Savage Killer Inside, Newbie. Don't Even Envision Pretending

Pine Peak Sanctuary 
#1
Fuck, chest started to seize up soon as he pulled up to the gate. No one around he could see. Killed the engine for a short while, focused on his breathing, fingernails practically digging into the scars on his chest through his shirt. Could do this. She'd said so. Hadn't lied to him yet. Had to trust her. Had to. Alternative was... Shane shook his head, started the truck, punched in the provided key code.

Gate swung wide, and in he drove. Didn't hear it shut behind, but could see that it had in his rearview. Nothing obscured his view through the rear windshield. Hadn't brought the shotgun. Had seemed aggressive. Not his goal. Handgun was still in the glovebox, exterior box magazines preloaded and sitting in the lockbox beneath the center console. Hoped he wouldn't need it. Didn't expect to, but...

Fuck.

You and I will meet again, when we're least expecting it. Somewhere in some far off place, I will recognize your face.

Heartbreakers played lightly over the stereo. Reminded him who he was. Still him. But wouldn't be for a while. Fucked with his head. Could see the building, up at the end of the laneway. Pulled up. Parked.

Just sat there. Okay. Can do. Should be lockers inside. She'd said. Could store his stuff, let it out, find his way back and drive home after. God, fuck, this tore at his nerves. He'd never deliberately...

Okay, get out. Good. Head inside, right. Find an empty, start.... Well, strip down, he supposed. Hoped this worked. Hoped the little bastard appreciated it.
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#2


Hanging around the Sanctuary was becoming a norm, a cool way to blow off time in between shifts of odd jobs here and there. Being part of an Official™ Sleuth that resided here also made it seem like they were some kinda hotshots or at least to Emmett. And what came with that? Access to free snacks and somewhere to crash.

The sound of an unfamiliar car had him looking through the window above the sink where he was currently crafting his very own homemade hot chocolate, just add milk and hershey’s syrup and nuke to perfection. As the microwave dinged, Emmett grabbed the mug and poured it into a nalgene before screwing the lid. Not able to contain his curiosity or the bear’s own since that was definitely not a similar species presence, he began to make his way to the door. Opening it, he saw a man crunching his way towards the locker area. The air smelt like something weird and that just had him more or less following. Best to catch him before getting inside though because that crossed a line.

”Hey man! You new here?”
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#3
A person. Well, not... No, still a person. Just not only a person. Stowaway was already arching, eyes narrowed, ears low. Fuckin' relax bud. Have the run of the place soon.

Wasn't quite as bad as Nika. Shane knew there were others now, had grown... well, not really used to, but was at least familiar now with the sense of them. Scent of them. Though this scent was new. Cat too wasn't as taken by surprise and panicky. Displeased, though. Always that. Larger predator...

Uncertain squint at the other man for several seconds, right hand unconsciously moving up to clutch at his own left pec. Breathe, It's fine. "Can, uh" Cleared his throat. "Can confirm."

Man seemed friendly. Ought to be the same. Tentative steps brought him closer, redirecting a bit from his initial goal. Forced that right hand away from his chest, held out to the other instead. Got the flash as he drew close. Bear. Big bear. Well, at least it was something reasonably local this time. Something he could identify. Stowaway only narrowed eyes further, disliking the poximity. That's okay. Breathe.

"Shane. How're you now?"
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#4
That stopped him and had the guy turning towards him. Emmett gave an unsure smile at the admittance that he was new to the area. Cool, cool, so he hadn’t been wrong.

Watching him get closer, he took the hand offered and shook getting a flash of… was that someone’s tabby cat? What? The bear for once didn’t try to hide, but instead kept an inquisitive nose forward, wanting to check it out.

”Emmett, nice to meet ya.” Letting go, he motioned to the lockers. ”You off to shift or just checking things out?”
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#5
Emmett. Okay. Friendly. That was good. Shane took a step back anyway following the shake, knowing the cat would prefer the distance. Larger predator and all, and boy was this one larger. Could seem weird, given how much he outsized the... gonna guess younger guy. But so far all the others he'd met since the moon, since being able to tell, had been smaller humans with larger animals. Except Hope. Smaller all around.

"Yep," he answered, before quickly realizing that response was worthless with an either/or question. "Uh, shift." Brought a hand up to rub uncomfortably at the back of his neck. "Haven't, uh... Haven't done it on purpose before. Not real sure how this is supposed to go."" Wanted to ask. Asha had explained decently, but... Deep uncertainties remained. Would be asleep the whole time, just the cat in charge. Would something eat it? Seemed like something might eat it. Seemed problematic.
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#6
So he’d been off to shift, using the lockers hopefully to just stow away bonus stuff because that wouldn’t work well to just change in the room. It was enlightening to hear that Shane had never done it on purpose and actually was a bit clueless. In fact, now that he was paying attention it seemed the guy was on the same kinda baseline as Ayane or Riley. Maybe? Color him a bit surprised because it seemed he might actually be helping an adult be an adult instead of vice versa.

”Oh, well,” he pinched his face in thought, scratching at an arm. ”I can help, maybe? If you want?”
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#7
Nodded, a little more eagerly than he'd meant to. "Kay. Yep. Help would be... helpful." Shane frowned. Shuffled his feet a bit, ending up another half a foot farther away from Emmett again. Distance. Breathe. "Don't, uh, really know what I'm doing. Had it explained but was a few days ago n'..." Helpless shrug. "Not sure what all the protocol is. The process." And if something was going to try and eat him when he lost somewhere around ninety-five percent of his mass.
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#8
Yeah, help was definitely helpful dude. That’s what it was for, help.

Unscrewing the lid of the warm bottle in his hand, he listened to a try to explain the predicament Shane was in before taking a gulp of the hot chocolate. ”Well,” he began, swiping the back of his wrist to lips before making to close the container again. ”Its kinda a feeling, y’know? You just kinda imagine your animal as you and how you shift, maybe reach out to it in your brain." He scrunched up his face while trying to explain. That probably all made no sense, but it would hopefully make some. "Uh, how long have you been a were?" Motioning to follow, he'd begin crunching to the locker rooms, hoping Shane would do so.
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#9
More nods. "Kay." Not really sure he followed, but that also wasn't entirely what he'd meant. Was pretty sure he could just think mean thoughts at the cat and it'd come tearing out. Was what had happened during all the sex. Well, almost. What an ass. The cat, not... Well, no, that too. Anyway, it was the full rundown of what went in the locker, where he tried to shift, what happened after, all that that had him presently flustered and uncertain. But it seemed like a lot to explain. So 'kay' would do for now.

And he would follow. Eagerly. "Uh, when was...?" Not long. Three weeks? Close enough. "Three weeks. Haven't, uh, shifted in almost as long."
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#10
This guy really wasn’t one for talking much, or he was completely very realistically over his head here. Or both.

Emmett followed the train of words, wondering if Shane was thinking back to the last full moon. And yeah, three weeks. Oh boy, he was new new which made him walking around here a smart thing. ”Oh, that’s good. I would’ve thought you’d have shifted a few more times since then, considering, y’know?” He’d definitely had a time his first few weeks, the bear easily startled by most things and not trusting of Emmett’s decisions.

”How’d you find out about here? Uh, the person who turned you?” Though, he wasn't sure he'd even know a name said considering this was an all new animal entirely.
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#11
Yeah. He nodded. Likely would've shifted a few more times if he didn't spend so much time alone on the farm. Hell came damn close to it twice on Christmas. With Asha. That thought process rolled right into Emmett's next question.

Shane huffed a little. "Hard no." Shook his head. "Never met them, far as I know. Not as human. Just a cat." Avoided thinking about it much. Wondered sometimes, though, if one of the people Hope was sort of keeping him secret from was the instigator. Hard to say. Had no idea how many of these black footed things were running around.

"No, found out from Asha. She's, uh..." Well, few options there, not really sure what sat best. Could just call her a jaguar, but still wasn't sure what was meant to be shareable information, where any of those social lines fell. Best be safe. One shoulder barely lifted in an aborted shrug. "A friend. Trying to see me taken care of. Mentioned she was friends with a bear what runs the place." Maybe that was this guy? Seemed young, but maybe.
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#12
”That sucks,” he couldn’t help speaking up to the mention of Shane never having met who’d turned him before quieting to listen to the rest. It wasn’t like Locke and him knew anything about the bear that had wrecked havoc upon them either.

As for who had sent him the Sanctuary’s way, Emmett was at a loss with the name. It kinda sounded familiar in a way one did when it was bounced around in circles, but he’d never met the chick. But, hey! He knew the guy who ran the joint. ”Ah, yeah, that’d be Cliff, he's chill. He's the leader of our gang here.”

His hand went down to grasp the knob of a door before pulling it open for Shane to walk through before following in. Welcome to the Locker Room. ”So, you're free to use any of these to put your stuff in.”
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#13
Yep. Shane suppressed the reactive "can confirm" that tried to bubble out of his mouth, only nodding. But yep. It sucked. Still. He definitely wasn't passed it, but also definitely was starting to believe he was passed it. Had support. Had people. Had hope. Heh. Why he was here, Asha's advice. Nurturing care and all.

Still sucked.

"Cliff," he echoed, show he was listening closely, "Kay." Group of bears. Group of wolves over in Cedar Creek. Group of cats somewhere Hope knew? Wonder if Asha knew anything about them. Have to ask some time. Wonder if she's in a jaguar group. Leader? Maybe ask about that too. So much, still, he didn't understand.

Nodded again in thanks as he stepped through the door. Kay, lockers, good. But what all went in them. Slowly at first he started collecting his phone, wallet, keys. Finally the plastic lighter and pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket. These he'd deposit in an empty, then hesitate. "And, uh... clothes too, or...?"
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#14
Emmett stopped at a wall and leaned his side to it, looking down at his phone to catch up on the latest insta story, ready to keep on heading out once Shane was done. There was a lot of rattling of stuff and clang of metal as it met objects. Should be it though, right? That meant he was cleaning out pockets and there was only so much one could fit in them realistically.

A question lobbed over about clothes had Emmett looking up, a grin cracked. ”I meannnnn… you do you.” Hands came up, a shake of his head. ”I’m not gonna judge if ya wanna hike naked there and back again.” But, also he’d judge.
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#15
Grin was... entertained? Seemed. Oh, kay, yep, hiking from here out to wherever the shift was meant to happen. Wasn't clear on that. Might have been told, but it had slipped if so. "Hard n-" he began, then immediately regretted the word choice. "Uh, nope. Nope, good for now. Wasn't sure... Kay." Good recovery, bud.

Moved back toward the door, assuming their next destination somewhere back outside. Tried for a bit of conversation. "So. How long have, uh, have you been,,," Was there a standard way to ask this? Was it intrusive? Doubted it, but felt like he'd lost his clear grip on societal norms, or at least how all they applied to were people. "Uh, been a bear?"
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#16
A stupid heh laugh escaped him at the choice of words, but he let it slide. Seemed Shane was cool with going clothed which was for the best.

All ready to go it would seem, he’d open the door to let the sunshine back in before walking out assuming the guy followed, listening to the question. There was so much delicate tiptoeing around that wording from Shane and perhaps it spoke of the inexperience here. Like yeah it sucked and he didn’t really like it, but that was reality so hey no harm in divulging the life sentence years. ”Uhhh, I think about,” he paused scratching his head with a look up into the blue sky horizon line. ”Wow, it’s been almost two years.” Huh, time just kept chugging didn’t it?

Looking back at Shane, he’d start them off crunching down a path he knew pretty well. ”I’m gonna take you to my fav spot, k?” Just so he knew that Emmett wasn’t just meandering without a purpose here.
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#17
Two years. Huh. So, was every animal person either a completely fresh-faced amateur or had been doing it for two years? Probably not. Pretty definitely not. That would be insane. But so far is was the pattern he'd seen. Him. Hope. Nika. All new. Asha. Emmett. Two years. Probably too... uh, shallow a specimen pool or whatever to start drawing conclusions from it. Shane wasn't much of a scientist. Or researcher. Or whatever. Weird coincidence, though.

Following dutifully, he kept pace and nodded. "Kay. Thanks." While unfamiliar company was never his favorite thing, Shane was still quite pleased to have some continued guidance. Still didn't fully grasp what was expected of him, so he'd happily take all the help he could get. Especially since, well, he felt like he wasn't anyone else's responsibility. Not Asha, not Nika, not Emmett had had any hand in turning his world upside down, so a willingness to help him try and right it was taken for the sheer generosity it was. Didn't owe him anything.

"Two years," he'd echo as he trudged along. "So you... remember? Well, like, you're still you when you get all teeth and claws?" It wasn't clear to him how exactly that worked. When would he start remembering anything? When would it stop being just... handing this fucking cat a license to do whatever it wanted?
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#18
”Mhmmm,” Emmett agreed to the restatement of how many years he’d been a were.

As for the follow up, he blinked at him, a quick look around as they continued on. What a were noob. ”Like when I’m a bear,” he questioned with a smirk, laying it on plainly. ”Yeah, its pretty cool. The guy’s real chill, kinda shy though so it’s not too exciting.” Which elicited a huge huff back in his head. Excuse the bear for being its nature.

”I bet once you can remember, your, uhhhh, tabby will be a lot more fun to be aware of.” Had he been right?
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#19
Must be fucking nice. Chill, shy animal. Stowaway was not chill. Was not shy either. Pretty sure the fucking thing would be pissing all over his liver if it actually lived inside him. Asshole. Didn't want to argue, though. Shouldn't air your laundry. Especially not with someone you'd just met. He just shrugged.

Second thing, though. Could latch onto that. "Black footed cat," he corrected, but shrugged again. "Guess it's an African thing. But yeah, one that, uh..." Right hand pressed again into his shirt, left side of his chest. The scratches. "One that turned me, thought it was a stray. Like, someone's lost pet. Picked it up, tried to take it inside." Shook his head. Voice fell to a mumble. "Stupid." Could see, though, now he thought about it. If the thing was aware, knew it was a person, would turn back into a person, after passing out... Well, made sense that it was scared of being locked inside. That was... something, he supposed.
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#20
Emmett gave him a quizzical look, feeling an itch in his hand to want to look up what even that kinda animal was. Black Footed Cat??? Like? Oh, it was from Africa? Questions bounced all around as he followed Shane’s hand to the side of his chest. And ohhhh my god, that was horrible turning story. OHHHH my god. See? He was close then if you could really pick it up thinking it was a house cat. He had tried to bring it inside? A were?!

The words of being stupid though had Emmett’s face dropping into defensiveness.

”Hey, I’d probably have done the same thing. That’d be hard to tell.” Meant in a complimentary manner of course. ”You’re kinda lucky at least. It doesn’t sound like they wanted to eat you or anything.”
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#21
"Yeh," Fair enough, earning another nod. Hell, he'd probably do it again. Knew how important animals were to people. Some people. Family, or good as. If he found an actual stray on his land tomorrow, likely try the same thing. Just... fucking dumb how it had turned out. So fucking dumb.

Shrugged at the proclamation of his luck. Like, yeah, he hadn't been viciously mauled. Yeah, he had found—through pretty wild happenstance—a good and capable guide whose companionship brought many perks. Yeah, meant he could relate to and support Hope, though she didn't really seem to need much of that, so maybe it didn't matter that he was also this thing now. But yeah, lots of ways he was very fortunate. And yet. "Don't feel real lucky." Neutral tone. Just the truth of it. Shook his head and pressed on, continuing to keep pace. "Anyway, thing was only, what." Held his hands out, maybe three quarters of a foot apart, palms facing each other. Pretty sure it was smaller than the stowaway. "It was... I mean it was a cat. Don't think it coulda eaten me, wanted to. Did kill a chicken."
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#22
”Fair.” A palm came out, fully giving Shane that right. Turning of any capacity was definitely not a lucky fate, but it wasn’t like the guy had gotten an arm pulled off.

There was a further description of the size and really gosh, these buds were super smol weren’t they? Oh no, not the chicken! D:

”Any identifiers besides the size? Could keepa look out for the guy if I see ‘em. Like eye color?” Scars? Bonus toes?
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#23
"Uh," he started, thinking back to the cat. The coop. Eyes came pretty easy. Had mistaken Hope's cat for his... maker, whatever, when he'd first seen it. Because of the eyes. "Eyes were blue, pert-near sure." As for the rest, he'd looked up the things after Hope had told him the species name, but wasn't sure how to differentiate it from his own cat besides smaller with blue eyes. Pretty sure it wasn't as pale as Hope's? Without Hope around to compare to, that wasn't of much use.

He shrugged, not sure what more of use he could offer. "Didn't really... dunno. Wasn't expectin' I'd need to ID it later. Only know it was a person now 'cause, wel..." Gestured vaguely to himself. His condition. "Though thing did 'bout knock me down. As a tiny cat. So, guess that makes sense now." Shook his head, eyes on the ground. "Appreciate you keepin' a look out." Dropped to a mumble. "Appreciate a lot."
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#24
Alright, blue! He’d keep that in mind if he were ever to run into one of whatever this kind of cat was again. But as for anything else, it seemed Shane was coming up empty and for all reasons understandable. Emmett gave a nod of understanding before letting out a soft airy laugh at the mention of the cat about knocking him down. It must’ve been a comical sight, the physics of such a thing not even making sense to the eyes. ”Yeah, I get that.” It wasn't like his brother and him had expected to be weres after almost dying from a crazy ass bear attack.

The statements of appreciation had him grinning ear to ear. Look Mom, he was being an adult! ”Shucks, we gotta look out for each other, y’know? It’s not a problem. Can't be too many blackfoots with blue eyes around here.... Before you leave, you’ll have to give me your number just in case.”

A few more steps down the crunching path, Emmett couldn’t help going back to the heavy words, looking back at Shane. Taking another drink, he’d come to a decision. ”So you wanna know what my favorite part of this trail is?”
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#25
Faint smile. Firmer nod. Was... Huh. It was weird to think, to realize, but yeah, he did kinda know. Shane generally thought folk should help folk out when they needed, but now he thought about it, he'd... never had a bad experience with another were since he'd learned what he was. First collision with Asha and Nika had been a fucking event, but that wasn't their fault. They were kind and accommodating best they could be, much more than he'd expected. And had really only improved from there. Obviously his time with Hope was... Well it was some of his favorite experiences. So. And now this Emmett. Bear. Guy.

Was weird to realize that his most negative interaction since the full moon was with... Shit, that detective. And yeah, he was not at his best that morning, but the lingering feeling wasn't one of comfort and security. Fuck, maybe this was why they were so secretive. Fuck.

Nope, don't think about that. Listen to the kid. "Yeah," he nodded. "Sure bud. What's your favorite part?"
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