Straw, Wood, and Brick

Chapter 2 - Pork Chops

The house was a quaint little two story home made entirely of the pale colored wood that was so abundant in the forests surrounding it. It was nestled in a neat little curving cul-de-sac, sandwiched between another, grander, home and the blackened remnants of what had once been a rather charming little straw house, surrounded by some slightly charred old trees that had stood since what seemed to be the beginning of time. The flower beds were neatly kept, although there was only the one type of pastel blue flowers, matched well to the darker blue shutters that framed the clean little windows. The hedges were neatly trimmed, lush and green, even if they were in a somewhat ordinary and uninspired uniform shape. It was a fine home, neat and tidy, pleasant and well kept. It would certainly be the envy of the neighborhood, more so now that it did not compete with the pretty little straw home that had once stood beside it.

The knock on the door at precisely nine-thirty in the morning went unanswered for several minutes, but not quite as long as it had taken a few mornings before. The sounds of shouting and scrambling within the little wooden house were unusually loud in the otherwise tranquil morning, but before he could knock a second time the door opened for him. This time he knew what to expect.

“Good morning Chastin.”

“Morning,” Chastin greeted the wolf waiting at the door, smiling brightly at the man, pleased when he darted forward to steal a quick kiss before anything else was said. Chastin had been thinking quite a bit about the handsome bounty hunter since last they’d met and he was pleased to see him in the flesh once again. The fact that his very presence probably meant that his brothers were still being hunted bothered him not. “I’m supposed to tell you that Caesar isn’t here. He’s gone to…”

He was trying his hardest to remember what his brother had said to tell the hunter when an irritated whisper came from within the house, “The mountains! I’ve gone to an isolated village deep in the mountains!”

“That’s right,” Chastin said with mock seriousness, repeating what he had just been told verbatim, “My brother Caesar has gone to an isolated village deep in the mountains.”

“This isn’t Caesar’s house,” the wolf pointed out, “So it is not Caesar that I seek.”

This made sense to Chastin.

“By the way,” he leaned against the door frame, chatting with Chastin as though it were the most ordinary of days, when in fact he could actually smell the fear coming from deeper within the house. The scent made him smile all the wider, his fangs bare to glint in the early morning sunlight, “How upset was he about the untimely demise of his pretty little straw house.”

“Can’t say that he was overly pleased,” Chastin answered, every bit as at ease as his companion. The company was a vast improvement from what he was used to. “I actually thought he was going to explode. Literally.”

“This one isn’t nearly as cute,” the wolf pointed out, looking around at the quaint yet ordinary wooden house, “Kind of uninspired, wouldn’t you say?”

“Caius never did have much imagination,” Chastin provided, “He’s too lazy to come up with anything original.”

“Lazy or not, you would think that they’d have found somewhere better to hide than next door to what remains of Caesar’s house.”

“You would think that, wouldn’t you?”

“Shut the damn door!” They both heard the whispered shouts coming from just behind the doorway of what, the wolf thought, was surely the kitchen. “Don’t let that monster in here!”

The wolf chuckled, stealing one last kiss from Chastin before saying, “Go ahead, do what they ask. Last time worked out so well that I’m curious to see what happens this time.”

Chastin shrugged and shut the door, locking it for good measure, when the wolf had stepped away from the threshold.

The wolf waited what he thought a polite amount of time before knocking once again on the neat little blue door of the wooden house, this time announcing himself properly, “I’ve come from Huff, Puff & Blow looking for Caius Ohsana. Open up the door, little piggy, or I’ll have to huff and puff and blow your house down. We don’t want that, now do we?”

The flowered curtain at the window that was set beside the door fluttered, and suddenly there were a pair of beady black eyes looking back at the wolf, a piggish snout pressed against the glass, fogging it. Several other shadows moved behind the curtain, and the wolf knew that he had the attentions of all three of his bounties. And, no doubt, Chastin as well. (Oddly enough, job or no, that seemed to be the only one of the Ohsana brothers that he cared to have the notice of at the moment.)

“I’m Caius,” the pig-daemon at the window said, his voice muffled by the once clean little pane of glass, “But I’m not coming out. I don’t care who you are or who sent you!”

The wolf laughed, long and loud, “Is Chastin the only one in this family with any brains? If you don’t come out then I’ll just come in. Do you really think that a little wood and a few nails will be enough to keep me out?”

There was silence, presumably while the men inside tried to decide what to do, but at length he heard Caius’ voice once again. “A compromise worked before. Would you consider one again?”


“You seemed to still like Chastin when he answered the door this morning,” Caius said cautiously, “He must have served you well the other day. Would you like another go at him?”

The wolf saw then that Chastin had been absolutely right. His brother was lazy. He couldn’t even come up with a distraction of his own.

“Hum,” he pretended to ponder the proposition for a moment, when in truth he’d wanted to see Chastin again from the moment that they’d parted ways, “I supposed that would be adequate compensation for a day’s work wasted. I can always come back for you later.”

There was squealing from within.

“I’ll play your little game Caius,” the wolf agreed, deciding that if Caius didn’t want to come up with something new then neither would he, “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… well, let’s just say that I know where to find you.”


It didn’t take long for Chastin to find the wolf. He came bounding down the lane, a basket in his hand and a smile on his face. He leapt into the open arms of the waiting wolf, mindful of the fangs but happy to allow his mouth to be devoured in a passionate kiss, every bit as eager as his partner seemed to be. It was a long time before they actually had a chance to speak.

“Something smells wonderful,” the wolf finally said, nuzzling Chastin’s neck as he spoke.

Chastin chuckled and playfully pushed the wolf away, “I can assure you it’s not me.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” he tried again to nip at Chastin’s neck, pursuing when the smaller man danced out of his grasp with nimble steps, “I’ve always liked bacon.”

“You’re disgusting,” Chastin pretended to be shocked, “And to think that I actually found myself missing you this week.”

“You know,” the wolf was oddly touched, and not in the least because he had been feeling the same way about Chastin, “I think I missed you too.”

Chastin blushed at this unexpected confession. He suddenly found himself very interested in the contents of the basket that he’d brought with him, and he tried his best not to look at the dark haired daemon until he was certain that he’d turned a slightly less embarrassing shade of pink. “I thought it might be nice to have a snack with us, since we spent so much time out here last time. And I brought a blanket too. No more grass stains.”

“So you’re not only the cute one, but the smart one too,” the wolf chuckled merrily, grabbing Chastin around the waist, spinning him around and pulling him close before claiming another kiss, “No wonder your brothers are so pissed all the time. They’re jealous.”

“So that was the reason for the beating that I got last night,” Chastin sounded far too accepting for the wolf’s taste, and he was promptly put down with a thud onto the blanket that he had just spread out.

“Beating,” the single word was growled, fangs suddenly glinting in the sunlight, but Chastin didn’t seem bothered by the animalistic behavior. While the wolf daemon watched Chastin settled more comfortably upon the blanket, one arm behind his head, the hand of the other tracing circles upon his abdomen, each pass of his fingertips pushing his shirt higher and exposing more of his pale skin.

“Forget it,” Chastin begged, his gaze suddenly hungry, “I didn’t mean to say anything. It’s just you and me right now, so why don’t you join me down here where it’s more comfortable, because I’ve been thinking about something along these lines all week.”

The bounty hunter might have done just that, let it go, but Chastin’s attempt at distraction was a poor choice. Every time that more of his skin was exposed the wolf was able to see the marks upon his body, some old and others fresh, each the evidence of a life that he was quite certain the young man did not deserve. It left him with a sudden craving for bacon and pork chops.

“Did your brothers do all of that?”

“I said forget it,” Chastin sighed, annoyed.

“And I asked,” the wolf dropped to his knees above Chastin, a hand planted on either side of his head, effectively caging the other man with his body, “if your brothers are responsible for those marks.”

“Since they don’t let me out much, who else would have done it,” Chastin grumbled, not as much in the mood as he had been a moment before, despite the body heat radiating off of the man above him, “I’m nothing better than a slave to them. I’m their servant, their house keeper, and, if they need it, their punching bag. Among other things. Didn’t your intel let you in on that little tidbit of information, oh great and powerful bounty hunter?”

His information, gathered through various sources, had actually told him that the youngest Ohsana brother was poorly treated by his brothers, held captive and made to do all of their work for them, but it was turning out to be two entirely different matters to know and to see. Especially since Chastin had made such a strong and lasting impression upon him after their last afternoon together.

“You do know,” he looked Chastin in the eyes as he spoke, making him a promise that he had already made to himself, “that I’m not going to rest until your brothers are dead.”

Chastin nodded, captivated by the golden eyes that seemed to be boring straight down into his very soul, completely and utterly helpless to look away.

“The warrant says dead or alive. It’s my choice.”

Chastin’s voice was a whisper when at last he spoke, moved almost beyond words by the emotions that he saw in the golden depths of the wolf’s eyes. They were little more than strangers to each other. He shouldn’t be seeing what he though he saw, and he most certainly shouldn’t be feeling what he knew that he felt. It was all very confusing. However, of one thing he was certain, “I should feel guilty, but I don’t care. They may be my brothers, the only family I’ve ever known, but I won’t weep for them.”

“Good,” the wolf said, satisfied for the moment that he was understood, “I’d hate to make such a cute young thing cry. It might actually make me feel guilty, and I love my job way too much to start feeling guilty about anything that I do.”

It was then that Chastin decided that things had become far too serious suddenly. He had enough unhappiness at home, and now that he was out in the woods on a beautiful day, lying under the most deliciously handsome daemon that he had ever met, Chastin didn’t want to be sad or introspective or dark. He wanted to enjoy himself, and hopefully make his partner enjoy himself as well, in the little time that they had together. Taking matters into his own hands, he reached up and buried his hands in the thick, silky mane of the wolf’s dark hair and used his grip to pull the man closer to him. He sealed his lips to that potentially deadly mouth, a shiver of excitement running down his spine as he thought of the potential for danger the man above him possessed, and proceeded to coax the bounty hunter’s lips open and his tongue into a duel that neither cared if they won or lost.


Much later, exhausted and thoroughly sated, Chastin lay in the wolf’s arms and basked in both the afterglow of their coupling and in the bright glow of the afternoon sun. His chin rested on his partner’s strong, muscled shoulder, and he squirmed every so often as clawed fingertips played across his back. He was content for the first time in a very long time, and he’d nearly managed to drift off to sleep, safe in the wolf’s embrace, when he felt those questing hands move lower, teasing the sensitive flesh just above his tail.

“Leave it be,” Chastin said, embarrassed by the curly little tail.

“Why,” the wolf teased, plucking at the tip, straightening it a bit and watching as it bounced back instantly to its original shape. “I think it’s cute.”

Chastin blushed until he feared that he’d catch fire from the heat. His brothers had taught him to be ashamed of their cursed forms, and although he’d been young and had initially had few qualms about his new appearance, he’d since come to believe them when they said that his appearance was disgusting. Cute was not something that he was used to thinking about himself.

“It’s ugly.”

“Is my tail ugly,” the wolf inquired, his own bushy black appendage wagging beside them.

“No,” Chastin answered instantly. He thought that the wolf looked wonderful, tail and all. He’d have thought that the way that he’d worshiped and devoured every inch of his body all morning would be proof enough of that.

“You’re adorable,” the wolf said, honestly, guessing at why Chastin had such issues with himself, “Don’t let them ever tell you differently.”

Chastin didn’t know what to say, so he just buried his face against the warm flesh of his lover’s chest and hoped that he’d change the subject. Soon.

“You know, I just realized,” the bounty hunter said, noticing the way that Chastin’s body relaxed almost instantly when he wrapped his arms around his smaller frame, “you’re not afraid of me like most people are.”

“Why would I be afraid of you,” Chastin wondered, “You’re not hunting me. What’s there to be afraid of?”

“I’m told that I can be rather intimidating,” the wolf propped himself up on one elbow, doing his best to look menacingly down at his lover while unable to stop the grin that pulled at his lips, “Your brothers certainly seem to think so. I can tell.”

“They’re afraid of anything bigger or meaner than them,” Chastin told him.

“But you’re not.”

“You know, I’ve realized something too,” Chastin mimicked, “I realized that you’ve never told me your name.”

“Wolfe,” the bounty hunter told Chastin, “Wolfe Braigen.”

“Wolfe,” he questioned, not sure if he’d heard correctly.

“Yes,” Wolfe was daring him to say anything as he curled his lip and bared his fangs, “So my foster parents weren’t all that creative. At the time they thought that I was just a cute little pup who would make a good pet for their son. Boy, were they wrong.”

A shocked look crossed Chastin’s face, “You didn’t?!”

It took Wolfe a moment to catch on, but then he couldn’t help but laugh. “No, I didn’t eat him. And anyone, wolf or otherwise, who tries to touch my little brother will get the muzzle of a shotgun shoved in his muzzle as fast as you can say… well, whatever one says when they’ve got a shotgun in their face and only moments to live.”

Chastin laughed, although he was absolutely certain that what he heard was the truth.

“So you’re really not afraid of me,” Wolfe, never one to be distracted or deterred, pressed for more. For some reason the truth seemed very important. “I mean, when you opened that door to me the other day you didn’t even flinch.”

“You probably don’t remember,” Chastin cast his eyes away shyly, “but we’ve met before. I actually recognized you.”

“Funny,” Wolfe said, confused, “I usually remember the pretty ones.”

“It was just after this curse had started,” Chastin confessed, “I’d snuck out of the house and gone down to the tavern. I was drunk and you kept making these stupid jokes about ham sandwiches. Something about you, me, and the bartender.”

“It’s starting to come back to me now,” Wolfe said, smiling at the fuzzy memories, “I’d thought there was something familiar about the surveillance photos of you.”

“Anyway,” Chastin said, bringing Wolfe back to the here and now, “You were actually really nice to me after you stopped with the bad comedy routine. Listened to me, let me cry and wallow in my own self pity. You even tried to make me feel better.”

Wolfe gave him a decidedly wolfish look. Chastin laughed and pushed him away gently when he tried to swoop in for a kiss.

“Not like that,” Chastin chided, “You talked to me. You told me that it would be alright and that it was cool to have ears and a tail. You even told me that little pigs were cute.”

A light shone in Wolfe’s golden eyes when Chastin spoke his last words, “That’s it! I’ve got it!”

Chastin looked a question at his companion, wondering when exactly the wolf had taken leave of his senses.

“I’ve heard this fairy tale before!”

“There were only three little pigs, I think,” Chastin said, catching on instantly, “and they were probably real pigs, not cursed. Plus, the wolf was the bad guy.”

“Oh, I’m bad,” Wolfe’s predator’s stare was back, the look heating Chastin’s blood in an instant, “Real bad.”


He’d intended to keep his word and head to the tavern as promised, just as before, but somehow it was almost sunset before Wolfe was finally able to force himself to part from his favorite little piggy. Not that Chastin seemed to mind.

“I have a promise to keep,” Wolfe said, trying to walk away from Chastin while simultaneously pulling the other man after him, stealing kisses all the while, “And a man should always keep his word.”

“You need to get to the tavern,” Chastin agreed, laughing as he was tugged along by an arm around his waist.

Walking backwards while kissing someone was probably not the best idea either of them had ever had, because a stone in the path finally parted the two when Wolfe tripped and fell. Chastin laughed and finally decided to help, moving away so that Wolfe would not be tempted to pull him to the ground alongside him. That had already happened three times since the morning, which had come and gone without their noticing it, and a fourth would probably mean that he’d never leave. Chastin didn’t see that as an entirely bad thing. Not at all, in fact.

“You may want to tell your brother that the day is nearly through,” the bounty hunter warned Chastin as he sighed with regret and walked away, alone, “and no one would miss such a plain wooden house.”


That night, well after the day was over and the sun had set, the little wooden home was the site of a most unusual occurrence. The night was still, by all accounts ordinary, when all of a sudden a number of massive rocks fell from the sky as though by magick and crushed the house to bits. The glass in the windows shattered, the wood of the walls splintered and broke, and the roof collapsed in on itself in an instant. When the dust settled nothing was left of the plain wooden house but a pile of rubble, and the sound of a triumphant howl was the only sound to be heard, save the settling of debris.




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