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Goodnight Moon

Chapter Text

Perigean Tide — The tide that occurs when the moon is at its closest point to the earth during its orbit. These tides are higher than normal.


Your name is Dave Strider, and you aren’t going to die. You aren’t, no matter how much it feels like a half-starved, claustrophobic chipmunk with knives for teeth is gnawing on the inside of your stomach in a two for one lunch/escape attempt.  You’re used to this, as much as anyone can be. Sweat pours off you like a cold drink in a hot shower and your wrists and neck burn where the metal touches it.


You are not going to die here. Bro is too careful for that. You don’t deserve death, rest, and besides, he wouldn’t risk the bait, live bait is always the best, why eat a burger when you could gore the entire cow with your teeth, get the blood on your face and your claws, and though you are sick and shivering in the middle of the fucking woods two hours before the full moon rises, dirt and blood in your mouth, tied up in silver cuffs and trying not to make any humiliating noises, you know better than to hope for an end to it. It’s not the first time, and it will not be the last.

Earlier that day he’d checked the two of you out of the shitty motel the two of you had been staying in and passed you the plant to chew raw. Down the hatch, lil’ man , he’d said and you complied. It’s bitter, always is, but you prefer the clamminess and the palpitations to the transformation and beating you know will come later if you don’t choke it down now. Then, the two of you do what you always do the night of the full moon: drive to whichever forest or desert or dump he has decided on this month, tie you up in case you can’t hold the transformation back, and dump you somewhere upwind, somewhere out in the open.

It’s this time of the month that it’s impossible to forget the fact that you’re a monster. You’re not sure if Bro makes it worse or better, but at the very least he makes you useful. The person you once were was gone, but Bro will make sure you take as many beasts down with you as you can.

It’s no good to show weakness, even while playing bait, but if you’re too quiet you’ll be accused of hiding, fraternizing with the enemy and that hurts just as bad. In the end, you don’t have to play much of anything. Silver is nothing more than a mild irritant most days, but this close to the full moon it fucking burns like bleach on roadburn and it’s all you can do to keep from howling.

As the sun begins to set, (you aren’t changing, not yet, not at all if you can help it, the cuffs slide off of your wolf form but not the collar and the wolfsbane poisoning hurts ten times more) the sweating picks up. You can’t smell Bro, you never can, he knows how to mask that shit, there’d be no point otherwise, and anything that catches his sweaty, bloody, half-teenager half something else scent is going to be downwind so you just twitch defenseless and half blind and watch the shadows change as the sun sets, slowly, slowly, slowly-

You hear a branch crack and still. Bro does not step on branches unless he’s in the trees, and even then they are never branches that break. He is silent to human ears, to wolf ears even, though you’re drugged up but he’s never been caught before has he and the pain is making your mind drift. You can hear breathing and careful steps, (not careful enough), and the sweaty animal-human smell as the monster who is not you falls for the bait, hook line and sinker, and comes over to investigate.

This is the part you like the least. (You don’t like any of this, not at all.) You curl up, small, and there’s a part of you that wants this to be a real rescue, even though you’re fine, you’re cool, you’re in on it, it’s nothing but moon sickness and a stomach cramp, and there’s a part of you that feels like you should be proud, that you’re doing good, and then there’s the part of you that wants to warn whoever has fallen for the good old teenager tied up in the middle of the forest trap like a chump, tell them to run fucking run.

You just curl up tighter.

“Karkat, we have to go . It’s almost moonrise we don’t have time for this.”

“Shut your food hole, Kankri,” another voice hisses. “Don’t you smell that?”

Two of them. Not much older than you are, from the sound of it. As if on cue, pain lances through your stomach and you are forced to let out a cry. One pair of footsteps breaks into a run.

“Karkat, come back ,” the first voice says but the kid, were, you smell it on him, he’s already in your sight, crouching down and eyes wide, red eyes like yours. Like yours but nothing else about him looks the same as you, he’s all tan skin and dark hair and a soft face and he’s got his hands on your forehead and it feels so nice.

Everything is bad, and it is about to get worse.  

“This is extremely inadvisable,” the other voice says, but it sounds a little hesitant. “We need to call someone. An adult.” You can see a pair of grey sneakers and the bottom of jeans from the other guy but not much else, because the boy’s face is in your face and his eyes are wide with shock and concern. You can smell it wafting off of him, feel the tremor in his hands and he pushes your bangs off your face and pulls off your sunglasses and no, that’s bad, that’s very bad, and you flinch away but he looks worried, not disgusted, not scared, or maybe scared but not of you and you try and reach for him.

“Fuck,” he hisses. “Call dad.” You feel fingers on the silver-plated cuff around your neck and the boy draws his fingers back and hisses before he goes back to stroking your hair. It feels. So nice. You can’t stand it. “Help’s on the way. You’re going to be ok, fuck, what kind of fucking creep would do this to a kid?”

The other guy, Kankri, pulls out a cellphone, and despite the wolfsbane your senses are keyed up enough to hear the fingers tapping and you know that Bro is about to strike. The boy above you looks so worried and beautiful and kind and when was the last time someone was kind to you? The last time someone showed concern, it was the last hunt, and he’d ended up dead for his trouble and this guy is just a kid. Just two kids. So you grab onto his sleeve and pull him down and you do something that will probably get you killed.

“Run,” you cough out. “It’s a trap.”

“What?” says the boy who’s holding you.

“Get the hell out of here,” you hiss, but it’s too late. You hear the gunshot and it’s only because of the split-second warning that the stranger is able to duck.

“Fuck,” he growls and tries to pick you up with him. You struggle. He can’t take you with him, that’s not the point. You won’t die, as much as you might want to, but he will and who will help Bro? A half-feral noise rips itself from your mouth without your permission.

“Karkat, leave him!” says the older boy, and he grabs Karkat by the arm. “No time to shift, just run!”

The split-second Karkat hesitates is forever in your head but he puts you down in the end. He doesn’t have a choice; Bro is shooting again, and though he’s crouched, taken as much cover as he can, he has to leave. Now.

“Fuck,” he says again. “I’ll come back,” he promises in a low growl. You can’t help but laugh at that, hysterical and sharp. But by the time Bro makes it out of wherever he was hiding, Karkat the werewolf and the other guy are gone. He curses, shoots some bullets in the direction they’ve vanished in but nothing, and the laughter continues to overwhelm, you’re a monster and monster bait, a child killer who saved a kid who’s just as bad as you probably and Bro hauls you up by your T-shirt and pins you against the tree, getting real close to your face, all up in your personal space, so close you can see through the sunglasses into his eyes and they’re pissed, so pissed, you’re in deeper than the Mariana Trench, the Rockies are an anthill compared to the mountain of shit you’ve hiked up and buried yourself beneath.

“You little fucker,” Bro hisses and no matter how you struggle, there’s no way to escape so you go limp and submissive as you can and pray that he grows bored quickly. “You’re going to wish you were dead by the time I’m done with you, gave it away, you little piece of shit.” He’s holding you by the neck now and bashes your head against the tree trunk. It’s worse than a wall, because the bark is rough and the wood doesn’t give way. You know there’s blood. You can feel it, smell it, hot and sticky in your hair and on your neck. It’s just a matter of how much at this point.

“Please.” Begging never helps, but it’s instinctual. Submit. All you’ve got are your instincts this close to sundown, moonrise.

Bro lets go and you drop to the floor like a stack of stones and when he kicks your ribs you can hear the crack and feel a sharp pain blooming. He gets a few more hits in, his boots are steel toed, as if a kick didn’t hurt enough, and when you can manage to do nothing but shiver in a ball and hold back your whimpers he tosses you over your shoulder.

The walk to the van is an eternity and too short all at once. Each step jostles your bones but when you get there and he tosses you into the trunk, you wish you were still outside. Sold metal, cold and hard as hell, and, worst of all, isolated. There’s no way to get to the front, to the warmth of family just feet away, in the driver’s seat and turning the key. The engine starts, you drag yourself to the barrier.

“Bro, please,” you beg, despite yourself. Moon sickness, you know, but right now the loneliness hurts as much as the physical pain, a cold knife in your heart to match the hot crack in your ribs. You’re scared and you’re isolated, packless and trapped and vulnerable.You’ve got a bit more time until you’re forced to change, don’t even bother to pretend you’ll be able to hold it back at this point. Any energy you have is being used to cling to consciousness. And you are very rapidly failing.

Dirk used to sit with you when you got like this, (like this, you can’t even think it, coward, when you were mid-turn), cross-legged in the trunk with you or basement or wherever Bro tossed you to stick it out. It still hurt, the wolfsbane, the silver, but Dirk would rub your back and brush your hair out of your face and did his best to keep Bro away from the two of you. You weren’t so lonely, when Dirk was around, even if you were no safer. He had stayed with you every change, every month, every year.

But that was why he died, wasn’t it?

You try and stifle your cries, howls, with your fists and it’s embarrassing as fuck and all it does is make Bro slam the dashboard with his.

“Shut up,” he growls, and you can only hear it through the metal and the engine because of your moon sharpened ears, but Bro knows that. “Shut the fuck up, lil’ man, or I’ll make you.”

Even though you can’t see it, you know the moment the moon crests because every sensation you’ve been feeling gets ten, twenty, thirty, times stronger. Your eyes roll back in your head. Everything goes bright, and then, everything goes dark.

Chapter Text

Occultation — The act of one celestial body obscuring another as a result of moving between the observer and the object being observed. The most well known occultations are the lunar and solar eclipses.

You and Kankri take the long way back to throw off any trail and end up making the last mile of the trip to the campsite your dad’s booked on four legs and in fur. The two of you ditch your clothes, and damn, but you liked that T-shirt, but you hold your sneakers tied together by the laces in your muzzle and tuck the sunglasses into the right one, and they swing back and forth as you run.

By the time you get back, dad’s pacing.

Where have you been? he asks directly into your mind, already changed, fur bristled with worry. Terezi’s there too; She usually joins you on the full moon, ever since you nipped her on a dare when you were four and too young and stupid to know better. Prancing over, she tries to steal your shoes but you let out a warning growl.

Karkat nearly got us killed, Kankri wines. You shove him with all of your weight and manage to make him stumble.

Leave out half the story, won’t you douche canoe? There was a fucking hunter, you snap, emphasizing it by flashing your teeth. You turn back to your dad, ears pressed flat against your skull with rage. He was using a wolf as bait, what was I supposed to do? Leave him? He was bleeding and he was wearing silver and the place smelled like he’d been dipped in wolfsbane soup or something. You need to leave, get him out of there while there’s still a chance of catching the scent. Carefully, you shake your shoes and manage to drop the glasses at Terezi’s feet. So, can you track him or what?

Karkat, dad thinks, as Terezi sniffs and then licks the glasses. She’s the best hunter in the makeshift pack you’ve got gathered here by far, best nose even as a human, only stronger as a wolf and if anyone can find him, Terezi can.

So?  you ask again. Already it’s taking too long, you need to go go go, as soon as fucking possible.

Karkat! Your dad’s mental shout finally catches your attention. He does not look happy, but you don’t really care at the moment. This is not the time to be happy, you’re not happy either, and there are more important things to worry about.

What? you snap.

You can’t go running off to rescue a boy by yourself. Calm down. You growl, at that, but your dad puts a heavy paw on you and forces you to the ground.

He had a gun, Kankri informs you as if you weren’t there, as if you didn’t know, as if he didn’t see the guy tied up and scared on the ground he was shaking. You’re shaking. But, as usual, Kankri’s not done lecturing. He never is. You’ll just get us killed. Besides, they’re probably gone.  

You growl and struggle to get up, but Terezi full out tackles you and there’s no chance of escaping now. She’s heavy, but you try and toss her. You nip and growl snap your teeth but she’d always been a better wrestler than you.

Get the fuck off! You mind-scream so loud it comes out of your mouth too, a choked noise that’s not meant for the mouth you have at the moment. I gotta help him! I promised I’d come back! He’s going to die!

You can’t help him if you’re dead too, stupid! She grabs you by the neck with her teeth. God, you’re lucky you’ve got me here being logical for you, or you’d be getting yourself into all sorts of dumb trouble! You let out a wordless howl of rage and frustration. I got him, Mr. Vantas! Terezi assures your dad, who is watching the whole scene and smells so strongly of guilt it’s making you nauseous. He’s just feeling all protective because he just changed! He’ll calm down soon.

You resent the implication that this is not a rational reaction to finding a fellow were captured and half poisoned but you’re too occupied trying to get the fuck up to make a logical argument.

Thank you, Terezi, your dad thinks. Kankri, this way.

She lets you up after a couple hours, but by then you know there’s no point in going to look because there’s no way you’ll catch them on foot and dad refuses to drive, can’t turn back long enough to drive, it’s all the same because you’re so angry you’re literally seeing red. You tackle Kankri every time he gets too close to you and your dad has to separate the two of you. The first twelve hours are nothing but anger. You try to sleep but you keep waking up with the smell of sweat and wolfsbane in your nose. It might be because you’re curled around the sunglasses. Who can tell?

Eventually, though, after the rush of the change has worn off, you do calm down a little. Still. You’re loath to prove Terezi right and that’s enough to make you snappish. Kankri’s changed back already and he’s making breakfast on the grill, but you’re too worked up to do more than steal three half cooked sausages and hole up in a corner with them. Changing makes you hungry. (Is the pale-haired wolf eating enough? He looked skinny.)

Terezi is still a wolf, but it’s probably because she prefers that form when she can. You know she likes the way everything smells more intense.

Come on, Karkat, she says. Stop sulking.

Fuck off. You nose the glasses.

Abandoning him would imply you were acting irrational before and it’s the right thing to do and also you have a bleeding heart and Kankri is a dick and you are not going to abandon him.

You can call the police once you change back, she offers, but you shake your head. The police can’t help, not with the were part of it. They wouldn’t understand. You can call Kanaya, Terezi offers. You always feel better after bitching to her.

I’ll change back sooner if you leave me the fuck alone, you grumble and she just tosses her head.

Touchy. Fine.

In an hour and a half you’ve got thumbs again and you’re curled up in your tent, buried under a pile of everyone’s sleeping bags and hunched over your phone. There’s a moment where you think about texting Kanaya, but you’re still feeling kind of petty even if Terezi’s right. It’s easier to sulk around google and browse the werewolf subreddits in hopes that some of it isn’t just RPers.

It’s not the first time you’ve done this; that’s how you met Sollux and Nepeta, but you think they’d have mentioned running into a hunter using a kid your age as bait. You post on the wall.


There are a couple other groups that look promising: this one’s mixed supernaturals, and you recognize some of the user names as friends of friends, that one’s all wolves and you only see a few references to Teen Wolf, mostly ironic.  There’s a few private groups too, and you send requests to join, you copy and paste the message up in as many places as you can.

There’s a rustling of the tent flap and Kankri’s familiar face peeks through. You chuck a pillow at him and it hits him in the chest. He frowns at you.

“Now Karkat, I know you’re frustrated, perhaps even traumatized, but there’s no need to turn to violence. Father has contacted the appropriate authorities, so there’s nothing more to do. You’ll feel better if you eat something, hunger always makes you irrational, especially when you shift-” You throw one of the paperbacks you’d packed at him and it hits him square in the face.

“The hardcover is next unless you and your bullshit condescending holier than thou preacher routine fuck off! If I have to listen to you for one more second I will find the hunter and ask him to shoot me to put me out of my misery! I would rather be shot in the ass with fucking silver and slowly bleed out than have you tell me ONE MORE TIME that we DID THE RIGHT THING by LEAVING HIM THERE! HE’S GOING TO DIE, FUCKFACE!” You’re screaming by the end. Kankri’s just watching you, you’ve completely lost it and you throw your hardcover at him just like threatened. He manages to dodge, or you’re too pissed to aim right. Everything is kind of blurry. You left a kid to die, you almost died, and the shock is wearing off and you’re dealing with it the same way you deal with everything else: anger so strong you can pretend that’s the reason you’re crying.

You saw a dog hit by a car once, when you were five. The tantrum you threw was mind-boggling in its intensity. Your dad had to drag you away from the driver and you left bruises on his shins and threw your blocks at the wall so hard you left dents in it that you still cover with movie posters. But once the anger ebbed - and you drew it out as long as you fucking could - you just broke.

This isn’t a dog. And he’s not dead, not yet, but he could be very soon. You know what death smells like and you care, ok? He warned you about the trap, probably saved your life and you care. You care a lot about a lot of things even if there’s no good reason to.

“Hormones still acting up, I see,” Kankri says weakly, ducking out of the way of the pillow and leaving you in relative peace. You’re debating possible distractions,  whether or not to chase after Kankri and pick a fight or read some romance novels, when your phone buzzes.

-- You have a message from timaeusTestified [TT] --

TT: Do you have a picture?

You frown at the screen.


TT: A picture of the wolf kid.


TT: What did he look like?


You glance at the aforementioned stupid ass shades, sitting folded next to your sleeping bag pile.


TT: Is this him?

You open the photo that timaeusTestified has sent you. A virus you could deal with, Sollux would take care of it if you asked him, but if it’s a dick pic or some other stupid prank you’ll fucking lose it you are not in the mood. But it’s not a prank. It’s two freckled kids in sunglasses and matching shirts. One of them has dirty blond hair and the weirdest pointy shades you’ve seen in your life. He’s staring at the camera solemnly. The other, maybe half his size, has a gap toothed grin and a shock of white curls, and the same sunglasses, sliding off his nose and taking up half his face. You squint, and you can see his red eyes just over the lenses, sharp teeth, werewolf-sharp. He’s a lot younger, not quite as skinny, but you recognize him. You’ve only seen him once, and for barely a minute if that but there’s no doubt. His face is burned into your memory, still, and it has not yet had the time to fade.


There’s a pause, long enough to make you antsy but timaeusTestified replies in the end. His response makes your gut twist and if before this had been nothing but a stubborn streak, you know now that you’re not going to give up until he’s safe.

TT: That’s my little bro. His name is Dave.
TT: He’s been missing for years. Where did you see him?

Chapter Text

Satellite — Any object that orbits another celestial body.



TT: Getting him out’s the plan. Could you find the place you saw him again?


You’ve had false pings before. You’ve had nothing but false positives in the past, emphasis on the false, like a bad round of low-quality pregnancy tests, which is obvious because you’re still looking for him. Otherwise, Dave would be here, safe, and you wouldn’t be talking on Reddit to a stranger, exchanging pesterchum handles and how many kids could there be with sunglasses and white hair?

You think logically. There’s really only two options.

One, Bro has decided to come after you. This is, unfortunately, more likely than not, and it’s only natural that he’d use Dave to bait you. He knows you’re a were now because he saw Dave bite you and he saw you change, and he knows that for the cold front you put up you love Dave, Dave is yours, and you’d do anything to get him out of Bro’s hands. That’s why you convinced him to bite you in the first place. Hell, if he offered you a trade, yourself for Dave, you’d take it.

Bro won’t do that. He wants you both, and he gets what he wants.

The other option is that some other wolf really has run into Dave. That has all sorts of implications, mainly that Bro’s using Dave to bait and trap others like yourself. There’s trauma shit that this implies, psychological garbage that you leave to Rose.

You’re not sure how long you stare at your laptop. Last night’s shift was like every other one these past few years; painful but quick transformation, and then Roxy tried to get you to wrestle while you sulked and worried and chewed on the T-shirt that Dave had worn the last time you saw him. It stopped smelling like him years ago, you’re not sure why you took it when you ran, and you’re not sure why you have it now. It’s nothing but shreds. It’s folded next to the laptop right now, and you can never make yourself throw it out even though all it does is make you angry.

You start hacking into carcinoGeneticist’s various social media accounts. He has an Instagram and Tumblr under the same name, active for a couple of years, but it’s not hard to make a fake account, a fake backlog, mess with the timestamps a bit, or Bro hacked into the account of this grumpy looking kid Dave’s age and is sending messages through him-

The door slams open. “Breakfast!” D cheers, arms laden with what looks and smells like half of the contents of the local deli, and a third of the bakery. An excited shriek is all that announces Roxy as she barrels into the room and all but tackles D.

“Hell yeah!” She opens a brown bag and sniffs inside. You can hear the crinkle of the paper.  “Hash browns! And a turkey sandwich. Love you D!” You debate moving to somewhere quieter where you can get work done; there will be no peace until breakfast is over or longer.

“Dirk!” Roxy smooshes the edge of a sandwich into the side of your face. Smells like ham and cheese. You shrug and attempt to shoulder her out of your personal space “ Dirk . Dirky. C’mon, what’s so interesting that you can’t eat breakfast?”


“It’s the most important meal of the day.” She’s already elbowing you out of your seat.


“No, let me see.” She’s stronger than you, if not as quick, and the only reason you manage to stop yourself from being shoved onto your ass is the quick landing you manage to pull together as she gets crumbs all over the keyboard.

“You better clean that up.” She won’t. You love her anyways, even as she continues chattering through a mouthful of food while she flips through the windows you have opened.

“Why are you hacking this poor little cutie? Look at his little grumpy face. He’s so scowly.” She beams beatifically as she scrolls through his hipster tumblr full of gifs from romcoms and long, detailed movie reviews at lightning speed. His Instagram gets a similar quick perusal. His eyes aren’t as red as Dave’s but they remind you of him in a way that hurts your chest. “Aww, he made his own little firewall. It’s so crappy, little baby programmer. What’d he do to you, you paranoid- Oh shit.” Roxy whirls towards you, all pink curls and wide, bright eyes. “He saw Dave?”

“It might not be-” you start, but Roxy’s already giving you a hug so brisk and tight it leaves you breathless, and then D is looking over your shoulder too.

“Rose!” Roxy calls. “Rose, somebody spotted Dave!” Now her hope is raised, all shiny and bright and vulnerable, and you’re scared for her. It will make it all so much worse when it’s nothing but a trap. You can handle it, you’re tough, you’re cool, but the others. D is frantically reading through the chat backlog and there’s so much emotion on his face you have to look away.

“What’s this I hear?” Rose asks. She’s still in her pajamas, which, for Rose, means a silky purple dressing gown with matching slippers. Rose looks cool, calm, her voice doesn’t waver, but you see that same face every day in the mirror and you know she’s feeling the same desperation you are trying to hard no to.

“Some kid spotted Dave,” D says, and then he processes the rest of the post. “Fuck. Fuck, bro’s using him to lure other wolves or some shit, that’s bad, that’s fucked, goddammit poor kid, we gotta get him out of there.”

“Obviously. That is hardly a new development.” Rose stares at you for a moment before saying exactly what you don't want her to. "You were going to run off by yourself, weren't you?"

Everyone whirls towards you and you frown. "I would have left a note." Roxy makes a hurt noise. "Don’t pretend you wouldn’t have done the same.” Rose shrugs because it’s true and probably why she guessed your plan in the first place.

“Nobody is going anywhere by themselves,” D says, attempting to take control of the situation. You won’t, but mostly because you couldn’t get far enough ahead to lose Roxy now that’s she’s actually expecting you to run.

D then does something unacceptable which is to take your laptop and phone and hold it above his head when you try and grab for it. What the fuck, D! You need that.

“D! What the fuck!” Your voice does not crack. Unfortunately, neither does your uncle.

“Eat,” he says. “Shower, dress, and then we’ll plan.”

“But Dave-” you protest.

“Kiddo,” D says, and your nose wrinkles. He looks like he wants to hug you, and the only reason he doesn’t is because his hands are full of your electronics.  “He’s been waiting three years. If he’s still kicking after this long, an hour or two won’t make a difference.”

He’s right, he is logically correct, and you hate it. You want to be logical because that’s what Dave needs right now, so you should agree with D’s very logical plan, but you can’t, but you have to. The slight quirk in Rose’s brow makes you want to break something but you manage to push it down. It’s all you can do to walk to your room in silence instead of stomping and growling like you want to. You do slam the door, though, and the dressed door and you tear through clothing like it did you wrong.

“We’ll find him, Dirk,” Rose says as she passes your door. It’s easier to to pretend not to hear her.

When you get back Roxy is pestering CarcinoGeneticist. You can tell from the grey shouty text you glimpse before she tilts the screen away from you. You assume she has hacked into your phone to get his chumhandle.

“Why does she get her phone?” you ask, not sounding like a three-year-old who’s upset your sister got a cookie and you did not. D hands you the sandwich Roxy smooshed in your face.

“People who eat breakfast get their tech,” she informs you, tilting her head backwards until the two of you are making upside down eye contact. She grins. “So eat. Your fucking. Breakfast.”

“Where’d you put it?”

You glare at D. He’s stashed your phone and laptop somewhere because you don’t see it on the table. It’s in the kitchen he didn’t leave the room, he’ll give it back but you feel useless just sitting here, doing nothing

“Eat your fucking breakfast, Dirk,” D says, a grin on his face, but he softens and messes up your hair. You growl, but you'd been in too much of a rush to style it the way you like to, so it’s more out of habit than real annoyance.  “Stop punishing yourself, you didn’t do anything wrong.”

“I left him there,” you grit out. “I left him alone with Bro.”

“And we’re going to get him out!” Roxy says. “But you can’t do that if you’re starving. So eat, god damn it.”

You eat god damn it, you eat your fucking breakfast. But you’re not happy about it. D gives you another sandwich when you finish your first one and you eat that one as well.

Roxy looks at her phone screen with the same kind of look on her face she makes at the kittens in the pet store three miles down. Cats love her, maybe because that’s what she turns into, a big ass, pink-eyed, white-furred panther.

“You would love this guy, he’s so grumbly and paranoid and he’s got the cutest soft spot for Davey.” Rose wanders in and starts making tea and she leaves you a cup, and finally, finally, D takes your laptop and phone from the cabinet where you keep the cutting boards and slides them over to you.

“Can you hack into his webcam?” you ask, opening up your own laptop. There’s a few new messages on it.

KK: ??

TT: Sorry, bro. Yeah she’s my cousin.
TT: She’s cool. She stole my phone to get your chumhandle.

“Webcam?” you ask again. D pretends he does not hear you, even if Rose leans over to read over your shoulder.

Roxy scoffs.

“What do you take me for? An amateur?” She puffs up with pride but deflates soon after.“But you weren’t listening, I told you he was paranoid. He’s got a piece of tape on it.”

That’s an alarm if there ever was one. “What are you doing now?”

“I’m doing what people with social skills do and asking him if we can call him.”

“What if-”

“Dirk. Calm down. Take a chill pill. Take two, even, we’ll do video, I know Bro can mess with audio.”


He reminds you of Dave, a little, the way he rambles on. Roxy presses the call button. You hear the Skype ring tone and she scoots her chair right next to yours so you both fit in on the screen. D leans forward to squeeze at the top edge and Rose pretends she is not listening with bated breath.

TT: Nah I’m here too. Pick up.

He picks up. The screen is completely black. You glare suspiciously. “Hello?” he croaks. His voice is a bit scratchy, definitely unhappy, but not as loud as you thought it would be. Roxy pipes up.

“Yes! I’m Roxy. I think you’ve got something on your camera!” She taps at the screen cheerfully. “We can’t actually see you.”

There’s a grumbly little, “fuck, the tape,” and you hear his fingers scratch as he struggles to remove it. “Sollux is crazy about hackers, as if anyone cares about my dumb ass, but no, it’s all KK tape up your camera you lazy fuck, KK, the CIA is going to hack into your laptop to watch you jerk off, jesus christ , paranoid motherfucker...” Roxy does not lose her delighted grin but she does kick you under the table.

“I’m Dirk,” you say.

“Karkat,” he grumbles back, and finally you get a visual. It’s really the dark-skinned, chubby-faced boy who the Instagram belongs to, not Bro with a voice modulator and a laptop with a broken camera.

“Sorry about the urgency!” Roxy says. “Bro’s good with computers so we need a visual in case he hacked into your account and used a voice modulator or something!”

Little guy Dave’s age, Dave’s eyes, shifts under the blanket pile. You can hear some chattering outside and you’re pretty sure he’s in a tent.

“Bro?” he asks. “I thought Dave was your brother?”

“Bro’s what we call my dad.” Karkat glances at D. “The hunter.” Karkat chokes.

“Your dad-” Panic flashes over his face, disgust, fear, emotions so clean and potent it’s hard for you to watch. “He’s. Why’s he behind you if- fuck you’re just trying to get him back, he must have escaped!”

“Karkat?” someone calls, faintly muffled through the fabric flap.

Here is the shouting you expected, his teeth sharpen as he snarls. He seems more bark than bite, though. He’s easy to read, and you can read the genuine fear even as he puffs and blusters. “I won’t help you! Stay the fuck away from him, he didn’t hurt anyone you-”

“No!” D’s eyes are wide. “No, I’m his uncle! I’d never hurt Dave.” He holds up his hands to show that they’re empty, but the picture doesn’t fit in the screen and also this is a video call. D’s showing almost as much emotion as Karkat is. It’s embarrassing. You cover your face and groan. “We’re trying to get him here, safe.”

“Are you a wolf?” Karkat asks suspiciously. D shakes his head.

“Dirky is, though,” Roxy says, jabbing you with her elbow. And then she winks, and she does that thing where she makes her eyes go slit and catlike. “I’m more of a feline persuasion.”

“And we’ve got a witch here as well, I promise I’m cool with supernatural folk,” D says, pulls off his sunglasses and fidgets with them before slipping them back on.

“What’s with the sunglasses?” Karkat asks, as someone comes into the room, more dark hair, a girl who’s also in sunglasses. You think she must have cut her hair herself, with a kitchen knife. It looks that bad. You dig it. “Calm down, Rezi, I’m fine.”

“Who ya talkin to?” she asks. “This about the wolf kid you’re all hormonal over?”

“Terezi? Kindly fuck off.” Karkat growls.

“It is about the wolf kid! Hello strangers!” She leans towards the computer. “Kitkat slept curled around that guy’s sunglasses all night! He’s totally whipped.”

“You have his sunglasses? ” you say. He lost his sunglasses and that’s bad, he loves those things, Bro’s going to be pissed, might not get him a new pair for a while, but there’s something Dave touched within the past twenty-four hours. If you get down to Missouri, you can hold Dave’s sunglasses.

Abruptly, you stand up, and walk out of the room. It’s too much. You can hear Roxie calling after you but she doesn’t get up, and you can hear D sit down, presumably in your seat. Rose stares after you.

“Karkat,” D says softly, “are your parents with you?”

You can’t really hear Karkat’s response. You’re already outside. There are too many feelings all twisted up in every part of you. Your chest hurts. Your legs are twitching. You need to get out, so you strip off your shirt and kicks off your shoes and pants and you shift. The pain helps ground you and you’re panting a bit already. You grab your bag in your mouth.

Dave , you think. It’s Dave. Those were his sunglasses. We’re getting him out.

You run. Jake lives two miles away, and if you’re going to be gone for a while, (you are, you’ve got a lead, and you’re not letting go of it, not this time), you better let him know before you leave.

Chapter Text

Magnitude — The brightness of a celestial body. A lower magnitude number indicates a brighter object.


The next thing you’re aware of is the creak of the trunk as it opens and lets in the sunlight. You carefully do not groan, just feel around for your sunglasses before you remember the guy, the wolf, Karkat, he took them.

Luckily the sun is not a problem for long, because Bro throws a T-shirt and some jeans at you and it hits square in the face. Then, you can’t see anything.

“Get up,” he says. “We’ve got errands.”

You try and gauge his mood. Bro’s face is blank as a freshly painted wall, a notebook on the first day of school. His voice seems no louder than usual, or at least no louder than it usually does post moon, when your ears are still overly sensitive and all the colors are dull and the noises sharp.

You scramble into the clothing in the back of the car. Again, you look around for your sunglasses (again you remember they’re gone; fuck, everything is a little hazy still) but Bro doesn’t like looking at your eyes. It makes him mad, so you’re stuck with your crappy backup pair, Bro’s old ones with the wrecked frames and tape on one of the leg thingies that go behind your ears. Handles. Sticks. Fuck. Whatever. When he finally lets you out of the back you're in a little shopping center, fast food, drugstore, a little plant shop. That’s probably the reason you stopped, the plant shop. You know you’re right when Bro tosses you your bracelets and necklace, silver, and you snap them on.

“You know the drill,” he says. You do. Scheduling is inconsistent as fuck, you’ll go a month, sometimes two, without stopping to restock. Sometimes twice a week, but the two of you always split. He gets ammo and beer and cigarettes from wherever he does, from Walmart or shady guys in back alleyways or, on rare occasions, thrift shops. He gives you his card and gives you a number, a budget, never quite enough, and you buy protein and granola bars and gas in a can. If he’s feeling nice, or not as pissed as usual, he’ll grab some fast food for the two of you. Given what happened last night - two nights ago, time is fuzzy sometimes - you’re not holding your breath.

In the end, your the one to get to the little flower shop first - Harley’s Horticulture - arms full of half paid for, half lifted nonperishables and a box of snoopy bandaids. It’s cozy and cool in here, pots on shelves, hanging from the ceiling, bare-bones cement, the sound of trickling water and the smell of dirt and plants easing the headache you hadn’t realized you had until it softened. There’s a girl about your age behind the counter, dreamily sorting what looks like lumps of dirty onions into boxes. She looks up when you approach shaking her hair out of her face.

“Hi! Can I help you?” she asks cheerily. Her sleeves are rolled up and there’s dirt up to her elbows, beneath her nails, and you notice this because it’s easier to look at hands when you talk, keep an eye on where they are, what they’re saying that words and faces don’t.

“Do you have any - fuck, what’s it called?” The other word for Wolfsbane, because you don’t say wolfsbane out loud that’s one of his rules, it draws attention, but if you don’t remember and he finds out you were just hanging around and not making yourself useful he’ll be pissed. You need to get out of his bad books, into his mediocre books, his minor annoyance books, his shit list instead of his death list and you’ve spaced out mid-conversation haven’t you, because the pretty dark-haired girl is tilting her head at you and her thick brows are scrunched in concern.

“Are you ok?” she asks. She almost puts a hand on your wrist and you don’t flinch, and it’s ok anyways because she doesn’t, just hesitates and draws back and you’re glad for that. Really.

“I’m peachy keen,” you say, and your voice doesn’t crack. “all engines optimal, hardware and software is up to date, no malware we’re talking a brand new mac, because Apple is the best, fresh out of the box, no scratches, no dents, hasn’t even been dropped once, I’m that good - Monkshood.” She looks dazed, but it’s better than worried (the last guy who was worried about you got shot at by your brother) so you count that as a victory. “Do you have any monkshood?” you read her nametag. It’s written in green sparkly pen. “Jade?”

“Monkshood.” Jade’s hands flutter. “Yeah, we’ve got some. Have you handled it before?”

“I’m practically a monkshood expert,” you say assertively as she pulls on a pair of filthy gardening gloves. Also bright green. “I’ve got my PhD in handling that shit, wrote enough papers to fill a library of textbooks, all which I’ve written, about handling monkshood.” She smiles at that, a flash of sharp teeth that make you blink twice. Is she? She can’t be.

“You’ll need to be careful with it, the sap can be an irritant. Make sure to wash your hands after touching it,” Jade says cheerily, as she swings out from behind the counter. “Follow me!” It’s not always so easy to tell, as it is with you or Karkat, red-eyed as you are. But strange eyes are almost always a sign of something not entirely human, and her eyes are green behind her round glasses, green like a freshly grown leaf, green like a highlighter, like a neon sign in the window of a fast food joint, like poison. They almost glow, in the same mirrored way that a cat’s do, when the light hits just right.

You can’t let Bro see her.

Get the plants and get out before Bro’s done with shopping, or if you can’t manage that, make sure it’s not her at the register when he comes in. Wolves wild and changed, hunting like they are when they find you, (Bro says they’d kill you if he didn’t kill them first, territorial, it’s easier to believe it but half of the time you’re not sure you do), you can swallow that just barely, you can see why Bro would do what he does so you just lay there and you play bait and atone. But Jade’s wearing a flowered apron and a chewed up number two pencil in her ponytail, the eraser worn down to a barely there nub. There’s dirt across her dark cheeks like freckles and her teeth are sharp but her smile is kind and it crinkles her eyes.

“Does anyone else work here?” you ask.

“This is my grandpa's shop!” she says happily. “But he’s out for lunch right now so it’s just me and Bec.”

“Bec?” you echo.

Maybe you can talk to them instead, play interference and maybe Bro won’t see Jade and it’ll all be ok. You open your mouth to ask, but Jade whistles and says, “Here, Bec!” and from somewhere within the aisles trots the biggest dog you’ve ever seen. As you are now, human-shaped, Bec could eat you in a bight and a half, but she bumps happily into Jade’s legs before sniffing your hand curiously. (You don’t have to offer it to her, she’s just that big.)

“That’s a big ass dog,” you say as she licks your hands happily. “You’re a regular monster, aren’t you?” You bend down and scratch Bec behind the ears to hide the panic on your face. Jade’s alone, and Bro’s going to come and there’s no one else you can direct him to, but Bec has teeth almost as big as yours when you’re shifted even if all she’s doing is lovingly washing your face in drool. It’s the middle of the day in the middle of a shopping complex, but you wouldn’t put it past Bro to drag Jade somewhere quieter if there’s nothing stopping him. Dogs can be loud, so Bec will buy some time.

Jade is moving so slowly, wrapping the pot of wolfsbane (monkshood) in brown paper and tying it up with twine. She doesn’t touch any of the leaves even once, and then she washes the gardening gloves in the sink like she’s washing her hands, and then she washes her bare hands too. This is taking too long. You're willing to use the card one more time, spend more money than you're supposed to and take the beating that will result, if you can get out before Bro gets in.

“Can I get you anything else?” she asks cheerily.  

“Nope, that’s it.”

“Alright! That’ll be nineteen-ninety-nine.” She flashes a quick grin at you, sharp teeth, wolf sharp teeth, but they’re also a little bit crooked and you’ve almost made it, almost, when there’s a hand on your shoulder and you do not flinch.

“I got it, kid,” says Bro, fumbling out his wallet. He flashes Jade that charming smile and she smiles back, and you can’t see his eyes but you know he has seen her teeth, her eyes, the sweat on the back of your neck that is the only way you allow your fear to show. He always sees. You’re carefully not shaking.

“Hey, Bro.” The words are not calm but emotionless, so tightly held together you're mentally white-knuckled. Bec, who had just been so kind and gentle, snuffling your face and licking your cheeks, draws back her lips, stand between you and Bro, and growls, tail straight instead of furiously batting your legs as it had been only moments before, she is not fooled by the disarming grin, the jaunty head tilt. Jade’s eyes flick back and forth between you, Bro, and Bec.

“Mind calling off your dog?” Bro asks lightly. “Bad for business if I can’t pay.”

“Yes! Of course,” Jade says, but her brows are furrowed. She snaps, points to her side. “Here, Bec.” Bec gives Bro one last warning growl, you’d press your ears to your head if you were a wolf now but all you can do is stand very, very still, stiller than death because death was once alive and moving, that’s how still you are.

“Thanks…” he leans forward towards her chest, the sleaze, and sure he’s reading her name tag but it makes you uncomfortable to watch. “Jade,” he reads. Even though you’re already holding too many shopping bags and Bro’s arms are empty, you’re the one who holds the plant. “Come on, kid,” he says, hand on your shoulder, leading you out of the shop.

Maybe he didn’t notice. Her eyes are green, there are human eyes that are green, but as soon as the two of you get into the car Bro starts looking up motels on his phone instead of driving and you know you’re not that lucky. By the time he starts driving, you’ve worked yourself into a silent panic; it’s too soon, you’re not ready, even though Karkat and the other one had gotten away hunting twice in as many days, (maybe it’s more but you don’t remember anything since you changed), it’s getting to you. You’re breaking. There’s no way you can warn her, give her time to slip away when Bro is actively on the prowl instead of waiting for his prey to come to him, and it’s so much worse that way, Bro going after instead of waiting, so much harder to justify. This is her home. Where would she run to?

“You get the chance to make up for Thursday,” Bro says after letting you stew in silence. “Don’t fucking blow it.” There’s nothing to do but nod.

“How are we going to do this?” And Bro does not smile at you but there is something bloodthirsty and cruel in the angle of his shoulders.

“I was thinking I’d let you take care of it,” he informs you. (Your stomach drops.) “I’d bring you to her place, pick the lock. There’s wolves around these parts, you know.” He makes a right turn. “It’d be a shame if one got into a house.”

He wants you. Wants you to-

“I can’t,” you say, and Bro steps on the brakes and whirls on you so fast, slams his fist into the window so hard, pushes you against the glass and your head knocks and you can hear the clunk.

“Oh, we know you can,” Bro says. “You have already, haven’t you?” You’d do anything to make his stop talking, but you’re pinned between your seatbelt and his arm. “You killed Dirk, you killed your brother, you can kill a fucking wolf, can’t you? Is that thing’s life worth more than your brother’s?”

Bro’s got his hand around your throat, so you can’t shake your head, you can’t say no, yes , whatever will make it stop. He pats your cheek almost gently and you can’t cringe away, there’s no room. and then lets you go, turns back to the road so calmly you’d never believe he’d just attacked you if you hadn’t been there. “I’ll be there to make you change back. Don’t worry. It’ll be easy, kid. Piece of cake.”

Chapter Text

Parallax — The apparent motion of an observed object against the background caused by the movement of the observer. An example of this is the motion of the stars as seen from observatories on Earth. 

 “I love the summer!” Terezi screeches as she climbs up a fallen tree and howls, two-legged but wolf-wild in her lanky, grinning, teenage body. 

“This is serious,” you snarl, waving flies away from your ears as the two of you attempt to retrace the frantic path you and Kankri had taken two nights before. The light is a soft green, filtered through the leaves, the air is cool and there’s stones and water and on another day sure, you’d grumble, but you’d be climbing and wrestling and let Terezi shove you into the cold stream but now you have a mission. You’re focussed. Maybe you’d been a little enthusiastic in your assurance that you could find it, especially after your dad hadn’t let you out of his sight yesterday and Kankri was only too happy to play watch, but you had Terezi. It’d only been thirty-six hours or so, and she had a better nose than you even when she had a head cold. 

“Of course it’s serious!” Terezi trills as she jumps down and lands on all fours. She does not sound serious: she sounds feral, the thrill of the chase only increasing her excitement. “That was torture! Attempted kidnapping! Shooting a gun in a no hunting area!” She grins, sharp teeth bared like it’s all a game, but a game she is going to win. “Justice must be served! But it cannot be rushed.” She points towards her left. “Besides! You two went this way.”

“Why the fuck didn’t you lead with that?” you grumble. “Do you have some sort of sick desire to watch each and every one of my blood vessels burst? That’s what this is, isn’t it.” Terezi just flashes you that sharp-toothed grin and cackles. The trees in that direction are familiar-ish, you kind of recognize that rock, but at this point Terezi seems to know where she’s going. You certainly don’t, but it’s hard to trace your own scent even when it reaks, since it smells like you. There’s not much to do but skulk after her for a bit until you do smell something, old blood and the faint faded tang of sick. Terezi’s grin loses none of its brightness but the tilt of her head is serious as it ever gets.

You make to run into the clearing, maybe there’s a sign of him, a note, something there to point you in the right direction, but suddenly the world flips upside down and your face is pressed into the ground. Terezi places one foot on your back and rests her cane inches away from your face. 

“Terezi!” There is dirt in your mouth. Terezi has tripped you with her stupid cane with the flair and enthusiasm that she does everything else with. You are spitting mad. You literally spit the dirt from your mouth and then splutter some more for good measure. “What the actual fuck? Do you think this is a joke? A wolf has been tortured and you’re here, amusing yourself by filling my squawk blister with the rancid ground his captor stomped on when he tied him up and tried to shoot me!” Terezi hits you in the head, in the friendly way she does, with her cane. That means you’re going to have a lump the size of a rock in an hour. 

“You’ll destroy evidence if you charge in there head first!” she trills, placing her foot on your back and posing like she’s some sort of vanquisher of evil. “Stupid.”

“Shut up. Fine.” The ground is soft enough that you haven’t scraped anything, but your knees and palms still sting. You make sure to put on a show as you brush off. “I’m going slowly. A three legged turtle would beat me if this was a race, which it is not even though the longer we wait the more likely what’s his name is going to be dead.” His name is Dave, but saying his name makes it all to real, even though you’d seen him in the stinking sickly flesh. 

“Stop being overdramatic,” Terezi says, the hypocrite that she is. “Come on, you’re the one who wanted to do this! Take it seriously and let’s look for clues!” She hauls you forward and you shove her with your elbow right in the skinny ribs before you get into the clearing because even if she’s right, she's a pain in your ass. The police looked around earlier, you were told. You don’t see any sign of it. 

“I’m not being overdramatic.”

“You’re always being overdramatic, Vantas,” she chirps, and in you go. 

It’s definitely the place. There’s a pile of vomit where you’d heald him in your arms for just those few moments, flies buzzing around, black and ugly. Terezi curls her nose, (it’s putrid, even to you, you can barely keep from adding to it, especially when the picture of him bent over, red eyes watering, emptying his stomach comes to mind,) and Terezi has a better nose. Still, she manages not to lose her breakfast. 

“Well, you definitely weren’t hallucinating,” she says. “Unless this was yours.” 

“Kankri was there too!” you protest, but you don’t give the words your usual rancor. You’re a bit distracted.

“He doesn’t count, he gets all panicky, and he’d probably go along with your delusions to be ‘nice’. Hey.” She throws you a disposable camera. “Record the evidence.” You didn’t know they made these anymore, let alone are you able to think why Terezi, who is blind, would own a disposable camera, but usually it’s best not to question her.

“I was not,” you hiss, “being delusional.” Still, you snap a photo. The sound of the shutter and the flash is, admittedly, more satisfying than your phone but you pretend not to enjoy it. You take a few more pictures of the clearing for good measure, snap, snap, snap, the light of the camera illuminating the vomit, the scuff marks, the tree he had been leaned against.

“I can smell that.” Terezi picks up a stick from the ground and pokes at the pile of vomit. She breaks the tip of the stick off and pulls out a ziplock from her backpack. You’ve known Terezi for years, but every so often she does something that makes your stomach churn with disgust.

“You’re not keeping that. Please tell me you’re not.”

“It’s evidence,” Terezi informs you, primly dropping the vomit stick in her bag. At least she doesn’t lick it, you tell yourself, as she brushes off her hands on her jeans. “You said he shot at you? Let’s look for the bullets.”

“I don’t see how this is going to help us find him,” you grumble. 

“Information is information, Karkat! He might have a hunting license we can use to find him,” Terezi says. “He might have left fingerprints, or DNA! And we’ll figure out what type of gun he uses.”

“How is that going to help?” you growl. “We know who he is already, it’s where the maggot is hiding that is the thing that we are trying to find!”

“Who’s the expert here? It’s certainly not you! Now get your ass to work!”

It takes you longer than you thought it would to find the bullets, and by the time you’ve taken photos and pried one out of a tree to put in another of Terezi’s little ziplock bags, your ankles are completely covered with mosquito bites and your hair is sweaty and sticking to the back of your neck. Terezi finds a piece of torn cloth too, and what might be human hair or might be animal fur, because she’s the best at finding things. There’s also some bootprints in the mud, which might be the guy’s and might be the police’s, but pictures are taken anyways. You trek back to the campsite where your dad and Kankri are packing up and sulk your way into the back seat of the minivan. You don’t feel much like calling and in the middle of nowhere that you are, cellphone coverage is too inconsistent, but there’s enough bars to text. You should give Dirk updates, probably.


TT: Yeah, we figured that would happen. Bro’s got an in with the police. What did you find?


TT: Everything helps. We’re closer than we’ve ever been. My cousin is hacking the the park records to see if we can get a license plate. We might be able to follow him with the traffic cams. 


TT: Yeah, I’ll come with Rose to pick it up. Rendezvous location somewhere public. No insult, but I don’t know you.


TT: Rose is tentacleTherapist. She’ll message you, you can send her the location.


“I’m coming with you,” hisses Terezi into your ear gleefully, giving you a heart attack and a half. 

“Not if you were the last wolf on this god forsaken shitstain of a planet,” you reply with equal emotion, except the emotion is anger. Terezi rolls her eyes and sits back with a self satisfied grin, like she knows she’s won. Perhaps she has, but you’re not going to be the one to let her know that.

“Fuck you,” you inform her.

“Language, Karkat!” Kankri parrots, and your dad just sighs.


TT: That’s fine. Are they chill with magic?


TT: Cool. 


TT: Sounds good. See you then.

KK: ...

TT: Me too.