Author's Note: Sorry for the delay, but I was having trouble with the OC. Sorry for the OC. I hate OCs in fanfiction in general with a very few exceptions. I tried to make this OC as un-Mary-Sue-ish as possible and still retain the basic purpose of her character, which is to provide competition for Tommy in Merton's affections. ^^;; Anyway. Just sorry.

Thanks To: Northlight, who was eversospiffy to beta this for me. (Did I fix everything to your satisfaction, dearie?) ^____^ I *heart* Northlight, and you all should too.





Chapter Four





Ronni - who's chat name online was Veronica, Mistress of Vices - pulled up in front of the house and checked the address and description she'd printed off from one of her saved conversations with Lyrical Lycanthrope - who's real life name was M-something. Martin. Or something. She'd accidentally deleted the conversation in which he'd told her his real name. She flipped down the sunvisor and slid the protector back from the mirror there. She checked her carefully applied black eyeliner, and smoothed her dyed black-and-teal hair, her black-painted nails gleaming slightly in the sunlight.

Her throat felt dry and her palms were sweaty. She'd never met any of her online friends before, and she was really hoping Lyric wasn't a total poser who'd just been pretending to be goth online. She hated people who did that. It was rather annoying when people who religiously listened to *Nsynch decided Slipknot was "just so kewl!1!11" But even if Lyric was a fat, pimply Dungeons and Dragons reject, Ronni would be stuck with him all afternoon and evening because her parents thought she was over at her friend Melissa(the Malignant)'s house, and that they were cramming for her history test. Her mom and dad would never approve of her meeting anyone over the internet, much less going two hours out of town to meet them. They'd be afraid of perverts pretending to be teenage boys to lure her into their diabolic clutches.

She snorted and rolled her eyes as she got out of her car and locked the door. Stuff like that only happened to people on Dateline and 20/20. Besides, she could take care of herself; she had mace in the small black purse she carried. It was a tight fit, what with the inch-long metal spikes, but if she angled it just right it fit perfectly, along with her wallet and checkbook.

Lyric lived in the basement, she recalled, and walked down the steps to the door. She knocked, and there was a muffled shout, "Just a second!"

A moment later, the door opened inward to reveal a boy a few inches shorter than her with spiky hair. He was wearing a short-sleeved black button-up and baggy black rave pants with red stitching. He smiled at her, blue eyes crinkling at the corners in a very fetching way.

"Veronica?" he asked.

She smiled back, though she winced a little inwardly - he'd remembered her name, so she couldn't admit she didn't know his. Instead she said, "The very same."

"Come on in! I cleaned the Lair for the special occasion," he said, standing back to let her into the house. She walked past him and immediately became six shades of envious. It was almost too perfect to be true. It was every goth's dream home. Candles everywhere, skulls on the endtables, ancient books and weapons lining the walls, black velvet draping the windows. Was that a rack in the corner? She resisted the urge to squeal and run her fingers over the nearest strange artifacts.

"Wow," she said, eyes shining as she took everything in and wondered just how much this kid was worth. "I ~love~ your room!"

Lyric shut the door behind him and looked pleased. "Well, it took a while to get it perfect like this. You don't even want to know what horrible chores I had to do around the house to get the cash for all this."

As he began to elaborate on said chores, Ronni turned to him with new respect. No poser, this one, and he was easy on the eyes, too. And she knew from their conversations that he was single. Zeus knew ~why~, but she wasn't one to look a gift horse in the mouth. She wasn't here specifically to get a boyfriend, but if such a developement came up, she certainly would be the last one to object to it. Her only hope was that Lyric didn't hold true to the axiom, "The good ones are all gay or taken."

"So, um, do you want to go grab something to eat before we go to the Factory?" he asked a little nervously, and Ronni realized she'd been staring. He blushed, looking anywhere but her. She felt her own face heat a little.

"Sure, why not?" she said, smiling nervously. He returned it, and Ronnie felt her insides turn to goo. Yes, the night was definitely looking up.




Tommy had been of absolutely no use that all that afternoon. When he got back from Merton's, very flustered indeed, he'd gone straight up to his room, flopped face down on his bed, and buried his head under his pillow. He let loose a tortured groan. This whole situation was getting out of control, and now Lori knew about it. He could not quite believe that his ex-girlfriend and hitherto main love interest knew that he was slowly going insane about Merton.

And her advice was just as brash and direct as the girl herself, only much less attractive. Just give in and get it over with, huh? Showed what she knew. How could she even think that it would be a good idea if he and Merton just... had sex? It was such a weird concept to wrap his mind around, even though the past couple nights he'd been plagued by visions of them doing just that. And they'd only been worse since he'd really kissed Merton yesterday. He was just lucky that he hadn't been asleep long enough to start in on one of those dreams while he'd been in Merton's bed.

Tommy groaned again, flipping onto his back and pulling the pillow away from his face. It was one thing to have dreams about that kind of stuff because he wasn't in control then, especially when there was magic mucking up the normal progression of his subconscious thoughts. So far, when he was awake he had more or less absolute power over his impulses. It came from learning how to control the wolf, from hours of practicing the art of soothing haiku in the Lair. But this curse must really be taking root now, if he couldn't even keep his thoughts from wandering to Merton every few minutes.

He frowned firmly and became determined not to think of Merton. He wouldn't even think about the other boy's room, or the books there, even though Merton always smelled slightly musty like them. Of course, there was enough other smells mixed into Merton's that it wasn't an unpleasant mustiness. Tommy would know the combination of hair gel - very occasionally aftershave - and Merton's own unique body scent anywhere. It was almost as familiar as his own scent, but more comforting. When he looked at it that way, it wasn't really all that surprising how he'd ended up curled around Merton, face buried in Merton's mop of mussed spikes.

With a frustrated grunt, Tommy realized that he wasn't succeeding with the no-thinky-about-Merton tactic. Why was he suddenly so focused on smell, anyway? Sure, wolfy senses were sharper than normal humans, but it was probably a bad thing to get a strange fetish like that. He had to get Merton out of his head. He breathed in deeply to dispel the sensory memory, but he could still smell Merton. The other boy's scent clung to his clothes, even to his skin. It wasn't helping Tommy at all. In fact, it was having the exact opposite effect, and Tommy was starting to get a bit... uncomfortable.

He got up and grabbed his towel off the back of his desk chair. He should shower and get some different clothes on. It would help him feel more normal, he was certain. It always worked after full moons that got particularly weird. Like that time he and Merton had gotten slimed by some really oozy demon and they'd gone back to the Lair to clean up. Merton had claimed the shower first, and he remembered shoving past the smaller boy after he'd gotten out. Merton was wet and dripping, and only wearing a towel -

Shower. Now.

Once in the bathroom with the door safely locked, he stripped quickly and jumped into the stall before the water could adjust to something less hypothermia-inducing. As the lukewarm water washed over him, he growled softly to himself. This was all because he'd been stupid enough to take a nap in Merton's bed. With Merton still in it, no less. That's where this overpowering Merton scent came from. He should never have laid down with Merton except it had seemed harmless at the time. Probably part of the curse's mind tricks. Another of said tricks was that he'd woken up with Merton and. Enjoyed. It.

Perhaps even that was a bit less than truthful. Before he'd come back to himself fully, he'd been drifting in a haze of contentedness that verged on bliss, basking in the warmth that enveloped him, knowing he was with Merton but not grasping the full extent of what that meant. He'd thought - and it must surely have been the enchantment taking advantage of his easily suggestible state - of just closing the gap between his mouth and Merton's nape in a lazy, almost familiar way and moving down to that patch of skin at the joint of shoulder and neck. Sucking kisses, maybe soft nips of teeth as well. Things that would leave a mark. Merton would have shivered, he bet, because he had learned Merton had a very sensitive neck a few vampire attacks ago. And God, the feel of their bodies entwined like that was just so good. Merton's slimmer form fit against his like they were tailor made. It would have been so easy to slide his hands under the goth's shirt and touch that warm pale skin, which in his mind was soft as silk -

The water by now had warmed to a respectable temperature, and thus it was no surprise that Tommy's libido was unquenched. His hand moved of its own accord to his groin, where an urgent ache was building. He gasped sharply, leaning against the side of the shower as he stroked himself, enthralled with his fantasy of Merton. It was Merton's scent, Merton's skin, Merton's hand... Merton's mouth...

There was a burst of light behind Tommy's closed eyes, and his knees gave out. He slid down the wall, letting the water course over him and wash away the evidence. After he caught his breath, the knowledge of what he'd just done caught up with him. A wave of mortified chagrin coursed through him, and he curled into himself, resting his head on his forearms which in turn were folded across his knees. He couldn't do this anymore.





Merton blinked as Ronni leaned up against him as they entered the Factory. The girl's arm slid through one of his, and he couldn't help the dopey grin that pasted itself on his face. She liked him, she really liked him! It was enough to make him wonder if she wasn't a monster trying to either get close to the Pleasantville Werewolf or suck the life force from desperate teenage boys. He wouldn't put it past his luck to hook up with yet another non-human bent on world destruction/domination. But so far there was no evidence of otherworldliness about Ronni, not even a sudden flare of light in her eyes - which were a completely normal hazel color, no strange unearthly tones there, thank-you-very-much. She seemed to be just an average gothic high school student. Of course, in Pleasantville being goth was about on par with being a demon from the netherworld, but as such they were ostracized together.

"So, you wanna dance?" Ronni asked as they pushed through the crowd, her voice raised to be heard over the loud music.

"Sure," Merton said in what he hoped was a nonchalant voice. His inner monologue was at once gibbering with glee, examining the situation suspiciously, and then there was a tiny sharp stab of guilt. As he let Ronni take his hands and pull him onto the dance floor, he resisted frowning.

Guilt? What did he have to be guilty about? He was finally getting to dance with someone who was a part of his chosen social level, and she was fun and sexy, and seemed to like him too. It was his dream come true. When she wrapped her arms around his shoulders, he put his hands on her hips and pulled her a little closer. She was very warm - but, a part of his mind sneered slightly, not as warm as Tommy. No, not going to think about that. He was on a date; there was no place for Tommy in his head. He was going to concentrate on the soft fleshiness of Veronica's hips (Tommy's hips were slim, almost boney) under his hands, the wafting of her perfume (Tommy's aftershave was sharper and more distinct) through the air, the sheer thrill of (waking up with Tommy behind him, draped over him, his breath tickling Merton's neck and almost inciting shivers) dancing with a girl who probably wasn't going to kill him at the drop of a hat.

Then he did frown and silently cursed the power Eros's Revenge had over him, undermining his best attempts to keep Tommy from his thoughts. The magic was even making him feel as if he was unfaithful by being here with this girl instead of - of doing stuff with Tommy. It wasn't fair, he reflected petulantly. Finally life had been looking up for him, and then this impossible situation just had to come along and throw a wrench into all of Merton's best laid plans. He was supposed to be enjoying his date with Ronni, not trying to avoid blinking because the first face that popped up behind his eyelids was Tommy's.

A slow song came on, and Merton made to retreat back to the bar to regroup. Ronni, however, latched onto his arm and tugged, a smile caught somewhere between shy and playful on her lips. She pulled him close, her arms going around his waist, breasts pressed against his chest. He awkwardly wrapped his arms around her, hands meeting at the small of her back. She leaned her head against his shoulder and sighed. Merton'd never slow danced before. He didn't know quite what else to do, or to say, if in fact conversation was needed now that the song was quieter than bone-rattling.

He sighed as well, and wondered vaguely how soon he could end this date without being rude. He definitely wanted a redo, though, once this pesky spell was sorted out. Ronnie was a nice girl - well, perhaps 'nice' wasn't a word a goth girl would appreciate being called - and he wanted to see her again when he wasn't busy unwillingly mooning over Tommy. Speaking of whom, he'd have to call the jock later tonight to see if they could get things straightened out. He winced at his unintentional pun.

"Oh, sorry. Did I step on your foot?" Ronnie murmured, lifting her face to his.

"Ah, no, I just - " Merton had an inspiration, " - saw the clock over there. It's already ten."

She looked at him with a puzzled expression. "What? Do you have that early a curfew?"

Merton shook his head, a small wry smile playing across his lips. "I don't have a curfew, and even if I did it's not like my parents try very hard to keep tabs on me. I was just thinking that you're probably going home soon. I mean, it's two-hour drive back to your house."

"Oh yeah," she said, chagrinned. "I guess I just haven't been paying attention to the time."

"Well, it does that whole flying when you're having fun thing," he said and wanted to bite his tongue, feeling like such a geek. He waited for the inevitable derisive comment and/or awkward silence to settle in.

But Ronnie laughed and he felt immensely relieved. "That it does, my friend, that it does."

The song ended and another fast dance started playing. Merton and Ronnie left, his arm around her shoulders, and when they got back to the hearse, Ronnie sighed and snuggled closer on the seat as he drove.

"I don't want to go back. You've been so much fun," she said quietly when they pulled into his driveway. "You were exactly how you are online, really witty and cool."

Merton's face flushed and he turned the car off. "I - um. Th-thanks." He turned towards her, and she was making no move to get out of the car. He blushed harder. "I think y-you're cool too, you know. And - "

He broke off when she leaned forward quickly, as if she was startled by her own bravado, her lips meeting his firmly but inexperiencedly. Merton was so caught unawares that he almost forgot to kiss back. But when he did, he felt rather sick at heart. There was absolutely nothing there. No spark, no heat, no desire. It was mechanical, a stage kiss. Much to his annoyance, he couldn't stop his mind from noting that she wasn't as good a kisser as Tommy. She tasted like her slick lipstick, which was dark and would leave smears everywhere. Disappointed, he pulled away.

"Wow," Ronnie said, eyes still closed and not noticing the look that passed over Merton's face. "I've been wanting to do that all night."

He realized that he should probably say something. "M-me too." Which wasn't exactly a lie, because had he been anything resembling his normal self he would have leapt at this chance. "You have got to come back again."

She smiled, opening her eyes and she turned away to correct her make-up in the rear-view mirror. "Wild orcs couldn't keep me away. We'll talk about it online, okay? Because I don't know my work schedule for next week yet, but I think I can get the weekend off again. My coworkers all owe me favors."

"Great," he said as they got out of the car. "So we'll plan something?"

"Right. G'night, I had a wonderful time," she called over her shoulder as she crossed the street and got into her car. Merton stood and waved as she drove off. When she was gone, he felt peculiarly empty and a strange mix of anticipation and dread filled him when he realized that he had to call Tommy and tell him to come over. So they could get rid of the curse. He gulped sweet night air, wiping his suddenly sweaty - for first time all night - hands on his pants, steeling himself as he turned to go in. He was brought up short, however, by what he saw.

Tommy was sitting on the top of the stairs, back to him and half-hidden in shadow. From the looks of it, he had been sitting there for some time. He could have even seen Ronnie and Merton kiss. There was a strange falling sensation in the pit of Merton's stomach when he thought of that, and then he frowned fiercely. Who the hell cared if Tommy saw? Merton sure didn't. He shoved the guilt away; it wasn't his, it was because of the curse.

"What are you doing here, Tommy?" he asked, stepping forward.

Tommy shifted, seeming to hunch down lower into himself. "I think we need to talk. About. Well, you know."

Merton knew. "Well, we should go inside then. Come on." Carefully staying as far from Tommy as possible, he passed him and started down the stairs into the Lair.



TBC




The next part will indeed be smut. However, seeing as how it will be my first attempt at it, the next chapter may take a while. Also, it won't be put on FF.net, but I'll put up a link to it when I have the chapter after the smut done. ^_^;; Sorry for the long wait and all.