Kensington Quarter 
March 17th, Set day or night, up to you!

 A fever of one hundred seven was not good. According to google, it was dangerously close to brain-damaging temperature. Another two degrees, and he could start bleeding out of his pores and die a slow, terrible death. He should really go to the doctor. He did not want to go to the doctor. Severin had spent enough time in hospitals with his wife that he had come to absolutely despise them. The smell of old people and sickness, bleach, too white walls, the incessant beeping of heart monitors. He would rather die right here on the sidewalk in the heart of this bustling city.

 There was no muscle stiffness, no pain outside of feeling like his skin might boil off his body, no nausea. He was exhausted, though, having been too sweaty and miserable to sleep through last night, partially thanks to soaked sheets, and worried about that gashes and punctures on his leg that had been reduced to nothing but silvery scars. The doctors had assured him it would be months before they were properly healed. What the fresh hell was happening to him?

 No medication or any number of ice baths had kept his fever down for very long. His last ditch effort for relief was some hippy dippy holistic shop downtown that boasted herbs and oils of all medical properties. He felt and likely looked out of place here in his sleek blazer and slacks that stuck to him uncomfortably, dabbing repeatedly at the clustering beads of sweat on his face and neck as he tried to find the right shop among the many various storefronts.

Beauregard spent a bit more time in Cordova with each passing month. The ghost of Margaux and her frowning followers faded with time, and his desire to roam within the city grew stronger. He'd spent weeks and weeks hunting here, after all, under the shadow of that madwoman.

Hunting in downtown was not unlikely hunting in the Heights, except that perhaps it skewed slightly older. Not entirely Beauregard's preference, but a man needed a change of scenery from time to time.

And so, he was window shopping for both trinkets and dinner, ambling along the street at a comfortable pace. He was particularly eager for a psychic, but that would require luck more than anything else.

Stepping out of a small paper goods shop, a blind corner sent him bumping into a sturdily built and... damp creature. The smell of swear was immediately, and he frowned some as he recoiled back. He wasn't one to pay immense attention to temperature, but certainly it was a bit chilly for such an immense pore downpour.

"Are you alright?" he asked with a curious frown, hoping none of the moisture had soaked into his sweater.

Outfit with a large heated parka

Three days before the full moon was when the crocodile master slithered out of her studio, making it into the city in thermal everything. The heater was blasting at full power as she squeezed her four wheeler between two others in front of the organic shop.

Good park - you're a legend, Naz.

She shook her head back to straighten out her hair, before opening the door and sliding out. Someone was after essential oils because someone was about to become as dry as sandpaper after the full moon. It wasn't a look.

For the moment, unaware of the smells she'd soon be met with.

 Maybe it was the intense focus on wiping at his skin and finding the right store that had caused him to miss the approach of another. The collision was sudden, but brief, and Severin would step back as the other man did, looking somewhat stunned, the hand that held his cloth suspended before his face. He wasn’t even really sure where the other man had come from, and. Oh. He smelled... not great.

 Severin held his breath for a short moment as he considered his response. "Yeah. Sorry about that." He managed, smiling tightly, visibly uncomfortable despite claiming otherwise. He lowered his hand, wadding the cloth up in his clammy grasp.

Oh, my.

It was an uglier sight up close, and Beauregard wondered if the man was on some sort of drug. Were it not for the excess of sweat, it would almost be worth some attempt to discern precisely what it was and...

Maybe have some sort of by-proxy sip.

It was rude to say what he did next, but a man could not be polite all the time in the pursuit of knowledge.

"Are you certain? You look ready to keel over. Come-"

He side stepped toward a patch of dead grass between the sidewalk and the street, out of the flow of walking traffic.

"Do you need some sort of help?"

Likely, and likely undesired, but Beauregard felt a little thrill from the potential to play a bit meanly.

"Ice, ice, baby," Naz exhaled quietly as she stepped onto the curb.

Step one. And two. And three. Aaaaand so close to the shop's front door pause! Rewind.

The smell of corpse decided to waft on over friendlily, causing her to stop in place and turn her head. "Everything right boys?" Naz called out pleasantly, one hand stroking the bottom of her hair.

 Severin was hardly offended by the statement, because, well. If he looked as bad as he felt then there was no point in beating around the bush about it. At this rate, maybe he should have just stayed at home to die slowly in his bed. Despite this, and the awful smell - it felt terrible to compare it to day old roadkill in the summer, but, you know - Severin would also move to side step accordingly, privately and desperately wishing for a cool breeze to pick up.

 "No, I don't think so," he assured the other man with the same taut expression. A young woman's voice called then, not too far away, clear as a bell, and Severin turned his head slowly to glance at her. Maybe they were loitering in front of her store. Severin would give her a wordless nod as his hand absently rose once again to dab at his neck. He felt disgusting at this point.

Oh, dear.

His object of interest was stepping away, and some... child with a frankly upsetting scent was calling out to some invisible pair of much younger men.

"This poor gentleman seems about ready to faint," he said with a similar pleasantness but a deep absence of sincerity. "Though I know shifters run warm, so I'm uncertain if you'd be able to help?"

He looked to what he knew to be a shifter, though it was utterly beyond him what sort she was. Could they turn into tilapia, perhaps?

Yeah nah, one was nodding while the other more or less asked for help.

Cool as a cucumber to essentially being called out in public, Naz approached. Bloke had enough sweat to open a public pool. How much she’d like to just be a little warm like that...

”You been having a strange month at all buddy?” she asked with the warmest of understanding smiles.

 He'd just wanted to find some lavender or something. Instead he was all but cornered by these people on the sidewalk. Was this man accusing him of being a shifter with that comment? He glanced at the woman, unsure of how the remark pertained to her. Confusing. She approached, and asked him if he had been having a strange month. He already knew the answer to that, but he hated to think of the possibilities that such an answer might suggest. Especially if they were talking about shifters. Absolutely not.

 "Yes," he informed her flatly, lowering his hand again and shoving it in his pocket. There was no point. Distantly, he thought of Daniel, and the comment he'd made about rabies.

Ever so unshakable!

Between the reek of sweat and the stench of what he could only assume to be fish, Beauregard found little reason to stay here even without the need to breathe. What if the odor stuck to his sweater?

The stuff of nightmares, truly.

Hardly invested enough for a goodbye, he continued his walk past them with the beginnings of some hummed tune.

Oooooh boy, his life was about to get rocked if this was it. Welcome to the family!

Not deterred by the tone of answer, Naz persisted. ”I reckon I can help you if you help me. Think of me as a life guru who’s found you in your moment of need.” Her eyebrows flew up and down to emphasise her mystical nature, voice as smooth as honey.

”Now I can give you the answers ya want,” the charade was quickly over as she nodded to her Jeep, tone dropping. ”But we’re gonna need to do the talking about your strange month in there.”

 The other man just... walked away. Alright. Severin looked at the young woman again, considering her. Attractive and Australian, or something like that. Her words were no less clear, though, and not because of her accent. Maybe his fever was rising so high that his brain was melting. When would he start bleeding from his skin?

 A young woman offering to be his guru. It would be laughable if he wasn't feeling so uncertain. And there was something to be said about getting into vehicles with strangers, but... if he was on the verge of death or something what did he have to lose? He resolved to just sort of nodding his head at her, glancing at the Jeep. "Yeah. Alright." He began to strip out of his blazer, letting it hang over his arm, ready to follow the girl.

Scaly skin treatment would have to wait.

”C’mon then,” Naz encouraged enthusiastically, unlocking her car and only then realising the Vampire had walked away. She paused to watch his retreating figure, too far to thank now, before rounding the car and pulling herself up onto the driver’s seat.

”So much more comfortable than talking outside, right?” She exhaled, mostly talking to herself. ”I’m Naz, and you’re...”

 Severin trailed behind her, sweaty and wary, making his way to the passenger door and pulling himself up into the seat. So much more comfortable than talking outside. Sure, if she said so. Naz. An interesting name for an interesting woman. "Severin," he returned. He might have offered to shake her hand if his own weren't so sweaty. He was admittedly feeling a little impatient about all of this.

Ooh la la, Severin the Silver Fox! What if he really would transform into a fox?

”What exactly’s been bothering you aside from the fever? Cross my heart it won’t leave this car.” Naz - in her parka as she was - worked to angle herself towards Severin in a way which showed she was listening. For the moment she was deliberately unwilling to throw out the obvious guesses:

Sharp vision. Bloody powerful hearing. A nose which was equally as helpful as it was unfortunate.

Cool as a cucumber but not silly you goose!

 She asked him for details about his weird month and swore herself to secrecy. He hadn’t been considering it much to keep a secret until now. He frowned a little, watching her with a look of concentration.

 It was hard to forget about being mauled by a giant animal. It was also hard to think of that animal being anything other than just that. A plain old normal animal. But he thought about that man’s mention of shifters again.

 "You said you could give me the answers I want. What do you think it is?" No sarcasm. Genuine, worrisome, curiosity.

Sneaky manoeuvre, Sevvy! Not enough to get her to blurt a Were’s life secrets, though. He could just as easily be a human with a fever worth a trip to the hospital.

Naz chuckled, seemingly not finding this as serious as him. Or really, just more comfortable about all this than him.

She’d give a little and if he wasn’t it, maybe, uh, knock him out? One step at a time. She’d taken a couple Zumba classes.

”Reckon it’s a pretty serious fever. You been attacked by any wild animals? Or been getting groovy with strangers?”

 Pretty serious fever was, well, not wrong. Severin sighed a little, wiping his forehead on his shirt sleeve. No getting groovy for ol' Severin in a good while now, but. Damn, it didn't take a rocket scientist to put two and two together at this point. "Yes," he groaned a little. "A mountain lion or something." It was still surreal. There were no mountain lion shifters, right? Just... wolves, and tigers, apparently. Right? "No, it - had spots, actually." Puzzling, but what wasn't right now. He didn't understand why this felt so much like beating around a bush.

While he spoke, Naz took a moment of his distraction to pop open the passenger window and bring some of the icy breeze in. Poor fella.

Naz, also - not the most experienced with mammalian Weres.

”Good news, Sev, your fever’s gonna pass after the full moon. Bad news?” She ran her hand through the bottom of her hair in thought again, looking through the window. ”We’re gonna become reeeeeeal intimate over the next couple days.”

 He watched Naz's little gestures, her clicking the button for the window, the way she pushed her fingers through the edges of her short hair. Then, more words that he understood but couldn't quite make sense of. His brow furrowed in frustration. He was hot, tired, and confused. Not a great combination. "Look. Naz. Could you just give it to me straight?" Please. For the love of god. He had an idea, but he felt like there weren't quite enough brain cells at his disposal to make it real.

Daaaaw, alright!

”You’re gonna become whatever attacked you. Weres - me, you. Bloke outside was a Vampire.”

Not intending to overwhelm poor Sev, she’d let that sit, still playing with her hair.

 Severin would sink into an uneasy silence. Weres. Shifters. Et cetera, whatever. One clammy hand rose to rest over his mouth, eyes not focusing on anything in particular. Somehow he understood that this was a very real possibility, but also kind of... didn't believe it. He was too old for this shit. He had just retired. What the fuck.

 "Oh." He said simply, unmoving except for the occasional drip of sweat moving down his skin. Maybe that guy had smelled so funky because he was a vampire? Otherwise, maybe he just made some questionable life choices. His hand moved up to his brow, fingers squeezing against his temples. "What are you."

She observed him carefully, discreetly. Listen - if a full grown man was about to fly out of her car and yell on the street, a lady had to be prepared. It didn't tense her up, but it was a possible reality.

The reaction which actually happened was roughly the opposite. Hazel eyes watched Severin lift a hand over his drenched features, wondering if the cracked window was any help.

"Me? A croc." Naz lowered the hand onto her lap and would let silence fall, deciding to be a little more tactful now that this wasn't a joke to her or to him.

 A Were... crocodile. He could have laughed. Of course, he didn’t. It wasn’t funny. Just bizarre. Beyond his grasp of understanding.

 He closed his eyes, quiet for the moment as his brain tried to make sense of anything. He vaguely remembered the breaking news that had shown monsters fighting on television. It had seemed like a world away at the time it had come out - he’d been too preoccupied with his dying wife to really worry about any of it. Now it was right in his face.

 This was not happening to him. She must be mistaken.

 "What did you mean about the full moon?" He finally asked, ending the long stretch of silence. He didn’t even know when the full moon was. "What’s the importance of that?"

Questions, as hoped! "The importance is that it makes every single one of us shift on that night - no exceptions. It's also when you'll become a proper Were. That's why the fever'll pass," Naz explained, realising this sounded pretty funny about halfway through.

She caught herself at the start of a chuckle before composing herself, feeling the mood lighten for it. At least for her.

"You're not proper yet 'cause whatever you're smelling, hearing - it'll be stronger after your first full moon." He'd also be sharing mental living quarters with some type of cat, but disclosing everything now...


 Severin listened quietly. Identifying as a Were was still leagues away from his comprehension. The idea that this was just a blurry dream still hung in his mind. He sat up straighter, then slumped again, resting his head against the seat. The fact that he’d probably leave a damp spot didn’t quite occur to him.

 He fell into silence again, thoughts looping nonsensically in his brain. At least it distracted him from the feeling of slowly roasting over a fire.

That was short-lived.

”You’ll be right.” She rubbed above her eyebrow, giving him another moment before saying more. ”Got any family this might affect? Kids, wife?”

 Her reassurance should mean something, seeing as how she was... one of them. And she seemed to be doing okay. But he wasn’t so sure. Her question made him huff a short breath that might have been a laugh it weren’t a little sour.

 "No," he assured her quietly. "It’s just me."

That was one less thing to worry about.

”Alright. How about we drive ‘round for a while? Give you some time to process all this without staring at someone’s-” she waved a hand to the back of the car in front of hers. ”Tush.”

 She offered to drive him around, and in turn he would give her an admittedly wary look. It seemed a poor choice to let some stranger who turned into a giant lizard drive him around, but. She had already been so generous in shedding some light on his profuse sweating and overactive senses.

 "Sure," he resigned himself to say, and would lift a hand to pull the seatbelt across himself and click it into place. It felt like a strange motion to go through.

The wary look would be met with an innocently timed smile, before she turned the ignition on and got them out of there. Maybe she’d have to come back - Naz didn’t think to ask how he’d gotten to that particular sidewalk in the first place and if it’d been by car.

She readjusted the part of the parka which kept her neck warm at an eventual red light.

”You said spots, yeah?” Naz asked casually. ”That mean a cheetah?”

 There was something about riding in a car that made him want to doze off. Even with this ungodly fever, he was tired enough that sleeping could be a possibility. The breeze that fluttered through the cracked window helped.

 She spoke, and though he had been on the edge of drifting off, he was alert enough to process her words. His eyes opened and he cleared his throat, adjusting himself in his seat again. "Uh. No. I don’t think so." The memory burned through his brain again. "A leopard or something." The body had been too thick to be a cheetah. At least, he thought so. He’d also thought Colorado was not the right place to see any such creature.

There was a light hum of acknowledgment at his answer. Leopards in Mountainside had to exist - she’d thought she’d seen something like one on the news last year.

”Just asking because being new to this is a whole lot easier if ya got other Weres of your kind around to look out for ya. So ya know - you don’t shift in dangerous spots and stuff, or end up on the news.”

 Oh, great. Severin let his eyes close for a moment. He needed someone and he had no one, unless this young crocodile lady counted. "It would sure be nice if the person who did this to me would take some responsibility," he muttered bitterly. "Is there some kind of... network for Were-people?" Was there some way to find other... cat people?

There was always a possibility that the leopard who'd done this was new and didn't even remember their shift, so accountability couldn't really be applied.

"Like Facebook?" Naz's voice rose at the end, humoured and delighted. A glance to Sev. "Nah. But we'll find you some leopard mentors after this full moon - pretty sure I saw one on the news last year."

Just needed to do some sniffing hey.

 No network, apparently nothing like Facebook in particular. Naz seemed confident about finding people who were a little more like whatever he would be. Severin had his doubts, but didn’t know enough to really question her. So he would fall quiet again, wiping at his face and leaning a little closer to the window. He was looking forward to at least not sweating his ass off anymore in a few days.

"If ya want, you can shift at my place. You'll be safe and no one's gonna bother ya, so you can really focus on your own thing."

The prospect of having a leopard downstairs made her croc get a smidge hissy, and she let her cool off steam in her mind without trying to stop her. Naz and her croc had a mutual respect like that.

 Even as a man who knew nothing about this, there was something a little... unnerving about her offer. Would he be like the animal that had attacked him? Would the giant crocodile attack him? She said he’d be safe. He had no information from anywhere else to say otherwise.

 "Erm. Okay. What do you mean, safe? Would I not be safe in the woods or something? And... how long does it last?" Not forever, obviously, by the very human looks of the woman in the driver’s seat.

Naz transformed into an unmoving, cold blooded, crocodile. Here she was being asked about a tree climbing feline. It was fair to say that she had no helpful information about what that meant Sev might get up to during his shift.

"Means you won't be able to break through doors or windows and escape onto the street, or worry 'bout neighbours," she summarised. "Guess you could try the forest, but I'm not too sure where you'll wake up. And we wake up nude."

How long did shifts last?

"Anywhere from half an hour to a couple. But once ya shift back ya sleep for, dunno, say the whole night and into the morning."

The view out the window didn't provide much of a calming sight. Tall buildings and busy people.

 Her explanation satisfied enough to close the door on any ideas he might have had about just sitting under a tree in waiting for the moon to do its thing. Waking up naked in the woods was significantly less pleasant than waking up naked in some woman’s house.

 After a while, he would settle with, "Okay. Thank you." It still felt like it was a world away.

Dang. There was something about the poor bloke that made her feel sympathy where she usually wouldn’t have. By all accounts, becoming a Were - great stuff in Naz’s books.

”Got anywhere in particular you want me to drive right now?” Home. A favourite spot. Back to where she’d picked him up. Naz was pretty content to chauffeur right about anywhere.

 "Just take me back," he requested quietly. Back to his truck so he could go home and lay naked and miserable in the backyard. "I guess we should exchange phone numbers when we get there." So that he could drive to her house in however many days it was and... turn into a monster. Great plan.

You got it, Sevvo. Naz would make the next right turn, and then another to circle back.

”Good call. Until then you just keep managing that fever, alright?”

Unless Severin spoke up again, she’d drive back to the front of the organic shop. ”Here,” Naz instructed once parked, handing him her mobile which was opened on the new contact page.

 Manage it. Sure. He nodded absently, looking out the window as his mind wandered to possible temporary solutions.

 Severin would enter his name and number in her phone before handing back to her, trusting her to call or message him as a means to give him her number. Once ready, he would open the door and step out. "Thanks again," he sort of croaked to her with a little wave, before shutting the door.

”See ya in a couple,” Naz said, waving him off.

She peered out the window then, attention back on the organic shop again. The opportunity to go in for those essential oils was presenting itself one more time, and why waste the trip - so in she went.

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