Word Count: 15,700
Warnings: rough sex, werewolves, mating... lizard brain writing...
Summary: Jared is a well-adjusted werewolf on a quest to find his mate; Jensen is a battle-scarred recluse who lives in the woods. It's true love.
Notes: This is a little long to call a PWP, but I'm tempted to call it that anyway. It was originally written as a response to a prompt on the kink meme, which should give you a good indication of how much of this is porn. (Hint: at least 90%) It was also supposed to be commentfic, but I totally fail at brevity and ended up with something ridiculously long. Much thanks to the people who commented on it when it was a WIP, especially the original prompter! I had a lot of fun playing with this idea.
Jared had heard about mating for as long as he could remember.
It was way more complex than just falling in love; for his kind, it was the single most important event in a person's life.
The exact combination of factors that went into forging that bond was hard to pin down. Part of it was pheromones, part of it was intuition, and part of it was pure chance. The traditionalists in his pack – mostly the older generations – still held to the superstitious idea that it was all about fate, and there was one perfect person destined to be mated with every other. The one thing everyone could agree on was that you never knew when it would happen, but there was no mistaking it when it did.
Except it didn't happen to Jared.
His dominance in the male ranks was firmly established, but at age twenty-six he was one of the oldest unmated members of his pack. He felt the restless, anxious desire to breed – to stalk a female's scent, hold her down and mate her until she was dripping and full and claimed – but it was never directed at one bitch in particular. There was no connection, no preternatural call to bond with one other wolf for life. Year after year, he watched weaker alphas pair off with their mates while he remained alone.
He was almost tempted to think the whole concept was just a fairytale, some hold-over from the days when their kind lived apart from humanity and had to find reasons to not intermingle – but no, that wasn't it, either. He saw the way mated pairs behaved; the protectiveness they felt for one another, the way they could pick that wolf's scent out from the mixed musk of the entire assembled pack. That couldn't be faked. It was as intense as the bond between a bitch and her cub.
And apparently Jared wasn't going to find it in his own pack.
He didn't tell anyone the real reason he decided to take a semester off from law school and travel. Mating outside one's group wasn't entirely unheard of, but it wasn't common, either. He was pretty sure the whole thing would have sounded ridiculous – yeah, I've decided to road-trip around the country in search of the person I'm going to share the rest of my life with; I'll send you a postcard when I find her – and he didn't need to see the pity in anyone's eyes as they tried to tactfully tell him he was being stupid.
Maybe he was being stupid. Maybe he was desperate. He just knew he had to try, because he wasn't ready to accept the idea that destiny screwed him out of the best part of being a wolf.
Jared roamed for almost a month before ending up in Riley, and it was impossible to say what led him there.
The route he'd taken up to that point was lazy and aimless, since he didn't have a real destination. He'd wandered through Idaho and down into Wyoming before looping back up. He knew the layout of pack territories like he knew the states, and he'd already passed through six of them, but for some reason he'd strayed into the unclaimed wilderness that made up most of Montana. Werewolves liked to like to gather around civilization, priding themselves on their ability to lead normal human lives; there was no reason to think he'd find his mate in neutral, isolated territory. No reason to pull off the highway in the middle of nowhere, take an exit for the first smattering of civilization he'd seen in hours.
Somehow Jared just knew this was where he needed to be.
He could sense it more than he could smell it, although there was a definite thread of something exciting and strange in the air. His whole body ached and throbbed with inhuman energy – a feeling he'd come to associate with the flux of the lunar cycle, or impending danger. His wolf-mind picked up on things he couldn't always consciously grasp, and it knew. This was the place.
The town could barely be called a town at all – it was little more than a layover for the occasional trucker or traveler taking the scenic route. The only lodging was on the outskirts, a rustic and hap-hazard collection of cabins tucked between the trees.
"Don't get many visitors this time of year," the clerk said when Jared booked one for the night. "You just passing through?"
"Not sure yet," Jared said. "I might be a few days. Looks like a nice area."
The clerk eyed him, almost like he was sizing him up.
"If it's the outdoorsy experience you're looking for, you'd do better heading on up to the Falls."
Jared raised his eyebrows. "We're in the middle of a national forest, aren't we? It doesn't get much more outdoorsy than that."
The man chuckled as he held out Jared's receipt.
"True enough. These parts just aren't real friendly for hikers and whatnot. Not real safe, if you know what I mean."
"Are there a lot of bear attacks, or something?"
"Wolves," he said, meeting Jared's gaze. "There's one nasty sumbitch out there in particular, like to tear a limb off as soon as look at you. I'm not trying to scare you – just telling you what the locals already know. You don't have anything to worry about as long as you stay close to civilization. Just don't go wandering in the woods."
"I'll keep that in mind," Jared said politely.
He didn't bother unpacking the bags he hauled into the little cabin. There wasn't time for it. With every passing minute, the urgency he'd first felt on the road got more intense. It settled low in his belly, filling him with a sweet, unfamiliar tension that radiated all the way down to his fingertips. Her presence was calling to him, and it didn't matter what else what else was out there in the woods – the animal the clerk described had to be a full-blood wolf, and they were nasty in a fight – Jared couldn't turn back now. He couldn't do anything until he found his mate and made her his own.
Before he could think it through, he was clambering down the cabin steps and heading out into the trees.
Jared made it about a mile away from the cabin before shifting into his wolf form. He was faster on all fours, his senses sharper and more refined; when he took a deep breath, the mingled smells of the forest adding a deeper texture to everything surrounding him.
He could smell dozens of different animals – some afraid, some nesting, some dead and decaying on the ground. There was a source of water not too far away, fresh and cold and clean. Much of the fallen brush on the forest floor was dry enough to burrow in if he couldn't find other shelter.
And beneath all those smells, like a single bass note held under a wild and sprawling symphony, was the scent of his mate.
It had its own complexities, but they were tangled around each other and came to him as a single thing -- like the different features of a face he'd only glimpsed.
The presence of a savage, dangerous wolf didn't seem to have stopped Jared's mate from wandering all over the forest. He caught traces of that strange, delicious scent everywhere he roamed, and it took most of the afternoon to track it to its source; by the time he was close enough that it overrode all the other smells of the woods, the sun was hanging low in the sky.
His pulse quickened as he closed in on his prey, his body thrumming with excitement.
When the wolf came into view, Jared almost didn't believe his eyes. It was an alpha. And judging by its appearance, it was the very one he had been warned about.
Physically the wolf was no bigger than most alphas Jared had seen, but it was clear he was strong. His broad frame was thick with muscle, his movements were smooth and powerful, and his muzzle was criss-crossed with black scars that spoke of countless battles fought and won. If Jared couldn't detect something faintly human about his scent – and if he wasn't overwhelmed with the need to hold him down and breed – he'd have no problem believing this was a true wolf.
He froze when Jared leaped into the clearing, and for a moment the two regarded each other.
The scent was overwhelming at this close proximity, leaving no doubt that this was the wolf Jared had been stalking all afternoon. He could pick up much more detail now, smelling fear and surprise -- and even stronger than that, arousal. It was sharp, pungent, so sweet it made Jared's cock swell and push free of its sheath.
This wolf knew it as well as Jared did: they were going to mate.
Jared knew exactly how this would play out with a pack bitch. He'd seen it at least a hundred times before. The alpha would pin her, dominate her, and she would submit. The first round of breeding, the one that established the claim, could happen in human or wolf form. All that mattered was that coupling.
He'd heard stories of it happening between two alphas, but he'd never seen it with his own eyes. It never occurred to him how difficult it might be to mate when neither wolf was hard-wired for submission.
When the tension between them finally snapped, Jared had no idea which one of them made the first move; they crashed into one another in a tangle of teeth and heat, both instinctively fighting for dominance. The other wolf was aggressive in a way that bordered on feral, more like a true wolf than the weres Jared grew up sparring. He countered each of Jared's attacks with sharp nips and snarls.
It was little more than luck that finally let Jared win. His mate clearly wasn't used to fighting other animals with human sentience, and he didn't think to hide it when he began to feel fatigue. Jared was trained to look for those tells and exploit them whenever possible, and he'd as good as won the moment he spotted the slight shake of his opponent's legs. He simply held back his own strength, let the other wolf tire himself a little more with pointless wrestling, and then pounced swiftly, pinning him to the ground with his jaws fixed carefully around his throat.
Despite his forced submission, Jared could smell a sudden spike his mate's arousal. He couldn't help but want this. It was beyond their control, and far beyond any human ideas of top and bottom – they were already in the process of mating, and now they knew what roles they were going to play.
It was just a question of how to actually play them.
Jared's wolf-brain wanted nothing more than to fuck – to force his way inside and take what was his – but now that he'd established his dominance he was left with some practical problems. Namely the fact that he couldn't fuck another alpha in this form; that would require preparation.
He nipped at the other wolf's neck again, frustrated, and just like that it shifted into human form beneath him.
It was an incredible show of submission, but maybe he had realized the same thing Jared had – if they were going to finish this, they could only do it as men.
Jared followed suit immediately, and suddenly he was straddling a solid, smooth-skinned man who smelled like every good thing Jared could imagine.
Jared spat on his fingers and shoved them down into the crack of his ass, finding his hole and rubbing the tip of one finger right into it. The man tensed, but spread his legs and tipped his ass up like he welcomed the invasion. It made Jared's blood boil – yes, yes, of course he wanted it; this was his mate, his bitch, and he was going to take everything Jared had to give.
He kept one hand between the man's shoulder blades as he leaned in to spit right on his hole, working that finger in to the second knuckle. It was hot in there, hot and smooth and made for Jared's cock to fill.
"Shh," Jared muttered nonsensically, popping his finger out from that ring of muscle and pushing two back in. He tried to move carefully, but instinct made him scramble to get deeper inside that tight, slick heat. "Shh, now, I know what you need."
The man under him squirmed and writhed, his sweet little hole squeezing Jared's fingers rhythmically, but for all his bucking his scent was still heady with arousal. He smelled like the ripest bitch ever to go into heat, and every cell in Jared's body ached with the need to bust his little hole open and fill him with seed.
This was his mate, even if it was an alpha – biology be damned, Jared was going to fuck him full of come and rip the throat out of anyone who sniffed around him.
Jared's cock was already so hard the knob was flushed dark red, all the veins standing up under the skin. He ground it against the curve of the man's ass as he drove another finger in, loving the way he gasped and arched in response. It was that sweet, needy noise that made Jared yank his fingers back, spread him open, and shove the fat head of his cock right into that little hole.
It had to hurt. There were no two ways about it, but pure instinct was urging Jared on, whipping his thoughts into a frenzy. He bottomed out in one push, barely pausing before his hips rolled and found a jerking, needy rhythm.
The man's hands scrabbled in the dirt and leaves, his ass flexing tightly as he hauled himself onto his elbows. He wasn't struggling, Jared realized after a moment – he fucking himself back on Jared's cock, meeting each rough thrust so each one landed deep. Their bodies smacked together loudly with each push, Jared's tight, full balls knocking against the other man's sac.
"Fuck," Jared snarled. "Fuck yeah, take it. Gonna breed you so full—"
His mate just grunted in response, hot little groans and guttural noises that seemed to get shoved out of him with every rut of Jared's cock.
It was nothing like the sex he'd had with humans. His body knew it in a way his mind could barely comprehend; the rhythm they found seemed to sync with the pulse in his veins and the shuddering breaths of his mate. Something was tying them together, connecting them beyond the physical act of sex. It was that smell, Jared realized; it was intoxicating, so rich he was half-drunk off it, and it was letting him read this man like a book.
He could smell the precome dripping out his slit and the sweat prickling in his pits. He could smell the blood coursing through his veins, trapped in his cock. He could smell his need, his desperation, his shock and pleasure at being claimed.
It made Jared wish they were in pack territory just so he could know other weres smelled this coupling, this claiming – knew that this strong, powerful wolf was giving it up to him and getting mated like a bitch.
"Fuck," he breathed again, hand scrabbling around to grab the other man's cock.
It only took a few jerks before he came, spattering his load right there in the dirt. The smell of it hit Jared in a rush, making his own cock throb and drool as his mate's body squeezed around it.
His mate nearly went limp when that orgasm faded, but something – Jared sensed it was dignity, or a last glimmer of defiance – kept him on his knees, pushing back against Jared's short, demanding thrusts.
He still said nothing, only letting out a sharp, keening noise when Jared bit his neck and shot his load. It came out in thick, heavy pulses, each little rut of Jared's hips nudging it deeper into him, pushing it up where it belonged.
Jared slumped on top of him, pressing the other man down against the forest floor and rubbing his face against the side of his neck. He didn't care if his mate was getting smudged with dirt and his own come – the combination of those earthy scents made Jared's cock twitch pleasantly. He wanted to see this man covered in his own jizz, and covered in Jared's, too. He wanted to fuck him stupid.
Long before Jared his fill of nuzzling and smelling and indulging those thoughts, the man came to life and all but threw him off. He flipped them over easily, pulling himself off Jared's cock and pinning an arm across Jared's chest.
For a moment Jared was struck dumb by the face he was staring at. It was both rugged and beautiful; the features were delicate, almost pretty, but there was an angry sharpness in his eyes and the expression that tensed his features. The scars Jared had noticed on his wolf form were even more striking now, carving across his forehead, cheek and the bridge of his nose. They did nothing to diminish his good looks; if anything they accentuated them, made him even more beautiful by contrast.
A warm, liquid heat slid through Jared's veins, making his cock perk a little. This was his mate. Jared didn't need to know anything about him to know that he was going to love being his alpha; he already felt a bone-deep affection for him. He wanted to lick him all over like a cub, roll around in his scent and then breed him with another load.
When the man finally spoke his voice was gravelly and stilted, as though he rarely had occasion to use it.
"Who the fuck are you?"
Jared blinked a few times, trying to overcome the sex-crazed cotton of his brain.
"Uh, I'm—" He tried for a smile. "I guess I'm your mate."
The man's eyes – they were strikingly green now that he was human – narrowed sharply.
"I don't have a mate."
Jared couldn't help but raise his eyebrows incredulously. "Then what do you call... that?"
The man swallowed and studied Jared's face. He was still pinning Jared to the ground, and the silence that stretched between them was stony and resentful.
"What's your name?" he finally said.
His mouth twisted up in a surly smirk. "You're a long way from home."
"Yeah," Jared said hesitantly. He had the feeling this guy didn't want to hear that Jared had be on a road-trip, searching for… him. "What's your name?"
"And your pack?" Jared pressed.
Jensen's gaze dropped away, his full mouth pulling tightly at the corners. "I don't have one."
Jared wasn't sure how to take that. Every were had a pack; that was just how they operated. He'd heard stories of packs that drove members out for major, unforgivable infractions of their code, but he always assumed they were urban legends. The longer he stared at Jensen, the harder it was to believe he could have done something like that. Even he did have a reputation for scaring tourists.
"A lone wolf, huh?" Jared said dryly.
Jensen rolled his eyes and stood up in one swift, graceful movement.
Even with the oddly antagonistic tone things had taken, Jared couldn't help but marvel at his beauty. It was understandable that Jensen had developed that reputation for being a ferocious, dangerous predator. His entire body was muscular, but not in the bunched, tight way that came from lifting weights – it was all natural, lean and sinewy. He looked like he could rip a herd animal apart with his bare hands. His skin was fair, burned pink in some places and lightly tanned in others. There were a few more scars on his ribs, and Jared's mouth watered with how badly he wanted to put his mouth on them, trace them with his tongue.
"Get up," Jensen said shortly.
Jared obeyed, intensely aware of the way Jensen's gaze raked over his body and feeling a slight flicker of embarrassment at his nakedness. It felt like he was being sized up and grudgingly admired at the same time.
"Why are you here? This isn't your territory."
Jared dusted his hands off and pulled himself up to his full height. He kind of liked Jensen's brusque, no-nonsense attitude, but he wasn't about to get bullied into beta status after all that. He smirked a little when Jensen reflexively tensed.
"This is neutral territory," he said evenly. "It doesn't belong to anyone. Which I'm guessing is why you're here."
A muscle in Jensen's jaw ticked. "Guess whatever you want."
They stared at each other in silence for what felt like several minutes.
It was strange, Jared thought, to feel so connected to someone who was a perfect stranger. He could tell Jensen longed to bound off into the woods and leave him standing there, but he could also sense that Jensen couldn't bring himself to do it.
Like it or not, he was as caught up in Jared as Jared was in him. He'd caught his mate's scent, and he would never again be able to rest without knowing that Jared was safe.
"Follow me," Jensen finally said, walking past Jared and heading into the brush.
Jensen paused, the muscles in his back tensing as he looked up at the sky.
"It's nearly dark," he said stiffly. He glanced back at Jared. "You won't have the energy to shift after – that. I have food and a place to sleep." Jared grinned at that, and Jensen made a small, impatient noise. "What?"
"Nothing," Jared said. "It just kind of seems like I should be the one to buy you dinner."
Jensen's eyes narrowed, but Jared thought he saw a faint flash of amusement on his face before he took off through the trees.
The cave Jensen led him to was warm and dry, spacious enough that Jared didn't need to stoop once they got past the entrance.
It had the feeling of a mostly-human dwelling, which Jared hadn't expected. There was a well-dug fire pit at the back, near a large crack that presumably let out smoke. A smooth, wide log next to it seemed to serve as a bench; behind it, a bundle of various-sized animal pelts formed a sleeping area. Several strips of dried meat hung from the far wall, along with some carved wooden bowls.
"This is where you live?"
Jensen lifted one of the pelts from the pile and draped it over his shoulders.
"I said I'd feed you. I didn't ask for your thoughts on the decorations."
Jared raised his hands apologetically. "No, I mean, I like it. It's cozy. Not really what I was expecting."
Apparently mollified, Jensen grabbed another pelt and held it out; it seemed to be made of several rabbit skins that were held together by fine rows of hand-stitching. Jared took it gratefully, wrapping himself in the warm fur and sitting on the bench.
They fell into an almost companionable silence as Jensen moved around the cave, pulling bowls from their hooks and sorting through his food supply. It gave Jared a chance to take in the smaller details of his surroundings, which revealed more about Jensen than their conversation had – he spied a small stack of books next to the bedding, a pair of wire-rimmed glasses on top of them, and a tinderbox next to the wood pile.
It was clear this man, Jensen, wasn't entirely feral. He had some connection to civilization, which made his presence out in the woods an even greater mystery. Most weres made a point of distancing themselves from their base animal natures, taking pride in their ability to integrate with humans. He'd never met one who willingly – and happily – lived as though the wolf were his natural state.
Jared leaned over to pull a few logs off the pile and arrange them in the fire pit, not wanting to seem entirely useless. Jensen turned around abruptly when Jared knocked the flint against steel, looking surprised.
"What?" Jared said, blowing on the ember that formed when the spark landed in the smaller twigs. It took a minute, but it caught hold, sending up a spiral of smoke. "This isn't my first outdoors experience, you know. I am part wolf."
Jensen looked dubious, but he grunted appreciatively when flames began to lick at the logs and crackle quietly. He handed Jared a bowl of dried meat and berries, then sat on the ground next to the log.
Jensen didn't seem to be interested in small talk, so Jared entertained himself as he ate by studying his companion's movements and body language. Jensen was more subtle about it, but Jared could tell he was doing the same thing – he kept darting looks at him from the corner of his eye, catching Jared in a stare more than once.
He finally turned and stared back, eyebrows lifting. "What."
Jared shook his head and smiled slightly. "Nothing. I just like looking at you."
Jensen eyed him with an amused expression, then tilted his head slightly, like he was giving Jared permission. "Okay."
"How long have you lived out here?"
"A long time. Years. I don't know exactly how many now."
"Years?" Jared repeated. "All by yourself?"
Jensen shrugged. "You make it sound like a bad thing. I'm not totally alone. The woods are full of animals, there's just no people."
Jared tried to imagine a life that isolated, but his mind could barely grasp the idea. He'd run with his pack his entire life. It was an extended family in some ways, and a community in others. Their numbers totaled in the low thousands, but that was comprised of several smaller groups throughout the territory. Jared knew his own by scent, which gave him a sense of familiarity and kinship with any pack member he encountered, no matter how distantly they were related.
And the friendships he had with other weres – those were precious to him. He grew up tumbling through the woods with Sandy and Chad as cubs, shared their human lives in high school and college. There was a time he thought he would one day take Sandy as his mate, but he was present when his two friends felt that call for one another and succumbed to it. He was happy for them, sharing in their joy at being mated, and he regularly visited them now that they had their own brood.
Pack was everything.
"Aren't you lonely?"
"No," Jensen said simply.
Jared didn't hear any defensiveness in his tone, or sense wariness in his scent. Jensen honestly seemed to have no interest in the idea of human interaction, which made their current situation somewhat complicated.
"You get what this means, right?" Jared ventured. "What happened between us?"
Jensen cocked an eyebrow at him. "Do I strike you as particularly innocent?"
Jared's face warmed slightly, and he shrugged.
"No, that's not the word I'd use. I just – you don't seem very happy about it."
Jensen looked at the fire, falling silent for so long Jared thought he wasn't going to answer at all.
"I take care of myself. I don't depend on others and I don't have dependents. It's survival. If you're asking how I feel about suddenly having a mate, the answer is no, I'm not happy." He paused again, glancing over at Jared. "But I'm at the mercy of instinct as much as anyone in our situation. Towards you I feel – attachment. And that alone is alarming."
Jared wasn't sure if he should be relieved that these new, overwhelming feelings were reciprocated, or upset that Jensen clearly didn't want to feel them.
"I was looking for you," he admitted. "That's why I'm here. I sensed that I had a mate, and that I was never going to find it back home, so... I dropped out of school and hit the road."
Jensen looked at him curiously, almost in spite of himself. "School?"
"Law school. I go to U-Dub. My pack's right outside Seattle."
"Law school," Jensen echoed. "So you don't just live the human life. You're making it your job to uphold their codes and customs."
"Well I'm not exactly a choir boy," Jared said, pulling the rabbit pelt tighter around his shoulders. "And I'm no flag-waver, either. I'm just good at debating. I, uh—" He grinned sheepishly. "I have a knack for telling when someone's lying, or when a certain line of questioning makes them nervous. It's uncanny."
Jensen snorted. "Yeah, I'll bet." He shook his head and looked down at contents of his bowl. "So you're the knight-errant, on a quest for his lady. I hope our situation here has taught you to be careful what you wish for."
Jared chewed a strip of meat slowly. "Why do you think it happened between us? I mean, of all people, why – us, for each other? I've never even really been attracted to guys before."
"I was taught that it's... providence. Determined by the same power that gave us our gift of change."
"Destiny," Jared said quietly, remembering his own pack's myths. He frowned suddenly. "Wait, who taught you that? I thought you said—"
"I said I don't have a pack," Jensen cut in smoothly. He held up his last berry, studying it in the firelight before popping it in his mouth. "That doesn't mean I was hatched."
"So who raised you? How did you end up out here?"
Jensen set his bowl down on the floor of the cave and shifted, folding his legs gracefully and resting his elbows on his thighs.
"My father was human. He forced himself on my mother. Her people were strict traditionalists, and she didn't think they would accept a child that didn't come from a true mating. So she ran. Raised me to live this way. I was ten when she died. I tried to live normal for a while, but—" He broke off and gave a jerky shrug, leaving Jared to fill in the blanks: as hard as life would be for an orphaned teenager, it would be ten times harder for one learning how to control the ability to turn into an animal. "I'm no stranger to civilization, I just don't like it. I enter it on the odd occasion when I need supplies – thread, medicine, tools I can't make. And I like books."
Nothing could have prepared Jared for the intensity of the feelings that burned in his chest right then. He could feel every mixed emotion Jensen experienced as he related that story – the anger, the shame, the resentment. He even felt the warm flicker of fondness that came when he mentioned books. It was like there was an open channel between them, exposing everything Jensen hid with his short, blunt sentences and flinty tone.
Perhaps the strangest thing of all was the answering emotion sparked in Jared, for hot on the heels of that empathy was an overwhelming sense of protectiveness. He wanted to lock those private parts of Jensen away for good, make sure no one else ever saw them or sensed them; he wanted to protect Jensen from ever being hurt again – and even more, he wanted to snap the bones and taste the blood of anyone who dared try.
It was crazy. Like Jensen, the solitary predator who had no need for human contact, couldn't take care of himself just fine.
"I'm sorry," Jared said quietly, looking down at his hands.
He didn't need to glance up to know that Jensen's hackles suddenly raised; it made a frisson of tension cut through the air.
"The person here to be pitied is you, I think," Jensen said neutrally. "I'm used to this life. I enjoy it. You've been mated to the one who lives it."
"Doesn't matter," Jared argued. It was true, even though the rational part of his mind was surprised to hear him say it. "I wanted to find my mate, and I did. That's all that matters."
"You have a strange way of looking at things," Jensen said, prodding at the fire with a stick. He shot Jared a wry look. "I can't decide if you're romantic or just stupid."
Jared couldn't help but grin ruefully. "Maybe I'm a little of both."
Jensen's mouth twitched into an answering smile. "That's my current theory."
"Anyway, it could be worse," said Jared, encouraged by the return of Jensen's good humor. "You could have been some crazy religious extremist. Or addicted to those home shopping shows. Or someone who collects dolls."
Jensen chuckled. "That would just be creepy."
"Exactly," said Jared, tearing another bite off his last meat strip. "Freaky hobbies are way worse than living in a cave and letting the local townspeople think you're a vicious, bloodthirsty animal."
Jensen looked amused. "Is that what they think?"
Jensen shrugged. "I make the occasional appearance when campers stray too close to my den. I've never attacked humans, though."
"I know," Jared said quietly.
They looked at each other for a long moment, drifting into silence as the fire snapped and popped in front of them. It was strange to feel content just studying the face of a stranger, but Jared thought he could probably do it happily for hours, maybe days.
It was Jensen who finally broke the spell, reaching out to take Jared's empty bowl and rising to his feet in one smooth, fluid motion.
"I don't know what kind of schedule you keep, but I turn in early on nights I don't need to hunt." He set the bowls near a small basin of water and moved to the sleeping area, shaking out the pelts to make it larger. "We're safe from predators in here. The fire won't die for a while, and this location is isolated. The animals around here know this territory is claimed, anyway."
"Right," Jared said absently.
A swift twist of heat blossomed in his belly as he watched Jensen arrange the pelts. Maybe it was the implication of sleeping there together, or maybe it was just the way he carried himself – his movements were deliberate and swift, but Jared could tell he was a little sore from their previous mating.
It had only been an hour, maybe less; Jensen's hole was probably still leaking Jared's come.
The thought crashed over him, making his pulse spike and his vision swim. He wanted to see it, he realized perversely. He wanted to see his load drip out of Jensen and then put another one in there. One round had been enough to claim him, but instinct stole over Jared's senses, whispering that once hadn't been enough. No amount of claiming would ever be enough, not with Jensen. Not with his mate.
Jensen suddenly went still, freezing where he knelt on the floor of the cave. It took Jared a moment to realize that his thoughts made his cock swell hard, that his scent must be broadcasting his burst of arousal.
"Come here," he said lowly.
Jensen darted a glance at him, his eyes shadowy; he knew exactly where Jared's mind was at. He was probably even feeding off Jared's desire, picking up on the flare of possessiveness that licked through Jared's limbs.
The more Jared looked at him, the more it grew. His cock bobbed stiffly between his legs as he shrugged off the pelt and slid to the floor of the cave.
Jensen's whole body tensed, but he didn't move away. He met Jared's gaze, holding his ground as a dark, smirky expression flitted over his face.
"You think you could take me again, boy?"
"I think you want me to," said Jared, glancing at Jensen's cock. It was already thickening, flushing full and hard, and it twitched under Jared's gaze.
There was something teasing about the way Jensen rocked back on his haunches, clearing inviting Jared to take his best shot.
So he did.
As soon as he got a hand on Jensen's shoulder, they were tumbling down in a flurry of elbows and muscle, wrestling across the pelts and the soft dirt floor of the cave. It was the kind of play Jared hadn't indulged in since he was a cub, but there was a new edge to the nips at his skin and the weight of the body and jabbed and shoved and pinned him.
He found himself laughing when Jensen tackled him down, the fat length of his cock grinding warmly against Jared's hip. Adrenaline smashed headlong into his arousal, leaving his whole body buzzing and alert, his senses all attuned to Jensen. He lifted his hips, rutting against Jensen's cock and using the momentary distraction to flip them over.
Jensen chuckled against his ear, low and rough. "Not bad for a domesticated animal."
Jared panted lightly, rubbing at the dip between Jensen's collarbones. "Bet I could domesticate you."
The noise Jensen made then was sharp – a throaty growl that had Jared's cock throbbing even as he was grappled over onto his back.
There was no getting out of Jensen's hold this time; his grip was vice-like, pinning Jared with a strong, capable arm over his chest and a knee against his thigh.
He flashed his teeth in a grin, eyes glittering dangerously, and his point was all too clear: Jensen's submission didn't extend any further than the act of sex. Physically he was equal – maybe even superior, because right then Jared had no choice but to show him his belly, entirely at Jensen's mercy.
For some reason that thought did nothing to diminish the steady throb of arousal under Jared's skin. He liked it, he realized with hazy surprise – he liked that his mate was this strong, strong enough to pin Jared down and take him.
Jensen seemed more interested in studying him, though. His gaze flickered over Jared's face like he was taking in every detail; he tilted his head to the side after a moment, then leaned in to sniff curiously at Jared's neck.
Jared shut his eyes and waited for the tight press of teeth that would drive Jensen's point home, and startled when it didn't come. Instead Jensen simply pressed a warm, dry kiss against Jared's pulse, his mouth unnervingly soft.
Before Jared could do more than swallow, Jensen dragged his nose over to the crease of an armpit, across Jared's chest, then down to the heavy, warm weight of his cock. It was so stiff that it swayed between them, and there was already a pearly smear of precome where Jensen's weight had pressed the head of it against Jared's stomach. Jensen nuzzled at it without hesitation, breathing deeply as he nosed down around Jared's balls.
That alone was enough to make Jared's mind unravel, but in that same moment he could smell Jensen's arousal spike in the air around him. Jensen was getting turned on from the smell of Jared's cock. The smell of Jared's cock still musky from their last fuck.
"You want that inside of you again?" Jared said lowly, reaching down to rub the soft bristles of Jensen's hair. His cock throbbed under the damp gusts of Jensen's, losing another dribble of precome.
Jensen gave a rough, feral little moan and nipped at the inside of Jared's thigh. It wasn't a gesture of aggression, Jared could tell; it was a helpless acknowledgment of how intense he felt and how badly he wanted exactly that.
He tensed nervously when Jared moved to flip them back over, meeting Jared's gaze with dark, flinty eyes. He wasn't big on talking at the best of times, but when instinct took over he seemed beyond words entirely.
"Come on," Jared coaxed, rubbing a hand over Jensen's shoulders. "I get it; you could rip my throat out. Just let me touch you."
Some of the tension went out of Jensen's body, enough that Jared could ease him over on the furs. He stroked a hand down Jensen's side, petting him gently. Jensen still seemed wary, like he couldn't quite tell if he was giving up control of the situation – or maybe he just couldn't tell if he liked doing that.
"God, you're so—" Jared didn't have a word for how Jensen looked laying there in the fire light. He wasn't just hot, or sexy, or any other word that could be applied to a million other people in other situations. He was Jared's mate, and he was wild and powerful and practically in heat over Jared's cock. There was no way to describe what that did to him, or how the desire it stirred in Jared's chest was uniquely tailored to Jensen.
Jared's hand strayed over to rub at Jensen's stomach, tracing the line of dark golden hair under his belly-button and then sliding up to pinch one of his nipples.
Jensen sucked in a sharp breath and made a quiet noise of surprise. His cheeks slowly flushed as Jared watched, fascinated, and gave it another squeeze.
"You like that, huh?" he marveled, and leaned in to lick at the other one. He traced his tongue around the stiff little peak before giving it a warm suck, fighting the urge to grin when Jensen's hips jerked upwards. "Guess so."
He scraped his teeth lightly against the underside, and Jensen's fingers suddenly threaded through his hair, holding Jared there as he arched up towards his mouth. It was all the instruction Jared needed; he rubbed his tongue back and forth over that nipple until Jensen gasped again, his chest jerking under Jared's mouth, then tugged at it with sharp little pulls of teeth.
When he finally pulled back, Jensen's entire face was faintly pink and damp with sweat.
"Roll over," said Jared.
Jensen's mouth curled up on one side, his eyes suddenly seeming to focus on Jared.
"That a command?" he said, voice gritty and rough.
Jared smiled, knocking the back of his hand against Jensen's stomach in a playful slap.
"Think of it as a real friendly request."
Jensen's smirk deepened, but he flipped over, letting Jared spread his legs and slide down between them.
"Show me that mated little hole," Jared muttered, spreading Jensen open and breathing in deep.
It was a rich, powerful smell – the scent that was uniquely Jensen mingled with what Jared recognized as his own. It was the evidence of their mating, the proof that Jared had claimed Jensen for himself, and it made Jared's skin flush and his balls ache.
"I can smell my come inside of you," he breathed, swiping his thumb in over Jensen's slick hole. It was still stretched, enough that it opened easily under that gentle pressure. "Can you? God, I creamed you so good."
"Yeah," Jensen said, his voice low and harsh. "I want—"
He didn't seem able to finish that thought out loud, but he made a wounded noise when Jared popped his thumb free and licked him there, right where his cock had been. The taste was bitter and salty and washed over Jared with the same intensity that smell had – flooding his mind with layers of meaning, with mine and mate and protect and always.
Before he could process any further thought, Jared slid up on his palms, mounting Jensen quickly and nudging his cock back into that sweet, hot hole.
Jensen sighed when Jared settled inside of him, groaning lowly when Jared didn't pull back out. He just spread his knees wider, forcing Jensen's legs apart so he could get the head of his cock as deep inside of Jensen as possible.
"That feel good?" he whispered, leaning over Jensen's back to breathe the words just behind his ear. "Getting mated?"
The groan that came in response was deep and drawn out, almost like Jensen was drunk. He kind of was, Jared realized – they were both awash in pheromones and raw, irrational instinct.
They moved without parting, Jared's hips gently rolling with Jensen's while his cock stayed buried deep. He was teasing them both, but he wanted Jensen to savor the feeling of getting speared open, deep and unforgivingly; this is how they would mate as wolves. Jared's cock would tie off inside of Jensen, keeping him open and plugging up every shot of Jared's seed.
He bit Jensen's shoulder as he finally began to move; it was slower this time, the load of come already inside Jensen making each stroke smoother. Jared had already claimed him, and his inner wolf was calmer now, savoring that victory. He had his mate, a safe shelter, and all the time in the world to explore and care for him.
"God, I wanna get you like this under the moon. Give you my knot. You'd take it for me, wouldn't you?"
"Fuck," Jensen hissed, arching sweetly. Jared growled and moved faster, giving him sharp, deep stabs of cock.
"Yeah, you'd take it," Jared sighed, straightening and gripping Jensen's hips. "You'd let me tie you to my cock all night, breed you for hours – give you that big load. That's all you want, huh? To feel me coming – right here?"
Something Jared couldn't name, something buried deep in the recesses of his mind, knew just how to angle his thrusts the way Jensen craved. If Jensen had been giving it up before, that was nothing compared to the downright slutty way he suddenly fucked himself back on Jared. His spine stiffened and his hole clenched around the base of Jared's cock, a wounded, ragged noise tearing out of him each time Jared hit home.
The scent of Jensen's come hit Jared's nose suddenly, rich and bitter as his untouched cock shot off under him. It made Jared's balls throb sympathetically, pulling up tightly as Jensen gasped and groaned.
He leaned in, sliding an arm under Jensen and hauling him up on his knees. Jensen slumped back on Jared's chest bonelessly, his cock losing another spurt of come that landed on Jared's arm and smeared up his own stomach when Jared reached to pluck at a nipple.
Jensen groaned and turned his face against the side of Jared's neck, his lips moving in words that he couldn't quite give voice to; Jared thought he could make out his own name between Jensen's raspy breaths, and it was that thought that made the tension in his body finally snap.
Time lost all meaning as he bred Jensen with another load, moving with sharp, desperate thrusts that pounded against that sweet spot and had Jensen shuddering and keening in his arms. There was no thought in Jared's mind but how necessary this was, how much Jensen needed to be filled and made whole, marked up and claimed.
When the immediate, blinding intensity of it finally passed, he could feel a dribble of come already slipping out, sliding down to his balls; that's how full Jensen was.
Jared glanced down at him and found Jensen already staring back at him, slumped back with his cheek against Jared's shoulder. He looked a little shell-shocked, his face flushed and glistening with a sheen of sweat, but that flinty, guarded look still shuttered his eyes.
"Hey," Jared said weakly. He skimmed his hand down Jensen's chest and rested it low on his belly, right over the place he'd just unloaded in him.
Jensen made a small, vaguely impressed noise, his hole flexing sensitively around Jared's half-hard cock.
"I think I know why you got mated with an alpha male," he said hoarsely, lifting his eyebrows.
"Why?" said Jared. He was surprised to hear that his own voice was just as shot.
"'Cause you'd break a female." He touched Jared's wrist, letting their hands overlap for a brief moment, then straightened up. "Get off me."
Jared rolled his eyes and released him, pulling out carefully. He didn't make an effort to hide his interest as he watched Jensen crack his neck both ways, roll his shoulders, and slide over to a cleaner area on the pelts, but Jensen didn't seem to be paying him much attention. It took him a few minutes to arrange himself in the most comfortable sprawl possible, and another minute of lying there with his eyes shut before he acknowledged Jared's presence.
"Well?" He opened one eye, peering at Jared with an annoyed squint. "Are you going to get down here and sleep?"
Jared's mouth twitched with amusement. As disagreeable as Jensen could be, Jared actually found that he liked it; watching him wrestle with his irritable attitude and his unavoidable feelings of attachment was proving to be pretty entertaining, especially when the latter won out.
Jared flopped down next to him, tossing a proprietary arm over Jensen's chest and nuzzling against his throat, where his scent was the strongest.
Jensen hesitated, a flicker of tension rolling through him, then turned to press his face against the top of Jared's head.