Warnings: Some angst?
Oooh, I'm actually answering to a review... Usually I don't do that, not because I don't like reviews (I'm awfully glad and giggly for each and every one of them) but I just know how much I hate reading through them. But this one asks an interesting question ^^; Since I've been thinking that I may have not explained thoroughly enough, I'm using the review to clarify that point. (questions that should be obvious if you just didn't jump chapters won't be answered :p)
Praeceps: "exactly where does the tiger fit in?"
Err. That's just who Wufei is inside.
"Tigers are from India, Wufei is Chinese."
Firstly, there are, or were, tigers in China, and more importantly, there are tigers in Chinese mythology. Which is important since people become such or such animal using the mental picture people have from those, and not the true reality of that animal.
Secondly, it doesn't matter where they're from. Sure, there is sometimes a slight parallel, for example one could be some animal instead of another if both animals fit his personality AND one was closer from where he's from, because his unconscious mind would be more used to this animal as reference. But if the animal doesn't fit, then it doesn't matter if it lives in the place of origin of the person.
For example, Quatre identifies as Arab, but with his complexion, it's visible that most if not all of his blood is Caucasian, maybe even from Norway or someplace up there :p And he's still a cheetah, which lives in Africa. If the place of origin and the ethnicity were more important, then he would be something else. The way he was raised was more important than his real ancestry.
(Actually one could argue that they're all from the Colonies and there are no animals native from there, so it all takes place in the unconscious mind and which animals it uses as archetypes.)
"Tigers are orange with stripes, Wufei has a dark complexion (dark hair and eyes, nowhere near orange)"
Doesn't matter. Anyway, tigers can be anywhere from white to brick red; I'd say Wufei's skin is definitively not pink, but more of a pale brown-golden. So his fur is kind of golden. Because the stripes of a tiger are always black and tigers are defined by the presence of stripes, it is his skin that tints most of his fur and not his hair like it does with the others. As for his eyes, they don't change.
Actually, if Quatre had red hair, but was exactly the same person inside, he would still be a cheetah. He would just be a red cheetah, no matter that real cheetahs are always golden. But if he had black hair, he'd have pale, kind of reddish-tinted fur. So in the matter of striped or spotted beasts, the fur is the color of the human version's hair if the human hair isn't black. If it's black, then the fur takes as close to the skin tone a color as possible. I know it's weird, but in my head it kind of makes sense O_o; The stripes and spots define the cat after all. They need to be visible on the fur.
Maz: AAAH!!! Don't bother me with Mandarin and Cantonese and Chinese language stuff! How can I know which one is written? And maybe by the time AC 195 arrives they'll have found a way to write down Mandarin. :p Don't bother me with continuity!
XD Kidding, that was something I didn't know, thank you. And yeah, I'd like it if you could explain to me about the difference. But if ever I use that reference again, I'm going to keep on using Mandarin, because I like the sound of the word. So there. ^___^
Heero jumped back, briefly pressing the back of his hand to his cheek to check for blood, his eyes on Wufei. The Chinese teen was panting, and looked as tired by the fight as Heero felt. They had hit each other pretty hard by moments and Heero and him both now sported the other's marks on their chests and limbs.
Buises weren't the only thing marking Wufei's skin anymore. Brownish stripes contrasting sharply with his golden skin had appeared, sometimes darkening until they were nearly black before a furious attack.
The werewolf leaned forward, waiting for the next attack with a touch of nervousness. Their exchanges were becoming more and more violent and he feared one of them was going to cause serious damage next time.
No attack came and, after a while, he arched an eyebrow in question.
Wufei stared at him through narrowed eyes for a few very long seconds, then straightened up, lowering his guard.
"That's enough," he announced in a calmer voice, his stripes paling noticeably.
Heero straightened up, circumspect. The black-haired teen seemed to have gotten rid of a big part of his bad mood, but that didn't prove that his rational decision would be in the wolf's favor.
"Did you understand what was happening?" Wufei asked in a reserved and impersonal tone.
Heero didn't ask what he was talking about.
"No. I only understood what it was that I wanted so bad when I saw you... But it was too late. I'd been ... jumpy all day. And then I saw you there and I forgot everything else. I didn't even think that maybe, you didn't want it. In fact," he added in a whisper, "I didn't think about you at all."
The Chinese teen stared at him in silence for several long minutes, then shrugged and looked away.
He still felt angry with Heero, and would probably resent him for a while, but he wasn't as enraged as he'd been. The fight had helped him to calm down.
He couldn't afford to nurture murderous intents toward his teammate anyway. They depended on each other too much; resentment could be fatal. He had to forgive. No matter what his angry and spiteful side wanted him to do, he could be better than that.
The reason he was so resentful wasn't really that he hadn't asked, since Heero himself hadn't been fully in control of his actions. He couldn't decently reproach him that. No, what pissed him off so much was that he'd been treated like a bitch in heat, like a weak female to claim and possess. As if he was a...
'Meiran would slap me into next year if she knew that I still assume that "weak and defenseless victim" still rhymes with "woman",' he thought suddenly, his anger disappearing without warning.
What made him so mad was to have been under Heero, to have been penetrated. Just like a woman. Just as if he weren't a man anymore. As if Heero had stolen his virility.
'And I proved to myself that I was still a man by beating him up. Great proof of maturity. And being a man doesn't just mean being able to hit like some bully...' he repeated, trying to convince himself. It was hard because he had always been, under the cool exterior, an extremely passionate... an extremely 'violent' person. And since the beginning of the war, he wasn't controlling this side of him so much anymore. It was hard not to answer by violence to something he interpreted as an attack.
Enough auto-psychoanalysis for today. He would meditate later, for now he needed to put away those spiteful feelings toward his teammate. It was more intelligent than to resent Heero for years for an accident, even though Wufei had been the victim of said accident.
Heero was standing a few feet away, head hanging, looking like he was only barely managing not to squirm like a child.
"...From what Sally said, about pheromones, you were probably just as far under the influence as I was, maybe deeper. Would you say she was right?"
Heero blinked, startled. "... I was under the influence, that's true, but..."
"Were you interested in me before that happened?"
His immediate response was a snort, and Wufei smirked faintly.
"No offense, but I can't see you this way. Well..."
"Stop while you're ahead, Yuy," Wufei warned him. "I think I'll end up forgiving you after a while. It doesn't mean that I'm not angry with you anymore. I AM pissed at you for your carelessness, and I will stay pissed for a while. But... That won't last forever," he added with a sigh. "But if ever you feel yourself go into heat again and you approach me anyway, I will drive your thick skull through a wall, is that understood?"
Heero nodded, relieved. Their relationship wasn't irreparably broken.
"...Still..." he murmured, eyes lowered. "I... I feel like I..."
Heero blinked and looked up at the other boy, surprised. He rarely used people's first name, and Heero would have thought that they wouldn't be on a first name basis for a while.
Wufei sighed with aggravation and ran a hand through his hair, frowning. The other teen was once again blaming himself for everything. Strangely enough, two minutes earlier he'd been doing the same thing, blaming everything on Yuy. But now, the fact that himself did deeply annoyed him.
"You were just as high as me. You didn't induce this voluntarily, planning to take advantage of my moment of vulnerability. And it isn't as if it was... unpleasant... at the time. Physically, it was... ok," he forced the words out of his mouth, embarrassed and a little ashamed to have to admit out loud that he had felt pleasure in the act. "It doesn't mean that it was what I would have chosen if I had a choice, and that's why I'm angry. But it's nothing worse than that, okay?"
The Japanese teen nodded, relieved. If Wufei himself didn't see it like a rape...
"Still, I can't help but wonder what sort of surprises that werewolf thing still hides from us," the Chinese one growled.
Heero nodded thoughtfully.
"Hilde is here, we should ask..."
"She's here?" Wufei repeated, surprised.
He scowled. She probably knew that it could happen, but she hadn't said anything. Okay, they'd been separated earlier than they should have been at the school, but still... She should have warned them right away!
"I will have questions for her," he muttered, still irritated.
The two Asian pilots walked out of the gym, still a healthy distance between them, but side-by-side and not quite as tense.
Halfway in the second corridor, Heero found Hilde's scent and signaled for Wufei to follow him. The she-wolf wasn't far.
* * *
Hilde accompanied Catherine and Trowa inside the ship, but didn't follow them to the common room where Sally was waiting. She could smell traces of Heero's scent from the last night and it made her feel uneasy. Luckily, his pheromones were less active now that time had passed, but she couldn't smother the little spark of warmth in her belly in answer.
She scowled, crossing her arms defensively over her stomach. She hated those instinctive responses; it made her feel like she was truly part of a species that was lower than humans in the evolutionary scale. Dominated by her instinct, as if rational thought didn't count anymore...
Sighing, the girl slid down the wall and sat down on the floor, her chin resting on her knees. She had told Cathy and Trowa that she had to talk to Heero before joining them and Sally.
In fact, she was more afraid to be trapped in a room with no other exits by the local alpha male. But she didn't really want to tell them why.
No, she didn't want to see Duo's face if she told them that her pack leader had given her an ultimatum. He had enough of her kicking the ass of every male who tried to court her. He had decided that either she would take a mate or he'd choose for her. She was sixteen, now, she was one of the minority of non-sterile females, she was more than old enough to begin to reproduce.
He didn't care if she ended up hating her mate, he didn't care that more than seven out of ten pregnancies in weres either terminated early on or ended up with the children either malformed or stillborn... The varied deficiencies were one of the unavoidable results of the reproduction between creatures that by definition had an unstable genetic structure.
They couldn't count only on bitten humans to make sure that the Packs didn't die out. Even carefully chosen, those who survived didn't always end up being the right species. She was old enough to do her part for the survival of her species.
She hated the ultimatum her pack leader had given her. But a pack-less wolf wasn't worth much. She couldn't stand knowing that she was alone, without a group to belong with, with no one to depend on and no one depending on her. She had tried to replace her pack with the army, and it had worked, until Duo opened her eyes on the kind of people hiding behind the ideals they'd used to attract teenagers like her. She gave too big an importance to her ideals to keep on fighting on their side after realizing the real reason they were sent fighting, and then, she had found herself alone. She'd tried to hold on to Duo for a time, but a friend wasn't a pack, especially a friend with no sense of hierarchy, and she had been forced to go back.
She was too young to switch packs. She had managed to convince her mother to let her leave for the army once, with difficulty - as far as legal permission went, her agreement was the only thing Hilde needed - but the alpha had been too pissed off at them to ever let them try again such a demonstration of independence. So she was reduced to bearing the pressure of living in a village in the woods, her who had grown up on L2, sometimes disappearing for a few weeks when the pressure became too strong and the need to do something about the war overcame her... like now.
The sound of steps resonated in the corridor, jerking her out of her thoughts, and she looked up tensely.
Duo paused when he saw her, then signaled for her to stay in place and went to crouch against the wall, at her side.
"The amazing circus siblings are here," she told him in lieu of welcome, nodding toward the door. "Where's Quatre?"
"He's getting a shower and clothes," he answered, sitting on the floor.
"You're not going to see your friends, Duo?" she asked, trying to gain some time to explain why she wasn't inside with them.
"Well..." he murmured, embarrassed.
He looked right and left, then leaned toward her, whispering.
"To be frank... I really don't wanna be caught in a room with no escape route, I'm kinda leery of what can happen if Heero's still floating on his little pink pheromones cloud."
Her eyes widened and she burst out laughing.
"What do you mean, me too, Hildie?" Duo asked, confused.
The girl turned bright red.
The brunette sighed.
"If Ice-face's rut isn't finished yet... He'll probably react way more violently to a female in age to reproduce than he reacted to his pack mates. Unless he's queerer than a three-dollar bill."
Duo snickered. "Nah. He went after Sally. I really hope for you he's not in heat anymore, it wasn't funny running away from him yesterday."
"You see, you would've had more fun if you'd let him catch you," she answered back. He messed up her hair as revenge, and she squealed and tugged on his braid.
Distracted by the noise they were making, Hilde smelled them before she heard them, just before they walked past the turn in the corridor. She scrambled up, nervous but not wanting to admit it, and waited for them to appear.
Duo got up too, trusting her senses. Heero wasn't alone he realized with some surprise, Wufei was walking besides him. Not too close, and... were those bruises on their faces and arms?!
Hilde wasn't too worried about the state of the other weres. Heero's eyes had turned to her and she had frozen. But to her great relief, his eyes barely swept over her, turning to Duo instead.
At least he wasn't in heat anymore, she realized with relief. Otherwise he would have already pounced.
Duo gave Hilde a nervous glance as the two males came closer.
"S'okay," she whispered, "looks like it passed."
Heero didn't hear the words, but the signification was easy to get from the way Duo relaxed, when he'd looked ready to bolt two seconds earlier. The wolf gritted his teeth. He hated that Duo would be wary of him that way.
Wufei and him arrived by the other teens and paused. They all stared at each other alternatively for a few seconds, Duo and Heero especially searching and avoiding each other's eyes.
"Oh, for the love of the gods, Yuy!!" Wufei exclaimed. "You didn't hesitate like this earlier!"
Heero threw Wufei an annoyed glare, but lowered his eyes, still uneasy around him.
"I'm less irresistible than you are, Wu-babe," Duo answered, trying to direct Wufei's annoyance away from the Japanese pilot.
Wufei gave him a dark glare.
"Where are the others?" he asked Hilde irritably, ignoring Duo.
She pointed at the door behind them, and two seconds later he was dragging her by her arm through said door, abandoning the two boys. She protested, but he wasn't listening.
Heero sighed, vaguely relieved that Wufei had taken the reins in hands to force Duo and him to face each other. Not only would it be easier, but... he really hadn't liked the way his Wolf had noticed the girl.
"Whoa, Wufei seems to be in a good mood like always," Duo commented, crossing his hands behind his head, a little nervous.
He felt stupid for making such an obvious observation, but the silence made him uneasy.
"So, err... How are you? I mean... Seeing what happene--"
There was a short moment of silence. Duo let his hands drop at his sides, staring at Heero, who was in turn observing his feet with rapt attention.
"I'm sorry, I..."
"That's okay," the American boy cut him. "You gave us all a good scare but I know it wasn't your fault. Sally explained the hormones problem, ok? I don't resent you. In fact, when I think 'bout it, it was sorta funny. How's Trowa by the way?"
"He's fine... Still a little nervous about his new capabilities," he added with a warning look.
"Got it, I won't tease him," the braided pilot winked back.
Heero relaxed slowly. Duo honestly seemed not to resent him, and, nervousness disappearing, he was behaving exactly like before...
"Still... I..." he muttered, knowing how to present his excuses even less than with Wufei.
"Heero..." Duo whispered, resting his hands on his comrade's shoulders to make him face him. "I'm not angry. You didn't do anything to me..."
"But if I'd caught you, I would have!"
The American teen gave him an amused smirk.
"I'm very flattered to see that your libido responds to me that well. And at least this way, we know for sure that you're at least bisexual," he added, grinning impishly.
The other boy seemed ready to forgive and forget the episode, and for a moment, the Japanese teen felt hurt. Duo wasn't straight, so it was hard not to take is as a personal rejection. But on another side, did he really want to have a relationship with Duo? Sure, he could find him sexually attractive, but was it worth risking their friendship and their teamwork... and would Duo desire to risk the transformation just for a relationship with Heero? It was asking a lot. And they were barely sixteen; they would have the time to think about it later.
Heero sighed, then smiled shyly at Duo.
The braided teen hesitated a second, then pulled him into a brief hug. Taken by surprise, Heero didn't get the chance to react before Duo stepped back.
"So... We going to see the others now? We only lack Quatre, he's gettin' dressed. You coming?"
Heero chuckled softly and followed Duo inside.
* * *
As soon as he was inside, Duo went to perch on the couch's arm. Trowa gave Heero a cryptic look.
"Still alive?" he asked, sounding indifferent.
The Japanese teen grimaced when he remembered that he'd been supposed to get Trowa clothes. The other wolf didn't look like he'd be forgetting that anytime soon, not that he would say anything out loud. Trowa had his way to make you feel the weight of his disapproval.
"Sorry, I had a problem to take care of urgently with Wufei..."
"...Mmmyeah," the green-eyed teen answered, clearly doubtful.
He considered Heero in silence for a few seconds, indecipherable, then his eyes wandered over to the bruise booming on the other wolf's cheekbone, and softened a little. He nodded imperceptibly as acceptance of his excuse. Smiling just with his eyes as he did sometimes, Heero fell in the couch at the ex-mercenary's side, his arm thrown over the back of the couch, behind his comrade's head.
Trowa shrugged and leaned back against the couch, looking indifferent.
Duo, who had followed the whole silent exchange, had a small, amused smile.
Wufei gave the two werewolves a surprised look. They didn't even seem to notice that they were close enough for their thighs to brush against each other and that Heero's arm was practically around Trowa's shoulder; or if they'd noticed, they didn't care.
"Maybe you'd be more comfortable on his lap, Yuy," he commented wryly.
Heero and Trowa stared at him, surprised, and then exchanged a look. Indeed they were sitting very close, but it didn't really bother any of them. The other was safe to be around.
"That's standard in a pack, Wufei," Hilde informed him with amused chuckle. "I remember when I visited my cousins, we slept in a pile, it was cool..."
Trowa nodded slowly. It seemed logical to him. He'd never been relaxed in anyone's personal space before. But the only thing his instincts told him was that the one so close was of his own. No wariness, just a feeling of belonging with.
"I don't know what you're doing here, Hilde, but it's a good thing," Heero said, changing the subject. "What happened yesterday proved that there are too many things that we don't know about Weres. It's dangerous."
Wufei and Trowa nodded in silence. The girl sighed.
"You got questions?" she asked, sitting cross-legged on the coffee table, facing the couch.
"We'd better wait for Quatre," Wufei remarked.
"We wait," Heero acquiesced, nodding.
"Shouldn't be long now," Duo commented. "He just needed to take a quick shower."
Trowa turned his face away when he heard the name, and got elbowed in the ribs by Heero in result. He looked at him, meeting his steel blue eyes evenly. Heero glanced at the door, asking silently if he wanted to get out to talk about it, but Trowa shrugged.
"I'm not going to gouge his eyes out if that's what's worrying you," he whispered.
"Hn," growled Heero as he crossed his arms over his chest, unconvinced.
* * *
When Quatre arrived, about fifteen minutes later, Sally, Duo, Hilde and Cathy were chatting quietly, Wufei was meditating in a corner and Trowa and Heero, each slumped against one armrest of the couch, were taking a short nap, though if asked they would have insisted that they were just resting their eyes. One of Trowa's legs was thrown across Heero's thigh.
"Guys? Um, were you waiting for me?" Quatre asked softly, unwilling to disturb the peace.
Trowa opened his eyes and straightened up, glancing at the newcomer. His eyes met Quatre's by accident and instinctively, still confused about the way to handle things with him, he let them ice over and slide off as if nothing was keeping his attention. He felt a brutal pinch of pain and ashamed sadness for a second, and had to prevent himself from reaction openly. What the HELL was that?
The feelings were dissipating as if he'd never felt them.
...As if they weren't his.
Trowa's eyes narrowed and he stared at Quatre, but the blond teen had his head hanging and was going his best to look like he wasn't there.
"You could have hurried, we were waiting for you," Wufei informed him. "We were going to ask Hilde questions about Weres..."
"Oh, that's a good idea," commented Quatre, relieved to have the attention redirected elsewhere. The latecomer took place in an armchair on the other side of the room, besides Sally.
Hilde turned a little to face most everyone, looking at them one after the other.
"I feel like I'm lecturing a class. What am I gonna begin with... Hmm."
"The rut?" Duo asked with a smile that he was trying not to make nervous.
Heero nodded, his expression blank. "Does it happen often?"
Hilde shrugged and tried to think about it objectively.
"Depends. For canine weres, the alpha male goes into a rut about two to three times more often than his subordinates. Which is logical since in a pack the alpha pair is often the only one to reproduce, and the others need their authorization even just to form a pair. The she-wolves have heats too, but less intense. I know, normally with animals only the female goes into heat, but since we're also humans, and because human males are 'always ready'... Well, I think that's why. No one ever researched it."
Sally nodded thoughtfully and wrote something in her notebook.
"Three times as often? How many times a year are we talking about?" Heero asked, scowling.
The idea deeply bothered him. Losing control that badly wasn't something he could deal with as well as he dealt with the Wolf's instincts. He could redirect those instincts to his cause. Protect the pack or his friends, attack OZ or prey, it wasn't so far off. But he wasn't going to screw enemies to death, and so far the only one of his allies who hadn't reacted badly to his rut was Trowa, but then, he hadn't been at his most rational. He'd scared Sally and Catherine off, Wufei still resented him deeply, and as for Duo, Heero hadn't expected it to hurt so much that he would be wary of him, even if him sitting by his side proved that the braided teen didn't intend to let the incident change their relationship.
"Depends of the age of the male and a ton of other factors, number of females in a pack, number of other males... The more females there are and the less often there are ruts, because a male could be tempted to go after another one than his mate and the females would attempt to kill each other over it. Since there aren't a lot of female weres, everyone's gotta be careful," she explained.
Heero nodded thoughtfully.
"My 'pack' is only comprised of males... Do you think it will happen to me often?"
"Well, yeah. You're a teenager and you have a very stressful life, I'd say around once every four or five months. Maybe more often. Once you're adult or mated, it will calm down... Generally, having sex regularly out of the rut augments the interval of time between two heats," she added, expressionless. She knew that it wasn't something he would find easily.
"You just need to get yourself a girlfriend!" Duo commented without thinking.
Heero glared at him, stung by the careless suggestion.
"And who? Hilde? No thanks, I'll just lock myself up somewhere next time."
"Like hell you will!!" Hilde growled, slamming her hand against the coffee table. The sudden noise made them jump.
"One, it's dangerous, two, it wouldn't be of any use! You'll be in heat until you satisfy your impulses... It can calm down for a while, and so you'll think it's finished, and then it will come back twice as strong, with no warning, and there you'll rape the first person you will land your hand on, stupid!" she snarled at him passionately.
The Japanese pilot tensed, remembering the barely contained violence with which he'd taken Wufei. He could have hurt him bad very easily, and he was a weretiger, able to withstand that sort of abuse more easily than a normal human. He imagined Sally's or Catherine's body, bloodied, broken, and shivered uncontrollably. No way was he going to do that to anyone.
"Who do you propose then? Yourself?" he asked derisively.
Everyone saw her turn white.
"To get pregnant at barely sixteen? No thanks. The pill doesn't work for werewolves. And you know of condoms for weres? I don't."
Quatre muttered something unintelligible and stared at his cup of tea, wondering if he was the only one to be embarrassed by those frank discussions about sexuality.
"And other species?" he asked, trying to push away his stupid shyness. That was information he needed to know, after all.
"Not a clue. Sorry... I think it probably kinda follows the animal you're modeled after but apart from that..." she shrugged. "Oh. One thing. It works more with canines because they're a lot more sensitive to smells, but I think it works with other species too... If you get caught in the rut of someone else, it almost counts as if the rut's yours, and so you'll get to wait longer."
Wufei grumbled a 'good' under his breath. He was still preoccupied with digesting the fact that he would have to go through it too, and in his opinion it couldn't happen in too long.
"Not a lot more to say... " Hilde sighed. She felt like some tourist guide.
"Oh yeah, one thing. If the moon's at least halfway toward full, and that you get flaming pissed at someone, there are chances that you will begin to transform, unless you consciously make yourself stay human. So you have to be careful and keep a hold of your violent feelings, because if the first thing that changes is you getting spots or fur, you're not gonna notice right away, and if someone sees you... If it's the full moon, don't even try to stay human by nightfall, it's not possible. Anyway, violent feelings have more effect on your appearance, and those favor the animal side. So..."
The boys nodded glumly.
"The possibility to master one's appearance depends on the position in the pack. Seeing as an Alpha usually has a stronger will than a guy at the bottom of the ladder... And with time you'll learn to use it better... I don't know if you noticed, but it's possible to only change your senses or your resilience, yanno, give yourself a little boost. And if people say that Weres are stronger than normal people, it's because it's not that hard to reinforce your muscles. Most weres do it unconsciously, but you can learn to do it at will."
"I think I'm already doing that," Wufei commented thoughtfully. "I was faster than usual when I fought with Yuy..."
"You fought with Heero?" Duo replied, straightening up to stare at him.
Now he knew where the bruises were from. But Wufei had better have a good reason.
"It was just a spar," the Chinese pilot replied with a shrug. "My instinctive responses to his attacks were also better."
"Yes, my reaction time dropped quite noticeably as well," Quatre commented, sipping his tea. "I wasn't slow before, but there are moments now when I can't even follow my own movements... "
"That's because you act like a cat, but you watch it like you're a man, kitty-Cat. You don't think you can see something that fast, so you don't. But you still react to it, so you must see it... except you don't notice. Err, I'm confusing myself here..." the young girl added, scratching at her head.
Quatre laughed quietly.
"It's ok, I understood. I see but I don't realize, like a subliminal message..."
"Err... Yeah, kinda. Ah! About the moon, 'nother important thing. You can go to the Colonies, no problem. But if you stay longer than one month you'll be in deep shit. The's no moon influence, or too much, or maybe it's that there's no variation in the influence or whatnot. Your bodies can't use her to regulate the transformation, and it messes it all up."
"And? what does it do?" Heero asked, frowning.
The girl stopped smiling.
"Well... You won't even feel the need to transform. No impulse, nothing. After a while, a month and a half, two months, you're gonna lose something you need, get a ticket, or have an argument with a secretary, your boss, a telemarketer. And you will transform, but it won't be because the moon's pushing you, it will be 'cause your inner beastie is going off the deep end. You won't be able to stop the transformation. You won't be able to control the animal. And it will have two months of being totally locked up to catch up. Know what that means?"
"... no..." Quatre murmured cautiously, suddenly not in any hurry to know.
"It means that the secretary who caused the transformation will get turned into so much shredded meat," the girl announced, as coldly as she could. "Her and her girlfriends who giggle stupidly and chatter between two phonecalls. And the repairman coming for the coffee machine. And your boss. You heard about the serial killer, twenty years ago, who left little bits of his victims all over the place? He was a werepuma who's forgotten to come back in time."
The group shivered as one.
"We won't be able to live on a colony...?" Quatre whispered, his eyes widening.
His family... His father, his sisters... He could never go back home?
"Of course you can," Hilde reassured him. "Hey, I grew up on L2 until I was eleven, yanno. You jut need to make trips down to Earth regularly... but well... I mean, maybe you'll be better off staying on Earth. I grew up on a colony so I'm okay, but a lot of Weres can't take being in Space for long. The scents are too different, they feel the artificial gravity more, they turn claustrophobic after so long of not seeing the sky, things like that."
"We'll see when we get there. I don't think any of us want to plan on the long term. You're saying that for short periods of time, we can stay on a colony without problems?"
"So long as in ain't more than one month, yeah."
"It shouldn't be a problem for missions then. If it can be longer, we'll send Maxwell."
"I knew that it would be useful to be the only one not to turn furry once a month," he declared with a little laugh.
Quatre wondered if he was the only one to hear the wrongness in his voice, the thing that said how little he was actually happy about the state of things, contrary to what his tone implied. Maybe was it his empathy warning him of the difference between the inside and the facade...
"Guys, any other questions to ask Hilde about Weres?" the braided boy continued, seeing that she was starting to have enough of it.
The concerned glanced at each other, then Trowa and Heero shrugged and Quatre shook his head.
"Not right now. But it would be good if we had a way to contact you," Wufei replied.
"I'll give you a phone number. Or you can go through Sally. My section chief gave me to her as liaison, she knows how to contact me."
"And your pack?"
"I left them a note. For them, I'm visiting human relatives on the colonies; they won't be expecting me before the next full moon. And I'll send a message about how I'm doing something else if I can't go back to them, it's not a problem."
"You sure? We don't want you to get in trouble..."
"No, it's okay, I swear," she reassured her friend, glad that she wasn't Duo. There was nothing preventing her from lying.
Everyone exchanged looks, wondering what to talk about now.
"What if we talked business?" Duo suggested. Now that we don't have to worry about Trowa? It's been a long time since the last time we attacked, OZ is gonna think that we abandoned..."
The other boys nodded. Sally closed her notebook and got up, signaling for Cathy and Hilde to follow her.
"Better leave you alone then. You'll tell us if you need help later," the doctor commented. "For now I have theories to test. You will give me other blood and skin samples later, boys," she added as she walked out of the room, amused by their groans of protestation.
[Learning to Deal] [Predators]