A/N: Written for musikurt for the event of shipswap. Thanks to htbthomas for the beta. Comments and constructive criticism are always welcome.
Danny dropped his head back on his pillow with a loud groan and summed up the first day of summer lacrosse camp with a succinct, "I have never hurt so much in my life." It wasn't true; he reached the same conclusion the first day of every training season, whether it was lacrosse or marching band, yet the first day was always worse than he anticipated it would be. While he knew his body would adjust to the onslaught of physical exercise in a couple days, that only made it easier to get through the first few in theory.
He let his head loll to the side, gravity doing its work in the absence of cooperative muscles, and took in his roommate. Isaac was sitting cross-legged on the other bed, the stark white sheets barely creased beneath him, his fingers skimming across the surface of his iPod as he played a game. He was still flushed from the afternoon's scrimmage and his blond curls had dried plastered to his head, yet he held his body loose, his limbs moving easily as he ducked and swayed in futile efforts to influence the video game by example. From the iPod came the faint thrumming of the volume turned almost all the way to mute.
"Why do I do this to myself?" Danny asked. His legs hurt. His arms hurt. Hell, even his fingernails and earlobes hurt. The old saw about 'muscles he didn't know he had' sprung into his mind, except he was well aware of every muscle group in his body and he knew how much they all hated him right now.
Isaac effortlessly ran a hand through his hair and dropped it back to the screen. Danny had never envied him more in his life. With his attention on the game, Isaac had yet to acknowledge any of Danny's complaining.
Jackson would have listened...well, okay, Jackson would have pretended to listen. Then he would have reminded Danny that "no pain, no gain" and "crying is for wimps and losers." And after Danny pretended to accept a couple of clichés as valid advice, they would have gotten down to a serious verbal dissection of every muscle, tendon, and bone in their bodies and whether it was the jumping jacks, crunches, or bench presses that had ruined them.
Only Jackson was gone—up and moved to England without even an apology for the whole death scare—and Danny was stuck with Isaac who, while a stunning physical example of humanity, did not seem to be aware of the rules for how to deal with extreme pain. Gorgeous to look at, but not much of a team player, Danny thought.
Setting down the iPod, Isaac stretched his arms up in the air and arched backward until his vertebrae popped. Then he hopped off the bed and paced over to the little refrigerator that came with the dorm room they were borrowing. Without any apparent difficulty, he squatted in front of it, extracted a bottle of water, and stood back up. The white t-shirt he wore strained over his torso with each movement.
"How can you move?" Danny questioned in amazement. "How come you're not writhing in agony like the rest of us?"
For an answer, Isaac only lifted the water to his lips and downed half of it.
Danny watched his teammate's throat work as he swallowed the liquid, saw the flex of Isaac's bicep as he clenched the bottle, saw Isaac's heavy eyelids fall to a satisfied half-mast, and slowly felt his mind churning toward one obvious conclusion: "You're not human." The awed words sprang from his mouth and Danny instantly felt himself redden with embarrassment. He tried to turn away or cough or do anything to distract the god he now recognized was standing before him from that moment of mind-mouth failure, but couldn't get any part of his body to obey.
Isaac lowered the bottle and raised his blue eyes, for the first time focusing on Danny.
Danny cringed inwardly and prayed that Isaac wasn't the type to be offended; he did not need that between them. Never had Danny needed a lesson in how ill-advised it was to hit on teammates, nor had he ever needed one when Jackson served as his roommate and buffer. He'd also never realized how perfect Isaac was until they'd ended up assigned to the same room for camp and Danny had seen Isaac's face slack and unguarded in sleep. The crush hit him harder than Eddie Abamowitz hit during Finals, and Danny had gone to bed in despair of yet another hot guy that he had no chance with and the sinking feeling that he was about to throw away any goodwill he'd built with the rest of the guys.
When Isaac responded, Danny was struggling to pull himself upright so that he could at least have any embarrassing conversations in a non-supine position—he succeeded only in scooting his head into the cinder-block wall—so he wasn't really paying attention. He was more interested in getting the apology out there quickly before any permanent damage could set in. "I shouldn't've said that," he began. "I'm sorry, that was-"
His eyes narrowed as he noticed the smirk that had spread across Isaac's lips and how his stance had shifted to become somehow lighter and easier.
"What?" Danny asked, for a moment wondering if Isaac could see how quickly Danny's imagination had gone to fitting him into the Greek pantheon.
Then he belatedly heard Isaac's response: "Took ya long enough to figure it out."
"Well, I mean, you're still mobile. You're not hurting. You never get upset with Coach," Danny hedged. "I always knew there was something inhuman about you." He meant it as a compliment, not as a literal statement, and he assumed Isaac understood that. Danny knew full well how it felt to be viewed as less than those around him, and it was only because Isaac seemed to be playing into joke that he let it go on.
With a shake of his head, the challenge slid off Isaac's face and he went back to looking like a normal, if amazingly beautiful, guy."Never mind," he said. Somehow, Danny sensed, he had crossed a line. Still holding the water, Isaac crossed back to his bed and resumed his cross-legged position on it, once again taking up arms against the enemies his iPod provided, once again tuning Danny out.
A loud rumble of thunder jolted Danny from his sleep. A few seconds later, more lightning flashed through the sky like a cosmic light switch was being toggled. Danny rolled from the dorm bed and padded across the cold vinyl floor toward the window. Any storm behaving like this one was worth checking out. The air was thick with ozone and felt tingly against his exposed skin, bringing a smile to his face. He'd always liked storms, as long as he could view piling thunder clouds and torrential rain from the safety and dryness of the indoors.
He was stopped with a louder moan coming from Isaac's bed. In the shadow-formed room, he could barely make out the dark lumps of his roommate writhing in his sleep. One foot kicked out, freeing itself from the confines of the sheet and Issac let out a hiss, like he'd been burned.
Danny inched closer, unsure how to awaken someone from a nightmare, much less whether he should. Like everyone else at school, he knew Isaac's history—he'd been on the field the day the police had interrupted practice to inform Isaac of his father's death—and yet had been blown away that anything so awful could really be happening to one of BHHS's own. He couldn't imagine what horror Isaac might be reliving now.
The lightning began flashing again, this round like a string of ever bigger firecrackers exploding in the sky. The staccato flares lit up the room. For a long moment, the light exposed Isaac's face without any mercy or forgiveness. Then the room dropped back into a darkness that was even heavier now to Danny's light-blinded eyes, and all Danny could see was the image seared into his brain of Isaac's features thickened and misshapen, sideburns running the length of his face where there'd been only smooth skin before, and sharp, pointed canines in a mouth clenched in a silent yell.
He stumbled backward, one hand coming up in a preemptive defense. The edge of the desk smacked his lower back and he jolted to a stop with an "Ow!"
In an instant, Isaac sprung into a crouch. His fingers dug into the side of the soft mattress as he positioned himself to attack. The lacrosse Cyclones shirt he wore was bunched up high on his chest, exposing the pale skin of his abdomen. His eyes opened.
They burned with a golden glow.
The hell? Danny thought, a sharp indrawn breath punctuating the half-formed thought. Outside, the first wave of rain slammed against the roof and ground with an echo that shook the building. As it continued to fall, its noise subsumed all others and insisted on covering even the sound of Danny's heartbeat pounding in his ears.
Isaac stayed poised, his teeth barred and threatening even in the darkness. More so in the darkness.
"It's just me," Danny tried to say. His voice stuck. He started to look away, then stopped himself. Somewhere he'd read that looking away was a sign of weakness. Or, maybe, it was a sign of submission. Either one wasn't acceptable. While he had no idea what those amber eyes and elongated teeth meant for what he was dealing with, his instincts told him that who was still the same brash guy who'd taken too enthusiastically to the tackling practice that afternoon and the coach's repeated injunctions to "Hit 'em harder. HARDER!"
Which meant that, either way, Danny was in danger.
"Isaac, wake up. It's just me. Danny. I'm not going to hurt you." The edge of the desk pressed painfully into his back and was doubtless going to leave a mark. Regardless of his resolve, sweat bloomed at his armpits and soaked immediately into his own t-shirt. "Come on, man."
His entreaties were immediately drowned in the rain's cacophony. The noise created a cushion around the dorm room that made everything in it seem more still, quieter, unreal.
And in that moment, Danny realized that fear wasn't the only emotion he was feeling. Warmth tightened his chest and his groin. The longer Isaac's inhuman eyes bore into him, the more turned on he became. His hips gave an involuntary thrust forward and he bit hit lip to hold back a moan that did not belong to this moment, no matter how private it felt. While he knew he had a thing for bad boys, this was ridiculous.
"Isaac," he repeated, daring to move a step closer. Instinctively, he stuck his hand out like he was approaching a frightened dog. He worked to keep his breathing even and his voice calm despite the hormones warring in him that told him he was moving too slowly and the wrong direction.
Isaac's shoulders drew in as he prepared to launch himself. Another flash of lightning illuminated the room. Its matching boom of thunder came before the light had finished fading. It pounded through the room so loudly that it hit Danny like a physical blow. He stumbled forward and Isaac rocked backward.
The shock of the noise must have jolted Isaac awake because he started shaking his head like a person struggling to reorient himself. The yellow faded from his eyes, the extra hair faded from his face, and he sat down heavily on the bed. "What's going on?"
Moving carefully in the darkness, Danny approached his teammate. His foot brushed against something on the floor which he hoped was a discarded sock, but he didn't bow down to pick it up; he still didn't trust the situation enough to break eye contact. "You were having a nightmare," he began. Then, figuring that he might as well get Isaac fully up to speed, he added, "So, uh, you weren't kidding about not being human."
Brushing a hand through his sleep-tousled curls, Isaac replied, "I get them sometimes. If I'd known there was gonna be a thunderstorm tonight, I would've warned you. Sorry."
Danny felt his eyebrows go up at how deftly Isaac stepped over the second comment. He hadn't even bothered with an "I told you so," much less a "You thought I was serious?" In fact, it seemed like he hadn't heard the comment at all—which given the rain's continued clatter was possible, though unlikely. Gingerly, Danny sat down on the edge of the bed; he wanted to lend his support, yet his body was still sending conflicting messages about what he should do once he got this close. He kept a careful valley of white sheet between himself and Isaac. Just in case. "Do you want to talk about it?" Even he wasn't sure which "it" he meant.
Isaac considered a moment, his head tipped to one side, then concluded, "Nah, I'm good."
"OK," Danny replied, but he couldn't bring himself to move. His eyes had finally adjusted to the dark, and this close he could see Isaac's face clearly. Not surprisingly, that wasn't helping his situation at all. He so much wanted to see Isaac's eyes change colors again. The yellow had burned into his memory and he knew that when he finally got back to sleep tonight, those eyes would be the subject of his dreams. "The storm doesn't sound like it's going to let up anytime soon," he commented. "If you want, I can keep you company." He cringed at how much like a pick-up line his offer sounded, despite it being meant as totally genuine.
Isaac's nostrils flared and the corners of his mouth crinkled like he was trying to suppress a grin. "Werewolf," he said.
"That's one of the things you want to know, right? What I am?"
The word Isaac used sunk in and suddenly a whole lot of overheard conversations flooded into his memory. The problem was, Isaac hadn't been a part of any of them—which begged the question as to just how many other people he knew were also werewolves, with at least one former-best-friend as an obvious candidate. "This, I want to hear about." To show that he wasn't going anywhere, he stretched out on the bed. The sheets still radiated warmth from where Isaac had been laying and the pillow smelled pleasantly of his shampoo. "I get the idea that everyone at our school knows about werewolves except for me."
Though Isaac let out a brief chuckle, Danny could hear the tension wound through it. His nervous glances at the ever-flickering window were impossible to miss. "Not everyone," Isaac replied. He also lay down, though he kept his arms pressed close to his sides, the swath of neutral white between them laid open-a pretty amazing feat for two fully grown men on a bed that was normally too small for one.
Danny's heart dropped; he forced himself to look straight at the ceiling so that Isaac couldn't read the disappointment in his expression.
"A lot of people do, though," Isaac continued. "Honestly, I thought you'd figured it out a long time ago, what with Jackson-"
"Jackson," Danny murmured. He knew it.
A pause while another peal of thunder filled the room, then: "He didn't tell you?"
"I guess he didn't trust me enough." Danny blinked against the burning in his eyes and swallowed down the urge to trash talk his friend. Part of being Jackson's friend was accepting that Jackson came first in the relationship, a point which Danny had made peace with a long time ago. What he wasn't dealing with so well was the tumult of emotions tonight and how they were reopening wounds he didn't know he'd had.
The bed shifted, the sturdy dorm room bed frame squeaking against the floor as the weight on it redistributed. And then Isaac's shoulder pressed against Danny's, his body heat seeping through the thin layers of t-shirt between them.
"I'll tell you anything you want to know," Isaac said.
Danny had to let his next breath out slowly at what Isaac's touch was doing to him, at how it soothed him. "Anything?"
He listened to the rain pound—still no sign of ceasing—and tried to count the number of flashes in a convenient explosion of lightning without any success, and when Nature didn't bring the end of the world, he decided he couldn't either. "Kiss me?"
Isaac stiffened, and Danny started to pull away, believing that he'd misread everything. A hand on his chest stayed him. In the strength of the splayed fingers was all the reassurance Danny needed. "Just so you know—" Isaac lifted himself so that he was leaning over Danny, their faces only inches apart. His skin was pale, chin peppered with late-night beard growth, and his breath smelled faintly sour in a way that Danny desperately wanted to taste. "—Making out might make me shift."
Danny's stomach turned over and this time he couldn't restrain his hips' thrust. "Is there any way I can guarantee that?" Lacing his fingers through Isaac's hair, he pulled the werewolf's head close enough for their lips to brush.
Isaac's eyes flared yellow and he swung a leg over Danny's so that the two boys were now entwined. "Only if you promise to help me forget about the storm. I really don't like storms."
Though Danny hadn't kissed anyone in months, with incentive like that he was certain that his mouth would remember what to do. The storm continued, but Danny grew oblivious to it as he began anticipating all the ways his muscles were going to ache in the morning.