If there was a God, Lena thought, he had a very nasty sense of humor.
Not even a year ago, she'd have been thrilled by her current circumstances. Weekend camping trip, a quiet cabin out in the woods, alone with a gorgeous redhead? She'd have been in absolute heaven.
Now? She was terrified.
I have to get out of here, Lena thought to herself as she tried to sit absolutely still. Emily was curled next to her on the sofa and using her shoulder as a headrest. Emily had looped their arms togeather and started to cuddle while they watched a movie that Lena had stopped paying attention to the moment it was put on. Instead her attention rested on the aviator watch at her wrist. It was a custom piece that had cost her nearly five hundred pounds but was well worth it for the simple fact that it included not just a lunar phase – but a counter that indicated how long until the moon reached its apogee.
I'm going to hurt her if I don't go now.
Lena didn't trust herself to speak – her jaw was clenched so tight it ached but she knew relaxing it was out of the question. She couldn't risk trying to talk and end up succumbing to her primal urge to howl.
Running was better. Running made sense – she could outrun Emily she was sure of that. Likely that would spell the end of their relationship but fuck it, as long as Emily was alive...
As she rose Emily's grip on her arm tightened and Lena felt fear creep down her spine.
"Let me go." Lena growled, fighting the urge to yank her arm free as her voice dipped into a guttural snarl.
"Lena. Love. Look at me. Breathe."
The smaller woman shook her head – the urge to turn was overwhelming now but she fought it back. Emily was too close, she would get hurt and Lena could not allow that.
"You don't understand-"
"I do, actually. You're a werewolf, Lena."
Lena turned to face her and blinked twice. First because yes, Emily was unexpectedly correct, but also because she'd realized that Emily's eyes had changed from a stormy shade of grey to a brilliant green.
"There's no one here you need to fear hurting, all right?"
Shock and disbelief began to overwhelm her fear as she realized Emily had a beautiful set of furry ears rising from the top of her head – when had those shown up?
Lena stared, unable to speak as she tried to fight her warring urges to run and to ask how she'd known as she watched Emily began to transform herself - taller, more powerful, and covered in a fine coat of roan fur.
Emily seemed to tilt her head at her as if to ask what are you waiting for, and Lena felt herself stagger to the floor. Her desperate concentration had been shattered, and she could no longer fight back the urge to change.
As the sun rose over the horizon, orange light filtered through the trees and leaves before finally falling over the two sleeping forms snuggled a few yards away from an awaiting cabin. Birds began to chirp and sing their merry tunes and the morning dew surrounding them began to feel uncomfortably cool compared to the warmth of the sun. Lena was slow to wake this morning – she couldn't explain why she felt so terribly comfortable and safe but she did and she wanted it to last.
"Someone's happy this morning – if her tail is anything to go by..."
Emily had meant the comment as a joke – not that it wasn't accurate since Lena's bushy brown tail had been wagging – but instead it resulted in Lena breaking out from her embrace and ending up several feet away with her back pressed up against a tree.
Silence prevailed for a moment as brown eyes stared at grey-
"What. The. Fuck."
Emily's response to Lena's profanity was to merely sit up and get comfortable for what she was sure would be a hell of a ride.
"What the fuck was that last night Em?! How did you know that I'm a werewolf?! And you're one too?!?"
Emily stayed perfectly still as Lena began to pace back and forth. It pained the redhead to see Lena's tail tucked between her legs and fluffed up to twice its normal size - her ears on a near constant swivel as they twitched this way and that, the tips flopping around with each movement in response to every singing bird, rustling leaf, and snapped twig. As much as Emily wanted to offer her girlfriend some form of comfort, now was not the time – the best she could do was try to look as non-threatening as possible.
"Why didn't you tell me?!? What else are you hiding from me?! Did..." Lena came to an abrupt stop as she turned to face Emily, all the color draining from her face as she absentmindedly brushed a hand over her right thigh – covering the barely visible scars from where she was bitten, "Are you the one who made me like this?!"
"No," Emily said with a bit more force than intended, "I'm not. Whoever did this to you... Turned you and left you on your own... god if I ever find them I will sink my -" Emily forced herself to stop – She had wanted to stay quiet and let Lena vent a bit longer, but she could not and would not allow Lena to think... but letting herself get carried away right now was not something Lena needed right now.
"I want to believe you Em, god I do – but... we've been dating for three months now and- what? You just didn't bother to tell me?!"
"I didn't know at first-"
"How couldn't you know?!"
"I didn't know you were turned!"
"You mean you weren't?!"
"No - I was born like this."
"What. The. Fuck. What the fucking fuck. Am I even awake right now? Maybe I'm still dreaming from last - oh my god. What the hell even happened last night?!"
"Look, let's... Lena can you think back to last night and remember what we did after our transformation?"
"I don't know! I can never remember!"
"Then just tell me what you do remember and I'll fill in the gaps, okay? Why were you trying to run away from me last night?"
Lena rolled her eyes and folded her arms across her chest, letting out a huff. "I knew I was going to change soon – that I couldn’t fight it for much longer and I was worried I might hurt you. Little did I know..."
Emily ignored the jab and merely nodded, "And then what happened?"
"Well, you bloody damn well stopped me – then your eyes... they changed colors and next thing I know you have ears coming out the top of your head and..."
Lena paused, her brow knitting in thought as she returned to pacing, "I... we were outside- you were... I was... I just felt... I followed you?"
Emily responded with a nod of encouragement when Lena glanced over at her. On her next turn Lena came to a stop again – this time to look closely at the forest around them before finally pointing off into a copse of trees. "We ran that way - there was river after a while and we... you caught me fish. I tried – but they were fast... then we - there was a open space? You caught rabbits and I caught a squirrel I think? I- next thing I remember we were back near the cabin and I was so full I just, I curled up I think, and then I woke up."
"You fell asleep," Emily offered gently, "I was expecting it - its why I led you back here after making sure you ate. Pup- er... new werewolves aren't known for staying up the entire night."
"But... why did I follow you? Why didn't I attack you? Why didn't you attack me?"
"You followed me because I am an alpha," Emily began to explain as carefully as she could. She knew this was going to be a lot for Lena to take in, "And I would never attack you Lena - but as for why you didn't attack me? Well, that's something only you can answer – though I suspect it's got something to do with the fact that I'm your girlfriend...or at least I hope I still am..." Emily trailed off tentatively, causing Lena to look back towards her.
The word seemed to make something click in Lena's head and all at once she realized that Emily was sitting on the ground before her, bare as the day she was born - and a glance down at her chest quickly confirmed that she was in a similar state.
Emily seemed to notice Lena's sudden discomfort and quickly averted her eyes, scratching the back of her head... actually it was more scratching behind an ear then anything else – before offering, "Maybe we should continue this talk after we've changed... perhaps over breakfast?"
Lena had been relieved to find her tail and the second set of furry ears had both disappeared to wherever they went after she'd finished as cold a shower as she could stand to help wake herself up, the slight ache in her lower back where the tail had sprouted the only proof it had existed.
She'd pulled on a t-shirt and jeans before returning to the cabin's kitchen, while Emily had pulled on a top that left her collarbones and neck invitingly exposed and a modest length skirt that allowed her tail to continue swishing about as she worked to prepare some food.
She found herself staring at the fluffy appendage as it twitched back and forth a bit. So this was really happening. She wasn't going crazy. Or at least no more than she already had...and, yes, Emily still had a second set of ears, too.
Lena coughed and Emily turned to smile at her. "You didn't have to hide things away, you know. It's just us here."
She wasn't really sure what to say to that, and after a moment Emily's eyes softened a bit. "Sorry, too much?"
"I really don't...I don't know right now. I'm not even sure where to start!"
Emily nodded, then gestured to the little round table where they'd had dinner before everything had gone completely off the rails last night. "Why don't you sit down, and I'll bring you something to eat?"
Sitting down, Lena couldn't decide what she thought about the plate Emily brought over. Eggs in a nest was fine, but the strips of bacon... "You know I don't eat meat, Emily."
"I know you've been trying to avoid eating meat, yes. But your body is different now, Lena."
Lena looked up skeptically at her. "I had that talk in school, you know."
"It's not so different, really." Emily took a bite of her own bacon, and Lena couldn't help but look back down at her plate. It did look tasty. Smelled fantastic too. Her mouth was watering despite herself, but the sudden recollection of her jaws snapping against something small and furry – a rabbit, she thought – made her stomach twist into knots. Biting back a sudden urge to vomit from the memory, she tore her eyes away from the plate, locking on to Emily instead.
"I suppose the way to put it," Emily said after considering her reaction for a moment, "is that there's a different part of you, now. And it needs meat, not just trying to go with beans or vegetable protein. Haven't you noticed you're feeling a bit...off?"
Lena gave a noncommittal grunt. She hadn't really felt at her best, no, but she had no idea what being a werewolf was supposed to feel like, honestly.
"That was part of why I was confused at first," Emily admitted, "when I met you. I just thought you might have some other health problems, but after our first full moon – when I saw how you acted, I started to realize something was really wrong."
Lena's brows knit. "Wait – back up. What was confusing you?"
"Your smell. It was..." She pursed her lips. "Off. I...here. Come and smell me?"
"Smell me." Emily held out her arm. "It'll be easier than trying to explain in words."
Cautiously, Lena stood and approached as if Emily might rise up and attack her at any moment. Leaning in, she sniffed a few times at Emily's arm and considered the scent. "Clean? Maybe a bit...hm. Spicy? A little bit like the woods? I always figured you were wearing perfume."
"I do, sometimes, but this is me. You're noticing things because your nose is a lot more sensitive – or it should be. But when I smelled you for the first time...you smelled nice, but there was something under it. A smell like you might have been feeling a bit sick."
"Sick." Lena went back to her food and took a few bites of her eggs. "I...OK. So why didn't you say anything?"
"We were just getting to know each other," Emily explained, "and I didn't want to make you panic. I didn't think it would be a very good way to start things off."
Lena snorted. "Because this all went so well?"
"Well," Emily smiled at her, "after you let yourself relax last night, I thought we were both enjoying ourselves."
"I..." Lena worried at her lip before she finally could ask one of the things that had been bothering her. "We didn't hurt anyone, did we?"
"What?" Emily looked shocked. "No – Lena, god, no. I'd never. We went into the woods and we ran. We hunted. You wanted to play, once you followed me."
"Ever since this started I've been so afraid... " Lena trailed off, and Emily stood, slowly walking over before kneeling down to give her a hug in her chair.
"Oh, Lena. I'm so sorry. I did this – I wanted you to come with me – because I wanted you to know you weren't alone." Emily sat back, letting her legs slide out to her side. "I realized you didn't have any idea what was going on, and I went to find out if you'd ever registered -"
"Registered?" Lena blinked. "There's a registry?"
Emily nodded. "We use it to keep track of each other, basically – there's actually a fair bit of paperwork. Pack memberships, family lines, that sort of thing. But, anyway, when I checked and realized you weren't listed, I started to put two and two together, and...well. Here we are."
Lena reached up without thinking to scratch the back of her head – not far from where she'd felt her own pair of wolf ears appear when the changes began to overtake her. "I...yeah."
"I know you've probably got a lot of questions," Emily stood and went to settle back into her chair, taking care to leave the path to the door clear. "I want to try to answer as many as I can."
Lena closed her eyes and tried to think of where to begin. "So...you said you were born this way."
"Yes. Most of us – most weres – are born, not turned. It's inherited – generally both parents have the gift, and they pass it on. Occasionally it doesn't work out that way, but it's usually in a case where one of the parents is a were and the other is a regular human, and not terribly common. Someone being turned in this day and age is honestly very rare."
"So why me, then?"
Emily sighed. "I can't speak to why, but I might be able to answer how. Can you remember getting bitten by what you thought was a large dog, and then becoming ill within a day or two? Possibly even that night?"
"Yeah," Lena leaned back, her hand coming down to rub at her scar through the material of her jeans, "I was working my route, doing deliveries when I got knocked over by a big dog – I thought he might have been some kind of a mutt, his coat was this odd mix of gold and greys – almost like silver. He got me with a pretty nasty bite on my thigh, and after I got back to my mail truck I called in for someone else to take over the rest of my route so I could take myself to the ER."
Emily raised an eyebrow. "That didn't seem odd to you?"
Lena shrugged. "You have any idea how often mail carriers get bitten by dogs? We've got a whole set of forms for it these days. I got stitched up, filed for my compensation, and got a cab ride home because I was starting to feel pretty miserable. I put it down to the rabies shot and the rest of the pills I had to take."
"I suppose that is an occupational hazard," Emily admitted, "but obviously it wasn't a dog that bit you, it was someone like us. A person with lycanthropy who was shifted into that form."
Lena went quiet for a moment while she took that on board. She really still wasn't that comfortable with the idea of 'someone like us'. But Emily wasn't...she'd never been anything but kind, had she? She liked her, dammit. Finally, Lena looked back to her. "So you said that what happened to me, being bitten like that, is pretty rare, then?"
"Extremely," Emily confirmed, "and the way it was done, without your knowledge and without giving you any help...it's criminal, Lena. Absolutely against our laws and the traditions we follow. We don't just go around biting people at random. Attacking humans in any way is just as wrong as if I walked up to you on the street and punched you for no reason."
"Huh." Lena considered that. "Well, that's good to know, I suppose."
"If I can ask...how long ago did that happen?"
Lena shrugged. "Year and a half? Ish? Obviously I'm paying attention to my calendar more now, but I didn't feel that out of sorts until the first time..." She cocked her head slightly as she realized Emily had gone even more pale than normal, her jaw dropping even as her ears had gone rigid. "What?"
"A year and a half." Emily seemed absolutely astonished. "Oh my god, Lena. No wonder you seemed half starved. How are you even alive?"
Lena rubbed the back of her neck as she looked back towards the floor. "...I eat right and get plenty of exercise?"
"But you don't," Emily tried to explain, "that's half the problem. I..." She straightened up, her eyes flashing. "I need to get you to a doctor. Please?"
"Uh." Lena blinked. "Like, a doctor-doctor? Or..."
"Well," Emily admitted, "you might think of her as a veterinarian, too..."