Bonus Short: Moth and the Soul Eater Have a Bonding Experience

A 3.4k word short that is essentially 3.4k words of Moth fanboying over Wyn.

I mentioned before that this is the most ridiculous of all the shorts (so far), and it really is. I have crammed every relevant cliché that I can in here.

But it is the start of a meaningful friendship between two feral, beautiful monster men who believe violence is always the answer. And that’s what matters.

Content warnings: Extremely mild spice (a passionate kiss), mentions of sex, Wyn pushing his stabby agenda, discussions of death and violence, bone rings, they talk about the correct way to disembowel someone

Spoiler warning: Set after the events of Moth (Monstrous: Book Five)


Moth

For what felt like the hundredth time, I shared an awkward smile with the Soul Eater’s human lover as we both happened to reach our motel room doors at the same time.

Danny seemed like a sweet guy. Friendly if not a bit awkward sometimes, but honestly, I was too terrified to get into a proper conversation with him just in case the Soul Eater took something I said the wrong way and gutted me for some perceived slight.

Charlie didn’t feel that way. Charlie happily spoke to Danny, seemingly unafraid of his terrifying monster partner. But then again, I was pretty sure Charlie liked to see how pissed off he could make the Soul Eater just like he did with Hunter. I was pretty sure he thought Edin would protect him if it ever came down to it, seeing as Edin was probably the only other being besides Danny who could talk the Soul Eater off a murderous ledge.

I’d rather not risk it.

At least Danny was going into his room instead of leaving it, like I was, so I didn’t have to awkwardly hang back a few steps while we both made our way down the staircase. I headed downstairs and across the camp to the diner to meet Charlie.

Just as I saw him stepping out of the diner with Hunter, my gaze snagged on movement to the left, tucked down the side of the building in the gap between the diner and the camp wall.

The Soul Eater was sitting cross legged in the shade with Chuck. I smiled distractedly at Charlie when he spotted me and grinned, but my eyes darted back to the side of the diner.

Because the Soul Eater was holding up a kitchen knife, and his hood was bobbing in an encouraging nod as Chuck inched closer with curiosity.

Oh god. If Charlie saw, he would one hundred percent embarrass me in front of the Soul Eater by marching over there and chewing him out for “teaching Chuck violence”.

“Hey.” Charlie immediately dropped a handful of almonds into my palm when he reached me. Popping one into his mouth, he tilted his head toward Hunter, who was heading toward the other end of the camp. “Hunter’s asked me to help him fix one of the shower stalls. Rig would normally do it but he’s repairing a section of the wall with Gloam.”

“Uh-huh,” I said distractedly, shoving a few almonds into my mouth and furtively watching as the Soul Eater deftly flipped the knife in his hand and held the hilt out to Chuck.

“You okay?”

My eyes jerked back to Charlie, who was gazing at me with pinched brows. I nodded, pocketing the rest of my almonds to give to Chuck later—or maybe to coax her away from that knife.

“I better get over there before Hunter starts whining.” Charlie stuffed the last almond in his mouth and crunched down. “Have you seen Chuck? I haven’t seen her since breakfast.”

I panicked when he started to turn around. He’d have a clear view of the Soul Eater waving a knife in front of Chuck, coaxing her to take it. Grabbing his cheeks, I forced his head back toward me. His brows drew together in confusion.

“Give me a kiss before you go,” I blurted, not allowing my eyes to dart up over his shoulder. Behind Charlie, I could see the blurry outline of the Soul Eater making a violent stabbing motion and encouraging Chuck to copy him.

Charlie’s face cleared as he gave me his charming grin.

“I’m only going over there, slayer.” He jerked his thumb toward the shower stalls. But at the same time, he sidled closer and slipped his arms around my middle beneath my coat. His smile turned smug. “Gonna miss me?”

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes, mainly because I felt kind of guilty for duping him. So instead of answering, I dipped my head to kiss him and gentled my unyielding grip on his face to cradle the back of his head. My belly tightened at the feel of his soft hair sifting through my fingers.

I kissed him hard, forcing open his lips straight away to thrust my tongue inside and dominate his mouth. Charlie let out a muffled sound of surprise, his fingers curling into the back of my shirt. He shivered, groaning quietly into my mouth.

When I felt him melt against me, his hips sinking into mine, I peeked open one eye to make sure Chuck wasn’t making her way over to show us her new knife.

My fingers tightened in Charlie’s hair when I saw the Soul Eater pressing the knife into her palm and covering her flat grey fingers with his own, urging her to curl them around the hilt.

I jerked my head back and cleared my throat. Charlie looked dazed, his lips pink and kiss-swollen and tempting me to lean back in. He licked them and blinked.

“I’ll do that thing you like later,” I mumbled, because I felt kind of guilty that I was literally watching the Soul Eater teach Chuck how to stab someone and I wasn’t putting a stop to it, even though I knew for a fact that Charlie would be angry about it thanks to his annoying human moral code.

My words snapped Charlie out of his stupor, his eyes brightening and face perking up. “Yeah? You mean the thing with your tongue—”

“Yes.” I glanced around to make sure no one was nearby and could overhear, because talking about sex was still kind of… new and awkward for me. “And I’ll ask Daisy if she’ll make that bread you like.”

I really hoped Charlie didn’t figure out that I was trying to butter him up, because he was definitely going to find out that the Soul Eater was teaching Chuck violence at some point. Probably when she got too excited and stabbed a raider in the leg.

Charlie’s grey eyes softened. Beneath my coat, he slipped his hands under my shirt and traced a little patch of scales on my lower back, making me shiver.

“Why are you being so nice? Are you gettin’ sweet on me, Moth?” he asked with a sly grin.

Rolling my eyes, I slid my hands over Charlie’s shoulders to his chest, splaying my fingers out to soak in his warmth. “Shithead.”

He smirked, leaning in to give me another kiss. “I love you too.”

I gave his chest a gentle shove. “Just… go and help Hunter. I’ll find Chuck.”

For a split-second, I glanced behind him at the copicen in question, still tucked down the side of the diner with the Soul Eater. She was sitting beside him, her little hands resting on his knee, and staying obediently still so that Wyn could peel her lips back from her teeth to inspect her fangs. I tensed, but his blackened fingers looked surprisingly gentle as they gripped her cute, squashed little face.

“Okay. Make sure you do.” Charlie frowned, stepping back. “I don’t want the Soul Eater finding her and bein’ a bad influence again.”

I cleared my throat and mumbled something indistinct, grabbing his hand and dragging him away from the diner. Only once Chuck and the Soul Eater were out of sight did I let go and give Charlie one last kiss on the cheek. “See you later.”

He smiled at me and walked off toward the shower stalls. My ears were better than a human’s, so I could already hear Hunter complaining that if Charlie flaked on him and he had to do it on his own, “so help me god…”

“Quit bitchin’, teddy bear,” I heard Charlie drawl as he rounded the stalls. “I’m here.”

Finally,” Hunter snapped as I started hurrying back toward the diner.

As I got closer, I tugged on my shirt under my coat to straighten it and quickly reached up to make sure not too much hair had slipped loose from my braid. Glancing back, I raised a hand to adjust the hilt of my sword, ensuring the most decorative, impressive part was prominently displayed behind my head.

My palms were sweating as I approached, spotting Chuck’s spiked tail swishing contentedly from the side of the diner.

What am I supposed to call him? I wondered frantically. Wyn? Too informal. Soul Eater? Mister Eater? No, that’s stupid.

I stopped a few yards away, taking a breath before closing the final distance with what I hoped was a relaxed, casual gait. My gut squeezed into a tight, nervous knot when the Soul Eater’s hood tilted up as I rounded the side of the building, while Chuck chirped happily at the sight of me.

Nothing but impenetrable black faced me from the depths of that hood. I had no idea what he looked like—did anyone? I guessed maybe Danny did. Unless the Soul Eater insisted on fucking in his coat, which was a possibility—

“Let me guess.” His eerie, demonic voice thankfully interrupted those spiralling thoughts and sent shivers down my spine. “Your talkative human doesn’t want me corrupting the copicen.”

“No, no, nothing like that. I just—um, I saw Chuck’s tail. I didn’t know you were here,” I lied, trying to force back the heat rushing to my cheeks.

The Soul Eater grunted, standing up and rising to his full height. I wasn’t short, but he still towered over me. He felt tall. Looming. Intimidating, but like… in the best way.

I glanced down when I felt Chuck’s fingers curling round mine. Dropping into a crouch, I smoothed my thumb over her cowlick. “Why don’t you go and find Lilac, huh?”

She perked up at the mention of the raider, chirping excitedly. After spinning in a circle, she stretched up on her hind legs to bump the Soul Eater’s blackened fingertips with her forehead.

After a pause, he stroked her flat muzzle. “Take the knife.”

My eyes widened when Chuck obediently reached for the discarded kitchen knife on the grass.

“Maybe—I’ll give it to her later,” I said hurriedly, grabbing her as she tried to lope past me. Luckily, she let me pry the blade out of her hands before she scurried off.

I straightened, tucking the knife into my belt. Hoping the Soul Eater didn’t think I was a total loser.

I cleared my throat. “So, uh… I’ve heard a lot about you out here.”

He huffed, crossing his arms and leaning a shoulder casually on the wall of the diner. “Everyone has.”

“Yeah, of course,” I rushed out, stuffing my hands in my coat pockets then immediately pulling them back out, not knowing what to do with them.

The Soul Eater was watching me. I could feel it. The air was colder around him, and the weight of his gaze was weirdly heavy. Like frost prickling over my skin.

“And Edin has told me things about you,” he said slowly. “Your heritage. I had heard of that place, but never cared to witness what was happening for myself.”

My throat bobbed nervously. So he’d heard of the Herald and their cult—that didn’t surprise me. What I was more focused on was what the hell Edin had said about me to the Soul Eater.

I could feel the Soul Eater’s cold gaze roaming over my neck, down to my wrists and fingers. They twitched, but I resisted the urge to clench my hands into fists to try and hide the tattoos.

“Your salyik progenitor marked you?” His distorted voice was carefully flat.

Clearing my throat, I nodded, then hesitantly asked, “Can you… read it?”

“Yes.”

I swallowed and licked my dry lips. “What… what do they say? The tattoos. I can’t—I can’t read it. The language, I mean.”

The Soul Eater—Wyn, I allowed myself to think timidly, figuring first name basis was probably okay now?—was silent for a minute. But I could sense him watching me from the depths of his hood. Eventually, he shifted his weight and straightened from his casual slouch against the wall.

“Does it matter? They are obviously a bigot. Some salyiks are, but most are insular and defensive after being downtrodden for so many years. I have seen them be unkind to those they deem different among their own. It wouldn’t necessarily be wise to ingratiate yourself with them.”

I bristled. “I don’t want to ingratiate myself with—”

“Good,” Wyn interrupted carelessly, waving a black-stained hand. He shrugged, examining his fingernails. “Where is your progenitor? I could kill them for you, if you want.”

I froze, staring at the Soul Eater in disbelief. Had he just… offered to kill my progenitor for their treatment of me?

I could feel heat rising in my cheeks, and my stomach squeezed into a tight excited knot. For some reason, I had an intense urge to go and find Charlie and tell him that the Soul Eater had offered to kill someone for me. For my… honour.

“Um, I already killed them,” I stammered, twisting my fingers together nervously.

Wyn’s hood cocked. “Oh? That must have been satisfying. With the sword, I presume.” His blackened fingers twitched on his bicep as his head tilted the other way. “I do recognise that sword…”

“Not with the sword,” I said quickly, wanting the Soul Eater to know how I actually killed the Herald. With brute strength. And a fuck ton of rage. “Just… with my fists. I punched them to death.”

I cringed. Oh my god, that sounded so lame. I bet the Soul Eater killed people by, like, ripping out their spines, or turning their brains to soup, or forcing his way down their throat in his smoke form and making them explode from the inside.

I bet that looked so cool.

Wyn let out a huff of amusement. “I see. Did that feel good?”

I couldn’t work out if he was mocking me or not, but I also couldn’t stop myself from blurting, “Yes. I, uh… kind of punched their face in. It felt…” I swallowed. “Fucking amazing.”

Wyn grunted. “Did you take a memento?”

“Huh?”

He lifted a hand, splaying his long, stained fingers. My gaze drifted over the rings on each one. Only his left ring finger was bare.

“Rings made from the bones of my mortal enemies,” he said casually. “The ones who were the most satisfying to murder, anyway. There have been many others. Obviously.” He let out a tiny snarl. “And one is still out there. What I wouldn’t give to rip the carapace off that spiky-haired fucker.”

I had no idea who he was talking about, but all I could think as I stared at the bone rings was, Goddamnit. I frowned hard. I wanted a bone ring. Why hadn’t I thought of that? Although, taking a memento from my progenitor’s corpse seemed a little… morbid. Not that I was going to say that to the Soul Eater.

Wyn lowered his hand and shrugged. “Next time you slaughter an enemy, remove a bone with enough girth. I’ll make you a ring to mark the kill.”

Ohmygodohmygod.

“Cool.” My face was on fire, but I was pretty sure I managed to keep my tone fairly casual. “Yeah, uh—I will. Thanks.”

Oh my god, I needed to tell Charlie. I glanced over my shoulder toward the shower stalls, my heart pounding hard with excitement, but the Soul Eater’s awesome, terrifying voice pulled my attention back to him.

“How are you with the sword?”

“Oh, um, great. Cut stuff off all the time. Off of other people, I mean,” I added quickly. “Hands, arms, heads… Managed to slice a nose off once from a running jump.”

I gave a jerky attempt at a casual shrug. “I’m still working on a clean disembowelment—not piercing any organs, just letting them all…” I gestured with my hands, like everything was spilling from my stomach. “You know.”

“I can teach you that,” Wyn offered casually, and I tried to ignore the faint excited squeal in my head. “It’s all about pulling your wrist back at the last second. If your blade is sharp enough, you only need a light touch to get through flimsy human skin. It splits like overripe fruit.”

I snorted. “I know, right? My top half looks more human, but it’s still way tougher.”

Wyn grunted with what I was pretty sure was approval. I could feel his eyes roaming over my face. “I see the salyik in you more. Your face could pass as human, but you have the more graceful bone structure of one from our world.”

Our world—oh my god.

The Soul Eater just called my bone structure graceful.

“How skilled are you with a dagger?” he asked.

“Oh, um… I had a knife for a while when I was a kid.” I flushed. “Not a dagger, though. The only thing I could find was an old kitchen knife, but um… I managed to kill a few monsters with it.”

I cringed, wondering if he’d get annoyed at me for calling creatures from our world monsters. It was what I’d grown up hearing them—us—be called, but… was it considered derogatory?

Wyn didn’t seem to care. My pulse leapt with nervous anticipation when he pulled his dagger free from the depths of his coat. The handle was bone-coloured and had weird symbols carved into it. The blade was jet black and gleamed iridescent in the sun.

It was awesome.

“I can show you some tricks with mine, if you like.” He flipped the dagger over in his hand effortlessly. His tone was filled with sly amusement when he added, “Why don’t we get Edin’s human to hold a target and see how good your aim is?”

I bit my lip, resisting the urge to glance back over my shoulder again. The thing was… I actually liked Hunter. He was kind, and funny in a dry, understated way—he just didn’t talk much, which I understood. And fuck, he was the butt of the joke constantly. Honestly, I’d be more of a prick than he was if I had Charlie and Edin ribbing me all the time.

But, shit, I didn’t want to look lame in front of the Soul Eater.

“Better not.” I managed to keep my voice deadpan. “Charlie will get pissed if we maim Hunter and then… you know… I’m sleepin’ on the couch.” I winced immediately. God, that had sounded so stupid.

Wyn huffed. “Yes, indeed. Humans do get touchy about you hurting their friends. If Danny decides that I’ve killed someone without a good enough reason,”—his long, blackened fingers lifted into air quotes around the words—“I get the cold shoulder all night.”

I chuckled nervously. “Heh, yeah. Um… Danny seems nice.”

“Danny is the most perfect creature that has ever been and will ever be in existence in all the worlds, including ours and including this one. He transcends all others. I worship him.” The Soul Eater started walking toward the camp entrance, and gestured for me to follow. “But I suppose seeing as you can’t have him, your Charlie is fine.”

I perked up at that. “Yeah?” I asked eagerly. “You like Charlie?”

Wyn grunted. “I wouldn’t go that far.”

“Charlie’s awesome,” I rushed out, my voice echoing as we made our way through the containers. “He’s amazing. Especially for a human.”

The Soul Eater let out another grunt. “You should probably train him to fight off kolebs, though.”

I bristled, glaring at the back of the Soul Eater’s hood. “That wasn’t his fault. I’ve seen them before. In a pack, they’re overpowering. Especially if you don’t know how to deal with them.”

“Calm down, mutt. I didn’t mean anything by it.”

My face burned. “My name is Moth.”

“I know,” Wyn said flatly, then turned to face me once we emerged into the Wastes. “But you are a mutt. Half from this world, half from ours. Mutts are stronger. Tougher. Don’t let anyone make you feel less for it.”

I blinked in complete shock, staring into the impenetrable darkness of Wyn’s hood. “Um… I… Okay?”

The Soul Eater clapped me on the shoulder before turning to head toward the forest. “Let’s go throw blades at things, mutt.”


Copyright 2022 by Lily Mayne

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