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I feel Everything

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Lance is giddy. It’s the most exciting thing to happen to him since the king spotted him meandering around his court and decided to befriend him. Now, not only did he have favor with his king but he had been given a job. He was being useful.

“I can’t breathe Hunk. He thinks I’m useful!”

“Or,” Starts his best friend Hunk, stretching a large faded map out before his eyes and squinting at it as if it were written by rats, “And really think about this Lance, Or your king is actually just super lazy and taking advantage of your obvious crush on him to get you to do dubious things without anyone being aware of him.”

Lance chokes, “I- I do not- I don’t have a crush on him—”

Hunk stares at him over the map through narrowed eyes, “Please. He’s the infamously young and attractive vampire king. I’ve never even met the guy and I have a crush on him.”

Lance’s shoulders go slack and his head lulls to the side appreciatively, “Yeah… he’s really great… strong and charismatic and Lord those eyes…”

At this mention, Hunk rolls his and taps the map, “I can’t make head or tails of this. Can’t I just. Locator spell this chick?”

This snaps Lance back to attention, “They’re werewolves Hunk. We have to be subtle about this.”

“Pretty sure once they catch a whiff of you, subtlety flies out the window dude.”

Lance nervously grazes his tongue over his dormant fangs behind his closed lips once or twice before shaking his head, “Look, okay, it’s not the most flashy of missions, I get it, but my Lord wants the intel and I am absolutely not going to fail him okay? Stop shitting allover my break here. Once he realizes I’m competent he’ll totally pay more attention to me and—”

Hunks shoulders go slack this time, though instead of daydreaming he just deadpans, “Lance. Buddy. It’s never going to happen.”

Lance juts out his chin, “Just. Read the map.”

“I’m a warlock not a seer. This is just. Illegible.”

“What good are you then!”

“I provide emotional support and packed us lunches.”

Lance’s previously sour face lightens drastically, “Oh you did? Oh that’s so sweet. I thought we were going to have to eat whatever garbage the wolves had to offer.”

Hunk laughs outright, the unspoken ‘as if a vampire would be allowed in a werewolf’s casual establishment’ translating just fine.

Lance throws an arm around his friends shoulders and looks at the map, “These wolves just. Don’t play fair do they? What is that even, are those supposed to be mountains?”

“Oh shit I thought that was writing.”

“Hunk.”

“I’m sorry! I’m not big on werewolves! They don’t normally have magic, they aren’t pertinent to my studies okay?!”

Lance groans so deeply his knees bend and his hip juts out and he wonders just how the hell is he supposed to do this.

His king, the vampire pureblood Lucifer Aube, had, through idle chatter over a lunch of biscuits and demons blood, given him a very simple job.

“I’ve heard through the grape vine,” the man had started, his voice this silky thing that made Lance feel like someone was ghosting a feather over his neck, “That there is a wolf in the western kingdom of special interest.”

“A wolf? What interest could a wolf possibly have?” Lance laughed, having great pride in how nonchalant he presented himself with such close proximity to his lord.

Lucifer laughed, “He sounds like you, Bob.”

The servant standing in the door coughed politely into his fist, “Sire.”

The King shot him a look that bordered on a pout but quickly turned back to Lance, “Wolves are very interesting Lance, you mustn’t discount them. And this one is a particular rare find.”

Lance had leaned forward at this, clearly his king was talking about this for a reason and he needed to show he was attentive, he needed to show his king that every word out of his mouth was going to be imbedded into his head for the rest of his days.

Lance was just a halfling after all. And an inept one at that, he didn’t even know what his halfing ability was, and that was the gift young vampires got with their very first drink. How Lance had somehow not developed anything was beyond him. And yet, here he sat at lunch with the strongest man on the bloody islands, possibly their entire world.

Presumably, in the dark world, there could be creatures stronger than Lucifer, but Lance wasn’t going into that.

“What’s so rare about them?” He asked.

Lucifer smiled, “It appears that a young girl of no notable birth has seemingly developed the werewolf magics of their royal family. Now, this can be easily explained by the wandering of any royal but on the possibility that this isn’t the case…Lance, would you be interested in gathering a little bit of information for me? It would just be for my records of course.”

Lance briefly considered clarifying that his king could want the information to launch a full scale attack on the west for all he cared he was still gonna get it.

“Of course! Of course I’d be happy to!”

“She’s stronger than me bro. She could have killed us,” Hunk shudders as they’re walking through the woods again. This time Lance is holding the map and it is a much better quality guide as provided by the witch who ran the melting pot city between the territories.

She had not been particularly inclined to help a vampire into werewolf territory, but when she realized Lance was traveling with a warlock something in her softened.

Lance figured it definitely had more to do with Hunk’s not being a vampire rather than being a warlock. He’d always heard the woman who ran the melting pot enjoyed the concept of mixed race relations.

Well, go figure.

She still clearly wanted Lance to stay out of the werewolf territory but eventually gave in to some prodding.

“She wouldn’t have hurt us Hunk, she’s definitely a softie. Like a mom, you know?”

Hunk continued to shudder, “The air was electrically charged the second we walked in Lance. One little spark and boom! Crispy warlock seasoned with vamp ash.”

“You’re being dramatic. Oh! The portal is over here come on!”

Hunk blanched, “Wait. You didn’t say anything about portals. We don’t need portals to walk west- we’ll—we’ll eventually get there!”

Lance paused in his speed walking to turn around and give Hunk his most bland expression, “Hunk. Walking to the wolves will take days. I want to show my king I’m useful. Not a waste of time. And it’s a portal. Your people made portals. They’re not difficult!”

Actually, he was lying. Portals were notorious for letting people walk into them a certain way and spitting them out with their limbs out of order.

But that was totally during the trial period and as long as you aren’t aiming to walk out of the portal systems with your insides on your out you should be fine.

“My people are little shitstains and you know that.”

“Hey, I happen to love one of those little shitstains. And he made us lunch.”

Hunk groans almost as deeply as Lance did before they stopped for directions but concedes to enter the portal.

It had been three hours in werewolf country and they were no closer to finding this magical wolf that Lucifer was so keen on gathering information on. Honestly though, Lance can’t say he didn’t expect to meet some resistance.

The second he stepped foot into their lands several wolves came running, baring fangs and demanding answers through telepathic voices.

“What’s a little leech doing on our lands?!”

“State your purpose Mosquito!”

“How dare a parasite like you show your face!”

Lance had a warmer reception in the underworld if he was honest. Granted, he’d been there a whopping total of once and didn’t really explore or anything but that wasn’t the point.

Wolves just. Didn’t like vampires.

And to his credit, he didn’t quite like them either, nor did most of his species. It was just a quietly understood thing as they’ve spent centuries quarreling over the boundary between their lands and they just happened to have very similar systems of government.

For example, King Lucifer and King Faust had not gotten on. It seemed Lucifer and their new king were on sensible terms but things were as they’ve always been, tense.

When one of the wolves made to lurch forward without allowing Lance to properly explain himself Hunk stood in front of him and spread his arms wide, light sparking along his skin as it projected out around his arms like a flash bomb, temporarily blinding—well, everyone, if Lance was honest.

“Rude!” Hunk shouted at the wolf that threw himself harshly to the ground to avoid Hunk’s magic. The others were slowly shifting into their human forms, a small group of furrowed brows and grit teeth.

“If you ask a question you wait for the answer, gosh guys.”

There was a quiet clamor of “Warlock” and “it’s friends with a warlock” among the group before one stepped forward, held her head up high, and impatiently tapped her fingers along her bicep. She was…pretty, for a wolf. With a short bob cut that curled around her cheeks and narrowed gold eyes lighting up her tanned face. Regardless of her looks, she clearly led the group.

Lance quietly noted that the way she looked at him like she could dig a stiletto into his neck kind of turned him on but he immediately reminded himself this was a wolf and she wouldn’t do it in the way he’d have liked.

Not that he liked that sort of thing, his mind just wandered sometimes.

The wolf that had taken a swing at him uncoiled and shifted as well, taking on the form of a young silver haired male, probably no more than fifteen. Lance shot Hunk a look and the magic user flinched a little, not all that glad about having thrown a kid to the ground even if it wasn’t exactly his fault.

Lance sighed, “I apologize for coming around unannounced, I’m simply here on request from my Lord and mean absolutely no harm to you or your kind.”

“Oh, of course,” The woman laughed, “You’re a halfling. As if you even had the ability to cause us harm.”

Lance had winced at this, sure he knew he was a lower level vampire, it’s why Lucifer’s taking notice of him had surprised him, but she didn’t have to say it like that.

“Yes well…”

“The real question is why your king would send you.” She stated flatly, the other wolves nodded in unison.

“Perhaps he’s here to steal?”

“He’s here on a mission from his king, what would king of the bloodsuckers want from us?”

“You know, anything? Cause they’re leeches whose entire existence is based off taking shit that isn’t theirs?”

Lance coughed, “Uhm. Right here.”

Before the werewolves could shoot him any more snarky remarks on his entire species Hunk, bless his soul, spoke up.

“Look, we’re not here to steal or damage or do anything bad okay? We’re just here to see someone, have a conversation, and leave. You won’t even know we were here.”

Their leader spoke again, her crossed arms pushed forward as she jutted out her chest, “And who exactly are you here to see?”

Hunk blinked and then glanced over at Lance.

Lance shrugged, “Her name is… it’s something like a bird I forgot.”

Hunk went slack jawed and stared at lance with wide stunned eyes, “You forgot?”

Lance withered, “It’ll come back…I…”

The wolves displayed variously amused faces and a few of them even chuckled. Their leader remained deadpan however, “Like a bird…?”

“It’s something with a P,” Lance nodded, of this he was positive.

“Pidge?”

The vampire beamed, “Yes! That’s the one! Pidge Gunderson.”

Finally, the woman’s expression broke, a vicious looking grin on her face, “I see. Well. We’ll leave you too it.”

“Bridgette!” One of her men shouted at her, but she simply raised her hand to silence him.

“Make sure you come this way when you’ve adjourned your business. If we don’t see you out by nightfall we will forcibly remove you from our kingdom in whatever manner we see fit, understood?”

Lance swallowed, but nodded. He wasn’t fond of werewolves, not the tiniest bit, but he wasn’t the kind of idiot who took threats idly.

And now here they were, three hours later and still no closer to finding the elusive Pidge.

Granted, whenever they asked a local about her there was always that same shit eating grin and a bitten “Good luck.” But absolutely no one was willing to lend a hand to help the vampire locate her.

Hunk shrugged his shoulders as they sat on a bench and ate their lunches.

“We’ll find her Lance, don’t worry about it,” he says finally, offering his friend an apple.

There are sandwiches and biscuits but Lance needs comfort food right now and nothing is as comforting to a vampire as a nice solid fruit to bite into. Which he does. He doesn’t even break off his bite he just sinks his teeth in and holds it there while he whines.

“’uuuunkkkkkkk,” Lance groans.

Hunk reminds him to chew.

A werewolf pup runs through the square they’re sitting in, a snowy white with large paws, and is promptly chased by three more while a wolf in their human form stands across the way with their eyes trained solely on Lance.

A small part of him thinks it’s cute, and he loves kids, no matter the species.

But this whole thing has just sucked so royally. He’s tired and he wants to go home and have a glass of blood across a little circular table from a beautiful dangerous man and just—

He takes his bite, chews and swallows, and slumps against the bench, “I’m just such a failure man. I don’t have a halfling ability. I’m…weak. And now I can’t even find some girl?”

“You don’t have a halfling ability?”

Lance furrows his brows and turns to look at Hunk, “You knew that already man why are you rubbing that in???”

Hunk chokes on the sandwich he had clearly been in the process of eating and points behind him.

Lance tilts his head back and sees a small girl with wild ginger hair and amber eyes hidden behind a pair of large circular frames.

She’s. Kind of adorable.

Her wolf ears flicker upward and to the left of them but she continues to address Lance, “You’re an active halfling but you have no magic?”

Lance is taken aback by this; he has magic. Just not. All the magic he’s supposed to have.

“I have—”

“Katie!” Sounds a voice from the left. The girl’s shoulders droop and her ears go with them.

A man who looks nearly identical to the girl, Katie, runs out of a nearby building holding a bag. Lance winces, preparing for some manner of insult shot in his direction because sure, the kids are cool but pretty much anyone over twelve already labeled Lance as a bad guy.

And sure, Lance fed off blood that had to come from somewhere, but he really didn’t think he was such a bad dude you know?

Being around an entire species of people who couldn’t stand you could be quite detrimental to your self-image.

The man shoots Lance a look that tells him he was right and an insult is probably incoming but the girl simply stomps one foot and crosses her arms and suddenly the older male’s face goes slack.

“But…” He offers.

She shakes her head, “Chill Matt.” Then she turns back to Lance.

Hunk has finished choking on his food and is watching the scene curiously, his skin might be glowing a little as if he’s prepared for another flash and run.

But this girl seems to know what she’s doing. Lance turns in the bench and leans an arm over the back. Before he can even offer it to her though she reaches out and grabs it, inspecting his arm.

The other wolf makes a high-pitched noise and immediately shouts at her not to do that.

More surprising then her soft grasp though is that the other wolf turns to Lance, bows his head, and apologizes.

“Sis, you can’t just…”

“Can you shush for like two seconds?” She grumbles tracing the lines on Lance’s tan hands, “I thought vampires were pale?”

“A common misconception,” Hunk starts.

She tuts and glances up at Lance’s face, staring deeply into his blue eyes for longer than Lance felt was comfortable but dared not to look away. Matt walks over and tries to nudge Katie back and away from Lance but she swats him away with her free hand.

“Nothing interesting ever happens here and now you want to take this away from me?”

“You can’t just go around grabbing vampires. There’s—there’s history— Again, sir, I’m so sorry please just—”

Lance raises a brow but shrugs it off, “No, no, it’s okay. I mean, don’t break my hand or anything yeah?”

Katie scoffs, “Why would I do that? You’re already broken enough, aren’t you?”

The vampire blinks.

Ouch?

Matt shrieks again, “Don’t say that!

Katie’s ears clamp down on her head and she hisses, her nose scrunched up, “Oh shush. I mean, with your halfling ability right? I don’t want to break you, I want to fix you.”

Matt tilts his head at this and glances at the vampire directly now as every look he’d previously shot him had been shaky and embarrassed, “What’s that?”

Hunk is still cautiously lit up like a dim nightlight but he mumbles, “Well these two seem…nice-ish?”

Lance makes a general gesture to him with his free hand but doesn’t say anything to him, instead addressing Katie, “You want to fix me?”

The girl nods, “You should come back to the lab. We can take a look at what’s blocking your magic output.”

Lance isn’t sure his brows can shoot any higher. Matt relaxes, “Ah, I see.”

“…You think you can release my halfling ability?”

The girl nods again, more vigorously, her eyes glinting with excitement her small body seems to have trouble holding back with how she shakes.

If Lance were paying attention he might have noticed how the ground seemed to shake a bit with her. The wolf that had been watching the pups had since disappeared and their little group was now the only ones in the square and this alerted Lance to the way the sun was dipping lower in the sky.

He still had to find Pidge before nightfall, he could not fail his king.

But the idea of finally being able to hold his head up high, knowing what he was truly capable of… to actually have his gift…?

“We really shouldn’t be bringing home any more strangers…” The older wolf starts, his arm going up to rub his neck.

“Hey if you brought home a stray to live with us I can totally bring home a couple to hang out for a day fuck right off Matt,” Katie hisses in his direction.

Lance sighs and slowly retrieves his hand from her hold, “Lord, I’d love to see if you really could but… I have some thing I’m supposed to be taking care of and I only have until nightfall to get it done…”

The girl doesn’t seem like she’s going to accept this, “Well what is it? Maybe we can help with that too.”

Hunk interjects here, his glow almost completely gone, “Whoa really? That would be so great like none of these other wolves would really talk to us and you’re actually offering— Wow thank you.”

Matt steps forward, casually but protectively putting a hand in front of his younger sister and Lance smiles at the insane height difference.

“Don’t get too excited, we still don’t know what you need.”

Hunk nods to Lance, “We’re looking for someone.”

“A girl.”

“Pidge Gunderson?”

“Do you know her?”

Matt’s face goes perfectly blank.

Katie’s face takes on that exact shit eating grin as everyone else and Lance can almost hear her say “Good Luck” and turn away.

Instead, Matt lowers his hand and Katie steps forward, taking Lance’s hand again, “I can absolutely help you with that.”

Matt and Katie live quite the way from the village they’d found Lance and Hunk. It was almost comical to Lance considering they were the only wolves willing to help. He’d never have gotten anywhere if it weren’t for the fact Matt had eaten all of Katie’s peanut butter and the girl had apparently demanded they travel into town immediately to rectify the situation.

“I said I was sorry.”

“…”

“And it won’t ever happen again.”

Katie narrowed her eyes at her brother as they walked, Lance and Hunk a few paces behind.

“He’s a menace and he must be stopped Matt.”

Oh, no, Lance had misunderstood. Matt had apparently invited someone to stay in their home and it was this stranger that had finished Katie’s supply of peanut butter.

“I promise, I’ll talk to him.”

“Uh, no you won’t. I’ll talk to him. And if I don’t like his attitude he can sleep in the yard.”

“Can’t you cut him some slack? He’s new to the whole werewolf thing okay?”

They were getting close to a humble but sturdy looking house in the middle of the expanse of fields and trees when Katie stomped her foot again and this time Lance felt the rumble and was vaguely concerned. Did they have earth quakes in the werewolf territory? The islands, a large portion of the vampire territory, occasionally experienced some harsh winds but he didn’t think there’d be earthquakes…

“That’s not an excuse Matt! It wasn’t his!”

“We told him to make himself at home!”

“No! You did! Not me!”

Deciding he didn’t want to listen to the squabble anymore and that he’d been well received by the duo enough to speak Lance tried to change the subject, “So… About Pidge?”

Katie barely looked at him, “Oh dude don’t even worry about that, once we’re done it’ll take two seconds to fulfill your mission okay?”

“Well not exactly two seconds,” Hunk starts, “Cause we have to ask her questions and junk. And you know, there’s that scary wolf in the borderlands that seemed really serious and—”

Matt turned a sympathetic look on Hunk, “Bridgette? Don’t worry too much about her. I mean, yeah, as a general rule you shouldn’t upset her but—we have Pidge. So there’s nothing to worry about, not really.”

Lance perked up at this, “You have Pidge? Like…she’s here?” He eyes the house expectantly.

Katie chuckled, “Oh, yeah. She’s here.”

Lance felt like he might be shaking in the same way Katie had been earlier, “Really? When can I meet her?”

The female werewolf laughed again, “Sooner than you think, just let me do a couple tests, see what’s up, and… yeah. You’ll be on your way in no time at all. Kind of like I wish someone else would be.” With her final statement she glared pointedly at Matt who groaned in mild annoyance.

“I already said—!”

“I’m sorry!”

All four of them glanced up at the door to the house they were only a few feet away from and to the man who’d spoken.

He didn’t look much older than Hunk, but he was significantly smaller in stature. He was pale for a wolf and his eyes were an alarming shade of violet, the only real color on his person as his black hair stood up in all kinds of ridiculous directions, almost managing to conceal the wolf ears flicked back in his anxiety.

He was kind of gorgeous, if Lance was honest. For a wolf anyway.

When said stranger realized it wasn’t just the siblings returning to the house his eyes widened and his shoulders pinched up tightly causing him to visibly shudder as he took a step back.

“G-guys…?” He mumbled out, his voice low and scratchy. Lance watched his ears aim straight back and he had to fight every instinct in him to not attempt to comfort the male who was so clearly terrified.

Matt’s face faltered and he stepped forward, “Oh Keith—” But Katie beat him to it, taking a few large brisk steps toward the other wolf and immediately grabbing both of his hands.

The smile on her face surprised Lance with how genuine it was considering what she’d been saying just a few minutes ago. All that frustration seemed to melt out of her at the sight of the wolf and Lance briefly wondered if she wasn’t hiding some sort of crush.

But then when she spoke, it seemed very clear that this was more of a familial bond.

“Hey, shh, it’s okay. Matt got us more peanut butter. You can have half okay? I kept the other jar, we’ll wash it, refill it, everyone’s happy and no one wakes up to a house void of their favorite thing. No harm done, apology accepted, we’re totally cool.” She spoke quietly and softly brushed a hand soothingly through his hair.

Keith breathed out through his nose harshly.

“They aren’t wolves….” He started, though his statement sounded more like a question.

Katie shook her head, “No, they aren’t wolves. Hunk is a witch and Lance is a vampire. But they’re harmless okay? I wouldn’t bring them home if they were dangerous.”

Matt sighed and as Katie continued to reassure Keith, he turned to face Hunk and Lance.

“Keith is a half breed, recently activated his dormant wolf side and he’s…had a bit of trouble adjusting. Up until a month ago he thought humans were the highest form of evolution.”

Hunk squinted past Matt’s shoulder to look at Keith who looked like he’d somehow gotten paler. Lance was sure he had actually, having watched what little color he had drain from his cheeks.

“Really? Dude, that’s rough.”

“So he’s going through the whole…heightened senses, what’s that smell, thing?”

Matt nodded, “So just... approach with care, okay?”

“Got it,” replied Hunk. Lance simply lowered his head and continued to watch Katie attempt to sooth Keith who still appeared far too concerned.

“I don’t know… aren’t vampires supposed to be…anti werewolf? I mean…are you sure this is okay, Pidge?”

Lance’s brows shot up.

In hindsight, he probably should have at least attempted to keep his voice down.

WHAT!?

After some cajoling at the front door they finally got Keith to let them in when he had yanked Pidge inside and slammed it shut on the vampire who’d just made his skull rattle.

But by the time Pidge had opened the door Keith had positioned himself on top of the stairs with a very thick blanket over his head and shoulders looking for all the world like he was torn between killing the vampire and just straight up crying.

Lance had to push more thoughts out of his head as he really found this whole thing extremely adorable.

“I’m sorry!” Lance offered, the werewolf responded to this with a very cat like hiss that caused Pidge and Matt to chuckle slightly.

“Don’t shout,” Matt clarified.

Lance might have cried himself, he felt so stupid, “Right, right, I’m sorry.”

The werewolf on the stairs sat down and cuddled up to the bars on the stair railing, still draped in his blanket and staring warily at the intruders.

“I don’t like them Pidge. When are they leaving?”

Pidge rolled her eyes, “Just go into my room and find the noise canceling headphones okay?”

“But those are uncomfortable!”

“Go Keith.”

Keith groaned and Lance listened rather than watched him travel upstairs and trudge down a hall before his attention turned back to the ginger who’d been lying about their identity.

“Okay so. Not cool,” Lance started eloquently.

Hunk nudged him hard in the side, “Bro, don’t knock your good luck.”

Pidge rolled her eyes, “Well, my real name is Katie. Pidge is just the name I gave to the wolves who caught me doing magic. I didn’t need anyone finding me, you know?”

She took the bag of groceries from Matt and wandered into the kitchen with them, presumably to put them away.

Matt quietly excused himself to go check on Keith upstairs.

“So- okay yeah that kind of makes sense, doesn’t that make sense, Lance?” Hunk thought aloud. Lance rolled his eyes.

“Literally everyone we asked about you acted like you were going to be some crazy…I dunno, someone I wouldn’t be able to deal with.”

Pidge scoffs from the kitchen and pokes her head out from behind a cut way wall, “Well to be fair you kind of can’t deal with me. But they only acted that way because ‘Pidge’ is a rumor that none of them have actually met.” She’s silent for a moment before laughing, “Basically they sent the vampire after bigfoot and they thought it was funny. But. You know. I’m actually real.”

“And you have magic.” Hunk persisted.

Pidge grinned, “And I have magic. Come on, we’ll go to the lab and I’ll explain okay?”

It was a short walk out the back door of the house to a small nondescript building in the back. Lance briefly considered the possibility she was leading them back there to be eaten.

Hunk voiced this concern, “Hey, so. This is kinda. I dunno. Creepy?”

“It’s four in the afternoon.”

“Yeah well you’re a werewolf and werewolf’s don’t like vampires and Lance is a vampire and I kinda liked you so I don’t want to have to go all “Don’t touch my friend” on you so-”

Pidge laughed so loud the ground shook again. This time Lance realized why. He felt his heart beat increase and quickly shot a look at Hunk who also caught on.

“You’re a warlock, so I get it, its your default setting to try, but dude, relax,” Pidge said through half lidded eyes. She opened the door and walked in, warning them to wipe their feet.

When the lights came on Lance wanted to panic. The room did not look like it belonged anywhere on werewolf territory, with the walls covered in machinery and looking vaguely sterilized.

“Lance, can you stand on that circular podium? I’m going to do a scan of your vitals.”

Lance absolutely did not want to stand on that podium, it was the focal point of a lot of the machines and he was not inclined to stand in the middle of it all.

“H-how about…we talk about how you have magic first off?”

Pidge was seated at a table that appeared to be made out of metal and was in the process of putting goggles over her eyes when she stopped and pushed them up her forehead, messing up her bangs in the process. Her glasses were sitting forgotten on the table in front of her.

Hunk sat crisscrossed on the floor, having the good sense to not touch anything, and pulled out a small journal to take notes of the conversation.

Pidge rolled her eyes but let it go, “Okay so first off, no, I’m not some illegitimate kid.”

Hunk scribbled this down mumbling about that rumor.

“We had heard that one of the princes was a bit of a… flirt.”

“Promise, I’m not an Ayers Cu’cral, I have no connection to the royal family what so ever, other than going bloody nuts whenever they come of age like the rest of us which is honestly my next order of business as far as my biology is concerned—but that’s the point.” Pidge explained, “I…gave myself magic.”

Lance blanched.

Hunk dropped his pen.

“Look, its really just a matter of opening the right magical circuits and then being open to the elements. I’m an earth elemental now…probably because the first attempt ended in a bit of a rockslide and you know nothing sparks latent ability than a life or death situation.”

She tapped her chin thoughtfully, “I think I’m tapping into wind lately though. Which is really super cool if you think about it because it means I can potentially gain all four elements which has only ever happened to our kings before and wow can you just imagine I mean—I’d never want to be king that’s just crazy but it would be awesome just to say that I could you know?”

Okay, she’s babbling. Lance moved as close to her as he dared and leaned over the table toward her, “Yeah that’s really cool but lets back up a bit. You said you just have to open the right magical circuits?”

Hunk shuffled for his pencil and Pidge shrugged, “well, yeah? Okay. So, all werewolves used to have magic, we just stopped using it because we didn’t have the need to. The royals retained their magic because they were trained in it constantly. A couple millennia go by and it’s like we never had it to begin with which is just stupid okay? So I started doing some research.”

Hunk beamed, “Can we see your research?”

Lance blinked at him. Hunk stopped and corrected himself, “Can I see your research? I actually came up with a similar theory when Lance here wasn’t presenting—”

Lance tilted his head dramatically far to the right to stare at Hunk absolutely mind blown.

“You did what?”

“Well there has to be a reason you don’t have a halfling ability man!”

Pidge nods, “Which is why I say again, hop your little halfling butt onto the podium.”

Was this really going to happen? Was this random job from the king going to somehow…fix him?

“W-wait. So. It was some kind of…scientific procedure that made you the first common wolf to…?” He still needed to come back with more for the man.

Pidge stretched her arms across the table, “Yes. Kind of. Look, once we do it with you, you can wander straight over to your king and tell him a step by step process of it.”

This is true but…

“But if you can do this for anyone…”

Pidge’s eyes widened slightly realizing the implication of Lance’s words, “Oh wait. Do you think I would—Okay no first off this was all for science, just to see if I could okay? I mean I agree it’s stupid as hell that wolves lost their magic because they didn’t use it but I wouldn’t just…”

Wouldn’t start a war by enabling a race that fell into complacency with horrid ingrained prejudices to shoot up in strength?

“I’m not sharing the technology, Lance. I’m doing this because I’ve never had the chance to study a vampire before but otherwise, it’s pretty cool being the only non royal wolf to do what I can do. I mean I’d let Matt use it…but he already said no, something about “Great power and great responsibility” or whatever. I’d let Keith do it too but you know he’s just. Way too fragile right now…”

Lance was looking more concerned with every name.

“But that’s it! Okay, I’m kind of a shut in in case the house in the boondocks didn’t make that clear.” She shrugged and wiggled her fingers at Lance, “now get on the podium~”

“We have to talk more about the extent of your power though… and if there are ever any gaps in your magic, and like…how long you’ve had it?”

Hunk raised a brow at the vampire, “Lance, are you…scared?”

Lance choked, “Well yeah?! Look at all this shit?”

Pidge clapped her hands down on the table, “Come on! It’s all harmless!”

And…

“And what if it’s not some…block?”

Pidge stopped clapping and sat up straight at Lance’s words, unsure how to address that concern. Hunk looked at him with sympathy and Lance felt his stomach suddenly get very heavy.

“I need a drink…” He mumbled to no one in particular, but Pidge replied anyway.

“Oh. I actually have some for you if you need it?”

The vampire’s head shot up so fast the other two jumped, “Are you offering?”

Pidge shook her head, “No, I mean, I have some stored from my last batch of tests.”

Lance wasn’t sure what to think of that, but blood would definitely make him feel a bit better.

“Keith’s is the freshest, I’ll be right back. Don’t touch anything though!”

Lance and Hunk exchanged a glance, they did not need to be told twice.

By the time she came back with a little pouch and a straw Lance noticed it was starting to get a little darker outside.

“When does the sun set?”

“Close to six.”

Lance held out his hand for the blood pouch and tried to hold back his panic.

He’d just barely taken a sip of the blood in the bag when the door to the lab slammed open and Keith stood there panting and looking slightly furrier than he had previously.

“Pidge tell me—Oh my god please put that down.” The end of his statement was directed at Lance whom he was now staring at with wide golden eyes.

Lance croaked but for some reason just proceeded to drink more, faster.

Keith paled again, and it really was astounding how much paler he could look.

Pidge started trying to explain to him that it wasn’t a big deal when Lance realized he could suddenly feel all of Keith’s abhorrent disgust.

Go figure, he was drinking his blood even if it was cold. It happened sometimes where drinking someone’s blood made you more in-tune to their minds and emotions. Lance had often fed on stock blood, so he’d never had the misfortune of feeding on someone he knew and having to go through this kind of thing.

Keith on the other hand clearly had absolutely no idea what this meant and was just about to start screaming.

“Why is he drinking my blood why are you—are you trying to get him to eat me? Pidge I thought we were cool I just- I don’t understand how this universe works can we just talk about this?”

The boy was sounding shrill and honestly it was starting to hurt Lance’s ears, he wasn’t sure how Keith could even stand himself.

Pidge groaned before explaining, one last time, they were cool and Lance wasn’t going to just turn around and bite him he just needed to relax a little.

Keith did not accept this explanation but moved to stand as close to Pidge as he possibly could while keeping his eyes on Lance.

Lance simply sighed. Even the newbie wolf hated him. That was fine. He didn’t need to be friends with him anyway.

“Now get on the podium.”

Or her, for that matter.

The scans took longer than Lance had initially hoped and while he sat there and quietly hoped for a eureka moment to show itself on Pidge’s face he was starting to lose his faith. He eyed Hunk who was furiously scribbling away with his notebook, possibly sketching some of the machinery and occasionally interrupting Pidge’s visual analysis to ask why certain things were hooked up the way they were. It made him anxious.

Lord knows why this made him turn to look at Keith who was sitting next to Pidge with his head on his hands, his blanket over his head just far enough to cover his ears but left his entire face unobstructed.

Werewolf blood wasn’t by any means a delicacy, but he wanted more of it and quietly sulked over the fact he wasn’t allowed to have the pouch while standing on the podium.

Keith’s fingers tapped impatiently on the metal table and Lance could hear his feet fidgeting in a similar manner beneath it.

Watching him was making him more anxious.

Lord.

“Why are they here again?” Keith finally croaked like his throat was as dry as Lance’s felt.

“Because I’m trying to help them Keith.”

“Why would you do that?”

Pidge made a noise that sound like it came equipped with a roll of her eyes, “because science, Keith.”

Keith tilted his head, blocking his face from Lance’s view then which Lance decided was slightly annoying because even if the guy seemed to dislike him he was still nice to look at.

What was he supposed to look at now?

The bag of what was probably half a cup left of blood he couldn’t have?

At some point Keith must have turned back because suddenly Lance’s ears caught on to the sound of a very low very threatening growl.

“Keith, what are you doing?”

“He’s still hungry.” Keith bit out, the fur of his ears standing on end.

Lance peeled his eyes away from the bag and held up his hands defensively, “Hey! What do you expect from me?!”

“Well you can’t have any more!” The new werewolf shouted. “You shouldn’t have had any to begin with!”

Pidge made a low groaning noise but continued to look over the results being transmitted to the three large monitors in front of her. Hunk also busied himself looking over the results, pointing and mumbling at things as if bouncing ideas off the girl.

 “Look it’s not like I asked “Oh please give me some of the crybaby’s blood I simply need it!” You jerk, I’m just hungry.” Because I’m anxious, Lance wanted to add, but let it go, mostly because Keith’s face was coloring now instead of growing paler and Lance wasn’t sure how he felt about that.

“Crybaby!? Do you have any idea what I’ve been through in the last week!? Let alone—I am not a crybaby!”

Lance liked his voice, it didn’t have the silk of his sire but it was an interesting sound in his ears. And yet, when he shouted like that Lance just wanted to shove a shoe in his mouth.

Heh. Dogs chewing on shoes.

Yeah.

“You literally have a blanket draped over your shoulders bro, go find some boots to teeth on,” Lance grumbled idly, focusing on the mental image of this light eyed boy being utterly ridiculous to try and make himself feel better.

This only made Keith livid though.

Which in turn raised Lance’s apprehension.

Keith yanked the blanket off and almost kicked the table in his haste, causing Pidge to make a hissing sound with her teeth and wave a hand at him but Keith ignored it.

“Seeking comfort when your entire body is in pain should not be a fucking means of attack you insensitive jackoff,” Keith growled, “And what’s more, you really want to make a joke about species? You’re a bloody parasites and you just helped yourself to some of me for sustenance, honestly do you have any sense of gratitude?!”

If Lance had been drinking anything it would have come up through his nose. Which, granted how often he was drinking blood, would not have made for a pretty picture so he was glad he wasn’t.

“Gratitude? First off, you’ve done nothing but bitch since I had any, second off, it’s not like you’re some prime cut alright? Don’t flatter yourself—look at your hair, if you grow it out anymore you’ll be time traveling as well as world traveling—if it was up to me I wouldn’t have touched your crappy 90’s teen angst blood, you just happened to be in stock!”

“What even—in stock!? Prime cut!? What am I?! Cattle!?”

In a small shrill voice Keith also repeated the 90’s teen angst comment, because “what is that supposed to mean?!” but Lance spoke over him.

“If the collar fits!”

“Aren’t you up there because there’s something wrong with you!? Where do you get off being so pompous!?”

“Oh I’m just naturally amazing so it’s my right. Where do you get off being a whiney little bitch?”

Pidge snapped her fingers at the two of them and stared pointedly at Lance who realized quite suddenly what he’d said. He mumbled an apology and then turned his attention anywhere else but at Keith who seemed to be simmering down as well.

It was a few minutes of silence before someone spoke again.

“So what is wrong with him?” Keith mumbled in Pidge’s ear. Lance could of course hear him being a vampire and being that he was only five feet away from them.

Pidge took a deep breath, stared at the readings and frowned, “I…honestly don’t know?”

Keith blinked at her, then at Lance, and Lance felt his heart fall.

“Guess you’re some kind of invalid.” Keith bit out, completely carelessly.

Lance wasn’t sure he’d ever wanted to throttle anyone as badly as he did right at that moment, but kept himself in check as he focused on what really mattered.

“Can you come back tomorrow? We should run more tests because really—from what I can make out here, you should be a pretty powerful halfling…”

Hunk beamed at him, but Lance didn’t feel better at all.

Should be?

“We’ll figure it out okay? Maybe vampires just work differently from wolves.”

Chapter Text

If Keith was honest, he’d probably waited way too long to call the cops.

He sat there with the handcuffs digging into his wrists, locking his hands behind his back as he hunched in the sheriff’s department’s waiting area. There was dried blood on his hands and it made him angry just to smell it.

The officer who’d detained him was sitting at his desk with his head back, a balled-up paper towel pressed to his nostril.

He could smell that too.

Last he checked his nose wasn’t that strong before.

“You got knocked out by a kid?” One of the other cops says to officer Nosebleed.

He grits his teeth and mumbles the phrase “Sucker punch.”

Keith never really understood that term. Possibly because most people are too proud to know the difference.

Much like stupid cops who run their mouths about shit they know nothing about.

“I was just trying to file a “missing persons” report you jackoffs.” Keith grunts though he knows no one is paying attention.

“The kid’s got some disciplinary issues, it seems.” One of the cop’s mutters.

“No hun, I’ll be home in another hour or two, don’t worry.”

Keith flinches, looking up to his left where the Sherriff is behind a closed door and talking to his wife on a little cellular phone despite his voice sounding like he was standing right in front of him.

He can smell the turkey sandwich he had that afternoon too.

What the hell is going on.

“He’s been kicked out of how many schools?”

“Heh, I was right then, the dad probably did just get fed up leave him.”

“You didn’t say that to him?”

“…I might have.”

“You deserve that bloody nose Reynolds.”

Keith groaned loudly, hoping to catch someone’s attention though he wasn’t sure what he’d do with it once he had it. When that didn’t work he leaned back, adequately upsetting his arms and proceeded to start bumping his head back into the wall hard enough to be annoying but not hard enough to hurt himself.

“Kogane! Quit that!”

“Make me,” Keith growled.

The cops shot him a look but returned to their whispering.

“The kid clearly has no respect for authority.”

“Do you not remember what it was like at that age? And the kid’s dad just left? Where’s his mom in all this?”

Keith thumped his head back just a little harder, “My dad didn’t leave. He’s missing. Something’s happened to him!”

The cops ignored him.

“His mom left when he was three apparently.”

“Jeesh. So it’s just him now?”

For the love of god, “If you’re going to talk to me like I’m not here at least talk a little lower!” he shouted, he wanted to throw his arms out for emphasis but only succeeded in rattling his cuffs against the back of the bench and wincing as they rubbed against his already injured wrists.

“I just checked we have no record of a legal guardian for him. He’s a ward of the state till someone shows up now.”

“With his history we should take him for a psych e-val. Make sure he’s not dangerous.”

“He’s clearly dangerous, look at me.”

“We can’t lock up everyone who wants to punch you.”

“We can try. And we can start with the ones who did. Besides, it’s just a short stay in a psych ward. He did assault an officer and he has a history of violent outbreaks and depressive episodes.”

Keith saw red.

Depressive episodes?

His dad was a manic depressive drunk in his younger years. Go figure, that can happen when one day you have the perfect life and the next it’s ripped out from under you by someone else’s selfish decisions.

But he’s been better lately. He cleaned up his act. He’d been sober two years.

They were good.

And now he was missing and this garbage office wasn’t going to help him and they were nitpicking through his life and judging him and—

“Come on, we’re going for a ride,” said officer Nosebleed.

“Where?” Keith grits out.

The officer simply grabs him by the shirt collar and hauls him to his feet. Keith makes to bite him—a reflex, he considers, that he wouldn’t normally act on— and the cop snatches his hand back quickly.

“Jeez you some kind of rabid dog!? You wonder why your parents left you.”

Keith barely registers the sound of the other officer sighing deeply before his vision flashes red again.

He isn’t even sure what he’s saying.

Something about ripping the mans throat out with his teeth.

His jaw feels so tense he doesn’t even think he’s bluffing.

He lunges forward, expecting some manner of resistance from the officer but suddenly he’s suspended in the air, someone’s hand gripping the back of his shirt tightly as his legs dangle.

He can see the officer in some manner of suspended animation, prepared to block Keith’s assault but somehow frozen.

“Don’t get used to this okay? You won’t always have time magic when you’re working. This is a onetime occurrence because otherwise we’d have a whole boat load of clean up to do and I am not volunteering for that crap. Hell, I shouldn’t even be wasting my time on you trainees…”

Keith flailed, but the person speaking had an iron grip.

The was someone else there that wasn’t there before though, and this person wasn’t directly behind him so he couldn’t see him.

He was tall, muscular, with a flash of white in his otherwise dark hair, a reddish violet slash mark across his nose.

“Of course, Dante, but why did we come save a human?”

“You’re still blind, aren’t you, Takashi?”

The male with the shock of white hair flushed. The other who Keith still couldn’t see finally started to lower him to the ground.

When his feet touched the ground he immediately spun around and bared his teeth at the man who had so easily held him before. Why he bared his teeth? He wasn’t sure.

There was a smell in the air. Something that made him nauseas. Angry.

Keith’s instincts were screaming to fight.

Then the man he’d accidentally turned his back to reached out a hand and clasped his shoulder.

Keith whipped his head back with a snarl, but the man didn’t flinch, instead his eyes lit on something in his hair.

“Oh. Well. That’s surprising,”

“Get your hand off me.”

Takashi had no problem following directions, but then he caught sight of the handcuffs and glanced at the other male with a slight question in his eyes.

The other man was about as tall as Takashi, but he looked older despite the simple long brown hair and the lack of scars on his face. His eyes were two different colors, one green and one blue and while oddities like this usually caught Keith’s attention looking directly into this man’s face made his blood boil.

“What the hell is going on here?! How did you—how did you freeze the officers?!” Keith shouted, wincing at his own volume as he surveyed the room and realized even the rain just outside the office window had frozen in place.

Dante rolled his multi colored eyes and motioned for Takashi, “This is all you, kid.”

Takashi nodded and turned to Keith, bowing over slightly to make up for their height difference.

“I understand your hearing might be a bit sensitive so I’ll try to keep my voice low, alright?” He started, just above a whisper.

Keith scrunched up his face and fought the twitch, “Back the fuck up dude.”

“Okay well. Right. Uhm…” Takashi looked up at the ceiling, made a very clearly doubtful face and tilted his head from side to side.

The other male threw his hands up, “I am so done with this. I’m not a fucking babysitter. Ian is a one time thing. I’m out of here. You have two minutes before tweedlefuck and whatstheirface start up again.” There was the sound of clock ticking and suddenly the man was gone replaced with the phantom image of a clock face ticking down two minutes.

Takashi’s face shifted completely then, standing up straight and reaching for Keith’s hands. Within two seconds his wrists were unbound, and the other male was ushering for him to follow.

Keith opened his mouth to explain why he absolutely had no reason to trust or follow him but Takashi simply rolled his eyes.

“You can come with me or you can sit here for two minutes and wait to be placed in handcuffs again. Your choice kid.”

Alright. There were two ways Keith could look at this.

This was some sort of dream and he should go with it. Or he had been sucked into some alternate universe and he was doomed and should go with it.

He eyed the cop he was about to murder, pulled back his fist and punched him once more on principle before following after Takashi.

Out on the street Keith could almost imagine things were normal if it weren’t for the fact all of the cars appeared to be parked and there was absolutely no sound.

Everything smelled sterile like someone had opened a bottle of bleach.

He did not like it one bit.

“Good, you followed. Alright. So sorry about acting like a dunce back there, the fastest way to get rid of Dante is to pretend you aren’t worth his time. And honestly? Dante just isn’t good for the reaper image. He’s… well he’s not a reaper, he doesn’t have any sense of diplomacy whatsoever.”

Keith stared at Takashi for a solid minute before abruptly turning around and starting to walk back into the sheriff’s department.

Takashi reached out and grabbed a hold of Keith’s wrist causing the smaller boy to wince, “Whoa—hold on, look, I’ll explain. And—here, let me fix that. Give me your other hand okay?”

This was some trippy dream, Keith decided, if a hot guy was asking to hold his hands a breath after referring to reapers as actual things.

Eh. Might as well go with it.

At least his senses weren’t super spiked anymore.

Takashi smiled at him when he held his wrists before placing his hands beneath them and shutting his eyes.

Keith blinked at this. Hot guy wears eyeliner. Perfectly winged eyeliner.

Yup. Definitely a dream.

Pretty lucid too. Hm.

Takashi opened his eyes and beamed at him, so bright it actually surprised Keith for a second before he realized it was far more surprising that his wrists were back to their milky white rather than the angry searing red they’d been a few seconds ago.

“This some kind of reaper ability?”

“Repairing dead skin cells? Yes.”

“…I’m Flynn Rider.”

“I’m sorry?”

Keith looked to his right and said to no one, “Why does her hair glow?”

Takashi laughed, “Okay. Must be a reference I’m not getting. That’s fine. Just means you’re warming up to me, right?”

Keith shrugged his shoulders, “I think it means I needed that psych eval, but sure. We’ll go with yours.”

Takashi shut his eyes and breathed deeply through his nose, “Patience yields focus,” he told himself before quickly looking around and suddenly reaching out and covering Keith’s ears with his hands.

A second later the cacophony of sound started up, the motors of cars on the street, children screaming, birds chirping, but Takashi’s grip managed to muffle a great deal of it.

The scents were back too though. He could smell everything and the only way he could explain it was like someone pouring hundreds of different paints down a single drain and that drain was clogged and bursts of colored paint were being spat back into someone’s mouth.

And. Something awful.

Like. Expired milk.

Keith lurched and reached up to try and cover his nose and mouth at once.

“God what the hell!” He screamed, only managing to rattle his head further.

He wasn’t sure when he ended up on the ground.

“I swear, changelings probably have it better than this…” Takashi mumbled, it was low enough that presumably Keith shouldn’t have been able to hear but focusing on the closest sound was helping drown out the rest.

It still wasn’t enough though.

“Okay. let’s go somewhere more quiet, yeah?”

If this is a dream Keith really wanted to wake up. Now.

Sure, he hadn’t reached first base with hot stranger yet but you know what? Keith could deal with that. That was an acceptable sacrifice for all of this to be over already.

He just wanted to wake up and for his dad to be there laughing about how he’d overslept and making them a terrible breakfast and for this entire week he’d been gone to not have happened.

“Takashi…was it…?”

“Shiro, you can call me Shiro,” said the reaper.

“Shiro then…”

Keith sat in his own living room, the blinds drawn and the pleasant if overbearing smell of jasmine under his nose. It was his favorite once, but after this he wondered if he’d ever have a favorite smell again.

“Please… Start over.”

Shiro gave him a sympathetic look as he dragged a blanket off the couch and draped it over Keith’s head and shoulders while he held his bottle of jasmine scented lotion to his nose. Keith eyed him skeptically but Shiro only shrugged, “Blankets are comforting? Kinda?”

Keith sighed but relented and pulled the blanket in close under his neck.

“So, let’s start over,” Shiro began, sitting down on the coffee table and bumping Keith’s leg with his own, “I’m a reaper.”

Keith made sure his cynicism was the most clear emotion on his face. Shiro certainly didn’t look like a reaper. He looked like some J-Pop star equipped with a ridiculous black and white hood to hide away from people who might recognize him.

The other guy, Dante or whatever his name was, he could kind of look like a reaper? At least, he was dressed in this black suit that made him look moderately threatening.

Granted, if Shiro was to be believed, his healing abilities came from being a reaper so maybe they weren’t supposed to be threatening?

Shiro certainly didn’t look threatening. He was just so…comforting?

Keith sighed and tightened his grip on the blanket.

“Okay.”

“Do you accept that yet?”

“Move it along.”

“Alright, so, a reapers job is to travel between the human world and the other making sure lost souls go to where they belong,” Shiro explained.

Keith didn’t like the sound of that, “But you swear I’m not dead?”

“No, you’re not, but you were about to kill that officer so we were alerted to your existence. See, there are two kinds of lost souls. Dead ones and…well, ones that are just plain lost. That’s where you come in,” Shiro explained, broadly gesturing to Keith.

The younger boy raised a brow and slowly turned to look around the house, “…We’re literally in my living room. I’m not lost.”

Shiro blinked at him and Keith could very nearly see the ebbing of his patience. It almost made Keith want to smile.

Instead, he with the magic eyeliner took a deep breath and leaned in closely, “Come on kid. Weren’t you the least bit curious about…?” then he made a broad motion to the sides of his own head

This did not make Keith any less confused, “about…?”

“These?” Shiro grabbed a hold of his ears and tugged.

“Your ears?”

Shiro groaned, “Not my ears, your ears.”

Keith was not following at all.

Suddenly Shiro shifted to do his own quick look around the house before a thought occurred to him, “…When was the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror?”

Keith shrugged.

“…Showered?”

Keith rolled his eyes, “Yesterday.”

“Did you wash your hair?”

“No, didn’t have the time. Was kind of focused on looking for my dad not making sure my hair was tolerable.”

“…Did you brush your hair?”

Keith felt like he was on some kind of trial now, “Again, really wasn’t focusing on my hair. What is your fixation?”

Shiro took a deep shuddering breath before standing up, “You’re going to want to look in a mirror Kid.”

That really shouldn’t have sounded so ominous, but he did as he was told, shuffling into his father’s room and up to the master bathroom’s sink who’s mirror was still intact unlike his own from an incident a few years back that consisted of climbing out his window (just to see if he could) and his flailing legs when he realized he had no purchase on the porcelain wall.

When he looked in the mirror all he could see was himself draped in the blanket. Sure, he didn’t usually identify with Linus from the Peanuts but there wasn’t anything particularly out of the ordinary about it.

He sighed and glanced around his father’s untouched room. The man had just gone out for chips, to try and give their two person birthday party a little more of the festive feeling. Keith had opted to stay home because, as the birthday boy, he reserved the right to not have to wear pants.

But then he didn’t come home.

Keith had called for a while.

Then started asking the neighbors.

A days later his birthday came and went and Keith started skipping school turning over every rock between his home and the local grocery store. He simply didn’t trust the cops to do their job, especially not when it came to his dad, so he didn’t bother, but when a week had passed he decided he couldn’t just rely on himself alone.

If this was his father two years ago he’d have accepted it, fine, his father had finally abandoned him too.

But that wasn’t who he was anymore.

They had a small tower of films they’d voted on watching, Uno cards and clue set up next to the couch. His dad loved clue, he made up voices for the characters and as annoying as Keith liked to say it was they both really enjoyed playing together. He’d bought an ice-cream cake and said they could both be miserable about it later because they were out of Lactaid pills.

“We ride together, we die together!”

“Do you even know where that’s from?”

“…Some old movie. Your father can’t remember. Cut me some slack.”

Keith’s chest hurt.

Movement in the mirror made Keith raise his head, expecting to see Shiro standing in the doorway despite the fact the other man had made no move to actually follow him and instead saw…

Something moving under his blanket.

Rather, something on his head was moving.

His grip on the blanket went slack and the movement on his head caused it to slip back.

It was dark in his father’s room, but he was able to see them just fine thanks to their movement, going straight up in shock.

Two fist sized furry…animal ears.

“What…in the hell…are THOSE?!”

Something should probably be said about how quickly Keith’s mind went from confused to “murder” as he decided this must be some ridiculous horrific prank courtesy of the so called reaper out in the hall.

Hell, what if this whole thing was a prank?

The entire damn week.

Definitely.

How? Keith wasn’t sure. But it had to be. It was time for his dad to come out from behind the curtain and go “How’s that for a birthday huh?” and laugh like a doofus while Keith throttled him.

It was the only plausible option. And it certainly beat the alternative.

He eyed the fluffy triangular shaped…monstrosities on his head and tentatively reached for one with his left hand. It was soft, softer than his hair when it was clean and brushed. In an effort to reign in his sanity he considered dog breeds and what kind of fur the most resembled. Not quite Maltese. He settled on Pomeranian—just their ears though. He always wondered why Pomeranian ears had fur softer than the rest of their bodies, and he figured if these were his new ears then he was officially some kind of Pomeranian.

Keith blinked at himself in the mirror, took a deep breath and removed his hand from his ear.

“SHIRO.”

The reaper took less than a second to pop his head in through the doorway, “Oh good, you actually called for me, I’d been standing outside for a few minutes I didn’t want to intrude.”

Keith had to fight himself not to clarify that Shiro’s very existence in his life was an intrusion but there were far more pressing matters.

“Explain. Now.”

Shiro blinked at him, then quite suddenly stood up straight rising to his full height, brows furrowed and arms crossed.

Keith felt his throat go dry.

“…Please.”

Shiro relaxed, “Better. Alright. So.” He moved over to stand beside Keith, ducking his head a little as he turned Keith back to face the mirror.

“These are your new ears. Werewolf ears. Because you’re a werewolf.”

Keith blanched, “Uhm?”

That made utterly no sense.

“I’ve never been bitten by a dog in my entire life. In fact, dogs love me, how is that even possible? How could I have missed this!?” Keith croaked.

Shiro made a clicking noise with his tongue before bumping the smaller boys head with his, “No silly, you’re not a changeling, you’re actually a natural born.”

Excuse me?

“So you’re telling me I’ve been a werewolf my whole life?”

Shiro nodded, “Which is probably why dogs love you if I’m being honest.”

“How the hell are people born werewolves? Wouldn’t that mean my family—”

The reaper nodded again, “Yes, exactly. Your mother, I believe, was a werewolf. She mated with a human, you father, which really isn’t the brightest thing one of our kind can do because generally humans just—don’t mix well with we supernatural folk.” Shiro released his grasp on Keith and turned around so his back was facing the mirror now. “Generally when one of us reproduces with a human the outcome can go one of three ways. Option 1- the offspring is still born. Option 2- offspring is physically strong but mentally absent and basically becomes a little raving monster. And then there is option 3, the rarest possibility, you.”

Keith backed up until the backs of his knees found his father’s bed and he allowed himself to fall back onto it.

“I don’t understand…My mother was a werewolf?”

Shiro nodded, furthering the space between them by backing up and leaning against the master bath’s sink.

“Yes, you avoided displaying werewolf traits because you were raised here, in the human world, but after a certain age one’s biology simply can’t fight it anymore. Your birthday just passed didn’t it?”

Keith was going to be sick. This whole thing was insane. Absolutely positively bonkers. Had someone slipped him something? Was he drunk?

“How…How do…So all werewolves have these ears?” It was anyone’s guess why that was the question that came out of his mouth.

“Yes,” Said Shiro.

Huh. Go figure.

“…Then why haven’t I ever seen any?”

Shiro smiled, “Now that’s a good question. You should pack.”

Keith’s brows knit together in confusion, “Pack?”

The reaper stood up straight again and motioned for the door, “Well you can’t exactly stay here looking like that. And just wait till you sprout your tail. Man, I do not envy you.”

Keith felt his eye twitch. Shiro simply motioned for the door again. He was slowly phasing out of “hot stranger” and into “mildly attractive bothersome acquaintance.” And then he looked at him like that, that ‘do as your told’ face that Keith wanted to fight with every fiber of his being but somehow couldn’t.

“…Where are we going?”

“Well, this is the human world. So, by process of elimination we are going to…not the human world.”

It takes three hours of cajoling and one utterly terrifying “was that police sirens?” for Keith to finally agree to consider leaving.

He put on a movie for Shiro while he packed despite not having made a decision yet.

“Here, so you can catch the reference I made earlier.”

“This is a princess movie,” Shiro starts as he reads the back of the DVD, the menu screen already lighting up the dim living room.

“My dad is a single parent trying his best. Someone put the idea in his head that I needed a female presence in my life and to make up for his lack of game he decided to Disney his way out of it. I also have Frozen.”

“What’s Frozen? Sounds…Cool.” Shiro grins.

Keith falters, blinks at Shiro for a solid two minutes, then turns on his heel and goes back to what he was doing.

He shuffles around the main room of the house for a few minutes, eyeing miscellaneous objects as he fingers the strap of a duffle bag he used for the gym.

He really isn’t sure what he should be packing, or how long he’ll be gone. Shiro had basically given him a crash course in the supernatural explaining there are three other worlds full of creatures and monsters straight out of Halloween Town.

Well aside from the fact that werewolves are people with wolf ears? Does he have a werewolf form where he’s hunched over and covered in fur, half man half beast?

Shiro had said no, they turn into full on wolves though he’s seen some do partial transfigurations when not requiring the use of their full wolf forms, Shiro also said that was tricky.

But whatever, that was going to take a whole lot longer to get used to anyway.

No, Shiro had explained some next level biblical shit like “World Below” and “World Above.”

Apparently World Above was like some elitist club you could only get into if you knew a guy or slipped the bouncer a hundred.

Meanwhile World Below was some sort of cluster fuck of “the darker brood” to use Shiro’s exact words.

“It’s actually where I’m from,” He’d said proudly.

Keith had grimaced at him.

“Creatures dealing with death tend to be down there. It doesn’t make me evil or anything.”

Suddenly the idea of Shiro being evil and trying to lure him to his death occurred to him, but Christ he had wolf ears what the hell else was he supposed to do but listen to the stranger who smiled at him like he wasn’t the throw away failure everyone else made him out to be.

The third world was some Fuckery code named “Illusions” which was just a round about way of saying “Limbo” in Keith’s opinion because apparently Illusions was some kind of clusterfuck with werewolves and vampires and witches and all sorts of shit that made Keith kind of nauseas.

“The Grim actually lives in Illusions, I’m training to replace him which is how I ended up here with you. But I don’t worry about that a lot, there are like. Four other people in line ahead of me for that spot so I mostly just go through the motions.”

Keith had eyed him curiously, “So do you spend hours talking others into following you on a regular basis or…?”

Shiro smiled, “While I do enjoy the time away from Dante, nah. Guess you can say I took a special interest in you.”

Keith flushed.

Shiro then proceeded to beautifully dodge any and all implications.

And now he was sitting on Keith’s couch watching Rapunzel sing about her boredom.

“This blond chick is my kindred spirit,” Shiro announced to no one. “She’s also hella talented,” he whistled, “Tell me someone realizes how positively gifted this girl is? Like they’re not just gonna make her the vapid love interest, right?”

Keith bit back his retort that, as this was a princess movie, the male was usually the vapid love interest but instead he mentally sits on the fact that he really can’t fathom how his life brought him to this point.

“Are you done packing? I’m not expected to watch this whole thing, am I?” Shiro glanced over at Keith’s virtually empty duffle bag and sighed deeply, “Keith…”

The boy shook his head, “Hey, Tangled is actually a pretty good movie. Like. It’s funny. Just deal with the singing.”

“Keith pack. And I have no problem with the singing. I love singing. You should hear my Car-aoke.”

Keith has no words to respond to that one and so he turns to walk towards his room where he’ll actually have real things to pack but before he disappears into the hallway he glances back at Shiro who is still leaned over the back of the couch, one arm dangling off the side. When Keith had voiced certain concerns during their three-hour discussion Shiro had made certain promises.

“You’ll really help me find my dad?”

Shiro’s eyes softened at the repeated question, “I’m a reaper, so generally, I’d know if he was dead. And I have a certain amount of reach. So. Yes, I will do what I can to help you find your father.”

“You promise?”

Shiro’s eyes retained their softness though he tilted his head and his smile took on a certain ‘we’ve been through this’ air but he nods.

“And you’re sure your…witch?” Keith continues, his weight heavy on the foot closest to the hall as he tries to remember what Shiro said earlier, “…witch friend can make it so I’d know if my dad ever comes back on his own?”

The reaper rolls his eyes but his expression remains fond as he turns back to the television set, “She’s a vampire actually. But yes, I’m pretty positive there’s some blood magic for that.”

Keith takes a deep breath but nods as he finally makes his way down the hall.

When he’s done packing the meager proof of his existence he can hear Shiro singing along to “I’ve got a dream.” His voice actually isn’t half bad if Keith is being honest, but he’s decided he’s absolutely not going to indulge Shiro in this simply on principle.

He sits down next to him on the couch anyway and leans his head back against the couch.

“Oh! Done already Keith?”

He nodded.

Shiro grinned, “And by the way. You are not Flynn Rider. He’s too smooth for you.”

Keith shrugs, “Eugene then.”

Shiro blinks, “Who the hell is—Whatever. Now I’ll just shoot a message to my friend, we’ll cast a little spell and hit the road, yeah?”

Keith nods, slowly as if everything is finally beginning to dawn on him, the idea of leaving home, still not knowing where his father is, a creature called a reaper and his own messed up biology…

He looks at Shiro and expects some weird glowy magic show. Instead, Shiro reaches into the pocket of his hoodie and pulls out what looks like it could have been a cell-phone in some weird futuristic world.

“…You have cell phones?”

The reaper raises a brow before he starts to chuckle, shakes his head, and focusses his attention on his phone. Quickly he types out a message to what appears to be his most recent contact and doesn’t even put it down to wait for a response. Within moments a small noise like a bell is heard and his cheeks tint just the slightest shade of pink.

Suddenly Keith remembers thinking of Shiro as the hot stranger and considers that he’s probably straight, of course. Then his new friend turns to look at him with the brightest smile on his face and Keith can’t help the small smile back though he’s not sure what they’re supposed to be smiling about.

“She’ll be here in a couple minutes. You’re gonna love her. Everyone loves her,” Shiro’s eyes lit up just talking about her so Keith wasn’t so sure. “Anyway, yeah bro, we have cell phones. Well. I’d have to define ‘we’ really. Mostly I’m just gifted with really smart friends. Matt and Pidge made this, it works between the human world and world below and between Illusions and world below—but they haven’t managed to make it span the human world to Illusions. They’re working on it though so no big deal.”  Shiro slumps back against the couch and glances at his phone screen again, “We’re actually pretty lucky she was trying to visit me right now otherwise we’d be here a bit.”

Keith’s nose picks up something beside the jasmine he’d basically scrubbed his face with. It’s vanilla and clean linens and it also comes equipped with the noise of rustling skirts and…water?

He raises his head and turns to the back of the room. Shiro eventually turns with him and Keith notices in his peripheral how the reapers face practically lights up like a goddamn Christmas tree.

There’s a girl in his house.

A woman, really. Tall, dark skinned, silver white hair cascading down her back in massive waves. Honestly, if Keith were straight he’d probably panic and run from a girl so breathtakingly beautiful. As it stood, Keith was thankfully gay and could happily accept that this was just some kind of goddess standing in his living room, no big deal.

“Hello Shiro—Oh! You’re watching Tangled? Make room!” She laughed in a way that made Keith physically ill because he knew he would never have that kind of heart stopping power.

As she made her way over though, everything in Keith’s system started to shoot warning signs.

And then, like some kind of internal guide, his head screamed, “Vampire” and then immediately after that followed up with “Vampire equals Threat.”

Shiro scooted closer to Keith and pat the remaining space on the loveseat. Since it was just Keith and his dad they never really cared to get anything bigger.

The girl sat down, her skirt, some silky blue thing slipped higher up one leg as she tilted forward, passed Shiro and offering Keith her hand, “You must be Keith, my name is Allura. I hope you’re feeling alright? I understand for half breeds like yourself this kind of transition can be varying degrees of…uncomfortable.”

Keith wanted to reach out and grab her hand, be polite. He wanted to return the kind expression on her face. He wanted so terribly to shut down the screaming in his brain but it just wouldn’t stop and all he managed was to lift his shaking hand and slowly pull it back and further from her palm.

Allura spared him a confused glance for a moment before she seemed to realize, “Oh. Goodness, I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking. I’m a pureblood so your body is probably heavily rejecting the idea of me, isn’t it?”

Keith swallowed and managed to nod.

“Right then, don’t worry, it’ll pass. Why don’t we just relax for a little bit? We’ll watch tangled, your body can become accustomed and then we can get to work on your blood binding spell, sound fair?”

When Keith only managed to nod again, squeezing himself against the armrest and into the plush leather of the couch, Shiro draped an arm around his shoulders.

“A lot of vampires could be pretty threatening, and werewolves have it ingrained into them to be wary of the species, but I swear on my life Allura here is one of the best people I know okay? So, try not to worry too much.”

“Oh! Oh! This is the best part look at Maximus!” Allura squealed happily in a way that was too smooth to be real.

Shiro blinked back at the screen though he didn’t remove his arm from Keith’s shoulders, “Maximus is the horse right?”

Allura smacked his free arm lightly, “Yes of course Maximus is the horse, have you not been paying attention?”

Keith tried to squish himself further back but when it appeared to be impossible he tilted his head vaguely toward Shiro and tried to make himself comfortable by talking to him again, “How does she know Tangled when you don’t Shiro?”

While Shiro attempts to defend himself and his priorities when traveling the human world Keith is painfully aware of Allura’s soft smile as she leans against the opposite armrest and idly rubs a piece of her skirt between her fingers before casually swiping those same fingers along her lips.

They look wet now.

Alluring.

Huh.

Alluring Allura.

What kind of bullshit.

His attention turns to her skirts and he realizes the silk looks like it’s rippling, water in every stitch.

When she realizes what he’s looking at she shakes her head, “Oh, sorry, don’t worry I’m not wrecking your couch or anything. Just had to bribe a water witch for the portal magic. The skirt is how we’re going to travel once we’re done.”

Keith really didn’t want to know because even with that explanation he doesn’t know. He doesn’t understand. All he can really grasp is there’s water in her skirt.

“…Are you thirsty?” Keith says finally, his confusion winning against his nerves.

Shiro stops short and carefully nudges Keith back into his cowering position, “You never ask a vampire if they’re thirsty, Keith, it’s just not polite. Sorry Allura.”

Allura shook her head, “It’s quite alright Shiro! It’s not like he has any way of knowing. I actually am a bit parched, sorry if that idea frightens you, but you have nothing to worry about, my being a pureblood means I can go ages without feeding and it wouldn’t make much of a difference.”

Keith wasn’t sure why he persisted, but he did, “…I have cranberry juice? If you want some.”

Allura spared him another surprised look before that smile was right back in place, “…I’d love a glass, thank you, Keith.”

This somehow managed to make his mind behave a bit, she had gone from “Threat” to “guest” now that he was trying to play host.

Alright, progress.

The spell they placed on the house was incredibly simple. Allura asked for Keith’s hand which, after bonding over the entirety of “I see the light” and their varied degrees of glee in Shiro’s absent humming, was not as difficult a task as either of them had initially thought.

She warned him she was about to prick his finger so when she did Keith didn’t even wince. Then she took his hand and guided the small bloodied spot to press against the wall. This is where Keith finally got his glowy magic light show. Her eyes, a crystalline blue green lit up pink where her pupils should have been. The glow spread to fill her eyes casting long shadows on her face from her lashes as her lips moved but she said nothing. Her hair had even started to lift ever so slightly as if some imaginary wind was brushing against her. But as quickly as it had begun it was over and she was patting his hand.

“There, now if anyone of your blood enters this house once we’re gone, you and I will feel it and we can come straight back here.”

Shiro clapped him on the shoulder and asked him if he was ready to go.

Keith eyed his house a moment longer before he decided he wanted to do one last thing.

He found a sharpie and a scrap piece of sketchbook paper and scrawled in large bold letters: “A Werewolf? Really?” before taking a refrigerator magnet and tacking it up right there front and center.

“Okay. Now I’m ready.”

Keith was not ready.

When Allura’s skirt dropped the water in its fibers Keith panicked for a second, preparing to get the questionable substance on his shoes or something, but instead the water moved like some sentient being. It pooled around Allura’s feet and shimmered with this gold light that made Keith dizzy.

Then she reached for his hand again, Keith looked to Shiro and he nodded for him to proceed.

“Just don’t think too much okay? Portals are all instinct,” He tells him.

Keith looks at the water and figures, that much is fine, instinct is something he can handle.

 It’s like jumping into a pool, and then becoming one with the pool. That shouldn’t feel natural but Keith can’t see a problem with it. And then he feels Shiro’s grip on his hand and can practically feel his consciousness pushing him forward.

And then they were standing at a fountain in what was basically an enormous brightly lit orange cavern.

“Alright! Let’s get you settled shall we?” Shiro grinned, not releasing Keith’s hand and moving away from the fountain.

Keith barely has the time to look around when he’s ushered into a building, but he does get the opportunity to smell everything.

And he’s about to be nauseas again.

And the lights are too bright and there is so much noise and it’s so much worse than it was outside the sheriff’s department.

Allura and Shiro must have noticed your discomfort because suddenly they’re whispering among themselves and Shiro guides your hand over to Allura, “I’ll be right back, I’m gonna run to transports and see if someone can help relax you okay?”

Keith doesn’t like this, but his head is pounding so hard and there are a number of strangers around who all smell like the weirdest things—and god he hadn’t even looked at them before the closest person(?) is purple and small and he(?) has huge teeth and he’s smoking something that smells absolutely disgusting and the person they’re talking to smells like roses and looks very much like the rolled out of a bush that morning and wow god this overload of everything needs to stop

And then there’s Allura.

She takes his hand and pulls him close to her, pressing his head into her hair as some of it has found its way over her shoulders.

This is. Actually helpful. She smells strong but it’s pleasant and it’s less confusing than dealing with everything. And her hair is soft.

She ushers him over to a bench and sits with him still pressed into her shoulder softened by the waves of her hair. Her voice is soothing if a little frightening in how he realizes she sounds extremely persuasive, “Shhh, just listen to my voice alright Keith? My voice is the only one you need to listen to. Try to block everything else out.” She’s running her hand through his hair to try and calm him but one of her hands grazes his ear and he flinches so hard she actually jumps. “Oh! Sorry, sorry, I forgot. Shh, I’m sorry. I won’t do that again. You silly wolves and your extra appendages…” she giggles, trying to be clear that she’s joking when suddenly her mirth dies in her throat.

“Princess. Taking in another stray?”

There’s a sizzling in the air and Keith has to raise his head when he feels Allura puff out a heavy breath through her nose.

When he looks at the person who’d spoken his fight or flight response is screaming again.

A million red flags, dangerous, hostile, bad, bad, bad.

Allura doesn’t let go of his hand but her beautiful sea green eyes are narrowed on the man standing in front of the two of them now.

“It hasn’t been Princess in a long time and you know that. Do you need something, Lotor?”

The man simply shrugs his shoulders, “I was just checking in on the transport division as usual. When I felt your presence back here I simply had to come by and say hello.”

“Hello. Now goodbye.” Her voice sounds so abnormally icy Keith can’t help but stare at her.

Lotor, the silver haired male who’s skin is almost as tan as Allura’s (making Keith wonder if all vampires have dark skin rather than the pale skin of their stories) doesn’t move to leave. In fact, he closes the distance between them and bends at the waist a bit so he can be closer to their eye level as he scrutinizes Keith.

“A werewolf?”

Keith can feel the tension in his shoulders when Lotor looks at him.

Allura’s arms are defensively wrapped around Keith now and he has no idea when that happened.

“A half breed…” Lotor continues, a glint in his eye as a smile slowly makes its way to his face.

Allura moves so Keith is pushed behind her ever so slightly as she stares Lotor down, “Put your fangs away Lotor, he’s a child.”

It’s when she says this that Keith realizes that despite her young looks she’s probably significantly older than he is, being a vampire and all.

“Relax Allura, you know I just happen to have a healthy interest in half breeds. Human crosses are even rarer. How’s about it child? Would you ever like to come chat with me?”

Keith grits his teeth. He doesn’t know Lotor or why Allura seems to dislike him so much but his instincts are definitely telling him the man is trouble.

The boy opens his mouth to respond when he gets a whiff of the other vampire. He smells like earth. Like a cabin during rainy weather. It’s calming. And this thought alarms the hell out of him.

It silences him however.

And Lotor gets a good solid look at his face, and his eyes, blue green like Allura’s, appear to soften right in front of him.

If Allura notices she says nothing.

“What’s your name wolf?” Lotor begins almost softly, “Mine, as Allura here so crassly announced to you, is Lotor. First and only son of Zarkon and Honerva. Understand you are under no obligation to grant me your name however it would be much appreciated.”

Keith hates how much he actually wants to tell him.

“Honestly Lotor who still goes by those silly rules…” Allura mumbles though to contradict her statement she does look down looking vaguely ashamed.

“A named thing is a tamed thing Allura you’d be wise to remember that,” He extends his hand to Keith, still too soft, still too patient.

Keith stares at the hand unsure if he should be offended by it or intrigued.

“Ah! Lotor!”

At Shiro’s voice Lotor’s eyes immediately harden and he retrieves his hand, “Takashi. A pleasure.” Keith wonders why the vampire is clearly lying when one look at Shiro tells him the feeling is mutual.

“It’s nice to see you, I see you’ve met my new friend. Did he tell you his name?” Shiro asks casually though there’s an edge in his voice.

Lotor sighs, “No, and that’s fair, he doesn’t have to. I was just on my way out.”

“I’m sure you were, happy trails Lotor!” Shiro says with too much enthusiasm.

Lotor spares Keith one last glance that Keith can’t help but return, unsure why the vampire draws his attention so much. He bows his head, says goodbye, and is gone in the blink of an eye. As soon as he disappears the rest of the scents in the room are painfully present again and Keith is shuffling around Allura to see where he could have possibly gone while trying to ignore the twisting in his gut at the unpleasant assault to his senses.

“He teleported Keith, we vampires can do that for places we’ve seen before. He’s very much gone,” Allura explains.

“This the guy?”

Keith realizes then that Shiro didn’t return alone. Behind him is a thin blond with lightly sun kissed skin and eyes the color of fresh blood. Keith takes a small amount of joy in noting that the boy appears to be shorter than him but around his age.

“Yeah, I just need you to muddle how much of his senses he actually registers. That’s a thing you guys can do right?”

Allura looks put out by the presence of the blond but she still relaxes enough to let Keith go. “If you were just going to do that I could have kept talking…” Allura mumbles to no one in particular.  

He’s not sure how much he likes any of this though. The blond moves forward and Shiro kneels next to the bench, a comforting hand on Keith’s knee, “This is Angel, your instincts don’t know him like they know vampires, but for full disclosure, he’s what is generally referred to as a devil.”

Well that sounds comforting.

“He’s not a bad guy though. And I mean, really, he’s just a kid.”

Angel, who’s face is directly in Keith’s line of sight, rolls his eyes, “Yeah well this kid didn’t have to take time from his work to help you with your hobby dude.”

Shiro smiles and playfully nudges the blond who ignores this and instead ushers Shiro’s hand out of the way, so he could sit beside Keith.

“I’m going to touch you okay?” explained the blond.

Keith nods and Angel motions for him to lean forward, his hands open.

“What are you going to do?”

“I’m basically going to lower your sensitivity. Imagine your senses as a string tied to your mind that is currently tied very, very tight. It’s this tension that’s causing you to get sick and to feel as poorly as I’m presuming you do. I am going to loosen that string, allowing you to go about your business for a little while without the pain. But be aware, this works kind of like that disease that lets people not feel pain. Just because you don’t feel it doesn’t mean nothing bad is happening.”

Shiro and Allura exchange looks. Shiro speaks again, “It’s not exactly like putting your hand on a stove and not realizing its burning. These are just sounds and smells.”

Angel spares him a bland expression, “It’s a basic disclaimer dude, I don’t know what kind of bullshit you’re gonna get into I’m just covering my bases. Keith, yeah?”

Keith blinked at him.

“Just don’t blow out your eardrums cause the world felt quieter and then come blame me, yeah?”

Keith is really unsure how he could ever, but nods anyway. Then Angel puts his hands on either side of his head and stares deeply into his eyes for a moment.

Keith thinks Angel looks almost more human than Allura and Shiro despite neither of them having features nearly as odd as bright red eyes.

Speaking of, those eyes shut and for a moment Keith is heavily overwhelmed by the noise and the smells and Angel smells like apples and caramel and something a little more grounding.

And then it all stops.

A moment after that he can hear Shiro and Allura, and Angel’s pulse with his wrist so close to his ears, but everything else is in hushed tones as he’d imagine an office should sound like.

He almost feels normal.

Angel opens his eyes and releases him, “Remember that its temporary, you should go find a quiet space to get used to your new abilities.”

Shiro takes the conversation from there, clapping Angel on the shoulder and stating his gratitude. Angel shrugs, “No big deal. You owe me one though.”

“Fair.”

“You’re taking him in right?”

“Of course.”

Allura smiles and reaches her arms around Keith again, “We’re going to have so much fun! I’ll tell you all about the world and what I know about werewolves—which isn’t a lot if I’m honest but!” Keith knows she’s just trying to be positive and encouraging and he appreciates that.

Angel leaves with a simple wave, presumably to get back to work.

Shiro disappears again, saying something about paperwork and Allura spends the time pointing at random strangers and whispering details about their races and what they could be doing in a government building. Keith also learns that in this case ‘government building’ means ‘witch building’ as the witches were the government.

He also learns, from the people who wave to Allura as they filter in and out of the building, that she is fairly well known. He doesn’t ask her about Lotor’s princess comment.

When Shiro returns he gives Keith the game plan, they’re going to go back to his place, camp out, work on getting Keith used to his new surroundings and new ways of registering his surroundings, and then Shiro was going to set Keith up with a friend of his in Illusions, a werewolf and his sister so that Keith could learn first hand about his mother’s people.

Honestly, Keith isn’t all that inclined to leave Shiro’s side, he and Allura were the ones who were going to help him find his father.

But he figured, he’d cross that bridge when it came.

Chapter Text

It was two weeks before Keith met Matt.

Shiro had a nice little apartment in the outskirts of World Below (whatever that meant…) He said it was “Far from the racket of demons, they can be pretty rowdy.” And Keith had very politely not referred to Shiro as an old man

Fair, he figured, as Shiro never referred to Keith as a shut in. In two weeks he hadn’t left the little two bedroom flat, hadn’t even wanted to explore anything further than the window in the sitting room which was where he actually spent most of his free time.

Not that Keith had any real scheduled time, though Shiro did sit with him often, telling him stories about this and that: how the world(s?) worked, things about reapers, things he wasn’t super sure about werewolves but that he had people who could vouch for.

In these little sessions (as Keith had started referring to them) he discovered that werewolves had some kind of monarchy in the middle world of Illusions and that most wolves were in some way spiritually linked to the royal family and could feel when things were going screwy with them.

Keith didn’t look forward to that.

“Well you might be really lucky and your ancestry could date back far enough to be spiritually removed? If your mother’s family had been in the human world long enough anyway.”

He didn’t think any part of this situation had shown him to be at all lucky so he wouldn’t hold his breath.

Though, when Shiro reached out and pulled the smaller boy into his chest, relaxing into another story, Keith figured that was kind of lucky.

Allura came around so often and stayed until so late she might as well have lived in Shiro’s apartment with them. She even spent a couple nights in the guest room while Keith slept close to Shiro.

Initially, Keith had been staying in the spare room with his duffle bag of meager belongings but mid-way through his second night the devil’s spell had worn off. It had been so peaceful to only have to deal with the fact he had a strange pair of ears Keith had almost forgotten there was a spell. But when he woke up to a skull splitting headache and someone screaming only to find that someone was himself Shiro had immediately forced him into bed with him. He had hoped that his presence would help. Which it did, having something familiar and soothing to focus on, to smell and to listen to, helped Keith train himself to reject all the rest.

Which surprised Keith all on its own, how much he trusted the reaper.

But he let it go, there was too much going on he really couldn’t be bothered.

So when Shiro and Allura weren’t there, Keith sat at the window with a random bottle of lotion or cream or anything that smelled strongly or pleasantly and a damp towel over his head to muffle the noise filtering in from the streets.

He would watch strangers, note their outlandish features, incredibly colorings. It was like he’d somehow found himself on an alien planet.

He’d also catch sight of Shiro whenever he was on his way home from whatever it was he’d gone out to do.

One day, not long before Keith met Matt, Shiro had almost walked into the building with someone. Shiro talked about Matt so much, the werewolf he often referenced, that it was starting to grate at Keith that they hadn’t met yet, so when he saw the other he trained his eyes on them and expected to see the wolf ears like his own.

He didn’t.

It frustrated him.

But upon further inspection of the stranger he realized he was far too young to be this “Matt” person anyway.

He carried himself like someone who’d been forced to grow up far too fast, but he couldn’t have been older than twelve, and though his head was close to Shiro’s in height it was only because his feet were not on the ground and he was actually sitting on a scythe that seemed to float alongside the reaper.

That was the giveaway.

The boy must have been another reaper, though he didn’t have any of the markings that Shiro said denoted “being in line for Grim” like the one on Shiro’s face.

“I’m just saying,” Keith’s overly sensitive ears picked up the boy’s voice while he focused on him. “We know you’ve taken the half breed in, that’s not even up for debate, we know. Some people are just…getting a little anxious.”

“He’s harmless,” Shiro said bluntly.

The boy sighed, “And so was Velvet, and she’s living a perfectly peaceful life in Illusions now, I’m not saying they have an actual cause to be anxious or anything, just that maybe you should allow him to go through the usual channels? Then I’m sure he’ll check out the same way she did and he can go about his business like everyone else.”

Keith didn’t need to see Shiro’s brows furrow to hear the anger in his voice, “He doesn’t need any tests he doesn’t need any examinations, the proper channels are just shitty venues for the witches to asses his worth and see if they can wrap him in red tape to suite their own devices. He’s fine, he has a perfectly working mind and isn’t a threat to anyone and so doesn’t need them.”

The boy threw his head back and slouched on his scythe. Keith wondered how he kept his balance.

“Eh. Fine. I’m sure you’re right. But if anyone asks I did my part.” he said to the sky.

Just like that the anger in Shiro’s voice had gone replaced by a faint chuckle instead, “That you did. You know, if they were as strict about cross breeds as they were about half breeds you’d never catch a break, would you?”

The boy didn’t shift his head but shrugged his shoulders, “We’d all be under investigation then. Witches don’t have the patience for that. So many new species right under our noses but as long as they identify as one over the other we just sweep it under the rug. Hel, my cousin is—ah…” The boy started to lower his head again as he wrapped up his thoughts when his eyes caught Keith’s in the third story window of the apartment building.

His eyes were a startling ice blue that Keith could see clear as day, even as they narrowed and a small smile brushed across the boy’s face.

“…Yeah. Yeah, I’m sure you’re right, he’s perfectly harmless,” The boy said with an upward jut of his chin.

Shiro followed his gaze and smiled, waving at Keith, “I’ll be right up!” He shouted. He’d clearly had no idea that Keith could hear them from the distance without the added volume.

“I’ll leave you too it then. Have a good evening Takashi.” The boy kicked a leg and suddenly shot upward on his scythe like a witch on a broom. Keith was then given the chance to consider that with all this talk of witches he’d yet to see anyone fly off on a broom. But it was a brief chance before the boy was almost eye level with Keith and that smile unnerved him.

“Nice towel,” The boy said with a chuckle before pulling the scythe out from beneath him. In the split second before he dropped he swung the scythe blade down into the air and ripped some kind of portal in the space before falling into it and disappearing completely.

Keith was temporarily terrified. Why couldn’t it have been Matt?

When Shiro came into the apartment a few minutes later and found Keith still sitting at the window looking paler than usual he laughed.

“Don’t mind Thomas, he’s a little scary but he’s still just a kid. Bit of a show off honestly.”

“What did he mean?” Keith started, a little more quietly than he’d intended.

Shiro clearly didn’t hear him and traveled into the kitchen to make dinner.

While they ate at the kitchen island Keith decided to try again. To ask the question that still bothered him. Maybe it would explain why Shiro had apparently jumped through hoops for him? Since he was apparently doing something wrong by keeping Keith to himself.

He took a deep breath and asked, “…Why me?”

Shiro hadn’t even look up from the thankfully very normal meal he had made the two of them, “Because you’re you?”

Keith rolled his eyes, “I mean. Why have you been so kind to me? Why all this special treatment? It’s just—we share a bed for god’s sake.”

At that Shiro glanced up, mostly to make sure Keith wasn’t as panicked as his voice may have led him to believe, and when he settled on the fact that his new roommate was fine he simply shrugged, “I don’t know. You remind me of someone I think. Maybe a past life.”

And then he changed the subject.

The next time Allura came he tried to get the information from her but she didn’t seem to think there was any big secret to hide.

“Takashi has always been very kind,” She started simply, “When he sees someone who is alone in the world he feels a strong desire to protect them. It’s possible that because his own family has been gone for some time he’s just searching for kin. Because—well, yes, alright, his attachment to you is a bit on the stronger side but…” She laughed sheepishly and leaned back against the couch, a faint flush on her cheeks.

“Honestly Keith, don’t worry about it. If you remind him of anyone it’s probably himself. Rather, who he used to be.”

Keith grunted from his position cross-legged on the floor, his usual damp towel draped over his head though it was mostly just a cold towel now, “If its that simple why can’t he just say that?”

Allura shrugged, “Because he doesn’t truly remember who he used to be?”

At Keith’s surprised stare Allura realized she must have said too much, “Oh. Oh, he hasn’t told you. Don’t you share a bed? Haven’t you noticed his—”

Keith flushed at the outright declaration, but he hasn’t noticed anything.

It’s not like they’ve gotten very cuddly though. Mostly just an arm thrown over the others chest so that Keith can always be sure there’s someone there. Honestly, Keith preferred it this way. Shiro was gorgeous (and male) and comforting and seemed to care about him but while Keith’s initial impression had gone from “hot stranger to attractive acquaintance” over the course of the weeks Shiro had wormed into Keith’s senses and planted a flag there stating, “Family” instead.

Keith wouldn’t ever say this out loud and honestly it still terrified him that it was so clearly defined so quickly in his heart but he blamed it on being a werewolf and apparently lacking any subtlety he ever had, even with himself.

…That wasn’t to say he couldn’t cuddle with family or anything but the point remained that he wasn’t ready to accept this fact in his waking world.

He was grateful Shiro wasn’t currently around as this introspection was happening for the umpteenth time or he’d probably be too embarrassed to stay in the living room.

“It’s alright, I guess if he thought it was important he’d have told you.” Allura continued, “Unfortunately, it’s really not my story to tell. I can tell you mine though, if you’d like?”

Her smile was warm, and Keith would be lying if he said that prospect didn’t mightily intrigue him, but on the one hand? As warm as her smile, she seemed…sad.

And on the other hand, Shiro had just gotten home, bubbly stranger in tow. This is when Keith finally meets the infamous Matt.

It’s been a couple weeks and here they finally are.

At the sight of him, Keith immediately wants to hate him.

Allura gets off the couch and rounds on Shiro to hug the stranger warmly though her smile doesn’t reach her eyes, “Ah, Matt! It’s been too long.”

Keith sees the ears, he figures.

Matt grimaces, “It really has Princess. And you look beautiful as always.” He bows his head to kiss her hand and she playfully swats at him though the air is still slightly tense.

“Matthew, don’t be silly, I’m not a princess.”

“Maybe not to society anymore but you’ll always be one in my eyes,” he says with a deep breathy sigh. He steps out from around Shiro and Keith catches the faintest whisper of the very bitter sounding “If only you didn’t reek.”

Allura very clearly hears him but simply rolls her eyes as if there’s nothing to be done. Shiro misses it completely, a reapers hearing isn’t as strong.

It’s with this whisper that Keith decides he’s going to actively try to dislike Matt, if only because of Allura, despite the fact that something deep in him is screaming that Matt is his true family. Matt is safe. Matt is Kin.

To all of Keith’s werewolf instincts Allura still registers as a threat, as annoying as it is.

Then Matt throws himself onto the couch, an enormous whine ripping from his lips, “Alluraaaa! Why couldn’t you just be born a werewolf! We could have gotten married and had a whole slew of beautiful pups already!”

Keith blinks, Shiro rolls his eyes and Allura laughs outright before waving off this ridiculousness and wandering into the kitchen.

“Hi there, the names Matthew, the brokenhearted, but friends call me Matt,” the lump of werewolf says into the couch as he doesn’t bother to lift his face from the material. He holds a hand out blindly in Keith’s general direction.

Keith sighs, apparently there is more to Matt than underhanded remarks.

Damn. Can’t hate you yet.

Keith takes his hand and the physical touch is instantly soothing. Must be a werewolf thing.

“Keith,” He says simply.

“Charmed.” Says the lump.

“Sure.”

Shiro tuts and follows Allura into the kitchen. His absence emboldens Keith to try and clarify, “So…you don’t hate Allura?”

Matt raises his head so fast Keith is immediately concerned for his neck.

“Oh Gods no. Have you met her? It’s impossible. I love her to pieces. As a person anyway. As a vampire she’s the absolute worst though.”

Allura shouts from the kitchen, “I can hear you!”

Matt doesn’t miss a beat and shouts right back, “That I love you?! Cause it’s TRUE,” though he sounds anything but loving. She sounds put out as she shouts his name, but he continues, “Just keep your teeth out of Shiro and we’ll be totally fine Princess.”

Oh. There it is.

It doesn’t take supernatural abilities to sense that kind of negativity and it wants to suffocate him. Matt’s body is screaming that he’s been betrayed, and Keith’s instincts are telling him to reach out and comfort him.

“Are you still going on about that?” This was Shiro now.

Allura sounds tired, but ashamed, “Matt, it was one time…!”

“I love you,” Matt shouts, as if he’s trying to convince himself. Then he turns his attention back to Keith. “I do. I swear I do. I’m just. Sometimes. Occasionally. I need a little help to remember that I do.”

Keith is extremely unsure how he’s supposed to deal with this. A large part of him is screaming right beside Matt that Allura having bitten Shiro was absolutely unacceptable. However, the logical side of his brain reminds him that if Shiro had no problem with it there was no reason for Keith to.

“Anyway.” Matt groans, rolling over on the couch so he can’t face plant into it anymore, “No more of that. How are you doing? I understand you’re a halfbreed, so I know how awful that can be. Like having atrophied muscles and still being forced to run a marathon or something yeah?”

Keith takes his change of pace in stride, “Oh is that all? I imagine it more like—Yeah, okay just like that, only I also imagine tripping, falling, rolling rapidly down hill and into heaps of shrapnel that somehow, like beach sand, find their way straight into the most awful places like directly into my ear canal. So. I guess yours makes sense.”

Matt stares at him blankly for a long moment before puffing out a laugh and sitting upright, clapping him on the shoulder. The noise makes Keith wince, “Well that certainly paints a pretty picture?”

“Matt, I swear to Grim,” Shiro starts on his way out of the kitchen holding a tray with an array of snacks, “If you’re flirting with Keith on my own couch we are going to have some issues.”

Matt rolls his eyes, “First, we already have issues. She’s beautiful and perfect and still made of everything unpleasant. Second, I was not flirting. Check your selective listening you doof.”

Keith eyes the snacks, an assortment of cookies, and reaches for one of the chocolate ones. Matt instantly reaches out to stop his hand, “You’re a werewolf. Chocolate isn’t good to us. Like milk and junk.”

This time it’s Keith’s turn to stare at Matt, “…It’s a werewolf thing?”

Matt blinks.

Keith turns to Shiro with wide unblinking eyes, “It’s a werewolf thing?! My lactose intolerance is a werewolf thing!?!

Shiro shrugs, “Eh probably. You could have gotten it from your dad, but yeah, most wolves don’t…”

Keith shuffles over to the couch and buries his head into the cushion Matt isn’t currently occupying. For a moment it looks like he’s going to muffle a scream but instead only makes small whining noises that cause Allura, when she comes out with a tray of glasses, to stare at him so fondly Matt smacks him in the back to get his attention.

“Careful.” He says simply to Keith’s sullen face.

Allura takes this as an offense immediately “Oh Matt! Don’t be that way!”

Matt sticks his tongue out at her but still gets up to help her with the drinks and gives her a peck on the cheek for her troubles.

“I’m serious this whole drama makes me miserable but I can’t stop it.” He says sadly. She sighs as he takes the tray and places it on the table for her.

“Honestly, Matt, what am I to do if you somehow turn Keith against me when he moves in with you? I’m so fond of him.”

Keith snaps up, spine ramrod straight, “Lives with you?”

Shiro blinks at him over the cookie in his mouth, “Yeah? We went over this Keith, you’ll be going to live with Matt soon.”

Keith remembers this conversation, but it leaves a distinctly foul taste in his mouth.

The conversation continues while he sits on the floor, back against the legs of the couch. He picks up a plain sugar cookie but doesn’t really eat it. Instead he studies Shiro and Matt. Shiro who he’s come to see as family in an alarmingly short amount of time and Matt who seemed rather harmless if a little petty but who could bring him closer to who he really is.

Matt talks about someone named Katie, how she’s brilliant and working on something that will blow Keith’s mind.

Shiro laughs and says most anything from Illusion’s can manage that.

And then it hits him. Shiro lives in world below. Matt lives in Illusions.

This isn’t just moving around the block this is a world away.

Shiro will literally be a world away.

He looks at Allura and realizes she’s been quietly watching him this entire time, a mug of warm tea close to her lips but she’s not actually drinking from it.

“Keith?” She asks quietly, so as not to catch Shiro’s attention though Matt’s ear does twitch in her direction in the middle of his statement.

And for the first time since walking in that front door the day he got here, he excuses himself, deciding he’s going to go through it again.

Shiro immediately shows his rejection of this idea, “why? I thought you were fine here.”

Keith feels the embarrassed flush rise up to his face because honestly? He doesn’t have a reason why. He just. Can’t be in this room right now. And he doesn’t want to be around Shiro. Or Matt. Or Allura who can look at him and see right through him.

Can all vampires do that?

No, Keith decides, this is a trait that is purely hers.

Finally, with a bit of a stutter Keith decides, “It’s just. I haven’t been outside since I got here. And all this talk about yet another world when I haven’t even walked around the building in this one… I dunno, seems kind of crazy.”

Shiro starts to rise, “Then I’ll come with you.”

Matt takes Shiro’s hand and nods, “We can all go for a walk? How about it?”

Keith shakes his head, “No, it’s fine. I just. I mean I don’t need you to coddle me all the time okay? It’s just a little walk. I’ll be right back and I won’t go far I uhm…”

Allura holds a small sea green colored rectangle out to him, “If anything happens call Shiro, alright?”

It takes Keith a second to realize she’s handing him her cellphone. He wonders why it looks so different from Shiro’s. At Matt’s insulted expression Keith’s sure he’s about to find out.

“You let Coran modify it again didn’t you!”

Allura stares up at the ceiling as if asking a god to give her patience before turning around and smiling at Matt, “It’s just a slight cosmetic modification, it’s still purely your invention Matt.”

Suddenly there is a long brown wolf’s tail wrapping around Matt’s waist as he sits back down on the couch and pulls his knees up to his chest, “First she bites Shiro, then she insults my work. I love her, I do, she’s a good vampire, an outlier, good soul.” He mumbles and though he’s the image of distraught he looks like he might burst out laughing any moment.

Allura rolls her eyes and sits on the couch to wrap her arms around Matt which the werewolf immediately warms up to and with a squeal he tackles her to land back first on the couch.

There’s the sound of some frantic tickling, both laughing intermittently interrupted with shrieks and squeals as someone got a good jab in; but Keith checks out in favor of catching Shiro’s expression of very stern disapproval pointed in his direction.

Keith offers a light shrug and holds up the phone.

“You call if anything alright?” The reaper says finally with a deep sigh.

Keith rolls his eyes and backs out the front door, “Sure thing, dad.” He prides himself in sounding braver than he feels. He can hear Matt shriek something indignantly like “No don’t call him that!” But Keith has already turned and started sprinting down the stairs of the apartment building he’d only seen once. He still has the towel draped over his head so it falls to land around his shoulders and decides this is fine. He looks like he’ going for a run. Why not.

He has no idea where he’s going but maybe a run around the block would help.

It doesn’t.

Keith finds himself sitting on a bench a little ways away from Shiro’s apartment. He’s still close enough he can see the building but he’s far enough that if Shiro were to shout for him he absolutely would not be able to hear it. Though if that’s from the distance or from the amount of noise from bystanders and simple sounds of life is anyone’s guess.

Keith wonders if it’s a bad thing that he’s getting used to splitting headaches.

He realizes he’ll look odd, but he slips the towel up over his head and presses it down against his ears. They’re sensitive but somehow it being his hands is still easier than anyone else touching him.

He briefly wonders about Matt’s tail, how he hadn’t noticed it initially and when/if he’ll get his own. Why doesn’t he already have one? How miserable will he be walking around with one or will he be able to just forget it’s there or not notice it like he did with his ears?

“Well you look stressed.”

The voice is familiar.

Keith looks up and sees the blond from the first day. A devil or something. What was his name…?

He holds out his hands and lowers his head. An offering.

Keith breathes deeply but allows the blond to reach out and cup his face right against his cheek bones.

In another moment the cacophony subsides, and Keith vaguely registers most of the tension leaving his body, he’s so relaxed he could sleep on this bench right now.

The blond laughs, “Oh don’t do that. World below is like a glorified never-ending frat party. Never fall asleep in public.”

Keith blinks. He’s sure he didn’t say that out loud.

Suddenly the devil’s eyes widen slightly, and he looks embarrassed for a moment, “Sorry. I forget… Uhm. My kind. We’re really good with the mind. If you don’t have any walls up, we can read your thoughts. I didn’t realize you hadn’t said that out loud. Sorry.”

Keith panics and immediately wonders if he’s thought anything mildly inappropriate. Does he know his eyes are gorgeous? Does he know he initially wanted to sleep with Shiro? Does he know how unbearably guilty he feels about leaving home without his dad? Not knowing what happened to him? How disgusting he feels about actually being kind of happy with Shiro and Allura, having never really had friends before?

And then, of course, because he thinks all these things he realizes.

“Well, yeah, I do now. Sorry. And thanks. I guess.”

Keith wants to die.

The blond laughs.

He doesn’t even know his name.

“Angel.”

That’s ridic—

“Ridiculous. I know. Parents weren’t…very original.”

“Can you stop that?!” Keith squeaks, shriller than he’d intended.

Angel chuckles and sits down next to him, “Sorry, sorry, it’s not every day I get to play with someone who doesn’t know jack shit about our world. Most everyone else here has some kind of defense in place. It’s. Kind of refreshing.” The blond offers him a soft smile before glancing up, “Well, that you don’t have those defenses. I mean.”

It makes Keith wonder again, “Are devils the only people who can read minds?”

Angel shrugs, “Nah, plenty of people can. Mostly us and female pureblood vampires though.”

Keith briefly considers Allura. He can’t remember if she was a pureblood or not.

The devil bites his lip and Keith realizes he heard him again. He narrows his eyes at him but his silence tells him to just say it.

“Yeah, she’s a pureblood. But it’s not the same for vampires as it is for devils. That’s why we’re in different classes. It requires a bit more effort on their part.” Angel starts. He leans back against the bench and Keith wonders if he has nothing better to do than to sit and make small chat.

“…I can leave? You just seemed like you needed someone to talk to.”

Keith stares at him for another long moment, waiting for the devil to respond to is next thought. Angel simply looks awkward and shrinks even smaller back against the bench.

When it becomes clear Angel wasn’t going to say anything Keith blinks at him, “No more mind reading?”

The devil shrugs, “Trying to be polite.”

“A polite devil.” Keith scoffs. Unsure why that was what he chose to say out loud.

Angel rolls his eyes, “Don’t pick a fight you can’t win Fluffster.”

Keith’s ears go flat, he doesn’t know whether he should take that as a threat or not.

They sit in silence for another minute, neither one of them voicing the fact that Keith had mentally asked Angel to stay because he couldn’t talk to anyone back at the apartment right now.

Finally, Keith settles for small talk, “So… classes?”

Angel stretches, “Classes. You know. The rank?” He’s silent for a beat before he shakes his head, “No you don’t know. Ranks. The Witches here, they who make sure everything runs smoothly I mean. They created a system of rankings to try and enforce order, incite a little friendly competition, keep people distracted while they took over, that kind of nonsense. Yours truly, I rank class 1. Devil’s are top dog here and in every world really. When your ability rests over the mind and bending reality, there isn’t a lot we can’t do if we have the stamina. Rank 2 are vampires, like your friend Allura.”

He pauses for a moment and shrugs, “They’re pretty cool I guess.”

Keith chuckles, his head feeling so light without the usual stress he allows himself to relax and notice little things about his new acquaintance, for instance how it looked like he’d rather yank out his hair than admit that.

“Don’t like ‘em?”

“Personal history.”

“Gotcha.”

“Demons are great. They’re three. They mostly sit there based on sheer number and desire to fuck shit up.”

Keith chuckles again, “Sounds like my kind of people.”

Angel raises a brow, an odd smile on his face, “Remind me to never introduce you to my sister then.”

Something registers in Keith’s head when he says that, but he can’t put his finger on it.

“You rank class four. You’re strong, you’re fast, your bodies are extremely durable. The problem is there aren’t enough of you. You’re all martyrs. I have no idea why.”

Keith laughs outright, he’d never really considered himself a martyr but for some reason being told that he was somehow amused the hell out of him.

“Then there are witches. Bitches witches. Throw a rock in a crowd and you’ll hit one. And then promptly be pummeled by the 80 other witches that made up said crowd.” Angel sounds slightly fed up when he says this. Keith tilts his head and feels his ears flicker in interest.

The devil sighs, “Eh whatever. There are plenty other creatures out and about in the world, shapeshifters, imps, mummies, zombies… about a zillion unregistered crossbreeds…”

Keith blinks. That’s the one.

“Your sister is a demon? Is it like Russian roulette sometimes you get a devil sometimes you get a demon sometimes you get a… shapeshifter?”

Angel freezes. His lips are tight and expressionless, but his eyes give everything away. He’s as transparent as he thought Keith was.

 He shuts those eyes and looks away as soon as the thought breezes through Keith’s mind and Keith is sure that’s why.

“Uhm. No. No, generally it has to do with your genes. I guess…I guess you could say my sister and I are more like those unregistered crossbreeds. We just. Uhm. Present so strongly as one thing that one can often forget we’re not uhm…”

Keith watches him and feels like there’s about a hundred key pieces of information Angel isn’t telling him. But Keith forces the thought away. Angel is a stranger. It’s not Keith’s place to pry. Instead he considers Thomas the reaper.

“What’s the difference between crossbreeds and halfbreeds?”

Angel softens immediately and turns back to face him, “Half breeds are half human.” He says simply. “Half human means a potential for creature instincts to go unchecked against the weaker human side. It means the possibility for something very dangerous and uncontrollable. You’re not. Clearly. But others aren’t so lucky.”

Keith nods idly, “So that’s why the… witches? Wanted to examine me?”

“Heard about that huh?”

What is Keith supposed to say to that?

Angel shrugs and bounces to his feet, “Eh, it’s no big deal. They just want to put you through the ringer to see if you’re dangerous then keep tabs on you for the rest of your life. I’m with Takashi on this one, if someone big and scary and official looking comes at you haul ass the other way yeah?” He stretches again. He looks like a goddamn cat.

“Hel todays been a long ass day.”

Keith raises a brow, “Why do people say that? Hell? Grim? Like…” Keith realizes suddenly he’s not even sure how to ask what he wants to ask. It’s just a speech pattern really, but since he’s asking Angel all these questions he figured it would be fine.

Angel smiles again, “Oh. Uhm. You know how some people say “Goddamn” or something like that?”

Keith already dislikes where this is going.

“Grim and Hel—and that’s one L. They’ve become the replacement for those kinds of phrases. I dunno. It’s just a thing. Grim is the overseer of Illusions and Hel is basically the queen down here.”

Hold on.

“We have a queen?”

Angel brightens at the use of the word ‘we’, “Yeah, we have a queen.”

Keith can feel his headache coming back. There’s just too much to grasp.

Angel reaches out to press a reassuring hand to Keith’s shoulder, “Sorry dude. It’s not gonna get much easier. I mean. At least you’re a werewolf and not a…” The devil looks thoughtful before realizing he’s got nothing. “… Yeah no I’m sorry. If you were a devil it would probably be easier but a devil halfbreed is…” Angel starts to breathe heavily as if the idea was terrifying and then he starts to awkward laugh about his own discomfort.

Keith can only sit there looking very concerned.

Angel is still laughing as he babbles about someone named Velvet and how he should really ask her how that went, “Does it just hit you one day like a ton of bricks or is it gradual? I mean…” He chokes and laughs so hard his knees give out so he’s sitting on the floor, “Oh my Hel a devil half breed would lose their shit that’s not a thing that can’t—”

Keith isn’t sure he can hold his face like this much longer (his cheeks are starting to hurt) but he can’t bring himself to even begin to understand what’s going on in Angel’s head now.

“You can’t just go from human to devil that’s crazy.” He pants finally. “You gotta have a stepping stone in the middle you gotta make that jump easier…” Then he looks at Keith, unshed tears of mirth sitting in his eyes before he shrugs, “I mean you’d probably manage in like a year. But by then being a werewolf should be easy so why bother.”

“Angel, dude, I gotta tell you, you’ve completely lost me.”

“That’s fine. I’m sorry. I’m tired. We had this ridiculous job a couple days ago and I’m just. You haven’t drank the water down here, have you?” Angel looks suddenly serious.

Keith considers calling Shiro.

“No…?”

“Good. Don’t.”

When Keith makes it back to the apartment Matt is asleep with his head on Allura’s lap and she is softly running her fingers through his hair while making idle conversation with Shiro.

Shiro takes one look at Keith and raises one perfect eyebrow, “…Keith?”

Keith doesn’t need a mirror to tell that he looks like he’s just seen some manner of collision. And if he considered that collision to be a devil’s words and his brain it made sense to him.

“I uhm. I ran into Angel.”

Allura tilts her head, clearly not sure what that’s supposed to mean but Shiro relaxes and leans back against the couch from his position sitting on the floor. He pats the cushion next to Matt’s curled up legs for Keith to go over and sit.

“He talked to you, didn’t he?”

“He talks a lot.” Keith mumbles as he takes the seat.

Shiro laughs and Allura scoots a bit despite not being in the way at all. Matt stirs in his sleep and his tail swishes out and bops Keith so he’s forced back against the couch when he’d previously have hunched.

“Yeah. That can happen with him. He gets away from himself sometimes. Did you learn anything?”

“Lots. And lots.” Keith breathes, for good measure he adds, “And then even more.”

Shiro twists around to look at him and rests his left palm on Keith’s knee, “I imagine it’s a lot to swallow?”

“Yeah,” the boy sighs, eyeing Matt, “And there’s so much I still don’t know…”

“You feel better?”

“…I guess.”

Matt and Allura share the guest room. Shiro and Keith get up for breakfast first and sit around the kitchen island talking about the devil again.

“I mean he’s really cool though? He showed me this fun thing he can do where he messes with the clouds—because first off I didn’t realize there were clouds down here.”

Shiro is chuckling idly while scrambling eggs.

“He looks so human too? Normal really. Doesn’t deal with these ridiculous things.” Keith grumbles as he reaches up and tugs on the little fluffed triangular appendages.

“I like your ears. They’re cute.” Shiro smiles.

Keith groans and leans back on the stool, “Shiro! You’re not listening. I just mean…”

“He told you about devils, didn’t he? How they can be made?”

Keith bites his lip, answer enough for Shiro.

The reaper scratches his neck, turns off the stove and then points the frying pan at Keith with an air of authority, “…No.”

Allura gets up next and she watches the exchange with the most beautiful of smiles. Matt eventually joins her, slumped over her shoulders and yawning.

“It’s not a good idea, Keith.”

“Oh it’s a great idea! I could go home without worrying about someone looking at me like a crazy person. I could- I could affect what people hear and see and it would be so helpful to find my dad and—”

“Keith, you just became a werewolf.”

“I’ve always been a werewolf apparently! And being one sucks! I can’t even eat milk chocolate!”

“We don’t know if that’s why Keith!”

Keith groans and throws himself onto the couch, “Angel said—”

Shiro rounds on him, “If Angel said to jump off a cliff would you do it?”

Keith raises his head, “Well honestly if Angel told you to jump off a cliff wouldn’t you have to?

Allura snorts.

This catches their attention.

Matt smacks her lightly in the shoulder as if they weren’t both caught eavesdropping, “’Lura look what you did.”

“What I—Matt!”

Shiro holds up both hands and motions to Keith who’s still laying on the couch, head raised, “Allura, Matt, tell Keith what an awful idea it would be for him to try and become a devil?”

Matt lets go of Allura and leans over the armrest of the couch towards Keith, “Is it really so bad to be like me?” His ears are pointed downward, and he looks exceptionally soft.

Shiro blinks but shrugs, “Not exactly what I was going for but thanks for the effort, Matt.”

Keith reaches forward and bops him in the nose, inciting him to laugh, clearly not as upset as he’d made it seem, “Hey, maybe being a wolf works for you, but I just think this whole otherworld shit would be way easier if I were a devil. I mean, just the fact the option even exists…!”

Last night Angel had described in detail how certain creatures have changed from one to the other. How a vampire can change a human or a lesser creature to be what they are. How wolves with magic could do it. How an incubus if they chose a mate could go through a whole ritual to make sure said mate had the strength and stamina to be with them for always. And there was one for devils too. It involved witches, but Angel had sworn that once whoever it was became a devil they were not to be the witches pawn or anything of the sort as witches chose devils to be rank one for a reason.

Basically, being a devil meant Keith would have actually useful abilities (not that being an expert eavesdropper wasn’t helpful in some degrees but really?) He would be safe from the witches, and he’d be normal looking.

He saw no downside.

He remembered Angel’s awkward terrified laughter, but the devil had insisted that it was regarding a human trying to fathom a devil and nothing more.

Allura leans against the wall and crosses her arms. Keith expects her to be able to shoot down all his reasoning and readies himself to give up.

But then she looks at Shiro, “Actually, being a devil would be helpful for Keith. It would also remove his status as a halfbreed. It would protect him.”

Shiro dropped his hands and looked at her like she’d grown a second head, “Allura!”

She raised a finger to silence him, “But we can’t forget one simple fact here. This is something that the witches do. They choose who’s worthy of the power up. And a halfbreed is going to have to be exemplary to even get on their radar.”

She turns back to Keith, “You will have to be stronger, faster. Agile and smart. You basically have to excel at being a wolf, be perfect.”

Shiro turns his attention back to Keith too.

Matt shrugs, “Eh, it ain’t hard. I do it all the time.” He winks for good measure.

Keith rolled his eyes at this but wasn’t at all upset; he’s still focused on Shiro’s approval, “Look, it isn’t even a sure thing then. So. What’s the harm in my trying?”

The reaper lifts his eyes to the roof and sighs, “There’s no harm in trying I guess…”

Allura beamed and then shot a dirty look at Matt, “And! We already have enough wolves in the group.” She grins and he feigns being insulted before running and jumping into Shiro’s arms.

“She’s being underhandedly mean to me!”

Shiro’s face goes a little pink but he hugs Matt close with his arms wrapped around him bridal style and gives Allura his most dramatic voice, “Allura! How could you!”

The vampire throws her hands up before wandering into the kitchen.

Matt hops out of Shiro’s arms and bounds after her leaving Shiro alone with Keith again, where they started.

“You realize,” Shiro starts, leaning over the back of the couch to hover over Keith, “this is going to be a lot of work.”

Keith scoffs, “I’ll be fine.”

Matt pops his head out of the kitchen having apparently not gone far, “He’ll have me and Pidge to show him the ropes. He’ll be a boss werewolf in no time.” Then he’s gone again.

Shiro’s shoulders slump and Keith remembers the implication. The idea that he was going to be leaving here soon.

“…When I’m a devil, I can move back in yeah?”

Shiro’s face goes through a ridiculous range of emotions then and Keith can’t understand any of them. Suddenly the larger male allows himself to topple over the side of the couch and onto Keith. Keith shrieks but can’t escape and before he knows it Shiro is wrapped around him and messing up his hair and honestly Keith wonders if Shiro was basically a big dog himself because he’s only ever seen puppies lay over each other like this.

Or maybe he was a cat.

Shiro grins at him.

Nah, a dog is better.

“You can always come back Keith,” he smiles. “I’m only telling you to go because I know it’ll be good for you. That’s it. We’re….” Shiro leans his head on Keith’s shoulder. “Well I know we haven’t known each other very long, but…”

Keith shakes his head, his ears brushing against Shiro as he did so. He found they weren’t as sensitive to him as they’d been to everyone else.

“You saw a problem child, literally handcuffed in a police department, and decided to take him in.” Keith explains, “You’re doing so much for me and we barely know each other.”

Shiro looks up thoughtfully.

“You’re clearly insane and I’m—I…” Keith laughs to himself, “I imprinted on you like a goddamn baby duck.”

Shiro grins again, “I’ll take the insane comment if I get to call you Ducky from now on.”

“Oh fuck no.”

“Shiro!” Matt screeches, hovering over the couch now. Keith is only so glad that Angel’s magic hadn’t worn off yet. “Its bad enough I have to compete with Allura I am not competing with Keith too! He’s too young for you anyway!”

Shiro freaking cackles before rolling off the couch and onto the floor. “Come on Matt! You know I only have eyes for you!”

While Shiro laid there laughing, Matt making dramatic speeches, Allura leaning against the cutaway wall of the kitchen with a glass of something red in her hands, Keith finally notices something. Something he should have noticed earlier.

Shiro had been warm while they’d been tangled together on the couch. Warm everywhere… except his right arm that had squeezed his shoulder.

Keith isn’t sure how he hadn’t noticed it before.

He watched Shiro joke with his friends and tried not to let it bother him. But the truth was, they really didn’t know each other at all.

“You’ll love my sister. There’s just one rule okay? Don’t touch her stuff.”

Chapter Text

Ever since he came back with the information on the elusive Pidge Lucifer started playing very clear favorites and Lance was ecstatic.

“No, Hunk, you don’t understand, we have weekly dinners now!”

“I still think he’s using you man, but sure.”

Lance flailed from his position dangling off of Hunk’s bed while his friend worked at his desk.

“He’s the king Hunk. He’s allowed to use me.” Lance deadpanned. He also took a second to consider how Lucifer could very well use him in anyway he chose and he’d be very happy for it.

Hunk didn’t need to turn to know there was an odd look on Lance’s face and tossed a work towel at him. The towel was grease covered and Lance shrieked as he sat upright and swatted it away.

“How DARE.”

Hunk shrugged and went back to his tinkerings. Lance pouted, “What are you even doing?”

“Pidge’s workshop made me jealous. I’m making myself better more reliable transportation than a portal, so I can go visit her.”

Lance glanced over at the odd machine and stared at Hunk for a long moment, “…You’re a witch.”

“And?”

“…You can just get yourself a broom?”

“I don’t want a broom.”

“…Or Magic yourself some kind of flyer? I heard there’s another alchemist wizard who uses slabs of the ground for that?”

Hunk threw Lance an exasperated look, “What if I don’t want to rely on magic all the time? What if I just want to play with machinery?”

“…But you would save so much time?”

Hunk threw up his hands, “Lance can you just- let me have this?! She has so much cool stuff!” then he thumped his head down on the clear space next to what looked like the makings of a rocket powered surf board.

Lance pat him on the shoulder, “…Alright Hunk, you do you.”

“Thank you.”

Lance curled his legs up beneath him and reached for his glass. He was sitting on a lounge couch in a darker area of the club just minding his own business. It was his go to when Hunk was busy and the King wasn’t inclined to hang out.

Well. He was the King. The King was busy more often than Hunk was busy. Gosh just “hang out” with the King? That sounds crazy.

Lance blushed into his own drink and decided not to think about it. Instead, he thought about Pidge and how he hadn’t been back to see her since their initial meeting. She just wanted to help him figure himself out but he just. He couldn’t. Her inability to find out what was wrong with him already just… it was too much.

He remembered how Keith had looked at him. Torn between fear and pity. And honestly Keith had no right to look at him like that especially when he’d been such a colossal dick to him initially.

…Of course, he was a newbie werewolf with instincts telling him vampires were dangerous, Lance was a total stranger, and had just helped himself to the boy’s blood.

Okay, maybe he had a bit of a reason to be a little dick-ish.

Dicky. Ish.

Skittish.

Lance took a long swig of the blood in his glass and sighed. Human blood. Cheap. Boring.

Werewolf blood was better than this.

Honestly, werewolf blood was better than the King’s supply of demon blood but he probably shouldn’t be thinking that way.

Keith tasted pretty good even frozen.

Pidge would probably taste better. Magic and all.

While he daydreamed, he eyed a vampire across the room who scoffed and turns their attention away. Alright cool, his loss.

“How many times do I have to tell you this Lance,” Oof, there’s a smooth ass voice Lance didn’t really enjoy listening to, “You could do so much better than places like this.”

Lance took another swig of his drink and shrugged his shoulders, “I’m lazy I’m bored and I’m not all kinds of high class so it’s not like I can get into anywhere I want, Lotor.

The silver haired male laughed and dropped onto the couch beside him, “You have the kings favor, you really just have to ask. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind leaving you a mark or something…” Lotor reached out and pressed a delicate finger to Lance’s neck.

The younger vampire blanched and pulled away, “Whoa there, personal space dude.”

Lotor laughed and ignored him, “I’d do it, but I barely get around as it is. Banished princes can only do so much.”

Lance grit his teeth, not that he wanted Lotor’s fangs anywhere near him, but the guy always gave him the most frustratingly mixed feelings, “You’re not banished…You’re just. You know. Not anyone’s favorite person.”

Lotor leaned back and flagged down one of the blood servers, a flash of green eyes and he was instantly offered a glass of demon blood.

“You wound me Lance, I thought you at least liked me well enough?”

Lance laughed and squeezed himself as far into the corner as he could, “What in the world gave you that idea?”

“I’m a pureblood Lance.”

“And? Unless you’re a chick and can read my mind and think I thought something I didn’t then—”

Lotor leaned forward, his green eyes shining, his voice soothing, “I already asked you what you thought of me ages ago. It’s difficult for most people to lie to me.”

Lance groaned, “Just because you’re pretty doesn’t mean I like you.”

He laughed again before holding his glass out to Lance. Lance blinked at it for a moment before Lotor motioned with his free hand to Lance’s cup and they casually switched off.

In this case Lance wasn’t about to complain, he took a gulp, relished in the added warmth, the fire in his veins and practically purred.

“You’re welcome,” Lotor mumbled blandly before downing Lance’s original drink and placing the empty glass down on the coffee table a foot in front of them.

“Thanks,” Lance admitted. He took another gulp before looking at Lotor again, “So what brings you to this place? If it’s so beneath me it must be utter shit to you.”

Lotor shrugged his shoulders and flagged down another glass for himself. No one judged him for handing his original to the halfling beside him and he had another cup in his hands quickly, “I was simply doing my rounds and noticed you were nearby. Occasionally I enjoy the company of others.”

Lance flushed a bit, a little from the blood and a little from the vaguely pleasant smile on Lotor’s face, “Bull. You want something.”

The pureblood grinned, showing off his teeth. Of course Lance was right.

“Fine~ I understand you traveled into wolf territory sometime ago? One of my girls caught wind of you.”

Lance raised a brow, “You have a halfbreed wolf on the payroll?”

Lotor shrugged, “A cross. But yes. I’d sent her to look for a halfbreed who’d caught my interest. You wouldn’t happen to have seen him would you?”

Lance thought about it for a long moment, realized what Lotor was getting at, and shrugged right back, “Nah. I met with a wolf, yeah. But didn’t see any interesting halfbreeds. I mean the wolfette was pretty interesting but probably not to you.”

Lotor lowered his gaze to his glass, “What a pity… See, it almost smells like you not only met the halfbreed but you fed from him too.”

Lance didn’t even flinch, “Well she offered me some bagged blood? Maybe she had him on tap somewhere. Wouldn’t that be something?” While Lance chuckled he didn’t notice the look of absolute horror that crossed Lotor’s face.

Thankfully, that look remained frozen there until well after Lance had finished laughing, finished his glass, and turned his attention back to the other male.

“…Lotor?”

“Would the wolves do that?!”

If Lance hadn’t finished his drink he was sure he would have shot it out his nose at the way Lotor sounded so incredibly uncool.

“Lotor—Dude—No?”

“We have to find him and save him at once! Just because he’s a halfbreed does not—” Lotor looked like he was about to get to his feet when Lance snorted.

“Are you. Are you playing at something Halfling?”

Lance wrapped his arms around his waist and laughed, caution to the wind. Lotor stared at him and waited.

“I just didn’t think you’d care?”

If Lance didn’t know any better he’d say Lotor blushed, but as it was Lance decided not to think about it.

“Did you meet the halfbreed or not?” he sighed.

Lance moved to wipe an imaginary tear from his eyes, “I can’t believe you wigged out like that man.”

“Lance!” grit the pureblood who appeared to be at the edge of his patience.

Lance simply grinned at him. Lotor rolled his eyes and collapsed into the couch, “You know it’s not that hard to believe. Vampires have done it.”

“Yeah well some vampires are really shitty.”

“I’m sure there are some “shitty” wolves around too,” Said Lotor blandly, quoting Lance as if it pained him.

Lance vaguely considered if Lotor would get him another drink, he wasn’t yet at that blood-buzzed place and he could probably use another glass or three.

“Yeah but they don’t need blood for sustenance dude. I’m sure no wolves have anyone strung up in their basements, okay?”

Lotor sighed again, so deeply Lance almost felt bad for the guy, “I heard about what was done to that Velvet Lenoir girl. I simply want to make sure that he’s well.”

Lance blinked. He’d heard of that too. But the cases were extremely different. Velvet was a halfbreed vampire, she’d been thrown away by her mother when she realized she was a functioning creature and after some time her human father, ill-equipped to handle a half vampire, had tossed her away too. The girl had been lost in the human world for years before she’d attempted to starve herself to “be more human,” to “be accepted” and the Grim had finally gotten wind of her.

There were also some rumors that one of the King’s own wives had birthed her and the royal family may have blocked all attempts to locate her prior to that point to save their own asses, but that had yet to be proven.

And besides, the girl was safe now. She’d found a good home in Illusions with a bunch of open minded individuals who protected her from most of the bullying.

At least, that’s what Lance had heard.

Keith…really hadn’t been through any of that crap. Of course, while Velvet was clearly  more vampire than human in that she’d never been able to hide herself away as one, Keith had the shift unceremoniously pushed at him. But he seemed to have a perfectly good support already. Velvet spent years alone. Keith already had Pidge and Matt and no one sabotaging him.

“I’m sure he’s fine,” Lance insisted, “Velvet was a really bad case, but she’s the outlier not the norm.”

Lotor seemed to want to argue this fact but after another moment it looked like he’d reasoned his own argument away, “You’re just trying to keep him to yourself aren’t you?”

Lance choked and covered it up with a laugh, “I thought you were worried about his well-being Lotor, why are you acting like he’s some kind of possession now?”

The silver haired man rolled his eyes, requested two more glasses and placed his down in front of Lance. Lance almost purred.

“Like I said, you smell like you’ve fed on him. For all I know maybe you have a preference.”

Lance rolled his eyes as he sipped at his next drink, savoring it as it looked like Lotor would be leaving soon, “I like power, Lotor. A halfblood werewolf is barely appetizing. If I wasn’t freaking out for my own private reasons I wouldn’t have had any.”

“I’m sure…” Lotor glanced around the room, then looked back to Lance and got back to his feet, “I hope you enjoy your demons blood then. I smell a wolf, so before this place devolves even more I’ll be taking my leave.”

Lance nodded, “Nice chat Lo.”

The pureblood made a face implying he wasn’t sure if he liked that nickname or not but in a blink of an eye he was gone, and Lance was alone again. Well. Almost.

The vampire he’d been checking out earlier had been watching apparently.

“What was a pureblood doing hanging out with an ineffective halfling?” he asked, almost too baffled to sound scathing.

Lance grit his teeth before deciding he could finish one of his glasses now if it meant tolerating this assholes existence.

“I mean, he did have green eyes, didn’t he? They certainly looked green.” Because that was the tell of a pureblood. Even if Lotor’s eyes had always been this sea-green that occasionally looked more blue than anything. But Lance really didn’t want to have to talk to someone who had already looked down on him.

Maybe he could find a witch with a decent enough glamour ability to cover his crazy anxiety over his lack of power.

Actually, Hunk could probably do it.

Why hadn’t they tried that yet… just let Lance pretend he’s normal for a while.

“Lance!”

Lance eyed his drink like it was poison. Because there was no way he’d heard…

“There you are!” The girl sidled onto the couch, effectively pushing the other vampire away as she did so. “I was so scared I wouldn’t be able to find you, which you know, would have sucked cause I really don’t know my way around this place? Like everything smells all kinds of weird and I didn’t even know where to begin but Hunk said—”

Lance stared at her for a long moment before realizing not only did she not have her ears, but she absolutely did not smell like a werewolf.

“Pidge. What. The hell are you doing here?!”

The other vampire, clearly fed up with being ignored, stomped off.

Pidge puffed out her cheeks, her amber eyes looking particularly out of place in the dark surrounded by vampires, “I told you! I was looking for you.”

Lance was going to have a heart attack and it was going to be all her fault. He eyed the last drink Lotor had ordered for him and internally whined. Could he down it before he hauled her out of here? Or would that last glass get him to the point he’d initially wanted and thus useless in talking sense into Pidge?

…Well it’s not like it was devil’s blood or anything. He’d be fine.

He reached over, chugged it, and then took Pidge’s hand and dragged her right out of the club.

Lance dragged his fingers though his hair, staring at Pidge through narrowed tired eyes, “So let me get this straight…”

She hopped around in front of him, getting awkward looks from the vampires that happened to be wandering around the isles. Of course, these weren’t the looks she’d be getting if anyone knew she was a werewolf, but her behavior was still outlandish enough to make Lance uncomfortable. He momentarily allows himself to wonder how Lotor could have possibly felt her coming. Had he sensed another wolf?

Lance didn’t feel any. Nor did anyone else seem on edge.

Lord help them if anyone did figure out she was a wolf though. A single wolf this deep into vampire territory would not make it out with their lives.

“Hunk did this?”

Pidge walked backward, her hands crossed behind her back, “Well yeah, when you never came back I had to find a way to come talk to you again.”

Lance sighed deeply, “And you decided that infiltrating the isles under a crazy strong glamour put together by an alchemist wizard was a good idea?”

Pidge laughed, “Well you said it. Crazy strong. What’s the harm in it?”

Lance groaned, reaching out and grabbing her by the shoulders, looking her over.

“He’s an alchemist! He’s not exactly good at the little simple household spells, what if he reorganized your composition or something? What if you really aren’t a we—” He coughed and glanced around quickly before continuing, “What if you aren’t you anymore?”

The girl rolled her eyes and shrugged out of his grasp, “I’m fine Lance, I can totally start an earthquake if you want me to prove it?”

Lance clapped his hand over her mouth and looked to a vampire who’d come out of a building far to close by.

“Haha, elemental halfling, thinks she has more potential than she does, you know?” He forced more awkward chuckling while the vampire rolled their eyes and wandered off.

Lance pretended not to hear when they said “Then the two of you must get on really well, right Mclain?”

Pidge, with her senses dulled by the glamour, doesn’t hear it at all and instead goes back to the conversation.

“Besides, I had to come see you. I had to tell you what I found!”

“You couldn’t send a letter? Or hell, tell Hunk since the two of you seem so close now.”

Pidge rolled her eyes and took his hand, deciding to drag him along to where ever it was she had in mind with more haste.

“This wasn’t something I could just write down, Lance,” She paused and turned to look him right in the face, “You have a halfling ability. You’ve been active for years, its there and it works I know it.”

She seemed so sincere, so hopeful.

“…Yeah that could have been in a letter,” he replied, bitter. She can be as hopeful as she wants, that doesn’t change the fact he’s just… useless.

She groaned and tugged him along again, “No, Lance, I’m serious and I need you to test my theory.”

He’s about to yank his hand out of her grasp and send her to the nearest portal.

“For fucks sake Pidge, you still came here, what could compel you to be so idiotic? I thought you were supposed to be a tiny genius!” Hell, Hunk lives in Lethe, Lance is there with him all the time, Pidge could have gone there if she really had to see him.

Pidge rolled her eyes and suddenly Lance realized the ground had disappeared beneath his feet. At some point or another Pidge had not only planted portal water but she’d walked him straight into it.

When they came out they were in the middle of the woods between the territories and Lance had to fight every urge to reach out and strangle her.

He was too distracted though.

There were two decidedly important scents he needed to acknowledge. First, Pidge’s halfbreed friend, the one Lotor was so interested in, was nearby. But what was worse? There was a pureblood with him. Female.

Someone yelled, there was a loud thud and the rustling of tree branches.

“You have to be faster, Keith!”

Lance knew that voice.

Pidge reached up and removed her glasses, wiping them off with the hem of her shirt, “So let me clarify, I am a genius. But Keith was also gunning to get here so I figured two birds one stone, and that way he wasn’t here alone and I could get contacting you over with.”

Lance narrowed his eyes at her, “So Keith was chaperoned but what about you?”

Pidge stomped her foot to which there were two loud yelps from the trees as the ground physically shook, “Again. Earthquakes. I’m totally fine dude.”

“Pidge is back.” Said the halfbreed in a tone that sounded tired and out of breath.

There was a beautiful laugh, a laugh Lance used to daydream about before he actually talked to her.

“Take a breather Keith, I’m going to go greet my cousin.”

At the sound of her words Pidge blinked and glanced over at Lance who shuffled his feet and stared down at the ground, his face slightly flushed.

Allura let herself out of the bushes and plastered her brightest smile on her face, waving delicate fingers in Lance’s direction, “Lance! It’s a pleasure to see you!”

Lance forced himself to look up at her and tried to match her positive energy but was too embarrassed. The last time he’d seen her they’d been in a library in the Kings courts discussing methods for solving some of the King’s more pressing issues.

Since then, Allura had delivered several solutions and Lance had been placed on information gathering instead.

“Allura, hey, what are you doing here?” He hopes the awkwardness doesn’t play out in his voice as much as he thinks.

Allura is… Allura is perfect.

The term cousin is a loose one because Allura is ten thousand years his senior, was once a member of the leading family, and was undoubtedly a brilliant and powerful pureblood vampire. Somewhere in those ten thousand years one of her relatives married one of Lance’s ancestors and the rest was history.

For years he’d wished they could meet. He’d always known his family had ties to an ex royal, he’d heard the stories of Allura, the last surviving princess. He’d seen her paintings. He’d heard of all she’d done as counsel to Lucifer.

When they met it was like a dream come true and a nightmare all at once.

Because she was everything he thought she would be and he was…He was Lance.

As if to combat his bad feelings, Allura rushed over and pulled him into a hug, “Oh I’m just doing a favor for a friend. I was quite surprised to hear Pidge was off to go looking for you, I didn’t even know you were friends! I’m so proud of you.”

Oh. There it is. There’s that warm feeling that both gives him life and makes him want to bury himself underground and suffocate in the mud.

“Heh, you know me…” Lance mumbles, “I’ve got too much love for prejudice.”

She grinned at him and kissed his cheek, “Of course. So have you met Keith also?”

Lance is surprised she doesn’t smell him on him. Maybe it’s because Keith is too close by.

“Ah, yeah. Kinda of… got off on the wrong foot.”

Allura looked skeptical at this but Pidge interjected before she could say anything, “I didn’t know you guys were related? How cool is that! I knew there was a reason I was so inclined to help you.”

Lance paled, Allura looked at Pidge and then back at Lance, her hands still on his shoulders, “Help you…?”

Lance responded to this by laughing loudly and pulling out of her grasp, looking around the area, “Hey ‘Lura! where’s Coran? He’s around right?”

Allura opened her mouth to speak but Pidge interrupted again, this time to shriek in a way Lance didn’t think she was capable of when another man appears a single breaths width away from her.

He bowed his head, orange curl dangling over his forehead, “Good evening Lance, I was hidden as to surprise attack the half breed. It’s a perfect training opportunity, don’t you think?”

Keith ran out of the bushes by the time Coran had finished speaking and had grabbed Pidge, checking her over. She immediately swatted his hands away.

“He just surprised me that’s all! Quit it! I’m fine!”

Keith looked skeptical before glancing at Coran and seeming to realize what had happened, “Ah. Yeah. Was wondering where you’d gone.”

Allura sighed fondly before turning her attention back to Lance, “Well, as you can see now he’s right here.” She chuckled a bit and then watched Pidge and Keith converse with Coran while she continued to explain to Lance, “He’s completely minimized his aura so you probably didn’t notice him earlier.”

Lance did not, but he wasn’t going to say it. Coran was also ancient, also pureblooded though he lacked the signature green eyes. Lance wasn’t sure why that was but the man was strong and that was enough proof in Lance’s book.

“So…the two of you are… training Keith?” As he said it he watched Keith’s ears perk up towards his voice. Apparently, Keith hadn’t gone through with the glamour like Pidge did. Presumably because finding Allura was easier than finding Lance.

He looked…better. At least, there was no towel over his head and his eyes looked sharply between Pidge and Coran and—oh. His hair was tied up and there was a bit of perspiration building on his skin, his cheeks flushed a bit pink.

Lord, he was really quite a thing to look at. Of course, he didn’t bother looking at Lance, like he wasn’t even there. Rude little new wolf.

Allura nodded, “He has a few goals to reach within the next year, I volunteered to help get him there. So what brings you here?”

Keith had bolted into the woods while she spoke, and Coran had disappeared, apparently the two having decided on their next session. Pidge tapped Lance on the shoulder mouthing, “I gotta see this, be right back.” Before bolting after Keith.

Lance sighed but kept his smile on for her, “Ah… well Pidge thinks she can help me find my halfling ability…”

Allura’s eyes lit up beautifully. Lance wanted to die.

“Lance! That’s wonderful! Pidge is brilliant, I’m sure if anyone can help you figure it out it will be Pidge.”

His chest felt so tight. That’s what he was afraid of. Pidge was brilliant. And if she couldn’t do it than maybe it was because he wasn’t meant to have one.

“You want to go see what the others are doing?” Lance offered, a change of subject, a change of focus for his lips as well as his mind.

If Allura noticed anything amiss she didn’t say anything about it, “Sure.”

She smiled and took his hand and they both wandered into the woods after the wolves.

Keith was terrifying. Wasn’t he just floundering around a couple weeks ago? Losing his head over loud noises? The boy fought like his life depended on it, he moved fast and put all his strength into punches and kicks. Lance could tell based on the damage done to a tree that had the misfortune of being behind Coran when the boy swung.

Because of course, Coran was worse, but Lance was used to Coran.

The story for him was that once long ago, Alfor, Allura’s father and a king of the vampires once upon a time, had stumbled upon Coran. If they’d traced his family back at the time Lance didn’t know. But Alfor took Coran in and in Coran’s infinite gratitude he took to Allura’s side as an almost surrogate father when the previous King had been killed.

All anyone really knew about Coran was that his life before Alfor was as unimportant to him as it was to anyone else, that he presented as pure despite his eyes, and that he would go to the ends of the worlds for Allura.

One could probably make the assumption that Coran was even there when Alfor perished, but no one really knew about that besides Coran and possibly Allura and no one was going to ask either of them about the day that changed their lives.

No one was going to mumble Zarkon’s name in either of their presence.

Not even Lotor, Zarkon’s son, was heartless enough.

So no, ten thousand years and then some, being a pureblood trained and trusted by Alfor, the man could do things that made Lance’s head spin and only slightly concerned for Lucifer’s life should Coran ever want to reclaim the throne for Allura.

He fizzed in and out of existence around Keith like a mirage, he struck quickly with extended claws on his fingers and was gone before Keith could take his swing. Electricity would spark and Keith would be blown to the side and again Coran was gone far too quickly.

Lance bit his lip and eyed Allura who was studying the match with a tense expression on her face.

Of course, they both knew if Coran didn’t want to be found he wasn’t going to be. Keith was very much fighting blind.

He was still standing, and still seemed energetic enough, but he was losing.

There was another electric shock coupled with a kick to the lower back that sent Keith tumbling into the ground. Allura opened her mouth to speak but, in a way that was becoming very rehearsed, Pidge interrupted.

By stamping her foot.

The ground shook and Lance had to reach for Allura to steady himself just as Coran fizzed into view, stumbling over the shaking ground.

All eyes turned to Pidge as Keith shook his head, trying to get back to his feet, his pony tail hanging on by sheer willpower.

“My apologies Katie,” Coran started, sensing the young girl’s annoyance, “I thought we were just testing the pups endurance, perhaps I went too far.”

Keith visibly flinched at the term pup before he moved back into a fighting stance, “Nah, It’s fine, I’m fine. Let’s keep going.”

Pidge growled and Keith’s ears flattened.

“As fun as it is to watch you get knocked around Keith,” Pidge started casually, as if trying to pretend she wasn’t being as protective as she was, “I think you should go back to sparing with Allura. Work up the basics before you try Coran again.”

Keith jutted out his chin and rolled his eyes, “I can take it Pidge, I’ll have to get there eventually right?”

The girl shook her head, “To get anywhere you have to start at the beginning first. Allura, come on.”

When Allura went over and took Keith’s hand, mumbling something encouraging, Lance is sure, Pidge walked up to him.

“I didn’t expect him to last this long. I figured Coran would give him a couple bruises, lower his bravado, then he’d slink back to Allura. But go figure, Keith has more pride than I thought.”

Lance scoffed, he didn’t even know the guy and he could have told Pidge that.

He watched Allura hover off the ground, her hair soft and billowy around her as she smiles at Keith, a challenge to catch her, before she spirited off. Keith groaned loudly before jumping after her.

“I really hate this stuff!”

“If you’d shift you’d be done already!” Allura taunted, her voice like a song.

Lance honestly can’t help the dopey grin that passes his face. He really just can’t believe they have any connection whatsoever. That she actually proudly calls him cousin.

“Isn’t she just the best?” Lance mumbled to no one in particular. Coran nodded his head before disappearing again, probably to watch after Allura from the shadows as he usually does. He’s not much for talking with Lance anyway, never has been. Even if Coran has less of an actual connection to Allura than Lance does, Coran never really acknowledges anyone besides his princess.

It’s fair though really, if Lance was as close to Allura as Coran was he’d imagine he’d be just as one track minded.

When it was just the two of them again Pidge stretched and cracked her knuckles, “Alright, now it’s your turn.”

Lance croaked, “What?”

“I told you, you have your halfling ability, you just have to find it and I’m positive with a little…practice, you’ll find it. And then I can properly study you,” she grinned.

Lance considered this for a long moment. Of course, there was still the nagging fear that Pidge would try with all her brilliance and still fail to make him feel complete.

But on the one small chance that she could figure it out…

On the one miniscule possibility she could prove once and for all that he wasn’t broken…

“So what…Keith and I are taking lessons now?”

Lance collapsed against the base of a tree while Pidge shifted out of her small copper wolf form. Seated on the grass in front of him now her ears and tail were back as shifting had apparently removed the glamour.

“Alright, so we can cross off super speed.”

“Vampires are already fast I don’t know why we had to test that,” Lance panted.

“Yeah but some get super speed where they’re even faster than wolves. You’re clearly not faster than me.” She grinned and ran her fingers through her hair, stopping to tug playfully on her own ears for a second.

“What’s the highest point you can think of? We should see if you can fly.”

Lance paled, “Oh no. No-no-no-no-no. Not gonna happen.”

“But you wont figure it out unless you’re in a high stress situation!” Pidge persisted.

Lance glared at her, “Are you trying to help me or are you trying to kill me?”

Pidge rolled her eyes and flopped back onto the ground, “Okay well your strength is about average for a vampire… do you have elemental abilities? Let’s try those next.”

Lance sighed deeply, “And how do you propose we test that kind of crap?”

Pidge smiled, “I heard water elementals can breathe underwater. And Fire elementals are flame proof. Air should be able to float so how about jumping out of a tree?”

There was a thump from a few yards away, obscured by the trees, and a loud angry hiss.

“Keith’s still not shifting,” Pidge chuckled, interrupting her own train of thought. Clearly she liked doing this.

Lance scoffed, “What is he even training for? Shouldn’t he be relaxing? Taking Illuision’s history lessons so he’s not a complete dunce?”

Pidge laughed, “Oh he already did that, Matt and I drilled that stuff into him pretty quickly. He’s a really fast learner he’s just crazy stubborn.”

“Crazy Stubborn…” Lance mumbled as another loud thud shakes the woods. Yeah. Sounds about right.

About a week later Lance and Pidge satcross legged in the woods watching a cut she’d inflicted on his palm.

“…So no super fast healing huh?”

“You really should have just listened to me. I figured that was a given from the fire testing,” Lance grumbled, still sore about that. Fire of course takes just a bit longer to heal than everything else to a vampire.

Hunk had joined them this time, notebook in hand, scratching off another item on the list.

There was a triumphant shout from the bushes and Allura’s brilliant laughter.

“Your cousin is gorgeous by the way, Lance.” Hunk blurted out. He’d been vaguely annoyed at having never met Allura before but once they were alone Lance explained why.

“Yeah, I know. Believe me, I know. And she’s not really my cousin. She’s more like my great-great-great-great…. third aunt? Twice removed? I don’t even know how that stuff works man but she’s really…”

Hunk shrugged, “She’s just gorgeous.”

Pidge nudged Hunk in the shoulder, “Quit it. Anyway—”

Keith practically rolled out of the bushes, taking Pidge with him, “I caught her! I caught Allura!”

Pidge laughed from her position now pinned to the ground, “Yes, we heard.”

“I’m gonna go do it again!”

“You do that.”

“Oh my god!”

He was gone so fast Hunk barely got the moment to say: “Yo Keith—” but Lance, having been close enough to the spot the wolves had landed got to see clear as day the biggest brightest smile on the boy’s face.

It was a sin, definitely. There was no way someone so grumpy could smile like that. Just not possible. It lit up his entire face his eyes practically sparkled. It was just—it was uncalled for.

Lance coughed into his fist while Hunk grumbled, “Well that was rude.”

Pidge got up and nudged him again, “Leave him alone, he was excited.”

Hunk rolled his eyes, “Okay, so next on the list—how are we going to test this?”

Pidge cackled, “Oh boy. Well, I worked too hard to get my magic so if we wanna test if Lance can absorb and or steal magic, Hunk…”

Lance’s jaw went slack. Hunk visibly bristled, “Excuse me?!”

As Lance expected, that was a dud. Thankfully his friendship with Hunk did survive the very awkward biting of his wrist. He’d had his doubts, especially since Hunk seemed almost more awkward about it than Lance was, going so far as to voice how worried he was, how anxious, how weird it all felt.

Lance of course knew all these things, it’s why he’d never asked to feed on Hunk before. It just wasn’t something you did with your friends. You could drink their blood if you really needed to but taking it straight from their skin was something else. It was something intimate.

And it was weird.

“Really wish we hadn’t done that.” Hunk mumbled, rubbing his wrist. Lance paled and curled into himself against the base of the tree which was becoming his favorite spot.

Pidge shrugged, “It wasn’t that bad.”

Hunk hissed, “Speak for yourself! I feel violated!”

Lance blinked, “… Dude it’s not like it’s intimate to you…” Lance was the one who felt violated. He’d even had to do it in front of Pidge for Lord’s sake. That just. Wasn’t done.

Hunk glared at him, “Violated I said!”

Lance shook his head, “Whatever, okay, I don’t have any alchemist or light abilities so we can scratch absorption off.”

“What other blood transferred abilities are there? We should see if there’s any more we can scratch off now.” Pidge announced.

Lance counted off on his fingers, “There’s… let’s see there’s power absorption, check… Memory snatching? But that includes thinking of the memory while you feed. And I’m—I’m not doing that again unless I have to.”

“Seriously,” Hunk seconded.

Pidge shrugged, “Yeah okay, maybe we should play with feeding abilities again at a later date.”

Hunk exhaled in relief, but Lance was sure he was far more relieved than his friend.

Lance batted him, and Hunk batted him back. It took a moment but this turned playful and the two were laughing at each other’s antics soon enough.

“Oh!” Pidge started, “How about possession?”

Lance stared at her for a long moment before dragging his hand down his face. Hunk rolled his eyes, “Yeah, Pidge, I think that’s another “bite with intent” ability.”

Pidge groaned.

Two weeks later Keith was vaguely waving at Lance’s little ‘support’ group before rushing at Allura. He still didn’t bother greeting them, too wrapped up in his own goals.

“One of these days,” Hunk started, leaning against Lance’s tree while the vampire laid in the grass, his legs up in the air bending and unbending at the knee regularly, “I’m going to bring cookies, and when he eats one he’ll have to be nice to us. Cause who can be mean to someone who brings him cookies?”

Pidge laughed, for a while after the first time Keith had succeeded in catching Allura, Hunk’s comments had been snippy and bitter, “Now you want to make him cookies?”

Hunk shrugged, “Eh, what can I say. He just rubbed me the wrong way for a while. I’m over it though.”

Lance rolled his eyes from his position on the ground, Keith still rubbed him the wrong way. The jerk could at least be polite. What kind of crap was that little wave supposed to be?

“Okay so today I was thinking we try Hands of God, I mean it’s crazy rare but…” Pidge offered, getting right down to business but trailing off at her own doubt.

Hunk beamed to pick up the slack, “But Lance here is a pretty special guy and he could totally have one of the rare abilities yeah?”

Lance dropped his legs to the ground with a light thump and gave his best friend a sheepish smile. He definitely did not have Hands of God which was really just a really terrifying way of saying puppeteer.

“Are you well fed today Lance?” Pidge offered, knowing testing an ability like that would require Lance with more strength.

The vampire sighed and sat up, “Nah, I haven’t fed in a couple days. I can run into town and get something?”

Pidge shook her head, “No problem, I brought some just in case.” She walked over to their tree and rolled out a cooler, “felt like you were running a little slower yesterday.”

Lance briefly considered why he was running, another one of Pidge’s “but what if we raise your adrenaline!” tests that consisted of Hunk using his alchemist abilities so create a whole bunch of mindless mini dirt monsters.

In the end, they’d let Keith take them out because the adrenaline had activated nothing useful for Lance and when Keith caught wind of multiple enemies to fight his grin was too delighted to stop him.

Honestly, that’s probably why they got the wave today. Can’t completely ignore the people who gave him something to play with right? Maybe if he was lucky Lance would be placed into more mortal peril and Keith could delight himself in cleaning up that mess too.

Lance groaned and blindly reached a hand out to Pidge so she could hand him a blood bag.

He’d already taken a gulp of it before he considered asking Pidge, “So where did you get this from? Allura provide it? It’s good.” At the sound of her name there was an almost happy shriek from the trees in the general direction she and Keith had chosen today. A small part of him wanted to know what Keith had done to get that noise out of Allura, but when there was another loud thud reminiscent of before he’d first caught Allura Lance ignored the thoughts.

Pidge shrugged, “Nah, I’ve got mine and Keith’s in here. I’m still monitoring him pretty closely and am done with these samples, figure someone could get some use out of them.” Pidge looked at the bags still in the cooler and chuckled, “And that’s one of his. I’m gonna tell him you said he tastes good.”

Lance groaned and thumped his head down on the grass, “Lord, Pidge do not.”

Hunk made a face, “That’s kinda messed up dude.”

Pidge rolled her eyes, “Again, it would just go to waste otherwise! But yeah I gotcha, I won’t tell him you said that. But we’ll both know.”

Lance groaned again and emptied the bag in his frustration.

A few minutes later Allura walked into their clearing, a rare bead of sweat on her forehead. She took notice of this and quickly wiped it off before smiling at the others, “Couldn’t help but notice we were having lunch, might I partake?”

Pidge smiled, “Go for it.”

She tossed Allura a bag and the pureblood smiled even brighter, “Oh this is yours! Splendid, I’ve always wondered what a magic wolf tasted like. Do be sure to tell Matt your blood was bagged when it entered my system, will you?”

The younger girl cackled and while Allura took a happy gulp she mumbled, “No promises.”

“Katie!” Allura squeaked a bit of blood on her bottom lip as she removed the bag so suddenly. Pidge laughed some more before nodding and insisting that was a joke, of course she wasn’t going to let Matt think awful things.

“So where’s Keith?”

“He’s taking a breather right now, He was doing so well but suddenly he started to second guess himself, nerves I guess. Oh but the expression on his face was adorable I wish you could have seen it,” Allura nearly purred.

Lance eyed his empty blood bag and sighed. What did it matter. Keith would be back up and doing amazing again shortly and Lance was still going to be here, sans special ability.

They told Allura what todays tests were going to be, and she offered them Coran to help. On cue the man appeared and clapped a fist into his palm, “Excellent! Puppeteer work would be a wonderful halfling gift for Lance. I’d be happy to offer myself as practice.”

Lance croaked, “Dude! You’re a pure—I can’t—”

Coran didn’t even flinch and Allura gave Lance an encouraging pat on the shoulder.

Hunk grinned, “Alright, let’s do this!”

Lance did not have this rare ability. He did not have any memory tampering abilities like hypnosis or oblivion either. Nor could he shapeshift or summon claws beyond exsanguination. He couldn’t talk to animals and he couldn’t bend light or sound waves.

Two weeks later, Lance was feeling mighty awful about himself.

Hunk wrapped an arm around his shoulders and nodded reassuringly, “Look, we’ll figure it out okay?”

Lance swallowed around the angry lump in his throat and Pidge toddled around with the notebook of scratched off abilities, “You vampires have a crazy number of powers possible for halflings. What if you can control probabilities? We still haven’t exhausted the feeding powers by the way. Oh and how about subconscious ones? Like astral projection, dream seeing? Possession! I’m sure there’s a dream walker ability that can do that just as well as feeding. We should put you to sleep and—”

Lance groaned loudly in an effort to shut her up.

Then Hunk, in all his infinite glory offered the one good thing about this situation, “Hey, at least Keith hasn’t made any progress lately either?”

Pidge scrunched up her nose but nodded in agreement, “Yeah he’s been in a funk lately… He was doing so well.”

And as if triggered by his vaguely lifting spirit, a howl broke out through the woods.

Pidge’s eyes went big as saucers and her ears snapped straight up. A smile spread on her cheeks that was so wide it could have split her face.

“He did it.” She whispered to no one before shifting into her small copper wolf form and darting into the woods.

Lance thumped his head back into the tree. Of course, he did. Of course while Lance was feeling absolute garbage about himself Keith would somehow come out of his funk and overcome his biggest hurdle and shift into his bloody wolf form, something that was supposed to take several more months at best.

Hunk offered his friend a wry smile before looking out to the trees, “Well…” He started but couldn’t come up with anything. “Uhm…” Still nothing. Lance wanted to tell him it was okay not to say anything, just to sit there with him.

Finally Hunk threw up his free hand, “What is he even training for? Can’t he just be a chill werewolf? It’s not like he lives in the human world running from hunters and junk? Dude could have gone his entire life without ever having to turn into—ah.”

There it was. A decent sized (if a bit small) sleek black wolf with bright violet eyes sitting right at the edge of the clearing. It tilted its head at the two of them, almost as if it were about to laugh, before letting its tongue peek out of its mouth just an inch.

Lance couldn’t believe it.

It was as adorable as it was infuriating, and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to punt the dog into the bushes or bury his face in its fluffy chest.

The copper wolf was on it before Lance could decide and the witch and the vampire watched the two wrestle for a minute before bounding off again.

They didn’t test Lance on anything else that day and he appreciated it.

Keith and Coran had started training elsewhere while Allura popped in regularly on both groups to offer moral support. Lance knew she was doing it for both because she regularly informed Pidge of the daily improvements she’d just seen.

“Coran’s even summoning weapons now and Keith’s handling it all pretty well I’d say. Shiro would be so proud of him.”

Pidge smiled, clearly proud too but she tried to keep her joy a little more restrained around Lance. He could tell clear as day how she walked on eggshells around him lately though. She simply wasn’t doing a good job of hiding it.

Well no, she was. He knew she was he was just playing himself.

For some time he’d been considering this as his halfling ability. It was just… so simple and so pointless he didn’t want to admit it to himself.

Lance had always been good at sensing emotions. It was basically a vaguely heightened intuition. It was so passive though he often neglected to acknowledge the things he already knew.

All vampires had this. But if Lance was fair to himself and actually listened to what his body told him he’d have to admit he was better at it than most.

It was…a shit halfling ability.

But at this rate Lance probably had to accept it, there was nothing to be done about it.

“Hey Lance,” Pidge asked once Allura had gone, “How about we do something different today?”

Lance raised his head, tiredly eyeing her face. Hopeful but sad. Pity.

Yup.

Another reason Lance hated acknowledging it. He hated how much pity he saw in peoples eyes.

“Hunk told me the other day you were a really good shot right? Let’s play with your telekinesis for a bit?”

Hunk had been summoned to the witch’s territory today, otherwise he’d be beside Lance for him to elbow in the side. That was a talent Lance had worked hard on. It wasn’t a halfling ability and all of them knew it and he’d be damned if it was taken away from him like that. He made himself good, he practiced, and he got better and better and that was all on his own thank you—

Lance blinked.

Of course.

He offered Pidge a smile.

Yeah, he could go for a day where he could feel proud of himself.

“Yeah, let’s do that.”

And as he shot target after target with floating twigs, he tried very hard not to think of violet eyes and too bright smiles and arrogant, stubborn, rude, tasty, werewolves.