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Every now and then Maia has to get out of the city.

Manhattan can be grating at the best of times with a werewolf's senses, but some days it feels like she's breathing exhaust fumes instead of oxygen. She wakes up with the taste of iron on her tongue and the smell of gasoline in her nose. She's always been a city girl, so she's used to it — except for the days leading up to the full moon. Her blood gets hot and her skin gets tight and she starts to crave dirt under her paws.

Before Valentine's reign of terror unleashed itself again, the pack used to go on semi-regular retreats upstate so they could run and howl at the moon like instinct dictated. But it's been harder and harder to get away for the last few months, so the buildup has been worse. Maia has been snapping and sniping so often lately that Jace finally sighed, exasperated, If you want to go to the damn woods then we'll go to the damn woods.

So they go to the damn woods.

The waxing moon is getting fat in the sky as though it's bursting at the seams just as much as Maia is. She can only catch the odd glimpse of it as she runs, fragments of the moon caught in the tangled branches of the forest, the first flush of orange autumn leaving gaps in the canopy above. Maia moves fast through the trees, paws striking the earth heavily and muscles burning. The cool, crisp wind ruffles her pelt. She can smell the sweetness of the wet soil, hear the heartbeats of the creatures she might catch in her jaws to quell the need to tear flesh. She can breathe.

She left Jace at their campsite so that she could streak through the woods like a shadow but now she circles back towards him, following his scent. Maia would never tell him because flattery goes to his head, but she loves the way Jace smells. He's all sweat and blood and sunlight, the singe of runes and steel of swords. She doesn't mind the smell of metal when it's him. There's something clean and purposeful about it that complements his streamlined, highly trained body. It stands out in the rich earthy aroma of the woods, a knife blade carving the shape of him into the grain.

Maia tracks him through the trees, wondering if he can sense her focus on him. In her wolf skin she is attuned to every ruffle of the leaves, every creak of broken branches underfoot. Jace is naturally light on his feet from his training but the runes muffle the sound of him even more, making him more difficult to follow. She has to pause, standing still and concealed in the greenery with her large ears twitching, to source him before she sees him. Colors are dulled for a wolf, but the gold of his hair still shines against the foliage.

Maia sees him and strikes. She transforms mid-lunge, fur shedding and bones cracking; when she slams into Jace, it's with thin human fingers but supernatural strength. They go down together, his hands coming up to grab her and his expression turning from hard surprise to open amusement instantly. They land with Jace on his back and Maia above him, naked, crushed against his chest. She snaps her teeth playfully in his face, eyes still green.

"A naked girl jumping me out of nowhere," he says. "I think I've had this dream before."

Maia laughs and she kisses him before she's stopped, letting the laughter spill against his lips. She's impatient, hungry; she shoves the heavy leather from his shoulders and scrabbles for the hem of his shirt, yanking it up but unwilling to quit the kiss. She feels the moment it shifts, lightheartedness turning to desperation, the wanting taking over.

Jace helps her get his shirt off, then their fingers meet on his belt buckle. He lets her take over so he can bare his teeth against her collarbone, press his lips to the slope of her chest. She tosses his boots aside, peels off his tight black jeans, and has her mouth on him before he can so much as take a breath. He drops back on the ground, shoulders laid out on his own leather jacket and hair tossed against the soft green grass of the clearing.

Once he's hard she pulls off to kiss his stomach and breathe the scent of him so close, warmer here and more intense. He winces, a quick inhale of breath, when she finds a spot that must be tender from their fall; Maia only presses into it harder, biting dully, until he gasps. He reaches for her arms again like he wants to pull her back up for a kiss but Maia takes his wrists and pins them at his sides.

She trails kisses down his chest, ignoring the burned black runes she hates that she no longer hates the sight of in favor of the bare patches of skin. His family ring hangs on a silver chain around his neck; the silver makes her skin buzz this close to the full moon but she doesn't want to release him long enough to take it off, so she ignores that too. She nips and licks at his skin until he's fidgeting underneath her, and then Maia takes him between her lips again.

She likes the drag of him against her tongue, hot and slick. She presses close as she can so her nose is right up against his skin. She can't tell if she can feel his pulse or just hear it, but either way she feels enfolded in the steady thrumming. It's one more noise of the woods, somehow, different but just as alive.

Maia lets go of one wrist to coast a hand up his stomach and chest, shivering in the cool air, but —

"Claws," Jace chokes out, and he grabs for both of her hands, twisting them back to his sides. He's the one holding her down now, her sharp wolf's nails sinking into the grass and dirt. It's something they have to be careful about, especially now; the transformation starts at her fingertips when she's this worked up. One scratch and he wouldn't be a Shadowhunter anymore.

The first sign of his impending orgasm is the tightening of his fingers around her wrists. Then his breathing gets quick and frantic. Jace is noisy too, always has been, but his groans and strangled cries seem louder in the hushed outdoor silence. It spurs Maia on, all of it, every little indication of how she's overwhelming him with just her mouth and lips and tongue. She looks up just once, just in time to see his gleam gold, stars in the darkness.

When he's done, Maia swallows and sits up, disentangling herself and looking down at him. Jace is boneless, eyes closed and face turned to the side as he catches his breath. Soil streaks his shoulders and hips where he'd twisted off the jacket, and the moonlight is just bright enough that she can see the mottled flush creeping over his chest. Then his lips twitch in a little smirk. He reaches for her before he's totally back in his body again, pulling her down against him. He kisses her hard, tongue in her mouth to chase the taste.

"Enjoy yourself?" she asks.

"Not as much as you did, I don't think," he says, and she laughs.

Above them the stars burn in the navy blanket of the sky. Everything is cool and quiet, and Maia breathes.