AN: This sort of ramble is what my brain spews out when I'm left to scribble in a notebook for a few days.
Warnings: Subtle (hopefully 'subtle' and not 'non-existent') Remus/Sirius, and some rather bruised Remus.
Disclaimer: Both boys will be returned safely to JK.


He's in the backseat of his own head, and he can't even appreciate that properly. Everything is too vivid and too enhanced and nothing makes much sense anymore. Trees race past in a blur. This, he decides, is what going mad must feel like.


He's cold, can feel the breeze on his skin, brushing against tender spots and awakening the stench of decay in the floorboards beneath him. There's pain too, sharp and quick, burning through his leg. He can't see what's causing it. Can't see anything – his head feels airless and tight, and he hasn't opened his eyes. He's not sure his brain remembers how. Part of him doesn't want it to.

It does though, eventually, and the blackness of his eyelids becomes the grey of dust and wood of the Shack. He has to squint against the sudden brightness and he curses; maybe out loud, maybe in his head. He can't tell. His eyes hurt. Frankly, all of him hurts. He feels like he's been thrown about like a puppet, smashed against walls and god knows what, and then the pain in his leg comes biting back when he tries to shift, and he curses again, this time definitely out loud because someone tuts quietly.

The white light of morning is exchanged for a dark silhouette that he could swear is smirking. No, not smirking – smirking would be smug and unkind, and this is softer. It's the sort of expression that is a smile for the time being, but could become a fully-fledged grimace of panic and worry at any second. He wants to say something coherent but his mind won't put the words together. It's all forest and running and territory and ghastly hunger pangs and bone-cracking pain, dimly recalled and shut away somewhere so he won't have to remember.

The smell of earth and wood-rot makes him want to gag.

Suddenly the sting in his leg flares as something is yanked away, and he's pretty sure the sharp yelp he hears comes from him. Movement doesn't cause as much discomfort now, and for a while his leg goes blissfully numb.

The other person says something but the fog in his head has yet to completely clear and it's stifling, suffocating, and what is that smell? Pine needles and earth and blood, all so bright he can practically taste them, and something else, something he recognises and finds comforting, something he knows is safe. It's warm and friendly and even the wolf knows it's a good smell. It's a home smell.

He blinks. He can see clearer now, and think a little clearer too. He realises he's lying on the floor, a hard wood floor with splinters and jagged edges and he sits up, or tries to. His head pounds for a moment and then settles. Someone is crouching in front of him, a hunk of wood in one hand and a plastic bag in the other. Through half-open eyes he watches as the plank is tossed away into a corner of the room and his brain makes a connection between the long iron nail protruding from it and the dull ache in his leg. The connection isn't exactly welcome. With a coherent mind comes all the other bruises and scratches, clamouring to be heard over the sting of the leg wound, and he makes a low noise in the back of his throat because he just hurts, and-

And then the someone is there, closer, gripping his shoulders as he starts to wilt. "Remus?" He hardly ever calls him that, and it comes out a bit louder, a bit more panicky than it was probably meant to.

He can hear properly now, and recognise the face the voice is coming from. He tries for a smile but has a feeling it looks more like he's in pain. The hands on his shoulders tighten fleetingly. He is in pain, but he doesn't want the owner of the hands to know how much, not now he's back in control. He wants to curl up on the floor and wait for his head to stop throbbing, or burrow into the comfort of the safe smell until it's all he knows, but he's becoming increasingly aware that he's cold and naked and that neither of those would be very back in control things to do.

He manages a nod. "'M fine."

That causes a relieved smile to replace the concerned look of the other boy and the safe smell, the smell of home surfaces again, rising over the decay and dried blood. "Fine. Lying sod, you are." Sirius releases him tentatively and offers the plastic bag. "Got your clothes. Can't have Pomfrey looking at that bloody great hole in your leg if you're starkers, can we?"

Remus smiles. He's more Remus now, less animal, and he's got his thoughts into some semblance of order. He lets Sirius guide his legs into a pair of jeans like an invalid and tugs them up himself, fumbling with the button. Then Sirius looks at him, soft and warm and safe, and though he can see the destroyed walls of the Shack now, and the splintered floorboards he must have yanked up, none of it seems as chaotic as it was before. The pressure in his head eases a little.

Sirius is inspecting him for damage, but subtly, like he always does, eyes searching the exposed skin for the worst and his mouth forming a thin line when he finds it. "You'll have some impressive scars when those cuts heal, I reckon." He gingerly traces the edge of a scratch running along Remus' jaw, and sighs. They've been here so many times before and it doesn't seem to get any easier.

Remus looks at him - at the boy who has seen him bruised and half-wild and still treats him like something that could break at the slightest touch - and the wolf starts to ebb away, back into the depths of his mind. He takes the T-shirt being held out to him, and normality starts to settle again.