Prompt Short Story: Cherry

CW: tiny bit of stabbyness and murder, nothing graphic described, small discussion of what to do with the body

Trina stretched before her workout, langurous and slow, and flexed her muscles one by one, marvelling in the strength and agility they possessed. Months had passed since her Turning, but still she relished every movement her enhanced senses felt. After so many years crushed by depression, dysphoria, and the health problems that came with them, she still took the time—needed to take the time—to remember, and enjoy, what she had been given.

Not that it all came without strings, of course. The one who Turned her, and the others, they had explained it all to her. They wanted her consent, ‘in the full knowledge of what it meant’, so she gave it. She got a long, healthy life, where she could turn into a wolf at will, enhanced senses, and a brain and body that worked in perfect sync. In return, she became part of a pack. She owed duties to them—guarding, hunting, helping take care of the huge manor house she now lived in, tithing some of her pay for food, bills, upkeep. It had all balanced out, for her at least.

She worked out in the basement—the warning that even a werewolf body, if neglected, could become weak, had stuck—and found herself considering the pack.

Not everyone was quite so pleased about the arrangement as she was. There were factions, and not all of them were in favour of Turning new humans without, at the very least, a long and rigorous apprenticeship like the one they’d had—even though it meant a slow and inevitable decline. These were mostly the older ones, set in their ways and unwilling to budge for the younger generation.

Some time ago, she had found out, the current Alpha had challenged the last Alpha for dominance, and her youth and speed had won out over his experience and strength.

The old guard was now a grumbling, background menace. So far they’d done nothing but grunt their disapproval. She was sure they were planning something, but she was far too low in the pack for her opinions to count for much, and so far she hadn’t found out anything useful.

Still, she could roll out of bed, ruffle the short, spiky hair above the shaved sides into some sort of order, and run an electric shaver over the hair not yet defeated by electrolysis. Then, she could pull on a pair of drawstring sweatpants or shorts—and nothing else, unless she felt like it (there was no chest there, after all; nothing to hide. Not yet, anyway)—and make her way to the kitchen, where food and drink was always waiting for whoever showed up, whatever time of day (or night) they arrived in need of it.

Deadlifting to power metal, she smiled as her thoughts turned in a more pleasant direction again.

The sustenance was ensured by a pack ally who had lived with them, as far as Trina could make out, since the pack had moved to the manor house. A pixie named Cherry Garcia with the blessing of foresight, which she apparently used to do things like figure out who would be hungry when, and what they would want to eat. Trina was unsure about that—she supposed it was some leftover instinct in her human side that would fade with time, but it felt like some sort of blasphemy to use such a gift for so small a thing.

When she’d asked about it, Cherry had shrugged and told her she liked using her Blessing to help them. She explained that, because of what humans called the uncertainty principle, the foresight got harder the farther she tried to look. But, checking who was going to show up in the next hour, wanting food, and what would please them the most, let her take care of the pack’s needs in some way. There was little else she could do for them, but she owed them her life, and every day they still allowed her to live here saved it again. So, some cooking was the least she could do to help.

Plus, being around them all meant that she could attune to them. It helped her foresight a little, to check if any of them might run into danger, and it also gave her a jolt if any danger she hadn’t Seen was just about to happen.

Cherry had demurred when asked about her history, though. Trina was the New Wolf. She wasn’t trusted yet. But she kept up her friendliness, and was getting to know Cherry better. Letting Cherry get to know her, too. And she was always sure to thank her gracefully for any meals or drinks she prepared. Actually, she quite enjoyed the small blush she got, when she did so.

Today, when she gave her thanks, Cherry went so far as to playfully bat a hand at her. Catching it with ease—though holding it gently, so she could remove it at any time—Trina swept a bow over it, and brushed a gentle kiss across her knuckles.

Cherry blushed fiery red as she stood, delivering her a wide smile, her near-invisible wings flicking in the sunlight from the kitchen window, as Trina ducked her head—now blushing herself—and left the kitchen.

She was slender, but strong, and taller than Trina would have expected – though still only coming up to Trina’s shoulders. She did have wings, and she had seen her use them to dart around the kitchen, but she was also quite happy to walk. When she caught the light, her skin showed a faint sheen of glittering green. Her pointed ears were framed by short, asymmetrical undercut in a dark green shade that made Trina think of forests full of evergreen trees.

Trina was always a little slow to realise her crushes, but this one had finally announced itself properly. And maybe Cherry’s reactions meant she was interested too?

Everyone in the pack knew Trina was trans. Though they didn’t necessarily know all of the details, of course they could see her flat chest. And sometimes, given the usual wolven uniform, her girldick. But of all the things she had ever heard groused about, she had never picked up any issues with that. Her youth, that they didn’t know her well enough, the new Alpha making executive decisions, lots of this and more, but never her gender. The other world—what she had slowly stopped thinking of as the ‘real’ world—didn’t work like that. The days she still had to venture out into it were stressful and exhausting, and she always came back needing to hide, to cover herself, to remove the dysphoria and the masking and the shame the outer world forced back onto her. Mostly she worked from the manor house—home, now. Home. And ventured out as little as possible.

Today she had no work scheduled, so after a post-workout shower, she grabbed a book and a lounger, and found her favourite spot in the enormous garden to sit: the corner of a wall, surrounded by crawling, dangling vines, creating the feel of a semi-private room. Engrossed in a winding tale about a murder conspiracy that made absolutely zero sense, Trina’s heart leapt when a shadow passed over her.

She looked up, seeing nothing, until she realised the whir of wings had been in her ears for a while.

Looking up further, she saw Cherry picking fruit from trees, with a small basket over one arm and a larger basket below. As Trina watched, Cherry emptied the small basket into the big one, dropped the small one on the grass, stretched, and performed some flips, barrel rolls, and dives around the garden.

When she landed, letting her wings flutter to a halt after their exercise, Trina grinned and applauded.

Cherry jumped, suddenly on guard. A blade that shimmered in the sunlight appeared in each hand, one long and curved, the other shorter and straight. When she saw Trina was the one applauding—though she had stopped now, her eyes wide, at the sight of the weapons.

The swords disappeared and Cherry ran over, using her tired wings to speed her movement. She knelt on the grass by Trina, who had put her hands down and begun to recover her sensibilities.

“Oh Trina, I’m so sorry!” Her eyes were tight, lines showing where Trina had never noticed them before. Her voice had changed, the usual light and lilting tone becoming solid and panicked.

“It’s fine! It’s fine. I scared you, you scared me, I think we’re even,” Trina attempted a chuckle. It came out a little shaky, but it was there.

Cherry slowly reached her hand out and slid it between Trina’s hands, now resting on her lap.

Trina noted that it was the same hand she had kissed earlier, and her heart kicked a few more times—but not out of fear.

“I’m glad you enjoyed the show. I don’t get a chance to show off much these days—werewolves aren’t generally drawn to artistic performances of flight,” Cherry shrugged, with a smile.

“You know, until now, I didn’t even realise I was a fan of that,” Trina smiled, her hands closing around Cherry’s, whose blush began to reappear. “Maybe it just needed the right performer…”

Cherry ducked her head, her pointed ears red, and looked up through her eyebrows at Trina, eyes sparkling, “M-maybe?”

Trina moved until she was sitting up on the lounger, legs splayed either side, and tugged Cherry’s hand until she came to join her on the lounger, still kneeling, head still ducked a little as she looked up through her flight-tousled hair.

Trina reached forwards, slowly, giving Cherry all the time she might need to move away. But her hand reached the cool, soft cheek without incident, and she gently pulled the pixie’s face up to look at her properly.

Cherry’s lips curled into a smile, and she placed a hand over Trina’s, “Would you kiss me now, Trina?”

“Can I?” Trina whispered.

“I would like it, very much, if you did.”

Trina leaned her face in to Cherry’s, and for a moment they touched their foreheads together, meeting eyes, before their lips connected.

Trina felt the coolness of the pixie meet her wolven warmth, and mingle into a storm inside her. Losing herself, she slid an arm around Cherry’s waist, and used just a touch of werewolf strength to pull her closer.

Cherry moaned softly, and pushed Trina back, to lay on top of her.

As they kissed, a figure appeared over the high wall of the garden, luminescent wings fluttering as she landed, quietly, a few paces away.

When this new visitor cleared her throat, Cherry and Trina parted, slowly at first, assuming it was one of the pack. Trina got a sight of the new pixie first and her eyes narrowed at seeing blades ready in her hands. The same blades Cherry had produced at her thoughtless applause.

Cherry turned, a few quick flaps of her wings floating her off of Trina and landing on the grass, her own blades already in her hands.

 “Barinta…”

The newcomer laughed, “I see you got yourself a pet!”

Cherry bared her teeth. Suddenly she wasn’t the cheerful, light-hearted pixie Trina had grown used to. She was a hard, strong warrior. Even the lines of her face seemed to change as she readied a fighting stance.

Trina smoothly divested herself of her sweatpants, and stalked towards Barenta, changing as she did so. Even just a few months of practice had made this a fluid—if still painful—event.

Wolf now, her dark fur peppered with hint of gold, green eyes watchful and intelligent, she sidled to Barinta’s back, splitting her focus, waiting for the moment. She didn’t want to take away from Cherry whatever this was, but she wouldn’t see her hurt, either. So, she waited.

Barinta attacked and Cherry fended her off easily, snaking the short blade out to catch Barinta’s long one on the hilt and throwing her arm to the side, opening up a window for her to move in close.

Barinta recovered just quickly enough to avoid the long sword being plunged into her stomach, gaining only a shallow cut in her side. With a grimace, she pushed her attack again.

Cherry used her wings to flutter backwards, then to the side, making Barinta follow as she whipped out her long sword at each dodge. Each flicker of the light sword left behind a line of red on Barinta’s arm, or chest, or face.

Trina paced, keeping behind Barinta, close enough to leap but far enough to remain out of the way. She let out a growl an time Barinta got close to Cherry, distracting her out of landing any of her attacks.

Tired, bleeding from many cuts, some of them deep enough to have hit muscle or bone, Barinta crouched, defensive, gathering herself.

Cherry bared her teeth. She knew this move. A final push, with the rest of Barinta’s energy, in the hopes of breaking through.

Barinta leapt, her swords whipping through the air in a flurry of attacks.

Cherry parried every one, her blades moving just fast enough to stay ahead as she moved backwards, waiting.

Exhausted, Barinta’s blades slowed. She made one final attack, only for it to be caught on Cherry’s sword and knocked aside. This time when the gap opened up, there was no resistance. Cherry spun, and plunged her long sword into Barinta’s stomach.

Barinta dropped to the grass, blood flowing as Cherry let the blade pull free and looked at Trina, “Will you help me get her inside?”

Trina nodded, staying in her wolf form, but helping Cherry tug the bleeding pixie in, down to the basement, and into one of the rooms they used, occasionally, to keep a captive.

Barinta was unceremoniously dropped onto the long table, choking on her own blood until she managed to turn sideways.

Cherry stared at her, “You need to leave me alone. All of you.”

Barinta grimaced, “Never. You know why we can’t. They’ll come, now. They’ll know where I died.”

“Then they can die with you, and help fertilise our garden,” growled Cherry.

Trina flicked her ears in surprise. This, all of this, was a Cherry she had never suspected existed.

“Trina, can you turn back?” Cherry asked, not taking her eyes from Barinta.

Trina did so. Mostly. She kept her fangs and her claws, but the rest was human.

“Thank you. Could you please tear out her throat for me? I…I find I’m unable, even after everything…”

Trina grinned, her teeth all showing, and grasped Barinta by the neck, slamming her against the cold stone wall of the room so hard the door rattled open. Anyone who came for the pack—her pack—would die. And Cherry was pack. More than pack. Trina’s nose was still filled with the scent of her, and nothing in the world would stop her from doing whatever she needed.

She slammed the door shut again with one foot, her claws slowly beginning the journey into Barinta’s neck. Still, always, making sure that Cherry had time to choose.

As Trina drew blood, Barinta coughed a spray of it into her face. Drawing in one gasp of breath, she rasped out one word, “Why?”

Trina hesitated, waiting.

Cherry sighed, “Because you only ever wanted to use me, to drain me for the sake of our people, to work me until I was a husk, then discard me as useless. And now you’ll try to kill me for leaving before you could. That’s why.”

Cherry nodded wearily at Trina, who growled into Barinta’s face and removed her throat in one quick and bloody wrench.

The body dropped to the floor and Trina let her shape return fully to her human form, “What do we do with that?”

Cherry shrugged, suddenly looking tired, “Fertiliser, like I said. And we tell the rest. If she was right, they’ll know she died here and that tells them for certain where I am. It’s not safe anymore.”

Trina grasped Cherry around the waist as she began to topple, and sat her temporarily on top of the table, still bloody from Barinta’s demise.

Just outside the cells was a cupboard with cloths and cleaning alcohol, which Trina hurriedly used to clean them both up a little.

 Then, she hooked an arm around Cherry’s back, and another under her legs, and swung her legs up so she held the pixie in her arms. “Before anything else, you need a rest.”

“Will you stay with me?” Cherry asked, letting her head fall against Trina’s chest.

“Of course,” Trina whispered, kissing her forehead as she gently arranged them both on Cherry’s bed, curled into each other. She vaguely realised that she should probably mention this to the rest of the pack, but her phone was outside with her trousers, and Cherry was clinging to her too tightly to be removed. Trina let her head drop onto the pillow. Both slept until darkness fell.

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