[identity profile] kat-lair.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] blacktulipfic
***

Part 1 (including header information)



It's not a few moments though, that's obvious from the way the light has faded as Bruno opens his eyes. It's been a few hours at least and his internal clock tells him that it's now late afternoon, heading toward dusk. He cricks his neck which is protesting his sleeping in this position and looks down at Craig.

And looks, and looks, because Craig is... No longer. In. Wolf form. He has shifted back to human whilst sleeping, which says a lot for how secure he must have felt as well. Bruno takes a long while looking at Craig, because, let's be honest, there’s plenty to see. He's always thought Craig was good looking, and during their first few years on Strictly when they shared a dressing room, before they became 'important' enough to be assigned their own rooms, he'd seen glimpses of Craig's skin, but Craig has always been very careful to not be naked around him.

"Have you quite finished," Craig's tone is fond and Bruno's gaze snaps back from Craig's backside, which is pretty fine, to see that Craig is looking up at him.

"For the moment," he shrugs. "If you put it on display Craig then I am going to look. That's how I am. You know that."

To be honest, Craig had not expected to wake up back in human form, but he refuses to feel awkward or embarrassed about it. Clearly the food and the nap had done wonders to both their dispositions, enough so that he feels quite at ease lounging buck naked against Bruno's legs.

Well. Mostly. Because having Bruno against him like this, their smells completely mingled now, is causing a certain part of his anatomy to start taking interest. Craig remembers well the way Bruno had frozen and then hid earlier when faced with Craig's desire, and he doesn't want to undo what little progress they have made. Time to get up and get dressed then.

"Yes, an incorrigible letch," Craig comments but even he can hear that there is no actual censure in his voice. If Bruno was ogling his body then well, maybe his offer last night wasn't entirely meaningless.

Bruno huffs and pokes a finger into Craig's side, making him jerk in surprise. He's ticklish, which is perhaps not the kind of feature one associates with formidable alphas but there it is. Unfortunately, Bruno seems to hone in on that little fact quickly, his expression turning gleeful as he runs fingers over Craig's ribs, making him bark in laughter and flail until he falls off Bruno and the sofa, landing on the floor in an undignified heap.

"Ah, the legendary grace and elegance of alphas. I may swoon," Bruno remarks, peering down at him with a grin.

"I'll catch you," Craig says and then grimaces internally because really, could that have been any cheesier.

Luckily Bruno only snorts. Craig watches his eyes flick down and then quickly back, but clearly noting evidence of Craig's interest. He's not fully hard, but getting there. Or would be if he let himself. Judging from the way Bruno avoids his gaze that's not going to happen.

With a sigh Craig gets up and heads for his clothes, starting to pull them on. "So," he says. "How long are you staying in town?"

Bruno carefully looks at anything but Craig, and it's with relief when Craig is finally dressed.  He's beginning to get hungry again, normally by now he's had a couple of meals at least and his tummy is starting to rumble.

"Well I have an open ticket," he says. "I'd thought I might stay a month, maybe go out to a couple of the islands as well.  Basically," he stretches his legs out in front of him, "I thought I'd just chill for a little bit and, you know, do the tourist thing. I don't have to be back in the UK for a couple of months.  Why? You planning on showing me the sights Craig?" His tone is a little sarcastic.

 "Yeah, I can do that," Craig says distractedly. He's got something else besides tourist attractions in his mind, and he doesn't think Bruno is going to like it.

Then again, he doesn't have to. He just has to do what Craig tells him.

Craig grimaces internally at his obnoxious alpha instincts, but what can you do.

"You don't have to spend the month in a hotel room," Craig says finally, looking at Bruno from the corner of his eye while he flips through the room service menu. "I have a place."

Bruno slowly puts down his own menu and looks up at Craig. Craig had better not be suggesting what he thinks he is.

"I see," he says. "And I'm very pleased for you Craig, but I can't see what that has to do with me. I have some plans as to what I want to do over the next month. Thought I'd take the tour to Phillip Island to see the penguins, and this remains an excellent base for me."

He shrugs, trying to ignore the smell of annoyance and lingering lust that's emanating from Craig. "Look, why don't we just forget what happened last night, Craig? To be honest, I'd rather not think about it again. Let's just call it one of those moments of madness brought on by alcohol. Yeah?"

And just like that the calm and easy companionship is shattered. It's nothing Craig hadn't expected, but it still hurts to hear Bruno say it out loud. He growls, in frustration, anger, disappointment, all of it rolling together through throat and teeth that are not quite human any more.

"Is that what you want?" he asks, staring at the table top, smelling nothing but defiance from Bruno.

No! That really isn't what Bruno wants but it’s pointless even telling Craig what he wants. Because no matter what he might like it's not going to happen. If Craig had wanted him he would have claimed Bruno last night. That's the way of things.

"Isn't that what I said?" His tone challenges Craig and he can see him tense. "Last night was a mistake, Craig."

Craig closes his eyes briefly and just breathes. The wolf inside him is growling, hackles up, confused too.

It doesn't matter.

Craig picks up the phone and calls the reception, ordering a taxi in 15 minutes. Then he tells them that Mr Tonioli will be checking out immediately and to send someone up to pack his belongings after they're gone.

He distantly registers Bruno's outraged protestations, as if through a thick wall. "Put proper clothes on," he tells him, walking to the bedroom and opening the wardrobe and pulling out a clean shirt.

Bruno curses at him and Craig blinks. "Either get dressed or come barefoot," he says.

It's not until Bruno actually physically tries to stop Craig from throwing things into an overnight bag that he snaps, and even then it feels muted, like he's both in control and so very, very not.

Another blink and Bruno is against the wall, Craig's forearm across his throat, hard enough to restrict breathing. There had been a moment earlier when Craig could have pushed his dominance and put Bruno in his place but hadn't.

And maybe that had been his mistake, maybe this whole thing would've been sorted to everyone's satisfaction by now if he'd let the wolf do the right thing instead of allowing his human considerations to get in the way. Bruno is a beta. Bruno is a beta who has offered himself to Craig, and therefore is his, and Craig is not inclined to 'forget all about it'.

Bruno is a beta. Craig is an alpha. They both know exactly how this is going to go.

Craig growls, a deep rumbling sound that rises from his chest. Then he says one word: "Yield."

Bruno swallows, his mouth inexplicably dry. He doesn't understand why he's pushing Craig quite so much and his wolf is both confused and very unhappy right now. He takes a shallow breath, anything deeper is impossible with the way Craig's arm is pressing against his throat and restricting his oxygen. Craig presses a little harder and before he even realises what he's doing his hands are wrapped around Craig's arm.

Craig growls, the tone carrying a note of anger and Bruno drops his hands pressing them against the wall. If he were in his wolf form he knows he'd be on his back right now, showing his belly.

His body arches up to Craig and he pushes his throat against Craig's arm. It hurts, his breath catching but it also feels good. His alpha is angry with him and Bruno whimpers as he yields, sagging against the wall.

Craig holds the position for a while longer. He'd be lying if he said he said he didn't enjoy the way Bruno's body trembles and relaxes against him, open and vulnerable. And when Craig finally eases off Bruno slides down to the floor, slumping against the wall in an awkward half-sitting, half-kneeling position.

The alpha in him is crowing with pleasure and the rightness of it and Craig lets himself just look for a while, not moving. Finally he drops his hand on Bruno's head, giving his hair a quick stroke before stepping away.

"C'mon," he says. "Get dressed. The taxi is probably already waiting."

Bruno gets up wordlessly, picking up his clothes and going to the bathroom to change. He doesn't close the door fully which pacifies Craig enough and he lets Bruno have his privacy. A point has been made and he's not going to push it further. He'll have Bruno in his house, on his territory, soon and that's going to have to be enough for now.

Bruno's hands are shaking as he changes, pulling on the clothes that Craig has put out for him, trying to be as quick as possible and not piss off Craig anymore. Craig is a lot stronger than he thought he would be and Bruno feels very vulnerable right now. He runs his hands through his hair and then goes back into the lounge where Craig is waiting for him, bag in hand.

Bruno takes a quick look around the lounge, even though he's only been here for a few days this is still his space. His territory and he doesn't particularly like leaving it like this, at another's command but there is really no choice in the matter for him.

"Here," Craig gives him a once over before passing Bruno's jacket to him. "You should put that on, it's not that warm outside."  It's not a suggestion, and Bruno obeys pulling the jacket on. He keeps his head down showing his submission to the other wolf. Not that he particularly wants to look Craig in the eyes right now.

"Come on," Craig tells him placing his hand on Bruno's shoulder.  "I've gotten your essentials in this," he lifts the overnight bag he's carrying. "The rest of it will be sent over later."

The touch from Craig cheers Bruno a little, certainly his wolf. After all if the alpha were still angry with him he wouldn't touch Bruno.


***


Bruno is quiet on the ride over, which Craig both expects and accepts. He fills the silence by talking about the house, how it has belonged to his family for over a century and while he's cut formal ties to any packs here, it wasn't hostile so him keeping a bit of territory for himself is not a problem. He ends up telling Bruno far more about his past than he intends to, random stories of his childhood, his marriage even, but in a way it's only fair; a way to start making up for keeping a big part of him hidden for so long.

Craig feels better as soon as they pull up outside the house and he all but herds Bruno out of the taxi and up the stairs. Bruno hesitates on the threshold but Craig nudges him inside unceremoniously, focusing on disabling the alarm and picking up the small pile of junk mail that has managed to form within a single day.

Having Bruno in his territory feels right and Craig doesn't even try to suppress the urge he has to check the perimeter. "Kitchen's that way," he tells Bruno, pointing. "Help yourself. I'm just going to..." He waves toward the rest of the house and the garden visible through the patio doors.

Granted, Craig's only been away a day, but he's come back with someone to protect and the need to prowl the edges of his territory and check everything is secure is too much, and Craig's alpha instincts, having had free reign recently, are not going to be satisfied until he's done just that.


***


Bruno watches Craig exit through the patio windows and then, dropping his bag on the floor, he heads to the kitchen. The house is bright, with tall windows and although it quite clearly is Craig's territory Bruno feels at ease.

After rooting through the cupboards and the fridge, he sets some coffee to brew and makes up a couple of plates of bread, meat and crisps. Bruno knows that if he is hungry, Craig will be too.

Bruno takes a seat at the island in the centre of the kitchen and watches Craig through the windows as he quite clearly patrols the garden. He places a slice of meat onto some bread and folds it over, stuffing it into his mouth. Craig has told him to 'help himself' so Bruno doesn't intend to wait for the alpha to arrive and eat first.

No matter that he has acquiesced Bruno really does not want to be here.  Well that's not quite true; he does and he doesn't. He's still feeling a little unsure, and has no idea quite how this is going to pan out for them. How he wants it to pan out. In the meantime he can do nothing but wait and see, like he is waiting for Craig to come back inside.


***


Craig walks the edge of the garden, testing the padlock on the back gate and talking himself out of literally pissing on the fence because that's not really the done thing anymore, not in human form anyway. Satisfied that the back yard is secure, he ducks back inside, and repeats the circuit of all the rooms, satisfied to find windows latched and the house exactly the way he left it.

Well. Except for one somewhat sulky beta in his kitchen, currently making coffee Craig's nose tells him. He considers having a silent 'what the hell are you doing' breakdown right there in the hallway but the problem is that he knows exactly what he's doing, and that's having his beta under his roof. So instead, Craig goes to the spare bedroom, opening the door and window to air it out and putting a pile of fresh linen on the stripped bed.

Back in the kitchen he's happy to see Bruno sitting down, methodically working his way through a plateful of sandwiches. He's even happier to see another plate waiting for him. "Thank you," he says, and focuses on satisfying his hunger.

They don't try to make small talk but under the table Craig stretches his leg casually and lets it rest against Bruno's. It's not quite what he wants to do but it will have to suffice for now. After they've eaten Craig clears his throat though. "I'll show you the spare bedroom," he says, getting up.

Bruno's mouth tightens unhappily but he doesn't say anything, just rises to his feet.

Picking up his weekend bag, with the small amount of items in it that Craig had packed, and yeah Bruno is still pissed about that, he follows Craig down the corridor to the spare room. Craig hovers a little uncertainly in the centre of what is a rather nice room, Bruno won't deny it: large and bright with a door leading out onto what he presumes is the garden.

"I've put out some linen for you," Craig tells him. Rather unnecessarily Bruno thinks. "There's a bathroom through there," he points to the door in the corner of the room, "and the door will take you outside. When you've done sorting yourself out, I'll be in the kitchen." The waiting for you is silent but the instruction is implicit. Bruno nods and moves to one side to let Craig leave the room, although Craig still manages to brush against him as he exits.

This time Bruno closes the door, shutting Craig out. Wanting nothing more than a moment or two to try and compose himself, and deal with what's happening.  Bruno rubs his hands over his eyes and looks around the room again, thinking perhaps he should be grateful Craig has given him a space of his own. At least that's what his human side of his brain is saying.  The wolf side, well that's not so happy about not sleeping with its alpha.  Bruno mutters softly in Italian, dropping the bag on the floor and heading over to the bed to make it. Once that's done he'll go and join Craig. As instructed.


***


It's been a couple of weeks since Bruno moved in. Or, to be more precise, since Craig moved him in. But really he had no other options. Or at least no other options that were in any way palatable to an alpha wolf.

They have settled into a routine of sorts. Craig gets up at least an hour earlier than Bruno so they rarely eat breakfast together, each preferring to spend the morning in solitude, either checking up on work things, the news, or just reading a book. No matter what though, Craig is constantly aware of where Bruno is and what he's doing; tracking his scent and movements automatically. He wonders if it's the same for Bruno but doesn't ask.

They tend to come together for lunch though, often followed by an afternoon of sight-seeing or shopping. Craig has made good on his promise of showing Bruno the city and they spend quite a bit of time out, though staying clear from any obvious shifter places. It takes a few days but eventually Craig lets Bruno venture out on his own, knowing full well that he doesn't have a claim to keep him at his side all the time.

'And whose fault is that, for not claiming him properly?' his wolf asks pointedly and Craig has to admit it's a valid question. Bruno hasn't left, which must say something, but his 'let’s just forget about it' still echoes in Craig's mind every time he thinks about bringing it up. So they just don't talk about it. Or do anything about it.

It's not the healthiest of situations, Craig knows, but it could be worse. It is what it is and right now it’s three days before the full moon and both of them are feeling the pull. Craig has a solution he thinks is a good one, but he still needs to convince Bruno of it. He'd prefer not to have to order Bruno to come with him even if a part of him still relishes the feel of putting the smaller shifter to the floor and an excuse to do that again would not be... entirely unwelcome.

***

Bruno closes the front door and leans his back against it, trying to calm his breathing and to stop himself from digging his claws into the wood. He's extremely agitated right now, so much that his wolf is riding him hard, wanting nothing more than to turn back and deal with the situation he'd managed to walk away from.

It would have been easier to stay in the house, especially with the full moon on the horizon, but Bruno wasn't sure that spending all of it with Craig would have been a good idea.  They've been tiptoeing around each other for the last couple of days and closer they get to the full moon, the harder it becomes. So he'd gone out shopping, thinking that it might take his mind off things, off Craig, but unfortunately it hadn't worked. It was a sod's law that in a shopping centre he'd run into a group of teenage shifters.

It was a clear example, yet again, of how shifter cultures could differ. In the area of Italy that Bruno hailed from, werewolf parents would keep their teenagers in a week before the full moon, knowing full well that most of the time they simply weren't controlled or mature enough to calm their wolves.

But here, in Australia, that didn't seem to be the case. Bruno hadn't even registered the teenagers at first, wandering around an expensive designer shop, finally settling on a couple of shirts he thought Craig might like.  It annoyed him that he was thinking about Craig, wondering whether Craig would like the clothes on him but he couldn't stop it. So when he'd paid for his purchases and turned to head out of the store, he'd been surprised and perturbed to see the teenage group lounging around the entrance.

They'd been a few comments as Bruno left, particularly from a couple of baby alphas wanting to know what Bruno was doing intruding into their territory. Shaking his head, Bruno had tried to ignore them but it had been difficult and the group had followed him through the shopping centre, making comments; taunting and finally… trying to touch. That had done it.

Bruno had simply turned and pushed one of the baby alphas against the wall, letting him know in no uncertain terms exactly what he thought of rude, ignorant alphas who didn't know how to behave.  The boy – for that’s what he was, barely seventeen – had been so shocked that he'd simply stayed put, staring at Bruno as he turned away and left as quickly as he could.

Problem was his wolf was up, and angry, and the thought of being touched by another alpha, even a baby one, had gotten it extremely agitated.  Bruno closes his eyes for a moment and then pushes away from the door, knowing that Craig was in the house and probably wondering why the heck Bruno was taking up residence against the front door.

With a sigh and a resigned shake of his head, Bruno finally heads to his room.  Shucking out of his jacket and shoes, he puts the bags down and goes to look for Craig.


***


Craig looks up when Bruno pushes the patio door open, ready to say something friendly and meaningless, but then he takes his first proper lungful of Bruno's scent, and he's up from his chair, lips drawn back over his teeth. "What happened?" he asks, taking a second sniff and smelling another wolf there, under Bruno's clear agitation. "Who touched you?"

This close to the full moon his control is on a hair trigger and something like this... The fact that Bruno ends up backed against the garden table is hardly a surprise. Craig feels his face lengthening into a part muzzle that allows him to smell even better. And what he smells make a deep rumble of displeasure start somewhere in his chest, bleeding out in a growl.

Bruno shivers at the brief touch of Craig's muzzle against his neck. That and the growl would normally result in the baring of his neck to his alpha, but he needs to calm Craig down.

He strokes his hand down Craig's arm, the one holding him against the garden table, hoping his touch will help. It should.

"Calm down, Craig," he says. "It was some obnoxious puppy, nothing more. A puppy feeling the pull of the moon and unable to handle it. I'd be a piss poor excuse of a prime if I couldn't put someone like that on their knees, even when they are an alpha."

Craig is still growling though, Bruno's words not having much of an effect; nothing might now except for Craig to cover the foreign scent with his own. Bruno thanks god that Craig isn't one of those alphas who feel the need to actually piss on their beta to mark them.

"Here." He moves his hand and starts to unbutton his shirt, which isn't easy to do with Craig pressed against him. "He didn't do anything, Craig. He was just pushing it, that's all. Just calm down and smell me properly." Bruno finally manages to undo the shirt fully and pushes the material back from his body, exposing his chest to Craig.

Craig doesn't even really hear the words, the exposed skin is invitation enough and he presses his nose against Bruno's chest, inhaling deeply. There's nothing there that isn't familiar though; Bruno's own scent and those of Craig's house, and that helps. He moves lower, unable to stop himself until he's kneeling in front of Bruno, literally rubbing his face against his stomach, still growling softly.

Distantly, he hears Bruno making a sound that's almost pained, but he's trapped between Craig's hands, still curled around the edge of the table and bracketing Bruno between them. It's pure instinct that makes Craig taste Bruno's skin, firm flesh between his canines as he bites down low on his side, near the hip, not hard, not enough to mark, just... a little, to check.

"Fuck, fuck, Craig," Bruno gasps out at the feel of Craig's teeth. It certainly wasn't expected, but it's not unwanted and Bruno tries to push closer to Craig even though it hurts, his instinctive reaction is wanting Craig to mark him; to bite down properly and claim him.

He sags a little in Craig's hold, back pressing harder into the table and his head falls back, baring his neck. "Please," he whimpers, "please, Craig." Bruno's not really sure what he's asking for. Whether he wants Craig to stop, or to carry on with what he's doing right now.

For a few seconds it’s touch and go, and Craig teeters on the edge. It would be so easy to just close his teeth until he tastes blood, leave a wound that scars, and there's something about Bruno's scent that tells him it would not be entirely unwelcome. Underneath it all there's arousal, and it's tempting, so very tempting, to move his head just a little and trail his mouth even lower.

With no little effort Craig wrenches himself away, panting, licking his lips like he's tasting the imaginary blood. He looks up, whines low in his throat at the sight of Bruno's exposed neck and scrambles back.

"Full moon," he grits out, still crouched low, face not quite human, claws digging into the wooden planks as he fights the pull to just shift completely. It would be so easy now and not doing it is like swimming against a current. "You," he adds, though he doesn't really know what he means. "I can't..."

It's a shock seeing Craig like this, almost out of control and Bruno does the only thing that he can do. His legs are feeling shaky in any event and it's easy to drop to his knees, crouching down at the same level as Craig.

This close to the full moon, and to his alpha, and it's easier for him to part shift than it would normally be. Bruno takes his shirt off, dropping it on the ground and closes his eyes. He concentrates hard, letting his wolf come completely to the forefront and take control.

All he wants to do right now is to calm Craig down and Bruno whimpers at the pain as fur pushes through on his back, teeth dropping down and elongating into fangs. He crawls forward on his hands and knees until he's at Craig's side.  "I know," he whispers. The words are thick but then he is talking through a mouthful of teeth. He leans in and settles at Craig's side, body pressed against him. Craig stills and Bruno lowers his head, breathing in Craig's scent.

They sit like that for a while, and Bruno whines softly as Craig rubs his muzzle over the fur on Bruno's back. It's not sexual but it is comforting to both of them.

Bruno doesn't know quite how long it is, but eventually Craig starts to transform back; muzzle disappearing and claws turning to fingers. It feels good as Craig strokes his fingers over Bruno's hair and down his spine. It takes a little longer for Bruno to change but eventually he's as human again as Craig.  Bruno stands up and extends his hand to Craig, pulling him up too.

"Full moon," he says. "It's a bastard, isn't it? I'll be back in a minute." He heads back inside to fetch a couple of glasses of wine. When he gets back out to the garden Craig is sitting at the table waiting for him.

Craig pulls his shirt around him as best as he can. Unlike Bruno, he hadn't exactly planned on the shift and his clothes are... Well, not in tatters, but definitely not quite as put together as they once were. Despite everything he's feeling more settled than in a while and knows it's due to having Bruno so close.

Everything is always easier as wolves, and the thought makes him yearn to share the full moon with Bruno properly.

"Quick thinking just now," Craig says, accepting the glass of wine Bruno passes to him. "I would apologise but..." He shrugs, hoping Bruno gets it.

"No need," Bruno answers, sitting down opposite Craig. "I know what it's like, and they were only puppies, Craig. I just didn't really expect to see teenagers out so close to the full moon." He shakes his head and takes a sip of the wine before continuing. "In Italy that would not happen. I was not allowed outside the house in the week before the full moon until I left home." He takes another mouthful, pushing the memories to the side; it's an old hurt and not really relevant now.

"But thank you for... Well, for not doing what I know full well you wanted to do." He's no fool and his senses have always been strong; the scent of lust and want is still lingering on Craig and Bruno knows he's damned lucky to not have been pushed down and just claimed and marked. That's twice now that Craig has stopped that happening, even though this time he’d been simply stopping himself.

Craig lets out a slow, measured breath, holding Bruno's gaze until the beta looks down. Only then he speaks. "No need to thank me," Craig says, voice flat. He's still not sure if not claiming Bruno properly is the wrong or the right thing to do, but Bruno seems... grateful at least that it hadn't happened now.

Craig washes down the bitter disappointment with a mouthful of wine. "My friend has a place," he says. "Near the forest. A lot of room to run. No other wolves around unless invited."

Bruno perks up at that, lifting his gaze to Craig before dropping it again. It seems as though he's constantly disappointing Craig and if he were in wolf form right now he knows his tail would be between his legs. He hadn't even intended to upset Craig by his words, had genuinely been thanking him. He's ridiculously conflicted about this no matter what happens, or what either of them do.  One moment he wants Craig to push him down and claim him, to be his alpha, and then the next he knows that he's backing off from Craig, which is pretty unfair the way he keeps pushing him.  He sighs a little and follows Craig's example by focusing on the wine.

He'd been concerned about what was going to happen at the full moon, and the thought of being able to run without any strange wolves there. He would really like to share the experience with Craig, and hope that's what Craig is suggesting.

Keeping his gaze down his next words are quiet: "Would we run together?" he asks.

Craig blinks, genuinely startled at the question. Because he hadn't even considered an alternative. "I... of course," he says, frowning, and then, because Bruno is radiating uncertainty: "Unless you don't..."

"No," Bruno looks up. "I want to. I... it's been a while since I ran with anybody at the full moon, and it would feel weird not to run together."

"Okay," Craig says, unable to suppress the smile, and knowing full well that relief is probably rolling off him in palpable waves. "I'll call my friend, we can go tomorrow."

Bruno relaxes at the happiness emanating from Craig. It's the most comfortable he's felt with him since Craig made him move in and he can't help but smile back at him. Just the thought of running with another wolf again makes him happy, and the acceptance coming from the alpha right now makes him want to rub up against him, lick at his ear. Maybe nip it a little to see how Craig would react.

Bruno snorts quietly and takes another mouthful of the wine and leans back. "Molto buona, Craig. I look forward to it."


***


Bruno breaks the surface of the water and starts to lazily swim toward the shore. He's enjoying the solitude of the forest surrounding the cabin they're staying in. It's private land and there are high fences keeping people out, and signs warning that this is shifter land, for which he's grateful. There's no chance of anybody disturbing them and there are no other shifters here, although there's evidence that shifters do use these woods and the cabin.

It's the full moon tonight, and Bruno is finding it hard to stay still. The moon is itching at him and all he wants to do at times like this is claw off his human form, let the wolf out. He can't wait until the change and is looking forward to exploring the forest as a wolf.

It's warm, the sun beating down through the trees and Bruno turns onto his back, slowly drifting toward the shore where Craig is. For some reason Craig seemed to be a little perturbed when Bruno simply stripped off and headed into the lake this morning. He can't imagine why!

He knows full well he's pushing at the alpha but right now he doesn't care. His wolf wants nothing more than to catch and hold Craig's attention and Bruno is happy to oblige. Craig had come into the water a little earlier, but he hadn't stayed long, heading back out and saying he was going to sort some food out.  Bruno smiles a little; he knows an excuse when he hears one. Clearly the sight of water is glinting off Bruno’s body as he’d shamelessly shown off had done something to the alpha.

Finally, Bruno’s feet hit the bottom of the lake and he stands up, letting the water sluice off and he slowly wades to the shore. Craig is stretched out in a softly swaying hammock, shades over his eyes as he blatantly ignores Bruno.

Bruno runs his hands through his hair and heads over to where he left his towel and shorts. Turning his back on Craig he dries off, attending to every part of himself thoroughly, no matter how long it may take, or how many times he has to bend over in the process. Once dry, he pulls on his shorts before turning back to Craig. "Coffee?" he asks.

"No thanks," Craig says, tasting blood. There is no way Bruno doesn't know exactly what he's doing to him, that much is clear from the smirk on his face. Craig would like nothing better than to wipe it off but he knows that if he starts anything, he's not going to be able to stop until it's finished one way or another, and he's not sure Bruno really wants the kind of ending Craig has in mind.

So instead he clutches the hammock with clawed hands, body tense like steel wire, and watches-smells-wants the beta who keeps parading around naked, presenting his ass like an engraved invitation.

Bruno shrugs, seemingly unconcerned, and wanders back toward the cabin. Craig doesn't let himself relax until he hears the sounds of a coffee maker being prepared. Apart for the sexual tension thick enough to cut with a knife, they've been enjoying the break from the city. Craig especially appreciates the solitude and having Bruno all to himself.

His friend had been happy for them to use the place, telling Craig he knew where the spare key was hidden. It's not the first time Craig's come here for the full moon and it's not even the first time he's brought... friends with him. Normally, he would've have invited some of his old pack mates, or been invited along to their territory to run with them. He might not be formally part of the pack here anymore but the relations are friendly and Craig relishes the company.

It seems though that running together with other wolves is a rarer occurrence for Bruno. Craig had heard the wistfulness in his voice the other day, and wonders how much sheer loneliness had played the part in the way Bruno had been behaving in the bar. Probably a lot.

Then he wonders how much it factors into the way Bruno is behaving with him, and that thought does nothing to cheer him up at all.

Bruno watches Craig from the kitchen window. These two days at the cabin, away from the city have confirmed what he's been thinking, how he's been feeling since Craig moved him into his house. He knows that when he'd offered himself to Craig that night in the bar, it had been nothing more than a reaction to the night, to how he was feeling.  Although his wolf had instinctively looked at Craig's alpha and wanted him.

But he doesn't know what Craig thinks about it. There are moments when it seems very clear that Craig wants nothing more than to pin him down and claim him, and then others he backs right off.

So Bruno has started pushing. He knows things will be much simpler when they're in wolf form, but he wonders just exactly how it will pan out.  Right now though all he wants to do is go and rest against Craig, lean against him and relax. Feel safe.

Finally the coffee is brewed to his satisfaction and he turns away from the window and pours out a large mug, adding cream and sugar because he's not in the mood for black coffee right now. Bruno makes up yet another of the batches of meat sandwiches he's been making for Craig for the last few weeks, and carries the plate out with his coffee, and a bottle of water for Craig.

Placing the two drinks down, he passes the plate to Craig. "It's tiring sitting out here doing nothing," he says. "I thought you'd like some sustenance." Settling down in the hammock he sips at his coffee. It's still sunny and hot but Bruno can feel the moments as they tick away to the moon rising and although he's a little nervous about it, he also can't wait for it.  'Soon,' he thinks.  'Soon!'


***


When the moon finally rises, they are in the woods, standing side by side in a clearing, naked as the day they were born.

Craig can feel everything; the forest and its myriad sounds, the night settling over the land thick and warm, every cell of his body re-aligning from inside out, the moon pulling him over as bones break and re-knit. Next to him Bruno is screaming, but it's a joyous sound that turns into a howl, and Craig lifts his head, ears back, chest expanding, and answers.

Bruno turns and pushes against Craig's shoulder, letting the alpha know he's happy to be here with him. He licks at Craig's muzzle and then moves back, almost dancing. It's been such a long time since he ran with another wolf and the forest is calling to him. He howls again and lopes away before looking back to see if the other wolf will follow him.

Craig grins, tongue lolling out, happy and carefree as he races after the smaller wolf. They chase each other through the forest, only to get distracted by small prey, switching to hunting together as easily as if they'd been doing it all their lives. It's a good night, unhampered by worries or doubts, nothing but freedom and joy and togetherness.

As the sky turns grey they find a burrow, a dry spot under the trees, and curl up together nose to tail, warm and sated.

They sleep in small doses, as is usual with their species and after the second time Bruno wakes up he changes position so he's lying next to Craig, licking carefully at his muzzle and ears. Craig opens one eye at him, growling softly but it's nothing more than a grumble and Bruno doesn't stop, slowly and carefully grooming the other wolf until Craig settles back down and falls asleep again.

After a while Bruno drops his head onto Craig's shoulder and closes his eyes, although he keeps an ear out in case anybody approaches them – he can sleep when he's back in human form. For now he wants to stay awake and enjoy the time spent like this.

Eventually, he does fall back to sleep, only to wake as the moon starts to wane, and his human consciousness starts to push to the front. Bruno lifts his head and stares up at Craig, who is sitting on his haunches watching him. Craig has shifted back to human, unlike Bruno but he's not as governed by the moon as Bruno is.

Bruno staggers up onto all fours and licks at Craig's hand.  Craig laughs and rubs his ears for a minute or two before he stands up.  "Come on," he says. "Let's head back. I don't know about you but I most definitely need some steak and then sleep in a nice comfortable bed. I'm not a massive fan of sticks and stones in my ass."

Bruno barks at him happily but follows along keeping close to his alpha's side. It takes them a while to get back to the cabin, but then they had run a lot the previous night, and the sun is just beginning to rise as they reach their destination.

The pain rips through him as his mistress disappears until nightfall, and Bruno drops to his belly howling at the pain as he shifts. Craig crouches down and keeps a hand on him, giving comfort as he changes.  It takes a couple of minutes, it's always seems to be more painful changing back to human than it is the other way and Bruno pants with relief when it's all over.

After a moment, Craig helps him up and into the house, his strength holding him steady as Bruno staggers slightly.  "Steak," Craig repeats.  "And then we can sleep."

They do just that; eat and sleep, curled together again even in human form without any discussion about it. It's not awkward, not now when the moon ensures the wolf instincts for closeness override any human hang-ups. When the night falls they head for the forest, eager and laughing. The next two nights follow the same pattern and it's good, it's perfect, exactly what Craig wants.

So when he wakes up the evening of the fourth day, still feeling the moon but knowing it no longer has power to pull him over, Craig is content to press his human face against Bruno's neck and just breathe. He guesses they'll have to talk about this at some point but right now he doesn't want to do anything but enjoy the moment.

It's warm and safe, in the nest of covers and Bruno doesn't want to move. It smells of the forest and their mingled scents and Bruno makes a happy little sound as Craig presses his mouth to his neck.

'Pack,' his mind supplies followed by 'mate', and it's not a scary thought anymore. Doesn't make him want to jump up and flee through the forest like a blonde female in a horror movie. He snorts softly and, wriggling his left hand free, strokes it over Craig's shoulders and upper back enjoying the feel of skin under his fingers.

"Thank you," he says to Craig. "For bringing me here."

Craig huffs, not deigning the comment with an answer. Who else would he have run with if not his... Well.

It's not like the thought is new per se, just something that he's avoided fully voicing, even in his head. But right now, with Bruno all warm and languid underneath him, everything seems much simpler. Craig grazes blunt human teeth against the long column of Bruno's neck and is met with nothing but a happy hum. He could just... He's going to...

Somewhere in the house a phone stars ringing.


***


Bruno runs his hand along the wall, leaving the scent of his come along the corridor. It's been nearly a week since they returned from the forest, since the full moon and Craig... Well, Craig hasn't bothered to do anything about what's going on between them.

It's pretty obvious that Craig wants him; the scent of lust and ownership when he's around Bruno is so strong that even a non-shifter would be able to notice it. But he does nothing about it, keeps backing off from Bruno, no matter what he's been trying to do to provoke the alpha.

He's taken to walking around the house naked, dropping his clothes at the slightest provocation, bending over every possible surface he can find, but the only response that elicits is Craig walking out of the room. It’s gotten that bad that yesterday Bruno had headed down to the shopping centre where he'd met the teenage wolves, looking for another confrontation, hoping that the scent of another wolf on him might actually get Craig to do something. However, irritatingly, as soon as the group of youngsters had seen him they'd gone the other way.

The only reaction he's managed to get out of Craig all week is that Craig leaves the house early, and disappears again when Bruno tries something.

To be honest, Bruno – and most definitely his wolf – is confused. It’s getting to the point that neither side of him has any idea what Craig wants, how to get him to react. Until the idea about scenting the house in a way that Craig wouldn't be able to ignore. Which is what Bruno is doing right now: jerking off in pretty much every room of the house. Thankfully, as a shifter he has a really good recovery time.

Bruno sniggers somewhat hysterically when he thinks about how Craig might react. What he wants Craig to do is pin him down, mark him and then fuck him. To be his alpha for real. This constant back and forth, on and off, is really beginning to piss him off and to distress him.

It's not been difficult to bring himself off, each time thinking about sex with Craig; the heavy weight of the alpha as he’d take him on his hands and knees, in the bed, against the wall. So far Bruno has left his scent in his own bedroom, the kitchen – wiping his hand over the surfaces, not caring that it was unhygienic – the dining room and outside in the garden, coming over the patio furniture.  There's just the lounge left and Craig's bedroom.

Bruno wipes the rest of the come over the stained glass embedded into the front door, smearing it. Then he heads into the lounge, throwing himself down in Craig's armchair.

He rubs his hands vigorously on the arms of the chair and then leaning his head back against the seat he spreads his legs wide and slides his hand down to his cock. He's that turned on right now, just thinking about how Craig might react, that it's not going to take that long to come again.

It's rough and his cock is sore but Bruno doesn't mind, quite likes it in fact.  A little pain only adds interest to the proceedings. He closes his eyes and imagines that it's Craig's hand on him, bringing him off, being rough and making him come.

Bruno is whimpering continuously and he moves his hand a little faster on his cock, rubbing his thumb over the slit. He thinks about Craig just pinning him down and fucking him and he howls as he comes, spilling over his hand, head spinning as he almost whites out as yet another orgasm hits him.

Collapsing back in the chair, he wipes the come onto the upholstery and closes his eyes, just taking in his scent overlaying Craig’s. Bruno rests like that for a short while even though his wolf is whining eagerly at him to continue with what they've been doing, marking the house.  Any other shifter that comes to the door will know full well that Craig is not available and Bruno smiles at that thought.

Eventually, Bruno pushes up from the chair, staggering slightly and dropping to his knees. His head is still spinning and it takes a short while before he can pull himself up, using the chair arm for assistance. Once his head is a little clearer, Bruno heads to Craig's bedroom.

At the closed door he pauses. The bedroom is Craig's private space, Bruno hasn't been into it and Craig always keeps the door shut making a very obvious point.

Thing is, does he really really want to piss Craig off by going in there? For a moment Bruno contemplates it, but his wolf is whining inside his head and it's not a happy sound and Bruno turns away. Although, not before resting his hands on the door and pressing his forehead against it. What's done is done now and all he can do is wait to see how Craig reacts.


***


Craig knows he's being ridiculous, hiding from his own house, from Bruno, but he's never liked feeling like his hand is being forced. And right now he has all of wolf's instincts, all of his human feelings, and Bruno, the pushy bastard that he is, shoving him in one direction and one direction only.

It's not that Craig doesn't want to finish what they've started, but he would like to think he had some choice in the matter. He would like to think Bruno had choice in it too, and despite his all too obvious display of 'take me', Craig isn't so sure.

Or maybe he's just afraid. With a grimace Craig puts down the coffee he's been staring at rather than drinking for the last fifteen minutes. He'd driven downtown, aimlessly wandering through some shops before finally parking his arse in one of the bland chain cafes. He'd like to say he's been thinking but suspects it's closer to brooding. Perhaps even moping.

He wants Bruno. As a mate. And Bruno clearly wants Craig. As a... well. He's not sure how that sentence ends and can't bear the thought of another 'let's just forget about it' conversation that might follow should he give in and pin the smaller shifter to the nearest flat surface and fuck him until he couldn't even scream any more, much less string a sentence together.

Perhaps it really was time to bite the bullet so to speak and have an actual conversation about this. Because if Craig has to sit through another evening of Bruno wandering in and out of the rooms without a stitch on, he is going to snap, no question about it.

Decision made, Craig throws some money onto the table and heads home.

The smell hits him as soon as he gets out of the car. Craig staggers the few steps to the house and when he opens the front door, the scent of sex smacks him in the face, in his chest, right down to his cock that's already swelling. He's down, crouching, fangs pushing down and out, angry and aroused and confused and jealous because who has Bruno being having sex with, who's made him come and come and come, every room of the house reeking, the air heavy with sweat and musk.

Craig growls, hackles up, moving from room to room, low to the ground and fast, looking for Bruno, ready to tear up anyone who has dared to touch what is his. He's so angry, so blinded by jealousy, that it takes him an embarrassingly long time to realise he's not smelling anyone except himself and Bruno. No one else has been in the house, or even near it.

All the come clinging to the furniture, to the walls, is Bruno's. At first he doesn't understand why Bruno would do this, surely he'd know how Craig was going to react.

And then. Well then he stops outside his bedroom door, seeing-smelling-touching the smear of semen clinging to the wood, and he realises that Bruno knew exactly how Craig would react and that's precisely the reason he'd done it.

Craig pauses, panting, still painfully aroused. It takes a while but eventually he's able to straighten up, fully human again. He's angry but in a way... he understands too.

That doesn't mean that this is something Bruno is going to get away with.

Craig turns around and heads straight for Bruno's bedroom, already unbuttoning his fly. He'll start there.


***


Bruno hesitates at the entrance to the house. Craig is there, he can tell that from the smell, which conveys a vivid picture of what Craig has done. Bruno is nervous, wondering yet again if he has gone too far with his little stunt.

It had been that concern, fear that Craig would beat him down and throw him out when he returned to his home that had been responsible for Bruno fleeing from the house in panic. He'd spent a couple of hours simply walking around, trying to avoid as much attention as he could, knowing full well how he looked and smelt.

The longer that is spent waiting outside, the worse it gets, and more Bruno agitated becomes. Finally pulling the shreds of his courage together, he opens the door and steps inside.

The house is quiet, almost as though waiting in anticipation but Bruno can hear Craig's breathing. It's measured and calm if not for the background of grinding teeth.

Bruno takes a step down the hallway, and then another, each one bringing him closer to the waiting alpha. Finally he reaches the doorway to the lounge where Craig is sitting… in the chair that Bruno had come all over earlier. That is covered now with Craig's own scent; muskiness and sweat overlaid with anger, and a tang of copper as though Craig has been biting down on something and…

Fuck, Bruno is in so much trouble.

Dropping to his hands and knees, and keeping his head lowered, Bruno crawls slowly to Craig, every inch closer making him tenser and more scared. It feels like an incredibly long journey, even though it's a short distance. He can feel Craig's gaze on him, finally reaching the angry alpha and dropping flat to the floor, waiting to see what will happen, praying that Craig will not throw him out.


***


Craig has been waiting for Bruno to return for two hours, more and more afraid with each passing minute that the other shifter would not be coming back at all, even though all his things were still here. And yes, he'd checked.

He'd been close to just going out to find Bruno himself and drag him back if need be when he'd finally heard, and smelled, him.

Now the beta is at his feet, belly to the floor and smelling of fear. The alpha in Craig is pacified, and he nudges Bruno's shoulder with his foot, pushing until he gets the point, rolling to his back.

Craig regards him in silence for a while, listening to Bruno's rapid breathing, watching the way he opens and closes his eyes like he can't decide whether he wants to see or not, but never trying to look in Craig's direction.

Craig sighs, the anger leeching out of him. He presses a foot to the side of Bruno's neck, just a hint of pressure, testing. This isn't what he wants. Well, it is but... it isn't.

"I thought at first there had been... somebody else here," Craig says. Somehow giving up that piece of information feels important. "That you weren't... alone."

Bruno's eyes snap to Craig at those words.  "What... no!" he exclaims, starting to rise, but Craig presses a foot even harder to his neck and he sinks back down. "I would never do that, Craig."

Part of Craig had known that of course, hoped at least, but to hear it confirmed out loud still feels good. Craig lets out a slow breath, easing the pressure he's putting on Bruno's neck, finally pulling his foot away entirely. Bruno doesn't move though and after a moment's hesitation Craig slides to the floor too, sitting cross-legged next to him, not touching but close by. "And why would you never?" he asks, because he needs to know.

And there it is. After all their sniffing around, finally Craig has come out and asked the question. Had it been a couple of weeks ago Bruno isn't sure that he would have been able to give a clear answer, but now he can. Now he's made a decision. "Because... well," his eyes flick to Craig, "Because I've offered myself to an alpha. Even though he hasn't claimed me."

"You were drunk," Craig says, raising a hand to halt the protests Bruno looks set to make. "At the time. You were. And then you wanted to forget about it." Craig look down at the man lying next to him, still scared and smelling of come, but not leaving, not leaving, very clearly not leaving.

He holds out his hand, watches Bruno's eyes flick to it and back to his face, before he takes it. Craig hauls him up to a sitting position. "Except I couldn't," he says, fingers still clamped around Bruno's forearm, tight enough to bruise.

"I was drunk," Bruno concedes. "It was a bad night," his mouth twists a little unhappily, "and I thought that it would be easier for you to forget it. Easier for both of us to do that." He wants to rub his face against Craig's hand but just having Craig next to him, touching him, is calming.

"And then you made me come here, and I really didn't want to be here. You know me Craig, I'm not massively obedient." He shuffles an inch closer to Craig hoping that it will be allowed. "But I know now what I want, I know what my wolf wants."

"Yes," Craig says, something jubilant and possessive coiling in his chest. He leans close and deliberately rubs his nose against Bruno's neck, the edge of his jaw. "I can smell it on you. Could smell it all over the house." He relishes the shiver that racks Bruno's entire body.

Pulling back is easy now that he knows it's not for ever. "Come out with me," he says, grinning at Bruno's confused expression. "I know, I know, but... Dinner. Tonight. We'll... talk. Properly. Without any further damage to my cleaning bill." Craig casts a meaningful glance around the room.

“It’s a date,” Bruno says, grinning in triumph when Craig only smiles and nods.


***



Continue to Part 3

***
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Black Tulip Fic

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