Rating: Mature Audiences – for content and themes
Summary: Two long time, but very different, friends are caught up in a spell and changed forever. They learn to cope and must rely on each other to survive in their new forms.
Spoilers: None! Definitely AU
Warnings: M/M – if you don’t like boys together, don’t play here!
Disclaimer: Don’t own the characters nor make any money from stories etc, and bow down to their original creators Joss, et al., plus all the wonderful online writers who continue to give the Buffy/Angel verse characters life.
Will woke in Brad and Skye’s tiny ‘guest’ room (the enclosed side veranda) to familiar smells and adoring touches. As awareness returned and eyes opened, he also became aware of his position and remembered. The dream was so vivid… he was flying, then running… and (Lex)ander was… and he sighed with relief… still here. It was true, he was home, or at least as close to it as was possible for now. He tugged at his slumbering friend, who grunted then did exactly as Will had hoped and snuggled even closer to the ex owl. Will let himself drift off again.
After all in the household roused an hour or so later, the family began a routine that would be maintained for at least the next two months. Under Skye’s instructions (Lex)ander gingerly lifted his friend from the bed and carried him to a waiting plastic garden chair now permanently placed in the shower recess. He would then wait for Skye to turn on the water and adjust it to a pleasant temperature, before gently soaping and rinsing Will then himself. He was grateful that some of Skye and Brad’s new found wealth had been spent on a shower rose on a long hose to allow a hand held wash.
Following the shower, Will’s fibreglass cast was unclipped and he, and it, were dried thoroughly and the dear human inspected for any abrasions due to rubbing from the previous days. They would then replace the cast, often accompanied by tears from both Will and the person dressing him, then finally Will would be given the choice of walking frame (on wheels) or wheelchair. The latter being for times when the previous day’s activities meant he was too sore to make the effort with his reluctant limbs or too ‘down’ to be bothered.
They would have breakfast then (Lex)ander would accompany whoever was working that day in the garden and work happily until lunch. Or join Brad in his workshop, pleased to be able to find the right brush or paint or product whenever asked. He liked the packets and tins that were already open, because reading was still proving a huge challenge.
Will spent his mornings ‘in therapy’, usually under the lovingly watchful eye of Skye, but sometimes Brad would take the coaching floor with encouraging words and kind touches. The leased treadmill and prone seated exercise bike now dominated the south facing rear veranda, meaning that Will could pedal or walk slowly while watching others at work in the garden or simply enjoy the semi outdoors. After his exertions there was always a wonderfully warm bath and massage. (Lex)ander now had the habit of lying with him as Skye dug schooled fingers into newly awake muscles, his friend’s gentle caresses distracting enough to make the exercise bearable.
More often than not it was Skye who toileted the still restricted Will, assisting him onto the special toilet seat with a canopy at the front like that of its infant equivalent, and cleaning him after as necessary. Initially it had been Will who cried, but of late it was Skye who took herself to the pantry after each time, Will’s stoic acceptance of his slow recovery and expressions of genuine gratitude making the dear woman ache on his behalf.
There were triumphs though. Will stood for most of the afternoon, cleaning vegetables and tying them for market then making scones, finally seating himself to help Skye by separating cream from the milk. Skye was annoyed and delighted as she turned to face a very naughty cream moustached grin. She scolded him half heartedly then knelt beside his chair and took the recovering human in a hug. Her new nightly persona meant that she knew what he had been forced to give up, knew his natural instincts were all still there, and knew his pain at being so incapacitated for so long.
In their tenth week after returning to the cottage, (Lex)ander carried his dear friend piggy back style, through the forest to their home. It was strange to return for both of them. Nothing was different. Skye had obviously been, so the kitchen was clean and the only food in the house was dry supplies.
Skye had continued to walk through the forest every few days to check on the boys’ house and provide a care package for three cats (the ex-mage Alistair, Nicola, and one of their girls who had stayed). Nicola was pregnant again, and Alistair rubbed and purred so very loudly when the two ex creatures arrived that (Lex)ander thought he would cry with the relief of the familiar. Instead they all sat on the back step, Alistair constantly purring and rubbing backwards and forwards against their legs.
In the end it was a quiet afternoon in the sun, a couple of hours to reassure each other that there would come a day when they would return to their home for good, fully restored and ready to face the next challenge.
On their way back to Brad and Skye’s, (Lex)ander still carrying Will on his back, they stopped at Will’s favourite spot on the track to watch the antics of some young badgers, then spied an almost mature deer standing proud in a clearing in the late afternoon. He was joined by a pretty female, then three obviously older family members… It was the deer Will had saved. There was a moment of acknowledgement then the five took off into the forest.
The hunters had been lying low close on four months – the human shooting had made all the local papers and the police cordoned off a full five square kilometres of forest to all but the residents, Brad, Skye and (Lex)ander. As soon as the presence of police and local authorities in the area eased, however, the two individuals who had caused the ruckus were first on the scene, deadly instruments again in hand.
By night Brad and Skye guided the forest animals and birds away from the traps and hunters themselves. Brad triggering trap after trap with the pressure of a stick. In the day (Lex)ander would find the traps and bury them. But there were still casualties.
One of the older deer was shot, despite Skye’s best efforts to warn the family. Several tiny voles, a badger and a number of rabbits were found murdered. And Skye herself was shot at, though it was more out of fear than intent as she swooped on the second hunter just as he lined up a fox cub in his sites. Thankfully his aim was not true and she only lost three or four feathers, and when she changed, Skye’s arm was merely grazed.
In the end Brad and Skye decided, and their boys agreed, they had to do something to end the carnage once and for all, and Brad had a plan.
Skye took out the Mage’s books and communed with the ex-mage at length. Alistair quite thrilled to be consulted on such an important issue. They fixed upon a transformation spell similar to the one that had altered Nicola and he, and adjusted it just a little to ensure it be permanent.
The following night, the hunters approached the apparently stricken ‘wolf’ with deadly intent. Brad and Will could see the rather overweight, red faced, balding individual in the clearing, followed close behind by a younger man with spiky black hair and a rather pointed nose.
Brad looked over to Will who was concealed in the brushes and saw the unmistakeable nod. They were the same two Will had encountered on the night of his shooting. The first man had only just raised his gun ready to fire at the canine apparently trapped in the cruel iron jaws in front of them, when he registered the soft thud of a magical object hitting the ground between he and his fellow hunter. Enveloped in a flash of light, he was momentarily stunned before being utterly disorientated as his world shifted forever.
Where there had been the shooter of Will, now there was a fox with an odd bald patch between its ears and a rather mangy coat. And where there had been a second hunter complicit to the crimes against the forest creatures, there was a rather pitiful looking hedgehog who immediately rolled into a tight protective ball and waited for the terrified fox to sprint off into the undergrowth.
(Lex)ander picked up the hedgehog gingerly and tucked him into a Hessian bag and gave it to the wolf to carry home, then lifted Will gently, settling him in a piggy back once again, tucking practiced hands under the blonde’s buttocks and despite the fibreglass cast, enjoyed the close contact and contented sigh as Will settled against his wonderful friend.
The little hedgehog was released into the forest near where Skye knew a similar little animal had been shot and killed three months earlier. It was a relatively safe area, and there was enough food for easy pickings.
Seven weeks later, the team of doctors, nurses and physical therapists all cheered as Will, now brace free, walked toward a tearful little group consisting of Brad, (Lex)ander and Skye with the use of a single walking stick for a little extra balance, dropping even that a few feet from the family and walking unaided into their arms. It was two days before Christmas, and though Skye and Brad did not celebrate like others, it was the best gift they could possibly imagine.
That night after they tucked an exhausted Will and overemotional (Lex)ander into bed on the old futon, and the boys snuggled down together, Brad slid his arms around his beautiful partner’s waist and they stood in silence watching the two fall asleep, simply enjoying the peace of the moment.
Finally the two humans felt the tug of their nightly commitment, and retired to bed to make love and make the shift to their other forms.