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Absit Invidia

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Shiro was bored. It was an average day for him. He had no work to do at the moment. There were no new patients yet after one of the younger cadets got out for a broken wrist. Shiro decided that he could go out into the forest for a while, perhaps bring back some herbs or even some dinner. He may be a doctor, but he wasn't completely against taking lives if it meant getting food.

Walking through the thick forest, he brushed his dark bangs out of his face as he moved forward. Avoiding the crunchy debris of leaves and sticks, he settled down as he saw a root. Digging in, it took a few minutes to pull it out all the way. Ginger.

Thrusting his hands back into the fresh brown earth, he just felt another root when a loud howl rang through the air, sounding a bit to the south of his location. Quickly placing the plants into his small pouch on his belt, he grabbed up his curved sword he always took with him. He never truly needed it, but it was better safe than sorry.

Stalking forward, Shiro listened for a few moments before wandering on. The forest grew darker as he went on. Snarls echoed across the cool air as he gripped his weapon harder, ready for an attack at any second. The branches on the trees swayed eerily as Shiro swore he heard a whisper of laughter. Questioning going back - everyone knew the rumors of witches and monsters in the forest, after all - he froze as he heard a loud snap followed by a hoarse scream of pain. It sounded pretty human to Shiro.

Putting aside his fears, Shiro rushed forward. If someone was hurt, he had to help. Not just as a healer, but as a human being. He rounded tree after tree as he whipped towards the sound. Something was struggling if the small whimpers were to go by.

Turning one last time, Shiro brushed away the branches obscuring his vision. Entering the small clearing, he was surprised to see what he did.

There was a man curled up by a tree, completely naked. His back was to Shiro who could see bruises of light purple and red on his shoulder blades. His side was torn open in two vertical lines that dripped scarlet blood. Stepping closer, Shiro could tell they were from arrows that had nicked him, luckily not hitting anything major. Looking downward, Shiro saw that the man couldn't move his left leg as it was caught on something. Moving forest debris aside, he almost gasped as he saw a wolf trap stuck on his ankle. The dark black trap was clamped down on soft skin, breaking flesh. The wound was covered in blood and dirt, leaving behind a big cluster of slowly drying blood. A heavy chain connected it to the tree, holding the wounded man in place. Said man let out a whine of agony as Shiro twisted back to him.

Moving to the other's upper body, he peeled the man's shoulder back to take in his appearance. He knew exactly who the man was as soon as the pale, clammy face tilted to the side.

It was the outcast of the village. It was the one everyone knew of. Keith. He was banned from the small town because he was a werewolf. One of the biggest rules of Shiro's home was to never interact with the man. That they weren't to help him.

Shiro couldn't do it though. As he looked down upon the bleeding man, he knew he had to help. He didn't care that Keith was a werewolf, he needed a hand. The older couldn't just leave him to die or get hurt by the hunter who had shot him.

Running a hand over the younger's forehead, he nearly hissed at the heat that burned his appendage. Keith was burning up with fever, so his leg must have been infected already. He glanced back down at the open wound on his side only to see the skin inflamed and swollen bright red.

“Shit,” Shiro cursed, knowing that the arrows had to have been poisoned. Keith wouldn't be able to survive both the poison and infection. Keith's face scrunched in pain as he groaned, moving his head forward. Shiro felt his heart break a little more as he whimpered again, leg tugging at the chain. Soothing Keith with a calming hand through his hair, he watched as Keith settled down. Looking at the sharp teeth clenched to Keith's leg, he started to figure a way to unlatch it when a shout rang through the air.

“This way!” A loud voice yelled as the barks of hunting dogs overtook the man, “The werewolf scum couldn't have gotten far! When I get ahold of that beast, I'll kill it as slowly as I can just like his species did to my wife!”

Keith trembled as Shiro gently hushed him, grabbing his sword. Hazy violet eyes slowly opened as the hunting hounds howls grew louder. Keith looked at him weakly through ebony bangs, eyes alight with frightened flames. The chain rattled as he struggled to move away from the older man, obviously thinking the other was going to hurt him. Maybe he thought Shiro was part of the group after him.

Swinging his sword down at an angle, he saw Keith flinch deeply before tilting his head tiredly. The chain split in two, freeing the injured man from the tree. Shiro placed the weapon into it's custom sheath on his back.

“Shhhh,” Shiro hummed as he gently laid his dark brown leather jacket over the naked man's middle, hoping to help warm the other up, “I've got you, buddy. I'm not letting them get you.”

Keith seemed to understand him as he took in a deep sniff before letting out a breath that caught in his chest for a moment. Letting out a soft cough, he relaxed as Shiro laid his arms below his knees and back. Picking him up, he adjusted to the man's weight before starting back home. Ducking behind a tree, he held his breath just as the sound of the hunters reached his ears.

“Over here!” Another hunter, a woman this time, shouted as Shiro heard the chain clink as it was moved, “It broke the chain!”

“But that means it got caught in a trap,” the man from before chuckled darkly as Shiro shuddered, “It can't have gone far. These traps are capable of breaking bones. The arrows we shot him with are filled with silver. We'll find him and keep him as a pet.”

Shiro growled as he glared off to the side. Not on his watch. He barely knew Keith, but he had no doubts that Keith had done nothing wrong. It pained him that humans could be so cruel to other beings. Wrapping the other up in his arms, he rushed away silently from the scene. When he was fair enough away, he dropped to the ground with the other resting against his chest. Grabbing a bandage from his pouch, he rested his hands to the metal. Gazing over the device biting into Keith, he carefully pinned the smaller man down before pushing the trap's spring down. Getting ready for the next part, Shiro quickly ripped the teeth out and flung the device into the bushes.

Keith reacted right away, thrashing and kicking and crying out as sharp claws dug into Shiro's side, stinging. Tiny growls left the other's throat as Shiro held him to his chest still, pinning him so he couldn't hurt himself more. Feeling Keith trying to kick him with his wounded leg, he used both legs to hold it. He didn't want more dirt getting into it. He waited patiently for the younger to calm down.

It didn't take but less than a minute and Keith stopped struggling, too exhausted from both blood loss and fever. Shiro rolled out from under the other before pulling out the bandage and some water he had with him.

“Sorry,” he apologized as he rubbed the man's cool leg, “This is going to hurt, but I need to clean your wound out some.”

Not waiting for the other's consent, Shiro braced Keith's leg between his as he held his bottle above the newly gushing injury. Pouring it on there, he cleaned the dirt off enough to see that the trap hadn't damaged the bone. But the muscles all around the leg were snapped off enough that Keith wouldn't be walking anywhere for awhile, regardless of the fever and poisoning.

With most of the dirt out, Shiro quickly bandaged the wound before slipping a mostly unconscious Keith back into his arms. Knowing they were following them, he backtracked to about halfway and hid. Soon enough, the dogs raced by, following the rich and unique scent of the werewolf's blood. The hunters rushed after with weapons in hand, a total of eight of them. Shiro quickly took off into the other direction.

Chapter Text

Shiro finally got back to his home. After dodging the others who would know him from a mile away, he finally walked up to his house, Keith in his arms still. Feverish skin pressed against him like a furnace, keeping him warm in the cool autumn air. Yanking open his door, he ducked inside as the wind gently whipped across the sky, ruffling sticky hair on both Shiro and Keith.

Shutting the door, Shiro wandered to the room on his right. His home wasn't big, but it was comfy and had a few rooms. Placing the wounded man down on a thick-furred bed, he carefully swept hair out of the younger's face. The black strands stuck to him like glue to paper as he frowned. Keith was much too warm. The fever was growing even more.

Rushing out to his cabinet of medication, he unlocked it before pulling out a salve for the arrow cuts and disinfectant for the ankle. He'd need to wrap the wound better if he expected for the muscles to reconnect with the bone. Luckily, werewolves healed quicker than humans. Bad news, Keith would still be stuck here even after the fever because it was still going to take a while to get said leg back normal.

Grabbing the supplies, he raced to the room where he sighed softly as he pulled the blanket back off the pale man. The two red scratches greeted him, burning with some clear liquid in them. Grabbing a clean cloth, Shiro placed the special healing salve over the wound. Holding it in place, he waited for the werewolf's reaction and smiled quietly as the boy stayed asleep, not even twitching. Glancing down, he took in his ankle. It was swollen and bright red with inflammation. The dirt and bacteria of the trap had already set in thick strands of what Shiro assumed was puss. If Shiro didn't get to it soon, the other would lose an ankle. That would not be good for the man's wolf form. If he wasn't already an outcast among the supernatural beings, he would be after it. No wolf was welcome in a pack missing a limb.

Grabbing another clean rag, he soaked it in the disinfectant, letting it sit. Glancing back at the other, he quickly grabbed a thick piece of tough leather before preparing himself. A moment went by before he gently coaxed the leather between Keith's lips. This was going to hurt a lot, and he really didn't want the other making too much noise. He didn't live right in town, but his neighbors would definitely hear a man's cry or wolf's howl.

Getting ready, he gripped Keith's leg before he pressed the dripping rag to the wound. As expected, Keith lurched up as the pain pulled him to the waking world. Growls echoed through the man's throat as he thrashed and fought to get away. Shiro hold on tightly as he held the cloth. He heard Keith snarling around the leather as he continued to hold it. A few minutes of this and Keith stopped struggling, not even making a sound.

Shiro gazed over at the other who stared right back at him. His pupils were small and almost cat-like with their slits. His teeth were sharpened into small fangs, leather having slipped out. Shiro frowned before he wrapped the appendage up all snug and tight. Rushing to Keith's side, he gently helped Keith up before getting him to take a sip of his special water filled with herbs and natural medication. Keith growled at him slightly, eyes unfocused before he drank half of the cup. A minuscule whine left his throat before he was out again, sweat clinging to his face. Shiro cleaned up the bloody supplies before slumping into the seat next to the werewolf. Feeling sleep tug on him, he slipped into darkness as he rested his head in his hand.

…..

Shiro woke up to soft whimpers. It took a full minute to remember that he had taken in an outcast werewolf. Glancing over, he watched Keith twitch in his sleep, face pulled tight. Shiro placed his hand on the other's forehead only to hiss in slight pain as the heat literally burned him.

“Shit,” he cursed before grabbing a rag and cold ice water. Sliding it in, he rested it on Keith's forehead. Waiting a few minutes, he resoaked it and replaced it. Shiro repeated this for a while until dark eyes opened tiredly at him. Shiro paused to see what the man would do.

“D-dad?” His voice was rough as he gazed hollowly at the older, “Don't f-feel g-good.”

“It's okay,” Shiro smiled softly as he ran a hand through the other's hair, “Go back to sleep. I'll be here when you wake up.”

“Mh,” the younger responded before he was out again. Shiro's grin dropped as he snatched up the rag and replaced ice water into it. Shiro sighed as he rushed to the cabinet holding the medicines. Getting a quick glance out the window, Shiro noticed it was morning already, possibly even close to noon. The sun shone through the clear, thin glass as he opened the small doors. There was the ginger from last night...other medicine...some herbs…

“I don't have anything that will work for this,” Shiro growled as he picked up a tiny batch of needleless syringes. They were fever reducers, but Shiro knew they weren't enough. Not with the fever being high enough that Keith was already hallucinating. The boy wouldn't survive much longer like this, damaged leg or not. Shiro was going to need some type of concoction from Allura. He knew about medicine, but he didn't have the ingredients needed.

Taking some water in the pitcher to Keith's side, he stared down at the other. Keith was shivering and sweating out gallons. The bed was wet with it as he bit his lip, leaving them raw and red. Clawed fingers pushed into the soft fur of the bed as the younger clenched his fists. Keith was beautiful in a wildish rogue way that Shiro couldn't help but be attracted to him. He wanted to see Keith's eyes when he was aware. He wanted to hear Keith speak when he wasn’t in constant pain.

Keith's leg jerked. A loud whine drifted into the air as Shiro frowned at the outcast. Placing his fingers to the man's neck, he almost flinched as Keith's heart rate came too erratically. Either Keith's hallucinations were panicking his dreams or something was desperately wrong.

“Fuck,” Shiro understand right away as he whipped the dark grey pelt back. Keith's side was bright red, thick lines creeping up his side towards his heart. Dark purple bruises littered his skin in what Shiro knew to be internal bleeding. He was proven correct seconds later when Keith coughed up a spec of blood, crying out as the poison shredded his cells apart.

Shiro slammed his hand down on the communicator hidden in his pocket. Doctors didn't have this type of technology, especially not one out in the middle of nowhere like Shiro was. But Allura had given it to him after she had needed help about a year ago. The screen flew into existence as a woman with snow-white hair appeared, dressed in a light blue dress, eyes narrowed at something to her side.

“Allura!” Shiro shouted in a panic as she twisted around in surprise, “ALLURA!”

“Shiro,” she smiled, and he cut her off.

“I need your help,” Shiro glanced at Keith who was deathly pale. The lines were racing closer every second and were at his ribs now, “I have a patient who's bleeding out from silver poisoning. I don't have any ingredients to stop it and if it makes it to his heart, he'll die.”

“Shiro-”

“Allura,” he stated back sternly as more scarlet left a ragged-breathing Keith's lips, “Please.”

“Alright,” she nodded before she scooped up her own ingredients carelessly, tossing them into one of her enchanted bags, “I'll be there in a dobosh. Give him some crushed hackle leaves that I left last time and some medicine I assume you're holding. This won't cure it, but it'll slow it down a lot until I get there with my own brew.”

“Okay,” Shiro nodded as he shut his screen off, taking the dull orange leaf powder into hand as he mixed it with the needleless shot down Keith's throat. Part of it came back up when the man coughed, but he could tell it was working as Keith settled the tiniest bit. The lines slowed to a crawl as the young man breathed easier. Clouded eyes found his as Keith muttered something unhearable to his ear before he slumped back.

A knock rang loud and clear through the house, but Shiro didn't pause with his administrations as Allura let herself into the room. She stepped regally into the room. Her icy eyes swept from Shiro to the supplies in hand to the injured man. They softened considerably when she took in the werewolf's appearance.

“I think I can help,” she pulled out a bottle about the size of her hand. It was filled with a golden liquid that suspiciously looked like actual gold. Shiro tilted his head, and she answered his silent question, “This is quintessence. A life source that my father's friend discovered long ago. I'm afraid it's the only thing that'll cure him.”

“Okay,” Shiro nodded before he moved toward the ill man's shoulders, “I'll hold him still while you-”

“I think you should be the one giving it to him,” the woman interrupted as she placed a hand on his elbow, “He'll trust you more than he will me.”

Shiro thought about it for a moment before he realized she was right. Taking the special healing liquid into hand, he went to Keith's side. Seeing the lines still snaking through sheet-white skin, he carefully dumped the cure onto the two long cuts. At first, nothing seemed to happen. It slid off Keith's skin like water would. A few moments passed before a small gasp left Keith's mouth as the angry lines retreated. Skin pulled itself back over the torn flesh, making his side new again. The bruises faded faster than the healing skin, gone in a blink of an eye. Keith relaxed as he fell into a deep sleep.

Shiro quickly glanced at the man's ankle only to frown. The bandage had fallen off sometime in the past night, and the wound was still there.

“It's going to have to heal on its own,” she smiled apologetically, “I wish I could give him more, but too much will cause more harm.”

“I get it,” Shiro smiled as pulled the pelt back over the now-cured Keith. Giving the unconscious man a soft smile, he pulled Allura out of the room. She rounded on him when they got to the living room.

“A werewolf, Shiro?”

“Allura-”

“That's the only creatures hurt this badly by silver,” she spoke up as she stared at him, blue eyes almost silver themselves, “What are you going to do?”

“What do you mean, ‘What am I going to do?’” He asked as he narrowed his eyes, “I’m not giving up on him, Allura. I don’t care what everyone else says, I’m going to get him healed.”

“Alright,” Allura sighed softly as she glanced back to the bedroom that held his guest, “I myself am glad you are caring enough. If not for you, Coran wouldn’t be with me still. You really helped me.”

“I’m glad I could help,” Shiro smiled before his own eyes roamed to Keith's, “Allura?”

“Yes?”

“Do you think…” he trailed off before looking at her, “Is it weird that I feel this...pull toward Keith? I know our town is against werewolves, and I know you've had a terrible past with them too...but I felt the need….feel the need to protect him? He’s done nothing wrong.”

“Hm?” She tilted her head consideringly, “Do you feel like yourself?”

“What do you mean?” Shiro asked curiously as he raised a brow, “I feel fine.”

“It’s just…” Allura glanced away as she continued, holding her bag in a hand, “It’s considered a myth, but some very strong werewolves have the ability to mind-control others.”

“I don’t think he is doing it,” Shiro frowned as he gazed at the extra room, “You didn’t see him, Allura. He was in so much pain. How could he compel me to help him when he was so weak he couldn’t keep up his wolf form anymore? So hurt that he was bleeding out with a trap sunk into his ankle? Why didn’t he do it to someone hunting him? There were eight of them, and if he’s doing what you think, wouldn’t have been better to get one of them to help? He could have led one to him and did it. Besides, he had no idea that I would show up.”

“Werewolves can smell from very far away,” she went on without a blink before sighing, “Look, Shiro, all I’m saying is to be careful. Werewolves...aren’t all that trustworthy, and I’d rather not have healed him only to find that he had harmed my friend.”

“Allura,” Shiro sighed himself as he crossed his arms, “If it makes you feel better, I’ll be careful. I’m more worried about the hunters than I am Keith. His ankle is too badly wounded to get anywhere right now as it is.”

“Alright,” Allura nodded slowly before pulling Shiro into a loose hug. He held her back as she whispered into his ear, “I trust you, Shiro. Keep me updated?”

“Of course,” Shiro grinned as he pulled back from her, “I always do.”

“Says the man who hasn’t contacted me in nearly three deca-phoebes,” she teased in a friendly manner before growing serious, “Come and visit me sometime. You’re always welcome in my home.”

“I know,” Shiro looked away from those eyes watching him, “I’ve been...busy lately…”

“Alright,” he could hear in her tone that she was worried about him, but she soon spoke again, “I have to get back. I left without telling Coran. He’s bound to notice I’m not around.”

“If you need to stay-”

“No,” she grinned while waving a handout, “It takes energy to wormhole, but I’ve got enough to make it home. I’ll be okay.”

“I know you will.”

“Say hello to the others for me?” She grinned as she snickered, “And tell Lance that Kaltenecker is doing much better.”

Shiro laughed. The slightly younger man always used the excuse of seeing Kaltenecker to get news of Allura. At this point, Shiro had no doubts that Allura knew about it. The woman stepped out of his house, and with one last look behind her, she disappeared into a purple light. Shiro shut the door before wandering into Keith’s room. The man was still deeply asleep as Shiro brushed a hand over his forehead. His temperature was back to normal, just slightly warmer than a normal human’s. Shiro smiled down at him before he wrapped Keith’s ankle in new bandages. He turned away to make some supper for himself.

Gently closing the door, he never noticed the man’s eyes opening slightly as his uninjured leg shifted under the blanket. Those eyes soon closed in exhaustion.

Chapter Text

When Keith woke up next, it had been nearly a week since the poisoning and fever. In that time, Shiro took care of the werewolf while going about his regular schedule. He made sure to get the younger to eat broth and drink herbal water when he was awake enough. He also got him to the restroom to both relieve him and get him bathed. He cleaned the ankle wound every half day, but it was healing ever-so-slowly. Keith wasn't going to be able to stand on it for weeks if not a month or two. Maybe even longer if it took this long to heal.

The sun was streaming through a window as Shiro heard Keith groan. Waiting a moment, he was rewarded when dark eyes opened softly. Said eyes blinked before the man startled slightly.

“Who,” he gasped softly before glancing at his side, “What? Who are y-you?”

“Hey, it’s okay,” Shiro soothed as he watched the other who was calming down, “My name is Shiro, and I found you out in the forest, badly injured. So I brought you back here.”

“I,” Keith glanced to the side before bracing himself to get up. Shiro didn’t move as the younger pushed himself forward shakily. With a small yelp, Keith collapsed heavily against the bedsheets, “I need to g-go.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Shiro explained as Keith sent him a glare as he continued, “Your ankle is hurt. The muscles need time to heal back to position and full strength.”

“Bu-”

“Getting up and using it will only hurt it more,” Shiro saw the look of anger on the other’s face, and if he had been a normal person with some sense, he’d have feared that Keith would attack him. As it was, he knew Keith was just scared. Of what, he had no clue, but he could guess, “But I won’t stop you if you want to leave. As a doctor, I can’t keep you here. But since this is my home, I was wondering if you want to stay for at least a few days. You’ll be safe from the hunters here. Hardly anyone comes around this house.”

Keith’s eyes widened as he tilted his head curiously. The older man couldn’t help but think that there wasn’t anyone who let Keith decide on his own like this. It explained the need to leave and the faked aggression.

“You don't even know me,” Keith glares at him, but he can tell it's not full-heartedly done.

“No, I don't,” Shiro responds as he carefully places his hand on the injured man's covered leg, “But sometimes we all need a hand.”

Keith stared at him. He stared back with a warm gaze. Soon enough, Keith dropped the glare, now looking lost as could be. Before either could say anything, a loud rumble echoed through the room. Keith’s eyes roamed down to his lap as another grumble roared into the air. Shiro snickered happily as Keith’s cheeks glowed pink.

“I’ll grab you some of my special soup,” Shiro laughed as Keith pulled the blanket over his chest, “It's not as good as Hunk’s but it'll make you feel better. Be right back.”

Shiro rushed out to the kitchen and took the bowl from a strange white device. Another advanced technology from Allura. Inside was some warm, steaming purple liquid. It smelled bitter to Shiro but as he brought it in, he saw Keith's mouth practically water. Laughing, he set the food in front of the starving werewolf who glanced at him. Shiro just nodded as Keith dug in.

“I thought you might want some werewolf food,” he shrugged as the raven-haired man raised a brow, “I don't know all of what werewolves eat, so you can tell me later. But I do know that you like hazelnash. There's also mints and a tiny bit of squirrel meat.”

“Thanks,” Keith muttered around a mouthful of the thick soup, “Sorry about earlier. It's just…”

“It's fine,” Shiro reassured him with a gentle genuine smile, “You don't need to explain. I'd be worked up too if I had been chased and hunted down only to be found by a stranger.”

“You're not a stranger,” ebony hair fell onto Shiro's forehead as surprise burned brightly in his chest, “Everybody's heard of you. Magical healer of the village. Just as good as some of the big-time witches. I've seen you before, but I didn't recognize you right away.”

“I am not magical or as good as the witches,” he scoffed politely before the previous words sunk in, “What do you mean that you have seen me?”

“One time when I was hunting in my wolf form,” Keith glanced down briefly before his eyes roamed back to Shiro's, “I saw you in the forest searching for raspberries.”

A memory snapped into place. It had been a chilly, frost-filled afternoon in the forest. Shiro had been searching for some herbs not in his garden when he had run across some raspberries. Picking them off, four mouthfuls in, he felt eyes on him. Turning to the left, he just saw a black wolf disappear into the nearest bush. Collecting his items, he never thought about it again.

“Oh! That wolf was you. Why didn't you say anything?”

Keith glanced down with a dark look in his eyes, “Because I'm banned from the village.”

“But we weren't in the village,” Shiro raised a brow, confused on why Keith was so upset.

The younger didn't say anything as his brows twitched just slightly. His pale lips turned down into a frown.

“Keith?”

Still nothing.

“No one would have seen us,” Shiro started gently, “They wouldn't have known so-”

“You would've been killed!” Keith shouted with a yellow-eyed glare and sharp teeth before his gaze snapped back to his lap, “The village hates werewolves, but they don't ban them. They did with me, and I don't know why.”

Shiro was really getting concerned. He had thought all werewolves were banned from the village. He's pretty sure he's never seen one in the bustling town. He's never treated one before the man in front of him.

“The village wouldn't execute me or you for that,” Shiro raised a brow as he moved the empty, cold bowl off Keith's lap. With a clank, he set it on the table beside them.

“No, but hunters will,” Keith practically growled before his eyes watered slightly, “And they always blame every werewolf for one wolf's attack.”

“That's why they were after you.”

“Yeah,” Keith's eyes gaze into the distance, “I was ambushed on the way back to my den. All I remember is hearing a noise, feeling pain in my side, and running away. Later, I was too exhausted to see the wolf trap in my path until it snapped into my leg. And then you showed up.”

“The hunters won't get me here,” Shiro smiled as placed a hand on Keith's shoulder to which the other leaned into, “And they won't get you either. My friends would definitely protect us.”

“But can they fight werewolves?” Keith asked as if he already knew the answer Shiro would say, “Can they stop a normal werewolf?”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“I'm banned from the Empire werewolves,” Shiro’s confusion must have shown because Keith explained, “The largest group of werewolves known. They are usually the ones to destroy others and take over.”

Shiro nodded, feeling his stomach fall as Keith went on.

“But sometimes some of them like to come after me,” Keith stared to the side, “And I can't be somewhere too long. I shouldn't stay here now. It'll just get you guys attacked or killed. I don't want that.”

“It's okay,” Shiro reassured as his other hand rubbed a circle on the other's pale hand, “We won't get caught. No one will know.”

“But-”

“Keith, I'm not giving up on you just because dangerous people are after you,” Shiro grinned as Keith's eyes widened, “We'll get through this. Hopefully, with all our limbs intact.”

Shiro laughed softly but Keith gave him an unimpressed look.

“Sorry,” he rubbed his neck sheepishly, “Just trying to lighten the mood.”

“Dork,” Keith muttered before a cute yawn took him by surprise.

“Go to sleep,” Shiro brushed dark hair from Keith's forehead before standing up, “I'll be here when you wake up.”

Keith nodded as his eyes drooped. Moments later, he was in a deep sleep. Shiro watched his serene face for a minute before he grabbed the bowl and put it into the tiny sink. Keith would be out for another ten hours, so Shiro decided it was time to get back out to take care of any new patients. Locking the door behind him, he wandered to the town center.

The town center was small, having been the first area built nearly a hundred years ago. It had a red brick road leading through the center of the buildings. Said buildings were more advanced than Shiro’s own thanks to the alliance of nearby older cities. Some were taller than the fifty-foot pine trees in the town, and others were only barely higher than Shiro’s six-foot frame, making it an interesting time to get inside. There was a marketplace, always full of chattering people and travellers, on the walkway of the brick road. Some sold fruit and veggies, some herbs and spices, some knives and weapons. There even were some people who sold magic around in the market once in awhile, but Shiro knew they were shady ever since Allura had glanced at one and determined that their hydro potion wouldn’t work. And since Allura was the best alchemist, he believed her all the way.

Strolling by a stand of brightly-colored flowers, he paused when someone shouted his name.

“Shiro!” A Cuban man ran up to him, smirk wide as could be, “Shiro!”

“Yes, Lance,” Shiro grinned as he saw that look on Lance's face, “Allura’s doing fine.”

“I wasn’t going to ask!” He scoffed with crossed arms, but Shiro just shook his head, “I wasn’t!”

“Sure, Lance,” Shiro coughed to hide his laugh as he grabbed a leather bag nearby. He must as get some more food for his new guest while he was here. Lance walked up beside him as he picked up a scarlet lily. Shiro put it into the basket before moving on to the next stall.

“Flowers,” Lance smirked while shooting him his famous finger guns, “You’ve found someone!”

“Lance,” a young woman with dark short hair scooted up beside them as Shiro grabbed a handful of Ragnof - a type of herb - and shoved it inside before paying a few coins to the two stall owners, “Just because he bought flowers doesn’t mean he’s found someone. Besides, when are you going to act on your crush with Allura?”

“Veronica! Sis! Don’t rat me out in the middle of the market!” Lance screeched as his cheeks turned fire red before scowling, “I will, I will.”

“Sure you will,” she grinned before her eyes tracked to Shiro, “So are you?”

“Am I what?” Shiro raised both brows in question.

“Are you seeing someone?” She teased gently as Shiro’s own face heated up. He looked away with the excuse of looking at some jewelry, “Oh my god! We were right! Lance, he has found someone!”

“If you can call it that,” Shiro grabbed a purple-beaded necklace. The black and purple crystals were meant to protect their wearer and give them strength and grounding. Shiro had never really been into the mystical part of healing before, but he found himself getting it anyway. Maybe Keith would like i-

“Oh, great,” Lance interrupted his thoughts as the man looked over at them, “You really like them, don’t you?”

Shiro scrunched his face, confused.

“The stones are pretty, but-”

“Not that,” Lance frowned as he gazed at an electronic nearby, “You have that look on your face again.”

“What look?”

“That lovey-dovey one,” Lance’s older sister explained as Shiro stared at them in shock, “The one th-”

“Hey, guys!” A new voice joined the group as a girl in green rushed to them, a larger man in yellow behind her, “We’re free for now. Been working on some inventions.”

“Pidge,” Hunk, the guy behind her, frowned as he caught up to the group, “We gotta stop leaving in the middle of the work!”

“We’re taking a break,” she smirked over at the man who raised a finger before she turned to them, “So what are you talking about?”

“Shiro has a crush!” Lance shouted with a laugh as Shiro glared weakly at the man, “He’s a goner!”

“Wait, what?” Another woman walked up, blonde hair waving in the air as her pink eyes widened, “Shiro has a crush?”

“Lance,” Shiro muttered under his breath.

“He hasn’t had a crush for months now,” the lady continued as she exchanged looks with Hunk, “This is surprising.”

“Not as surprising as ‘The Look,’” Veronica snickered as her glasses gleamed, “And since when does Shirogane get necklaces?”

“Not since Adam,” Pidge spoke solemnly before grinning, “You do have a crush! Who is it?”

“Guys,” Shiro protested before he looked away, “He’s not...We’re not together, okay? He’s just a patient of mine right now.”

“Ooohhh,” they all said at the same time and Shiro sighed inside, “Crush on a patient.”

“You guys are impossible,” Shiro rolled his eyes as he paid for the necklace, “And for your information, he probably doesn’t feel the same way.”

“Come on, Shiro,” Pidge exclaimed as she grabbed his arm, “Everybody loves you.”

“She’s right,” Hunk nodded with a big grin, “You’re our friend, man.”

“Yeah,” Lance agreed, “You might have been my idol once, but you’re part of our crazy family now.”

“Thanks, guys,” Shiro felt his mouth twitch at the thought of so many friends who cared, “That means a lot.”

“Group hug!” Hunk’s voice got loud before Shiro was pounced on by five people at once. Letting out a laugh, he felt one arm on his shoulder blade, side, arm, and many on the middle of his back. Wrapping his own around those closest, he grinned as they pulled away.

“Thanks,” Shiro snickered broadly as he glanced at each, “So is anyone in need of my attention?”

“Well, Mr. Patient-You-Love ma-”

“Lance,” Shiro snapped tiredly as the man smirked devilishly, “Who needs my medical attention?”

“James,” Romelle spoke up, “I heard something about him doing something with his bike, and getting a knee rash?”

“Scraped knee,” Pidge clarified at the woman’s confusion, “And I think Admiral Sanda wanted to see you.”

“What does she want?” Shiro’s stomach dropped at the words. Admiral Sanda wasn’t a cruel woman, but Shiro didn’t really like her. Might have been because she was the person most against him becoming a healer for the village instead of going off to the military like she wanted. She had thought with his build and knowledge, he should have been part of her Garrison. Shiro would have at one time, but not anymore. Not since Adam and he had broken up many years ago over the Garrison.

“She wants to talk about the werewolves,” Shiro’s heart temporarily had a heart attack as he paled, sure the woman knew he had one in his home, “You okay?”

“Fine.”

“I can get Matt to go in with you,” Pidge stated with a small shrug, “You know he’ll do it. And my dad. He’d be there.”

“No,” Shiro swallowed before letting out a breath, “No. I’m okay. I’ll go meet up with her as soon as I get done with James.”

“Okay,” Veronica gave him a sympathetic smile, “We’ll see you again after?”

“Yeah,” Shiro nodded, “I have to get back home to my patient to make sure he’d okay, but I’ll see you guys soon. Thanks.”

They all scattered as Hunk and Pidge went back to work and the other three continued shopping. Shiro let out a breath before he started to hunt James down to treat his leg. He dreaded the meeting with the leader of the village.

Chapter Text

“Admiral Sanda,” Shiro greeted hesitantly as he settled into the chair across from the stern gray-haired woman who stared him down, “What do you need to see me about?”

She continued to glare for a second before she glanced to the side, eyeing up Iverson and Sam as if she was weighing her options on what exactly to say. A nod from the darker man and an unsure one from Sam, his friend who had always believed in him, made Shiro sweat. It slid down his neck as he grinned nervously.

They knew.

“How much do you know about werewolves?”

They definitely knew.

“Lots,” Shiro answered back after a moment of glancing at a shrugging Sam Holt, who seemed as if he had no idea what was going on, “Why do you ask?”

“And how do you know?”

“I'm a healer,” Shiro raised a brow, very confused now. What was going on? “And I've been outside the village before. I've heard from many sources about what they can and can't have. Why?”

The woman's lip curled downward at the word ‘healer’ so Shiro had no doubt the Admiral still was sore that he wasn't part of her military. What she wanted with him if she didn't know he was housing a werewolf in his home, he had absolutely no idea now. Sam spoke up with concern in his golden eyes.

“Maybe you should tell Shiro about what this is really about,” the woman didn't even glance away from Shiro as the older man continued, “And us for that matter. I can't seem to recall exactly what you are talking about.”

Admiral Sanda's eyes drifted to Sam and then to a serious Iverson who nodded in agreement. She let out a tiny, unhappy sigh as she pulled out some photos. The town didn't have phones or cameras, but Sanda's Garrison group did. They settled in front of him, vivid with gory details in a dull grey cover. The first one was of a woman, scarlet hair twisted in a pool of even redder blood. It looked like her throat had been torn into pieces so that she mostly likely died within moments, drowning on her own blood. The next was a man, older with grey hair and dark green eyes, who was missing three limbs. The two legs and left arm were nowhere to be found as his abdomen was ripped apart, flesh and guts everywhere. A painful, slow death.

Shiro flipped to the next picture and almost slammed it shut. Inside was a child, barely older than twelve, he'd guess. The boy had bruises and thick bites all over like he had been used as a beating sack. Shiro's stomach flipped nauseously as he saw the expression the boy had. He looked happy with a far away look in his now sightless eyes. That only means-

“Those are all the latest victims of the werewolves attacks,” Sanda spoke up as if reading his mind, “The woman had just gotten married to her wife two days prior to this. The older man was just walking home from the market. The boy…”

She paused as her fists clenched until they were bone white.

“The boy was playing on the playground,” she stared at Shiro again as she went on, “His friends said that he was laughing and running one moment and the next, he had that look in his eyes. He wandered off into the forest as if in a trance, and then he was found dead half a day after.”

“This sounds like…”

“Someone compelled the boy,” Sam's eyes were wide in shock, “But we've never heard of this happening before. I thought compelling was a myth.”

“Oh, it's real,” Sanda frowned tightly as she pulled out another file, “And it's done by the werewolves. Several other cases have been reported in the big cities near us.”

“You think they'll come here,” Iverson spoke up as he rested his chin on his hands, “That they'll do the same destruction and killing.”

“I know they will,” she practically growled as she slammed her fist on the table, “And I want to stop them.”

“We can put up protective borders to hold them off,” Sam stated as he typed something on his wrist computer, ever so like his daughter, “We have some of the best engineers and blacksmiths here. In fact, my daughter and her friends could help make a barrier to-”

“I had something else in mind,” she interrupted as the scientist blinked at her, “A border will only last so long. But if Shirogane knows a way-”

“Knows a way to what?” Shiro demanded as cold seeped into his veins.

“If you know a way to get rid of the werewolves, I'd like to know it.” She held her back and shoulders straight still as she watched him closely, “I need to protect my people. Silver bullets are not working well enough.”

It almost did for Keith, Shiro had to think as his dread grew.

“No,” the Admiral spoke louder as she tossed the file down into Shiro's hands, “I want all the werewolves gone.”

Shiro gulped at the sentence as he opened the folder. Inside were some pictures and reports of werewolves killed. Some had been killed by silver, others were strangled. He glanced through it until stopping on a page with a brown wolf stuck with a hunting trap on its shoulder. That could have been Keith. The younger could have been in this file if the hunters had done what they had wanted. And now, the woman across from him wanted this too.

“This is insane!” He nearly shouted as he moved the files back to her, “You can't kill off a whole race and expect things to be better. That's genocide! Worse creatures will come in. Haven't you ever wondered why other dark magic hasn't been seen around our area? Something's keeping them out.”

“Or they are just biding their time,” the woman pressed her hand down, “They will come.”

“Because the good werewolves are being chased out of here,” Shiro narrowed his eyes before the other three's widened. Shiro's own flew wide as he stared at them. The files hadn't had that information. They didn't know what Keith had told him. They didn't have any idea that they'd be killing - murdering - innocent people. “Think about it. No one in the village has been hurt or killed by anything magical. Something's protecting us.”

Keith was protecting them. Shiro realizes this as he grows frozen. And now said werewolf was injured and vulnerable. Shiro thought the worst to come would be the hunters or werewolves. What if the other more evil beings came into the village. The wicked druids with their black lightning and masked faces? The high-powered witches not at all kind like Allura and her pseudo uncle-figure, Coran? The vicious vampires who-

“How do you know that?” The woman all but shouted now as her dull blue eyes glared at him, “Have you been around the werewolves?”

“No,” Shiro lied with a straight face as he calmed down, “I figured if every human is capable of good and bad, there has to be some good werewolves out there. When a human kills another human for wicked purposes, nobody shouts out that all humans should be killed.”

“It's not the same,” Sanda hissed as she glared at him, “You-”

“It is,” Shiro stood up as he opened the picture of the redhead woman and flipped to three other victims not mentioned earlier, “And in case you haven't noticed, these people were not killed by werewolves.”

“Shiro?” Iverson asked as he squinted his eye, “What are you saying?”

“The first was killed by a vampire,” Shiro listed off as he noticed the signs, “The second, a banshee. I can't pinpoint what the others were killed by, but it wasn't werewolves.”

“I agree with Shiro,” Sam spoke as he eyed the photos, “I trust his abilities as a doctor. He's saved my bacon more times than I can count, both in the field and on a medical bed. He knows what he's talking about.”

“I will not help you kill off every werewolf in the area,” Shiro frowned as he pushed his chair in, “Thank you for speaking with me, but I'm a healer, not a mass murderer. I won't help you with this. I think you should find better ways to keep your citizens safe, Admiral.”

And then Shiro left the room with a salute. He didn't even glance back when he heard the woman's enraged snarl of finding someone else to help them. Shiro's body shuddered as he walked out of the building into the chilly fresh air. If Sanda found anyone else, they'd be willing to do it. And Shiro knew it would be through poisoning the werewolves. Targeting the packs with herbs that would kill them, in the most painful ways because Admiral Sanda would believe the people who told her to use it. She'd never question it if it meant keeping her people alive and well. Shiro admired her want to keep everyone safe, but he hated her single-minded thoughts that all other people were bad.

Rubbing his face as he neared his house, he froze when he heard a noise. There was a slight growling taking place and low whispers. The door was open just enough for Shiro to know it wasn't in the place he had left it.

The hunters.

Grabbing his curved sword from its sheath, he crept to the door and carefully shoved it open. Glancing through it, he nearly dropped his weapon at the sight.

Matt stood to the side closest to him in the living room. He was in his rebel suit, pole out and ready to swing. His face looked scared but also angry.

“What are you doing in Shiro's house?!” He nearly screamed as another small growl was heard. Shiro moved left more until he could see to the guest bedroom. Keith stood in the doorway, clenching the wood beneath his hand as he held his injured ankle off the ground. His expression matched Matt's but was more wolfish and defensive than the human's. His eyes glowed faintly as his pupils were dots, teeth sharper than Shiro remembered them being before. How Keith had gotten to the door with one working foot, Shiro had no clue.

Keith didn't say anything as he let out another growl. Shiro could see the longer hair on the back of his neck threatening to stand up. All signs of a werewolf trying to protect its territory. Shiro sighed silently as he put his sword away.

“Where's Shiro?” Keith practically growled again as he skipped forward a step, “Why do you smell like him?”

“Smell like him?” Matt glared, “He's my friend! I came to visit him, but you were here.”

“What does it matter?”

“You're a werewolf.”

“Okay,” Shiro interrupted as the two whipped their heads his way, “That's enough. Matt, I didn't think when Pidge said you'd visit that it would be right now. And Keith, you need to get back to bed.”

Keith gave him an apologetic look as he stood there, arms wrapped around his chest. Matt just glanced back and forth between them before a sparkle came into his golden eyes.

“Don't even start it, Matt,” Shiro groaned as he marched by the slightly younger man, “Not a word.”

“I wasn't going to say anything, Shiro,” Matt grinned before he shrugged, moving along with the older, “But-”

“Who is he?” Keith demanded as he glared at Shiro's best friend, “Shiro…”

“Oh, sorry,” Shiro smiled softly as he rubbed his neck, “This is one of my friends, Matt. Matt, this is Keith.”

“One of your friends!” The man gasped mockly with his hand over his chest, “I thought we were besties.”

“Not anymore,” Shiro smiled back before he shook his head, “Please don't kill each other.”

“Sorry,” Matt apologized, “I thought the guy broke into the house or something. Came snarling in at me like I was intruding.”

“Hey,” Keith stared before turning his eyes away, “I thought I smelt Shiro until I noticed another scent beneath it, okay? How was I supposed to know that you didn't hurt him?”

“Let's just get you to your bed,” Shiro sighed softly. Matt gave him a questioning look before a hurt yelp pulled both of their attention back over to the werewolf who nearly crumpled as his foot tapped the ground. Shiro rushed forward just as he fell down, catching him by his arms. Keith let out a tiny whimper that only Shiro could hear as silky hair rubbed against his nose.

“Come on,” Shiro pulled the other up, being his crutch, “Your leg is still badly injured. You have to not be on it until it's good enough. Once then, you'll still have to do physical therapy to get it back up to strength.”

“I know,” Keith panted against his side as Shiro carefully led him to the rumpled bed, “I've seen injuries like this before. It should be healed by now.”

Shiro silently agreed as he sat the raven-haired man down on the plush bed. Gently laying his hand down on the other's ankle, he saw Keith wince. He gingerly removed the bandages from the damaged ankle to see that it looked worse. It wasn't healing at all. In fact, it looked like it was getting injured more.

“What the hell?” Matt muttered over his shoulder as he inspected the wound, “This looks horrible.”

“Yeah, well,” Keith shrugged as his eyes got lines around them, “You try having an ankle that won't fix itself. My wounds have never done this.”

“Looks like something I've seen before,” Matt rubbed his chin in thought, “We had a crewmate who got cut with this weapon that had some kind of chemical on it. Luckily, for him, he wasn't a werewolf.”

“Let me guess,” Shiro frowned, “It was one that wouldn't let him naturally heal.”

“Yeah,” the man nodded, “It didn't deteriorate his condition, but it took months to heal.”

“Months,” Keith practically whined as his eyes draped to his leg, “I can't be stuck here for that long. And my monthly wolf cycle is close. I don't want to accidentally hurt you guys.”

“You won't,” Shiro reassured automatically as Keith tilted his head. He turned to Matt, “So it would be in the arrows they had shot him with-”

“No,” the brown-haired man shook his head, “It would be in whatever got his ankle.”

“That means,” Shiro glanced at an equally startled Keith, “They were after you, Keith. That wasn't a wolf trap. It was a werewolf trap.”

“And they knew I'd run into it,” Keith growled as his eyes shrunk and his voice took on a husky quality, “My pack...they're going to worry. They're going to think I'm dead. Mom's gonna be pissed. Wait...what if they go after them? I have to go.”

Keith tried getting up. One touch of his leg to the ground had him swaying back into the bed, collapsing in exhaustion as sweat slid down his face. He let out another whimper as his leg barely moved. The chemical was damaging his body almost like the silver had, only slower.

“Damn it,” Shiro hissed under his breath, “This is the types of people I don't want Sanda to believe in. At least silver would be faster than this.”

Shiro suddenly got an idea.

“Matt,” he glanced at the man, “If we make an antidote, will it stop this?”

“I think so,” he nodded, “But I'll need Pidge's help to get the chemical made into a serum.”

“Grab her and go out into the forest. The trap should still be about three miles southeast of here.”

“Okay,” Matt grinned before he looked at Keith, “We'll be right back with the cure.”

And then he was gone. Keith dropped his head into the pillow as he grunted.

“I'd give you medicine,” Shiro frowned apologetically, “But I don't know how that'll interact with it.”

“That's okay,” Keith stared off to the side before his eyes went wide and he almost pushed himself ul, “Oh, no.”

“What?”

“My blade,” Keith panted as he glanced around, “I had a blade with me.”

“You didn't when I found you.”

“They have it,” Keith sounded ready to cry as he sagged into the sheets, “Can't you get rid of my foot? The full moon is in three days. I won't be able to transform by then. I have to warn my pack. They don't know-”

“Keith!” Shiro shouted as he rested a hand on the other's shoulder, snapping him out of it, “Calm. It's going to be okay. Patience yields focus. I'll help you.”

Keith settled down as the energy visibly drained out of him. Nodding, he fell asleep quicker than Shiro had hoped he would. That was not a great sign either. Shiro glanced out the window to see that Keith was correct. The moon was nearly full. The transformation was going to be a difficult one…

“If he can even transform by then.” Shiro whispered, remembering the stories he'd heard of werewolves who didn't transform with the moon. Most went crazy, feeling the energy coursing through their veins, but unable to release their inner wolf. They'd end up attacking those around them until they were put down. If they survived, they were never the same again.

Shiro was not letting that happen to Keith.

Chapter Text

Shiro nearly growled as Keith let out a whimper. There was nothing he could do to lessen the agony his newest friend was going through. It had been two days now. Pidge and Matt had found the trap right where Shiro had remembered it to be. But the component in the poison was being almost impossible to create a serum from. Pidge had had to restart multiple times now in order to even get any idea what was in it. Shiro's heart broke in half at the broken whine that left Keith's throat. The younger man shivered violently as his leg spasmed harshly. Tiny grumbles left Keith's mouth as he stared at Shiro hollowly. It was so close to the full moon that his body wanted to start the positioning phase, but it just couldn't with the poison. He didn’t have long.

This poison was more wicked than the silver had been. Instead of breaking down his cells, it was now hyper speeding the cells, basically making them explode. Shiro grimaced as a small series of pops were heard. Keith let out another cry as his eyes flickered like a dying lantern. Shiro was beginning to think that maybe the werewolf had a point fifty hours ago. But Shiro didn't want to even think about taking the man's foot. He just couldn't do it. Werewolves healed quickly, but even they couldn't regrow limbs.

Letting out a sigh, he nearly toppled onto the floor as the door banged open. Pidge peeked in with large golden eyes wide as she glanced back and forth between a vial and Shiro.

“I got it,” she finally stated as the man stood up, “I think it'll work. Matt’s off doing his usual rebel stuff, but he says he hopes it works and that he wants to meet Keith when he’s not out of his mind with pain and stuff.”

“I hope so,” Shiro replied before a small smile littered his face, “Thank you, Pidge. I’m glad you guys are my friends.”

“Don't thank me yet. I’m really good at this chemistry thing, but it might not work,” she warned before her eyes found a panting Keith, “Oh, ouch. So this is the patient you've been talking about.”

“Yeah,” Shiro nodded before he stepped to the injured man's side, inviting her over, “He's a nice guy once you get to know him.”

“I bet. Matt only mentioned the werewolf part,” she smiled up at him before a thick scowl lined her lips. Keith whimpered once again, “This is inhumane. Hating werewolves is one thing, but hurting one like this is...horrible.”

A moment of heavy silence passed between them.

“And I'm not even sure if the serum will get the poison out before he transforms in half a day, if it works at all.”

“Five hours,” Shiro corrected automatically as his brow moved down, “If he can't transform…”

“He’ll go crazy,” she stared at the shivering man who bit his lip with razor sharp teeth, “Here. Let's get it injected. It might take five hours to kick in.”

“Thank you.”

“What did I say about saying that?” She rolled her eyes as she held the syringe up to Shiro. Knowing the drill, Shiro chuckled as he took it into hand. Gentle injecting it into Keith's bloodstream, he watched as the other stayed tensed. Must have been from the moon. Or the medicine was making it worse...

A bang on his door startled him as he dropped the syringe. It clattered to the floor with a tiny clank.

“Expecting company?” A brow raised up behind shiny glasses.

“No,” Shiro shook his head as another knock rattled his door. Whoever it was seemed somewhat excited or...really wanted into the house, “Just you. Maybe it's Matt.”

“Yeah…” Pidge spoke halfheartedly before turning to Keith, “He does that sometimes. I'll watch him while you look.”

“Okay,” Shiro sent the shivering man a worried look before stepping away as another knock echoed on his main door, “Let me know-”

“If he gets worse,” she interrupted before waving her hand, “Yeah, yeah. Go answer the door.”

“And suddenly I'm reminded of why you and Matt are siblings,” Shiro laughed as he shook his head, “Bossy.”

He ducked as a book came flying by. He heard the girl exclaim something before he snickered and strolled to his door. Cautiously, he peeked through the tiny window, ready for a doorful of raging hunters with crossbows and pitchforks. He smiled as he saw his friends instead, moving around anxiously as the night set in. The moonlight was bright enough to see by without a light. He quickly opened the door, letting in the cool breeze.

“Took you long enough!” Lance all but shouted as he marched right in as the door opened, “Do you know how long we've been standing out there?!? It's freezing.”

“It wasn't that long,” Romelle stated as she rolled her eyes, ears twitching in irritation, “It was not freezing either.”

“That's what I gonna say!” Hunk shouted from her side, eyes wide and mouth grinning, “See, I think it and Romelle says it! But seriously, man, it's not cold out.”

“You guys just don't get it,” Lance crossed his arms with a mock huff before he settled down, finally glancing at Shiro, “Oh, hey, Shiro.”

Shiro raised a brow.

“Hello, Lance.”

“Oh for quizzaking sakes,” the woman started only for them to groan.

“It's ‘quiznaking’,” Lance corrected automatically. The blonde scowled momentarily before Shiro distracted them with a cough.

“What are you guys doing out here this late in the night?”

“Oh, yeah,” Lance glanced around like he just remembered they had a purpose for coming over and banging on Shiro's door, “We were coming over to see your boyf-”

“Lance,” Hunk groaned as his best friend was cut off, “We've talked about this. The guy is just Shiro's patient.”

“But he has something going for him,” Lance glanced from him to Shiro and back, “I wanna meet the guy. I can't help it if I want to make sure he's the one.”

Shiro rubbed his face. It was much, much too late in the day for this mess of a protective friend to come into his home and say that. His cheeks burned lava hot as Shiro turned away from the group, hoping no one noticed. Hunk gave him an sympathetic look when he turned back around to face them.

“So where is the guy?” Hunk asked timidly, a concerned look on his face, “Is he...is he okay?”

“He's-” Shiro wasn't sure how much he should tell them. But before he could, a loud slam of a door rang through the house. Pidge raced out to them, nearly sliding into Lance, who yelped as he slid a few feet back.

“It's happening!” She shouted with fright in her voice, and Shiro felt his body grow cold.

Not this soon. It wasn’t supposed to happen for another four and a half hours.

“What's happening?”

“Wha?”

“What is going on?”

“Are you sure?” Shiro ignored them as he stared at the other who just nodded.

“I think the eyes were the first clue,” she stated sarcastically before another bang made them all jump. A loud, bone-chilling snap rang through the air like a bone had broken in two. Shiro paled with worry, both for his friends and his hurt patient.

“This soon?”

“Maybe our calculations were off,” she frowned, “Or it could have been holding back because of the toxin. Either way, it's happening right now.”

Another crackle of rearranging bones went through the air. Shiro had never heard or seen a werewolf transform before, but he got the feeling this one was harder than usual to change as a wounded growl left a moment later.

“Damn it,” Shiro cussed as he groaned, “I was going to put him somewhere more prepared before this.”

“What the quiznak is going on!” Hunk screamed as the door splintered. A loud snarl filled the house as Shiro seized the bigger man’s sleeve and pushed him back. An explosive howl rang through the air, sounding much more like a broken machine than a wolf. The same howl came another time before the door shook, threatening to fall off its frame.

“What the quiznak is really going on!?!” Lance screamed as he and Hunk hugged each other in fright. Romelle joined them as the top hinge on the door broke off, flying across the room and leaving a dent in the hallway wall. Shiro spied his sword a foot to his left. Another growl in the air jolted him from his thoughts as the door fell down. Everyone froze as a large form stalked forward, blanketed by the darkness of the hall as the lights flickered, flames in lanterns sputtered as if an invisible wind came through. The only thing to be seen was the yellow glow of wild, clever eyes glaring at them.

“Why is there a wolf in your house?” Romelle whispered into Shiro's ear as said wolf came closer. Its ebony fur bristled as sharp teeth bared at the man, a snarl on its lips. Its head came up to Shiro’s chest in heigth. Its back leg limped behind it at a slower pace, never truly touching the ground.

Yep. This was definitely Keith.

Keith growled at them, eyes small slits as he stepped closer, baring his fangs at them. Shiro wasn't sure what to do as the wolf pushed closer a few feet. Hunk shook as nervous tears gathered in his eyes. Pidge glared thoughtfully at the werewolf. Shiro himself stared on worriedly as he saw Keith become more agitated, stepping around aggressively. Another low growl left his chest as saliva dripped onto the floor.

“It's gonna eat us!” Hunk screamed as the wolf puffed up more. This caught Shiro's attention. Keith was feeling threatened and making himself look bigger than he truly was. Why he was scared, Shiro had no idea.

That is until Pidge stepped closer to Shiro. Keith snarled as he stepped forward. Pidge paused and the growl grew quiet.

Keith was trying to protect Shiro in his strange way. So he must have felt the same way Shiro did. Like they had a connection of some type, even in his wolf form.

Shiro reached out with a hand as Keith's ears braced themselves forward, watching the appendage cautiously. Seconds passed before the wolf became less threatening, pupils pretty much back to normal as the glow died off. Purple eyes greeted him as the wolf whined softly.

“Keith,” Shiro reassured him with a gentle pat over the head. Keith tried to snap at his hand but eventually gave up. Something wet licked his wrist as Keith butted his head against his arm, “It's okay. These are my friends. They'd never hurt me.”

Keith tilted his head, glancing at the four, three of whom were still looking at them and shaking a little. Pidge nodded in agreement, which caused Keith to relax.

“Patience yields focus,” Shiro repeated from days ago. Keith huffed after a moment. He turned his head before standing there awkwardly, not looking at the others. A second later, he growled as he whipped his head to his foot. A loud whine left his mouth as he glared at it. The foot looked back to normal, whole and unbroken. But Shiro could tell it was still very weak, muscles barely healed. The serum must have kicked in and let it heal during the transformation. But it still needed physical therapy. The wolf glanced at the door with the saddest look Shiro had ever seen on an animal.

“You’re going to have to stay inside right now,” Shiro apologized with a smile, “The town can’t know, and I don’t want the hunters finding you.”

A longer whine came this time.

“I know you want your pack,” Shiro frowned before he rubbed the wolf’s ear. Keith didn’t react this time as he stared ahead, “But you should stay here for now. Going out like this will only get you caught.”

Shiro watched as his friend blinked before he turned away. Shiro thought he was going to go back to the room, but four steps later, Keith plopped down next to the fireplace. A small whimper left his mouth before he curled up, giving his leg a quick lick. Shiro sighed as he worked to get the fire burning to heat up the house.

“What is going on!” Lance waved his hands wildly as he all but shouted. A spark leapt into the pile of wood, filling the air with puffs of smoke and toasty air.

“It's what it looks like,” Pidge stated flatly as she stared at her friend, “Shiro is taking care of a werewolf.”

“What!”

“Why?”

“When!”

Shiro rubbed his face as Keith let out a growl at the noise. Everyone shut up quickly at the yellow-eyed glare they got from the wolf. Shiro chuckled at the sight as Keith tucked his head back down under his paw.

“That's Keith.”

“As in...outcast Keith?” Lance almost shouted again as they glared at him this time, “That Keith?”

“But that means-” Hunk was interrupted.

“Shiro has it going with a werew-Ow!”

Shiro silently thanked Pidge. He didn't need Keith thinking him as some obsessed person who was totally infatuated with him. Nope, no way. A blush burned his cheeks as he coughed into his hand. Fireplace was too warm.

“I actually have a point,” Hunk stated as he gazed at Lance before turning to the taller man, “That means that a werewolf is in our town.”

“And?”

“And…” Hunk trailed off as if they’d get it, “And…”

“Oh!” Romelle frowned as she raised a brow, “What?”

“A werewolf is in our town,” Hunk went on, “But werewolves are banned from our town. We’re within...I don’t know...hearing distance of said town.”

“Oh no,” Pidge gasped as Shiro sighed exhaustedly.

“Sanda,” he spoke up as the room went silent. The woman would find out now no matter what. Someone had to have heard the noises and would have called her in to investigate. And with all the murders lately in other towns nearby, she’d come even if she does hate his guts.

“Oh, crap,” Lance summed up all their feelings on the matter, “What are we going to do?”

Nobody answered.

Chapter Text

“What are we going to do?”

Shiro didn't know what to answer back with. It was the middle of the night, on a full moon. Sanda wouldn't dare come at this time of the day, especially not if it's suspected a werewolf is in his home. Plus, she certainly didn't seem to care whether a werewolf attacked them or not. Shiro knew the woman was trying to protect the villagers, but she hated his guts.

“She'll come tomorrow,” Shiro clenched his fist as he looked at each of his friends, “She knows she can't possibly take on a werewolf in its peak time. Even with Keith being injured, he is still strong enough to take out any human trying to hurt him.”

“And she'll be coming when he's at his weakest,” Pidge rubbed her chin thoughtfully as she raised a brow, “Transforming back into a human body takes up a lot of energy, so Keith will be out when the sun rises.”

“And I'm not letting Sanda have him,” Shiro shook his head as said man-currently-in-wolf-form glanced over at him with a huff, “Keith's innocent, and I'm not giving up on him.”

“Alright,” Lance clapped his hands as he stood up excitedly, pulling his green jacket close, “Let's get this party started! We'll ready the house for protection, Pidge can mess around on her computer and hack some databases or something, and Hunk can make some sleepover food.”

“That...actually sounds like a good plan!” Romelle stated as her pink eyes widened, “I'll help fortify the place.”

She rushed off to a random room as Lance stood there in mock anger.

“What do you mean, “Sounds like a good plan”? I always have good ideas!”

“Yep, you do,” Hunk answered with a smile before starting for Shiro's kitchen, “But sometimes they don't end well.”

“That is totally not my fault!” He stuck out his tongue as the bigger man snorted and rolled his eyes, “It wasn't!”

A moment of silence echoed around the room before Pidge excused herself to grab her computer. Lance glanced at him seconds after the brunette was gone.

“You're worried.”

He stated it like it wasn't a question. Shiro let out a deep sigh as he took a seat down near Keith's head. It had to have been noticeable for Lance to be asking him. Lance was smart in a lot of ways, some of which included people and how they worked, but he was obvious to certain things. Other's problems being one.

Shiro hated showing any fear even around his friends. He was the one who was supposed to know things. He was the doctor and the one to have traveled most out of anyone. He's seen some things that he desperately hoped no one in the village ever would have to see. The pictures from the files came back into mind. The dead werewolves with their blank haunted yellow eyes. The humans with frightened faces and blood pooling around them.

But he had a feeling they'd all be seeing scary sights soon.

“Yes,” Shiro admitted with a frown before rubbing Keith's fluffy head, to which the other leaned in, “I am. Sanda is one woman. But she has an army behind her and she won't back down. She'll do just about anything to get what she wants.”

“Not to mention that she hates your guts,” Lance shrugged as he watched the flames flicker, “Ugh...We all hate her.”

“Here here,” Pidge agreed from behind the man, making him jump in fear, “Oh, calm down, Lance. Just me.”

“Haha,” Lance scoffed as she sat down on the spot on the other side of Keith. The wolf stiffened as he sniffed at the air next to the younger's leg. He must have thought Pidge safe because he quickly licked her pants before settling back down, letting Shiro pet him more, “Sorry, but Admiral I'm-too-high-and-mighty-for-this-place could come at any time. But…”

“Oh no,” Pidge sighed dramatically, “He's got that look again.”

“I do not have a look,” Lance scowled as he crossed his arm, “That's Shiro. He's the one who gets all gooey face when he's in love.”

Shiro's face burned as he choked on his breath. Keith glanced at him with concern in those violet eyes, but Shiro avoided them. The other two ignored him as they argued.

“I never mentioned anything about love!” She squealed as she pointed a finger at him, “Face it!”

“No.”

“You love Allura!”

“No, I don't,” he protested weakly as he blinked and sulked some more, “She's just a friend who is very beautiful and strong and cares about others and always tries to do what's right and is a very good with her magical powers and-”

“You do.”

“Fine! Whatever!” He shouted out of nowhere before facing Shiro who watched him, “But maybe it would be a good idea to contact her. She could help, right?”

“I'll try,” Shiro promised with a reassuring smile, “But she's not always available. You know how busy she gets between making her alchemy potions and strengthening her magic.”

“That alchemy has helped us out more times than I can count,” Lance grinned fondly, “I mean, she saved me.”

“When the-” The smallest started with a frown.

“Yeah.” Lance nodded with a serious stare at the fire, no doubt thinking about that time.

Shiro had been traveling far outside the village at the time, so he only witnessed the tail end of the epidemic. It hit the town almost three years ago at a time where the village was most busy. The whole village had been struck with a severe disease. Many had been so ill that only magic could heal them. It eventually spread that warm summer until everyone was sick. Most were too weak to even get up most of the time. Lance had been one of the most ill, breathing erratically and not moving at all. The others had gathered in his home, including his voluminous family.

Shiro had shown back up from his month-long trip to find all the residents passed out, shivering and burning up. He had nearly panicked as he saw Pidge on the floor by Lance's bed, Hunk slumped over the foot of the bed. Romelle had been the only one unaffected by the disease, crying by the others. Shiro quickly told her to look after them as he raced away from the house. He had to contact Allura, but he would have to go to her house to do so. Her home was up in the mountains much like the witch tribes used to live before their homes were destroyed.

Long story short, the healer had saddled up his large stallion he'd just ridden on his journey, apologizing for making the horse work so much. He rushed to the mountains, fearing each hour that went by as he pushed on. The weather began to change as he went up in elevation.

Sometimes, he swore he saw a black wolf in his periphery.

By the time he got to the witch's home, it was cool enough to nip at his skin and nearer to sunset. He'd knocked on her door and told her what was wrong as she opened it.

Not wanting to use all of her magic up, they rode back after an hour break to pack up items they'd need. When they got back, Allura sensed something wrong that only magic could heal. Making her way into Lance's room, she rested her hand on his chest, blue lights glowing from the appendage. The magic spread throughout the room as Shiro covered his eyes.

Allura had healed the whole village.

Shiro blinked as he came back from his thoughts. Hunk was also in the room, plate of steaming food in his arms as he set it all down on the small table.

“Hunk,” Lance stared at some of the food, happy tears in his eyes, “Did you make…?”

“Yep,” he nodded his head with a huge grin on his lips, “I made some garlic knots for you, buddy. And peanut butter cookies for Pidge.”

“Oh my god,” Pidge squealed as she got stars in her eyes, “You're the best, Hunk!”

“Ha...I try,” the bigger man smiled as he rubbed his orange band, “I figured comfort food was good to have right now. I even made your favorite, Shiro.”

Shiro took the bowl of noodles into his hands as he smelt the delicious scent from it. These smelled just like his grandpa's homemade ones, and Shiro grinned softly before picking up some of the noodles with chopsticks just like he used to when the older man had been alive.

“Thanks, Hunk.”

“Ditto, man,” he grinned back before grabbing something else, “I even brought Keith some food. I think he'll like it.”

He held up a large bone with uncooked meat on it. It might have come from an elk or moose Shiro had hunted long ago and never used up. Either way, the man held it out to the wolf slowly as Keith glared at him mistrustingly. He laughed nervously as the ebony wolf continued to watch him with uncertainty creeping into his eyes. Keith tilted his head as he reached out slowly to take the meat.

“Hey, man,” Hunk spoke softly as he held it in place, “The meat's fine. You're probably starving. It'll make Shiro feel better if you eat something.”

That was a bit of a dirty trick, but it worked. Keith blinked before gripping the meal with his razor sharp teeth and settling it down between his front legs so it didn't touch Shiro's leg. One hesitant lick later, the wolf focused on the meat, gently ripping a strip off and chewing it down.

“Huh…” Pidge stared at the eating werewolf, “I would have figured a werewolf eats a lot more viciously.”

“He's doing it-”

“Lance,” Shiro cut him off, knowing he was going to say the wolf was doing it for some reason to do with him, like he was trying to keep Shiro's home clean or something of the sorts.

“He's a show-off,” Lance scoffed as he crossed his arms and glanced away, “What werewolf eats this...politely!”

Keith paused to give him a small huff before moving back to gnaw on the part of the bone he'd freed up. Shiro nearly snickered at how human Keith was acting even in the wolf form. He was very smart.

Shiro petted the other's head as Keith ate some more. He got lost in rubbing the soft fur that when he glanced away, he froze.

“What?”

Everyone raised their brows. None answered as Romelle rushed back into the room, all their attention pulled to her.

“Well, I blocked up any window and most of the doors, so no one can sneak into the house,” she counted off on her fingers, “And I got us some weapons if we need them. And I gathered up some blankets and pillows so we can stay in here tonight!”

“And I found something,” Pidge explained as her brows twisted down, “But it doesn't look good.”

Hunk handed something to Romelle as they all listened to the computer-tech of the group. Said girl moved her eyes around before a frown lit up her face.

“I hacked into the Garrison. There's an order I found for no one to approach your house.”

“Then Sanda wants to take us by her own force,” Shiro nodded as he stirred the remaining juice from his meal absentmindedly, “She's at least smart enough not to let others come investigate.”

“The order has an attached one,” Pidge frowned even more as she typed, “It needed more clearance to access, but I got inside with little problems. It says that they want to capture the werewolf sighted in Shirogane’s home. They-”

Pidge broke off suddenly as she paled. They sat there stiffly, waiting it out as she looked ready to be sick. Shiro himself felt nauseated as his stomach flipped from worry. She read the screen again as they held their breath.

“They locked the folder behind even more firewalls, but I got it,” she stalled for a moment until the air was so tense any sound would shatter them, “They plan on capturing the werewolf to take him back to the Garrison. They think they have a way to draw in werewolves to get rid of them. It says that their theory is that with enough distress, a werewolf releases scents that the rest of the pack will smell. The pack will come to investigate where the Garrison will catch them and-”

By Shiro's side, Keith whined softly drawing all their attention. Keith growled as he pushed to get up, pawing at the ground. Shiro gently pushed him back onto his side and avoided snapping jaws as yellow eyes glared at him, sharp teeth glinting dangerously close to his arm.

“I know, Keith,” Shiro acknowledged as he cautiously petted the wolf's face, “But I won't let her get you. You're safe. You're pack is safe. I'll make sure of it.”

Keith huffed as his eyes reverted back to normal as he slumped against the man, refusing to move any.

“That's awful!” Romelle exclaimed suddenly as she bunched her hands up, “That's torture! And simply because he's not human? I'm helping you, Shiro! I'm not letting this quiznaking lady touch him!”

“Ditto!” Hunk stated with determined brown eyes as he nodded, “That's not good, and I can't let one of my friends get hurt.”

Keith glanced at the man warily as he said that.

“I can send them a virus,” Pidge snickered as her glasses flashed wickedly, and Shiro was glad she was his friend, “Mess with their systems. It'll be untraceable, so she won't be about to say it was me. I can't let this happen, and Matt would say the same if he were here right now.”

“And as much as I hate his guts,” Lance teased Keith who blinked with irritation on his expression, “Keith's one of us, guys. And no one messes with us.”

“Thank you, Lance!” Hunk exclaimed excitedly as he jumped up, “Keith's our buddy now, and he is just as much a part of our family as we are.”

“If that's okay with you?”

Shiro asked as he watched Keith who looked shocked at the question. Moments passed before the wolf nodded in agreement. They cheered as Keith bunted Shiro's chest with his head.

“Then let's get some sleep.” He looked out at his friends, “Dawn will be here soon, and we need to be awake to protect Keith.”

They all yawned tiredly as they settled down into various blankets. Some slept on others. Shiro could see Romelle with her face pillowed on Hunk's stomach, Lance with his back on Pidge's feet, and Pidge on leaning into the wolf's side. Shiro chuckled as the wolf merely opened one eye before slipping back to sleep. Shiro himself didn't need a blanket as the werewolf pressed his neck back into his side. The fur was keeping him plenty warm enough as Shiro began to drift.

Tomorrow was not going to be fun.

Chapter Text

Before Shiro knew it, it was morning time. He heard the others shuffling around as he himself rubbed his eyes before yawning. Pushing himself up on his elbows, he saw that Keith was back to his human form.

And naked once again.

“Ah!” Pidge whisper-shouted in shock as she covered her eyes, “Someone cover him.”

Hunk gathered up one of the thick blankets he'd been using in the night, and draped it over the sleeping man who only twitched slightly at the weight. Shiro gave the younger a thankful smile as he grinned back.

“Food,” Romelle blurted out suddenly as she rubbed her forehead, “I could eat a whole house right now.”

“Yeah, don't do that,” Shiro winced at the memory. Some of Allura's spells had went wrong and one of those times included a spell that made Romelle literally try to eat his home. The kitchen table still had bite marks from the blonde's super strength, “Whatever food we have, we need to eat it fast. It's already sunrise.”

“Sanda could be here at any moment,” Pidge spoke for him as their faces all grew grim, “While we were busy last night, I put a few traps out back and around the sides of the house. No one will get in on those sides.”

“Unless they send an army,” Hunk argued as Pidge raised a brow, “You used your Olkari model, right?”

“Yeah.”

“It's not going to work on a lot of people at once,” the two frowned and Shiro knew they were having an engineering moment, “The vines hide well, but will not catch everybody who sails in here.”

“It'll be fine, guys,” Shiro reassured as he nodded, “She won't bring an army. At least, not this time.”

“What makes you say that!” Lance squeaked as he threw his arms out, “She's more stubborn than my mama when she's making us do our work.”

“Because she will want to work things out first,” Shiro glanced at each of them and his gaze dragged to Keith, “And she can't afford to make a stand against us with an army because the people of the town will know about it. They'll see the Garrison army. And how often has any more than a dozen officers been in this town at a time?”

“Only once,” They frowned at the memories of when they were all younger. Shiro had barely been twelve at the time and the others five or seven years younger than him. Heck, Pidge probably only remembers it through stories told. There had been a serial killer out on the loose in the town, and everyone was frightened to go out or let the kids play outside. Shiro had wondered at the time and had thought it unfair that his grandpa was forcing him to stay in.

But it wasn't until his best friend, Akira, had gotten killed that Shiro took it seriously. They hadn't even found his body, just way too blood for any human to be alive.

Shiro had been devastated.

So Shiro had snuck out one day, months later, knowing his grandpa was having a meeting with someone in the town center. Sneaking his way in, he listened at the door.

“You knew about this, and you didn't fix it until it was too late!” His grandpa's steady voice filtered through the door, “My grandson lost his best friend. Everyone in this village lost someone. No one has been out of their homes for months. Now they are still too scared to.”

“That is not our fault,” a calm but low voice spoke up as Shiro shifted, “We were not alerted to this threat until a week ago.”

“That's a lie and you know it,” Shiro's grandpa snapped, “I know no one here saw the man, but I did. He was wearing the Garrison uniform. He'd been terrorizing other towns before that too. But nothing was done.”

“Mr. Shirogane-”

“No,” his grandfather sighed, “It's too late for us and too late for you. The town knows now, and they won't trust easily anymore.”

Shiro had rushed away then.

“Okay, no army,” Hunk nodded, “But what will she do?”

“She'll bring a few people along,” Pidge concluded with a shrug, “That's what I would do. Bring just enough backup to help me but not make anyone notice anything is off.”

Shiro nodded. Made sense.

“Alright,” he carefully picked Keith up, blanket and all, as he moved to the unoccupied couch, “I'm going to put Keith on the couch and get him some clothes. If Sanda does show up soon, I want Keith where we can see him. That way, we know no one can sneak in and grab him.”

The others nodded seriously, determined just as much as he was that the Garrison wasn't touching Keith. Hunk rushed off to the kitchen, and Romelle went to join him. Pidge and Lance helped tidy up the room quickly before leaving the room, bickering good-naturedly on the way out. Shiro smiled softly at his friends.

Brushing ebony hair from Keith's forehead, he got up and strolled to his bedroom just to the left of the living room. Opening the door, he glanced inside. He hadn't been in here for the past week, too busy taking care of his newer friend and going out to treat the others. He could tell it was undisturbed, nothing at all out of place. The room was mostly filled with black furniture; a small side table, king bed, a medium-sized dresser, a medicine cabinet for emergencies. His ebony blanket that usually lays on the bed is gone though, taken when the rest of the pillows and blankets were put in the living room. Stepping across to the dresser, he pulled one open before grimacing.

All his clothes were going to be way too big Keith. Digging around and throwing a few articles here and there, he finally pulled out a scarlet tank top and thin, black pants. Nodding to himself, he gathered them into his arms along with any other piece of clothing the younger would need. Shutting the door, he wandered back to the living room.

As soon as he entered, he was surprised to see Hunk and Romelle standing over the couch. Sneaking closer, he raised a brow as they coed softly at the werewolf.

“He’s so cute!” Romelle exclaimed in a whisper as she brought her hands to her face, “I can see why Shiro has a crush.”

“Oh, man,” Hunk chuckled softly as he carefully ruffled the sleeping man’s hair, to which the man let out a tiny huff before leaning into the bigger’s touch, “Awww...I know he’s a grown guy, but this is one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen!”

“Look at his little fangs,” the blonde squealed with joy, “Nothing like what I’ve heard and seen of werewolves.”

“Oh my quiznak,” Shiro swore that Hunk had stars in his eyes and were those...tears? “He’s drooling. Like a puppy.”

Shiro glanced over the man’s shoulder, and sure enough, Keith was drooling. He seemed extremely satisfied with the other’s hand brushing through his hair, even in his sleep. He was relaxed and sleeping peacefully. Every now and then, he let out an unhearable moan, ones that had Shiro thinking he didn’t get much attention, especially any physical contact with others.

Shiro grinned as he watched them.

“Guys.”

“Ah!”

“WOAH!”

They both jumped and almost fell over in their rush to turn towards him before bursting out with apologies and nervous laughter.

“Heh, sorry, I was just…”

“I wasn’t…”

“It’s not what it looks like…”

“It is what is looks like, Hunk,” Romelle sighed as she rubbed her head, “We were checking on Keith.”

“How’s he doing?” Shiro had to ask as the two calmed down, “I didn’t think I was in my room that long, but I may have lost track of time.”

“It’s been half an hour,” Hunk nodded as he shrugged, apron hanging to his front, flour and water caked onto the cloth, “I wanted to make sure he was okay. Food is still cooking, but it’s almost done.”

“Alright,” Shiro nodded as they went to go to the kitchen again, “I’ll be out here changing him into some clothes.”

“Alright,” the two nodded as they watched him for a moment. Just as they turned to go into the room to finish cooking, Shiro called out.

“And he is kinda cute.”

Romelle let out a scream of excitement, fist bumping the air. Hunk nearly tripped over his own feet, but rushed away at the last second. Shiro blinked before shrugging and moving on. Going to the werewolf’s side, he pulled the blanket back and pulled the clothing onto the other. Every time the man let out a tiny growl, Shiro hushed him, reassuring him that it was fine. By the time he had the other dressed, the young man was leaning into his touch like he had with Hunk. Something in Shiro’s chest burned brightly as he smiled softly.

“Is he okay?” Pidge asked from the other side of the room as she checked something on her computer, “He seems content. Kind of acts like Bae Bae.”

Shiro stared at her for a second before he almost burst into laughter. Suddenly, he began comparing the Holt family dog to Keith, and he couldn’t disagree with Pidge.

“Pidge…”

“You know I’m right,” she smirked as her golden eyes glanced at him, “Besides, I don’t think Keith would dislike it.”

“Huh?” Shiro frowned at the mischievous expression on his friend’s face, “Why do you think that?”

The pale finger pointing at him made him trail his eyes down to his side. Violet eyes were watching him, and Shiro nearly jumped in surprise. His eyes widened as did Keith’s for a few seconds before both settled down. Shiro smiled back.

“Hey,” he placed his hand on Keith’s shoulder to which the other relaxed a bit, “You’re back. It’s good to see you.”

“You too,” Keith coughed softly before he blinked and glanced around, “Where am I?”

“Oh, right,” Shiro nodded as he quickly handed a cup of water to Keith that was nearby - thanks to Hunk - as he gazed at the werewolf, “You weren’t really out here before. You probably saw a bit of the room when you met Matt. You’re in my living room.”

Keith nodded slowly as he downed the drink. Setting it down, his sharp gaze found Pidge, who had went back to typing on her computer like they weren’t there. The younger man looked confused, head tilting to the side.

“You look kind of like...Matt?”

His innocent question had Pidge looking at him. A big grin filled her face as she stepped over to them.

“I get that a lot,” she snickered before holding out her hand, “My name’s Pidge, and Matt is actually my older brother.”

“Oh,” Keith blinked before he glanced at Shiro and back, “Explains the smell.”

“Smell?”

“You smell like Matt,” Keith scrunched his brows in concentration - something that Shiro also thought was adorable, “Probably because you spend a lot of time around him...But you could also smell like that because you’re related to each other.”

“Wait,” Pidge scratched her head, “Werewolves can smell that?”

“Uh…” Keith hesitated for a moment, “Yeah. We can tell who’s blood-related or who spends time with who with scents. It’s part of the pack life.”

“Oh,” Pidge’s eyes widened before she nodded, glint to her eyes, “To help identify mates and wolves of a pack by scent. Smart.”

“Yeah,” Keith nodded before he winced, “I don't know if my pack will like how I smell right now.”

“Can't you just take a bath?” Shiro glanced at the doorway, to Lance who raised a brow, “Because if you smell, you smell. Bath...shower, whatever you need.”

“It doesn't work like that,” Keith growled slightly before deflating, resting back on the couch, “It's hard to get the scents off.”

“Can't be that hard,” Lance scoffed and Shiro groaned on the inside...of all the times and people to pick a fight with.

“You smell like juniberry flowers,” Keith explained with a flat look, “It's old, but still there. Also, like...cow?”

“Woah! Wait! How did you know!” Lance exclaimed loudly as he waved his arms around, eyes wide, “I haven't been to Allura's for a month or so now!”

“Maybe you just didn't shower enough,” Pidge mocked as she grinned impishly.

“Nope, no, no, no!” He shouted as he glared at her, “I showered plenty!”

Keith's expression grew confused again by their bickering.

“They do that all the time,” the older man explained as dark eyes slid to his, “It's their way of getting along.”

“Oh,” Keith stared back at them as they continued on. Seconds later, he let out a small growl, eyes snapping to the doorway. Shiro tensed, ready for anything to happen when he saw that Hunk and Romelle were both standing there with trays of food.

Keith must have smelt it.it. The food drifted to Shiro as he also smelt it. Bacon, eggs, french toast. It was all there. They all froze when a loud rumble filled the room.

“What was that?” Pidge asked as her eyes widened, “Is she here?”

“I...uh…” Keith glanced down sheepishly, “Sorry.”

“Woah,” Lance raised a brow, grin widening, “That was you?”

“I said sorry,” Keith snapped quietly, crossing his arms, “Transforming takes a lot of energy, okay? I make sure to eat enough before transforming, but I ended up turning when I wasn’t ready.”

“We get that,” Romelle watched him with her understanding magenta eyes.

“And I’m here to get your energy back up,” Hunk nodded as he practically dumped food on a plate onto a startled Keith’s lap, “I wasn’t sure what you like to eat, so...I...gave you everything.”

Keith stared at him for a second before he tipped his head, glancing at the bacon first. Seconds passed before he carefully picked up his fork, taking in a couple of mouthfuls.

“Thanks, big guy,” Keith smiled just enough to show some teeth before he tore back into his meal. The tension broke into a relaxed atmosphere. Shiro introduced Keith to the other three who added in their own bits before they hunkered down to eat. They all ate their breakfast in a quick and serious manner even if a bit of teasing did happen. Fifteen minutes passed and they were all done with eating, dishes off to the side. Keith stared at them all with narrowed, confused eyes like he wasn’t sure if he was dreaming or not.

“I…” He started and paused when they all fell silent, “I’m glad you decided to help me, Shiro. But I should go.”

“Keith,” Shiro frowned as he was interrupted.

“And the meal was great, big guy,” Keith grinned over at the bigger man before shaking his head, ebony hair flying out in every direction, “But...I don’t want to get you guys in trouble. It’s bad enough that I’m here.”

“Keith,” Shiro’s heart broke as the younger man continued on in a rush.

“I’m not a little kid,” Keith snapped as he started to get up to leave, throwing the blankets off his legs, “I know people will be after me.”

“Who? Sanda?” Lance scoffed before he raised a brow and puffed out his chest, “We can handle one Admiral.”

“It’s not her I’m worried about,” Shiro met the solid stare Keith sent him, “You guys can’t really deal with werewolves. They’re going to know I’m here-”

“Only if someone in the village tells,” Pidge shrugged as she watched the whole thing, “And no one really does that here.”

“They’ll find out,” Keith huffed as he blinked and tilted his head before his eyes flew open and he almost toppled onto the couch, “My ankle isn’t letting me go anywhere, and my mom’s going to be worried. She’s going to kill me. And Kolivan...he’s going to kick me out of the pack. Damn it...I should have listened to them. Where’s Kosmo when you freaking need him? What if I led them to my pack? What if I led the hunters to my pack? They probably won’t be able to follow my scent to me, and they’ll smell Shiro’s scent and the blood and the others-”

“Keith,” Shiro carefully took the panicking man’s hands into his own as the other breathed erratically, “Come on. Calm down. Breathe for me. It’ll be okay. You’ll get back to your pack and they’ll be happy to see you again.”

“How…” Keith spoke after a moment, tired from his past panic, “How do you know?”

“From what I’ve heard, you adore your pack,” Shiro smiled softly, settling the other back onto the couch, “I bet they care about you just as much.”

“Why?”

“Because in the short time I’ve known you,” Shiro confessed, heat rushing to his cheeks as his grin turned fond, “I’ve kind of become attached to you. You’re a good person.”

“I…” Keith froze, eyes wide once again in shock like he expected Shiro to just kick him while he was down, “You are too.”

“Alright, you saps,” Pidge grimaced at them as Shiro was pulled from his own little world, having forgotten his friends were there, “Don’t start the whole he’s-better-than-me thing. I get enough of that from my parents and Matt and his girlfriend. God…”

Shiro snickered as he glanced at each of his friends who laughed too. Even Keith joined in a bit, a low raspy chuckle coming out of his throat. Shiro felt warmth rush through his chest at the happy expression on the younger’s face.

But, of course, things could not last forever.

A loud knock on his front door echoed through the house, causing them all to fall deathly silent.

“Mr. Shirogane,” a voice spoke well even for a door being in the way, “Open this door.”

“Sanda.”

Chapter Text

Shiro stayed frozen for a moment before he glanced at the others. They all just shrugged with wide eyes, no idea what to do. Looking at Keith, Shiro decided to get a move on it. The woman was going to want in, and maybe complying somewhat would help keep everyone calm and peaceful. They could talk the situation out.

Shiro moved forward as he quietly unlocked the door, gently opening it. Sunlight filtered into the house as he blinked.

The Admiral stood in front of him, just shorter than him. She looked pristine but utterly irritated at the small delay. Her dull eyes glared at him as he looked her over quickly, noting she was in her official military outfit, hat on too. Glancing out behind her, Shiro was surprised to see both Sam and Iverson with. Both seemed reluctant to be there, but they obviously had no choice in it. Both gave him an apologetic smile as they stepped closer.

“Come in,” Shiro stepped aside to let them in. Sanda marched in with a purpose while the other two walked in slowly.

When they entered, Iverson whispered to him softly, “She pulled some strings, sorry, Shiro.”

“I understand,” Shiro muttered back as he stood in front of the three, casting his voice around the room, “What can I do for you, Admiral?”

“I think you are well aware of why I’m here,” she stared at him, absolutely sure.

“And why would that be?” Shiro asked curiously as he pretended to think, “Last time I looked, I turned down your…offer.

“The werewolf,” Sanda cut to the chase as she stared at him still, arms straight by her side, “I know he’s here. Someone heard the howl in the night.”

“I don’t see a werewolf,” Sam stated plainly as he looked about for a moment, “Must have left.”

“Don’t play me for a fool,” Sanda warned them all as her gaze turned to Hunk who glanced to the side with a nervous look on his face, “He’s here. I’m here to take him back to the Garrison for containment and questioning. No use in hiding him.”

“You’re not touching him,” Pidge stated harshly from behind him, to which Sanda turned to her, “He’s not going anywhere.”

“Katie Holt,” Sanda scoffed as she stared at her flatly, “Of course, you’d be with this misfit group. You have your mother’s spirit alright.”

“Leave my mom out of this!” Pidge glared as Shiro noticed Sam staring at the woman with a disappointed look, “And you’re still not getting him.”

Sanda’s eyes swept over them all before they zoned in on something behind them. Shiro didn’t need to see to know that Keith had tensed, knowing she knew just who he was at that moment. Shiro stepped forward a little more, as if to demonstrate that he wasn't going to let her past him. A small sound filtered to his ears from behind them, sounding like an unconsciously-made whimper. Shiro’s own gaze turned sharp as he stared straight at the lady before him.

He didn’t know what she’d do to him, but he had clues. The pictures he had seen were proof enough of it. Shiro remembered the injuries Keith had before this, and he couldn’t fathom the idea of anything similar happening. Even if Keith got so much as a bruise-

"He's dangerous," Sanda snarled with a displeased glare, "Even you know that. You’re all putting your families at risk."

"He's no more dangerous than you or me or anyone in this room," Shiro defended as he stared disapprovingly at the woman this time, "You're acting as though Keith is a mindless beast, which he is not."

"Yeah," Romelle nodded, hair flying out like golden spider silk, "He almost attacked us yesterday, but he stopped for Shiro. He was such a sweetie after that!"

Shiro saw Keith give her a flat stare at the last part. Probably not the best compliment in a werewolf's eyes. Obviously it did nothing to change the Admiral's opinion either as her gaze hardened slightly.

"And if Shirogane hadn't been there?"

"He was protecting Shiro," Pidge protested with a frown, "He wouldn't have attacked otherwise."

"You don't know that," the woman snapped, shaking her head, "He is a werewolf. In fact, he is banned for a reason. We don't need the attention he'll bring to the village."

"So you're going to leave an innocent person out to be hunted down and killed? Or to be hurt in your containment?" Hunk stared at her, brown eyes hard as diamonds, "That's not right."

"If it means saving the people of this town," she paused as she looked at Keith with so much contempt that Shiro even flinched. Keith’s face turned the most defeated Shiro had ever seen as he stared down at his hands, "Then I will. Now hand the werewolf over to me."

"No," Pidge gritted her teeth as she moved right in front of Keith, whose eyes widened in shock, "You can't have him. When will you understand that?"

"Young lady," Sanda scowled as she took a step closer, "That is no way for a commander's daughter to act."

"I wouldn’t be my dad’s daughter if I let you harm someone so nice,” Pidge glared as she scowled, “Keith is one of the best people I’ve ever known. I’m not a people-person, but he has been nothing but caring and helpful. Much more helpful than you’ll ever be!”

“Sam,” the woman glared over at him only for him to shrug, “Control your daughter.”

“I’m sorry,” Sam tried to not smile, almost failing in doing so, “But I can’t control what my children do. You know my daughter, so much like my wife. And you know Colleen. Can’t stop either of them.”

“Iverson,” Sanda snapped as she tried to get someone on her side. The man only gave her an one-eyed stare before he shook his head.

“It seems like we have no reason to be here,” he explained as he glanced at Keith before his nodded to Shiro, “Well, we’ll see you, Shiro. Let’s get back to the Garrison. We have things to do, don’t we, Admiral Sanda?”

She looked ready to protest, but soon enough, she stood up straight. Shiro didn’t miss the calculating glance she sent Keith’s way, but she soon left along with the commander. Shiro walked them out of the house, only to pause when Sam gently grasped his arm.

“I’m sorry about that, Shiro,” he apologized, golden eyes scrunched slightly, “Iverson and I can’t override anything Sanda commands. She’s dead set on capturing the werewolf in your house.”

“Keith,” Shiro stated softly as he risked a glance back at his friends who were talking to said man. Shiro smiled as the werewolf laughed at something Pidge said before he turned back to the older man. The man was gazing at him softly with a knowing look.

“You care a lot for him,” he grinned as Shiro’s cheeks flared with heat, “It’s okay, Shiro. You know I’ve never bought into these rumors and laws. If you think Keith is a good guy, I trust your feelings. Just...just stay safe, Shiro. And keep Katie safe.”

“I will,” Shiro smirked as he patted the man’s shoulder, “But Pidge doesn’t need me to keep her safe. She’s a force of her own.”

“Don’t I know it,” Sam laughed as he glanced at his daughter who had shoved Lance over off the couch. The whole group snickered as Lance launched up with a mock enraged shout. Even Keith joined in as Romelle made a face.

“See you, Sam,” Shiro grinned as he watched the older leave. Closing the door, he watched as the younger all played around some more. Grin on his face, he strolled up to them.

“That was...interesting.”

“Interesting doesn't even start it,” Pidge glared at the table like it had done her wrong, “Sanda is never getting Keith.”

Luckily, Keith didn't protest as he raised a brow. His violet eyes glanced at them all before he glanced away. It took a moment, but they all settled down. Shiro moved to the couch beside Keith, standing just near the other's face. Keith continued to stare at the floor in thought.

“What's up, man?” Hunk asked quietly as they all waited. Keith didn't speak, only stared down at his hands.

“What day is it?” He finally asked after a few minutes of total silence.

“Hmmm...I think it's the twenty-first of Octobur,” Romelle began.

“October,” Lance corrected with an unhappy face, “Not Octobur.”

“Oh for quizzaking sakes-”

“Guys!” Shiro called out as the noise began to grow, “Calm down.”

“My birthday is on the twenty-third,” Keith confessed after a moment, eyes sad, “My pack would always celebrate with me. We have a ceremony where if I can take on some of the best werewolves in the pack and win, we get to do something I want for the rest of the day. I was supposed to fight Regris and Thace this time.”

“Keith,” Shiro frowned as he placed his hand on the younger's shoulder. Keith tensed, looking ready to cry, “It's okay. You'll get back to your pack. You'll see your mom again.”

“Awww! We can throw you a birthday party!” Hunk almost shouted as Keith jumped slightly, “And I'll make your favorite foods! This will be the best party you've ever had.”

“Yeah!” Lance exclaimed excitedly as he threw his arms around, “And we can invite Allura and Coran over!”

“And Matt can come here!” Pidge grinned widely as stars covered her eyes, “And we can build you something!”

“And I’ll grab some gifts for Keith!” Romelle shouted as her hair whipped around, “I think I have the perfect idea of what I’ll get.”

Shiro snickered as he watched Keith react to it all. The poor guy didn’t know what to do. He sat there with the biggest eyes Shiro had ever seen on someone. The younger ones got even more enthusiastic, talking about what they wanted to do. Something about red frosting, making sure there was nothing poisonous in the food, and other things that Shiro didn’t catch at all.

“In the meantime,” the older interrupted the others who turned to him with curious expressions, “Keith and I need to start his physical therapy. His ankle isn’t gonna heal itself.”

He heard Pidge grumble something under her breath before the young tech-lover left the room. Romelle and Hunk shared glances before they too left with a shrug.

“So…” Lance stood of to the side, “Could you...uh…”

“I’ll ask Allura and Coran to come,” Shiro smirked at the blush that flared to life on Lance’s cheeks, “And maybe they can bring some milk for milkshakes. They are the ones who have Kaltenecker.”

“Oh, yeah,” Lance grinned as he turned away to leave. At the last second before he went to walk out the door, he twisted around and looked over at Keith, “See you soon, mullet!”

And then he was gone.

“What?” Keith asked as he stared from the door to Shiro and back, “Why...What makes him think I have a mullet? Why?”

“It’s Lance,” Shiro chuckled as he shrugged like that explained everything, “He’s...uh...peculiar like that. But he’s a good guy, honestly.”

“Just a little...enthusiastic,” Keith spoke as he blinked. His violet gaze returned back to Shiro, “So what are we doing?”

“Huh?” Shiro asked after a moment of silence, not sure what Keith was referring to.

“You said we were starting physical therapy for my ankle,” Keith tilted his head as Shiro felt his face heat up...Oh, right. Shiro had said that, “You okay?”

“I’m fine…” Shiro coughed before he composed himself and moved to Keith’s foot, sitting down at the end of the couch, “I need to move your foot around to see what mobility you have in your foot. Once I know, we can start getting you some stretching excercises to get you back up on your feet.”

“Okay,” Keith nodded as he looked over at Shiro to his foot and back, “Uh…”

“What’s wrong?”

“Don’t you have to...move my foot or something?” Keith asked softly as he laid back further, “I don’t know what you’re doing.”

“Yeah,” Shiro nodded as he carefully took Keith’s injured foot in his hand. He watched for any sign that Keith was uncomfortable. Anything as much as even a twitch or narrowing of his eyes would tell Shiro where he needed to stretch more muscles, “Just tell me if you feel a pull at any time. And if it still hurts at any point, let me know.”

“Sure,” Keith nodded as Shiro leaned his foot forward. Rotating it slowly, the older man sat there moving Keith’s foot in circles gently. Every so often, Keith would hiss slightly whenever Shiro moved his foot one way. Squinting at the appendage, Shiro felt over it carefully. Nothing felt damaged at all. The muscle felt attached in the way it should be. Once or twice, one group of them jumped slightly under his skin, but that could have been a normal thing. Some muscles did shift in weird ways.

“Hmmm…” Shiro stared at a small mark on Keith’s ankle, right over the muscles. It was a small jagged scar that looked like it came from something long and sharp. It clearly wasn’t from the trap that brought Keith’s leg to this condition, “What happened here?”

Keith’s brows turned down in confusion as he stared at where Shiro was looking. Soon enough, he blinked.

“I don’t know?” Keith seemed to ask as Shiro raised a brow. The younger blushed slightly as he looked away, “I mean, I don’t really remember. It happened when I was...ten. Eight, maybe? I was...playing with a friend in the forest and accidentally tripped over a big branch on the ground...I don’t really remember. I think my friend hugged me because I was crying...But I don’t know…”

The story was vaguely familiar in Shiro’s mind. Something was telling him...Screaming at him that he should remember something like this too. That there was a reason Keith didn’t quite remember this.

But plenty of kids had problems with their memories. Trauma, daily life, health problems. It all added up in ways no one could or would ever be able to explain.

“Well, your friend sounds like a nice person,” Shiro moved Keith’s foot again as he thought about it. At least someone had been there when it had happened. Keith shouldn’t have to go through these things alone.

“Was,” Keith glanced down before he stared at Shiro, “I don’t know what happened to him. Just that I had to leave without saying anything shortly after that.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Shiro stated slowly before lowering Keith’s foot back to the cushion. He stood up and settled back down at Keith’s side, “If you ever need anything, I’m here for you, Keith.”

“I…” Keith gazed at him with shiny eyes, “Thanks.”

“I’m going to hug you,” Shiro warned the other as he gathered the younger to his chest. Keith let him, resting his head against Shiro’s shoulder. Shiro continued to hold Keith as he relaxed slowly. When enough time went on, Shiro laughed softly, “I don’t know...But I think your friend had the right idea. I feel better already.”

“Shiro,” Keith scoffed before a snicker drifted from his mouth, “Shiro.

“I know,” Shiro grinned as he felt the other shift to sit back up again, “So, we ready to get onto your stretches? I think you’ll at least want to stand by the time your birthday comes.”

“That’s like two days away,” Keith raised a brow.

“Then we better get started,” Shiro shrugged as he helped the other to sit up all the way, “The better your ankle, the sooner you can visit your family again. But don’t overdo it. I’ll know if you do.”

“Thanks, Shiro,” Keith smiled fondly as Shiro grinned back. The older started the process of teaching Keith the right moves to stretch the damaged muscles. Keith was a quick learner, able to understand him well and to adjust his body where he needed to. That’s how they spent the rest of the day and the next one after that.

In the back of his mind, Shiro remembered the gift he was going to give Keith for his birthday. Something told him that he needed to do one last thing to it in order to make it special. And that needed one powerful witch to do so.

Time to call up Allura again for a favor.

Chapter Text

“And you’ll get rid of him?”

“Yes.”

“Without harming anyone else? I must know that you will leave my citizens alone, untouched and unharmed.”

“You have my word. We simply want the traitor in our hands. We’ve been trying to get the little wolf for years. A Blade of Marmora is the worst of our kind.”

“Then fetch him. I don’t want him in my village anymore.”

“We will. And when we do, he’ll pay for betraying the Empire. No half-breed is allowed to live.”

“Get rid of him in the next three days, and I’ll make sure that I tell you if anyone else from the group is hiding out in the town.”

“Vrepit sa.”

…..

“SHIRO!” Keith laughed as Shiro almost guided him into a wall, “You’re supposed to be helping my ankle be able to flex correctly. Not running me into the wall.”

“Sorry,” Shiro blushed as he carefully held onto the younger’s ankle, “Won’t happen again.”

“Sure,” Keith teased back before huffing, stumbling slightly before Shiro caught him, “I’m fine. I’m good.”

“Says the guy that almost fell over,” Shiro snickered softly before he frowned, “You okay, though? I know how difficult it can be to do the exercises.”

“I’m tired, and…” Keith paused for a moment before staring at his limb, wincing as he stretched it slightly. Shiro could see the muscles flexing in an awkward way, still needing to be moved correctly, “I expected that…”

“But…” Shiro stared at the other who stared down at his hands which were gripping his pants that Shiro had gotten him.

“But I miss them,” Keith sighed softly before looking away, “It’s stupid. I’m an adult. I am free to wander wherever I want. I don’t even hang out in my pack all that often like other wolves do. I just…”

“You miss your pack,” Shiro nodded, completely understanding the feeling, “It’s okay to miss your family, Keith. I miss mine all the time.”

“Yours?” Keith glanced up before tilting his head, “You don’t have one anymore?”

“Not by blood,” Shiro shrugged before glancing to the side. Keith looked with him too, taking in the drawing of him and his grandpa. It wasn’t the best picture, but it was almost all he had left of his family. Both were sitting by each other, smiling up a storm in their happiness, “My grandpa was the one who raised me here. He was old, ready to pass when I was just an adult. But slowly, I’ve been collecting family along the years. I’ve known some of the others for years, since I was a boy...But I didn’t begin to rely on them until after he passed on.”

Shiro stared at the photo before his gaze flicked to Keith’s. The younger was looking like he was in deep thought, likely remembering some type of memory. Shiro let him sit on it, gave him time to think. A few minutes passed before dark eyes turned to him.

“My dad lived in one of the villages around here,” he admitted softly before hugging himself, “He was a firefighter, always too stubborn. He uh...He was the one I lived with for awhile. But he...ran into a building to save someone...didn’t come back out.”

Oh. Shiro placed his hand on the other’s shoulder. Keith sent him a grin before blinking.

“And then I lived with mom,” he went on, “I...Some of it is blank like I said. I think I was still around the village...remember that friend I mentioned?”

The one who had been there when he had hurt his ankle. Shiro nodded along.

“He lived in that town,” Keith’s brows scrunched down in thought. Maybe he was remembering something, “And my mom let me still come to there to hang out with him. But...I don’t know...I think something happened that made me leave. Something...bad…”

Shiro frowned.

“But I don’t know what,” Keith huffed in agitation as he glared at his hand, “It hurt? I think?”

“Trauma can do that,” Shiro reassured him before carefully pressing forward into a hug which Keith welcomed with a small sound, “Someday you’ll remember. Just remember that you have people around you who can help you.”

“You too?” Keith whispered into his ear.

“Me too. I’ll be here for you,” Shiro chuckled softly before pulling away. Tapping Keith’s foot, “Time to stretch again.”

“Ughh,” Keith groaned in mock annoyance, “Shirooo.”

Shiro laughed.

…..

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”

Shiro snickered at the look on Keith’s face. They had been smart and hadn’t thrown a surprise party, but the younger still had an expression of shock. He could get why since the room was decorated with strings of red and everyone was crammed together with each other. Even Allura and Coran were both there, watching the whole event since they themselves weren’t too acquainted with human traditions.

Shiro smiled as he passed out some tea. He finally used that ginger root he had found, watching as Keith sipped on the hot beverage with a smile, staring at the rest of the team. At the same time, Hunk passed out some food. Everyone fell in love with the dish, so they ate quickly before Shiro pressed close to Keith’s side.

“I have something for you,” he grinned before pulling out a small package, “I...uhhh...been holding it for a little.”

“Okay,” Keith nodded before opening it. The purple and black gems gleamed as he took the necklace into his hands, staring up at Shiro after a long moment, “Shiro...this is amazing. Amethyst and onyx for protection?”

“Yeah,” Shiro stated breathlessly as he stared at the other, “I figured it would look great on you.”

“My pack does love purple and black,” Keith grinned before looking around at everyone, “I...this has been really cool. Thanks, guys.”

“Don’t thank us just yet,” Allura grinned before she moved closer, “At Shiro’s request, I need to add a little touch to it. And I’ll need everyone’s help.”

“What are we doing?” Lance asked with a raised brow.

“I’m adding some magic to the necklace,” she grinned softly before gently placing her hand to the necklace’s tip, “And all of you can add some of your force to it.”

And then they were all adding their hands to the jewelry. Allura closed her eyes as a soft blue light lit up the room. Staring in awe at it, Shiro watched as the light shifted to allow streaks of purple, yellow, green, orange, dark blue, pink, and a few other’s Shiro could not name. It looked almost like a rainbow. This went on for a moment before the lights settled down, turning into a startling scarlet light that absorbed into the crystals before fading to normal.

Keith stared at them all with wide eyes before grinning, gripping the small crystal in his hand.

"Thanks," Keith laughed softly, "This means a lot."

"No problem, man," Hunk nodded before grabbing another dish, "You're our friend. Now...I made some ice cream."

"Oh!! Ice cream!!" Lance shouted before practically diving for the big bowl which Hunk moved out of the way without looking. Shiro snickered. Typical Lance, "Awww…"

"Keith gets the first pick of flavor," the bigger rolled his eyes before he grinned, "So...cherry, chocolate, vanilla, or forest mint."

"Uh…" Keith glanced at the snack before glancing at Shiro who shrugged, "All of them?"

"Sure," Hunk laughed before scooping all four into a small dish, "Here you go."

"Wait!" Romelle waved her hand, stopping Keith who had a spoonful of ice cream almost to his mouth, "I thought dogs couldn't eat chocolate?"

"Romelle…" They all whispered softly under their breaths, knowing she likely didn't understand the implications of that.

"Uhhh…" Keith blinked before eating it and shrugging, "I have a mostly human digestive system so...I can eat chocolate. It's only certain plants that bother me. Besides, I'm a wolf, not dog."

"Oh," Romelle tilted her head, looking more confused, "Do wolves not get sick from chocolate?"

They all facepalmed. Keith just chuckled quietly before eating some of the cherry ice cream.

"They do too," he shrugged after a moment, "Kosmo snuck his way into the pantry one time. Ate a few bars of the stuff and was throwing up for hours. He's learned not to touch chocolate. But...werewolves can eat it."

"Wait," Pidge interrupted this time, "Do you live with your pack?"

"Uhhhh…" Keith paused before nodding, "Kind of? My whole pack has a den that we can all go to and use. But more times than not, I'm out doing whatever I want to? Or I'm doing stuff for my pack. Sometimes I stay with mom and Kosmo."

"Do all werewolves do that?"

"Not usually," the other shrugged before eating some more. Shiro glanced over to Hunk as the younger gave him a bowl of the melting dessert with a curious look at Keith, "Normally werewolves stay in their pack, tight knit and all. There are levels to the pack life. Leaders who control everything, leaders under them who command others. My pack isn't like that. We have a leader but besides him, no one really is in control of us."

"That is strange," Allura spoke up as she stared at her dish, "I am aware of the first way, but I thought werewolves were too rigid in their belief of order?"

"That's mainly the Empire," Keith's nose scrunched before he huffed, "We're a little bit more loose. We're still territorial and all that stuff, but we handle our business differently. As much as a lot of people like to say, we're not bloodthirsty monsters."

"Dude," Lance scoffed, "You are totally not bloodthirsty. You're more a puppy than a scary wolf."

"Says the guy who was screaming just days ago at me being here," Keith teased before laughing, "But seriously. If a werewolf is going to attack, it's generally either because he or she has a mindset to anyway or they're just cornered and scared."

"Just like any human," Shiro nodded as he finished his snack, "We're all capable of good and bad."

“So is that why you were worried about being here?” Pidge spoke up suddenly, making them all look at her, “I mean...The Empire?”

“Yeah,” Keith nodded before he set his empty bowl aside, pulling his knees up, “The Empire doesn’t like me at all, so I have to be constantly on alert for them.”

“But why?”

“Because I’m a half-breed,” the ebony-haired man blinked at all of them, taking in their startled expressions, “What?”

“You’re not full werewolf?”

“You can be half werewolf!”

“I always thought werewolves were turned!”

“Now I am confused!”

“I’m half human,” Keith glanced at them before shrugging, looking away, “Pops lived out here somewhere and he met my mom who’s a werewolf. They had me.”

“So you’re naturally a werewolf?” Pidge asked with big eyes, curious as ever, “Is that why the Empire hates you?”

“Kinda?” Keith winced before shrugging again, “They think all people not full werewolf are traitors. I just happen to be one of those on their radar for awhile. They definitely hate that they can’t catch me. Being part werewolf is bad to the Empire, worse than being of another race.”

“And that’s why you don’t go back to the den very often,” Hunk scowled morosely, “Man, that sucks.”

“Yeah,” Keith nodded before sighing, “Mom works undercover in the Empire, and I can’t be around her too much because our scents will get on each other. Plus, I don’t want to lead them back to my pack, so I stay around this area...guarding the forests and stuff. Just because I can’t be in the village doesn’t mean that I don’t want to help somehow.”

“You really are keeping the other creatures out of here, aren’t you?” Shiro stared at Keith who merely nodded, “No wonder I haven’t had to treat anyone for magical wounds here. When I travel to other regions, I always see vampire bites or druid poisoning or something.”

“Yeah,” Keith agreed before scratching his leg, “I tend to scare them off.”

“You gotta teach us about that!” Pidge practically squealed happily, “Oh, I have a gift for you too! How I forgot, I don’t know. It’s right here.”

She held out a small device about half the size of her palm, a round white machine with accents of colors that had been in Keith’s necklace before. Keith took it into his own hands, head tilted in confusion as he inspected the thing.

“It’s a communicator,” Pidge answered back softly, “In case you ever get lonely or in trouble and want to call us up. I got one for everyone, but I figured it would be a good birthday gift. It’s in it’s prototype stage, but I’ve tested it out and I think it’ll work but I’m not sure for ho-”

“Thanks, Pidge,” Keith interrupted as the youngest blushed, caught in her ramble, “I think it’s going to work just fine.”

“Good, just give us a call sometimes?” She smirked playfully before looking over at Shiro, “Shiro will have one too.”

Oh boy...Shiro smiled sheepishly before rubbing his neck.

“I will,” he agreed, if for Keith’s sake. He did want a way to get in contact with the younger, “And if your ankle keeps healing as well as it has, you can be out of here in a few days. Luckily, right now it’s just a slight limp, but I’d rather send you back fully healed.”

“Thanks, Shiro,” Keith grinned fondly at him for a deep minute before turning back to the other’s, “So what else happens at a birthday party?”

“Well…”

…..

“You’re doing really good, Keith,” Shiro praised the other as he slowly limped across the room on his own. Keith’s stride was much steadier than it had been days before, and he was able to move easily now. Once in awhile, he needed to slow down, but that would be gone soon, “Just keep up the exercises and you’ll be back to normal soon.”

“Couldn’t have done it without your help,” Keith smiled softly before stepping away from the wall back to him, “Thanks.”

“I just want to help,” Shiro blushed the slightest before shrugging, “Besides, you’re my friend now, and I always help my friends out.”

“Heh…” Keith grinned softly before opening his mouth, “Hey, Shiro. I was wondering if you wanted t-”

He suddenly stopped talking, eyes focused in the distance at the door. Before Shiro’s eyes, he saw the younger stiffen quickly, pressing in on himself before making a distressed whining sound that should not have been able to come from a human at any point. If Keith were in wolf form, there was no doubt that his ears would be back and hair ruffled wildly.

“Keith,” Shiro stepped closer, fear clouding his chest, “Keith, what’s wrong?”

“They’re here,” Keith choked out before going pale, eyes wide with fright. It made Shiro all that much more scared, “Pidge said they’d never know. They know! Someone told them! Someone led them here! I need to go!”

“Who?” Shiro demanded just as the door rattled and loud snarls filled the air. A pained howl echoed around them from out back before the front door fell off its hinges. Shielding his eyes from the blazing sun outside, Shiro looked up in time to see a large man in the doorway. He was so big that he nearly didn’t fit into the frame, looking half wild, half barbaric. He was missing his right eye, an eye-patch over it. His left arm was also gone, a floating hand in its place instead. Four wolves stepped out from behind him, snarling at them viciously with sharp fangs.

“Going somewhere, half-breed?” The man asked before stepping forward, “We’ve been looking for you for awhile now. Oh, what fun we’ll have with you when we get our hands on your traitorous group.”

“You’re not touching them, Sendak!” Keith growled angrily as his eyes sharpened, teeth turning into fine razor points, “How did you find me!”

“Your Admiral gave you up,” the man laughed wickedly as Shiro’s stomach dropped, “She’s very insistent on getting you out of this town. I wonder why that is.”

“Shut up.”

“What’s the injured baby wolf gonna do to me?” He snickered darkly before stepping forward, wolves following with, “You barely survived years ago against a human attacker. You know that I could rip you to shreds right here. Your pack won’t have anything to bury after I’m done with you. Maybe I’ll rip your eyes from your head, a little payback.”

Shiro reeled in shock at all the information dropped on him. Keith had been almost killed by a human? Is that what his memory loss was about? Is that why he was scared sometimes around people? And he had attacked Sendak? What was happening?

“Or I could just take you as mine right here and now,” Sendak laughed deeply before stepping forward more. Shiro glared as Keith stumbled back a little, another strange noise leaving him, “Such a little half-breed. I think your cries of pain will be delightful as I damage you beyond repair. And I won’t need to worry about finding your Blade of Marmora. They’ll come right to me with the scent you’ll release from our time together.”

The wolves snickered softly as they surrounded Keith who tensed further, glaring at all five. Shiro glanced around quickly before seeing his sword off to the side. Inching to it, he listened in to the conversation.

“I’m going to enjoy breaking you,” the much bigger man smirked before his eyes flashed yellow, “When I’m finished, you’ll be wishing you were dead. Your healing won’t be able to save you.”

And then the wolves launched themselves at Keith who growled back, looking a bit more wild around the edges, likely about to transform. Unfortunately, he didn’t get that far as he cried out, dropping to the floor in pain. The wolves around him paused in mid-attack, looking at whatever had fallen Keith. Shiro himself looked over to see Sendak holding some type of device at Keith who shuddered and whined deeply, curling into a ball. The large man kept the device up as he stepped feet in front of the smaller who sobbed out weakly, shaking wildly.

“We got smart,” the werewolf snickered before pressing the button harder, “This atunes into frequencies only you would hear as a half-breed. It sends out a wave of sound which can shred your organs to bits.”

Keith whined loudly as he glared up at the other, eye bright golden and in a slit. By now, blood was beginning to drip from his nose as his muscles jerked in his arms as if spasming.

“If stopped in time, your healing will kick in to save you,” the man laughed sadistically before crouching before the other who panted, “If not, well...at least your death was painful.”

Keith cried out again before pressing into a ball. Shiro didn’t even think as he grabbed his sword, grabbing the handle tightly before slashing the weapon down at the large man. The blade cut clean through the device before digging into the lead werewolf’s hand. The man shouted loudly before dropping the shattered device, blood dripping to the floor.

“Grab the human!” He ordered to the wolves who snarled at him, “I’ll get the half-breed.”

Shiro thrust his sword out just as a wolf jumped at him. The weapon cut through the other’s throat, blood splattering out as the wolf choked on its own blood. Shiro ducked as another flew over his head, hitting its belly, which it howled at. Not seeing the third wolf, Shiro yelped in pain as sharp claws dragged across his nose, peeling a long line of flesh from his face. Hot blood dripping from his cheeks, Shiro didn’t get a chance to move before one wolf had him pinned by the chest. His sword skidded across the floor just as a scarlet light lit up the room.

“DAMN IT!” Sendak’s voice echoed around them as Shiro gazed over at the man whose left floating hand was over Keith. A force field of some type was protecting the younger, who was passed out. Every time the man smacked it, the more the shield showed up until he was growling in fury, “A witch’s spell!”

Shiro smiled at the comment. It looked like Allura’s gift did come in handy. Sendak growled under his breath before whipping around to face him.

“The medic,” he glared before a smirk came to his face, “There’s more than one way to draw out a rodent. High Priestess would certainly love to look at you, human.”

Shiro’s eyes widened before the man laughed loudly.

“Bring him with us,” he commanded to the other wolves, “And bring our dead. If we cannot capture him, the little half-breed will come to us!”

And then something smashed into Shiro’s head, making him see stars as pain blinded him. Slowly, bit-by-bit, his world darkened around him as sharp teeth grabbed into the neck of his shirt, beginning to drag him away. In the center of his vision, he could see Keith who was still out. The red force field was beginning to retreat wave by wave as he got further and further away. Something bumped against his back before his vision went completely dark and his body limp.