The Beast of Bodmin Moor
After being dispatched to do ‘freshening up a bit’ while Jake cooked their brunch—then scoffing it as if it would be whisked away any second—Phin felt strangely sleepy. That was weird when he never felt tired, let alone during the day. ‘Sleepy’ wasn’t quite the right word though…groggy? A deep, dragging exhaustion, a smidge similar to staying awake for a few nights when he had done remembering to take his tablets.
“Are you feeling okay?” Jake asked, scrutinising Phin’s face with searchlight intensity.
“Yes, ‘cept…I can scarce keep my eyes open, which is spooky. I never do napping during the day.”
“I conked out for hours before…first shifting. I thought I must be knackered after my Glastonbury…excesses, so I just dumped my stuff in the hall and staggered off to bed. I was out for hours…it was after midnight by the time I woke.”
“Did you do changing then?” Phin kept his voice whisper soft, hoping not to disrupt Jake’s rememberings.
“Yeah…I felt…dreadful. ‘As if someone had walked over my grave’ is the best turn of phrase I can rustle up…which isn’t the least helpful. Who the hell thought that up?” Jake groaned.
“A vampire? I can’t think who else might have one to fancy a nap in. That doesn’t do seeming as daft a suggestion as it did a couple of days ago. Oddly ’nuff.” Phin grinned.
“I don’t suppose it does,” Jake chuckled. “My whole body was clammy, not so much shuddering, more as if…ripples were running through it. Deeper than skin surface…bone deep. My eyes snapped open, alert in an instant, which was weird in itself. More so, when I should have woken with the humdinger of all hangovers. Stranger still, I woke staring into a darkness…that wasn’t. Dark, I mean—I could even read the print on the spines of the books on the shelf. The tap was dripping, but I felt somehow sure it was coming from the kitchen, rather than the bathroom…because of the distance the sound waves had travelled.”
“Did you still do blaming the acid you thought you’d taken at Glastonbury…?”
“Yeah…it seemed the best explanation for everything being brighter, stronger, louder, that last day. I’d figured it would fade, wear off…but it was more intense when I woke. If I hadn’t taken some freaky shit or other, it would’ve felt as if I was going insane.”
“Were you scared?” He must have been, surely? It was a daft question, but Jake seemed to be doing skirting around how he’d felt in favour of a mosey through memories from a not-a-jot free festival.
“Not beforehand, no…I felt oddly detached…as if I was watching myself from a distance.” That’s what Jake had been gazing into as he’d told his story; before snapping back to the present to do fixing Phin with blowtorch blues. “Is that how you feel?”
“No…not now. I used to feel that way, as if I was doing bobbing about in a bubble watching a world that wasn’t mine. As if I didn’t do belonging…I was just a jumble of bits that never did fitting…anywhere. I felt more comfy on my own, so I didn’t have to do worrying about too much or doing something amiss. Until I met Foxy…You. I feel righter now, less…lost. Does that do making sense?”
“Yes, it does…instinctively, at least. I keep blanking them—Jack—for telling me what I want to believe, which makes me suspicious on too good to be true grounds. Now there’s a turn of phrase that’s never felt truer…” Jake sighed with a valiant attempt a wry smile. “It seems impossible that anyone could want this…me… even accounting for the fact you’re far from ‘anyone’.”
“You don’t have to do fudging,” Phin assured him, “I know I’m inside out and back to front.”
“That’s uncannily accurate,” Jack chuckled. “Not in a negative way, it’s just that it seems as if your senses are set to constant reboot…so you see, feel—even think—things for the first time, every time. As if that doesn’t sound stupid enough…sometimes I’m afraid you’ll bleed, if I speak—or even look at you—too sharply.” Jake did dipping his head, which made his hair fall forwards to shield his face. Daftie, when his blushes smelled scrumptious, as if they’d do tasting like strawberry milkshake.
“If it makes you feel less of a ‘nana…? I may have done checking,” Phin admitted.
“To see if you were bleeding?” Jake risked a peep from under his lashes, he was a very pretty shade of pink. For a fearsome beastie, an’ all.
“I wasn’t. Well, not then, anyhoo.”
“Afterwards.” The word landed with a hollow thud on the table between them, echoing with…Phin leaned in to do snuffling the subtle shift in the scent seeping from Jake’s skin.
“What’s that whiff? I can’t tell, except it’s strange and I need to do licking you.”
“Afterwards.” It wasn’t a guess, Jake was certain of it. Not because he’d seen the evidence of all Phin had tried to expunge that night, but because he felt the slash of memory as if he’d taken a blade to his own body. Jake did not check to see if he was bleeding—that would have been ridiculous—the scent of the blood that accompanied it was not his own. Phin’s brow knitted in puzzlement, then he leaned in to sniff at Jake, with small, suspicious snuffles, as if he might’ve gone off. Pinpricks of pleasure still skittered across Jake’s skin, scything through the lunacy of it all.
“What’s that whiff? I can’t tell, except it’s strange and I need to do licking you.”
“Memory, maybe? Pain, perhaps your own blood…” A shaft of lust sparked along Jake’s spine when Phin started lapping at his earlobe before tracing its shell with his tongue. “Gnrrrr…”
“It’s doing fading now, you smell…mmmm…” Phin murmured, across moist flesh, making every tiny hair thrill to attention and a shiver of longing scorch through his veins. “You taste…” He smudged his lips across Jake’s cheek to place a kiss at the corner of his mouth “…luscious…” then trailed a featherlight tongue across its seam to mirror their so soft press. “Thank you…” was a whisper of breath that stole his own away. Even had Jake been in full possession of his faculties, he wouldn’t have known what Phin could be thankful for. His chances of regaining them any time soon was…
Never, I hope. I far prefer you with your nuts in a knot. Loath as I am to interrupt, I suggest you move this upstairs…before Phin keels over.
“You have nothing to be grateful for…” Jake clasped his face and pressed their foreheads together, trying to focus beyond the icy fingers of fear clutching his heart. “C’mon, let’s get you back to bed…”
“That’s not going to be as fun as it sounds, is it…?” Phin’s sigh was resigned, rather than recalcitrant, which was something to be thankful for.
”You’ll have forever for that, if you want it…” Jake promised, “…but right now, you need rest, you’re exhaling exhaustion.”
“Okay…” Another sigh, tinged with a tut. “I would do pouting, ‘cept I am a bit pooped.”
“C’mon…” Jake couldn’t help but grin, the scamp was far too adorable for their welfare. All…four of them.
“I’m coming… dammit, that won’t be, either. I might be furry next time it happens…I wonder if it does feeling different…” Phin was starting to slur his words, like certain ‘regulars’ at turfing out time in The Albion. About ‘one for the road’ before falling off the barstool. After persuading Phin to his feet, Jake bent to scoop him up and cart him off to the bedroom before he dreamed up any more mischief to delay matters. “This is like being whisked away to your lair without the wicked-way part to look forward to. Humph,” Phin chuntered between titters at finding himself transported thus.
“I’ll give you humph…” Jake chuckled.
“I wish you would…’cept I feel a bit floppy…” A huge yawn swallowed the rest of whatever Phin might’ve been about to say, which was probably for the best when—lolloping limbs aside—he sure as hell wasn’t elsewhere. “Hmm…that’s lusciously cool…” he sighed with a smile like a smear of cream after being deposited on the duvet. He’d only donned a pair of pants but was still burning up. Not too badly, Jake judged. Yet. “I’ve done remembering what I wanted to say…” Phin told him, peering up through a veil of feathery lashes. “I’m ever so hot…where was I?”
“You’ve remembered…” Jake supplied, stretching out beside the extravagance that was Phin and propping his head on a bent elbow.
“Oh…that’s it…you seem to think I’m too calm about doing changing…when really, it’s more that…I’m not fussed about that part. It’s not real to me yet…I’ve never done it, so I can’t do picturing it. I’m comfy with the important bit—being the same as you—that’s what matters most. If I try to do focusing on the rest, my head just shrugs, cos it knows I can do enduring worse to get what I want.”
“As stubborn as fuck,” Jake smirked, although his brain was whirring away, busy reconciling his assumptions with Phin’s reality.
“We’re not so different, after all…” His smile was too smudgy for ‘smug’ but a whiff of glee was tinging his scent when he rolled onto his side and threw an excessive leg across Jake’s own. It’s weight throbbed through his body, thrilling to his toes. “Will you tell me the rest of your changing story…I can’t do keeping my eyes open,” Phin noted with another luxurious yawn.
“‘Kay… I was just lying there, staring around the room, stunned by the realisation that could see in the bloody dark. I’m not sure which came first, but my muscles started contracting in tight hot spasms—clenching like fists—and my temperature spiked. As sharply as if I was about to burst into flames. The heat…trembling through my body felt…alive, which sounds nuts.” Jake paused, trying to reassemble scraps of memory long banished to the back of his brain. “It all does, I’ve never tried putting it into words before… The physical pain was less…horrific than the mental one—the terror was worse—the not knowing what the fuck was happening. Death seemed the most feasible…end, which was…a welcome prospect. I wanted it. It couldn’t come fast enough…to make it all stop.”
“Don’t do telling me more, it’s too much upsetting for you. I can feel it, but I don’t know how to do making a memory better, which hurts.” When Phin lifted his head to ensnare Jake’s gaze, the brown was so bleak it made him break out in a cold sweat. “Now you’ve gone all clammy, please do stopping, it’s not fair to make you—”
“The not fair part is that you are going to have to endure it,” Jake all-but snarled, to his shame.
“Shhhh…s’okay,” Phin crooned, his voice as soft, soothing, as a lullaby. The sudden swoop of his hand was so swift, it was clamped to Jake’s cock before he could protest.
“Fuck!” he gasped as a shaft of lust overshot the fear.
“There, that’s better…” Phin whispered into Jake’s neck as he began to sweep his wrist with smooth strokes as heady as they were hypnotic. “Now you can finish your story with a happy ending before I do conking.”
“I can’t see straight…let alone think,” Jake grumbled.
“You don’t need to do either…just do drifting and mumble on a bit.”
“‘Mumble on a bit‘…” Jake muttered. “Um, the heat seemed to unfurl from the base of my spine, as if it had been coiled there. Waiting. Now that does sound bonkers…God, Phin,” he groaned, when the glorious glide sped up, spilling liquid fire through Jake’s veins. “But that’s how it felt…“
“I’m so sorry it did happening all on your own…” Soft lips as ripe, tempting as…Jake couldn’t think of anything on Earth comparable, his brain had melted to mush. “Tell me the worst thing… well, aside from not knowing what that would be…”
“Prob’ly the stuff I couldn’t see, the visceral…sounds that should be inside. Popping joints, sinews straining, the tear of tendons…fuck, it hurt. The grate of bone grinding bone was sickening, the images it…threw up were worse: snapped-off shards, the glisten of gristle, thick globules of blood. I could barely believe it was real, happening… Phin, you’re driving me demented…” He had slowed to a mesmerising sweep as Jake spoke just enough to keep him teetering on the brink of oblivion…a twist of wrist away from bliss. “Then the shudders started rolling down my back…guts convulsing as if I was about to vomit black bile—like a bad horror movie—which might’ve been preferable to the fact fur started flowing over my body.”
“Flowing...was that how it felt…or the way t’happened?” Phin’s voice was dragging lazily across the words as if he were drugged…quite at odds with the mind boggling rhythm elsewhere, which was gathering pace.
“ComeformeJake…” had scarce caressed Jake’s ears when the white hot shiver of silver, shimmering on the edges of his vision exploded in a scorch of ecstasy. Snatching Jake far, far, from the dread world of darkness he’d dwelled in…alone, for so long.