Actions

Work Header

Si Daeng

Chapter Text

Molten silver swirled, poured like bubbling lava into moulds of mystery. Through the mists of time, flashes of intricate, interweaving jeweller's patterns. Lines of straight and lines of curve - each whispering their own story - and then a high-pitched ringing in ears, a searing of souls, as gleaming, glinting ruby gems set in silver home: Two rings...

...And two men dreaming the same dream, connected in feverish journey, eyes darting and rolling rapidly beneath closed lids, limbs twitching as slumber selves reached out towards something...of fate? Then awake, gasping, hearts thundering whilst fingers gripped, white-knuckled, at damp, twisted sheets below.

Strangers to each other, but soon to acquaint as characters in those Morpheus myths that whispered.

Voice getting closer, words growing clearer, as rubies and silver shone, shone. Waiting.

Chapter Text

Red hissed as he threaded lunar, cool metal of twinned barbells through pink nipple buds, screwing fastening balls tightly with deft, slender fingers. Standing back to wink at his own reflected image in the standing mirror, dragging those fingers through waves of crowning dark hair that teased his cheekbones too much of late.

"Get a haircut, Kanawut" - he addressed himself aloud bluntly, before reaching to pull a crumpled white T-shirt over the ink and metal of his decorated torso. Black skinny jeans clothing never ending legs, with the clink of a closing belt buckle as he grabbed a leather jacket hanging from his bedpost to make his way down the narrow hall, nose chasing that temptress of cinnamon as she meandered her warm path about the confines of the cramped condo.

"You remembered!" - his mother's soft surprise, rising onto tiptoes to plant a morning's kiss upon her son's cheek as he stooped, entering the kitchen.

"Ugh", nodding darkly, suppressing a yawn, "it's too damn early, Mae..."

“Shai, but you can never refuse your Yaai Chanthira, can you Luk? I've baked some plushki for you to take to her...there's a basket...", the familiar, gentle bustle of his mother as slippered feet padded about the tiled space, organising busily.

Suddenly a tail winding about Red's ankles, vibrations of low purrs with feline, emerald eyes locking his own as he crouched to tickle the cat at the shaggy mane of her neck...

"Hello P'Moon, did we interrupt your hunting on the terrace? You came for milk and buns?"

The elder woman bending too, placing a chipped china saucer on the floor beside them, “You spoil that grumpy old cat, Red"

"And you don’t?"

"Remember when you were still a boy, you used to say she bewitched you..."

Nostalgic humour twinkling both sets of brown eyes even as he rolled his at hers, before-

-"Luk, not that one", gesturing towards his studded leather jacket, handing over the wicker basket of snug treats - "Wear the one Yaii gave to you, the ruby red one..."

 

//

 

The second his feet touched tarmac of the street outside, an instant shift in the demeanour - the aura entire - of the 23-year old. Familial warmth extinguished from Red’s eyes and replaced by a mask of cool and bristling indifference, a kind of aggressive apathy. He lit a cigarette, smoke trailing camouflaged with the heavy, monotone overcast of the sky above, icy bites of sleet stinging at exposed cheeks as he navigated the concrete maze of the neighbourhood.

It was a satellite town to the nation's capital, where they lived. A wonky collage of faded tower blocks with grills at grim-faced windows, rusting metal bars telling their own tales of economic loss and criminal gain. It wasn't a place of community, though, cameraderie in the face of life's struggles. But rather an archipelago of isolated units that strove only to avoid eye contact with one another, for fear of seeing something that they shouldn't.

This place, Bang Haeng, had been Red's primary home since he was six - the year his father left. Left in the banal sense of walking out of the front door in his grey chauffeur's uniform one morning and never turning back, never coming back. With rent fixed at almost double in the postcodes of the capital, his mother Dara had moved the two of them out, truth proudly - if crudely - dissolved by declarations of a sudden desire to live closer to Yaai Chanthira. Little Red, of course, playing along for his mae's sake...

Grandmother lived in the forest - those acres of impenetrable fir and pine, cloaked either in permanent mists or eternal mystery, or both. It was the borderland between city and slum, yet no modern roads dissected - all skirting widely in detour, as if reluctant to enter themselves. But within those depths, one small cottage remained, defiant wood smoke spiralling from its chimney and flickering golden candlelight at every window.

It was there that Red visited his Yaai, the stoic last of the historic forest dwellers, on his monthly trips back to Bang Haeng from the internship he had begun the previous year. And on this day he had promised to come early, ‘this day’ being her birthday, so began that seemingly simple quest, universe’s cogs turning, clunking, as fate’s precious die were cast...

"Be careful in the woods, Red", his mother had cried out behind, words almost stolen away by the howling of a wounded, banshee wind between strangling air channels of towerblocks.

"Why? Will I be devoured by her mythical beasts?"

"Hoy! Don't play, you know the stories"

Stories...yes. Legends that haunted the dreams of children on both sides of the woodland border...

Glowing, amber eyes. Snarling, razor canines splattered with blood that dripped as the ebbing of life and any humanity. And a desolate howling not of wind's voice, but from a beast - pooled in the silver moonlight of a forest clearing - calling unanswered for his mate, the only one to sate the aching hunger of that contorting soul.

He would feast on lost children until he found what he had lost himself - or so the bed time story, and finger-wagging threats of many a frazzled parent, warned across decades.

But Red was all grown and no stranger to those trees. Hell, he had been treading the dirt track since boyhood, with a glare so fierce and ferocious that majestic elk scattered in his path, antlers bowed in deferent ‘wai'.

So as he reached the edge of the woods he took a final, harsh drag on dying embers of bitter tobacco, tossed the cigarette butt to merciless pavement crushing at the heel of his own boot, and stepped over the boundary from modern concrete to ancient earth.

And amber eyes watched him come.

Chapter Text

That feeling of being watched, of being object or prey to powerful eyes. A sensation of skin shivering into goosebumps, pulse quickening, fists clenching - uncommanded - in readiness for...something.

'Something' was prowling the bramble-twisted thickets, stalking the path down which heeled boots of black leather strode. Yet there was no whimpering or quivering or prayer for sweet mercy to be heard - in truth, curiously, it only made Red hold his head higher.

Powerful eyes watching, yes, but a subject apparently self-empowered beyond objectification of any gaze.

"Fuck you", he snarled - low and steady - "Fuck you", own glare fixed only on the route ahead. The sapphire-winged butterflies that fluttered a courtship dance across the way, swooping swifts gliding and darting in lethal mid-air pursuit of gut-busting mosquito feast. Snuffles and spiny prickles of a hedgehog padding over fallen, damp leaves, ferns and needles, and the melancholic hooting of a lone Snowy Owl awake past it’s bedtime on some overlooking branch.

Familiar scents of pine and soil and wild garlic filling Red's nostrils as he journeyed. The further he trespassed upon Mother Earth's kingdom, the stiller surroundings becoming - like the refocusing of nature's camera lens as the morning air about lost its sense of clock and thickened, darkened. Until, in time, the only sound remaining was that of his own breathing, the only movement his forward-marching feet...

And still those unseen eyes watched on.

 

//

 

"The wolves are back", Yaai Chanthira murmured as she dipped the corner of her plushki bun into a cup of sweet, whiskey-splashed tea.

"Ugh", Red nodded from his cross-legged position on the patterned rug beside the hearth, "I was being watched the whole way here...just like when I was a boy"

His grandmother's eyes leapt to him as he said it, leaning suddenly closer from her seat of a comfortably-worn paisley armchair:

"Being watched, you say? Did you see it?"

"Mai shai, Yaai. Only felt it"

"Yes...I see...but, why now? Is the time near?" - the old lady's eyes misting as she rested back against the cushions, words more for herself than any audience.

A frown nagged at Red's brow. His mae had confided on a phonecall some weeks earlier that she was worried about her mother - said that she seemed distracted, preoccupied of late. Circular conversations with herself as if trying to solve some stubborn solo riddle. He could see it in the hours he'd spent there that day. The usual sharpness of his yaai's mind suddenly blunted by some cloud of confusion.

"Yaai Chanthira khrab. Is everything...ok?"

She turned back to him with an urgent energy about her ever-careful movements, beckoning:

"Come to me Red, come Kanawut" - her grandson crawling on long limbs to kneel at clogged feet.

The old lady reaching wrinkled hands down to cradle his face as fern green eyes fixed upon his with a searching, sparking seriousness...

"Promise me you won't come into the woods at night, Red. Don't set one foot in this realm once the moon has harnessed the sun to drag him under each day, ok? Will you promise, child?"

A chuckle from the younger as he pulled one of those hands to his eye’s lashes to flutter the family’s tradition of a ‘butterfly’s kiss’:

"Always so poetic. Don't worry Yaai, I'm not planning on any forest floor slumber parties, I swear"

 

//

 

Tea-less tumblers of whiskey later, Red found himself shooed from the cottage with an empty basket in the crook of his arm, assurances from his grandmother that she would visit the family at their condo in the few days before his return to work some 100km away. She detested the urban sprawl, he knew, but ventured there on occasion for the ones she loved only.

The sporadic sleet of earlier had turned to flurries of October's onrushing chill, Red's path's loose dirt transformed to mud and glassily-iced puddles across the hours he'd spent indoors.

It was only just after noon, yet the cloak of branch and cone and needle cast a shadowy tone of dusk about the place.

“Hurry home, Red”, his yaai’s whisper as they had parted at the cottage’s low eaves.

And he was hurrying. Something inside him rushing him onwards - glancing up, in a clearing, to see the winged silhouette and feathered, flesh-tearing talons of a low-soaring eagle ruling the sky above. There was a creeping, strangling sensation, as if ivy was twining tighter, tighter about his neck as he stumbled over exposed tree roots that seemed to grab at his boots like demonic forest fairyfolk.

Realising, suddenly, that he had strayed off the beaten track, and confronted by a gaping, limestone canyon. But the bank was slippery with slush, and before Red knew it he was sliding in unstoppable, yet suspended, motion. Tumbling painfully, grazingly over jagged rocks towards the edge and then out over the precipice as he became keenly aware of gravity’s greedy force and fell.

Fell.

Fell - then was caught, halted mid-air, body jolting to smack back against the black cliff face when sudden, white-hot pain pierced the backs of his hands.

And when Red tilted his face upwards to meet the eyes of this rescuer it was to pools of glowing, prehistoric amber, a steely coat of silver, and two gigantic wolf paws that secured his own blood-streaked hands as he dangled at fate’s mercy.

Chapter Text

Moments passed in which the man and the wolf just eyed one other intensely, each sizing the other up before committing to the next strategic move on the evolutionary chessboard.

Red, pragmatically theorising that his unlikely survival options swung as a pendulum between plummeting to the foot of the gorge or clambering back to solid footing to confront the hunger of a probably ravenous wolf with bare hands, and so scrabbling his feet against the rock face until locating a narrow ledge from which he could balance to climb upwards from - beast releasing its clawed grip on the torn skin of his hands and retreating, permitting time and space to ascend to that relative, precarious safety.

"Playing with your lunch, dog?", Red spat betwixt ragged breaths as he hauled his own aching limbs up onto the bank and rose to stand, widening his stance, broadening his shoulders, readying for battle.

The wolf had begun to circle him, slowly, growling low, teeth bared and tail flicking from side to side in menace as Red swivelled to keep his front to the threat.

It wasn't a moment to display fear or air weakness, the young man well knew, and conceding even a centimetre could prove fatal.

Yet - was it even fear he truly felt, or raw adrenaline? The more he stared down those eyes, glinting in afternoon's gloom, the more he felt something rising from deep within his core. Something primal and powerful and, fuck, ferocious.

Suddenly Red could hear a second growl - taking some seconds to understand that the sound was originating from within his own body.

And in that moment of realisation, the wolf pounced forwards - raising itself up onto hind legs to match the man's height as he was pinned back against the rough bark of a pine tree. Faces a mere hair’s breadth apart, mist of visible breaths confronting in frosty air...

Red's throat was exposed. The wolf would tear out his windpipe, wouldn't it? He was staring death, quite literally, in the eyes. Yet even in the face of it his own eyes burned a blazing flag of ‘No Surrender’, nostrils flared and upper lip curling into a vicious snarl.

What was that in the fiery amber orbs of the beast? Fleeting query? Hesitation certainly, a kind of hazy concussion through which Red's instincts charged unstoppable as he seized the acquired momentum to push his nose harshly up against that of the creature - nose to snout - and with animalistic wildness commanded:

"Down...down!"

The forest watching on, wide-eyed, unblinking and breath held, as the colossal, silver-coated wolf...just obeyed. Leapt down to back away, then - inexplicably - rolled onto his back on the damp, mossy bed of the woodland carpet to expose the soft white fur of his underbelly: Submission.

Red loomed forward - tangled hair, bloodstained hands and hard breathing - looked down at the beast from his height, then stepped a heeled boot over him and simply walked on in the direction of Bang Haeng’s alleged civilisation, without looking back.

 

//

 

Was it really him? That angry-with-the-world boy who had faithfully trudged through the forest to the sorcerer's hut with tiny, balled fists and a grimly set jaw since boyhood? It had been many years since he had seen him - periods of migratory exile to other territories for the wolfpack - but it felt like him, yes.

He was far taller now, of course, the boy - no, man - as he had watched him step over the boundary into the woods that morning. Slender with just a hint of athletic muscle, long legged, delicate features that belied the eternal, external hardness in his dark eyes. Still just as magnetically compelling as he had been since they were both mere children.

Knowing he shouldn't - pack sulking back at the caves with questions of ancient prophecy to be deciphered - he couldn't help but keep step with the other, paws padding swiftly, silently, in parallel to the human path.

Did the boy, the man, the one that wore red, not see how the forest around reacted to him? He had never seemed to, always blustering forwards on some self-blinkered mission that left him infinitely removed from the natural world he entered and inhabited. It was the human way, wasn't it?

But amber eyes saw - had always seen. The way sunset-breasted bluebirds celebrated, cavorting gayly above his head, the way nocturnal - even hibernating - creatures roused from slumber simply to watch him as he passed, the way the trees seemed to whisper, branches to bow. A parade. Why?

It had been instinct from the purest depths when he had rushed, hours later, to save the red-coated man as he slid and somersaulted down nature's glacial helter skelter.

And then an awkward confrontation, after all those years of only watching at a distance...

But if that man didn't know his own tangible effect on the forest, then he certainly didn't know that place's effect on him in those moments.

The fact that, as he had dealt his command of "Down...down!", his almond-shaped eyes had kaleidoscoped breathtakingly from brown to red: Ruby red, and nothing so simple as wholly human.

What was that twinge in the heart of the great, silver wolf? A sudden urge to once again stand face to face, eye to eye with that being he had unknowingly shielded since childhood. But stand not as wolf, but in his own human form. He as man too: Sil.

Chapter Text

"You're going back again?", Red's mother sighed, hands wrung beneath the pull down kitchen table, scattered with offcuts of fabric from her small, home-run tailor business. "I don't understand it, Kanawut. That day you came back here battered and bruised, bloodied, covered in mud. A wolf attack, for heaven's sake! I thought that would finally be the end of that forest for this family - thought that Yaai would admit defeat of 'the old ways' and move here with me. But there the stubborn fool stays. And you? Suddenly you're back here weekly instead of monthly, and each day strolling in the woods like a simpleton sightseer. It's as if you're looking for trouble - and believe me, luk, trouble will find you...mark my words..." - Dara's impassioned tirade trailing off as she focused to peer through one-armed spectacles, threading the eye of the black and gold sewing machine's needle with a thimbled finger.

How could Red tell her? Delineate something that he himself had no firm grasp of…

The fact that he had found himself, night upon shivering night in the drafty dorm he shared with fellow live-in workers, dreaming about a wolf. Because in those dreams the creature licked the puncture wounds on the backs of his hands clean - the tickle of a pink, velvety tongue. He carried him on his back as he slept, hand drum heartbeat syncing with Red’s own through warm fur. He swam with him in the mirror-glass pools of the woodland stream, gemstone dragonflies darting and gliding between.

But the beast never looked directly into his eyes - not once.

And every dream ended the same way, frustration bubbling to eruption within the slumbering man - tossing and turning on his creaking lower bunk - until at last he blurted out:

“Show yourself!”

To which the silver wolf would only turn silently away, paws leaping with awesome agility from rivulet’s stepping stone to stepping stone and up onto the mossy bank, vanishing beyond forest curtain’s veil of pine and fir.

Red alone…wanting to follow but suddenly unable to move, feet rooted, frozen and fixed.

Then waking to reality with a jolt, toes ice cold as they protruded out from the bottom of a too-short, threadbare old moth-eaten quilt.

The days were no better. Mind invaded - wherever he was, whatever he was doing - by visions of unreadable amber orbs and tugs of that magnetic pull to follow. Wanting to simply down tools - or beers in the bar with workmates, as a pretty girl wound her way up and down his numb body on the pulsating dance floor - and go to that place to be looked upon by, and look upon, those eyes.

It was…damn irritating. Fuck.

What did he even want? To fight the wolf again? A rematch? To befriend the beast? Did he have some long forgotten and deep-buried boyhood ambition to become a zoologist? Yet it was he himself who had walked away that day without looking back. He didn’t understand what his unconscious was whispering, what exactly it was that his body sought.

So just as his mae said, as late Autumn gales blew them through New Year and into deepest winter blizzard, he had found himself boarding the aching old cross country commuter train - snow plough braced - not monthly, but after three weeks, then two, and finally, one.

Every weekend he was there in Bang Haeng - at first under the official line of diligently visiting his yaai, but then, after an intervention of sorts from teamed up generations of Traipi women, an acknowledgment that there was more beneath the surface of that frozen lake of Red.

Only Moon seemed to be in step, the thick-maned, tabby Siberian Forest Cat padding along beside him on many such random rambles. The strange duo returning, over and over and over again until at last, on a day on which the forest's first snowdrop bloomed in a quiet, secluded glade - purest, delicate white petals heralding Spring amidst the glittering guard of March snow - the man in the ruby red jacket fell to his knees on the forest’s twiggy bed and shouted out to anyone who could hear:

"Fucking show yourself! I know you're watching, I can feel it - I've always felt it. What do you...want? Shiaaaaa!"

Words ricocheting back as a choir of chaotic echoes from totem pole-like rocks around. Unanswered.

Yet that night…

Red dreamed that he rose from his iron bedstead to walk barefoot - trance like - down the cracked communal staircase of the condo complex. Out into deserted, moonlit streets, across nature's border and into the forest that beckoned and coaxed. And the ringing that had been in his ears for months gone by and he only now heard, grew louder. Louder and louder until the atmosphere about imploded into cataclysmic nothingness - leaving behind only a simple woodland clearing, a man at either end.

But it…wasn’t a dream. A grandmother's remembered plea flashing in warning across the mind of one:

"Promise me you won't come into the woods at night, Red. Don't set one foot in this realm once the moon has harnessed the sun to drag him under each day, ok? Will you promise, child?"

Some promises are made to be broken.

Chapter Text

There were no words, none at all, as moonlight glistened against skin as if both bodies were wet with dawn’s coming dew. The two simply regarding one another from each side of the clearing - drinking the moment, slowly, like wine tasters of forest’s elixir.

Had a part of Red known it all along? That ‘his’ wolf was not truly of the canine persuasion?

Because he was unquestionably a man before him now, in loose, stone grey jogging bottoms and a v-necked, white T-shirt, matching up to Red’s own black vest and pyjama trousers. Each barefoot in the snow as if they were wandering fairyfolk.

They were as tall as one another, and looked to be a similar age, but the second man larger in frame - lean yet broader backed, upper arms thick with natural muscle, silken raven hair swept back as he tilted his head to eye his opposite from beneath unblinking lids. Those eyes weren’t the same glowing amber in human form, but toned almost to midnight black - yet the gaze was the same, felt the same to Red.

Or did it?

There was familiar magnetism and mysticism, yes, but also something else now that the body before him stood as man. It was…heat.

A heat that coursed through his veins and radiated out from his skin to melt the snow beneath his toes. A heat that flushed his cheeks as if he were in the throes of fever. A heat that seemed to stroke and stoke at an inner fire that had ignited within, as the other man began to prowl closer, eyes never leaving his own.

Red frozen as a statue - only the physical rise and fall of his chest as breaths trailed out as pirouetting ghosts against the glitter and ink of a night sky - until the two stood directly opposite one another, just as they had some five months before, though this time nose to nose.

Did either of them know that they trembled? So slightly, so delicately, as the second man lifted a hand to place it, simply, on Red's cheek.

And how could the touch of a stranger feel only like most ancient home?

The penetrating eyes unlocked from his own, at last, to blink down instead to his lips - Red knew what was coming, the man's expression hungrier than he had ever appeared to be as a wolf, visually devouring the plump pinkness of the pout before him. Then he was kissing him, lips moving softly against Red's own still mouth, tasting, quivering with the restraint of that hunger.

Suddenly the night walker’s mind was racing to catch up with his body, projector montage of images stampeding through his brain as he registered that he was out in the forbidden, forest darkness being kissed by a man-wolf, or even just a man, and that his heart was somersaulting, freefalling, in a way he had never known it could.

What was...happening?

In an instant he had grasped the other by the collar of his t-shirt and shoved him away - the second stumbling, falling backwards onto hard, frosted earth, to the indignant cries of snapping twigs.

That look - as the fallen man stared openly up at Red from below - mood mirroring moments in which he had shown his underbelly as a wolf that day: submission.

Yet he rose to his feet again, approached again, stood nose to nose again, and waited.

And after seconds of palpable, fierce internal struggle, Red clutched at his shirt again, only this time to switch their positions as he pushed the other roughly back against the smooth bark of a lone silver birch that edged the clearing, and crashed his lips back into those whose touch he had already come to miss.

Kissing passionately, desperately, tongues thrusting and twining as breaths were held, embracing until both men were carousel dizzy, light-headed with whatever had been unbridled between them. They were starved and greedy for each other, saliva coating cheeks and chin as those stifled breaths were suddenly released out as gasps and pants in the quiet of the woods in slumber.

By the light of the moon.

And Red didn't protest when he was gently rotated and pressed back against the silver birch himself, only humming into the mouth of the other as he felt cool fingers travel beneath the hem of his vest to trace their way shiveringly around his hip bone, up past his navel, along the concave dip between firm pectoral muscles and to a pierced bud.

"Haaa" - he jolted with electricity, one hand roving the tree behind in search of a branch or whorl to grasp and steady upon as those fingers teased him, pinching, twisting nipple beneath cloth, as a mouth moved to suck and mark the inviting, smooth expanse of his exposed neck.

And in amongst all of the kissing and touching, mutual, exhilarating excitement - cocks heavy, stiff with arousal, wet with want. Hard for each other as Red's black vest was torn in half from the neckline, clawed away to reveal his tattooed torso to the icy caresses of a night's breeze, as the second man took teased nipple into feasting mouth.

The sharply contrasting, sensual warmth of that place as a tongue rolled the silver barbell - hand at the other hardened nub and rubbing - the shock of teeth clashing against metal.

There were noises rising up from Red's throat again, not growls this time but soft sighs and moans as he wove and tugged long fingers through the hair of the man at his chest.

He had never been touched there - not in this way - shadowy, transient lovers of the recent past aiming straight for his cock and easy pleasure. Yet here he was, groaning uncontrollably on a speeding subway out of sanity, knees weakening, eyes rolling back.

It felt...fuck…so... Like blossoming magic, a magical awakening. And as the second man's hands roamed to encircle the goose pimpled skin of his slender waist at arching back, then down, cupping and kneading in spine-tingling exploration of round ass cheeks through pyjamas - hot mouth never leaving chest, licking and stimulating on, on, on, Red-

-Wait, no, he couldn't be. It wasn't...he'd barely even been touched.

And yet he was, wasn't he? His body writhing in urgent quest for friction, more, hips rolling, then jerking wildly, arms forcefully clamping that head against his chest as he was shuddering and moaning, inner heat growing unbearable, scorching it's way from every cell out to every pore...

...Until all he could see was blinding white, as he climaxed breathily, powerfully, messily, in the clinging confines of clothes, held upright entirely by the strong arms of the other as he buried his head in the sculpted chest opposite.

Neither knew it - down there on Earth as each gasped and basked in new ecstasies and tentative, spellbinding union - but a novel, twinkling star was birthed in those moments, high in the heavens where fate's pathways were carved. Because the two who had met had been destined to meet, that night the constellation-plotted start point of something transformative.

Everything was going to change now.

Chapter Text

"I'm Sil", the other man had uttered, low and hoarse against his neck, as they clung to one another in the moments after Red’s release.

"Red" was all he could reply. Tentative words between them - a guarded introduction, of sorts.

They had parted ways at the forest's edge as if concussed, dazed by seismic aftershocks of what had taken place, minds as misty as the haze of rapidly breaking dawn. Jarring disassociation as Red stumbled back through the stark contrast of lonely grey streets - a place he had known for almost two decades suddenly entirely alien to his soul. Disconnect, even until the sole of his bare foot was stabbed by green glass of a jagged, malevolent broken beer bottle when turning the final corner towards home.

He hissed out - almost gratefully - at the sudden, grounding strike of pain, then as he raised eyes back up to face the road ahead, he saw it.

As if he had somersaulted head first into a Frida Kahlo canvas - the utter surrealism of the scene that lay:

A Golden Eagle perched awkwardly on the front steps of his graffitied condo building, beside the acidic rain-rusted, yellow mailbox, head tilting this way and that as it side-eyed him directly, unblinking and somehow...enraged.

Could an eagle be enraged?

Yet before Red's mind could even shift onto a working gear cog, the immense raptor had unfolded its two-metre wingspan and taken to the sky with a fierce, parting caw, leaving behind a single, gold-tinted feather on cold concrete steps: Message, reminder, threat...?

As he lay, awake and restless on his bunk in the small hours some five nights later - twirling the feather token between thumb and forefinger as flashes of lightning spotlighted the sparsely furnished dorm room, rain pelting at rattling window panes - it was just one of a plethora of questions that had invaded Red's thoughts incessantly in time that flowed like uncatchable sand between outstretched hands.

For what did his body still ache and tremble as if weak with fever? He wanted to hurl out to the universe. What was drawing him into the woods? And Sil - why did everything feel as if their whole lives had been a journey towards each other's eyes. Fuck, what was he even thinking?

Why, why, had the other man stopped touching even as both bodies reached for...more?

A muddled maze of half baked questions and tangled heartbeats and right at the core of them all: Who am I? Because one thing he now clearly understood was that Red Kanawut Traipipattanapong was not quite who he had felt himself to be in the first 23 years of his existence.

Suddenly jerked from inward looping, one way midnight thought-cycles as a wayward branch shattered that pane in the swirl of raging external storm.

And when Red rose to stand at the window, billowing white bed sheet in hand to patch across the howling space that gaped, he stepped instinctively back again with a sharp, shuddering, intake of breath - foot pierced by floor’s glass shards to spill crimson for the second time that week - as he came face to face with a rowed convocation of hunched, glaring eagles, talons gripping the neighbouring tree's swaying branch, eyes fixed, in eerie accusation, on him alone.

 

//

 

Both men had been waiting for it - though Red perhaps not admitting so openly, since it seemed possible, in his case, to keep secrets from even one's self - but at last diaries told that it was the weekend.

Nothing had been arranged, of course, pre-destined or not, yet it felt like a delicious inevitability that those two would find a way to be together once again - and so it was.

The moment the condo was at slumbering peace - comforting, almost in utero sounds of his mother's regular, rhythmical purring snores from her futon, and the wise face of a ticking clock above a tap that dripped as percussion into the kitchen's steel sink, Red pulled his leather jacket from the hold-all bag he had travelled back with on the train earlier that evening, grabbed boots from the hallway shoe rack, and tiptoed out of the small apartment with only the quiet click of the front door as it closed behind.

He jumped the stairs, long-legged, four at a time, hearing the distant yowling and scratching of a too-late-awoken Moon at the wooden door, but not hesitating - couldn't hesitate - towed towards awaiting, night time forest as if by some invisible rope or tie.

A gasping and rustling of trees around as Red trespassed that kingdom once again. His feet were running - away from the path - carrying him blindly onwards through heavy velvet of clouded, drizzly darkness, since it seemed he was always the last to know.

Faster, faster, booted footsteps ran as the breath quickened out of him, ragged and panting. Face and clothes scratched and torn by thorns and clawed twigs as he careered dizzily through dense undergrowth.

Until a strong hand caught his flailing palm from behind, yanking him into back hug with such violence of passion that it winded both figures into gulps. Red twisting round, slowly, to meet Sil's eyes, and turning, then, to close the gap between magnetically ravenous lips, shoving the oncomer back against grazing rock face.

"I’ve been waiting for you", the second breathed into heated kisses, two sets of hands fumbling to touch and roam beneath clothes in seek of curiously, mutually burning, unchartered skin. Hungering for each other, chests and groins pressed so tightly - bruisingly - up against one another, carnal flesh craving, tickets to dance steps of forbidden, breathtaking desire.

And when Sil pulled back to clutch air for lungs - just as nature's lantern moon escaped her cloudy restraints to bathe the scene with cool, silver glow - expressive, dark eyes widened, hand flying to his mouth as he exclaimed:

"Oh fuck. I knew it"

Then he was enclosing Red's palm in his own larger fist, steering him with a delicacy that lyricised of reverence for precious cargo, to the water's edge of a mirror-glass pool below, urging softly:

"Look...look"

Because the rippling reflection showed two faces, but whilst one's eyes glittered almost black, the other's were ablaze with powerful, dazzling ruby flames.

Red's eyes, pure red.

Sil's head suddenly turning, cocking, as calls of a frenetically howling wolf pack reached them through mufflers of damp air. And he was pulling Red away from that place and carving a route upwards behind the rock where moments earlier they had moaned ensemble.

Rather than fighting their way, it was almost as if the forest was helping those two, as if silent rocks were elevating them as they leapt, swaying leaves murmuring ancient, conspiratorial chants of encouragement, Sil’s fingers gripping Red’s hand so tightly that he was white-knuckled as he called back over his shoulder, voice half growl:

“Come with me, we’ve got to be quick”

The pack was closing in - he could smell it, could smell their fear.

Chapter Text

It was halfway up the craggy, limestone cliff that Sil pulled Red into a narrow gulley, barely an opening in the rock face, really, but just wide enough for the two to squeeze along, single file, as intrepid mountaineers. And just 50m on, that crevice opened without warning into astonishing amphitheatre - nature's own palatial courtyard - a central, open-air atrium from which multiple cave routes forked, veins and arteries in and out of a forest's heart.

A sparkling waterfall at one serrated edge, cascading ivy blanketing walls, moss carpeting stone floors, clusters of bowed snowdrops shining as diamonds in the breaking dawn, amongst tapestry of myriad lushest green hues.

As the men entered, a sudden hush that befell the scene - sunrise's tweeting chorus halted mid-chirp, bustling squirrels paused in nut harvest, as all heads turned to follow those two and their most subtle, ethereal glow.

"What is this place?" - Red's voice rebounding from cathedral walls to echo - wondrous, child of Bang Haeng's scaffolds, grills and concrete at once humbled by Earth's rich grandeur.

Sil's hand entwining so naturally to lead him to a fallen tree trunk in the centre of the round, both sitting astride - one leg each side - to face one another.

"This place...is sacred", at last the second man answered - that low voice that freed shivers of caged butterflies up and down the first's spine.

"Like a shrine?"

"Shai"

"But, a shrine to who?"

"A shrine to you"

Red's eyes widening, searching the other's, waiting for the teasing wink...that never came.

"What are you talking about?", he dug bluntly.

Lowered head and steadying breaths from Sil, as if summoning power from inner reservoirs - hydroelectricity of the soul - before he was ready, meeting Red's gaze once again, emboldened, to begin:

"Have you heard the prophecy? I don't think so, since you don't know who you are..."

"Who I...am?"

"Wait, people-folk tell bed time stories, right? Did you ever encounter such a story about a wolf?"

"Well there is one, a kind of fairytale about these woods. Yaai Chanthira told it to my mother, and my mae in turn to me"

"Say it" - their hands still unconsciously interlocked, Sil's thumbs massaging soft encouragement against Red's palms, then.

"It's just a myth. A parent's arsenal to scare their brats when they won't fall asleep on time-"

"-Say it"

"Dai, dai, ok krub. Well…it's told that there's a big bad wolf - a vicious beast - that lives in the woods as king of the forest. He returns to the same spot each night to search for his fated queen. A soul with whom he shares an ancient bond, but has been separated from for generations. Yet she never comes, so sunset by sunset his bitterness grows, twists, until loneliness becomes rage and that in turn bloodthirst, and he sets out on nightly quests to steal children, the ones that won't sleep. His revenge on a torturous world…"

"It's like Chinese Whispers" - Sil muttered beneath a furrowed, thinking brow - "Some facts remain, but others lose their meaning until over time the real becomes hollow, muddled myth"

"The real?" - was he ready for the answer?

"What if I told you that in the prophecy - in the origins of your bedtime story - the lost mate's eyes shine 'red as rubies'?"

Red's hand flitting to rest on a cheekbone, below an eye, as memories of his reflection earlier that same night spirited across his mind and Sil continued doggedly on...

"And what if I said that the growing 'Wolf King's' coat was silver - eyes amber even in daylight - and that this place where we sit is the forest's throne room?"

"...You come here..."

"...Every night, just as I was coached by the elders of my pack. Though the child-feasting is urban myth at its most melodramatic, I swear" - a dry chuckle, forced attempt to dispel strumming pressure about the paling air.

But it was no time for laughter, Red deadly serious as he travelled, at last, through the mental gateway that had been unlocked to him:

"You're saying that you're..."

"Yes, well I will be"

"And I'm...?"

"I know it, I've always known it"

Intense, statically-charged moments of literal soul searching, a relearning of one's entire earthly existence in seconds, until the silence - backdrop sound only of cascading waterfall - was tremored and troubled once again by polyphonic howling of anxious, distantly approaching wolves.

So many questions to be asked, but first, directly:

"You said when we ran that the wolves were scared? What is there to fear if their royal heir apparent has found his destined mate? Shouldn’t they be celebrating?”

"They don't...believe it", downcast, agitated glance again.

"Why? If you yourself say it?"

"They contest that it's unnatural and will obstruct our destined path - lead our mighty pack to ruin. Because you're you - and not a wolf shifter, a second nature that is something else"

"I'm...what?"

Outspread hands and a forlorn shrug from Sil:

"The prophecy we hold tells only that the mate's eyes burn red, then talks of what comes after, and so the pack council has always searched for that fated female wolf. We moved from forest to forest in recent years in pursuit. But...I know it's you" - hands returning to clasp Red's fiercely - "I've seen your unmatched, natural power since we were children, felt compelled towards you as the time drew near. I couldn’t stay away. Like I was being nudged forwards by the invisible hand of the universe"

"Wait, s-stop rushing, if I'm not like you, then what..."

"I don't know exactly but...did you ever dream of rings, Red?"

"The silver and rubies, one straight one curved..." - faraway look to his eyes as he envisioned them through the mists again.

"Shai. See? We shared those dreams. Were connected through night's shadows of consciousness. Those rings are ours"

"I don't...wait...slow down!"

"I...can't, I'm sorry, they're getting closer and I need them to know it's you, or their fear will tear us apart. There's much more to tell...the stars...the eagles...sorcerers...society...shia, everything, but it has to happen first"

"What does?"

"What do you want, Red, deep down, right here in this moment? What you came to the woods for as your human-folk slept?" - Sil's voice urgent, hand gripping more tightly as his dark eyes implored, begged almost.

And Red felt his whole body answer, as if words originated not from his brain but from the very core of him:

"To be with you. Sex”

Hold relaxing a little then - sheer relief?

"That's what I want too"

"And then what happens?"

"Then, it's prophesied, as a pair together we...well, we sort of...change the world"

He wasn't joking.

Red reflected for a passing moment, hand kneading paw-like at Sil's, though truly all decisions long ago made. It was as if he suddenly had a purpose, without yet fully understanding where any road would lead: Destination unknown. Hadn't he always known he was different? Felt a stranger in his own land, a half-life lived. But...destined to change the world? Fuck, yes, fuck yes.

So in one fluid, decisive movement he grasped Sil by the nape of his neck and pulled the other’s face in towards his own, forehead against forehead, eyes mutually clear and unflinching...

"Take me", he said.

Chapter Text

"Take me", he said.

It would be Red's first time this way, but he wasn't afraid of his wolf - oh no. The more they touched the more he was empowered, powerful. His mortal flesh fire, blazing heat all over as if he was losing connection with his limbs and becoming something of the forest himself instead: An arching tree trunk, a moaning wind through budding leaves, the climactic bloom of Spring crocuses and their vibrancy of colour to paint the graphite world around.

Sil's teeth tugging, gentle nagging at silver barbell-crossed nipples, saliva in sparkling silkworm threads as he pulled away to breathe, to raise lustful eyes up to the first man - Queen? King? His beguiling enigma.

His mate-to-be, against any odds or naysayers, fists clenched tightly below.

Glisten of frosted dawn dew about that forest throne room seeming to mirror the sweat that burst between two regal bodies in their swelter - Red's eyes quickly touch-paper-lit to flare from almond brown to glowing rouge.

They kissed like pyromaniacs - a spinning, dizzily fizzing Catherine Wheel to Fibonacci's golden spiral - twisting and turning to infinitely fill the space of nature's chamber. One flung against the cave wall, then the other, then the first, and the second again. On and on, lips swelling with the rough play of desire - licked, sucked, bitten, bruised - moaning for one another as they plundered and ransacked addicting treasure troves of hot, wet mouth.

Until they were no longer twirling their waltz on feet, but rolling, limbs entwined, on the velveteen moss of the grotto's floorboards. That animalistic wrestling match for dominance, stiff cocks rutting against one another, hips grinding painfully, intoxicatingly. Woodland carpet ripped away by violent movement until they were stained and smeared with the black soil below, primal markings to match one's existing ink.

And suddenly Red was out of that body entirely. Looking down at himself as he panted and hummed, eyes fluttering blissful, lower lip bitten to bleeding as Sil bowed his own back to lick a pathway of pleasure down his body, clothes torn away like embodiments of uniformed handcuff restraints of humankind.

Bare souled and naked against each other in the cool air, pastel half-light, the second’s ministrations reaching Red's groin - lapping once at the tip of his leaking, twitching hardness, suckling taste of a delicious lollipop, before ghosting to inner thighs. Ticklish, fervorous kisses on smooth skin, working his way inwards, inwards, until Red's back arched to seek the other's bow in atavistic, wild hunger and whine.

Out-of-body he watched himself part his trembling thighs yet wider, face flushed and crimson eyes glassy with fevered desire as he thrust his own hips upwards even as he clamped Sil's down - nails dragging scratches across the endless expanses of broad, muscular back above.

Invitation? Command.

And his consciousness was slamming back into his own body just as that forest fire inferno of want and need tore across him and he cried:

"Inside me, inside me now"

Vibrations of a huffed chuckle against his thigh before, breathily:

"Patience. We have to be quick, but I won't hurt you. I'm opening you up for me, Red"

A finger teasing at his rim, shocks of electricity quivering and tensing his body as it entered to probe, joined quickly by a second and third as he squirmed beneath.

"Shia, you're already so wet", Sil, unconsciously running tongue over sharp canines. "Just relax, try to relax".

Unguarded tenderness as he stroked spirals of soft encouragement around Red's navel, scissoring and curling long, internal fingers until he put key to lock in that special space deep within. A place that made Red's eyes water and his head roll back, crying out for incoherent mercy.

Moments overwhelmed - the feeling of being entered so new, so old, so perfect that his entirety was racked by scalding shivers, Sil licking at his face to cool him, calm him, tasting his salt and groaning as he held back his own body's pace in the act of caring for his other.

Then suddenly Red was shoving him off to turn onto all fours - his hands and knees - telling:

"I can't...mmmmh wait...any longer. I don't care...if it, ahhh, hurts. Just...want you inside me. Your cock"

There was something familiar in the mewling edge to his tone, the arching of his back, the way his feet were kneading at the ground beneath as he postured to offer himself - was the loose cannonball through Sil's mind. Not canine, no. More...

But whatever exactly, whoever Red was, fuck he wanted him so badly.

So he was there on his knees behind, rubbing his own engorged, thickly veined erection up and down across the other's fluttering entrance, coating himself in the abundance of free flowing slick, relishing the duet of mutual moans that echoed from watchful lichen-patterned walls around.

Then as Red turned hooded, vermilion eyes back on him over a shoulder, Sil could wait no longer, and with one fell swoop grasped the other's impatiently writhing hips and took him to the hilt.

"Haaaaaa!", it was as if all the breath was knocked from Red, and with little time to adjust to the heat of the man inside, he was being thrust into - rapid, staccatoed stabs to loosen his channel, and then harder, deeper within.

They moved together, groaned together, clawed at skin and moss and earth together.

Sil stretching up to run fingers through his own damp hair, leaning back on his haunches to angle himself towards the other’s pleasure point, then pounding in, driven on by delirious cries from the slackened mouth below.

Beyond walls, wolf pack howls rushing ever nearer, panicked eyes and prowling paws closing on the pair in the open-air cathedral cave - but all of that external. The two utterly inward-facing, then, so completely entranced by the ignition of a flickering dance of fire's flames between bodies and souls that either could have died contentedly in such a moment, so long as the other's touch was upon them.

Pistoning hips into rolling hips, driving onwards, upwards, as if they could float out of that place to become the very sky itself. Fated to meet, fated to join, fated to be - anywhere.

"Ahhh, yesss, there Sil. Harder. Fuck me. Mmmm"

"Feels so...good...inside you”

"Be mine" - eyes feral with lust yet unnervingly clear.

"I am yours Red. Beautiful Red. Be...mine"

"I'm yours"

"Mine only. Will you be…?"

"Only yours...I'm going to...oh God I'm c-coming"

"Come together...yesss, together…"

A wild mess of sweat and dirt and slick and cum, knees grazed and bloodied as two bodies became one - halves of a shared beating heart at the very ventricles of the forest itself - a red-berried rowan tree beside, bursting suddenly, spontaneously into ruby-amber, roaring flames as their seed was spilled, faces awestruck and panting as they turned to look, reflection illuminated across cheeks.

"Fire on fire" Sil breathed, as he clasped Red's spent body beneath his armpits from behind, to pull him up, back against his own chest, kissing and nuzzling at his nape as both worked raggedly to breathe - air thinner at Everest heights of ecstatic climax.

And when at last heartbeats were steadier - altitude restored - Sil lifted Red in strong arms to carry him to the limestone cave's waterfall. Hisses as glacial, cascading water met smouldering skin. All things washed clean, bodies as beautifully birthed sculptures, ready to be moulded and soldered afresh, together again.

It’s how they were discovered by the descending pack that burst ferociously onto the scene in a cymbal clash cacophony of growls and snarls and manic barking.

Yet...

"Put me down", Red instructed his lover, voice cool as it was blistering. Powerful, empowered, encore.

"Don't you touch him!" Sil's low growl of threat to his own kind, following.

Yet never needed - for as Red was gently replanted to his feet in the glittering pool and turned those luminescent eyes upon his judgement day...the beasts simply cowered, backed away, whimpering as if scorched, heads lowered, bowed.

And Red was changing far beyond his orbs - metamorphosis in unstoppable action - Sil's eyes of night wide with wonder, as from the other's dripping, tousled hair, unfurled a pair of distinctively pointed, tufted ears.

Felis Lynx.

Chapter Text

A crescendo of swirling, anxiously agitated wolf howls, as an alien, twisting transformation took possession of Red's body - awoken by that act of love between two.

"Hush! Didn't I tell you it was him?", Sil's firm bark silencing the pack, leaving in its muted wake only eyes of disquiet, trepidation rippling and radiating like the waves of human-folks' atomic weaponry, explosive destruction to the tranquility of nature's throne room and the woods around.

And suddenly Red felt that fear too. Was paralysed by it as he watched hand and nails morph agonisingly into furred paw and claws. He heard a pained wail - from...his own lips? Flashes of glinting silver and gleaming ruby behind his eyelids as they squeezed shut - sea sickness on land - Sil's arms catching readily as he swayed, swayed, and then succumbed to the vertiginous velvet of the unconscious void.

 

//

 

He dreamed of a tabby, Siberian Forest Cat with brightest emerald eyes. She wound her tail about his ankle, holding him tightly - protectively? - in place, until at last looking up at him, Moon speaking with his Yaai Chanthira's voice, to say:

"Wake up sleepyhead, it's time"

 

//

 

It was the same voice Red heard as he blinked blearily awake on command, lying still for some seconds, adjusting to his surroundings - peering somewhat warily at his own once-again-human hands, no trace of fluff, or whiskers above...

He was on his Grandmother's bed, stretched out atop an ancestral patchwork quilt, in all the regal elegance of a bobbly, floral, towelled dressing gown. Through the crack of the open doorway, three figures were positioned around the room about the hearth's hearty fire. Yaai in her armchair, Sil - tense back to the interior as he faced outwards from the small window - and a third, older man, grey hair twisted back in a knot, seated opposite the hostess upon a creaking, wooden dining chair. Another wolf shifter, Red instinctively sensed.

"We have to get him back to his mother - Dara will worry so", his grandmother was arguing, yet -

"No! Not until his fever burns out and he's stronger again"

"Sil, show respect!" - it was the unknown elder, then. A voice that croaked as if it had not been used by a human mouth for quite some time, years even, though authoritative nonetheless.

But Yaai was already chuckling as she sipped knowingly from her tea cup...

"No harm done, Khun Saksit, his possessiveness is to be expected, since his partner is in a state of vulnerability"

Vulnerability? It was the point at which the listening Red moved to swing his legs from the bed in assertive protest…instead only whimpering at the sudden, throbbing ache that attacked his lower back, legs flopping down to the mattress as he lost all strength in a moment.

A rush of heavily-booted footsteps bringing Sil to his side - hand on his cooling brow, then stroking gently at a cheek:

"Your fever's passing, but don't try to move - please, you need rest. Your body's been through a lot in these hours"

"Hoy! Stop fussing I'm not a baby" - Red's reply coming gruffer than he had intended it, realising too late as he registered the fleeting wound of hurt across the other's eyes and heard the whisper:

"But you are...my baby"

Heart-stopping impasse, until the corner of Red's mouth tugged and twitched and both fell spontaneously into youthful laughter at 23 and 25 years, Sil pecking kisses like shooting stars across the sky of his other's face, as the two elder figures beyond hooked an eyebrow in unspoken: 'These are our chosen ones?'

 

//

 

Sweet tea, rye loaf and honey later, the occupants of the cottage had resumed their coordinates, though with Sil on the hearth rug and Red resting back between his legs, swaddled in that blanket of technicolour patchwork.

"Moon and you, you're...the same being, aren't you?", he was addressing his Yaai Chanthira...

"Shai, I was always at your side. Our ancestry is feline" - wrinkled eye smiles - "In fact, every human has an alternative nature, it's just that over millennia and centuries, those shifting instincts have been diluted and lost for most of the population"

"Diluted? Our blood, you mean?"

"It's not about blood, na. Damn this blind, human fixation on blood. Pure blood, mixed blood, none of that matters, don't you see boy? It's all about minds" - tapping her own head with passionate force, then - "Whether the mind is open and fluid enough to see beyond a meticulously constructed, homogeneous, oppressive society's rules, labels and institutionalised norms. Whether the mind can see hope and magic and colour through the draining darkness. Whether it can still...think"

The wolf elder, Saksit, more calmly assuming the reigns then as Red's grandmother promptly dissolved into a tirade of muttered curses:

"You want to ask about the oppressors, don't you Red? And about the wolves and the forest?"

A nod from the younger man, firelight reflections dancing like enlightenment across brown-again eyes.

"Did you ever feel like you were being watched?"

"By Sil, yes" - patting the knee of the man behind him.

"Mai shai...a different kind of gaze upon you"

And Red felt the prickle of nape hairs rising as he recalled those coldest, hardest eyes, low growl from Sil as he sensed the soul-shiver...

"You mean the eagles"

Saksit's lips pressed into grimace, "I do"

"They say it happened slowly at first" - heads turning to the armchair as Yaai Chanthira continued on - "This forest, Kanawut, is no mere wood you see. It's the heart of everything, the very soul of our universe, if you will. Microcosm of the world. Yet one day, and every day after that since, the eagles hatched designs to upset the balance, the yin and yang. They force-fed ideologies that some shifter beings were born superior, whispered promise of human wealth and riches in their ears, and sifted and sorted them until their ancient roots and bonds were long severed and rotted, the forest a place of 'danger', as mutiny made way for uniformity, and materialistic lunacy decayed every brain in Bang Haeng, the city, and civilisation beyond"

"The wolf shifters were the only ones who resisted" - P'Saksit again - "Knitted so strongly together by our pack mentality that we proved impenetrable cloth to even the sharpest beak and talons of an eagle. You might understand, I think, our hesitancy to easily trust, or to accept, unquestioningly, an 'outsider's' position as our royalty...although on reflection, it would be the universe's poignant revenge if the destined pair were not only same sex, but of contrasting shift backgrounds too"

"Uno reverse card" Sil breathed bitterly.

"Shai. A stab to the heart of the eagles' 'order', indeed", Yaai Chanthira was cackling with glee, "Fear of difference, of individuality or divergence, it all comes from them and their re-writing of the world and its so-called morals. Doctrines of subliminal control, opiates of the masses...

"You see, the prophecy tells of a pair - a union of pure love - who take power not for the greed of it, but for the good of it. To lead back to our essence, as part of the natural world rather than locked in this perpetual, polluting battle against it. A world of equality across manmade borders, and where success is not measured by the things we have, but rather the things we do, or say, or think"

"A utopia?" - Red cocked his head.

"Is it so? Or just how it should always have been before we messed it all up?"

Silence falling - sounds only of crackling flames and the wind whistling past window panes - as the younger man absorbed what he could, until:

"But...if you knew all of this, knew who I truly was, then why hide it from me Yaai? You know I’m strong, brave. You made me promise not to come to the woods at night..."

"It wasn't so simple, Kanawut. I had always seen the wolf boy's connection to you and wondered, but when the pack left and forest creatures told that they were scouring every realm in pursuit of the destined mate, I believed my instincts to have been wrong. I felt Sil's bond could put you in danger if it seemed that you were an obstruction to fate. They've never trusted me - excepting Khun Saksit here - the older canis lupus generations painting me as a sorcerer. They knew, you see, that I could read the stars to see the prophecy more clearly than they ever had through their sacred stones... "

"Then...at its heart, the prophecy isn't really about fated love, is it?"

"No Nong, it's about revolution"

Chapter Text

“This is Sil, he’ll be our guest tonight, ok Mae?” – Red breezed past his mother into the narrow hallway, leaving an unusually flustered second man to wai deeply to a wide-eyed Dara.

She had witnessed the subtle transformations in Red through the winter that passed, of course: A mother knows. As if he was a frozen ice sculpture, thawing and melting as calendars turned towards spring. The changes to the pattern of his visits home, that sudden hypnotic draw to the forest, seemingly newfound purpose. But more than all that, there was the look she had never before seen cross the features of her closed-book, high-walled, incorrigibly unbreachable – unreachable - son. It was an openness - a faraway softness to his glance towards unfathomable horizons, that seemed to flutter as a rarest, translucent butterfly painting dewy, pink blushes with wings in its wake.

Could it be that he was thinking of this man in those moments? She mused, then, gazing towards the kitchen window reflection as behind her the secretly giggling two fed one another spoons of steaming borscht, Sil blowing on each offering to cool it, reaching a thumb to wipe spilled, ruby liquid from the corner of Red’s mouth.

And soon enough she looked away, cheeks colouring – down towards curiously trembling hands, as they shaped kozuli dough – drawing the curtain on that quiet intimacy. Still, a sigh stroked through her soul. It was contentment – the kind of warmth she hadn’t known in the time since they’d moved to Bang Haeng, and certainly not in years of hidden fractures and bruises before that…

Peace.

“The woods must heal”, Dara’s own mother had wittered eccentrically since her childhood. But perhaps, just perhaps, the forest could…heal them too.

 

 

//

 

 

“Nonnng, my feet are cold”, Sil pouted as the pair snuggled beneath the faded Spongebob duvet on Red’s iron bedstead.

All around was hush, cloak of early hours’ slumber settled over that place – lazily messed room illuminated only by doleful rays of a weakening streetlight on the corner of the block below. Artificial moon for that manmade lego town of pawns. Now and again, the eerie stretch and contorting bend of headlights against the bare, white wall, as a lone car – or police patrol – ghosted by.

“Put your socks back on…”

“Ohoiii, is that how you treat a guest? I’m telling Khun Mae…”

“This damn ‘King of the Forest’”, Red rolled his eyes, though acquiesced to rub the offending feet between his own all the same, “Better?”

“Getting warmer but…now my lips are cold”

A snort from the younger man, twinkling look exchanged…

“Is that so?” – and he leaned in to brush soft lips against those itching to play.

“That’s all I get?”, Sil’s eyes remaining hopefully closed as he begged an encore.

So cuddling in closer, bodies linked chest to chest, warmth embracing as each insulated the other. And they were kissing in earnest, then, mouths moving in patient harmony - delicately, tongues massaging - tasting and savouring the ambrosia that they found only in that between.

Could either ever put it into words? The feeling that when their skin touched, human selves dissolved to wispy, floating clouds – the breeze, the wind, the air itself sighing ‘Don’t stop’. Like their hearts beat not within them, but all around, as the pulse of the forest while the infinite universe multiplied infinitely into infinity – beyond the dark nothingness of never ending space, and towards astounding kaleidoscope of shimmering, joyously refracting rainbow splinters of themselves, again… nature’s patterns of them.

“Does it feel weird…to be on a bed?”, Red breathed, back on Earth – words hitching as Sil buried his face in his neck, huffing and licking a route towards an inviting collarbone.

Then looking up – eyes misted with desire, love untold and desire – to bare himself with a whisper:

“It makes me want to make love to you with a soft pillow behind your head. To take you slow and deep until the morning, to make a marriage of our bodies”

And Red felt himself shiver at those words, rolling onto his back so that the elder hovered above, raising legs, interlocking ankles around buttocks, to glue them back together again.

Embracing, kissing noisily with hands running through silky, crowning hair, as the hardness of groins rutted together through tented fabric of clothes until fronts were graffitied with symbols of piquing, wetted lust.

Then Sil pulling back to throw his own clothes to the floor, undressing Red – kisses raining on each meadow of flushed skin uncovered, as if to tell that it was his sacred territory, his blooming pastures on which to frolic and roam. Unbuttoning a denim shirt, unzipping at the fly to peel away tight trousers – uncovering his man as they embarked on that road to undoing and unravelling one another once again.

Naked in the night.

Smoothness of skin, firmness of muscle, softness of flesh, hardness of want.

The elder’s mouth printing a glistening trail of signatures down Red’s quivering limbs as he traveled to the place he longed to taste – other stiffening and tensing at virginal sensations of a hot tongue within. Tongue and fingers, tongue and fingers, alternating relentlessly, breathtakingly, as the sculptor worked as if the younger were a flaming wax candle, heated to be melted and moulded and shaped into new forms of exquisiteness, until he was crying out, biting down onto his own forearm as between squirming thighs, his cock twitched and spurted into untouched release.

“Hmmm, you like that…your eyes, can you feel they’ve turned again? Beautiful…” – Sil’s head lifting from that apex, wiping feasting mouth on the back of a veined hand, before dipping to Red’s abdomen, to lap spilled, pearly essence in hunger.

Then the younger hooking arms beneath shoulders to drag him up into mouths’ meeting again, groaning at the swollen size of the other, resting heavy upon his thigh. Hands stroking, roaming, kneading – skin marked, voices hoarse. Hips moved of their own accord, rolling together as every tingling nerve and celestially glittering cell of their bodies pleaded to be joined…

“Make love to me”, Red purred against the elder’s ear – and both understood in that moment that it would never be merely a physical act. Entrusting himself, then, to a shared life with the other man, unwavering acceptance of their bond and what they would become - a request for that love and in the same breath promise that he would return it with all of his being.

So they entangled: Red’s body opening as Sil’s filled him to close. Lying, two as one, frowns of tender concentration as they kissed again, eyes closed, waiting – no rush – until muscles relaxed and love could be made. Then the elder moving inside. Gentle, fluid, gymnastically graceful thrusts that mined slowly deeper, deeper, to seek Red’s diamonds.

Blissful moments in which time simply stopped. The forest sighing, universe swooning, as a fated love that had searched through generations finally found its home.

Sweating together, shuddering together, gasping and moaning and panting together. Senses singing exultation, lips not letting go.

“Haa…I want to…come again”, Red struggled out – suddenly breathless, stimulated to distraction as toe-clenching ecstasy uncoiled to spiral and surge within.

“I’m waiting…for you”, Sil growled, teeth gritted, every thrust delicious agony as he denied himself release. Holding on, holding back, to fly together.

Then as Red began to tense and writhe and whine – stroking his own erection, twisting and pinching at the piercings of his erratically heaving chest - the other’s drives were suddenly more direct, breaths ragged as that irreversible undoing took hold.

Strangled by a fluttering and tightening around his pulsing cock. Euphoric, blinding flashes before his eyes. Hands clasping behind Red’s raised neck to take him harder to delirium – thrusting, floating them over the peak sky-high as lips crashed back together in desperate kiss. Lip-biting elation through orgasms that struck with electrical intensity of zigzagging lightning, then rolled on, on, as unstoppable tremors of thunder until both mens’ bodies fell limp with all that they had given, strength only for:

“I love you, Red, I love you Red”

And…

“Shit, I really love you”, as tears fell.

Chapter Text

It was some weeks later, the cusp of April into May, temperatures mellowing as last lingering icicles dripped to join fluid, flowing friends in babbling brooks below - jubilant, rushing waters unchained at last from frigid imprisonment when the golden sun climbed higher across the sky each noon.

Sil met Red from his train - their weekly ritual those days - arriving man hanging out of the window, childlike excitement as the antique, mechanical dragon approached, earning himself a piercing whistle and waggling finger from the balding, officious guard on the platform. Sanctimonious blast lost amidst the heavy clunks and judders and screeches as the beast reached her resting place for the remains of the day: Bang Haeng, end of the line.

Not that Red would have heeded such words anyway, boyish grin stretching ear to ear as he leapt, long-limbed, into the waiting arms of his love. Tightest, folding embrace, then lowered gently for feet to touch ground, and Sil's hands cupping his cheeks as he kissed him, kissed him - over and over and never minding who saw.

It pained them to part each week for Red's work - a cycle of pining that made each reunion all the sweeter, yet frayed with the tugging melancholia of knowledge that it would be but brief as that cycle rotated its way round again...

"Leave this job, stay with me..."

"And how could my mother afford rent from just her tailoring? The greed of landlords only grows year on year”

"I'll get the money - the wolves hold the forest core's old gold, you know?"

"No, this is for my shoulders. I need to find a better way"

...The battlefield exchange that spun back on the spokes of each weekly farewell too.

But not time yet: Bag hastily discarded into the condo - pause for a butterfly's kiss for Mae, of course - then they had turned to the forest with a picnic basket in the crook of Sil's elbow, designs to bask together in the final hours of pastel rays. A streamside spot not far from the gorge where they first met, the fateful day Red had snarled down an alpha wolf to ignite a process of change within - and beyond.

That same wolf-man's head resting upon his lap, then, as they regaled and laughed and devoured hearty snacks of smoked salmon blinis and apples from the wicker carrier.

Them being them, conversation touring at pace across grievances with a work superior to titters at P'Saksit and Yaai Chanthira's blossoming friendship, jogging around increased eagle sightings before a quick, sharp sprint through spiking jealousy towards a female wolf confidante, then reversing round Red being "Absolutely a million times sexier than her, na khrab", before slowing at last to take a stroll about the term 'revolution'.

"So does the prophecy actually tell us just how we go about building this revolution? Or is it all as vague as it seems..."

"Your grandmother is the all-seeing sorcerer, shouldn't you know?"

"I'm serious, Sil. What happens next?"

Smile fading to thought as the elder pondered his response in earnest.

"Well, it's not something that will just happen, right away. Us meeting one another at that exact given moment, the union of our bodies and fated souls, it's the catalyst that pours river onto the ancient water wheel to begin its turning"

"And what comes first?"

The question posed innocently enough, but Sil's gaze suddenly deflecting, evasive, as he pretended - a brave and undeniably determined theatrical performance - to be wholly distracted by the coos of a wood pigeon in the branches of a pine tree above.

"Sillll..."

"Do you hear that? He's calling for a mate. See how he ruffles those mauve feathers and puffs out his chest and-"

"-SIL"

Eyes reluctantly back to meet his own mate's, and a wobble of nervy uncertainty clouding handsome features...

"It's just the prophecy, remember that - I would never force you or something..."

"What are you talking about?" - Red pulling the other from his lap so that they faced each other from grass seats, then, eyes directly opposite and nowhere to hide.

"Well, you know the prophecy told of a King and Queen...there were rings...we've dreamt of them, right? So the tale has always told that the two must...marry"

Unflinching: "Are you asking me to marry you?"

"No! That's not what I-"

"-So you don't want to marry me?"

"What? Wait, just let me-"

"We won't be needing these then..." - a heart-stopping, head-spinning blur of two ruby-studded silver bands, as they were cast over the stream side to shatter the serenity of a glassy, mirroresque pool below.

Small ripples quickly magnifying to wider ones, as with a splash that echoed from the overhanging limestone cliffs around, Sil had dived - clothes, boots and all - after them.

Resurfacing, moments later, to find Red wading in to join him, wetness of bodies glistening in ebbing sunlight as clothes clung to skin.

"What the hell? Do you know what you've done?", Sil's anger blazing, nostrils flaring as he fought to remain in human form against the force of his wolf's amber eyes, heart beating wildly in chest cage.

But...

Coolly, calmly, Red dipped below - vanished only for seconds - re-emerging with somethings shiny, dazzling between his teeth.

Taking the other's hand, opening out his clenched fist finger by finger, to drop one ring, then two, onto the palm below, then raising powerful, glowing vermilion eyes to say:

"Looks like you do want to marry me then"

"How did you...?" - Sil, at barely a whisper...

"It's taken a lifetime so far to reach each other, do you really think the universe isn't our bridesmaid now? I found the rings in Moon's milk saucer one day, next to a bloodied, feathery offering. The bird went in the outdoor bin, but these I kept..."

Moving closer until breaths mingled, goose pimples across exposed, wet skin, shirts hanging low and halfway-open with the weight of water absorbed.

Journeying on:

"You told me you've watched over me since we were boys? Well I might not have seen you then, but from the first moment I did - first moment I really, truly saw you - my heart knew, before my mind. And it wasn't because it was fate, but because it was you. A man, wolf, shifter, whatever. You, Sil, are mine and I am yours"

The elder's hands trembling as he regained the ability to command actions at last - dark eyes unsteady yet unwavering - as he pushed a ring onto Red's finger, and the second onto his own.

Then pulling beneath the water's surface to kiss like Cupid's sweethearts, hair flowing out - angelic, ethereal - bubbles of breaths floating to stream-top in effervescent wink and hint at what lay beneath.

Chaste, reverent embraces that soon saw clothes floating away on a shy current, the pair clambering out onto a large, flat, sunbathing rock, upon which stage the younger took Sil into his mouth and sucked him till he begged and growled and groaned to be inside.

“Please, fuck, please, I need you now…”

A wish gladly granted, Red straddling in satiating bliss, to ride them up to paradise as a blushing, pink champagne sunset projected out upon the sky above.

Because while the two were blinkered, bewitched by the moment and every curve and thrust and mating call cried out upon that smooth stone, the forest was already celebrating.

No vows had been exchanged, no thrones taken yet, but those rings were in place, and the King and Queen - or, King and King - of a new era would soon be crowned…

Hopeful dawn was breaking.

Chapter Text

"Focus...focus...remember, your eyes must look within yourself, not out...", P'Saksit's careful patience, soothing pommade to Red's frustrations as echoes of impotent, stifled rage ricocheted about the cave walls in their latest episode of attempted lynx - or lion - taming.

Progress thus far had been patchy...

"Kanawut, in order to control your shifting, you must confront your second nature face on. Converse with it, understand it. Or, you. Put simply, you’re the only one who can..."

Words that seemed to flurry - masochistic moth of disquiet fluttering headfirst into the burn of a blinding lightbulb, over and again - somewhere within Red as he tidied away equipment to depart. Readying to return to the plateau below, where Sil and his closest pack allies waited, silhouettes of three wolves framed against swirling, Impressionists’ backdrop of a rising sun.

 

//

 

Jet and Jai were those allies. Twins who had grown as if Sil was their triplet - even if elevated apart on a pedastal from birth by the prophecy - reared communally, humbly, by P'Saksit, a trio of beloved wet nurses, and small circle of trusted elders in the pack.

Cubs orphaned by eagles, one way or another...

"Shia. He's really something, isn't he?", Jet had nudged aside to Sil. The first leaning awkwardly - as if finding clothes somewhat suffocating, unaccustomed to human form and its constraints - upon encountering Red in the caves for the first time, weeks earlier.

"You change around him, Sil. You're softer. But then damn steelier to everyone and everything else" - twin sister Jai commandeering the teasing - "I get it though. Hoy! He makes me shy..."

"I can't tell if he wants to shake my hand or slit my throat or both. Protect me sis!", her brother ribbing back.

Both shifters imposing figures of powerful muscle, yet characters as horizontally relaxed as their bodies were vertically towering.

And between the cushions of their familiar laughter, Sil had found himself, once again, thumbing the worn, folded piece of notepad paper, transferred from pocket to pocket in every pair of trousers he wore, since the day he had fired up his motorbike in the sheds at the Northen tip of the woods, and roared to the city in search of some very particular, peculiar advice.

Two days beyond the moment he had first laid eyes on those raggedy, tufted ears of Red's in the throne room waterfall, prize of scrawled handwriting of the bewildered vet he'd accosted to thrust gold into fist as she locked up her surgery for the evening, outlining:

'’Alpha cats'. They are natural leaders; they refuse to be led and attempt to take charge of practically every situation. These cats like their food when they want it and the way that they like it - or else. They may only let you touch them for short periods of time and then again, only on their terms. They rebel when admonished and demand attention - when the mood so takes them. You don't own an alpha cat - he owns you, or at least, he thinks he does’.

Because Red was the alpha to his alpha.

 

//

 

Forwarding to present - Red reunited with Sil on the plateau, seated side by side on cliff's edge, feet dangling out over gaping precipice...

Silence reigning for some minutes, three parting wolves - P'Saksit, Jet and Jai, soon but ants as they neared the foot of the majestic mount, solar warmth stealing across the valley below as night's mists dissipated, forest yawning and stretching awake to a new Sunday.

It would soon be summer solstice, and with the sun sailing the crest of its highest wave - on Kupala Night at the close of June - Sil and Red would marry.

But...how?

The younger man's river of thought winding into perilous, white-water rapids - little moth still butting on repeat against that unreachable light that brought only pain. How could they ceremoniously unveil as forest's figureheads to all flora and fauna, set to guide and lead the walk along a treacherous, transformative path, when one could not yet even show himself?

Red had shifted form only a handful of times still, eyes careering giddily from hazel to crimson, back to hazel again like a speeding mirrorball with faulty switch.

Moments of passion, of rage, of fear or dominance...blood pumping, colour kaleidoscoping. Out of control. No Ego’s saddle or bridle to ride his own Freudian Id.

Yet, was it truly a ride he could navigate all alone?

Taking a deep breath, then rushing out, voice a little too loud in its faux nonchalance, shoulders tensed in metaphorical wall...

"Sil, can you help me?" - second man turning, amusement and a lick of adoration tickling dark eyes at his other's sudden shyness - "It's just...P'Saksit says I should know myself, but I think, maybe, it's you who has always seen me clearest..."

“What exactly is it that you need from me, kitty?”

“For you to introduce me to myself, wolf”

"Hmmm, is that so?"

"Can you do it?"

"Dai krub, I can tell you many stories, about a lost, little boy who ran into the woods when he was six years old and was so angry at the world that he didn't see how much the forest loved him..."

And as Sil began to faithfully colour the page, voice low, unhurried, as if he could give him all the time in the world, Red's head came to rest down against his shoulder - elder's hand rising in return to stroke a soft ear lobe, affectionate give and take - sun smiling, beaming, up above.

 

//

 

"Do you know you're an alpha?"

That pearly early morning had stretched into hazy afternoon and then the violet light of dusk, Red missing the last train back out of Bang Haeng for work the following day, but suddenly not caring - knowing simply that he had to stay, there on the rocky ledge, cross legged and enthralled, opposite Sil.

"...It's another reason my pack are so wary of you, why that prejudice runs deep", the elder ventured on - both hands held between them as if in physical transmission of knowledge and energy - "The heads of a wolf tribe are the alpha male and female. An alpha feline male could only be seen as a threat to their 'natural order'-"

"-You're...sleeping with the enemy?", Red's wry joke going ignored.

"I asked myself so many times, after I spoke to that vet, why it was you...why, out of all of the wolf factions we had visited, none held the answer for me. Only then did I begin to fully grasp the prophecy's meaning - to translate the stars. That day I saved you when you slipped, you growling me down in human form until I submitted to you, you - a mere, human of flesh and bones without weapon. Why?

"Red you're the jigsaw piece that doesn't re-shape itself to fit. The rogue, the wildcard. Because isn't 'natural order' exactly what the eagles have always had us assume? Accepting that the status quo is just that, absolutely beyond question - so 'natural' that it becomes an invisible line behind which all are held ideological prisoners, even us wolves in our self-proclaimed resistance.

"But you, you are anarchy embodied. Difference as beauty not threat. Once you pour water on the chalk lines that we never saw were there, then isn't anything possible? Black and white turns to infinite rainbow.

That's you, my love"

 

//

 

They stood on the border between forest and concrete at the quiet of midnight - one foot, and wolf's paws, either side - as Red lifted ruby eyes to meet amber orbs that looked only at him. Bore so deep that he could feel their touch to his core as they excited him, raised him up, exalted and...believed that he was something extraordinary. And he was, wasn't he? That ordinary boy. Suddenly all that had been blurry was focusing, crystallising.

He could feel it - Red could do it - he was meeting his second nature…

Power unleashed.

Chapter Text

It was 00.28 on Monday morning when the curious pairing of a colossal, silver-coated wolf and distinctively black-spotted, red-tinted, furred Eurasian Lynx padded the empty roads of Bang Haeng.

Eyes glowing in the dark of a moonless night, prehistoric gems of amber and ruby that seemed to glimmer their own light from within. Illumination.

CCTV cameras checking back in theatrical comic timing of a double-take, as the duo strutted down the midline of Main Street, prowling reflections caught in smashed window front of a boarded up pawn shop - two pointed ears, two tufted, one tail long and the other bobbed, powerful paws marching in step.

Stride by stride, past metal-grilled tower blocks and a vandals' victim of a playground, past desolate graveyards of discarded syringes and hollowed out pill packets, past a derelict church with symbolic figures and crucifix chipped almost bare of any paint.

Until at last banal buildings began to thin, streetlights' intervals spaced further between, as the pair reached the foot of a signpost that told:

‘You are now leaving Bang Haeng’

Quite literally, somewhere of nowhere.

There, tilting necks to face one another - wet, black noses of canine and feline coming together in momentary pause and conspiratorial nuzzle, before the wolf raised his head to howl complaint to muzzling clouds, and they were gone - out of that place, in the blink of a disbelieving eye.

 

//

 

Human-folk slept dutifully on in beds, as the wolf and the lynx raced the tarmac route to the city.

At least, most did.

There were individuals - just a scarce few - who startled from looping, prescribed dreams, at the sound of a powerful call, or howl. Awoke with a sudden gasp, gulping oxygen into lungs, hands gripping bedsheets below.

They were the ones whose second nature wasn’t so far out of reach, ancestral instincts not entirely mislaid, a muscle memory that lingered from generations ago.

Among them, a girl of fourteen who slept upon hard boards of a vibrating floor that doubled as a nightclub ceiling, ghosting daily in to school with darkly ringed eyes, but abruptly awake, then, with the strangely liberating sensation that she might just be a fox.

A night shift warehouse worker who dropped his back-breaking load as he twisted to crane in the direction of the call, and believed for bizarre, bamboozling seconds, that he was an owl.

And a woman who rose from her futon to feel her way along hallway walls of a dim condo - district's electricity cut off again - reaching her grown son's room to find the bed still cold, then spinning at a 'miaow' to meet their cat’s piercing green eyes, and knowing in an instant that somehow it had been her mother all along, even before hearing that familiar voice, speaking not with words:

"Dara, my daughter, it's time we talked..."

 

//

 

Some kilometres South, standing half way across the arc of a bridge that stretched its arm into the clutches of the city, the wolf and lynx attempting similarly explorative first communications...

"You're hearing me, Red?"

"But we're not the same species, how can we even understand each other?"

"Because we're not animals na, but shifters. Though we converse in different calls, understanding is universal - we're from the same forest in origin, after all. Even human-folk with natures deeply entombed can translate the basics when they put their mind to it - think of bird watchers, tribal hunters, naturalists..."

"Hmmm. So, we’ve reached the city"

"Shai krub"

"What now, wolf?"

"We…paint the town red. Let the eagles know we see them, a warning shot that this territory is no longer theirs unchallenged"

Both sets of eyes glinting...

"Where do we start?"

"At their club houses of course...Congress Hall, the banks, the schools...the heart, pockets and head of the demon"

Interruption, disorder to reorder. Just as Yaai Chanthira had coached: The chance to think.

So crossing the divide - not skulking in shadows but sauntering dead centre and unblinking again - clawed paws soon quickening to exhilarating canter. Fired up and on by the adrenaline surge of a shared cause. The most moral mode of delinquent defiance. Breaking rules for best - for they were subliminal contracts that had never been signed in the first place.

Winding their bodies around the two-metre, marble eagle statues at the haughty summit of steps to Congress Hall. Ensuring their scent would be the first thing council chiefs would encounter when they strode into work in all of their careless, briefcase arrogance the next day.

Pissing on the glass doors to the bank's neon-lit vestibule...

Breathless, anarchic giggles as they were caught in the torch beam of an astonished night watchwoman - reflective cats eye bewitching for long enough for the pair to disappear with the swish of a grey tail, before walkie-talkie had yet to raise to quivering, speechless lips.

Blares of taxi horns as the wolf and lynx darted across a dual carriageway and over into the insomnia of metropolis club land and red light district - distant police helicopter propellers buzzing and whirring into action as the first took to the night's sky in pursuit of those most unconventional star-crossed lovers.

Morning headlines: ‘Heroic pursuit of child-devouring forest beasts’ at the ready in independent media headquarters that would somehow all go on to publish identical stories, again.

Then a lone, dishevelled, drunken figure staggering towards the two, empty vodka bottle clutched to his breast as if it was all he had left precious in the world. Lifting a shaky, pointing finger to slur - choked with emotion - "Don't let those bastards grind you down. Nong woof, Nong miaow, run for your lives..."

 

//

 

It was Red leading the way then, territory more familiar to the past underage barman of that postcode, lithe form weaving through cobbled backstreet alley ways - neurotic, whining wail of sirens suddenly chasing in from all compass points, a pack of cop cars serving the status quo - until he felt the razor teeth of a wolf in his haunches, dragged to halt by the other:

"Red, shift! Shift back now! Can you do it?"

And gut-somersaulting metamorphosis to men again - sporting clothes of earlier that night - younger pulling the second down a short flight of cracked, uneven pavement steps and into a hidden basement club whose walls were a collage of vintage vinyl covers, every passing face pierced and studded and eye-lined dark kohl. Wild thrashing of guitar above ominous, grinding bass pulsating the air, thick to choking with heady clouds of smoke and dope and liquor and sex.

Then as the consequences of constructed chaos raged beyond hedonistic walls, Sil was caging his lover - the spark to those flames - against a door frame, roughly kneading at his ass as he sucked ferociously on plump lips that were moaning his name in unending purrs of intoxicating pleasure.

"Kitty...my kitty...", Sil responded between urgent kisses, "I need you now"

Chapter Text

"Kitty...my kitty...", Sil breathed out between urgent kisses, "I need you now"

Thrills of the night and adrenaline-pumping danger of defiance, there in the strobe-lit bowels of a restless club, urges so animalistic aroused...

He was wild for the smell of Red. Not just nature's temptress perfume of pheromones, but the earthy, human essence of sweat upon caramel skin after their sprint as wolf and lynx for cover in that place.

His sweet taste: The younger arching his back from the doorframe he was pinned against in sacrificial offering to Sil’s roaming, wet tongue as it licked a sensual stripe from cheek to cheek, down an elegant neck, and between hastily ripped shirt buttons to clamp painful, hissing pleasure around erect nipples, cool metal barbells a tantalising contrast to the heat of mouth and skin and man.

Teeth tugging again - could never get enough - feeling the stampeding race of the heartbeat in the smooth chest beneath his lips. A rhythm that matched his own.

Badum...badum...badum...badum...

Audio of Red's soft whines lost to the cacophony of the club around, but vibrating through Sil's body, volting directly to his cock.

Releasing the younger's swollen nipple and straightening to run sharp canines up the expanse of that exposed, long neck - Adam's apple bobbing as it's owner swallowed again and again, anticipating - until he reached a flushed ear to tease in a voice deep and gravelly with desire:

"Feel it. Feel how much I need you now"

Grasping one of Red's hands to rub a palm harshly up against his crotch - rampant, rigid beast roaring and fighting the chains of tight jeans that oppressed.

"Mmm. So hard, Wolf", the other hummed back, gripping Sil by dark crown to tilt his head until his paler neck, in turn, was made vulnerable.

Salivating for each other - the vicious instincts of an alpha and alpha confrontation, all mixed up with the ferocious love of a fated pair. Explosive fireworks ignited in all-consuming sex.

And suddenly Sil was ousted from his powerful perch - spun 180 degrees until it was he caged against the doorframe - Red biting down on his earlobe to draw droplets of fresh blood, demanding:

"Moan for me"

Turning away from the elder, repositioning himself back-to-chest - ass pressed up against that craved hardness...

Rolling and gyrating slender hips, a vertical lap dance for his lover, mirroring the drum kit beat of speakers’ music that cocooned. Alternately bowing and arching a slinky back, both hands on his knees and hair hanging low to mask squeezed eyes and flushed cheeks as he bit down hard upon his own lower lip.

How did he know to move that way? Generating delicious friction until both saw stars. So graceful, so balletically entrancing, when only Sil had been inside. Two bodies responding uncommanded, flying without parachutes on pleasure-seeking trip. Crafted to join like Mother Nature's own cursive signature.

"Haaaa...Mmmm...Yesss...Fuck, Red"

Expressions and expletives growled out on cue, Sil's larger, veined hands returning to knead the ass that tormented, ridge of his cock shaft stiffened to agony, tip weeping to be freed.

He wanted to tear away Red's trousers and slap those round buttocks until they jiggled and stung for him. Wanted to rub his cock head over the glistening, slicked hole that teased his every fantasy - watching it flutter and clench and gape in need. Wanted to impale it roughly without warning, then thrust his man to heights at which he couldn't breathe for bliss and their pursuit of each other's everything. Every thought incoherent mess, every noise guttural and primal, every-

-Fuck, he couldn't wait any longer. Fingers fumbling to unzip his fly, the other tugging at Red's waistband...

And then suddenly - as a zombie partygoer overladen with pint glasses jostled into his arm, mumbled apologies before she lurched away - slammed back into the reality of the moment. A busy nightclub, assaulting, head-jangling rock music, shadowy figures moshing, embracing, drunk on stained cups of stale hedonism.

But eyes, so many eyes.

And with a snarl that originated soul-deep, Sil was pulling Red up, kissing fiercely as he lifted him entirely, cradling his tall form - compelled to cover him, protect and hide him, howling around the fickle and fleeting, ever-turning world that this timeless beauty was for him alone to gaze upon.

Territory marked.

"Along the corridor", Red's voice hoarse and needy in his ear, "There're steps down to a storage room. Hurry!"

Making their way, lips locked together in desperate hunger as shimmying guitar riffs spun them dizzily down a narrow passageway and staircase, crashing from one wall to the other, then Sil turning and bracing his shoulder to force the waiting, heavy door open, shielding the man in his arms.

Alone in the cool, dark cellar - silent shelves of glass beer bottles and countless crates of spirits housed - club's chaos and noise muffled, dimmed, distanced into irrelevant nothingness by thick walls.

Their own cavern, den. Their own world again.

A place where they could hear and answer one another's mating calls.

Red lowered to the stone floor with a delicacy that tested his patience - instantly stripping, turning to face the wall with palms of his hands up against, spreading his legs in a nosebleed of an invitation.

And then Sil was inside him with cries of untamed rapture from both. Fucking him, raw and rough, fingers bruising hips as the sound of slapping skin composed their own unique symphony.

Red's hands slipping further down the wall with each thrust ridden, as he folded himself until he was bent in half, taking the elder's cock deeper. Dipping his spine, bouncing his hips, precum ribboning to the grey flagstones below.

"My God...so deep...harder...yesss"

Rhythmic grunts from Sil behind, pistoning into the younger with such force that Red's arms gave way and he was up against the wall, cheek grazing whitewashed stone, mouth hanging slack as he panted and writhed.

Then clutching one of Sil's hands to steer it, round to his front, flattening out the palm upon his quivering, bulging abdomen, to gasp:

"Can you feel it? Your...cock...inside me?"

"Haaa...Red, I want to fill you up"

"Give it to me...ahhh...feed me everything you've got. You're...mmmm...getting bigger. I can feel you swelling. Ohhh shiiaaa. I'm gonna come-"

"-Come for me, Kitty"

"Feels so good there...harder Sil. Fuck me Wolf!"

Feral in human form, climaxing as a messiest masterpiece of lust, the elder driving the younger through orgasm, breeding him with his seed until it overflowed out onto flagstones to merge with Red's own spilled essence and shuddering moans.

Sweat glistening across bare back below - pooling in dimples of Venus - shoulders trembling as he chased a ragged breath. Then being hauled up into the strong arms of the body behind, cock still buried and pulsing within, nose nuzzling tendrils of damp hair that clung at the nape.

"You're my heart, Red, you're my whole heart. I...beat...for...you" - a punctuating, gentle thrust of hips to accentuate each word.

The younger's head lolling back against Sil’s chest, reaching both hands around to clothed, muscular buttocks to hold his place firmly within and say:

"Then take me, Heart. Hold me, Heart. Cherish me, Heart. Forever yours"

Chin grasped as Red’s head was tilted for lips to be claimed, the two entangling like newly twisted trees of their forest kingdom. Betwixt shelves of cheap vodka and upstairs' escapist revelry of a society who reached and hoped only for oblivion at best, something truly strong and pure rooted together amidst the grime of an eagle’s gutter.

Growing beautifully.

Chapter Text

"Where did a big burly wolf learn to braid hair naa?"

"Well...P'Saksit made us take our schooling in human-folk form. I guess, preparation for an unstable future that could've seen us driven from the forest. Jai sat in front of me in the cave - you know how long her hair is. It helped me concentrate..." - Sil shrugged.

They were casual and cross-legged in shorts and loose T-shirts atop Red's Spongebob duvet cover in the fading evening light, a tabletop fan merely wafting about an oven's air as it spluttered in vain against unusually intense midsummer heat.

Countdown to Kupala Night: 1 day.

Countdown to wedding and coronation: 1 day.

Sil's hands plaiting and twining the younger's silken locks with a touch so swift and light to soothe the busy mind of both.

"The company called me today, offered me more money to come back, claimed I was their best intern worker", Red through a yawn - feeling fingers momentarily still their skill against his scalp as he spoke...

"What did you answer?"

"Hmmm, I think my exact words were: 'For what did you treat me like shit all that time then, Sir?'. Damn eagle bastards"

A low chuckle, as hairdressing resumed...

"Ohooo, Red the rebel revolutionary strikes back"

"Once your eyes are open you can't avoid what's in front of you, right?"

"Dai, dai"

Meditative silence, then, just the rhythmical, white noise turning and whirring of the old fan, and the crackle of Mae Dara's radio down the hallway into the kitchen, where - under lamp's light as Moon lay sleeping at her slippered feet - she stitched button after button to shirt after shirt.

"You're thinking about Mae..."

"Ugh", Red's nod and sigh, "The motorcycle courier work will help to cover rent for now, but I want to take proper care of her. Repay what she's given to me since the day I was born"

"Then remember what was important to you wasn't the money spent, but the love. Don't confuse the two"

"Such a sap" - twisting round to pinch one of Sil's cheeks, earning a pout from his victim, then leaning back against the elder's broad chest to pull arms about himself, two sets of hands interlaced upon the rise and fall of his stomach.

Inhale, exhale.

And in a small voice, Red:

"I don't want you to go"

The arms hugging tighter as Sil buried his face in the crook of a neck to nuzzle into his cherished man, cherry blossom scent of the evening's shower lingering prettily, poetically, upon caramel skin.

"I'm always with you"

Then easing gently free to lift black T-shirt over his own head - reaching to wrap it about Red's pillow as impromptu case, murmuring:

"Now it's like I'm here all night too. You'll have me with every breath you take"

Suddenly - clumsily - straddled by the younger. Face to face with breaths mingling, fingertips delicately tracing Sil's freshly exposed skin, brushing against pecs, then up to ghost the contours of high cheekbones and chiselled jaw. Mutual, aching shivers.

"But as a pillow, you'll be underneath me wolf”

"You want me on top of you?"

"Inside...everywhere...", Red grasping the elder's chin to kiss roughly, tongue bold and advancing.

A kiss that opened, deepened, hungry hands trespassing to roam and hardening groins to grind and groan until...

Sil broke the embrace - breathless - wiping saliva from moist lips with the back of a hand to whisper, shakily:

"Wait a little. Wait, for our wedding night"

A disgruntled disentangling, both men rolling to lie flat on their backs beside one another - no body contact between them as each sought to calm cocks.

"I can't believe it's tomorrow", Red's words vocalised just as the flickering streetlight from the world beyond the open window reported for duty as the last of day's light bid adieu.

Sil - breath unconsciously held...

"If you want it, Red. Are you...really sure about me? About our path? Fate is just a code of stars, it can be erased and rewritten if we force it so. You know I'd do anything for you, anything-"

-a pinkie finger hooking his own to interrupt noble, self-sacrificing gallantry, connected back together for Red to tell straight:

"If it wasn't for the damn prophecy, I would have wed you sooner"

 

//

 

'Did the boy, the man, the one that wore red, not see how the forest around reacted to him? He had never seemed to, always blustering forwards on some self-blinkered mission that left him infinitely removed from the natural world he entered and inhabited. It was the human way, wasn't it?

But amber eyes saw - had always seen. The way sunset-breasted bluebirds celebrated, cavorting gayly above his head, the way nocturnal - even hibernating - creatures roused from slumber simply to watch him as he passed, the way the trees seemed to whisper, branches to bow'

- Sil's thought, those many months earlier, lingered as a breeze's breath, as Red entered the forest that Kupala morning.

Only this time, he did see.

Head panning right to left, gazing up skywards and down pathwards, as he made his way.

He saw squirrels who abandoned their hazelnuts, skipping along branch to needled branch to follow his route in exuberance. Flame-furred foxes that padded silently, reverently, in parallel. The hallelujahs of duetting birdsong descants. Streams that seemed to slow to catch a fleeting glimpse of the man clad in white, dark hair framing ethereal beauty in soft waves left behind by the braids tied so lovingly those hours before.

Parade day - nature's wedding march.

But bar: As Red reached the mouth of narrow passageway through the cliff face, a stray cloud eclipsing the climbing sun as he found his way suddenly blocked. Impasse the imposing, darkly hunched, feathery frame of a golden eagle - yellow eyes a-gleam, beak sharp while colossal talons flexed in threat to scratch and scar the limestone below.

There were birds of prey above, then, too. Joyous circus troupes of starlings and doves chased from rainbow perches by the beating wingspans of swooping eagles, silhouettes black against the pearly blue early sky.

That growl from deep within Red's being - commanding, freezing the forest around - ruby orbs glowing as he shifted with the ease of second nature to ferocious felis lynx. And with an ear-splitting screech the giant raptor bully was taking to the air to circle and scowl with cronies up high.

Beyond - banishment.

Reverse to human form, crimson eyes softening to brown almonds, Red feeling his way along craggy walls, heartbeat quickening, breath shallow as he ventured bravely on. Closer and closer to his one.

Out into that cathedral of an open courtyard shrine at the heart of the cave maze - the heart of the forest...and everything.

Colouring as blushing, winking memories of his last time in that place - how they had thrust and rolled and moaned together in the moss and dirt as he gave himself to Sil the first - played unintended, high-definition slideshow through mind’s eye.

Until...

"Hoy" - it was all Red could exclaim in wonder: Seasons' change and nimble forest fairy fingers working magic to leave a perfect circle of golden ratchaphruek trees, walls of fragrant, lusciously flowering jasmine, clematis and honeysuckle, and as centrepiece two elaborately carved wooden thrones, waiting centuries to be taken.

Then he saw him. Watching quietly from the corner's glittering, rocky waterfall. There, all in white, eyes on Red - as they had always been.

The younger man beckoning Sil - seeing tears as he drew closer, mirroring them with his own.

Seeming an eternity until at last they touched. Elder's hands weaving Red's waist, foreheads resting against one another, eyes fluttering closed. Rooted together as home.

Around them, ceremony commencing. Pastel-petalled blossom garlands placed upon each head as crown - a blur of busy hands and arriving audience of faces old and new. Red's Yaai and Mae, Sil's guardian and closest, P'Saksit, Jet and Jai. Those the human-bodied attendees, and beyond: The native wolf pack and relations travelled from lands afar. Brown bears and stags and pine martens and herons and ladybirds and bumble bees and...

Unending procession of fauna filling the throne room to spill out through the caves, down the cliff and on, on, winding ribbons of purest hope.

There to bear witness.

A simple thing, really - each man bowing his head to kiss the silver-ruby ring upon the other's finger, an exchange of heart's lyrics, then taking their throne seat side by side to receive blessings, forest kings in all their glory just as the sun reached its sky summit to bathe the scene in the warmth of a universe's hug.

And as daystar began his descent, Sil turned to the other - chest bursting to see how his eyes sparkled, how his cheeks flushed and how he smiled, oh how he smiled: Happiness.

"I love you, my Red"

"Let's dance, husband!"

 

//

 

Hours later, as the groom and groom leapt hand in hand over Kupala Night's bonfire to cheers, curious collaborative choir of animal calls echoing about the historic night, two others left the festivities, shadows meandering in wobbly fashion to Bang Haeng's concrete border.

Yaai Chanthira's voice, rich with whiskey...

"Do you think they'll be ok Saksit? There's so much on their shoulders, our young'uns"

"They carry it glady, proudly"

"Shai" - and more to herself - "Since they found their truth and purpose"

"Khun Chanthira, what do the stars say?"

"The stars?", both tilting heads back in the tandem of little children to gaze up at that vastest canvas, "A new one came into existence on our script the very night they kissed...it tells only that their journey is in their hands alone now"

“Enlighten me dear lady, will there be a happy ending?”

"Don’t you see?" - Chanthira gesturing out towards grey paving flags beyond the forest's skirts and pine cones - wolf-man following her gaze to sunny dandelions growing in the cracks through the dark, "It's already begun"

 

// END //