The Boy Who Cried

Chapter 1


Early spring rain pattered gently onto the roof of Red’s car, soft but not so soft that the music from the radio could blot it from his hearing. To either side of the narrow strip of road the forest was waking up, new leaves sprouting on the trees and fresh green appearing in amongst the undergrowth.


Red had met Alex in late autumn, got to know him in dribs and drabs over the winter, and now it was spring and it was a lover that he was on his way to see, not just some guy he’d had a thing with. Every few weeks since that bizarre visit to Gramma’s, he’d driven back along these endless, lonely roads to that cosy, remote little house, and spent a precious day or two with Alex.


It was wonderful. Alex was wonderful, caring and tender and smart, not to mention Red’s perfect match in bed. Each time he came to visit they would dive into bed as soon as he arrived, no matter what time of day it was when he walked in the door. If it was early enough by the time they’d worn each other out, they’d go and get take-out food from the diner, or even drive over to Denebrook to take Red’s Gramma out to eat.


Red and his Mom had spent Christmas at Gramma’s house and, upon being told that Red had met somebody who lived nearby, Gramma had insisted that Alex be involved in the celebration. So after the family bit of the day was over, in the early evening, Alex had been asked around for coffee and cake and had quietly charmed Red’s family with his good manners and quiet, sweet nature.


And now, driving through the light pattering of spring rain towards the little village of Hobart’s Field, Red thought back to that day and wondered if that was the place in time that this thing with Alex had crossed over into something more serious than a fling. It had to have been, right? Meeting the family and all that, it was like a rite of passage for a relationship. But no, for him what made it real was the event that had happened a couple of weeks into the new year.


One night there had been violent wind storms and a tree branch had been smashed through the window of his Gramma’s bedroom. It had been a freezing night with snow on the ground and more yet to fall, and Red and his Mom were hours away in the city. Denebrook was a small town, no such thing as a 24 hour business, and Gramma wasn’t the type of woman to call out 911 for something like that.


So she called Alex.


He’d been a treasure, she’d told Red later. He’d gone over to her house promptly, despite it being two in the morning, and had cleared up the branch and all the broken glass and brought a tarp to hang over the pane-less window. Then he’d seen that Gramma had settled in the spare room before sleeping the night on the couch, so he would be there at 7.30 when the hardware store opened and he could call out the local handyman to make a start on repairs.


And he really thought nothing of it. He didn’t expect thanks, or praise, or any kind of reward. He was happy Gramma was safe. He was happy that Red was happy.


He was a treasure.


Red saw the turning coming up for the narrow road that led up to Alex’s house and indicated, despite there being no other traffic on the road. He couldn’t stifle a sigh.


Last time they’d been together, Alex had told him that he loved him. He said it didn’t matter if Red couldn’t say it back to him, but he couldn’t hide his disappointment that he didn’t.


Red didn’t know why, though, why he couldn’t say the words. He was pretty sure that it would be true. But it still felt...he wasn’t certain. Like he was missing something. Like there was something left that he had yet to grasp.


Perhaps that was why he’d pushed for tonight. It was the day after the full moon, though he couldn’t tell if the moon was up yet through the drifting rain clouds. He was going to see first hand, for the first time, exactly what happened to Alex on a full moon night.


He couldn’t help but think that this would be a deciding factor. He couldn’t deny that he was terrified, though he wasn’t entirely sure what he was so scared of.


Pulling his car up alongside Alex’s creaky old truck, he sighed again and steeled himself. The lights were on in the house, shining out the windows of the living room and the little bedroom that Alex used as his office. Red picked up his bag from the passenger seat, got the casserole dish from the foot well and walked up to the front door.


Alex opened it before he even reached the steps.


“I’m glad you made it,” he said, the relief in his voice making Red feel guilty about making him have doubts.


“Like I would have missed it,” Red replied, he hoped reassuringly, and walked into the kitchen to put the dish and his bag down while Alex did up the half-dozen locks on his front door. There hadn’t been a robbery in Hob’s Field for eight years, but Alex had more reason than most to keep people out of his home.


They met up again in the middle of the living room, looked awkwardly at one another for a few seconds, then Red stepped forward and put his arms around Alex’s waist and was enfolded in turn in a warm hug. Alex was dressed in what Red now knew to be his standard full moon clothing, comprised of old, baggy sweatpants and a terrycloth bathrobe that wasn’t quite wide enough to reach properly around his barrel chest. Red kissed his bare collarbone.


“You feeling okay?” Alex asked worriedly.


“Yeah. A little nervous, but...yeah. You?”




“So what do we actually do? What’s your, you know, your routine?”


Alex let go of him and paced worriedly across the room, rubbing his hands together.


“Well, usually I set out some food and light the fire, then depending on my, you know...ah...state of mind, I open the back door, or I don’t. Or I...lock myself in the cellar.”


“Yeah,” Red replied, a memory of the shattered, long since replaced, cellar door flashing into his mind. “Have you got out of there know?”


Alex gave and abashed little smile. “I haven’t really had to lock myself up in there since you came along. I’ve been a lot calmer.”


“Really? Sweet.” Red grinned at him, and just like that any awkwardness seemed to evaporate. Alex came back over to him and reached out to touch his hair, then his cheek, and finally leaned down to give him a gentle kiss.


Red smiled up at him. “So, food and water, right? You want me to get that while you start the fire?”


“Sure, thanks.”


So Red went into the neat little kitchen and took the package of raw hamburger out of the fridge, checked it out to make sure it was fresh then, having approved it, he took a large, heavy based baking dish out of the cabinet and broke up the block of meat into it. There was a well scrubbed plastic bucket in another cabinet, which seemed to be the most logical vessel for the water, so he filled it from the tap and carried it and the dish into the living room. Alex was crouching in front of the fireplace, poking at the slowly growing fire with a pair of tongs.


“You found everything then,” he said, as Red set his things down to one side of the fire-side rug.


“Yeah.” Alex was looking nervous again, so Red went and sat next to him, putting one arm around his back and rubbing his cheek against Alex’ bicep.


“What exactly are you worried about?” he asked.


Alex sighed. “Scaring you. Losing you. Hurting you. Pick one,” came the disconsolate reply. Red reached over and rubbed his palm up and down Alex’s tummy, a gesture he’d always found to soothe him, and sure enough Alex reacted by dropping out of his crouch to sit properly on the floor and curled his upper body over in a cute attempt to keep Red’s hand in place.


“I don’t want to lose you,” he said quietly.


“It’s okay,” Red replied, knowing all too well it sounded weak. He so desperately wanted to be able to say it but...


Alex flinched and pushed Red’s hand away from him, raising his own hand to his chest.


“Are you okay?”


“Yeah, it’s-” Another flinch, and this time Red heard a distinct creak from Alex’s chest.


“Oh God, is it starting?” he asked. Alex grunted softly, then nodded.


“You'll want to stand back a bit,” he gasped, his voice becoming hoarse. Red nodded and crept back across the carpet until he was sitting on the floorboards about six feet away from his boyfriend. Alex undid the belt of his bathrobe and started to ease out of it, moving like an arthritic old man. As the fabric fell away, Red saw the dark, coarse hair beginning to grow from Alex’s pale skin, like stop motion footage of a sprouting plant. He couldn’t help gasping; it was unbelievable and yet happening so close he could reach out and touch.


Alex turned to look at him, his face strained with pain, his eyes tear-drop bright. “I love you,” he croaked, “Don’t freak out.” and he let himself fall sideways onto the floor, scooping his sweatpants down his legs with both hands as the fur spread and his whole body lurched.


Red couldn’t stifle a cry, as Alex’s bone and muscles rearranged themselves under his skin, creaking and groaning like un-oiled machinery, as his hands and feet grew pads and claws and his sweet face was forced into the long shape of the dog-like muzzle. Alex was obviously in pain, his large body curled up and quakingly tense. But he didn’t make a sound, not a single one.


“Oh Alex,” Red breathed, and crept closer on his knees, desperate to touch but not sure if that would make it worse. Then, as abruptly as it had started, it seemed to be over.


Alex sat up and looked over at Red, and even though his eyes were now so very different, Red could still see the fear in them. Alex was the creature that had terrified him so badly, a creature from his nightmares that had cornered him and Red still wasn’t sure if what had come next could be called rape.


But Alex was also...Alex. Brave and kind and tender, so sweet to Red that it made him feel like he could cry.


He could see both of them there, right in front of his eyes.


He reached out his arms.


Slowly, like he wasn’t quite sure he was allowed, Alex edged towards him, his huge, shaggy body radiating worry. Gradually he shuffled towards Red, craning his head to study him, make sure of him. Then he was in Red’s arms and Red held him tightly, sinking his fingers into the thick fur on Alex’s back, Alex’s head settled on his shoulder and those powerful forelegs curling awkwardly around him.


Alex smelled musky and clean and surprisingly similar to his human scent. His coarse fur and the skin underneath were warm and when he shifted Red could feel the ripple of powerful muscle underneath.


After long minutes of holding one another, Red pushed Alex away a little, cupping the corners of his jaw, and studied his face. His large grey eyes were changed only slightly, a certain something about the pupils, something clear and yet hard to read. His nose was greyish-pink and damp, his lips black and his teeth long and white.


Red looked at those strange paw hands, braced against the floor on either side of him, caressed the back of one with his fingertip and felt Alex shiver.


“Are...are you okay?” he asked.


A snuff of sound from Alex’s nostrils and a slight tilt of his head seemed to be all the answer he would get. Could he understand when he was like this? Or did he not realise that Red wouldn’t know what he meant?


Except, he did know what Alex was trying to tell him. He wasn’t in pain, no. But he was upset, uncertain.


Couldn’t have that.


Red slid his hands across the coarse fur to Alex’s shoulders, tugged and pushed gently until Alex got the message and rolled onto his side on the rug. Red curled up next to him, sitting up in the curve of Alex’s body. Then he reached out and rubbed his palm up and down Alex’s tummy.


A soft ripple of sound and Alex tucked himself in, curling around Red’s hand in exactly the same way he did as a man, eyes half closing in relief and enjoyment, tail wiggling about like a landed fish...and Red felt the most curious thing, a warm flutter in his chest, like a bubble breaking, and abruptly he couldn’t last a moment longer without Alex in his arms. He flung himself down on top of him, wrapping his arms as tightly around Alex’s broad torso as he could, huddling against his body like he was seeking shelter. Alex snuffled at his hair, wrapping his limbs around Red until they were all but locked together.


Alex felt so good to hold, like this or any other way.


The evening wore on. Red stoked the fire and Alex ate his meat. Later, Red sat with his back against the sofa, Alex’s head resting in his lap, combing his fingers through his lover’s grey fur.


Some time in the small hours of the morning, Red peeled his eyes open to see Alex, human Alex, standing over him, tired and smiling.


“You okay?” he asked, heaving himself up from where he’d been lying on the rug.


“Yeah. Turning back’s always much easier. You alright?”


“Yeah.” He reached out to hug Alex, slipping one hand into the front of the bathrobe he’d put back on. Alex cuddled him contentedly for a little while, then kissed Red’s ear.


“You want to get into bed?” he asked.


Red nodded and Alex smiled, reached down to hook one arm under Red’s legs, picking him up with surprising ease and turning to carry him into the bedroom. Red grinned as he landed on the bed, kicked off his shoes and stripped down to just his underwear, tossing the rest of his clothes onto the floor.


Alex had similarly divested himself and clambered into bed nude, chuckling as he noticed the way Red’s eyes followed his bare groin. He switched off the lamp, pulling the bedclothes up as they both shuffled around to find a comfortable sleeping position, a ‘couple’ thing that they hadn’t quite perfected yet.


Finally they settled, curled up together in the darkness, and Red felt one last, sweet thing bubble up into his mind before he let sleep wash back over him.






“I love you too.”




Next morning, far later than he was used to sleeping in, Red shook Alex awake and they made love, passionately but gently. The usual vigour that marked their coupling was...not gone, simply not necessary. There was something far more certain between them now and Red could have screamed at himself for not realising how difficult he had been making things. With Alex’s big, warm body curled against his back though, with his strong arms wrapped around him and his beautiful cock moving smoothly, deep inside him, all the world seemed a better, more forgiving place.


They dozed a little more afterwards, lying together in the scrunched up bedclothes, smiling soppily at each other.


Then the real world, in the form of Alex’s ridiculously shrill little alarm clock, intruded and they were forced to get up or risk missing the brunch special at Ron and Ronnie’s diner, one of their favourite weekend traditions.


They shared the shower and (mostly) kept their hands off each other, then dressed and headed out, Red driving as Alex’s old truck was having problems for the fourth time since Red had met him. The diner was only about fifteen minutes walk away through the woods, Alex’s nearest neighbour, but they were continuing on to Red’s Gramma’s house after eating, so it was easier to take the car from the start. It felt like only seconds passed before Red pulled up onto the gravel parking lot outside the little building and he switched the engine off and reached down to unfasten his seatbelt, when Alex grabbed his hand.


Red watched as Alex lifted the hand up, pulled the jacket cuff back away from it and kissed the palm lingeringly.




That had actually been really romantic, actually. And kind of arousing.


Red felt himself grinning stupidly at his boyfriend, who was smiling back at him, contented and relaxed.


“I...I meant it, you know?” Red told him, suddenly feeling like he had to reassure. “I really...I love you Alex.”


“I know. I love you too.” Alex replied, and he kissed Red’s hand again, knuckles this time, and let it go. Then he slapped his palms down heartily onto his thighs and announced “I’m hungry, let’s go!” before clambering out of the car so energetically that it rocked on its suspension from the sudden drop in weight. Red laughed as he got out to follow him.


The diner was quiet for a Sunday morning. Usually there were at least a dozen people in there, nursing hangovers or returning from church or stopping off on the way to visit a relative or a friend. Ron and Ronnie’s cooking was great and the place was popular, had been since they’d opened it according to Alex. This morning though, only a few of the booths and tables were inhabited, and more strangely, there was nobody sitting at the counter, chatting away with the loquacious Ron.


There atmosphere.


Ron, unusually, was nowhere to be seen. Ronnie, his laconic wife stood behind the counter, half-heartedly rearranging the contents of the shelves back there. She glanced up as the door swung shut behind Red and Alex, and managed a weak smile at them. Her elfin face was normally rather sleepy-eyed, but today she looked truly tired.


“What happened?” Alex asked her immediately. “Is Ron okay?” Red followed on his heels as he hurried over to the counter. Ronnie shrugged her shoulders.


“He’s just had a bad couple of days. He’ll be okay,” she told them, and Red hadn’t known her anywhere near as long as Alex had, but he could tell that they wouldn’t be getting any more from her. Alex seemed to get this too and sighed as he took a seat. Ronnie watched him and, when she seemed sure he wasn’t going to pursue it, she nodded and changed the subject.


“Nice to see you again, Red. You two getting along okay?”


“Yeah, thanks Ronnie,” Red replied as she put coffee cups in front of them and turned to pick up the pot from the burner.


“Are we going to be seeing more of you around here?”


“Ah...” Red found himself glancing awkwardly at Alex, who just stared back, startled.


Ronnie tactfully changed the subject and took their orders, leaving them to stew in their juices.




It was around 11.30 when Red pulled his car into his Gramma’s driveway. Her friend Rhonda’s car was parked outside the door of the little garage, and Red glanced sideways to see a flash of apprehension cross Alex’s face.


Rhonda was just a bit of a flirt.


“Be brave,” Red told him as they got out of the car.


“Easy for you to say,” Alex groused. “You’re the grandson. You’re sacrosanct. She grabs my butt.”


Red sniggered and strolled up the path, spotting his Gramma through the frosted glass window next to the front door. She opened it as he approached and flung her arms around him, cuddling him tightly as he kissed her on the forehead.


“It’s so nice to see you sweetie, how are you?”


“I’m good thanks Gramma. You okay? You look nice.”


She nodded and shooed him towards the sitting room, stretching up to kiss Alex on the cheek as he stepped inside. As Red went into the other room, Rhonda got up from the sofa to give him a peck on the cheek and a little hug, and then feel up Alex’s brawny upper arm as he followed Red to the sofa. Alex was blushing bright red as he sat down.


“Have you two been by the diner this morning?” Gramma asked as she poured them tea from the pot on the table. Red nodded as he accepted the stoneware cup from her. Looking up, he became aware of a little tension in her face.


“Gramma, is...Ron wasn’t in and Ronnie seemed worried. Is something going on?”


Gramma sighed and looked to Rhonda, who put her cup down and straightened her shoulders with the air of a person about to launch into something.


“You’d better tell it dear,” Gramma told her. “You know the details better than me.”


Rhonda nodded, her expression serious. “Alex, how long have you known Ron for?” she asked.


“Uh...about ten years I think. Since he and Ronnie started running the diner.” Alex had lived in the village for over twenty years, though he was so quiet that most of the residents didn’t take much notice of him, which suited him just fine. He didn’t need anybody noticing that he still looked the same age as when he moved in.


“You probably wouldn’t remember Arnold then? Or Andre?”


“No. Wait, Arnold...”


“Arnold Wells,” Rhonda clarified. “Ron’s older brother. He was a language teacher at the high school here until about thirteen years ago. He left after a scandal and hasn’t been heard of since. Well, not quite. I understand that Ron got a letter from him when he and Ronnie got married, which isn’t much really. Ron was very close to his brother.”


“I don’t understand though,” Red said. “Has Arnold died? What’s happened?”


A look of distaste crossed Rhonda’s face and she shook her head. “It’s to do with a boy called Andre Corben. He’s...well, you know the old Meadow industrial plant? The one that closed down a few years ago, gets used for storage and stuff now? That used to be a really big employer around these parts, and Andre’s father was the managing director. They were once the wealthiest family in Denebrook and Andre took advantage of that as much as he was able to. As well as being rich, he was very good looking, and he loved to try and manipulate people. Well, he was kicked out of a couple of private schools because of his behaviour and ended up going to school here for a while. And he had a crush on Arnold Wells.”


“You can see how this got bad,” Gramma said worriedly, getting up to take the teapot into the kitchen. Red thought she probably wanted an excuse to get out of the room. She got cross pretty easily and didn’t like to let it happen when there was nothing she could do about a situation.


“So...what? Did they have an affair or something?” Red asked.


“Oh goodness, no! Arnold told the boy that it wouldn’t happen, even let the principal know that he’d been propositioned so it was on record. But Andre didn’t like being turned down and he and his rotten little friends started spreading rumours that Arnold had molested them. Of course the Principal didn’t believe it, she knew what kind of man Arnold was...but Andre’s father managed to get it into the newspapers and there was, outcry, I suppose. Oddly enough though, most of the noise was made by people who worked at the Meadow, people in the pay of Corben senior. Arnold quit his job and left town. People expected he’d be back when it had all blown over, but there’s been no sign of him since.”


“God, that’s horrible,” Alex said with feeling. Ron and Ronnie were pretty much his best friends, or at least the people he knew best in the village. Red reached over and grabbed his hand.


“But what’s happened now?” he asked. “If nothing bad has happened to Arnold-”


“Andre is back in town,” Gramma announced, appearing in the doorway. “He turned up yesterday, gloating. Apparently he’s had some sort of career as a model or some such. His father lives in France now, so he doesn’t hold much sway here, but it seems he’s been causing upset already. Little shit.”


“You should be careful, Red,” Rhonda warned.


“Me? Why?”


“You’re good looking,” Alex told him. “Maybe this guy’ll go after you. Right?”


Rhonda and Gramma nodded.


“That...that probably won’t-”


“Just be careful, sweetie,” Gramma said.


“Yeah, okay,” Red replied, and despite Alex’s warm grip on his hand he felt a chill go through him.


Maybe it was prophetic.  


~~~~~~~~ Back to Red Riding Hood ~~~~~~~~


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