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That’s all right, I’m a bit of a wolf myself

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Doyle tackles the suspect to the ground. The guy turned out to be faster than Bodie expected, but he isn’t that big and he’s not armed. Bodie figures that’s the end of it.

But Doyle makes a surprised yelp of pain and the guy is off running through the woods again, making an unnerving howling sound and—stripping his clothes off?

Bodie hesitates. It’ll be dark soon. The moon is almost full, but with this many trees there’s only so much that can do for you, and if Bodie turns on his torch he’ll be a sitting duck for anything outside its beam. He doesn’t know who else might be in these woods besides their apparently unhinged suspect, and—

—and Doyle made a surprised yelp of pain, and is sitting on the ground cradling his arm. Bodie skids to a halt next to him. “You okay?”

“He bit me,” Doyle says, disgusted. Startled, Bodie flips on the torch. Sure enough, blood is welling from a neat ring of punctures in Doyle’s forearm. “Think I need a rabies jab?”

“Maybe I should suck out the venom,” Bodie says, only half joking. He shoots a revolted look after their suspect. “See, this is why you should dress for the weather.” He’s wearing a shirt and jacket, in no danger of anyone’s teeth making contact with his forearm without a lot of work first.

“We didn’t all spend most of the last decade in Africa,” Doyle shoots back, getting to his feet. “You got any antiseptic cream in the car?”

“Yeah.” Bodie starts picking up the suspect’s discarded clothing in case it yields any clues. (Neither of them can bring themselves to touch the boxers or the socks, though.)

The ER doctor insists on a rabies jab and a tetanus booster, and she injects saline into the wound until Doyle’s knuckles go white on the edge of the exam table. “Change the dressing twice a day,” she warns. “If it starts to look infected, come in right away.”

“Will it scar?” Doyle asks glumly, surprising Bodie for a second. With the way Doyle dresses, it’s easy to forget he cares how he looks. But of course he’s not that mindblowingly attractive all the time by sheer dumb luck.

The doctor looks sympathetic. “Probably. But it’ll be a good story, right?”

“Not really.” Doyle drags his feet a bit on the way out, and barely smiles at Bodie when Bodie holds the door for him. “Like a broken cheekbone’s not bad enough,” he says bitterly in the car. “People will think I’m in bar fights every Saturday night.”

Bodie feels…tender. He tries to come up with something comforting to say that isn’t about how he’ll still think Doyle’s handsome, since he doesn’t want to admit that and Doyle’s unlikely to find it comforting anyway. “Some birds like scars,” he tries. “I’ve got one on my bum in the shape of Yorkshire and you wouldn’t believe the interest it generates.”

Doyle’s scowl eases infinitesimally, so Bodie chalks it up as a win.

Doyle’s in a foul, jumpy mood all the next day, and when Bodie suggests they go down the pub after work, he says, “You’d probably have to pull me out of a bar fight for real with the first person who does something to annoy me.” His eyes crinkle a bit. “Well, the first person to annoy me who isn’t you. Just drop me at home.”

Bodie contemplates going to the pub by himself, but he thinks about shaving and fussing in the mirror and smiling at people and feels exhausted. He gives himself a pep talk about how he’ll enjoy it once he’s there and how getting laid would do wonders for his frame of mind, but he ends up sprawled on the couch with a beer instead, halfheartedly watching a rerun of Doctor in the House.

When the phone rings, he almost doesn’t bother answering. But if it’s Cowley, the old man will read him the Riot Act and complain about Bodie’s extremely witty answering-machine message again, so he drags himself off the couch and snatches up the receiver just at the tail end of the fourth ring. “Hello?”


“Doyle? That you?”

“Something’s happening.” Doyle sounds—scared? “I’m not entirely sure what it is but I’ve got a very bad feeling. Have you got a tranquilizer gun?”

“No. What’s happening?”

“Can you get one?”

“Is this an emergency? Is someone breaking in to your place?”

There’s a crashing sound. “If, um, you find something hairy in my flat—don’t kill it unless you really have to, alright?” Doyle makes an agonized noise that has every hair on Bodie’s body standing on end.

“Doyle! Doyle, what the hell is going on?”

He can hear Doyle breathing heavily. “But I’ll understand if you have to,” he says raggedly. “To protect yourself. I promise. Whatever you do, don’t let it bite you—” There’s a clatter, and then a howl.

“Ray!” Bodie shouts. There’s a clunking sound, like of Doyle—of something scrabbling at the receiver. Bodie keeps shouting, but Doyle doesn’t come back on the line.

Should Bodie call for backup? Should he call an ambulance? But Doyle didn’t ask for that. He asked Bodie to get a tranquilizer gun.

Bodie reviews as much of the call as he can remember. He looks out his window at the moon hanging in the sky, full and bright.

No. That’s impossible. Insane.

But Bodie has a very bad feeling.

It takes Bodie a terrifying half hour to round up: a tranquilizer gun and prepped darts in various dosages (although if there was a hairy thing the size of an elephant in Doyle’s flat, it must have fallen through to the cellar by now); a cool box of raw steak; another radio; and Sarah, a veterinarian he took out a couple of times last summer. She’s a bit tipsy and he suspects when he explained over the phone, she was expecting the whole thing to be a bizarre chat-up, but she lets him wrangle her into his passenger seat and show her how to use the radio with his free hand as he floors it to Doyle’s block of flats.

“Shall I come up with you?” she asks, gamely getting out of the car and trying to balance on her heels.

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea.” He buzzes Doyle’s neighbor Jenny, the one with the cat Doyle feeds sometimes. “It’s Bodie, CI-5!” he shouts into the speaker. “Let me up now.”

Jenny is also a little tipsy, and a lot spooked. “What the hell kind of dog did Doyle get without telling me? Cheshire’s having a nervous breakdown.”

Shit. “He didn’t tell me either.” Something howls and thuds against the wall between the flats. Shit.

Jenny looks at the rifle. “Should I have called 999 or the building manager or something? I would have if it was anyone else, but he’s usually so responsible and I didn’t want to get him evicted. I tried knocking on his door but he didn’t answer.”

“I’m not sure,” Bodie says. The howling and thudding redoubles at the sound of his voice. “I’m coming, hold your horses,” he hollers. “Jenny, Sarah might be talking me through some things over the radio. Can I leave her in your kitchen?”

Jenny and Sarah are already eyeing each other appreciatively. Bodie digs his fingers into Sarah’s arm as he settles her at the table. “You better not leave that radio until I say you can,” he tells her sharply. “Do you understand me? I’m sure Jenny’d be a lot more fun, but I’ll make it up to you.”

He loads the dart gun for wolf and stares at Doyle’s door for a few seconds. He hopes he doesn’t have to break it down. It seems like it might end up being good to have a door there. He tries the knob, praying—and it swings open. Bodie kicks the cool box inside, rushes in, and slams the door behind him.

He aims the rifle at the shoulder of the wolf standing in the middle of Doyle’s living room. “Sit tight and don’t do anything stupid, and I won’t have to use this.”

Maybe he should shoot first and ask questions later. But how’s he supposed to get Doyle to trust him after that? What if he misses? And his friend who gave him the darts also gave him a rundown full of words like overdosing, complications, respiratory depression, and capture shock. Bodie tries to estimate the wolf’s weight, age, probable metabolic rate.

It growls at him, and—it is Doyle, right? Not something that ate Doyle? Bodie can’t see or smell any blood or guts on it, or in the flat. The wolf is shaggy with a bit of red in its hair, not too huge but broad-shouldered with big paws, and when it makes eye contact with Bodie his heart leaps into his throat, so that all seems about right for Doyle.

He tries to glance around the room without taking his eyes off it for more than a couple seconds. The place is a bit wrecked, but—not like something ripped it apart in an uncontrollable fury. More like…

There are claw marks around the doorknobs. A mug is smashed, tea soaking the carpet and a splayed-open pad with a pencil cup upended over it. A lamp is smashed on the ground—thankfully the wolf seems to have steered clear of the glass. There are tooth marks on the telephone receiver, and—Bodie’s heart turns over. Doyle’s radio is on the floor by the coffee table, crushed.

It looks like what would happen if a great big wolf tried to do human stuff. Doyle’s favorite dark-blue afghan is on the floor with both wolf hair and regular curly Doyle hair clearly visible on it—not to mention a few gaping holes. Doyle will be torn up about that.

Bodie eases his finger off the trigger. “Are you going to jump me if I put this down?”

The wolf snarls—and then makes a series of drawn-out sounds like it’s trying to lecture him. Jesus.

Bodie backs into the kitchen and edges his way round the other side of the table. He props the rifle on it so he can work the radio with one hand. “Sarah? You there?” He sets it on the table with the line open.

There are a few seconds of silence, and Bodie is going to kill her if she—“Yeah. Sorry. Forgot which button was which.”

The wolf growls and edges into the doorway, but it backs off when Bodie raises his eyebrows and gets his grip on the gun again. It paces side to side, snapping at him. The lecturing noises go up an octave.

It keeps looking over its shoulder and sniffing—maybe smelling the steaks in the cool box by the front door—but it stays where it is, facing off with Bodie.

“He seems freaked out,” Bodie tells Sarah. “How do you calm down a wolf?”

“I’m a veterinarian, how the fuck should I know?”

“Guess,” he grits out.

“Let him smell your hand?”

“Will he bite me?”

“Does he look rabid?”

“How do I tell?”

“Aggressive, frothing at the mouth, lack of self-preservative instinct…”

“Don’t make me regret this,” Bodie tells the wolf, and lays the rifle on the table. Heart pounding, he inches around the table and extends his hand.

The wolf darts forward and noses his hand. The jaws open.

“He’s trying to bite me!” Bodie yells at the radio, leaping onto the table. The wolf gets its paws on the edge and tries to climb up after him.

“Is he trying to bite you, or just put your hand in his mouth? That’s how they know if you’re in their pack. If you let them, I mean. Then they know you are.”

Don’t let it bite you. Doyle gave him one simple instruction.

But if Doyle is really asking if Bodie’s in his pack, then…

He clenches his jaw and crouches down, reaching his hand towards the wolf again. “I am begging you.” He can hear his blood hammering in his ears as his fingers disappear into its mouth. Why the hell did he hold out his right hand? “Please don’t bite me.”

But it just holds his hand in its hot, soggy mouth for a few seconds, looking at him. Then it lets go and lands flatfooted on the floor, running under the table to see if it can climb up any easier from the other side. It tries all four sides, annoyed when it’s the same story on all of them.

“You’re even more embarrassing like this than you are usually,” Bodie tells him, reluctantly climbing off the table. The wolf leaps up, putting its paws on his chest and almost knocking him flat on his bum. He catches himself on the table, but his back smashes into the edge and the legs skid across the floor. “Ow!”

The wolf dances back, looking apologetic.

Bodie plants his feet and wipes his damp hand on his trousers. “What the hell, Doyle.”

“What is going on over there?” Sarah asks. “I’m coming over.”

The wolf snarls and leaps at the table, apparently trying to get at the radio and absolutely berserker that it can’t reach.

“Don’t do that, Sarah,” Bodie yells. “Do not even think about doing that.” The wolf head-butts him again. “He keeps trying to knock me over! How do I get control of this situation?”

There’s a pause. “You could try the alpha-roll,” she says doubtfully.

“What’s that?”

“He’s fighting for dominance with you,” she explains. “Probably. Is he putting up his shoulders?”


“He wants to be taller than you. The alpha-roll is where you pin his muzzle to the ground, and then flip him over and make him show you his belly. That way he knows you’re his alpha. But they don’t like it, obviously. You might start with just gentle eye contact and trying to make him lie down, if he’s not doing anything too aggressive. Reward him if he does what you want.”

Bodie makes gentle eye contact. The wolf looks exasperated and slams into him again.

Bodie puts a firm hand on the top of its head and pushes down. “Come on, Doyle.” If Doyle walks in the door while he’s doing this, he’s never going to live it down, but—this is Doyle, isn’t it? It feels like it is. Bodie wants to believe he’d know. “Calm down and do what I tell you. You’re just making things worse.”

But the wolf is getting more and more agitated, whining and pushing at him and howling indignantly. Bodie tries leaning on its back to push it down, and it cannons away with a low snarling noise that is frankly terrifying.

Bodie grits his teeth. What did he ever do to deserve this? But he makes himself say it. “What if I want to tell him he’s the alpha?”

“Don’t do that! It’s dangerous to let an animal get the upper hand of you.”

“Because starting a wrestling match with an enormous wolf is safe as houses, right?” he snaps. He’s never had the upper hand of Doyle before, so why should he expect more luck now Doyle’s grown fangs and claws? Yeah, Bodie’s wrestled him into submission once or twice, when Doyle’s temper got the better of him, but that was when Bodie was sure Doyle wouldn’t hurt him on purpose and that Doyle had the control and situational awareness not to hurt him by accident.

“You shouldn’t do that,” Sarah says again.

“Okay, but if I wanted to, how would I?”

There’s a crackling sound he thinks is her sighing. “I think I should come over there.”

The wolf hurls himself into a table leg hard enough that there’s a cracking noise. The table lists, the radio skittering to the edge. Bodie barely snatches it up before Doyle’s jaws snap together right where his hand was. “Fuck you,” he tells the wolf. “Sorry, Sarah, not you. I’m turning off the radio, it’s upsetting him. Do not come over here. If you don’t hear from me in half an hour, call Cowley. Our boss. Jenny’s got his number. Got that?”

“I still think I should—”

“Absolutely not. Do as I tell you.” He turns off the radio and sets it on top of Doyle’s fridge. The wolf smacks himself into the fridge, too. “You’ll give yourself a concussion, you clown,” Bodie tells him. “I know you’ve decided you hate the radio, but it’s gone now.” He takes a deep breath. You pin his muzzle, and then make him show you his belly. “If this is how I die, Cowley will laugh himself sick.”

He gets on his hands and knees facing the wolf. It goes still, watching him. “No scars on my face, okay? Don’t think I’d carry it off as well as you do.” Bracing himself, Bodie lowers his head and shoulders towards the linoleum. He keeps his eyes on the wolf’s. Not that it’ll do him any good to have a couple seconds to contemplate his imminent lack of a face if the wolf attacks him, but it still seems worse not to see it coming.

But the wolf’s shoulders relax. It puts its paw on Bodie’s nose, pressing his chin into the floor, which of course Doyle doesn’t seem to have scrubbed since the last general election. “The things I do for you,” Bodie says, muffled.

The paw lifts. Bodie takes another deep breath. He rolls onto his back, hands up in surrender.

The wolf is on him in a bound.

Its front paws hit his shoulders like a ton of bricks and its rear paws dig into his thighs. Bodie’s going to die. He’s going to die because he was too soft to use a dart gun on a hostile predator, and if this is Doyle and he wakes up tomorrow with Bodie’s blood caked around his mouth— How could Bodie do that to him? Don’t let it bite you. Doyle asked him for one thing, one stupid little thing, and Bodie fucked it up.

The wolf looks him in the eyes.

“You’ll be sorry if you kill me,” Bodie tells it. “Maybe you don’t believe me now, but you’ll be a wreck in the morning. It’s not worth it.”

The wolf starts licking his face, tail wagging.

Bodie sags into the linoleum and scratches Doyle’s ears. “You scared the living daylights out of me, you eldritch horror.”

Doyle sniffs him, backing away and almost planting a paw right on his testicles. He sniffs Bodie’s jumper, his armpits. He burrows swiftly under the shirt to jam his cold nose into Bodie’s bellybutton, looking entertained when Bodie curses and yanks the shirt back down. “You shed even worse like this,” he says, trying to pick off the hairs. So much for black polo necks from now on.

Then Doyle shoves his nose right in Bodie’s crotch. Bodie jumps about ten feet in the air and shoves his face away.

At least now he knows for sure it’s Doyle—Bodie can feel the crooked cheekbone. Thank heaven for small favors.

Doyle is getting stubborn about sniffing Bodie’s crotch, though. Annoyed Bodie is arguing with him. “You’ll thank me tomorrow,” Bodie tells him. It takes him a few tries to get to his feet, Doyle fighting him every step of the way. His back is going to kill him tomorrow. “Come on, let’s get you a steak.”

The magic word, apparently. Doyle magnanimously allows himself to be bribed. He does try to mount Bodie when Bodie gets down to open the cool box, but hey, reminding Doyle of this moment will be good for winning the next four hundred arguments they have, so.

“Are you going to flip out if I use the radio for a second?”

Doyle narrows his eyes at Bodie, but he keeps gnawing his steak.

Bodie tells Sarah thanks, and he thinks it’ll be okay, and if she wants to call a cab he’ll pay her back.

“No thanks,” she tells him cheerfully. “Me and Jenny are going to bake a cake.”

“Don’t burn yourselves.”

“Not your problem, darling. Over and out.”

Doyle growls.

“Yeah, I hate when people say that too,” Bodie commiserates. “Amateurs.” He shuts the radio in the cupboard where Doyle can’t get it, and lowers himself onto the couch. Doyle immediately rushes over—giving the broken glass a wide berth, thankfully—and climbs into his lap, still chewing on half a steak.

“I liked this jumper!” he complains, scratching Doyle’s back. “Should have made you wait while I changed my clothes.” Does he owe it to Doyle to sit on the floor? Nah, the couch was already ruined when he got here. He hooks a finger in one of the long gashes in the upholstery. Yep, it’s a goner.

Doyle butts his nose into Bodie’s hand, clearly communicating I wasn’t tired of being petted yet.

“Well I was tired of petting you.” But he pets Doyle some more. It’s hard to be annoyed when Doyle is so warm and soft and enthusiastic. “Come on,” Bodie says finally. “I know you like to get in your eight hours. Let’s go to bed. But no funny business, you hear me?”

He climbs into Doyle’s bed. This really isn’t how he imagined this moment. Bodie feels sad. The sheets smell like Doyle. Honestly, they smell more like Doyle than Bodie would really prefer, because Doyle doesn’t change his sheets enough, but even so…

Doyle climbs directly on top of him and licks his face anxiously.

“Watch the goods,” Bodie tells him. “It’s okay. I’m okay.” His voice cracks a little. “Stop licking my face, Christ! I’m fine.”

Doyle snorts and rests his snout on Bodie’s breastbone.

Bodie tries not to cry. “Sorry. I just…” He sighs. “It’s been a long hour.” He can’t really breathe with all hundred-plus pounds of Doyle compressing his rib-cage, but he hasn’t been this warm in a while, and he doesn’t have the heart to make Doyle get off him.

Bodie wakes up to Doyle—oh sweet Jesus. Doyle is very human and very stubbly and very naked and still rubbing himself all over Bodie. Bodie is going to have to explain visible beard burn to Cowley and—

He shoves Doyle off him. “Stop it.” He looks at the clock. Rosy-fingered dawn. God damn it. Couldn’t he at least have got some sleep?

Doyle doesn’t look quite himself yet. His eyes reflect the light more than they should, and—there’s just something a little—not exactly blank, in his face. Not exactly still. But not gears whirring away like Doyle usually is. He climbs back on top of Bodie. “You want it,” he says confidently.

“Everybody’s got a hard-on in the morning,” Bodie tells him, exasperated.

“You want it.”

“Oh yeah? How can you tell?”

“I can smell it.”

Bodie shivers. Doyle grins, teeth flashing. Bodie’s eyes ache. It’s not fair. It was already so difficult to hide this from Doyle and now Doyle can smell it?

But he raises his eyebrows and splays his whole hand across Doyle’s face to fend him off. “Let’s have this conversation when you’re...sober, how’s that? Go on, go and take a cold shower.”

Doyle glares between his fingers and tries to pin him to the bed, but not very forcefully.

“Go on.” Bodie pushes. “And clean your teeth, your breath stinks.”

Doyle snorts and rolls to the floor, landing in a crouch. Bodie tries not to stare as he gets to his feet and pads huffily into the corridor and out of sight.

Once Bodie hears the water turn on, he forces himself to get up and put the kettle on for coffee. Every muscle aches. He hopes Doyle really takes a cold shower so there’ll be hot water when it’s Bodie’s turn.

He mostly manages not to wonder if Doyle is jerking off in the shower, but because of the layout of the stupid flat and because Doyle never bothers to shut doors, he still sees Doyle go into the bedroom in nothing but a towel, drop the towel, and pull on a t-shirt and jeans with no underwear. Because Bodie hasn’t suffered enough for his sins. He turns away to fuss with the tin of Nescafé.

When he turns back around, Doyle’s leaning in the doorway, very red in the face and wielding his electric razor. The gears are whirring again behind his eyes. “I didn’t bite you, did I? I told you to bring a dart gun.”

Bodie points at the crooked kitchen table, where the rifle is still lying.

Doyle turns redder. “Didn’t use it though, did you?”

“You were mostly just freaked out. Don’t worry, you didn’t bite me. You put my hand in your mouth, but—”

“For fuck’s sake, Bodie! I told you not to let me bite you.”

“You didn’t bite me! Sarah said that’s how dogs know who’s in their pack.”

Doyle bristles. “I’m not a dog.”

“Yeah, well, I didn’t have a wolf expert in my little black book.”

All Doyle’s hackles go up. Flicking his razor off, he turns to press his forehead into the jamb, visibly fighting to get himself under control.

“What is it? You got upset last night when she was on the radio, too. Did she say something nasty to you I don’t know about? You never mentioned anyth—”

“It’s nothing.”

“Doesn’t seem like nothing.”

“It’s nothing.”

“Doyle, the last thing I need right now is more mysterious nonsense—”

Doyle’s shoulders slump in defeat. “The wolf’s just territorial,” he mumbles like he’s confessing a murder.

“About what?”

“His pack.”

Bodie is tempted to ask Oh? Who else is in your pack, then? just to call Doyle on his bullshit—but it seems cruel to make him say it. “So does that mean you don’t like hearing about wolf experts?”

Doyle’s shoulder-blades bunch, but he doesn’t notably react otherwise.

He can’t mean… “You don’t like hearing about my little black b—”

Every line of Doyle’s body goes rigid. He makes a sound in the back of his throat that—well, it isn’t a growl, but maybe only because Doyle is fighting to keep it from being one, and because human throats don’t make wolf noises.

Bodie blinks. “You mean you’re jealous.”

Doyle turns around and lets his head fall back against the jamb with a painful-sounding thud. He doesn’t make eye contact. He looks gutted.

This can’t mean what Bodie thinks it means. Surely Doyle was just horny and out of it before, right? Right? “Ray—”

“Just don’t say anything.” Doyle thunks his head against the jamb again, then sits at what’s left of his kitchen table, staring fixedly at the dart gun. He fists both hands in his hair. “This is so humiliating. Everything about it. I don’t even remember what I did last night. It’s a million times worse than being drunk, and I can’t stop it by just not drinking either. I can’t stop it at all, no one can do anything about the bloody moon, and—” He’s working himself up into a right state.

“Ray. Ray! It’s all right. I’m not judging you.” This sounds stupid to say, but what else is there? “You’re my pack.”

Doyle’s mouth curls viciously. “No, you’re not judging me. Big of you. You’re accustomed to people throwing themselves at you, right? It’s just what happens when you walk down the street! You’ll be judging me when I’ve tried to rip your girlfriend’s throat out, I imagine.”

Bodie should stop him. He should stop him, but he has to admit—something in him is relishing this a little. Bodie’s been doing this himself for so long, it’s nice to realize Doyle’s been doing it too.

Doyle takes a deep breath. “All right. We just have to look at this logically. It’s only one night a month, maybe two or three, right? Depending on what ‘full moon’ means exactly. How much you reckon a really good cage costs? Think they’ll let me pay in monthly installments?” He looks around at his chewed-up flat, his scratched refrigerator. “I’m never getting another deposit back.” He rubs at his face. “My life is over. Maybe you should just put me down. Or call Cowley, I bet he’d do it—”

Bodie’s gorge rises. Why didn’t he nip this monologue in the bud, again? “Your life’s not over.”

Doyle looks up at him, despair in his eyes, and Bodie doesn’t know what to say. Explaining to the wolf how he felt was easy: he let it put his hand in its mouth. He showed his throat. I trust you. And anyway I’d let you hurt me. That won’t cut it this morning.

He sets his jaw. “I’d shoot Cowley myself before I let him…” Bodie can’t finish the sentence.

His shock is mirrored on Doyle’s face. “Bodie!”

“I mean it, Doyle. Don’t get any bright ideas.”

After a second Doyle shrugs. “I wasn’t really being literal.” He stands up, knocking his chair over as he does it, and walks out of the kitchen.

Bodie sighs and shuts off the gas. He was looking forward to that coffee.

He finds Doyle stretched out on his ruined couch, staring at the ceiling.

“So what are you most upset about?” Bodie asks, leaning on the back of an armchair. “Being a werewolf, or me knowing you’ve got the hots for me? We’ll go in order.”

Doyle snarls at him. “Seems a bit like looking at the smoking crater where my car used to be and asking which I’m more upset about, the nitro or the glycerin.”

“So— You do have the hots for me, right? It’s not just some wolf dominance thing?”

Doyle’s eyes gleam sharply for a second before he turns them back to the ceiling.

Bodie tries to decide, if it is just a wolf dominance thing, if he’s far gone enough to let Doyle fuck him anyway. Given that Bodie flushed with enough arousal just thinking that sentence that Doyle sniffs the air, tensing a bit, the answer’s probably yes. Bodie’s never been too proud to take a few orgasms with his heartbreak, if the heartbreak was in the cards anyway. But he’s still hoping it won’t come to that. “Come on, Doyle, throw me—” He cuts himself off so fast he chokes a bit.

“A bone?” Doyle says, with an edge in it. “I think that shoe’s on the other foot. Paw. What have you.” Mouth twisting, he cuts his eyes meaningfully at the pile of gnawed T-bones in the middle of the carpet, and Bodie feels sorry enough for him to stop worrying about his own pride.

“You’re right,” he tells Doyle. “This is humiliating. For both of us, and we’re going to have to… It doesn’t look as if we’ll get through it with much dignity intact. But I’d like us to get through it with the things that count, if you haven’t any objections, and that’s you. That’s us. Come on, look at me.”

Doyle rolls to face the back of the couch. “I don’t want to.”

“Fine.” Bodie takes a deep breath. “I’ve got the hots for you. Have got. Have had. Will have. So if you feel the same way, that part’s not a problem.” Doyle doesn’t move. Bodie swallows. “And if you don’t feel the same way, and it’s just—you just want—need—”

Doyle rolls to a sitting position, chin coming up sharply. His eyes catch the light, swimming with tears. They slice into Bodie like claws. He’s pinned there, paralyzed, for whatever’s coming next.

Don’t. I’m still a human being.” Doyle’s mouth trembles. “Or not. I don’t know. Maybe I’m not human anymore.”

Bodie wants to—something. He should do something. But he can’t move.

“Don’t throw me a bone,” Doyle says intently. “Don’t show me your throat. Don’t treat me like an animal. I want—if we do this—I want—” His voice breaks. “I want it to be beautiful. Bodie. I want to feel my soul melting into yours.” The corner of his mouth curls up, just a little, and God, Bodie can feel it. He can feel Doyle’s breath ghosting over his soul. He can feel Doyle’s palms cupped around his heart. He’s afraid to move, to speak, to breathe. Anything that might shatter this feeling. He doesn’t even believe in souls, dammit, why does Doyle always have to be so—

“If I can’t have that anymore,” Doyle says in a low voice, “if that’s gone, if I’m nothing but… You might as well let Cowley take me out behind the barn and shoot me. Because I dunno what the fucking point is of anything.”

“Nothing’s gone,” Bodie forces out around the lump in his throat. “Doyle. Stop talking like that. Stop making everything into the end of the world all the time. Worst-case scenario, you start getting one o’clock shadow and have to grow a beard. We can both live with that, can’t we? I can, anyway, and if you can’t, you’d better seriously examine your priorities and maybe play Buddhist teachings on cassette tape while you sleep…”

He can’t seem to stop talking, and he can’t seem to start doing anything else. Doyle’s the one having a meltdown and turning into a werewolf. Bodie should help him. Should do something other than babble unsteadily. But maybe Bodie floundering a bit is what Doyle needed after all, because he can see Doyle take in how off-balance he is.

Doyle meets his eyes, gently. Bodie can see him take in everything.

Doyle’s mouth takes on a deeper curve, a light coming into his face. Not bright. Warm, though. Searing. Bodie hopes it doesn’t damage his retinas.

When Doyle stands up, the sun blazes in his hair like a halo. Yeah, that’s going to leave retinal damage. Worth it.

“Nothing’s gone,” Bodie says again, tightly, clenching his fists. “I know it’s not. And anyway human beings are animals. Don’t let the vicar sell you snake oil.”

Doyle prowls over. That’s not dehumanizing, is it? Doyle always prowled. He cups Bodie’s face. “Hey,” he says softly.

Bodie can feel that hey stroking over his nerve endings, calming them. His nerves all lie down end to end, laying their heads on their paws with a contented sigh. Doyle kisses him.

When he pulls away, he drags Bodie’s lower lip between his teeth. For a second Bodie wishes he’d bite a little harder, and then remembers— “Careful,” he mumbles. “Don’t break the skin.”

Doyle jerks away as though he’s been burned, mouth opening.

Bodie tries to smile at him. “Not that I’d really mind, but probably one of us should still be able to hold a gun and drive and work a doorknob and things during the full moon.”

Doyle makes a small wounded sound in his throat and slams into Bodie, kissing him harder. Trying to climb inside him, feels like.

Bodie puts his arms around him. “My back hurts. Go easy.”

He braces himself for an outpouring of guilt and apologies. To his delight, Doyle makes an annoyed huffing sound as he gentles. Irked he can’t just maul Bodie as he pleases.

“Could be worse,” Bodie tells him. “You could be a vampire.”

“How’d that be worse?”

“You’d have to wear a dinner jacket. Maybe even white tie.”

Doyle laughs and pretends to shudder with horror and licks Bodie’s earlobe.

Bodie’s a little sad they never did this before, so he could know what’s different now. But hey, why look a gift wolf in the mouth?

Well. Maybe that was the wrong metaphor. “You reckon it’ll be safe for me to put my…” He’s unexpectedly embarrassed to say it. He’s said a lot of filthy things to Doyle, but they were all hypothetical. This isn’t. “You know.” Somehow he finds himself stage-whispering “Fellatio” in his ponciest RP.

Doyle laughs into Bodie’s neck. “If I can’t give you fellatio anymore, might as well take me out behind the barn and shoot me,” he says, but it’s just a joke so that’s all right. “Maybe we should be careful at first while I’m figuring everything out. I dunno if my teeth are going to start doing anything weird when I’m…y’know. Emotional.”

That isn’t the word Bodie was about to suggest, but it makes so much sense for Doyle that Bodie’s a little beside himself.

“But we’ll sort it out.” Doyle smiles at him. “Top priority.”

Bodie knows Doyle’s still absorbing a pretty hard blow. He feels guilty about how happy he is. Not about the blowjob, even Bodie’s not that much of a dog—no offense meant. About Doyle smiling at him. Wanting him. Saying he’s top priority.

Not that the blowjob’s anything to sneeze at.

“Think NHS would pay for the cage?” Doyle asks several dozen kisses later.

“Or CI-5,” Bodie points out. “Injury in the line of duty.”

Doyle tilts his head. “Yeah, they should, right?” He sighs. “As if Cowley would ever submit the expense chit.”

“Look, why don’t you make us breakfast while I tidy up a bit? Don’t give up on your deposit yet. I reckon we can sand most of these scratches right out, soon as it’s warm enough to leave the windows open while the finish dries.”

Doyle shakes his head. “Nothing to eat in the house.” He grins toothily at Bodie. “Except you.”

“Why, Granny, what big teeth you have!” Bodie looks him up and down. “Is the rest of you proportional?”

“Why don’t you come and find out?”

“Can I do it the other way round?”

“How do you ask politely?”

“I can think of a few different ways. Which one’d you have in mind?”

“How about you run out for groceries after?”

“No way, you always complain I didn’t get the brand you like, or it turns out you wanted low-fat and forgot to tell me.”

“I take it all back,” Doyle says. “You can take your soul and go.”

“Sorry, no refunds or returns.”

“What about exchanges?”

Bodie leers at him. “What part of me do you want to trade my soul in for, then?”

“Dunno, guess I’d better do a bit of browsing.” Doyle heads for the bedroom. “Come along with you, then.”

Bodie goes.