exactly,” he admitted.

“Okay,” Alex said. Derek took his socks to the stream and wet them. He washed them both as best he could without using any of his soap, then laid them over a largeish rock near his bedroll. Alex curled up in the blanket and used the jacket as a pillow, and was asleep before Derek had finished.


Alex woke up well after the birds started singing and the sun was high enough to shine on his face. Derek immediately noticed when he woke and offered him a breakfast bar. There was a small pile of clothes next to him, topped with the socks Derek washed the night before. Next to them were the boots Derek had worn. Alex glanced at Derek’s feet and saw he was wearing the spare shoes.

“Morning,” Alex said, smiling like he’d gotten a full night’s sleep and Derek wasn’t a stranger who’d dragged him into the woods in the middle of the night.

“We should get moving as soon as you’re up to it,” Derek said.

Alex stretched. He had a morning erection and his nipples quickly hardened in the chill air, but overall he looked healthier than he had even just a few hours before. He wasn’t as flushed and his eyes seemed to focus more. “Why’ven’t you fucked me?” he asked, unwrapping the breakfast bar.

“You’re not in your right mind,” Derek said.

Alex shrugged. “Didn’t stop the gang.”

“I don’t see the point in taking you out of there just to do the same thing,” Derek said.

Alex stared at him a while, chewing his breakfast bar. “D’jou steal these?” he asked, pointing at the clothes.

“No,” Derek said.

Alex frowned. “Thought I felt better,” he muttered, “but I can’t hear anything over you wanting me.”

While Alex peed and then vaguely washed his face in the stream, Derek repacked the blankets and bedroll in his pack. Alex managed to dress himself, but Derek didn’t wait for him to fumble with the bootlaces, and knelt before him to do it himself.

Alex made a noise in the back of his throat, sort of a moan and sort of a growl. Derek ignored it, double-knotted the boots, and stood up. “Time to go,” he said.

They walked through the woods all day. They avoided roads wider than a track, and spent a lot of time tramping through underbrush, following deer trails. Every few hours, they would stop by a brook to pee and refill Derek’s canteen, and Derek would pull a bar of travel food or a piece of fruit out of his bag and they would eat. Sometimes he picked things as they went by, but more often he passed over what looked to Alex like perfectly safe nuts or berries.

As the sun sank in the sky, Derek moved more slowly through the trees. He looked around frequently, and sometimes paused in the middle of some brush to stand still and glance around frowning. The sun set completely, and they were still picking their way through the woods.

Derek glanced back at Alex and then paused. “Not much further,” he said. “Can you keep going?” Alex nodded. “Good. Stay close,” Derek said. “It’s dark.”

Derek picked his way through heavy underbrush, and sometimes hung back to help Alex over an obstacle. For at least an hour, they climbed through thick brush and overgrown trails. Then, finally, a shape loomed in the darkness.

“I think we can rest here a few days,” Derek said. “It looks abandoned.” The shack did look abandoned, with a blown-open door and forest detritus on the ground. But it had a roof, four walls, and a fireplace, so Derek gathered up the burnables and kicked the rest of the trash out of the door.

It was a one-room shack with an alcove toward the back that led to the back door. Next to the door was a bucket, and on the other side of it was a path leading down to an outhouse. It wasn’t exactly large, but it was empty and safe.

“How’d you know about this?” Alex asked.

Derek ignored him, busy collecting the twigs and leaves in the fireplace, then emptying out his pack. He laid out his bedroll and made up another bed using the spare blanket. “Can you get rid of those horns yet?”

Alex frowned and sat on the floor. He took a deep breath. He bit his lip. He frowned again. Then he shook his head. “Guess not,” he said.

“How long will it be?”

He shrugged. “Once the magic or drug or whatever wears off. Or never. Maybe they broke me,” he said, and laughed. Derek frowned. “Are you going to fuck me yet?” Alex asked.

“Why are you so sure I’m going to fuck you?” Derek asked.

Alex rolled his eyes and said, “You knew what I was. Am. You can’t be surprised I know you want to fuck me.”

“I find you attractive,” Derek said. “That’s not exactly a guarantee.”

Alex smiled. “It’s not just that,” he said, “and you know it. You want to.”

“You just said whatever they did to you is still affecting you,” Derek said.

Alex leaned his head against the wall. “But I’m so hungry,” he said.

“You won’t die,” Derek said. “I know that.”

Alex sighed. “I know,” he said. “But I feel so…empty.”

“You’ll feel better once it wears off,” Derek said. He didn’t know that for sure–after all, he didn’t even know what they did to Alex. But he was capable of carrying on a conversation now, which he hadn’t been when they left, so it seemed like a safe enough bet. After all, “better” didn’t mean “the way you were before”. Derek turned back to the fireplace. “I’m going to get more firewood,” he said. “Stay here.”

Alex huffed out a laugh. “Sure,” he said.

When Derek came back, he was carrying an armload of dried out logs and large sticks. Alex was in the same spot, and had his pants undone, with his hand and his tail wrapped around his dick.

“Thought you’d take longer,” Alex said, without any sign of hesitating or stopping.

“Lucked out, found the old wood pile,” Derek said. He crossed to the fireplace and set the pile down. Then he sat on the floor to sort through the wood. He pulled some of the larger sticks out of the fireplace, then dug through his pack for a lighter.

He was feeding kindling to the fire by the time Alex said, “Sorry. That was rude.”

Derek shrugged. “Probably better at this point than fucking someone else.”

“I guess it might take me a while to remember to be a person,” Alex said. “‘Stead of….”

Derek didn’t wait for that train of thought to finish. “As long as you can’t get rid of your horns, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “I know what you are.”

“Maybe you need to remember to be a person, too,” Alex muttered. When Derek had the fire going well enough to keep on its own, he glanced over at Alex. He was slumped against the wall, tail and dick properly away, pants done up again, dozing.


Derek’s discovery of a log pile had led to the discovery of a water pump. It was rusted a bit, but he got it going. He collected enough water to boil for stew, and since he was going to boil it anyway, he didn’t worry too much about how safe it was.

When he went back in, Alex had woken up long enough to get over to the bed Derek had made up for him. Derek thought he was asleep until he asked, “Do you know where we’re going yet?”

Derek looked over at him. Alex’s eyes glinted in the firelight. Derek looked back at the small pot over the fire. “Obvious choice is into the town, then maybe a train. But they’ll be looking for us, and you’re not inconspicuous at the moment.” He looked back at Alex, but Alex was no longer looking at him. “You got somewhere you want to go?”

“Nah,” Alex said. “Family’s all dead or disowned me. Was just kind of…drifting around, ’till I joined the gang.”

“You joined? They didn’t…”

“They didn’t kidnap me,” Alex said. He rolled onto his back and folded his arms across his stomach. “I joined, like you. They didn’t…. It wasn’t like that, at first.”

Derek said nothing to this. Alex didn’t go on. The next time Derek looked at him, his eyes were closed again.

Alex woke up to eat the very soupy stew when it was finished. By firelight, Derek couldn’t help but remember the first time he saw Alex across the camp.

“You haven’t asked me why I took you,” Derek said.

Alex smiled at him, and tilted his head to one side. “Don’t need to,” he said. “I know why you took me. You’re a monster, too.” Derek frowned at him. “You didn’t want to find out how they’d use you once they found out. Close enough?”

“How’d you know?” Derek asked.

Alex shrugged. “You feel like magic,” he said. “The way monsters do.”

“You can…feel magic?”

“Yeah,” Alex said. “I used to be better at it, before.”

“Can all incubuses and–”

Alex shrugged again. “Never met another one,” he said. “But probably. It’s like knowing if you want to–no, more like if you find me attractive. I barely have to pay attention.”

Derek put one of the bigger logs on the fire. “So you knew the whole time.”

“I don’t know what you are,” Alex said. “I just know you’re something.” He rolled onto his side to face Derek. “It did make it easier to trust you.”

Derek snorted.

“We monsters have to look out for each other,” Alex said. “Thanks, by the way.”

Derek shrugged. “I couldn’t leave you there.”

“Yeah,” Alex said. “And I like that about you.”


When Derek woke up the next morning, Alex was already awake. At least, he assumed even an incubus had to be awake to jerk off like that, like it was his sacred, incredibly enjoyable, duty. Derek stretched and got up to go down to the outhouse. When he came back, Alex was sitting up and poking at the fire.

“How did you keep it going all night?” Alex asked.

Derek shrugged. “Banked it,” he said.

“So you’ve done this whole wilderness thing before,” Alex said.

“Mm,” Derek said.

“Is there a reason you refuse to talk about yourself or is it just me?” Alex asked.

Derek looked over at him and frowned. “I thought that was a pretty clear yes.”

Alex sighed. “Sorry,” he said, “I guess it was. I’m just…” He trailed off for a long time. Derek took the stick from him and put it on the fire. “I feel weird,” he said, finally.

“Not surprising,” Derek said.

“I really think it would help if you fucked me,” Alex said.

“Or it could make things worse,” Derek said. “You don’t know, and you just told me you’re not thinking right.”

Alex sighed and pouted.

Derek left him alone most of the day, gathering kindling and what safe foods there were nearby. He came back for lunch and the whole cabin smelled of sex, but Alex didn’t try to talk him around again. In the afternoon, he found a little clump of berry bushes, tall enough that there were plenty of berries left even though they were nicely ripe. He carried them back using his shirt as a basket.

“I like this whole ‘food that isn’t in bar form’ thing,” Alex said as he helped Derek transfer the berries out of his shirt to the blanket on Derek’s bedroll.

“If we had better knives, I could’ve caught a rabbit.”

“What, you can’t skin a rabbit with a pocketknife?” Alex asked, grinning.

“Problem’s not skinning it, you don’t even really need a knife for that,” Derek said. “Problem’s catching it. Unless that’s some secret succubus skill I never heard about.”

Alex shook his head with a laugh. “Not even a little bit.”

“Well then,” Derek said, picking up a berry from the bedroll and taking a bite. “Stop criticizing.”

Alex looked down at the pile of berries with visible effort. “I think we’ve established that you’re in charge of making sure we don’t die in the woods,” he said. “If I was going to criticize, I wouldn’t start with your inability to catch a rabbit with your bare hands.” He looked up and grinned at Derek.

Derek rolled his eyes, but smiled. “Yeah, I think we’ve also established your main complaint. Anyway, if you’re feeling up to it, I found a stream too, ‘d be a good place to wash up.”

Alex sighed. “I hate cold baths,” he said, “but I guess I could probably use one.”

“You said it, not me,” Derek said, and Alex threw a berry at him. “I should wash this shirt before it stains,” he said, “so if you wanted to go today…”

Alex grimaced. “I’m not sure…I could handle that. It’d be easier to go alone.”

Derek shook his head. “You’re not going through the woods alone, and I’m not going to leave you there.”

“You’re a very bossy rescuer,” Alex said. Derek rolled his eyes again, and Alex sighed. “Fine,” he said. “I guess it would be nice to smell less like…this.”

The path to the stream was overgrown, but it had definitely been a path at some point. Probably the spot Derek had found was the preferred spot for the cabin’s inhabitants, when it had them. There was a nice bend in the stream that created a little pool, and the water was just deep enough to submerge yourself in. It was a little muddy, but it was a stream in the woods in the middle of nowhere, so it was never going to be perfect.

At the pool, Alex started stripping unselfconsciously again. Derek went downstream enough to be out of eyesight to wash his shirt.

“I thought you said you weren’t going to leave me,” Alex called, more loudly than he needed to.

“I’m right here,” Derek said. He stripped off his shirt and rinsed it. The hem had started to stain a little, but he scrubbed at it a bit with his hands and it mostly went away. It wasn’t like the shirt was pristine to begin with, but faint stains at the hem were better than big red berry blotches all over his stomach.

The sun was behind the canopy when they started to walk back to the cabin. Alex’s hair was drying much fluffier than it had been, and despite Derek’s leave to do so, he had not used up all the soap. He avoided looking at Derek, who had just slung his damp shirt over one shoulder instead of putting it back on, as much as possible.

“Shack sweet shack,” Alex said when they arrived.

“If you say so.” Derek laid his damp shirt in front of the fire, grabbed the pot, and went back to the door. “I’m going to get some water for dinner,” he said. “Do you want to come with?”

Alex shook his head and sat down on his makeshift bed. “I believe I have exhausted my woodcraft for the day, thanks.”

“Don’t eat too many of those berries,” Derek said, and then left.

When he got back, he thought Alex was asleep. He was curled up on Derek’s bedroll, around the berries. His head was at kind of a weird angle to keep his horns from propping his head up, or stabbing into the floor. Derek slipped off his shoes to walk quietly to the fire. He set down the pot of water and turned to get whatever foodstuffs they had left that he could turn into a warm dinner out of his bag, and saw that Alex’s eyes were open.

“I thought you were asleep,” he said. If they stayed here much longer, he’d have to figure out some way to trap animals, or to make some kind of sling. Most of the food he packed or stole from the gang was traveling food, and not exactly a good stew ingredient. Why hadn’t the previous inhabitants of this cabin kept chickens or something?

“No,” Alex said. “Just bored.”

“Sorry.” He had some canned vegetables, and he was pretty sure he had a smashed-up bouillon cube somewhere in his bag. He started pulling everything out of it. “There’s not much downtime traveling alone on foot, so I didn’t bother with books.”

“So how do you fight boredom?” Alex asked.

“Being busy,” Derek said. “Takes work to go it alone.” He pulled out a small bag, tied shut, and shook it. That should be good enough for one or maybe two more soups. “My…aunt did always say I was too much in my own head.”

Alex snorted a laugh. “I bet,” he said. The bedroll rustled as he rolled over. “I don’t usually get bored,” he said, “but I think I could use a distraction or two.”

“Sorry,” Derek said again.

Alex grunted. Derek organized the things he’d taken out of his bag by when they’d eat them while he waited for the water to boil. Then he put everything they weren’t going to use immediately back into his bag. The less time it took to get going if they had to, the better.

“So why’d you join the gang?” Alex asked. “If you’re used to being alone.”

“I heard some stuff about Sam Steel,” Derek said. The water was boiling, so he started feeding ingredients to the pot. “Thought he might be a monster.”

“Only figuratively,” Alex said.

“Well,” Derek said. “So the gang wasn’t as safe as I thought it was going to be.”

Alex laughed, hard enough that Derek turned to check that he was okay. He wiped one of his eyes with the back of his hand. “Yeah,” he said. “That’s definitely true.”

Derek turned back to watching the pot. “It sounds like you know something about how hard it is to go it alone. As a…monster. I hoped the gang meant I wouldn’t have to.”

“At least you’re not alone anymore,” Alex said. “Instead you get to babysit a broken incubus.”

“Did you try this hard to get your babysitters to fuck you?” Derek asked.

“Not most of them, and also, I didn’t usually have to try very hard at all,” Alex said. The bedroll rustled again, and something scraped across the floor. Stretching, probably, Derek decided, and didn’t look. His shirt was still damp, and he didn’t have a spare at the moment. “Most people don’t actually have moral scruples,” he murmured, “they just think they do.”

“You’re making a real good case for my decision right now.”

Alex sighed. “I know,” he said sourly.


They finished off the berries while the stew cooked. Alex didn’t share any more distressing tidbits from his past, or ask Derek any more about his own. Derek put his shirt on when it was dry, and afterward Alex would look at him again.

After they finished the stew, Derek made another trip to the water pump to rinse everything, and bring back more water to boil in the morning. He got back, and Alex was on his own bedroll again, pressed against the wall and jerking off once more. Derek ignored it in favor of putting the water on to boil and tidying up.

Alex made more noise than before. His horns scraped on the floor and wall, and though he was clearly muffling himself, his breathing was very heavy and unmistakably sexual. Derek stared into the fire for lack of anything else to do.

What if Alex was getting worse?

Alex moaned and said, “Stop thinking about it!”

Derek stood up and jammed his feet back into his shoes. “What’s your range on this telepathy thing?” he asked.

He groaned. “I don’t know, it’s not–don’t leave me, please.” He rolled over and Derek reflexively looked at him. His pants were open again, with his dick and tail hanging out. He was flushed and looked almost pained.

“I can’t exactly shut my brain off,” Derek said, looking at the ceiling. “How far?” The room was not actually big, because the shack was not actually that big. Alex reached across and grabbed his ankle.

“This would be so much easier if you’d fuck me,” he murmured. One of his fingers was inside the hem of Derek’s pants, touching bare skin. His ankle should not have been so sensitive.

“I can’t,” Derek said. “You know I can’t.”

“Don’t you want to?” Alex asked.

Derek groaned. “You know I want to,” he said, in a low voice. “But we shouldn’t.”

“I want you so bad,” Alex whined. Still holding on to Derek’s ankle, he got up onto his knees. “Please,” he whispered. “It’ll be good.” He ran both hands up to Derek’s thighs. “I’ll be so good for you,” he murmured, and pressed his chest against Derek’s legs.

Derek clenched his hands into fists but swayed on his feet a little. He was so warm. Alex’s face was inches away from what was growing more unmistakably an erection. “Just let me go somewhere else,” Derek said. “You can finish up and…”

Alex was rubbing his face on the front of Derek’s pants. The tip of one of his horns caught in Derek’s shirt and pulled it up, scratching lightly against his skin. “Please,” Alex said, mouthing the word against Derek’s dick through his pants. “Derek. It’s been days. I need you.”

It was so warm it was hard to think. “Fuck,” Derek said. He yanked his shirt off and Alex slid his hands up, over his hips, to his bare torso, still nuzzling at Derek’s crotch with his face. Derek put a hand on Alex’s forehead and pushed him back.

He undid his trousers and Alex helped him yank them down, even as he nudged Derek’s underwear out of his way with his nose. Derek groaned and shoved him away again to pull his briefs down. But when Alex leaned in again and took his dick into his mouth, he offered no protest.

With Alex’s mouth hot and wet on his dick, with Alex’s hands on his legs, his hips, his ass, it wasn’t long before Derek’s legs gave out. He let himself collapse to his knees, and Alex pulled them over to his bedroll, in front of the fire. Alex rubbed his hands on Derek’s chest, then pushed him onto his back. He stripped off his shirt, then his already-unfastened pants. He straddled Derek’s hips, with his tail trailing between Derek’s legs, brushing against his inner thighs.

“Fuck,” Derek breathed again. “Don’t you need–?”

Alex cut him off by grabbing his hand and sucking his two middle fingers into his mouth. He ground his ass against Derek’s dick as he licked and sucked at Derek’s fingers. Derek whimpered and bucked his hips up.

“I knew you wanted this,” Alex murmured as he guided Derek’s wet fingers to his ass.

Derek groaned. “Of course I wanted this,” he said. “I always wanted you, you always knew I wanted you.”

He forced Derek’s fingers into him, a tight squeeze, fast, too fast, surely, and rocked his hips. His eyes were half-closed and fixed on Derek’s face, and they looked wrong, somehow, but Alex was touching his chest and rocking on his fingers and Derek was very hard and it was too warm to think.

Alex pulled away from his hand, rose up on his knees so he was barely touching Derek, and Derek frowned. Then Alex pushed his arms out of the way and came back down, reaching behind himself to take Derek’s dick in hand and line it up.

Alex sank onto his dick, tight and so hot, and made a noise less like a moan than a keen. “You feel so good,” he said, “didn’t I tell you it’d be good?”

“Yes,” Derek breathed, “yes, you’re so good.”

He rode Derek like that, fucking himself with Derek’s dick, not even touching his own. There was nothing in the world but Derek clutching Alex’s ankles and Alex riding him like it was all he wanted to do, all that mattered in his life, in the world. When Derek let go of an ankle to touch Alex’s dick, Alex shouted and nearly fell onto his chest. “God,” he said, “yes, please,” and levered himself up to keep going.

Derek’s orgasm snuck up on him. He felt like he could keep going forever, and then he came. He automatically tightened his grip on Alex’s dick but kept pumping it, and a second later Alex was coming too, all over his hand and stomach and chest. He finally closed his eyes as he threw his head back and moaned.

He collapsed onto the bedroll next to Derek, dripping come everywhere. Derek didn’t feel nearly so warm now, even though he was sweating.

As their breathing slowed and their heartbeats went back to normal, Derek said, “That was weird. Do you feel weird?”

“Oh my god,” Alex moaned, and rolled over to face away from Derek. “Oh my god, I wasn’t imagining–shit, I’m going to be sick.”

“What? What’s wrong?”

“Come on,” Alex said. “You felt it. I–I pushed you into that. With magic. It’s not supposed to work that way, but I–I knew something was wrong and I didn’t stop. God, I’m sorry.”

“Hey,” Derek said, and reached for him.

Alex jerked away from his touch, scrambled upright and away, back toward his own bedroll, and the wall.

“Alex,” Derek said, sitting up so he could look at him. “It’s okay–”

“It’s not okay!” Alex snapped.

“Okay,” Derek said, “you’re right. It’s not okay, but it’s not your fault.”

Alex made a noise, somewhere between a laugh and a sob.

“It’s not,” Derek said. “You said it’s not supposed to work that way. I think it has to be because of whatever the gang did to you. So it’s not your fault.” He paused. Alex wouldn’t look at him. He was pressed against the wall further from Derek. “I don’t blame you,” Derek said.

“At least one of us doesn’t,” Alex muttered.

“You shouldn’t blame you either,” Derek said. “It’s not your fault. You can’t be expected to control powers you don’t usually have.”

Alex’s mouth twitched like he wanted to say something, but he said nothing.

“You’re just as much a victim as I am,” Derek said, and Alex laughed. “Really. You’re torn up about this. I mean, even if your powers worked that way, you wouldn’t go around–doing that to people.”

“Of course not,” Alex said, and this at least made him look up at Derek. “God, of course not.”

“So,” Derek said. “You were made to do something you didn’t really want to. It’s not your fault. It’s whatever they did to you.”

Alex frowned. He looked more vulnerable like this than he had drugged and naked at Sam’s feet.

“Trust me,” Derek said, “I’ve done things I didn’t want to. I’m a werewolf.”

“Oh,” Alex said. “That explains a lot.”

“So I get it,” Derek said. “I don’t know about you, or other…monsters, but regretting shit you’ve done while wolfed out is part of life for werewolves.”

Alex frowned more deeply. “I thought weres could control their other forms,” he said. “I mean, you’re the first one I’ve met, but people talk.”

“Mostly,” Derek said. “It’s not always easy.” He turned to get his canteen, and stared into it instead of continuing. Then he went on, “I was turned by an out-of-control werewolf. Maybe most of us are, but…when she realized what she’d done, she came to find me, apologize to my parents. Whoever turned her didn’t do that much. I was only six, so it took me a few years to get control of it.”

“Oh,” Alex said. “Oh no.”

Derek shrugged. “So, I don’t see that you’re responsible for what happened,” he said. “It’s probably more my fault than yours.”

“What?” Alex said loudly. “It isn’t–”

“Do you feel better?” Derek interrupted. Alex frowned. “Do you feel more in control now? Can you feel or hear or whatever the way you’re supposed to?”

“Well,” Alex said, “yeah, apart from…” He swallowed. “It’s a lot easier to think.”

“I wouldn’t fuck you,” Derek said. “Seems like sex is what you needed. I was wrong, and you got worse.”

“That still doesn’t make it your fault that I–”

“Didn’t say it did,” Derek said. “But it’s more mine than yours. You didn’t have any control over it, I did have a little. I’d still blame the gang, personally.”

Alex put his head in his hands. “I hate this,” he said.

“I know.”

He groaned. “How can you think that about me after–what happened?” Alex asked. “I know you don’t blame me, but…” He looked up at Derek and grimaced. “Sorry,” he said. “I guess I’m still a little sensitive.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Derek said. “It’s nothing you don’t already know.” He shrugged. “The more time we spend together, the more I can smell your moods, so I think we’re even.”

“Is that a normal werewolf thing?” Alex asked.

Derek shrugged. “Maggie could do it.”


“The one who turned me,” Derek said. “Like I said, she found me to apologize, tell my parents. She…trained me, I guess. I’d go to her house for full moons. She’s the only other one I knew well.”

“Huh,” Alex said. He rubbed at his hair and brushed it back into some semblance of order. “The aunt who said you were too much in your own head?” Derek nodded. “That does make me feel a little better.”

“Good,” Derek said. He stretched, and laid back down in his bedroll.

“Um,” Alex said, “can I…can I come over?” Derek flipped back half of the blanket and patted the space next to him. Alex crawled over and curled in, under the blanket and under Derek’s arm, which was a little tricky with his horns out. Derek still smelled sweaty. “I’m still sorry,” Alex said.

“Yeah,” Derek said. “Me too.”

Alex closed his eyes. He doubted either of them would be able to sleep any time soon, but it was nice to lay there. It was nice to touch someone without it being sexual. It was nice to touch someone at all.

“So,” Derek murmured, and Alex opened his eyes again, “I guess there’s really no reason to refuse to fuck you. Seems obvious not fucking you made it worse.”

“Oh,” Alex said.

“I do have a request, though,” Derek said.

One of Alex’s hands was already creeping out over Derek’s body, sliding easily on his still sweat-slick skin. “Oh?” he said again.

Derek said, “Can I kiss you?”

Alex’s exploring hand stopped. Derek tried to glance down at him, but a horn was in the way. Alex chuckled and said, “I can’t remember the last time I kissed someone.” He wriggled out from under Derek’s arm and up to his face. Derek put a hand on his waist.

The first brush of their lips was so light as to be hesitant. Alex smiled and said, “Sorry.”

“Shh,” Derek said, and leaned in to kiss him again.

It wasn’t long before Alex was squirming against Derek’s hip, even just kissing, even with Derek’s hand practically chaste, resting on his waist instead of elsewhere.

“Mngh,” Alex said, pulling away. “Can you–?”

Derek blinked, slowly. “Oh,” he said. “Right.” He reached for Alex’s dick, and Alex leaned in to keep kissing him.

It didn’t take long for Alex to come again, and he sighed into Derek’s hair. “This is so much better,” he murmured. He nuzzled the side of Derek’s face. “Thank you.”

“Any time,” Derek murmured. Then he said, “Ow,” as one of Alex’s horns scraped against his head.

“Sorry,” Alex said, and then the pressure was gone. Derek looked at him as Alex opened his own eyes wide. His horns were gone, and a quick grope determined his tail was too. “Finally!” Alex rubbed his head where the horns had been. “God my head is itchy.”

“Oh good,” Derek said, “we don’t have to stay here. Though… Now we have to figure out where we’re going.”

Alex shifted to press his cheek against the side of Derek’s neck, a position that had been impossible with his horns in the way. “We? So you’re not just gonna dump me in the nearest safe city?”

“If that’s what you want,” Derek said. “But, you know. It is tough to go it alone.”

“It is.”

“I could use the help.”

“I bet you could,” Alex said, smiling against Derek’s skin. “And obviously I need someone to keep me from staying somewhere bad for me.”

“Mm,” Derek said. He put one of his hands on top of Alex’s where it rested on his chest. “Besides, someone told me us monsters should stick together.”

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