It’s raining and she’s walking because the moon’s going to be full in two more nights and she always feels so damn horny at this time of the month. So she wanders the streets of whatever city she’s in this week – Glasgow or London, she can’t remember, so many journeys back and forth that it’s beginning to blur. She’s thinking of going Stateside again, to get out of the rain if for no other reason. America’s fun, people are so naive and idealistic there, with their constitutional rights and clean, new history, not old and bloody like Europe. People in America think that they’ve defeated all the monsters under the bed, but over here they know that there are things like her lurking. Transients with eyes like hers aren’t trusted, even in London. Europe remembers.
She walks the streets of Glasgow, she’s almost sure it’s Glasgow because London smells angrier, and returns any gazes aimed her way. Veruca is hunting, she’s only sixteen years old but some species mature earlier than humans and Veruca hasn’t been human for eleven years. She’s sixteen and she needs to get laid. A girl with black, black hair and a purple bruise on her thigh smells like sex but Veruca doesn’t like junkies, so she keeps walking. A man with flab and a dirty t-shirt starts talking smut to her, trying to scare the little girl out alone at night. But she just ignores him, shrugs lower in the red leather coat she borrowed from a store last week, and wonders if he knows that he stinks of cancer. She loves the way everything smells just before full moon. If the world always filled her senses the way it does now she’d probably discard society completely and go back to the woods. But that gets boring when she’s at her most human, and Veruca likes company sometimes.
Right now she’s barely human at all, although her looks show no mark of the wolf. The moon hangs low in the smoggy sky, she can’t see it, not with her eyes. But she can feel it, like witches can feel it.
A man pauses for a fraction of a second as she passes, and Veruca turns. As hungry as her, older by maybe twenty years, thin. She smiles and wordlessly changes direction, following the man. He knows she’s following and stiffens, his footsteps even as he walks. They reach a run-down old building and Veruca’s nose wrinkles before she can stop herself. It stinks of human desperation, the last stop on the road to ruin. But some silvery thread tying her to the night tugs low in her belly and she follows the man up the damp flight of stairs.
Neither of them speak, but then there’s nothing to say. She puts her jacket down on the back of a chair, followed by the thin satin shirt and the tight pair of cords with the stain on the ankle. She kicks her shoes off and stands there, waiting for him. Veruca likes to wait, to watch them hate themselves, hate the hunger. She loves the hunger, but never chooses lovers who do. She has no time for junkies of any species, and finds herself attracted to the same type time and time again. Tortured wrecks, who hide in cellars and search for cures and pray for salvation from themselves. She taunts them, laughs at their pain, tries to make them see what they’re missing out on. She rarely makes them understand, and when she does it’s always vaguely disappointing. Veruca gets off on their angst.
After a long moment as Veruca stands naked in the faint streetlight from through the window, the man mirrors her actions and strips himself of his clothing. He smells of self-loathing and desire. Veruca smirks and lets her gaze rest on the old scar, the bite, on his upper arm. It’s unadorned, and painful in this nakedness. Veruca’s own mark is framed by skin decorations from the places she’s been, henna and ink and scarification.
She steps in close to him and runs her tongue along the white line. He lets out a shuddering breath and runs his hand through her hair. It’s pale and long down her back, she’s been thinking of getting it cut short. Tangles and twigs make long hair impractical for her.
They fall onto the unmade bed together, hands exploring skin in the cold, clammy air of the room. Veruca’s tongue worries at the bite, stroking it gently. It seems to be paying off, she can feel the guy get hard against her leg. She wriggles down the bed and takes him into her mouth, too impatient to bother with the formalities. The man groans and bucks against her, and Veruca wonders how long it’s been since he allowed himself this. Sometimes her lovers are living normal human lives, with a girlfriend or a boyfriend and a job and a house in suburbia. But often they’re loners, living in rooms like this one, with no friends and no partners. Veruca is working with her mouth and fingertips, feeling sorry for the man, when it strikes her that she herself is a loner in the most total sense, without a family or a pack or even a city that she can consider home.
He shudders and comes into her mouth so quickly Veruca becomes sure that this guy hasn’t gotten laid in a long time. He returns the favor and goes down on her, which pleases her because it’s going to mark him with her scent, and for a while after she leaves Glasgow the other wolves in the city are going to know that she was here and they didn’t get to be with her like this one did. Veruca is proud of the way her name can strike both lust and fear into her kind all over Britain. She thinks about what sort of reputation she’ll have by the time she’s thirty. If she lives that long, that is. Sometimes Veruca wants to burn out young, take one of these screwed-up misfits who despise their own power and make them see once and for all how dark their nature can be. If you kill me you become me, that used to be the line she and her friends used when playing their stupid games of dare and double dare, reckless blood play in the bad parts of town.
Veruca hasn’t thought about Boston in a long time. Her accent’s gone, the freckles she got working in the car yard all summer are gone, and she hasn’t seen any of her friends for four years. She doesn’t need friends. She didn’t need friends when she had them, but they were fun to hang around with nonetheless.
Screw it. Being maudlin isn’t her style. And she has other ways of having fun now.
With a howl Veruca clutches at handfuls of the man’s hair. Time seems to freeze for her as her life until this moment and her life after this moment swirls and ripples around her. Sex and death and the moon and everything all seems to make sense in a profound and personal way for a long moment. Everything will be all right, is already all right, and nothing will ever be all right. They roll together, nowhere near spent, both feeling the moon as midnight draws closer and it reaches the top of the sky.
She ends up underneath him, which surprises her because usually they let her take the lead. Pacifism doesn’t have to be a passive thing, though, and Veruca understands now that this man fights against himself every month. She respects that, and sometimes wonders if maybe there’s something to be said for fitting in, relinquishing the hunt and the chase. But the mood always passes, eventually.
He bites down on her shoulder gently, as if reminding himself that this isn’t just an empty one-night stand, that she’s as primal and untamed as any creature of the forest. That he’s no better than that either. Veruca lies still at the touch of teeth, instinct forcing her to freeze. It’s the one aspect of the wolf that she doesn’t like. Submissiveness, no matter how instinctual, doesn’t sit well with Veruca.
Eventually they’re done, and Veruca pulls the cover up over herself. She might as well get a few hours sleep, since she’s indoors anyway. It’s not like anybody’s going to visit the man and force her to explain herself, anyway. Veruca very much doubts anybody ever visits.
She’s staying because she’s tired. She’s staying because it pays to get a little extra sleep before the moon. She’s staying because he’s curled up against her back now and she doesn’t have the heart to wake him, or slip away and leave him to wake up alone.
She’s not staying because she doesn’t want to wake up alone, either. She’s not staying because he, despite what they’d both like to think, is no different from her at all.
That’s not why she’s staying.
She keeps telling herself that.