Without further ado, here’s part 2…
The Beast Of Bodmin Moor
Cradling him carefully so that he wouldn’t be unduly jolted, Jake began to run…
Upon reaching the camper van a few minutes later, Jake lowered himself to his haunches and rested its unconscious owner on his lap to pat at the pockets of the trench for some keys. When he heard their tell-tale jingle, Jake extracted them and selected the most likely suspect before rising to his feet.
He’d been longing to see inside the van (aside from sneaking a peek through a gap in its curtains), but when Jake tugged the door wide, he stood, staring, at the sheer onslaught of stuff. Staggering in itself, but infinitely less so than the sledgehammer of scent that snatched Jake’s breath away. Fuck.
Turning his head, Jake sucked in a huge lungful of fresh air and held it, then climbed into the van and carried Him over to one of the sofa-seats. That seemed the most logical place; there was no way Jake should be able to heft him into the bed nook above the driver’s alcove. In truth, Jake could have bridged his fingers at the small of His back and lifted him above his head like a waiter flourishing a silver salver.
After laying Him gently on the sofa, Jake sank onto the nearest seat and scraped a hand through his straggling hair. Strewth. He swallowed in a futile attempt to manage the saliva situation (dead-set on drooling like a mangy mutt) and gazed down at that sleeping angel face. So vulnerable, so horribly unaware of the danger he was in.
A shallow, experimental breath burned down Jake’s throat like absinthe. Christ. Jack could never have resisted that scent in such an enclosed space. Clothes would have been shredded in seconds by teeth hell-bent on sinking into skin. Jake yearned to. At least he ached to devour Him in a very different way so…thank fuck for small mercies?
Okay. After a few more shallow breaths, the scent became slightly more bearable; less like being clobbered with a breeze block. Jake examined the gash glistening in the darkness; it did seem to have started healing a little. Jake’s flesh wounds healed in seconds, this hadn’t scabbed over quite that quick, but it was still far too fast. There was no need to dig around for a first aid kit, the wound couldn’t look any cleaner. Savlon would do fuck all to ward off impending fur. It was probably best to leave it alone, just make Him as comfortable as those ludicrous legs would allow, and fetch a blanket.
He seemed to be breathing regularly and there was no sign of a burgeoning bump, so he should be okay, bar a banging headache. Jake knew damn well that he’d worry himself sick if he didn’t stay to keep an eye on Him. Anything could happen. Anything. That was the part that freaked Jake out the most. He just didn’t know.
They would have to watch Him every night now, until it was clear that the jackal’s lickfest hadn’t triggered the consequences he dreaded. Jack’s saliva had clearly accelerated the healing process of the wound so…what the hell else was it doing to Him? The very thought of their saliva seeping into His system…Christ. The torrent of lust that slashed straight to Jake’s groin catapulted him out of his seat to crash through the door and stagger out onto the verge. By the time he could see straight he was crouched on all fours and gasping at fresh, untainted air. He had to get a grip on the need wracking his guts like grappling hooks. Had to. He needed Jake. Pressing his forehead into the grass, he inhaled its earthy sweetness, filling his lungs with the soothing smell of soil, as if to salve his soul.
For a heart stopping moment he’d feared that he was about to explode in a fury of fur. Jake had shifted against his will many times at first; in a far too literal outburst of rage that proved impossible to restrain. He had been furious for a long time.
After the first year, Jake had begun to get a handle on it, but it had been a bitter, bloody battle. He may have learned to suppress his customary triggers, but the jackal had never, ever, been triggered by lust. Jake’s current predicament was compounded by the fact he’d not had sex since that night. Sex? He’d done bugger all for two years. It had taken him months to make a cup of bloody tea without demolishing the kitchen. There was barely a mug left in the cottage with a handle still attached. Even now, he had to monitor his movements and rein in the impossible strength, coiled like steel springs, ever primed to pounce.
Even if he didn’t inadvertently snap someone’s spine, or shred them with his teeth…there was another problem. A snag Jake could never have anticipated. The jackal didn’t seem interested in a simple ‘shag’. He wanted…more. Jake wasn’t entirely sure what that ‘more’ was…but very much feared that Jack was utterly convinced he had found it.
“Get a grip,” Jake snarled aloud, hoping that at least one of them listened. With a heartfelt groan, he scraped his forehead off the ground, and sank back onto folded knees. So now what? He sure as hell couldn’t go home, so he’d better scrounge up something to wear and wait for Him to regain consciousness. A thought that sent a shiver of delight and dread thrilling through his veins.
Jake rolled his eyes in resigned bemusement; it was all so sodding ridiculous. A tractor could mow him down and scarce leave a scratch—he could probably throw one without breaking a sweat— but he was helpless in the face of Him. After gulping down a last lungful of clean air, Jake clambered to his feet and headed back inside the van. He stood, watching Him for a moment, listening to his heartbeat; steady, strong, sure.
Now Jake just needed something to cover himself up with. He would look like Charlie bloody Chaplin if he borrowed some clothes—not that it mattered what he looked like— He was highly unlikely to open his eyes and wonder why some bloke with dreadful dress sense was sitting on his sofa, was he?
That said, chances were He might just wonder why there was a (badly dressed) bloke he’d never clapped eyes on in his life, squatting in his van and watching him sleep. Like a pervert.
A quick scout about unearthed a bathrobe bunched amid a mountain of trinkets and treasures. It would do, although quite how Jake intended explain the fact he’d donned it? Fucknows. If Jake was female, then a drunken one night stand would seem feasible. But why the hell would you wake to find a strange fella crashed in your camper van, wearing your bathrobe?
Christ, he could do with a bloody drink. Or twelve. Being engulfed in soft swathes of heady scent sure as hell wasn’t helping matters. So, Jake sat, and watched him sleep. He barely registered the passing hours; oddly at peace and…content for the first time in longer than he cared to remember.
He slept fairly peacefully, muttering a few random words here and there, mostly about…a foxy friend? Shit. Had he fallen for her, this friend? Did it really matter? He was hardly going to wake up and promptly fall for the perv squatting on his sofa while decked out in his dressing gown, was he?
Dawn broke while Jake was drinking a third cup of tea. The world simply brightened; shades of grey bleeding into colour, as if someone was fiddling with the buttons on the remote. It wasn’t long before the volume ratcheted up to full blast, when the gulls chipped in with their contribution to the festivities. Fabulous. It was akin to a ref’s whistle being abruptly blasted down his earhole.
Jake was ravenous. He’d not been hunting last night and now his guts were gurgling as they grumbled about the distinct lack of a breakfast rump steak heading their way. Naked, starving and squatting. It wasn’t the best start he’d ever had to a day…although it was far from the worst.
Mostly he just felt impatient; like a kid on Christmas morning waiting for his dad to wake up so he could open his presents. Perhaps he should rustle around a little? Or cough…clear his throat. Or…open the window and hope that squawking seagull was, as Jake suspected, enough to wake the dead. Let alone the decidedly not dead, thank God…or Anubis, for taking a night off.
It was a sharp, stabbing sort of pain. But it was dull too, as if it came from very far away, which didn’t seem possible when the pain was in his head. That had been firmly fixed atop his shoulders last time he looked, but stranger things had happened.
He’d long become accustomed to colours and numbers crawling the walls and ants that scurried beneath his skin. To pictures writhing on the pages of his books as words wriggled in wormy parades. Hallucinations…Mr. Neil called them, conjured by his imagination. His long suffering therapist had lots of cognitive fix-its for Phin to forget to focus on.
Whether or not his head was still in situ was far less significant than the fact that: last time Phin opened his eyes, there had been a wolf peering down at him. Well, sort of—it seemed too foxy for a wolf—but Phin had felt a bit fuzzy, so he couldn’t be sure. His ears were too cute, as if they were a size too large for his head…which had definitely been where it should be. As this was more than Phin could claim with certainty, he was hardly in a position to quibble about earflap excesses. He couldn’t help but hope they felt silky soft to touch. Strokable.
Impressive pinnae aside, his foxy friend had the most beautiful eyes Phin had ever seen. He had to concede that he might‘ve hallucinated this part, because they were blue. Very, very, blue. Canis did not often sport such a hue, it must be admitted, except for huskies. It was a strikingly similar shade of aquamarine, so…perhaps a husky had got frisky with a fox?
Contemplating the mating habits of canine critters was perhaps a mite random—particularly if his head had gone missing—in which case Phin should be concentrating on that. This was another of Mr. Neil’s favourite words. He was also fond of focus, extreme, excessive, hypersensitivity, hyperactive, hyper-however-Phin-felt. Mr. Neil was a tad hyperkeen on wafting his favourite prefix about. With a flagrancy that was more than a mite ironic. Phin had not pointed this out. That would have been rude.
Rude (adj.): telling the truth.
Hyper (prep. and adv.) a prefix appearing in loanwords from Greek, meaning ‘over’; usually implying excess or exaggeration.
‘Excess’? As if Phin was baggage. In this (suit)case, it assuredly meant Too Much. That summed matters up far more succinctly than poking and prodding at Phin’s person for filing purposes. If he ever managed to practise concentrating for long enough to write an autobiography, Too Much would do just fine for a title.
Back to Phin’s foxy friend; even in that brief moment of eye contact he’d felt certain that they belonged to a friend not foe. As bonkers as it sounded, those brilliant blues had seemed warm with…concern. A claim that might rubber stamp his residency in very select accommodations, complete with a fancy buckled coat. If Phin was daft enough to utter it aloud. He was well aware that the label slapped on his forehead deemed him mind blind: incapable of reading facial expressions or observing social cues. While that tended to be true, Professor Simon Baron Cohen (cousin of Borat and top notch research Prof in the field) asserts that the extreme opposite can also occur. Hypersensitivity so acute it was likened to a sixth one.
Phin absorbed sheet music louder than the tune it played. Its composition was more vivid than its melody. It was hard to focus on things people said when he heard their feelings at a much higher volume. Oh dear, the concentrating thing had gone to pot again. He hadn’t even got around to prising his eyelids apart, figuring that his head would hurt a helluva lot more if he did. The rest of him was too uncomfy to inflict further suffering on himself, having (apparently) kipped on the ‘sofa’. Again. A (barely) padded bench seat bolted to the wall. Why hadn’t he climbed into his cosy bed nook? If he’d turned over in the night, he would have sure woken up in a bit of a hurry.
It was no good, he was going to have to crank his eyes open sometime soon, he was gasping for a cuppa. Ping. OUCH. Phin slammed them shut again.
“Oooh, m’head…” he groaned.
“Are you okay?”
Huh? That was a bit spooky. Phin attempted to blink away the bleary before turning his head towards the velvet warm voice that had just enquired about his health.
“Oh. Hello,” Phin parped, several octaves higher than usual.
There was a man—wearing Phin’s bathrobe—sitting on the sofa-seat set at right angles to his own. Quite why he had borrowed Phin’s robe, he knew not. Nor, come to think of it, who the bejeezus he was.
It was an odd time to pop by for a visit though, particularly without phoning first. That said, he’d never clapped eyes on the fella in his life, which did tend to suggest he didn’t know Phin’s number. That seemed forgivable enough, but the robe thing was a tad rich. Help yourself why don’t you? Oh, you already have.
“Hi, are you alright?”
Well, Phin had felt better. Particularly in the head department, which was definitely attached to his shoulders. It hurt a helluva lot too much to be absent. Other than that…it wasn’t every day he woke to find the most beautiful man he’d ever seen sitting on his sofa-seat. Even if he was a robe snaffler.
There was something…timeless about him. Primal; all tumbling locks, heavy-lidded eyes and pouty lips. Despite being a compact sort of chap, rather than a hulking behemoth, he was more than a mite Mamoan. A look enhanced by hair that tumbled in a hundred hues of honey-to-toffee. He was sporting what appeared to be a permanent sort of stubble, rather than a beard, but aside from that, he might have stepped straight from an ocean the exact shade of his eyes.
It was a good job Phin’s mum wasn’t here. She would be nailing planks across the door after dispatching him without so much as a by-your-leave, or a Latin quotation.
“My head hurts, which doesn’t seem fair when I don’t remember the squiffy part. I might be fibbing though, cos I can’t recall crashing here, either. Um, I don’t mean to be rude—tho’ I often am—but why are you wearing my robe?”
The hot as hell squatter on his sofa looked a bit bewildered by Phin’s question. Not half as befuddled as Phin felt though, seeing as it was his robe that had been snaffled, after all.
“Your robe?” He glanced down, as if surprised to find himself informed thus.
Perhaps he was a nutter. Phin did tend to attract them. Not in sexy way, sadly. In an: ‘Oh hello, I intend to chat away to you until the end of time about my collection of vintage tax discs from 1921-2014’ sort of fashion.
Heaven knows why. They didn’t usually ‘borrow’ his robe without asking, though.
“I mean, you’re welcome to lend it, although no-one ever has before. That’s why I was surprised…have you popped ‘round to borrow anything else? Sugar? Tea-bags?”
He really was a bit w-e-i-r-d. “Sweet stuff you sprinkle in your tea?“
“I am familiar with sugar,” he grinned. “Four spoons please,”
It was the sort of grin his mum had warned his sisters about. She hadn’t thought to mention this to Phin, but then…she hadn’t seen the scrapbook of blue-eyed-boys stashed under his bed.
“You’re staying for a cuppa? I wish you’d told me you were coming—not because that would have been po-lite—but I would have bought you some Hobnobs. You’ll have to suffer malted milks, I’m afraid. Unless I’ve scoffed those too…Four?!”
Phin had to be hallucinating this, had to be. Even then, he had really excessed himself this time. Conjuring up a sexy sweet-toothed scoundrel with sticky fingers was a smidge extravagant.
Phin had better not tell Mr. Neil about this episode, or they might start fiddling with his meds. Again. Oops, that had been an…unfortunate mishap. Phin really hadn’t meant to get quite so…upset. The zoo had been quite nice about it. Eventually. He should also keep schtum about the foxy-wolf he met on the moors.
Phin was clearly on a roll. That never went well. Perhaps he’d dreamed last night’s foxy friend in a…symbolic sort o’way? He had conjured him up just before this new (and very) foxy friend parked his bum on Phin’s sofa-seat.
“Pardon?” Phin blinked, several times. Dang, he’d zoned out. Again.
It was with a devilish grin that Foxy raked a hand through his tumble of hair, scraping it back from his forehead. Fuck…Phin hurriedly shut his mouth, perchance he was gaping. A bit. His distracting mane of waves had cascaded over one eye and obscured half his face. The moment Foxy scraped back those trailing tendrils, Phin was forced to concede that he just might be hallucinating. Either that, or he’d dropped dead and woken up in heaven. Heaven must be that colour, surely?
It was a blue so true… so beautiful it was akin to staring into the shimmer of a sunlit Caribbean sea. He didn’t usually like visitors, especially those who turned up unannounced and robbed you blind. But in truth, they didn’t usually look like aquatic gods. Foxy’s skin seemed to have been dipped in liquid gold. As if he were coaxed from sleep by the caress of sun rays every morn. If only Phin could swap places with it… To be the one person in the world who was allowed to wake and scatter that skin with kisses.
Shifting slightly more onto his side, Phin tried to adjust himself a mite without being unseemly. Much to his relief, he was still wearing his jeans. His flimsy blanket would have draped itself obscenely over an erection that had bid adieu to morning glory a wee while back. Hell-bent on an utter excess of glory halleloo.
He woke two hours later. His breathing changed first; pulse speeding slightly when he shifted, stirred. Feathery lashes flickered, parted, then those eyes flared wide with a sharp gasp. Swiftly followed by a groan as he slammed them shut.
Jake had inquired how he felt before he had time to think it through. This was the most important thing in the world and they needed to know. When Jake’s voice filtered into His consciousness he blinked, as bewildered as a newborn fawn. Jake would be best advised to fling himself off a cliff. Before he did something diabolical, rather than afterwards. It would save time.
“Oh. Hello.” The soft musicality of His voice was somehow more surprising than those first words. Oh. Hello. For all the world as if Jake was a regular visitor who’d popped in for coffee on the off chance.
Who the hell are you? What are you doing in my van? Why the fuck were you watching me sleep like a pervy stalker…? None of which seemed cause for concern, compared to the unfairness of waking with a banging headache and no memory of earning it. All of which might well be a ‘fib’. Apparently. One that didn’t appear to include airbrushing out naked men, methods of conveyance, or things that went bump in the night. Foreheads in particular. All of this was related with an air of bemused acceptance as…adorable as his wide-eyed wonderment.
Jake really shouldn’t allow himself to be lulled into a false sense of security by charms way too beguiling to withstand without a wink of sleep. A state that left Jake utterly unarmed for following corker, added as an afterthought, for all the world as if it was not a steel jaw trap tossed in Jake’s path.
“Um, I don’t mean to be rude—tho’ I often am—but why are you wearing my robe?”
All of the aforementioned queries were surely more significant than your stalker’s outfit while squatting in your van, watching you sleep? Jake glanced down at it, trying to rustle up something, anything to explain this most pressing of matters. A reason that didn’t include:
You slipped on some rubble and smacked your head on a rock when distracted by my whimper. Rather than let you bleed to death, I licked the wound—to clean it, clearly—Not because I’m a vile dog who gets off on lapping at the heads of unconscious innocents on the moors. After that, it was the least I could do to carry you home and stay to ensure that…you didn’t slip into a coma…or say, turn into a mangy mutt. Your robe? Well…I had to carry you here, um sort of naked, which seemed one rude awakening too many. In addition to finding a stranger in your van, watching you sleep in a deeply suspect manner. While wearing your bathrobe.
Jake was still trying to come up with a feasible alternative while listening to chime bar tones extol the comparative virtues of Hobnobs and malted milk biscuits.
Jake didn’t like to ask if there was any raw steak instead. Or bacon.
You are not having sausages. They give you the trots.
Spoilsport. It’s not as if you’re required to poop scoop, is it?
Be-have. Or we’re going home.
Says you and whose army?
Jack! F’fucksakes, shut up.
Shutting. I still fancy a sausage, though.
Jake slammed his lids shut, as if they were a partition between himself and certain backseat drivers. He was too distracted to mentally prepare for impact on reopening them.
Blue locked with brown. The world tilted on its axis.
Planets didn’t collide, there were no sudden snowstorms in the Sahara or monsoons in Moscow. A teacup probably didn’t even fall off a table. A Jackal did not explode out of Jake’s body and his cock refrained from exploding all over the borrowed bathrobe.
Nothing untoward happened whatsoever…but Jake knew that nothing would ever be the same again.
Somewhere inside the jackal whined pitifully. Want. Jake could practically feel his claws scrabbling at his guts like a frantic dog scratching at the door. They were all doomed. Nothing good could come of this…surely? At that precise moment in time, Jake was more likely to audition for Britain’s Got Talent than convince himself—or Jack—that he could flee from this. Even on two legs, let alone four.
“I lost a bet,” Jake explained (not at all), rather than dwell upon the decimation of his sanity.
“Oh! Like a forfeit?” Midnight eyes sparkled with mischief, as if sprinkled with starlight.
“Yeah. Like that,” Jake was left nodding like a dog on a parcel shelf. Too taken aback to elaborate…on what planet had that been believable?
“Oops.” His chuckle was as incorrigible as it was infectious. “But…how did you end up here, wearing my robe? Was it my fault you lost the bet?”
His fault? Why the hell would he think that? Jake was far too famished to fathom the unfathomable.
“No…I found you out there,” he hedged, with a shrug. As if this was a matter of no import. “You’d hit your head and seemed a bit worse for wear…so I wanted to make sure you made it back to your van. I was worried, so I stayed to keep watch, in case you got sick. It was a bit cold to sit here starkers, so I hoped you wouldn’t mind if I borrowed your robe. “
“No, of course I don’t mind. I…thank you. For bringing me back, I mean. I do get…lost sometimes.”
“I get a bit distracted and forget to do concentrating.”
“I wouldn’t fret about it, if I were you. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be…concentrating.” Jake had sighed before engaging his brain. “The results are rarely worth the worry. Unless…I just focus on things that aren’t.”
Where the hell had that come from? Jake never admitted this, even to himself.
Why bother stating the blindingly obvious?
Who asked for your tuppence worth?
Why bother et cetera, et cetera…?
Chance would be a fine thing. Just sayin’.
Jake did not bother pointing out the obvious. They were clearly going to hell in a handcart, but he really couldn’t care less, when he’d never felt less bothered in his bloody life.