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“What happened to your collar?” A heavy frown came over the vampire’s face as he scanned the young werewolf. He had only just gotten the damn thing a few months prior and there was no way in hell he could have taken it off himself without being shocked to the point of burning. “You should be wearing one.”
In response, the werewolf shifted uncomfortably then buried through a cupboard to find a pack of biscuits. Silence was not the answer Ralph was looking for.
“You know you can’t tour without a collar, right? You’ll get done and your handler will get done, too.” He said quietly, watching the werewolf as he struggled with then cursed at the packaging he was trying to open. “I know you only have to put up with her for another month but she doesn’t deserve to lose her job and get arrested because of your idiocy.”
“As far as she knows, I’m wearing the collar.” James replied, not daring to look up at the vampire as he finally broke into the packet and forced a few biscuits out of it. “It doesn’t shock me anymore so I can take it off and put it on as and when I need to. It still scans with my information on it.”
“That’s not the point.” Snapped Ralph, giving the werewolf a stern expression. “You should be wearing it or you’re going to end up in the Cages.”
“Did I ask for your opinion?” Snipped James right back, an uncontrolled growl coming from somewhere deep in his gut. Two hours until he went into the cell Ralph had made a point of having built into his house so that James could change privately and ‘safely’. Two hours until the wolf would take over and scratch the fuck out of the walls and reinforced metal door of that pit of a cell downstairs. Two hours before his fourth change and already the wolf was enraged with the idea of being holed up again.
“James, you’re going to get yourself and other people into some serious shit if you don’t wear that collar.” Insisted the vampire, forcing eye contact with the werewolf. “How did you get it off in the first place?”
“A werewolf I know took it off for me.” Shrugged James, as if it were a perfectly casual part of the all too serious conversation. “Then fiddled with it and gave it back so I could take it off whenever I wanted to.”
“What werewolf? The only ones I know you know are Woody and Ben.” Ralph replied, apparently making a point of winding up the werewolf just before a change.
“Just a mate.” James insisted.
“What fucking werewolf, James?” Ralph insisted right back.
“Fine! Fuck!” The wolf’s temper was affecting his own now. “I don’t know the guy but he offered to take the collar off for me and I jumped at the chance. Do you have any fucking idea how humiliating it is to wear that fucking thing all the time? No, of course not, because you’re a vampire and vampires are pretty much equal to humans compared to us mutts.”
The vampire released a harsh, tired sigh, rubbed a hand against his face then glanced over the werewolf with tired eyes. “You’re right, I don’t know how it feels to have to wear that collar and be humiliated because of it... And yes, compared to werewolves, we the better deal but, James, mate, I’m only asking you to wear the collar for your own safety and your own good. Fuck knows what the humans will do to you in the cages.”
James didn’t reply verbally, only sniffed, hard and angrily before taking a chomp out of a chocolate digestive. At this response, Ralph took another deep intake of breath and, again, sighed. Newer werewolves were harder to deal with than new vampires and he certainly knew what that was like. It was as if James had returned to his teenage self: moody, aggressive, uncooperative, aloof. Even more so now that it was close to a change and this deeply worried Ralph.
“Please, James, please make sure that you wear the collar.” The vampire eventually breathed, helplessly watching as the wolf man shovelled down all of his biscuits. At this rate, there would be no food left in the house and poor Charlie would be forced to go to the supermarket a third time in two days.
“Fine.” Agreed the werewolf.
“Thank you... And in the morning, we will have to talk about this mate of yours.” Ralph insisted.
“Whatever.” Shrugged James, shoving another biscuit into his mouth.

× × × × × ×

Pain. Sudden, unbearable pain; right in the gut and writhing around inside his body like a tangle of snakes fighting for dominance. So much pain, in fact, he was bent over double and forcing out a scream. He could feel Ralph’s hands against his body, one on the shoulder, one on his side and he could feel the vampire pushing him, rushing him somewhere. His vision was blurry, his head was pounding, it felt like all of his organs were being squeezed all at once. What was it someone said? Like a heart attack that refused to stop. Like dying but without the quiet relief of permanent sleep. This may be his fourth change but James despised every second. He wasn’t used to it the way Woody and Ben were and all he could do in retaliation was scream.
“Almost there.” The vampire’s voice swam through his ears, bounding around in between the sound of his blood rushing around. The powerful scent of Ralph’s cologne and his natural vampire scent was sickening and, amongst other things, James fought against the urge to throw his guts up. “You’re going to be alright, mate. It’s just a change.”
“FUCK! I HATE THIS!” Screamed James, forcing them both to a stop in the middle of the stairs so he could try and catch his breath. “MAKE IT STOP! RALPH, PLEASE! MAKE IT STOP!”
“I’m sorry, mate, I can’t.” Ralph replied, worriedly scanning James. His eyes widened when he noted how James’ claws had already broken through his human nails and his eyes had changed bright yellow. “I wish I could but I can’t.”
“FOR FUCK’S SAKE!” James screamed again, slapping a hand against the wall and scratching into it with his wolf claws. “WHY DOES IT HURT SO MUCH?”

Eventually, he had been shoved into the basement cell and he heard Ralph slam the door shut and firmly lock it behind him. James let out a few canine whines then growled then screamed out in pain before falling to the dirty ground with a loud thud.
“FUCK THIS! FUCK EVERYTHING! JUST FUCKING KILL ME!” He screamed some more, making Ralph, who was sat on the bottom stair on the other side of the door, sigh. He stated at the metal door and fought with an increasing urge to break into the room and comfort James in some way. Once he had made it through the change, his wolf was more than likely to tear the vampire apart before he could blink and it wouldn’t be long now. A few more agonising minutes and Ralph would only hear the sound of a wolf going ballistic.

Sure enough, there it was; James’ telling and pained howl, making Ralph’s heart ache for the poor guy.