When Martin was thirteen, on the crusp of puberty, his mother pulled him aside to have 'the talk.' She sat him down at the kitchen table, along with his father, while his brother and sister were outside playing.
"Look at this, Martin," his mother said to him, pulling down the hem of her shirt, revealing pale white scars near her collar bone. Martin seen these scars since he was a child, but never before has his mother ever voluntarily showed them to him. "Do you know what this is?"
The scars were old, cresent shape, and went across her collar bone, over her shoulder. It looked like it hurt.
A little confused, Martin glanced at his father for guidance. His father puffed up his chest proudly. Looking back to his mother, Martin shrugged.
She tapped the scars. "They're from your father. This is his bite, marking me as his."
Martin gaped. "Dad!" he said outrageous.
"Calm down," his father chuckled. He swooped down and kissed the scars fondly. "This is what we need to talk to you about. One day, you will meet someone very special. Someone you will want to mark, just like this. Your future mate."
"Werewolves mate for life, Martin," his mother continued, covering the scars. "And when you make a decision on your mate, you need to be a hundred percent sure they are the one. Because once you made that decision, there is no going back."
Martin's cheeks turned red. "Mum..." he whined, not wanting to hear this. "I'm not... I'm too young to be thinking about this."
"You're ready to go through puberty," his dad sniffed the air. "I can smell it. Soon enough you'll be noticing girls and will want to mate with all of them. We're telling you this now so you can avoid making stupid decisions. Don't be like your uncle Richard. He mated when he was sixteen now he's stuck with an idiot for a partner. Don't sell yourself short, my son."
Martin was too embarrassed to talk back. All he could do was nod.
"All right. You can go outside to play, now."
Relieved, Martin slid off the kitchen chair, shifting the moment his feet touched the floor. He was no bigger than a golden retriever, all light brown fur and nails that tapped noisily against the linoleum floor.
He slipped out the back door to join the other two young werewolves, frolicking in the sunlight.
Mating was a little more complicated than the water-down version his parents gave him. It was more than finding the right woman, biting her, and marking her as yours. Martin had to be aware there was a chance this human could turn on him, reveal him to the world. There was a chance he could hurt her, with his teeth and claws and huge frame. There were plenty of stories of werewolves accidentally killing their mates.
He also learned, very quickly, that being a werewolf meant being alone. When his mum said they mate for life, she meant it. He had to choose wisely, otherwise he could be stuck with a human who didn't love him, who would betray him, who would be disgusted by him.
And he would never be able to let her go, no matter how hard he'd try.
Martin would ask his dad how did he know, how did he know mum was the one?
His dad shrugged. "I just did."
For the longest time, Martin thought his dad was just lucky. He found a woman out of the millions in the world and the idea of love at first sight was just a stupid myth.
Then he met Douglas Richardson.
By the time Douglas came back onto the flight deck twenty minutes later, he reeked of that woman's perfume. Not just her perfume, but her saliva, her skin, her hair-
Martin had to grunt and cut himself off. He couldn't spur himself into a jealous rage simply because he sniffed someone else on Douglas. "Enjoyed yourself?"
Douglas gave off a knowing grin. "Very much," he said, sliding into the chair next to Martin. "I'd almost forgotten what it was like to be single again."
Martin gripped the controls a little too tightly. "Oh, I seriously doubt you forgot that."
"Don't give me that look. I actually like being married, but unfortunately certain circumstances have arised and now I am no longer... not. I'm just having fun. You should too! Haven't you found anyone yet?"
Martin sighed. "No. Not yet."
Shaking his head, Douglas turned back to his controls. He momentarily reached up and pulled down his shirt to scratch the area where the neck meets the shoulder. The area, where Martin longed to bite down on, to mark Douglas as his. He could feel his teeth forming at the thought.
Martin wretched his sight away, to calm himself before he accidentally shifted in the flight deck. He certainly did not want to find out how Douglas would react to a giant wolf in an enclosed area.
It was getting harder and harder to be around Douglas.
In the beginning, it was easy for Martin to keep his hands to himself. Helena's scent was on Douglas' skin, already claiming him as hers. As much as Martin wanted Douglas, he wasn't about to go after someone who was already taken.
But now Helena was gone and so was her scent. Douglas was free to be snatched up.
Not just yet. Martin was going to wait till they land. Wait until Douglas washed away that woman's stink.
Once they were on the ground, Douglas dissappeared into the bathroom to freshen himself. Martin went to the portacabin, to give Carolyn the necessary papers. Even before he entered, he could smell the lightest of perfume wafting from inside. He knew Carolyn had a date today with Herc because she only wore that perfume when she was with him.
It was nice smell, sweet and not at all overpowering. Arthur was with her, the smell of Toblorone chocolate too hard to ignore. Seriously, did he eat them everyday?
Martin turned in his paperwork, stalled his time, waiting for Douglas to come to sign himself out. He made light jokes on Carolyn's part, internally smiling when she denied the date.
When Douglas entered ten minutes later, smelling of minty toothpaste, soap, and not of that woman, Martin felt his heart beat. It was time.
"Well, goodnight, everyone," Douglas said, quickly signing his name, then dashing off like the devil was on his heels. "See you in two days."
"Douglas, wait," Martin caught up with him in the car park, just before he climbed into his Lexus. "Um... I was just wondering... would you like to have dinner with me?"
He expected two things to happen: either Douglas will laugh in his face, or fall to his knees exclaiming 'yes!' Since the latter was the less likely scenario, Martin waited, anticipating the mocking laugh.
Douglas did neither. In fact, he seemed thoughtful, weighing the options in his head. He then shrugged and said, "Okay, climb in."
Martin chose a small diner near his home. It wasn't a fancy place, he couldn't afford anything more expensive, but the food was good. Martin had saved up for a month so he could pay for this date. Perhaps there will be enough for coffee and pie afterwards.
The date was... well, Martin wasn't expecting a totally romantic evening with candles and wine, but it was nicer than he thought it would be. Without being confided in a small space, the atmosphere between them changed.
Douglas was a lot more open with his tales, a lot more energetic. He laughed with his whole body, smiled so large Martin thought he could live solely on those smiles. The food was good, the company was better, and the wolf inside him was eager to claim.
This was only the first date, he told himself repeatedly. Calm yourself.
When Douglas went to go wash his hands, Martin dashed to the register to pay for their meals. The pretty blonde who was there shook her head at him. "Oh no, sir," she said, smiling as she waved away the money. "Your friend already paid."
Douglas reappeared just at that moment. "Well, shall we go?"
"Douglas, why did you pay for the meal? I'm the one who invited you!"
The man shrugged. "Oh, it was no big deal, it was my pleasure actually. I really like this diner. I think I'll be coming back to it often."
Martin bit down on his tongue. It was okay, he told himself. He can just pay for the next meal.
Douglas took Martin back to the airfield to pick up his van, said his goodnights and drove off without so much a look back.
Martin played with his keys, unsure how to take that. It wasn't rejection, he was sure of it. Besides, it was not as if he was expecting a kiss- it was just the first date, afterall. They had a nice time, even Douglas admitted to that.
Hope for the future.
Douglas ended up paying for the second meal. And then for the third. When Martin insisted to pay for the fourth, Douglas somehow tricked him into not paying.
It was horribly embarrassing despite each date went swimmingly. As happy as the wolf was, getting closer and closer to bite down on that neck, the human part of him felt almost offended. He wanted to pay for their meals, it was the right thing to do.
This was going to be their fifth date. Wasn't it time now, to have their first kiss? Surely Douglas wouldn't be objective to that.
Instead of just dinner, maybe he'll take Douglas to the cinema. Then dinner afterwards. With all the money Martin wasn't paying, he had more than enough saved for a good time.
"Don't you think you're being a little selfish?"
Martin's enthusiastic grin melted off his face. He just suggested to Douglas of going to the movies first, and the man sighed and said that. What, was Martin controlling the dates too much? Was there somewhere Douglas wanted to go? "I'm sorry... I don't think I understand what you mean."
"Martin," Douglas began tiredly. "I understand you don't have much money. And I don't mind paying for dinner occasionally, Lord knows you need some meat on you, but having me pay for your entertainment too goes a bit too far."
It felt like a kick to the teeth.
Martin's heart was pounding, hard and entirely too fast. His stomach was clenching so badly he thought he might vomit.
Douglas didn't see their time together as dates. He saw them as charity.
Martin gritted his teeth, desperate to keep the tears from falling. "I-I-I-I..."
Suddenly, Martin needed to run. Run so far and so fast because he could not handle this moment a second longer.
All his life, Martin turned down dates, kisses, all because he knew he didn't want them. He kept to himself so he wouldn't be tempted to bite down on the wrong person. He finally thought, after so many years of howling alone in the night, he found his companion. His mate.
He thought his heart was breaking.
He swiftly turned into an alley, wanting to get out of the eye of the public. Too many people were already throwing suspicious glances at him.
The alley smelled of trash and stale cigarrette butts. The wolf inside him wrinkled his nose distastefully. Martin squated down behind one dumpster, put his head in his arms and cried.
He hadn't bitten Douglas, so it could be argued he could easily find another mate. Maybe a woman this time, someone who will produce off-spring for him.
He may not have marked Douglas, but Martin knew he wouldn't find anyone better. He spent the last twenty years looking for the One and he found him. He found him.
Martin didn't know how long he sat there, feeling sorry for himself. Long enough that he did not recognize Douglas' smell till he was squating down next to him. "Martin," he said gently. "Martin, look at me."
Martin raised his head. He couldn't look straight in Douglas's eyes, though.
Douglas didn't seem to mind. "I want you to tell me the truth. These past few nights... were they dates?"
God, it was embarrassing to hear him say it like that. Martin nodded.
Douglas closed his eyes briefly as if in pain. "I'm sorry. I didn't know."
Martin ducked his head, wiping at his eyes. "It doesn't matter. You don't see me as anything more than a co-worker. I understand that now."
"Wait a minute, that isn't fair. First of all, Martin, I didn't know you were gay. I wasn't about to make you feel uncomfortable on the off-chance you were. Secondly, you're twenty years younger than me. What does a young man want with someone in their fifties? And lastly, you're my Captain. I thought that dynamic alone would have put you off."
"What are you saying?"
"What I am saying is, I didn't know. How could I when there were a million and one reasons you should not be attracted to me?"
"But I am!" Martin protested. "I don't care that you're older than me, or that you're my First Officer! I like you because-"
You're everything to me. You've had my heart since the first day I met you. No other could compare.
Martin bit down on his tongue. He can't say that to Douglas. No sane person would take such a declaration.
Douglas stood up, held out his hand for Martin to take. "Look, can we not have this conversation next to a dumpster? C'mon, let's talk about this in a coffee shop. And this time, I'll let you pay."
A sharp, unexpected laugh burst out of Martin's mouth. He sobered quickly and nodded. He took Douglas' hand and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet.
The alley masked so much smell, it made his nostrils burn. It was no excuse, he knew, for not bothering to observe his surroundings. His dad always told him to be deligent, otherwise he could be caught with his pants down. By the time Martin realized there was a man pointing a gun at him and Douglas, it was already too late.
The man in front of them was no taller than Martin and oddly enough, better dressed than him too. He reeked of cocaine, and that alone overpowered the stench of the alley. He was so high, Martin could not fathom how he could still be standing.
The man held the gun steady. The calm in his hand did not match the anger in his face. "Give me your fucking wallets or else I'll kill you!"
Douglas slowly held up his hands. "Okay, calm down. We don't want to do anything regretful. I'm getting my wallet, okay? So there's no need-"
Either Douglas had said something wrong, or the man had interpreted Douglas' tone as threatning. His face changed into a mask of horrific fury, aimed the gun right at Douglas' chest and fired.
Martin had moved faster, catching the bullet right in his neck.
There are quite a few legends surrounding werewolves that were not true.
Transforming during a full moon was false. Martin can transform at any time he wanted. When he was younger, it took some practice to shift between human and wolf, but now he could do it at will within a second.
A person cannot be turned into a werewolf by getting bit. Lycanthropy was genetic. Otherwise all their mates would be werewolves themselves. What did people assume they were? Zombies?
A werewolf can only be killed by a silver bullet.
Okay, THAT one was true.
Martin's head snapped back by the sensation of the bullet tearing through his neck, exploding on his vertebrae. For a moment his neck snapped, forcing his head back down. The feeling of blood oozing out of his wound was disgusting, even more so with the feel of his bone reshaping itself, healing itself.
Slowly, bits of bullet was pushed out of his neck. They made a tinkering noise as they fell to the ground.
The mugger flinched violently as a deep, unearthly growl erupted out of Martin's mouth.
Martin slowly raised his head, revealing the bloodly bullet wound in his neck. It was a deep, gaping hole and it only made the growling sound louder. He opened his mouth, revealing teeth growing sharper by the second.
The mugger shot again, this time striking Martin in the chest.
Martin did not so much as blink as he shifted, transforming from a small red haired man into something that looked like crawled out of the depths of hell.
He didn't give the mugger a chance to run. The man screamed as Martin leaped, jaws wide open. He clamped down on the man's shoulder and SHOOK him like a rag doll.
Blood filled Martin's mouth, delicious and woefully bitter. It made him want more.
Afraid of succumbing to a blood-lust rage, Martin twisted, tossing the mugger a good fifteen feet over his right shoulder.
The man landed with a sickening crunch. He did not get back up.
Martin resisted the urge to swallow the pool of blood in his mouth. He ignored the taste as best as he could and turned around to see if Douglas was all right.
His need to protect his mate was a thoughtless move. He didn't care about the consequences at that moment, all he wanted to do was keep Douglas safe. But now as the situation slowly winded down, the blood oozing out of his mouth, Martin realized what he had done.
Douglas was staring at him in horror. Not even when the engine on GERTI exploded, has Martin ever seen him so terrified. So confused.
"Martin," he gasped. "What the hell...?"
Martin flinched back, ashamed. He never wanted this, never wanted Douglas to be afraid of him.
The wolf tossed his head back and howled. It was a desperate howl, full of broken misery and fear.
Douglas has never heard of anything so horrible. He cringed at the noise.
Upon seeing this, Martin turned tail and ran, jumping over the unconscious mugger in his haste. He didn't want Douglas to look upon him with horror, to think of him as a freak. He already proved he was not his mate and it was better to leave now or otherwise Martin was never going to let him go.
Martin disappeared from view, never once hearing Douglas calling out to him.
Eventually the police were called. Douglas did his best to retell the tale of this man pulling him into an alley way and was rescued by a random dog. The mugger, as he was put into the ambulance, swore up and down that it was a werewolf. "It was a werewolf! A fucking werewolf!"
Douglas refused medical treatment, insisting he was fine. He kept up the charade of calm until he got home and locked the front door behind him. Once he was done, he shuddered and nearly collapsed on the floor.
It was hard enough coming to accept his very young captain was madly in love with him- and it was so fucking obvious too. How did he miss that?- watching Martin take a bullet to his neck made his heart sieze.
For the longest of second, Douglas thought Martin dead. He was shot in the fucking neck! Nobody could survive that!
Except Martin didn't die. Instead, he raised his head right at the mugger and-
If it only been the two of them, Douglas would've thought the whole thing as a hallucination. A drunken fantasy or horrible dream. Except now that mugger was sporting puncture wounds, babbling madly about a hell hound.
Werewolf. Martin was a werewolf.
Douglas had to bite down on his knuckle as that sentence fully formed in his brain. How does someone suppose to take that? Does that mean vampires and ghosts were real too?
Oh lord, this changed everything. Perhaps he should start attending church.
Martin the werewolf was in love with him and took a bullet for him. Nearly killed a man for that.
It would be flattering, in a weird Twilight-like universe, except there was only one problem: Douglas was not in love with Martin.
He didn't even know Martin had feelings for him until a few hours ago! Hadn't known their dinner dates were, well, dates. Douglas always knew Martin had financial trouble, and thought this was his way for asking for the occasional meal.
So fucking obvious now. Douglas hasn't felt this stupid since he first tried to put a diaper on his newly born daughter.
Now question was, what was he going to do about it?
Martin ran away. Understandable from the way Douglas reacted to him. This was a secret he could probably be killed for, of course he would vanish into the night.
Douglas has no intention of outing Martin. The man saved his life, that was a debt he would not cross.
With that thought in mind, he took out his mobile phone. He should call Martin, tell him it's okay. He has no reason to be scared.
The phone rang five times before it went to voicemail. Douglas tried again with same result. In frustration, he closed his phone with a snap. Okay, Martin wasn't in the mood to talk. That was fine. Douglas will visit him in the morning.
"He's not here."
Douglas frowned. He came prepared this morning with hazlenut coffee (Martin's favorite) and a couple of pasteries. He planned to sit the young man down, explain to him he had nothing to fear. Douglas spent the whole night thinking of what he'll say, and now Martin wasn't home. "Oh, do you know where he went?"
The student shifted uncomfortably. She kept throwing uneasy glances back inside the house. "Look, some of the kids here think I should mind my own business but... Martin came home last night looking really upset."
Douglas bit the inside of his cheek.
"He wouldn't tell us why, he just went straight to his room. After that, I heard... noises."
"Ransacking noises, like drawers being opened and shut? Usually Martin is so quiet, he knows how hard we need to study. We all heard him leave early this morning."
Douglas did try to call Martin again this morning, and still recieved no answer. Greatly worried now, he asked the student, "May I see his room?"
The girl wasn't kidding about the ransacked business.
Martin's room, as tiny as it was, was cleared of most of his personal belongings. His clothes, laptop and phone were all gone. The only things that were left behind were too bulky to carry.
Douglas picked up a dog-eared copy of a flight manuel. Martin would have never left without this. Unless he had no future plans of flying ever again.
Oh Lord, Martin wasn't suicidal, was he? Whipping out his mobile phone, he immediately called Carolyn.
"Carolyn, it's me. I need the emergency numbers for Martin, now."
Caitlin Crieff (or rather, Mrs. Norris) looked like the female version of Martin. Same red hair, short stature, with freckles dotting her face. She would be rather cute if not for the sneer she was sporting. "You're Douglas?"
Usually Douglas would find the wrath of a tiny woman laughable, except he knew what she was. She could quite bite him in half. "I am. Is Martin here?"
She opened her door wider. "Come in," she said, moving aside. "We have lots to talk about."
As she lead him through the house, he could hear two dogs rough housing. Pups, from the sounds of their young barking. When he came into the living room, in middle of the floor were indeed two puppies going at it, lightly nipping and pawing at each other.
Caitlin opened a pair of sliding glass doors that lead into the backyard. "You kids play outside."
Douglas stiffened when he realized what she meant. The two puppies took off to the backyard, bouncing over each other in their play.
Seeing the look upon Douglas' face, Caitlin said, "As I'm sure you're aware, those are my sons."
"I didn't-" his throat was dry all of a sudden. "I didn't know it was genetic."
"It is, so don't worry about turning into a werewolf yourself." She gestured for him to sit down. "Though from what I hear, Martin never bit you."
"Of course not. Why would he?"
Caitlin shook her head at him. "Oh geeze, you have NO idea of the consequences Martin has brought upon himself, do you?"
Douglas was getting angry. He came here with full intention to make things right, to assure his friend he was going to be there for him, regardless of what happened last night. Instead, he was getting dirty look and vague answers from Caitlin Creiff who seemed to be in no hurry in telling him where Martin was. He forced himself to spit out a calm answer. "No, but why don't you tell me?"
She gave him a toothy grin. That was no metaphor; her teeth were jagged. "Our lives are to be kept secret, Mr. Richardson. If word got out that there are werewolves in the world, we will all be hunted. We are forbidden to tell anyone outside of our family of who we are. The only other person whom we share our secret with is our spouse, our mate."
"That's why I'm here. I will not tell anyone-"
She held up a hand to silence him. "It doesn't matter. You are not his mate and his exposing his secret to you and that mugger is a serious offense. For that, he will be punished."
Douglas' mind thought back to Martin's empty room, his beloved flight manuals left behind. Does he mean to die? "Punished? How?"
"He won't be killed, if that's what you're thinking." Caitlin gazed out to her sons who were still rough housing in the tall grass. When she spoke again, the harsh tone she kept was now softer and a lot more sad. "To keep our secret, Martin will have to give up his humanity."
Douglas did not understand the full implication of her words and yet anxiety rose him swiftly. "What the fuck does that mean?"
"Banishment, Mr. Richardson. Martin will have to live out the rest of his days as wolf in the grand forests of Britain. He is not to return."
Douglas made some regretful choices in his life. With his marriages, his daughter, his job. Everytime he did something wrong, he vowed to make them right to the best of his abilities. He gave his first wife practically everything in the divorce so neither she or his daughter will want for nothing. He walked away from Air England without a fight to keep their good name out of the papers.
He did wrong by Martin by never fully apologizing to him. For breaking his heart in the most horrible of ways. Martin loved him, regardless. Took a bullet for him. Douglas was not about to let his friend disappear into the night without a fight.
"No," he said, shaking his head. "I won't let that happen. There has to be a way around this."
"There is," Caitlin agreed. "But only if you're willing to go all the way."
She grinned again. If anything, her teeth were pointier. "Good," she growled.
The day Martin's mother died, his father refused to shift out of his wolf form. He spent two weeks mourning her loss, curled up in a corner of their room, quietly whimpering to himself.
When he finally shifted back into a human, he announced it was time for him to move on. He planned to get his affairs in order and once he was done, say his farewells and live out the rest of his days in the woods.
"You kids are all grown," he gave as explanation when everyone protested. "I've done my job. I just don't want to live in a world without your mother."
Martin wondered if his father was still alive, out there somewhere in the woods. He wondered if after his banishment, he could find his father and join him, so neither of them would have to be lonely.
Martin stood in front of the council of Elders, awaiting for their final verdict. They've been arguing for quite some time. The oldest and the wisest of Martin's clan, still unsure if banishment was the right choice to make.
Some of them didn't want to banish Martin, as he was young and un-bounded and still held the possibility to mate. Surely they shouldn't worry about the actions of a drug addic and of a man who was known to lie all the time.
Others, Martin's grandmother included, thought banishment was the safest way to go. If they go soft on this rule now, then stupid young werewolves would be revealing themselves left and right. Best to nip this in the bud otherwise hunters would be banging on their doors by the end of the week.
Martin kept his head low, uncaring which conclusion they come to. Douglas will probably never speak to him again, will never trust to fly with him again. That was a punishment far worse than banishment.
He could hear something happening in the background, arguing and shuffling. He immediately recognized Caitin's smell. He wondered briefly why she was here when she greatly expressed she had no plans to watch him martyr himself.
The second smell, familiar and calm, made him jerk his head up. "Douglas...?"
It was Douglas. With his scary older sister. Entering a room with the oldest of their clan.
Martin wondered if he was dreaming.
One of the Eldest stood up in his chair and demanded, "What the bloody hell is going on? Who the hell are you?"
"I'm Douglas Richardson," Douglas said with his natural confidence. "I believe there has been a misunderstanding with my mate."
Martin sucked in a breath.
"Your mate?" Martin's grandmother said. She sniffed the air lightly. "You are not bounded to him."
"No, not yet, of course. We were interrupted by the mugging, but I assure you that I consented to Martin's proposal and I am here to finish the bond."
Martin quietly shook his head at him. What are you doing? He was mentally screaming at him.
"Martin," one of the Elders began. He sounded hopeful. "Is this true?"
Martin kept whipping his head back and forth between the two, too dumbstruck to say anything. Douglas was staring at him, urging with his eyes to agree. "I-I-I-"
His grandmother snapped out, "For God's sake, boy! Spit it out!"
"Y-yes... we... um... he consented."
"And then we were interrupted," Douglas tossed in as an afterthought. "As you can see, all Martin revealed himself to was myself and the mugger. Who, frankly, was so high on cocaine probably thought there were vampires, ghosts, and goblins in that alley way as well."
"Well that changes everything," one of the Elders said happily. "If Martin mates with Mr. Richardson here, will the rest of you agree he should stay?"
The was a quick chorus of yes's. The Elder nodded satisfactory. "Alright, Martin. Claim your mate."
Douglas shifted uncomfortably. "What... here, now?"
"Well... yes. We understand the need for privacy, but given the circumstances of this partnership, we must be privy to the proceedings."
Martin stared angrily at his older sister. She winked at him and it made him want to throttle her. What did she say to Douglas to make him agree to this? He tore his eyes away from Caitlin to look at Douglas, who appeared to have lost some of his bravado. There was tinge of pink on his cheeks and his heartbeat sped up dramatically. As Martin came closer, the faster his heart became.
Martin had to stand on his toes to get into the proper position to bite. He wrapped his arms around Douglas' head and shoulders, pulling him down. When he was close enough, Martin pressed his lips against his ear.
"You don't have to do this," he whispered feverishly. "Please, don't do this if you think you owe me. Please, Douglas, please."
Douglas wrapped his own arms around Martin, feeling the tiny shivers wracking his body. "Martin," he quietly said back. "It's okay, I'm consenting to this."
"No, not like this. Please, don't force yourself into something you don't want."
Douglas scoffed. "And allow my best friend to be banished? Do not think I have not thought this through. Besides, don't you remember? I said I rather like being married."
Martin gasped, pulling back to look at Douglas in surprise. His eyes were wet with unshed tears. Sniffling, he nodded.
He pulled his arms down began to unbutton the front of Douglas' shirt.
"Um... your sister told me the mechanics of the bite," Douglas whispered, his eyes darting uncomfortably over everyone in the room. They were all looking at him. "But, uh... will it hurt?"
Martin opened the shirt just enough for a shoulder to be exposed. Unmarked white skin presented before him. "A little. I'm marking you as mine, I'm not trying to maim you."
Nothing he said seemed to have comforted him. He shifted uneasily.
Martin leaned forward, taking a moment to sniff, reveling in Douglas' natural smell. It was like wet tree bark, musky and rich. When he licked a long, wet stripe across that glorious skin, Douglas shivered from the contact.
He kept licking, his salivia acting as a natural agent to numb the nerves and prevent infection. This was a rather long and slow process and it was embarrassing as hell for Douglas. Martin was quite shamed such an intimate process was ruined by the staring of his Elders (his sister looking smug the whole time) but he couldn't focus on that now. He had to make sure Douglas was okay. Fear can ruin so much.
"Are you ready?" Martin asked once he was satisfied the skin was protected.
"I am," Douglas said. He arched his neck back.
Martin tightened his hold on him, bracing him. He opened his mouth, revealing dozens of sharpened teeth. Just as Douglas stiffened at the sight, Martin shot forward, biting down.
Douglas naturally tried to wrench away but Martin held strong. Glorious hot blood filled his mouth, making Martin bite down harder. He had to make sure the bite will scar, despite the advances of medical techniques.
He knew Douglas was feeling only half of the pain. It was still enough to be extremely uncomfortable.
Finally, Martin pulled back, licking the wound fondly. The puncture wounds bled very little and would clot soon.
Martin stepped aside, allowing the Elders to see the flushed, red skin. They all muttered appreciatively.
"Congratulations, Martin. Douglas, welcome to the family."
Martin passed over a can of soda which Douglas took quietly. He was still nursing his shoulder despite it had been properly cleaned and gauzed over a half hour ago. "I don't understand the significant of the bite," he said, pressing the cold soda against his neck. "What is the point besides marking me as yours? Are wedding rings not good enough?"
"You carry my scent now," Martin said as he sat down next to him. They sat outside of the Elder clan's estate, overlooking the woods that should have been Martin's future home. "Even the common animal will smell you as mine. There are stories of mates walking into zoos and the tigers behind glass visibly backing off."
"If you were female, the bite will help prepare you for childbirth. It naturally strengthens your immune system and your five senses. But you are male, so expect to never catch a cold ever again."
"Prepare for childbirth? For werewolves, is it that difficult?"
"Some children have been known to shift in the womb. When my sister gave birth, one of her sons popped out in wolf form."
"Oh god!" Douglas nearly snorted his drink.
"Oh yes," Martin laughed. "Scared the living shite out of the doctor. She was nearly banished because of that. Of course, she convinced the Elders not to."
"I can believe that. Your sister is scary."
"You have no idea."
They fell into mutual silence after that. Douglas stared out into the woods while Martin kept shooting uneasy glances at the bandage hidden underneath the shirt. "You can still walk away, you know," he said, trying to sound nonchalant and failing. His tone was every bit of nervous as he felt. "The bite bounds me to you, not the other way around. If you feel you made the wrong decision-"
"Martin, shut up."
"No, Douglas!" Martin slammed his soda can down, nearly flattening it. "I do not know what Caitlin said to you, but I know you don't love me. And I don't want you to be with me because you think you were saving me or-or-or because you felt guilty. I don't want you to spend your life doing something you are unwilling to do."
God, why didn't he have this conversation before the bite? He could've avoided so much strife, so much heartache. How desperate was he to avoid banishment that he practically forced such a commitment upon him?
"You're right, Martin," Douglas said slowly. "I don't love you."
Martin closed his eyes painfully.
A hand nudged his chin up. Martin blinked up into Douglas calm face. "But that doesn't mean I am not fond of you. I did this because you are my friend and I couldn't stand the thought of not seeing you again."
"You were tossed into this, Douglas," Martin said. "Would you have said yes if my banishment was not an issue?"
"I try not to dwell in the past," Douglas said, leaning forward. He gently pressed his mouth against Martin's, giving the lightest of kisses. He pulled back just after a second or two. "I'm not in love with you... yet. I believe sir still owes me quite a few dinners."
Martin touched his lips. He was blushing too hard to respond.
Douglas turned his attention back to his soda. He suddenly frowned. "Hey, are vampires real?"