Read and comment on Griffin on Ao3

Author’s notes:

Chapters 1-4 of this fic take place in Griffin & Scott’s childhood. Slow burn, y’all.

Content warning: sudden off-screen death of a neglectful/abusive parent.
Also this fic contains loving, consensual monster sex. If that is not your thing, you can skip those parts of chapters 11 and 12, I have marked them for you. There is also some human smut.

Go directly to:

1

Scott met Griffin on a hot summer’s day on the playground of the elementary school.

Griffin was not supposed to be there, Scott learned later. Griffin had a backyard with trees he could climb, surrounded by a tall wooden fence which he was not supposed to climb. But Griffin had claws that sunk easily into the wood, and a curious spirit. 

Griffin lived by the woods on the edge of the elementary school. Most kids were told to stay away from the woods. Griffin was told to stay away from the school. Griffin’s dad didn’t want him meeting other kids. He was afraid they would realize that Griffin was— weird.

When Scott first saw Griffin, he didn’t automatically assume he wasn’t weird. You could never tell with new kids, and there were lots of ways to be weird. Griffin seemed cool enough joining Scott and his friends on the swings, but Scott knew a girl who didn’t like M&M’s, and a boy who wasn’t allowed to watch TV on Saturday mornings, so he reserved judgment at first.

Scott did have some trouble believing Griffin was eight, the same age as himself. Griffin was really small. But he did look older than the kindergarteners, because you could see his neck. His hair was white-blond and he had a lot of freckles.

The weird showed itself eventually. Griffin didn’t know how to play tag.

“Do you not know how to run?” a kid named Jett asked, laughing. 

“I can run,” Griffin insisted, his pale face turning a blotchy red.

“Fine, then. Prove it. You’re it!”

Scott’s friends dashed off, and Griffin stood there, bewildered.

“You have to chase us and tag us,” Scott said. “You know, with your hand. Then whoever you catch has to be it. And you gotta say no tag-backs!” 

“No tag-backs,” Griffin repeated.

“No, not yet. When you tag somebody.”

“Oh.”

Scott was bouncing on his heels with the urge to run, and he gave into it as Griffin started to move. At first Griffin just jogged a bit, clearly not sure who to chase, but then he took off after Jett. And he caught Jett, just a couple of seconds later. 

Now, Jett was fast. He had long legs that swung kind of strangely from his hips when he ran, but they gave him speed. The new kid was faster. He might have been the size of a six-year-old, but he didn’t move like one. His whole body seemed to work together perfectly as he ran.

“No tag-backs!” Griffin announced triumphantly.

“Holy crap,” Scott said, which was something the other kids were not allowed to say, so he said it as much as possible. His parents didn’t really pay attention to that stuff.

Griffin turned out to be faster than all of them. But it was definitely the first game of tag the kid had ever played. He didn’t know about bases where you were safe. He didn’t know you couldn’t climb on the monkey bars to get away. (But holy crap could that kid climb fast too.) 

After a while, the other kids had to go home for lunch. Scott wasn’t in any hurry to go home, so he and Griffin ended up on the swings on their stomachs, gliding back and forth.

“What school do you go to?” Scott asked, trailing his fingers in the sand below them, making lines and crossing them.

“I don’t. My dad won’t let me.”

“You don’t go to school?” Scott exclaimed, aghast. “Can you read?”

Griffin growled, offended. “Yeah, I can read. My dad teaches me at home.”

“But why?”

“Cause I’m different. He says the kids will tease me.”

“Yeah, but you’re not a crybaby,” Scott offered wisely. It was high praise, and deserved. Griffin hadn’t made a fuss when he was told he’d broken a rule of tag that he didn’t know about. “Different like what?”

Griffin kicked off with his feet so that he was swinging faster. “I’m not supposed to tell anybody. But— I’m kind of a werewolf.” He darted a look at Scott, and then looked away again.

“No you’re not.”

“Am so. My mom was a werewolf. I guess. That’s not what my dad calls her, but I saw it on TV. A person that turns into a wolf is a werewolf.”

“Yeah, well, stuff on TV’s not real.”

“Yeah, well, I am.”

“So you think you can turn into a wolf.”

“Well, not yet. More like a dog, I guess. I was a cat the year before, and a turtle before that. Before that I don’t remember.” Griffin’s face was blotchy red again. “Are you going to tease me?”

“Nah. But you shouldn’t say that stuff.”

“Why?”

Scott tried to say it gently. “Cause it sounds like you’re lying.”

Griffin sat up in a huff. “Do you think I’m lying?”

Scott did. He sat up and shrugged his shoulders. 

“I wish I wasn’t a werewolf,” Griffin said. “I wish I was just me or just a wolf.”

Scott had seen things on TV too. “Does it hurt when you change? Is there lots of blood?”

Griffin looked pleased by the question. “No.”

“So if you bite people do they turn into werewolves too?”

“No. I don’t know. Maybe. If I change, will you believe me?”

“Yeah. But won’t your dad be mad?”

Griffin looked surprised. “Well, I’m not going to tell him!”

Scott grinned. “Okay.” 

Scott followed when Griffin jumped down from the swing and jogged to the shady area by the slide. Griffin stuck out one hand and made a little grunting noise. His hand started shaking, and then his fingers grew white hairs on them, thick and short. He rubbed his arm a bit, and then gray claws pushed themselves out of the front of his fingers. There wasn’t any blood, though.

“Holy crap!” Scott exclaimed. 

Griffin smiled, looking sweaty in the shade. “Told you.”

Scott put his hand over his mouth and then took it away. “Dude, you can’t just show people this. They’ll like, arrest you for murder. If somebody gets murdered in the woods. They’ll think you did it. Cause werewolves do that.”

Now Griffin looked at Scott like he was nuts. “They don’t arrest kids. They would never think a kid could kill somebody.”

“They arrest werewolves.”

“Well then I won’t tell them I’m a werewolf. Are you going to tell them?”

“Course not.”

“Okay.” Griffin shook his hand and it returned to looking human. “Do you want to come over?”

“Sure. Got any good video games?”

“Well, we gotta stay outside cause if my dad knows I snuck out of the yard, he’ll be mad.”

As it turned out, Griffin was not lying about that either. Griffin and Scott got caught up in the game they were playing in the backyard and forgot to have Scott leave before Griffin’s dad came home from work. 

It didn’t help that their game involved a superhero and his sidekick, who was a spy who could turn into a dog, because nobody would suspect that a little brown and white dog was also a person. (Griffin was not a wolf by any means. He was also not a dog. When he changed, he became something sort of in between, with strong legs and claws, a thick tail, and a face that wasn’t really dog or person but more like both. And floppy ears.)

Scott’s parents got mad a lot, and they yelled. Griffin’s dad didn’t do anything except sit down on the couch and stare at the wall. It almost felt worse.

“Scott’s not gonna tell anybody,” Griffin piped up. His face had gone completely white, and his freckles stood out like pencil dots on paper. “Not even the police!”

Scott wished he could tell Griffin to be quiet. It never did any good to talk to grown-ups when they were mad. They wouldn’t listen, no matter what you said.

Griffin’s dad put his hand over his eyes. “Griffin, you were supposed to be with Mrs. Culver next door.”

“She took a nap. She said to come over if I needed something.”

“I suppose this was inevitable,” Griffin’s dad said. He looked at Scott then. “Scott, I need you to understand that if you tell anyone about this, Griffin could get into real trouble. People aren’t going to understand.”

“Yeah, but Scott didn’t tease me,” Griffin spoke up.

His dad looked really sad now. “That’s not the worst thing that can happen. If Scott tells anyone, Griffin and I may have to move away, so that I can keep him safe.”

Griffin’s mouth fell open. “Dad, no!”

“I don’t want to,” his dad said, his voice breaking. “But I might have to.” 

Scott finally figured he should speak up. “I won’t tell. But nobody’s gonna believe me even if I do. Cause nobody thinks werewolves are real.”

Griffin’s dad’s eyebrows went up. “Griffin’s not a werewolf.”

“Then what is he?”

“I don’t know the word for it. Shapeshifter, I guess.”

“Well, nobody thinks those are real either,” Scott said. “So if he doesn’t show people, then nobody will know. He can come to school with me if he wants. He’s a little weird, but—”

“Absolutely not,” Griffin’s dad said. “Griffin, I’m sorry, but there is no way you are ever going to school.”

It took them all summer, fall, and half of winter to wear Griffin’s dad down. But one day during Christmas break, they found Griffin’s dad (whose name was Carl) staring out at the snowy backyard, full of boot and paw prints. Behind him was Scott’s sleeping bag and the wrapper from the video game Carl had gotten them both for Christmas. Scott had spent the entire break at Griffin’s house.

“Okay, listen up,” Carl said. He took the couch and made the boys sit on the floor. “This is about self-control. This isn’t one of your games. You don’t get a time-out. There’s no safe base. There’s no do-overs. You have to get it right the first time. You have to get it right every minute of every day.” 

Carl held up his hand with two fingers extended. “There are two rules. No talking and no turning. You don’t play werewolves on the playground. You don’t talk about shapeshifters. If you have something that you absolutely have to tell each other and you can’t wait— you wait anyway. And Griffin, you never, ever show anybody what you can do. Not a hair or a claw. If— if you can follow those rules, boys— then Griffin can go to school.”

2

“This breaks both of your dad’s rules,” Scott said.

Griffin gave him an impatient look. They were eleven now, and Scott had just gone through another growth-spurt— Scott was like half legs at this point, Griffin thought— and he towered over Griffin. With his shaggy black hair and long face, he looked years older, too.

If Griffin took his animal form, which was a raccoon this year, then he was the taller one. Raccoons might be small, but Griffin had been getting bigger himself. Just not as a person. He was the size of a nine-year-old at best. “Tell the whole world, why don’t you?” Griffin whispered. 

It was dark. They were standing two stories below their fifth-grade classroom window, on the deserted blacktop of the back parking lot. Griffin was in a pair of shorts with an elastic waist, and nothing else.

“Besides,” Griffin said, “it’s not no talking and no turning on school grounds. It’s no talking and no turning when people are around. And nobody is.”

Scott had an answer for that. He had an answer for everything. He leaned against the brick, looking smug. “Yeah, all right, then we’re breaking school rules.”

“If you hadn’t been playing with my transformer in class this never would have happened,” Griffin hissed. 

“We were both playing with it,” Scott pointed out. “I’m just the one who got caught.”

“Right. So you’re the reason the teacher locked it in her desk. And my dad is going to ask where it is, and you know how he gets about misbehavior in class, he thinks it will make me stand out—”

“How are we getting into the locked desk?” Scott asked. He was annoying that way, sometimes. He could get into trouble and he always shrugged it off, unbothered. Well, most of the time. Griffin had seen Scott’s parents get mad at him a couple of times and that was— that was something else.

Griffin held up a hand with dark claws coming through the fingertips.

Scott grinned. “This is our first heist!”

“This is not a heist.”

“We can go for a bank next.”

“Oh, fuck off.”

Scott laughed, his hand over his mouth. “All right then, werewolf. Go on.”

“Oh no. Not by myself. You’re coming, too.”

“What? Why?”

“Because if I get caught up there, nobody is going to believe I could climb this wall by myself. If you’re there, we can tell them you carried me.”

“Huh,” Scott said. “Yeah, all right.”

Griffin rolled his shoulders and started to slide his human self back into the place he kept it at times like this. Griffin’s raccoon legs unfolded themselves and stretched out, his fur moving lightly in the night breeze. He reached up with his arms, far above Scott’s head now, until everything came into place, the fat paws with their black nails, the fuzzy ears that heard more sharply, the eyes that could see well in the dark. Newly sharpened teeth clicked together in what remained a mostly human mouth.

But some parts of him weren’t really raccoon or person— the hulking shoulders, the body with its lean muscles. The height. He looked down at Scott, grinning. Griffin could have rested his elbow on Scott’s head. He decided that was a great idea, and did.

Scott snorted at him. “Yeah, yeah, you’re a super tall monster. It’s not that big of a deal.”

“Says the kid who’s never been short.”

Scott didn’t answer, he just hopped up on his long legs and grasped Griffin’s shoulders, wiggling until he had a firm grip on his fur, his legs around Griffin’s waist. “All right,” he said, his voice muffled. “First heist. Up we go.”

Griffin spread his paws wide and then gripped his claws into the mortar around the bricks. It took some effort, but they held well enough. He tried with the claws on his foot, and got the same result. “Up we go,” he echoed.

The climb took a couple of minutes, Griffin being cautious. And Scott was too. For all Scott’s excitement, he knew better than to wiggle. Griffin had accidentally dropped him once when they were nine. (At nine, Griffin was a hedgehog.) Unlike Griffin, Scott couldn’t twist around fast enough to land well. He’d sprained an ankle. After that, they were more careful.

The classroom window came into sight, and Griffin climbed up next to it, clinging to the wall. “Is it unlocked?” he asked.

Scott moved around Griffin’s body until he could reach out and check. “Yep! Unlocked.”

“Marvelous.”

“Marvelous,” Scott repeated, with a snort. Griffin smacked him on the head, but not hard enough to knock him down. Scott fiddled with the window, removing the screen, and then slid the pane open. “Ta da!” he said, as he slithered through the window and onto the classroom floor.

Griffin was too big to fit through the window while he was a raccoon. He reached for Scott with one newly human arm, and Scott gripped him tightly, hauling him inside as soon as the rest of him was human too. Griffin’s shorts slipped a little on his newly narrow hips, but they stayed up.

The classroom looked very different with the lights off and no one around. “Spooky,” Griffin said.

Scott gave him a look. “You’re a monster.”

“So I’m not allowed to think this is spooky?”

“No, cause you’re the scariest thing in here.” Scott pulled on the top drawer of Mrs. Blake’s desk. It jolted the whole desk against the floor, though Scott kept it quiet. “Locked,” he said. “All right, have at it, Houdini.”

Griffin let a claw push out of his finger. It tingled a little to be only partially shifted, and he rubbed his arm. He pressed the claw into the lock and jiggled it around. 

“Do you know what you’re doing?” Scott asked.

“Yeah. I mean, I saw it on TV.”

“Oh, great.”

“Well, I mean, it can’t be that comp—” The lock gave with a sudden click, and Griffin made a triumphant noise. “So there.” He pulled the drawer open and reclaimed his birthday present, a blue and black robot, with a sigh of relief. “All right, let’s go.”

“Hang on,” Scott said, rummaging in another drawer. “Gotta relock it.” He produced keys and resecured the drawer. “Okay.” He grinned at Griffin. “Our first heist is a success!”

When they got home, they lay on the roof of Griffin’s house. It was the beginning of spring, and a cloudless night, with no moon. The stars made the sky look dusty.

“So tonight’s the night,” Scott said. “What do you think it’s going to be?”

Griffin was a raccoon again. He looked at his paws almost sadly for a moment, trying to memorize them. Today was his birthday, which meant tonight he’d change into whatever his new form would be for the year. He hoped it was something cool. And big.

“Do you think the other shapeshifters can only turn into one thing per year?” Griffin asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe. Or maybe it’s because you’re half human. Ask your dad.”

But that was a dead-end, they both knew. Carl wouldn’t talk much about Griffin’s mom. Griffin knew only this: they’d met in the mountains, by a clear, cold lake. It had been early summer. Griffin’s dad had been on a hike, alone, and got overheated. He jumped into the lake, and got cold shock. He’d taken in a big gulp of water, and then found himself on the bank, with a young woman laughing at him. Griffin had never understood how that part could be romantic, but his dad always smiled about it. 

Anyway, there had been romance, because soon after, Griffin came along. But his mom couldn’t stay. She had her own people, who maybe lived in the lake? Griffin wasn’t sure. His mom had been a fish in the water, and a deer on land, his dad said, but Griffin had never figured out if those things were ever on the same day or separated by his mother’s birthday, when she might get a new form. 

And then she was gone. Griffin’s dad said her people made her leave, even though she had a kid. It was forbidden for a shapeshifter to love a human, apparently. Griffin had been left with his dad, in a place where he didn’t entirely fit. But he wouldn’t fit with his mom, either, of course. He was human and shapeshifter, and at the same time, neither of those things. But his mom had loved him. His dad always said that. Griffin supposed that was nice. But he’d never really felt like he had a mom. At least he had a dad. A good dad. Scott had a mom and dad, but they didn’t really act like parents.

Griffin began to feel itchy, and his legs jerked against the roof.

Scott sat up in interest. “Here we go!”

Griffin groaned. His head started to ache and his mouth tasted foul. He shifted back into his human form and lay still a moment. Then his feet twitched and his toes were suddenly long, spindly things that ended in sharp claws. The rest of his legs stretched out too, angular and thin. 

Then there was a kind of muffled thump, and then feathers were everywhere, bright red, blue, and green.

“Holy shit,” Scott said. He was standing on the roof now, looking down at Griffin, who blinked up at him from a pile of fluffy down. Griffin tried to push himself up to sitting, but his arms were heavy and strangely broad. When he finally raised them, they caught the air and feathers went flying everywhere.

“Eleven years old,” Scott said, laughing in delight. “And Griffin, you’re a bird.”

3

As freshmen in high school, Scott and Griffin were in the same gym class. At age fourteen, gym was no longer parachute games and dodgeball. It was football, volleyball, tennis— all sports the high school had teams for. 

The problem with that, Scott realized on the first day of football class, was that Griffin was fast. Too fast. He loped easily around the gym when they had their warm-up run, outdistancing most kids without trying. That was normal for Griffin. But now there were football coaches watching.

After the run, Scott and Griffin leaned back on the gym wall, waiting their turn to try to throw the football. “Dude, you need to knock it off,” Scott said quietly. “Slow down. And don’t throw that ball as hard as you can.”

Griffin gave him a confused look. “Why? What are they going to do, give me an A in gym?”

“They’ll recruit you for football, that’s what they’ll do.”

Griffin bounced on his heels a little. He did that a lot. Scott wondered if he wanted to look taller or if he just needed to move those muscles nobody could see. “Well, what if I want to be on the football team?” Griffin asked.

Scott had been afraid of this. “You’d be the star player. And you’re the size of a twelve-year-old. How are you going to explain why nobody can tackle you?”

“Then I’ll let people tackle me.”

“Sure. Until it’s down to the wire and it’s all on you to win the game. You’re the hero type. Odysseus with a fox tail.” Scott made a face. “God, how did I become the nerd in this friendship?”

“Cause I’m the one who’s joining the football team.” Griffin grinned at him. “Come on, I can get us girls!”

You don’t like girls, Scott thought, but he wasn’t ready to say it out loud, because he didn’t think Griffin realized it himself yet. As for Scott— he thought girls weren’t too bad. But neither were some of the guys running around in gym class right now. And Griffin— Griffin, with his ice-blond hair and pale eyes, his pink lips and his sharp nose— Griffin was beautiful. Scott sure as hell didn’t say that, though.

What Scott did say was, “Your dad will never allow it.”

“So you’ve got to help me.” And damn it, Griffin looked so hopeful. 

They reached the front of the line and Griffin was handed the football. A lot of kids were watching, Scott noticed. Griffin was by far the smallest kid in class, always had been, and a lot of people made fun of him for it. Now they were waiting to see him make some wimpy throw.

Griffin shifted in place, rocking on far more powerful legs than any other kid in the room. Scott leaned close. “Miss. Miss this shot and I will help convince your dad to let you run track.”

Griffin didn’t answer, but Scott could see his jaw working as he was making up his mind. 

“Let them tease you for something safe,” Scott pleaded.

Griffin caught his breath in a way that Scott knew meant he was really pissed. But Scott could see him give in. Griffin’s shoulders drew together and he hefted the ball a couple of feet. There was laughter when it hit the gym floor and rolled, short of the teacher he was supposed to be throwing to.

Griffin stalked off to the back of the line in silence. Scott threw the ball somewhere, uncaring, and followed him. 

“If you congratulate me on my self-control, I will bite you,” Griffin warned. He flashed Scott his human teeth, but Scott knew what pointed teeth he could summon.

“Noted,” Scott said. “But dude, you’ll kill it at track.”

It was lucky that track was in the spring, because it took that long to convince Griffin’s dad to let him join. 

Of course, if Scott had been paying attention, he’d have realized that there was a really big problem with the date of track tryouts. It was two days after Griffin’s fifteenth birthday. Griffin was going to have a new form by then. The fox would be traded for something new. And new forms were… unwieldy, for a while.

Scott was there for the birthday, of course. He’d pretty much been living at Griffin’s house for a couple of years now, even had his own bedroom. He dropped by his parents’ house every few weeks to check in, but they didn’t seem to care much. 

Griffin had stopped having his new transformation be on the roof, worried about damage he could do with claws and nails. So they stood in the backyard, Griffin’s dad too, watching as Griffin, in nothing but a pair of shorts with an elastic waist, twitched and shook, and then grew gray fur, his biggest teeth yet, and a huge fluffy tail.

“Oh, fuck,” Scott said, forgetting Carl was there. Of all the years for Griffin to finally be a wolf.

Griffin was thrilled. He took off into the woodsy area behind his house with a far too loud howl of glee, leaving Scott and his dad behind.

“He’ll be fine,” Scott said to Carl, reassuringly. Naturally, he was interrupted by Griffin crashing into the fence that surrounded the yard, knocking down a large section of it. He lay there sprawled in the muddy snow, grinning at them.

Track try-outs were on a Wednesday after school. Griffin hadn’t even had a weekend to get used to the wolf form.

“Okay,” Scott said, a hand on Griffin’s shoulder as they stood outside the school’s track. “Human legs. Those pink, pasty ones, remember? Run like a wolf, but like a man. Boy. Man. Wolfman.”

“Whatever would I do without you?” Griffin asked dryly. “Oh, right. Get arrested for murdering people in the woods.”

“That is still in the realm of possibility,” Scott said. 

Griffin surprised Scott by flashing him a smile. “Dude. I can do this.”

And by God, he could. Scott watched Griffin round the track with the other kids, and then the other kids got left behind. Scott was even pleasantly surprised to see that Griffin appeared to be holding back a little. Self-control, Carl would have said of Griffin’s 5:30 mile. Griffin might have to hold back all season.

Overall, tryouts went better than Scott had feared. There were a couple of instances where Griffin leaned forward while running, so far that Scott suspected he was fighting his animal instincts— Griffin was faster on four legs than two. And there was one time in between heats that Scott had to wave his hand to get Griffin’s attention, and then pretend that he was smacking a bug on his leg. Griffin looked down and his legs quickly had a lot less gray hair. Fortunately, no one else seemed to have noticed. 

Griffin looked so happy. The other kids actually clapped for him, and when the coach said he’d made the team, Scott was a little worried that Griffin might pick the man up and swing him around.

oOo

Friday night, there was a school party. It had a dance, but Griffin and Scott went for the games and food. Some of the kids in their grade had dates. Guys with girls, of course. Never two guys together.

Griffin and Scott hadn’t dressed up like kids did for the dance, just t-shirts and jeans, but still, Scott found himself… wondering. What would Griffin do if Scott asked him to dance? If such a thing was normal, if nobody would stare. What would it feel like to have his hand on Griffin’s waist, his human one? Scott was used to hanging onto Griffin’s back in animal form when they went out into the woods or up onto the roof of some building. But Scott didn’t know how warm Griffin’s human body would be without the fur. He didn’t know how Griffin would look at him if they were so close and face-to-face.

When leaving a Bingo game, which neither of them won, they ran into Jett, who was dressed up and smelled very strongly of body spray. He leaned in close to Scott, and spoke as quietly as he could with the music blaring from the gym. “Dude, did you do the French homework?” 

“Yeah.”

“Can I copy it?”

“No. It’s a paper. You can’t just copy what I wrote, you have to write your own.”

Jett got a look on his face like Scott was being a problem. “Well, can you just not turn yours in? I need the grade, and you don’t. You’ve got the highest grade in class. Come on, we’re friends.”

One of the kids with Jett looked at Scott in confusion. “Hey, I thought you were in Spanish.”

“He’s in all of them,” another kid said. “French, Spanish, and German.”

Everyone was peering at Scott, and Scott decided it was time for a lie. “Sorry, man, I can’t. My parents will kill me if I don’t turn in my homework. They’re super strict.”

Unfortunately, Jett knew him better than that. “That’s bullshit, man. Your parents don’t give a shit what you do.”

Griffin had been quiet so far, but now he said, “Hey!” very sharply. Which turned all the attention on him. But Griffin stayed calm. “He said no. Scott, let’s go.” 

Griffin put his hand on Scott’s arm and tugged on it, gently enough that Scott wasn’t yanked off his feet. 

“Ignore them,” Griffin said to Scott as they moved down the hallway, leaving Jett and his friends yelling something after them. “But you do realize, of course, that being in three language classes definitely makes you the nerd in this friendship.”

“Oh, fuck off, dude. You’re the one who thinks algebra is cool.”

“I didn’t say it was cool, I said I don’t suck at it like you do.”

That wasn’t the end of the French homework thing, unfortunately. When the party was over, Jett and his friends approached them again in the parking lot. There was a long line of cars waiting to pick up their kids, and Carl was somewhere toward the end of it. 

“Dude, I’m going to fail French,” Jett said.

“Talk to Madame Collins, then. She’ll help you.”

“Oh, listen to him,” one of Jett’s friends said. “Madame Collins.” Scott wasn’t sure where the insult was supposed to be there. 

“Come on, man,” Jett said. “Just write it for me, then. Cause if you don’t, I’m going to—”

“Whoa,” Griffin said, in a voice that sounded so grave that everyone looked at him. “Did you hear that?”

“Hear what?” Jett asked.

“That howling.”

“Oh, fuck,” Scott muttered. Griffin didn’t look at him.

“I didn’t hear anything,” Jett said.

Griffin’s eyes widened and he looked back at the school. “Oh my god, what is that thing?”

“Where?” Everybody turned around.

“It’s a wolf!” Griffin exclaimed.

“There are no fucking wolves around here,” Jett said. 

Griffin was pointing. “Oh yeah? Then what’s that behind the building?”

Jett and his friends started heading toward the back of the school, a mix of curiosity and derision. Scott grabbed Griffin’s arm. “Don’t you fucking dare.”

Griffin gave him a look of amusement. “And here I thought I was Odysseus with a wolf’s tail.” He pulled his arm free easily.

“God fucking damn it,” Scott said. “Your dad is going to be here any minute, there’s people in the school—”

But Griffin dashed off. Scott waited, staring at his sneakers. They were new; Carl had bought them for him. For a moment, there was just the chatter of kids getting picked up and the cars in the parking lot. 

Then he heard a scream. Then a couple more. And honestly, Scott did not feel the way he thought he would when hearing that. He’d thought he’d be terrified for Griffin’s safety. Failing that, maybe he’d feel sorry for poor Jett. But instead he just felt— warm. Almost uncomfortably warm. 

He imagined Griffin back there, six feet tall and covered in gray fur, his pale eyes turned dark, with large, powerful arms. Not quite wolf, not quite human— monstrous. And playing hero.

Griffin was back by the time Carl’s car got to the front of the line. The parking lot was full of people talking about some thing Jett claimed to have seen behind the school, and if Carl heard that, Griffin would be toast.

“That was reckless,” Scott hissed at Griffin, whose pale skin was flushed with exertion and amusement. 

Griffin shrugged. “Just getting in some track practice, man. Gotta do some running, you know.”

Scott at least had to admit that nobody was talking about French homework anymore. 

4

**Author’s note: FYI this chapter is a little more angsty than I usually get**

The envelope was thin, but it seemed to get heavier the longer Griffin held it in his hand.

 His dad was at work, and Scott was at German club. The house was quiet, the kitchen lit only by late afternoon sun coming in the windows. Griffin, seventeen years old, opened the envelope alone and read the letter in silence.

He’d been hoping for this news. A full ride scholarship for Griffin Mills, the star runner of Valley High School’s track team. An offer from a college out of state.

It was fantastic news. Griffin’s dad was going to be thrilled. You don’t know how much of a difference it will make in your life, not having those student loans, he’d say. Griffin knew that because Carl had said it to Scott, who had also won himself a scholarship—academics and placement tests, a series of essay contests. Stuff Scott was good at. God, he was such a nerd. 

Scott’s scholarship was to a different college, two states away.

Griffin sat down at the kitchen table. 

At least Scott wasn’t going to the same college as his girlfriend, Griffin thought, and then immediately felt bad about it. Scott’s girlfriend was nice enough. Her name was Lily, and she was smart like Scott. They’d been going out for over a year. Her family spoke German at home, and Scott was helping her with her Spanish. Languages came so easily to him.

Griffin hadn’t really realized what bothered him about Scott dating Lily until he’d mentioned her in front of his dad. His dad had looked so incredibly confused to hear that Scott had a girlfriend, and in his turmoil, he’d said I’m sorry. 

Having your dad accidentally inform you that you were in love with your best friend was a hell of a way to realize you were gay.

But what of Scott? That was the real question. Scott liked girls and guys, he’d told Griffin that ages ago. But apparently he didn’t like Griffin that way. Of course, Griffin wasn’t a guy. Griffin might look like a guy most of the time, but the rest of the time he was a fucking monster. Since his seventeenth birthday, Griffin had been part leopard. His paws were as big as Scott’s face. He was nearly seven feet tall if he stood up all the way, and covered with fur. 

To make matters worse, it was no longer possible for Griffin to fit into the same pair of elastic-waist shorts as a human and a monster. So Scott routinely got glimpses of Griffin naked, whether covered in fur or not. You’d think the covered-in-fur version would be less embarrassing, but it was not, because Griffin still had a dick in that form, and it was really huge. 

So in order to like Griffin, Scott would need to be some bizarre thing like monster-sexual, which Griffin was pretty sure nobody was. 

Griffin had given up on the fantasy of Scott as boyfriend. But fuck if he wasn’t going to miss him as a friend when they went off to college. Nobody knew him like Scott did. Nobody accepted him like Scott did, fur and all. Griffin wasn’t sure anybody else ever would.

Of course, there was still the other side of the family. Griffin’s mom’s people. The shapeshifters. But Griffin didn’t know anything about them. He didn’t even know if they lived like people or like fish in the lake where his parents had met. And Griffin wasn’t one of them, anyway, anymore than he was human.

All in all, Griffin wasn’t really having the best of days. But it was nothing compared to the day Scott was about to have.

Scott came bursting through the door a half hour later and dumped his backpack onto the table. He looked around the kitchen in surprise. “Dude, you didn’t start dinner.”

“Oh, shit.” Griffin went to pick up his scholarship letter, but Scott had already seized it. Scott made a shrieking noise and picked Griffin up, swinging him around. He could do that if Griffin was in human form, he was still so damned small. 

“I knew it!” Scott cried. “Oh, dude, I knew you’d get it. This is awesome! All right, you order a pizza and I’ll make a cake.”

“Hold up.” Griffin had noticed that Scott’s skin was a little blotchy around the eyes and that meant only one thing. “Don’t you have a date with Lily tonight?” Griffin asked, already suspecting the answer.

“Um— we broke up. Mutual. Cause we’re about to go different colleges.”

Like us, Griffin thought. “Fuck, I’m sorry,” he said. 

Scott looked at the floor. “I mean, I knew we were going to break up. We talked about it, long distance sucks. I just— didn’t know it would be today.”

“Well— put that cake mix back in the cupboard. We don’t have to celebrate.”

Scott gave him an incredulous look. “Oh, okay, Mr. I get a track scholarship every day, it’s no big deal. No. Fuck that. Cake.” He shook the box and said enticingly, “Yellow cake.”

“Yellow is not a flavor.”

“You love it. It matches your fur.”

“Oh, my god, that has not been a thing since my tenth birthday.”

“Just order the damn pizza before your dad figures out you forgot to start dinner.”

After pizza and cake, Scott and Griffin climbed up to lie on the roof. It was cold, but there was no snow, and Griffin took leopard form, his fur keeping them both warm.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Griffin asked. “Lily?”

Scott shifted so that his head was resting on Griffin’s enormous, fluffy stomach. “Nah. I’m just thinking how you’re going to get into so much trouble without me at college.”

“Oh, fuck off. You’re the one that gets us into trouble.”

“You know, your college isn’t too far from the lake where your parents met.” Griffin did know this. But until now, neither of them had brought it up. “Are you going to check it out?” Scott asked.

“I don’t know, man. If they wanted to see me, they could have tried before now.”

“Well, maybe they’re waiting for you. I don’t know, some coming-of-age thing or whatever. Thinking you’ll seek them out when you’re ready.”

“I’m not ready.”

“Well, if you ever are, don’t go by yourself, okay? Call me, I’ll come with you. If they turn out to be like my family, you’ll need me.” Scott turned so that he could look up at Griffin’s partially feline face. “You should go. I really think you should. And yeah, I know, you’re only half a shapeshifter too, but there is so much that you can do, Griff, that nobody knows about. For one, you probably shouldn’t be allowed to run track with humans.”

“I keep the record-breaking to a minimum,” Griffin said. “Self-control.”

“Well, that’s what I mean. With your mom’s family, you wouldn’t have to keep it in check like that. You could be yourself.”

“I’m myself with you,” Griffin said. 

Scott looked away, and Griffin realized that his skin was sort of blotchy again. “We should write letters,” Scott said, sounding brave. “Snail mail. Stamps and everything. Of course, you’d have to have to learn how to spell.”

Griffin growled lightly. “That’s it, get up, we’re going for a run.”

Scott snapped his head up. “We are not going for a run.”

Griffin rolled over, and it took no real effort to scoop Scott up with one massive paw and secure him against Griffin’s furry chest. Griffin leaped down from the roof into the backyard, landing on two legs, falling to four and pushing Scott up until he was grasping Griffin’s shoulder.

“I’m calling animal control,” Scott said, as he worked his arms around Griffin’s neck.

“Then I’m calling Hazmat about your bedroom.” 

One nice thing about the leopard form was the jumping. Griffin cleared the backyard fence easily and loped into the woods. 

It felt natural to run with Scott like this, Griffin on four legs, the wind in their faces. Runs like this were the closest they ever got physically. Griffin did it to stretch out his muscles, his whole body, which seemed so cramped inside of his human form. Tonight he was doing it to cheer Scott up. Because Scott loved it too.

They dashed among the trees, knocking down what snow remained on the high branches. It fluttered to the ground behind them. When they reached a small clearing, Griffin slowed to a walk. The ground was frozen, but he was heavy enough like this that he still left faint paw prints. “Feel better?” he asked Scott.

Scott got his legs onto one side of Griffin and slid off onto the ground. “I don’t know how I’m going to do this without you,” he said softly. “College.”

The woods were so quiet around them that Scott was easy to hear. Griffin watched their breath come out in white puffs. “Me neither,” Griffin said.

“I mean I never thought Lily and I would be together forever. Like, that was never a thing. But—” Scott looked up at him, his eyes wide and dark. “Look, Lily said something to me today and I can’t stop thinking about it. She said that you and I—”

The shrill ring of a cell phone broke the silence so abruptly that Griffin jumped in surprise. Jumped like a leopard, all four paws in the air, high as Scott’s head. 

Scott burst such hysterical laughter that Griffin worried he’d choke. “Oh, God. You poor monster. Don’t worry, I’m here to protect you from the big scary phone! Fuck, I wish I had that on tape. Oh my God.”

Griffin had some rude reply in his mouth when Scott saw the screen of his phone. “It’s my mom,” Scott said, the laughter suddenly cut off. He put the phone to his ear, and Griffin watched Scott’s face turn from confused to worried to ashy pale.

“Well, is he there?” he asked. “Can I go— what hospital?” 

Scott didn’t say anything else. By the time he ended the call, Griffin had shifted into human form. He twisted up the waistband of his shorts to keep them up. The rest of him was bare to the winter wind as he put his arms around Scott and they sat down on the frozen ground.

“My dad died,” Scott said.

“Oh, Jesus. Fuck.”

“Mom says he just collapsed. Heart attack. Christ, Griffin, I haven’t even seen him in a month. He wasn’t there the last time I stopped home.”

“I’m so sorry.” It was strange to hold Scott this way, with too-small arms and chilled skin. But Scott was trembling like he was cold in his winter coat, and Griffin hardly felt the temperature at all. 

Griffin had no idea what to do with his beautiful friend, grieving for something he’d never had. “You’re the strongest person I know,” Griffin told him. “Look at all you’ve done. Look at all you’ve come through. You’ll be okay.”

“Griffin,” Scott whispered. And then he turned his head and pressed his mouth to Griffin’s mouth.

The world stopped turning and fell still. Scott put a hand behind Griffin’s head and tugged on him, and when he couldn’t pull Griffin closer than they already were, Scott made a frustrated noise and opened his mouth, breathing hard.

Griffin opened his mouth too and they kissed deeper, hard and a little hungry. Griffin’s hands sank into Scott’s soft black hair, caressing, marveling.

Griffin had to force himself to pull back. Because as much as he wanted this, it was not right. Not now.

“Scott—” he started, but Scott just pressed his face into Griffin’s bare shoulder and started to cry.

5

**Author’s note: Here begins the main plot: the boys are 22 and about to graduate from college.**

“So,” Scott said. “How mad would you be if I told you to run up and get your winter coat?”

Griffin, halfway into Scott’s car, froze with his suitcase in his hand. The sun glinted in his hair, making it look pure white. “Are they expecting snow in Florida over spring break?”

“Nope.”

“So you’re saying we’re not about to drive to Florida.”

“Nope.”

“Scott, what the fuck?”

“Just trust me?”

Griffin stared at him a moment longer with those pale eyes, and then gave a long-suffering sigh. Scott watched him jog back up the steps to his apartment door, winding past other people with sinuous grace. Griffin was a viper this year, at least until his birthday on Monday. Scott had only seen the viper a couple of times, but as Scott watched Griffin’s hips sway, he knew that this was one form he was not going to forget.

They were twenty-two years old (or at least Griffin would be, in a few days). It was spring break of their senior year of college, and Scott hadn’t seen Griffin since last summer. Griffin had gotten an internship over winter break and hadn’t come home. Scott and Carl had celebrated the holidays alone.

Griffin had not gotten any less handsome in the meantime. Fully grown— as a human, anyway, Scott wasn’t sure how much bigger Griffin’s animal forms were going to get— Griffin was five-foot-four and honest-to-god ethereally beautiful, with his blond hair and delicate features. And he wasn’t a teenager anymore. His chest had broadened and he looked, finally, as if he might possess at least some of the strength that was hidden within him. The muscles in his arms and legs were thickened and more apparent, which made sense for the star of the university track team. Griffin had grown into his looks, and Scott wouldn’t have been surprised if half his apartment building was lusting after him.

It would have been nice if Scott could tell Griffin to count him among his fans. Scott had a few fantasies that involved him, Griffin, a lack of clothing, and Scott discovering what kinds of noises Griffin made in the midst of passion.

But admitting to lusting after Griffin’s human form, terrifying as that would be, would pale before confessing to his long-distance best friend that he was aware that in his animal form he still possessed a more human-like dick, although very large, and that Scott was desperately wanting to find out whether, as a viper, he might have two dicks. And if so, if he might like to try them out with an enthusiastic volunteer.

It had taken Scott a long time to come to terms with wanting Griffin’s monstrous alter ego, in whatever enormous form it was at the time, to fuck the daylights out of him. Griffin would never be able to unhear that, and it would definitely put a further strain on their relationship. They were already so distant, just because they were far apart and busy. They were going to graduate soon and Scott had no idea if they’d end up anywhere near each other.

Scott had kissed Griffin once, on the worst day of his life, when Scott’s father had just died, and Scott’s girlfriend had broken up with him after telling him that she knew he was in love with his best friend. Lily had said he and Griffin were perfect for each other and that she hoped they had a good life together.

They didn’t. They hardly saw each other now, and they’d never once mentioned the kiss.

But yes, Scott was in love with Griffin. It was just a little more complicated than that. Especially with the news he had for Griffin today.

Griffin jogged down the stairs, holding a puffy winter coat, light on his feet, with a runner’s sure steps. Scott was about to spend spring break with Griffin and he wanted him so badly it made his teeth ache. 

It was going to be a long week.

“All right, spill,” Griffin said, as he clicked his seatbelt, and Scott pulled out into traffic.

“We’re going to an art museum,” Scott announced.

Griffin looked at him a moment without blinking. Vipers didn’t have eyelids, if Scott remembered correctly.

“It’s a long story,” Scott told him.

Griffin leaned back against his seat. “Well, since I don’t have anywhere else to be— oh, that’s right, Florida!”

“Okay, listen,” Scott said. “I had to do a project on translating old texts.”

“Nerd.”

“Fuck off, track star. I ended up with this Old English thing, written in runes. It was fascinating.”

Griffin made a rude coughing noise. Scott ignored it. “Anyway— it talked about shapeshifters. Griffin, I think I might know how to find your mom.”

oOo

Griffin was silent for a long time as they drove north. He didn’t seem angry. He didn’t tell Scott to turn the car around. But Scott did spend a while wishing he’d made the opposite choice. Griffin had been so happy to see him, excited about Florida, and if Scott had just kept his mouth shut, they’d be on their way there, ready for a week of goofing off by the ocean, a last fling before graduation.

But he couldn’t. If this was a chance to get Griffin in touch with who he really was— he deserved to have it.

They stopped for lunch in a little roadside cafe. It smelled like omelets and had blue checkered plastic tablecloths. Scott had forgotten how cute the little towns could get as you went up into the mountains.

Griffin ordered chicken strips.

“You’re not going to, like, eat those like a snake, are you?” Scott teased. 

Griffin raised a blond eyebrow. “I can. Do you want to see?”

“Hell, yeah.”

Griffin snorted. “One of us is a very bad influence on the other.” He gave a glance around the mostly-empty restaurant, then unhinged his jaw and swallowed a chicken strip in one slow gulp. Griffin massaged at his throat as his jaw went back into place. “Gross or cool?” he asked, wiping crumbs off of his mouth.

“Let’s go with both.”

Griffin nodded. “Works for me. Okay, I’m ready, tell me all about what we’re doing.”

Scott leaned forward, grinning. “Yes! The details of the quest!”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake. This is not a quest.”

“Come on, it’ll be fun.”

Griffin took a bite of a chicken strip, the human way this time. “Fun is what people have in Florida during spring break.”

“Well, we’re searching for an ancient, magic artifact. That makes it a quest.”

“And what does this artifact do?”

“Okay, so the story in the book talked about a race of people who changed into animals. And they had a war with humans, you know, the usual.”

“Um?” Griffin said, sounding mildly alarmed.

“It’s fine. Anyway, the adult shapeshifters could come and go wherever they wanted, but it said some of them had to stay with the children, because the children could only change form once a year.”

Griffin gestured with a chicken strip, dropping a blob of ketchup onto the table. “Okay, assuming any of this is remotely realistic— I’m not a child anymore. I’m almost twenty-two, past puberty, however you measure it.”

“Right! That was my first thought. But the story talked about a ceremony. The kids who were almost adults would drink something out of a special cup, and be given their full powers: changing whenever they wanted, into whatever they wanted, and ‘no one could tell them from the birds in the air or the fish in the sea.’ I figured that meant full-on changes, not the ones where you keep your face. You could actually like be a viper, man.”

Griffin was giving him a dubious look. “Please don’t tell me you found the cup in an art museum.”

“I found the cup in an art museum. I think.”

“Scott, this is ridiculous.”

“So’s whatever you did to that first chicken strip.”

Griffin glanced at the bite remaining in his hand, and put it in his mouth, chewing the human way again. 

Scott wiped up the drop of ketchup with a napkin. His own sandwich and fries had vanished in minutes, and he was halfway through his strawberry milkshake. Scott had ended up six-two and broad-shouldered. He wasn’t as muscular as Griffin, who was an athlete, but he was big. Over winter break, Carl had teased him about still eating like a teenager.

“Dude, this might be how it’s supposed to work for you,” Scott said. “This might be totally natural, a progression into adulthood. And then, you know, we can go to that lake where your parents met. See if your mom’s there swimming around. Or some other relative or somebody. Maybe— maybe you have to be a fish yourself in order to make contact. You’ve never been a fish before. Just a seal and a peng—”

“We don’t talk about the penguin,” Griffin snapped.

“Oh, dude, you were so fucking cute.”

Griffin flashed two very large fangs at Scott. Scott tried not to find that as ridiculously arousing as he did. “Twelve’s an awkward age for everybody, man,” Scott managed to say.

“Yeah, well, you didn’t have flippers.”

Scott bit back a laugh. “So are you in or out? I’ll turn around and drive south if you want. We can hit the beach.”

Griffin sat there swishing the straw in his drink for a minute, and then shrugged. “Fine. I’m in. Regretting it already, but sure, let’s go— let’s go have a quest.”

oOo

The snow started not long after they left the cafe, falling thickly on the road, which began to wind as it led up into the mountains. “Guess spring comes a little later here,” Scott said. 

Griffin made a long-suffering noise. “So what’s the plan?”

Scott slowed as the car slipped a little on the road. “Ah— hotel tonight, in the town that has the museum. Woodsdale, which is a pretty big city for these parts. Museum in the morning, and then we drive back south, then east til we get to the lake where your parents met. I rented us a cabin there. Thought we should be isolated for— any possible shenanigans. Not as luxurious as Florida, sorry. But hey, mountains!” 

“Mountains in the snow,” Griffin observed.

“What quest does not have its hardships?” Scott said grandly.

They ran into their first hardship about ten miles outside of Woodsdale, on a road now fully clogged with snow. Scott had taken his car in for a check-up, but he hadn’t gone so far as to put chains on the tires. Now the back wheels were spinning uselessly on the road. 

Griffin groaned and started shedding clothes. “Let me get out and push.” Stripped of his t-shirt and jacket, he stepped outside the car, kicking off his shoes. He took his pants down and tossed them on the seat. Now in just his briefs, he gave Scott a pointed glare. “You would do this in a year when I don’t have fur.” 

Scott had not said a thing. He had not moved or probably even breathed since Griffin had started undressing. Because first there had been Griffin’s chest, which had filled out so nicely over the last few years, and even bore a little hair— a little fur?— as ice-blond as the hair on Griffin’s head. Then his pants had come off, and there he’d stood a second, glaring, looking like a college track star would, with thick calves and faint muscle definition over his stomach. 

The briefs didn’t conceal much, giving Scott a pretty good idea of the size and shape of Griffin’s cock. This wasn’t the first glimpse of him in underwear, of course, so Scott already knew that Griffin seemed equipped for his size, on the smaller side of average. Scott had further imagined that Griffin’s dick was pale, like the rest of him, maybe flushing if Griffin was aroused, with that white-blond hair at the bas,.

That all would have been enough to have Scott’s jeans feeling uncomfortably tight. But now— now Scott raised a shaking hand to the rear view mirror and tilted it to behold Griffin in his other form, green eyes with vertical pupils, fangs in his mouth that were visible when he grimaced, working on the car. He had bright green scales that turned yellow over his belly, and he was probably seven feet tall, with scaled arms strong enough that Scott actually felt the back of the car begin to lift as Griffin worked to free it.

Crucially— this was very crucial— Griffin had not dug into his suitcase for his enormous pair of elastic-waist shorts. Which meant. Which meant. That Griffin was back there naked. If Scott angled the mirror right, and Griffin stepped away from the car, then Scott would have his answer about whether or not Griffin currently had two—

“Scott!” Griffin yelled. “It’s fucking freezing. What are you doing?”

Scott remembered then that he should be trying to free the car. Because Griffin was trying to free the car. This was what they were doing, trying to free the car. He hit the gas pedal and felt another shove from Griffin, and the tires caught better road, moving the car forward.

Scott stared straight ahead as Griffin got dressed again. Scott had not imagined that this quest was going to be quite so difficult.

6

**Author’s note: This chapter is explicit, but I’m sorry to say that it’s solo**

It didn’t surprise Griffin at all that Scott had grown up to be such a sweet, caring person, giving up his spring break, planning all this to help Griffin.

 It also didn’t surprise Griffin that Scott had grown up tall, dark, and handsome, with soft brown eyes and skin that flushed rose in the sun, a broad chest and a frankly gorgeous smile. Griffin just didn’t know what he was going to do about it.

Especially with Scott being so into this damn quest thing. He was excited, clearly expecting Griffin to be enthusiastic, and Griffin just did not know how to tell Scott that he didn’t give a damn about any of it. 

Griffin was lonely. College was great. Griffin had friends. But he’d never had a boyfriend, and the guy he’d lost his virginity to had not been interested in another date after that. Which was fine, Griffin hadn’t really been either, because what on earth was going to happen when the guy figured out what Griffin was? But the loneliness was overwhelming. Griffin just wanted to be touched. 

Scott touched him, on the rare occasions they saw each other. Scott rode on his back and let himself be picked up by giant paws, and snuggled into Griffin’s fur on cold nights. But even that— even that was no longer enough for Griffin. It hadn’t been for a while. 

Griffin was in love, and he was alone. If he’d been no more than human, he’d probably have confessed to Scott by now, as desperate as he was, and suffered the fall-out: either requited love or the possible end of their friendship if he made Scott uncomfortable enough. But he wasn’t human, which meant having a romance was asking a lot of Scott, and so Griffin kept his mouth shut.

So no, Griffin didn’t really want to find his mother’s family or drink from a cup and become even less human. But he hated to disappoint Scott, who’d done so much to help him, out of that endless platonic affection Scott felt for him. And anyway, Scott was probably right, this might be Griffin’s destiny, and he should accept it. It wasn’t that Griffin was ashamed of being a shapeshifter, after all. He really liked being able to swallow food whole, and all the other ridiculous things he could do. 

He was just so fucking lonely.

Of course, Griffin suspected that by the end of this week, he was going to be desperate for some alone time. He and Scott had intended to share a hotel room in Florida. They’d always shared when they went places together, they were best friends. But every time they did, it got a little more difficult for Griffin to pretend that he didn’t want to pick Scott up like the tiny thing he was, pin him to the wall and see if he liked the feeling of scales against his naked skin. To share a bed, and while they were at it, a life together.

But it was better than not seeing Scott at all. So Griffin bit his tongue (not literally, those fangs were pretty dangerous) and kept quiet about all of it.

The parking lot of the Woodsdale Hotel had been plowed, so it was easy enough to find a spot and unload their suitcases. Scott and Griffin walked across the parking lot to grab dinner from the fast food restaurant next door. Back in the room, Griffin watched the snow fall outside the window. It was almost dark by now, so superimposed over the parking lot lights were the figures of Scott and Griffin, on their respective beds, and Scott rummaging in his suitcase for the book with the shapeshifter story.

Griffin expected the book to be dusty and bound in leather or something, but it was just a thick book with red library binding. 

“Do you want to hear what it would have sounded like, back then?” Scott asked. His cheeks were pink from the cold, and looked very pretty with his dark hair.

“Yeah, you nerd, let’s hear it.”

Scott started reading in some language that made Griffin feel like he was listening in on an English class taught at the bottom of a swimming pool. But Scott’s expression made Griffin aware that he was supposed to find this fascinating. “So that’s ancient English, then?” Griffin asked.

“Old English.”

“That’s what I said.”

Scott looked disgruntled. “No, Old English is the actual name of the language, you idiot. What do they teach you at that college of yours?”

“That old and ancient mean the same thing.” Antsy, Griffin stood up and pulled the curtains shut. It made the room seem brighter somehow. “Listen, I’m going to go take a shower. Some of us are cold-blooded, you know.”

“Well, hopefully, your new form tomorrow will have fur. Oh, but I brought something for you, cause I know you packed for Florida.” Scott leaned over his bed again, shuffling through his suitcase on the floor. The back of his shirt rode up, revealing a stretch of skin Griffin hadn’t seen for a while. He made himself look away.

Scott sat up, holding a red sweater. “Thought you might want this.”

Griffin took the sweater silently. It was too big for him, and it smelled like Scott. 

Yeah, definitely time for a shower.

Under the hot water, Griffin went straight to what he’d been thinking about since lunch— unhinging his jaw and taking Scott’s dick into his mouth as far as it would go. It didn’t take long for Griffin to get hard in his soapy fist. When he imagined Scott coming down his throat, Griffin came all over his fingers, leaning on the shower wall to catch his breath.

Hopefully now he could wear the damned sweater and survive the night.

oOo

The Woodsdale Art Museum was bigger than Griffin expected. According to its information pamphlet, it had been created to house some rich dude’s art collection after he croaked, and the town hoped it would bring in tourists. (The pamphlet didn’t phrase it quite like that.) 

It was also apparently different than Scott had expected. As they walked through the three galleries, passing by an exhibit on 19th century bookbinding and one on early American painters, Scott was paying more attention to the ceilings and walls. Griffin began to have a sinking feeling.

They ended up in the exhibit on American folklore, and there, on a shelf, was a clay cup with what were probably runes on its base. Scott would no doubt know what they said.

“Kinda just figured we’d ask to see it,” Scott said. “Like study it. You know, say we were from our universities. But— the website didn’t have pictures. I didn’t know it was on display. I don’t think they’re going to let us.”

“Scott,” Griffin said, pressing his hands to his forehead, “Scott, my dearest friend in all the world, please tell me this is not a heist.”

“Well, look,” Scott said. “It’s not like we’re going to keep it.”

“Dear God.”

“And they don’t have security cameras. Or guards. Still, I think it will be safer if we come by when they’re not open.”

“Scott—”

“And we’ll give it back. We’ll mail it or leave it somewhere and make a call. Look, you need this cup far more than they ever will.” Scott looked so earnest that it was hard for Griffin to disagree. 

“All right,” he said finally, “but this settles once and for all the question of which one of us gets us into trouble.”

The museum closed at five, and it was already dark by then, as it was winter and the mountains cast early shadows. They approached the museum from the woods behind it, on foot. Scott stopped a moment in the parking lot, looking at the back door with its keyhole. “You don’t have claws right now, do you?” he asked.

Griffin gave him a look of exasperation and pulled on the door with his fully human hand. After a screeching protest, the lock gave way and the door opened.

“Huh,” Scott said. It was dark, but it looked like he’d flushed bright red.

“What?” Griffin asked.

“Nothing. Let’s go, that was loud.”

“Well, excuse me for not bringing my lock picking kit. If someone had told me that we were planning a heist—”

Scott gave Griffin a shove into the building, and Griffin allowed himself to be moved. The museum was very different in the dark, lit only by exit signs. “Can you see?” Scott asked.

“Only if something’s warm.”

“Wait, really? Vipers have heat vision?”

“What do they teach you in that college of yours?”

Scott turned on his phone’s flashlight and soon they located the cup, sitting on a shelf. Griffin consoled himself with the thought that they wouldn’t have to break any display glass. Scott picked up the cup like it was precious, wrapping it in a soft cloth and placing it in a bag. “Cool,” he said. “Second heist— a success!”

At that moment, they heard tires in the parking lot, followed by a vehicle coming to a stop, and after a moment, the sound of a car door.

“You had to say it,” Griffin hissed. He was very good at hissing right now.

Scott turned off his flashlight, and they were in darkness again. “Guess they had a door alarm. Okay, well— plan B.” 

“Let me guess, plan B is me.”

“Sorry, dude, but I’m betting you’re way more interesting than a missing cup.”

“Thanks?” Griffin took off his jacket. “So do you want me to just lead him on a chase or should I eat him?”

For a second, Scott was silent. Then he shut his mouth with an audible snap. “Funny.”

“You deserved that. Here, take my clothes.”

“You’re, um— you’re going to do this naked?” Scott’s voice sounded raspy.

“Didn’t bring my shorts. Anyway, it’s dark, and the idea is not to let him get too good a look at me. Just enough to give him nightmares.”

“Oh, you’re not that bad.”

Griffin gave a low laugh as he stripped off his pants in the darkness. “You only think that because I haven’t tried scaring you in a few years. Maybe I’ll give it a shot tonight. My last night as a viper.”

Griffin expected a come-back. Bring it on, dude. But Scott was silent. He must have been more worried about the heist than Griffin thought. “Hey, don’t worry,” Griffin said. “I got this.” He handed Scott the last of his clothes and began the stretch of himself with relief, pulling back the human side and letting the viper out. 

Of course, Griffin was definitely more monster than viper, since he still had arms and legs. He did also have a tail, which was always nice. Griffin unhinged his jaw to let his fangs settle in properly. As they heard the front door of the museum unlock and open, he put a scaled hand on Scott’s shoulder, now below him. “Out the back with you. I’ll meet you at the hotel.”

“I’ll be ready with the car,” Scott told him. “We’ll get right on the road.”

Griffin watched Scott’s heated form stumble in the dark on the way to the back door, and then he focused on the cop walking through the museum with his flashlight. Griffin crept to where he could see the man, and let out a hiss. The man startled, and swung his flashlight around. Griffin sneaked past him in the dark, until he got to the front door. Another hiss, and the man turned around in time to catch a glimpse of Griffin in the doorway, lit by the parking lot lights.

“What the fuck?” the man yelled. Griffin slipped through the door and into the woods, in the opposite direction of Scott. He heard the man following him with heavy steps. 

Griffin hated to think Scott was right about any of this, but he did have to admit this was a lot more fun than sitting on a beach in Florida.

***********

Ah, to be 22, in love, and stupid <3

 

7

It was, Scott discovered, not easy to be the getaway driver.

As he sat in the hotel parking lot, the anticipation was monstrous— pun not really intended— and Scott’s anxiety made him drum his fingers on the passenger seat, which he hoped Griffin would soon occupy. It didn’t really matter that Griffin had promised to scare Scott. Scott was scared enough already. 

The heist had been a stupid idea. But this was the first and only lead they’d ever gotten on Griffin’s family, and that made everything worth it. 

The cup sat in a bag on the back seat of the car. Scott hadn’t been sure they’d actually get their hands on it, but now that they had— Scott just kept thinking about Griffin turning into a fish, jumping into a lake, joining his people who weren’t really people, and never coming back.

But Griffin deserved to have that choice, no matter how much Scott was regretting ever having seen that damn Old English book. The last thing Scott ever wanted to do was to hold Griffin back from his true self. From his best life.

It had stopped snowing, and Scott watched the plows move down the street, ponderous and mighty, passing with an oddly hushed roar. The streetlights shone on rising piles of snow, crusted with dirt from the street.

And then there was something else, in the streetlight for one second, and then gone again into the darkness. Something large and agile.

Scott hoped that was Griffin. Scott hoped Griffin would get his scare in and then put his damn clothes on and then they could go. Scott didn’t really care if he made a fool of himself or screamed. Just so long as he didn’t get an erection. Fuck, Griffin being able to wrench that door open—

But all that happened was that Griffin appeared, in human form, by the back door, opening it in the shadows and pulling on the clothes Scott had left there. Griffin dropped into the front seat beside Scott, cheeks flushed with cold or exertion, and a huge smile on his face. He wore Scott’s red sweater, with nothing between it and his heated skin.

Scott fought his arousal at that sight as he turned on the headlights and started pulling out of the lot. “No scare, then?” he asked.

Griffin gave a low laugh. “As if you haven’t been scared for the last twenty minutes. Anyway, I had a lot of fun scaring our security guard. He’ll have a good story to tell.” He grinned at Scott. “So— second heist, successful.”

oOo

Scott had arranged for a late check-in to the cabin, and they found their key waiting around nine p.m. It was a hunting cabin, so not much more than a couple of beds and a bathroom, a fridge and microwave, no TV or wifi.

“Rustic,” Griffin said.

“Isolated. It’s your birthday tomorrow.”

Griffin flopped onto one of the narrow beds. Scott’s sweater was too big, and it slid down to show one bare shoulder. “Ah, yes,” he said.

Scott busied himself checking on the cup in its wrapping. “Maybe you’ll be a cute little squirrel.”

“Fuck off,” Griffin said amiably. “I haven’t been an herbivore in eight years. And I’m not going to be a little anything.”

Scott tried very hard not to flush red at that thought. “Well— you’re due for some plant-eating, then. What about a moose?”

“You know what? Moose are awesome, man. I could be a moose. Carry you around in my antlers.” Griffin yawned. 

“We can use the cup, do the ritual the day after your birthday,” Scott said, watching Griffin curl up on the bedspread. The cabin was so small that it would only be a few steps until he reached Griffin’s bed. He could sit there beside him, put out a hand, tug the sweater up to cover his shoulder. He could cup Griffin’s cheek in his hand, run his fingers through his pale hair. It would be soft as fur, Scott imagined. 

Griffin was so small that it would actually not be that difficult to share one of these beds, the two of them. What would it be like waking up with Griffin in his arms? Scott rarely woke up with anybody in his arms. Compared to Griffin, everyone else was so— ordinary.

Scott’s gaze moved from Griffin’s shoulder to his face, and was shocked to see Griffin staring back at him. Scott had no idea what expression he’d been wearing for the last few minutes. “We should get some sleep,” Scott said hastily. “Big day tomorrow.”

Griffin sat up, looking away now. “I need to take a shower.”

oOo

They stood out in the snow the following night, sheltered by trees like they always had been in Griffin’s backyard, but now also by the mountains. You couldn’t see them, because the sun had set, but the darkness surrounding the cabin felt weightier than just the open sky.

Griffin was wearing only his enormous elastic-waist shorts, held up with his fist. He shivered a little, bare feet in the snow. Scott desperately wanted to put his arms around him and keep him warm in these last few minutes before the change. It wouldn’t be safe to hold onto Griffin after that, as much as Scott wished he could. The first change into a new form was always a bit uncomfortable.  

Griffin started wiggling, as if his body itched. He rubbed his free hand on his forehead, clearly trying to soothe an ache. His feet stamped in the snow a couple of times, bleached white with cold, and then they began to grow dark. 

“Here we go,” Scott said softly. He watched as Griffin’s feet transitioned away from human skin and into dark fur, enormous paws making much larger marks in the snow. Griffin’s whole body swelled out and up, the shorts stretching to fit over a wide waist. Scott looked up to find broad shoulders and a furry face with small round ears. Griffin’s eyes were dark, but his features remained a mix of human and— “Bear,” Scott said. “You’re a bear.”

Griffin was still twitching, rubbing his paws over himself and rolling his shoulders. But he sounded relieved when he said,  “That is a lot warmer.” He looked down and gave Scott a grin that bore some fearsome teeth. “Tallest one yet,” I think. “Eight feet?”

“You wish. Hey, aren’t bears partial herbivores?”

“The term is omnivore,” Griffin said snootily. “Like humans.” He scratched at one ear with an enormous claw. The motion made his whole body shake and Scott could hold out no longer. He let his gaze drift down to the shorts Griffin was wearing. Within them, he could see the outline of something very large.

“Okay, gonna take it for a spin,” Griffin said.

Scott’s eyes shot back up to his face. “What?”

Griffin scratched at his nose and then came down on all fours in the snow with a whump sound. “Gonna go for a run.”

“Oh, right.”

“I’ll take you along on the next one. Let me get used to this.” Griffin took a step, and promptly staggered sideways, ending up on his butt in the snow with one paw caught under himself. “God damn it.”

“Yeah, no rush,” Scott said, laughing. “You take your time, track star.”

Griffin was gone about half an hour. Scott made sure the light outside the cabin was turned on, although Griffin usually had a pretty good sense of direction, even in an unfamiliar place. Alone, Scott threw away the trash left over from their microwave mac-n-cheese dinner and tidied their mess of belongings in the bathroom.

They could do this, Scott thought. Live together, him and Griffin. They’d done it growing up and they could resume it now, get an apartment after they graduated. One bedroom, two incomes. Have a little kitchen and a really big bed, and he’d make Griffin vacuum everyday to get his fur off the carpet. They’d put Griffin’s track medals up on the wall and go off to whatever jobs they got after college and gripe about their loans together and just— be. Together. They could get married. Carl could walk them down the aisle one after the other.

But of course, that all depended on Griffin. And on Scott’s bravery and communication skills, both of which were a little shaky when it came to the love of his life. And that damned cup that Scott could see sitting on top of the mini fridge. 

There was a loud but muffled sound outside the cabin and Scott opened the door. “Well?”

Griffin was half-covered in snow, his eyes wide and his mouth open as he panted slowly. Looking up, Scott realized that he probably was eight feet tall, the bastard. 

“I can climb trees!” Griffin announced. “Great claws for that.”

“Well, you’re not taking me up any trees—” Scott gave a yelp as Griffin caught him in a paw that spanned from his waist to his shoulders. Griffin tugged him close, against his fur, which was coarse but very warm. 

“Have I ever dropped you?” Griffin protested. “Except for that one time?”

“Once is enough, thank you.”

“Well, don’t wiggle, then.” Griffin dropped onto all fours and lifted Scott as if he weighed nothing, half-tossing him onto his back. 

Scott scooted until he had his legs balanced and hands gripping securely. “Slow,” he ordered, and at first, Griffin obeyed. He had a lumbering walk like this, with a heavy shift from side to side. “How’s it handle?” Scott asked.

“A little unwieldy in the feet. They’re so heavy I feel like I’m going to punch through the ground when I come down.”

Scott had been trying not to think about the paws, how small he felt against them. If Griffin wanted to, he could—

“But they do climb trees well,” Griffin said.

“Dude, seriously, no trees.”

He could hear a smile in Griffin’s voice. “Oh, come on. I did promise you a scare.”

In the end, of course, Griffin didn’t climb with Scott on his back. But that didn’t make Scott feel any more steady when they arrived back at the cabin, having spent an hour snuggled into the warmth of Griffin’s fur. 

8

The next day, Scott held the cup in his hands. Griffin didn’t reach for it. His own hands were shaking.

“We just put water in it?” Griffin asked, trying to lighten the mood. “I don’t get to have champagne or like, ale or whatever they drank back then?”

“This is probably the sort of thing that’s best done sober,” Scott said. He was frowning at the book on his lap, looking from it to the cup and back again. 

Scott probably didn’t realize how well Griffin could read him. According to Scott’s words, everything was wonderful, but there was a tightness around his dark eyes that gave away his anxiety. 

“It’s fine if it doesn’t work,” Griffin said. “I mean, I don’t think it can hurt me to drink water from a cup.”

“Of course not,” Scott said, and went on looking worried. 

They were sitting on Griffin’s bed, cross-legged. Scott had made the beds this morning. He had become a neat freak, a relatively new development. Growing up, his room had always been a disaster, but somewhere along the way in college, he’d gone the other direction. Another change Scott had made without Griffin knowing why. Their years apart weighed so much more heavily than Griffin wanted them to.

Outside, it was snowing so hard that the trees opposite the cabin had disappeared. The storm had started before dawn, with a howling wind that sounded a lot closer than it would have in the city, here broken only by trees and not rows of buildings. 

They’d heard the forecast when they’d arrived, so they’d stocked the cabin with food and water. Still, the storm made Griffin uneasy, the cabin seeming a little claustrophobic.

“Okay,” Scott said. “I think there’s just a couple steps to it. You drink the water, and I’ll read the— the spell, I guess? Incantation?”

“Limerick?” Griffin suggested. Scott shot him a look of irritation. “And then what?” Griffin asked. 

“Then you— become you, I guess. More you. More— your other half.” 

Griffin opened his mouth, convinced in that moment that it was time to put an end to the whole thing. It’s fine, he could say. There’s only one thing I need and it’s not this. 

But then Scott smiled, looking truly pleased. “I can’t wait to see you. The true you.” 

He offered Griffin the cup, and Griffin took it.

Griffin had not actually touched the cup before that moment, and when he did, he felt like his body lurched to one side, like the bear’s walk. Something inside of him— shifted. And in the space it left behind, Griffin’s lungs could open in a way they never had before. He felt like he could breathe more deeply than he ever had. His hands stopped shaking. 

“You okay?” Scott asked.

“I’m—” Griffin’s voice sounded strangely faint to his ears. “Yeah.”

“We don’t have to do this, you know.”

Griffin raised his head and found the room had gone slightly out of focus. The mini fridge was a trapezoid; the snow outside the window seemed to phase into the room with them. But the cup was clear and sharp to his sight. “I want to,” Griffin said, utterly truthful.

Griffin felt Scott get up, but he kept his eyes on the cup and the symbols on its base. Scott came back with a plastic cup of water from the sink. 

“What does it say?” Griffin asked, rubbing his thumb over the runes.

Scott’s voice was hushed. “‘Breathe and be free’. Same as the limerick. It gets a little wordier, but that’s the gist of it. Sounds kind of nice.”

“It does.” Griffin looked up to see Scott smiling, though his face was blurry.

Scott poured the water into the cup. The sound of it came clear and loud into the hushed room. Griffin wondered if it sounded that way to Scott, or if his hearing had gone the way of his eyes, focusing only on the cup. 

“Outside,” Griffin said. 

“It’s snowing pretty bad, dude. There’s room in here, even if you hit eight feet tall.”

“Outside,” Griffin said again. He carefully set the cup on the bedside table and started stripping off his clothes. His hands began to ache without the cup in them. “Help me,” he said feeling frantic, and Scott was there, pulling his arms free from Scott’s sweater, helping to tug off his shoes. Griffin had no thought for his nakedness now. Free of clothes, he picked up the cup and stumbled toward the door.

He was aware of Scott behind him, saying something in a cautionary tone. Griffin made it outside into the snow, and turned to see Scott in the doorway, still blurry, holding the book. He seemed to meet Griffin’s eyes. 

“Breathe and be free,” Scott said, and then he started in on the strange almost-English from his book.

Griffin took a drink from the cup, and this time, the whole world shifted.

Above and beyond almost anything else, Griffin loved to run. On two legs or four, with fur on his belly or hair on his head, all that mattered was the wind in his face and the feeling of his body moving in a way it had always seemed built for. 

Griffin ran now, and it was ecstasy. But a different kind than he’d ever felt before. He’d expected to find himself growing into some new form or forms, but instead he felt completely apart from his body. He could not feel feet or legs. He only knew that he was running.

At one point, Griffin looked down on the tops of trees and realized he was flying for the first time since the age of eleven. He tried to cry out with joy and it came as the scream of a bird.

That was what finally woke him, sobered him. Griffin had never before lost his human voice. Something had definitely changed. 

Griffin didn’t understand how to land this body he couldn’t feel, but somehow, he ended up in a snowbank, slowed to a stop finally, breathing heavily. Griffin became aware again of the storm. He was in a clearing, so the snow came down on him directly. 

Griffin looked at himself and for the first time saw that he had blue wings. He couldn’t quite tell how large he was, and before he could try to measure, he had paws instead, large and black, less furry than a bear. 

Griffin had an urge to shake himself, and did, until snow went flying from his flanks. His tongue lolled out of his mouth as he panted, and when he tried to make a sound, it came out as a muffled woof.

A dog. He hadn’t been a dog since he was eight. The year he met Scott.

Scott. Griffin looked around, frantic. Where was Scott? Where was the cabin? “Shit,” he said, and it came out as a growl. He decided to go looking, stumbled forward, and promptly buried his nose in snow. When he tried to stand up instead, the full answer hit him.

He was a dog. Not a dog/human hybrid monster that could wear clothes. An actual dog. Low to the ground, and apparently not a super furry breed. What finally brought Griffin fully into awareness of his new body was the shivering. 

“Oh, fuck,” he barked. He stumbled forward, nose plowing through the snow. Eventually, he realized he was trying to scent a path. But there was no way for a nose to follow a bird’s flight. 

Okay, Griffin. Think. What’s the worst problem you have right now?

Cold. It was the cold. Griffin dropped down in the snow by instinct, hiding from the wind. 

Come on. Think big. Big and warm.

You were a bear only yesterday. 

Griffin held still and waited for the itching and jerky movements to start. But there was still only the shivering. 

Oh, God, he was going to be a dog for the rest of his life. And it wasn’t going to be a very long life.

Griffin could feel panic rising in him. He’d never minded being out in the woods by himself before, but that was when he knew— when he knew where home was. Home and Scott. 

Griffin closed his eyes, trying to calm himself.

And then he could remember Scott, back in the cabin, saying Breathe, and be free.

Griffin breathed. In and out, and in and out, and then there was fur everywhere, and his mouth was full of snow.

Coughing, Griffin stood up— much farther up— and looked down to see massive bear paws. In this new body, the winter wind became an irritation rather than a danger. Pleased, Griffin gave a growl that rolled across the clearing and into the trees. He still had no voice. He was a bear completely.

All right, we can deal with that later. Now where the fuck is Scott?

Bears had instincts, right? Innate direction-finding. Sure. Normally the day after his birthday Griffin would spend a while looking up his new animal form on the internet, but there was no way to do that now. But he knew a bear had to have a sense of direction. How else were polar bears able to function without landmarks?

Griffin closed his eyes and thought about the cabin, with its porch light, its microwave mac-n-cheese, its strange and powerful magic cup, and its two beds, just far enough apart that he couldn’t feel the warmth of Scott in the night, no matter how much he wanted to. 

Griffin started walking. The snow lessened as he got under tree cover, and the wind was broken by bare branches and thick curtains of pine needles. Griffin plodded on, slow and steady. He had the urge to run— when did he not?— but he wanted to pay attention to his surroundings. Hopefully he’d notice if he started going in circles.

Griffin had no idea how far he’d flown, but he must have walked twenty minutes before the wind dipped a second and Griffin thought he heard his name. It faded, and Griffin was at a loss, unsure if he’d imagined Scott’s voice. 

Then came the totally out-of-place screech of rock music. Scott must have pulled up a song he’d downloaded on his phone, probably because his voice was getting tired. The music sounded odd to bear ears, but Griffin could follow it. Now he began to run.

It occurred to Griffin only at the last second, as he burst out of the tree cover and into the cabin’s front yard, that Scott might not recognize him. That Scott would see only a bear come dashing out of the woods toward him. 

Griffin stopped running so suddenly that he tipped onto his rear and sent a cloud of snow flying around him.

Scott was standing by the front door, bundled into his winter coat, his face red with cold. “Well,” he said, “I’d recognize your clumsy ass anywhere.”

Griffin gave some retort, but it was nothing but a bear’s growl. 

Scott’s face lost its wind-chapped color. “Fuck. You really are like, an actual bear. Um— well, it’s time to change back. Got a nice warm cabin here.”

Griffin made a noise that sounded morose. 

“Okay,” Scott said, his hands out like he might be able to do something useful with them. “Okay. Okay. Shit. I’m sorry, this is my fault, the cup—”

Griffin made some sort of disagreeable noise, and Scott raised his eyebrows. “How fucking weird is it that I can still understand you? Okay. Let’s see. Um— breathing, right? Breathing? You’re nodding. Cool. Uh—” Scott approached Griffin, buffeted by the wind. Griffin moved to block the wind with his bulk, trying to keep Scott warmer.

“I’m going to look like a real idiot if you’re actually a wild bear,” Scott said. “Don’t know how I’d explain that one. Well, you see, my best friend is sometimes a bear, so it was an honest mistake.” Gingerly, he reached out a hand and touched Griffin’s shoulder. When Griffin didn’t move, Scott put his other hand beside it. 

“I know it’s you in there,” Scott said softly, looking up into Griffin’s face. “You’re still you. We’re still us. I know you like being all fierce like this, but it’s time to pack it in for the night. I’m freezing my ass off out here.” Scott moved his hand up to Griffin’s cheek. “Come back to me, Griffin. Come on back.”

Griffin felt like he fell a great distance, but it was only the height of the bear’s shoulders. He landed in the snow, human again, naked, too shocked to be cold. 

“Oh, thank fuck,” Scott said, and scooped him up in his arms. They were in the cabin before Griffin could say anything. Scott set him on his bed and wrapped him in a blanket. 

Griffin had never been so happy in all his life to look up at Scott’s face, confronted by his great height, and he grasped Scott by the arm before he could move away. 

Griffin tugged Scott down and kissed him. Scott, his guiding light, his rescue. His home.

It was a surprise to both of them, a faint press of lips that they both backed away from immediately.

“Sorry,” Griffin said, his human voice shaking. “Sorry, sorry—”

“Are you?” Scott asked. He was pale and his eyes roamed over Griffin’s face almost frantically.

“No.”

Scott put a hand behind Griffin’s head, pulled him forward and up, and kissed him, this time hard and unending.

***********

Next: SMUT (all human)

The kiss was desperately hungry, and not just on Scott’s part. Scott couldn’t bear to break the kiss long enough to speak, so he asked his questions with his body, hands and fingers. A light, shivery touch on Griffin’s arms, and Griffin pushed closer, wanting a tighter hold. A caress against Griffin’s cheek and he pressed into it, accepting the loving touch. Whatever this was, it was not a misunderstanding or simple curiosity. Griffin wanted it too.

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