You Can't Remain the Prey

Red Rock 
#1

Friday, April 19th - the full moon






 She held onto the wheel tightly and tried not to think of the clear diverging in her mind, how two parts of a whole circled completely different parts of the same event. As a coyote, she just wanted to get to the fucking coordinates she'd sent out in a group message and start to shift. She wanted to run until her legs burned, she wanted to chase the others and maybe throw a bit of her weight around but mostly get to know them and have the fucking experience of hunting and living with a proper group.

 As a woman, however, she watched the barren landscape unfolding in front of her and drummed her fingers nervously against the wheel. She thought of her own first shift and how she threw up before it, how she cried through it until it turned into some sort of pathetic half yelp of an animal. And then she woke up naked, dirty, confused, sore but less pent-up than she'd been in the days leading up to the full moon.

 They were close now, just a few minutes to go - and even though she hated quiet, she'd let it settle through the car for this ride. Now, however, she stole a glance to the passenger seat and reached out to very briefly set a hand on his leg before she let go. "Almost time. How are you feeling?"



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#2
 He was silent, curled against the car door, forehead pressed to the window. It was likely a placebo, but the chill of the glass helped. It gave him something else to think about at least, a different sensation to the boiling pit of change within him. Hendrix wondered if he could get away with ignoring her question. He'd forgiven Alex and the rest of them for their joke, but he didn't feel like talking. He wanted to crawl into a hole and die because that's what his body felt like it was doing anyway.

 Finally, he sighed, the arms that were wrapped round himself holding tighter. He didn't bother to turn her way. "Like I'm going to shit myself and barf at the same time."
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#3
 She wasn't surprised when he refused to warm up, wasn't exactly stunned to see that his headspace was ... a conflicting one, so to speak. She glanced down briefly to her GPS, followed her own landmarks and tapped her turn signal out of habit as she slowly pulled off the paved road and into the dirt. "That sounds about right." A whole lot of pent up anxiety and energy and animal, a fucking time bomb in the passenger seat that would erupt into fur and claws soon enough.

 "I know I haven't been the most comforting, but for what it's worth Hen - at the end of the day I won't let anything happen to you. You're not going to shit yourself, you're probably not going to barf. And even if you did, we got water, protein bars, spare clothes, and blankets in the trunk." Enough full moons behind her that she made sure she had the bare necessities close by.

 She dimmed her headlights, breathed in slow and deep and slowed the car to a crawl as they jostled over gravel, kicked up dust along the way. "The way this tends to work is that everyone strips. If you want to stay clothed for this one you can, but anything you're wearing is going to be completely ruined when you shift. No matter what, you're going to wake up naked in the morning. I'll go first if you want, or you can if you'd like for me to hold back and watch you ..."
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#4
 He finally looked at her.

 "I know I've been a dick the last few days," days, weeks, he stuck to the shorter time frame because it made him feel less awful, "but I appreciate you."

 It felt dramatic to think that they were driving up to his own funeral, and he kept the comparison to himself for that reason, but it was a death, in a way. Hendrix's human life was over. Everything he'd known before was over. His body as a vessel for himself alone was over. Taking a deep breath, he got out of the car.

 "I think if I see it happen I'm going to be a chickenshit." Not that he could stop it, regardless of his terror or disgust. Trembling fingers began to undo the small plastic buttons of his shirt, revealing the white tank top beneath. "I'll go first."
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#5
 It hadn't been a trick, there was no right or wrong answer - but she felt better with the idea of him going first. Not that she didn't trust the others, just that ... he felt like her responsibility - he was her responsibility. And god, it was going to take him a while to get through this fucking thing. "It's not a snap of your fingers Hen, it's going to take a while to really get into it." Keeping her voice down as she looked about for any sign of the others.

"You can wait unless you're fond of the idea of standing around naked."
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#6
 Refraining from the sarcastic retort that edged onto the tip of his tongue, Hendrix kept close to her side, letting his hands fall limp when he was done with his buttons. He had no desire to humiliate himself any more than he already would tonight, preparing for what he was sure would be an excruciating transition.

 He wanted to hold her hand, and the fear had him reaching to brush his fingers over the side of her palm, but he stopped himself before committing. She could be his life boat without the tethered lines. The waiting was the worst part, and as they stood there, he could feel his body start to ache.
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#7
 The barely-there brush of his fingers made her look down, frowning as she glanced at his hand hanging awkwardly beside hers. There were limitations of course, but they were alone and he was clearly fucking scared out of her mind. She turned her wrist, held onto his fingers and gave them a gentle squeeze. Hardly anything even as she kicked off her boots and stood barefoot in the dirt.
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#8
 To put it simply, she’d rather fling herself off the nearest mountain than be the overly-eager bitch who showed up first. But, then again, she loathed to be the last arrival – and potentially miss the party. So, Grace had found a happy medium: be relatively punctual, but hike deeper into the forest to time her entrance.

 She found a spot downwind, a cozy little outcropping where she could spend fifteen minutes diligently chewing through all ten of her nails – nails that had, not too long ago, been shaped and lacquered into perfect rose-colored ovals.

 Ever a planner, she told herself she’d wait. Listen for arrivals beyond Alex (who she knew) and the other (who she didn’t). But the full moon was approaching, her joints were already cracking, and after a while, Grace could wait no longer. She pushed up from the boulder upon which she’d been lounging, and headed uphill.

 "Stripping down already, are we?" She grinned, stepping into the clearing. Her gaze narrowed in on intertwined hands – one of which lead to a man who, for lack of a better term, looked like shit. "Hope I’m not interrupting anything."
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#9
Full moon drove him mad, and work had been a real doozy of a day, but he'd survived it. And as they converged in Red Rock, Eli was feeling more at ease than most. If anything, he was looking forward to embracing tonight, and though shifting in Red Rock would be a first, it was hardly anything new or ground breaking for him.

Though... first time with a new group. Maybe that was significant enough to get him clicking his tongue as he made sure all his supplies were in order, everything locked up and prepared for an eventual return in the dark hours of the early morning. Having parked a bit further off, not wanting a whole herd of cars to draw any undue attention, he approached on foot.

He'd been counting on Alex and Hendrix being there before him. The third was actually absolutely unknown to him, outside of Alex's previous assurances that she was finding others. The coyote perked up at the promise of another, and he let his eyes flood black--no point in hiding it tonight, especially as it was rather dark anyway.

"Hendrix, you don't look like you're feeling too well," he commented to the one that was still identified to as an outsider to his suspicious senses. That wouldn't last long. After tonight, that whole sensation would be gone. "Evening, everybody," he greeted otherwise, a quick look over Alex in particular to make sure she wasn't stressing too hard over Hendrix's debut.
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#10
 Kai, for all her displeasure at finding herself a ten-year veteran of coyote life and nothing to show for it, would be shifted by the time she found the little gathering in the middle of bum fuck nowhere. She’d very nearly lost herself at the wheel, and had managed to tuck her beloved vehicle in a little thicket of shrubs before all but falling out of it. Suffice to say she couldn’t get her pants off before her fingers had receded into nubby toe beans.

 The beast was all too happy to take over, to shuck their shared mind of the work day’s stress and menial bores. There was enough human mentality there to know who she was looking for, but the rest was all dog - happy to be there and happy to show it far more than the human side ever would.

 She crested some far hill and spotted them, immediately unleashing an ungodly chorus of high-pitched yips and screeches as she bolted to them at top speed, nearly a blur against the red earth. Tongue lolling and tail wagging, the red-eyed mongrel hit the breaks in time to not bowl anyone over, eager to lick every hand or face she could get ahold of, even the unfamiliar young woman. Unknown, but known to be one of her kind, and not seeming to be met with hostility from the others, she was good in the coyote’s book.
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#11
 Jesus Christ, it was happening - not that she didn't know it was going to happen, just that ... she hadn't really prepared enough as they trickled in almost entirely at once. Surprised to see the girl from North Glenn, she grinned and lifted her free hand to wave just her fingers. "Nothing you weren't invited to attend." Elijah, prompt - pretty much exactly what she'd expect from him. "Grace, this is Hendrix and this is Elijah - not we're all up to date." Although the comment about Hendrix's appearance scraped her nerves the slightest bit - no one looked fucking good before the first one.

Still, she kept her mouth shut, not wanting to come off like some sort of overbearing moth- "Kai." A name for an explanation as she watched the oversized coyote bound towards them and braced herself but did not recoil.

 It wasn't exactly the most subtle entrance, probably did very little to soothe Hendrix - but damn if it wasn't comforting for her own beast. She reached out, ran her hand along Kai's spine and laughed - eyes bright and amber in a flash.
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