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Tooth And Claw

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Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek'd against his creed—

--Lord Alfred Tennyson, "In Memoriam A.H.H." (Canto LVI)

 

Hal dreamed of Tom that night. There were no dead peasants, he did not ride a white horse and carry his red shield. In this dream, there was the heat and friction of bodies pressing together, the slide of tongues, the thousand tiny little sounds of sex clouded in a haze of the subconscious.

He woke up early from the dreams this time. The world was still dark around him, Barry’s streets dead and deserted. Hal could not keep the dreams from his mind and did not fall back asleep. He was the first one downstairs when the sun began to rise. Annie came down with a stirring Eve as he was reading the paper, and she smiled that silly grin she hadn’t been able to put aside since she had caught Hal and Tom...groping like desperate teenagers on the bloody sofa, Hal’s mind supplied for him.

“Morning!” She chirped. “You’re up early. Interested in a cup of tea? I have to warm Eve’s formula up anyway, might as well make you something while I’m in the kitchen!” Hal wondered if Annie had been a morning person even when she was alive.

“Yes, thank you,” he responded, grateful to have a minute to gather his thoughts. It had been a day since he and Tom had…groped like desperate teenagers on the bloody sofa, and they had not talked about it. Tom smiled at him a little softer in the café, but they had barely spoken to one another. Annie, Hal knew, was not going to accept anything less than a detailed analysis of whatever it was between the two of them.

She came back with the hot tea, and cooed at Eve in her arms until the baby took the bottle. Annie just looked at Hal.

“So…I know you probably don’t want to talk about it, and I respect that, but,” she began saying.

Hal sighed and put down the paper. “It’s…it’s alright. Honestly, Annie, I don’t know what happened. I have spent so long reigning in these, ah, urges that perhaps I’ve become unable to recognize some of them early on. Tom and I, we’re…safe together. And he is my friend.” He hoped his voice was steady.

Annie beamed, not with the smug grin she’d been wearing before, but with a smile of genuine warmth. “I’m glad, Hal, I am.”

Hal couldn’t help a smile himself. There was a comfortable silence between them broken only by the soft sound of Eve sucking on the bottle.

“Plus,” Annie said, the smug smile back, “it will make the gay dads charade significantly more believable.”

 

Rain poured that day, and service at the café was slow. Around the end of their shift, when they had finally managed to make the drunken old man in the corner leave and the two were mopping up, Tom suddenly stopped and turned to Hal. “Look, so, we ‘aven’t talked ‘bout the other night.” Hal could hear the hope in his voice, and it twisted him in the gut.

He stopped mopping and turned to look Tom in the eye. He spoke slowly. “No, we haven’t. Is there something we should be talking about?”

Tom rubbed the back of his head and looked away. “Honestly, I’ve nevah been in this situation before, mate, I dunno really what to say. I guess, just, well, do yah like me? I mean, was it just a temporary lapse ‘cause ya haven’t done it in what, fifty years?”

Hal was trying not to glare, he truly was. “No, it was not a temporary lapse, and yes, I do like you. I wouldn’t have overstepped the very careful boundaries I set for myself if I didn’t care for you and want you a great deal.”

“Oh,” Tom said, and Hal was fairly certain he was trying not to blush. “Tha’s good, ‘cause I’ve been thinkin’ all afternoon ‘bout how I’d like to kiss ya again. Properly, this time.”

Good God, Hal thought, his head spinning. Tom truly had no concept of how something like him thinking about kissing Hal affected the other man so much. Hal spoke again, carefully. “Well, I’m glad, because I’ve been thinking about closing up early and pulling you into the back room so I can shove you up against the wall and kiss you until you moan again like you did the other night. But then I realized that back room smells like a rather horrid combination of chip grease and cleaning solution, so I thought it would probably be better to wait until we got back to the house and Annie was preoccupied with the baby.”

Tom’s mouth was open, and when he finally managed to speak, his voice sounded strained. “Yeah, tha…tha sounds nice. Ya know, there’s no customers anyway, it’s a shit day, maybe we just close up early and head back to the house.”

 

The two men looked as if they were attempting to casually sprint their way home, breaking into a full out run when they reached the front steps. They opened the door rather quickly, and Annie popped into the front hall, causing both of them to jump and curse. “Oh, you two are home early! I think I’m going to go have a lie down in Eve’s room while she naps, so don’t wait up for me.” Hal wasn’t sure if she had winked as she popped back out, but it did seem very likely.

Tom and Hal glanced at once another, and then began climbing the stairs. Tom’s bedroom was the first in the hallway, and Hal stopped, prepared to give his “Tom, I don’t want to pressure you into anything you aren’t ready for” speech when the werewolf grabbed his arm and physically pulled him into the room, slamming the door shut behind them.

Tom’s hands flew up to grasp Hal’s face, and his lips pressed firmly and eagerly to the other man’s. Hal’s mouth opened, and he pressed his tongue gently into Tom’s mouth, testing. Tom took it, sliding their bodies closer together. Hal’s head began to spin once again, thoughts racing through his mind. Tom’s body was impossibly warm under his hands, which had somehow made their way to rest on the small of his back and the scars running down Tom’s head. When Hal pulled his mouth away to gently rest on the juncture of Tom’s jaw and throat, he felt the near-imperceptible nod. Tom trusted him, if for no other reason than the knowledge his blood would kill Hal. It had been so long that a kiss like that wouldn’t have immediately ended in a savage bite that Hal took his time, reveling in the feel of Tom’s skin. The soft sounds the werewolf made as Hal kissed up toward Tom’s ear made him realize that he was incredibly hard.

“Tom,” he breathed low into the other man’s ear, “I need you to tell me what you want. I need you to, because I want to lie you down on this bed and listen to you make those sounds until you come and I need you to tell me if that is what you want.” Hal felt like he was burning as warm as Tom.

Tom nodded almost comically fast. “God, yeah, ‘course, Hal.” He sounded desperate.

Hal felt like the heat, Tom’s enthusiastic assent, the closeness of their bodies was breaking him apart inside. He slid his hands under Tom’s shirt, throwing it to the side and undoing Tom’s belt, pulling down his shorts until he was wearing only his knickers, kissing him again fiercely. This time, it was Tom who was removing Hal’s shirt, and through the haze of lust Hal felt a sudden surge of dark panic. The burn, what will he say, I covered it with the bandage just in case but what am I going to say—

Tom had stopped, and was running his fingers over the bandage. “Is tha’ from when I jumped ya the other night? Did my blood hurt ya?” His voice was full of regret.

Hal hated himself in that moment more than he had in years.  He looked Tom in the eyes and said, “It’s…it’s okay, I just don’t want the uh, cut, to get infected, so…”

Tom nodded, looking grave. “Good. I never wanna hurt ya, y’know. I really don’t.”

Hal’s chest constricted. “Please, just. Just kiss me again, Tom, please—“

Tom gladly obliged, breaking the contact of their mouths only to slide the polo over Hal’s head and to pull his trousers down. Then Hal was standing there too, nearly naked. There was a tense moment when neither moved, until Tom pressed a slight kiss to Hal’s neck and then a firm hand against his erection. Hal gasped, trying not to moan. The panic suddenly came back, all of Hal’s intensely cultivated restraint screaming at him that this was insanity.

“Tom,” he managed weakly, pushing him slightly away, “I need you to say yes, I need you to.”

The other man frowned. “I already did, mate, c’mon, ‘s okay, I want this so much—“

Hal cut him off. “I know. I know you think you do. But I scare myself, Tom, and you…you deserve something other than this, with me. I have not, as you can imagine, been a very gentle partner for quite some time.”

Whatever response Hal had been expecting, it wasn’t disbelieving laughter. Tom just looked at him like he was crazy. “Hal, you’re talking to a werewolf here. I get tha’ vampires are different, but tha’ don’t change tha fact tha' we’re alike a bit.” Tom moved closer to Hal. “Ya know what it’s like for me, tha days leadin’ up to tha full moon? God, Hal, I wanna do a lotta weird shit—eat a raw steak, run through a field 'til I pass out, ya know. Wolf stuff. But what I can’t get outta my mind is how much I wanna  just fuck. I want it so bad, and there ain’t nuffin’ gentle ‘bout it. Ain’t nuffin’ gentle ‘bout what we are, the both of us.”

The words were hardly out of his mouth when Hal pushed Tom down on the bed, straddled him for the second time, and sucked on his neck hard enough to bruise. Tom moaned beneath him, pushed his hips into Hal’s, who just hissed as his eyes went black. “Fuck, Tom, you are fucking unbelievable.”

Tom grinned, moved for Hal’s knickers and pulled them down, tossed them aside. Suddenly, Hal’s dick was in his hand and Tom was stroking like anything but a virgin, and Hal was groaning. He was not to be outdone, pulling the last of Tom’s clothing away and lining their cocks up in his hand, setting a motion that had the both of them panting.

The werewolf’s face was thrown back in bliss, his eyes almost closed, and Hal wanted to watch that expression forever. He’d burn the fucking world down to watch Tom come apart like this in his hands, but it’s not enough. Hal stopped stroking the both of them, and Tom outright whined at the loss of contact until Hal moved down his body and took Tom’s cock into his mouth in a careful swallow.

Tom keened this time like he had been hurt, arched on the bed and started a litany of “fuck, fuck, oh fuck, Hal, Hal, please, fuck—“ as Hal bobbed up and down, a lick on the way back up and his hands firmly stroking what his mouth was not wrapped around. He thought he might come from this, from the feeling of Tom heavy in his mouth and making sounds that could drive a man mad as he carded his hands through Hal’s hair and pulled.

Hal was already pleasantly surprised at Tom’s stamina, and was not shocked when Tom’s cries become louder the more Hal licked and sucked. “Hal, I’m gonna, fuck, gonna come,” Tom warned, and Hal pulled off him with a wet, obscene pop.

Tom’s sound of disappointment wasn’t enough to deter Hal. He kissed his way back up Tom’s heaving chest, lined their dicks back up, and began stroking them both again. “Not yet,” he panted, “You’re going to come looking into my eyes, crying out my name and knowing that I fucked you first, that I am coming apart because of you—“

“God, fuck, Hal—“ The three words blended together, and Tom came with a pained shout, Hal following closely behind him. His entire world went black, narrowing down to Tom’s body and his voice calling out his name, sensations that he has rigorously denied himself slamming back in full force.

They lay there for a while, entwined. Hal didn't want to admit to cuddling, but, well, Tom is a werewolf, for Christ’s sake, it’s to be expected. Tom burrowed into Hal’s neck, sighed and closed his eyes. “That was fucking wonderful, that.”

Hal ran his fingers up and down Tom’s shoulder blades, tracing the scars. “Beyond wonderful.”

There was a moment of silence, comfortable and sated, until Annie popped into the room at the foot of the bed and started jumping up and down like a maniac, grinning hard enough to pull a muscle. Both Tom and Hal yelled out of sheer fright.

 “I was hoping you two would take the bloody hint, good God, I’m so happy for you,” There were real tears forming at the corner of her mouth and she flopped down onto the bed with them, pulling them close.

Hal shrieked, and Tom yelled “OI! Annie, we’re naked here, ya lunatic,” and Annie jumped backward, wiping tears away.

“I’m sorry guys, this is just—God, I’m so happy for you,” and she popped back out of the room, wiping her eyes. Hal and Tom were speechless for a minute until Hal started laughing, and the two of them were quickly in tears, ribs aching.

 

That night, as they lay in bed together, Hal did not dream, and the pain of his burn did not touch him.