The moon was inching its way down as the forest began readying itself to welcome a new dawn. It was still dark, but light would surely break soon. It was the still calm hours of early morning that Wren loved. The faint scent of fire, wafting out into the woods from the nearest houses to its edge, hung lightly in the air. Wren soaked it all in through his heightened senses. Having recently changed back into human form from his wolf-self, everything felt far more intense.
He had been allowing the quietness of the morning to seep into him lying naked in the dark, but Christian, Jinx’s best friend, had ventured in too closely for him to ignore. Having pulled on the tattered remains of his briefs, far too small and way past their days of being white, he startled Christian by stepping out onto the trail. Swiftly pulling his dark messy hair back and tying it off, he dropped his hands to his sides.
There was no one in town Wren felt more empathy for than Christian. The young man had had more than his fair share of difficult times. Despite the fact that Jax, Jinx’s uncle, his best friend, and the alpha of the Blackwood Clan, hated his niece being best friends with a mortal, Wren was happy that she was there to support the young man. Christian was inept at defending himself from the bullies in high school, but Jinx regularly evened the score.
The first faint hues of pink light in the east began to outline the tops of the mountains as both Wren and Christian walked down the trail. Wren hated how lonely Christian felt. He knew that type of loneliness all too well. With more light brightening the area, Wren became suddenly, and mildly uncomfortable with, how naked he was. He was regularly unclothed in the wilderness and preferred it that way. Most people in town knew him as the naked nomad of Blackwood Forest. But Christian’s shy glances surveying his pecs and the small patch of dark hair between them, as well as his defined legs and toned torso, made Wren feel like he was tempting the young man. He was honored to be the attention of someone’s infatuation but knew he couldn’t walk any further into town in his current lack of attire. His need to stretch his legs further and shed the restricting, albeit barely there, underwear from his body was gaining strength; plus, Christian was running late for school. “Hey Christian.” He shouted to gain the young man’s attention before he got too far down the trail. “You’re not the only one.”
Dropping his shoulder, tightening the muscles of his spine to stand steadier and more confident, and lifting his chin to hold his head up higher, Christian hurried down the trail towards town.
Quickly making his exit deeper into the woods, Wren cherished the look he saw on Christian’s face. The young man felt alone, and yet Wren knew, beyond a doubt, that he wasn’t. His own preference in partners was typically male and conveying that knowledge, even if it wasn’t direct, had shifted Christian’s entire posture. He knew he had to do more to help the young man, but figuring that out without jeopardizing the pack would have to come after a long, albeit cold, bath in Lost Lake. Throwing off the torn and dirty cotton briefs that had barely been covering him, Wren sped up his sprint and headed directly for the lake.
Just as the rays of the rising sun broke past the jagged skyline of the mountains to the east, Wren leapt into the frigid waters of Lost Lake. The waters of the lake were always a bit cold, but during this time of year, they were far colder; he loved it. Werewolves, even in human form, tended towards higher body temperatures; the icy submersion in the clean, clear waters was a rush. Splashing around, he rubbed the muddy soil from his body. His pale skin tingled as goose bumps formed.
Letting his dark hair, equally long on all sides, fall into his face, he rolled his head. The chilly water washed away the night’s muck from his mane. He rarely cared to get haircuts, except when Elisa, Jax’s girlfriend, insisted on cutting it for him. Most often, it appeared unkempt and frequently fell into his eyes. Dunking his head under again, he held his breath and submerged for several moments rubbing his face vigorously.
His lips began to blue as his skin paled even further. Swimming out and pushing his hands upward to sink further into the lake, he dug his feet into the mucky lake floor stirring up a cloud of swirling silt. The quietness of being beneath the surface filled him with peace. If he could hold his breath for more than three minutes he would stay there longer. With one last vigorous shaking of his head, he pushed off from the lake bed and splashed up to the surface with an audible and overly dramatic inhale. Swiftly swimming to the lake’s edge, he giggled at his own silliness.
“You frolic as a child discovering their love of water.” An angelic voice echoed in Wren’s ears as well as his mind.
“Mayaciel?” Spinning around in place sending ripples of water out from him, Wren consciously noticed a large smile stretch across his face. Though he wasn’t sure how he was ever going to admit it, he found Mayaciel, one of the Woodland Elves of the fairy race, extremely attractive. It wasn’t so much his attraction to Mayaciel’s physical form, though it was beautiful, he felt himself falling for the kind nature and honesty of the fairy. He knew it would never happen. Fairies did not engage in relationships with members of the same gender, and they would NEVER be in a relationship with a werewolf; it was forbidden by their ancient laws.
“I believe you have strengthened further since the last time we spoke.” Mayaciel, still using both his distinguished voice and his ability to speak into Wren’s mind, stepped from the closest cluster of trees to the lake directly to the bathing man’s left side. “You might even rival one of the fairy royal guard soon.”
Wading his way out of the water, Wren shook his head sending water from his hair in all directions. The act reminded him of those skinny boy models trying to mimic the clichéd image of women throwing water from their hair to impress onlookers. You look more like a dog shaking off water from its muddy coat; fool. Internally snickering at his own jest, he wiped the water from his face. Slicking his locks back behind his head as he had done earlier with Christian, to keep it from falling into his eyes, he flexed his biceps purposefully showing off his physique. The act was not typical for him, he was too humble for such blatant displays of machoism, but as a joke he felt it acceptable in the moment. “Might?” He laughed. New light from the dawning day caught his bright blue eyes highlighting their color. “I think I already rival the best of your fairy guards’ men.”
“You might, young wolf, you just might.” Mayaciel, almost allowing himself to laugh, broke his typical even-keeled tone as he spoke. “I was rather hoping you might accompany me on a walk-about.” Getting directly to his point, Mayaciel shifted his stance at the water’s edge allowing Wren to approach him. “I will be visiting with Jinx this afternoon but thought a day meandering the hills and forest would be a welcomed break from the studies and research I have been tasked with.”
“Ever the one to break rules.” Wren prodded in jokingly. “Estu ali, Mayaciel, Brother of Knowledge and Keeper of Memories.” Bowing his head and opening his posture with his hands to his sides, Wren offered the traditional salutation of the fairies. Having been rescued by fairies when he was young and being raised inside the traditions of the fairy but outside their home realm Ahmoraleer, he followed some of their customs.
“Estu ali, Wren, Second to the Alpha of the Blackwood Clan.” Mayaciel reciprocated.
Laughing heartily, Wren thrust himself forward into Mayaciel wrapping his wet arms around the dark blue robes the fairy wore. Pressing his soaked body tightly to the fairy he continued to laugh. He knew the gesture would make Mayaciel feel awkward, and the added benefit of getting the fairy wet was the icing on the cake of such a beautiful start to the day.