Consent to What?
Nolan stared into his glass, the vibrant brown that once colored it long since faded and diluted from the rocks that once floated in it. He noticed and felt the moisture that collected on the outside, much more than the screen for “Are you still watching?” from Netflix. The couch felt comfortable and yet irritating against the backs of his legs. His lounge wear of a pair of obviously the gay size, red mesh running shorts and matching crop top that read, “Tightest End” on the back. He painfully smiled as he remembered how much Brett loved the outfit when he ordered it but now it filled him with bittersweet memories.
He took a sip and adjusted his seat, the large white, faux leather couch puffed and moved with him, making only the tiniest squeaking sounds. He glanced to the other end and noticed the wolf, clad in his lacrosse training clothes from high school, stared into his phone and held his nearly full beverage in the other.
It had been a couple of months since the chimera pulled the disappearing act on the puppy, effectively ending things with a “It’s been real, I’ve got things to do” text. The former hunter didn’t exactly feel bad for the wolf, more that he understood the feeling, as he lived the feeling.
With Gabe, he’d been a nervous, fearful, sheltered thing that the more dominant and aggressive boy had coaxed out of his shell. Gabe capitalized on his time but also controlled him, initially with sexual aggression but eventually with fear. The former hunter never admitted it to anyone, maybe his twisted feelings of love for the teen that had ushered him into “manhood” kept him from it but Gabe was the thing that Nolan feared the most. He had experienced being in the crowds and running for his life from the Beast, and he had seen exactly what a rampaging werewolf could do but their actions, the wanton violence and death were impersonal. The fear that Gabe created and cultivated from the roots the Nolan’s abusive dad planted, was his true fear. In his mind, he knew Gabe only wanted that control, that fear and warped the fragile hunter’s affection against him. Gabe was the ceaseless homophobe and ended almost every kiss, or blowjob with a “if you tell anyone, I beat the shit out of you.” Nolan hadn’t believed it until he gave himself to the teen. He spent three days in the hospital and many visits afterwards for a broken jaw. He hated to admit it and would never consciously verbalize it but when those rounds struck the teen, a weight was lifted off his shoulders and heart.
Then there was Brett. The wolf had shown him a gentler side, proved that not all dangerous things were scary. Sure, he’d seen wolves do frightening things, he’d known the very wolf he sat with to have his claws ready to tear out his throat, but Brett reframed everything. Brett had tenderly put the pieces of his heart back together and shown him that a relationship doesn’t need fear. With that wolf holding his heart, his personality grew, and he was emboldened to speak his mind, regardless of who he spoke with and what he said. Brett loved that about him, he knew that. Sadly, he found out he loved that about other men as well. He felt foolish at first, hoping their relationship had an unspoken agreement of monogamy, but towards the end, he hated that he had to beg for attention to manage to get an ounce of affection. When he broke up with the tall wolf, and yes, he broke up with HIM, the apology he received was, “I’m sorry I took you for granted.” It might’ve been a bit more comforting if the Buddhist hadn’t hooked up with a “friend” of his not an hour later. He smirked to himself as he mused, “I guess time heals all wounds, and in Brett’s case, exactly 47 minutes.” But, that was weeks ago now, at least an entire lunar cycle.
He must’ve released some sort of emotional trigger scent because when his eyes came back into focus, the wolf had his head tilted, ever so slightly, with a puppy-like expression of curiosity. He knew now why Theo affectionately referred to Liam as his angry puppy.
Liam asked, his voice calm with a hint of longing, “Is everything alright Nolan? You smell like you are mourning something.”
He took a sip and swallowed it eagerly, the liquor didn’t burn with how much it was watered down, before he weakly smiled and replied, “I think I was Liam.” He glanced back to the TV momentarily before he looked back to the wolf, establishing eye contact, “How long has that screen been up?”
The wolf raised his eyebrows and bit his lower lip as his eyes looked up to somehow find the answer. Nolan couldn’t help the smile that rose from his chest and landed on his face. This wolf, this man, the same teen he’d cornered, tortured, threatened, and hurt, was the same man that he now shared his heartaches from past relationships and successes with. The man who used to roar so loud that he thought he would go deaf was now his friend who stayed up and consoled his whispered fears. The monster that almost torn out his throat was this gently, lovable, goofy, guy that genuinely just wanted people to be happy, unless he was having one of his times, but Nolan understood all too well what that was like.
Liam playfully shrugged as the moment went on for far too long to not be noticed as he asked, “What were you mourning?”
Nolan replied, “I think another one of my old selves died.”
Liam raised and eyebrow and laughed a little, not at the former hunter but more confused and trying to understand. He questioningly parroted, “My old selves died?”
The nervous man nodded confidently, “Yep. I think I’m finally over the worst with my last break up. It took a few more minutes than my ex but that’s life.” He finished his tumbler before he asked, “What are you thinking about, Li? Your glass is still full.”
The wolf glanced to his phone before he shoved it between the couch cushions and took a drink from his glass. He smiled as he said, “I guess I was doing the same. I thought that if I stared at the message enough it would change but it doesn’t.” He grumbled a little as he continued, “It just reminds me of the 179 messages I sent afterwards that received no response.”
Without thinking, Nolan slid a little closer and placed his open hand on the wolf’s bare knee. The sudden warmth against his palm both surprised him and sent a shiver through him. He set his glass on the wooden coffee table near them, the one that would require a coaster but since the chimera who insisted on coasters constantly left to parts unknown, coasters be damned! He held the eye contact of the wolf’s fierce blues to his elfin blues. The same color but different expressions.
Liam broke the silence and the gaze as he looked to the former hunter’s hand, a prominent hitch in his words as he asked, “Uh, what are you doing?”
Nolan’s mind raced as he quickly pulled his hand away. The scared nervous Nolan was winning while the sassy confident one couldn’t decide how to react. He mumbled rapidly, “I don’t know, I figured that maybe you might’ve wanted some sort of human contact or a caring friend or something. I know that you beat yourself up about that, but something tells me that it has to do with something entirely different and that he wouldn’t have left like that if he didn’t have to.” He words began to quiet as he spoke, but the wolf confidently interrupted him, “I didn’t say you had to take it back.”
Nolan swallowed the verbal hand grenade that he had pulled the pin on and his eyes widened at Liam’s candor. Without speaking, he grabbed the wolf’s beverage and downed it in one prolonged gulp. His nerves didn’t allow him to hear the protests of the wolf before he put the glass on the table. Only when he felt the same warmth, this time from two hands as they grabbed the sides of his arms, did he listen.
“Nolan?!?! Do you know what you just did?”
The former hunter heard the concern, but he heard something else, something faint, something that reminded him of chest bumps on the lacrosse field but also of stares that lingered too long in the locker room. He replied, “Um, I just drank your drink?” He nervously smiled after he answered.
Liam immediately followed up, “My spiked drink.”
Nolan’s eyes widened, “Your spiked drink?”
Liam slowly nodded, his lips pursed in finality. Panic tried to shoot through the nervous man but somehow the warmth of the hands stopped it cold. He casually replied, “Well I know aconite poisoning is a thing, but I know you don’t spike your drink with enough to just flat out kill. I’ll probably just trip balls and have a killer stomach ache and hangover.”
Liam shook his head as he laughed gently. As the wolf moved his mouth as he spoke, the words faded to nothing as Nolan drifted into another layer of thought. That gentle laugh, why hadn’t he noticed it before. He’d lived with Liam for a couple of years now, having both went to the same college, and at the insistence of everyone, which is also why they really didn’t HAVE to work since so many of their friends and packmates helped pay for things like rent, water, electricity, trash pick, not to mention Jenna and constantly “being in the neighborhood with extra groceries”. But that laugh. His eyes widened when he noticed that not only had that beautiful sound ceased but the mouth that created it was closed, his eyes locked on that soft, rose pout.
Liam knocked him out of his reverie, “Nolan? Did you even hear what I said?”
Nolan casually shook his head as he responded with a grin, “Nope! I was too busy staring at your lips and falling for your laugh.”
The words exited his mouth before his brain could catch up and blushed raged across his face, neck, ears, and chest like wildfire. Screw Rudolph, Nolan could easily light up the night.
Liam coughed as his cheeks pinkened, “Wow. This must be the lowered inhibitions side to the herbs I added.”
Nolan slowly mimicked the words of interest, “Low-er-ed In-hi-bi-tions?” His eyes glazed over as he released a long, but soft, “Fu-u-uck.”
Liam covered his mouth as he started to giggle, “It’ll be alright. But we should really make sure you’re alright. Those herbs were kind of like “werewolf weed” so I’m kind of curious how it will affect you.”
Nolan reached forward and placed his finger on the wolf’s lips, which somehow managed to feel even warmer than the hands that still held him, the hands that he would fight and argue to stay there. He mumbled with a grin, “Stop laughing. You’re making my stomach do flips.” He completed his non-sequitur transition, “WOW! Your lips are soft!”
Liam’s pink shifted to red as the eyes travelled over the former hunter’s face. The wolf asked with a bit of humor but a serious intent, “Are you hitting on me?”
Nolan almost broke skin as he bit his lip nervously. His brain shouted to keep his mouth shut that he had said enough, and he should wander to his room and get down on his knees and pray to whatever for forgiveness. The problem occurred when his brain thought “knees” and his mouth complied, “Maybe. Okay, I am, would it help?”
The wolf grinned, a puppy-like predatory grin, “I can think of ways it could help but I’ve got to ask before you continue, is this just the herbs?”
The nervous man shook his head forcefully, “Nope. If you think about it, the herbs really wouldn’t have even hit my system yet. I’ve just been twisted in knots because I think you’re hot and I’ve thought that for a bit, probably since after…, but you’ve always been unattainable. So, I guess I put it in the back of my mind but now, oh shit. It’s still too soon isn’t it? I’m being shitty. I should just go to bed.”
Nolan tried to pull away from the wolf’s hold but only succeeded as much as Liam’s hands slid down his arms and clasped his hands as he whispered, “Nolan, wait.”
Nolan turned back and looked back into the wolf’s eyes. The most beautiful gold met his blues as the wolf spoke, “You aren’t being shitty. You are just letting me know how you feel. What I was going to say is I wanted to make sure you were able to consent.”
Nolan’s eyes widened as he asked, “Consent to what?”
Liam leaned forward the former hunter felt the soft, warm, heavenly lips press against his own. He basked in the warmth as goosebumps travelled down his neck and over his chest. Before his mind could argue, he pushed himself into the kiss, his tongue rubbing and probing the wolf’s lips before they parted. Nolan’s thought process short circuited as the wolf pushed him into the fluff of the couch and their tongues met like fire to kindle as they eagerly engulfed one another.
He felt the distance as Liam pulled back, his rose lips swollen from their battle of passion. The wolf seductively grinned as he asked with a husky voice, “For that.” He leaned forward, just a breath away from another kiss, his golden eyes, pupils blown, and asked, “And maybe for something more?”