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Shadeside

Part 7: Once in a Blue Moon

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Chapter 26

"You legally changed his name? We're never letting you babysit again!" Duran said as he struggled to give Devin, now known as Beau, all the attention and affection that he had missed out on during their absence.

"He won't ever go back to the way he was before and keeping his old identity was an unnecessary risk." Dodger said reasonably.

"I didn't expect him to be so happy to see us. Somehow I thought that he wouldn't remember who we were." Lane chuckled as he gently petted Beau's hair and worked to curb his enthusiasm.

"I don't know if he thinks of you as parents, siblings, or pack-mates, but I can tell you for sure that he missed you while you were gone." Dodger said with a smile at the tender scene before him.

"We found out one surprising thing while we were helping Shawn." Duran said in prelude, garnering a warning glance from Lane.

"Devin... I mean Beau isn't the only werewolf in the modern world. We actually met four others." Duran continued.

"Four werewolves? I wonder if Rafe knows about them. If they're stable, they might be able to help Rafe to help Beau." Dodger said speculatively.

"He probably does know about them, but the werewolves we met aren't the same as Devin... Beau, I mean. They're not Shadesiders, they're some kind of shapeshifters. From what little we could gather, it seems that they were made that way by a curse or something." Duran said uncertainly.

"We didn't ask for too many details. When they said that they were cursed, we just kind of accepted it... mostly due to the smell, I think." Lane added with a slight grimace at the memory.

"Yeah. They smelled cursed, that's for sure!" Duran vehemently confirmed.

"I've heard that there are other types of werewolves running around, but if there's even a chance that they could help Devin... I mean, Beau. Now you've got me doing it!" Dodger said with playful aggravation.

"In their human forms these werewolves are just regular people..."

"Except that they stink." Duran hurried to add.

"Right. But Shawn said that he couldn't smell anything different about them, so maybe it's just a Shadesider thing that we can sense and Brightsiders can't." Lane suggested.

"Anyway, when they're human looking, they can talk and think like normal people. But even when they're fully animal, they seem to remember who they are and who their friends are." Duran explained.

"That's the other thing, their change is complete. While... Beau... changes and becomes 'like' a wolf, these guys actually fully become wolves and dogs of all kinds." Lane said carefully.

"So they're more like what you think of when someone says 'werewolf'." Dodger said speculatively.

"Yeah, except that they aren't out of control. You can talk to them and they can understand you." Lane slowly explained.

"They can also stop when they're half-way changed. When they're like that, they're more like what you'd think of as a werewolf, but they can talk, too." Duran quickly added.

"Right. And when they're like that, they're almost like Beau, I mean, in the way that they look." Lane said slowly.

"It sounds like you two had some kind of an adventure." Dodger said with a smile at the pair.

"When you stop and think about it, we didn't really do that much. But it was nice to be able to help out Shawn and see how he was doing. You wouldn't believe his house." Lane said with a grin.

"I love his breakfast room. Someday I want for us to have a place like that." Duran said firmly.

Dodger watched as Lane melted at the thought of someday owning a home with Duran.

"Shawn's doing alright then?" Dodger asked softly, not wanting to disrupt the tranquil mood that had even managed to calm Beau.

"Yeah. He's doing great. His boss seems to be okay. The town is a little creepy, you know, kind of in a Twilight Zone way, but everyone seems nice enough." Lane said as he absently continued to stroke Beau's hair.

"So what have we missed? Anything exciting going on around here?" Duran asked as he cuddled with Beau, who was joyfully soaking in the attention.

"You just missed Ernie and Blake. They stopped by and visited for a while. If you get called out on another job, you might think about asking them to babysit for you. They ended up getting along with Beau fairly well." Dodger said casually.

"I hadn't thought about them, but I could see them getting along." Lane said honestly.

"The only other news I can think of right now is that Leila's ovulating." Dodger said as he stood and started walking across the room, toward the refrigerator.

"Before I ask you how you know that, maybe you could tell me why that would be any of our business." Lane said cautiously.

"Leila and Rafe are both 'born' Shadesiders. We're assuming that means that a child of theirs would be fertile." Dodger said uncomfortably as he opened the lock on the mini-fridge.

"Okay. I actually didn't expect you to have an answer for that." Duran said honestly.

"I don't like where this is going." Lane said in a low voice of concern.

"Neither do I, but this isn't about what we like. This is about what's best for everyone." Dodger said more quietly.

"So... what? Are they at the hospital right now doing all kinds of mad science things to make her pregnant?" Duran asked awkwardly.

"You mean like a laser-guided turkey baster? No. They're upstairs in the guest room. As far as I know they will be doing it the old fashioned way." Dodger reluctantly admitted.

"If they've only got one chance, then that's probably best. I mean, it's probably got the best chance of working. The more scientific stuff you throw into the mix, the more chances there are for the technology to fail in some unexpected way. Remember how many Brightsider things don't work the way they're supposed to on Shadesiders." Lane cautioned.

"Why is this such a big deal, again? I think I missed that part." Duran asked cautiously.

Before Dodger could answer, Lane patiently explained, "This is a chance for Shadesiders to have a baby who was born naturally. It only happens a few times a century, so it's important to take advantage of the opportunity when it comes around."

As Dodger approached the group, he handed out sports bottles of drinks, including one for Beau.

"Thanks." Lane said with a quick smile.

As Lane took a drink, Dodger picked up the narrative, "'Born' Shadesiders are rare. From what I've heard, they're looked upon as being a son or daughter of the entire Shadeside community that they were born into."

"So Rafe's trying to have a kid with Leila? How does that make you feel?" Duran asked his uncle curiously.

"Logically, I understand the importance of it. Emotionally... it's not the best thing that's ever happened to me." Dodger said honestly.

"Yeah. I get that." Duran acknowledged as he gently petted Beau.

As Lane looked down at the young werewolf enjoying some juice, he quietly said, "It's important to know when to follow your head and when to follow your heart. Logic and passion are both great motivators, but they're lousy masters."

Dodger slowly nodded his agreement to the sentiment.

"How long do you think it's going to take?" Duran cautiously asked.

"Rafe didn't say... a few days, I guess." Dodger finished miserably.

"Days?" Lane asked with surprise.

Before Dodger could answer, Duran explained, "If she's got an egg in the chute, Rafe's got to take as many shots as he can at that little sucker before it gets away."

Despite the crudeness of the analogy Dodger reluctantly nodded his agreement.

"Oh, um, wow. I just kinda thought 'one and done', and he'd be outta there." Lane said frankly.

"In a perfect world, that's how it would work." Dodger wearily agreed.

"If they're going to be at it for days, they're probably going to need to take breaks and rest up between... sessions." Lane finished uncomfortably.

"I would hope so." Dodger said unenthusiastically.

"I know you probably don't feel like it, but maybe Duran and I could get them something, you know, make up a tray for them. That way you won't have to deal with it." Lane quietly suggested.

"Yeah. I can make them some endurance snacks and set up a few of these sports bottles of juice for them." Duran said quickly.

"Yeah. Like the way they have cups of water set up alongside the road for the marathon runners." Lane said enthusiastically.

Dodger reluctantly broke into a smile before cautiously saying, "It would be a way of showing our support."

"I don't know what kind of sexy snacks we can come up with, but we'll do what we can to make them stuff to keep up their energy and keep them in the right mood." Duran said with excitement at the prospect.

"It sounds like a good idea, but I think I'll stay down here with Beau while you two do that. Just let me know how things turn out." Dodger said with a slightly forced smile.

"Yeah. We won't be too long." Duran promised.

"Call if you need us for anything." Lane told Dodger gently before following Duran.

* * * * *

"Want some quesadillas?"

Dodger was broken out of his thoughts and looked at Duran inquisitively.

"We figured that while we were making them, that we'd make enough for everyone." Duran said frankly.

"I don't have much of an appetite." Dodger said quietly.

"I didn't really think that you would, but if you're not interested, Beau might be willing to help you with them." Duran said while suppressing a grin.

Dodger glanced at the young werewolf and saw wide hopeful begging eyes looking back at him.

"Give those here." Dodger said as he fought down a chuckle.

Duran was already handing him the plate as he said it.

"So, is Lane upstairs right now, giving Rafe and Leila their quesadillas?" Dodger asked quietly.

"No. We left a cart outside the bedroom door for them and knocked before hurrying away. Right now, Lane's driving over to the video store where he used to work, trying to get there before they close. He's hoping to get some 'inspirational' video tapes for Rafe and Leila." Duran explained as he sat on the sofa, the other end from Dodger.

After a moment to consider, Dodger reluctantly asked, "Video tapes? Do they even still make those? I can't imagine what kinds of things he's going to come up with."

"I know, right? But we figured that it really doesn't matter. There's no telling if any of that stuff will work to get them in the right mood, but whether it does or not, we can keep trying things to help them out until we run out of ideas or until they're done." Duran said purposefully.

"Thanks for helping me deal with this, Duran. As much as I like Lane and relate to him, you're my nephew. Nothing is quite the same as having family nearby when you really need someone." Dodger said seriously.

"But I haven't done anything." Duran protested.

"You're here. I just wanted you to know how important that is to me." Dodger said honestly.

After a moment to consider, Duran finally said, "Thanks. I can't say that I really understand, but if me being here helps you, then I'm glad to do it."

Both of them turned their attention to the hand that was sneaking over the edge of Dodger's plate.

"Of course you can have another one." Dodger said tenderly as he picked up another quesadilla wedge and handed it to Beau.

The boy snatched it up in his hands and made short work of the tasty treat.

"Has Rafe said anything about when Beau's going to be ready to try the cure thing that he's been working on?" Duran asked quietly.

"Actually, yes. From the way he was talking this morning... or I suppose it was yesterday morning now. Regardless, he's accomplished everything that he can with the nutritional therapy he's been using. He wanted for the two of you to be here to support Beau through the next phase of his treatment. No matter which way it ends up going, I know that Beau will appreciate you going through it with him." Dodger said seriously.

"There's a chance that it will kill him, isn't there?" Duran quietly asked.

"Yes, there's a considerable chance of that. But the alternative is to leave him like he is, unable to hunt or feed in the way his nature dictates. He would have to be on a leash, either figuratively or literally, for the rest of his life... which could easily end up being centuries long.

"He would need to have someone taking care of him at all times. He would never be in a position where he could take care of himself." Dodger said firmly.

"I guess this is less about what I want and more about what's best for him, huh?" Duran asked weakly.

"Welcome to adulthood." Dodger said wearily.

"I'm sixteen."

"Adulthood doesn't always wait for you to be ready." Dodger said frankly.

"I know. It's been right on my heels for a while now. I just didn't want to admit it." Duran said resignedly.

"Just do what's best for Beau. I can't say that you won't ever have regrets, but at least you'll have the peace of mind knowing that you made the best decision that you could, even if it ends up turning out badly." Dodger said gently.

"Those really are the only two choices, aren't they? Do it or don't." Duran asked quietly.

"As far as I know, yes. From the way Rafe explained it to me, the vitamin regimen has made Beau's cells susceptible to the daywalker variant of the transformative. Since the new transformative worked on you and Lane so well, it's reasonable to assume that it would work on Beau in much the same way. If he is exposed to it right now, while he's at the peak of his susceptibility, it has the best chance of undoing some of the worst aspects of the failed 'Werewolf' transformation." Dodger carefully explained.

"Does that mean that there's such a thing as a successful Werewolf transformation?" Duran asked curiously.

Dodger took another quesadilla wedge off the plate and handed it to Beau before answering, "I don't know if there's an answer to that. From one point of view, werewolves are failed vampires. But I suppose another way of looking at it might be that a werewolf who has adapted the transformative to work with their unique physiology might be seen as a new and unique creature who didn't exist before. That might be seen as a success by some interpretation of the definition."

Duran took a long slow look at Beau before quietly saying, "No matter how you look at it, this was not a success."

"Well, with any luck, before it's all over, Rafe will be able to turn it into one." Dodger said hopefully.

* * * * *

"Does anyone want to stay up and watch Godzilla movies tonight?" Lane asked as he walked down the stairs, carrying a plastic shopping bag of DVDs.

"The one with that 'Malcolm in the Middle' guy in it?" Duran asked curiously.

"No. Any Godzilla movie made after 1979 doesn't count. All they do is substitute flashy special effects and jump-cut editing to try and make up for the lack of an actual story told with heart." Lane said firmly.

"You can count me in. I haven't watched them in years and I wouldn't mind watching them again." Dodger said honestly.

"I'll bring the laptop down so we can spend time with Beau while we're watching it. Considering what Rafe is about to do, we need to make as many good memories as we can." Duran said as he fought to keep the tears from forming in his eyes.

"So he's ready to do it?" Lane asked anxiously.

"Yes. At least, as soon as he's done with... other things... he will be." Dodger finished with an artificial smile.

"Maybe if I can learn more about how to work with the thrall, I can find some way to reach his mind." Lane said desperately.

"Leila and I have already taught you more than most Shadesiders will ever know about the thrall. If there were any chance of us being able to help Beau that way, either you or I would have sensed it before now and pursued it." Dodger said firmly, not leaving any room for misunderstanding.

"I guess you're right. I just don't want to do something that might end up hurting him even worse." Lane said honestly.

"Don't kid yourself, Lane. There's no 'right' answer here. We're choosing between one horrible thing and another. Just... try to cause as little pain as possible." Dodger finished in a defeated tone.

"Lane, why don't you go get the laptop while I make us some movie snacks?" Duran asked simply.

After a moment to consider, Lane finally said, "Yeah. Let's enjoy what we have while we still have it."

* * * * *

"I love your nachos." Lane said before stuffing another into his mouth.

"See Uncle Dodger? It's all about what I can do for him and not about me as a person." Duran mock pouted.

"I'm pretty sure Lane was saying that your overloaded nachos is 'one of the things' he loves about you, not the only thing." Dodger playfully explained.

Since Lane's mouth was otherwise occupied, he simply pointed at Dodger and nodded his agreement.

"Oh, okay." Duran finally relented, then added, "I guess that's alright then."

Once Lane had swallowed, he quietly said, "Shawn called Duran an overly-sensitive little prick."

Dodger laughed, then asked, "Any particular reason or was he just making an observation?"

"I was testing him to see how he'd react when he was pushed." Duran said seriously, more seriously than Dodger would have expected.

"How'd he do?" Dodger asked curiously.

"He was able to turn it around on me and call me out on my bullshit without escalating the situation. It was a good solid reaction."

"It's important to know who you've got at your back when you're stepping into something unknown." Lane said in support of Duran's actions.

"Well, good. It's nice to know that Shawn is level-headed under pressure." Dodger said frankly.

"Yeah. I'm glad he's on our side." Lane said honestly.

"He has been on our side. That doesn't mean that he will be the next time we have to deal with something involving him. He has his own people and own reasons for doing things. He's a good man, worthy of respect, but good men can end up on either side of a conflict for any number of reasons." Dodger explained seriously.

"So far we've landed on the same side of things, but that doesn't mean that we always will." Duran said speculatively.

"Right. I can imagine all kinds of scenarios where his job would put him in a position at odds with us." Dodger confirmed.

"It's going to take some time for me to get used to thinking that way. I'm kinda used to thinking of people as 'friends' or 'enemies'." Lane said honestly.

"Black and white thinking like that leaves you vulnerable to manipulation. If you trust people blindly, you might end up getting some bad advice or being sabotaged in some other way." Dodger carefully explained.

"But you don't have to feel like there's no one that you can trust." Duran interjected, then continued, "I don't trust people to begin with, so I can watch your back."

"We can all watch out for each other." Dodger added.

"Do you guys mind if I restart the movie?" Lane asked hopefully, then explained, "We were talking and I missed most of it."

"Yeah, go ahead." Duran said easily.

"All the same to me." Dodger said honestly.

Beau didn't appear to have an opinion, being perfectly content between his two favorite people in the world.

Lane restarted the movie and resumed his munching as the Godzilla movie marathon continued on.

* * * * *

"I was wondering where everyone was."

Lane, Beau and Duran were asleep in an impossible pile on one end of the couch. Dodger looked up from his place at the other end and quietly asked, "Are you done for the night?"

"We did what we needed to. I seriously doubt that doing more would significantly improve the chances of impregnation." Rafe said seriously as he slowly approached the couch.

"So you're done?" Dodger cautiously asked to verify.

"Yes. We've done everything that we're going to do." Rafe confirmed.

"Is Leila still here?" Dodger cautiously asked.

"No. She left a few minutes ago." Rafe assured him, then continued, "Remind me to thank Lane and Duran for the snacks and... inspirational materials. Their care package gave us a much needed laugh at a particularly somber point in our proceedings."

"Somber?" Dodger cautiously asked.

"We were doing what needed to be done, but both of us could feel the wrongness of it. We agreed that no matter what happens with the pregnancy, that we're going to give each other a little space until the memory of it can have a chance to fade a little." Rafe said quietly.

"Will she let us know if she's pregnant or not?" Dodger asked cautiously.

"If she finds out that she is, I can't imagine that she could keep from sharing the joyous news. If she determines conclusively that she isn't... She'll probably ask Portia or Lily to pass the news on to us." Rafe finished quietly.

Dodger nodded, then glanced at the other end of the couch at the pile of sleeping boys snuggled into a heap of absolute comfort. Finally Dodger cautiously asked, "Do you think I should wake them up so that they can go to bed?"

"Leave them be. If they're kinked up in the morning, it will sort itself out before too long." Rafe said quietly.

"When do you want to do Beau's treatment?" Dodger cautiously asked.

"Beau?"

"Yeah. We officially changed Devin's name. It seemed like a good idea to distance him from that part of his life."

"That's probably best." Rafe granted, then continued, "We can do it later this morning or early afternoon, once everyone's awake and ready to commit several hours to one project."

"What do you think the chances are that Beau's going to be alright?" Dodger asked with concern.

"As far as I know, nothing like this has been done before. Not intentionally, anyway. Seeing Lane and Duran accept the 'daywalker' mutation of the transformative from Evan gives me an additional reason to hope."

"Are you going to ask Lane or Duran to bite him?" Dodger asked cautiously.

"No. There's a possibility that they can't pass on what Evan passed to them. Just like Beau's transformative has been altered, so might theirs have been too." Rafe carefully explained.

"So, if Beau bit someone, would they become a Shadesider or possibly even a werewolf?" Dodger asked curiously.

"While either is possible, I think it's more likely that his form of the transformative would be deadly to Brightsiders and might even pose some kind of risk to Shadesiders." Rafe explained seriously.

"So what are you going to do?" Dodger asked anxiously.

"I have an uncontaminated sample of Evan's transformative that I can use to give Devin... I mean, Beau, the most concentrated and straightforward form of the new transformative to work with. By all that I know, that should provide us the best chance for a favorable outcome." Rafe finished seriously.

"It sounds like we're going to have a full day. Let's go to bed." Dodger said wearily as he stood.

"Are we okay?" Rafe cautiously asked.

"Just because I understand something doesn't mean that I have to like it. I'm unhappy about what had to be done, but I'm not angry with you, I'm angry with the world... We're fine."

"Stupid world." Rafe said with a loving grin at his partner.

"Yeah." Dodger smiled as he moved into Rafe's embrace.

"Come on." Rafe said softly as he guided Dodger toward the staircase.

* * * * *

"Why did you leave us downstairs last night?" Lane asked as he walked into the kitchen, with his hair sticking up in a cow-lick and still wearing sleep-rumpled clothes from the night before.

"The three of you seemed to be sharing some special time together, I didn't want to interrupt that for you." Dodger said simply as he added dry ingredients to a bowl.

"Does Rafe still want to do it?" Lane asked anxiously.

"Beau's treatment? Yes. Later this morning, once everyone's up." Dodger confirmed.

"Is there anything at all you can think of that we can do to improve his chances?"

"Prayer?" Dodger offered weakly.

Lane's dubious look was epic in its proportion.

"Whether you pray to a deity for divine intervention or just send positive energy in Beau's direction, it's possible that it might make some kind of difference or even tip the balance." Dodger said frankly.

"Are you going to be praying?" Lane asked curiously.

"With every fiber of my being." Dodger said simply.

Lane nodded to acknowledge that he had heard.

"Of course, all three of us are probably going to be working to use the thrall to keep Beau calm through all of this. Praying is about as much else as we'll be able to do for him." Dodger said honestly.

"When's breakfast?" Duran asked as he scuffed into the kitchen.

"About fifteen minutes. I'm just about to start mixing the waffle batter."

"Good. Lane? Do you want to help me take a quick shower?" Duran asked hopefully.

"You don't know what a 'quick' shower is." Lane chuckled.

"What? Are you not in the mood?" Duran challenged.

"I didn't say that!" Lane firmly defended, then told Dodger, "We'll be back as soon as we can."

"I won't hold everyone's breakfast for you, but I'll wait to make your waffles until you're ready for them." Dodger assured him.

"Thanks Dodger. We'll try not to be too too long." Lane said with a slight blush and a grin.

"Have fun." Dodger chuckled.

The grin on Duran's face assured Dodger that they likely would.

* * * * *

"There's food on the table and the boys aren't in here? What's wrong?" Rafe asked with concern as he walked into the kitchen.

"They're taking a 'quick' shower." Dodger said with a knowing grin.

"Right. I've fallen for that one before. I won't plan anything involving them before this afternoon."

"What about Beau? Are you still going to do his treatment today?" Dodger asked to confirm.

"Yes. Most likely. After we've finished with breakfast, would you mind taking a minute to help me collect a fresh sample from him?"

"Of course."

"Good. After I've had a chance to look it over and verify that all his levels are good, I'll see to administering the treatment."

"I told the boys that the three of us could help to support Beau by using the thrall to keep him calm while you're doing your treatment. Is that alright?" Dodger asked hopefully.

"Actually, you would probably know better than I would. Beau will basically be going through the change, the same as a Brightsider who had just been bitten." Rafe said seriously.

"I didn't think of it that way." Dodger said slowly, then explained, "If that's true, then the last thing we would want to do is enthrall him. If Beau detected the thrall, he could instinctively construct a defense against beneficial emotions, turning him fully into a Darksider."

"I'll have to leave that aspect of things to you then, and I'll stay on station in the event of any medical needs." Rafe said seriously.

"If it goes wrong, there isn't anything more you can do for him, is there?" Dodger asked curiously.

"Probably not for Beau, but if he were to bite one of you, we might have a rather serious problem on our hands." Rafe said frankly.

"Do you think that his transformative would override ours?" Dodger asked with concern.

"I don't know. Not only is Beau as healthy as he's ever been, but unfortunately, so is the version of the transformative that he's carrying." Rafe explained, then continued, "My first instinct is to say that a bite from him wouldn't do much of anything to us, but I can't dismiss the possibility that it could interact with our transformative causing a catastrophic reaction throughout the entire infected body."

"I assume that you're going to do something to test that before we find out the hard way." Dodger said in a leading tone.

"I will once Beau has completed his treatment. There isn't much I can do until we see what type of transformative he ends up carrying." Rafe said frankly.

"I thought it would be Evan's version." Dodger said slowly.

"That's possible. Some sort of mutation of Evan's is another. Then there's always a possibility that Beau's transformative will adjust itself to cohabit with Evan's, distorting the daywalker transformative in ways that I can't anticipate." Rafe finished gravely.

"But until his physiology has stabilized, you won't be able to get a sample that you can use to test what happens when his transformative mixes with ours." Dodger said speculatively.

"Yes. For now, we have to confirm that Beau is as ready as he can be to have the treatment."

"Do you want to do it now?" Dodger asked cautiously.

Rafe looked down at his empty plate for a moment, then came to a decision.

"Yes. We won't be helping anyone by putting it off. Let's get this thing started."

* * * * *

When Rafe and Dodger started walking down the stairs, Beau hurried up to meet them. He was as excited as always to see them and wanted all their attention.

"Yes. We're here to visit with you. And don't worry, Lane and Duran are going to be back before too long." Dodger said as he worked to soothe the emotionally needy werewolf.

"Go ahead and calm him while I get ready."

"I'm working on it." Dodger said as he began to glow.

Beau curled himself into Dodger's shoulder and snuggled for all he was worth.

"I hope this works." Rafe said quietly as he watched and waited for Beau to be ready for him.

"Whatever happens next, we'll face it together." Dodger said quietly as he placed a gentle hand on the back of Beau's head to further comfort him.

"Do you think he's ready?" Rafe asked cautiously.

"Yes. He's as relaxed as he gets." Dodger assured him.

As Rafe was about to move in to take a blood sample, something caught his attention and he backed away cautiously.

"What is it?" Dodger asked quietly in an obvious attempt not to startle Beau with his question.

"Your wings, they're not fanned out behind you, they're wrapped around you and Beau." Rafe said curiously.

Dodger slowly smiled, then explained, "I've been using the thrall so much since Beau joined us that I think that it has started manifesting more fully."

"You never cease to amaze me." Rafe said warmly.

"He's ready if you are." Dodger said as he ever so gently petted the back of Beau's head.

Rafe smiled as he went to work, making every effort to make the pin prick as painless as possible for his young patient.

After a long moment, Rafe quietly said, "I've got everything I need for now. I'll be in my office for a while, if you need me for anything."

"I think I'll stay down here with Beau for now. If you run into the boys upstairs, tell Duran to go ahead and make waffles for him and Lane whenever they're ready. Everything's set out for them." Dodger said gently.

"Duran, but not Lane?" Rafe asked to confirm his understanding of the instructions.

"Yes. I'm convinced that Lane could burn the house down making a bowl of cereal."

"If I see Duran, I'll be sure to pass on your message." Rafe said warmly.

As Rafe leaned in to give Dodger a kiss, the young werewolf between them decided that he wanted to get in on the action as well.

Before Rafe could back away, both he and Dodger had received sloppy kisses from Beau.

Rafe couldn't resist the urge and gave Beau a firm kiss on the cheek before standing to leave.

"Let me know if you think of anything else we can do to improve his chances... anything." Dodger reiterated firmly.

"I will. I promise." Rafe assured him before walking with purpose back to the stairs.

To Be Continued...

Editor's Notes:

Well, I am sure glad to see a new chapter of Shadeside.

It has been quite a while since we have visited with our friends.

I still marvel at what this story has become.

When MM first started this adventure,

The original version of the story started in the middle, and as it progressed, the beginning of the story was brought into focus. Then we moved past the middle and continued on from there.

I certainly hope that things work out well for Beau.

And, I am hoping it won't be very long before we hear more updates.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher