a heart that sings but doesn't make a sound

Red Rock 
December 31st, 10:00-ish

 The ball drop was probably fun. For normal people, anyway. Lorena had decided that it would be too many people for her, after the trail of lights - too many noises, potentially animals, no good place to hide if shit went sideways. She liked the idea of something a little quieter, but staying at home would be fucking boring. So, the desert it was, just her and Mateo and cheap fireworks and booze that was... not really doing anything for her. Similarly to how the melatonin had been falling short of its mark lately. Stupid metabolism, probably.

 This was safer, anyway. The seclusion was comforting, and there was something warmly familiar about the vast, sandy stretch of land around them. Little black cats and spinners and roman candles didn't scare her, even if a few of them elicited soft wooos from the shadows in her mind. The hyena probably didn't find any of it fun, but. Fuck that hyena.

 The cold bit at her hands as she crouched over a little paper volcano, guarding the fuse from the faint wind with one hand as the other lit it. When it caught with a hiss, Lora stumbled upright, faintly buzzed, and jogged back to the truck with a big grin. She hoisted herself up into the bed of the truck, rocking it a little as she dropped down onto the blanket pile beside Mateo. "Too bad we can't afford the mortar shell ones," she sighed, watching the volcano begin to sputter out sprays of color.

This shit was probably better than some crowded Ball Drop anyway. He liked Red Rock in the sense that it reminded him of Arizona, and more rugged landscapes of home. Not many fond memories there, but he was having a good enough time out here to remember them. Naomi and him used to go out and find a ridge in the desert, smoke blunts and get drunk, fuck on a rock, whatever the fuck they wanted to do. This felt similar, out with a pretty girl and blowing things up. Felt real fucking American, but he was into it.

Lora bounded back to him as she lit up another firework, the image of her swimming among the kaleidoscope of flickering sparks behind her. He'd brought that Sotol, and a few packs of beer that he made her choose. The bottle was empty, and they were half way through the first pack by now. Safe to say he was feeling it, and driving wouldn't be an option. Blankets in the back were good enough, cozy and warm with Lora added to the mix. Sleeping here would be just fine. For now, he would move to pull her roughly against him as the noise of the volcano took jabs between her words, "Yeah, but I bet some gringo would call the cops anyway." He said with a shrug. Even out here, he bet money on it.

 She would not protest being tugged around, dropping a hand to his thigh with a grin as he spoke. One look at those tired eyes suggested he was at least one sheet to the wind. That was okay. As long as he was having fun.

 "Probably," she agreed with a sigh, watching the volcano now. It had a little more in it than she'd anticipated, honestly, but it wasn't long before it was sputtering out. Ending the show with a more intense flair, and then nothing. She watched a defeated puff of smoke rise out of it and disperse on the breeze. There were a couple little things left in the plastic bag behind them, but Lora felt no immediate urge to set off another one. Instead, she'd tilt her head up to Mateo with another grin. "How ya feeling?"

belated outfit but with a normal length shirt and also boots not sneakers

Show wasn't spectacular, but it was more just being out here that was something to enjoy. The girl next cuddled up on him was more interesting than the last hoo-rah of the sparks, though he did like how the colors danced on her skin. He wanted to see more of that. She was all covered up in a big hoodie thing. Was it too cold to ask her to take it off?

Oh, how was he feeling?

"Good," He said with a short chortle, lips pulling into a numb smile to show his hole punched smile. A hand grabbed at the material of her sweater, pawing at it absently as he looked her over, "Kinda drunk," He admitted in addition.

 He was feeling good. It was easy to believe, especially with that smile. Lora was feeling good too, all snuggled up. She laughed for his confession, draping her other hand against his arm as he tugged at her hoodie. She thought to make some joke, call him a lightweight - but with what they'd downed should have left her equally intoxicated. More so, probably, considering body weight and tolerance. Steer clear of that knowledge, maybe.

 "Aw." Her hand lifted off his leg, twisting her body slightly to curl her arms around him, prying slightly-cold hands under his layers with a crooked smile. "Is this taking advantage of you, then?"

Heeyyy, that worked pretty good. He didn't have to do much to get her tugging at his clothes, and that was probably the best part about Lorena. She wanted him, and he wanted her, so things were good. It was a complex relationship. As for the question, he would press his lips into a pensive purse, hum out roughly from his chest, and then move to pull her closer toward straddling his lap. "Girl, if I ever tell you no, something's fucking wrong with me."

 That was a good response, she decided. She grinned, yielding to his hands and pulling a leg over him. "Good to know," she huffed with a chuckle, hands framing his jaw as she bent in for a kiss. He tasted like Sotol and beer, which sounded less appealing than it really was. Mostly, she just liked to kiss him, to touch him, to be touched by him, whether he tasted or smelled like alcohol or cigarettes or neither of those things.

 She broke away with the thought to tell him that he was allowed to say no. Of course he was. That was probably unnecessary. Mateo didn't seem like the kind of guy to do something he didn't really want to do. Instead, she'd use the break to pull herself out of the oversized hoodie, taking the shirt beneath off with it and flinging them onto the blanket pallet. This was technically a public space, and boy had it been a few years since she'd braved anything like this, but it was exciting. Enough that the hyena in her head made noises. That was... good, right? Animals liked to fuck, didn't they? Ew, gross, don't think about that.

 "Fuck, it's cold," she confessed smilingly, leaning into him. It was cold. Hyena fever did little to buffer the sensation of winter's bitter breath on bare skin.

That was a lot better than some shitty firework. He looked up at her with a tense, wolfish smile, liking that grip she had on his chin. The kiss was met eagerly, a deep inhale taken. It didn't last long, but she was breaking away to get naked, so he wasn't going to complain. His hands would splay across her back, finger tips pressing into exposed skin eagerly. He trailed them up along her spine, pulling her closer as she adjusted to the cold. "Here, He said, and would lean in for another quick kiss before leaning back and grabbing with one hand for a blanket that wasn't making up the bottom of the palette. With a flourish, he draped it around her shoulders, tugging it closely over her. Both hands tugged at the blanket on either side of her neck, and he used that to pull her closer for a deeper, warmer kiss.

 In retrospect, she could have just left the stupid hoodie on and still gotten the same end result. Where was the fun in that, though? It was better this way, his hands unrestricted anyway, and she sighed for how much she enjoyed his warm touch. Another kiss, and then he was moving, sweeping a blanket off the top of the pile and pulling it around her. Cute. She giggled as he wrapped her up and pulled her in, goosebumps rising on her skin for the kiss instead of the cold.

 That would be enough for her for a little while, perched on his lap, hands under his shirt, making out with him, despite the way her knees protested against the unforgiving tailgate. Eventually, though, her hands moved for the collar of his jacket, tugging at it meaningfully as she drew her teeth against his lower lip. It was his turn to be cold. :3

For what it was worth, he felt incredibly warm right now. It helped she was on top of him, on his lap and kissing him. Also alcohol. That was good too. Eventually, though, she was pressing on his shirt, and he let out a soft breath before pulling back from her. A few moment of struggling against his jacket, punching at the material that seemed determined to stay wrapped around one arm. Then, at her mercy, he let her push back his shirt. All that he'd be left with was a bare chest smattered with hair, tattoos, and a cross hanging from a chain. "Damn, you better keep me warm." He huffed.

 Where much of the novelty of these situations had worn off, the excitement remained. The hyena continued its incessant woos, an unwelcome voyeur, but at least they could agree on this. She anchored herself as he struggled out of his jacket, quick to pry his shirt off once he was free of it. It landed on the edge of the tailgate, but she was hardly of the mind to secure it - instead, she gripped the blanket in either hand as he spoke, arms out, grinning.

 She meant to fold him up in the blanket, to burrito them both up with it, arms latching around his neck. To cling and kiss. There was a sharp, sudden sensation - it didn't register as much more than shock at first. Cold, then unbearably hot. Searing. The hyena screamed.

 Lora yelped, sputtered a curse, jerking away from Mateo with a stunning strength. One hand moved to her belly as an intense heat consumed her, thumbing shakily at the angry red brand on her sternum, just beneath the middle section of her bra. The shape of half a cross was branded there, angrily red, and when she met Mateo's gaze, her eyes were an icy shade of blue. Much of the same pain registered from the insides of her biceps, boiling heat. A splitting headache. Hands cramping violently. If he held onto her, it would be with half-clawed fingers that she attempted to shove herself away from him, to make it to the cold earth behind the truck.

Through all the bullshit of the last year, he was glad at least he got Lora out of it. She was fun and a good distraction from worse shit, made him feel good and appreciated. So, you know, when she suddenly yelped and jerked back with a force that was surprising, he was immediately concerned. His hands gripped her firmly, holding her still from falling backward off the truck as he looked at her with a bewildered gaze. She grabbed for her stomach, and for a second he wondered if she was suddenly feeling sick or something?? But, then he saw it. A red welt of skin, in the shape of a... T? No, he recongized it enough. Part of a cross.

He met her gaze, and was startled to find that it was a stranger's. Pale blue... impossible blue. There was no way her eyes had always been that color. It reminded him, in a fleeting, surreal moment of clarity, of Iago's. She was pulling back and away from him before he had waded through the bog of alcohol and confusion enough to find words. His grip tightened on her instinctual as she started to wiggle away, words bubbling in his throat, but being choked out by a hiss of concern as she started clawing at him. Fucking clawing. What the fuck? His skin, unbeknownst to him, toughened against the scraping, his eyes slipping into a color that was nearly impossible to tell from his pupils. It didn't matter. What mattered was that she was... burned? And now she was fucking clawing away from him, grunting and hurt and... his grip released, and she was free to slump to the earth as he pushed himself off of the tailgate to follow her. "Lora. ¿Qué sucede? ¿Te lastimaste?" Sorry, when you're drunk and fucking confused and the girl you fuck was clearly in some kind of weird fucking pain and her eyes were turning different colors, you tended to forget to translate.

What's happening? Are you hurt?"


 Let go, letgoletgoletgo. Any other time, she would have relished in that grip, being held fast, but not now. When he finally did, she tumbled backwards, barely catching herself on her feet, the blanket blooming out beneath her. Distantly, she realized the pain on her arms was from the same source. His necklace - silver. You fucking idiot, Lora.

 Hot tears welled up for pain and fear and, honestly, embarrassment. Lora rarely cried. She cried for her first shift, for Barbarian, but before that, she hadn't cried since middle school. Now, she was helpless to control it as her skull broke in a solid line down the middle, from the foramen magnum to the tight space between her front lower teeth. Simultaneously, the stabbing pain in her hands unraveled up to her elbows, forearms stretching grotesquely as her fingernails blackened and sharpened to unnatural points.

 Mateo was in grave trouble. She was dangerous. She was terrifying, and she was on fire.

 "Get away," she sobbed, the pain putting her on her knees. Her disfigured hands held her disfigured head, needles rising down her back, squeezing her hips. "Run away."

No answer, not in words. Just the sight of something you only saw in movies. Her face... it... he didn't know a word to describe it. It just fucking broke. He heard it, he saw it, he watched as she buckled. His heartbeat roared in his ears, adrenaline spiking like he was about to step into the ring. Mateo didn't scare easily, he didn't let shit get to him. "Qué diablos... Whatthefuck." He'd looked into a barrel of a gun, he'd been stabbed at, he'd fought motherfuckers twice his size. But this? This was fucking horrific. It was unreal. How was this real? But... why would he dream of this?

He didn't have the fucking time to ponder. She was screaming at him, a voice hardly recognized. Get away. Run. Fuck. "Fuck-" He would breathe out again, staggering back, mind reeling, images swimming in front of his eyes. He couldn't think, couldn't focus. The movement and the alcohol all fucked him right up. He couldn't tell up from down, left from right. Just could see Lora on the ground, turning into... turning into something. Fucking monster. She was a monster?

Run. He didn't have the mind to consider getting in the truck, he didn't know where his keys were in the mess of blankets anyway. He did grab his shirt, somehow thinking to grab it in some bizarre moment of clarity; it was cold. Fucking cold. He felt like ice water coursed through his veins. He was pouring sweat. It was fear he didn't know. Fucking run. Her screams would soon break into the quiet air as he turned to start a staggering, uneven sprint across the brush, heading for what he hoped was the fucking road. Heart in his throat, Mateo ran.

 The world split in half beneath her. A great chasm was opening up, tendrils of sentient darkness grabbing at her arms and legs, her mind. Mateo didn't exist in this place. She clung to a vast, rocky edge of pain, the needles of pain plunging into her skin, dragging jagged lines in the muscles in her back, crushing through her hips like teeth.

 Without grace, she howled, wild screams broken by gasps and sobs, jagged with hellfire. Somewhere in this ugly chasm of suffering, she had a thought - she never should have followed that ghost. She should have told Echo and Pete to kill her. The pain would have been equivalent to this. What mercy it would have been to be fucking dead.

 Lorena didn't exist here, either. Heaving great breaths, the best laid half on a blanket, half on the dirt, grasping at its surroundings. A sound was dying on the horizon. Something was running. The air was rich with smells. Where was this place.

 It rocked to its feet, huffing and puffing, investigating a little - knocking things off the tailgate got old fast. The running drew its attention again - somewhere in the darkness, a creature was stumbling over the earth, heart pounding like prey.

 Hunger always won. The spotted beast started into a lope immediately, following the scent trail of something promising. It wasn't even a minute before the bipedal form could be plucked out of the shrubby flatness that surrounded them both. Excitement drove it from a canter to a flat run, giggle-grunting as it moved to close the gap, a great ugly smile born on its face, moving to strike the man by scoring its jagged teeth around his leg, to yank him out from under himself.


Fucking run. He couldn't see a clear path ahead. Just blackness. The skyline of some semblance of civilization melted cruelly into the blanket of stars overhead, confusing and unrefined as he pushed himself to keep running and don't fucking stop. He didn't know what he was running from, not exactly, and in the moment he was too panicked and fucking drunk to try and think back to anything he'd seen on the news. As far as he was concerned, this was a nightmare, and he was willing to wake the fuck up any moment, thanks.

At some point, he'd slowed to pull on his shirt, and catch his breath. That's when he heard it. The whooping, panting, thundering of something approaching through the darkness behind him. Heart gripping, he whirled around to look behind him as he ran, seeing nothing, then something. A hulking shadow, a blurred figure. Teeth and spots and fur. He yelped his horror as it lunged for his leg, felt the teeth graze the material of his pants. It staggered his gait, but encouraged him onward. How the fuck was it so fast? How the fuck was it so massive? He didn't even know what the fuck it was. A fleeting thought identified it as chupacabra. That had to be fucking wrong. An errant fist swung out behind him, and connected harshly with its muzzle, hopefully stunning it as he doubled down on his attempt to fucking run.



 Teeth missed, a tease of denim on the tongue. The hyena whined shrilly in its momentary defeat, then choked on another sound as it was walloped in the face. Prey sometimes kicked. Prey all the same.

 Driven by the primal combination of fury and burning hunger, the hyena lined up just behind the human once more. An extra boost, going for the offending arm. Teeth locked around his lower arm. Success. The beast shrieked its excitement, teeth crushing through flesh and bone. Deep enough that it could feel the tendons lacing into his fingers snapping against its gums. Eat. Eat. Eat. Just couldn't get it to sever.

hit :(


There was only so much a power that resisted injury could do. A human punching him, or a knife slicing... it was nothing compared to the jaws of some insane, unreal beast latching onto his forearm. He screamed for the pain of it, unaccustomed to that true, unfiltered sensation. His footing failed, and he swung another useless fist into her face as he buckled backward to the earth. Arm braced in front of him, he struggled to place his heels into the dirt, fought to keep his back from laying flat. If he could get her to let go... he had to make her let go.



 No more running, prey. Blood trickled between the hyena's teeth, and it huffed an angry spray at the man when he struck again. He braced himself, fought against it. It whooped furiously, struggling to keep a hold on the arm. That was its only goal. Don't let go. Don't let him get away. Eat.

 Its grip slipped after all. The hyena lurched backwards where its teeth gave out from the human's arm, shook its head to free itself of the discomfort of having been punched, slinging blood. Then, with ghoulish eyes, it looked to the man again, hunching in his direction threateningly. Woooo.



The world shut out. It was just him and this fucking monster. It was like the ring, it was just like a fight. Nothing mattered, just him and his opponent. But, there was a difference. A start realization he was going to die if he didn't get the fuck away. He needed to escape, but he couldn't with it baring down. His punch had knocked it away, but it wouldn't scare it off. He needed to hurt it. Really hurt it. Hurt her. Lorena. Fuck.

He swung a kick her way as he shoved backward, cradling his mangled arm. His aim was off, he missed, and in that moment was aware that it was likely that it would cost him his life.



 The beast was full of thrills. The human struck at it, but kicked only air. It bared its teeth, growled and giggled. Hunger and fury. It struck for his offending foot, meaning to close its teeth around his ankle.



It was fucking massive and fucking quick, and he managed only to pull back enough for the teeth to close in on his boot. He felt the jaws tighten around his foot like a vise, piercing the boot but not the skin. Fuck, fuck. He needed to think, he needed to hurt it. What hurt Lorena? The cross. The necklace. He grabbed for it with his uninjured hand, and with a jerk, broke the chain. Blindly, unthinking beyond that, he swung forward with it fisted in his hand, hoping his strike was true and the same affect would come of it.

but he miss :)


 The boot tasted much like skin did. Salty, leathery, otherwise bland. The human jerked, launching at the beast. It shrieked, silver grazing its cheek. Painful. A cacophony of snarls came from the creature, and it lunged at the offending hand to sink its molars against chain-wrapped knuckles.

 Mistake! A fire sparked in its mouth, pooling on its tongue, lacing through its teeth. The hyena shook its head and yelled and whooped, peeling away from the human. Momentarily, it was stunned, wallowing in pain that was as merciless as the pain it took to be born this way.



It grazed it, and he was sure that was some kind of pained sound. He'd regret it all immediately as his other hand was trapped between the teeth. He wretched out a yowl of pain that echoed the creature's, reeling back instinctually as the silver did it's damage. She pulled back, though, releasing him before much more damage than a few deep gashes was done. That couldn't be said for the other hand, which had crushed bones and was pouring blood. No time to think on the injuries, she'd backed off. He needed to run. Keep running, don't be fucking stupid and fight. But, don't be stupid and think he could outrun this thing.

He pushed himself to his feet, staggering back, then wheeling around to head off in a sprint. Toward... a tree. Could it climb? Could he? He fucking had to try. The nearest tree would have to do, he didn't have time to get choosy. Adrenaline kept him going, helped him ignore the pain as he slammed into the trunk and jammed his bleeding fingers up toward the nearest bow. He was tall, but it would be a leap. He had to fucking try, if he didn't get up there, it was a waste of time and the monster would be on him before he had time to put enough distance between them.

Clawing at the bark, he peered hazily up toward the nearest branch, and leaped. Miraculously, he found a grip, and his weight sagged the branch with a groan. Mateo gasped in pain, the shredded skin and muscle of his hands searing from the strain. Ignore it, ignore it. Just get up, get up. The toes of his boots scraped against the bark of the tree as he struggled to hoist himself up, every molecule of his body on fire from the panic and the pain. When she reached him, he would still be climbing, accessible to her if she jumped.

 So much pain. The hyena crushed its tongue against the ridged roof of its mouth, shook its head, scraped its cheek against the dirt. Get the pain out. Get out.

 Eventually, realizing that prey was escaping, the hyena gathered its wits. Its tongue throbbed, mouth a bed of embers. Human was up a tree. Leaving blood in his wake. Grunting and gasping, dying prey. The hyena tittered and whooped, seeming to attempt to do the math as it approached. For the record, there was no math happening in there. Only hunger.

 It circled the tree once, twice, stood its eerie long legs against the trunk, craning its head, baring teeth. Trying to discern how to climb the tree.

 It couldn't.

Timing was on his side. He was able to hoist himself into the lowest branches as the hyena approached. Hyena. He was sure now. What the fuck. He managed to pull his legs out of range as the creature circled in. Up another level, he had to get higher. His hands burned, like he'd dumped them in a vat of acid, and there was temptation to pull away from the searing pain of it. That would spell his death.

The tree was young, but not a sapling. The lower branches sagged under his weight, and as he pushed himself to hoist higher, one foot pressed into a branch that gave. It snapped, and he yelped as he slid down an inch or so. His bleeding hands dragged against bark, the injured skin resistant against further tearing, but the wounds still stung. Thankfully, a sure grip on the less injured hand kept him in the tree, and he recovered with another heave upward. Exhausted, shaking, freezing and aching, he had to stop. Mateo found a branch to straddle precariously, shoulders hunched and head ducked away from pine needles and twigs that prodded his face. Tree climbing looked so much easier in movies.

He became aware of just how bad he was when he stopped moving. The arm she'd gotten first was shredded, skin split and gouged, bones splintered. The smaller bones of his hand were crushed, as well, and he couldn't move his fingers without extreme pain. The other hand was cut and sliced, but the bones and tendons were intact. The fact was, Mateo was alive. The creature was down there, unable to climb from the looks of it, and he was up here.

Peering down through the branches, he got a good look at her for the first time. The eyes. Same eyes that he'd seen in Lorena. It was her. There was no way it wasn't. It was hard to believe, it was hard to fathom. She was a fucking monster. She was a Were-thing. And he didn't even fucking know it.

"Aún puedes morir incluso si eres peligroso, hermano." Iago's voice echoed in the back of his mind. Fuck. Iago. He needed help. But he wasn't just gonna call his brother out here. Let him get eaten too. He was a cat stuck in a fucking tree.

"¡Lárgate de aquí!" He yelled down at the monster, realizing he must have dropped the necklace on the climb. Fuck, his only weapon. Why hadn't he gotten a fucking gun?

"You can still die even if you're dangerous, brother."
Get out of here!


 Up and up he went. The hyena watched intently. Once, he slipped, and it danced back with a flagging little tail, certain he would fall into its waiting teeth. Instead, he secured himself a spot that it couldn't hope to reach. He yelled, human sounds like growling. It whooped back, cackled and whined.

 It would stay for a while. Sitting its ass against the base of the tree, head craned back to look up at him. Occasionally, it would look away, observing the scrubby landscape around them, the spindly fingers of sparse trees. It could wait.

 Eventually, hunger overran impatience. The hyena pulled itself to its feet and bared its teeth up at human. A final "fuck you," reluctant to leave, but so fucking hungry. Perhaps it knew that it risked falling asleep and shrinking before it ever got to fill its gut. Whooping fell to silence, and the creature took some unpaved trail through the thin woods, off to find something else to eat.

Mateo didn't have any other option but to wait. In the time it took, the chill really set in. He was without a jacket, and his white shirt was soaked through with violent blooms of red. It clung to him, sticky and freezing. His body began to shake, his teeth chattering audibly as he shoved himself against the trunk of the tree, and braced against the agony of it. At one point, when he closed his eyes, he felt himself sagging to one side. A jerk to catch himself brought a new pain, and he let out a choked sound.

After what felt like it could be hours, the hyena moved below him. He peered through heavily lidded eyes as it looked to him, snarled, then moved off. Mateo exhaled shakily, watching it go, unwilling to even think about moving. It would be another few long minutes before he shifted in his position. His hands, that hand been braced over his torso, pulled away. He expected fresh pain, a gush of blood. Instead... just a dull ache. Mateo frowned, peering through what he could of the darkness at his hands. It was hard to see. Moon glow still glinted silvery against fresh blood, but he was sure that... some of the smaller wounds were scabbed. It had to just be clotted, right? The bleeding stopped, and thats all that mattered.

He held onto the fact as he shifted and reached for the phone he knew he had in his pocket. The screen was cracked, but it lit up when he touched it. The light was nearly blinding, but it acted as something of comfort in the shivery darkness. Maybe the monster would see, come back, wait for him to pass out. For now, he just had to... he scrolled to Iago's name. There was hardly a signal, and the wind buffeted against him, but hopefully Iago could hear him enough.

He just hoped he picked up.

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