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bad moon rising

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Lance sighs and shifts in his car seat, glancing out his window at the stoplight he’s at that hasn’t seemed to move in forever. And there’s nobody in the intersection, except him, and he would turn if there was nobody here, but he’s not turning right, he’s turning left, unfortunately, so he can’t really go unless he wants to be ticketed on his first day here. He drums a melody on the wheel as he waits, observing his semi-new surroundings.

There’s a cafe on the corner he’s at, though it doesn’t look like they have too many patrons. There’s a small family-run grocery store across the street, and across from that, on the corner, is the police station. The other corner from that one, catty-corner to him is a park. It looks nice enough, all things considered, but he doesn’t think he’ll be going there often with how cold this place is seventy-five percent of the time. He vaguely wonders in the back of his mind about why Alfor and Allura chose this place to settle to right now. The cloudiness is a plus for them, since the sun is irritating for them, though they won’t burn up from it like legends say. It’s a just a bit too bright for their eyes, with how sharp they are now.

Finally, the light changes, but not allowing him to go. He throws his hands up, before taking a deep breath and calming himself. A few moments later the light changes again, finally in a way that allows him to go, so he does, not bothering to look back at the intersection. He’ll be damned if he gets stopped at that stoplight again. That things is a monster to wait for to change.

He follows the scant directions from there to the Altea household, letting out a relieved sigh when he spots the nice, big house. While it was only the two of them, the Altea’s liked to pick bigger houses than they would need, ones that could hold a lot more people, in case they ever needed to call a coven/pack meeting. They hadn’t needed to in the last decade or so, especially with how the coven/pack was dropping in numbers, but they liked to keep their options open.

He only grabs his overnight bag when he gets out the car, stretching as he does so, since the rest will wait for when he finds himself a home. There were some affordable openings in the neighborhood, he’d been told by the Altea’s when they asked him to come, so that wouldn’t be a problem. For now, though, especially since he just got here and didn’t want to be back out in the cold anytime soon, he would stay at their house.

He knocked, shifting from foot to foot in a vague effort to keep the cold back, and soon enough, he heard footsteps approach. Allura opened the door, hair in a messy bun and some jeans and a t-shirt on. Her appearance somewhat surprised him every time he saw her lately, mostly because she’d looked so regal and elegant when she found him after his first change in the woods.

“Lance! It’s so good to see you!” Allura exclaimed, ushering him in. He gladly obliged, getting hit with a blast of warmth as he stepped inside. Not even his natural werewolf body heat could block out that much cold.

“Gee, Allura, it’s only been what, ten years? I didn’t miss you at all. No way,” Lance teased, taking off his coat. He was still wearing a beach tank under it since he didn’t have many winter shirts yet. That was mostly Alfor’s fault for calling him back and asking him to be here as soon as possible. Lance lived across the country from them, so this had been a tall order to pack everything up so quickly to get him here as fast as he was able.

“You’re mean to me. And here I thought you loved me,” Allura replied, mock hurt as she lead him through the house to the dining room. He’d smelled dinner as soon as he’d walked in, with a hint of the human blood Allura and Alfor had alongside their meals.

“Dinner smells delicious, Allura,” Lance told her, setting his bag down by the stairs. Allura looked back at him to smile.

“It better. We felt bad about calling you back here so suddenly, so we made your favorite meal. I hope it doesn’t taste too bad, since it’s my first time making it,” Allura told him, hiding her smile as she faced forward again, opening the door to the dining room. Alfor is already at the table, looking at something on his sleek, new-looking Samsung.

“Ah! Good to see you Lance. Thank you for coming so quickly,” Alfor greeted him, gesturing to the seat next to him and across from Allura’s already set plate. The dishes were set out on the table, ready for it to be served whenever he got there.

“It’s okay. I wasn’t really doing much in Santa Monica anyway, just relaxing. But Jesus Christ, guys, you have one hell of a monster stoplight in your town square,” Lance whined, sitting down at the table, and noticing a plate was set to at the other end of the four person dining table. Lance stared it down with curiosity as Allura gave him a puzzled look.

“I’ve only ever had to be stopped there for about a minute. That’s even with me getting caught at a quick change to red. Are you sure you were stopped there that long?” Allura asked, amusement in her voice.

“Really? Three four minute songs finished all the way through while I was stopped there and a fourth was already halfway through. Maybe that lights just slow on Sundays, eh?” Lance joked, reaching for a garlic knot from the stack in front of his plate.

“We’re still waiting for someone, Lance, have some manners,” Allura chided, making him pout. They looked really good today, and it had been ten years since he had them. He glanced back to them, looking at them with an expression of open longing. Allura laughed.

“So, what have you been up to, Lance? You know what we’ve been doing, but we don’t really know what you’ve been doing,” Alfor commented, making Lance shift with the nervous excited feeling he got.

“I’ve been working on a way to make Full Moon turns less painful. I’ve found that if I can shift at least once a week it’s much better and I have more control of myself. It gets better if I can do it up to twice a week, just for like an hour or so of running through the woods. It’s pretty fun, and after I’m done in my wolf form I can hike around and run in my human form,” Lance explained, grinning. “I have pretty complete memories of my last six turns, so I think it’s working!”

“That’s wonderful, Lance! It sounds like some space and time was great for you,” Allura said with a grin, though Lance could hear the loneliness in her voice. He’d felt the same in Santa Monica.

“Yeah, it was great, but pretty lonely. I didn’t really make many long term friends, and most of the Altea pack lives in Europe and Eastern United States right?” Lance asked, casting his eyes over to Alfor, who had put his phone down to give his full attention to the conversation. Alfor nodded.

“Coran’s in Europe right now to check on everyone and see if they need anything. Apparently one of the Balmera pack’s daughters wants to come here to see how life is in America and to make some friends while she goes to college. She’s a werewolf too, and she tells Coran that she’s struggling with her control over her wolf. Would you be willing to help her work on it?” Alfor asked, making Lance nod despite his confusion over finding out Coran was in Europe.

“Of course! I remember the Balmeras. They’re all really nice-,” Lance coughed,”except Rax,” he coughed again, “So of course I’d be willing to help. But I do have one question. If Coran’s in Europe, who’s joining us?” Just as Allura opened her mouth to answer, an uncomfortable expression on her face, the door opened. Lance sniffed at the air as they got closer, smelling someone that smelled a lot like fancy things and houses. And vampire.

“I hope I’m not too late. I saw the blue Prius in front already and figured Lance was already here,” a smooth male voice called, breezing into the dining room like he owned the place.

“Yup,” Lance said, enunciating the ‘p’ sound. “That’d be me.” The guy looked over at him, and Lance was struck by how handsome he was. His skin was lighter than Allura’ s, but it was still plenty dark. His hair was a light, light platinum blond, and his eyes were a deep blue.

“Pleased to meet you, Lance,” the guy said as he sat, brushing Allura’s shoulder gently as he did so. “I’m Lotor.”

“Oh holy shit. Oh my god. Allura!” Lance exclaimed, starting to laugh so hard he almost choked. Lotor looked so confused, which only made him laugh harder.

“Please don’t,” Allura mumbled miserably. “Please.”

“Ok,” Lance said, starting to calm down. “I’m sorry I just find it hilarious.”

“Please, do not,” Allura monotoned, staring hard down at her plate. Lotor reached over to place a tentative hand on hers.

“Ok! Ok, I won’t. Now may we please eat? I haven’t had these signature garlic knots in ten years and I am absolutely dying to have one,” Lance said, ignoring the startled look Lotor had on his face.

“You haven’t had these since you were, what, ten at the most? How do you remember them?” Lotor asked, making Lance snicker.

“I haven’t been ten in fifty years, baby vampire,” Lance said as Allura rolled her eyes and wave him on. He grabbed one of the garlic knots and shoved it into his mouth, eating something meant to be eaten in three to four bites in one. Lotor watched it happen with a look of mild contempt.

“What Lance means to say,” Alfor said, glaring at him with no real heat behind it, “is that he is a werewolf. They do not age nearly as fast as mortals do but they still age. Lance was turned when he was 18 and is about 20 physically, though his real age is 68. He is one of the oldest members of the Altean Pack/Coven and I called him here to help in our problem.”

“I guess that explains the dog smell,” Lotor said, crinkling his nose. Lance laughed.

“I get that a lot from vampires, my friend. So, what problems are you having that I, a werewolf could help you with,” Lance asked, stuffing another garlic knot in his mouth as Allura plated her lasagna, followed by everyone else.

“Someone in this town is trying to find us,” Alfor said as he cut off a piece of his slice of lasagna. “Vampires, really, but since we are, in fact, vampires, it’s technically us. And they’ve gotten close too.”

“Really? Who is it?” Lance asked, mildly concerned. Even if this person did find them out, Lance had no doubts that a centuries old coven head and his incredibly capable daughter could handle themselves without getting themselves hurt. Lotor however… yeah, he could see why they wanted his help, especially with a toddler vampire on training wheels.

“We… we don’t know. All we know is that we’ve almost walked straight into several vervain traps set up around town. Thankfully, they don’t know how to conceal it’s scent well enough yet, but once they do…,” Allura says, chewing on her lip and moving her hand from Lotor’s to eat better.

“Do you even know if they’ve put up wolfsbane anywhere?” Lance asked nervously. There was a high chance they have, if they’d been putting up vervain.

“Not that I’m aware of. I’m very familiar with the scent of it, so I can confidently say they haven’t,” Alfor spoke up, reaching for a garlic knot.

“Good. I can work more freely, then. Any specific places I should monitor?” Lance asked, noting the way Lotor looked like he wanted to say something. He would get back to that.

“The cafe. The person who owns it, someone we knew from high school, is probably not realizing that the flowers he keeps around the store are harmful to specific regulars,” Allura said. “He doesn’t buy them, apparently, he just takes his neighbors extra flowers off her hands whenever she asks.” Lotor suddenly looked a bit more than pale.

“Lotor?” Lance asked. “Why do you look like you suddenly figured something out that you wish you hadn’t?”

“Because I did. My mother’s botany lab is right next to an apartment building, but it often gets mistaken for a florist’ because of all the plants lying around. I didn’t realize because I’ve just always avoided it,” Lotor explained, shaking his head and taking another bite of his lasagna. “This is exquisite, by the way. Better than anything my mom could ever make. Had an excellent green thumb but poor tastebuds. Now I’m beginning to question if I should ever attempt to eat anything she ever tries to make again.”

“Thank you. I made it,” Alfor said, finishing his slice of lasagna as Lance helped hismelf to his first after stuffing five garlic knots down his throat. His last one, which he had set aside, he would cherish. “And Allura made the garlic knots because Coran was only willing to give the recipe to her.”

“He was very adamant on that,” Allura laughed awkwardly, beginning to pick at her food a bit, choosing to drink more from her glass of blood than the human food on her plate. “So. Your mother?”

“Oh yes. She’s always been fascinated in her toxic plants,” Lotor tells them, finishing his meal. Lance digs into his lasagna, thought spinning around in his head. He loses track of what the conversation is about, when he emerges out of his thoughts with several different plans.

“Is the owner of the cafe in need of any help?” Lance asks, apparently interrupting something from the way they all snap to look at him, Allura’s mouth open in the middle of saying something. Her mouth opens and closes as she collects her thoughts, before finally nodding.

“He’s mentioned wanting to meet you, since we are casual friends. He always looks like he needs help, but never says it. Perhaps you could persuade him to hire you?” Allura says, her hand once again in Lotor’s.

“Hey, Lotor, does your mother grow purple, iris-looking flowers?” Lance asks. Lotor nods. “She does. She has a special fascination with them because they can be deadly to humans, as well as werewolves, but she doesn’t know that.” Lance exhales, eyes trailing up the the ceiling as he thinks. Wolfsbane isn’t immediately deadly to him, but it burns and damages extensively, especially when inhaled. It’ll take days for him to recover if he stumbles upon it.

“Okay,” Lance exhales, closing his eyes, “I’ll do it.”

“You will?” Allura asks, perking up in her chair. Alfor also exhales audibly from where he’s sitting. Lance glances over at him, a nervous grin on his face as he shrugs.

“I owe you guys pretty much my entire life, this is the least I can do to repay you,” Lance says, pushing his chair back to get up from the table. “But first, I’ve gotta sleep. That was a brutal seven hour drive, and I didn’t get any sleep, or I would have wrecked the car. Wake me up whenever you guys get up.” With that, he trailed out of the room, calling out his affirmation that he’d heard Alfor say which one was his room. The one at the end of the hallway to the left of the staircase. Apparently it had it’s own bathroom. Thank God for that.

When he got into the room, overnight bag slung over his shoulder loosely, he dropped it heavily, not even bothering to change out of his clothing with how tired he was. He dropped onto the nice smelling bed and as soon as his head hit the pillow he was out.

When he woke up the next morning, the house was quiet, quiet enough that it took him a moment to discern just what had woken him, Distantly, he heard the sound of a shower, and the smell of food cooking. It had been one, the other, or a combination of those two factors that got him up,. He wished he’d had an extra moment or so of sleep, but he knew he had to begin working on the Altea’s problem as soon as he could. He dragged himself out of bed, suddenly feeling very disgusting.

He’d been sweating in the car since he’d hit the cold part of the United States, because he’d had the heat up as far as it could go, and he was wearing a winter jacket. He couldn’t have turned it down, because he’d found that was just inviting the cold in, somehow. He hadn’t brushed his teeth in like, two days, since he’d received Alfor’s call as he’d woken up two days ago and set out preparing everything for him to leave. He’d traded his newer mini car (it was just him, after all) for an older blue Prius with snow wheels that could hold the majority of the things he wanted and intended to keep. Because of his long life, money wasn’t exactly a problem, but he sympathized with this newer generation, many of whom were facing a harsh struggle to be financially stable.

He let these thoughts fade into the background for a bit as he searched around in his night bag for his many bathroom products, and once he’d found them he wondered into the bathroom, dropping them all on the nice and wide counter next to the sink before stripping and letting everything fall away once he was in the shower.

The water calmed him from the anxiety he’d started to feel about the next few weeks. He was worried this could go wrong in so many ways. He just hoped whoever was looking for them hadn’t found anything yet. That they’d all avoided everything they’d needed to. He knew Alfor was definitely ok, having been alive for so long already, and he knew Allura would be okay, having decades of experience, though nearly not as much as her father, and the only real one to look out for was Lotor, baby vampire on the training wheels. He hadn’t even realized the ‘dog’ smell he’d smelled on Lance was because Lance was a werewolf, a werewolf much older than him, at that. Which was interesting, because he’d sensed how old Alfor was the first time they’d met, the same with Allura. Every member of their kinds held some sort of ancient feel to them. Maybe it was because Lotor had been raised in an age more atheist and secular than ever before, the mysticism surrounding older members of each species having been lost with the widespread religious element.

 

After he felt calm enough, he sped through his products, hoping to be out the shower as quick as possible. Once he was done, he pulled on whatever he’d packed, which was, thankfully, ok for the early winter climate despite the very clear spring season shown on every calendar. It was a pair of dark wash skinny jeans and a matching old t-shirt of some sort. It wasn’t the best first impression outfit, but it would have to do, since he wouldn’t have much to work with until he unloaded. He hoped he wouldn’t really have to unload anything but his box of clothes until he could find a suitable house or apartment. Since it was just him, he didn’t need much.

He bounded downstairs, ignoring Alfor’s chiding to reach for piece of hot bacon. Alfor slapped his hand away before pointing him to the table. “Coffee?” Alfor asked. Lance shook his head.

“Not today. I think I’m good,” Lance replied, sitting at the table noticing Lotor walk in after him, only to go straight to the coffee. His hair was all over the place, and Lance laughed a bit, earning him an inquisitive look from Lotor.

“What?” Lotor asked, though there was no heat behind it besides early morning annoyance. Lance shook his head.

“I think there might be someone who can finally beat Allura in the bad bedhead competition,” Lance said, earning him a fond chuckle from Lotor.

“Aw yes, her hair is always all over the place, but I don’t mind it, because her hair is beautiful. And mine’s the same, so it would be hypocritical to complain about it,” Lotor said, before coming to sit down besides Lance.

“So, what’s your relationship with Allura? You’re almost as old as her, right?” Lance shook his head, watching Lotor’s half-smile turn into a head tilt of confusion.

“I’m still a few decades younger than her. Alfor said she was born in the 1920’s, if you wanted to know,” Lance said, shrugging. “But don’t tell her I told you. She probably didn’t want you to know since she’s sensitive about it, y’know?”

“Why should she be? She’s very beautiful for her age,” Lotor said, a smirk hidden behind his coffee cup as he took a sip from it.

“Lance you did not,” Allura said, coming through the door with an annoyed scowl.

“If by I did not you mean I did not tell him when you were born than I did and I’m sorry,” Lance said, earning him a punch on his shoulder. He heard the break rather than felt it as first, but once he did he gasped, eyes going wide. “’Llura! I didn’t mean anything by it! Besides, we both think you have nothing to be embarrassed about.” He whined as his shoulder started the healing process. In a few minutes, as the conversation progressed and by the time the food was served, his arm was in working shape again. Lotor had been watching it happen with a mildly horrified expression on his face, which Lance found supremely funny.

“How fast is your healing process?” Lotor asked, making Lance shrug.

“I’ve never really tested, but really fast. Once I broke my spine and it only took an hour to heal. Longest hour of my life, though. Pretty sure I also heal faster in wolf form too,” Lance commented, taking another bite of his bacon.

“Fascinating,” Lotor mumbled, before turning away from him to finish his food. Lotor left to get dressed almost as soon as he’d finished his meal, thanking Alfor, giving Allura a quick peck on the cheek, and headed upstairs to dress. Lance immediately leaned across the table and whispered, “So, red solo cups can bring you love, eh? Who knew.” Allura growled at him and seemed to be restraining herself from snapping at him, Alfor watched bemusedly from over the top of his smartphone, having already finished his breakfast

“Can you please, please leave off it, Lance?” Allura asked, sighing heavily as she slumped back against her chair. Lance cackled as he swallowed the last of the pancakes that had been on his plate.

“Never!” Lance exclaimed as he got up to rinse his plate and put it in the dishwasher, “Thank you for breakfast, Alfor,” Alfor nodded to him before pretending to return his attention back to the smartphone. “That call I got last year around this time had me laughing hysterically, I’m sorry, Allura.”

“... I thought I’d killed someone,” Allura said, sounding done with it all. “In my defense,” she added hastily, “I was drunk.”

“And it was the best call I’ve ever received, to this day,” Lance told her, affectionately reaching across the table to pat her head. She groaned even more. “Does he know how you managed to turn him?”

“No,” Allura replied, “too embarrassed, plus I thought he’d hate me after, to be perfectly honest.”

“Well,” Lance said, “It’s been a year, and he’s clearly not going anywhere. I really think you should tell him.Gives me something more to tease you two about.”

“Oh God anything but that,” Allura groaned, slinking down farther in her chair. He laughed, sitting back down as Lotor cam back downstairs, dressed in a different outfit than before despite not having brought an overnight bag or clothes of any sort. He slid his gaze over to Allura who was watching Lotor with the same look he’d seen his parents give each other, so many years ago.

God he missed them.

“What are you talking about that has Allura so down?” Lotor asked semi-worriedly, as though he knew it was probably a reunion of family after a decade shenanigans.

“Oh, nothing. Just a call I got last year around this time that had me laughing and rolling on the floor as soon as it ended,” Lance said, getting up from his chair. “Anyway, I gotta go, since the cafe opens soon and I want to be there as soon as possible. See ya losers later.”

“Be careful!” Allura called after him, sounding optimistic underneath all the familial worry. Lance laughed, calling back, “I always am!” He pulled on his coat as he walked out the door, shivering violently at the touch of cold on the arm unfortunate enough not to be in the coat at that moment and on his face. He skipped getting into his car, since the town square where the cafe e hadn’t run in his human form in a while, too busy with tracking down his aunt’s descendants to see what they were doing with their lives. He jogged across streets that were seemingly barren of many cars at all until he got the town square, where there were a few scattered in various different places, and one motorcycle parked on the sidewalk next to the police station. Just as he reached the intersection, however, the light turned green and the few cars sitting there took their sweet time moving, so he was stuck. He sighed, panting as he caught his breath. He was only a few strides from his location and God even had to prevent him from getting there, even just for another few minutes longer. Thankfully, the street cleared in mere minutes and since there wasn’t anyone coming, he jogged across, glad that he wasn’t in a car and stuck at a light for God knows how long.

He walked into the friendly and bright looking cafe, his entrance signaled by a cheery, whimsical sounding bell. He smiled at the sound, and smiled even brighter at the kind looking burly man that came out from the back. The place smelled like a variety of things, though it mostly smelled like fresh baked goods, most likely because that’s what he was doing now, making the pastries and bread for the day.

“Hi! I haven’t seen you around here before! Are you the cousin Allura tells me about?” The guys asks, flashing him a bright smile for so early in the morning. Normally Lance would complain that it was too much sun in here for so early in the morning, but he’s in a good mood despite the likelihood of grievous injury. Plus, Allura called him her cousin! That was always a plus.

“Yep! That’s me! Lance Altea, at your service,” Lance says, extending a hand over the counter to the man, who shakes it firmly.

“Hunk Garrett, at yours. I own this cafe, so if you ever want to go out to eat, you’ll probably end up eating here, since the only other place to eat is an deli with average food,” Hunk introduced himself, laughing a bit at his own joke. Lance laughed back, knowing what he meant. There were several of those near his house in Santa Monica.

“Alright! I’m guessing you’re implying that your food is the best in town, eh?” Lance asked, starting to joke around just a bit in turn. Hunk laughed.

“Not to brag or anything, since it is a pretty low bar, there are only two places to go out to eat around here,” Hunk explained, shrugging. “Anyway, you probably came in here to eat or get something. What can I get ya?”

“I actually came in here to meet you. I had to come back because I was running out of money since Santa Monica is pretty expensive, and Allura pointed me to you for a job,” Lance said, making Hunk’s eyebrows raise before he sighed.

“Allura’s a good person, always trying to help and all that. She thinks I need help here but my busiest rush hour consists of like, ten to twenty people in at manageable times from each other. I’m pretty good on my own, my friend,” Hunk explained, shrugging at the end of his statement again. Lance nodded.

“That sounds just like her, really. And I hope I didn’t hit a nerve or anything. Allura just asked me to ask you, so I figured I would at least try, y’know?” Lance replied, leaning against the counter away from the cash register in case anyone came in while he was talking to Hunk.

“Sure, man! Sorry to hear about your money troubles though, did you move back with them because of it?” Hunk asked, sitting down at the stool behind the register. Lance shook his head.

“Nah. I was just planning on moving somewhere cheaper and actually picking up a job for once until I got enough to be comfortable for a while again. They actually called me back here for a family matter of some sort, so I’m here for that,” Lance explained, not really lying, but not really telling the truth. He still had enough to live comfortably for another few decades at the least. Maybe even a century if he was really tight with his money.

“Oh, is everybody okay? Allura and Alfor haven’t really come in too much for the past few weeks. I was actually getting kind of worried about them,” Hunk told him, making him shift. Hunk had noticed, so did that mean others had noticed. Lance glanced out the windows, watching as a woman with a basket of pink and purple flowers walked closer to the corner from one of the streets he hadn’t yet gone down yet. He struggled to keep the shaking of his hands to a minimum.

“Oh yeah, an allergy for flowers runs in the family, and the ones you’ve been keeping here lately have been aggravating their allergies,” Lance explained, choosing his words carefully. Hunk’s face fell and he opened his mouth to say something but the door chimed before he could, welcoming the older woman that looked like Lotor with dark hair into the cafe. Lance took a deep breath before he could smell the scent of the wolfsbane he could see her carrying and held it, already counting down the seconds until she could leave.

“Oh, hello there, Hunk!” She greeted warmly, “I have some extra pretty ones with me today. Would you like some?” Hunk’s gaze slid to Lance, before sliding back to look into her eyes.

“Uh, yes, if that’s okay with you, Honerva?” Hunk said, though it came out more like a question than anything, probably towards Lance.

“Of course, my dear. It always is,” Honerva said sweetly as she reached for a purple flower from her basket, glove on her hand. That’s when Lance remembered Wolfsbane wasn’t just deadly to him.

“Hunk, don’t take it,” Lance said before he could stop himself, making Honerva look over at him with narrowed eyes.

“And why shouldn’t he, dear?” Honerva asked, eyes glaring at him. Lance didn’t flinch, despite the heat behind her gaze.

“That’s Wolfsbane, isn’t it? It’s poisonous. Like, extremely so,” Lance said, feeling the pollen of the wolfsbane creep down his throat, burning as it went, He coughed, trying to ease the pain, only to make it explode. He shifted his legs to keep himself from wincing.

“Oh! How did you know that? I didn’t even know that!” Honerva said, probably sounding ttuly sorry to Hunk but to Lance, it sounded like she was pissed at him. Yeah, Lance was highly doubting that the older woman didn’t know when she was a botanist. She must have been telling Hunk these were harmless flowers from her garden. Which begs the question, if she’s brought in Wolfsbane before, how has Hunk not died yet?

“I’m a gardener,” Lance lied, “It’s my job to know what can kill me and what’s perfectly fine, especially with such pretty flowers that clients might want in their garden. You might want to fire your gardener if he planted those in there.”

“Well, I’ll take your advice, young man. I’ll just take my flowers back for today, Hunk. Thank you for taking them when you can,” and with that, Honerva swept out of the store, the set to her shoulders telling Lance she was furious. He watched her go with a barely concealed glare before he turned back to Hunk, who looked slightly shaken.

“Are you sure they’re poisonous?” Hunk asked him, to which he nodded, the burning that had crept down to his lungs still there and still very very much painful. “Holy shit. I’ve touched them so many times before and I’ve never gotten so much as a single symptom.”

“Weird. Maybe you’ve just been lucky not to touch the poisonous parts,” Lance offered, mind trying to think of ways Hunk hadn’t died yet. The only way he could think of was a plant witch had blessed him against the poisonous nature of many plants, or he had distant plant witch blood in his veins that protected him from at least that much. However, the first option was much less likely, since the only two plant witches currently active were the Verdant Forest Witch and the Wolfsbane Witch. The Verdant Forest Witch was apparently part of the Altean Coven/Pack, and had been since he’d been a toddler werewolf who couldn’t control his powers in the slightest and tended to change if he sneezed too hard and scared himself.

“Yeah,” Hunk trailed, lost in thought. “Maybe.”

The door chimed a few moments later, and in walked possibly one of the most gorgeous creature he’d ever seen. The guy who walked in was wearing one of those small town police uniforms, had his dark hair in a ponytail, and had almost violet looking eyes. He looked slender and lithe, though for some reason, Lance knew that under that long sleeved winter jacket, this guy was built.

“Oh, hey Keith,” Hunk greeted absentmindedly, as if he was moving on autopilot, “Your usual?”

“Yeah, mine and Shiro’s,” the guy replied, and Lance almost swooned right there in his seat. This guy’s voice was husky as all hell. Jesus.

“Coming right up, just leave the money on the counter or something,” Hunk said, leaving to go to the back. Keith’s brows furrowed as he watched Hunk go to the back before turning his attention back to Lance.

“So, you look new around here. Can’t say I’ve seen you before,” Keith started, and Lance snorted, causing Keith to raise a single eyebrow.

“Sorry, sorry, I’ve just been told that four times since I got here yesterday, and I’ve only met four people. I just think it’s funny everybody starts their conversations with me the same way,” Lance replied, propping his chin on his hand as he leaned on the counter.

“Oh. Well, I’ve never really been applauded on my creativity, so,” Keith replied, looking a little bashful. Lance smiled at him, internally gushing over how cute he was being.

“That’s not true, Keith, you’re plenty creative!” Hunk called up from the back, making Keith chuckle and shake his head.

“Yeah, in ways to spend the boring days here,” Keith said, rolling his eyes. Lance smirked.

“So not much happens here then?” Lance asked, making Keith nod.

“Yeah, my job basically consists of running the main square traffic lights because they’ve been broken for the last year or so,” Keith said, making Lance lift an eyebrow in surprise.

“So, would you have anything to do with my fifteen long minute light yesterday?” Lance asked, a teasing smirk on his lips. Keith immediately blushed and took a step back, hands up like he was trying to defend himself. Lance burst out laughing. “I know I’m a piece of art but could you please refrain? I had places to be, man.”

“Oh, uh, yeah. It was a slow day and I um, fell asleep for like ten minutes or so there? But Shiro woke me up and told me to head home, so,” Keith explained, offering him a sheepish, tentative smile.

“Shiro?” Lance asked, “I’ve only been here for like, a day. Is he your partner or something?” Keith flushed deeper for some reason at that, and Lance smirked, realizing. “I meant police partner. But yeah, that too, if you’re willing to tell.”

“Oh yeah, he wishes,” Hunk said, coming out of the back with two bags in hand. “Coffee too?” He asked, setting the bags on the counter before picking up the money Keith had set down.

“You know?!” Keith whimpered, face flushing deeper. Hunk laughed.

“Dude, everybody with eyes knows. I think even Lotor knows and the dude didn’t even know Allura liked him until she dip kissed him at their senior prom,” Hunk explained, making Lance laugh.

“Oh God that call was funny! She whined about how he was so stupid and the proceeded to tell me that they made out afterwards. It was great,” Lance told them, laughing a bit as he remembered it. Keith whined as he shook his head.

“Then Shiro knows? Oh God, now it’s gonna be awkward,” Keith sighs, waiting as Hunk makes two medium cups of coffee. One looks to just be straight black coffee, nothing in it. He bets that’s Keith’s coffee.

“Nah, thank God he’s even more oblivious than you,” Hunk replied, setting the two coffees down next to the bags of food.

“What?” Keith asked, confused. “What does that mean?” Hunk laughed.

“Nothing. Now get. I was welcoming Lance here to this boringly small town of ours, not dishing out gossip on our police officers yet,” Hunk said, to which Keith rolled his eyes at.

“That’s practically part of the welcoming information at this point,” Keith said as he gathered everything, everything except the last drink, which he was staring at with irritation.

“Need a hand, buddy?” Lance asked, to which Keith glanced over at him, a little flustered, surprised expression on his face.

“You’d do that?” He asked, a pleasant little smile on his face. Lance nodded enthusiastically picking it up and motioning Keith to lead the way. Keith turned, nodding. Together, they exited the cafe to Hunk’s call of, “Be careful on your long journey!” The door shut off the rest of Hunk’s snickers at his own joke, but Lance had to admit, it’d made him smile. Even though Keith was looking away, Lance could tell he was trying to fight a smile.

They crossed over the street, Keith without even looking and Lance with a little glance in both directions to make sure it was safe, and Lance held the police station’s door open for Keith to enter. The inside was warm and bright, looking and feeling more like a really small office space than a police station. Two desks sat in the main room, and in it was one old looking prison cell that looked to be holding unused furniture instead of the space it was supposed to have to hold small town criminals. Lance chuckled as he looked at it.

“What’s so funny?” Keith asked, though his tone implied he was curious more than mad. Lance shrugged.

“Creative use for unused space,” Lance replied, setting the coffee he was holding onto the back desk like Keith had asked.

“Oh yeah, that. No one gets into trouble that can’t be handled with a slap to the hand so we don’t keep it open. Shiro says if we clear it it’ll be like inviting trouble to happen,” Keith explained shrugging back and setting one of the bags on the desk Lance was standing by as he looked around.

“Sound philosophy, though, isn’t that a breach of a law or something?” Lance asked, thinking out loud. Keith shrugged again.

“if it is, you’re the first one to say anything,” Keith replied, humming as he sat down at the sparsely decorated front desk. There was at least a little black lion on the back desk, but the front one Keith was sitting at was, while unorganized, also bare of any personal details, except the keys to what looked like the motorcycle out front, a little red lion keychain attached to it.

“So, you guys have a running joke going about lions or something?” Lance asks, amused as Keith immediately reaches for his keys to hold them up.

“You noticed?” Keith asked, smiling contentedly at the swinging little red lion. Lance nodded, finding a folding chair leaning against a wall to fold out and place in front of Keith’s desk.

“Hey Keith did you get the food-,” someone called from behind the slightly open door behind the back desk. They poked their head through only to falter at seeing Lance, who offered a wave. “Oh hey! Do we have a case, or just a visitor?”

“Just a visitor, I’m afraid,” Lance says apologetically. “You must be the famous Shiro everyone’s talked about like I already knew you. The name’s Lance Altea. I just moved here to live with family for a while.”

“Nice to meet you, Lance. Allura told me she would have a cousin move here yesterday. Short notice, now that you’re here, but it’s nice to have you here,” Shiro welcomed him, sitting down at his desk and eyeing the bag hungrily. “And, uh, I am Shiro, if that wasn’t obvious enough already.”

“It’s fine,” Lance laughed, “So what do you two do here on a daily basis? From what I’ve heard this town’s pretty boring.”

“It’s not! It’s just peaceful. It’s peaceful is what it is and Keith can argue me on this all he wants but that’s what this town is,” Lance thinks back to the way Honerva literally tried to poison some of the town’s population earlier, but he supposed Shiro wouldn’t know about that quite yet. Hunk probably didn’t want to make a big deal out of it anyway, believing her to be a harmless older woman with her somewhat deadly flower garden. As he talked, he moved his arms in a whatever motion, and Lance caught a flash of light off the guy’s right arm, interesting him. He chose not to ask about that, knowing it would be deemed as rude, even back when he’d been human.

“Peaceful, huh? That’ll be a nice change of pace from Santa Monica.Though I could live without the weather,” Lance said, shivering to enunciate his point. Shiro laughed.

“Yeah, I grew up in California too, so coming here was a change to adjust to too, but I can assure you you’ll get used to it soon,” Shiro replied, taking a sip from his coffee after. He smiled a little as he tasted it, which Lance thought was a cute look on this muscled God of a man. His jawline was to die for, and the white forelock look didn’t work on almost anyone, but he found himself liking it on this man. God, why were this town’s police officers so hot. And clearly in love with each other, if the look Shiro gave Keith in thanks and the way Keith absolutely melted at it were anything to go by.

 

“I think I’ve infringed long enough on your thrilling jobs, and I kind of left Hunk waiting for me to return, so I think I’ll go,” Lance said, rising from the chair and folding it back up to place against the wall again. Keith looked a little put out and Lance offered him a smile.

“But you wanted to know about the Lions-,” Keith said, to which Lance shook his head.

“Not now! Then I’ll lose a reason to talk to you guys again! Let’s save it for a rainy day, right?” Lance explained, waving as he walked out.

“You’re weird, Lance!” Keith called after him in lieu of a goodbye while Shiro yelled out, “See you around!” Lance smiled, hoping that would be true.

He stepped out of the warm police station into the cold, triggering a shiver that ran throughout his entire body. Lance’s eyes widened as he realized it was more than just the cold that made him shiver. His wolf was excited at the new forested surroundings and wanted to explore. He’d need to change for a while, and soon. He’d ask Hunk about nice hiking trails.

He hurried across the intersection hunching his shoulders to keep more shivers of just the cold from coursing through his body. He stepped into Hunk’s thankfully warm cafe again to the sound of the bell pealing, and Hunk came out from the back, greeting Lance with a smile.

“That took longer than I thought it would. Did you meet Shiro, then?” Hunk greeted, smirking when Lance nodded. “Did Keith become a mess from one of his smiles at least once whole you were there?”

“Oh, yeah, definitely,” Lance said, laughing. “He’s got it so bad. They just need to bone.”

“Oh my god, I just got the image of Shiro yelling BONE like Captain Holt. Please tell me that’s how you meant it,” Hunk replied, and Lance nodded. Brooklyn-99 was a favorite of his.

“One of my favorites, dude. When I would have lazy days that’s one of the shows I would watch all the time,” Lance said, and Hunk nodded seriously.

“When I’m closed on Sundays, I do the same thing, dude. Hey, wanna come over to my place Sunday to watch it and test some new food ideas? My other friend will be there, and I think you’ll like them.” Lance’s eyes widened at the offer. It was his first offer to hang out that came from outside the pack/coven in over a decade.

“Uh, yeah, but dude, are you sure I’m not an axe murderer or something? You only met me, like what, half an hour ago?” Lance pointed out, a teasing smile on his face. Hunk laughed, shrugging.

“i trust anyone in Allura’s family. You guys are all goody two-shoes, which, don’t get me wrong, I am too, so yeah. Also why is it always an axe? You could murder me with a brick you picked up off the street or something. An axe isn’t special,” Hunk told him, throwing his hands up at the end in indignation. Lance laughed.

“It’s just the first thing that comes to mind because it’s become an expression, dude. Hey, I have to go and take Allura’s tour of the town, which is pretty short, and after that I wanted to go for a hike, so did you know of any good locations for that?” Lance asked, feeling the need to change roll over him like a wave as Hunk had been talking. He didn’t like lying, especially to someone as nice as Hunk, be he needed to go really soon.

“Oh, yeah, I don’t personally hike, but my friend who does it all the time says Holt Pointe is the best for hiking, which is weird, because she’s a hermit, most of the time. Anyway, I hope you have fun with her dude, get back to me about Sunday if you can. See you around,” Hunk told him, waving him out.

“Thanks. Will do,” and with that, Lance took his phone out as he headed out of the shop, typing in the location and started running down Main, not even bothering to wave at anyone he came across, which was thankfully only one person, who looked about as friendly as a gnarled cactus with a vulture perched on top of it, which was okay with him.

He hit the woods, and he felt his wolf immediately get excited, already starting to scent out the area despite not even having the nose for it. He shook his head, laughing at it. “You gotta wait, bud. We’re almost good,” he spoke to himself, running ten minutes in to make sure his clothes wouldn’t get discovered by any random passersby. He stripped quickly, hoping to avoid too bad of a chill by changing quickly. Once all his clothes were off and put to a safe distance from him, he breathed out, letting the wolf take over.

He felt amused as he wondered through the forest, the cold not bothering him as much with his think layer of light brown fur, almost the same color as his hair, keeping him warm. He ran whenever it felt appropriate, tearing through the trees and generally sniffing everything. He chased a few rabbits, something he rarely let himself do, but it seemed harmless enough with how he felt he had a good control going on right now. He didn’t notice a huge amount of time had passed until the sun cast the shadows in the opposite direction from where they’d been when he’d arrived. If his eyes could’ve widened, they would’ve, but instead all he did was let out a worried whine.

In response, almost, he heard a rustle through the bushes to his left, and to his surprise, out stumbled from the underbrush, Shiro. Shiro looked haphazard, eyes blown wide in fear and confusion, becoming terrified as his unfocused eyes somewhat focused on his huge wolf form. He looked dirty, and some of his clothes were torn, and it sounded like he’d been running hard for a while, from the harsh pants that sounded out. Something in Lance’s wolf was screaming at him to protect, something Lance was more than happy to oblige to you as something else came rustling through the underbrush. In preparation, Lance put himself between Shiro and the intruder, ears back and a harsh growl emanating from deep In his chest.

The man from the main street this morning that looked as friendly as a prickly cactus appeared, sneering and looking amused at what he found instead of frightened. “Shiro, looks like this wolf’s decided on you as it’s dinner. How does that feel, eh? The great war hero, come home to be the town’s beloved police officer only to fall at the hands of a hungry beast more powerful than you. A shame, and an unfortunate end, but all the better for me. That way it won’t even look like murder.” The man stopped in his ramblings, completely ignoring Lance’s growls all the while, which only unsettled Lance more. The more he observed this man, the more it was obvious there was something unnatural about him. “Well, Mr.Wolf, enjoy your meal. I’ve tired him out for you, so that he won’t run. I’m off, then. Don’t make too much of a mess. We don’t want him to be unrecognizable.”

Lance let out a harsher warning growl than he had been, growing more furious by the moment. This man had no sense talking to such a nice person this way. Shiro had done nothing wrong as far as he was concerned, but this man had, and Lance would maim him given the next opportunity, but for now, taking care of Shiro took priority, not traumatizing him more by ripping this man apart in front of him. “Well, enjoy your death, Shiro, and rest well knowing your beloved Keith will join you soon.” And with that, the man turned and left, as calm as could be, even with the furious sound Lance unleashed. When Lance turned back to Shiro, the man was looking at him with wide terrified eyes, and he whined in response, making himself smaller and less of a threat, even going so far as to take a step closer only to nuzzle into the man’s outstretched hand in a ‘stop’ motion. Shiro’s eyes went wide with surprise as he felt Lance’s fur under his fingers.

“What?” Shiro asked, so quiet Lance wouldn’t have heard it in his human form. Lance chuffed out a laugh, nudging Shiro’s hand with his head. Shiro let out an awkward laugh, probably trying to process all that had just happened.

Lance took a few steps back, before changing, ignoring Shiro’s shocked gasp. “Lance?”

“Yeah, Shiro. We need to get you somewhere warm and safe,” Lance told him, approaching him to inspect the man’s injuries, trying to ignore the fact he was naked for the both of them.

“How- Why- Lance?” Shiro asked again, not able to finish a single thought, Lance sighed.

“I’ll answer all of your questions later, and it looks like you’re mostly unharmed, so I’m going to ask you to grab onto my back once I change into a wolf again, okay? Can you do that?” Lance asked, nodding back at Shiro when he nodded in response. “I’m going to stop near a pile of clothes, which are mine. I need you to gather them up and carry them with you, okay? Then we’ll get you somewhere safe. Can you do that too?” Lance asked, smiling when Shiro nodded. “Alright. Don’t be afraid of my wolf, okay? It’s still me, just bigger and more furry. Will you be okay with him?” Shiro nodded, still staring at Lance quietly with wide eyes.

“I’m still confused, Lance,” Shiro told him, his first full sentence in a while. Lance nodded, laughing.

“Yeah, I bet,” Lance replied, sighing before taking a few steps back and changing back into his wolf form. Shiro gasped again, but it was more in awe this time than pure shock. Shiro got onto his back, just as Lance had asked. Lance huffed, shifting the set of his shoulders so Shiro fit better onto the space available there. Lance took off as soon as Shiro was secure, following the trail of his scent back to where his stuff was. Soon enough, they were there, only for Shiro to get off and find nothing. Lance whined, alarmed, but suddenly, they both heard a crack of sticks from somewhere off to the left. They both jumped, alarmed, and Lance let out a low warning growl. A small auburn haired person stepped out from behind a tree, his stuff in their arms. They grinned, holding it out.

“Looking for this, Scooby?”