Straw, Wood, and Brick

Chapter 1 - Sausage

The house was a one story ranch style home made of golden straw with a red terracotta tiled roof, nestled in a neat little curving cul-de-sac alongside two other larger homes, surrounded by tall old trees that had stood since what seemed to be the beginning of time. The flower beds that hung from boxes in the windows were well kept, with bright blooms of every color sprouting forth from the rich soil that was their home, and the little hedges along the edge of the outer walls were lush, green, and neatly trimmed. The tiny shutters on the clear, clean windows were painted a bright and cheery shade of green that made the plants look all the more at home in front of the cute little straw house. Even in the dead of night, lit only by the light of the near-full moon, it seemed to be the ideal home, neat and tidy, pleasant and well kept. Surely the envy of any neighborhood.

The lone man that stood in the postage-stamp yard, his heavy leather boots trampling the verdant sprigs of grass, knew that all was not as it seemed however. The house itself might have been cheery and endearing, but within it was anything but, as was often the case. And that was precisely why he was there.

A howl of triumph filled the night, rattling the neat little window panes, the very house seeming to quake with fear at the sound.


The knock on the door at precisely nine-thirty in the morning went unanswered for several minutes, the sounds of shouting and then of something breaking towards the back of the little straw house the only thing to be heard aside from the birds whistling merrily in the tree tops, but before he could knock a second time the door opened for him. Before him stood a tall, slender young man with sandy brown hair and a pair of tired but smiling black eyes. His smile was kind, if wary and obviously forced from a man who was exhausted despite the early hour, and his boyish face with its slightly upturned nose was handsome and pleasant to look upon. Somewhat like the straw house, the stranger thought. There was more to see, however, than the cute face and the gentle smile. The thing that stood out the most upon closer inspection was a pair of floppy pink ears that ended in fine little points set upon the sides of his head. As he studied the young man one of the ears twitched, almost waving at him, before it settled back to lay against the side of his face. To the stranger it made for a most adorable young daemon.

“May I help you,” the young man with the floppy ears asked when the stranger at his door did nothing but stare for long moments. He raised a hand self-consciously to one side of his head, tugging at his ear before running a hand through the mop of sandy hair upon his head.

“I’ll just bet you can,” the stranger’s voice was low and rumbling, coming from deep within his barrel chest, “I’ll just bet you can.”

The man at the door blushed all the way to the collar of the grey t-shirt that he wore, and the stranger laughed at the innocent and alluring gesture. Not even ten am and already he had found someone fun to play with!

“Please tell me that you’re not Caesar,” the stranger pleaded, playfully, “Caesar Ohsana.”

“N-no,” the young man stammered, still blushing every so slightly, “I’m Chastin Ohsana. Caesar is my eldest brother.”

“Good,” he answered cryptically.

“It is,” Chastin questioned, more than a little confused.

“Why, yes, it is,” the stranger said, shaking his head for emphasis. “Because I’ve come looking for Caesar Ohsana today, and it’s never a good thing when I show up at your doorstep looking for you first thing in the morning.”

“Oh,” Chastin said, still not understanding but willing to agree with the man standing on his doorstep all the same. He didn’t seem like the sort of man that you argued with without good reason. “That’s good then, I suppose.”

“But it is,” the stranger agreed.

“My brother, Caesar, is inside having breakfast with our other brothers,” Chastin said, deciding it was best to get to the point sometime before lunch, “Shall I go and fetch him?”

“I think that would be for the best.”

Chastin smiled at the stranger, begging him to wait on the doorstep for a moment, and then he disappeared inside, leaving the other man to inspect the bright purple flowers that resided nearest the doorframe. He was picking a petal from one of those flowers when the vibrant green door that had been opened moments before was suddenly slammed in his face.

“Caesar Ohsana, I presume,” the man at the door said to the man on the other side of the door, seemingly unoffended by having a door slammed in his face without so much as a hello.

“What do you want,” the little brass mail slot on the door had opened, and an angry voice drifted up from the opening, “Who sent you?”

“I work for Huff, Puff, and Blow Bounty Hunters, Inc.,” the man at the door answered politely, “And as for what I want? My client has demanded that I bring you in. He’s been looking for you for a very long time.”

“Who’s your client,” the voice from the mail slot demanded.

“That many people after you that you can’t make an educated guess?” His laughter was like his voice, low and gravely, “Now, open the door and make this easy for the both of us.”


It was not surprising that Caesar refused to open the door. He couldn’t see much from the little window of the mail slot, but the height was just right so that he could see a shinning pistol hanging from a heavy leather belt around the man’s waist and the end of the long sword that hung sheathed at the man’s back. Neither seemed like something that he would like to see any closer.

“Listen,” the bounty hunter kept his tone light, seemingly still not angry with the problematic Caesar, “We can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way. Personally, I prefer the hard way since it’s usually more fun, but it’s up to you in the end.”

“I’d like to see you try and fit through this little mail slot!” Caesar called triumphantly, “The door is already locked so this is the only way left in. I’ll just stay safe and sound in my house, I’ll tape the mail slot closed, and you won’t be able to get me. Give it up. You’ve lost before you’ve even begun.”

The bounty hunter was momentarily taken aback. He couldn’t have just heard what he thought that he had, had he? “You do realize that your house is made almost entirely of straw, right?”


“So,” the man spelled it out carefully for Caesar, as though he were speaking to a particularly dim witted child, “The name’s not exactly a coincidence. I’m from HP&B, and if you don’t come out of there then I’ll just huff and puff and blow your stupid little straw house down around you. What do you think of that, Caesar?”

“I…” Caesar seemed momentarily taken aback by such a simple solution, obviously having thought his earlier threat of taping shut the little opening would be enough. He was silent for a moment, the rapid working of his mind almost an audible thing, before he shouted, “I’ll be right back,” and slammed the mail slot shut.

For his part the stranger waited patiently, curious to see what the other man might come up with next.

There was a commotion at the other side of the door after a few moments, an odd muffled squealing making its way past the barrier of straw and wood, then the little metal flap opened up and Caesar’s voice came from within yet again.

“How about a compromise,” Caesar wanted to know. There was muttering from further into the house, and the bounty hunter knew that it must be the other two brothers, and maybe even Chastin, talking to Caesar. He had done his homework on this case, so he was not surprised. He wondered if the four of them together had come up with something worthwhile.

“A compromise?”

“Yes,” Caesar sounded triumphant, certainly certain that he’d piqued the other man’s interest, “I’m not coming out, and it doesn’t matter what you do or say. But I wouldn’t want you to feel that you’ve wasted your time, so my brothers and I would be happy to compensate you for your efforts. Then you can go away feeling that you’ve received something for your hard work.”

“And what, pray tell, would you offer me in exchange for all of my hard work?”

“What did you think of our brother, Chasten, when he answered the door,” Caesar sounded excited, “He’s cute, isn’t he?”

The bounty hunter couldn’t help but agree.

“You said you’d huff and puff and blow my house down,” Caesar reminded him, “But why not let our little brother do all of that work for you. Without, that is, destroying my house.”

“With less emphasis on the huffing and puffing and more on the blowing,” a new voice shouted from somewhere near Caesar on the far side of the door. “He’s good at that!”

“Only thing he’s good for,” a quieter voice said, from somewhere near the first two.

“Now that’s not very nice,” the bounty hunter admonished. He remembered the sweetly embarrassed smile, the blushing and the way that Chastin had tugged at his unusual ears, and he became a little more eager to apprehend Caesar. “He is your brother, isn’t he?”

“So?” All three voices spoke at once. “Do you want him or not?”

“And what does Chastin think of all this?”

“He’s fine with it,” Caesar said, as though it was a question that he hadn’t really been expecting. “Why wouldn’t he be?”

“Nice family you’ve got the there,” he murmured. Then he shrugged his broad shoulders and said, “Why not. If he’s game so am I.”

“Go and wait in the woods,” Caesar said after some muted cheering from the peanut gallery, “We’ll send him out when I know that you’ve gone.”

The bounty hunter laughed. “Do I look as stupid as you sound? I’m not going anywhere.”

“And I’m not giving you the chance to charge me when I open the door to let Chastin out!”

“Have you already forgotten,” the bounty hunter teased, “Your house is made of straw. There’s nothing stopping me from charging you right now.”

Caesar didn’t have an answer to that.

“Tell you what,” he couldn’t help but laugh. This was proving far more interesting than he’d expected when he’d first received the assignment. “I’ll play your little game Caesar. I’ll go wait out in the woods, and you can send Chastin out to me. If we get on well today then I’ll agree to spend the rest of the day in the local tavern, far away from your humble little abode. But, if you take too long to send him out… well, let’s just say that I know where to find you.”


He only had a few minutes to wait. The woods were lovely, the weather fair, but the bounty hunter thought none of it was nearly so interesting nor so attractive as the sight of Chastin walking towards him from the little path that lead from the tiny cul-de-sac and into the grove of trees that he had chosen. He had thought that this was all just a ploy to buy time from the man that he hunted, but he was pleasantly surprised to see that they were all following though on what had been promised. Now he would, eventually, capture his bounty and he would get to have some fun before doing it. It was, he decided, a very good day indeed.

“Sorry to have kept you waiting,” Chastin said when at last he stood before the bounty hunter, “Caesar was afraid to open the door. He thought you were hiding behind a bush nearby. They eventually sent me out through a back window.”

The bounty hunter chuckled. Caesar really was a very stupid man.

“What happens when it rains,” he asked out of the blue, “His house is made of straw.”

Chastin chuckled too, glad to see he wasn’t the only one who had seen the folly of a straw house so clearly, “If the storm is particularly bad I end up having to fetch more hay from the village and I spend the day patching and repairing the place. It’s probably a good thing that we’re known for fair weather around here or I’d never have time to see to anything else.”

The bounty hunter laughed, long and loud, and Chastin couldn’t help but join in. While they laughed at his brother’s stupidity he let his eyes roam over the stranger. He was tall, easily six inches above his own height, which wasn’t exactly short, and he was heavily muscled and very well built. He gave off a sense of strength without so much as moving, and Chastin thought that the gun at his hip and the sword at his back must be mostly for show. His hair was the darkest black, cascading down his back in a silky wave, and his eyes were as golden as a newly minted coin. Chastin assumed that he must be a wolf daemon or a lycanthrope of some sort, because his tall pointed ears stood proudly atop his head, a tail wagging happily behind him, and when he smiled his slightly elongated mouth/muzzle showed his razor sharp canine fangs to great effect. The bounty hunter from Huff, Puff, and Blow was every inch the wolf. Chastin thought he should probably be afraid, especially considering his particular condition, but instead he found himself quite aroused. The sight of the man, and the effect that it had on him, was the main reason that his brothers had had no difficulty in getting him to follow the hunter.

“So,” the bounty hunter asked after he’d had his fill of laughter, his eyes now taking in the handsome young man before him with a decidedly predatory gaze, “how are we going to play this?”

“I’m supposed to ask you first,” Chastin remembered, “if you’re really going to keep your word and let my brother be.”

“For today.”

“That is all you promised him,” Chastin agreed, obviously having caught on to something that Caesar had not.

“That it is,” the bounty hunter responded, pleased to see that there was at least a reasonably sharp mind behind the pretty black eyes of his new playmate.

“Then it’s your call,” Chastin said with a shrug, “I suppose I should be offended by my brothers having whored me out to protect their own asses, but I can’t say that I mind all that much. And it’s been so long since I’ve been let out, I’m usually stuck at home looking after those three, so I can’t resist the attentions of a handsome stranger when an opportunity presents itself.”

That was all he needed to hear.

The wolf from HP&B smiled a feral smile as he began to slowly stalk around Chastin, his golden eyes taking in every detail of the handsome young man, a growl of desire slowly trickling out from deep within him. Chastin shivered in response, a smile of his own, albeit much less intimidating, forming on his lips. It was he who finally spoke, the erotic tension building around them a bit much for him.

“I think I know where to start.”

One dark brow arched in question on the wolf’s handsome face.

“I seem to remember someone making you a promise,” Chastin said, falling to his knees in front of the wolf, “And I think it’s always wise to keep one’s promises, don’t you agree?”

The answering growl might have been a yes. It didn’t really matter.


A long time afterwards they lay together on the wolf’s long coat under the canopy of the trees, enjoying the pleasant weather and each others company. The bounty hunter lay on his side, head propped up on one claw-tipped hand, the other trailing idly across his new lover’s back. With each pass his hand moved lower, until at last he came to the curly-q tail that sat at the base of Chastin’s spine.

“Cute tail,” he smirked as it twitched at the merest touch of his fingers.

“We were cursed years ago,” Chastin blushed clear to the tips of his pointed ears. He’d never been comfortable with the changes that the curse had caused in his body, and his brothers constantly reminded him that they were all, as they put it, disgusting freaks. “My brothers and I… years ago… by a wizard.”

“I know.”

“You know?”

“Yes, I know,” the wolf said, “Your brothers found a pretty young thing in a tavern one night in a village on the other side of the mountains. They didn’t know that she was the daughter of a powerful wizard, although that shouldn’t have mattered because she didn’t want anything to do with them. They weren’t willing to take no for an answer, however, and they stole the poor thing away to some spot in the woods where they thought not to be discovered. They abused the girl, did horrible things to her, but in the end they let her go home to her father. She told him what had happened, and as retribution he turned his daughter’s attackers into something more closely resembling the pigs that they acted like. Is that about it?”

“Yes,” Chastin said, a sad smile on his face. “I couldn’t stop them.”

“I know,” he said again, more sympathetically this time, his hand still roaming across Chastin’s back.

“And now you’re here to make us pay our debts properly.”

“Well,” the bounty hunter said, “I guess you’re mostly right. The old man couldn’t kill your brothers outright when it happened, the high council would have been forced to punish him for that even if it was the right thing to do, so he put the spell on them. Now he’s had time to plead his case and he has license to do as he pleases to avenge his daughter. He’s put a bounty on your little pigs, dead or alive, and I’m going to bring them back to him one way or the other.”

Chastin nodded, accepting what was said without argument. He’d know that this time would come sooner or later. They deserved it.

“He knows about you, by the way,” he didn’t like the lost look in Chastin’s eyes, and he was quick to assure him, “He knows that it’s not your fault, that you had nothing to do with what happened to her. Your being cursed had more to do with proximity to your brothers than actual intent. He even told me to apologize for the ears.”

“So I’m not a part of the bounty?”

“Nope,” the wolf kissed Chastin one last time before rising from the ground, brushing a few stray bits of grass from his pants. Chastin rose too and handed him his coat. Although he didn’t really want to, the wolf then turned around and started to head back the way he had come. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, the tavern calls.”

Chastin nodded, sad to see him go. To his surprise he’d enjoyed the company and the sex, and wasn’t eager to see the bounty hunter leave so soon.

He was momentarily excited to see his lover turn around and face him once more, but the smile that had leapt to his face fell when he realized it was only for a few parting words.

“You may want to tell your brother that the day is nearly through,” the bounty hunter warned Chastin, “and straw houses burn every bit as easily as they succumb to the ravages of the wind and the rain.”

That night, well after the day was over and the sun had set, the little straw house burned to the ground. A howl of triumph filled the night, and it surely would have rattled the neat little windowpanes, making the very house quake with fear at the sound, if there had still been a house to quake or windowpanes to rattle.


                   ~~~~~~~~ Back to Three Little Pigs ~~~~~~~~ Chapter 2



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