“Nothing a big bad hunter can’t handle, huh?”
Eric’s search doesn’t last long. Adam’s in the living room, lounging on the couch while the TV plays some old movie. He looks up at Eric’s approach, not even bothering to try and hide the obvious rake of eyes up his human boy’s towel-clad body.
“So, what now?” Eric asks awkwardly. “I just hang around like this ‘til the laundry’s done?”
“I’ve got no objections.” Adam grins.
“Of course you don’t.” An eye-roll accompanies the reply.
Adam asks, “Feel better?”
It takes Eric a second to realize he’s referring to the numbing cream, but when he does the blush is immediate. “It’s weird, but better. I guess.”
“Sorry again about that,” Adam says. “I really didn’t mean to tear you up that bad.”
Badly, Eric mentally corrects, but out loud says, “It’s okay. I’ll live.”
“Nothing a big bad hunter can’t handle, huh?”
“Something like that.”
Adam waves him over. “You don’t have to stand there, I won’t touch you. Pinky swear.”
Eric rolls his eyes again, but goes over to join Adam on the couch. As he sits he takes care to keep everything important covered with the towel. Just in case.
“Sorry if I get the couch wet,” he says.
“No big.” Adam shrugs.
They watch the old movie in silence for awhile, though ‘watch’ is probably too strong a term. Eric can’t even say what the characters’ names are. His heart is beating fast, his hands clench and unclench automatically, and it’s all he can do to keep his leg from bouncing up and down. He knows he’s sitting there with the scent of Adam’s body wash all over him, and he keeps waiting for it to make Adam ‘crazy horny.’
Adam stiffens, and for a moment Eric thinks his time has come. But then Adam reaches for the remote and snaps the movie off.
“What’s up?” Eric asks.
“The woods are going silent,” Adam says.
Surprised, Eric looks towards the line of trees visible out the cabin’s large windows. “You can hear that far?”
Adam shushes him. Getting up, he wanders to the door, obviously staring intensely through the glass to the forest beyond.
“Something’s out there,” he murmurs.
Feeling ridiculous in his towel, Eric stands. “You have any weapons?”
“Just a flare gun in my closet,” Adam says absently, eyes still on the trees.
“That’s…not ideal,” Eric says.
“Hush!” Adam insists.
Everything happens at once. An almighty crash rings out behind them, the singular sound of splintering glass. An unimaginably large black wolf bounds in from the kitchen, leaping towards Adam before he can complete his own change. He’s still human when the black wolf’s teeth sink into his shoulder.
Eric leaps backwards to avoid them, vaulting behind the couch.
They go down. A trickle of blood sprays the air as the two roll across the floor, white fur finally flowing across Adam’s body. Even with the new, bulkier form the white wolf can’t seem to find purchase against the black. It won’t release its grip on Adam’s shoulder, closes its mouth far too close to his neck and shakes.
Eric doesn’t stay to watch any more. His towel falls from his waist as he races down the hall to Adam’s bedroom. He flings the door open, and it bangs against the wall like a gunshot. The closet doors are the kind on rollers. Eric simply grips the sides and rips them off the rails rather than fight with them, tossing them aside. A single moment of indecision freezes him. Then he drops to his knees, rummaging through the bottom of Adam’s closet. Shoes, photo albums, nothing else.
Cursing himself he jolts to his feet, frantically searching the top shelf. His hand strikes something heavy and he drags out a small metal suitcase, the kind perfect for keeping a gun. He’s found it, but his relief is short-lived.
“Jesus shit!” Eric bellows when he sees the golden padlock through the case’s opening.
He rolls across the bed, throwing open every drawer in the small nightstand next to it. There’s no keys in any of them.
“Goddamn it!” he screams.
Whirling around, Eric lunges across the room towards Adam’s dresser. He rips the top drawer out, nearly dropping it on his feet. He crouches, tossing aside socks and silk boxers. In the corner of the drawer a single piece of duct tape stretches across a hopeful bulge. Clawing at the tape maniacally, Eric finally catches the corner of it under his nails and rips it out. A small golden key is stuck to the inside.
Please, please, please, Eric prays as he catches the handle of the case and drags it towards him. Forcing his hands to slow, Eric summons his stillness, fits key to lock and turns. The padlock pops open, and Eric almost breaks a hinge getting it off.
Inside the case is a typical flare gun, 12 gauge and orange. Having had emergency training since he could walk, Eric’s held a thousand small pistols just like this. He snatches it up, loads its one shot, and races back to the living room.
Things have improved for Adam, but only barely. He’s out from under the black wolf, crouched a few feet away, huge teeth bared. His attacker is in a similar pose, snout split in a snarl. Eric had thought Adam’s wolf the biggest thing he’d ever seen, but side-by-side the black wolf is even more monstrous. Its claws click against the floor as it gathers itself, preparing to leap.
With no hesitation, Eric takes only a split-second to aim, raise the flare, and fire.
Somehow, impossibly, the black wolf senses the speeding projectile coming. Its body turns to the side, and the fireball only brushes across its back. It keeps going, breaks through the glass of the door, and sails out into the snow. But a flare can burn up to three thousand degrees, and even that short touch is enough. Fur on the black wolf’s back ignites, and its howl seems entirely too human.
The sound chills Eric to the bone, even through his hunter’s calm.
Still making that god-awful sound, the black wolf manages to find its footing and bounds out the broken door. Adam looks up at Eric for just a moment, studying him with those golden eyes. Then he tears across the floor, leaping over the glass to land outside. He runs like magic across the snow.
“Adam, wait!” Eric calls. “You’re hurt! Adam!”
He tries to move to the door, but he’s still naked and barefoot and there’s glass everywhere. It doesn’t matter. Adam’s already gone.