While in the Wild Wood I Did Lie

Warnings: Totally AU, except not really (all will become clear in the end). A bit of horror, a bit of sex. 🙂
Author's Note: This is probably the most care I've ever taken with a story before posting it, but the subject matter had potential to be, well, rather fucked up, so I wanted to get it right. Hope I succeeded! 🙂 This is loosely based on a strangely intense dream I had years ago, which for some reason came back to me recently, only with some new main characters... Pretty much some classic gothic fairytale themes rehashed, with a nice dose of eroticism in the mix. Many, many thanks to for the beta and pointing out the dream lore - you made the story so much better, seriously. Title from Edgar Allan Poe's 'Romance'.

Everyone knew about the monster in the forest. People had been disappearing, mostly travellers, but also a couple of young folk from the village. If the missing had been anything more than gypsies and outcasts, the villagers would have gathered together and gone after whatever was doing the killing long ago. But as it was, they settled for avoiding the forest as much as possible and warning their children in dire tones of what could happen if they did not go to Sunday school.

These days, only those who did not have a choice went into the woods. Unfortunately for him, Patrick was one of them. Ever since his parents had died from the fever a couple of winters ago he was forced to gather firewood to sell, which brought him into the shadows of the big trees every day the weather allowed it. There was only occasional call for a music teacher in a village so dreary and fearful. He had never seen any sign of the monster, but sometimes Patrick felt certain that he was being watched as he went along his way. Whenever that happened, he stopped his usual singing and looked around but was never able to pinpoint a source or at least a direction for the prickling feeling at the base of his spine. So he shrugged it off and went back to the wood gathering and the music in his head.

Patrick got almost used to it, to the dark presence he could feel at the edge of his consciousness, until the day he desperately needed some more wood because it had been raining for almost a week and his food stores were running low. His search took him a bit deeper into the forest and he only realized how far from the village he was when dusk took him by surprise. He chose the shortest route back, but it was too late, and he could feel the presence becoming stronger as the light waned. When suddenly the sense of being watched changed direction, became more focused and intense, Patrick was almost not surprised to see a dark figure emerging from the trees.

He was also not afraid, which alone should have been enough to scare him out of his wits. Instead he just stood there, watching the shape get closer. It looked roughly like a man, dark haired, dark skinned, but no one in their right mind would ever mistake it for one. The way it moved, the glow of its eyes, the feral smile on its face, the black markings on its skin that seemed to change and shift as it approached, it all made Patrick say without hesitation: "You're the monster. You've been watching me."

Then it was in front of him, and Patrick knew that he should be running for his life, but instead he could feel the heat radiating from it and pooling in his stomach, in his groin. He had experienced similar feelings before, but never like this, never so strong that he could hardly think, could not really see anything except for the monster who had yet to touch him. And then it did, a hand reaching up to flutter across Patrick's cheek, and Patrick knew no more except for waves and waves of pleasure rolling over him.

When he came back to himself, he was looking down at a thick bed of leaves, surrounded by what appeared to be wooden walls actually growing out of the ground. Then he realized he had no body. He was inside a living tree, eons old, hovering in the ancient wood. The next thing he noticed was a tingling sensation, already familiar. He focused his attention and saw his captor crouching in the gap that let in the light. It had to be daytime outside, Patrick reckoned, and knew that he was dead. Looking straight into amber eyes that were watching the spot where Patrick assumed he had died without blinking, he repeated this thought, surprising himself by how calm he felt. He was dead. The monster had killed him.

Yet he was not angry, or sad. He remembered the joy he had felt when the monster took him, the gentleness he had been touched with, watched, made to fall apart. He looked at his killer with calm curiosity and did not see a monster, only something that was not human and did not follow human rules. He kept watching as days and weeks passed, content to hover in the tree, where he could feel faint remnants of those that had come before him. Patrick realized that he was different from them, however, more aware, and he wondered whether that was because the creature had watched him for so long before it killed him.

The tree was old, ages old, but it had not been different from any of the other trees until the creature had found it and made it its home several years ago. Something in the tree had changed when the first victim was brought to it, a girl that had gotten lost and would have died a horrible, lonely death if the monster had not happened across her. The tree felt her initial desolation, but also her wonder at the careful touch of inhuman hands, the joy she experienced spread out under its body, the peace the monster's final gift bestowed upon her. Now it was almost-sentient, and Patrick could sense the seasons change in its branches.

Patrick also watched as the creature brought others into the tree. Not all of them were girls, or young, or pretty, but all of them were lonely and desperate and falling apart until the creature found them and put them back together as it fed on their emotions as they died, only to release their spirits in the end. Some of them lingered on in the tree, and Patrick could feel their presence along his own, curious and maybe a bit sad, but not bitter or angry with their fate and with the one who had brought it upon them. However, they all disappeared after a while and it was only Patrick who stayed and watched. The thought of all these lives ended still horrified the part of him that remembered being human, but he had seen enough to realize that the creature could no more help its nature than a hungry wolf in the dead of winter. And at least the creature's touch was gentle and its victims died peacefully.

Then, after what could have been an eternity, Patrick was watching the creature lying curled up in the spot where it had taken its last victim and heard it hum something that was achingly familiar. It was one of Patrick's own songs, one he had been singing to himself while he was gathering wood all that time ago, when he was still alive. That was when Patrick knew that he could come back if he chose to. Looking at the smooth back with the black markings moving across it slowly, languorously, as the creature sang Patrick's song, Patrick made his choice.

He was lying naked on the bed of leaves when he came back to himself, the creature gone. Patrick settled in to wait and met the creature's gaze without hesitation when it came back at dawn. The figure did not flinch, but Patrick thought he could read something like emotion in its face for the first time as it shook its head in amazement. Its voice sounded scratchy, unused, and it stopped to search for words every now and then, but it spoke softly and sincerely: "You came back. I remember you. You... were different, from the moment I first saw you. Your song... it changed something in me. And now you are back." Its eyes never wavered from Patrick's and Patrick could almost feel them flicker over his skin. "I will not harm you again. You can leave if you want to."

Patrick had no reason to believe anything the creature was telling him, but in his heart he had no doubt that it was the truth. "You did not harm me the first time," he said, and meant it. "And I came back for you, I am not leaving."

Patrick met the wide, open stare of those eyes he had seen so many times during his time in the tree, and this time it was him who reached out and touched warm skin, drawing a finger along the strange black markings on the creature's neck that quivered and changed as he tried to follow them. The connection between them sparked instantly to life, making both their bodies hum, but the creature did not move until Patrick leaned up and pressed his mouth to its full lips. To his lips, Patrick silently corrected himself, as proof of the monster's maleness, which he had seen through the tree but not really been aware of, rose hard between them, responding to the growing hunger of their kiss. Patrick's own body was similarly affected, and he groaned and pulled the creature down on top of him, suddenly desperate for more.

They found a rhythm quickly, hands and lips wandering, exploring, while their erections brushed against each other. Patrick felt as if he was drowning in the creature's eyes, his touch, his taste, his scent, and nothing felt more natural at this moment than to wrap his legs around slim hips and ask for something he had never before considered asking for. He had no words for it, but they did not seem required as the creature stopped moving to stare at Patrick with wide eyes. Then he suddenly smiled, an expression on his face that Patrick had not once seen during all his time in the tree, and ducked his head down. Patrick couldn't stop the strangled cry from escaping as hot lips wrapped around him and he grabbed the silky dark hair for purchase.

It was not long before he was close to the edge, and the creature pulled off him just as he tumbled over. Patrick guided the dark head back up so he could kiss those lips, taste the unfamiliar bitterness of his own essence on them. The creature was still hard against his thighs, and Patrick wanted to return the favour but was not quite sure how. But then the creature broke their kiss and gathered Patrick's spilled seed in one hand, looking at Patrick with a question in eyes that Patrick could hardly remember to have considered inhuman at one point.

"Do you... can I...," the creature whispered, sounding hoarse, uncertain, and Patrick remembered what he had offered earlier. He was still not quite sure why or how, but he knew he still wanted it. Wanted them, more than he had ever wanted anything else. So he nodded and opened his thighs again, feeling slick fingers slide down between his legs, pushing inside. He gasped and the creature stopped instantly, surprising both of them, but Patrick urged him on, fixing his eyes on the point where fingers were disappearing into his body. The discomfort was brief and Patrick bucked up slightly, silently begging for more. He got his wish, and soon he was almost lost again, wrapping his legs around the creature's hips after the fingers had gone, almost forcing him into his body. They looked into each other's eyes as they moved, their harsh breaths vibrating through the tree, and Patrick felt as if he was looking into the heart of a star as the creature came with a wordless shout, taking Patrick along with him.

They collapsed in a sweaty heap of limbs and Patrick pressed soft kisses to the creature's hands when lazy fingers slid over his face almost reverently. They lay like this until they fell asleep, wrapped around each other. Patrick had never felt more at peace, and he suspected the creature felt the same.

When he woke it was daytime, and Patrick slipped out of the tree for a while, to relieve himself and find water and food. It occurred to him that maybe he should leave, try to find his way back to other humans, but he thought of the being waiting for him in the tree and did not hesitate to crawl back inside. The creature was awake and waiting for him, anxiousness in his features, in the tense lines of his body, and Patrick soothed him with soft touches that soon turned hungry again and made the night go by in a blur of kissing and licking, stroking and probing, until they both fell into an exhausted slumber once more. This became their lives - a seemingly endless sequence of hunger and satisfaction, interrupted only by snatches of quiet conversation and shared songs, until Patrick could not have told if it had been days or weeks or even months since his return from the tree. He left the tree's shelter only during the day, when the creature was sleeping deeply, and it was not until he let one of his hands follow a now-familiar path down the creature's side and felt sharp ribs that he remembered that he was not the only one with bodily needs.

"You need to feed," he said, stopping his caress. The creature shook his head, his jaw set into stubborn lines, and Patrick suddenly realized what was happening. He couldn't stop his voice from breaking in shock: "You... you're starving yourself. Because of me."

For the first time since Patrick's return the creature refused to meet his eyes, staring sullenly at a spot on the ground. Patrick sat up and ran anxious hands over the creature's skin, taking in the toll that had already been taken on the once-flawless body. Even the black markings were not moving as much as they used to, and Patrick suddenly felt angry. He balled his fists to keep from hitting the creature in frustration, although he knew that he probably could not hurt him even if he tried.

"No," he finally said, when he could trust himself not to do or say anything reckless. "No. You don't get to do this. I would rather you take me again than that you do this."

This brought him an immediate reaction - the creature's head flew up, and big golden eyes looked at him in anguish. "No! How can you... how could I... No!" The voice was fierce, almost a hiss, and they were left staring at each other, at a complete standstill, neither one of them willing to change his mind.

Patrick looked away, in the end, let his eyes roam over the tree until they came back to rest on the creature. He gave him a small smile, his heart breaking, and he knew the creature could tell. They both moved like one to close the space between them, their lips crashing together with an urgency that would not be denied. Patrick felt as if he was drowning, and he held on tightly and tried to taste every inch of skin he could reach, mapping the body moving against his own, relishing every touch, every kiss until it became too much and he came, sinking his teeth into the creature's shoulder, pulling him along with him. Afterwards they did not separate, their bodies still shaking as they clung to each other desperately until fatigue overcame them.

When he woke up, it was because the creature's body was heavy on top of him, and for a long time Patrick just lay there, skimming gentle fingers over the warm skin, careful not to wake him. Finally, he freed himself, the loss of contact almost painful, and leaned down to press one more soft kiss to the top of the dark head. Then he left. He crawled out of the tree and walked away into the late summer's day, not looking back because he knew that if he did, he would not be able to continue. But this was the only way. If he left, the creature could live, he was certain of it.

It almost did not matter to him where he himself was going, but his feet seemed to know the way, and after a while he began to see signs of human interference. He almost turned back when the sun went down and he could make out the flicker of a fire in the distance. Instead he carried on, walked on without really thinking about it, until he reached a clearing where a group of woodsmen had made their camp for the night. Still he kept on going and walked right out of the shadow of the trees into the light of the fire.

The men gasped when they saw him, and Patrick realized that he was still naked, that they might think he was a woodsprite. But the oldest of them, whose features seemed slightly familiar to Patrick as he blinked owlishly against the glare of the torches thrust in his direction, suddenly cried out, his voice full of panic: "Patrick! You... you're dead! The monster took you, years ago, before it disappeared!"

The rest of the men grumbled and whispered amongst themselves, their eyes dark with fear and hatred, and Patrick could feel the hairs at the back of his neck stand up. He knew how this would end. Yet he did not turn to run, he just stood there and said calmly: "I am not dead. I was gone, and now I'm back. But I'm still myself."

It was not enough, he knew it even as he said it, and one of the men was already gripping his axe. But before they could move there was a crashing in the forest behind Patrick, and Patrick felt his heart freeze. "No," he whispered, anguished. "No, please, go back."

It was too late. The creature was there, breaking out of the shadow of the trees, and Patrick could not help but reach out, touch the warm flesh, the rapidly moving black markings. They stood like this for a moment that felt like forever, like the tree. Then the creature threw himself at the men, a blur of darkness and fire, and Patrick would have stood there and watched if the creature had not turned to look at him once more, his eyes a deep gold: "Patrick. Go. Go for me."

Patrick could not help but nod, and the creature smiled. Smiled full of contentment and then turned away with a feral grin, and Patrick ran. He ran and tried not to think of the sight of cold iron axes cleaving into the creature's body. Into his lover's body. He just ran, back into the wood.


With a gasp, Patrick woke up, his heart still pounding from his desperate race through the forest.

It had all felt so real, which was ludicrous considering that he had just dreamed about falling in love with a murderous monster that ended up dying to save Patrick's life from torch-wielding villagers. Seriously, what sort of weed had Joe been smoking last night to get Patrick high without taking a single hit?

Patrick lay on his back, staring at the ceiling of his bunk, his breath slowly returning to normal. He was wide awake and unwilling to go back to sleep just yet, so he fumbled for his glasses, got up and padded through the silent bus to the kitchen area. Getting himself a drink of water, Patrick stared out the window onto the dark parking lot, halfway expecting to see the tall trees of the fairy tale forest - but instead he saw a familiar figure sitting on the steps of Joe and Pete's bus, almost invisible in the shadows.

Suddenly Patrick's heart was racing again as he remembered the creature from his dream much more clearly. Maybe he should ask Pete for his therapist's number, as his subconscious was obviously way more fucked up than he had previously suspected. Not that he thought that Pete would ever harm him. On the contrary, he had given Patrick the band, had pretty much transformed Patrick's life every day since they met. This realization was underlined by the undeniable heat of arousal curling deep in his belly even now. He could almost feel the creature's touch, making him fall apart over and over. Pete's touch.

Emptying his glass with a gulp, Patrick stared through the window to where Pete was sitting, almost disappearing in a too-big hoodie that Patrick recognized as one of Patrick's own. Finally Patrick exhaled slowly and made his way off the bus, trying to ignore the cool night air seeping through his boxers and t-shirt, the cold pavement biting into his bare feet. Pete looked up in surprise as he approached, and Patrick could see that he'd been listening to music and scribbling into one of his notebooks.

"So this is why your handwriting is damn near illegible most of the time - you ever hear of the wonderful invention called a flashlight?"

Pete's shadowed face lit up, and Patrick couldn't suppress the answering smile that automatically formed on his lips.

"And mess with my night-time mojo, dude? Never!"

Pete scooted over on the step and Patrick sat down next to him, thankful for the body heat radiating from his friend.

"So what brings you out here, Patrick? Nightmare?"

Unasked for, Pete wrapped an arm around Patrick's shoulders, and Patrick did not resist the gentle pressure. On the contrary, going completely on instinct, he rested his head against Pete's neck and took one of Pete's hands into his own, linking their fingers together. He could hear the slight hitch in Pete's breathing and used his free hand to brush Pete's dark bangs out of his face gently, looking into wide caramel eyes. It felt familiar, warm, and Patrick almost expected to be back in the wood, with Pete by his side.

"No," he said quietly, his breath fanning against Pete's cheek, "not a nightmare."