Chris thinks it starts when Josh brings home the elk.
"Bro," he says when he finds it, voice laughing in disbelief. "What the hell, bro?"
Josh looks up from where he's hunched over the carcass, blood oozing from his maw, eyes filmed over and shining silver in the darkness of the barn.
Okay. Maybe "barn" is being generous, but Chris is still new to this whole living-in-the-wilderness thing, and he doesn't know what else to call the rickety structure they've erected behind the cabin. It's a roof and three walls, rough and inexpertly built, but enough to keep the snow off the giant meat freezers. The ones that don't fit inside the cabin in the same way Josh's dead elk doesn't fit into this space. Honestly, the thing is enormous. Chris doesn't even know how Josh managed to drag it back here, even with his hella wendigo super-strength.
Josh, who's currently soaked in blood and looking extremely pleased with himself, claws busy eviscerating his kill and gorging his too-skinny self on blood and organs. It's a total horrorshow to watch. Chris had thrown up for like the entire first month after witnessing similar scenes, but now he's totally chill. There are a lot of things, he now knows, a guy can get used to, given enough time and incentive. Incentive like an endless supply of fresh-killed venison. And rabbit. And fish. And even, on one memorable occasion, a large—and probably endangered—eagle. Josh is nothing now if not an incredibly proficient hunter. One who's perfectly willing to share his kills with his useless, clawless human.
"Guess I'd better, like, look up a YouTube vid or something," Chris says. "'How to skin your elk'." He's grateful, he really is, but… Jesus, Josh. Really? Like they're going to starve on this stupid mountain or something which… okay. Maybe that is something Josh worries about, down in his frozen little heart. Chris gets that, he really does. But that was months ago. Now, Chris is here, and Josh is out of that godafwul mine, and things aren't like they were, will never be like they were. Instead, they're… different. And it's an okay kind of different. One Chris is learning to be okay with. Really.
As soon as he can figure out what to do with Josh's elk.
They get most of it in the freezer, emphasis on "most of it,” care of a chainsaw and Josh's own claws. Josh, who then takes the stuff that doesn't fit—things like the head and the hooves, things Chris isn't quite wild man enough to eat himself—and vanishes them somewhere in the forest. Buried in the permafrost or thrown into the mines, Chris doesn't know and doesn't ask.
It's rough work and it takes most of the night. the sky is starting to turn pink by the time Josh reappears in the cabin, cleaned of gore and stark naked. Chris is used to that, too—used to Josh's too-pale skin, used to the way the ridges of his ribs and spine protrude—so doesn't even look up from his laptop at the sound of padding feet.
"The others have been noisy tonight," he says instead, which earns him a soft grunt in response. One wendigo in the house, about a dozen others in the woods. Chris has no idea where they all keep coming from. They'd been so sure, back after The Incident, that they'd blown every last one of the monsters—present company excluded—back to some kind of culturally appropriate hell. Chris still hasn't had the heart to tell the rest of the gang that apparently wasn't the case.
Josh keeps the other wendigo in check. They're frightened of him, and he's stronger than they are, for all his transformation seems to've gotten stuck half-way. He might be physically more human than the others—for a qualified definition of "more human"—but Chris has seen him take down other wendigo as easy as he takes down rabbits. This is one of the many things that Chris tries not to think about, but is grateful for when the night grows thick with inhuman shrieking.
"Spring is coming," Josh eventually says. His voice is rougher than it used to be, raw and slurred through a maw full of fangs. But it's still Josh. He's found a pair of sweats and is pulling on a shirt, coming to sit next to Chris on the cabin's ratty sofa. Sitting very close, in fact, curling his cold-ass self up under Chris' arm, nuzzling huge fangs against the hot beat of Chris' jugular.
The first time he'd done that, Chris had nearly passed out, convinced he was going to die. That was back before he'd realized the gesture meant pretty much the opposed from what he'd assumed; that it was a reassurance, not a threat. Feel how big and pointy my teeth are. Feel how I'm not using them to bite you. Josh, who is still Josh, but is also a large and supernatural predator, human mind sharing space with red-raw instinct.
"What does spring have to do with anything?" Chris asks.
Josh just shrugs. "Dunno, Cochise,” he says. "Not an expert. Just feel it." His voice vibrates when he talks, words warring for space in his throat with the rattling hum of his purr. He makes a hell of a lot more interesting sounds than he used to, that's for sure. He's either inhuman enough not to be embarrassed about them or good enough at pretending that's the case. Another thing Chris doesn't ask about, because Josh is his bro and because—if he's being brutally, selfishly honest—it's not unpleasant, as far as snuggling with a maneating monster goes.
He falls asleep not long after, lulled by the rumbling purr, laptop perched over his knees.
A week passes. The days get warmer, slowly, and longer, slowly, and the clues mount up. Josh is still mostly nocturnal, so Chris spends the days roaming around the mountain, looking for anything they can make use of in the rubble of the lodge and the mines. In a month or so, when the snow melts, the Washingtons will send up a construction crew. By next winter, Chris expects they'll be back to living in rich-kid ski lodge luxury but, until then, they're roughing it. So he runs salvage.
Josh's mom had cried, when Chris had told her her son was alive. Alive, but… different. Josh has spoken to his parents on the phone, but not often. Mostly, he leaves the liaising with the outside world up to Chris.
"It's… hard," he'd said, dark brows drawn into a scowl. "I say the wrong things. I don't… don't know the right things. To think. To feel. I…" They'd been in the cabin, the white films in Josh's eyes pulled back under the glow of the electric lights.
"Leave it to me, bro," Chris had said. "I'll take care of it."
Josh's shoulders had slumped in relief, eyelids closing over bright green irises, pupils drawn back into tiny pinpricks. "Thanks," he's said. "I owe you." His claws had curled into fists, thick cords of tendon tightening like bridge cables across long forearms, shaking with the weight of too much shit piled way too fast.
So Josh keeps the freezer stocked and the (other) monsters at bay. Chris buys the toilet paper and engages in emotionally appropriate interactions with Josh's family. They look after each other. That's how it works.
The mountain is pretty safe in the daylight, but Chris keeps an eye out anyway. Looking for the scratches on the trees he knows mark the edge of Josh's territory. The big fuck-you signs to the other wendigo. My place, my human. Trespassers will be eaten.
Chris has seen Josh eat exactly one other wendigo, though not for a while. It'd been Chris' first night on the mountain, back when he'd had the dumbass idea to come up here looking for Josh. He'd come prepared, or though he had, right until the wendigo had torn into his tent and punched its claws right through his thigh. Chris had thought it'd been Josh for exactly as long as it'd taken for actual Josh to show up, tear the other wendigo’s head off, then start chowing down on its heart. As far as reunions went, it'd been pretty intense.
Chris isn't sure if Josh has eaten any of the others since then; he doesn't ask, and Josh doesn't say. Still, sometimes Chris finds… remains that suggest the answer might very well be "yes". If it is, apparently the whole "cannibalism: bad" thing only extends to humans, because Josh is, if anything, better—for a Josh-ian definition of better—than when Chris first got here. It's another one of those things they don't really talk about, but Chris is almost entirely certain there's a part of Josh that enjoys being a literal monster. It's the same part, Chris thinks, that had Josh turn himself into a symbolic one, back when everything went to shit.
Chris has known Josh for a long time, through ups and downs and meds and shrinks. And maybe living with an ancient Native American curse is pretty out there, as far as therapy goes, but if it works, it works. And who is Chris to say otherwise?
Josh sleeps and eats and hunts, shrieks at the moon and marks his territory to ward off interlopers. If nothing else, he seems to be having a great time with the latter; Chris is used to walking past the claw-torn trees, but he doesn't remember there being so many the last he was out this way, nor does he remember the clawing to have been quite so… vigorous. He makes a mental note to ask Josh about it when the guy wakes up this evening. Maybe. If he can figure out how to raise the subject.
Chris does not figure out how to raise the subject. Not that night, nor the next week of nights. Not when he's terrified it might break the weird kind of equilibrium they've got going. So instead, he just watches Josh closely which, honestly, isn't different enough from their regular routine for Josh to notice any change.
Under the scrutiny, Josh is… Josh. Bright-eyed and sharp-toothed, and if maybe he's flashing Chris more fangy grins than previously, then so what? Chris can hardly fault the guy for being happy. Must be all the fresh air and exercise he's getting, terrorizing elk and shrieking at the sky
Josh is spending more and more of the nights outdoors, which Chris doesn't mind, since he's still diurnal and sleep is pretty great. When he can get some past the nightmares, that is, which is not tonight. So he stumbles out of bed and goes to stoke up the fire, which is when it occurs to him they're out of wood.
Chris stands in front of the dying fireplace for a while, trying to decide whether to bother making the trek out the back to get more or to let the thing die. He can bury himself in his bed for warmth until the house freezes, then send Mr. Josh "No Body Temperature" Washington out for logs when he gets back. Except Josh doesn't like the fire at the best of times, and Chris would feel like an asshole making him re-light it. So…
"Goddamnit," Chris announces, then goes to get his coat and boots.
Ten minutes later, he's out at the wood pile, stacking logs. The wendigo are freaking out tonight; Chris can hear Josh's screech, but also a whole bunch more that aren't Josh, and it's just such a cacophony that he's not listening to anything else. Certainly not the sound of shifting branches, or the soft growl of an inhuman throat.
When he turns, however, he definitely sees it; corpse-white skin shimmering in the moonlight. Chris freezes, eyebrows hiked and arms still full of firewood. He's startled, that's for sure. Not afraid, exactly. Just… surprised. He hasn't seen a non-Josh wendigo in months. Especially not this close to the house.
"Hey buddy," he says. "I don't think you wanna be here, bro." He barely moves his lips when he speaks, barely breathes. He knows the technique works, because he's used it to prank Josh like a million times. It's never occurred to him before to wonder if Josh puts up with it as some kind of weird training session.
The wendigo tilts its ugly head, making a sort of weird, open-mouthed snorting Chris knows means it's tasting the air. Smelling him but, more importantly, smelling Josh. There's something different about its head, some weird protrusions Chris has never seen on a wendigo before. If he didn't know better, he'd say the thing had horns.
"I know you know this isn't your house," Chris tells the horndigo. "Better fuck off. If my bro catches you, he's gonna eat your heart while it's still beating."
The wendigo screams. Chris doesn't even flinch. There's a part of him that's proud of that, proud of how little fear he feels, how little hatred or disgust. The wendigo is dangerous, sure; one wrong move and Chris is a dead man. But it's just an animal, is just hunting in the only way it knows to hunt. A human once, driven by desperation to something terrible. Chris doesn't fear it, he pities it. He doesn't want it dead, he just wants it out of his face.
He is very, very aware of how little difference there is between the thing in front of him and Josh. How it could easily have been Josh—how easily it was Hannah—if Chris hadn't come back.
There's a box of flares bolted to the wall next to the woodpile. For safety's sake. Chris wonders how quickly he'll be able to grab one. Maybe if he throws a log or two at the wendigo first…
He's still thinking this, in fact, when something streaks out of the forest with a shriek, slamming into Chris' uninvited guest. Josh. Thank fuck. Chris exhales, big and relieved. "Nice timing, bro," he tells the tangle of claws and teeth scrabbling in the dirt in front of him.
Josh, as Chris predicted, is deeply, deeply displeased to find the other wendigo fronting on his turf. He makes this very clear with both fangs and claws, blood flying in arcs Chris only barely manages to dodge. The other wendigo's shrieks quickly become whimpers, then it's rolling onto its back in the dirt, pale, spindly limbs reaching into the air, claws curled back. A show of deference, Chris thinks, of surrender. He's not sure whether Josh will acknowledge it, and is surprised when it happens. Even if Josh doesn't look too pleased with it, hunched over, claws flicking and teeth bared. There's a bit more hissing and growling, the defeated wendigo writhing piteously on the ground before darting off into the darkness. Josh watches it go, growling, for one moment, then another.
Then he shrieks, once more for good measure. And don't come back, Chris' brain translates.
"Dude," Chris starts, "what—?"
He doesn't get much further, Josh whirling around to face him. Josh blinks, the white film flicking from his eyes as he switches back to human vision. Not as good in the dark, but the better to see Chris with. See if he's injured.
"Chris," he says. "Are you—?"
"I'm fine, bro," says Chris. "Just surprised me, is all." He takes a step forward, shifting the wood in his now-aching arms. "Not used to them coming this close to the house. You been forgetting to piss on the trees or something?" He elbows Josh as he says it, letting the guy know it's a joke, and gets a torn-up lip curling crooked in response.
"I do what I can," Josh says. "But I reckon there's not enough piss in the world to cover the hot scent of your juicy virgin ass."
Chris laughs, a startled bark. Startled and happy. "Don't be hating 'cause I'm irresistible," he says, smiling big enough to hurt.
"Not hating," Josh says. "Just gotta keep track of what's mine. What will the neighbors think if they see my human running around with other monsters?"
"Bringin’ the shame to the Washington name."
"Can't be having any of that. Gonna have to chain you to the bed if you keep this up."
"Kinky," Chris says. "Also: gay."
"No homo," says Josh, crooked fangs peeking over the edge of his grin. A grin that falls into something more subdued a moment later. "Seriously, though," he adds. "Stay inside at night for a while. Until I say otherwise."
Chris' heart is hammering so hard, his hands shaking somewhere underneath the rough bark of the firewood. Josh making jokes! Sure his mouth and hands are dripping with wendigo blood, but other than that, it's practically like old times. Something in Chris is surging forward, so happy he thinks he might explode. So happy he doesn't even think to question Josh's words. "Sure, bro," he says instead. "Whatever makes you happy."
Josh just snorts in response.
Chris doesn't think about the wendigo's weird little horns until about a week later. It's been a pretty good week, the snow's melting and Josh is more lively than Chris has seen him in years. Since before his sisters died, maybe long before that. Josh is talking more, making jokes, engaging with Chris in a way Chris has to admit he was prepared to never see again. If it weren't for the teeth and the claws, it would almost be like the last two years had never happened.
Almost. There are still some things that are different; Josh is still far too skinny, his hair far too long. He hasn't had it cut since The Incident, and he spends too much time running around in the woods to keep any kind of hairstyle for longer than like ten seconds. Chris thinks maybe Josh is just glad he still has hair and, truth be told, so is Chris. Besides, the wild-man look totally works on him. No homo, and all that.
Anyway, point being, Josh touches his own hair quite a lot—reminding himself of his humanity, or whatever—so it takes Chris a while to notice when he stops doing that, and starts rubbing at his scalp instead.
“Bro,” he says when he does, "if you caught fleas, I'm totally making you wear a collar."
"Fuck off," Josh says. "I don't have fleas."
"Then why do you keep scratching at your head?"
"I am not scratching at my head."
"Dude, you are totally doing it right now."
Josh pulls his claws away, guilty. "Am not," he snaps, and Chris just gives him A Look.
"Whatever, bro. But I'm telling you, if I get so much as a bite, I'm banishing you to sleep in the woodpile. Forever."
Because, oh yeah. That's a thing, speaking of no homo; they sleep in the same bed. Firstly, because the cabin only has one, and because they're rarely asleep at the same time anyway, except for when they are, but whatever because Josh's purring helps Chris' nightmares, and Chris' warmth helps Josh's, and the more Chris reeks like Josh the less he has to worry about other wendigo making a move, and all kinds of excuses but also because there's no one up here to say shit about it so what-the-fuck-ever. It's just how things are. It's fine.
Fine, except for when Josh wakes Chris up at the crack of dawn, whimpering and scratching at his head like he can't stop.
"Dude. I can't sleep with you wriggling."
The wriggling stops, but the whimpering doesn't. They're such tiny sounds, and Chris isn't sure Josh even realizes he's making them. So he doesn't mention anything, closes his eyes, and tries to get a few more hours in before the sun's up.
Five minutes later, Josh is back to rubbing at his scalp.
"Okay, bro, seriously. What the fuck?"
Chris is in no way, shape, or form stronger or faster than Josh is, not like this. Still, the element of surprise is a wonderful thing, and his hands streak out to grab at Josh's scalp, trying to find what's bothering the guy so much. Josh yelps at the action, leaping out of the bed so suddenly he ends up suspended from the ceiling, claws buried into the wood. He's quick, but not quick enough, and Chris felt it.
"What the hell was that?" Weird lumps, hidden beneath Josh's hair. Bony, but oddly soft, all at the same time.
"My head, dumbass!" Josh snaps. He's hanging upside down from the ceiling, eyes silver-white discs in the dark.
"I know what your dumb head feels like. That's not it. I felt—" Suddenly, Chris' eyes go very wide, his mind flashing him an image of the wendigo from the other day. "Oh. My god," he says. "You're growing horns!"
"Fuck off!" But his eyes are looking everywhere but Chris.
Chris laughs, he can't help it. "Oh, fuck. You totally are! I felt them." He laughs again, because what else can he do? His monster best friend is growing horns, because of fucking course he is.
But if it's a joke, it's a joke Josh isn't in on. Instead, he hisses out a, "Fuck you, Chris!" And then he's gone, scampering away across the roof.
"Oh, come back here you big baby!" Chris calls. Then, when Josh doesn't: "Hey. Hey, man. Hey. Josh?" No response but the sound of a slamming door. Suddenly, it occurs to Chris his formerly human friend might just be a teeny, tiny bit sensitive about this new development. Just a little. "Shit."
He gets out of bed, blankets still wrapped around his shoulders, and goes to search for Josh.
He has a moment of panic than maybe Josh has run outside, and that Chris is going to have to chase him through the stupid, monster-infested woods. But no, the slamming door was apparently the one leading to the bathroom. Chris knocks on it. "Josh?"
His only response is an inhuman hiss.
"I'm coming in, okay bro?" He turns the doorknob, and pushes, but that's as far as he gets. The door doesn't lock, so it's not that. But Josh is strong, and if he's standing on the other side, holding the door shut, there's no way Chris is going to be able to open it. "Josh," he says. "C'mon, man. Let me in. I'm sorry I laughed. That was shitty of me." Not because of the horns—they are pretty funny—but because he hurt his best friend's feelings.
One moment, then another, then a third. Then Chris hears movement behind the door. The next time he pushes on it, it opens.
The lights are off in the bathroom, and Chris leaves them off. He can see the big dark lump of Josh, curled in the corner next to the bath, coin-bright eyes gleaming in the gloom. Chris walks in and sits down next to him, draping the blanket over both of their shoulders. The days might be getting warmer, but nights are still freezing, and the tiles feel like glaciers against Chris' ass. He figures he doesn't need to feel cold as well as guilty.
For a long time, no one says anything. Chris can hear Josh sniffing in the dark, like he's been crying. Eventually, Josh says, "I'm trying. I'm really trying. And sometimes… sometimes I think it's okay. That I can… I can deal with… with everything. And then—" His voice cracks, breaks, claws coming up to grab his hair.
Chris knows this gesture. It ends with Josh folded in on himself, rocking back and forward, tearing out his own hair by the fistful. It's not something Chris wants to see; not tonight, not ever.
"Hey," he says. "Don't do that." He threads his own hands underneath Josh's claws, encouraging them to let go.
"They hurt," Josh hisses.
Very gently, Chris runs one hand down one side of Josh's skull. And there, about an inch back from the hairline, he feels it; a little nub of horn, growing beneath soft velvet. When he touches it, Josh's whole body shudders, a strangled little keen escaping the back of his throat.
Chris pulls his hand back quickly. "Sorry."
"S'okay," Josh mutters. "It… doesn't feel bad. When you do that."
"Oh." Very carefully, Chris returns his fingers to the nub, pressing against soft velvet. Josh shudders again, breath exhaling in a rush. Chris starts rubbing, gently at first, then with increasing pressure. Josh's claws drop into his lap, head tilting towards Chris, throat making more of the weird little trilling keens.
Chris brings up his other hand to join in, and that's how he end up giving his best friend an honest-to-god no homo horn rub on the freezing floor of their shitty little cabin bathroom.
Chris has never seen anything grow so fast as Josh's goddamn horns or, more accurately, goddamn antlers. Which isn't to say he actually sees them grow, only that they're out of the nest of Josh's hair and starting to branch within single week. By the second week, they're getting big enough that Josh starts struggling to get through the cabin door.
"Fuck my life," about sums up his attitude to his new accessories. The words come out muffled, given he's lying face down on the bed, softly purring as Chris massages him from tips of his velvet to the base of his spine.
"I dunno, man," Chris says. "Lotta girls would kill for a rack like yours."
Josh gives a hissing groan, muttering something that sounds a lot like, "Kill you if you're not careful, you walking cocktail wiener."
"Keep talking 'bout my wiener like that and you can rub off your own damn horn."
"No homo," Josh tells his pillow.
Secretly, Chris suspects they've long since missed that chance.
During the day, while Josh is asleep, Chris reads everything he can about antler growth. The internet is very generous with information, mostly via websites about deer farming and hunting, and while none of it fits exactly—wendigo being deer in the approximate way of a fish being birds—enough of it gels that Chris doesn't say anything when Josh spends hours in the meat shed gnawing on elk bones, or shrieking at the other wendigo, or marking territory, or purring and rubbing his big teeth all over Chris' neck.
Chris gets it, he really does. And it's… weird. He won't lie about that. Particularly the teeth-rubbing thing, since Chris isn’t sure Josh is aware what he's doing is essentially the man-eating monster equivalent of vigorous making out. Or maybe he's totally aware, and hopes Chris isn't. Or maybe they’re both aware the other’s aware, and no one has the balls to say anything. Because no homo, bro.
Besides, it's not like Chris has ever told Josh to cut it out, weird or not.
Prior to the Incident, Chris and Josh had kissed exactly twice. The first time had been when Chris had gone on his first date with Clarissa Sharma, circa age fifteen. Josh has been adamant about sending Chris to the mythical Bone Zone, even then. When Chris had mentioned never kissing anyone before, Josh had slipped in with the whole, I'll-totally-teach-you-it's-easy line which, in retrospect, not as subtle or as smooth as perhaps either of them had thought at the time.
Chris never did end up getting to the Zone with Clarissa, but he had ended up with a massive hickey from Josh. One Josh had teased him about mercilessly for weeks, all while never quite mentioning where Chris had received it.
The second time they'd kissed, Josh had been so drunk he'd barely managed to slur out, "Gonna getcha t' th' Zone t'night one way or th' other, bro. Gonna be a girl or gonna be me, your choice." before passing out on the kitchen counter. Three hours later, his sisters had been dead (or not dead, in Hannah's case, though Chris doesn't like to think about that).
So. Two kisses, and a lot of weird tooth stuff. Plus way more cuddling than can really be laughed off as bros-will-be-‘goes.
It occurs to Chris, lying in bed one night, watching the slow rise and fall of Josh’s new antlers out of the corner of his eye, to wonder what the hell he’s so afraid of. Here, on this mountain full of monsters, the mountain he’s almost died on more than once. The mountain he’s watched his best friend die on, twice.
It’s not like Josh is ever going to go back down to the real world, get some nine-to-five job, marry some cute rich blonde from California. Josh’s life is the mountain, now, and Chris’ life is Josh; he made that call when he decided to come back here. So if Josh is here, then Chris is here, and hell. That’s practically already married, as far as Chris is concerned.
Chris’ night vision isn’t much, especially without his glasses, but when he turns over he can still see enough of Josh’s dumb skinny face to feel a warm curl of something in his gut.
No. Not “something”. Fuck “something.” It’s love. The feeling he’s feeling is love. And not awkward, back-slapping, bro-love either. This is actual, genuine, real-deal love. And, okay, Josh’s teeth could put his eye out, but god knows Chris isn’t perfect either. Anyway, as far as wendigo go, Josh is goddamn Brad Pitt; excellent hunter, brutal in a fight, amazing rack. Plus all the things Chris has always loved about human!Josh; his dumb sense of humor, his loyalty to his own. Not to mention he’s still amazing filthy rich. And sure, maybe nowadays Josh lives in a constant state of craving the sweet taste of human flesh, but it’s not like that’s new either. Sure, it was booze and pills before, but addiction is addiction.
“It’s easier,” Josh had told him, months ago now. “I know that’s fucked up, but… it’s easier. The stakes are higher if I… you know. So I can’t. I can’t.” Then a really, really intense stare, right off into nothing in particular.
In the entire time Chris has been here, Josh hasn’t so much as slipped. Even when Chris has been wounded, been bleeding out all over the floor, flesh torn open by accident or by some other wendigo’s claws. Josh hadn’t so much as blinked. Chris is proud of him for that, even if he’s not sure how to say it. So instead he lets Josh rub sharp fangs all over his throat, sleeps with his soft gut inches from Josh’s claws. I trust you spoken in silent words. You’re worthy of trust written in invisible letters.
Yeah, Chris thinks, watching Josh’s sleeping face drool all over the pillow. You got it bad, bro. You wanna go to the Bone Zone with the scary wendigo. It is, he thinks, kinda fucked up. But as far as fucked up things on this fucked up mountain go, maybe it’s not the worst.
Early morning realizations aside, it’s not like very much changes in their daily routine. Just little things. Chris eliminates the phrase “no homo” from his vocabulary, he makes sure to touch Josh whenever he can get away with it, makes more eye contact, remembers to tell Josh he’s an awesome hunter when the guy brings back food. That sort of thing. Josh starts giving him weird looks, which means Chris probably isn’t being very subtle, but he can’t really bring himself to care. Josh started it. It he doesn’t have the balls to finish, then that’s his problem.
Spring arrives, as it does. The velvet falls off Josh’s antlers, which is gory and also kind of frightening, when Chris emerges from the cabin one evening to find Josh bashing his bloodied horns against a tree. It’s not like Chris hasn’t read about velvet shedding, but watching YouTube videos is one thing, watching his best friend smash his head repeatedly into a solid object is quite another.
Still, things turn out okay in the end. Chris takes them into the bathroom, sitting on the toilet, Josh on the floor between his legs as Chris scrapes the velvet from his antlers with the long end of a wooden spoon he’s never using for cooking ever again. (No offense to Josh.)
Afterwards, Chris makes sure to compliment Josh on his “sweet rack,” voice serious even when Josh tries to turn it into a joke.
“I’m serious, bro,” Chris says. “I can feel all the wendibabes’ panties getting wet from here.” Which, okay. Goddamnit he is so bad at this, seriously.
Even Josh winces. “Not… really my plan, Cochise,” he says.
“Don’t worry, man,” Chris says. “Any ladygoes wanna lady-go you gotta get through me and my box of flares, first. Your virtue is safe.”
Josh twists his head back and forth, trying to get a decent look at his fresh-revealed antlers in the mirror. “You really think they… look okay?” Josh says. “It’s not, y’know. Too weird or whatever?” He’s putting on a good front, but Chris has known him long enough to hear the vulnerability stacked behind the words.
“Yeah, man,” he says. “I think they look great.”
Josh looks at himself for a moment longer, then he scoffs. “Fuck,” he says. “Probably just gonna get myself shot by some hunter asshole thinks I’m a goddamn deer.”
“Good thing you’re immune to bullets then, tough guy,” Chris says. “Besides, don’t your parents like own this entire mountain? Someone shoots you, just sue the shit outta them for trespassing. Boom. Problem solved.”
This earns him a jagged grin. “Yeah, man,” says Josh. “It’s the Washington way.” The next time he looks at himself in the mirror, he’s smiling.
“And, um. Extra wide doors and extra tall ceilings,” he says. “Just… trust me.”
There’s silence on the end of the line for a long time after that. Then Chris hears a sniff. “Chris? I… Thank you. For being there. For Josh. You… you’re such a good friend.” Her voice barely even breaks.
Chris looks over his shoulder, but it’s nearly midday and Josh is sound asleep back in the cabin. “I love him,” he says, and it’s like a punch in the gut and a weight off his heart, all at the same time.
“Oh, Chris…” says Melinda Washington, and this time her voice does break. When she can speak again, she says, “Thank you. Josh…” A big, shuddering pause. Then: “I’m so glad he has someone like you.”
“I’m glad I have someone like him,” Chris says. It’s probably the most sappy thing he’s ever said, and he means every single syllable.
Spring is mostly full of contractors. They arrive with the snow-melt, as promised, and set to work clearing the ruins of the burnt-out lodge, ready to rebuild its replacement. Supervising them is much more work than Chris anticipated, even if it’s no problem to clear them off the mountain well before the sun goes down.
Josh, for his part, does not like the interlopers in his territory. He doesn’t eat them, but he certainly gets more edgy after they arrive. Less cuddly, less talkative. It’s not helped by the fact that a new wendigo seems to show up on their doorstep every single night, antlers lowered and pawing at the dirt. Josh meets them, prong-for-prong, and Chris watches in fascination as his best friend spends night after night antler-fighting on the gravel outside their cabin.
Josh wins, for the most part easily. “Bro!” Chris tries to tell him the he comes back inside. “Bro, you totally wrecked that asshole!” But when he goes to touch Josh’s shoulders, Josh just hisses and pulls away.
It’s a trying couple of weeks, particularly given how well things had been going before.
Things aren’t helped by the fact that, once Josh is done butting heads with the other wendigo, he goes out to hunt. Successfully, because of course, and Chris is proud, he really is… except their freezers are overflowing and the meat shack is starting to reek from all the dismembered venison.
“I think we’ve got enough elk, bro,” Chris tries at one point.
This earns him a blood-clotted hiss, Josh crouching in the dirt, tearing into a liver with his razor teeth. “Don’t see you hunting,” he spits. His voice is barely there, as if forming words is an effort he can’t quite be bothered making.
“Don’t be like that,” Chris says. “You’re a great hunter. We’ve basically got enough to last us until winter. I just don’t wanna see this stuff go to waste.”
“Then don’t watch,” comes to reply. “Mountain. Reeks of others. So hungry. So…” Anything else is lost in a garble of blood and viscera.
Chris just sighs. “Whatever, bro,” he says. “You have fun with that.” He turns to go. If he hears something behind him that sounds like his name, he doesn’t turn. Probably just Josh, growling at his liver.
That night, Chris sleeps alone.
The next few weeks are shit. Chris barely sees Josh, just hears shrieks and the crash of horns outside his window all night while he’s trying to sleep. He’s trying to be understanding towards Josh’s new wendigo-issued needs, he really is. But it’s hard when every effort on his part is met with gnashing teeth and razor claws. Josh has never been aggressive towards him before, not even in those first few weeks, back when he’d been more wendigo than man. Chris doesn’t like the hissing and the growling he’s getting now, especially because he doesn’t know what he’s done to provoke it.
Things come to a head one night when Chris is lying in bed, unable to sleep and scowling at the ceiling for the inconvenience. Not that it’s the ceiling’s fault. No, it’s fucking Josh’s. Josh, who’s spent the entire night fighting with the other wendigo outside Chris’ window. Just hours upon hours and crashing and shrieking that sets Chris’ teeth on edge. This last fight in particular has been going for what seems like an eternity, and Chris is seriously considering going out there with a flamethrower. Just a little bit. Just to scare the others off.
He’s thinking this, in fact, when he hears the, “Fuck!”
The sound sends him lunching upright, heart pounding. “Josh?” he calls.
No answer, just more of the horrid wendigo shrieks from outside, the heavy sounds of something person-sized being thrown against the side of the cabin, over and over.
“Shit,” Chris says, to no one in particular. “Shit, shit, shit.”
And maybe he’s overreacting, maybe the sound indicates nothing, really. Just one human curse in an evening of monstrous howls. It doesn’t necessarily mean Josh is in trouble.
Thirty seconds later, it’s obvious Josh is definitely in trouble. He’s hanging off the other wendigo’s antler like a cheap cardigan on a coat rack, spurs of bone soaked in blood and protruding from his back. The wendigo that has him is throwing him around like a ragdoll, slamming him against the side of the cabin, hence the noise.
Chris doesn’t even think, just grabs the super soaker and a flare from their spot beside the door, throwing the switch that sends the floodlights outside the cabin blaring as bright as day.
Both Josh and the wendigo hiss at the brightness, and Chris doesn’t waste any time, uncapping one of the flares and striking the end into ignition.
“You put him down you asshole or so help me I’ll fucking burn your ugly skin off!” Chris screams at the hissing wendigo, fire brandished in front of him.
While the wendigo is distracted, Josh takes his opportunity, kicking it in the face even as he uses that as leverage to push himself off the thing’s antlers. He goes crashing to the ground with a cry, rolling towards the cabin even as the wendigo stumbles backwards from the same. Chris gets himself into the gap, flare in one hand, super soaker in the other. He can see Josh’s blood dripping off the monster’s antler—can smell Josh’s blood—and it makes him mad.
When he fires the super soaker, the thick reek of gasoline fills the air. The wendigo hisses and stumbles backwards as its skin is drenched.
“Fuck you, asshole!” Chris shouts. Then he throws the flare.
He’s a good shot but, then again, he always was.
A second later, the air is filled with the agonized howls and acrid stench of burning wendigo. Not enough to kill the damn thing, just enough to send it scampering back into the woods, rolling desperately in the dirt in an attempt to douse the flames. Chris doesn’t stick around to watch it roast, just tosses the super soaker aside and kicks dirt over the flare to put it out. Then he turns to Josh.
Josh who, also a wendigo, is curled in a whimpering ball against the cabin wall. When Chris’ hand closes around his forearm, he hisses, white eyes blind above a gaping maw.
“Bro, it’s me,” Chris says. “C’mon, let’s get you inside.” It takes a moment, but Josh allows himself to be hauled to his feet, eyes slammed shut and limbs trembling as Chris all-but carries him inside.
Once there, Chris dumps him on the sofa, then throws the bolts on the door. He leaves the exterior lights on, just in case, but races around and draws all the curtains and closes all the shutters, getting the inside of the cabin as dark as he can manage. Then he goes and gets some tape and gauze and tweezers from the cabinet above the bathroom sink.
Josh is still making strange little keening noises when Chris walks back into the den. He's curled up with his knees under his chin, rocking back and forth, eyes bright silver coins in the gloom. Chris sits next to him, then gently urges him to uncurl.
"C'mon, bro," he says. "Let's slap some bandages on that mess." It's not like Josh is going to bleed to death, but Chris feels it's the principle of the thing.
Josh does, in fact, allow himself to be manhandled, watching Chris with alien eyes, weird little chirpy clicky whines coming from the back of his throat. Chris has no idea what's going on in his addled little monster brain, so decides not to let it get to him. Instead, he gently works the buttons on Josh's blood-soaked flannel, pushing it down off too-thin shoulders.
Josh's chest is a mess of already-greening bruises and the harsh lines of his ribs, expanding and contracting with his erratic breathing. Afraid maybe, or in pain. Some huge well of emotion, trapped behind tooth and bone.
There are three big puncture wounds running up Josh's left side, between the tight pink nub of his nipple and the brutal precipice of his collarbone. Two of the wounds go all the way through. From the placement of the third, Chris is almost certain it hit the heart.
"Fuck, bro," he says. "You're lucky you're a tough S.O.B." If Josh were human, he'd be dead.
But Josh isn't, so he's not, and his wounds are already healing. Chris cleans them anyway, picking stray bits of flannel from the holes, wiping away the drying blood, laying down tape and gauze. As he works, he feels some strange significance to the motions, some pressure building up behind his heart. Josh might be a nigh-invincible inhuman monster who can shrug off a bone through the heart, but that doesn't mean he should be left to lick his wounds alone.
"There." Chris smooths down the last piece of tape. "Check out these sick first aid skills."
Josh does not do this. Instead, he leans forward, pressing his teeth against Chris' throat. When he exhales, it tickles, and Chris laughs, bringing his arms up around Josh's shoulders. "Yeah, bro," he says. "Tooth kisses to you to." He gets an idea and, pushing Josh back, leans forward to return the gesture. It doesn't work as well as when Josh does it—Chris' teeth aren't big enough, for one—but he feels Josh go rigidly still beneath him at the attempt. It only lasts a moment, then Josh lets out a long, shuddering whine, his claws coming up against Chris' shoulders, not quite gripping.
Then he's leaning back. Not like he trying to get away, exactly. More like he's… languishing. Neck arched and bared, eyes half-lidded. It is not, Chris thinks, a subtle invitation.
"Oh, man," he says. Barely a breath, drowned by the hammer of his raging heart.
Chris' lips are dry when his tongue runs across them. Then he's leaning forward. This is it, bro, his brain supplies. Defeat the boss and enter the Bone Zone.
The right side of Josh's mouth is more human than the left. The teeth are smaller and the lips close over them, so that's where Chris angles his kiss. Josh tastes like toothpaste and wendigo, all snow and musk. Chris licks at chapped lips then, when they part, just a little, across the surface of jagged teeth. It's weird, but it's Josh—it's kissing Josh—and that makes it perfect.
Chris moans, just a little, but the sound is apparently enough to snap Josh out of whatever weird wendigo-induced trance he's fallen into. He jerks upright, claws clasped around Chris' shoulders, holding him back. "Stop," Josh manages, voice choked between ragged breaths, and when he looks at Chris his eyes are wide and green and panicked. "Don't," he says again, too-long tongue retracing the ghost of Chris'. "I… You shouldn't. Do that."
"I want to," Chris says, because he does.
Josh closes his eyes like he's in agony, a weird keening trill rising from his throat. "It's… I've been trying," he says. "So hard. Not to… not to…"
"Eat me?" Chris tries.
But Josh just barks laughter, dark and terrible. "I've never wanted to eat you, Cochise," he says. "That's never… that's never been the problem."
"Okay," says Chris. "So…?"
Josh looks at him like he's grown an extra head; not impossible, given the way the last year of Chris' life has gone, but, no. Still only the one attached to his neck.
"Fuck," Josh eventually announces. He drops Chris' shoulders, turns himself so he's sitting the right way on the sofa. The he's hunching over, claws coming up to grasp his own shoulders, rocking himself back and forth to the time of, "Fuck. Fuck, no homo. No fucking homo."
And, yeah. Okay. They're both such a mess. No fucking homo indeed.
Chris shifts closer, hand stroking down the knobs of Josh's spine. The skin beneath his fingers is cool and smooth and firm. Not human skin. Josh-skin. "Think it's a bit late for 'no homo', bro," Chris says.
"Fuck," Josh says again. "This is so fucked up. I…" He swallows, heavy enough for Chris to feel the muscles in his neck move. "I used to…" Josh starts. "When we were kids, I mean. I wanted… And you…"
"Yeah," Chris says. "I know."
"Why… why now?"
"I fought monsters for you," Chris says. "Kinda makes you reassess your life a little. What's important, y'know?" You're important, Chris thinks. Hopefully loud enough for Josh to hear.
"I thought… After what happened, I mean. And you came back, and… and you stayed. Even though I…" Josh is crying, Chris thinks. Or is giving everything not to. "It's worse, you know? Than just the hunger, I mean. That… that I can't give in to. Not since you… But this? I keep thinking… maybe it'll be okay. Just… just a little bit. I can be careful, so careful I…" Another anguished not-quite howl, and Josh crumples in on himself, rocking and sobbing.
Chris curls over his back. He doesn't know what to say, so settles on being, instead. Just being. He thinks he can manage that.
Eventually, Josh's sobs turn into something else; big log inhalations, like he's smelling something amazing. Apparently, that's Chris: "You smell so good." Josh gives an awful, hiccoughing not-laugh. "How fucked up is that?"
"Not very," Chris says. "In the scheme of things." He decides to return the favor, burying his nose against Josh's neck and breathing in. "You don't smell too bad yourself." Honestly? Josh smells like wendigo, which is to say cold caves and metallic blood. It's not a human smell, but it's not awful, either.
Josh makes a hissing sound. "Fucking liar," he says. "I know what I smell like."
"Naw, bro. I don't think you do." Chris gives Josh's neck an exaggerated sniff. "Smells like mopey rich boy," he tries.
The other wendigo reek like rotting death, but that's because they don't bathe and brush and floss a million times a day like Josh does. God, Josh goes through so much floss. One day, Chris is totally gonna tease the shit outta Josh about the amount of goddamn floss he uses.
One day. Not today.
"'S probably… probably pheromones or some fucking shit," Josh says.
Chris has to laugh. "What, you think you're seducing me with your wendigo sex perfume? Hypnotizing me all the way to the Bone Zone?"
It's a joke, but Josh flinches. "Why the fuck else would you…" He waves a hand, gesturing at himself and at Chris and the world in general.
"Your fat Washington family fortune, obviously," Chris says. "Plus, kinda cold and lonely up in this cabin, you know. And the wendigo girls just don't put out."
"Fuck you, Chris." But there isn't any heat in it.
"Seriously, bro," Chris says. "I fucking love you, you knife-toothed jackass. Why else do you think I'm here?" And there. Now he's said it.
"Fuck," Josh rubs a claw against his forehead. "This is so fucked up. You know it's fucking wendigo fucking mating season, right?"
"Yeah, man. Figured that out when you started growing horns and fighting every fucking wendibro in sight."
"Why do fucking wendigo have a fucking mating season?"
"Don't ask me. Life's just fucked like that, I guess."
A pause, then: "I am so fucking horny."
Chris laughs, tilting his head to start laying a line of kisses across Josh's bruised and bony shoulders. "Take a hint, bro," he says. He feels the skin beneath him tremble, not in a bad way.
"You don't… you don't have to—"
"Dude, c'mon. Can we dial down the pity party a little? You're a horny monster in the middle of rut, I get it. I'm here for it. Honestly, it's kinda doing it for me. But I don't wanna have write a ten thousand fucking word essay about it, y'know?" Thinking about Josh growling and rutting himself all over Chris' naked body, lost on some animal high? Yeah, kinda hot. Talking through his feelings re. this apparent new fetish? Total boner-killer.
"Fuck," says Josh again, but he uncurls. Sits up and turns to look at Chris. His eyes flick down to Chris' lips, his mouth parts, he leans forward, then: "I can't even fucking kiss you."
Maybe not, but Chris sure as shit can kiss him. So he does, closing the small space between them.
It's not the sort of kiss he'd give a girl, a human girl. It's the sort of kiss he has just for Josh; more licking tongue than caress of lips. Josh's lips part and his eyes fall shut, a keen vying for space with a purr at the back of his throat. His tongue flicks against Chris', but otherwise he really can't do much to reciprocate. Not without making a huge mess of Chris' face, and the thought of that? The thought of how much Josh has to hold back, how much damage he could do and how passive he has to be in order not to?
"Fuck. Fuck that's hot." Before Josh can question it, Chris stumbles upright, hauling Josh up with him. "Bed," he announces. Maybe it's stupid and romantic of him, but he suddenly doesn't want to be doing this all squashed up on the ratty sofa.
When they get to the bedroom, Chris pushes Josh back down onto the mattress. Not gently, but Josh goes without complaint. His eyes keep silvering over and he keeps blinking the film back. Like his body wants to go one way, but his mind wants to go another. Wants to see Chris, maybe, in details and not just movement. Josh is certainly staring at his face like he expects it to fall off at any moment.
Chris' face doesn't fall off, but his shirt does. Then his glasses, clattering to the bedside table. Then Chris is on the bed, bare chest rubbing against bare chest, hands following the smooth planes of muscle and bone. It's not like he's never touched Josh without a shirt on before. But it's different when he doesn't have to pretend it's anything but what it is.
They kiss again, weird and careful. Chris says, "I fucking love your teeth." It earns him a keen, Josh purring like he's about to launch into space. Chris loves that, too, so decides to say so. "And the fucking sounds you make. God. So hot." He rolls Josh over, climbs on top of him, rubs against one hard, skinny thigh. Offers his own in turn. It doesn't take long, heat racing to his dick, getting it swollen and stiff. Josh is already there, from the feel of it; head thrown back as far as his antlers will allow, hips bucking, and Chris has no idea how to do this, not really, but he’s certainly going to give it a good old fashioned try.
Josh’s claws are fluttering in the air, ghosting over Chris’ back and never quite touching him. Josh is so, so frightened he’ll hurt Chris, that much is obvious. He’s a monster built for murder, not pleasure, and damned if Chris isn’t going to fuck him till he screams.
“Fuck, you’re so hot,” Chris says, in between working his mouth across Josh’s jaw and down his throat. “Used to… used to dream of this when we were kids, man. Stealing bases with Josh fucking Washington. Couldn’t believe you’d give a loser like me the time of day.”
Josh is making choked sounds like he’s trying to talk, but he doesn’t seem to be able to do it and make the keens and trills and purrs at the same time. Chris groans at the thought of it, biting down against the slow, cold pulse of Josh’s jugular. Bites hard, too, because it’s not like his blunt little human teeth can do shit to wendigo skin.
Josh really likes having his throat bit, judging from the noises he’s making and the way his hips buck and his body thrashes. Chris works the pale skin, licking and sucking and biting. “Still owe you a fucking hickey from years ago,” he says.
The sound Josh makes in return is nothing close to human.
While Chris’ mouth is working one end, his hands go roaming down the other. He palms across the front of Josh’s jeans. Yup, definitely a dick in there, and definitely hard. He gives a squeeze, and, yup. That’s a howl, albeit a little one.
“This mating season thing,” Chris says. “Got you so worked up, hasn’t it? Reckon I could do just about anything to you and you’d howl for more.” Josh does not offer a dissenting opinion, so Chris bites down on his nipple. “Such an easy fuck. I love it.” He pops the button on Josh’s jeans, lowers the fly.
Josh doesn’t wear shoes or socks, because they don’t fit well over his crazy wendigo claw-feet. That makes getting his jeans off easy. Chris dumps them on the floor, then makes the mistake of looking back towards the bed.
The sight has his hand racing to grab his own dick, hard, lest he cum from sight alone. The sight of Josh, naked and arching, claws fisted in the sheets, big cock jutting up and leaving damp smears across his belly. Chris must stare too long because Josh whimpers, and when he looks up there’s nothing human in his silver eyes at all, just raw and animal lust.
Lust and panic, scanning the room, sniffing the air in big hungry gulps, keening and whining like, well. Like a wendigo in rut, apparently, and, shit.
“I’m here. I’m still here.” Chris moves, and Josh’s eyes focus then fall closed, relieved he hasn’t been abandoned.
While he’s standing, Chris kicks off his own sweats, then all-but jumps back onto the bed. He covers Josh’s body with his own, wraps his hands around both their dicks and pumps.
Fuck. Maybe Josh was right about the pheromones thing, because right now? Right now he’s smelling good, and if Chris is feeling a little light-headed, who’s to say whether or not that’s the fact all his blood is is in his cock, or due to some kind of wendigo sex curse.
“I wanna… I wanna fuck you,” he says. Not the most eloquent pick-up line he’s ever uttered, but whatever. It works, judging from Josh’s yowl. Chris uncurls his hands, lifts himself up just enough that he’s no longer rubbing all over Josh. This, Josh does not like, judging from the sounds he makes and the way his body lifts up, trying to regain contact. “Fuck,” Chris says. “Just hold up. If… I’m gonna cum, if we keep going.” Another desperate keeny whine from Josh, so: “Yeah, bro. I know, but I wanna come in you, not all over you.” Actually, he wants to do both, frequently, but right now he’s prioritizing.
So is Josh, apparently. He’s too horny to try and fake human with his movements, which is why one moment he’s on his back, and the next he’s flipped over, up on his knees and offering his ass to Chris.
“Oh, fuck, bro,” says Chris. “Fuck yeah.” He grabs himself some sweet pale globes of wendigo ass, massaging and spreading. Josh is into it, way into it; pushing backwards, spreading his knees even further apart. “You’re a fucking animal, man,” Chris says. “I fucking love it.” He gives Josh’s ass a slap, then another when the first gets him a exceptional sound. “You like that, huh?” he says, one hand fisting his dick, one hand working firm and pale flesh. “Could probably tie you to the bed post and beat you all fucking night and you’d come from that alone, right? Kinky masochistic motherfucker.”
Plans for another time, though. Definitely another time. For tonight, Chris gives one more slap, as hard as he can manage, then leans forward to rummage in the nightstand. There’s lube there, and some rubbers, leftover from his previous girlfriend Rosy Palms. He grabs both, chucks the condoms on the bed, and pops the cap of the lube.
“Fuck, man,” he says. “I’ve never done this before, okay? Just, like, read about it on the internet. I dunno if you give a shit right now, but if it hurts or you want me to stop you fucking tell me, alright?” Then, when all he gets from this is more keening and an ass pushed up against his balls. “Josh, fuck. I’m not kidding around. Tell me if you want me to stop, okay?”
The word comes back in his own fucking voice, which… holy shit, yeah. Right. Wendigo are fucking mimics. Fuck.
“Fuck.” He has to laugh, is startled into it. “Okay. Yeah. Good boy.” Another hard slap, followed by a soft caress. Then a kiss which, yeah. Josh is super into.
The smell of Josh is stronger here, which Chris has to admit he’s super into, and so what if he’s never going to be able to look at a wendigo the same way again? As long as that wendigo is Josh, he can die happy, wrapped up in that crazy smell. The smell which gets stronger, the closer Chris’ nose gets to the crack of Josh’s ass and, oh what the hey. He’s already fucking a cursed cannibal monster, so it’s not like he’s gonna go to even more hell if he licks a big fucking stripe right across said monster’s twitchy little asshole.
“Fuck you taste good.”
Better than any asshole has any right to taste, really, and… fuck. Assholes. Who wouldn’t thought? Not Chris, not while he uses both hands to spread the cheeks of Josh’s ass, tongue lapping against the pulsing ring of muscle. Lapping over puckered flesh, over and over and in and, oh yeah. Oh yeah that’s so fucking amazing. Pheromones, definitely pheromones, and his tongue is fucking tingling from the feel.
Josh is way wetter here than any human would be, getting more so the more Chris works his mouth against the twitching hole. It’s so fucking sinful and so fucking dirty and he loves it, every goddamn minute of it, just gets lost in the feel and in the taste, in the sound of Josh’s pathetic, animal whimpering.
If it wasn’t for the fact Chris’ dick feels like it’s about to explode, he thinks he could eat Josh out forever and die happy doing it. As it happens, Chris’ dick does feel one sharp jolt away from bursting, and he’d really prefer that happen inside Josh’s tasty little asshole if it’s gonna happen anywhere, so…
So Chris pulls back, breath heaving, thumb pushing into the little ring of muscle to make up for the absence of his tongue. “You like that?” he asks. “Like the feel of my tongue in your ass, you ripe little doe? Got a dick here I can use instead, think you’d like that more? Rut you like a goddamn animal, fill you up with my cum, make sure every monster on this mountain knows you’re mine. Think you’d fucking like that, huh?”
“Like that,” comes Chris’ voice, echoed back at him through Josh’s vocal chords.
“Good boy.” Another slap to that skinny little ass.
Then Chris is uncapping the lube, spreading it out across his fingers. He doesn’t know how to do this, not really, but Josh is so far gone and so goddamn invulnerable Chris hopes it doesn’t matter. Not when he slicks two fingers and jams them right into Josh’s hole.
Josh howls again, pushing his hips back against the invasion. Chris moves his fingers around, scissors them open and shut. Josh takes everything, smooth and easy and keening.
“You like that?” Chris says. “You want fucking more?”
“More,” comes the echo. Chris obliges, pulling his fingers out before adding a third. He can get a good stretch going with three, and does so, his free hand fisting his own cock as he catches glimpses of the wet red tunnel inside Josh’s body. He’s pretty sure Josh is just as invulnerable inside as he is out, which means he probably won’t tear. So, really, this is just for Chris’ fascination. And fascinated he is.
“God,” he says. “Reckon you could take a fucking fire hydrant up there, yeah? Fuck.” When they’re done here, Chris is gonna grab his laptop, find some websites, and he’s gonna get creative with Josh’s credit card. Oh yes. But for now? For now he’s going to stretch his fingers as wide as they’ll go.
Then he’s going to slam his cock into the space.
It. Is. So. Good.
Tight and slick, cool and wet. Chris throws his head back, groaning. It’s only a moment, because then his hips are moving, jerking back and forward without any conscious input from his brain. They’re where they want to be and know how they want to be there, and all Chris can really do is grab onto Josh’s hips and run with it.
He doesn’t bother being gentle, and neither does Josh; howling and shredding the bedding with his scrabbling claws. Chris fucks Josh like he deserves, fast and brutal, animal and real, and Josh loves every frenzied second. He meets Chris, thrust for thrust, hips working and asshole clenching so fast he may as well be sucking. Making up for the blow job he can never give with his mouth, maybe, and if that’s the case, then Chris isn’t going to complain. Doesn’t complain loudly, in fact; his own moans mingling with Josh’s inhuman cries. It’s so good, so fucking good, and when he feels the heat coil in his gut his hand darts out, reaching around Josh’s hip and grabbing his neglected cock. It feels huge and hard and throbbing against Chris’ palm, and he pumps it. Once, twice. Five times. Then he feels Josh still beneath him, feels the little ring of muscle clench so hard around his cock Chris thinks he just might die.
He doesn’t die, but he does cum. He cums, and Josh cums, and they both howl their pleasure to the mountain.
Afterwards, Chris learns Josh is a cuddler, because of course he is. So is Chris. Maybe. Just a little bit. Especially in this tangle of limbs beneath the sheets, stinking of sex and Josh’s distinctive musk.
“Fuck,” says Chris. “Holy fuck.” Every single inch of him feels like it’s buried beneath a foot of warm, fine sand. In the good way. Josh’s teeth are smooth and cool against his throat, one of Chris’ hands cupped around Josh’s ass, the other massaging the root of one big antler.
“You… you talk dirty, Cochise.” They’re the first coherent words Josh has said in an hour. They also make a weird warmth bloom beneath Chris’ stomach. Love, not lust. Though it could be that, too. Once he’s had time to recover.
“Are you complaining?” Honestly, Chris is trying not to remember the things he said. He hadn’t considered himself a dirty talker but, then again, he hadn’t considered himself a slut for monster boys, either. Something new every day, and all that.
“Nope,” says Josh.
“Sweet,” is about as articular as Chris can manage. By the way Josh curls closer, purrs louder, rubs his teeth against Chris’ jugular, he figures his message has been received.
“Yeah,” says Josh. Its not I love you, but Chris thinks it’ll do. For now.
They lie in blissful afterglow for a while, cocooned in the warm and dark of their shitty little cabin. It occurs to Chris, in that moment, that there’s nowhere else he’d rather be. He sends a message of pity out to all the multiverse’s other Chrises, the ones not lucky enough to have ended up in the same place as him. Sorry you couldn’t make it. Wendigo!Josh is the greatest fuck you’ll never have. I’ll make sure to ream him once for each of you that couldn’t be here. The multiverse is infinite, so Chris figures that’s a lot of reaming. He figures he can manage it.
“You’re grinning,” says Josh. When Chris opens his eyes, he finds a green gaze locked with his.
“Got a lot to grin about,” he says.
“Hm,” says Josh. “You want some more on top of that?”
Chris’ brows raise. “Oh?”
“Well,” Josh says, “you know. This is rutting season.”
“So, y’know. Whenever you’re ready.” Josh’s eyes gleam, wicked and sinful in the dark. “We can totally go again.”
“Oh,” says Chris. “God, yes.”
When Josh grins, the dim light glints against his jagged teeth. “You know what they say about wendigo. Once we’ve got our prey, we like to draw things out. For as long. As. We. Can.” Punctuated by a too-long tongue, tracing the shell of Chris’ ear.
Chris shudders, the feeling starting at his head and reaching to his toes. “Oh,” he says. “Fuck, yeah.”
It’s all the permission Josh needs.