The Lost Boys

by D'Artagnon

Chapter Five

Second Star to the Right

Josh sat at the ledge of the watch, staring out into the dancing waters of the Merrimack River. Late fall colors filtered the sunlight as he tried to come to grips with what had happened to him today. He was fairly certain that the farmers couldn't possibly know his name. He hoped like hell they hadn't seen him flying about. He was proud of his gift, but not sure how other people would react to it.

He kept trying to think about what to do next, but his mind kept repeating the events of the last two days. The crash, his bike a twisted hunk of modern art, the seam in the field, the log truck accident and his ability to fly. It was how he had escaped certain death before, he knew. When he curiously sailed up over that rock that ate his bike, he had somehow tapped into his flying power. Even here at the Watch he had tried it a few times, not certain if he was still dreaming. He had gone from the upper parapet and down to the ledge again half a dozen times, grinning like an idiot with the simple joy of wind in his hair, sun on his face and the Earth so very far below him. It was all blurring into a weird blend in his mind.

He felt giddy. It was a new experience for Josh. Normally his attitude of late had been surly to most, casually cruel to those in his household, even randomly aggressive and spiteful to those at school. Any given Saturday, like today, he'd rather be out, alone, away from people so he could wallow in his loneliness and find the one thing that kept him sane, that made him happy anymore: speed.

The only thing of late that could make him smile had been the rush of his own heartbeat, the scream of leaves passing close by his ears as he shot through the corn field or through the forest. He only felt alive anymore when he was chasing the wind, fighting against the air and the ground at the same time, resisting both, just getting out and moving, going, leaving it all behind him. Leaving the pain.

No, don't want to think about that now , he thought. But he couldn't help it. The images, the memories started coming back up. Remembering the way he began feeling. Remembering….

He had been 12 the first time he can remember feeling that way. Feeling his eyes drawn to other boys. Feeling himself becoming hard. Having romantic dreams about his friends. He remembered wrestling around with buddies and suddenly feeling that it was so much more than just horsing around for him. He remembered asking one of his buddies into an "I'll show you mine if you show me yours," session, and being rejected. Harshly rejected, and then mocked for it. Such things don't last long in 6 th grade, especially with more pressing things to talk about. But it had a profound effect on young Joshua. His confidence in others dried up in those spare days after event. His friend circle shrank to his TV, his Gameboy, and his bike. Alone was better than hurt, vulnerable. Alone was safe.

But all that had been before he found his new power. And he had used it almost as instinctively as walking, as wiping his face after crying. He had even used his new ability to save a man's life. That was so much against his normal mode, to help anyone. His parents had to practically harangue him into simple chores around the house. Which, while not necessarily an unusual thing for a teenager, had of late become a major shouting match starter in his home. Josh simply had no patience, charity or concern for anyone but himself. After all, everyone had in one way or another let him down when he needed them most.

But now he could fly. The wonder of it was slowly washing off, but it was still something his alone. No one else ever need know about his power. No one even needed to know he had saved that truck driver's life.

But damn that had felt good . He'd been alive then, when the danger was present. He'd felt alive running from the logs, even as he was prepared to die right then, knowing he was about to, until the flying bit kicked in. It was like parts of his mind and his heart were finally meshing, he felt so good, so in tune with himself for the first time in a long time. Like his soul had centered itself after so very long being out of sync with everything else.

A sudden snap of a twig in the distance alerted Josh that someone was climbing up the rocky pass that lead to the Watch's ledge. Not sure if he wanted anyone to know where he was just yet, Josh quickly zoomed up through the air to the upper parapet. He found a large, smooth rock up there and lay flat on it, only his eyes and his hair sticking out over the edge. The footsteps drew closer, far too heavy to be a squirrel or a raccoon, or god forbid, a skunk. All those mostly came out at night anyways, not in broad daylight.

Josh watched, waiting. With any luck it would just be a couple kids passing though with fishing poles, going down to the sheltered spot at river's edge to try and pull some pike out of the river. Josh almost giggled remembering what his grandfather used to think about fishing in the Merrimack. "Only things swimming in the muddy, murky Merrimack aren't fit to eat these days," he'd say, sitting back and complaining about how rotten the Red Sox were doing to the TV.

But it wasn't just a couple of kids heading out to go waste bait in the river. It was a kid from school. An older boy that Josh knew by name alone. Tom Gabrielli. But he looked devastated, wasted. His hair was wet and stuck out at odd angles in the slight November breezes. The jacket he wore looked three sizes too small. And he was walking about without shoes on. He was searching about frantically for something, and Josh couldn't help but think that he looked frantic, desperate, wild. As if his whole world had also just slipped sideways and become something totally new. But where as Josh's new reality was based on a joy and gift he intended to keep secret, something told Josh that whatever drove Tom was something totally different.

Joshua also suddenly felt that there was a strange kinship between himself and Tom, even though to each other they were only faces in the hallways at school. There was something about the boy that matched something Joshua felt in his own heart. A sense of things being out of sync, being away from center, being unbalanced.

Tom pounded up to the ledge and looked down at the switchbacks and trails far below that led to the river's edge. Somewhere along in there it had happened, the attack, the change, the kill. Somewhere down there he had taken a life, he had become a monster. His breath came out of his face in heaving, billowing gouts of steam as he caught his breath from the frantic climb up to Watching Rocks. He hadn't been up here since he was a child, but that didn't matter. The town and the times might change, but the Watch was eternal, unchanging.

He felt a different desperation, though, now. One not so much tied to the events of last night, but a consequence of them. A proof to himself about whether or not it had even happened. He needed to see the body with his own eyes. He needed some form of proof that he wasn't a monster, that it had all been some bad dream. That the blood on his hands wasn't Dylon Rhymer's.

Tom sat down, thinking about it. Even if he did already know it did happen, and he had killed another boy, albeit in self defense, he still had another mission. Something he had lost had to be found.

His watch. It had been a birthday present from Uncle Terry, only months before the Towers fell. It was the last thing he had to remind him of his beloved uncle. It was Tom's most prized possession.

And it had fallen off his arm during the transformation last night.

He felt the tears as he remembered his uncle giving him the watch, handing it to Tom, ruffling his hair and then pulling him into a strong bear hug. "This is to remind you that time waits for no man, Tommy, miboy," Uncle Terry had said. "Make good use of the time you have, for it will surely slip through your fingers if you don't." His vision blurred and he lifted his head back and unconsciously cried out his anguish, confusion and fear in a long, deep-throated howl. His arms shrugged back as he called into the sky like a wolf, the jacket slipping off his shoulders.

It was a sound Josh understood all to well. Painful and beautiful at the same time, brimming with the agony of loss, the depth of despair and the deep, underlying sense of being totally forlorn and alone. Josh could stare in silence no longer as another kid was in the same kind of pain he had kept locked inside his own chest for so long. He used his power to gently get up from his perch and hover, preparing to silently go down to the ledge and find some way to comfort Tommy. As he started moving out into the open air over the ledge, however, he saw a change occur.

Tom's body shifted, convulsed, seemed to grow thick silvery fur, expanded past the boundaries of his skin, splitting his t-shirt down the back. He flexed and shifted as he continued to howl, his voice becoming deeper, more resonant, projecting harmonics and undertones no human vocal cords were capable of. He had shifted from boy, to wolf-boy, a werewolf, giving his wolf song the whole time.

Josh couldn't believe it. Tom was….was…. like me?! He couldn't believe it. Here was another soul that might understand what it meant to be different, to be special, even in that other way that Josh was special and different, maybe. Here was someone he could talk to, and a secret they could share between each other.

Tom's senses returned to him as the night before. Scents assailed his nose, subtle sounds carried to his ears. The tilt of the Earth itself was nearly discernable to him under his knees, toes and the long, bushy tail that dragged the ground behind him. He'd split out the back seam of an old pair of jogging pants, this time, but didn't seem to mind. He had become the monster again. What more proof did he need that God had forsaken him. That he was evil, a brutal killer, a base beast unfit for human affection or forgiveness.

Then his nose told him he wasn't alone. A scent that at once screamed "fear" and "excitement" to him, although he didn't understand the mechanism of that understanding. The long guard hairs around his neck told him that the airflow was from behind and above, and his animal instincts informed him that the scents he was getting came from that direction.

Tommy whirled, his muzzle tracking up to see Josh hanging there in thin air, half leaning forward, his mouth open in awe. His lips peeled back from his teeth in a threat display, and his throat issued a universally understood lupine warning signal, a blood curdling growl.

"Oh, shit," Josh said, barely a whisper. "Uh, can't we talk about this, Tom? I wasn't spying on you, really."

"Who are you?" Tom heard himself say, anger and fear blurring in his own mind. His instincts said "BITE! CLAW! KILL!" but he held them in check, not wanting to step deeper into the well of evil his very life had become.

"Josh. Josh Daniels. I live over on Peabody Street. You used to cut my lawn a few years ago."

"You're….flying?" Tom said, and couldn't help but tilt his head sideways as he stared at Josh.

"Uh, yeah, you noticed," Josh said, trying to turn it into a joke. "Just figured out I could do it today. I guess you're a werewolf, huh?"

"If you tell anyone, I'll kill you too!"

" Hey, I think we both want our secrets kept about th….did you say kill you too ?"

"I've killed once, I can do it again," Tom said, summoning his bravado. "I'm a viscous, evil killing machine, and I'll rip your heart out." Something in how Tom said it, though, got to Josh. It was an undercurrent of remorse, regret, even a deep sadness. And Josh's sharp eyes also picked out another clue, written plainly on Tom's face. Even as he made the threat, Tom was streaming tears, gushing hot and salty down his face fur. Josh realized that he was the only person right now that Tommy could turn to. The only one that might understand him.

"You're not a killer, Tom. Anymore than I'm an arrogant asshole," he said, swallowing loudly, a large chunk of his foolish pride evaporating with it. "I've been that to so many people for so long that it's easy to do the act. But it isn't me. I don't think you're a killer either." Josh descended and landed on his feet by Tom's side. "You may have had to do something awful, but I don't think it was a choice you made on purpose. I don't think you have that kind of hate in you."

Tom growled suddenly and leapt forwards, his right arm lashing out to grab Josh by the throat, his large fingers easily encircling the other boy's neck with a crushing grip. "I should kill you right here for knowing my secret," Tom growled, low and dangerous. The fingers of his left hand went rigid, the claws ready to spear into Josh's chest, just like he had done to Dylon last night.

"Yeah, you could. But you know mine as well. That's a fair trade, I think," Josh said, trying hard not to panic. The power in Tom's werewolf fist was enough to squish all Josh's juice out with one sudden squeeze. He respected what that power meant against his weak flesh, but he didn't back down. He wanted to help Tom, and was willing to commit his life to that endeavor. Nothing short of total trust here would cut the mustard.

"You could probably rip me to shreds and then leave me for dead. You could probably bite my head clean off. But that would mean the one person that might understand even a little bit of what you're going through would be dead, by your hands." Josh put his own hand up on Tom's broad forearm, taking a huge chance. He laid the back of his fingers on the inside of Tom's arm and slowly stroked inwards as far as he could reach. "You would be killing the one person that knows your secret and doesn't think you're a monster. That wants to be your…..friend." Joshua fumbled a bit saying "friend." It wasn't a word he had a great deal of familiarity with of late. That lack gave it much more significance.

Tom released Josh, closing his eyes and sinking to his knees. His anger and fear abated slightly and he felt himself shifting back to human form. Even as he did, he found himself leaning forwards and falling into Joshua's embrace. The two boys stood together for several seconds, both just leaning on each other, crying, enjoying the comfort of another's arms and the unspoken bond of new friendship between them.

Sammy and Andy pushed open the hinge on the tree stump lid and stepped up into the sunshine. "That was the coolest place I've ever been," Sammy said, energetically as he stepped out of the secret tunnel. "I never knew we had those around here. Are there other tunnels under the river?"

"I'll show you those secrets later. As it is, few people know about these tunnels. They were built in secrecy back before the Revolutionary War. The Minute Men used these tunnels to smuggle supplies to ships in the river from the old Ale House in Rutherford Commons." Andy carefully closed the hatch, making sure it didn't show itself to be the escape hatch it was. "As it is, this tunnel isn't as strong as it once was. We have to be careful using it. Alert, you know?" Andy stopped, his senses straining.

"Kewl! Did you're grandfather teach you about these tunnels?" Sammy asked then noticed the way Andy was staring off into the distance. Sammy waved his hand before the older boy's vision twice before Andy whipped up a hand to keep Sammy from obscuring his view.

"Whatchu looking at?" Sammy whispered, as Andy continued to stare off into space.

"The little bird and the wolf are together at the Watch," Andy replied. "That was unforeseen. At least now we don't have to track down the wolf."

"Wolf? What wolf? Where?"

"Come on," Andy said, shuffling his feet through the leaves. "And make as much noise as you can just walking. We don't want to startle them."

"Huh? Hey, wait up!" Sammy hastened to catch up with the older boy, who seemed to be making an effort to walk loudly as compared to his usual soft tread. Sammy casually kept pace, swinging his arms with almost reckless abandon. "You still didn't tell me who we're meeting."

Andy smiled, a sort of half smirk that lit up the side of his face away from the bouncy boy on his right side. Two images from old cartoons flashed through his mind at the same time: that little dog bouncing beside the big dog walking down the street, and Tigger walking beside Rabbit doing what Tigger's do best. He quickly came to the realization that Sammy was the kind that would need constant information. He was a million questions waiting to come out all at once, curiosity squared. Just like any Kat would be. I'd better at least prepare him, then, Andy thought.

"Two other boys. Both older than you. Both with powers, kinda like you. Well, at least one of them is kinda like you. Sorta."


"One changes similar to how you do, although instead of being a Kat, he turns more, well, lupine."

"That means like a wolf, doesn't it?"


"We learned that in Latin this year."

"The other boy, the little birdy, I wonder if he's figured out how to fly yet?"

"He can fly?!" Sammy said, kicking up a thick spray of leaves for emphasis. "Wow, that's so much more awesome than just being able to change."

Again Andy grinned, but this time with a deeper sense of irony. He turned his head slightly, regarding his young friend. "You might not want to compare relative strengths until you have a sense of what you are comparing to, Samuel."

"Don't call me Samuel. Only Mrs. MacGuillocutty at school and Grammy call me that, and Grammy only does when she's mad."

"I'll keep that in mind, Sammy the Kat."

Sammy stopped, and Andy unconsciously took three steps before realizing Sammy wasn't bouncing and kicking up leaves beside him. He turned to face the younger boy, who was staring at the path ahead of them in deep thought. "Sam?"

"They'll know who we are."

"I hope so. Hard to build trust, to earn trust, if they don't at least know you."

"Wont we need like superhero code names and stuff? Masks and things like that?"

"This isn't a comic book, Sammy. It's real life."

"Still, I mean, this is kinda weird. Wont they freak?"

"We'll just play it by ear. Besides, this is important to all of us. We're in a lot of danger. Even the safety of these woods has already been compromised. The strongest of us fell here."

"The strongest?"

"I'll explain up at the Watch. We better get moving before the wolf and hawk decide to hide on us. Make noise with your feet like before, so they hear us coming up the path."

"I still don't understand," Sammy whined, picking up the pace again, falling into step beside Andy.

"You will, but we have to hurry."

"Okay," Sammy said, stuffing his hands in the kangaroo pouch of his sweatshirt. "Andy?"


"Thanks for helping me today. I don't have too many friends."

"That's all about to change."

"It is?"

"Sammy, there are a lot of kids like us around. Scared, worried about someone finding out our secrets, worried how knowing those secrets will change how they feel about us. It's scary. But at the same time, it's a brave new world."


"Because, in that secrecy, there's a common bond between us all. And there's a kind of freedom to operating under everyone else's noses. We can do things to change the world, Sammy, and no one will even see it coming until they all accept it all."


"By being true to ourselves."

"By being ….being gay?" he asked tentatively.

"By not being stereotypes. By not being fools. By proving there are other ways."

"Oh. Sounds like a lot of work."

"It will be, Sammy. But in the end, it will all be worth it. In the meantime, we have a little bit of business called survival to attend to. Survival that's better assured by helping each other out."

"Safety in numbers?"

"And awareness. There's thing we all need to know. And quite possibly one of our own to help out this very day."


"One step at a time Sammy." As they reached the foot of Watching Rocks, Andy craned his neck upwards, listening. "Let's go up, slowly, and make noise. Don't want to startle them."

"What are they doing up there?" Sammy said, straining to hear what Andy heard.

"Just some healthy crying and trust."


"You'll see. Let's climb."

Many miles away, Kyle dug in his heals, hauling a load of fresh cut logs to his father's trailer The rope was taut against his straining arms as he pulled the makeshift sledge along the ground, fully loaded with over two hundred pounds of wood. The slight rise was easily negotiable for him, but the car and the trailer hitched to the back of it would never make it down the hill. Not for the slope, but for the many tree stumps along the way. In the distance, Kyle could hear his father's chain saw hacking into another tree, easily tearing into thick bark and sappy heartwood.

They worked like this every weekend. Kyle's father worked during the times Kyle was in school, cutting down the trees, clearing land for old man Smith. On the weekends, they took the felled trees and converted them into firewood. Old Smith didn't care what happened to the timber; he just wanted the land cleared by springtime so he could build a new condo complex for the growing town. Between the land clearing work, all under the table, and selling off the firewood, Kyle and his father managed to make the bills work out, with enough left over to keep food on the table and Kyle in clothes. Things like Christmas and birthdays had fallen by the wayside years ago, when Kyle's Mom had died from breast cancer, two years before.

But even just pulling the sled loaded with logs was part of Kyle's training. Everything seemed to revolve around his hockey ability ever since his father had given Kyle his beating. Since the world turned colder to Kyle. Nothing was ever good enough. Any time Kyle showed an interest in something other than being a full on, tough guy, super-sport hockey all-star slash future rink god was quashed almost at once. No video games. No internet. Even cable was reduced in the house to nothing but news and sports channels. Nothing remained of anything that might put Kyle back on the evil path his father had found him on with Johnny that day long ago.

Only hockey and manly pursuits remained. Even learning skating techniques like jumps and balance shifting from figure skating was frowned on. It was all a gimmick to Dad, not traditional sports training. That was pansy stuff.

All pictures of Kyle's mom had been taken down. Kyle didn't know where they were anymore. He'd stopped looking after Dad had even barred his grandparents from visiting. Looking over the shoulder, he felt just like the logs he was hauling. Cut up. Disconnected. Organized to someone else's pattern. Knocked down, piled up and sent on his merry way. Tossed aside and owned, bought and sold to someone else's needs.

He navigated the hill with his usual ease. He'd taken loads heavier than this before, his strong, fast legs used to such lifting. His arms twisted and pulled from his chest, shoulders and biceps as he went, even partly curling his flat, washboard stomach against the dragging weight behind himself. While he resented the old man for all the crap that both their lives had become, he stuck to his job. He persevered. Every day in training , he told himself , is one day closer to being out. To being on my own. To breaking free.

Near the base of the trailer's open bed was a thick tree stump from young maple, severed just low enough to the ground that Kyle could drop the loop of the sled over, effectively tying it down. Then he could unload the wood into the trailer bed and not worry about the sled taking off down the hill when the weight of logs in front wasn't enough to balance the weight of logs in back on the slight rise. He started chucking the heavier pieces in first, after a while he'd climb into the trailer to stack them neatly so more wood could be fit inside and then under the tarp. It was a pattern as well drilled into his head as times tables or spelling words.

He got halfway through the load when he heard a distinct sound in the distance. The sound of the chainsaw coming to a complete stop. Kyle thought nothing of it at first, keeping his mind on his work, trying hard not to think about Johnny, what he must look like now, if Johnny had touched another boy after they had separated. His breath billowed out in rhythmic gouts as he dropped the heavy logs into the trailer.

Chapter Seven –

Tribal Connections

Sammy was a natural at making too much noise when he walked. At least while in his human form. He hadn't managed to learn that cat-footed trick yet, where you test the ground with cautious, small movements of the foot before trusting the ground to your weight. As a tiger, he had it down to instinct. Seems some things don't translate well when going from four feet to two.

Josh and Tom heard it at about the same time, Tom's head swiveling around to follow the approaching sound of footfalls and leaf shuffling so quickly that he actually had his body square to Sammy's direction before he knew what he was doing. Apparently instincts carried over in werewolf genes better than in other types of shape shifters. Josh was startled that Tom was no longer in his embrace, but he recognized the signs of danger, even saw Tom's straight nose wrinkle up slightly and twitch, testing the air.

"Two coming our way," Tom said. "Making lots of noise."

"Let's not have them find us," Josh said, moving up to Tom's back. "I think we both need to talk and not with interlopers about."

Tom looked over his shoulder. He wasn't too sure what Josh had on his mind to talk about, but it felt right. He nodded curtly and then looked back down the slopes leading up to Watching Rocks. The movement noises were coming from below, but they were still hidden from his view by the forest and the sheer size of the Watch itself.

Josh moved up behind the older boy, realizing that even in human form Tommy was a full six inches taller than himself. He concentrated for a moment and felt it kick in, his gift, his joy, his power to fly. He lifted a few inches off the ground, and then hooked his arms under Tom's shoulders, trying to lift the larger boy up with him.

Tom was startled at first and then panicked. Just because his world had suddenly turned upside down he wasn't ready yet to leave gravity behind. He thrashed under Josh's arms and nearly fell.

Josh strained. Tom's weight wasn't nearly as much as the trucker's had been, but still, the trucker had been a dead weight, no motion, just a pull to the ground. With Tommy wildly swinging his arms and legs trying to reorient himself to the ground, maintaining control over his fledgling power was a nightmare. With a sudden and twisting motion, they both arced to the ground, falling in a tangle of limbs.

Sammy's face crested the slight rise that was the last few steps onto the wide main ledge of the Watch. He automatically winced as he saw Josh struggling to get Tommy off himself. Andy shuffled forward beside Sammy, his hands stuffed into his dark slacks in typical New England manner. He rolled his eyes at the mess before him and sighed loudly as the two older boys regained their feet.

That's when Andy found himself nearly drowning in Josh's eyes. He'd seen Josh many times, but the angles were never right, nor the speed of their passing slow enough for Andy to get much detail. But the sudden closeness of Josh, the way that he kept looking at Andy and Sammy with an almost guilty expression, it all took Andy's breath away. Get a little focus here , Andy told himself. There'll be time for that later . He brought his ironclad will down on his body's reaction, practically threatening away his half started erection.

"Uh, it's not what it looks like," Tom said, regaining his feet and trying to regain his dignity.

"Uh, right. We're just really good friends," Josh said, catching on.

"Oh please," Sammy said, sitting on a rock. "Would it hurt you to be gay and get caught kissing?"

"Samuel!" Andy barked, a short clipped sound that startled everyone, including Andy himself, in how angry it sounded.

"Well, they're gonna know. You said we have to trust each other."

"Trust is earned, Sammy, not traded, not bartered." Andy strode forwards, and held out his hand to Tom. "You must be Tom Gabrielli." Tom shook Andy's hand, not sure what else to do. "And you're Joshua Burkette."

"How did you…" Josh managed to say, even as he was shaking Andy's proffered hand.

"Know who you are?" Andy finished. "I know a lot of things about you, Josh the Hawk. How was the air today?"


"I'm Andy Fox. This is Sammy Frost," Andy said, pointing back to the thirteen year old.

"Hiya, how you doin'?" Sammy smiled.

"And, like both of you, both Sam and myself are gay."

Josh and Tom exchanged looks. "But we've never…." Tom began, stuttering.

"Oh, I don't mean to imply that the two of you have been together. I just know that both of you would prefer to be with guys than girls."

"Tell them the other thing," Sammy said, an excited grin on his face.

"You'll have to forgive him. He recently destroyed someone's car today and he's still riding the adrenaline from that."

"He did what?" Tom and Josh seemed to say as one, then exchanged a look of surprise.

"The other thing he means to say is that aside from being homosexuals, all of us have extraordinary talents and abilities, some of which you may only be realizing now." Andy made sure that both boys were watching him and then performed a complete back flip without any sort of arm swinging or preparatory movement at all, and landed back in the same spot he had started in.

"Cool," Joshua said, softly. Tom shifted his weight onto his back foot.

"What do you mean? I mean, how do you know all this?" Tom asked, somewhat in awe but trying hard not to show it. This lithe boy before him showed the grace and agility of a trained gymnast or circus performer.

"Let's just say, I know a lot. I know that you've been having running dreams and that you sometimes transform into your werewolf body during those dreams. I hope you've mastered how to change."

"Uh…" was all Tom could think to say. This smaller boy seemed so self assured, but he wasn't rubbing Tom's face in it. He was just stating a fact and then watching. Something told Tom that whatever Andy's abilities were, watching was high on the list.

"But you said you also knew we were….that we…..well…."

"Yes, I know that you all like boys. We all share that in common." Andy put his hands back deep into his slacks and leaned backwards until his butt rested against a rock. "I hadn't intended to find both of you together. I'm certain that we can all keep your relationship a secret. None of us has anything to gain by exposure at this point."

"Oh, uh, it's not like that," Josh said, quickly.

"No, we just met, sorta," Tom said. A slight smile creased Andy's face upon hearing that, but he refrained from leaping straight up and turning cartwheels on the edge of the upper parapet.

"I just met Andy today, too," Sammy said, poking his way into the somewhat heavy silence that hung in the air. "I can change."

" Change?" Tom said, giving the little boy a serious look. Were they alike? Was there someone else like him he could talk to, even if only a little 9 th grader?

"Yeah, I get bigger and stronger and faster and I can like see further and…"

"Farther," Andy corrected.


"You can see farther, Sam. You said further which speaks more to degree than to distance. The right word to use is farther." Andy adjusted his glasses and looked over to the other two. "We can save explanations for later. We have one more person to meet before I can tell you all about a grave threat that may wind up killing all of us if we don't do something about it, quickly. Follow me."

"Oh yeah? I don't think so, Foxy," Josh said, a little bit of anger coming into his voice. Who the fuck was this little shit to think he could just dictate terms? He all of a sudden wanted everyone to do as he said? Fuck that!

"Joshua, if you will just have a little patience…."

"No, he's right. We don't know you from Adam, Four-Eyes! You want us to just follow you around like dogs on a leash? What makes you think either of us will believe anything you say?"

"Oh, I get it now," Sammy said. "This is the part about earning trust!" His eyes were wide with youthful enthusiasm, not a spark of sarcasm, as if he had just realized some great mystery.

"Yes, Sam. Perhaps you'd best shift." Andy didn't like the situation, the older boy and Joshua, with those flashing eyes of his, were getting angry. He hadn't intended on some sort of confrontation. Fighting them was the last thing he intended. Even in self defense.

" Oh no you don't!" Josh said, shooting up into the sky. Andy pulled his hands out of his pockets. Josh wasn't moving to escape. Quite the contrary. He was moving to build up speed for a hit. Looks like I made a serious error in judgment, Gramps , he thought as he looked around quickly.

A loud growling noise from Tom told Andy all he needed to know as the older boy shifted into his werewolf shape. Sammy had similarly begun his own transformation. All around was chaos as the boys began preparing themselves to fight. His plan had gone all wrong. Instead of bringing them together for mutual protection, he'd started a teenage mutant gay turf war.

Josh moved in first, trusting his power with his very life now. He dove at Andy, ready to pummel the little shit for coming in and first interrupting a tender moment and now bringing in his soft eyes and know it all attitude. He was a threat that Josh couldn't fully understand, but one that had to be met. Secrets had to be kept.

Tom and Sammy finished morphing at the same time. Both stared the other down, surprised by what they saw before themselves. Sammy was more than a little intimidated by the sight of a werewolf looming over him. The giant creature obviously out classed Sammy as far as strength and brute force. He'd have to rely on speed and reflexes when the crazy older teen attacked. If this is what puberty does to you, I don't ever wanna grow up, Sammy thought, pacing.

Tom was rather surprised not to be facing a second werewolf. The tiger cub before him was more of a match than little Sammy would have been, but still less than frightening. Tom decided that while he wasn't about to take any crap from Sammy or Andy, he wasn't going to hurt the little kid either. He clutched his fingers in tight, keeping his claws from becoming a factor in the fight.

Andy pulled a sudden reverse leap, landing on top of the stone he had been resting against and then flipped forwards over Josh as the Hawk came down at him, fists flying in for a strike at Andy's jaw. He stepped down and bounced, spring-boarding off Josh's butt and twisting in the air to land up against the steep hillside that formed the back wall of the ledge.

"This isn't what I had in mind," Andy said aloud as Josh turned about, ready to strike again. His speed through the air was incredible and Andy paused a moment to stare with wonder into the eyes of the boy coming at him Those beautiful eyes, so tinged with fear and hate right now.

Andy waited. Eyes locked with Josh's. Josh came in, drawing back his right fist for a hard straight punch. Andy felt his lips twitch as Josh closed in. He had no intention of hurting Josh. But this altercation had to end.

Josh closed and swung hard, his fist coming forwards right at Andy's chin. And that's when Andy moved. It was such an unexpected thing. Andy moved into the inside of Josh's punch, wrapped one arm around

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