The Wolves of Diana
"All right, everyone, welcome to this week's Wolves of Diana meeting!"
"Ar-arooo-aroo!" Everyone jumped into the chorus of barking and howling, a thread of laughter beneath their howling. Askr loved this group all the more every time they did this; his parent's support group had always taken themselves far, far too seriously. It was probably the group's location in the middle of a college town—college city, really—that made the difference, but Askr wasn't complaining.
"Okay," the group leader clapped his hands once as the pretend howling faded, calling everyone's attention to him. "You guys know how we've had at least one new member every week for the past month?" Mr. Greyson asked. "Well, this week we have yet another one!" he beckoned someone forth from the shadows amidst everyone's good-natured groans and laughs. "This is Sidney."
"Sindri," the young man corrected. He stood comfortably in front of the group—shy, but confident in the spotlight. "I'm a transfer student from Minneapolis; thought Wisconsin might be a bit more my style."
"What year are you?" someone else asked, although Askr barely heard her, his focus entirely consumed by Sindri in a way that no one had ever been before.
Askr's eyes were trapped by Sindri's, urging him to stop looking past the group's members and to look at him.
"I'm a sophomore," Sindri said, "and before you ask I'm study...ing..." he trailed off as he finally met Askr's gaze. There was a near-audible click as they stared at each other, the rest of the room vanishing until it was just the two of them present—at least until everyone else started to laugh.
Offended and annoyed that their connection had been broken, Askr turned to glare at the laughers.
"Looks like Sy—Sindri made the right choice in transferring here," Mr. Greyson said, correcting himself over the name.
"I always love being present when mates find each other," sighed Kristen, the group's new-age pagan and hopeless romantic.
"Mates," Askr echoed. Not every werewolf found his soul-mate—the statistics were close to one in five—and Askr had always assumed he'd be one of those who didn't. Not for any particular reason, he just didn't think he was soul-mate material, really. His eyes slipped back to Sindri and he smiled slowly, seeing an echoing smile on Sindri's face.
"There's the back room, if you two need a minute," someone said with a snicker.
Askr and Sindri blushed in unison and turned away from each other. Sindri sat on the other side of the circle of chairs, and Askr did his best to focus on what the meeting was actually about.
The meeting dragged on forever and then ended too soon, and before Askr could fully disentangle himself from his chair Sindri was at his side.
"Hey," Sindri said, smiling stupidly.
"Hey," Askr replied, bumping their shoulders as he walked past, headed for the door. Sindri walked alongside him.
"So we're—" Sindri said, brushing closer.
"Yeah," Askr replied, turning to look at his newly-minted mate once they were outside the building. "We are."
Sindri stepped closer and tipped his head, slowly moving in for a kiss.
Under any other circumstances, Askr would have thought it too soon, but this was his soul-mate, it wasn't like how he waited nearly three months before kissing—
"Oh," Askr said, stumbling back. He shook his head to clear it. "We can't do this."
Sindri actually stumbled forward a bit at Askr's retreat. "What?" he said, blinking in confusion.
"I—oh god," Askr muttered. "Oh god."
"Don't tell me you're not gay or some shit like that," Sindri said, sounding almost annoyed.
"No, no, that's not it," Askr said, sliding down the wall that had stopped his retreat and curling at its base. He buried his head in his knees and tried to calm his breathing and his hormones. "It's just that I—I have a boyfriend." And dear god he loved Regan with all his heart—or so he'd thought until just this very evening, when he suddenly discovered he was mated to Sindri—and automatically in love with him. But he still loved Regan, and he couldn't imagine life without him.
"So..." Sindri said. He didn't say anything else, but Askr could already tell Sindri was trying to find a polite way of saying 'dump him.'
"I can't," Askr said. "I love him, and we live together and I just—I can't."
Sindri sighed and settled next to Askr against the wall. "It's okay," he said. "We'll figure something out."
Askr went home depressed and torn. Sindri was all Askr had ever wanted—all he would ever want—but Regan was the man Askr had met and dated and learned to love. They'd been going out for two years already, and it wasn't something Askr could just drop when someone better came along. He couldn't do that to Regan. He couldn't.
"Hey, Regan," Askr called as he entered their shared apartment.
"Hey," Regan replied, scampering up from his seat on the couch and running over to hug Askr hello. "Is everything okay?"
Askr sighed. "We had a difficult topic tonight at group," he said. "I'll be fine." Askr didn't like lying to Regan, but it was only about group and about being a werewolf, and it wasn't like he could just tell Regan 'oh, I met my soul-mate this afternoon; I love you, but he and I are fated to be together.' It just wouldn't go over so well.
"If you want to talk about it..." Regan offered.
Askr shook his head. "No, I just—how was your day?"
Regan saw the change in subject, but after so many months of dating, he'd learned not to ask about Askr's 'support group.' "My day was fine," he said. "Class was pretty typical, although if Will in Bio mentions Intelligent Design one more time I will not be held accountable for my actions."
Regan went on about his day, Askr made them both tea, and eventually they were settled in the living room. Regan was on his computer, and Askr was staring blankly at his Russian textbook. "What do you think of threesomes?" Askr asked.
"What?" Regan said, turning away from the computer and blinking at Askr. "Just how kinky are those Russians?" He nodded at the book open on Askr's lap.
Askr smiled. "I was spacing out. But seriously, what do you think of threesomes?"
"Why are you asking?" Regan's expression turned slightly nervous; a bad sign.
"I've been thinking about them lately," Askr said, trying to make it sound like 'lately' meant more than just 'since meeting this afternoon' "And I thought I'd ask your opinion on them. It's not like I have one planned out; I just want to know if you'd be into that or if it's something that will forever remain as a fantasy in my head."
Regan bit his lip. "I don't really think of them much, so I don't know. I've never thought I wanted to have one, but I suppose it could be interesting."
"I'm not trying to pressure you into anything," Askr said. "I'm just—"
"I know," Regan said. "Let me think about it, and I'll get back to you."
Askr smiled. "We could always rent a few pornos with threeways, see if we're still interested."
Regan scrunched his nose. "We could," he said, although it wasn't exactly agreement. It had been a joke, anyway; they never rented porn.
"Did you two have fun this week?" Kristin asked as they all settled into their seats at the next week's Wolves of Diana meeting.
Askr and Sindri looked at each other, neither willing to explain that they'd had barely any contact since last week's meeting. Luckily Mr. Greyson came in before they had to, and called the meeting to order.
"Next week is our bring-a-friend meeting," Greyson said after the howling had died down. "And the Thursday after that is the full moon. "We're going to the Heindel's property as usual—" he nodded at the middle-aged couple, who smiled their agreement. "—but I thought there was some complication with driving, right?"
"I'm lending the van to a friend," Nina Latimer said. "I can still fit four—five including me—in my sedan, but that's at least two seats we don't have."
A couple other people volunteered to drive, and everything was sorted out pretty quickly.
"Great," Mr. Greyson said, making a few notes in the margins. "If there is nothing else, we can—"
"I have something," Askr said, holding up his hand.
"We have something," Sindri corrected.
Mr. Greyson waved at them to continue.
"As you all realized, we're mates," Askr said, waving a hand between himself and Sindri. "But we're not—" he winced and blushed "—we haven't consummated it yet, because I'm still dating Regan."
There was a variety of disappointed and disgusted faces made at that comment.
"We realize some of you disapprove," Sindri added, "but it's our choice, and for now we ask that you respect that—and Regan if he comes next week."
"Isn't it deadly not to sleep with your mate?" Ryanna, one of the other college-aged werewolves, asked.
Professor Wight, their local lore-master raised his hand and started to speak. "I'll have to look up the specific timeline, but I want to say it's eight months before you show any side effects from not sleeping with your destined mate. After that you go insane, and possibly die, although it rarely comes to that."
"You can go longer than a year without being intimate with your mate," Annita said—her mate had died years ago.
"That is correct," Professor Wight said. "Once you've gone through First Mating, there are no penalties for abstinence."
"There's you solution," Aiden said—he was another college lad, proudly wearing his fraternity's hoodie. "Just fuck, get it out of your system and go live in happiness with your boyfriend." As a rule werewolves were more accepting of homosexuality than the general populace, but there were still a few holdouts. Aiden had called Askr derogatory names for almost two months after he'd joined before the older wolves had taken him aside. He was nicer now, but not because he wanted to be.
"There's more to First Mating than that," Kristen said, her expression full of the romance of it all.
"Not much more," Professor Wight said. "It just needs to be on the night of the new moon, really."
"Does it have to be intercourse?" Ryanna asked.
Askr felt himself turning bright red, although he did want to know the answer to that question—he just would never have been able to ask it.
The professor shrugged. "I think so, but I'll have to look it up. I can prepare the information for our next meeting and—"
"No," someone interrupted. "Not with our friends around you can't."
The gathered werewolves laughed uncomfortably at the image of such a topic being presented to their non-werewolf friends and significant others.
"After the full moon I can shift everything back for this topic," Mr. Greyson said, checking his schedule. "If you think it's important enough. Otherwise there's an opening in April."
There was a general consensus for shifting the other topics farther back, and Mr. Greyson made a few more notes on his papers.
"I can email you two my findings sooner than that," Professor Wight added, nodding at Sindri and Askr.
"Thanks," Askr said.
Askr had carefully chosen the movie for that week's cuddly-movie-night; it was one with a cheating spouse and eventual forgiveness. "I don't know," Askr said when it was over. "Would you rather you knew beforehand your spouse was going to cheat, or would you prefer to find out after the fact?"
"What the hell sort of question is that?" Regan asked.
Askr shrugged. "I think I'd like to know before if you were going to cheat," he said. "So I could give you permission and we wouldn't need to fight about it later."
"I wouldn't want to cheat, Ask," Regan said.
"I know that," Askr replied. "I'm just saying. And I want to know; if it was me, would you rather I asked permission or just fucked someone on the side?"
Regan pulled away from where they'd been cuddled on the couch so he could look at Askr. "Fuck," he said. "There's someone else, isn't there?"
There were a few secrets Askr kept—there were a few that he had to keep—but he made up for it with being unable to lie successfully about anything else, and Regan could read the answer on Askr's before Askr said a word.
"Fuck," Regan repeated. "Just fuck."
Askr buried his face in his hands. "I—we haven't—we haven't, and I never will. But I fear it will drive me mad." It wasn't even a fear, really; he'd gotten Professor Greyson's email, detailing not only how long it would take to go mad and die, but also exactly how that would happen.
Regan wasn't really listening, though. Instead he was pacing back and forth across their tiny living room. "I cannot believe you would do this to me," Regan said.
"I didn't," Askr moaned. "Not yet."
"I should have known something was up when you asked that goddamn threesome question; that was about him, wasn't it?"
Askr nodded miserably, not even trying to talk until Regan was finished.
"And where the hell did you meet this—this—rrrgh!" Regan ended with a growl of frustration, his hands curled into fists.
"I met him at group," Askr said.
"Well isn't that just fucking perfect," Regan snapped. He stormed into their bedroom and slammed the door. A second later it opened again, and a flying blanket landed smack in Askr's face.
Askr made puppy-eyes at the closed door, but Regan didn't have x-ray vision and couldn't see them, so they did no good. Dammit, this is exactly what I was hoping to avoid, Askr thought as he stretched out and spread the blanket over himself.
If Regan broke up with him over this it might be for the best, though. Then Askr could be with Sindri and everyone would be...able to move on, if not happy. Eventually we'd all be happy, though Askr didn't look forward to living through the time between a break-up and that eventual happiness. Nor did he want to put Regan through it. Still, there wasn't much he could do right now.
"Where is he?" Regan asked, looking around at the people who attended the support group.
"He's not here yet," Askr said quietly. Regan never really came to group, and didn't know anyone there. The fact that Askr was now ignoring his mate in favor of Regan put up an even-more-awkward-than-usual tension in the room between most of the attendees and Regan.
"Where's Sindri?" Aiden asked, walking over with a giant smirk on his face. His smug look did nothing to help Askr's case.
"How the hell should I know?" Askr asked, turning away from the door.
"You're Regan, right?" Aiden said. "Have you met Sindri yet?"
Luckily Regan knew an asshole when he saw one, even if Aiden was pushing the right buttons. "Have we met?"
"Regan, this is Aiden," Askr said. "He's the homophobic prick I've told you about."
"Oh," Regan said. "And where is your friend for the evening?" He looked around, but Aiden didn't have anyone close enough to bring. It didn't usually bother Aiden much, but now he looked annoyed. Still, before he could respond, Mr. Greyson called Aiden away.
Askr heaved a silent sigh of relief.
There was a tap on his shoulder. "Hey," Sindri said as Askr turned around.
Askr almost went for a hug—being this close without touching was a subtle form of torture—but he remembered himself just in him. "Hey," he said. "This is Regan. Regan, Sindri, Sindri, Regan." He ended it by putting his arm around Sindri—as much to remind himself of where he belonged as to show affection.
"It's nice to meet you," Sindri said, holding out a hand.
"Same here," Regan said, shaking the proffered hand. His words were polite, but Askr could tell he'd entered jealous mode. Regan opened his mouth to say something, but Mr. Greyson interrupted.
"If we're all here, let's get started," Mr. Greyson said, gesturing everyone over to their expanded circle for the evening. Bring-a-Friend night had a different schedule and a different focus than their usual meetings, and tonight was all about the difficulties of living with someone who had the fake disease the 'support group' was supposed to be for—but all handled so masterfully that none of the 'friends' ever noticed the effects this disease so often had on one's life were all directly caused by their weekly meetings—and the once-a-moon get-togethers.
Since it was all bullshit anyway, Askr spent the evening seated between Regan and Sindri and trying to keep them from killing each other with their eyes.
Well, technically he was trying to keep Regan from killing Sindri, who gave every appearance of being fully focused on the topic at hand. Sindri had been supportive through all of this, which made Askr love him all the more—but of course he wouldn't ever fall in love with someone who wouldn't support him no matter what, so of course Sindri would support him, since Sindri was perfect.
Askr jumped when Regan pinched his arm—hard.
"What was that for?" Askr asked quietly, rubbing his bicep.
"You were staring at him," Regan hissed.
"So are you," Askr pointed out, annoyed.
It was the wrong thing to say, and Regan's eyes turned furious and he silently stood up and left the circle. Everyone turned to watch him leave—the anger was clear in the way he walked. Mr. Greyson raised an eyebrow at Askr.
Askr's shoulders slumped and he stood up as well, waving to the circle as he followed Regan out. Chances were he wouldn't be going back in that evening.
"How dare you fucking treat me like that in front of everyone!" Regan snapped when Askr made it out of the door.
Askr held up his hands for peace. "Look, I've admitted I'm madly in lust with the guy, but I love you, and I'm not going to leave you for him. Yes, okay, I gawk, but I haven't touched him and don't plan to. There's no need for you to glare like a jealous—" Askr bit his tongue on the last word; Regan was furious enough over this.
"You've been ignoring me, and staring at him like you want to jump his bones right there in the circle, and everyone else seems to be aware of it with their smug little smirks and knowing looks. Was I the last fucking person you told about this goddamn crush of yours?"
"No!" Askr snapped. "You're the only person I've told. But Sindri wasn't too subtle the first few weeks, and everyone else just kind of assumed. I'm sorry they think they know shit about me, and about how I feel, but they don't."
"Don't they? Sindri wasn't the only one being obvious, you know."
"Regan," Askr said, stepping hesitantly closer. When Regan didn't object, Askr wrapped his arms around his boyfriend. "I want to sleep with him once—just once to get it out of my system, and then I want to spend the rest of my life with you, and never look at another man again."
Regan mumbled something that Askr didn't catch.
"What was that?"
"I asked if a threesome was still an option," Regan snapped, pulling away again.
It wasn't advised, since there was usually a bit of special effects during the First Mating, but Regan had a thing for blindfolds sometimes, and if Askr could play that up... "I'll talk to him," Askr said. "But I doubt he'll mind, either." If it was the only way they could have each other, then it was the way they'd be going. Askr didn't want to go mad.
"Fine," Regan said, although he didn't sound too happy with it. "Invite him over for dinner on Thursday."
"Thursday is the group overnight," Askr said.
"So? Skip it; you'll still be bonding with someone from the group."
"Regan, it doesn't work like that," Askr said. "And I'd like you two to get to know each other a bit; I don't want either of you to be forced into this."
"Since it's come down to have a threesome or lose you entirely, I don't see how that can happen."
"Regan, he's not that bad; get to know him, and you might even find you like him." Askr liked him, and that meant Regan would, too, right? "We'll see how he is as a friend, and then if you don't want this we'll find another solution, I promise."
Regan sighed and looked away. "You keep saying that, but somehow I think you're lying."
Askr smiled. "C'mon, you know how bad I am at lying," he said. "And it's not like I'll die if I don't sleep with him or anything." Except that it was.
Regan waved a hand in the air. "Do whatever," he said. "I'm not going back into that meeting."
"Just give me a moment, and we can go," Askr said. "It'll be okay if I skip tonight." He kissed Regan softly on the cheek and ran back into the building. He exchanged a few quiet words with Regan, and a few more with Mr. Greyson, and then grabbed his things to leave, waving good-bye to his fellow werewolves on the way out.
Askr met Regan back at the car with a kiss. "Sindri is coming over Wednesday for dinner, and we'll see how it goes," he said. "Thank you for this."
Regan blushed and turned away. "Whatever," he muttered, getting in the car door.
Wednesday night arrived. Askr and Regan cooked together, trying to make a curry with a few side-dishes. It seemed like it might turn out edible—or it would if Askr stopped kissing Regan long enough to get it off the burner before it, well, burnt. He had just decided that there were leftovers in the fridge that would work just as well when the doorbell rang. Askr dropped his head back and groaned.
"It's your date," Regan pointed out, although he was too well-kissed to be angry at the moment.
"The curry," Askr said, waving a hand limply at the pot on the stove.
Regan rolled his eyes, but he also smiled and walked to the door. "Hey," Askr heard him say over his shoulder. "We don't need any cookies."
"Regan!" Askr called. He stepped back and glanced towards the door, but all he could see was the outline of Regan against the bright apartment hall light.
Sindri said something too quietly for Askr to hear, and then there was a muffled squeak from Regan.
"What are you—?" Askr asked, heading for the door with the pot still in his hand—if he had hurt him...
Both Regan and Sindri were fine, though Regan looked a bit confused and Sindri had made it fully into the apartment. "Hey," Sindri said, smiling. "Hot," he added. "I like my men barefoot and in the kitchen."
"You would," Regan muttered, passing them both to check on the rice.
Askr shrugged. "We've no real control over the heat, I'm afraid; feel free to dress accordingly."
"Hey!" Regan shouted. "If I have to wear clothes, so does he."
"No one would object if you were naked," Sindri called back.
"Slut!" Regan cried, although the word lacked any menace at all.
Askr frowned. "What the hell did you do to my jealous boyfriend?" he asked, returning to the kitchen and setting the pot down near the sink. He got out a serving bowl and managed not to make a mess transferring the curry between the two.
"Turns out we're in the same bio class," Regan said, sounding almost happy about it.
"We went out for coffee yesterday," Sindri added from where he hovered by the door to the kitchen.
"And you didn't think to tell me?" Askr asked.
"Well, you didn't tell me you'd met him for nearly two weeks," Regan pointed out.
"Yes, but—" Askr stopped himself. The circumstances weren't really that different, and if it had led to more peaceful relations between his boyfriend and his mate, Askr really shouldn't complain. "I'm glad you're getting along."
After dinner—which was not only edible, but quite good—the three of them sat on the couch to watch a movie. It was too long, though, and Askr fell asleep curled up in between the other two.
"Did you two do coffee again today?" Askr asked Sindri as they waited for their rides to be sorted out the next evening.
Sindri shook his head. "No biology today. I like him, though; Regan is sweet."
Askr smiled. "I know," he said. "Half the reason I was first attracted to him. He can carry a grudge, though; I'm surprised he agreed to go to coffee with you."
Sindri hummed. "I was rather surprised as well," he said. "Regan said something about making you jealous, but I don't think it worked too well."
"I would love you more if you loved him," Askr said.
Sindri reached out to brush a hand along Askr's cheek. "It's not possible for you to love me more," he said.
"Do we all know what car we're in?" Mr. Greyson called over the assembled werewolves. "Then let's get going; we don't want to change while we're still driving, do we?" Everyone laughed as they climbed into the cars—it wasn't advised to remain in human form all through the full moon, but changing was still voluntary and no one was in danger of shifting while they were still on the road.
Askr and Sindri ended up pressed together in the back seat of one of the smaller cars. There was a third person there, which made it both really cozy and really awkward, so they simply kept their hands to themselves, despite a few knowing glances from the front seat.
They arrived at the Hiendel's property just as the sun finished setting, and everyone piled out of their cars. Clothes, thankfully, did not need to be removed for the shift, so everyone simply changed as they were ready and ran off into the woods.
"Askr," Sindri said, tapping his shoulder before he could change. Askr turned towards him and was met by a soft mouth and a sweet kiss. "I kissed your boyfriend last night," Askr said a moment later when he'd pulled away.
"Wah?" Askr said, his brain having short-circuited. By the time he realized what Sindri had said, the other was already loping towards the woods in wolf form. "Hey!" Askr shouted after him, shifting as well and starting after him.
Being a wolf was like nothing else. It was freedom, but it was also restriction. Askr knew he was still a human, and his human brain still functioned to control the wolf—but much less at the full moon than at any other time—but he was also limited by the size of his body and the shape of his muscles. Somehow he always found the lack of thumbs to be a problem, though the balance provided by four legs usually more than made up for it.
Reason and ration were still there, but for now Askr hid them under instincts and ran after Sindri, following his scent and his shadow through the moonlight and through the forest, chasing and chasing until he caught Sindri, and they switch, running freely and crazily all over the property. Around midnight the wolves all found themselves in a central clearing, the moon high and large overhead. They howled up at it, calling their love, adoration and appreciation for this gift and this curse.
Then the wolves went their separate ways, running and playing until the sun started to light the horizon, and everyone returned to the vehicles.
Over the next two weeks Sindri spent more and more time over at Askr and Regan's place. He kissed both of them freely, and no one complained—except when he hadn't gotten to them yet. Regan seemed content with the way things were, and Askr hoped they wouldn't need to wait for another new moon to complete their First Mating.
Actually, if the way Sindri was taking over his thoughts didn't end soon, Askr was starting to think it would take far less than eight months for him to start going insane. The kisses didn't help that, either.
Then, finally, the night of the new moon was upon them, and when Askr got back from class to find his boyfriend and his mate making out on the couch—without him, no less—he figured they were probably ready for this after all.
They lay tangled in a sweaty pile later that evening. "Next time you can wear the blindfold," Regan said, flopping his hand over to smack Askr with the object in question—he hadn't put any force behind the blow, though, and Askr barely felt it.
"Next time I'll do anything you want, babe," Askr said, catching Regan's hand and kissing the inside of his wrist. It had been a very, very good idea to blindfold Regan, although it had taken some convincing to get him to wear it.
"Does that mean there'll be a next time?" Sindri asked, trying to rearrange one of his legs—only to realize it was Regan's and give up.
Askr wanted to gleefully shout 'yes, of course there will be,' but he didn't want to include Regan in something he didn't want—Askr had promised, after all.
"Yeah, but only if you do that thing with your tongue again," Regan said, yawning at the end of it. "And the third time you can wear the blindfold." His eyes drifted shut and his breathing evened out.
Sindri ran a hand softly along Regan's side, and then met Askr's gaze, the two of them sharing a smile.
Of course, Askr shouldn't have been surprised; his mate was the kind of man to love every part of him—even the part that was Regan.