Setting Down Roots

Crestview 
#1
The buddy cop movie begins. Except they're not cops, and one's a bear, the other a raccoon.

Murphy giggled to himself.

He quadruple-checked the address before he'd sent it off to Colin, who undeservedly worked at a local grocery store. Nothing wrong with busting your ass, of course, but Murphy knew how stressful that job was. He didn't want some bitch screaming at him about coupons. He'd told him that raccoons weren't terribly violent, which was true, but that didn't mean they couldn't do damage. In fact, Murphy was wondering how they were both going to survive the next full moon. He'd have to let Yogi hopefully bond with Colin, his human self and his beast self, but until Colin got control of it...

That's why he chose to buy the house.

In a nice spot on the river bend, they had a few acres all to themselves. Couldn't even see the neighbors. They were there, but not visible, which was good enough. Thick forests in between really sealed the deal. A spacious basement was also a perk. They had a huge back yard, cleared out in a perfect square (though Murphy would have just preferred the builders left the forest alone). He could build a high fence here, maybe. Raccoons were incredible climbers, so maybe it wouldn't work. A few dozen yards behind the house was Red River, which was something both Yogi and Colin's inner beast would love. They wouldn't look out of place here, human or otherwise. No one would come too close. It was perfect.

Every time a car drove by, he hoped it was him, but Murphy was keeping himself properly busy with housework anyway. Shirtless and sweaty, he had almost finished bringing all the new furniture inside. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, 2,000 square feet. The bro pad to end all bro pads. Colin was now the proud owner of an extremely comfy California King bed, and its twin was down in the basement Murphy had claimed for his own room. The whole square footage of the house, save for the closet for the water heater and furnace, was all his.

He wasn't necessarily being space-greedy. The only exit to the basement was the door at the top of the stairs. Murphy had put in a solid, heavy metal door in place of the old one. He'd shifted into both forms to test it - and it was sound. If he couldn't knock it down, neither could Colin. This would protect both of them. Murphy couldn't let Colin run around all nilly-willy on a full moon with 0 ability to control his beast, so, if all else failed, he could stay in Murphy's room for the night, safe and sound from everyone - including Yogi.

Murphy would be very angry if Yogi ate someone he liked.

The food he ordered should be here soon, too. Hopefully close to when Colin got here. New houses required party food, so there was a whole mess of barbecue ribs, garlic knots, chicken wings, and pasta coming their way.
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#2
The past week had been... Surprisingly normal. After the diner, Murphy had been gracious enough to take the young were back to his car, where he (much to his relief) located his clothing and - more importantly - wallet. He'd offered to pay Murphy back for breakfast as a gesture, but as expected the other man wouldn't have any of it.

They'd parted ways and Colin had driven off towards the mountains for some alone time. Since then, he'd had plenty of it... But he still hadn't 'woken up.' He'd been in contact with Murphy via text since then and they'd met for lunch once or twice; on Murphy's advice he'd been avoiding people as much as he could and he hadn't had a bed partner since that day.

It was getting a bit lonely, frankly.

Thankfully, work was blissfully normal and an excellent opportunity to scratch the itch, at least to some degree. As a bagger, the worst Colin really dealt with was the occassional middle-aged mother who was particularly picky about which groceries were bagged with which others. Since his evenings had been so quiet, however, he'd picked up a few extra shifts and had been a picture-perfect employee. So perfect, in fact, that his flirtations and willingness to follow elderly ladies out to assist with loading up had gotten him several tips and a respectably sized tin of cookies. The cookies were homemade, but excellent - and currently sat half-eaten (surrounded by crumbs) in the carseat next to him.

He'd been sitting at the park, having thrown out the leftovers of his lunch sandwich to the few remaining winter birds, when he got the text from Murphy. Just an address and an invitation to come over; no other context. When he'd punched it into his GPS, it seemed to be residential - on the outskirts of Crestview. Taking another cookie, he buckled up and headed off.

He must have finally found himself a new place, he thought as he munched on another cookie. Having already finished work for the day and all-to-aware that he should probably lay off the cookies, he shot back a quick 'New place? OMW', buckled up, and headed out - though not before taking one last bite.

The drive took about 30 minutes - not too far, since he'd been near the border of Cordova and North Glenn and it wasn't rush hour. The majority of the drive was actually navigating the outskirts of Crestview, where the houses were further apart... And much larger. He smiled knowingly; Of course Murphy would choose a house sized as large as his bike.

Nonetheless, he was still a bit surprised when he pulled up to the spacious home, complete with a beautiful back yard. His parents had been very comfortable back in the UK, but Murphy's new place was just a little bit beyond the level of "comfort" he was used to. He sat in the driveway for a moment looking up at it with a tinge of jealousy before getting out of his car; it wasn't as though he couldn't get his own place... But this was definitely well beyond any sort of shoddy apartment he could have grabbed on the outskirts of Cedar Creek.

Giving his cookies one last sidelong glance, he slid the lid back onto them - leaving them in the seat - before padding up to the door and giving it a few solid raps.
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#3
The full spread was on the dining room table: 4 racks of ribs, each a different marinade flavor. A box of garlic knots. 50 wings: 25 garlic parm, 25 buffalo style. Then the family sized pasta: rotini in alfredo, penne in red sauce, and cheese ravioli in pesto.

Seeing it all before him, Murphy wondered if he'd gotten too much, which was nonsense. Leftovers! Colin could take some to work for lunch, and Murphy could sit on his ass and chow down watching cartoons. That didn't seem fair. He'd clean everything first. Then it'd be okay.

The knock brought a sparkle to his eyes. He could smell him through the door - Colin was here!

Clasping his hands before rubbing them together schemingly, Murphy salsa-danced to the door like the idiot he was, excited to surprise his new pal. Over food, he could lay down the finer details of living the way he lived - and the bad news, that he hadn't found any other raccoons. Plenty of wolves. But they were as much help to Colin as Murphy was, so it made no sense to bring anyone else into this.

"Heeeey!" He boomed, throwing his arms out as he stepped aside. "Got some food! And a surprise!" he singsonged. Absolutely humming with energy now, Murphy zoomed into the kitchen with a skip in his step to grab the drinks he was chilling. They weren't super cold yet, but they also weren't room temperature anymore. "Booze or soda? I goooot...Heinekin, which is real hoppy, and root beer, orange, aaaand cream soda."

He was humming softly to himself, rifling through the fridge to get what he wanted. Obviously the root beer. It was the best soda ever and he'd die on that hill.
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#4
Colin could smell the food inside as he waited; he was still leaning to identify unique scents but he could definitely tell that it was greasy. Bar food or party food, for sure. As far as he knew, Murphy didn't exactly have anyone to invite to a party, but given his appetite there was little concern any amount of food would go to waste. Even if it was only the two of them, it was still Murphy's first day in a new home and he was happy to help celebrate.

When the door swung open the full energy of a were-bear in a new house was almost as much of a surprise to Colin as the house itself had been. Shouldn't he be in hibernation mode or something? In truth, he'd been feeling a bit low energy himself; between the lack of people and general contemplation about his new state of being, he just wasn't feeling it lately.

But Murphy's enthusiasm was contagious and it pulled a smile from his lips anyways. Taking the invitation to enter, he politely kicked off his shoes to reveal bare feet (he'd found he wasn't particularly enjoying socks lately) and padded after Murphy towards the kitchen. Even though he could smell the ample food, the kitchen had still basically become a takeout buffet and he couldn't help but be impressed by it. Taking a deep whiff of the assortment and making note of what all was actually there (he was trying to manage this smell thing at least), he happily knabbed a garlic knot to munch on while Murphy headed to the fridge.

Admittedly, the soda proffering wasn't exactly his among his top choices. He'd never taken a liking to most of the American flavors, especially root beer, but he enjoyed coke periodically. Mulling over his options, ultimately went with "Orange, please" as seemed to be the least offensive of the choices.

While Murphy's head was buried in the fridge, he took a look around for paper plates, obviously prioritizing food before tours or anything else - food was always the top priority. "And ah, do you have any plates?" His fingers were already greasy, but he was willing to make the "sacrifice" of eating the whole meal over the box if that was what it took.
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#5
"Should be in a bag on one of the chairs," he called, grabbing the chosen sodas and shutting the fridge. "Oh, and, of course there's also water. Actually tastes great outta the tap, which was a nice surprise."

He was so used to city water tasting like it came out of the local pool.

Murphy walked around the table, trying to decide what to demolish first as he set the drinks down.

"How've you been so far?"
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#6
Colin spent a moment or two peering around the table before circling to the other side and managing to find the aforementioned plates. Ripping open the packaging rather unceremoniously, he slid one out for himself and then handed one to Murphy before beginning his own debate over what food to take first. Though he'd found himself a bit hungrier since his first transformation, on the whole he'd felt... Mostly normal. The urges were a bit odd at a times, but thankfully he'd also been finding it much easier to nap for extended periods in his car, which made the burden of being away from others a lot more bearable.

Some might call the amount of sleeping he was doing 'depression,' but Colin preferred to think of it as time well spent - it's not like he had anything else to do anyways.

Regardless of his current sleeping habits, he definitely wasn't as hungry as he'd been that morning. But the food smelled amazing and he was ever thankful for Murphy's generosity, so he filled his plate anyways. The final assortment consisted of half a rack of ribs, several garlic knots, 6 wings, and a a healthy scoop of penne cuddles up against them. Grabbing his drink and a fork delivery-provided pre-wrapped fork from one side of the table, he wiggled his way into a chair.

He took a few soulful bites of another garlic knot before he responded to Murphy - he'd always found them addictive and today was no exception. "I've been... Okay." His brow furrowed slightly, but he wasn't inclined to completely reveal that he'd been spending most of his time sleeping. "It's a bit boring, staying away from everyone. Work has been a relief, but I haven't been out since..." He paused, unsure how to refer to what had happened. Since... What? My first night on the town as a raccoon? Since I woke up naked in a dumpster? Since the last full moon? "Since last week," he settled on, rather lamely.

He quickly changed the subject. "The house is beautiful mate, congratulations." Although he was a bit jealous, he meant it - house hunting was no easy feat, though Murphy certainly made it seem that way. It was a very nice house, regardless - spacious and inviting just by nature of being so.
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#7
Murphy piled on meat mostly, but snatched a few garlic knots for good measure. Sinking into the chair with a thud, he frowned just a little. It was definitely time to teach him what he could. Colin didn't have to isolate himself - in fact that would probably make the beast antsy. He just had to be careful.

So, so careful.

Until he got a handle on it, at least.

"You won't have to do that for long," he wanted to promise, but Murphy didn't like promising when he wasn't entirely sure. Colin would obviously become a master, but everyone was different.

The sooner they found another raccoon, the better, but hell - Murphy knew quite a lot!

"You like it? I picked it because both of us have forest-and-river critters." he grinned. The tricky part would be keeping Yogi and the newbie from trying to fight. He wasn't actually worried about the bear - but a scared raccoon could easily provoke him.

Murphy popped a drumstick in his mouth and pulled out a clean bone.
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#8
Colin blinked, the gears turning behind his sage-colored eyes. Raccoons ARE forest-and-river critters, aren't they? He put it together then, why he'd been spending so much time in the larger parks and why it had felt okay to him. Normally, he was a city boy and although he'd never experienced turning into a were, he'd also never had the desire to just sit around in the woods and watch birds - but lately it had just been so soothing to him.

That and naps, of course. Were the naps because of the raccoon as well? What did raccoons do in winter, anyways? He'd have to look it up later.

"Thank you," he responded politely, taking a bite of pasta and appreciating the richness of it. Americans never skimped on flavor, that much was for sure. "It'll be nice to have a place to come in..." He paused, realizing he hadn't been properly keeping track of it. I'll have to now, I suppose. It hadn't been too long though, so he was sure he probably still had a bit of time. "In a few weeks," he finished.

Add that to the list of things to google later.

Glancing around the kitchen, he suddenly had an image of Murphy's bear form touring the house to inspect everything. Laughing to himself, he followed up with; "I assume the house got the bear stamp of approval as well? Bears are known for their love of kitchen cabinets and spacious bathrooms, after all." He winked, still chuckling at the image in his mind's eye.
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#9
Murphy snorted, almost choking on a mouthful of rib meat. "I actually did test out the basement door," he said, realizing Colin didn't quite understand.

"I plan to put the same kind of door in the spare bedroom, and yours. You don't have to wait for full moons, dude. This is our house, if you want a bed. It's a California king!" He couldn't stop smiling about it. Colin's room pretty much just had the essentials for now because Murphy didn't know his style.

"If it's impossible for a bear to break em down, you'll be safe on full moons if our beasts don't get along. I hope they do though. I don't think bears and raccoons tangle with each other in the wild much."

He would have to research that to be sure.
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#10
Colin opened his mouth to make a joke, but then promptly closed it. With a series of expressions bearing a rather high resemblance to the "confused math lady" meme, it was clear the gears were turning in the young brit's mind.

He'd hardly heard the remaining statement about the animals getting along; he was too caught on; "This is our house, if you want a bed."

Swallowing the last bite of food he'd been actively chewing, he sat in silence for a long moment, blinking slowly.

"I... You..." He looked around, in particular out into the rest of the house from the kitchen. "How big is this place?!"

The internal dialogue began.

I can't just move in with someone, can I?

Well, how is it any different from roommates in college? At least this one I get to choose.

But I've only known Murphy a few weeks!

But again, college roommates are strangers. And it's not like there's anything he can steal. And I like him well enough and he bought me my own bed.

Bloody hell, he bought me my own bed. How do I accept a gift like that?

Graciously, I suppose. This isn't any different than moving into a furnished apartment with a new roommate... Right? That's totally a thing yeah? It must be. Yeah, it's a thing.

"I..." He blinked again. "Okay." His brow was furrowed slightly and he looked looked a bit troubled though. "But Murphy, you didn't have to do this. I would have been fine on my own, really. I have been, I'm sure I would've made it. Next full moon I would've just..." He paused yet again - he would have what? He had no idea. "Gone into the woods or something and it would've been okay, I'm sure." Staring down at the plate of food in front of him, he added; "I mean the worst the thing's done so far is steal a pizza so I'm sure it would've been okay."

Truly, he had no idea though.
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#11
He grinned as the flabbergasted man tried to find the words, and he waved his hand. "Oh, but I do! There's a moral...ethical...maybe both? I can't just keep on my merry way while you deal with this flyin' by the seat of your pants."

He laughed, nodding.

"I know I said raccoons weren't particularly violent, but, when we change, the animal is a fair amount larger than what it should be. The big families like to think we're a secret but, people know. They've known forever. Some of them think we deserve to die." His expression grew somber, and it didn't suit him well.

"So I can't in good conscience leave you to luck. I've been a Were my whole life, so I can teach you things you shouldn't have to learn the hard way," He took a bite of one of the pastas without looking at the pan, and it was clear he'd been expecting the red sauce. "Like, no matter what species we are, our inner beasts send us signals. Usually images. Sometimes feelings. Pretty much, within reason, satisfy your urges. Hungry is the big one, sometimes they want to fight - you can just do a hardcore workout for that one - and then the last one is, well. Sex. But until you have good control, be careful it doesn't cause you too much adrenaline, or you might change." He laughed, but he was serious. Nobody wanted to turn around and see a beast where their lover had been. It was a bad time all around.
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#12
Colin chuckled in spite of himself. "Well, if my first transformation was any indication we definitely won't have to worry about the pants aspect." As Murphy went on, he thought of his raccoon and found himself wondering what it looked like, what it liked... Did raccoons even have personalities? Did they have food preferences?

He'd find out sooner or later, he supposed.

He also considered any signals his beast might be sending him, but understanding it all felt a bit beyond him. Sometimes he barely felt he could understand himself, let along some wild animal trapped inside his body. The thoughts were still swirling around his head even as Murphy warned him against sex; he'd already been avoiding it but "too much adrenaline" pretty much sounded like his M.O. Sure, he'd had a few less-than-enthusiastic lovers, but enthusiasm was his preferred modus operandi and he wasn't planning on changing that any time soon.

"Can I talk to it?" He asked, his brow furrowing slightly. "How? I suppose I'm not really sure what I should be... Listening for? Feeling for?" He finally took some time to demolish a few of this ribs, admitting to himself that he'd probably been in the habit of ignoring most of his deeper desires the past few months. You know, like the ones that wanted a bed to sleep in or a shower cleaner than the one at the truckstop.
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#13
Mouth full, Murphy leveled his hand out and wiggled it to signify, Eh, sort of, washing his food down with a swig of root beer.

"I've been told by turned-folks that it starts out as urges before it sends full-blown images. I've heard sketchy things about being able to actually communicate with it. Anything an animal wouldn't understand, your beast won't. Thinking words doesn't do much." He pondered thoughtfully.

"Like with Yogi - that's what I named mine, you don't have to name yours, it's just a thing I do - if I'm getting a shitload of urges and just feeling antsy, I'll think real hard about a serene river, or something, just to let him know I'm listening. He doesn't understand why I can't do something right then and there sometimes, you know? He also doesn't always get it. Sometimes he's impatient. Most of the time he's chill, though. That's another thing. I'm a firm believer your inner beast has a unique personality. Don't most mammals, after all? My dad's bear? Hooo. Kind of a dick."

Family gatherings were never short of bloodshed when his father was around. His bear wanted order and tranquility, which was all fine for Yogi, who just wanted to hang around and eat. But his cousins? Wild ones, they were. And dad was in charge of the whole family. Do what he says, or get a paw to the skull.

"Once you get a taste for what your beast is all about, you'll have that much more control. Knowing them, like you know yourself, is how you stay safe. Like I said, raccoons don't really massacre people. But you're still dangerous. And very strong, now. Most things will not kill you anymore. So welcome to the badass club!" He stretched his arms out and clapped his hands together with a mischievous look.
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