The feathers started coming in full force. Alex watched as they grew until the oily ones from earlier in the night were covered by healthier looking ones. There was that little part of him that liked to pretend the new ones grew from all the oxytocin rushing through him. Just like that happy part of him could pretend that Rohan put his hand on Alex’s chest to feel Alex’s heartbeat and not because Rohan likes to fondle nipples when he’s sleepy.
None of that could stop the thudding pain growing in his bones as his body prepared to change. Alex slipped out of the bed only to half collapse onto the floor. The pain just kept building until he started to cough up his lungs—well, tiny fragments of them more like.
The suppressors still coursed through him even though he skipped all his doses today. He would transform today whether he took them or not, so he figured it would make the processes a little less painful if he skipped the pills. The way the night was going, though, it looked like it didn't really help. Even when he tried to cough up whatever was stuck deep down in his throat, it stuck fast.
Somewhere between coughs Rohan must have woken up because he slipped down beside Alex like what was happening was just another typical nightly routine. How he had gotten so used to it in the past few weeks while Alex had been trying to deal with it for years went way above Alex’s head.
Rohan said between yawns, “Want to hear something funny?”
“Does it look like I do?”
Rohan continued on anyway.
“When I was telling my grandma that I wasn’t going to be back tonight, she told me that I should just invite you over instead. I think her words were something like ‘I’m not too old fashioned to let him stay the night.’ And do you know what I said back to her?”
“No, Rohan, I actually do not.”
“I told her that you weren’t much of a night owl.”
Alex just stared at him. Stared. Until what bubbled out of his mouth was a laugh not some blood. Rohan grinned up at him.
It was tempting to kiss him, but even Alex had some standards. There were times to not kiss someone. Mid-disgusting-transformation that included a lot of blood and guts coming out of his mouth was definitely one of those times.
Alex still said, “I know this might be come as a surprise to you because it is so subtle—”
Rohan was already groaning.
“But I am kinda, literally a night owl—”
“I meant it as a metaphor.”
“Because I turn into an owl at night.”
“Are you done?”
Rohan rolled his eyes at him.
“She does know we’re just sleeping together right? Not dating?”
“She’s my grandmother. I’m not going to go into details about our relationship.”
“Just like she doesn’t need to know I’m technically a para.”
“Well, that’s more because she’s paraphobic.”
It was actually nice when another coughing spree kept Alex from needing to respond. Rohan had said it causally, but there was that extra bite behind the words that always seemed to cut in whenever he mentioned that side of his grandma.
Or maybe that was just Alex projecting because, hey, he was allowed to feel bitter.
So, yeah, maybe Alex forced out one extra cough. It burned in his throat like the worst case of a sore throat. He still pushed out the red hot words, “You should probably leave before I fully shift, you know. Just in case.”
“You’re not…“ Rohan sighed. “I’m not worried about you hurting me. I thought that would be clear enough seeing as I’m staying here, right now.”
“Here I thought you were just stupid,” Alex said. Or tried to say. Another set of coughs hit him until he was coughing out more than just bits of lung .
Rohan rubbed at his back as the last bit of guts slipped out of Alex’s mouth. He felt so small, so tiny. He flapped his wings once, twice, and he took off in the small room. He carried over his business to the coat rack. They slapped into place.
Rohan yawned. He tried to cover it, but his mouth kept opening wider. His teeth flashed in the near nonexistent light in the room. A spurt of jealously coursed through Alex for a second. Of course Rohan could take all this so lightly.
Then it was over. Alex ruffled his feathers. No new black ones even with that negativity spike. That was a good sign at least.
He kept checking as Rohan drifted off just in case.