Today’s Friday Flash Fics was nabbed from the awesome photographer Aaron Jay Young (go check out his website), and so I named the character after him. This revisits Matt and Jace, post-“Bound” but before any of the events in Triad Soul.
“Thank you for doing this,” Jace said.
“Okay, that’s the third time you’ve said that,” Matt said. “Is there something I don’t know?”
Jace tightened his grip on the steering wheel.
“Puppy-bear?” Matt tried again.
Jace narrowed his eyes. “Don’t call me that.”
“Seriously. Why all the pre-thanking? I feel overly thanked.”
“It’s just… He’s… struggling.”
“He being the guy Taryne wants me to work with.”
“Aaron.” Jace nodded. “Yeah.”
“Because he’s got the knack,” Matt said.
“Yeah,” Jace said again.
Matt frowned. It wasn’t like Jace was Mr. Talkative most days, but this felt like pulling teeth. Some werewolves had a trace of magic. Not even sorcerer level, or at least that was Matt’s understanding. But this guy—Aaron—had the knack and apparently the werewolf druid Taryne had asked Jace if Matt would be willing to help.
“What aren’t you telling me?” Matt said.
“He’s not part of the pack,” Jace said.
Oh. Well, that wasn’t so much, really. “So he’s a lone wolf?”
“He’s a coywolf.” Jace winced and blew out a breath. “Sorry. I should have said earlier.”
“A coywolf,” Matt said, nodding slowly. “Right. Because that changes everything.”
Jace glanced at him. “Are you still okay to do this?”
Matt raised his hands. “Jace, I have no idea what a coywolf is.”
“This is the part where you tell me what a coywolf is.”
“Aaron is part coyote, part wolf.”
“Okay,” Matt said. “So, like, his mother was a werewolf, his father a…whatever you call a werecoyote, I guess? Or the other way around?”
“Right.” Jace blew out a breath. “Thanks for understanding.”
Matt leaned back in his seat and tried not to snort or laugh. If this was some sort of big surprise or problem, it was news to him. It obviously meant something more to Jace, though. Was it the equivalent of a country club or something? Only full werewolves need apply?
“How long has he lived here?” Matt said, trying another angle. They’d been driving for nearly an hour, and the buildings and suburbs of Ottawa had been long replaced by alternating trees and farm fields.
“Not long. But he paid respects to Taryne and the alphas as soon as he arrived, so he’s not stupid.”
“Smart coywolf. Got it.”
Jace glanced at him again, and the affection in the lug’s dark eyes brought a little tightness to Matt’s chest. “You’re the best. You know that?”
“Anything for my Puppy-bear.”
The house was more of a cottage. It was small, only a single floor, but it was tidy and well-maintained. Beside the cottage a series of small container gardens ran the length of the yard, each surrounded by chicken-wire, capped with lids to be as animal proof as they could possibly be.
Jace parked at the bottom of the dirt driveway, and they walked to the door together.
“Come on in,” came a voice.
Jace opened the door and waved Matt through.
Matt had to blink a few times and it took a moment for his eyes to adjust. The interior of the cottage was much like the outside: simple, well-maintained, and tidy. It was more-or-less like a bachelor apartment, he thought, seeing the kitchen open into the main area, and noting a bed tucked in the far corner. There was what Matt assumed was a bathroom set in the far corner. It was the only door, and it was closed.
And in front of it was a half-naked man in a towel with a crow on his shoulder.
“Uh,” Matt said. Why did he have a crow on his shoulder?
“You’re the wizard?” the man said. He reached up with one hand and fed something to the crow. The crow ate it, but Matt swore it was keeping its black eyes focused entirely on Matt.
Jace came in behind him.
“Aaron, Matt,” Jace said. “Matt, Aaron.”
“Nice to meet you,” Matt said, keeping his gaze on Aaron’s face. The towel wasn’t tied very tight. Also, Aaron was freaking pretty. He didn’t know many men who could pull off a full moustache with a barely-there beard, but Aaron had it down pat. Also, he had a nice chest. Also, nice chest hair.
Aaron stared at him. “You think you can help me.” It wasn’t quite a question, but it dripped with skepticism.
Matt took a breath. “Why don’t we start with what’s going on, first? I know you’ve got the knack, and that Taryne tried to work with you, but that’s about it.”
Aaron’s gaze flicked to Jace. “He’s yours?”
Matt blinked. “Pardon?”
“Yeah,” Jace said.
Matt glanced at Jace, but Jace didn’t return the look. Okay. That could be a discussion for the ride home, he supposed. And it wasn’t like he was opposed to a little light possessiveness from the hot werewolf. He liked to think of Jace as his, too.
“My knack is…specific.” Aaron fed the crow again, then held out his hand. It hopped from his shoulder to his hand, and he lowered it to the back of one of the two stools tucked under the small counter that divided the kitchen from the rest of the cottage. Then, mercifully, he grabbed a pair of jeans, and stepped into the bathroom.
“Okay,” Matt said, eyeing Jace.
Jace just shook his head. No help there.
Aaron came back out in the jeans and a black t-shirt. “I see things,” he said. He seemed to have to force the words out.
The penny dropped.
“You’re prescient,” Matt said.
The deep breath Aaron took was confirmation enough.
Jace was staring at the floor of the cabin, and Matt took a moment to let it sink in what this meant. One: Jace had told Taryne that Matt also had a gift for seeing the future, albeit one he’d bound into tattoo ink. Two: Jace hadn’t told Matt he’d told Taryne. Three: Upon realizing she couldn’t help Aaron, she’d asked Jace to ask Matt to help him. Four: Prescients were highly prized, for obvious reasons, and Aaron had no ties to a pack of his own.
Five: If anyone from Matt’s family learned about Aaron, they’d want him for their own use. The Stirlings were used to having a prescient dancing to their tune. Or they had been, until the gift had moved to Matt from his father and Matt refused to play along.
If he helped Aaron, he’d be risking a lot. Hell, just knowing about Aaron was a risk.
Taryne had to know that. Jace definitely knew that. Putting Matt with a coywolf and a druid and his werewolf boyfriend over the Families was a lot. They were asking him to choose a side. But then again…
Matt looked at the werewolf. Jace finally met his gaze.
“Okay,” Matt said.
“Thank you,” Jace said.
“So. Aaron,” Matt said, turning back to the coywolf. “Let’s figure out where we need to start.”