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The Wolf and His Boy

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It was the smell more than anything else that caught Jared’s attention. One sharp inhale and his head snapped up, eyes narrowing to fix through the woods, ears twitching for the slightest sound. The snap of a twig and Jared was off, ducking his head down to easily weave through familiar brush. He had to track that smell - a hint of spice, the twinge of sweet, and something else he could not begin to name or identify.

Curiosity was not something Jared was accustomed to. Fear he understood - fear of the town outside his forest and the humans who would want him dead. Necessity was commonplace - hunting, hiding, curling up alone in a dark cave night after night, struggling to stay warm. But this, curiosity, was like being bathed in something warm, like stepping into the hot springs he occasionally made the trek to.

Just ahead through the break of trees Jared caught the flash of red and his steps slowed, his body crouching down to slowly crawl forward through dead leaves and pine needles. Music was filling the air, the quiet soft notes falling from the lips of a boy walking along the path. People didn’t walk through his part of the woods often; it was rare enough that Jared was honestly surprised. The last he’d seen a real human it had been men, with guns, undoubtedly trying to track him down.

This boy had sandy brown hair that splayed messily across his head, and light skin that disappeared under the bright red of his sweatshirt. He was beautiful in a way Jared had never thought a human could be, young enough to be innocent, old enough to give off an air of barely tapped confidence. As Jared continued to edge slowly closer, trying to determine which of the scents he caught belonged to the boy exclusively, everything in him hummed with something alert.

It was risky, getting closer to the human when all humans were taught to loathe any creatures such as him, but Jared had never felt this rush of emotions before. Interest, desire, need, like these pulsing waves of sensations that caused his frame to shudder and nearly give for just a moment.

Then a twig beneath his paw cracked loudly as he stepped and the boy froze, slowly turning to peer back into the woods. Jared slid further away, hiding behind the thick growth, and watched as the boy sighed loudly.

“Josh you stupid a-hole, if you’re fucking with me I’m so telling mom!”

Naturally, there was no response, and the boy continued to stare for a minute longer before shaking his head and turning back to continue his journey.

“Not that she’d actually care,” the boy muttered quietly as he kicked at a rock.

Jared’s heart clenched with something possibly a little terrifying. He wanted to know more of this boy, wanted to bound out onto the path and pin him down just to inhale his sweet scent. But he didn’t dare get closer, instead simply watching with sad eyes as the boy traveled farther and farther away, until Jared was alone once more.

~~

“Now if you’ll all turn in your books to page thirty-three.”

The class as a collective groaned as the pages turned and Jensen ducked his head down just a little lower. Usually when his classmates were unhappy about their current lesson subject, they looked for ways to lash out. More often than not, Jensen was their target of choice. Now, just looking down at the open page before him, he was already plotting the fastest route home to keep the usual pack of bullies from ganging up on him to take out their frustration.

“I know you’ve all covered the Non-Human Reformation Act of 1982 in your previous classes over the years but we’re going to take a more in-depth look at the law and the actions that led up to its creation. This was a very critical time in our world’s history and, since none of you were even alive during that time, understanding the why behind it is vital.”

Jensen scowled and slid his arms over his chest. There wasn’t a person in the entire world that didn’t know about the Non-Human act. It was one of those things you were just born knowing or something and also the only law ever to be created that applied world-wide. He didn’t need any sort of in depth study because he already knew all its ins and outs.

Actually, it was kind of an obsession of Jensen’s, but not for the reason a lot of people would think. Jensen was... fascinated with those now forbidden non-humans. Shapeshifters mainly. The race that had grown and built its numbers then rose up to threaten the standing world order. According to history books, those creatures nearly destroyed humanity but Jensen didn’t think that was true.

After all, shapeshifters had been exiled, hunted down, rooted out, killed. Humans were still living. It didn’t seem like humanity had been all that threatened if they’d come out so clearly on top and caused the extinction of a race.

If Jensen was completely honest, he actually kind of related with the no-longer-alive species. Or well, the supposedly no-longer-alive species. There were rumors after all. Those rumors that Jensen sort of drank up, sank in, desperately hoped were true. Because maybe if those creatures still existed, there was really a place for Jensen out there. It certainly wasn’t the world he was stuck in now.

“The existence of non-humans has been written in our world’s history as long as we’ve had documentation. But it wasn’t until the mid 1900’s that the creatures began their uprising. Beforehand, the governments of individual countries were always willing to work with those non-humans, giving them equal rights in the eyes of the law.”

That wasn’t entirely true. At least not according to the things Jensen had read online. Ms. Webster was a teacher though; she could only give them one sort of truth. The one the government wanted them to know. But Jensen had done his research and he knew just how much prejudice reigned down upon non-humans. Even before they were outlawed, people would shun them, kick them out of public places, go out of their way to give those that were different a hard time.

It was unfair and if Jensen had been alive back then, he would have befriended as many non-humans as he could have. If he was thirteen and could be that grown up about the issue, he wasn’t entirely sure how other people had failed so badly.

“The first real act of resistance on the part of non-humans happened in 1978 when a clan - as they called themselves - attacked the White House, attempting to shake up the government order. Can anyone tell me why the non-humans finally came to such drastic actions? What do you think led them to something so vicious?”

Jensen slowly looked up as Ms. Webster finished speaking. Unsurprisingly, his classmates appeared only bored or annoyed by their current topic and Jensen bit down hard on his lip. It wasn’t his norm to raise his hand but this was a subject Jensen was actually passionate about, so it seemed like a decent time to start speaking up.

“Oh, yes? Mr. Ackles? What do you think?” Ms. Webster sounded more than a little surprised to be calling on Jensen and he tried not to squirm when his classmates looked his way, maybe just as surprised. Or even more annoyed than before.

After all, someone speaking up meant more time spent discussing the topic and they were likely all ready to move on. Still, he cleared his throat and forced himself to voice his opinion. “They were opp- oppressed. All they wanted was equal rights, to be treated fairly, and they were tired of being cast out like second or th-third rate citizens.”

Jensen dared one little look around, not really shocked to see his classmates staring at him in disbelief. It wasn’t like he didn’t know how few people shared his thoughts and opinions on non-humans. When he lifted his gaze to Ms. Webster her face was flushed with color and Jensen knew that look. She was angry, annoyed, clearly displeased with Jensen’s answer. Which was enough to make Jensen’s gut twist unpleasantly.

“No, Jensen, that’s wrong. Where would you even get an idea like that?” The teacher all but scoffed and shook her head, turning away from the class as she continued. “Non-humans were given plenty of rights, they certainly weren’t oppressed. The truth of the matter was, they were given the rights they deserved. They were not humans and though the official start of their race has never been discovered, that one fact is something we can remain sure of. They did not deserve the rights we have and they attacked and killed for no reason.”

All the arguments that had built on Jensen’s tongue slid away as Ms. Webster fixed him with a final hard look before continuing with her lesson. Jensen sank down further in his chair and ignored the boys snickering at him. His life kind of sucked like that.

~~

“Hey douchebag!”

Jensen ducked his head down and stuffed his hands into the front pocket of his sweatshirt, quickening his steps. If he just moved fast enough, maybe the boys would leave him alone. But then, of course, that was just wishful thinking. As they proved when a moment later a rock connected hard with the back of his head.

“Have you gone deaf or something? I’m talking to you!”

There was no one at Jensen’s school that really liked him, that was something Jensen accepted a while ago, but there were just these three boys that hated him. There was really no logic behind it. They just hated, teased, mocked, bullied. And Jensen had learned to deal with it because what option did he have? He was short for his age, too thin, not proud and strong like his older brother - who was an asshole anyway.

“You’re a fucking pussy,” Theo growled right behind him before lurching forward, snagging Jensen around the neck and dragging him down into a hard tackle.

Jensen swallowed his cry of pain and tried not to struggle too much. Yeah, it didn’t really disprove the pussy thing but he’d long since learned the boys tended to give up easily if he didn’t fight all that much. One of these days he’d probably snap and whale on them or something but not until after he’d learned some moves. Maybe he could do some research about that.

“What’s your drama anyway?” Theo grunted and shoved a knee up into Jensen’s middle then shoved him hard, sending him tumbling to the pavement. “All that shit about those fucking mutts? You get a hard-on for dog dick or something? Sick perv.”

As Theo sent another kick into his side Jensen kept his gaze turned away. Mainly because his cheeks were burning with shame. Maybe the boy wasn’t all that off the mark, but Jensen tried not to think about those times he’d been researching non-humans and suddenly found himself turned on, reading about their mating habits. It was a part of Jensen he didn’t openly address, but really, that was a lot of Jensen’s life.

The boy’s left a few minutes later, sharing laughs, and Jensen curled together in a ball on the cold cement. At least if he were a non-human he could transform and even being short and scrawny, he could win.

~~

“Hey mom-”

“Shut up Jenny, I was showing Mom my new dance move!” Mackenzie stuck her tongue out at him before spinning on her toes, causing her tutu to fly out in a circle around him. “Are you watching Mom? Watch me!”

“I am honey, go ahead.” Their mom waved at Mackenzie to continue but she didn’t look up from the bank book she was currently poring over.

Jensen sank back against the kitchen wall, trying not to flinch as pain shot up his side. Sometimes - all the time really - it was hard to fight for attention between his siblings. After all, Mackenzie was the baby of the family, the only girl, Mom and Dad’s little Princess. Josh was a high-schooler and a football player, Dad’s pride and joy, popular and smart and all those things that everyone always wanted to be. Jensen was just... Jensen. Which in his family really wasn’t good enough.

“See? See Mom! Wasn’t that pretty? Miss Lea says if I keep working on it I might even be able to get a solo in the Christmas recital!”

That was enough to finally pull Mom’s attention from the bank book. After all, Mackenzie getting a solo in her recital was something for his parents to brag about to their friends and there was nothing they loved more than that. Once upon a time they’d tried to get Jensen into music, sent him to lessons and everything, but Jensen hadn’t ever wanted to learn to play the piano so he’d never practiced and eventually his parents gave up on him. Now he was just the disappointing middle child, even if they never said that out loud.

“Wow, Mackenzie, that is so great! I am so proud of you!” Mom beamed at her and tugged her close, kissing her temple lovingly. “You just make sure you practice, practice, practice!”

“I will, Mommy. After I do my chores of course,” Mackenzie sighed heavily and Jensen’s shoulders tensed. He had a pretty good idea where this was going.

“Why don’t we ease your chore load for the next few weeks before tryouts? Jensen can take some of the burden.” Mom, naturally, did exactly what Jensen expected. She pulled back to give him a smile, that was probably a little forced, but the action faded quickly. “Jensen? You’re bleeding! What on earth happened?”

Jensen hadn’t realized there was a cut on his forehead but as he reached up the blood smeared sticky and warm against his fingers and he frowned, turning to head to the bathroom before Mom could question him further. The last thing he needed was a lecture or something.

The cut on his forehead was pretty superficial but Jensen frowned anyway as he stared at it, wetting a rag to gently clean off the blood. He really wished he could teach those assholes a lesson. Hell, for that matter he wanted to teach every single person in his life a lesson. The bullies that always gave him shit, the teachers that wrote him off, his parents that considered him a disappointment, his siblings that mocked and teased. Jensen was damn tired of being kicked into the dirt.

“Jensen,” Mom sighed as she leaned against the bathroom door, watching him clean off the cut. “I thought we’d agreed you’d stop getting into fights with those boys.”

It didn’t matter how many times Jensen had tried to explain to his mom he couldn’t avoid the bigger boys, somehow it was still always his fault. That was pretty typical of his life though so Jensen simply kept his gaze on his injury and forced a small nod. “I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”

“Well, see that it doesn’t,” Mom huffed and pushed away from the wall, calling over her shoulder as she headed back to the kitchen. “I have another care package for your Grandma, Jensen, I need you to walk it to her, alright?”

Jensen wasn’t particularly all that fond of his grandma but he loved the walk to her house. Because it meant he had to cross through the woods behind his house and most people were too scared to go in there, which meant he was always alone. And well, there were always the stories.

“Okay Mom, I’ll take it right now.” Jensen dropped the rag in the sink and followed his mom back to the kitchen.

“Just try not to get eaten by the big bad wolf, little Jenny,” Josh teased as he bumped hard into Jensen on his way to the fridge.

Jensen scowled and stuffed his hands in his pockets. “Stop being an ass, Josh.”

“Jensen Ross, language,” Mom hissed instantly, shooting him a look as she pulled a pan from the cupboard. “And no talk of wolves, that’s just ridiculous. You don’t need to fill your sister’s head with that nonsense.”

Jensen rolled his eyes - keeping his head down so the action wouldn’t be noticed - and curled his fingers into fists stuffed deep in his sweatshirt pocket. “So what if there was a wolf out there, or like, a shapeshifter? I mean, I’ve sometimes heard howling at night and stuff. What um, what would they do? If there was one?”

“They’d hunt it down of course.” Mom set the dish in a basket and slid it toward Jensen. “But I’ve told you dozens of times, Jensen, shapeshifters are extinct. I really think it’s about time you stop obsessing about those filthy... things. You should really join a team, maybe baseball or something?”

“As if, Mom, Jenny would probably collapse before making it to first base, the weakling,” Josh teased shamelessly, smirking at Jensen.

A flush was crawling up Jensen’s cheeks and he bit his lip, hoping it wasn’t obvious how upset this whole day was making him. He was so tired of his life. Especially when Mom and Mackenzie simply laughed along with Josh, like Jensen was the practical joke of the entire family.

~~

It had been nearly four sunsets since Jared had seen the boy in his woods and he had thought maybe he wouldn’t see him again. But that afternoon he once more caught the mixture of scents: cooked meats, something sweet, and that underlying spice that he already knew belonged to the boy. It was enough to have Jared turning and running through the woods once more. He couldn’t resist the urge to creep closer, get another eyeful.

Nearly as far back as Jared could remember he had roamed these woods alone. Since he was a boy and his family had been hunted down. Sometimes Jared still dreamed about that night, the way his momma screamed for him to run. But mostly Jared tried not to think about it. It was easier to let his wolf mind take charge.

The boy was singing softly once more but it wasn’t the soft words that had Jared tensing. No, instead it was the distinct hint of sharp, tangy blood. The boy was injured, Jared could clearly smell the blood, and instinctively a low growl rose up in him. Who would dare to harm such innocence? Jared would not stand for it.

He inhaled deeply and his growl strengthened, his paws shuffling along the leaves and twigs scattered across the hard ground. Jared wasn’t entirely sure what to make of this possessive need rising up in him. It was unlike anything he’d felt before.

Clearly the boy had heard him. But unlike the last time he didn’t yell out for anyone. Instead he slowly turned and peered through the woods, nearly looking right at Jared though he couldn’t have known.

“Hello?” The boy whispered and shifted a step closer, hesitating on the path. “Is... are you out there? I won’t hurt you, I promise.”

For just a moment Jared considered stepping out of his hiding place. Maybe he could even speak with the boy, find out who would harm him. But even without knowing all of how the world operated as of late, he knew no one would accept a creature such as himself. They were raised to loathe the very core of what Jared was.

The boy sighed and set the basket he carried down on the ground. “I understand why you’re hiding. It makes sense. But I promise I won’t hurt you. I mean, if you’re really there. My name is Jensen.” Jared watched as the boy dug into his basket then pulled out a small wrapped package. “Here’s some food, if you’re hungry. And maybe next time you might come out and let me see you.”

Jensen unwrapped the package and laid the food down on the ground before standing. Jared’s gaze lifted from the food back up to the boy, surprised by the heat pulsing steadily through him. The boy’s actions surprised him and Jared couldn’t help wondering just who he thought he was speaking to. After all, Jensen seemed so young, maybe he didn’t even know what a shapeshifter was.

“Well, um, maybe you could let me know that you’re out there. Josh always says... well. I don’t know.” Jensen laughed nervously and Jared watched his tiny shoulders lift in a shrug before he was scooping up the basket and turning once more, stopping just long enough to say quietly. “I know what it’s like to feel all alone. In case...”

The boy didn’t finish his thought but Jared was pretty sure he understood. He stayed in his hiding place behind the bushes and watched as Jensen disappeared down the path. The very idea of making some contact with Jensen was exhilarating and terrifying and Jared couldn’t resist finally slowly walking forward and sniffing at the food presented to him.

It was delicious, coating his mouth with flavors he didn’t even know, and Jared’s tail wagged slowly in appreciation. He finished eating quickly then considered how he would let Jensen know he was there, that he had heard and appreciated the gift. In the end he settled on gently pulling a lily from just beyond the trees, carrying it over to the leftover wrapping and laying it there. He then took up his hiding place once more and settled in to watch for Jensen to come back.

~~

After an hour of listening to his Grandma rant and rave about the good ol’ days, Jensen was more than ready to travel back through the woods. The sun was starting to set, the air was getting colder, and there was definitely something out there. There had always been those rumors of some creature living out in the woods. The police officers - who had gone searching for the supposed beast many times after complaints of rummaged-through garbage from those who lived on the edge of the woods - always insisted the beast was just a wolf, not anything forbidden.

Jensen didn’t believe it. He’d read a lot about wolves and the differences between them and shapeshifters. After all, shapeshifters were said to be almost twice as big as the average wolf when in their animal forms. Also, wolves traveled in packs. Any shapeshifter that happened to be roaming the woods would of course be alone, the last of their kind really. It hurt Jensen’s heart to think of a shapeshifter out there alone in the woods, terrified to make his presence known for fear of persecution.

Some websites Jensen had read speculated that there were still shapeshifters living just as humans among them, that there wasn’t likely to be one living in its wolf form in some wilderness, but Jensen was pretty sure those people were stupid. At least he could see the logic to why the shapeshifter wouldn’t want to live as a human among humans. Who would want to pretend to be the race of people that killed his family and relatives?

Ridiculous.

And well, whether the creature in his woods was just a wolf or something more, that still remained to be seen. All Jensen did know was that there was something out there. A fact that was only proven to him as he walked along the narrow foot path and came upon the place he’d left an unwrapped turkey sandwich before.

The sandwich was gone, the packaging still in place, and a small white lily rested on top of it. Jensen blinked down at the flower, his heart racing hard in his chest, his mouth drying out with the sudden swell of excited nerves. “Whoa...” he whispered, slowly bending down to pick up the flower.

When he stood his eyes roamed over the dense woods on either side of him, eagerly searching for anything. “Are you out there?” He asked in just above a whisper, his lips twitching in a small smile. “I’m glad you enjoyed the sandwich. I... maybe I can bring you some more food tomorrow? You could... maybe come out and say hello?”

There wasn’t any response, Jensen had expected as much, but he couldn’t resist a final lingering look into the woods. Whatever was out there, Jensen didn’t feel like it was going to harm him. It left him a flower, so clearly it couldn’t be horrible. At least not the way that they always tried to say the creatures were.

“Well, I’ll be back tomorrow,” Jensen said softly and shifted the basket on his arm, tucking the flower gently into his pocket. “If you’re around.”

A final look around revealed nothing and Jensen ducked his head down, smiling down at the ground as he continued his walk home. At least there was one good thing about today.

~~

It was easy to follow the boy home. Even if Jared wasn’t watching him, he could have trailed his scent. The temptation was too much to resist and Jared easily navigated the familiar path through trees and brush, his paws moving soundlessly along the twigs and branches. Jensen was singing once more, quietly, the words almost indecipherable but Jared didn’t need them. He gained a certain sense of warmth just from listening to the soft tone.

It turned out the boy’s house was just at the edge of the woods, one that Jared had seen before as he crossed out into the unsafe zones. The open space scared Jared, the idea of being caught, so he’d only ever gone under the cover of darkness in a moonless night. So for now he stayed back in the trees and watched as Jensen unlocked the back gate and headed toward the house.

Part of Jared wanted to leap the fence and peer into the window, desperate to see what Jensen’s home was like, if his family was loving, if he was truly happy. But he hadn’t survived this long by being reckless, so he stayed in place and waited.

A few minutes later a light came on on the second level and Jared watched Jensen’s small form cross before the glass. For some reason, knowing where the boy laid his head at night felt important and Jared settled in to wait out the last of the sun.

There wasn’t a lot of activity inside the boy’s house. Not by sight at least. Jared could hear the sounds of laughter though, the clinking of silverware and plates, could smell the different spices of a meal he couldn’t name. But no matter how hard he concentrated, forced himself to focus, he couldn’t pick out Jensen’s laughter through the varying voices.

As soon as the dark of night had laid a blanket over the houses Jared walked silently forward, nudging the back gate open and trailing scents through the grassy backyard. Jensen’s scent was stronger up close and Jared growled softly, inhaling deep because he couldn’t seem to get enough of that sweet scent. What was it about this boy that he couldn’t seem to get enough of?

“Jensen! Come clean these dishes!” A woman from inside called out for Jensen and Jared slid up against the side of the house, tilting his gaze up enough to peer into the brightly lit kitchen.

The family unit was moving toward the living room, a mother, father, a little girl and an older boy. They were laughing, falling together on the couch, and Jared watched with a tilt of his head as Jensen crossed the kitchen to clean as his mother had asked.

Something sharp and primal burned in Jared, unlike anything he’d ever felt before. He wanted to protect this boy, take him away from this world where he so clearly didn’t belong. Jensen was a boy that deserved to be worshipped and Jared wanted to give him just that. So before he turned and disappeared into the woods once more Jared nosed through the small recycling box along the side of the house, pulling out a few blankets.

He needed to start building up a home if he wanted to provide Jensen with a place that was better than this one.

~~

“I don’t really like my school,” Jensen said quietly not long after he’d entered the woods. He couldn’t say why, but some part of him just knew whoever, whatever the creature was out there in the woods, it was there now. Watching him. Jensen could feel the weight of its stare and once more it was like a warm presence, not at all as unnerving as it should be.

Which was probably why he was talking now, though every sweep of his gaze through the woods revealed nothing. “I guess... I don’t really like a lot of my life. The kids at my school, they’re really mean. They’re awful.”

Jensen’s fingers lifted to brush over the healing cut on his forehead. There was a shuffle of dry leaves to the right of him and Jensen’s head whipped to the side, eyes narrowing to peer through the brush. Maybe, he caught the flash of dark fur, or the sparkle of bright eyes, but he blinked and it was gone and all he could do was sigh.

“I guess you must know a lot about people judging you, hating you for no reason. I mean, if you are what I think you are.” Jensen stopped walking and turned to the trees, opening the basket he carried once more. “I think you’re a shapeshifter, if you wondered. It doesn’t bother me. I don’t hate shapeshifters, no matter what everyone says you guys did. I think you’re maybe just misunderstood, and a lot of shit happened in the past that maybe made you guys snap. I get it, sometimes I feel like snapping.”

Reaching into the basket, Jensen pulled out the container of chicken he’d snuck out of the fridge and gently set it down on the ground, popping the top open. A moment later he added an apple muffin, his favorite kind with cinnamon that his mom sometimes made. Sure it was the one from the batch he was allowed to have but he didn’t mind sharing it with his silent creature.

“I wish... I think maybe I could understand you. Maybe you could understand me. I don’t have anyone in my life who listens.” Jensen frowned at the prick of tears at the rims of his eyes. He maybe felt a little silly that he was virtually talking to no one. Maybe he wasn’t even really good enough for this creature to reveal himself. “I promise I’ll be really nice to you, if you ever do feel like showing yourself. I know everyone thinks I’m stupid or lame or not worth their time but I swear I can be really good.”

Jensen wiped at the tear that had snuck down his cheek and stepped back from the food, lifting his shoulder in a shrug. It didn’t seem like he was going to make any progress today. But he couldn’t help silently praying, wishing, hoping.

He was just about to turn and head down the path once more to his Grandma’s home when the brush across from him rustled. It was more than just a gush of wind and Jensen’s heart instantly skipped a beat in his chest. It took a surprising amount of force to turn his gaze back to the brush, because he wasn’t entirely sure what he was going to see and wasn’t ready to be disappointed if it wasn’t what he longed for.

Jensen’s gaze instantly fixed on bright green eyes that seemed to shift in color the moment the creature blinked. A few years before Jensen’s school had taken a trip to the city zoo a few hours away. There he had seen a wolf and it was the only way he knew this creature was no regular wolf. It was almost on eye level with him, his four long legs just slightly bent as he pressed a little forward, his golden mane of fur a matted mess in patches, smooth in others.

All the air rushed out of Jensen’s lungs and he stood frozen in place. He waited for the wave of fear that he knew should come, waited for a scream to bubble up in his throat. But the longer he stared, the more the creature edged out of the woods, the farther away that fear was. Jensen’s lips twitched in a small smile and he cleared his throat, the smile fading as the creature slid back a few inches.

“Hey wait, it’s okay,” Jensen whispered, slowly offering his hand out toward the creature. “I won’t hurt you. Trust me.”

The shapeshifter - at least, Jensen was fairly sure that was what the creature was - ducked his head down for a moment and took another step forward, his nose brushing along the muffin Jensen had previously left out. A small, surprised laugh rose up in Jensen. It caused the creature to stiffen and Jensen quickly swallowed it back.

“Wait, please. I... my name is Jensen, in case you didn’t hear that before.” Jensen watched as those ever changing eyes flickered up to him then back down, mouth parting to close around the muffin in a large bite. “Those are apple cinnamon muffins. My mom makes them. She’s a pretty good cook, not so much a good mom but you know...”

Jensen was rambling to a creature that might not even know English but he couldn’t help it. This creature was still there, he wasn’t attacking Jensen and that had to be a sign of something special. As the creature continued to slowly eat the muffin Jensen couldn’t help stepping forward, gently brushing his fingers along the top the wolf’s head. It froze as it had before but moments later Jensen’s heart quickened as the shapeshifter’s head tilted up into his soft touch.

“You’re all alone out here, aren’t you?” Jensen asked softly, stepping an inch closer and working his fingertips softly between the wolf’s ears. “That must be so lonely. I get lonely too, a lot of the time. Maybe we can-”

Whatever else he had to say was cut off as the shapeshifter suddenly jerked back, head twisting around to stare at something Jensen couldn’t see. He squinted down the road for what had broken their moment, quickly looking back when the loud shuffle of leaves sounded. The wolf had disappeared once more, gone faster than he’d appeared, and Jensen’s heart plummeted.

He had no idea what had scared his creature off but he already wanted him back.

~~

The rest of the household was already tucked away for the night, Jensen knew this. But he still tiptoed as he crossed his bedroom and slowly locked the door, holding his breath even as he watched the computer slowly boot up. This was one of those things he’d been thinking about for too long now, even before he had the image of the large shapeshifter in his mind’s eye.

He wanted to know everything about that creature, wanted to stroke his hand through the wolf’s fur and coax him back to his human form just to watch the transformation. Already Jensen was counting down to the next time his mom would ask him to make a delivery to his grandma’s, just in hopes that the creature would come out of hiding once more.

Until then though, Jensen was researching more about the creatures. Specifically, their mating habits. It was something he’d looked into before, once or twice, just out of curiosity. Looking now was likely more than curiosity but Jensen chose not to think too much about that. He’d already accepted that he was a different sort of boy; he didn’t need to analyze it all that much more.

Finding the information he was looking for was surprisingly easy. But then, this was the internet, Jensen was pretty sure you could find anything just by looking hard enough. In this case, Jensen had stumbled across a website with photographs and drawings detailing shapeshifter mating habits. Most likely, it was for educational purposes - like studying monkey breeding or something - but to Jensen it meant so much more.

Shapeshifters could mate in their wolf or human form. If they were with other shapeshifters, impregnation could only happen in their wolf form, but they were able to have children with humans in human form, with only a fifty percent risk of their offspring being a creature. Those things weren’t really all that important to Jensen. After all, it wasn’t as if he could get pregnant.

Instead he scrolled down to the detailed picture of the wolf’s knot. It caused the breath to rush from Jensen in a steady stream, his cheeks heating up as his cock began to slowly swell in his pajama bottoms. Jensen had looked at pictures like this before, he knew what the cock of a shapeshifter looked like, and before it had just been a distinct, vague, daydream.

Now he slipped his hand under the tops of his pajamas and curled his fingers over his painfully hard cock, imagining that wolf he had met in the woods only hours before. In his fantasies now, that shapeshifter wanted him, craved him in a way no one in Jensen’s world ever would. And he planned to sweep Jensen away from his horrible world and give him a new home.

Jensen would crawl down on his hands and knees and offer himself up. He had never been touched in that way but he was sure he could be amazing for his wolf. He would be the absolute perfect mate. Just thinking about it had his hand moving faster, his fingers curling tighter, breath catching hard in his chest.

Forcing his eyes open Jensen stared at the picture on the screen, trying to picture just how that knot would feel buried in him. His wolf would be so careful, would taste every inch of him, would claim Jensen in such a way he’d never doubt who he truly belonged too. Hell, even the idea of belonging had pleasure curling through Jensen.

When he came it was painful and fast, harder than it ever had been before. Jensen slumped back in his chair and finally dropped his gaze from the computer, looking toward the window instead. It wasn’t all that weird to long for a creature that was basically forbidden, right? Jensen didn’t really belong in this world so why should the person that pulled him in the most belong either?

After clearing his browser history Jensen shut down the computer and slowly moved over to the bed. His heart was aching in a way he didn’t really understand, like he was missing something important, or someone important. And that didn’t really make much sense.

Maybe it was a sign of just how lonely Jensen really did feel, that he was longing for a creature that might not even care for him in the slightest. Knowing Jensen’s luck, that shapeshifter just enjoyed the free food Jensen was providing.

It was enough to make his stomach twist in knots and when he heard the faint echo of a howl from the woods behind his house, his eyes closed with a hiccuped breath. When had his life gotten so complicated?

~~

It wasn’t often that Jared came so close to the edge of the woods during the day. But these were special circumstances. After all, he had left so quickly the afternoon before and maybe he had hurt the boy’s feelings. Hearing Jensen speak about how lonely he was, how hard his life could be, had registered with Jared in a way human feelings hadn’t in so very long. Some part of Jared had thought the human part of him was gone but just a few minutes in Jensen’s presence had brought it all back.

Which was why he was there now, hiding just a foot back from Jensen’s family home, the tall grass and thick bushes hiding him from a cursory glance. It was just a hunch he had, that Jensen might feel the call of the woods before heading to his school for the day. If Jared could just get one good view of him, one full inhale of his scent, then he could possibly make it until Jensen came to see him once more.

Jared only marked the time by the different scents filling the air. He could smell cooking meat and eggs, toasting bread, and knew the residents of each of these houses backed up against the woods were likely sitting around, sharing meals.

It was one of those normalities of society that Jared couldn’t quite imagine just right. What did one speak of over the breakfast table? Did families spend the time bonding and sharing before parting for their days? Jared could just barely remember his own family, he didn’t think they’d ever shared in such little moments.

Before Jared could get lost in his thoughts for too long - which always made him more morose than usual - the back door of Jensen’s home opened. Jared’s ears twitched, lungs filling with the scent of the boy as he crossed the backyard, swinging a bag of trash in his hand. There was something more to the boy’s scent this morning, more than the trash, more than his usual sweet innocence.

It took a moment for the scent to register and when it did, all of Jared’s body sparked with heat. Release. Jensen had recently touched himself, gotten himself off, and Jared could smell it on him. It was enough to have him moving forward, pushing through the grass as Jensen’s steps lingered at his back fence.

“Hello,” Jensen whispered, his eyes widening as they landed on Jared. “You... I didn’t expect to see you here.”

Jared’s tail gently shifted from side to side, his blood racing in his ears. This boy had no idea what Jared could smell, he wore nothing but an innocent smile, and Jared wasn’t entirely sure how to process this side of the boy. He wondered what Jensen had thought of as he touched himself, wondered if maybe he had made enough of an impression on Jensen to linger in his thoughts even then.

“Have you been out here long?” Jensen asked quietly, glancing over his shoulder toward his house then stepping closer, just enough to reach out and brush his fingers along the top of Jared’s head. “Don’t run away again. Wait, I have something for you.”

As Jensen dug into his pocket Jared dropped to sit, tilting into the soft slide of the boy’s fingers. The touch was just as intoxicating as it had been the day before and Jared pressed just a little closer, brushing his nose along Jensen’s arm to gather his scent. That delicious scent, filled with his release, so perfect. Even when he caught the twinge of sweetness from the item Jensen produced from his pocket he didn’t stop inhaling the boy.

“It’s a cheese Danish. It’s good, if you want it.” Jensen unwrapped the pastry and held it out, nearly giggling when Jared turned to gather up the sweet item in one large bite. “You could savor it, you know.” Jensen was grinning at him as he stepped a little closer.

The pastry was good even if a bit too sweet, but his mouth simply dried out as Jensen dipped down and pressed a soft kiss to the top of his muzzle. Jared had never felt the spark of heat and pleasure the way he did now. That feeling of needing to protect, to claim Jensen as his own, his mate, exploded to a blinding point in him. He instantly tilted up and dragged his tongue along Jensen’s jaw, gathering the taste of the boy, a low noise of pleasure curling up in him as it exploded across his taste buds.

Jared’s eyes fluttered closed as Jensen’s breath hitched, a shudder rocking down his body that was impossible to miss. There was no denying the boy was affected by something as simple as Jared’s tongue gliding on his skin and that made everything in Jared burn.

“God,” Jensen gasped softly, fingers curling in the matted fur at Jared’s neck as Jared’s tongue slid along his skin in another long sweep. “I wish I knew what to call you. I... please visit me again? Or I’ll walk the path in the woods and you can walk with me?”

As Jensen’s fingers drifted down to his sides once more Jared stepped back and met the bright green of the boy’s eyes. He dipped his head in a slow nod to let the boy know he understood, that he would do what he could. Part of Jared wanted to sweep Jensen away right then and there but it wasn’t time yet. His home, their home, wasn’t quite ready.

“Please, find me again soon,” Jensen whispered as Jared stepped further back, disappearing into the brush once more.

Jared let his eyes linger for just a moment longer on the boy, that taste lingering on his tongue, that scene still filling the air. It wouldn’t be long until he saw his boy again, he was sure of that.

~~

Two days had passed since Jensen had seen his wolf but his skin was still tingling, that steady rush of heat right there and ready to boil over the moment he let his thoughts drift toward that smooth tongue gliding along his skin. Jensen was positive it meant something, that the shapeshifter had been trying to communicate through the gentle touch, but he wasn’t allowing himself to think too much about it. Mainly because getting his hopes up seemed unwise.

After all, if that creature had been living in the woods all these years, his mind might not be too linked with a human thought pattern. For all Jensen knew, his wolf was really more like a beast then a shapeshifter and Jensen knew he should tread carefully. Well, as carefully as he could allow himself.

“Hey, fag!”

Bullies. Damn, Jensen really hated those bullies. Theo was the ring leader as usual and Jensen instantly quickened his steps. Their afternoon of classes had been more dull than normal which meant these boys had some pent up energy to burn off. Unfortunately Jensen was their favorite punching bag.

“What’s the matter, pussy? Worried we’ll damage your pretty little ass for good?” Theo laughed and his friends joined in.

Jensen could hear their steps matching his in pace and his breath hitched. He tried not to let these boys scare him but sometimes he wasn’t entirely sure they would know when to stop. Maybe one of these days they’d just keep punching and kicking and Jensen wouldn’t be able to hold on any longer. A little over a week ago he probably wouldn’t have cared at that much, but imagining his wolf never knowing what happened to him - or coming looking for him and being discovered - was enough to have him start running.

“Come on, you little shitbag! You really think we can’t catch you?” Theo called and though he sounded a little winded, he was still laughing, and Jensen knew he wouldn’t be quick enough to escape.

Until of course he rounded the corner and his eyes landed on the dense, familiar forest. Jensen knew the first part of the woods pretty well and there was that secret hope that maybe his wolf would be near, maybe he would come to the rescue somehow.

The moment he broke into the woods he already felt ten times safer. But he could hear the clatter of branches and crush of leaves as the boy’s trailed him, Theo’s call rising above their loud stomping. “Come out come out wherever you are, Jenny.”

A burst of fear exploded in Jensen and he gasped in a breath, tears pricking along his eyes as he stumbled into a large tree trunk. He wouldn’t be able to take much more of this. These boys, his non-caring family, longing for that feeling of love and safety and comfort. It was too much for anyone to take, let alone a boy of his age he was sure.

Jensen was running blindly, knocking branches out of the way, head whipping over his shoulder every few steps to make sure the boys weren’t closing in. They were though and no matter how much he strained, he couldn’t seem to get himself to move faster. When the trees suddenly cleared and he stumbled out onto a path the tears that had been threatening finally began to stream down his cheeks. He was so screwed.

Each breath felt painful, his legs aching, calves and ankles starting to bleed from the hard scrape of twigs and bushes. He couldn’t push himself any further, had to bend at the waist and suck in breaths to try and ease the way his lungs were burning. So when the loud shuffle of leaves sounded beside him he simply tensed his shoulders, bracing himself.

“Fuck, you really are an idiot,” Theo growled, or panted really, and Jensen was just a little relieved to hear him just as breathless. Until of course, Theo continued his taunts. “Brought us out here in the middle of nowhere. We can do whatever the fuck we want to you and no one will know. Not for hours. Maybe even days. Hell, knowing your family, it’ll probably take them a week to even realize their pretty fag son is even missing.”

What hurt the most, Jensen thought, was how right Theo’s words were. He was pretty sure he could disappear for days and no one in his family would really notice. Not unless they needed something cleaned or the trash taken out. If these boys were to lose their heads and kill him here, Jensen wasn’t even sure he would be missed.

A hollow ache grew in Jensen and he straightened up, turning to face the boys head on because if he was going to die now, he wasn’t going out as a chicken. Theo and his two bloodhound best friends were smirking, popping their knuckles for show, trying to look more intimidating then they already were. Jensen swallowed thickly and tensed his shoulders, fingers curling into fists at his side.

“Good lil’ Jenny, ready to stand and take it like the pretty little fa-”

The words sneered from Theo’s lips cut off in a sudden mix between a squeak and a shrill. Mainly because, just as Jensen was closing his eyes and bracing himself for the first blow, there was suddenly the large form of a wolf - his wolf - sailing cleanly through the woods and landing between them.

Jensen’s eyes shot open just as the wolf crouched and bared his teeth at Theo and his friends, standing as a protective barrier in front of Jensen. The cocky attitude of the boys instantly vanished, replaced quickly by fear and shock at seeing the large wolf there, his growl growing louder, his sharp teeth clicking as he snapped out at them. Jensen rode out the rush of relief, swaying slightly as Theo and his idiot friends turned and took off running down the path.

Just knowing he was going to be safe now was enough to cause his legs to finally give out. They felt like jelly after the hard run he’d pushed through and the tears streaming down his cheeks picked up speed. It wasn’t even really about being safe, his tears. It was more this wolf, this creature that had likely been so hurt and alone in his life, and he still put his very life at risk to protect Jensen. No one had ever cared for him like that before.

When the wolf turned back to him, tongue sliding out to gently lap at the tears on his cheek once more, Jensen choked on a sob and lurched forward. His arms just barely wrapped around the wolf’s neck at his low angle but the large size of the wolf did nothing but stir up that heat in him once more.

“Thank you,” Jensen half gasped, trying and failing to push up to his feet on his jelly like legs. “Thank you so much.”

The wolf released a soft puff of air and nudged him gently, pushing him up and along his side. It took Jensen a few long minutes to figure out what the wolf wanted and, when he did, he couldn’t help a soft chuckle.

“You... want me to ride on you? Are you sure?” He was pretty confident that the wolf could carry him but it seemed demeaning or something. When the wolf merely met his gaze and dipped his head in a nod Jensen smiled softly and slid atop the large furry back.

~~

In the short time in which Jared had known Jensen, he’d never quite felt the rush of protective need as strong as he had when the boy was suddenly in danger. Part of him had wanted to tear those other horrible children’s throats out. But he had kept his sanity - enough to remind himself that Jensen might be terrified if he witnessed such violence - and the last thing he wanted was the boy scared of him.

It was worth it in the end, when Jensen’s slight frame slid atop his body and he could lead them off into the woods. He wasn’t entirely sure if the other boys would bring adults back with him but he wasn’t going to take the risk. And he needed to inspect his young mate because the sharp tinge of blood sparked the air and Jared would never rest easy if he wasn’t sure the boy was okay.

Once Jensen was secure on his back, Jared led them through the woods, back along the path he’d been traveling when he first heard the voices of others in the woods. He’d actually been making his way to the main path Jensen usually traveled, hoping to see the boy today, because he had a special gift for him.

Now he trotted at a steady pace, not too quick, to ensure Jensen wouldn’t lose his grip around his neck. The race of his heart eased with each step, taking Jensen further from any danger and deeper into the woods. When he stopped it was in a small clearing, far enough from any path so they couldn’t possibly be seen. Jensen slowly slid off his side and Jared tried not to shudder at the swirl of pleasure inspired by the boy’s soft movements.

“It’s so pretty out here,” Jensen observed softly, sinking down to sit moments later.

Jared wanted to investigate the scent of blood on his boy immediately but he forced himself to turn away and root through the pile of leaves, looking for the item he’d dropped. When his nose brushed metal he grasped the old worn collar in his teeth and lifted it, turning back to Jensen to offer it out.

Jensen gasped softly and reached out, taking the collar as Jared dropped it. “Wow... I read. I mean, I heard that this was once required. They made all shapeshifters wear collars before the take...” Jensen trailed off as his fingers swept along the faded blue of the collar, grasping the name plate a moment later. “Jared,” he breathed then looked up, smiling almost shyly up at him. “That’s your name?”

With a slow nod of his head Jared shifted closer, dropping down on his legs to crawl closer to Jensen. He nudged along the boy’s legs and Jensen moved obediently, whimpering softly as Jared’s tongue lapped along the shallow cuts beneath his jeans.

“I’ve been thinking about you,” Jensen confided in his quiet whisper. “A lot, really. I mean, all the time. Sometimes you’re the only thing keeping me sane I think.”

When Jensen laughed softly Jared’s slow licks hesitated, his eyes lifting. It was almost painful to see that haunting sadness on his young boy’s face. Once more Jared felt compelled to sweep Jensen away. If only things were ready. Not quite yet. Soon, though.

“This collar is so small,” Jensen sighed and traced his fingers along the frayed edges, thumb slipping along the metal name tag. “You must have been so young when everything happened. It’s why... you’re alone out here, right? You have no... family? Or um, a mate?”

Jared lifted his head and shifted closer, running his muzzle along Jensen’s neck. He wanted the boy to understand that he had chosen his mate, that Jensen was his already. But without reverting to his human form, which he hardly ever did really, there was no way to properly express it. At least, not here where he couldn’t lay physical claim to his boy.

Jensen, however, seemed to understand what Jared couldn’t stay. At least Jared thought he did, when his head tipped back and he gasped softly, curling fingers into Jared’s fur. “Me. You have me. Maybe one day... maybe you could show me your home?”

As he slid back a few inches, Jared nodded, dragging his tongue along Jensen’s jaw as he once had before just to watch the boy shudder.

Chapter Text

Something wet and slimy smacked Jensen in the jaw and he blinked, shaking the wistful daydreams from his mind and forcing his gaze over to his brother. His entire family was laughing and Jensen tried not to scowl as he lifted his napkin and wiped at the smear of jelly his brother had just launched at him with a spoon. If he had been the one to throw food like that, his parents probably would have grounded him for a month.

But nothing could really bring down Jensen’s good mood. After running for his life earlier, he’d spent a good part of the afternoon with Jared - his wolf - in the safe seclusion of the woods. He could still feel the lingering heat of Jared’s body as he leaned against him in the clearing, stroking his fingers through surprisingly soft fur, wherever it wasn’t matted in place. Jensen had occasionally spoken about himself, told Jared about the things he liked and the life he lived, but mostly he’d simply soaked in the comfort of having the wolf there with him and feeling for once like he truly belonged somewhere.

Certainly that place wasn’t here, where his family was laughing at him and his parents hadn’t even noticed his extended absence after school.

“What are you thinking about anyway, Jenny?” Josh asked with a smirk, stuffing a large bite of mashed potatoes into his mouth.

Jensen felt the rise of a flush up his cheeks and he ducked his gaze, shrugging his shoulders as casually as he could. “Just school stuff.”

“Ah, typical Jensen, the only kid I know who actually thinks about school once the day’s done,” Dad teased and everyone laughed again.

Tears burned along Jensen’s eyes, surprising him, and he tried to sink lower in his chair to hide from the mocking laughter. Sometimes he didn’t think his family was purposefully being mean, he was pretty sure they loved him... pretty sure. But he could never understand why they poked fun at him so often. He didn’t really feel like he deserved it.

“We were studying shapeshifters,” Jensen blurted out as the laughter trailed off, glancing once up at his parents before looking away. “I was um, I was wondering... is it true they can, they could change others by biting them? They could make other shapeshifters?”

“Disgusting things,” Mom huffed and shifted around in her chair, reaching out for the serving platter of green beans. She never did like talking about shapeshifters so Jensen turned his gaze to his dad curiously instead.

“It was true.” Dad nodded slowly and poked his fork into his chicken, scoffing a moment later. “Why do you think they became such a threat? Their species had to be eliminated before they could turn innocent humans to their ways. It was like a disease, the only way to control absolute outbreak was to wipe out the original carriers.”

Jensen had to bite his tongue and grip the sides of his chair painfully hard to keep from shuddering. The way his father said it was so dismissive. It was horrible. Jensen didn’t understand how anyone could think so negatively about another person, whether they were a different species or not.

“But,” Jensen began quietly even though his parents had shifted the conversation on to something else. “Why did the government have to wipe them all out? I mean... it just doesn’t seem right. Not all that long ago people had a really negative view of black people and they were treated horribly but with time, and a lot of hard work, we managed to learn to accept them as equal right? Why couldn’t we do that with shapeshifters? We could have at least given them some of the things they wanted, like not make them wear the collars. It’s like the way Hitler made Jews wear the stars on their coats, we all think that’s horrible now, right?”

When Jensen finally finished his ramble, a little too aware of how his voice had risen as he spoke, heightening with passion, he was almost afraid to look up. A quick glance up told him his entire family was staring at him, all wearing similar expressions of shock and disbelief. Like Jensen saying those things was some type of violent act.

“Freak,” Josh finally muttered, shaking his head and returning to eating his food.

“Jensen...” Mom didn’t correct Jeff, Jensen wasn’t really expecting it, and when she shook her own head disapprovingly Jensen was pretty sure it was directed toward him. “You’re just too young. You can’t possibly understand how filthy and horrible those creatures were. The things they did. You just don’t get it.”

“I do get it. I could-”

“Enough, Jensen,” Dad interrupted with a half yell, his hand slapping hard down on the table. “I will not have this discussion here at our dinner table. Now you can just clear off your plate and head up to your room for the night.”

Jensen wasn’t done eating, not even close, but he wasn’t really hungry anymore either. The way his family reacted to shapeshifters, even twenty years after they were all supposedly wiped out, made him sick to his stomach. He wasn’t sure he wanted to be part of a race that would so openly scorn and hate another; it just wasn’t right.

He rose without a word and gathered his plate, carrying it over to the kitchen and dumping the leftover food in the trash. From the dining room he could hear the swell of his family’s voices as they started up talking once more, Jensen forgotten the moment he left the room. He’d always known, but now more than ever he felt he really didn’t belong in this household, in this world. If he weren’t there, they could clearly carry on without him.

Once his dish was in the sink Jensen headed silently up the stairs, leaving the light off in his room and kicking out of his jeans. He just wanted to curl on his blankets and dream about Jared, imagine that warm silky tongue sliding over his skin.

Just thinking about Jared had him moving over to the window, staring out at the woods sadly. His hand pressed against the cool glass pane and, as he watched, the bushes along the forest edge shifted and parted. All the sadness and loneliness eased from Jensen as Jared stepped into his line of sight, looking up at him, eyes nearly sparkling in the moonlight.

“Jared,” Jensen whispered though there was no way the wolf could hear him. Somehow, Jensen thought Jared already knew.

~~

It wasn’t like Jared hadn’t known just how bad Jensen’s family was. He had heard the boy mention it on several occasions and even witnessed a few things. But he wasn’t really prepared to have the ideas proven so clearly to him. Maybe it was exactly what Jared needed, to allow himself the boy as his own for good, but it still hurt to see and hear so clearly.

Jared wasn’t entirely sure when Jensen was released from his school for the day and, two days after their last encounter in the woods, Jared was practically itching to see the boy. So he’d taken up his usual hiding place in the bushes behind their family home, nose turned up to the air to catch any hint of the boy coming his way.

When the back door opened he perked up, hoping to see the familiar lithe lines of the boy, but it was Jensen’s parents instead. Jared slid half a step back to ensure he wouldn’t be seen and even considered turning to leave when Jensen’s name caught his attention.

“I just don’t understand Jensen,” the mother said with a heavy sigh, dropping to her knees in front of a flower bed. “How is he even part of our family?”

“Well you’re the one who gave birth to him,” the father added with a laugh that sounded far too cold to Jared’s ears, despite how long it had been since he’d interacted with adults of any sort. “Are you sure you weren’t sleeping with the milkman or something back then?”

“If only it were so easily dismissed.” When the mother laughed it sounded just as cold as her spouse’s and Jared clenched his teeth, barely swallowing a low growl. “He just... he’s so disappointing. No passion or hobbies, no skills in anything outside obsessing over something ridiculous like those damn mutts. What will he even amount to?”

“Well, like I’ve always said, he’ll be the one still living at home when he’s thirty.” The father joined her on the ground and if Jared was a little more reckless he might have jumped over the back fence and attacked the two. It was horrible what they were saying about their child and Jensen was so special, so wonderful, so sweet and kind and loving. How could they possibly not see all that?

“Oh no, we can’t possibly have that. I can barely imagine spending the next five years with him until he turns eighteen. We’ll just have to charge him rent or something, get him to move out the minute he graduates.”

“Maybe we could look into private boarding schools? Just think how nice it would be to send him off somewhere else to finish his schooling. Then we wouldn’t have to deal with calls from the school. It’s not our fault if he can’t stand up for himself.”

“I just don’t see why he can’t be more like Josh or Mackenzie. I’m fairly sure even Mackenzie could take down those kids that are picking on him.”

“Well he’s just so small and scrawny. It’s no wonder he can’t hold his own. Maybe I really will research the boarding school thing.”

“I’d be willing to pay the extra amount if it meant having him out of our hair.”

Jared couldn’t stand to hear anymore. He turned sharply and bounded off through the woods, just to keep himself from doing something drastic. Some little part of him had thought maybe the boy was exaggerating about how awful his family was, but this was proof enough. No part of him was hesitant about taking Jensen from his home now. It was just about finding the right moment, then he would give Jensen everything he deserved.

~~

The burst of sunshine breaking through the trees made Jensen smile even as he closed his eyes and shifted his head on Jared’s side. The wolf smelled pleasant, like the crisp water from the nearby steam, and Jensen’s grin grew. “Did you take a bath?”

Beneath his head the wolf’s chest shook as he huffed a breath. Jensen spent a lot of time guessing what each little noise Jared made meant. Their time together was often limited; even now Jensen was risking it, he’d run to his Grandma’s house and rushed out just as quickly. If he wanted to actually have food for dinner before his parents cleaned it all up, he was going to need to head home soon.

But not yet.

Laughing, Jensen rolled over and flopped over Jared’s back, working his fingers through surprisingly smooth fur. “You did! How in the world did you brush your hair out?”

Jared rolled with him, pushing and nudging at Jensen’s middle then yapping softly. Jensen’s cheeks hurt with the force of his smile as Jared’s wagging tail smacked into his side. He really wanted to know the answers to some of his questions but just having Jared there was worth it.

“I could brush your hair sometime,” Jensen murmured softly and stood, stroking his fingers just behind Jared’s ears. When Jared sat their eye line was nearly even and something about that made heat burn through Jensen. Just like the look he caught in Jared’s eyes sometimes, like the wolf was trying to claim him through that one gaze alone.

Like now, as his fingers carded slowly through soft fur and Jared shifted closer, dragging his tongue in gentle sweeps over Jensen’s skin. It was easy to turn into the warm touch, second nature to feel the flutter of pleasure at the heat.

“Jared,” he whispered and bit down on his lip, shifting from foot to foot as the pleasure continued to burn and his jeans started to get a little uncomfortable. It kind of always came to this point but Jensen had always tried to hide it, never wanting the wolf to see just how out of control of his body he was.

Apparently he didn’t need to try and hide, Jared seemed to already know. At least Jensen thought he knew as the wolf’s head dipped down, nosing along his chest, down his stomach, then across his crotch. Jensen gasped and swayed back a step, his eyes fluttering closed at the following crashing wave of heat.

“Oh god,” Jensen gasped and reached down, fumbling quickly with the button and zipper on his jeans, almost desperate for some release. “I... Jared? Can, can you um... help? I know it’s not- could you?”

He wasn’t entirely sure what he was asking for, didn’t know how to put it into words, but the moment he slipped his aching hard cock from the soft cotton of his briefs Jared was moving forward. That familiar heat of the wolf’s tongue slid across his cock, sending with it shocks that tingled up through Jensen at a pace that was enough to cause his entire body to shudder.

“Oh my god,” Jensen moaned and stroked slow along the base of his cock, leaving enough room for Jared’s tongue to ghost across his skin. It was too much and not enough, better than anything Jensen had ever felt. Jared’s tongue was silky against the head of his cock, gathering up the rising swell of pre-come.

His orgasm was rising through him far too quickly, Jensen’s moans growing louder as his hips thrust up into the lose curl of his fingers and the heat of Jared’s tongue. The steady lap of his wolf’s tongue picked up speed and Jensen’s free hand curled at the top of Jared’s head, threading through fur and tugging as his release reached its peak.

Jensen had definitely never come so hard before, not even when he was imagining Jared being knotted in him. It was absolutely perfect and sucked all the strength from his knees, causing him to sink down into a heap the moment his body stopped twitching. “That was...” he panted softly and leaned against Jared’s side, closing his eyes, not minding the dreamy smile on his lips. “Jared, please be mine forever, okay? I promise to be yours.”

The wolf twisted around to curl against him, almost like he was holding Jensen and that was just kind of perfect.

~~

The taste of Jensen’s flesh and release was lingering on Jared’s tongue and he hoped it stayed that way. Even as he trailed the boy to the edge of the woods he didn’t want to ever forget the sharp salty wisps of come. It was everything he’d already come to love about the boy and he wanted so much more. How could he not?

“I wish I could do something for you,” Jensen said softly, stopping a few feet from his backyard where he was still hidden from view. He turned to Jared and leaned forward, pressing a soft kiss to his muzzle. “I want to give you pleasure.”

You do, Jared thought, but he of course it was nothing he could say. Sometimes he imagined changing back to his human form, just so he could speak with the boy but every time he even got, close fear curled painfully hard through him. What would Jensen say if he saw the real him? Would Jensen be more scared than he ever had been with his wolf form?

“Maybe sometime I can.” Jensen shrugged and slid his arms around Jared’s neck, tugging him close for a hard hug. “I hope I see you again soon.”

Jared licked along Jensen’s jaw because it was his own special way of saying goodbye. His tongue ghosted familiarly over the smooth skin and his tail moved in a slow wag as Jensen’s lips formed in a near dreamy smile.

“I’m so glad you came into my life,” Jensen whispered softly and kissed between his ears once more before stepping back, grinning brightly at Jared. “Bye, Jared.”

Dipping his head in a nod, Jared watched as Jensen turned and weaved through the woods, pulling open the gate to his backyard a moment later. As was becoming his usual routine, Jared took up a place in the bushes where he could see the boy’s house and his window clearly. More often than not he continued to watch until the light in Jensen’s room was turned off, sometimes even hours later just to know his boy was asleep and resting peacefully.

As he watched he thought of his den, the home he was creating for his mate. One day, soon, Jared would take Jensen there and never let him leave. Until then he’d simply continue to watch.

~~

Jensen could hardly believe he’d known Jared, his wolf, for almost a month. Sure a lot of those days passed without a visit with the wolf; it wasn’t always possible to sneak away and know Jared would remain safe even if his family didn’t usually care where he was. The last thing he wanted was someone getting curious about his trips into the woods; just the thought of Jared being discovered made his heart lurch unpleasantly.

But the time he had spent with Jared was amazing. Even if the wolf couldn’t speak to him, even if they sat in the grass in silence, it was perfect in his mind. Because just being in Jared’s presence made him feel like a happier person. At least it didn’t feel like Jared was ever mocking or teasing him. Each time his tongue slid over Jensen’s skin it felt loving and gentle and Jensen was sure the wolf cared for him.

In a few weeks time he felt like his entire world had brightened and Jensen was pretty sure that was exactly what he needed. Well, that and a way to spend even more time with Jared. An hour or two once or twice a week just wasn’t enough. Sometimes Jensen considered packing up his bag, sneaking out and running off to find Jared, but he just wasn’t strong enough. He never had been.

Until everything changed.

Everything was mainly his parents’ announcement over dinner one night. Jensen had been lost in thought, picturing Jared’s large frame curled around him and keeping him warm, when Dad had cleared his throat and held a brochure out.

Jensen hesitated with a fork halfway to his mouth, blinking at Dad then down at the flier. “What?”

“Your mother and I have been discussing it and we thought well, that you might be more comfortable at this sort of establishment.”

“No way,” Josh snorted a laugh and snagged the brochure, speaking around a mouthful of food. “You’re shipping him off to boarding school? That’s hilarious.”

It felt a little like the ground had opened and Jensen was tumbling through, his heart lurching up in his chest, his eyes instantly prickling with tears. “No. You can’t do that to me. I don’t want to go.”

“No reason to get upset, Jensen, it’s not like you really have any friends here or anything. And you’ll come home over the summer, maybe even winter bre-”

“Probably not over the winter break, it’s so short after all,” Mom interrupted swiftly and reached out for the brochure, flipping it open and nearly shaking it at Jensen. “See, look, there’s plenty for you to do. Maybe you’ll even meet more people like you.”

Fighting the issue wasn’t going to get him anywhere, Jensen could already tell. So he simply reached out blindly and grasped the brochure. The place didn’t look very welcoming. It kind of looked like a jail for teenagers. Jensen was pretty sure he hadn’t done anything that justified being shipped off to a jail-like boarding school.

“You don’t want me around anymore?” Jensen asked in a whisper, sinking lower in his seat as the hollow echo of pain at the very question burned through him.

“Of course not,” Josh laughed, shrugging when both their parents looked his way.

“Now, come on, Jensen, we just want to give you the chance to excel somewhere. Clearly that’s not happening here so maybe you’ll find it... elsewhere.”

Jensen was pretty sure his mom was trying to smile reassuringly, or at least convincingly, but it didn’t ease any of the ache growing in him. He felt sick, his dinner like a hard rock tumbling around with the knotting of his stomach, and he grasped the brochure tightly between sweaty fingers. “When... when do I go?”

“We’ve got you an airline ticket for this Sunday. The school will be sending a driver to pick you up.” Dad had resumed eating, clearly ready to be done with the discussion.

Jensen didn’t understand. He knew he was nothing special, he didn’t have any wonderful skills or anything but he was a good kid. He always obeyed and did the chores and he got decent grades in school. What more could he possibly do to make his family care more? To at least get them to come along on the flight to ship him to a kid’s jail.

“May I be excused?” Jensen whispered, staring down at his lap to keep his tears hidden.

“Jensen, the least you can do is be grateful; your father and I spent a lot of money to get you into that school.” Mom sounded annoyed, scoffing a moment later. “Go on, you can start packing.”

It took real effort for Jensen not to run up the stairs to his room. But then, everything still felt like it was spinning out of control so Jensen thought it was hard to do anything. Except follow his mother’s order, the last one he would, about packing.

Because above everything, his horrible family that simply didn’t care, the bullies at his school who wanted him dead, years of feeling like everything was just too much, and then there was Jared. And Jared wasn’t something he could lose.

~~

Tears were flowing down Jensen’s cheeks as he brushed his teeth, combed his hair, the usual things he’d always do before bed. He’d spent the rest of his night in his room, going through his things, packing a bag that would hopefully be enough for survival in the woods. It had started raining and Jensen thought that was oddly fitting for the mood he felt weighing on his shoulders.

Jensen stared at himself in the mirror for a long minute once he was sure there was nothing else he could do to stall. Not that he really thought his parents would notice if he was crying or not. By this point he was pretty sure he didn’t even have to say goodnight to them and they’d never notice if he was missing or not. Jensen wasn’t even sure if they would actually look for him tomorrow when they finally figured out he was gone.

Dropping his head, Jensen turned from the mirror and walked slowly down the hall, wiping along his cheeks and stopping at his parents door. “Night.”

“Jesus, Jensen, knock won’t you?” Mom half gasped and moved quickly to hold the shirt she’d just pulled off over her body.

Jensen didn’t bother pointing out that the door was already open. He simply turned away and shrugged. “Sorry. See you tomorrow.”

“Jensen, please try not to look so miserable. For once in your life maybe you could at least pretend to be grateful that your father and I are trying to provide you with an opportunity.”

It was years ago that Jensen had first realized he was different from his family. He had already accepted that he didn’t belong with them, that he never would. But this was different from not fitting in. This was like realizing that he truly wasn’t loved, these people didn’t care about him, for whatever the reason he was the misfit in a home of otherwise perfect people.

He was the boy whose only attachment in the world was a shapeshifter that wasn’t even supposed to be alive. It seemed fitting somehow.

“Jensen! I believe your mother was speaking to you, please show her the respect she deserves.” Dad’s tone was harsh and sharp, keeping Jensen from walking away as he’d been so tempted to.

Inhaling shakily, Jensen slowly turned and looked up, letting both his parents see how red and puffy his eyes were from the tears sliding down his skin. “Right. Sorry. How dare I be upset about the fact that you’d rather ship me off across the country then live with me? I’m sorry my inability to be perfect for you has offended your obvious perfection. Don’t worry, in no time at all you can just erase me from the family photos and pretend I don’t exist.”

Before either of his parents could answer Jensen turned and fled down the hall, shutting his bedroom door hard behind himself. He turned the lock and flicked the light out, hoping his parents would do what they were so good at and ignore him as usual. The sooner they went to bed assuming all three of their children were safe and sound inside, the better.

It took a great deal of patience for Jensen to lay in bed for the full hour that he managed. The rain was coming down with force now but he couldn’t get himself to wait any longer. Once the idea of being free of his horrible world grew and strengthened in him, Jensen was more than eager to go through with it. All he could think of was being with Jared finally and never having to leave.

At least there he was sure he would be loved and looked after. Jensen wasn’t even entertaining the idea of Jared not allowing him to stay. He was fairly certain his wolf wanted him but Jensen was just a boy and Jared was... well, Jensen wasn’t entirely sure. It was probably a true sign of how little he cared for his family in return that the idea of leaving them to live with a virtual stranger wasn’t enough to give him pause.

When he was certain the house around him was quiet Jensen slid from his bed and changed silently, pulling on his sturdiest pair of dark pants and a dark shirt, sweatshirt following it. He’d never snuck out of his house before but Josh did it all the time he knew so it wasn’t impossible. Once his backpack was secured over his shoulders and he’d pulled a dark beanie over his head he was tiptoeing down the hall.

It was surprisingly easy to slip out the back door and head out into the rain. Jensen didn’t even stop to look over his shoulder as he pushed the back gate open and let it fall silently behind him.

No matter how many times he’d roamed these woods, especially over the last month, nothing had quite prepared him for just how creepy they could be at night time. The rain was pattering steadily around him, soaking through his sweatshirt, and Jensen shivered as he avoided the main path and shouldered his way through the undergrowth. Part of him had been hoping Jared might still be out there, waiting and watching, like he did occasionally. But he never had known how long the wolf stayed and well, no one wanted to get soaking wet, wolf or not.

By the time he began to worry that he may get lost, be unable to find Jared, it was too late to turn back. He couldn’t see his house through the woods even if he’d wanted to head back - which, he really didn’t. His only choice was to keep pressing forward, struggling to ignore his soaked clothing, the chattering of his teeth, the steady chill creeping along every part of him.

If he just kept walking, Jared would find him. He forced the wolf’s name from his lips, calling out as loud as he could, arms tightening across his chest. Just a few more steps, he was sure.

~~

The rain was never something Jared minded. In fact, it was good timing now really, because Jensen had been so pleased when Jared’s fur was so clean the last time they were together. So he roamed the woods and let the happiness of moments with his boy quicken his steps, an excited yap of pleasure bursting forth from him.

It had been so very long since Jared was so happy and he felt it would only grow, especially once Jensen was truly his.

“Jared!”

The call of his name was faint, distant, but Jared’s hearing was above average. His gaze snapped up and his body froze, lungs expanding as he pulled in thick breaths, seeking out Jensen’s smell through the rain. Why his boy was out in weather such as this he wasn’t sure, but it didn’t seem like a good thing.

The moment he caught Jensen’s scent trail Jared took off, bolting through the woods as fast as he could push his well-trained muscles. If Jensen were in danger Jared was fairly sure he’d know but just the thought of the boy stumbling out in the rain, looking for him, had Jared pushing himself to an impossible level.

As Jared rounded a large clump of evergreens the boy came into sight, his dark damp clothing nearly making him invisible. Jared yapped softly, loud enough to capture the boy’s attention, and bound forward.

“Jared,” Jensen half gasped and turned to him, falling in a near slump over Jared’s back. “I’ve been looking for you. God, I- please. I need you to take me away, Jared. My parents want to send me to boarding school. They want me gone. I can’t... I can’t leave you, okay?”

If Jared hadn’t heard Jensen’s parents speaking before he likely would have been thrown by the boy’s stumbling over hiccupped words, but instead his heart simply lurched. It was hard not to be a little excited, despite how bad he felt for his boy who was clearly hurting. After all, Jared had been waiting for what felt like weeks to have his boy with him constantly.

So as soon as Jensen had slid across his back, curling arms tight around Jared’s neck, he led them through the woods once more. The slow pace he had to take to ensure Jensen didn’t slip free was nearly excruciating. Jared simply wanted Jensen in his home, safe and sound and his.

~~

Even if his fur was damp, Jared’s heat was radiating from him and Jensen sank gratefully down against his wolf’s back, holding on tightly. He trusted the wolf to take him safely to wherever they were meant to go. His legs felt weak and his was still freezing but just knowing Jared had him now made everything worthwhile. Jensen would never have to return to the home that he didn’t belong in ever again.

Jensen closed his eyes and buried his face as much as he could in Jared’s fur. Mostly the wolf smelled like rain but the lingering wisp of that wolf-like scent was still there and Jensen breathed it in, trying to familiarize himself with it. He was sure he had a crazy amount of things to learn about living in the woods, but Jared would teach him, somehow.

Maybe Jared would turn into his human form when he realized how serious Jensen was about never leaving. Or maybe, Jared would change him as shapeshifters could. Then they truly would belong to each other.

Jensen hoped that Jared really wanted him in that way.

They traveled for so long Jensen nearly fell asleep, the gentle sway of Jared’s body as he moved soothing him like nothing had in a long time. Or well, nothing since the last time he’d been with Jared. But as their steps slowed completely so did the rain and Jensen sat up, blinking at the darkness surrounding them.

“Your den?” Jensen asked quietly and slipped off Jared’s back, hand drifting through his fur as Jared stepped away. A moment later something was being nudged against his hands and Jensen reached out blindly, fumbling with the lantern Jared had hanging from his teeth. “Oh, light...”

Jensen twisted the knob on the lantern and gasped as the inside of the cave was suddenly flooded with light. It was more than he possibly could have imagined. There was a pile of blankets and pillows in the far corner, clearly a bed, and a fire ring not far from it. But it was the things scattering the rest of the cave walls that really caught Jensen’s attention.

From a distance he couldn’t really decipher what they all were so he let his backpack fall from his shoulders and walked forward, stooping down to admire the different trinkets. They were various pieces of discarded artwork, a shard from a shattered mirror, part of a wind chime. They were decorations, things meant to make the cave more pleasing, and Jensen’s heart fluttered as he stood and turned to Jared.

“You gathered this all for me, didn’t you?” Jensen asked quietly and crossed back to Jared, reaching out to touch him the moment he could. Jared’s head dipped against his hand in a nod and Jensen smiled. “I love it, thank you. We can have a wonderful life here, I’m sure of it.”

Jared stretched up and brushed his muzzle along Jensen’s jaw as if he were asking a question. Which he probably was, Jensen was sure he had a million questions. But Jensen really only felt heat from the touch and it was distracting. It felt a little like his heart had been aching for so long, Jensen simply wanted to feel something for a while that would pull him away from all the darkness.

“My parents were ready to get rid of me,” Jensen said softly and stepped back from Jared, tugging off his sweatshirt and tossing it across the cave. He was ready to be out of his soaked clothing. “Did you happen to find matches when you were preparing this wonderful little home for me?” Jensen gave Jared a smile over his shoulder as he headed for the fire pit, surprised by the amount of wood and kindling Jared had already gathered there.

It wasn’t really all that surprising when Jared appeared at his side a moment later with a box of matches clutched between his teeth. Jensen had never lit a fire before but with the matches and the kindling already piled up there he was pretty sure it couldn’t be that hard.

In the end it took four matches and he was pretty sure Jared was laughing at him - however wolves could laugh. But he had the fire started and already the steady heat building from it seemed to help the chill that had soaked down into his bones. As the flames continued to strengthen over the pile of wood Jensen stood and slowly pulled at the hem of his shirt, tossing it over to join his already discarded sweatshirt.

As his fingers slid along the front of his jeans, thumbing the button free, Jensen’s eyes fluttered closed. Mostly because Jared had moved behind him, nose sliding along his skin in a cool, wet drag. A shudder of pleasure slid down Jensen’s spine and he arched into the touch, biting down on his lip as he slowly pulled the zipper down on his jeans, hooking his thumbs under his jeans.

The moment he stepped free from his clothes he felt that shudder intensify, strengthening and growing to a point he hadn’t anticipated. Because just having Jared there, slowly circling around him, was kind of more intense than anything he’d ever felt. Not even the heat of the fire could compare to the simple brushes of his fur.

“Jared,” Jensen whispered, reaching out to let his hand slide down along Jared’s flank as he moved around him. “You don’t know... how much I’ve thought about this. Thought about you. I want... more than anything I want to be yours. Do you want that? Will you make me yours, Jared?”

He wasn’t sure if the wolf understood all of what he was saying but he hoped he did, or he thought he did. Especially when Jared turned and slid his tongue up along Jensen’s abs, ghosting across his skin in a steady sweep. The warm glide of Jared’s tongue was quite possibly the best thing Jensen had ever felt and he moaned softly, stepping away a moment later.

“I brought...” Jensen smiled shakily at his wolf then hurried to his bag, kneeling and digging quickly into his backpack, tugging out the bottle of lube he’d been hiding for weeks now in his room. When he turned back Jared was watching him and Jensen held up the bottle, letting his teeth glide over his lower lip. “I know I’ll have to stretch myself open, so that you can take me all the way. I want you to um, to mount me. Will you do that?”

As he stepped closer Jared turned fully to face him and Jensen watched with widening eyes as the wolf circled his body once more, letting his nose glide with purpose along the soft skin of Jensen’s ass. That cold wet slick combined with the heat of Jared’s breath was enough to make Jensen gasp, his legs spreading automatically wider to simply feel more.

With gentle nudges Jared pushed him across the cave until Jensen was dropping down to his knees on the pile of blankets and pillows crawling forward as Jared slid up behind him. His tongue was grazing along Jensen’s flesh in slow, forceful laps, as if he were trying to pull every bit of Jensen’s taste from his skin. The way Jared’s tongue worked over Jensen’s hole was enough to pull a deep moan from him, head dropping to rest on his forearm as he offered up his ass, silently begging for more.

Jensen had never felt anything like it, Jared’s tongue working up into him, stretching him apart with the forceful slide of thick muscle. It had him instantly picturing Jared buried in him, knotting him, and Jensen could barely stand the idea of waiting any longer. Like every part of him might feel complete and whole once he was made Jared’s mate for life.

“Jared,” Jensen groaned and fumbled with the bottle of lube, quickly pressing at the cap and slicking up his fingers. “I need you. I need, oh god, I can’t wait.”

Jared whimpered softly and licked along Jensen’s side, moving out of the way so Jensen could stretch back and work his fingers into himself. This was the first time Jensen had ever done this, touched himself quite like this, but he’d certainly thought about it countless nights. When he twisted to get a better angle to slide his finger deep inside - ignoring the slight stinging stretch - he could see beneath Jared’s body.

It was the first time he’d seen the pink of his wolf’s arousal, the hard length of his cock seemingly growing before his eyes. Jensen moaned and shoved a second finger in beside his first, too eager to go much slower. But Jared was whining softly again a moment later and licking at his wrist and Jensen was fairly certain the wolf was encouraging him to go slow to not hurt himself.

Jensen exhaled heavily and pushed up on one hand, working both fingers deep up in his body. “I can’t help it. Just... want you so much. Since I met you, I’ve been thinking about your knot in me. I can’t wait any longer than I have to.”

In the next beat Jared’s tongue was sliding along his neck, up over his neck, and Jensen smiled softly and turned into the gentle touch. He liked to think this was Jared’s way of agreeing with him. Just knowing that Jared wanted him in any way was enough to have his third finger working forward, stretching at his tight muscles in hopes that he’d be ready for Jared.

It wasn’t like Jensen didn’t know it was going to hurt, at least some, he was prepared and okay with that. But mostly he wanted to feel the good of it and each brush of Jared’s fur along his skin made him all the more eager. Especially as Jared’s tongue continued to work along his skin, lapping over every inch he could reach, causing Jensen to shudder once more as he soaked in the claiming touches.

“Okay, okay,” Jensen gasped and pulled his fingers free, twisting around to reach out beneath Jared’s body. Before the wolf could move away he was smearing the rest of the lube along the exposed length of Jared’s cock, heart slamming hard in his chest. Something like a soft howl fell from Jared’s parted lips and Jensen squirmed on the blankets. “Take me, Jared, make me yours.”

Jensen had barely flipped back over to his hands and knees when Jared was there. The wolf was big enough that he barely had to put any weight on Jensen’s back, his paws digging into the blankets on either side of Jensen as his body slid into pace. Jensen closed his eyes and gasped as the heat of Jared’s cock slid along his skin, gliding silky smooth for a couple thrusts then finally into place.

The first thrust surprised Jensen. It wasn’t as painful as he expected, but the knot was still to come. Instead it was deep and filling, causing Jensen’s stomach to roll and flip with the burst of pleasure exploding through him. The combination of Jared’s hips steadily working against him, the brush of his fur over Jensen’s skin with each thrust, and the occasional slide of his tongue along Jensen’s shoulder, it was simply too much.

This was better than Jensen could ever have imagined and his fingers curled into fists in the blanket beneath him, body arching up into each thrust. It was perfect.

~~

From the moment Jared had seen Jensen, just a young boy walking along the path and singing to himself, he had pictured the moment when the boy would become his mate. This, though, was beyond any of his wildest fantasies. So many years he’d been longing for a mate to call his own, longing for the connection and love and heat and now that it was finally his, Jared wasn’t even completely sure how to react.

Having never experienced this physical pleasure before he was unable to stop the way his hips jerked quickly forward, burying himself deeper and harder into the tight heat of Jensen’s body that seemed to cling around him. Jensen was absolute perfection, the moans that fell from his lips, the heady scent of sex rising from his body, the way he was already begging and pleading for more.

“Jared, oh. Y-your knot, I can, I think I can feel it starting,” Jensen gasped and his hand slid to the side, covering Jared’s paw in an oddly tender grasp.

Jared could feel it as well, the tingling pleasure building as his thrusts slowed and his knot began to swell. The very idea of being tied off with his boy had his body jolting forward once more, his come already pumping to fill the boy beneath him. Jensen was still moaning softly but whatever words he was trying to say were too blurred for Jared to understand, his tone deep and shaky with each stuttered breath.

Mine. Jared thought possessively as his knot filled to completion, tongue dragging over the sweat forming on the back of Jensen’s neck. Now that Jared was breeding his mate, whether he could actually carry children or not, there was no question that the boy belonged to him. Jared would never let him go again.

Moments later Jensen was coming, shuddering and whimpering beneath Jared, his entire body shaking as the scent of his release filled the air. Jared knew they would be tied like this for quite some time, but Jensen was swaying dangerously and he didn’t want the boy hurting himself.

Working carefully he managed to get them both to rest on their sides, Jensen pressed flush up against him so Jared’s knot remained buried deep in him. Jensen’s fingers stroked soothingly along Jared’s fur and Jared felt the pleasant hum that rose from him a moment later.

“So very perfect,” Jensen whispered, pulling Jared’s foreleg over his chest so Jared was basically hugging the boy. “Better than everything I’ve been dreaming of. God, I love you, Jared. I really love you so much. I hope... sometime soon. I hope that you will show me who you are. I’d like to see your human form as well.”

Jared closed his eyes and pressed his pull against Jensen’s chest, holding the boy closer. The idea of changing to his human form was terrifying really, even if he knew this boy would likely never judge him. Jensen loved his wolf form, that was enough for the boy for some crazy reason. But Jared as a human? He couldn’t say if he would be enough, if he would please his boy, and Jared wasn’t certain he could take the risk.

~~

Jensen hadn’t meant to fall asleep with Jared’s knot still in him but it was a long night and he felt so peaceful and relaxed, he couldn’t help it. But he woke not too long after Jared had pulled away, mainly because the wolf’s tongue was working over his stretched and abused hole, sweeping in to gather the come still buried deep up in Jensen.

With a gasp Jensen arched up into Jared’s seeking tongue, teeth clenching until he remembered he didn’t need to swallow his moan. No one would hear him out here except Jared and Jensen was fairly certain his wolf wanted to hear him. So his lips parted on a deep moan and Jared’s tongue swept nearly all the way inside him, gathering up every inch of come that lingered there.

“Oh Jesus, Jared,” Jensen moaned and rubbed his hips against the blankets beneath him, the arousal too much to ignore. But as his fingers inched down to curl around his cock Jared was pulling away and Jensen groaned, rolling onto his back to face the wolf. “Let me see the other side of you. I... please? You could touch me, kiss me. And I could touch and kiss you. I’m yours no matter how you look, Jared, that won’t ever change.”

The wolf twisted around to look at him for a moment, his multi-colored eyes darkening, before he turned back and nosed through the extra blankets, dragging one over Jensen’s legs. It was a sweet gesture but Jensen didn’t like the way his heart sank at Jared’s obvious refusal to show who he really was.

“Please, Jared?” Jensen whispered, forgetting his rising arousal in favor of stroking his fingers through Jared’s fur. “I love you, I mean it. And I know... I know I’m not all that great. I talk too much and I might be a little stupid. No one really wants me around, maybe you don’t really either, but if I could just talk to you for a little while. I could even leave you alone tomorrow if you’d like. If you’ll just... just this one night.”

A low whine fell from Jared and Jensen continued to decipher it. Whatever the wolf meant by the noise, it didn’t seem like a good thing. The longer the silence reigned afterward, the longer he simply sat in place and stared down at the blankets, the more Jensen’s heart dropped. What would he do if Jared really didn’t want him? He had never thought of Jared as a cruel creature but what if the wolf had only wanted the pleasure of a young boy for one night alone? It wasn’t like he often had people bending over and offering it up for him.

Jensen ducked his head down and pulled his knees to his chest, closing his eyes as he rode out the swell of sadness. Had he really been so foolish? Had he given something so special away, himself, only to have Jared turn him away so swiftly? Maybe his parents had been right in their decision to send him away, clearly he wasn’t worth anyone’s time.

“Jensen.” Soft fingers brushed along Jensen’s jaw, shocking him almost as much as the deep voice that was almost a whisper beside him.

Heading shooting up, Jensen’s eyes snapped open, fixing on the man who was no longer a wolf sitting beside him. Jared was... so different than Jensen expected. Mostly because he was absolutely gorgeous. Jensen had never seen a grown man that looked so wild, long hair the same golden undertones of his wolf man, same ever-changing eyes, the scruff of a beard along his sharply defined jaw. But there was something about his small, uncertain smile, his curious eyes, the gentle touch that swept along Jensen’s skin as if he were the one who’d just gone through a transformation.

“Jared,” Jensen whispered and clambered forward, sliding onto Jared’s lap and wrapping arms around his shoulders. Jared was quite big, he actually looked kind of old, but Jensen had been expecting that. After all, his race had been wiped out twenty years ago so Jensen had known he would be quite a few years older than that. “I’ve- oh god. I’m so glad you changed. Thank you. I thought... maybe you didn’t want me.”

“Mine,” Jared nearly gasped and his arms tightened around Jensen’s middle, holding him closer if it were possible. “Always, mine. My mate.”

Hearing Jared say that was enough to make everything inside Jensen light up. So long he’d been waiting to truly belong with someone and finally this man, this wonderfully glorious man wanted him. Jensen squeezed Jared tighter and pressed a kiss to his smooth shoulder. “I’ve always wanted to belong to someone.”

“Waited, to belong to me,” Jared whispered, his voice sounding hoarse and rough from lack of use. “You... will live with me? Mine now always?”

Jensen smiled and stroked his fingers up through Jared’s hair, loving how smooth and silky it felt beneath his fingertips. “Yes, I will live with you now and always be yours. My family, well you know, they wanted to send me away. I couldn’t leave you.”

“Wouldn’t have let you go.” Jared shifted around to lay back on the blankets, curling around Jensen and covering them once more. “We sleep.”

Chuckling softly Jensen pressed as close to Jared as could. He couldn’t wait to fall asleep in the arms of Jared.

~~

Jensen woke to the feel of fingers sliding down along his skin, tracing the curve of his jaw and down across his neck. Before his eyes even opened he was smiling, tilting toward the touch and breathing in Jared’s unique smell. Those hazel eyes were fixed upon him as his own opened, hint of a smile playing across his lips.

“Have you been awake long?” Jensen asked softly, tilting up to brush his lips along Jared’s. It was wonderful to know this hadn’t been a dream, that his wolf, his man, was really here with him.

Jared smiled softly and pressed into the soft kiss, deepening it immediately to sweep his tongue forward and taste every inch of Jensen’s mouth. When Jared moaned Jensen nearly shook, his body curving up into the heat of Jared sliding steadily over him and rolling between his legs.

“Oh, Jared,” Jensen gasped as his mate’s lips moved along his neck as if he couldn’t resist tasting every inch of him. “I... I was wondering. How- how old are you?”

Jared pushed up and smiled down at him, head tilting to the side. “I wish... to please you. And you ask questions?”

Jensen grinned and squirmed beneath Jared, spreading his legs a little wider so the man would have more room. “I was just curious. I’m thirteen. Did you know that?”

As Jared’s lips pursed together he nodded, fingers massaging along Jensen’s neck gently. “I was... ten, when my family was killed, when I ran. That was... some time ago?”

All the air rushed out of Jensen’s lungs and he reached up with both hands, cupping Jared’s jaw on both sides. “Twenty years... you’ve been all by yourself for twenty years?”

Jared frowned and shook his head, his hair falling in brushing sweeps along Jensen’s skin. “So long. But not, not alone now. Now, you. You’re mine.”

Once more that air hitched in Jensen but this time it was with the leap of his heart, the stutter of his pulse in his ears. “Yes, forever. I want to be yours. And you can... maybe one day you’ll make me yours.”

When Jared pulled back and their gazes met Jensen was fairly sure the man understood what he meant. Even more so as he nodded and gave Jensen a small smile, Jensen echoing the action a moment later before Jared was dipping down and their lips were meeting once more. This time Jared wasted no time in sweeping his tongue forward and Jensen’s mouth opened wider, moaning as their tongues tangled slowly together.

“Want you,” Jared whispered into the slow part of their lips and Jensen’s hips twitched up toward his mate, making his own wants just as clear.

“Please,” Jensen groaned and rubbed his cock against Jared, hoping to urge his mate along faster. He still was nearly desperate for Jared and it was different this time. He loved the feel of being knotted, of Jared mounting him, but he was eager for the feel of skin against skin.

The hoarse soft rise of Jared’s laughter made butterflies flutter in Jensen’s stomach though he wasn’t entirely sure why. Something about this man, he consumed Jensen, and every moment he was there with his new mate the more he felt he had made the right decision. He wasn’t even worried about his family realizing he was missing that morning; he didn’t care in the slightest.

“Still open,” Jared moaned as his fingers dipped down and gentle rubbed along Jensen’s entrance. “From my knot.”

Jensen bit down on his lip and whimpered as Jared’s finger slowly circled inside him, his skin cool from the lube he had slicked on without Jensen even realizing. He was just a little sore but then it didn’t matter because Jared’s lips were like burning heat against his skin, trailing open and slick down along Jensen’s abs as his finger delved even deeper into him. Jared’s touches felt almost like an exploration, as if he wanted to know every inch of Jensen’s body, and it was enough to have Jensen’s heels digging into the blankets beneath him and pushing up.

“You want me,” Jared murmured, his nose brushing along Jensen’s hard cock as he breathed in, gathering his scent. “Needy.”

Jensen choked on a laugh, half moaning as Jared added a second finger up into him. Whatever words Jared was lacking in his vocabulary, he made up for with each of his curious touches, the gentle lap of his tongue along Jensen’s cock, the moment he always waited to ensure Jensen enjoyed the action. Jensen’s fingers dropped down to tangle in Jared’s hair, holding on tight because each time Jared’s tongue slid up the full length of his cock he felt as if he might jerk right off the blankets completely.

When Jared added a third finger up into Jared, Jensen hardly noticed. He was far too caught up by the heat of all the other sensations, Jared’s body a constant pressure down over his legs, holding him place. “Jared,” Jensen gasped and arched up into him, rolling his hips down against the seeking fingers, trying to swallow away the plea rising up in him.

Apparently he didn’t need to plead for more or beg, Jared seemed to understand. He withdrew his fingers from Jensen a moment later and Jensen pushed up enough to watch his mate smear the lube along his cock, his hips thrusting into the loose curl of his fingers. Jared’s cock was so long and thick, the race of Jensen’s heart picked up speed just imagining that heat being buried in him.

“I can’t... god, just thinking of you in me,” Jensen nearly gasped the words and shook his head, unable to say more. How could he really describe what it felt like to know this amazing man wanted him?

Jensen moved to roll over, ready to prop himself up on his hands and knees, but Jared’s hand came to settle on his hip and push him back down on the blankets. “Want to see you.” Jared gave him a brief smile and crawled forward between Jensen’s legs once more. “See your eyes.”

“Okay,” Jensen whispered and lifted his legs, wrapping them around Jared’s waist as his mate lowered himself, lining up at Jensen’s entrance. “I love you.”

Jared’s cock slowly slid into him and their gazes met, that small smile playing almost shyly across Jared’s lips as he stared down at Jensen. Something about the look in his gaze made Jensen moan, or maybe it was just the heat sliding slow and steady down into him. “I love you,” Jared echoed and slid his hand around Jensen’s waist, lifting his body from the blankets and holding him up so Jared’s cock bottomed out in one swift thrust.

Their lips came together once more as Jared dipped down and swept his tongue forward, hips pressing flush against Jensen’s ass and holding there. They kissed until Jensen no longer felt the slight ache and burn from the stretch of his sore muscles. Jared’s fingers were combing through his hair in soothing touches that had a smile flickering on and off Jensen’s lips.

Then Jared was drawing back, pulling from the kiss and rocking his hips free. Jensen could feel every inch slide free from him and slowly thrust back in and he arched up into his mate. Jared’s hand was still curved along his lower back and he lifted Jensen up to meet each sharpening jolt of his hips. His cock was sliding constantly against Jensen’s prostate and Jensen reached out to clutch Jared’s shoulders, holding as tight as he could.

Jared’s pace was picking up speed, their skin slapping loudly together with each hard thrust. It was absolutely perfect and Jensen couldn’t catch his breath, his body curved up and rocking back to meet each steady movement. Finally he had to close his eyes because it was simply too much and Jared was spinning him out of control.

“Come,” Jared growled against Jensen’s lips as he dipped in for another slow kiss, his hips connecting hard against Jensen’s ass as his cock slid over and over up into him. “Want to see.”

That was about enough for Jensen, he was toppling over the edge without touch, his legs around Jared’s waist curling vise-tight with the steady rush of pleasure. “Oh fuck,” Jensen gasped and slapped his hands down on the blankets on either side of him.

Jared’s come was spilling inside him a heartbeat later, filling Jensen just as he had before, and Jensen threw his head back to moan long and deep. The weight of Jared’s body over him was amazing and Jensen slowly sank down into the blankets, allowing that weight and pressure to nearly smother him. He loved it.

“Mine,” Jared whispered some time later as he pulled free from Jensen, instantly scooping the boy up against his body. “My mate.”

Jensen turned into Jared’s chest and hid his grin there, leg slipping to rest between Jared’s. “Yes, your mate.”

~~

“Here, stop here.”

The soft tug on his fur had Jared stopping, waiting patiently as Jensen slid free from his back and clambered forward. He lifted the top on the basket he carried and stooped down, gathering up a handful of berries and holding them up toward Jared.

“Can we eat these?”

Jared was doing the best he could to teach Jensen about the woods and well, the boy was amazing in the knowledge he’d retained. He was really trying to learn, trying to be helpful, and Jared loved seeing that part of him. So he dipped his head in a nod and shifted around to the bush, concentrating for a moment before shifting to his human form.

“I help.” Jared smiled over at Jensen the knelt to begin scooping berries from the bush. He was trying to switch to his human form more to keep Jensen from doubting their connection. After Jensen had spent so many years living with a family that didn’t seem to care, Jared didn’t mind reassuring his boy.

“I will help,” Jensen corrected softly, grinning at Jared and tucking hair behind his ear. “Maybe one day we can leave these woods. After you’ve made me like you, maybe we can travel the world.”

It was maybe an idea Jared had always had, traveling the world, exploring. But he never would have been strong enough to do it alone. With Jensen though, Jared felt like he could do anything. The boy was teaching him just as much as Jared was teaching the boy and that was really amazing. “Yes, one day.”

The smile that he received in return? Perfection.