Wafflish

Beast: Epilogue – The End

Hiya, this is the last part…thank you so much for reading.🥰

 

 

The Beast of Bodmin Moor

 

 

Phin. Part 2

 

 

Jake…

Phin snapped his head around, heart rat-tatting like a drum roll to herald Jake’s arrival; the surface of his skin singing like a snare in response, as if ghostly fingers had skittered across it, shimmering in their wake.

There was a ripple of claps when his bashful face came into view, half-veiled by hair as he twerked his lips and lifted his guitar a little, as if to acknowledge the true recipient of the applause. Daftie. Half the room was filled with regulars Phin recognised—this being his third trip to the pub—so he did nodding ’n’ smiling. The rest seemed a smidge younger, closer to his own age. His first visit would be forever scored in his memory and the second had been a trial run a few days ago when Jake deemed him safe to be unleashed on the public. 

Even Mr Fuss-a-lot was forced to concede that nary a soul had done piquing Phin’s interest. In fact, the only tempting scent that did wafting his way (from elsewhere) was a sudden whiff of smoky bacon when a crisp packet had been cracked open. Phin’s nostrils had no sooner done flaring than his own burgundy bag landed beside his brandy, accompanied by a rakish wink from the foxy as fuck bartender with the tautest tush on Earth. The bending and stretching antics of Jake’s slinky spine had, in truth, played much more havoc with Phin’s appetite, but beggars can’t be choosers and all good comes to those who wait... So, Phin had scoffed his snackeroo and done practising his least practised virtue…

Despite the fact he’d watched Jake do getting dressed, the scoundrel had been gone for seven minutes. Plenty long enough for his reappearance to do snatching Phin’s breath away. The overhead spotlights behind the bar gave his hair a halo of amber bronze with glints of gold. It also made his collarless white shirt look luminous; so stark in contrast to his honeyed skin he looked more lickable than ever. Too much so for comfort in Phin’s best jeans. Jake’s were, as ever, so cripple-cock tight that, by the time his lower half rounded the bar, Phin could scarce do sitting. 

The rest of the room was, at least, lit more subtly; pubs (and posh restaurants) were oft cast in cosier colours than most public places. The low ceiling in the Albion made this intimacy all the more marked, so Phin couldn’t have been more comfy, all things considered.

The next hour was the most perfect Phin could have passed (dressed) and made all pesky discomforts pale into insignificance. Jake looked as devilishdivineas kissed by candlelight; illuminating his lethal allure and deepening his skin to a swarthy hue. Phin had to force himself to do concentrating on the red bandana wrapped around Jake’s wrist; a scarlet flag that felt far safer than staring into those bewitching blues. To Phin’s gaze they looked almost azure; ablaze with adrenaline and agleam with the passion Jake poured into every damn thing he set his mind…fingers…spine…hips, to. Remaining riveted to the seat was an (unparalleled in the last fortnight) feat after that. Staying in Phin’s skin was more than a tad tricky. 

The first notes that shimmered off the strings of Jake’s guitar made Phin’s eardrums do humming with a pleasure so pure he felt like a dog wind-bathing from a car window. By the time Jake did crooning the first line of the lyrics, Phin was too buttery-boned to do standing, let alone shifting

How he loved that velvet voice. It’s purple was so deep it made every tiny hair do tingling to attention and the knot of anticipation tighten in Phin’s guts. It was molten molasses, as rich as ruby wine and so resonant it did tugging on the dark need coiled, waiting… And yet, it’s effect on his jim-jam self was hypnotic. So entranced was he, that Phin might’ve done forgetting the rest of Jake’s audience, if not for their appreciative racket. He had expected the claps Jake deserved, but the whoops that did greeting the strum of some tunes made him feel a bit…brittle. As if he might do shattering despite…well, duh. 

It was easier to do getting used to the calls of ‘Jake! Play…’ this song or that; Phin couldn’t do caring as long as Jake was breathing life into its words. Nevertheless, he did remember all the melodies Jake had played for him at home…that would never do getting old. It was too precious, too improbable (homes don’t have barbed wire). Far too much for Phin to believe he’d ever done a thing to deserve it. Jake seemed to think he merited far more, which was demented, but mattered most all the same…and meant the world to him, with a cherry on top. And whipped cream. And sprinkles. Phin was starving. Jimjams was too punch drunk to even do insisting it was supper time. 

All too soon and forever after Phin went light-headed with hunger, a subtle shift in Jake’s stance made an expectant hush do shrieking into sudden silence. 

“Thank you…as ever, for being here…and being so bloody brilliant,” he grinned, inclining his head with an innate grace that suggested he’d done stopping by from centuries past. Or another species entirely. “And Alex, for inviting me back…again. It’s been a pleasure, as always. I’ve never sung this before…so I hope I don’t slaughter it.” Jake dipped his head, allowing his lush tumble of hair to fall forwards obligingly. His bashful flush still sent a rush of reciprocal heat tingling to Phin’s toes, even though it was hidden from view. 

Jake did focussing on his fingers as he picked out the first few chords…of a melody so mellifluous it did stroking Phin’s heart strings like a harp. A song so enchanting, he’d remembered every word after one listen, and the shiver of every note down his spine.  

“You…” Jake lifted his head and Phin found himself ensnared by blowtorch blue as a violet voice did imploring; “‘…with the sad eyes…don’t be discouraged...’” 

Phin scarce knew what to do with himself, he wanted to do leaping up and jumping Jake and melting in a buttery-boned puddle all at once. His blood was boiling through his veins like lava, his skin so skittery with static he might shock someone if they did so much as brushing him with a wayward finger. By the time Jake had bade him to show his True Colours, as beautiful as a bloomin’ rainbow, Phin was done for. He was too spellbound to even do blinking. So, he sort of sat, shell-shocked, which was p’raps for the best when he felt fit to burst with a joy as staggering as he was stunned. 

He couldn’t do remembering much after that. His brain did blanking. All Phin could recall was stumbling about a bit and being enfolded in arms so strong he forgot to do worrying about falling apart. Unless p’raps he knew they’d hold him together, somehow… 

There were people and back claps that vibrated from Jake through Phin. Warm words and brighter light. Smiles and smells and faces that seemed familiar, or didn’t.  The heady scent of Jake, tethering Phin to himself. Holding him close, ushering him…somewhere.

Then, at last, a caress of cool air did filtering through the fog, blowing the cobwebs away. Phin did lifting his face into the wind and let his eyelids flutter shut. 

“Breathe…” That voice. Phin would do anything it asked, whatever it took…he could do breathing. The secret scents of night did filling his lungs, as soothing as the sultry scent of his mate.  “Better…?”

“Hmm…thank you. Sorry.”

“You’ve nothing to be sorry for…I don’t know how you did it.”

“Did what?” Phin wondered, because it sounded like a good thing, so he couldn’t have done spouting unfortunate stuff in front of folk. Or sprouting whiskers. 

“I don’t quite know…but you didn’t shift, when it was so close I could taste it…” Jake sighed, tightening his arms. It felt unconscious, like a sense memory. 

I didn’t do it, you did…” Phin told him. “I just did…blanking. Shutting down, that sometimes works when the scratchy gets too much. You did holding me together.”

“You give me way too much credit….” Jake murmured, pressing a kiss to the underside of Phin’s jaw.

“No, I don’t…which is dreadful when I haven’t even done thanking you for my song, let alone telling you how brilliant you were and everyone thought so and I was so proud but then you did singing my song and I almost did bursting from too muchness and I haven’t said ’nuff thank yous cos I never could—”

Phin was cut off (way past his prime) by the lips Jake crushed to his own, stealing his very breath (a cunning plan indeed, it must be owned). He tasted of whiskey and want and far more than Phin could ever do finding words for, because there were no words in the world to colour Jake’s kisses. They were sorcery itself, sublime. Kaleidoscopic, too exquisite to capture. All he could do was pour every fibre of his being into his own and hope Jake might fathom them, somehow…with instincts as sharp as jackal teeth and a tongue like liquid flame. 

Just as he had Phin.

*

Even when their mouths did melting to stillness, they stood, pressed as close as clothes would allow, behind the Albion where Phin had first done meeting his fate. Mate. Jake’s sharp breath did scything through the silence, about an answering blaze of blue before he did grabbing Phin’s hand and gifted him the glinty grin he loved best.

“C’mon…” 

They ran, fingers linked, laughing into the wind that did tugging them onward, as impatient as the self fit to burst from Phin’s body the moment we’re out of town. Promise. Running had fast become one of his favourite things to do (dressed) while human; even his legs seemed chuffed by the chance to do something well. Other than tripping him up. 

As if Jake had done hearing all of that (which he hadn’t but p’raps caught scent of its gist) he tossed another grin Phin’s way and sped up the second that houses gave way to hedgerows, and there was no whiff of human on the wind.

The night was lush with promise, the starlight as bright as the breeze was playful. Teasing Jake’s hair and whipping it around his face, radiant with the lure of freedom thrilling through his veins… Even if he’d fought that truth until he saw it for himself, mirrored in Phin’s gaze.

“I love you…” Jake did flexing his fingers, tightening his clasp for the heartbeat it took for Phin to return it.

“I love you too…” Phin affirmed. In every way. It was always the last thing they said, in human. Like a starting pistol, or a prayer before lift off. Jackals Are Go. 

Oops, tragic that…They tended to do stripping off before shifting back at home, but they’d done dashing here from the pub so whoops-a-daisy. Jimjams thought it a better treat than dog chocs; so did Jack, much to Jake’s dismay. Black skinny jeans didn’t grow on trees. Nor in Cornish farm shops, for that matter.  

Phin was still snickering to himself when his own (not that skinny, scratchy balls would do driving him demented and relishing their nightly airing sure hadn’t helped) were but tatters on the breeze that rifled PJ’s fur when he did shaking it out. The bit in between never did differing; it was a bone-grinding, tendon-twanging, muscle-wrenching agony of ecstasy. Pain and pleasure both…a lot like loving someone.  

If you p’raps did revelling in all things gloriously gothic…and a smidge gruesome. 

The vision that did now standing before Jimjams was worlds away from that. Jack. Mine. From the tip of his tail to his noble nose. All PJ’s. As PJ was his. 

And Phin was Jake’s And Jake was Phin’s…if you were as daft as squirrel’s brush. Jack did slanting him a wry side-eye that suggested he’d been eavesdropping. Or Phin had p’raps done thinking too loud. Oops. Jake just did a wink, not a jot miffed, then shot off ‘as if a hell-hound was hot on his heels’.  Scoundrel. 

Jimjams lolled a laugh and gave chase, his heart fit t’bursting with a too much consequence of being the luckiest jackal on Earth. Fact. 

Fibber. 

Ooh, Mr Last Word as ever. And ever…Jimjam’s hoped as he did loping along to catch Jake up.  

Loping? Damn cheek. Ludicrous, those things are, that’s why… 

Big fat fibber.

Touché.

PJ drew level and did swiping Jack a lick, content to remain at his stride until they reached their happy place. They didn’t quite do scampering off into the sunset…

It was better—the night belonged to them—to their furry time. Together. 

Forever? Spoke for itself. Jackals mate for life…

 

***

 

The End.

 

twit

Wafflish

Beast: Epilogue Pt 1

Hiya, it’s getting out of hand😳 so here is the first half… I’ll post the final part asap.

 

amor

The Beast of Bodmin Moor

 

 

Epilogue Pt 1 

 

 

 

 

Phin

 

 

Two weeks later… 

 

 

 

Phin could scarce stop from jigging in his seat as he did waiting for Jake to take his place at the mic stand. The Albion was as busy as can be with punters aplenty buzzing about like bees in Phin’s bonnet. He wasn’t wearing one of those, just fluffy earmuffs to do dampening their racket.  Splendid they were too, so he was glad his mum had bought them many moons ago, or Phin would’ve found himself plugged. Not in a fun way. By a certain foxy fusspot whose fretting made the muffs far more of a must than the clatter and chatter they were supposed to do drowning out. Ear-stuffer-uppers had sounded way more scratchy than a bit of hub-bub.

Phin didn’t mind the muffs one bit: Jake had refrained from plugging him, and better yet, Mr Fuss-a-lot might be able to do less fretting about Phin and more focusing on his music. 

As an added bonus, his trusty muffs were so fabulous they seemed to do calling for a feather boa to wear with them, as befitted such an auspicious occasion. Phin was about to see Jake play in public for the first time ever. He had done lots of listening at home but— A thought interrupted by a smile so creamy it was a wonder Phin’s whiskers hadn’t sprouted. Home. Jake and Phin’s home. Home sweet home. Home is where the heart is. Turns o’phrase that came as thick ‘n’ fast as… oh dear. 

Phin did crossing his legs and tugged his jumper down a tad. It was a good job Jake wasn’t standing at the mic stand or Phin might have needed to spring up and do catching it. Oh dear deux. What a t’do. I’m a poet and I didn’t know it. Tra la la boom de yay, my knickers flew away…in tatters yesterday… Crikey, his brain was having such a fizzy fit of the fidgets, Phin could scarce do keeping up. Cue Mutley snicker. It was ’nuff to cause whiplash; as-yellow-as-a-sou’wester-hat whiplash. Where was I?

 Ah, that was it…the muffs. He’d been gifted them by his mum when scratchy matters had run amok in Phin’s teens. He’d promised Jake he would do wearing them as a compromise after refusing the pluggers. The muffs were far preferable; Phin was accustomed to them and they also did pressing the sides of his head; a thing that oft helped when his marbles were pinging about too much. It felt…settling, similar to pressing the heels of his hands to his temples when the scratchiness got too much.

Anyhoo, Phin had assured Jake that the muffs were ‘mum approved’, which was surely proof of their pudding. That didn’t sound quite right. Not a lot did while sporting fluffy ear-flaps. Their fabulosity had proved so potent that Jake took one look at them and did blinking a bit when Phin rooted them out to show him. 

“I now find myself absurdly relieved by the brandishing of a pair of earmuffs…” Jake did rolling his eyes and sighed with weirdly gusty extravagance. “How long ago did you tell your mum?”

“I didn’t…the paediatrician did. P’raps when I was three?” 

“Three!? What the fuck made them so sure? Let alone tell your mum?”

Huh? Has Jake gone doolally? Isn’t that their job?

“Um…I didn’t do listening, which made them think I was deaf. So they did testing and came to the conclusion that I just ignored stuff I didn’t find interesting. And p’raps people too.”

“Tested?” Jake frowned. “Hang on, I’ve lost the plot…what were you tested for?”

“To see if I was deaf, I just told you…before they did deciding on Autism. It does my dad’s head in, but my mum’s always been supportive.”

Oh gawd…” Jake’s shoulders were quaking when he did what was called a ‘face palm’. The most literal turn of phrase Phin had ever heard in his life. Did that do disqualifying it as one?  “What I meant was: how long ago did you come out?”

Come out? Well, dang. Was there a kinktastic sex practice involving muffs Phin had missed in his many hours of research?

“I didn’t. It would have made her do worrying even more…in a Brokeback sort of way. She did very lots of crying when we saw it on telly.”

“Phin…I can’t help but suspect that…it’s a smidge too late to fret about worrying her. Or ‘coming out’. 

“She knows?” How!? Had she done finding the box of blue-eyed boys under Phin’s bed? Read his journal? His Kindle?  What made Jake so sure?

“Phin, she bought you rainbow earmuffs. I cannot think of another reason on Earth why she might have chosen a pair with an orange stripe. Nope, not even if you’d already okayed rainbows as the exception that proves the rule.”

“I like rainbows…” Phin heard himself say, from very far away. “They do neutralising…” 

He trailed off, too befuddled to do remembering the rest of whatever it was. She knows? Why hadn’t she done saying something, anything? Wasn’t she supposed to do sitting Phin down and telling him that it didn’t matter, it made no neverminds and she still loved him? 

Or had she? In her own inimitable way? His mum was quite mad, Phin was convinced of it—in the best possible way—but bonkers all the same. Had the muffs been a silence speaks louder than words sort of gift, when Phin himself had kept schtum on the subject? That seemed…probable. She was such a fountain of phrases, she even did spouting them in Latin.  Oh. 

‘Amor omnibus idem’…Love is the same for all. 

Virgil. 70-19 BC.  Her favourite font of wisdom.

‘Non omnia possumus omnes’…We can’t all of us do everything.

As she’d done reminding Phin over ’n’ over with so-soft insistence. P’raps when he’d had a bit of a fit of frustration…or done banging his head…or…um, ad infinitum.

Oh dear…he’d done wafting off. Again. Phin couldn’t even do remembering to concentrate on concentrating, of late. His mindset…didn’t. On anything. Else. It was a too much kaleidoscope of colour that never settled for long enough to do focussing on any one thing. Except…

Phin felt a smidge guilty for not minding one bit. He couldn’t do fretting about no sudden shrieks of scarlet. He liked red, but certain shades did setting off alarm bells in his head if they crept up on him while he wasn’t watching. It was also impossible to be bothered that a cloying cloud of khaki hadn’t done suffocating him in its noxious niff…but best of all? Nary a scourge of orange smog had made Phin scratchy with its skunky stink. 

Turning foxy may have made all this louder, brighter, stronger, smellier, swifter… more intense, but his brain had only done…shifting gear. It hadn’t split in two, nor did Phin feeldifferent’…or see the world through ‘new’ eyes. He’d just been gifted super-specs. They were even more splendid than his ear-muffs. As was their latter day significance in the scheme of thingsduhand future stuff he could do sharing. 

Phin wasn’t sure whether he was wired too wrong to find his foxiness freaky…or if following in Jake’s wake had paved Phin’s streets with gold and lit his way with a glow that made it the most sun-kissed spot on Earth. A happy place that logic seemed to suggest wasn’t all that far from ‘equatorial embarrassment’ but it sure felt a million miles away… 

 

 

***

tbc…

 

 

Wafflish

Beastly Business

Hiya,

Just a little update…I do so hope you’re safe and well…and stay that way. 💙

I am still writing the epilogue, which is now about the length of a standard part, but I’ve barely begun. Oops…I may have to post instalments… 😳

I’ll leave it here till it’s published on 8th April, but it will be free for 5 days from 9th-13th, then available on KU thereafter.

Thank you for being here  xx 💙 xx

Goodreads

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Tadah

 

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Wafflish

Beast of Bodmin Moor…the end. Almost.

Hiya,  I added the final chapter – Jake – beneath Phin’s, as it insisted on being so brief.  We’ll be paying them one more visit for an epilogue. Thank you, as always for being here.🥰

 

 

The Beast of Bodmin Moor

 

 

Phin

 

 

 

“Hold on…” Jake instructed, after pressing a kiss to the tip of Phin’s nose. 

Scant seconds later, he’d done sitting up and shifted them round to plant his feet on the floor and push himself up. With Phin clinging on like a lanky monkey. He’d never felt so light, fragile, in his life, which was a bit bonkers when he’d never been less breakable. But, the fact still stood, despite being about five inches taller than Jake. It wasn’t a frequent thing to feel as weightless as a wisp of gossamer when lifted aloft, at six foot plus. Phin liked it. A lot.

Uh-oh. 

Jake’s sharp inhalation made his eyes flare wide but, nose like a sniffer dog aside, Phin was pressed a smidge too close for jackal-in-the-box antics to go unnoticed.

“What on earth did you just think?” Jake chuckled. “Your scent spiked so sharply my knees nearly gave out.”

“Do I have to tell?” Phin asked, slamming his lids shut before cranking one open a smidge for a peep.

“No…but I’m now more curious than I was, which Jack finds frustrating.” 

“I think you use Jack like old folks use their age to suit themselves, so they don’t have to do remembering stuff that sucks rocks. Or ‘hearing’ it in the first place. It was p’raps about feeling as light as a feather—literally—when you do lifting me, and liking it. A lot.” 

“A lot, huh?” Jake grinned, rather than rebuff the blaming Jack part, as Phin had hoped. Bummer. “As for Jack…he likes that ‘snippet of info’ far too much. So, make what you will of that…while I go and run your bath and change the sheets…” Jake smirked, lowering Phin to the sofa. The second he was seated, the scoundrel turned tail and scampered off, leaving Phin far too foxed by Sphinxy riddles to do fathoming left from right. Or Jake from Jack…which was p’raps the point. Of what? Phin wasn’t sure. He was too flummoxed. 

Only one fact seemed certain; he would never do getting to the bottom of things that made Jake fascinating…or bored of the bottom that had just done slinking off with a wink of the dimples above its sumptuous swell. 

*

The scent of essential oils soon did wafting down the stairs…lavender, the sweet, herbal smell of chamomile…and one more, a minty woodsy whiff. Phin realised that he could hear the bath do filling up—not just the whoosh of the water from the tap—the sound was getting deeper, denser, as the level rose. His ears could still do picking up the noises from the bedroom as Jake rustled about; shaking out a sheet, having a scrap with the duvet cover. Phin was about to go and offer to do helping; it was his mess, but Jake was so super-swift he’d finished before Phin could do acting on the thought. 

The taps turned off and a few seconds later Jake reappeared in the doorway.

“Your bath awaits, sir…if it doesn’t smell orange. I hope?” 

“Nope…lavender, laced with chamomile…and…something else, just as green. Thank you, Jake…” Phin did smiling from under his lashes, blushing a bit. He’d come over all unnecessary. He liked that turn o’phrase a lot, but he’d never done feeling it before.

“Y’welcome…ready? Fireman’s lift or—” The fireman’s lift part ignited such a scorch of memory that Jake broke off on a rakish grin. Then did bending to clasp Phin’s right wrist and lift the arm aloft before tucking his tousled head beneath it. A snatched-off breath later, Phin was upside down with the best view in all of Kernow.  Nope, scotch that… watching it bunch, tighten and roll its way upstairs was sublime.  “There y’go…” Jake’s voice was raspy raw when he lowered Phin’s feet into the water. It did lapping at his calves in a silken caress, slithery with oil.  “Clary sage…that’s the other green smell. It’s an antispasmodic…I kept cramping for days…”

“After your first shift?” Phin wondered. When Jake just did a tight-lipped nod, a flicker of thought suggested a second question: “Did you try to do repressing stuff—fight it—next time?”

“Yeah…” Jake did a sigh so heartfelt it made Phin’s ache for him. Neither of them did acknowledging the cause and effect consequences of Jake’s answer aloud. They were as clear to Phin as the water rippling round his legs. Oh, he hadn’t done sitting down yet. Duh. 

Phin sank to his haunches and did parking his bum before shifting back a bit to make way for Jake. When he’d done stepping into the bath, Jake turned to present him with Phin’s favourite perspective on life, then clasped his bent kneecaps to do sinking between his legs.

“Mmmm…” That happy hum of sound happened on its ownsome when Jake did leaning against Phin’s chest. A sultry slip-slide of moist heat that was sheer bliss. A shade of buttermilk so luscious, he might get partial to baths for the first time in forever. Phin was too fidgety to ‘do relaxing’ and too clumsy to do reading while having a soak. That left one thing. Shooting yourself in the eye wasn’t a lot of fun, so Phin preferred to do showering, oddly ’nuff.

“Oh, I needed this…” Jake’s sigh was a spectrum apart from his last one. 

“Is it my fault?” Phin had to do asking because he dreaded the answer.

“No….far from it. It’s mine. You didn’t cause any of this, I did. I’m just tense, that’s all. Strung too tight, waiting for…the worst to happen.”

“What would the worst be?” Phin murmured, wrapping his arms around Jake.  

“Doing you irreparable damage…” Came the instant response. “Not just physical…”

“You were far too late to do damaging my head, y’daftie.” Phin assured him. “So you needn’t do fretting about that.”

“Your head isn’t damaged..or wasn’t until people tried to persuade you it was.” Jake grunted. “What is Mr. Neil supposed to help you with, Phin?”

“Cognitive behavioural malarkey. It hasn’t done making a jot of difference,” Phin admitted. “He’s very good at his job, I’m just a rubbish customer. P’raps it does working better when OCD is the issue, not a spin-off? I don’t know but my autism thinks it’s shady and does shooting it a suspicious side-eye. The colour stuff is separate…that’s just like being left-handed.” There. That was all of it…sort of. The rest was consequences…like cutting, but Jake knew about that.

“I suspect your instincts are too strong to slip anything ‘shady’ past them,” Jake chuckled. “Logic can’t touch ’em either, so I doubt it matters what’s drilled into your brain…” 

“It doesn’t have a hope in hell now…turning foxy is not a jot logical, is it?” Phin couldn’t help but do grinning. “Jake, can I ask something that does defying all logic to me?”

“Should I be worried?” Oops, it seemed to be Jake’s turn to do slanting a shifty side-eye. 

“It’s more a past thing, than a future fear?” Phin hedged. Jake didn’t do tensing in response, nor did his scent sour, so… “If jackals mate for life, why would she scarper after finding you at Glastonbury? ‘How’ makes even less sense…I’d rather die than do leaving you.” Phin felt as matter of fact about that as the clean duvet being claret. 

“It didn’t seem strange at the time…nor since, until we met. Now? I’d rather drop dead than abandon you, so…I have two theories: either she’s the anomaly, the exception that proves the rule, if y’like. That’s my preferred option. Or—how I hope this isn’t true—maybe she lost her mate? Grief’s a force as powerful as the love it mourns…if anyone hurt you I’d be quite capable of tearing them apart with my teeth and considering that justice. Unless it’s as simple as searching for second best…which never winds up feeling enough.” 

“I hope she finds someone she can’t do leaving, if that’s her story, it’s so sad. I wish you hadn’t suffered for her hurts but…” Phin trickled off, the rest of that sentence reeked all wrong and felt like rusty nails. Forgiveness was Jake’s to give.

“I know…walk a mile in her shoes, then judge her harshly, huh…?” Jake snuffed a sigh then did adding, “I’d rather she was heartless than heartbroken, t’be honest. Following in those paw prints is the last thing on Earth I’d want to do…”

“I can’t help but be glad she was a jackal…rather than say…a wolf.” Phin ’fessed up. “I would be a rubbish pack member. Having to follow lots of scratchy laws would do driving me demented. Too much bossing about would make me miffy…so I might forget to do remembering the rules and get bitted for being bad. Besides…I just want to be with you. I don’t want to do sharing.”

“I wouldn’t wish being stuck with me on my worst enemy, y’know,” Jake countered, which was the daftest thing Phin had ever heard anyone (else) do saying. It’s top spot was blink-n-miss it brief: “I’m fuck-awful company, and you deserve so much more…”  

“You’re the only company I’ve ever wanted to do keeping, so I feel m’self fortunate to be ‘stuck’ with it, you nutter. There is no more than you, and that’s that.” 

 

***

 

 

Jake

 

 

 

 “I’m the nutter? Thinking yourself fortunate for being stuck with me makes you certifiable. We should book you an appointment with Mr. Neil sharpish, see if he has any shady tips to imparrh fuck…” Jake tangled his fingers into the tufty hair hovering above his shoulder when the shell of his ear was accosted by a trickle of tongue. The lapping at its lobe ceased when teasing teeth sank into soft flesh and a feathery trail of fingertips started heading south, snatching away the last of Jake’s breath. Ah well…there was all the time in the world for talking. Surrender had never felt so sweet. Or permissible. Letting his lids glide shut, Jake inhaled a lungful of the most intoxicating smell of all, the mulled wine scent of his mate

“Kneel up, ’kay? I want to do washing you…” Phin murmured against Jake’s neck after leaving the hot imprint of his lips there. The blood that prickled to the surfaceblooming to a bruisewould be long gone before Jake made it to a mirror. 

Phin snaked out a long arm to snag the sponge when Jake grasped the sides of the bath to haul himself to his knees. A spurt of cherry almond preceded the slow sweep of soapy circles that spilled shivers of heat down Jake’s spine. He felt as fluid as the rivulets of water trickling down his skin, lapping at his legs. As languorous as the sultry air.

“Hmm…” Phin could pack more pleasure into a single syllable than ‘bliss’ could encapsulate. 

No one responded to stimuli with an absorption that could compare to Phin. Those inimitable eyes, as excessive as his thirst for more. He revelled in every touch, taste, scent, sight, sound, as if he might never know another. As if each was the first…and last. Wringing magic from the most mundane moments; infusing them with more. A self-sustaining energy source, personified.

Logic alone suggested that the flip side of this was—would be—brutal, which went a long way to explaining the ‘scratchy’ and Phin’s fear of it. If he could drink so much joy from things he delighted in doing, then—

You can’t control the air quality he breathes, you pillock. Nor would he thank you for it. In fact, quite the opposite, while we’re on the subject an’ all.

I know that, but—

But nothing. Just be there for him. Jump on the other end of the see-saw. Send him flying again. Obliterate the scratchy with a stronger ‘stimuli’, you fancy schmancy git. If anyone can… 

What if I fuck up, fail him?

If? You’re half-human, you lummox. Count on it. Of course you’ll fail him, he’ll fail you. We’ll fuck up. Together. I’d add ‘forever’ there, but it would sound too trite. 

You just did.  

With incorrigible Phinesse though, y’must admit…  

 

* * *

Fin…epilogue to come…

 

Tadah

 

 

***

Wafflish

Beast of Bodmin Moor 50

The Beast of Bodmin Moor

 

 

Jake

 

 

The sheer intensity of Phin’s kiss was too much for Jake’s subterranean self to take…sitting up. One second they were side by side on the sofa, lips locked, tongues entwined. The next, Phin was flat out, pinned beneath Jake’s bod—fuck.

“Shit, sorry!” So, so stupid. Careless…when he’d never cared so much in his goddamn life. About protecting Phin, keeping him safe, shielding him from harm; when the greatest danger to Phin was still, in fact, himself. The inability to control his base instincts…reprehensible, at the best of times. Unforgivable, when they failed Phin.

That was oblique. Am I to suppose it was aimed my way…or are you finally ’fessing up?

Bastard.

At least you’ve always owned that much. On the bright side, Phin doesn’t seem a bit bothered, you jim-jammy sod…so stop cussing and count your bloody blessings for once. Rather than ripping y’self a new one. Golden boy. Inside and out; despite your constant carping to the contrary. Unless Phin is colour blindwhich would be a bit bloomin’ ironic, y’must admithe clearly can’t see the black heart you’re hell bent on bemoaning. So, suck that up, shit for brains. 

Jake abruptly found himself too busy to argue when Phin clasped his nape to crash their lips together. The air slammed out of Jake’s lungs and he gasped, tasting the scent that now seemed a part of himself. The supple warmth of Phin’s tongue, the fierce tenderness of his kiss; as luxurious as the leg he hooked around Jake’s. It also made flipping them over as smooth as it was effortless; relieving Phin of his weightouching or notand well… Phin’s words had proved impossible to shift since…moments before he’d done exactly that.

‘Jimjams can’t do sitting on Jake’s…’

Jake was only human (most of the time) and Phin? As sure as everlasting legs was, now at least. The glint that gleamed in those stargazy eyes, staring down into Jake’s, suggested Phin hadn’t done forgetting either. A fact confirmed about a gleeful grin before he scrambled up and shot off, returning a few seconds later with the lube.

It was all Jake could do to hold still when slick fingers were curled around his cock, such was the force of his own feuding will. Finer instincts fighting the compulsion to seize control when Phin’s body could do with a break from further battering, Sire or no. Safeguarding his mate being the only battle Jake had a hope in hell of winning. Phin’s earlier wish was the ace card that froze Jake in place when his waist was bracketed by bent knees. 

Rather than sinking straight down as he’d steeled himself to expect, Phin bent to brush a kiss to Jake’s mouth and whisper words he would die to deserve. Whiskey warm, as intoxicating as Phin’s breath. Then sank down onto Jake’s cock (sitting up and all-but begging), engulfing it hilt deep with a sublime sigh. The absence of—now unnecessary—prep was still a shock to Jake’s system so intense it ripped a curse from his lips, and a plea from every fibre of his being. 

“Fuuck!” Jake gasped,  “Phin…please…” An entreaty met by a swish of hips, for all the world as if to make himself ‘comfy’. If the intent in those eyes proved as lethal as they promised, it would finish Jake off. All he could do, was abandon himself to the lissom sweep of lithe hips and hope he didn’t disgrace himself. A feat in itself against what had to be the very definition of too much—at which Phin excelled—not excessed. Too much to be gifted, or have done a damn thing to deserve…too much bliss to bear…ever losing him. 

Jake gritted his teeth, jaw locked as tight as the grip on his own spine, hell bent on surging off the sofa. Then slammed his lids shut against a sight that was truly too much for one man and his dog to endure without exploding, in one form or another.

Jake let his head fall back, luxuriating in the sinuous sweep of Phin’s hips, rolling as he sank and rose…over and over till Jake felt half-crazed with lust; for more, always more… He would never, could ever, drink his fill; never taste, touch, take, give too much.  Buried in Phin’s body as deep as the dragging heat in the pit of Jake’s belly…radiating from the base of his spine to lick, lava-like, along his veins. He ached to learn Phin; every secret place that made a small, sharp, gasp rip from rosebud lips. Know exactly what made those long, lean muscles spasm, lock. To taste the precise tipping point when the torrent of sensation was finally too much for Phin to take. 

He could no longer wrench his gaze from Phin’s face. Lust-heavy lids, feathery lashes fanned low. As entrancing as the play of light and shadow on porcelain skin, shimmering with the lustre of pearl. Impossibly perfect.

“Gnnrrr…please…” Jake groaned, “Phin…” A plea that prompted a secret smile when Phin canted his hips just so, prompting a bitten-off shriek that made his head snap back. 

“Jaaake…” The heady sound of his name; exhaled on a sigh when he curled his fingers around Phin’s cock and allowed himself one incisive thrust. It wracked Phin with a shudder that snatched off on a gasp as sharp as cut glass when pulsing warmth started spilling over Jake’s hand. Infinitely too much to take. His spine spasmed, locking, when a staggering bolt of bliss shattered Jake’s vision in a torrent of white heat. 

When Phin sank against Jake’s chest, the smear of sweat slick skin and welcome weight was soothing. Lulling Jake into a softer sort of pleasure, like waves lapping the shore. Phin nestled into the curve of Jake’s neck, nuzzling close. He felt a little flicker of tongue, tasting. “Hmmm…” The purr that rumbled against Jake’s chest made his entire self hum in response. Ridiculous. Still true. 

If it was possible to hurt with happiness, Jake did.

“You’re terrifying…” Christ, he’d uttered that, hadn’t he? Into Phin’s hair, which had tickled Jake’s face, so he must’ve let the inanity air itself. F’godsakes.

“In a good way…or bad?” Phin didn’t sound a bit bothered. Either by Jake’s idiocy, or his own reaction to it, which was…inimitable.

“Can fear be considered glorious?”  Jake grimaced.

Okay, you’ve lost the plot now. Just sayin.

“Well…they do build roller coasters?” Phin lifted his head to offer, for all the world as if said lunacy had merited a reply.

“Can I keep you?”  Jake actually asked that. Aloud.

Now that is a question most meritorious. I’d begun to despair of you, I must admit.

“I doubt you’d do getting a refund,” Phin noted with a grin as dazzling as those stargazy eyes. 

“Thank fuck for that…”  Jake chuckled, pressing a kiss to the tip of his nose.

Only cos you’re priceless sounded far better, y’know. Ah well, it was a tad schmaltzy, I suppose.

Just a tad.

Tragic, that.  

Yup, devastating. Humans, who’d have ’em…?

You’re stealing my lines now, I think I preferred you all snarly.

What happened to ‘us’? Liar.

Takes one to know one?

Touché…

 

***

 

Wafflish

Beast of Bodmin Moor 49

 

The Beast of Bodmin Moor

 

 

 

 

Phin

 

 

 

 

Phin sat, waiting for Jake to do returning with their toddies, wondering at all his world had become since…he took his tumble? Found his happy place? Crossed the Tamar Bridge into Cornwall? Bought his campervan? If Phin hadn’t done any of those things, would Jake still have found him? Somehow? It didn’t do mattering a jot, not really, when Phin had done them and here he was…but it was a smidge scary to think he might’ve done a dozen things different and missed the moment he was supposed to do meeting Jake. Phin knew he was being daft, but that had never done stopping him before, so why start now? It was still…comforting to think that Jake could have hunted him down…just as the girl at Glastonbury had. He must remember to do asking Jake about her flit in the night. It was unfathomable. 

Much to Phin’s relief, his fretting was foiled by the mouth-watering whiff that wafted his way…followed by a sight even more luscious a few seconds later.

“One hot toddy…as ordered,” Jake grinned, upon entering the room with two steaming—

“Are we camping out?” Phin asked, shooting the tin cups a suspicious side-eye. 

“Not unless you’d rather sleep in your van than my bed? I suspect you mean these though…” he twitched the articles in question afore continuing, “…in which case, I bought them after being splattered in the scalding contents of damn near every mug in the cottage. You won’t snap the handle off this if you clutch it too tight…” Jake added, handing him one of the drinks.

“Thank you…” Phin thought he’d better do practice-makes-perfecting, despite his tin training cup, so he did concentrating on his grip. “Hmm…I love this smell…” he sighed, snuffling the lazy curls of Baileys steeped steam.

“Thought you might, I caught a whiff of it earlier, almost as creamy as the satisfaction it accompanied,” Jake smiled, seating himself beside Phin on the sofa.

“P’raps I was thinking about your voice. That’s what it does smelling of…”

“Have you always…sensed things that way?” Jake did cocking his head, blurring fur and face for a mo in Phin’s mind. “You said I smelled a funny colour earlier.” 

“I didn’t know it was odd for a long time…everything else was weirder in a louder way,” Phin admitted.

“Louder? More…obvious to other people?” Jake sounded as if he’d done guessing at something Phin hadn’t thought obscure. He could never tell…until told. No one thought him weird if he was alone, oddly nuff….but Jake didn’t seem to. Or, if he did, he didn’t seem to do minding. 

“Does that make things…difficult for you?” Jake had gone all careful again, as if he’d done weighing his words on the way out. 

“No…well, only when things—people—are too orange and make me all scratchy.”

“What colour am I?” Jake wondered, which was so unusual it made Phin do blinking a bit. 

“Gold. Inside and out…which is spooky. Matching doesn’t happen much.”

“That sounds scratchy.” Jake said that in such an airy sort of way, he made it sound a ’reasonable’ reaction. That was just downright weird.

“Pretending I haven’t noticed gives me ants in my pants,” Phin nodded. “And honeybees in my bonnet.”

“Rather than wasps?” Jake’s grin was as far from waspish as his words.

“Yes…” Phin did returning it. “Bees buzz…wasps sting. They mean it. Honeybees just go about their business and just do stinging if they feel threatened. The price is too high…it kills them. Wasps don’t give a stuff, they sting for the hell of it. ”  

Phin didn’t do mentioning the terrorists of the waspy world that nested in Jake’s head. That would be poking them with a sharp stick. Jake knew. Pointing out such stuff just did rubbing salt into people’s wounds. If it wasn’t for Jack, Phin suspected that sepsis would have set in by now. Jake did his damnedest not to know that. Scoundrel.

“Phin, if I make you feel uncomfy, promise you’ll tell me? I’m afraid I might inadvertently do something…scratchy that distresses you. ” He shouldn’t have to do worrying about that, it wasn’t fair. Phin couldn’t bear being a nuisance. That was another reason he did keeping his own company. He wanted to keep Jake’s though, which was fact so strange it seemed to have done circumventing all sorts of itchy-scratchy. 

“Nothing you do makes me uncomfy, just things you don’t do, like telling me stuff I need to know to stop fretting. So, I promise…if you’ll do telling me when I’m driving you demented. That’s my very best thing, so you can’t claim otherwise. Are we having my bath now? I’ve finished my toddy.”

“Okay…it’s a deal. Don’t hold your breath though. Unless you’re underwater,” he winked, plucking the cup from Phin’s fingers. “I’ll go and run the bath…do you want to collect anything from your van? Toiletries…clothes…stuff you can’t bear being without?”

“I’m worried it will look like you’ll never be rid of me…” Phin admitted.

“Phin, which part of forever didn’t you quite catch? I don’t want to ‘be rid of you’. I’d never ‘demand’ that you stay—I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live with me—but I hope you’ll stay….for as long as you want to. There’s a spare bedroom, if you’d feel more comfy having a…safe place? Somewhere that’s just yours, so y’can…be alone if you need to. Or want to, whatever…”

Phin was too stunned to do speaking. Too staggered even to do blinking. He sort of sat, transfixed by Jake’s lips and the words tumbling from them in a rush. As if he was trying to sell Phin a bridge. Rather than offering him the world with his very own safe room in it.

“Too much?” Jake grimaced, when Phin’s face p’raps stayed frozen in saucer-eyed shock for a smidge too long.

“No…I…really? Cos, if you’re worried about PJ, I can do staying on the drive till—”

“Phin, close your eyes.” Uh oh. Phin’s lids had done snapping shut before Jake finished gong-bonging his order. “Now tell me what you sense.”

“You…the scent of your skin…” There was no ‘wrong spice’ to do detecting, just Jake’s sunshine musk and salted caramel smell. The creamy warmth of whiskey laced coffee…the heat of his body, the headiness of its proximity…the strong, steady thrum of his heart. A touch faster than usual, as if it was strung a tad too tight…suspense? Anticipation? Another niff…a new one Phin hadn’t noticed; too attuned to the top notes every instinct sought first. Apple pie? No; too much cinnamon and nutmeg, ’twas more… strudelly. 

Mine. Mate.

“Phin…will you stay?”  His voice had dropped to a husky burr so pursuasive Phin felt sure it could do coaxing sap from trees.

“Yes…”  

A whisper of whiskey-cream preceded the feather-light press of plush lips to first Phin’s right eyelid, then his left…before melting against his mouth in a kiss so tender it left him buttery boned. And breathless, when Phin found himself flat on his back on the sofa, bowled over by an onslaught of skin and the intoxicating weight of Jake’s body. 

“Shit, sorry!” he gasped, aghast.

“S’okay…I didn’t do ouching, you daftie.”

Still, I should’ve—”

Phin did clasping the back of Jake’s head and crushed his lips down onto his own. The scoundrel was way too fond of tearing himself off a strip. Quite what that nugget of nonsense meant, Phin knew not, but he had found a very effective way to do skinning a cat. Shushing a canid was far more fun, though.

 

***

 

 

 

 

Wafflish

Beast of Bodmin Moor 48

Hiya,
This is the first of the just-written chapters, so we’re flying by the seat of our pants. Ah well, at least they’re new ones now, rather than recycled…

 

 

The Beast of Bodmin Moor

*

 

Jake

 

 

 

 

A single word thrilled through Jake’s veins. Mine. So clear it could have flitted from Phin’s lips. PJ stood before him, staring at Jack with the most imploring puppy dog eyes on the planet. 

You should take it from here, Phin needs you. 

“He’s on his way…” Jack swiped a little lick across PJ’s nose and nuzzled close, breathing him in. Jake?

’Kay, thanks…

Jack backed up a bit and dragged his focus from the face that would remain ever imprinted on his mind’s eye, forcing it inwards. Dragging a tractor uphill with a tow rope clenched between his teeth would have been a breeze in comparison. Jack closed his eyes and concentrated on the silent shimmer crouched at his centre. Jake. Caught the baton. Never had a shift been so simple to pull off, as if he’d abruptly acquired the parachute packing technique of Mary bloody Poppins. It was the swiftest sock up a hoover pipe that had ever been schllurrped.

Jake’s skin still had it’s post-shift sheen when he rose to his feet, sizzling with static. Those stargazy eyes, aflame with amber, brimming with a world of words unsaid. Bewitching. Jake bent to cup PJ’s face and press a kiss to the top of his tufty head.

“You’ve got this…I love you. Come back to me, Phin.” 

Jake straightened up and stepped back, giving him space. For a long moment, PJ stood, staring at Jake as if he’d soon vanish from view. Then his eyelids slid shut. Jake sensed the shift before it was visible, smelled the intensification of cinnamon spice when the air started to shimmer, surrounding him with an aura of soft wavering light, hazy with heat. Jake watched, entranced, every sense vibrating with awareness, as if they were tuned to the energy waves emanating from Phin. 

He hadn’t realised how…transcendent it would seem. Stupidly, when it was a bit of a no-brainer that shifting surpassed the limits of ordinary—human—experience. Way beyond the boundaries of ‘normal’, even when one’s baseline inhabited a stratosphere of its own. How the hell could Phin, who felt everything to ‘excess’,  emerge from such a sensory onslaught uscathed? Fuck. Jake’s blood abruptly ran as cold as the clammy sweat that prickled across his skin. 

How cruel it would be if Phin—whose affinity with his jackal self eclipsed Jake’s—found the process of reclamation so scratchy it triggered…fucknows what. He didn’t even know what label had been slapped on Phin or the strictures it imposed on his life. Nor how he ‘managed’ his ‘special needs’, or even if that terminology was correct. Jake hadn’t wanted to pry, to make it an issue of something that didn’t adversely affect his feelings, for fear that Phin might think Jake found it a ‘problem’ that necessitated discussion. If ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’? Jake had pretty much fitted Phin with roller skates and shoved him downhill. 

Which part of ‘Wheeee!’ didn’t you quite catch? 

“Phin…” His name fell from Jake’s lips as a prayer when the warped blur of fur and fog settled, stilling to a slight tremor of air around the miracle crouched on the grass. All present and correct—every excessive inch—luminous in shades of silver and shadow, kissed by moonlight.

“Jake…” Phin raised his head and prised his lids apart, lips curving in a slow smile as dazed as those eyes. Dark pools of bottomless brown, no longer ablaze with amber. Beautiful. “Are y’okay?”

Me?” Jake spluttered, staggered. He dropped to his haunches and brushed a rogue strand of tufty fringe aside before cupping Phin’s face. “It’s you that matters, I—”

“You smell a funny colour…sort of salty like peanut brittle, blimey I’m starving. I’m…feel as if I’ve been run over a bit. 

“A bit. As opposed to…say?”  Jake’s inane grin was ungovernable; the flood of relief so great he felt light-headed. Phin, his Phin, was present in those eyes, not lost to Jake in a too much overload that snatched away all he loved.

“Steamrollered? Squished like Tom after he’s been through the mangle.”

“Tom and Jerry?” Jake checked, as if that mattered more than the million questions he must ask before his ignorance did untold damage to Phin.

“Yes…Jake, why are you all frowny faced? Have you done changing your mind but feel responsib—”

“NO!” Jake cut in, too horrified to let Phin finish. “I’m sorry, I…I was afraid—Phin let’s get you inside, you need warmth and rest and—”

“Stop fussypotting, you daftie…” Phin butted in, planting his palms on the grass to push himself up. “I’m fi—ooouch!”

“See? Stay there…” Jake sprang to his feet and bent to scoop a chuntering Phin into his arms, “Stop cussing, I’m carrying you…”

“Bossy boots…now there’s a thought, will you do putting those on later?”

“My boots? But I’m not getting dressed…” Jake noted, knocking the door lever down with an elbow and pushing it open with his backside, which was bare and far warmer than the wood. “Fuck that’s cold…”

“You have the hottest bott on the planet that’s why, I’ve lost the plot now, where was I? My head is fuddled. Ah, that’s it…why would you do that? We haven’t been to sleep yet. Blimey, I’m thirsty, can we have hot toddies?” 

“Sounds good to me…then I’ll run you a bath, your body’s still been through the mill, no matter how fast you recover.” Jake told him, carrying Phin through to the front room and depositing him on the sofa. 

“Oh good…I didn’t want to be put to bed, I haven’t had my tablets yet. Thank you…” Phin smiled when Jake snagged the fleece throw off his armchair to tuck around him. “You don’t need to do fussing, I’m fine, I promise. Will you be having my bath too?” 

“If you want me to…” 

“’Course I do…Jake, will you do being honest?” Huge, imploring eyes gazed up at Jake, clouded with doubt. “Are you regretting…me?”

“Regret? Nothing could be further from the truth…” Jake sank to his haunches, searching Phin’s face. “Why…are you?”

“Never. You just seem strange, not distant…p’raps a bit. Sort of…careful.”

He means you’re acting like a wet lettuce. 

“I was afraid…you might not come back to me, that it might have…broken you somehow. The too muchness of it all…I should have asked so many things I didn’t—”

“That’s why you’re being all careful? I can’t be broked, I don’t think—not by stuff that happens to me—I do turning inwards, like hiding in my safe room. I can do way worse to m’self with far less effort, so don’t worry, you needn’t do being careful…’kay? Not knowing why—fretting that I’ve done something wrong—makes me scratchy, not too muchness. Anyhoo, I had you. You had no one.”

“Yes, but—”

“Yes but nothing, can we have hot toddies now? You’re too naked for chatting if you want me to do more listening, it’s very distracting.”

“You’re impossible, you know that?” Jake groaned.

“Yup, it’s one of my best things…” Phin beamed, utterly unrepentant. “You have too many to do mentioning, but you excess at being naked. Is it bath time yet?”

“What happened to your hot toddy?” 

“I’ve been wondering that for the last ten minutes…oddly ’nuff.” 

 

 

***

Wafflish

Beast of Bodmin Moor 47

The Beast of Bodmin Moor

 

 

 

 

PJ

 

 

 

Jack’s heart pounded, strong and true; trembling through PJ’s tongue as he chased the silvery trails strewn across his honeyed tum. Glistening in the moonlight, like spider silk decorated with dew. Its beat did resonating as somehow more than a thundering in PJ’s ears, he could do feeling its vibrations, as a…bone deep sense of awareness. So deep, its echo made the very ground do thrumming beneath his paws. Strange…but possibly not as spooky as the thought that flitted through his head. Jimjams suspected he might be able to use it as a…compass, to do finding Jack.

“Jack…?” he wuffled.  Lazy lids lifted to bedazzle PJ with blue. Still shimmery, but calmer now, like Caribbean seas at sunset. “Can you...feel me?”

“Feel you? D’you mean…can Jake?” he asked, tufty brows furrowing a tad.

“Huh?” Jimjams twerked his top lip in a wtf fashion that was a mite multilingual. Had doing mating addled Jack’s faculties? He had endured a very long wait to do the deedy, after all. “Jake? I’d have to be squiffy to do asking something so daft. I meant, can you do…sensing me, inside yourself?”

“Sorry…you’re right. It would have been a batshit question.” Jack paused and did cocking his head. Phin could have sworn he heard a snort of disgust, although Jack didn’t do one. Not out loud, at least. “Can I sense you? Yes, but I think I may have been able to before you shifted. I assumed I’d just followed your scent, which could be true, except it seems…more than that, in retrospect.”

“D’you think you could do…following it, to find me?” Phin wondered, buoyed by the fact Jack hadn’t done letting rip with one of those snorty noises Jake was so fond of.

“Now that you’ve asked…” Jack wriggled into a Sphinxy position and raised his head to do skygazing. It looked so low, up on the moors, like a vast swathe of sequinned velvet stretching as far as the eye could see. The stars made his nose do twinkling. “That seems…feasible,” he decided, before adding:  “Don’t ask. I do not intend on letting you out of scent range ’til I’m sure you’ll be safe…” 

“Dammit, if someone else did declaring that, I’d be so miffy I might do a runner…p’raps for the hell of it…to prove I could. Humph.” Bummer, he didn’t seem to be very proficient at truth twiddling on four legs, so it was a bloomin’ good job they were longer than Jack’s. Jimjams had a sneaky suspicion he might need to shift himself sharpish when his dear sire did sniffing out a faradiddle or two. Much.

“Then I’m glad you’re not miffed as I very much doubt I could stop myself from proving you couldn’t.” Jack sighed. His scent did souring to…something that reminded Phin of pumpkin slop. It wasn’t like ‘sour lemons’—that would be a crisp, cutting sort of smell—this was earthy; so fusty it was tricky to do focusing on the meaning of Jack’s words. When the penny did plink into place, it made the musty whiff seem a mite more fathomable. If nonetheless daft.

Jackal journal: Self-disgust was not a suits-you-sir scent. 

Status: Endangered. Extinct, asap.

“Why did you sigh if you want me to do staying? That doesn’t even make Jimjams sense.”

“Jimjams?” Jack’s tongue did lolling in a laugh.

“You started it! You called me PJ. That’s short for jim-jams, so stop prevaricating and do telling me why the whiffy sigh?” he huffed. It smelled and sounded so far from the way Jimjams felt, it made him do hunkering to the ground and resting his chin on his front paws. The very solidity of the soil felt…reassuring with too-much-stuff running amok.

“What was ‘whiffy’ about it? I doubt that was a dog-breath slur.” 

“Your niff went…sort of strange…” Jimjams did wrinkling his nose, rather than cosh Jack with a reeking word. “When you said ‘I doubt I could stop myself proving you couldn’t.’ It sounded as if you’d have to do telling me to stay…but smelled as if you wouldn’t want me to. Yet, you told me jackals do ‘mating for life’…so that’s screwy. I’ve just done thinking another thought that’s loopy now. Odd that.” PJ noted. 

It was something Phin had wondered about from the moment Jake did sharing his story. But he hadn’t understood just how impossible it would seem to Jimjams: How the bejeezus could the girl at Glastonbury do bearing to leave her mate? 

“You’re right, it doesn’t make sense…but I sighed when Jake flinched from the fact he’d want to command you to stay. That wouldn’t be noble, apparently.”

“He’s a daftie. I might wish he would, despite myself, if I had a strop and did stomping off in a miff. I might even hope he did so as ignobly as pos—oops, I shouldn’t have done admitting that.” Pj’s scent spiked so sharply, it’s consequences made Jack look as if a hairdryer had been blasted up his snoot.

“PJ…” The blue ignited like a lightsaber bursting to life. A sudden waft of woodsmoke, mulled wine and roasting chestnuts made Jamjams do springing up. About a big sloppy licky kiss before swivelling around to present Jack with his fluffy butt.

Jackal journal: Turning foxy sure as shameless strumpets hadn’t enhanced Phin’s subtlety skills much.

Status: A bit of a moot point while sporting a fancy free cock.

Phin had oft been informed that pottering about in the altogether was not-the-done-thing at all, no matter how comfy it was. Jim-jammy devil…where there’s a will, there’s a way. Ho hum. 

All that flashed through PJ’s head in the flicker of an eyelash, instantly obliterated by the brain-blitzing swipe that sluiced his person. Stone the crows ‘n’ crikey…’scuse me while I kiss the sky… Jimi-jams Hendrix just about did too, such was the sublime shock to his system. A fur frizzling Fender Stratocaster Experience PJ wouldn’t have done missing for the world…

*

A wee while later, Jack did butting a blissed-out Jimjams with his nose. “C’mon…it’s time for your tour of the moors…or it’ll be daybreak and we’d better get you home.” Home. How wonderful that sounded, even though it wasn’t PJ’s. He did, however, have a campervan perfect for parking on Jake’s driveway. That could be a plan, then his dear sire would know Jimjams was safe without being driven doolally. Quite so soon. PJ wouldn’t let himself do counting chickens, it made Phin scratchy. He would look flea-bitten t’boot.

“Where we off to…?”  PJ did shoving all such thoughts aside and scrambled onto all paws.

“Anywhere you wish…” Jack grinned and did swiping him a lick before scarpering in a spray of gritty bits. ‘Twas with a joyful wuff that Jimjams set off in hot pursuit…of his very own happy ever after. 

They ran…ran with the fur rifling wind whispering secrets, thrilling to the sighs of the night. Fast, so fast, they would be but blurs to less discerning eyes, but PJ could do seeing every blade of scrubby grass they sped across beneath their canopy of stars. By the time they did pulling up, panting with exhilaration, he could feel the dawn creeping ever closer. Hear its scents stirring. Sense the subtle shift in the air. 

“PJ…it’s time we headed back…”

“But—”

“But nothing.” 

“Pfft. That gong-bonging is going to get old, y’know…” PJ huffed.

“Fibber.”

“Humph.”

“Poor Jimjams…” Jack snickered. “Stop chuntering…and think sausages. We can come back tonight and every night thereafter if you wish…”

“Okay…” Phin fuffed a sigh. “Cramming myself back into my body isn’t going to be very fun, is it?”

“No…which is why I’d rather we got it over with. I need to know…you’ll be okay.”

“Are you worried that I’ll be missing a leg, or, I dunno…my head? I might be better off without that.” PJ noted.

“Just…humour me, okay? For my peace of mind, if nothing else.” 

“Oh alright then, Mr Fussypot-a-lot. Will I get a doggy-choc for being a good boy?” Jimjams did pinning on the best puppy dog eyes Phin had ever pulled off. Ha, lightweight.

“Ooh…something like that.” Jack winked, turning tail to do fleeing as if the hounds of hell were hot on his heels. Rather than his very own. Homeward bound before dawn stole the darklight away…

 

 

*** 2 ***

 

 

 

PJ did leaping over the garden gate and skittered to a stop (which wasn’t quite quick ’nuff) behind Jack. Oops. A snootbutt up the bum was a much better way to do braking than nutting a wall, it must be noted. Phin’s jackal journal would soon be jim-jam-packed with fascinating facts. Splendid. P’raps he could do turning it into a novel? That was Phin’s life long dream; to have a book published. So, why not indeedy?

No one thought The Vampire Diaries were a factual document, did they? The Jackal Journals would have a hero every bit as luscious as Phin’s former very favourite fella. With even more bedazzling blues than Mr Somerhalder. Tadah...a claim so outlandish that no one would believe a word he wrote, freeing his fictional self to waffle on as he wished. Sorted. Hiding in plain sight.

The Jackal Journals: by Phineas Finlay.

Status: research and role play…in progress.

That last part sounded as much fun as his new stopping technique. 

* 

Behopes Jake wouldn’t put the kibosh on said plans. Making both sires miffy would be a very bad thing. It was an itty bit ironic that Phin’s dad would like him lots more with four legs. First and foremost on the preferable front; PJ wouldn’t do too much embarrassing the Major in public. Unless he did cocking his leg up a Colonel. Jimjams could also do fetching his paper…curl up on his feet and keep them warm in winter while he did his crossword and watched telly. That would be cosy. Man’s best friend…rather an affront to his siring sensibilities.

What if Jake soon feels likewise? Being an eternal source of regret to both sires would be unbearable.

“PJ…what is it?” Jack’s tone suggested that he’d done woofing PJ’s name more than once. 

“What’s what?” Jimjams wondered. He hadn’t uttered anything amiss, had he done something untoward? Um, since the parking up the bum incident.

“Your scent is so infused with sorrow, I can taste it. You reek like the dregs of last week’s milk. Sort of sour, but worse, wrong…off. I’d ask if you were worried—or miffed—about changing back except, you don’t smell like fresh distress…more as if it’s lingered so long, it’s turned rancid.”

“Oh…it’s not important.”

“PJ…”  His name was a low rumbly growl of warning. A not-to-be-trifled-with tone Phin did recognising all too well. On that note…

“I was just thinking ’bout my dad, that’s all,” Jimjams huffled.

 “Is he sick?” Jack’s tufty brows knitted with concern.

“Sick of me? Yes.” PJ did a soft snuff, like a rueful smile on two feet.

“I doubt that’s true…even if it feels that way. I was such a disappointment, mine buggered off. But. What I’m about to say has been hard fought for, okay? I’m not mouthing platitudes, I promise. We can only ever be who we are. If that’s not good enough, it’s not your fault. You haven’t failed by failing to fulfil his expectations. Being you is more than enough…if he can’t see that, then he’s failed you.” If scent could do aching, Jack’s did. His sorrow was as raw as salt rubbed into scorched flesh.

“Do you ever see your dad?” PJ did wondering.

“No…not for a few years. He used to turn up a couple of times a yearto persuade himself he was doing his dutyI guess. He wasn’t much of a loss…selfish bastard. My mum got married again and had a couple more kids, she’s happy and I’m happy for her. We get on great, there’s no big drama. I’m closer to Jessie though, I think you’d like her…”

“Your sister?” PJ’s question was met with a nod, so he asked another…prompted by the mellowing of Jack’s scent when he’d mentioned Jessie. Phin suspected he knew the answer, but PJ was a curious sort of jackal and had a journal to write, so it wouldn’t do to get it wrong. “Is she more like Jack or Jake…?” 

“Not Jake…that’s for sure. She’s not a fuckwit, which helps,”  Ja/ke snorted. As if he’d never met a juxtaposition that couldn’t be dismissed with a expulsion of air through his snoot.

He’d told Jimjams more in the last two minutes than Phin had learned since they met. Did Jake’s foxy self free him up to do telling truths he shied from without his furry suit of armour? It was a good job Phin was wired all wrong, or he might do believing that Jack was Jake’s true self, shrouded insafeguarded byfur. Fortunately for that scoundrel’s comfort, making sense was not Phin’s forte, so Jimjams thought it best to let sleeping dogs lie. 

“Jack, how do I…what must I do?” he asked, instead. 

“Okay…” Jack backed up a bit, until they were face to face, blue to brown. “Focus… inside. Find a…tendril of self to tug on, a Phin thing…”

 Well, that made less sense than Phin did. Only his body bits were all that different, so he’d need to locate those. Where did Jimjams do stashing them when he wasn’t wearing them? That was bonkers. He sure as shovels hadn’t done buying his bones in the garden. 

A Phin thing that’s not also a PJ thing? Okay…Jimjams did closing his eyes…and saw the answer. In his head…which was, o’course, where Phin spent most of his time. Jake’s face shimmered into focus; hair a hundred shades of honey, umber, bronze. Golden skin agleam with—Skin. Phin longed to do trailing his fingers down Jake’s sinewy chest, down, down, to the tempting trickle of hair leading to…hmm...

Phin…

Uh-oh. PJ lifted a lid for a peep. Blue blazed back. He slammed it shut again…before his eyeball started singeing.  It was not-a-jot fair to trot out that particular tone. Varmint. 

“I am focusing!”

“You smell like sex…it’s driving me demented,” Jack growled.

“I only did focusing on you—your other you—who is a Phin thing! Jimjams can’t do sitting on Jake’s—”

“Oh fuck…”

“Exactly. Now shurrup, I was just getting to the best bit. Bossy boots. Hmm…now there’s a thought…”  Phin did popping back to his stash of treasures and lo, there Jake was. Naked, ’cept for a pair of black bovver boots…and all Phin’s.

Mine. 

 

***