kat8cha: (Superheroes - oh noez brainwashing)
[personal profile] kat8cha
Title: Straying from the Path
Author: Kat8Cha
Fandom: DCU
Pairing: Jason Todd/Connor Hawke (Red Hood/Green Arrow)
Rating: PG-13 (to be safe)
Summary: Connor is the bastard son of Knight Oliver Queen, one day he takes a walk into Arkham Forest and crosses paths with a werewolf.
A/N: Dedicated to [livejournal.com profile] saphire_dance, thanks for the paid account time! And to [livejournal.com profile] phoenixofborg and [livejournal.com profile] daggerpen. For AU Bingo's fairytale fill.

Connor knew as well as any other that the green cloak that wrapped around his shoulders and could be pulled over his shoulders did little to protect him. The cloak was not magic, nor was it armored. It did nothing to protect him from the scorn of the men and women in the town, scorn for Knight Oliver's bastard child, and it did nothing to protect Connor from the young men of the town when they had drunk too much and leaned on their pitchforks and swords, nor did it protect Connor in battle when he fought at his father's side. No, Connor wore chainmail and armor and leather when he wished to be protected, but the green cloak he would stroke like a lover when he hung it on his wall carried with it a strong sense of comfort.

His father had gifted Connor with the green cloak on the day he recognized Connor's paternity.

"It's a lovely day for a walk." Roy Harper, the ward of Connor's father Oliver, leaned over the low wall that surrounded Ollie's estate. Connor also leaned against the wall, although his back was to it, he was adjusting his rucksack and cloak while he stared off into the distance.

"Hopefully it will be a nice week." Connor glanced upward to check the sky. Clear blue with a few fluffy white clouds, but the weather had been known to change suddenly in his father's territory. "I do wish to get to Knight Jordan's place and back without too much trouble." His father had a message for Knight Hal Jordan, a very special message that could not be trusted into the hands of the usual couriers. Connor himself had business in Hal's territory, he had a close friend who lived as part of Hal's household. Kyle Rayner, an artist who Hal sponsored.

"You could take one of the horses." Roy motioned towards the stable yard. "I know your Arrow is ill, but I would be willing to lend you Speedy."

Connor snorted as he thought of his brother's stallion. Speedy was a horse so brown he was almost red, and he acted as bright a firebrand as Roy did. He was also as amorous and that was the last thing Connor wished to deal with. Connor's gelding had come down ill a week ago and Connor was sorry to say that the stablemaster may have no choice but to put him down. There were other horses to be had but Connor did not wish to deprive someone of their transportation. Especially not if there was a raid, the border that Ollie guarded had been rife with unrest as of late.

"No thank you, Roy. Your horse is far more than I can handle." Connor smiled slightly at Roy who smiled back, twice as ruefully. "The walk will do me good and it is not more than two days walk to Knight Jordan's estate."

"I would not wish to spend more time in Arkham forest than needed." Both men glanced at the greenery that peeked over the horizon past the village. Ollie and Hal were both knights who had estates in Gotham, territory ruled over by Duke Bruce Wayne. Arkham forest ran willy-nilly throughout it and everything bad that could be said about a forest was said of it. It was filled with hoodlums and hooligans as well as creatures twisted with dark magic. There was a monastery inside of its borders that was home to those who were mentally ill, or it was said that the patients of the monastery were merely those monks who had been driven crazy by the dark intent of the forest itself. Dark magicians wished for wands made of trees from Arkham, and no woodcutter would enter Arkham if they wished to live out the year. Connor did not give credence to all the stories of Arkham (such as he did not believe that there was a former Abbess who had fallen in love with the dark spirit of the forest and become a murderer for him, nor did he believe that there was a green lady who drew men to their death with a kiss) but he had endured his fair share of unpleasant run ins both with those magic twisted and with common hoodlums who used the forest's reputation to their benefit. He did not wish to spend more time than he needed to inside of it either.

"It's only a few hours walk to get through the forest that lies on the path to Knight Jordan's." Connor commented to Roy idly, faking nonchalance he did not truly feel. "If it's dark by the time I reach it I will camp outside, but otherwise I'll reach the other side quickly enough."

Roy's face was twisted in a frown and Connor knew he was thinking of all the dangers that lay between Connor and his journey's end. It filled Connor with amusement and also with warmth. Before coming to Oliver's estate he only his mother to care for him, the warrior monks at the monastery Connor had trained at did not care much for showing emotion, and now there was not only Roy and Oliver but also Oliver's young ward Mia caring for him and his wellbeing. Connor clapped a hand on Roy's shoulder.

"I'll be fine, brother." Then Connor shouldered his quiver and bow and set out towards the path at a quick pace before Roy could call him back, either to offer to join him or to delay his departure with more needless worry.

The walk through the town went quickly and soon Connor was out in the open fields with Arkham forest looming closer and darker on the horizon. By the time Connor reached the forest's edge it was late afternoon, far too early for him to make camp but he hesitated before he entered the forest. A few hours was all it would take, but it would be nightfall by the time he exited the forest and that would only be if Connor made a good pace through the forest and was not attacked. Connor knew better than any that when one hoped for an easy journey it was liable to be anything but. But to make camp just outside of the forest would be just as foolish as going in with the threat of night so close, Connor had not only heard stories that the trees moved and could swallow up passersby into their shadowy depths but had also seen the way paths in the forest could twist and disappear under one's feet.

Connor stroked a hand over the cloak's edge as it curled around his neck and adjusted his quiver again before he entered Arkham.


Jason hunkered low in the bushes, his body cold and dirty. His stomach growled, loudly, but Jason gritted his teeth and curled closer together. He was always hungry; now, the memories of a time when he was not hungry were as tattered as the hooded red cape that still stubbornly hung to his shoulders. The cape had been a gift for him when he was a boy testing the waters of adulthood. The Duke of Gotham had bestowed it on Jason when he had brought the young man under his tutelage and his roof. Jason had been surprised because as much as he had heard of the duke's benevolence he had done nothing to earn it, in fact he had expected a whipping and a day in the stocks when he had been caught stealing the duke's warhorse. Of course the fact that the warhorse (trained to kick and stomp an enemy to death) had not killed him when he had gotten his hands on the reins had probably earned him some respect from the duke.

Although perhaps it was just because Bruce liked cheeky children, Wayne's first adopted son was also rather precocious.

Jason growled at the thought of Dick. Dick who had not suffered as he had suffered, Dick who was blessed by some benevolent fairy no doubt while Jason was cursed.

He'd been cursed with ill-luck from birth, or so his mother had said spitefully when she had handed him over to the devil that resided within Arkham's dark borders. The Joker was half-wraith, half-madman, half… something else. He had thanks Sheila for bringing him the son of his most hated enemy, thanked her with a gift of his own, she had died along with him, burning in a copse of trees that for some reason he could not escape. He could remember the taste of flame and smoke and the touch of burning wood on his hands.

Jason stared down at his hands, they were pale and thin and covered in dirt and dried mud, the nails were cracked and tainted slightly with dried blood, but there was no burn scar to be seen. The fire had been magical in nature, so perhaps it had left no scar, but Jason did not know. When he had been brought back to life, the byproduct of a magician's spell that actually had nothing to do with Jason, he had been mindless, but not soulless. He had wandered the streets of his home village cold and alone until a dark enchantress had fetched him. Talia, the seductive daughter of one of the darkest magician's in the world.

Jason dug his nails into his scalp and pulled at his lank, stringy hair. He wished she had left him to die, or to live, blank and mindless, but she had taken him back to her father's castle outside of the kingdom and had cursed him as surely as the gods had cursed his birth. His soul had been returned to him but with a price, the same price that Talia's father paid for his eternal life and Talia paid for her powerful magic.

Not his soul, which had been returned, but his body. Every month for the night before, the night of, and the night after the full moon, Jason found himself in the form of a wolf. On the night of the new moon Jason found himself returned to a catatonic deathlike state, a side-effect of his incomplete resurrection pre-Talia. Talia had trained him in the ways of the werewolf but Jason had left her years ago. He had come to Gotham to take his revenge on the man who had abandoned him (Bruce should have burned Arkham to the ground to get back at The Joker, he should have hunted the man down and killed him, he should have… He should not have replaced Jason.) The forest had drawn him in and now Jason was trapped in it, forced to suffer an endless cycle of hunger because the food he ate as the wolf did not sustain him through the rest of the month and he would not allow himself to eat of the fruits of the forest for fear of their effects, either fatal or merely further misfortunes.

And the forest would not let him leave. Arkham was as much a prison for the monsters and magicians within as it was a trap for the unwary traveller.

Jason watched as darkness fell overhead and dark grey clouds blotted out the light of the stars and barely allowed the bright light of the moon to filter through. Jason shuddered through the change, his body had adapted to the pain under Talia's tutelage but it was still a difficult process, and stared down at his paws. Then his head snapped around as he caught a scent. He growled, for he hated the smell of smoke, but he quickly identified it as natural wood smoke instead of smoke from a magical fire. The smell was not quickly accompanied by the scent of roasting meat, which Jason took to mean it did not come from one of the many groups of brigands who lived in the forest. It must be a traveller then and Jason's growl turned into something hungrier. Humans did not taste as good as a rabbit or a dear but there was a chance that they would have food on them such as bread and possibly cheese, food Jason could eat when he was not a wolf anymore. He could steal it from the traveller.

And if they put up a fight their blood and screams might sate that the dark magic in Jason's veins.

One howl was all the warning Jason's mysterious prey got before he was on his feet, loping easily over broken branches and blood stained roots. He avoided the patches of flowers, no matter their color, and dodged grasping brambles easily. As he ran the tattered and torn red cape fluttered in the wind, sometimes it flapped on top of his head to hang over his ears like a hood.


Connor had made camp nearby a fork in the path. He sat on a patch of dry earth with a thin blanket from his rucksack spread out underneath him while he pensively pondered the path. He had walked the path between his father's and Knight Jordan's estates many times. Sometimes he had walked the path alone, sometimes he had walked the path with friends or family. When Connor had first come onto his father's land and proved himself in his father's eyes he had come out of Arkham forest with a guide known as Eddie Fyers. Eddie had been a man who was both battle tested and battle proven and he was still a close friend of Connor's, even if Knight Oliver could not stand his company. It was from Eddie that Connor had gleaned much of his knowledge of the forest's tricks and Eddie was not one for telling tales.

Neither path on either side of the fork continued straight on and that worried Connor for the path between the estates was straight, at least as far as Connor had seen. Also despite the adventures he had been on before, Connor had never encountered this fork before. He had decided it was best to make camp once darkness fell instead of going ahead down the wrong path and ending up lost in Arkham late at night.

Not foolish enough to chop down wood from an Arkham tree for fire Connor had scrounged for fallen branches for kindling and firewood until he felt he had enough and he had built up a fire. It was dangerous to light a fire in Arkham, one could attract brigands easily enough, but Connor was more worried about the monsters that fed in the dark or the wolves that prowled the forest. As he did not intend to sleep Connor knew he would need the fire, for warmth, protection, and to help keep himself awake. As he pondered the fork in the road Connor fished in his rucksack for the loaf of bread and hunk of cheese he had taken on his journey. Were he in a normal forest he would pluck fresh fruit from the trees or forage for something, but he wasn't. Were he also a normal boy he would carry dried meat around in his rucksack, but Connor had been raised by an order of monks who considered all life sacred and as penance for training in the martial arts and being forced to take lives to defend their own or their countrymen they took a vow never to eat meat.

A vow that Connor kept honoring, despite having left the monastic lifestyle to live and fight with his father.

After he finished a small repast Connor tucked the bread and cheese away to wait. He had heard the sounds of animals moving in the woods around him (at least he assumed they were animals) everything from hoof-beats to hoots and birdcalls. Connor had been hearing the sounds of approaching hoof-beats and now he heard a horse's bugle accompanied by the sound of growling. The growls and bugling did not sound very far off and Connor paused to listen to the two sounds, it took him little time to come to the conclusion that the growl either belonged to a wolf or a feral dog. It did not take much after that to jump to the conclusion that the horse was probably being attacked. It was the thought that someone's horse was being hunted down by a predator of Arkham that had Connor wrap his cloak around him and slide an arrow out of his quiver. Before he set off into the trees and tracking his way towards the fight Connor grabbed his rucksack, just in case stepping off the path got him completely lost. He also kicked dirt, regretfully, over his fire to douse it. Halfway through the walk lit only by the faintest of moonlight, he wished that he could have at least made a torch, but there was the danger of being seen by whatever vagrants, monsters, or predators were in the forest. Connor did not wish to make that job any easier than he must. Connor soon came to a clearing, barely more than a hundred steps from his campsite; he paused on the outskirts where he was still hidden in the shadows of the trees to scout out the fight.

The clouds peeled away from the moon to fill the clearing with moonlight, as if even the heavens wished to spotlight the fight within it. Once Connor made out the combatants, he could understand why. He had been right when he had ascertained that the growling came from a wolf, and what a wolf. The wolf was large, almost too large for it to be natural, its fur was an interesting mix of colors, grey, brown, and red, and a ragged strip of red fabric was wrapped around the wolf's neck and head. As beautiful as the creature would have been when healthy it was gaunt and its fur was matted, it looked either sick or malnourished. This might have assured some that the animal was weak but Connor knew how dangerous anyone or anything could become when hungry. It was probably why the wolf had picked a fight with its opponent because Connor could see no logical reason why the wolf would do so otherwise.

Unicorns, Connor had heard, were beautiful creatures, about the same size as a normal mare or stallion but as blindingly white as the sun shining off virgin snow with a horn of bone in the center of their forehead. This unicorn was around the same size as Arrow, perhaps a little larger, but shared the same ill look as the wolf. Fresh blood stained the unicorn's horn and dripped onto its muzzle, Connor glanced at the wolf to note that blood was dripping down its left front paw. The two animals, and it felt wrong to refer to them as simply as that because they were both glorious creatures, stood and panted in the middle of the clearing lit by moonlight.

Connor was not sure what it was, perhaps it was the moonlight, or perhaps it was some form of magic in the woods, but in the second the animals stood, poised to attack, images transposed themselves on Connor's eyes. Where the wolf crouched, blood on its muzzle and its ears flat against its head, Connor saw a man, malnourished, ill-kempt, and wrapped in dark flames. Where the unicorn stood head down and horn pointed towards the wolf, its body covered in mud and blood and other darker things, Connor saw a proud, majestic white creature, but trapped in thorns. Then, unsure what compelled him when the images disappeared; Connor stepped into the brightly lit clearing and fired his bow between the two combatants.

Magic, Connor thought to himself when the wolf and the unicorn turned to him, his father hated magic and Connor had suddenly found that he did not like the taste himself. But was it the dark magic of the forest or was it magic of another kind? Connor could not yet say. "I'm not here to hurt you." The wolf growled and the horse stamped its foot on the ground. Connor let loose two arrows, both of which landed just in front of the two snarling creatures of the woods. The unicorn skittered back a step while the wolf glared at the arrow in front of him and snapped his jaws around the wood.

"You're wounded." Connor said to the wolf whose head lifted to give Connor a critical look. If the wolf had been a man, or since the wolf was more than likely a werewolf; if the wolf had been a man at that point in time, the look would be one that Connor had seen often on the face of his brother and father. It was a look that generally read 'I do not need nor want your help and I can also break you should I so choose leave me to wallow in my ridiculous angst'. "I realize you may feel I am being unreasonable..." Connor took a careful, slow, step forwards and kept an eye on both the werewolf and the unicorn. Both of them were threats to his safety and both were unpredictable. Connor took another slow step and angled towards the unicorn. "But I assure you, my intentions are pure."

The wolf snarled at Connor and then tilted his head to the side, he sniffed the air and stared at Connor balefully. Connor could not quite call it a glare, although coming from a wolf it did feel like one. The wolf did not attack as Connor made his way towards the unicorn and surprisingly, neither did the unicorn. Instead he unicorn stood and shivered, its head pointed downward and its body now covered in a fine sheen of sweat. It had been overexerted. "There, girl, there there." The mare, for mare it was, shivered again and looked at Connor with big eyes. It seemed intelligent enough. Connor glanced over at the werewolf who still sat staring at him.

Both of them, placid, while a few minutes ago they had been ready to gouge pieces off of each other's flesh, it was a bit… odd. Connor was going to put it down to 'good magic' although where his good fortune had come from he did not know. Upon reaching the unicorn Connor lay a careful hand had on her neck. He could see ivy wrapped around her horn. Glad for his gloves, and remembering the thorns of his 'vision' Connor grabbed onto the ivy and jerked it off.

Nothing spectacular happened, no fireworks or lightning bolts, and no witch sprang up to curse Connor for his actions. The mare seemed to relax though and she allowed Connor to stroke her mane before she butted him in the arm and nodded towards the werewolf.

Right, Connor was glad that the wolf was no longer in a hostile mood. Instead the wolf had settled down onto the grass and was licking at his wounded foreleg. Just as carefully as he had approached the unicorn Connor walked towards the wolf. "I don't want to hurt you either." The wolf snarled briefly before huffing and settling his head down on the grass.

Connor was rather sure this was extremely unusual behavior for a wolf, even a werewolf, probably especially a werewolf. "I'm just going to…" Connor reached out and lifted the wolf's paw, the wolf snarled, and Connor hastily pulled back his hand, then sat back on his heels and reached into his rucksack. He pulled out his water-skin and opened it carefully before he held it for the wolf to see. The wolf lifted his head to sniff at the water-skin and then lay back down. Connor poured water over the wound. It was a relatively clean wound and the bone did not appear to be broken, it did not even appear to be that deep. Connor reached into his sack and pulled out the green kerchief his bread had been wrapped in. The wolf perked up at the sight of bread and Connor, unsure if he should, set the bread down in front of the werewolf before he shook the crumbs out of his kerchief. The wolf chewed on the bread while Connor bound his wound. Task complete Connor turned to look at the unicorn who had tipped her head back and appeared to be enjoying the moonlight.

This was going to be quite a tale and Connor was not sure anyone would believe him.

"I suppose I should return to my campsite." That statement, and Connor's step back towards the camp, earned a growl from the wolf. "Well, I can't stay here all night, and I do have somewhere to be tomorrow." The wolf got up from his sprawl, his injured foreleg held carefully against his chest, and stepped forward to nudge Connor.

It was more of a shove, really, and it sent Connor down onto his ass in the grass. Connor barely got himself pulled up into a sitting position when there werewolf laid his head and part of its upper body over Connor's thighs. "…" Connor braced himself on the grass and stared down at the wolf.

The wolf stared back.

He had startlingly green eyes. Then the wolf closed those beautiful eyes and let out a soft huff of air. Connor, vaguely resigned, adjusted his hood to cover his head and lay back on the grass to watch the sky. Belatedly, he realized the unicorn was gone.


The green archer smelled good, that was the only excuse Jason could have given for his actions the night before. It was an odd smell, not one that Jason could easily place, and it had made him feel… comfortable, even relaxed. Wolfnip, if such a thing existed. Jason had not wanted to harm the archer and he had been grateful that the unicorn had not wished to harm the archer either.

Damn unicorn, Jason could feel his arm throbbing with pain. Opening his eyes Jason was not terribly surprised to find himself with his face buried in a brown pair of leggings, since he did remember falling asleep on the archer last night. He was surprised by how close his face was to the archer's crotch and by the fact that the archer had yet to push him off. Jason lifted his head and the rest of his body to get a good angle and… yes, the archer had fallen asleep sometime last night. It was a dangerous thing to do in Arkham, but trapped under a warm body such as Jason's what else could one do?

Seen through the eyes of a wolf the archer was handsome, but with human eyes he was more than that. His features were unusual, exotic, and they were indeed, handsome. And to Jason's senses, still heightened, he still smelled so good. Jason found himself sniffing at the archer's chin and he startled backwards when the man opened his eyes.

"…good morning." The archer's voice was gruff, but not terribly low, he was obviously a tenor, and also obviously cultured. There was an accent to his voice that Jason could not place but Jason was out of practice, as it were. "You looked less emaciated as a wolf."

They both paused, dawn's light barely piercing the cloud cover and certainly barely making an impact on Arkham's gloom. Somewhere, a bird screeched.

"Sorry," The archer carefully lifted himself onto his hands and shifted backwards to create more space between them. "That was rude. My name is Connor, Connor Hawke, I serve Knight Oliver Queen."

Jason's voice was rusty with disuse. "Isn't irony a bitch?"

"…" Another of those pauses and Connor stared blankly at him. The archer had amazingly expressive eyes and full lips. Jason licked his lips. It had been a very long time since he had kissed someone. There had been Talia… and before that, Jason could not even remember. Perhaps Talia had been his first kiss as she had been his first of many things. It was not as if Jason could not remember his life before being turned into a werewolf, but some parts were sketchier than others. His personal life was sketchy before he had been taken in by Bruce, and Jason can barely remember the time before his parents died.

"You are not thinking about eating me, are you?" Connor asked. "Because I am rather sure I would taste awful."

Jason let out a harsh chuckle and stood up, completely unashamed of his nudity, in fact until Connor averted his eyes Jason had not even thought about it. "I don't have any clothes," Jason shrugged slightly. "Sorry."

"It's alright…" Connor's hesitated a second before his eyes glanced up and down Jason's body before he glanced away. The blush that darkened Connor's cheeks was faint and barely visible. "I have some spare trousers, if you wish to borrow them?" Jason watched quietly as Connor stood and opened up his rucksack to lift out a pair of pants. It was… it was an odd occurrence, for Jason. Even those human travellers he had encountered while not in his wolf form had not treated him so kindly. Indeed, most had shunned him; some had gone so far as to attack Jason. Then again, Connor Hawke had not been unkindly disposed to Jason while he was in his wolf form either. Perhaps the young man was addled.

"Thank you." Jason took the trousers and slid them up his hips. Connor was half a hand-span shorter than Jason and it showed in how high on his legs the ends of the trousers came, but they were also extremely loose, Jason was forced to hold the waistband awkwardly in one hand until Connor supplied him with a length of rope. "Thanks, again…" Jason eyed the rope and then turned his gaze to Connor's rucksack.

"It is a magic rucksack," Connor stated, neatly explaining how he could pull so many objects out of his bag, "I did pack a spare shirt, but I believe that it will fit ill. Your shoulders are quite a bit broader than my own." Then, after a brief moment of hesitation, Connor unwrapped his green cloak and offered it to Jason. Jason eyed the fabric, it smelled heavily of Connor and was obviously precious to the young man, before he shook his head and ran his fingers over the ragged scraps of his own red cloak.

"Thanks, but I'm pretty sure you won't be getting these pants back, and I'm just gonna shred anything I'm wearing the next time I change." The pants chafed slightly, the finally made cloth still seemed rough against his sensitive skin, especially his genitals. Jason found himself suffering from the urge to touch himself, a need and a pleasure he had not truly suffered from since before his death. It was a miracle he was not hard already since this meeting was more friendly human contact than he had engaged in since leaving Talia. And there was something about Connor, Jason found that he wanted Connor, a hungry urge that felt like the wolf's cry for blood and pain and yet nothing like it at the same time. The realization that he had been staring came too late, as Connor had flushed an even darker shade and had begun to fidget.

"I'm Jason." Jason looked around at the dark trees that circled the clearing. "What I said about irony, I was talking about you bein' an archer, and your name being 'Hawk'." Out of the corner of his eye he could see Connor's shoulders straighten and his eyes widen in surprise.

"Oh!" And he sounded like the gentry ladies that Bruce had always surrounded himself with, the kind of women who only saw Duke Wayne as a charming, landed, loaded bachelor and never looked deeper, the kind of women who never saw the scars or looked twice at the young men Bruce was training to follow him. "I…" And then Connor laughed, freely, and he sounded as beautiful as a bird in flight looked. "I guess it is."

Moon above, Jason wanted him.


After Connor had led Jason out of the copse of trees that stood between the clearing and the path Connor had found that sometime last night the false trails had disappeared and the straight trail had been returned to its proper place. Jason was skittish once they had left the safety of the trees but seemed content to stay by Connor's side. Connor had heard stories of werewolves; that they were hungry, selfish, angry, and dangerous, but Jason did not seem to be any of those things. He did not seem very chatty however, which suited Connor fine as he did not enjoy idle chatter at all. The walk through the rest of Arkham passed quickly and Connor stretched his arms up overhead once he stepped out of Arkham. The air was so much cleaner outside of the forest and he felt a hundred pounds lighter. It took him several steps to realize that the soft shuffle of Jason's feet no longer echoed his own. He turned and found Jason still stood at the exit (or entrance, should one be headed in the other direction) of the forest, one hand braced upon a dead tree with grey ashy bark flaked around his hand.

"Jason?" Connor stared at the werewolf. For the first time it occurred to him that perhaps Jason, being a cursed animal, could not leave the forest. Connor walked forward but hesitated to step over the threshold that marked the beginning of the forest. A gust of wind blew through the branches, rustling leaves together so they sounded like mocking laughter. "Are you alright?"

Jason's shoulders shook slightly, he shuddered once and then his shoulders tightened up and he clung to the dead tree. "I think this is as far as I go, thanks for the pants, Connor. I'll see you on your return-" Connor placed a careful hand on Jason's bare shoulder and smiled, even though Jason did not turn to look him in the face.

Then Connor tightened his grip on Jason's shoulder and quickly jerked the werewolf out of the forest. Jason shuddered again and spun to face Connor, his face distorted into a snarl and his eyes flashed brightly, before anger and surprise collided head on and surprise won out. "I'm…" Jason turned to look upwards at the blue sky as he spun in a slow circle. He stretched his hands upward to block out the bright mid-morning sun and then looked at Connor, his surprise and disbelief worn plainly on his face. "I'm outside of the forest?"

Connor's smile brightened, although it had been bright before, until it was a smile of true cheer instead of a smile of reassurance. "You must have just needed a push in the right direction. I am glad to have been of service."

"…thank you." Jason's arms dropped to his sides. He was a beautiful man, as Connor had thought, and he looked better with a back drop of Gotham's wheat fields rather than the spindly grasping branches of Arkham's trees. "I don't believe I ever asked, where're you going, Connor?"

"Knight Hal Jordan's estate," Connor nodded towards a low rise not too far off over which the top of Hal's manse could be spotted. "I have a message to deliver to him from my father."

"Your father?" Jason's eyes narrowed slightly and a dark emotion flitted across his face. Connor wondered what it was about the word that could have upset him, but he reasoned there could be any number of reasons. His father could have been the werewolf who had cursed Jason or perhaps, like Connor until a few years ago, he had never known the man.

"Knight Queen is more than just the man I serve, he is also my father." Connor shifted his feet on the dusty path and after a nod from Jason he began to walk towards Hal's estate.

"I'd heard that Queen had an adopted son, but I did not know he had a true heir." It was a turn of phrase that made Connor itch. 'True heir' and 'bastard son' were words that were often murmured around Connor. It was not as if the title of Knight could be gifted to just anyone and while Connor had Oliver's blood running through him he had no intention of serving the crown for the amount of time it would take to earn Knighthood. He also did not wish for Roy to take offense. When Connor had first appeared Roy had expected to find himself disinherited at any moment, it had made for a few rough months.

"I am Knight Queen's son… but I am not his heir." A warm, surprisingly strong, hand gripped Connor's arm above the elbow and turned him around. Connor stumbled slightly and automatically reached for his bow and quiver, but there was no danger, only Jason staring at him with near-feral eyes.

"Do you want to me?"

A werewolf was a dangerous, selfish thing, and suddenly Connor wondered if this was like a fairy tale where by helping the magical creature the creature was bound to him until his boon was returned. But he shook that thought off along with Jason's hand. "No, I do not wish to be my father's heir. I have a place in his household and that is enough for me."

The feral look did not leave Jason's eyes and he moved quickly, almost too fast for Connor to see, and he cupped Connor's face between his warm, dirt stained hands. "You deserve so much more." And then a soft hungry mouth attacked Connors. It was nothing like the quick kisses Connor had shared with a few of the women that worked on his father's estate. It felt, instead, like Connor was to be consumed, by Jason's mouth or by the fire of passion that suddenly flooded his veins, Connor was not sure. When Jason finally pulled back (his chapped bottom lip split and bleeding, his top lip shiny with spit) Connor gasped for breath and had to rub Jason's blood off of his bottom lip.


"Don't worry." Dirty fingers stroked Connor's cheek before Jason took a step back. "Lycanthropy is only contagious if I bite." And then Jason flashed Connor a sharp toothed grin.

Connor felt his bruised mouth quirk into an amused smile. There was something refreshing about welcoming in a wolf that did not even pretend to wear sheep's clothing. Although Connor was sure that his father would be greatly displeased with him. But his father would owe him something for delivering this letter (which Connor had been led to believe was of great import) and Connor knew that they did keep a hunting cottage in the north…

Silence fell between the two travelers as they walked towards their destination, both of their minds churned with plans for each other. Some were sordid, some were not.

And as they walked their cloaks, one red and ragged with age and misuse, one green and well cared for, fluttered in the light breeze.


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June 2012

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