Daria woke up in the forest, naked and covered in mud.
This was not okay.
She couldn’t really remember what happened last night because what she did remember was ridiculous. Everything felt weird and disorienting as she struggled to her feet and started to pick her way through the dense brush. She could hear cars driving down a road nearby and headed toward the sound.
There was a break in the trees and she could see the road clearly, several miles away. She waited for her brain to stop whirling madly. Nope, she could still hear the cars as if they were right next to her. Daria rubbed at her face and realized that she wasn’t wearing her glasses, yet she could see perfectly. If she squinted just a little she could sort of read the license plates.
It took half an hour to find where she’d discarded her clothing when she’d run through the forest the night before. Pulling her phone out of her ruined jacket Daria debated with herself for a few seconds before calling Jane. Anyone else was out of the question.
She let the phone rang a few times before hanging up and calling again. Daria wasn’t worried; it was almost one in the afternoon, so Jane was probably still asleep.
Jane picked up on call number 25 and Daria waited for her sleepy hello before cutting her off.
“I need to tell you something crazy and I need you to believe me.”
“Daria? Is that you? It’s—,” Jane trailed off and Daria paced, listening to the sounds of the forest all around her. It was only slightly distracting that she could hear Jane getting out of bed and yawning as if she was actually next to her. “—not as early as I thought,” Jane said, completing her thought.
“Yes, it’s the afternoon, the time of day when most people are awake.”
“Give me a moment.” There was the sound of running water and a groan, followed by the loud sound of a spine popping. “Let me guess, this isn’t a social call?”
“I only wish.”
“Is this about the fact that you actually left your house and went to that party your publishing house was throwing?”
“Yes, have you been talking to my agent?”
“Connie loves me. I’m proud of you, Daria, going out all by yourself to parties with people you hate. That’s a big step for you.”
“I’m currently regretting the impulse. I need you to be serious for a second.”
“Wait, let me guess. Did you get drunk, make out with a rock star, and then wake up naked in the woods?”
There was a long pause, Daria could hear a woodpecker way off in the distance and the sound of Jane putting on pants.
“Okay,” Jane said stretching the sound of the word and rolling it around in her mouth. “Your silence is speaking volumes here, I’m getting worried, tell me... that’s not actually what happened, is it?”
“She was a movie star not a rock star and—look—it’s weirder than that. I think,” Daria paused. There was no good way to say this, so hopefully Jane wouldn’t laugh. “I think I was bitten by a werewolf.”
There it was. It was no longer a ridiculous thought bouncing around in her head. Now it was a ridiculous thought she had said out loud. Maybe she would actually start to believe it herself. She squinted through the trees, catching movement out of the corner of her eye—was that a deer a few miles away? Daria was pretty sure she remembered hunting one of those after she’d ditched her movie-star-biting-werewolf-life-destroyer.
“Really?” Jane said, finally breaking the silence.
“You don’t believe me.” Daria could hear Jane shaking her head.
“No, no, *I* believe you. It’s just…”
“Impossible? Insane? Delusional?”
“A little odd! Why would a hot movie star werewolf pick you, of all people, to bite and chase through the woods?”
Daria sighed. This she did remember. “I’m pretty sure she was a fan?”
“Ohhh, one of those fans?”
“Do I have any other type?”
“Maybe one or two. After all, me and Trent like your stuff.”
Daria felt her mouth curl up into a slight grin. “You’ve never enjoyed my writing and Trent doesn’t seem to read what I send him.”
“Trent doesn’t like the mail. He still thinks of it as part of the capitalist machine designed the keep him down.”
“He never paid off those credit cards, did he?” Daria said, scratching at some of the mud on her bare thigh.
“How about we talk about my brothers financial woes after I’ve rescued you from the woods. Speaking of which, if you’re nude, how do you still have you phone?”
“Apparently I can track a pile of clothing by smell, and my phone was still in my jacket pocket. Unfortunately, everything is pretty much unwearable; claws sure do a lot of damage. I’m not even going to mention the blood stains—“
“Oops, you just did!”
Daria smiled. “I did, didn’t I?”
“Yep, now where hell are you? So I can bring you some clothing and lead you back to civilization.”
“Just don’t pull a high school ‘Jane special’ and bring Trent or anyone else with you.”
“Drat. My plan is foiled.”
Four hours later, just about the time Daria was beginning to think that Jane had abandoned her to live out her new life as a werewolf nudist in the woods, an aging minivan pulled over at the 149 mile marker down the hill from where Daria was hiding.
Daria had been tracking that car for at least a few miles, listening in and singing along to the music.
She’d been spending the time thinking about her whole turned-into-a-werewolf-by-a-movie-star situation. It felt like a quirky life-changing story that would be funny in hindsight, but ultimately wouldn’t really impact her life except on the full moon. After all, she felt perfectly in control and had even been experimenting with her new enhanced senses. She’d been listening to the squirrels climbing trees and trying to figure out the names of the songs playing on the radios of passing cars.
It wasn’t until Jane opened the door of her car that Daria realized there was a downside to her new abilities.
Daria could easily smell Jane, even from far up on the hill where she waited. She almost ran out into the open to tackle her. As it was she could feel her bones rearranging in a most unpleasant way. Only realizing that she running down the hill with her claws out when she snagged her hand into a passing tree and lost her footing tumbling down the embankment and into a bush on the side of the road. She dug her claws into the ground and held on for dear life.
Jane smelled like baking bread, new books, and that high school pizza place they’d always eaten at.
Daria couldn’t help it as her sense focused completely on Jane as she approached the bush Daria was hiding under.
“I could have sworn I saw a naked writer tumble into the bushes around here.”
“Oh good, the bush is shushing me.”
“Be quiet for a second,” Daria said and struggled with herself. She felt the strangest urge to trip Jane onto the forest floor, rub herself all over her, so that Jane would smell like she belonged to Daria. Slowly the impulse faded a bit and Daria was able to make her claws go away, trying to focus on other scents and sounds.
Daria sniffed again, catching a whiff of something raw and meaty in the grocery bag in Jane's hand. She blinked. "Did you bring me a steak?"
“Ohhh, are we talking again?”
“Yes, my uncontrolled rampage has passed. At least for now. Explain the steak and,” Daria paused, “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but give it to me.”
“I guess you really weren’t kidding about the werewolf thing,” Jane said as she dug the raw steak out of the bag and threw it into the bushes. Daria lost track of the conversation only to pick it back up a little bit later.
“—you going growly and subvocal is also new, but you passed my werewolf test with flying colors. So, you ready for some clothing yet or do you need to wash the raw meat and blood off of you?” Jane said, holding out a water bottle.
“Just throw in into the bush. I wouldn’t get too close. I seem to be acting a little weird with you around.” The bottle ended up hitting Daria in the arm but she didn’t care.
“Oh really, my presence throws your werewolfness into disarray?”
Ripping the top off the bottle Daria washed herself as best she could. “Before you showed up everything was weird, but manageable. Now that you’re here, I’m finding it hard to control myself.”
“It’s all of my animal magnetism, makes me hard to resist.”
Daria paused, considering. “You’re actually not wrong.”
“What—really?” Jane said, and Daria was sure that if she looked, Jane would have her eyebrow raised.
Daria did look, and of course Jane did, in fact, have her eyebrow raised. “I really want to throw myself at you.”
Jane raised the second eyebrow. “Being a werewolf really does change you.”
“Yeah, this is new. But you smell… different.”
“Different? What, like, good? Like teen spirit?”
Like you belong to me, Daria thought, feeling any control she had slipping away. Sure enough, the words garbled out of her mouth, unintelligible thanks to the sudden appearance of fangs and a tongue that couldn't form words.
Jane froze as Daria burst forth from the bush and advanced on her. Daria was only vaguely aware of herself in her new monstrous form, so overtaken with the instinct to *do something.* To claim this woman before she ran like prey.
But Jane didn’t run. Her body relaxing just as quickly as she’d frozen up. It was confusing. The wolf in Daria whined.
Jane smirked at her, tilting her head. "I can see everything,” she sing-songed. Daria found herself hiding behind a tree, back in control once more and too embarrassed to be afraid of what she’d almost done.
"Maybe I should live in the forest for the rest of my life," Daria said.
"You’d get bored, not enough people to hate," Jane said and Daria easily caught the bag that was thrown at her. "Put some clothing on, you’re staying with me for a few days."
“Is that a good idea? So far, I’ve tried to attack you twice. Do you really want me to stay with you?” Daria said, as she tried to put on the clothing Jane had given her and not just rub her face into them. They smelled like Jane. It took her three tries to get fully dressed.
Jane rolled her eyes. “Daria, what is my barely concealed kink that you can never quite avoid getting flustered about whenever you stay at my house?”
Daria looked away, trying to look anywhere else but at Jane even though she was still hiding behind a tree. “B-bondage.”
“That’s right, look at you actually saying it out loud,” Jane said, “where no one else can possible hear you.”
"You can hear me.” Daria flushed, glad that Jane couldn’t see her face. “Great. This is just what I’ve always wanted, embarrassment to go with my uncontrollable rage."
”It’ll be just like old times except for you being a werewolf and me chaining you up.” Jane started walking away, toward the van and Daria found herself rushing to follow. Getting right up on Jane’s heels until Jane suddenly stopped.
She turned her head and raised an eyebrow, seeming amused that Daria was standing so close to her. “Are we both going to drive?” she asked, standing next to the driver’s side door.
Daria hurried around to the passenger side. ”This is a terrible idea.”
”That’s the spirit,” Jane said, as they piled into the van. Daria sniffed the air, it smelled like metal. She didn’t have time to process that before Jane leaned over and started to shackle Daria’s legs to her seat.
Daria found herself embarrassed and also strangely hopeful.
"Can we order some pizza on the way?” Daria asked just to see Jane get a pinched look in the middle of shortening the chain on her arm so that the restraints wouldn’t be so easily visible.
“I’m not sure that you won’t try to eat the pizza delivery person yet. Might have to stick with frozen pizza until we know one way or another,” Jane said, as she finished and settled back in her seat checking the mirrors before starting the van.
Daria smiled, it felt weird to do it with fangs. “That’s no fun.”