"Let not even one of the clearly struck hammers of my heart fail to sound because of a slack, a doubtful, or a broken string...let my hidden weeping arise and blossom." --Rainer Rilke
Oz stared out the window at the barely-visible moon. His feet were tucked under him and he was leaning heavily against the edge of the blue corduroy couch. There were dark circles under his eyes and something else dark, a shadow maybe, on his cheek. Alexa had brought him by, shoved Oz into Christian's chest with a glare. Alexa upset was nothing to mess around with. Alexa protective and upset would make anyone, alpha wolves included, shut up and do what she said.
Christian frowned across the room at Oz. The smaller man hadn't said a word since Alexa had left. Hadn't really said a word before she had left either, just made a small sound that turned Alexa around for a moment. She hadn't said anything either, just frowned at Christian like he was to blame.
Maybe he was.
Christian sat on the couch next to Oz. "Wanna talk?"
Oz shook his head. As he turned, the light played full on his cheek and Christian growled. Not a shadow. Not ink, not dye, not nail polish. Not dirt.
Christian reached up, caught Oz's chin gently and turned his head. A bruise, then. Faint and already healing, but still there. Christian touched it lightly, fingertips barely grazing the skin and Oz jerked away, looking at him warily. "Don't."
Christian held out his hands slowly. "I won't." His voice was soft, pitched low.
They sat on the couch staring at each other. Oz looked away first, turning his head away and looking out the window. "I hate myself sometimes." He turned and looked at Christian. "I hate that there's this big, dark thing inside of myself that I can't get rid of. I hate that sometimes I don't want to."
Christian thought about reaching out, touching him, stroking the short hair at the nape of Oz's neck. He curled his fingers into the smooth worn denim of his jeans and looked down at the couch. The urge to touch Oz, to pull him close and wrap himself up in the scent and feel and taste of Oz, was almost overwhelming.
Christian closed his eyes and moved back. "Don't hate yourself."
"Is that an order?"
Christian looked at Oz calmly. "You can make it one, if you want."
Oz didn't frown, really. But there was a faint, troubled line between his eyebrows and the set of his mouth was...tense. Christian reached over and smoothed out the crease with his thumb, slid his fingers down until he covered the bruise -- fading still from blue-purple to green and finally to a sickly yellow. Oz reached up, fingers curling around Christian's wrist. "I thought you said you wouldn't."
"I don't understand you, Chris."
"What's there to understand?"
Oz tilted his head. "Why are you so..." He shrugged and looked away. "Never mind. It doesn't matter."
"Pushy?" asked Christian.
Oz smiled faintly. "Really."
"Oh yeah. I feel the need to push my rather questionable masculinity onto others in an attempt to define my role in society." Christian grinned lazily at Oz. "I went to a therapist for a while."
Christian shrugged. "I got bored."
One side of Oz's mouth quirked up. "You're making fun of me."
"I make fun of everyone, babe." He leaned forward and closed his eyes, brushing his lips lightly across Oz's. "Gonna let me go?"
"Want me to?"
Oz looked at him for a long moment. Then he slowly released Christian's wrist, moving his hand to touch the silver earrings Christian wore. "I took mine out."
"Yeah. Like an allergy." Oz tugged on one lightly. "Don't they hurt?"
Christian only smiled. "Yeah. But the good kind. Like the nights I...we change." He stretched fully, arching his back, deliberately tensing and relaxing each muscle.
Oz tilted his head, staring at him quizzically. "It...I..." He sighed. "It hurts."
"Ah. Muscles and bones where they shouldn't be." Christian nodded. "Hearing so sharp that it makes you ache. Slow, hard burn in your stomach, on your skin until you feel like you're gonna burst." He paused, then added cheerfully, "It's like sex."
"I don't agree with you."
"Shock. You fight it hard. So does 'Lexa." He shrugged. "Let go one time and just change. It's a rush."
Christian sat up, his hair falling forward and hiding most of his face. "I can show you," he said softly, his voice low, somewhere between a purr and a growl.
"The full moon isn't for another couple of weeks."
"I'm alpha, babe. I don't need the full moon." He rolled forward, up onto his hands and knees, stalking towards Oz in one long, sinuous motion. Christian nuzzled the skin of Oz's neck, biting lightly. "And you'll heal."
"I'm bored, Oz. Indulge me."
Oz snorted. "I think way too many people spend way too much time indulging you."
"That's not a no."
"You are such a pain in the ass."
"Well..." Christian smiled faintly. "I won't let you go all the way. Trust me."
"Said the spider to the fly."
Christian bit again, a bare scrape of teeth against the skin of Oz's throat.
Oz shivered, reaching up to grab at Christian's arm. "Christian...why?"
"Because I want to," he said simply. He sat back slowly, brushing his hair back and looking, really looking, at Oz. "Because I can."
Oz looked away, rubbing his forehead tiredly.
Christian stood slowly, hips canted to one side and arms wrapped around himself. He stared at Oz silently and nodded once, walking into the bedroom. The door shut behind him with a soft click. He sat, his back sliding down the wall until he huddled on the ground.
On the other side, Oz stood and made his way to the door. He pressed his hands against the painted wood and sighed.
Christian heard him go, and he let his head drop against his folded arms. He was tired. And when Alexa came back, he didn't say anything; he just curled himself around her, his head resting on her stomach.
She touched his hair lightly, stroking it back from his forehead. He turned his head, rubbing his cheek against her and breathing deeply. A shudder spilled down his body like water.
"I can't protect him, Alexa."