The sounds of the world waking up in the early morning rang clear throughout the town as the sun rose and the sky brightened from deep indigo to purple to blue. The birds sang, alerting the world to the start of a new day, and slowly, the town awoke from its sleep.
Veronica woke up on a patch of soft grass and stretched, her shoulders and back making a satisfying popping sound. She surveyed her surroundings, remembering easily the route she’d taken to get here, and dressed quickly before picking her way through the trees and undergrowth towards her house. It didn’t take long, and soon enough, she’d climbed over the fence and landed back in her yard, trotting up to the back porch and opening the sliding glass door she’d left unlocked before she left.
“Mom! Dad! I’m home!”
She frowned. Had they gone out last night too?
A sound from the kitchen caught her attention, and she quietly made her way to the door to the kitchen, where she found her mother chuckling nervously next to the stove, a pan full of what looked like burnt eggs on the stovetop.
Veronica snorted. “Didn’t Dad and I ban you from the kitchen when I was 6?”
Mrs. Sawyer smiled ruefully. “I’m pretty sure the kitchen just hates me.”
“Probably.” Veronica grinned. “Where’s Dad?”
“He went out last night around the same time as you,” Mrs. Sawyer said, “How was your night, by the way?”
“Pretty good. I haven’t been able to run like that in a while.”
Mrs. Sawyer smiled. “I’m glad you’re feeling better. You’ve been tense these last few weeks.”
Veronica chuckled. “The Heathers make me go everywhere with them. It’s not like I can just tell them I need to go and then spend the rest of the night running around in the woods.”
“You know, you could stop hanging around them. Betty and Martha are a lot nicer than they are.”
Veronica huffed. “I know, and I’d love to go back to the way things were, but high school doesn’t work that way. The Heathers could make life hell for me if I get on their bad side.” She started picking at a loose thread on her sleeve. “Plus, I’ve… kind of bonded with them, so I can’t just leave them.”
Mrs. Sawyer nodded in understanding. “In that case, just be careful, okay? I don’t want you getting in any trouble.”
“C’mon, Mom,” Veronica laughed, “Since when am I a troublemaker?”
Mrs. Sawyer smiled fondly. “You’re absolutely right. Now, how about you show me the right way to cook eggs and we can all have breakfast once your father gets home.”
Veronica chuckled, taking the spatula from her mother and turning to the stovetop. “Well, first of all, you’re using the wrong pan.”
“God, finally,” Heather Chandler grumbled, “What took you so long?”
Veronica shrugged as she slipped into the backseat beside Heather McNamara. “I had to help my parents with something. Besides, breakfast is a thing that exists.”
Chandler scoffed. “Breakfast is a waste of time.” She looked back at Veronica and Mac and frowned. “Why are you sitting back there? There’s an empty seat here in the front.”
Veronica blinked. “I wouldn’t want to distract you when you’re driving. Besides, it would be a little weird if we both sat in the front and nobody was back here to keep Heather company. It’d get lonely back here.”
Chandler scowled. “Heather’s not a fucking baby, Veronica. She can handle sitting alone for ten minutes.”
“Doesn’t mean she’d want to.” Veronica turned to look at Mac. “What do you think, Heather? If you want me to stay back here with you, I’ll do that. I wouldn’t want you to feel excluded.”
Mac blinked, seemingly at a loss for words. “I mean, I enjoy the company…”
Veronica smiled. “Alright. I’ll stay here with you, then.”
Mac smiled and settled back in her seat.
Chandler huffed. “Whatever.”
Veronica winced internally at Chandler’s tone and the way her shoulders tensed up. Quietly, she got out her phone and typed out a quick text to Duke.
Heads up, I may or may not have made Heather mad. Maybe try to avoid talking to her for a while.
She chewed at her lip nervously as she hit send, hoping Duke would get to school before they did so she’d have enough time to read the message.
After ten minutes and a scathing message from a pissed off Heather Duke, they arrived at school, each of them a little more on edge than usual.
“Hey Heather,” Veronica smiled nervously, “How was your morning?”
Duke scowled, and Veronica brought her hands up in front of her in a placating gesture, shrinking in on herself slightly. If her ears were longer, Veronica was sure they’d be pressed flat against her head.
She saw Duke look at her oddly, like she recognized her behavior from somewhere, before she huffed, turning away. “My morning’s not going so great right now.”
Veronica lowered her arms, feeling some of the stress leave her when Duke showed no signs of hostility. Her shoulders were a little tense, but otherwise she didn’t seem like she’d get mad. “I’m sorry to hear that,” she said sincerely, “Is there anything I can do?”
Duke stared at her for a few seconds, as though she were trying to figure out a particularly difficult puzzle. “I mean, probably not. I’m just having a weird day.”
Veronica nodded. “If you think of anything I can do to help, let me know.”
Duke eyed her strangely, but ultimately appeared to decide not to say anything more, instead falling in line behind Chandler as they walked from the student parking lot to the school.
“Christ, Veronica, why don’t you fucking marry Heather, if you’re so goddamn concerned about how she’s doing,” Chandler rolled her eyes.
Veronica wrinkled her nose, lowering her body a bit closer to the ground as she felt that familiar sensation of protective anger clawing at her chest. She had to remind herself not to growl as she spoke. “I thought friends were supposed to be concerned about each other’s wellbeing.”
Chandler rounded on her then, turning on her heel and stepping into Veronica’s space, nose wrinkled and lip curled in anger, her teeth bared. “Don’t get all high and mighty with me, Sawyer,” she sneered, and Veronica felt her anger tearing at her chest, “If I remember correctly, you ditched Betty Finn and Martha Dumptruck for us, so don’t go around talking about how friends should behave.”
That protective anger morphed into indignant rage, her own lip curling as she leaned forward, all dominance and aggression, no fear in her eyes as she snarled. “ First of all, it’s Dunnstock. If you call her Martha Dumptruck one more time we’re going to have a problem.” She felt an instinctual surge of pride at the hesitation in Chandler’s eyes as Veronica stepped forward, now only inches from her face as her rage demanded to be set free to wreak havoc. “Second, if you think for a moment that I’d choose you over the only two people in the world who have accepted me, all of me, then you’re sorely mistaken. They aren’t just my friends, they’re my family, and a Sawyer never turns their back on their family.”
Chandler blinked in surprise, her body lowering slightly in a show of fear, before she sneered up at Veronica. “If you even think of throwing away all I’ve done for you, I can make your life a living hell.”
Veronica was unable to keep the primal growl out of her voice as she spoke. “You don’t scare me, but I can tell that I scare you.”
Chandler scoffed, although her eyes flicked away from Veronica’s for a split second. “You wish. ”
Veronica huffed, backing down slightly. She wanted to assert some form of dominance, not actually scare her. “Whatever. The next time you insult my family, though, we’re gonna have a problem.”
Chandler’s eyes narrowed in suspicion, before she turned back around and started walking towards the school, paying no mind to whether or not the others were following.
Veronica’s shoulders slumped in relief, a sigh pushing past her lips as she closed her eyes and willed the thing in her chest that demanded she bite and claw at her attacker down.
She noticed out of the corner of her eye that Duke was staring at her, a curious look on her face. “What? Did I do something weird?”
Duke blinked, before scowling up at Veronica. “Nice going. Now she’s even angrier.”
Veronica suppressed a whine. She wasn’t going to make herself look like a pup who’d just been scolded. Not in front of these girls. At least, not until she knew she could trust them. “Sorry,” she said, “I just… I wasn’t okay with her insinuating that Betty and Martha stopped being important to me just because she gave me a blazer and a shorter skirt.”
Duke laughed, and Veronica’s eyes widened. “Well, next time, try to keep us out of it.”
Veronica smiled. “Sure thing.”
Suddenly, a familiar smell wafted through the air.
“Ugh,” Veronica groaned, “Dumb and Dumber are here.”
“How can you tell?” Mac asked.
Veronica shuddered. “I can smell their goddamn Axe body spray from here.”
Duke chuckled. “I see them. God, how is your sense of smell that strong?”
Veronica grinned wryly. “I’m part dog.”
Duke rolled her eyes, though Veronica noticed the amusement twinkling in them as she linked their arms and pulled Veronica with her, gesturing for Mac to follow. “Come on. I know how to avoid them.”
“My hero,” Veronica said, smiling wide as Duke led the way to the school library. She’d deal with Chandler, she decided. Right now, she just wanted to get away from Kurt and Ram. And maybe spend some more time with Duke and Mac while she was at it.
Mostly exposition with a bit of plot.
Veronica remembers, a long time ago, being told what she was, what she’d be capable of. She remembers what her parents taught her.
“Don’t fight your transformation,” her father had said, “It’ll hurt the first time, it always does, but it’ll get easier with time. If you fight it, it’ll just hurt more, and you risk losing control.”
So she’d leaned into her transformation the first time she was able to transform during a full moon, and it had hurt just like he said it would, but it got easier, until she was able to shift any night she wanted with hardly any pain at all.
“Eat as much as you can before turning,” her mother said the morning following her first transformation, “Shifting without eating enough beforehand will make it harder for you to stay in control of yourself. It takes a lot of energy out of you, so you have to make sure you never shift on an empty stomach.”
So Veronica ate as much as she could every time she planned to shift, and left a second plate of food by the back door for when she inevitably got hungry after shifting. Better to eat her fill and eat again in her wolf form than to risk hurting someone.
By the time she told Betty and Martha what she was, she knew all the best ways to shift without being seen, without people becoming suspicious, without running the risk of hurting anyone.
They’d been scared at first. The werewolf stories they’d heard were old tales from before people learned to control their instincts, before they’d compiled the information they had today. Veronica set them straight on the myths and taught them new things they hadn’t known, and their friendship ended up being stronger for it.
And as time wore on, she settled into something resembling normal.
Until she’d met the Heathers.
“Did you hear about the wolf sighting last night?” Mac asked.
Chandler scoffed. “Please, like anyone believes that thing is really more than just a stupid rabid mutt.”
Veronica rolled her eyes, resisting the urge to retort with indignant irritation and risk exposing herself.
The “Sherwood Wolf Sightings,” as the town liked to call them, were a set of rumors in the area near Westerburg. Since the wolf sightings were reported most often during the full moon, most people joked that there were werewolves in their town.
They were right, but they didn’t need to know that.
Still, when the school had declined to change their mascot from the Rottweilers to the Werewolves, Veronica had been disappointed. Mostly because she’d looked forward to possibly buying a school t-shirt for spirit week after it had been proposed and being able to say “I’m a werewolf." Betty would have gotten a kick out of that joke.
“There was another sighting last night!” Mac insisted. “This one was different from the others!”
That got Veronica’s attention. “Different how?”
“It had black fur instead of brown, apparently,” Duke muttered, “And it attacked Mrs. Byrd.”
Veronica’s eyes hardened dangerously. “Is she alright?”
“She’s in the hospital, but she’ll be fine,” Duke shrugged, “But she’s not the only person that wolf attacked. It got Mr. Green and Kevin from the basketball team last night too.”
Veronica frowned. “Has your dad told you what the police plan to do?”
Duke blinked. “My dad?”
“He’s a cop, isn’t he? They’ve got to have something planned.”
Duke shrugged. “They’re setting up a 9 o’clock curfew until they catch it, but not much else besides that.”
Veronica nodded. “That’ll do just fine.”
She disregarded the Heathers’ confused looks. “I gotta go. I promised I’d help Ms. Fleming out before classes start.”
“Did you hear about it?”
Veronica nodded, closing the door to Ms. Fleming’s classroom, offering a strained smile to Betty and Martha as she walked up to the teacher’s desk. “The police are instating a 9 P.M. curfew. I want you both indoors by 8.”
Betty rolled her eyes, but nodded. “Got it. We’ll stay safe.”
“Are you going to help the police with it?” Martha asked.
Veronica groaned. “I want to, but I hate dealing with Officer Duke. I’ll probably request to work with someone else if we do end up helping the police.”
“And do you know where this new wolf has been seen most recently?” Fleming asked.
Veronica nodded. “It’s apparently already attacked Mrs. Byrd, Mr. Green, and Kevin Walters.”
“So the east side of town,” Betty muttered, “Good to know. It gives you a sense of where it’s most likely to be.”
“I’ll go out tonight and see if I can catch its scent,” Veronica said.
“We’ll be at home,” Betty said, “And we’ll let you know if we see it.”
Martha frowned. “Do you think it knows what it’s doing?”
Veronica shook her head. “I’m honestly hoping it’s just another Feral who doesn’t know what they’re doing. If we can find them, we can teach them how to keep from hurting people.”
Betty nodded. “Just be safe. You don’t know if they’ll try to hurt you while you’re on patrol, and there’s still two more nights until the moon changes phases.”
“That’s why I’m going out tonight,” Veronica said, “I’ve only got two more nights where the moon’s full. If I don’t find anything, then it’ll take another month for us to get anything.”
Veronica closed the front door and toed off her shoes, sighing in relief as she leaned back against the door, frowning at the odd scent in the air. She growled. Of course he had to be here.
“Officer Duke.” She said, regarding him cautiously as she walked into the kitchen. “Are you here about the Feral in town?”
Officer Duke huffed, “You’re going on patrol with me tonight. We’re going to see if that nose of yours is any use.”
Veronica raised a brow in question, schooling her face into an indifferent facade to mask her irritation at his condescending attitude. “And do I get any say in this?”
Officer Duke sneered.
“Guess not,” Veronica remarked coolly, “Alright, when do you need me?”
“Half an hour after sunset,” He said, “Don’t be late.”
Veronica nodded, and Officer Duke left without another word to her or her parents.
Mr. Sawyer offered her a sympathetic smile, and Veronica sighed in resignation.
“I’m gonna go get ready,” she muttered, shrugging off her mother’s concerned look, “He hates being kept waiting.”
Veronica comes to an understanding with Officer Duke and encounters the Feral.
Veronica trotted up to Officer Duke fifteen minutes after sunset.
“Early,” He remarked, “Good. That gives us more time to look for this wolf.”
Veronica huffed, sniffing the air for the scent.
“So, you’ve been hanging around my daughter.”
Veronica’s ears perked up, and she tilted her head to the side as she regarded Officer Duke.
He frowned. “Don’t give me that look. You know I only said what I said because she’s my kid.”
“Look,” he growled, “You just keep her safe, alright? She’s all I’ve got.”
Veronica relaxed, bobbing her head up and down in the best imitation of a nod she could do in her wolf form, before pointing in the direction of the other wolf’s scent.
Officer Duke nodded, bringing his radio up to his face. “Tracker and I have the suspect’s scent. We’re headed that way. I’ll radio in with any updates.”
With that, he started the car and turned to Veronica. “We’d better find something. Or at the very least, we’d better keep this thing from hurting anybody else.”
Veronica nodded again, and they drove in the direction Veronica had indicated before.
He was protective of his daughter. She could respect that. She was protective of her pack, too.
She sniffed the air, trying to figure out why this Feral’s scent was so familiar. Something about it just screamed “Danger,” and she was inclined to trust her instincts in situations like these. Still, she took this task very seriously. She was one of the strongest wolves in the area, so it made sense that she’d help catch whoever was running around hurting-
Oh no. She knew that scent.
Officer Duke started at the whine from the passenger’s seat. When he looked over, Veronica had her ears pressed flat against her head, hackles raised.
“Something wrong?” he asked. This wasn’t normal. He’d never known the Sawyers’ kid to be scared of anything.
Veronica knew that, as strong as she was, she’d have little to worry about from another wolf, but the stories she’d been told about this pack, about what they were known to do, even to other wolves, was horrifying. She felt her lip curl, exposing her teeth. If she went down, it wouldn’t be without a fight.
That got her attention. Her gaze snapped over to Officer Duke, who looked… worried? She'd never seen him look worried before. Wait, when had the car stopped?
“If you need to stop for the night, we can stop. You can tell me what’s got you so freaked out tomorrow.”
That was new. She’d never known Officer Duke to be accommodating in any sense of the word.
Still, the idea of facing this Feral was…
She nodded, and Officer Duke turned the car around, and the two rode together in silence until they arrived at Veronica’s house.
“Sawyer,” Officer Duke sighed, “Whatever this is, you know we’re going to have to face it at some point, right? If it’s got you spooked, we can get someone else to help us, but we’ll need to find it eventually, before it can hurt anyone else.”
Veronica looked away, ears drooping in shame.
“Hey now, no pity parties tonight,” he chuckled, “You did fine. We’ve got an idea of where this wolf is, thanks to you.”
He got out of the car and walked over to the passenger’s side door, opening it and letting Veronica out.
“I’ll come back tomorrow, and you can decide if you want to keep working on this case then.” He shut the door and went back around to the driver’s side. “Go on and have your run. Get some of that nervous energy out. We’ll figure out our options later. For now, I’m gonna go back to the area you showed me and call for a K-9 unit to be brought in. Maybe we’ll find it on our own.”
Veronica nodded, and Officer Duke smiled, before getting into the squad car and driving off.
Veronica huffed, running around the fence and into the woods.
He was right. She’d need a good run before she’d be relaxed enough to let her guard down.
She hated when he was right.
She bolted through the woods, running the trail easily, until she stopped at the creek, lowering her head to the water to take a drink.
Her ears perked up at the sound of something nearby, and she lifted her head to sniff at the air.
She ran off in the direction of her prey, her hunting lessons coming back to her as she chased it, before she closed her jaws around its throat.
She wagged her tail a bit as she trotted back to her earlier place by the creek, ready to enjoy her kill.
She fully blamed the rabbit’s scent on the ease with which the Feral snuck up on her.
She returned to the creek and set down the rabbit, washing the blood off of her muzzle in the creek, when she saw it.
The Feral was taller than her, with glossy black fur and its - his - tail held high, regarding her curiously.
Veronica growled, her hackles raised as she pressed her ears back against her head.
He tilted his head to the side, confused, before lowering himself into a play bow, his ears up and tail wagging furiously, before he bolted off into the undergrowth, baiting Veronica in hopes that she’d give chase.
When Veronica didn’t move, the Feral turned around and trotted over, stopping when he saw Veronica take a step back.
He whined, lowering his head, and Veronica growled at him; a warning.
He huffed, disappointed, and turned around, running off into the night.
Veronica sighed, tearing into the rabbit and looking around every few seconds to make sure the Feral hadn’t returned. She gave up on her meal about halfway through, when it became obvious that she was too stressed to continue, and carried the rest to another nearby clearing for any other predator that might happen along, before running off to her house, jumping the fence with practiced ease and trotting inside the house, sliding the back door closed and running up the stairs to her bedroom door.
She pushed it closed once she was inside, jumping onto the bed and curling up into a ball, before drifting off into a fitful sleep.
This one's kind of short, but don't worry. The next one will definitely be longer.
Veronica tore through the undergrowth as she ran, enjoying the last night of the full moon. The police had called off the search for the Feral after Veronica told Officer Duke the reason for her outburst the night before.
“So what you’re telling me,” Officer Duke said, “Is that there are different packs in different parts of the states, and that the wolf we’re looking for is part of an especially dangerous one?”
Veronica nodded. “That Feral’s pack is pretty infamous for attacking others, to the point that just about every pack in North America knows who they are.”
“They’re definitely not the kind of wolf you want to go up against without backup.” Mr. Sawyer said.
Officer Duke grunted. “I’ll let the others down at the precinct know to suspend the search for a while, then. Just until we’re able to come up with a plan. In the meantime, the curfew will stay in effect. We can’t risk this wolf turning outside the full moon and endangering anybody else.”
Mrs Sawyer nodded in agreement. “We’ll keep an eye out and let you know if we find anything to help you.”
That left Veronica free to do as she pleased tonight, and she planned to make the most of it.
Catching the scent of prey, Veronica stopped, raising her nose to the air to get a better idea of where it was coming from. Once she had a direction, she stalked her way towards it, careful not to disturb the dry leaves on the ground too much as she crept through the brush.
The smell was strong now, and Veronica caught movement in her field of vision, darting forwards and closing her teeth around it before it could run off.
This time, she dropped her kill on the ground, carefully sniffing the air to make sure the Feral wasn’t nearby before she tore into what she now knew to be a squirrel. Once she finished, she left the remains in the clearing for some scavenger and trotted off towards the creek, only to be tackled by a mass of black fur.
The Feral pinned her to the ground, and Veronica felt a surge of fear. This was it. She braced herself for the end, only to look up in confusion when it never came.
Above her, the Feral panted, his tail wagging furiously as he jumped back, bowing his head low with his ears perked up in excitement.
Veronica blinked. This wolf, Feral or not, didn’t seem outwardly hostile, and from the looks of things, he just wanted someone to chase him.
Deciding she might as well take the opportunity that had been presented to her, Veronica dropped into a play bow, causing the Feral to bark and sprint away. She gave chase, happy to have someone to play with, and before long they were both lying in a clearing, gasping for breath, thoroughly exhausted from running around.
He seemed… calm, for a Feral. Especially considering the pack he belonged to. Or did he belong to a pack at all? He seemed lonely, like he’d never had a packmate to play with.
She huffed, climbing to her feet and walking to the treeline, more than ready to go home and get some rest before sunrise. She picked up the telltale sound of him getting up and moving to follow her. Good. She’d be able to keep an eye on him a lot better this way.
She led him back home, and soon enough they were jumping the fence to her backyard and trotting through the sliding glass door, up the stairs, and into Veronica’s room.
Veronica pushed the door closed behind them once they were both in her room before jumping up onto the bed and curling up on top of the blankets. The mattress dipped as he followed her up, and Veronica drifted off easily, glad to have found the Feral without any incidents.
Veronica awoke to a loud thump and a startled gasp.
She growled softly as she opened her eyes, lifting her head up to see a boy sitting in her room, eyes wide with fear as he stared at her.
She felt herself beginning to change as the sun climbed higher in the sky, and she braced for the feeling of her body reshaping itself. It had been a painful process in the beginning, but as she’d grown older, she’d managed to grow used to it to the point that it hardly bothered her anymore.
The sound was still a little unnerving, though.
She stretched and groaned once everything was in its rightful place, checking over herself to make sure she’d definitely changed back all the way. Every now and then, she’d still change back only to discover that she still had a tail or something.
Satisfied with the state she was in, she turned her gaze back on the boy sitting on the floor across from her.
“Are you gonna cover up with something?”
That seemed to snap him out of his shock. “What the hell just happened?!”
Veronica shrugged, sliding off the bed and rummaging through her dresser to pull on a t-shirt and underwear. “I shifted. It’s not really a big deal.”
“How is that not a big deal?! What am I even doing here?!”
“You followed me home,” she said, “As for your clothes… well, you don’t really get to keep them on when you shift. You probably ended up tearing them off at some point when you shifted last night.”
He sputtered unintelligibly for a while. “You’re telling me I did that? ”
Veronica nodded. “I’m not surprised you don’t remember. Ferals aren’t often aware of their actions in wolf form.”
His expression slowly morphed from fear to confusion. “Did… did you turn me into… that?”
Veronica shook her head. “You’d smell like one of us if we were the ones to turn you. Besides, my pack doesn’t turn humans against their will.”
“You didn’t think I was the only werewolf in Sherwood, did you?” Veronica chuckled, “My whole family’s like this. In fact, my parents should be getting home from their run soon, which will give us all a chance to tell you what’s going on.”
He nodded slowly, still looking confused. “If you didn’t turn me, then who did?”
Veronica sighed. “A very dangerous pack. They’re pretty infamous for attacking humans, other packs, even their own packmates, if they feel like it.” She turned and tossed an oversized t-shirt and a pair of basketball shorts at him. “Tell me, were you ever attacked by a wolf before?”
“I got attacked by a really big dog once, I think.” He rushed to put on the shorts and shirt before he managed to settle down again. “I hit it in the face with a stick when it tackled me, and it bit my arm.”
Veronica hummed thoughtfully. “Did it bleed?”
“This is important. Did it bleed when you hit it with the stick?”
He frowned. “I mean, I knocked one of its teeth out.”
Veronica nodded. “I think that’s the wolf that turned you.”
Veronica shrugged. “I mean, it couldn’t have been me. I’ve been turning since I was ten, and I’m always aware of my actions. If I had been the one to turn you, I feel like I’d remember it.”
His brow furrowed. “If this has been happening for so long, then how did I never find out?”
“I’m not sure.” She flopped back onto the mattress, propping herself up on her elbows to look at him. “Where were you living? When the wolf attacked you, I mean.”
“Because that’s where the pack that turned you is based. They’ve got a few states far south and a couple parts of Mexico as their territory.”
“Yup,” Veronica muttered, “They’re not the strongest pack, but what they lack in individual strength they make up for in sheer numbers. If one of them can’t beat you on their own, they’ll just bring more and keep coming at you until they win.”
He shuddered. “That sounds awful.”
Veronica hummed in agreement. “Since you didn’t know about them, and none of them have claimed you, I think it’s fair to assume you’re probably an orphan.”
“An orphaned wolf,” Veronica explained, “Is a wolf without a pack. Some renounce their pack, and others are kicked out or unclaimed. In either case, they don’t usually last long.”
“Why not?” He asked.
Veronica fixed him with a grim stare. “Wolves are social animals by nature. We need each other. We don’t last otherwise.”
“So I need a pack?”
Veronica hummed noncommittally. “You lasted longer than most do, so you might be okay for a while, but the loneliness will get to you eventually. It always does. Last night you seemed almost desperate to have someone to run with. I figure you probably would have lasted a few more years before your wolf side started to waste away.”
“What would that do?”
“There’s a saying we learn when we’re young. ‘The lone wolf starves.’ The wolf is part of you now. If it dies, then so do you.”
He shuddered. “Then… what do I do now?”
“Find a pack,” Veronica said simply, “We’ll claim you if you want. We’re not the biggest pack, but you’d have some packmates who can keep up with you. I’d honestly kind of appreciate having someone to run with.”
His brow furrowed as he appeared to think it over. Eventually, he nodded to himself and met her gaze again.
“Alright,” he said, “I’ll join your pack.”
Veronica smiled gently, patting the mattress and grinning when he climbed up onto the bed next to her.
“If we’re going to be packmates, then I’m going to need to know your name.”
He grinned. “Yours first.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Jason Dean. J.D. for short.”
“Well, welcome to the family, J.D.” With that, Veronica sat up. “Now, first thing’s first. I’ve got to introduce you to my parents and Officer Duke, and then we’ve got some training to do to help you maintain control the next time you shift. We can’t have you losing awareness and hurting anyone.”
“Why do I need to talk to a cop?”
“There may have been a few… incidents, before I found you.”
“What kind of incidents?”
Veronica opened her mouth to answer, only to be interrupted by the sound of a car pulling into the driveway.
“Sounds like my parents are home.” She hopped off the bed and pulled the door open. “C’mon, let’s go get you introduced and we’ll explain everything.”
A few things had happened since Veronica and her parents explained to JD what he was.
First, Veronica’s parents asked JD to stay with them for a while so they could teach him how to control his transformations.
Once that was taken care of, the curfew ended. Now that JD was aware, they could hold him accountable for his actions in his wolf form.
After that, Veronica and JD started spending a lot more time together in their free time. JD had a lot of questions about wolf stuff, and Veronica was mostly just glad to have another wolf her own age to hang out with.
This caught the attention of the Heathers almost immediately.
“So,” Chandler drawled, “Are you and your boyfriend spending time together after school again?”
Veronica blinked. “Boyfriend?”
Duke scoffed. “Tall, trench coat, dark hair, looks kind of creepy?”
“Oh! JD!” Veronica laughed. “He’s not my boyfriend. We just hang out.”
Chandler seemed skeptical. “He seems to really like spending time with you.”
Veronica shrugged. “He needs my help with something, so I’ve been working with him when I have time.”
Mac frowned. “But you don’t have any classes together.”
“Well, no, but-” Veronica paused, “How do you know we don’t have any classes together?”
Just before Mac could speak, Veronica heard the sound of boots against the linoleum tile. She turned to find the source of the noise and locked eyes with JD as he jogged towards them.
“Veronica! Hey!” he grinned, “You wanna hang out tonight? If not, that’s fine. I just wanted to get in a little more practice before…”
Veronica nodded. “Sure thing! Meet me in the usual spot?”
With that, he turned on his heel and walked off.
“So, you’re sure there’s nothing between the two of you?” Chandler asked, still looking doubtful.
Veronica huffed in exasperation. “I guarantee you we’re just friends.”
“And what exactly are you two practicing tonight?”
Veronica shrugged. “Nothing much. We’re going for a run.”
"A run?" Mac’s eyes widened. “At night?”
“Yeah, but I’ll be fine,” Veronica grinned, “I know how to take care of myself, and I trust him.”
The Heathers seemed oddly bothered by that information, but they let it go.
“Fine,” Chandler huffed, “But give us some warning next time you bail on us. We had plans tonight.”
“Oh, sorry. Was it anything really important?”
Duke shrugged. “Just going out with some college guys or something.”
Veronica grimaced. “Yeah, I’d rather not. The last guy you tried to set me up with ended up getting a little too handsy, which led to me knocking him out, so I’d like to avoid a repeat of that experience if at all possible.”
“You knocked him out?! ” Chandler hissed.
Veronica chuckled weakly. “Yeah. I kind of forgot how strong I am when I hit him. He didn’t get anything that he didn’t deserve, though.”
Chandler groaned. “You had better not cause any trouble next time.”
“As long as nobody gives me a reason, I’ll be on my best behavior.”
Chandler scowled, but seemed to accept Veronica’s answer.
“Wow,” JD snickered, tossing his duffel bag into the bushes, “Those college guys must have been pretty important.”
Veronica scoffed. “Doubt it. Heather most likely wants to establish herself before she goes to college, just so she doesn’t have to fight her way up the ranks later.”
“She does know that’s not how college works, right?”
“Probably not,” Veronica sighed, “You know, dogs in general are pretty good at reading body language.”
“And whenever we go to one of those parties, Heather’s always acting so outgoing and happy,” Veronica frowned, “But it looks… forced, if that makes sense. Like she’s pretending that she likes being where she is.”
JD scoffed. “If she hates it so much, then why doesn’t she just quit?”
“It’s not that simple. It can be really hard to unlearn that stuff. She’s probably been doing it so long it’s like a reflex for her.”
“Well,” JD said, “Maybe you can help her.”
Veronica smiled. “Maybe.”
“Well, now that we’re done talking about the Heathers, you wanna get changed and go run?”
Veronica nodded, reaching into her duffel and pulling out some steaks, still in the store wrapping. “I’ve got two for each of us once we’ve shifted. What did you have for dinner?”
“A couple protein bars.”
Veronica frowned. “I guess that’ll have to do. You remember what to do?”
JD rolled his eyes, grinning playfully. “Deep breaths, focus, don’t psych myself out. We’ve been doing this for a week, Veronica.”
“Still,” Veronica muttered, “I don’t want anything bad to happen.”
“You worry too much,” he said, tossing his shirt onto his bag.
“It’s my job.”
“Sure it is,” he smirked, “Are you just gonna stare at me like a perv, or are you gonna get ready too?”
Veronica huffed out a laugh. “Shut up.”
Veronica ran through the undergrowth, weaving deftly through the trees as she tried to increase the distance between herself and JD
She loved this, chasing each other through the woods, wrestling in the grass, it reminded her of when she and her cousins were younger. They’d roughhouse in the woods behind the house and scatter when their parents tried to round them up.
Now, she leapt over the creek and sprinted off, skidding to a stop in the dirt when she heard something.
It sounded like-
Heather. And… she’s not alone?
In the back of her mind, Veronica recalled them saying they were going out, but not where.
Really? They go out with college guys and they end up in the woods? Not the most romantic venue, that’s for sure.
JD ran up to her then. Noticing that her attention was elsewhere, he perked his ears up and turned his gaze to follow hers.
JD listened for a moment. He heard the Heathers, but also… men? Why was he hearing men’s voices?
Almost as soon as he’d started to think about it, they heard it. A shout.
Before he could react, Veronica had darted forward, following the sound.
She didn’t have to run far. Before she knew it, she saw them. The Heathers were there, with three men Veronica didn’t recognize. She could see the smug grins on their faces, could smell the alcohol from where she crouched in the overgrown grass. The Heathers looked scared.
One of the men moved to grab Duke, and Veronica charged, snarling as she put herself between them, hackles raised.
The man jumped back, landing on his ass in the dirt.
Veronica stalked forward slowly, her growling getting louder and louder the closer she got to him.
In his fear, he staggered to his feet and ran, prompting Veronica to follow.
Didn’t anyone ever teach him not to run from a wolf?
Veronica stopped as he fled, barking and growling to warn him off. She turned and saw JD growling menacingly at the other two, who ran a moment later. Veronica ran after JD as he tried to give chase. A short bark was all it took to make him stop and turn back to her.
JD wagged his tail happily.
Glad to help.
Veronica let herself relax as she turned to the Heathers, who were watching her and JD in a mix of awe and fear.
Veronica trotted forward, head high and tail wagging, until she saw them shrink back. At that, she crouched low, ears back and head down, and gave a short, high-pitched whine to try and show that she wasn’t a threat.
Duke blinked once. Twice. Three times, before breaking away slightly from the other Heathers and crouching down on the ground, arm outstretched with her palm facing up. Veronica walked forwards slowly, careful not to startle her, and sniffed Duke’s hand, pretending to familiarize herself with the short girl’s scent, before licking her palm.
Duke giggled. “Looks like it’s friendly.”
Veronica wagged her tail excitedly, letting out a short bark.
Chandler grimaced. “It’s a fucking wolf, Heather. That thing could kill you.”
Not if I wanted Officer Duke to spare my life.
Duke rolled her eyes, reaching out to scratch Veronica behind the ears. “It saved us just now, Heather.”
Veronica huffed as JD trotted up beside her, looking as smug as a wolf could look.
“Oh! Do you want pats too?” Duke asked, reaching her other hand out to pat JD’s head, only for JD to duck away from her hand. “Alright. No pats. That’s alright.”
Mac stepped forwards cautiously, offering her hand. Veronica and JD sniffed at it, and, finding neither of them to be aggressive, Mac also reached out to pat Veronica’s head.
“Her fur is so soft!” Mac said.
“Her?” Chandler asked.
Mac pointed at Veronica. “The brown one is a girl.”
Duke hummed thoughtfully. “Should we call them anything? They haven’t left us yet, and it feels weird to just be differentiating them by their fur.”
Mac grinned. “How about we call the brown one Muffin?”
JD wheezed, and Veronica had the sudden urge to pounce on him.
Duke chuckled. “I guess we can. How about him?”
Chandler gave JD an appraising stare. “Midnight.”
JD puffed out his chest in pride at the name, and Veronica groaned.
Duke smiled. “I think he likes that.”
Chandler scoffed. “Of course he does. It’s a good name.”
Veronica sighed, glaring at JD, who only grinned wider.
“You’re an asshole,” she muttered, tugging her shirt on.
“Aw, what’s wrong, Muffin?” he snickered, stumbling a bit as he pulled his jeans on.
“I will literally bite you,” she growled.
JD laughed, wiping a tear from his eye as he calmed down. “Sorry. Just… Muffin! She could have picked any name for you, and she chose Muffin! At least I got a cool name!”
Veronica grinned as she put on her shoes and started walking towards her house. “I wonder how Heather would feel if she knew.”
JD slung his duffel over his shoulder and chased after her. “Which one? The one that called you Muffin?”
“No, you dick,” she huffed, punching him in the shoulder, “Heather Chandler. I wonder how she’d react if she knew she gave you a name that wasn’t vaguely insulting.”
“Oh god, she’d be furious.” JD’s eyes lit up with glee.
Veronica bit back the smile that fought to spread across her face. “Probably not furious, but definitely pretty upset.”
They jumped the fence and trotted up to the back door, slipping inside and trekking up the stairs to Veronica’s room.
JD dropped his bag by the bedroom door. “I’d love to see the look on her face if she ever found out.”
Veronica chuckled, taking her clothes out of her duffel and tossing them into her laundry hamper. “If she ever does and you’re not around, I’ll take a picture.”
JD flopped backwards onto Veronica’s bed. “I’m holding you to that.”
Sometimes, it's easiest to hide in plain sight.
“So, Thanksgiving is coming up in a month or so,” Veronica said, “You wanna spend it with us?”
JD blinked. “Wouldn’t it bother them that I’m from…”
Veronica shook her head. “My dad’s family’s from Cuba and my mom’s family is from Italy. They’ve never met a member of yours before. It’ll be good for them to meet a friendly face from your pack.”
JD shrugged. “Sure, why not? We don’t really do anything for the holidays anymore, anyway. It’ll be nice to actually celebrate for once.”
Veronica smiled. “Alright, I’ll let Mom know.”
“Cool,” JD turned to walk to class, “See you later, Muffin!”
Veronica growled at the nickname, stopping only when she heard the clicking of heels against the hard floor.
“Muffin?” Chandler’s voice was dripping with venom, “Since when does he call you that?”
Veronica huffed. “Since he figured out that I hate it.”
Duke eyed Veronica curiously. “How long ago was that?”
Veronica shrugged. “Pretty recently. A couple days ago, maybe?”
Duke seemed unconvinced, but didn’t pursue the matter further.
“How was your night?” Mac asked.
Veronica chuckled. “Pretty uneventful. We ended up going back home pretty early. What about you?”
Mac’s eyes lit up with excitement. “We saw the Sherwood Wolves!”
Veronica did her best to look intrigued. “Really?”
Mac nodded. “They saved us! It was amazing! Our dates were kind of creeping us out, and I was pretty scared for a few seconds, but all of a sudden this big brown wolf runs out of the woods and chases one of them off, and then a black wolf came and scared off the other two!”
Veronica opened her locker and started pulling out the books she needed for class. “Sounds like an eventful night. I almost wish I had been there.”
Chandler crossed her arms. “Well, maybe if you hadn’t been off with your friend, you wouldn’t have missed it.”
Veronica grinned at that. She had been there, of course, but she wasn’t about to tell them that.
Mac bounced up and down on the balls of her feet with excitement. “It was so cool! Heather didn’t want to pet them, but Heather and I got to!”
Veronica closed her locker and turned to face the Heathers. “You got close enough to pet a wolf? That sounds pretty neat.”
Chandler scoffed and leaned back against the lockers. “You had no way of knowing what kind of parasites that thing might have had.”
Veronica tamped down the spark of indignation in her chest and smirked. “I don’t know, maybe you were just scared. After all, it’s not like encounters with wolves go too well for girls in red, is it?”
Chandler stood up straight, glaring up at Veronica. “You know damn well I’m right. That mangy thing could have had rabies for all we know!”
“Nah, rabies makes animals’ eyes shine green.” Veronica stepped forwards into Chandler’s space, towering over her even though Chandler was wearing heels. “And besides, if the wolves went out of their way to defend you, then they most likely weren’t dangerous. Admit it, you were just scared.”
Chandler didn’t move, meeting Veronica’s stare. “I wasn’t afraid of anything.”
Veronica rolled her eyes with a smile. “Whatever you say, Little Red,” she sang.
Chandler scowled up at her, cheeks reddening from embarrassment. “I wasn’t scared!”
Duke decided to join in on the teasing. “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
Veronica snorted. “Nice reference.”
“Thank you. I do try.” Duke bowed dramatically.
Mac giggled. “Sorry, Heather, but they’re right. It almost sounds like you’re trying to compensate for something.”
Chandler groaned and turned on her heel, stomping away.
“Wait up, Little Red!” Veronica called, following close behind her, “The Big Bad Wolf might get you!”
“Fuck off!” Chandler shouted.
Veronica stopped, covering her mouth with her hand as she giggled helplessly with Duke and Mac. “I’m so dead.”
“It was nice knowing you,” Duke said, patting her on the shoulder in mock sympathy, “Your legacy will live on when we tease her relentlessly with Little Red Riding Hood comparisons.”
Veronica guffawed at that, snorting a few times as she laughed. “Thanks. That’s exactly how I want to be honored in death.”
Mac snickered. “Come on. We should get to class before the bell rings.”
Veronica smiled down at her. “Yeah. Ms. Fleming adores me, but even I’m not exempt from the rules.”
The first half of the day passed uneventfully. It was when Veronica was walking to the cafeteria for lunch that her day started to get interesting.
“Hey, ‘Ronica,” Ram said, backing her up against a locker, “There’s a rumor you and the guy with the trench coat are dating.”
Veronica blinked. “Oh, JD? He’s just a friend.”
Ram didn’t seem convinced. “You’ve been spending an awful lot of time with him. Seems a bit weird, doesn’t it?”
“You forget,” Veronica said, “That I spend even more of my time with the Heathers, but I’m not dating any of them.”
Kurt piped up from behind Ram. “That’d be hot if you were, though.”
Veronica rolled her eyes. “Look, JD and I aren’t dating. It’s possible for people to be friends without there being anything romantic or sexual going on.”
She moved to leave, but Ram boxed her in, leaning into her personal space. “Well, if he’s not dating you, then it’s totally okay for me to ask you out, right?”
Veronica bristled at the invasive gesture. “You can ask, but I’m not going to say yes.”
“Why not?” he asked.
Veronica leaned forwards slightly, fighting the urge to growl. “Let me put it simply for the two of you. I have standards. You don’t meet them. You can ask me out as many times as you want, but you won’t get a yes from me.”
With that, she ducked under Ram’s arm and weaved her way through the crowd until she reached the cafeteria.
“Took you long enough,” Chandler griped as Veronica slid into the seat next to her.
This time, Veronica failed to keep the growl out of her voice as she spoke. “Thing One and Thing Two cornered me in the hallway.”
Mac frowned. “What did they want?”
Veronica rolled her eyes. “They thought I was dating JD, and when I told them I wasn’t, Ram tried to ask me out.”
Duke didn’t look up from her book. “What did you tell him?”
“That I wouldn’t date him.”
“Because I have standards.”
Duke let out a surprised laugh. “You told him that?!”
Veronica shot her a wry grin. “He asked. I wasn’t about to lie.”
Mac giggled. “Hopefully he doesn’t try to ask you out again, then.”
Veronica groaned. “God I hope he takes the hint. He’s not my type at all. Plus the amount of Axe body spray he uses gives me a headache.”
Duke snorted, putting her book down to give Veronica her full attention. “I could almost believe you were part dog with how often you complain about strong smells.”
Veronica smiled, leaning forward and maintaining eye contact with Duke as she spoke, letting a bit of a playful growl seep into her voice. “Who’s to say I’m not one of the Sherwood Werewolves?”
Duke and Mac’s eyes widened in surprise, before Duke burst out laughing.
“God, I almost believed you there for a second!” she wheezed, clutching her stomach as she laughed.
Mac covered her mouth with her hand as she giggled. “You nearly had me convinced you were actually a werewolf.”
Veronica smirked, turning to Chandler and leaning in close, her words a low rumble as she whispered. “You’d better watch out. If the stories are to be believed, then you’re not safe with a big bad wolf like me.”
Chandler reeled back, blushing bright pink all the way down to her neck and possibly further still than that. “Fuck off,” she huffed, “You’re being weird.”
“Aww,” Veronica cooed, “Don’t be like that, Little Red. I’m just messing with you.”
Chandler sneered, pushing at Veronica’s shoulder. “I’m not Little Red Riding Hood.”
Veronica snickered, nudging Chandler with her elbow. “Chill, I’m just teasing. As long as you don’t go wandering the woods at night with a basket full of baked goods you’ll probably be just fine.”
Duke and Mac sat across from them, holding their hands over their mouths as they tried desperately to hold back their giggles when they saw Chandler glare up at Veronica. Veronica, impressively, looked totally unaffected.
“If it really makes you mad, then I won’t say it.”
Chandler sighed. “Thank you.”
“To your face.”
Duke and Mac burst into a fit of laughter at that, unable to hold it back any longer.
This is probably the longest chapter I've written for this fic so far and that honestly feels like an accomplishment to me.
“Come on!” Mac bounced on the balls of her feet as she waited for the others to catch up. “We’ve got to pick out our halloween costumes!”
Veronica grinned as she pushed the passenger side door of Chandler’s car shut. “I’ve actually got mine at home already, but I’m definitely okay with taking a look around.”
Duke peered up at her curiously. “What are you going as?”
Veronica leaned down to whisper as they walked across the parking lot to meet Mac. “Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve got everything I need to be The Phantom of the Opera.”
Duke chuckled. “And here I thought you were going as a werewolf.”
Veronica clapped her hands together. “Even better! Werewolf phantom!”
Duke snorted as they stopped in front of the party store. Chandler joined them a few seconds late, frowning. “What’s so funny?”
“Nothing,” Duke snickered.
Chandler huffed and rolled her eyes. “Whatever. Let’s get this over with.”
Veronica smirked. “Y’know, I’ve got an old red cape you could use for your costume.”
“I’m not Little Red Riding Hood!”
Mac giggled as she ran ahead into the store. “Let’s go! You can argue later!”
Veronica smiled and rushed in after her, eager to see what had her so excited.
The display racks were lined with cheap paper masks and flimsy costumes, but Veronica noticed that there were actually a few quality pieces in stock. She scanned her surroundings curiously, taking in the sights and sounds in order to familiarize herself with everything, when she caught a familiar scent.
The moment she realized who it was, JD jumped out from behind a display rack in a werewolf mask, growling exaggeratedly and holding his arms out as if to grab her.
Duke and Chandler jumped back in shock, but Veronica just snickered. “So you’re picking a werewolf costume? Seems a little cliche, doesn’t it?”
JD grinned as he tugged the mask off. “A little, and it’s kind of predictable, but I’m actually kind of excited for Halloween for once.”
Veronica nodded. “Well, I’m sure everyone that gets the joke will love it.”
“What joke?” Duke asked.
Veronica shrugged. “We’re werewolves, remember?”
JD tensed slightly, but when Duke snorted and pushed playfully at her shoulder, he relaxed.
“So,” JD drawled, leaning against a mask display, “What brings you here? Picking your costume?”
Veronica shook her head. “Nah, I’ve already got mine. I’m just here to look around while the Heathers shop.”
JD hummed thoughtfully. “Well, if you want something to do, we could go somewhere. Get something to eat, maybe go see a scary movie.”
“Thanks, but I’m gonna have to take a rain check,” Veronica smiled apologetically, “We kind of had plans to hang out later.”
“No worries,” JD said, “I’ll see you around. We’re still on for friday night, right?”
JD nodded. “Great. I’m gonna go buy this,” he waved the werewolf mask in the air, “Have fun looking around, Muffin!”
With that, he turned and walked off, and Veronica rolled her eyes in fond exasperation as she watched him wander up to the checkout counter.
Mac watched him with a curious expression. “Is it just me, or was he acting weird when you said you were a werewolf?”
Veronica shrugged, feigning ignorance. “I dunno. It’s an okay costume idea, though, even if it is a little overdone.”
Duke snickered. “He doesn’t even need an actual costume. He could just wear the trench coat and be a flasher for Halloween.”
Veronica let out a surprised laugh that sounded more like a bark. Realizing her slip-up, she slapped a hand over her mouth.
Duke stared up at her, looking almost as though she was examining her. “Still running with the werewolf joke?”
Veronica chuckled nervously. “Yeah, kind of. Sorry if that was weird.”
Chandler sighed, breaking away from the group and wandering over to a display, examining the costumes on the clothing racks. “Come on. We don’t have all day. Let’s pick something and go.”
Veronica’s shoulders sagged in relief as she watched the Heathers look around, picking up masks and hats and inspecting costumes. They were all pretty excited about Ram’s Halloween party. Veronica wasn’t quite as interested, but she was looking forward to Halloween this year. Last year it had fallen on the night of a full moon, so she’d missed it, but this year she didn’t have to worry. She’d be able to party it up with her friends without having to worry about transforming in the middle of things.
She figured JD was probably excited too. Ever since learning about his wolf side, he’d been eager to learn how to control it and what he could do with it. And now that he had a pack, he seemed a lot more vibrant than the brooding, quiet boy she’d met earlier. Her parents had even offered to let him stay with them if his dad decided to move again, just so he wouldn’t have to be separated from the pack. He had admitted to her that the prospect of staying in one place for more than a couple months was tempting. Moving around all the time started to wear on him after a while, and he wanted nothing more than a little consistency for once.
She grabbed a werewolf mask from one of the racks and turned it over in her hands, the fake fur dragging unpleasantly across her palms and the odd smell of the rubber irritating her nose. She briefly entertained the idea of buying it, but decided against it. She already had her costume, after all. It wouldn’t make much sense to buy a mask she wouldn’t even need.
Lost in thought as she was, she ended up being shocked out of her reverie as Mac burst out of one of the fitting rooms in a truly ridiculous costume.
“Is that… the sexy Cat in the Hat?” Veronica asked.
Mac nodded, twirling around to show it off. “Isn’t it great?”
“Honestly it mostly just makes me feel uncomfortable.”
Mac shrugged. “Fair enough. I’ve got some other costumes to try on. Besides, I mostly just picked this one because I thought it would be funny.”
Duke came out a moment later in a Dorothy costume, shifting her weight awkwardly as she waited to hear Mac and Veronica’s opinions. “What do you think?”
Veronica smiled. “It looks pretty well made, and it doesn’t look like one of those costumes that’s meant to be super sexualized. I like it.”
Mac nodded in approval. “You actually look like Dorothy!”
Duke smiled shyly, cheeks reddening at the compliments. “So, should I get this one, then?”
“If it’s the costume you want,” Veronica said, shrugging.
Duke nodded. “I think I’m gonna get this one.”
Veronica grinned, and Mac and Duke retreated back into the changing rooms.
“What’s the weirdest Halloween costume you’ve ever seen?” Duke asked once she was done changing back into her usual clothes.
Veronica thought for a moment. “Literally anything Betty wears for Halloween. Also a few of my own costumes.”
“Well, Betty was a gorilla for Halloween once.”
Duke quirked a brow in confusion. “That sounds kind of normal.”
Veronica nodded gravely. “It sounds normal until you see it. It was a hot pink gorilla costume.”
Duke guffawed loudly, leaning against Veronica for support as she laughed near-hysterically. Veronica could hear the sound of Mac giggling in the fitting room, along with muffled snickering coming from Chandler’s fitting room.
Veronica grinned. “Betty, Martha, and I once went as a roller coaster.”
“How do you dress up as a roller coaster?” Mac asked.
“You put together fake rollercoaster cars with cardboard, stuff a pair of jeans so it looks like someone’s actually sitting in the seat, and then you run around leaning from side to side and yelling.”
Duke wiped a tear from her eye as she laughed. “That’s more genius than ridiculous.”
“Yeah,” Veronica admitted, “But it was pretty fun running around pretending we were on an actual roller coaster. Probably our best group costume ever.”
“I’ve always kind of thought group costumes were neat,” Mac said, “But we never do any.”
Veronica smirked, doing her best to suppress the urge to laugh as she spoke. “I mean, you could just wear your regular clothes and say you’re doing a group costume as a traffic light.”
The surprised laughter from Mac and Duke was well worth the inevitable scorn from Chandler, but as they laughed, she could just barely pick up the sound of Chandler attempting to stifle her own giggles.
“Okay,” Mac called, still giggling a little bit, “How’s this one?”
Veronica chuckled when the door to the fitting room opened. “I didn’t think sexy shark costumes existed outside of the Mean Girls musical.”
Mac gasped. “I should be a sexy mouse!”
“Just be the Plastics for Halloween,” Veronica suggested.
Mac grinned up at her. “Does this one look okay?”
Veronica nodded. “If you want to get it, then go for it. As long as it’s not a minion costume.”
Duke wheezed. “Who in their right mind would willingly wear a minion costume?!”
“Betty,” Veronica said, “After I begged her not to.”
Just then, they heard a thud from Chandler’s fitting room, followed by several seconds of hysterical giggling.
“Heather? Are you alright?” Veronica asked.
“A fucking minion!” Chandler shrieked, “Amazing!”
Veronica grinned. “I mean, we were trying to wear costumes we knew the other person would hate, so I wore something kind of awful too.”
Mac beamed up at her. “What was it? Tell us, tell us, tell us!” she demanded.
Veronica snorted. “I was Waluigi. I had the mustache and everything.”
She gave Duke and Mac an embarrassed smile as they laughed at her expense.
“Anyway,” she said, changing the subject as the laughter died down, “Heather, come on out! Heather and Heather have already picked their costumes! Let’s see what you picked!”
“Alright, alright!” Chandler called, “I’m coming out!”
The door opened, and Chandler stepped out of the fitting room. A moment later, Veronica, Duke, and Mac burst into helpless giggles.
Chandler huffed. “It was all I could find!” she snapped.
Veronica looked up at her, still laughing. “You actually went with my idea! Oh my god, this is the best day! Now I have to get that werewolf mask!”
Chandler sneered. “Don’t you dare! ”
Veronica sighed as she finally calmed herself down from her laughing fit. “Oh, come on, Little Red! You look the part, now all we need is a big bad wolf!”
Chandler crossed her arms and glared up at Veronica. “Absolutely not.”
Veronica took a few steps back, smirking all the way, until she came to a stop next to the mask display.
Veronica reached out and picked up one of the werewolf masks.
Veronica turned on her heel and made a dash for the checkout counter, Chandler hot on her heels.
Chapter 10: Pack Bonding
Veronica and JD woke up by the creek in the woods Saturday morning. Veronica stretched and groaned, curling in on herself in an effort to shield herself from the sunlight and keep herself covered as her transformation began. She winced at the sound of JD’s transformation, knowing that it was likely still painful for him.
Once they were both back to normal, they grabbed the duffel bags they brought with them and started getting dressed.
“So, you were awfully nonchalant about telling the Heathers we’re werewolves,” JD said.
Veronica shrugged as she pulled a loose t-shirt over her head. “I mean, it’s not like they actually think I’m telling the truth. Besides, nobody will believe them if they decide to say anything. No matter what I tell them, we’re not likely to be found out.”
JD hummed thoughtfully. “I guess.” He pulled his pants on and reached for his shoes. “I just thought secrecy was important here, y’know?”
“It is,” Veronica agreed, stumbling a little as she shimmied into her jeans, “But it’s not that hard to keep a secret like this these days. Hell, they could catch our transformations on video and people would just think they doctored the footage.”
JD grinned as he stood up and tugged on his trench coat. “Fair enough.”
They trekked through the woods quietly, listening to the birds chirping as the sun climbed higher and higher into the sky, the cool early October air sending a chill through them as they walked.
“Betty and Martha know, by the way.”
Veronica yelped as she nearly tripped over a tree root, chuckling nervously as she regained her footing. “Betty Finn and Martha Dunnstock. They know about me. They’re safe to tell, if you want to let anyone else in on it.”
“You trust them?”
“I told them about it a long time ago. They’ve been part of my pack ever since, which means they’re your pack, too.”
“I’m still not used to that,” JD murmured, “Having a pack, I mean. It feels nice. Like I’ve finally got a home again, y’know?”
Veronica smiled sadly, pausing for a second to pat his shoulder sympathetically. “As long as you’re a part of the Sawyer pack, you’ll always have a home here.”
JD gave her a watery smile and pulled her into a hug.
“It’s okay,” Veronica cooed, “You’ve got us now. We’ll look after you. That’s what packs do. We look after our own.”
JD sniffled and wiped at his eyes as he pulled back. “Thanks,” he said, his voice cracking slightly, “I think I needed that.”
Veronica nodded and grabbed his hand, pulling him towards the edge of the woods. “Anything you need, you just let us know. We’re family now.”
JD squeezed her hand tight, like he was afraid she’d disappear if he let her slip out of his grasp, and followed her out of the woods to the spot where he’d parked his motorcycle.
They packed their bags into the saddlebags on the motorcycle and climbed on.
“Hold on tight,” JD called, putting on his helmet and starting the engine.
Veronica nodded, wrapping her arms around his waist.
They drove off towards Veronica’s house, the roar of the engine announcing their presence to the quiet streets.
That evening, Veronica stood against the wall, drink in hand, watching as people swayed to the music and knocked back their drinks. As much as the Heathers liked these parties, they just weren’t Veronica’s scene.
Veronica snapped out of her reverie and met Duke’s gaze. “Yeah, just… I’ve never liked these parties. The music’s too loud, the lights give me a headache, and the whole place smells like booze and smoke. I’m used to quieter get togethers.”
Duke nodded in understanding. “Don’t worry. Once you have a couple drinks, things get easier.”
Veronica snickered. “Have you forgotten what I get like when I’m drunk?”
Duke grinned. “You can’t expect to hold your alcohol any better if you don’t practice.”
Veronica rolled her eyes playfully and took a sip of her drink. “I think I’ll stick with non-alcoholic drinks from now on. That way I’m a lot better equipped to get the three of you out of here if something happens.”
Duke snorted. “What do you think is gonna happen in a small town like this?”
Veronica shrugged. “I dunno, but if something bad does happen, I’m sure it would be good to have someone sober around.”
“Fair enough, I guess.” Duke leaned against the wall next to her and sipped her drink. This reminded Veronica of their eighth grade formal in middle school. She and Martha had stood near the wall and watched the others dance, and later they had snuck out with Betty and ended up running off to a small cabin in the woods and drinking the sodas they’d stashed there earlier.
Come to think of it, that didn’t sound half bad.
“Hey,” Veronica whispered, leaning down to Duke’s level, “I’ve got an idea. There’s a place I like to go that I think you three might like. We can swipe a few bottles of liquor and leave early. What do you say? Are you in?”
Duke seemed to consider it a moment, her eyes scanning over the crowd of people chatting and milling about. “Yeah,” she sighed, “I’m bored here.”
Veronica nodded and put her cup down on an end table by the couch. “First, we sneak as much booze as we can out to your car. Then we’ll get Heather and Heather to leave with us.”
Duke nodded, and together they ended up stealing five bottles of liquor from the table in Ram’s kitchen.
“He’s really got to keep a closer eye on his shit,” Veronica mused as they stuck the last of the bottles in the back seat of Duke’s jeep, “We could probably take something that’s actually valuable and he’d have no idea.”
“Well, personally, I’d prefer it if he stayed stupid enough that he didn’t know when people were stealing all of his good alcohol.”
Veronica snorted and nodded in agreement before following Duke back into the house to look for the other two Heathers.
Mac was the easiest to find. She was doing shots in the dining room with Kurt and laughing at the other jocks’ half-baked attempts to impress her.
“Hey,” Veronica muttered, grabbing her arm to hold her steady as she helped her stand up from the table, “We’re getting out of here. Heather and I are bored, and I know a place that’s a little quieter.”
Mac nodded eagerly. “Okay!”
Veronica smiled and walked her over to Duke, allowing the shorter girl to lead Mac outside.
Now she just had to find Chandler.
The smell of alcohol was strong, but she managed to pick up Chandler’s scent somewhere in the middle of all the chaos. She followed it up the stairs, careful to be discreet, and found herself on the second level of the house. She followed her nose to one of the doors and strained her ears to hear what was going on inside.
“We should probably go back to the party…” That was Chandler’s voice. Veronica was sure of it.
“Aw babe, c’mon.” Ram. So that’s why he hadn’t noticed Veronica and Duke stealing his best booze. “You should live a little. Stay here with me and have some fun .” Veronica almost growled when she heard the words. She tried the handle. Locked. Slowly, so as not to make any other sounds, she reached into her shoe and withdrew a set of lockpicking tools, listening hard as she fiddled with the lock, pushing tumblers slowly into place and smiling triumphantly when the door unlocked with a quiet click.
“Heather! I need you to come with me. Heather’s hurt.” Veronica injected as much urgency into her voice as she could.
Chandler stared at her in surprise, and Veronica almost snarled at Ram, whose hand was around Chandler’s shoulders, pulling her in close.
“Hey Ram. Sorry.” She wasn’t sorry at all. Couldn’t be less sorry, in fact. “I need to borrow her for a bit.”
Ram let Chandler go with a smile that Veronica desperately wanted to wipe off his stupid, smug face. “Go ahead. But you both owe me later.”
“We’ll see,” Veronica said, grabbing Chandler’s hand and leading her back downstairs.
“Where’s Heather?” Chandler demanded, her voice higher than usual.
“I lied,” Veronica said, “I heard you two through the door and I figured you probably weren’t too keen on sticking around.”
Chandler gasped and pulled her hand back, stopping halfway down the stairs. “What the hell, Veronica?”
Veronica frowned. “I’m sorry, Heather. I shouldn’t have made you worry like that.”
Chandler scoffed. “I’m not worried, ” she lied, “I’m pissed that you decided to come charging in when I was busy!”
“You didn’t sound like you wanted what he was offering. In fact, you gave him a pretty clear ‘no’ from what I heard.”
Chandler groaned. “Well, great fucking job rescuing me! Now I fucking owe him!”
Veronica growled. “You don’t owe him shit. He doesn’t get to touch you without your consent, and you didn’t give it in there.”
Chandler froze, seemingly lost for words.
Veronica sighed. “Look, you can be mad at me if you want. I don't care. I was just trying to find you because Heather, Heather and I were gonna go someplace else and we figured you’d rather be there than be here all alone.”
Chandler looked over her shoulder at the room they’d left Ram alone in, then turned back to Veronica and nodded. “Let’s get out of here.”
Veronica grinned wryly up at her. “Plus now that I know what he was trying to do to you up there I feel a lot less bad about stealing a bunch of expensive liquor from downstairs.”
Chandler cackled as they left, and they drove off in companionable silence, with Veronica occasionally piping up to give her directions to the cabin.
“This is it?” Chandler muttered as they got out of the car.
Veronica nodded as she typed out a message on her phone. “Yeah. My parents own this little campsite.”
“Why?” Mac asked, picking her way carefully across the dirt path, wary of tripping over something in her heels. “It doesn’t make much sense to have a campsite in the town you live in.”
Veronica shrugged. “I dunno,” she lied, “But Betty, Martha and I come down here a lot to hang out. It’s nice to be away from everything sometimes.”
And also to have a secluded place to transform if I need it.
Duke waved her over to the jeep and handed her a few of the liquor bottles. “I can kind of see the appeal,” she said, “It’d be nice to just spend a few days out here and relax.”
“We can go inside if you want,” Veronica said, “Heather, do you think you can unlock the door for me?”
She pulled a key out of her blazer pocket and tossed it to Chandler, who caught it easily. Chandler walked up the old wooden steps to the front porch and unlocked the door, turning the handle and wincing when the hinges creaked.
Veronica hummed. “Gonna have to oil those.”
She made her way up to the front porch and led the way inside, flicking a light switch in the main room and smiling as the room lit up.
“I have to say,” Chandler said, giving the room an appraising look, “It’s nicer than I thought it would be.”
“That’s vaguely insulting, but I get the feeling it was supposed to be a compliment, so thanks.”
Veronica and Duke put the bottles away in the small kitchen and rejoined the others in the living room. There was a stone fireplace against the back wall with a TV mounted above the mantle. There were two armchairs, a couch, and a loveseat, all arranged in a semicircle around a low round wooden coffee table. A crate full of firewood sat next to the fireplace, along with a wicker basket full of kindling. There were bookshelves along one wall and a large rug was spread across the floor. There was one large window with a bench sitting on the other side of the room, with big fluffy pillows on either side. The whole room looked incredibly cozy, and Veronica grinned as the Heathers each claimed a spot on the furniture and all but sank into it.
“This place is great!” Duke said, leaning back in the armchair, “Why didn’t you tell us about it sooner?”
Veronica shrugged. “Family secret. We’ve got to trust you before we’ll let you come here.”
Mac beamed. “So you trust us?”
“Not with everything,” Veronica said, “But definitely enough to show you this place. Just don’t bring anyone else here. Sawyers only, y’know?”
Mac nodded and Duke gave a noise of affirmation.
Chandler just lay back against the couch cushions, looking as though she might just fall asleep then and there.
Veronica’s phone chimed, and she looked at her messages, typing out a quick reply before sending it off and putting her phone away.
“Who’s that?” Mac asked.
“Martha. She, Betty, and JD are coming over with some snacks and stuff.”
Chandler grimaced and sat up. “Why the fuck are they coming?”
“Because they’re family,” Veronica said, “And because I’ve missed the last few movie nights and we agreed that the next time I’m able to hang out with them I get to pick the first one we watch.”
Chandler huffed and flopped back onto the couch. “Ugh, boring. Why would you waste time doing something like that when we could have stayed at the party?”
Veronica rolled her eyes. “It’s not time wasted if you enjoyed yourself.”
Veronica went around the cabin and made sure nothing was out of order. She swept the floors in the bedrooms and wiped the tables and countertops clean. She was retrieving a few extra blankets from the utility closet when the front door opened and Betty and Martha walked inside, arms weighed down with plastic grocery bags.
“Just give me a second to put these down and I’ll give you a hand!” Veronica said, setting the blankets down on the loveseat and taking a few of the bags out of Betty and Martha’s hands, sorting through the contents and putting everything away.
JD walked in a moment later, arms also laden with bags. He helped Veronica put everything away, and once everything was in its place, he followed her into the living room and collapsed into the one vacant armchair.
Veronica grinned at him and received a thumbs up in reply.
JD groaned. “My dad was just being a dick today, is all.”
Veronica nodded sympathetically. “Do you wanna talk about it?”
“Nah. Not tonight.” He sat up and gave her a tired smile. “Tonight is apparently a movie night. I’m curious as to what you picked.”
Betty laughed. “You don’t need to be curious. She and Martha are pretty predictable. Martha always chooses The Princess Bride, and Veronica almost always picks a musical.”
JD wrinkled his nose. “A musical?”
Veronica huffed. “They’re fun. Don’t judge me.”
Martha giggled. “We’re not judging. I honestly really like watching musicals with you!”
“I’m fine with anything as long as you don’t make us watch The Last Five Years again,” Betty said, “I don’t care how pretty and talented Anna Kendrick is, that movie is too damn sad.”
Martha and Veronica made sounds of agreement.
Veronica ended up having them watch Moulin Rouge, which was overall a fun experience. Veronica and Betty threw popcorn at each other, JD repeatedly talked about how much he hated the duke, and they all pretended not to notice when Chandler started mouthing the words to the songs.
By the time they finished the first movie, the Heathers were already looking forward to the rest of the movie night. Veronica’s loser friends weren’t as boring as they thought, it seemed.
Veronica closed her locker and glanced towards where JD stood talking to Martha and Betty. They looked to be deep in conversation. She smiled. He deserved to have good friends here, and she couldn’t think of anyone better than them.
The sound of heels against linoleum drew her attention, and she turned to face the Heathers as they strode with purpose down the cramped hallway, the crowd parting like the Red Sea around them.
“Good morning, Heather. Morning, Heather.” Veronica leaned back against her locker and smirked at Chandler. “And good morning to you, Little Red.”
Chandler rolled her eyes with a huff. “Tell Betty and Martha they’re going to Ram’s Halloween party with us. Flasher Boy can go, too.”
Veronica brought a hand up to Chandler’s forehead. “Heather, are you okay? I think you might have come down with something.”
“Get off me!” Chandler snapped, smacking Veronica’s hands away. “I mean it. They’re more than welcome to hang out with us there.”
Veronica gave Chandler a teasing grin. “They really grew on you, didn’t they?”
“Alright,” Betty laughed, “That’s enough movies for tonight. What do you want to do next?”
Betty and Veronica lay tangled up together on the ground after Veronica tackled Betty off of the couch during The Princess Bride. Martha and JD were still on the couch, JD laughing loudly while Martha pinched the bridge of her nose and let out a long-suffering sigh. The Heathers watched in bewilderment as Veronica laughed with her friends.
It was… odd, to say the least. They looked like they were genuinely enjoying themselves.
“I’ve got it!” Veronica said, bolting upright and sprinting into the kitchen, returning moments later with the liquor bottles held precariously in her arms. “You don’t have to drink with us, Martha, but I was thinking we could play a game.”
JD looked intrigued. “What kind of game?”
Veronica shrugged. “Something like Truth or Dare, maybe? I was thinking we could have penalty shots. Like, if we refuse to do a dare, then we have to drink.”
“I’m in,” Betty said, sitting up and grabbing a few of the bottles from Veronica’s hands, “Can’t let good booze like this go to waste. Might as well play some drinking games.”
Veronica grinned as Martha got up from the couch and went to the kitchen and retrieved seven shot glasses. “You’re playing too?”
Martha shrugged. “Why not? We can stay the night here if we get too drunk to go home.”
JD slid off of the couch and onto the floor, sitting on his knees next to the coffee table. “After today, I really don’t feel like being sober.”
“That’s worrying, but okay.” Veronica put the remaining bottles on the table and looked up at the Heathers. “How about you three? You want in?”
Chandler nodded and sat down on the floor. “I’m interested to see what your friends are like when they’re drunk.”
Mac and Duke joined her a moment later.
“Good luck beating Veronica at this game,” Betty remarked, “She never backs down from a dare.”
“It’s not about winning,” Veronica said.
Martha snorted. “Says the girl who’s never lost.”
Veronica rolled her eyes and filled each of the shot glasses, passing them around to the others before kneeling on the floor with them. “Alright, here are the ground rules. I’ll go first and pick someone, and then that person picks someone else, and so on. You’re not allowed to pick the person who picked you. You can refuse to answer a question or do a dare, but if you do, you take a penalty shot.”
“I’ll keep a tally,” Martha said, “That way we know who took the most penalties.”
Veronica nodded. “Cool. Now, no dangerous dares. Stuff like jumping off the roof or climbing one of the trees outside while drunk is absolutely off-limits. If you or someone else could get seriously injured doing it, then you don’t dare someone to do it. No truths are off-limits, although you should avoid asking Martha any sex questions, because that makes her uncomfortable. Any questions?”
The others all shook their heads, and Veronica grinned dangerously.
“In that case, let’s begin.” She turned and gestured to her target with her glass. “Betty, truth or dare?”
“What’s the most embarrassing nickname you’ve ever been called?”
Betty laughed nervously. “My abuela calls me calaca. ”
“What’s that mean?” Chandler asked.
Veronica and Martha snickered as Betty’s face turned pink.
“It means skeleton,” Veronica said, “Basically, her abuela’s calling her skinny.”
“That seems… kind of rude,” JD said.
Betty shrugged. “She means it lovingly.”
“Your turn, Betty,” Martha said.
“Oh right! Heather!” Betty called, “Chandler! Truth or dare?”
Chandler gave her an amused smirk. “Truth.”
“Who do you think is the worst dressed person here?”
Betty gasped, putting a hand up against her chest and glaring dramatically at Chandler. “I am hurt! I am truly and honestly hurt! You wound me!”
Veronica chuckled, patting Betty on the shoulder. “I think you look great.”
“Oh, what do you know?” Betty grumbled, fighting back a smile, “Up until you started hanging out with the Heathers you wore a monocle. ”
JD burst out laughing. “A monocle? You’re kidding me!”
Betty shook her head gravely. “I’m afraid not. Our dear friend here honestly thought it would be a good idea to walk around wearing a fucking monocle.”
“And she wore scarves indoors,” Martha said.
“It’s October! ” Veronica pouted and crossed her arms. “I can’t believe my two best friends are roasting me like this.”
“Believe it, sweetheart,” Betty said, quickly ducking out of the way of the pillow Veronica threw at her head and laughing.
Chandler grinned. “You know, Veronica, your friends might actually be more fun than I thought.”
Betty snorted. “I’m not sure whether to be proud or insulted.”
Even if Chandler wouldn’t admit it, Veronica knew that she enjoyed herself. By the end of the night, all seven of them were laughing and talking about the most meaningless things, Veronica being the most sober out of all of them. They camped out in the main room that night, whispering to each other every now and then as they tried to stay conscious long enough to say what was on their minds, occasionally bursting into helpless giggles if someone said something particularly hilarious.
It was nice. Veronica hoped they could do it again sometime.
“Don’t worry,” she said, “I won’t let them know that the great and powerful Heather Chandler is actually a huge sap.”
Chandler swatted at her arm, hissing at her to shut up while Duke and Mac snickered.
“You know I’m right!” Veronica laughed.
Chandler crossed her arms and glared up at Veronica, though the frown didn’t reach her eyes. “Just tell them they’re invited, alright?”
“You got it,” Veronica said, “It’ll be good for them, I think. They’ll probably enjoy talking to other people for a change.”
With that, she turned and made her way to where JD, Betty, and Martha were still talking.
JD noticed her first. “What’s up?” he asked, smiling brightly at her.
“Our benevolent ruler has invited the three of you with us to Ram’s Halloween party this weekend,” Veronica said.
Betty snorted. “Oh, how generous. Surely, we’d be fools to reject such an invitation.”
“It sounds exciting,” Martha said, stifling giggles, “I say we accept.”
JD shrugged. “Sounds fun. It’s not on a full moon, though, is it?”
“Nah, you don’t have to worry about that,” Veronica said, “I checked. No mandatory transformations this week.”
“Cool. I’m in, then.”
“I’d love to!” Martha said, jumping up and down in her excitement.
Betty chuckled. “Sure, why not? Might as well see what all the fuss is about, right?”
Veronica grinned. “Alright, I’ll let her know.”
“What did they say?” Chandler demanded.
“They’ve accepted your generous invitation, Your Highness.” Veronica gave an exaggerated bow, much to Mac and Duke’s amusement.
“Can you not? You look ridiculous.”
Veronica straightened back up and shrugged. “Sure, sure. But yeah, they’ll be there.”
“Good,” Chandler said, nodding approvingly, “I’m doing those losers a favor. They’d be idiots to pass up an opportunity like this.”
“Just admit that you want them there,” Veronica said, “It’ll save us all a lot of time.”
“Shut up!” Chandler demanded, though it sounded more like a whine.
Veronica laughed again.
The party was in full swing by the time Betty and Martha arrived.
They hadn’t expected to be invited, but apparently the Heathers thought they were worth inviting.
Betty didn’t quite see the appeal, but Martha looked like a kid in a theme park. Everything was new and exciting here.
They found the Heathers pretty quickly, with help from Veronica’s descriptions of their costumes.
“Hey! Thanks for inviting us!” Martha chirped, practically jumping up and down in her excitement.
Chandler waved dismissively. “It was nothing. Is Veronica with you? She wasn’t home when I went to pick her up.”
Betty grinned. “She and JD are coming. It took a little longer than expected for them to put their costumes together.”
Just then, a voice shouted “Boo!” and all three Heathers jumped in place, before turning to look at the person who startled them.
JD stood behind them in full werewolf costume, grinning triumphantly.
“Got you!” he cheered.
Chandler huffed. “Fuck off.”
“Aww, c’mon, Little Red. I was just playing around.”
Duke snickered. “Down, boy.”
JD rolled his eyes, smiling wider as they all heard Veronica’s voice.
“If he’s taking orders from you, then doesn’t that make him Toto?”
Mac giggled. “That’s perfect! Dorothy and Toto!”
Duke linked her arm with JD’s. “It’s settled. We’re Dorothy and Toto now.”
JD huffed, but his smile didn’t drop.
Veronica smiled approvingly and turned to Betty and Martha. “Nice costumes, you two.”
Betty gestured to Duke. “I’ll get you, my pretty! And your little dog, too!” She cackled menacingly in a rather good impression of the Wicked Witch of the West.
Duke snorted. “Oh my god!”
Martha giggled and pushed her thick-rimmed glasses up her nose, her free hand toying with the hem of her orange sweater. “You really like it?”
Veronica nodded. “But considering how many of you have canine sidekicks, JD’s going to have a lot of different nicknames tonight.”
Martha gasped. “I should have brought Scooby snacks!”
“Oh my gosh!” Mac laughed, “That would have been amazing! Now I kind of wish I’d picked a different costume. I’m not sure many people are gonna get the reference I’m trying to make.”
Betty’s brow furrowed as she thought about what Mac could be. “Sexy shark from Mean Girls?”
Mac beamed. “Yes!”
“Nice! We’re both musical characters! Sort of.”
Betty and Mac high fived.
“Figures you’d know about musicals,” Chandler said.
Betty shrugged. “Veronica’s the theater nerd. Martha and I mostly just picked stuff up from her.”
Veronica chuckled. “Thanks to me, you’ve got a healthy appreciation for the performing arts.”
Betty snorted. “Whatever helps you sleep at night, Opera Ghost.”
The happy mood didn’t last, however, as Kurt and Ram snuck up behind the Heathers.
“Hey, Heather,” Ram slurred, leering at Chandler, “Looking good.”
Kurt wrapped his arms around Mac’s waist from behind. Veronica could smell the alcohol on his breath despite the distance between them.
“How about we all go upstairs for some fun?” Ram said, his own hands settling on Chandler’s hips.
Veronica and JD shared a glance, both nodding subtly as JD slipped away into the crowd.
Veronica took off her mask and walked up behind Kurt and Ram, whispering something in their ears before leading them away, leaving the others confused and worried.
“What did she say to them?” Mac asked.
Duke seemed puzzled. “Must have been pretty tempting if it got them to follow her without even looking at any of us.”
Betty chuckled. “Well, whatever she said, they’re probably going to be disappointed.”
“And terrified,” Martha added.
Before the Heathers could ask what they meant, they heard a scream.
Kurt and Ram ran downstairs, tripping over their feet every few seconds in their haste, pushing past the other partygoers and sprinting out the back door and into the woods.
Veronica and JD walked calmly down the stairs moments later, smirking.
“What did you do? ” Chandler demanded.
JD shrugged. “Gave them a little scare. Nothing too bad.”
Veronica grinned, and for a moment, the Heathers could have sworn her teeth were sharper than they should be. The next moment, however, they couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary.
“Trust me,” Veronica said, “They won’t be bothering you for a while.”
Duke’s eyes narrowed in suspicion, and she wondered, not for the first time, if Veronica’s werewolf jokes were actually jokes in the first place.
Not quite relevant to the plot, but Martha is Velma, Betty is Elphaba, and Kurt and Ram are just generic movie monsters, so I didn't bother describing their costumes.
“We all saw the same thing, right?” Duke asked.
Chandler rolled her eyes. “We saw a lot of things at the party, Heather.”
“Veronica had fangs, Heather!” Duke gestured wildly with her arms as she shouted. “And they just disappeared when she was talking!”
“It could have been a trick of the light,” Mac suggested, though her expression hinted that she didn’t quite believe her own words.
Chandler huffed. “What are you trying to say, Heather? That Veronica’s some sort of monster? A mythical creature from one of your books?”
“Maybe! She’s been telling us that she’s a werewolf for weeks now! What if she wasn’t joking?”
Mac appeared to be seriously considering the possibility.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Chandler scoffed, “She’s not a werewolf, Heather. Werewolves don’t exist.”
Duke frowned, but said nothing.
Over the next week, however, the Heathers started to notice things.
It started the day after their discussion. Chandler had just started to slow down to pull into the Sawyers’ driveway to pick up Veronica when the front door opened and Veronica trotted out to meet the car, like she had heard it as soon as it turned onto the street.
Chandler didn’t say a word, though she glanced at Veronica from the corner of her eye every so often.
The next incident was a few days later, in Mac and Veronica’s shared math class. The teacher had stepped out for a minute for something, and the moment the door closed, the other students relaxed and started to talk amongst themselves, laughing and joking and throwing things across the room.
Every time someone threw something, though, Mac noticed that Veronica would follow it with her eyes, her posture tense, like she was only a moment away from launching herself out of her seat to chase the projectile.
Duke paid close attention to every move Veronica made. JD too. They always seemed to be bothered by strong smells and loud noises, their noses wrinkling in disgust whenever there was a particularly strong smell, pleasant or not, and every time the bell rang, or a student shouted unexpectedly, she’d notice their faces scrunch up in discomfort.
Chandler had taken to wearing much milder perfume after Duke brought this to her attention.
The strangest thing, however, was how closely their body language mimicked that of a dog. Duke would notice, whenever they were angry or agitated, they would bare their teeth and snarl. When they were excited or happy, however, they’d smile wide and… sort of dance around, for lack of a better word. It was like every emotion had to be expressed physically.
“We need to talk to Kurt and Ram,” Duke said.
Mac cocked her head to the side in confusion. “Why?”
“Because,” Duke explained, “They saw something at the Halloween party. Something Veronica and JD did scared them, and I want to know what it was.”
“Good luck with that,” Chandler scoffed, “They’ve been avoiding us like the plague.”
A few days later, as she cornered Kurt and Ram in the weight room, she wondered why she cared so much about this. Finding out what had them so scared was almost certainly not worth the smell of the weight room.
Ram yelped and stepped back as Duke walked towards them. “Listen, we don’t want any trouble! We stayed away just like Veronica said!”
Duke huffed. “What the fuck did she do that made you two run off like that?”
Kurt shook his head, his eyes wild. “You don’t wanna know.”
“You won’t believe us,” Ram insisted.
“That’s for me to decide.”
Kurt and Ram shared a look, before sighing, the tension draining from their shoulders as they slumped onto one of the weight benches.
“She told us to follow her upstairs,” Kurt said, “And me and Ram thought it would be fun.”
“Then we get up there,” Ram said, “And she’s standing in the middle of one of the rooms and smiling at us, when the door shuts behind us.”
“And then she tells us to leave you three alone, and Ram and I ask what she’ll do if we don’t.”
“And then Bo Diddley comes out from behind a bookshelf.” Ram shudders as he recalls what happened next.
“And?” Duke demanded.
Kurt shook his head in bewilderment. “It was like something out of a movie. They back us into a corner, and then their teeth get all sharp and their nails get long like claws, and I swear their ears got longer, too!”
“And pointy,” Ram added, “And then hair started growing all over their faces, and they started growling- ”
“And Veronica just tells us to run before-”
“She jumped at us!” Ram shouted, “Her mouth was open like she was about to bite our faces off, and that Dean kid tried to tear a chunk off Kurt with his claws, so we ran for it.”
Duke’s eyes widened in shock as she digested the information.
“Don’t tell her we talked to you,” Kurt pleaded, “I don’t wanna die.”
Duke nodded absently and left the weight room, frowning as their words finally registered.
Veronica had attacked them.
Did she mean to hurt them? She had never tried to hurt her or the other Heathers before.
And JD was apparently a werewolf too. Did Veronica turn him?
She walked out to the parking lot, ready to drive home and tell Mac and Chandler what Kurt and Ram had told her.
They were going to get to the bottom of this.
Chapter 14: Welcome to the Pack
JD visits Veronica's extended family for Thanksgiving and finds a place to belong. In the meantime, the Heathers' suspicions grow.
JD wrung his hands nervously as he stood outside the Sawyer house on Thanksgiving Day. Veronica had invited him, and he had accepted, but he was still nervous. What if they got one whiff of his scent and turned him away because of the pack that turned him? What if they forbid Veronica from being around him again? He just found a pack, he didn’t want to lose it after only a little over a month of feeling like he actually belonged. He was happy. He felt more stable than he had in a long time, and it was all thanks to Veronica and her parents.
Suddenly the front door opened, and JD was immediately bombarded by the sounds of laughter and animated conversation from inside the house, along with the smell of delicious food being prepared.
“JD!” Mrs. Sawyer pulled him in for a hug. “Veronica’s in the back with the pups if you want to go find her. Dinner will be ready in a little while, and then the pack is going to go for a run together. You’re welcome to run with us if you like.”
“A run? Like, as wolves?” She seemed happy to see him. That was a good sign, right?
Mrs. Sawyer nodded. “We don’t all get to be together like this often. Usually it’s just my side of the family at Hanukkah and my husband’s side of the family at Christmas. They heard we brought an Orphan into our pack, though, so they all decided to come visit.”
JD hunched his shoulders, even more nervous at the idea of Veronica’s family being there just to meet him.
“Oh, don’t worry, dear!” Mrs. Sawyer put a hand on his arm to reassure him. “They trust Veronica’s judgement. And even if they don’t, it’s not like they can justify turning away a wolf with nowhere else to go.”
That made him feel a little better. “Thanks, Mrs. Sawyer.”
“It’s nothing, dear. Go find Veronica and tell her not to tire herself out before the run.”
He nodded and followed her into the house, smiling politely at the people who greeted him as he made his way to the back door.
The sliding glass door opened, and he almost laughed at the sight that greeted him.
Veronica was pinned on her stomach in the middle of the yard by a small army of children. They were all laughing and yelling in a language JD didn’t understand.
A moment later, he and Veronica made eye contact, and she reached out and pointed at him.
“There he is!” she yelled, “Get him!”
JD had the good sense to get off the porch and onto the grass before several small children knocked him onto his back.
He heard Veronica’s laughter, followed by a “Alright, that’s enough,” and suddenly, the children released him.
Veronica offered him a hand, still chuckling to herself. He allowed her to help him up and dusted himself off.
“Alright, everyone,” Veronica called, “This is JD. He’s part of my pack now, which means he’s your pack, too. JD, meet the pups.”
“Are they your cousins?” he asked.
“Some of them. The others are my older cousins' kids.”
He hummed in understanding, and Veronica began to introduce her, one by one, to her family members.
By the time dinner was ready, his head was spinning with the amount of names he’d had to learn. Veronica had a large family. Surprisingly, not all of them were werewolves.
“I told you, we don’t turn people unless they’re okay with it,” Veronica explained, “So if someone marries a member of our pack, and they don’t want to be turned, then we let them be. They’re still pack, though.”
JD tried to understand all the things they were explaining to him. Apparently Veronica was the only known wolf to belong to more than one pack? It was all sort of confusing.
They were patient, though, and once everyone was done with dinner, they took turns shifting and jumping the fence into the woods until all the wolves that planned to participate were dashing through the undergrowth together, JD included.
Veronica and her parents were happy to lead him along as the packs ran together, chasing and wrestling and howling at the moon.
It was okay. They liked him. He didn’t have anything to worry about. He had a pack to back him up, and a family to fall back on when times get tough.
He hadn’t felt this happy in a long time.
“Ugh,” Chandler groaned, “Why are we out here again?”
“To see if what Kurt and Ram said was right.”
The Heathers were lurking outside Veronica’s house in the middle of what one could possibly call a stakeout, waiting with bated breath as the commotion inside died down.
Mac covered her mouth to muffle a gasp as a dog-no, wolf - jumped over the fence and into the woods.
“I knew it! ” Duke whispered.
“Knew what?” Chandler demanded, “It could just be somebody’s… dog…”
One by one, several more wolves jumped the fence, chasing each other into the trees, barking and howling as the sound of leaves crunching beneath their feet followed them deeper and deeper into the woods.
“You were saying?”
“Shut up, Heather.”
“Sawyer,” Officer Duke growled, slamming the front door of Veronica’s house as he entered.
“Officer Duke,” Veronica hummed from her spot on the living room couch, “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Any idea why my daughter seems to be studying werewolves?” he demanded.
Veronica shrugged. “Might have something to do with the Halloween party we went to last month.”
He huffed and sat down in a recliner close to the couch. “Explain. Now.”
“Not much to it,” she admitted, “I scared a couple people and didn’t shift back all the way before I got back to her. Either she saw something or the people I scared decided to blab. In my defense, having your teeth press back into your gums while another set replaces it hurts like hell.”
“And what were you doing scaring civilians?”
“They were making Heather uncomfortable, and I don’t trust them.” She looked up from the book she was reading and met his eyes. “Kurt Kelly and Ram Sweeney are date rapists, and I wasn’t about to let any of the Heathers go off alone with either of them, but they weren’t going to leave them alone unless someone intervened.”
“Still, seems like a little much, doesn’t it?”
She shrugged again. “Not really. Better than the alternative, at least. Besides, you told me to look out for her, and she’s my friend. Hell, she’s practically pack at this point. I sure as hell wasn’t about to let a member of my pack get hurt when I could’ve done something.”
Officer Duke was quiet for a long moment, before nodding and standing up from the chair, groaning as his knees protested. “Let me know if Ram Sweeney and Kurt Kelly try anything else. If they hurt my daughter, or even so much as think of laying a hand on her, I’ll have them put away for a long time.”
Veronica chuckled. “Careful, officer. Wouldn’t want anyone to accuse you of abusing your authority. I’ll let you know if anything happens, but I’m not worried. Ever since JD and I scared them, they’ve kept their distance. Nothing’s happening to your daughter on my watch.”
“I’ll trust your judgement on that,” he said, “Just remember what’ll happen if she gets hurt because of you.”
“I haven’t forgotten.”
“If I find out you’ve been hanging around my little girl, I’ll put a bullet between your eyes.”
Veronica huffed, unable to properly voice her displeasure at the threat in her wolf form. She could respect someone who protected their family, but frankly, she found Officer Duke’s approach ridiculous.
“Don’t give me that,” he sneered, “Wherever things like you go, there’s bound to be trouble. I don’t want her getting hurt.”
Things like me?
Veronica suppressed a growl.
She’d only been working alongside the police for a short while, helping out on cases when they asked. So far, Officer Duke was the most difficult police officer she’d ever had the displeasure of working with.
Hopefully she wouldn’t be forced to be around him often.
Veronica smiled in amusement at the memory. She never expected to have anything resembling a friendly rapport with the demanding cop, but thankfully he’d softened around the edges after a while.
“We’ve got a lead on a drug case we’ve been working on,” Officer Duke said, “I’d appreciate your help with it this weekend.”
Veronica nodded. “Just tell me when you need me and I’ll find some excuse not to go wherever Heather Chandler wants to drag us.”
He chuckled. “You’re smart enough. I’ll bet you’ll be able to get out of whatever she’s got planned, no problem.”
Veronica got up and led him to the front door, shaking his hand politely as he left.
“Drive safe, officer.”
He nodded. “Keep out of trouble.”
“Keep out of legal trouble.”
Veronica gave a mock pout. “If I must,” she sighed.
He snorted. “Tell your folks I said hello.”
With that, he got into his squad car and drove off.
Duke’s eyes narrowed as she watched her father's car leave the Sawyers' driveway.
“Think your dad’s involved with werewolves?” Chandler muttered.
Duke scowled. “I don’t get it. Since when is Veronica all buddy-buddy with my dad?”
They watched as Veronica shut the front door, their suspicions building with every passing day.
“Well, whatever’s going on, we’re going to find out one way or another,” Chandler said.
Duke nodded in agreement.
Content warning in this chapter for mentions of abuse.
JD yawned and huffed as he awoke in the master bedroom of the Sawyer cabin, stretching and grunting as his joints popped, quickly becoming aware of the fact that his paws had shifted back to hands at some point around sunrise.
That was odd. He’d never shifted in his sleep before. It didn’t even hurt.
Maybe he was getting better at transforming?
It was a nice thought.
He heard sizzling from the other side of the house and sniffed the air, climbing out of the bed and getting dressed before following the scent of cooking bacon.
Veronica stood in front of the stove in a t-shirt and flannel pajama pants, humming as she cooked.
“Morning,” she called, “You must be hungry.”
JD hummed in agreement. “Why can’t we just eat the bacon raw? We can do it in wolf form.”
“We also have shorter digestive tracts as wolves,” she explained, “Less chance to get sick.”
“Wish I could still eat raw meat,” he grumbled, “I’m hungry now. ”
Veronica chuckled. “It’ll be done in a minute.”
“Want some help?”
“If you want to set the table or something, that’d be great.”
JD rooted through the drawers and cabinets, grabbing plates and silverware and leaving them on the counter.
“Officer Duke visited me a couple days ago,” Veronica said conversationally, “Apparently, the Heathers are suspicious.”
“Figured as much,” JD said, “I could smell them nearby when we went for that run on Thanksgiving. Should we be more careful?”
She shrugged. “If you want. We don’t have to be, though. Not like anyone would believe them if they tried to say anything, anyway.”
JD hummed thoughtfully. “Doesn’t seem like there’s any harm in telling them, then, is there?”
Veronica stood outside the Chandlers’ house, not quite sure what she was hoping to accomplish by being there. Chandler had seemed agitated all day at school, and Veronica wanted to help however she could.
Her fist was inches from the door, poised to knock, when she heard a sound from inside. She strained her ears to hear what was happening. She heard shouting, though she couldn’t make out the words, followed by the sharp sound of a slap. Veronica jumped back, eyes wide, her wolf side already prepared to defend her packmate if she had to.
No longer caring who answered, Veronica knocked on the door, relieved when the sounds inside the house quieted down.
When the door opened, Veronica stood up straight, ready to stare down whoever threatened her pack, before her expression softened and her shoulders sagged all at once.
Heather’s body language was oddly subdued, and Veronica could feel her wolf side rearing up, howling and tearing at the back of her mind, ready to tear flesh from bone at the sight of the bright pink spot on Heather’s face.
Veronica looked past Heather to where a man stood, his posture tense and aggressive. Probably her father. Veronica suppressed the urge to wince as she felt her teeth growing longer, nails becoming longer and sharper as she battled with her instincts.
“Hey,” she said, carefully concealing her teeth from view, “I was wondering if you wanted to hang out. Maybe go somewhere?”
Heather seemed relieved. Veronica visualized her wolf side in her mind, pacing back and forth like a caged animal, teeth bared in a snarl, ready to lunge at the man if he made a move.
Heather stood to the side, allowing Veronica inside. The man sized her up, noting her height, and extended a hand toward her.
“I don’t believe we’ve met,” he said, his tone even.
Veronica forced her claws to shift back before she took it, squeezing harder than necessary. “We haven’t. Veronica Sawyer.”
Almost nobody outside Veronica’s family knew what she was, but the way this man’s eyes widened made her wonder.
“Veronica, this is my father,” Heather interjected.
“A pleasure,” Veronica said, feeling no remorse for the way Mr. Chandler winced when she gave a final harsh squeeze before releasing his hand.
“We’re just going to go upstairs,” Heather said, “I’m gonna go get ready, and then we can leave.”
Veronica shrugged nonchalantly. “Fine by me.”
She could see the nervousness in Heather’s posture as she led the way to her room, closing the door quietly behind them.
Veronica approached slowly. Heather seemed relieved to be away from her father, but that didn’t mean she would react well to Veronica invading her personal space.
“What are you-”
Veronica cut her off, pulling her into a hug, her hold loose enough that Heather could push her away if she wanted.
Heather looked up curiously, but Veronica’s gaze was locked on the door, her eyes hard and her lip upturned in a sneer.
“If he hits you again,” Veronica growled, bringing a hand up to cup Heather’s cheek, “I’ll tear him apart.”
Heather shoved her back. “How do you know about that?!”
“I heard it,” she admitted, “From outside.”
Heather scowled up at her. “You had no right.”
Veronica sighed. “I know. I just… he shouldn’t do that. Ever. And if he does it again...” Veronica shot another glare at the door, a low growl bubbling up from her throat, her teeth bared threateningly. “There’s nothing that can save him from me.”
Heather took a step back, and Veronica had to suppress a whine. She was trying to protect her, not scare her.
“Heather, listen.” She had to remind herself not to scare Heather further. She didn’t want to make this any worse. “You have nothing to worry about from me.”
Heather snorted. “Right. I’ve got nothing to worry about from the literal werewolf.”
Veronica laughed. “A wolf protects their pack, Heather. My mother would have my tail if I tried to hurt a member of my pack.”
Heather narrowed her eyes at her, obviously unconvinced.
Veronica chewed at the inside of her cheek, wincing when her sharp canines dug into the inside of her lip.
She had forgotten about that.
Sighing, Veronica exposed her teeth, wincing as she focused on shifting them back. Moments later, she ran her tongue over the tops of her teeth to make sure they were back to normal.
“There,” she said, “No fangs, no claws. You’re not in any danger.”
"Forgive me if I'm still not totally convinced," Heather said as she stared in shock. Veronica couldn’t tell if she was awed or horrified.
She decided to lighten the mood. “At least you didn’t nickname me Muffin. JD’s never gonna let me live that down.”
That seemed to help things. Heather burst into helpless giggles as soon as the words registered.
“Yeah, yeah,” Veronica rolled her eyes, unable to keep from grinning no matter how much she wanted to appear annoyed, “I’m so glad my suffering amuses you.”
Heather snorted, clapping a hand over her mouth in a futile attempt to contain her laughter.
“Go ahead. Laugh it up,” Veronica smirked, “But I doubt all that good humor will last.”
“Why’s that?” Heather asked, still laughing into her hand.
“Because you’re the one who called JD Midnight.”
“Oh my god,” she muttered.
Heather Duke asks all the right questions.
Her dad's not about to lie to her.
“Hey kiddo,” Officer Duke called as the door shut behind him.
His daughter’s reply of “Hey dad,” came from the living room, where he found her lounging on the couch with a book, her two rescue pit bulls Jack and Oliver curled up in front of the couch.
“How was work?” she asked.
He smiled. “Pretty good. Tracker helped me out on the stakeout.”
Heather craned her head to look at him. She’d heard him talk about Tracker, but she’d never heard him describe any of their interactions as pleasant. “I thought you said she was too stubborn.”
“She’s definitely still stubborn,” he laughed, “But we’ve reached an understanding.”
Heather snorted. “Didn’t expect you to get past your first impression of her. What changed?”
“We were working on finding that wolf,” he explained, “And something about it scared her. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I knew she wouldn’t be able to do her job if she was too stressed, so I let her go for the night. Didn’t want her to feel like she was in danger, y’know?”
Heather hummed, absently scratching behind Oliver’s ear when he pressed his nose against her hand to demand her attention. “Did you catch the wolf?”
“Yeah. He was actually easier to get than we thought. Tracker brought him to me two days later. Apparently she was running around in the woods when the wolf found her, and instead of attacking, it just wanted to play, so she ended up leading him right to us.” He sat down on the floor and started petting Jack, who lay his head on Mr. Duke’s lap in response.
Heather was silent for a moment, and her father recognized the look on her face as the one she wore when she was trying to figure out how best to phrase her question.
“What’s eating you, kid?”
Heather frowned at the now closed book in her hands. “This is gonna sound weird, but… do you know anything about werewolves?”
He considered lying. He considered laughing it off. There were a number of things he could have done to dodge the question, but as he thought it over, he couldn’t think of a reason not to tell her the truth. She was already suspicious, and nobody would believe her or her friends if they tried to tell anyone. Nobody else outside the town’s police force even knew werewolves existed.
“I might know a bit,” he said.
Her next question would have seemed completely unrelated to the conversation if he had been anyone else, but when she asked “What do you know about the Sawyers?” he knew exactly why she was asking.
“You think they’re werewolves,” he said. It wasn’t a question. “You’re right.”
Her head whipped around to look at him, eyes wide with disbelief. “You’re kidding.”
“I’m not,” he said, “The police in this town all know about it. The Sawyers have been working with us for years.”
He nodded. “Tracker’s one of them. The wolf we were looking for is a werewolf too. From what they tell me, he was turned by a different pack a long time ago. That’s why Tracker was so scared by him. The pack he comes from is dangerous. Apparently, though, they never claimed him, so he had no idea what he was or how to control it, so the Sawyers took him in to teach him.”
He chuckled. “That would be Tracker. You might’ve seen her around. She likes to run in wolf form outside the full moon sometimes. She’s a big brown wolf.”
Heather’s next words were quiet, almost a whisper, but in the silence of the room he heard them loud and clear.
“Oh my god, Heather, Heather and I have been calling her Muffin.”
He snorted and doubled over with laughter. “What?!”
“We were kind of on a group date with these guys, and they got kind of drunk-”
“You know I can’t condone underage drinking, kid.”
“...They weren’t. Underage, that is.”
Her father frowned, but said nothing, nodding for her to continue.
She sighed. “They got drunk and they started making us uncomfortable, but before they could do anything,” her dad’s posture stiffened from his place on the floor, “These two wolves came running out of the woods and chased them off. There was a brown one and a black one. Heather called the brown one Muffin, and Heather called the black one Midnight.”
Mr. Duke gently pushed Jack’s head off of his lap and stood up. “Well, from what Veronica’s told me, you’ve gotten yourself in a fair amount of danger around these boys you go on dates with. I’m not happy about it, but I can’t do anything about it except tell you to be safe.”
“Just,” he sighed, “Remember that I love you, and I want you to be okay. We’re all the family we’ve got out here. I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“I know Dad.”
He smiled and put a hand on her shoulder. “Good. I’m not gonna be a cop with you here. I’m always your dad first. Be careful, and trust your instincts.”
Heather smiled. “I will, Dad.”
“That’s my girl.”
“Veronica’s a werewolf. Like, really. Werewolves exist and Veronica is one.”
Chandler sighed. “I know.”
“JD too,” Mac said.
Duke blinked. “You… you already know?”
Mac nodded. “I guess we should talk about it, huh?”
JD likes ear scritches. Tell no one.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Mac would freely admit that she wasn’t the bravest person in the world. She might even go as far as to call herself a coward. However, she was proud of how well she reacted to what happened a few nights after Thanksgiving.
It wasn’t often that Heather and Heather ditched Mac, but when they did, it usually had something to do with boys.
She hated it.
She hated being left alone at parties, especially.
Veronica hadn’t been at this one. Mac could see the moon overhead as she sat on the front steps of the house, contemplating just getting up and walking home. It was only a half moon. If Veronica was a werewolf, wouldn’t she be able to go to the party tonight?
She could see Orion from where she sat. The three stars in a slightly crooked line that made up his belt made him the only constellation she could recognize. She hummed thoughtfully to herself, standing up and walking down the driveway. Walking home was definitely better than staying there.
It wasn’t long before she managed to pick out a second pair of footsteps keeping time with her own in an effort to go unnoticed. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end and she sped up, the footsteps keeping pace.
She thanked her lucky stars for the dark shape that darted towards the person following her. She heard a shout, followed by the sound of the person sprinting away at top speed. She turned and saw one of the wolves that saved her and the others last time. He chased her pursuer down the street, barking loudly enough to wake the whole block. When he ran far enough that she could no longer see him, she turned back around and continued walking.
A few minutes later, she heard the sound of something following her again. It didn’t sound like a person, though.
She turned. The wolf was trotting towards her, tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth as he panted, tail held high and ears pricked upwards.
She smiled and held out her hand. The wolf-Midnight, she reminded herself-quickened his pace until he was right in front of her, tail swishing from side to side as he licked her palm in greeting.
“You gonna walk me home?” she asked.
She could swear he nodded, before tugging at the cuff of her sleeve, pulling her forward.
She giggled at the gesture, letting him walk beside her.
“This is the second time you’ve saved me, y’know.”
Midnight panted, glancing up at her before returning his attention to the sidewalk in front of them.
“You’re… not a regular wolf, are you?”
His ears twitched.
“Right,” she sighed, “You can’t answer me.”
She smiled as her house came into view, pausing at the front door.
“Wanna come in?”
As though he were accepting the offer, Midnight trotted up to the door, looking up at her expectantly.
Mac dug her keys out of her pocket and unlocked the door, holding a finger up in front of her lips to try and signal to him that they needed to be quiet. Midnight followed her up the stairs, nails clicking against the hardwood floor as she led him to her room.
“I’ve got some extra blankets,” she said as she opened up her closet door, grabbing a spare comforter from the high shelf above the clothing rack.
She arranged the blanket on the floor, along with a few pillows. “There. That should do it. What do you think?”
Midnight sniffed the blanket nest, turning in circles a few times before lying down square in the middle and spreading out on his side.
Mac smiled and scratched behind his ears, pleasantly surprised when he didn’t lean away.
“Alright,” she whispered, “G’night. Sleep well.”
With that, she crawled into bed, pulling the blankets up to her chin and dozing off almost immediately.
She woke up around sunrise to an odd cracking sound.
She sat up in bed, rubbing her eyes and staring in disbelief at what she saw.
Midnight appeared to still be asleep, but she could tell the sound was coming from him. She winced sympathetically as his body contorted, before gasping in surprise as she realized what was happening.
Within minutes, she watched the thick black fur on his body recede, his nails growing shorter and flatter on his paws, which quickly turned back to hands and feet. His ears became smaller and rounder at the tips, and his muzzle grew shorter, the hair on his face and neck disappearing, while the fur at the top of his head grew longer and curlier, until she was finally able to recognize the person lying on the comforter in her room.
He yawned, stretching out on the blanket, before his eyes fluttered open.
“Morning,” he hummed as he met Mac’s awed gaze, tugging the blanket over his legs and torso.
“Oh my god,” she whispered.
“Yup,” he groaned, sitting up and stretching his arms above his head, “Werewolves are real. Nobody will believe you. Yadda yadda yadda.”
Mac had so many questions.
“If you’re gonna ask if she turned me, then the answer’s no. I was attacked by a werewolf once when I was like, twelve, and Veronica found me a few months ago.”
“But you’re always hanging out with her.”
He nodded. “We’re not meant to be by ourselves. A wolf needs a pack, and she’s mine.”
Mac nodded. “Does it-”
“Look,” He said, “I’m more than happy to answer your questions, but transforming takes a lot of energy, and right now, I really just need to eat a whole lot of food and call Veronica to bring me some clothes. Not necessarily in that order.”
Mac nodded. “I can call her for you.”
“Thanks,” he smiled up at her, before wrinkling his nose, “Ugh, can I use your shower?”
“It’s right there,” she said, pointing to the bathroom.
He nodded, gathering the comforter around his shoulders like a cloak and shuffling to the bathroom.
As soon as she heard running water, Mac grabbed her phone and dialed Veronica’s number.
Orion is honestly the only constellation I can recognize. All the other ones are really hard to find for some reason.
Not super proud of this chapter, but it's not bad, so here.
Veronica fully expected the Heathers to react badly to the knowledge that she and JD were werewolves, so she was pleasantly surprised when JD told her about how things had gone with Mac. They figured that Duke already knew, either from her father or from the other Heathers, so there was bound to be a confrontation at some point.
Veronica and JD were roughhousing in the backyard of the house one afternoon. JD wrestled like a pup, and honestly, Veronica was having the time of her life. She hardly ever got the chance to play fight with a wolf her own age unless there was a family gathering, so having someone she could wrestle with whenever she wanted was definitely something she intended to enjoy as much as possible.
At the moment, Veronica had JD pinned, her nails, teeth, and ears having shifted at some point from the excitement. She grinned down at JD, who had also partly shifted. He laughed and threw her off, pouncing on her while she was distracted.
The glass patio door slid open, and Veronica and JD stopped wrestling to see who it was.
The Heathers stood in the doorway, staring out into the yard at them.
JD climbed to his feet and offered Veronica a hand to help her up. Veronica shifted her features back to normal, wincing as her fangs pushed inward, before letting him pull her up.
“What’s up?” JD asked, his tone friendly and relaxed.
Chandler stepped forward, arms crossed, her posture obviously guarded. “We need to talk.”
Veronica sighed. “Is this about the werewolf thing?”
Mac nodded. “Thanks, by the way,” she said, looking at JD, “It was nice of you to help me after that party.”
JD straightened up, chest puffing out in pride. “Like hell am I gonna let a packmate get hurt.”
Veronica chuckled, ruffling his hair and ducking out of his reach before he could pull her into a headlock.
Duke snickered as JD tried and failed to grab Veronica, the two soon falling over each other in a pile as they tried to overpower one another. It was adorable to watch them roll around, grabbing at each other and laughing as they pushed and kicked at each other, careful not to do any actual damage.
“Am I the only one that thinks they’re both being way too cute right now?” Mac wondered.
Duke shook her head. “Nope.”
Chandler rolled her eyes. “Can we please focus on the matter at hand?”
Veronica laughed as she pushed JD’s face into the grass. “Sorry. Still kind of in play mode.”
“Thish ish lesh uncomfortable than I thought it would be,” JD said, making no move to roll Veronica off of him, despite his head being squished into the dirt.
Veronica helped him up, and Mac snorted as JD wiped some of the dirt off his cheek and smeared it across Veronica’s face, bolting past the Heathers and through the patio door before Veronica could retaliate.
“You’ll pay for that!” she called, trotting up to the back porch and stopping in front of the Heathers. “Alright, c’mon in,” she said, “We can talk in my room.”
The Heathers followed her up the stairs to her bedroom, where they found JD walking out of the bathroom, gently scrubbing his face clean with a washcloth. He gave an indignant shout as Veronica tackled him to the floor and pressed her face against his, smearing it with dirt again before stealing the washcloth and cleaning herself off.
“You’re the worst,” JD muttered.
“I know,” Veronica grinned and handed the washcloth back.
JD shook his head, smiling fondly as he and Veronica sat on the floor, cross-legged. He finished wiping his face and tossed the washcloth into the laundry hamper before looking up at the Heathers. “You gonna sit down or are you just gonna stand there?”
“You two are weird,” Chandler said as she claimed Veronica’s desk chair.
Veronica shrugged. “Maybe to you.”
“I think it’s cute!” Mac chirped, perching on the edge of the bed and scratching behind JD’s ear before he could protest.
“Hey!” he clapped his hands over his ears, cheeks bright red.
Duke leaned against the dresser, snickering at the scene playing out in front of her. “What’s wrong? Not a fan of ear scritches?”
JD huffed and lowered his gaze to the floor.
“He didn’t seem to mind when I scratched behind his ears after he walked me home,” Mac said, “I just kind of figured-”
Veronica giggled. “Oh my god, he let you scratch behind his ears? That’s amazing!”
JD growled. “Shut it, Muffin.”
Veronica shoved his shoulder, glaring playfully at him.
“Anyway,” Duke said, “We have some questions.”
“You work with the police?” Duke asked.
Veronica nodded. “Mostly just me and my dad. Mom isn’t a fan of it, and JD’s still new to wolf stuff, so we’re not asking him to help out with things just yet.”
“Did you turn him?” Chandler asked.
Veronica and JD both shook their heads.
“I was attacked by what I now know was a werewolf when I was living in Texas about… four or five years ago?” JD shrugged, “Doesn’t matter much now. But no, Veronica didn’t turn me. Her pack isn’t like that.”
“Pack?” Mac looked confused.
“We’re wolves. We pack bond,” Veronica explained, “JD is part of my pack, and so are Betty, Martha, and the three of you.”
“Are there other packs?” Mac asked.
Veronica nodded. “Most packs keep to themselves and their own territories, though.”
“How many wolves are in your pack?” Duke asked.
“Technically speaking, I’m the only Sawyer wolf of my bloodline.”
“What do you mean?” Now it was Duke’s turn to be confused.
“Packs don’t usually interbreed,” Veronica said, “Werewolves normally turn humans instead. My parents are from two different packs, which, as far as we know, has never happened before, which makes me the only known wolf to belong to a merged pack.”
Chandler looked intrigued. “Are werewolf packs usually territorial or something?”
“A little,” Veronica shrugged, “Mostly, though, we’re just protective of our packmates, as you’ve probably already guessed.”
JD blinked. “What’s that mean?”
Chandler grimaced, then sighed. “I found out Veronica was a werewolf when she came over to my house a few days ago. My father and I were having a little… disagreement, and it got physical.”
The Heathers were all startled by JD’s low growl.
Veronica gestured towards him with a hand. “See? Protective.”
“You don’t need to be,” Chandler said, “It doesn’t happen often.”
“It shouldn’t happen at all,” JD snarled.
Veronica rubbed his shoulder soothingly. “You’re right, but you need to tone down the aggression. You don’t want to scare them, do you?”
JD frowned. “No.”
“Okay. Heather? Do you feel alright to continue?”
Chandler nodded. “Veronica kind of threatened to tear him limb from limb if he ever did it again, I got scared by her fangs, she explained a couple things, and then we went to the mall.”
“JD walked me home after a party,” Mac said, “I was being followed, and he chased whoever it was away and stayed with me until we got back to my house. Then he slept on the floor of my room and I woke up to his bones rearranging themselves.”
Duke looked between Mac and Chandler, bewildered. “What the fuck? All I did was ask my dad and he told me.”
Veronica snorted. “Well I’m glad you didn’t have to end up in a dangerous situation in order to find out.”
JD nodded, moving so he was sitting between Mac and Chandler.
“What the hell are you doing?” Chandler asked.
“Veronica’s pack is my pack,” he said, “We may not be close, but you’re still my packmates, and Sawyers look after each other.”
“You’re not a Sawyer, though,” Duke said.
“Not in name,” Veronica conceded, “But he joined our pack. As far as I or any of my family members are concerned, he’s one of us.”
“A Sawyer wolf,” JD grinned.
“JD’s tail is wagging,” Duke said, stifling giggles.
Indeed, JD had partly shifted, and his tail thumped quickly against the carpet, broadcasting his happiness to everyone in the room.
“That’s adorable,” Mac cooed, scratching behind his ear again.
“Oh my god, stop it!”
Some exposition, and a battle for dominance.
The Heathers had mostly adjusted to Veronica and JD being werewolves in the next few weeks. They (mostly Duke) asked questions about things like pack dynamics, transformations, and how Veronica and JD managed to control their actions when in wolf form. Veronica had most of the answers, and what she didn’t know, her parents were happy to tell them.
“So,” Duke said one day as they all lounged in Chandler’s room. JD included. “What exactly does ‘being the only Sawyer wolf’ mean?”
Veronica shrugged. “Not much. Just that it’s up to me to build and lead my pack once I come of age, and that the territory my parents have claimed will belong to me once I do become the leader of my pack.”
“So you’re basically born to lead,” Duke said.
“Kind of. It’s a little more complicated than that, though.” Veronica paused for a moment, picking her words carefully. “I belong to two packs already. My mom’s pack in Italy, and my dad’s pack in Cuba. So if I were to take on the responsibility of leading I would belong to three packs at once, which is unprecedented as far as I know, which means other werewolves might not take my leadership seriously. And then I’ve also got to consider what they’d think of JD, and whether or not the pack who turned him might try to claim him.”
JD huffed. “As if I’d join the pack that turned me against my will.”
“They might not see it as you willingly joining us, though,” Veronica explained, “If the pack that turned you were to find out that you’re in my pack, they might think of it as an attack, like I’m stealing away members of other packs. And then they could spin it like that and make other packs more hostile towards us, and that would be especially dangerous, considering what that pack is like.”
“What can you do to stop them?” Mac asked.
“Not much,” Veronica admitted, “And I don’t have the benefit of numbers to keep them from attacking. It’s just me, JD, and my parents out here. If they decide they want to take him, they’ll do whatever it takes, including destroying every Sawyer wolf they can find until there’s nothing left of us.”
“So you’re in a pretty difficult position here,” Chandler said.
“Exactly. My claim to leadership is deserved, but other wolves might not take me seriously because of my mixed bloodline, and the pack that turned JD will be a constant threat even if I manage to grow the pack significantly before they find out about him,” Veronica sighed, “As far as werewolf politics goes, my position is pretty complicated.”
“Is that why other packs don’t take in orphaned wolves?” JD asked.
Veronica nodded. “Even if a wolf is kicked out of a pack, if another pack claims them, the original pack might take offense.”
JD frowned. “Why’d you let me join your pack, then, if you knew the risks?”
Veronica looked up at him, a wry grin on her lips. “I’m already breaking a few traditions just by existing. What’s a few more? Besides, there’s no way I was about to let you go on being a lone wolf forever. You would have wasted away into nothing. I’d have to be completely heartless to ignore that.”
“Why’s your bloodline even a big deal?” Chandler scoffed, “You’re a werewolf no matter where you came from. Shouldn’t that be enough?”
“It’s way less simple than that,” Veronica said, “Werewolves are pack creatures, but our packs are solitary. We don’t interact with other packs unless it’s absolutely necessary, and even then, it’s mostly to settle disputes over territory. Just to be on friendly terms with another pack is toeing the line, so merging two packs is a big deal.”
“But wouldn’t that make your claim stronger, if anything?” JD asked, “The packs you come from are strong, which means you’ve got their strength backing you up.”
Veronica shook her head. “The fact that I belong to two packs already might make me seem greedy. It doesn’t matter that I was born into them. All that matters is the fact that I belong to two packs and I could potentially create a third. That’s threatening at best to some packs out there. They’d likely try to undermine my claim at every possible opportunity.”
Chandler groaned. “God, werewolves have weird political structures.”
Veronica laughed. “If you think that’s weird, you’re definitely not gonna like the fact that tradition says I should fight you.”
Veronica snickered. “Well, you’re the leader of ‘The Heathers,’” she said, putting “The Heathers” in air quotes, “And I’m the leader of the Sawyer pack. You’re all part of my pack, so you being a leader is in direct opposition to my leadership status, and tradition dictates that we should settle that by fighting it out and seeing which one of us is stronger.”
Duke cackled. “You mean to tell us that werewolf rules say that Heather’s challenging your authority and you have to put her in her place?”
Veronica fought a smile of her own. “That’s a huge oversimplification, but yeah, basically.”
JD and Mac shared a look before breaking down into helpless giggles along with Duke.
“So I have to fight you?” Chandler asked, looking hesitant.
“Nah,” Veronica said, “That’s just what tradition tells me to do, and personally it’s not in my best interest to follow the old traditions. Besides, we both know I’d win.”
Chandler scoffed. “As a wolf, maybe, but in your human form I could kick your ass.”
Veronica snorted. “You wish.”
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Chandler demanded.
“Oh, nothing,” Veronica sang, “Just that I could beat you in a fight with one arm tied behind my back.”
Chandler sneered. “Do you actually want to fight me or something?”
“That depends,” Veronica said, giving Chandler a calm smile, “Are you honestly challenging me? Because we can definitely see which one of us has the strength to actually lead.”
“Fight, fight, fight, fight,” Duke chanted.
JD and Mac joined in. “Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!”
“We’re not going to fight,” Veronica said, rolling her eyes, “I don’t want to hurt h- agh!”
Chandler lunged at Veronica, tackling her to the floor and laughing. “What was that about hurting me?”
Veronica’s eyes narrowed. “Oh, it’s on.”
With that, she flipped them over so she had Chandler pinned against the carpet.
Veronica leaned in close, a triumphant smirk on her face. “You can’t win. Just give up.”
Chandler said nothing. Instead, she leaned up towards Veronica…
And licked her face.
“Gross!” Veronica reared back, letting go of Chandler to wipe the spit off her face. “No fair!”
Chandler laughed as she wrestled Veronica onto her back. “We never agreed on any rules. Anything’s fair.”
“In that case…” Veronica let out a low growl, easily breaking Chandler’s hold on her wrists and effortlessly pinning Chandler’s own arms against the floor, straddling her waist and grinning down at her. “We’ll just keep going until one of us gets too tired to continue.”
Chandler squirmed and struggled futilely against Veronica’s hold. “When I figure out how to get out of this it’s over for you, bitch.”
Veronica snorted. “Good luck with that. I told you I could win like this no problem. You’re the one who decided to prove me right.”
“Hey,” JD called, “Should we leave? Maybe give you two some time alone?”
Mac nodded. “You look like you might appreciate some privacy, if you catch our drift.”
Chandler’s face turned bright red, and Veronica was sure she was no better off.
“Okay, I give!” Chandler said, “You win, now let me up!”
Veronica nodded, climbing off of Chandler and letting her sit back up.
Duke guffawed. “You two look like you just got caught fucking!”
Mac and JD snickered.
Chandler huffed. “Whatever.”
Veronica turned to look at Chandler, a teasing smirk stretching across her face. “Well, since you gave up, I guess that means I’m the leader of the Heathers now.”
“Shut up,” Chandler pouted.
“Aww, don’t be like that.” Veronica pulled Chandler into a hug, ignoring Chandler’s offended squawk. “Besides, all that means is in pack matters, you answer to me. As far as school shit goes, you can keep the whole Queen Bee thing, but if it’s not school related, I’m in charge.”
“Kinky,” JD said, grinning when Mac and Duke broke down into a laughing fit.