Without the obvious signifiers of fur and sharpened canines, it was easy to gloss over, forgive, or ignore the effects of the moon on Scott’s psyche. Because of this, he failed to notice one of the moon’s major consequences for several cycles. When he finally did…
The day had been a long one, though not unusual. He had stayed awake the previous night until well into the small hours, trying frantically to make some kind of progress on as many backlogged homework assignments as he could. With a mere four hours of sleep, Scott had awoken with a headache lodged behind his eyes and a lingering nausea in his gut. Both faded as the day advanced, leaving him feeling unusually mellow and cheerful. It reminded him of the one time at a party when he’d gotten high, but without the lethargy.
Harris greeted the chemistry class with a pop quiz. Scott was able to make sense of only about half the questions, had answers for even fewer. Yet he was calm when he turned the quiz in, not defeated or resigned or panicked. He’d caught Harris’s eye, offered an apologetic smile, and … gotten back that steady glasses-shrouded stare, except there was a twinkle behind it as if they were sharing a private joke.
Finstock leveled his finger at Scott while the echo of the bell still hung in the air, opened his mouth. “This kid,” he began, jabbing the finger toward the teen, “This kid—“
“Is going to win you another championship,” Scott finished—slapped a hand over his mouth, bit down on his finger. Where the hell did that come from? He heard Stiles suck in a breath behind him, Allison snort back a giggle. He started counting down in his head for the inevitable detention.
Coach looked stunned, speechless, then ran a hand through his already wild brown hair and let out a guffaw. “You just keep thinking like that, McCall,” he said, with a much friendlier shake of his finger. “That’s the kind of confidence we need.” Then he turned to the board and drew a wobbly bell curve, as if he’d said what he’d intended to say all along and could move along to the teaching part of class.
Lacrosse practice had been brutal. Shuttle runs, laps, one-on-ones, and scores of push ups. Scott was glad that his earlier quip had put the coach in a good mood because he found himself struggling. His breath came shorter; a stitch buried itself in his side and wouldn’t ease up. Sweat soaked through his jersey before practice was even half over. He couldn’t seem to get his net under the ball, couldn’t get his feet to agree on which direction they were supposed to go. Yet, no one seemed to care. Even Jackson managed only to say, “Appreciate the effort, McCall, but you don’t need to worry about me,” after offering him a hand up from a resounding tackle. Scott blinked, shook his head in confusion.
“What was that about?” Stiles asked, apparently just as confounded.
Scott had no answer beyond an inarticulate shrug. The Jackson he knew would never sacrifice such a golden opportunity for a put down.
He spent the evening at Allison’s. They studied a little, made out a lot. His body responded as it always did—except. Except his fingernails stayed short and pink, he teeth squared and even. He felt increasingly aroused, a little frustrated. But not angry. Not possessive. Not out-of-control. She did things with her mouth that she’d never done before. He arched his back, his feet, threaded his fingers through her hair. Did his best not to moan. Failed. A bruise under his rib cage twinged, an unwelcome intrusion into the pleasant fog in his brain. She did something with her tongue; he forgot about the injury. Forgot about how he had once dreamed about killing her, about how in that dream her fear had smelled of spice and danger and adrenaline, and how he’d never before been able to completely quell the thought of smelling it for real.
Afterward, they lay in her bed, tangled together. Her head rested on his chest. She was still awake, trailing her fingers absently up and down his torso. “Penny for your thoughts,” she murmured.
He cast his eyes out the window, at the moon hanging in the cloudless night sky. There was always an instant when the moon’s power over him couldn’t be resisted any longer. It was an instant he dreaded for a myriad of reasons. That moment hit with a rush, like being sucked into an ocean wave. Scott felt Allison’s heartbeat throb against him, smelt the first threads of summer heat in the breeze.
The last stubborn grip of the wolf eased, slinked away with the faintest of whimpers.
“It’s the moon,” he answered, a grin spreading across his face. He hoped he wouldn’t have to say more because he already knew that no words would fit. Allison twisted so she could see out the window too.
“I can’t see it,” she responded, then, “Oh, there it is. It’s new.” Her hand stilled.
“Yeah,” he replied. An awe, a wonderment accompanied the word. Maybe she heard that, understood it as more than he could say. No one had ever told him about this. Why had no one told him? “Yeah,” he repeated.
Scott closed his eyes, pulled his girlfriend a little closer. He reveled in the warmth of her body against his. Just his. Her long hair tickled his skin.
A perfect end to a day he could have only had by the dark of the moon.