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Part 7: Once in a Blue Moon

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Chapter 27

"When do you think Rafe will be ready to do it?" Lane asked as he walked down the stairs.

"He just took a blood sample and is looking at it now. I'd guess that it could be any minute." Dodger said gently as he held Beau close to his side and did his best to let the young werewolf know that he was loved.

"Duran's cleaning up the kitchen. He shouldn't be long." Lane said as he tentatively sat down on the opposite end of the couch.

"Are you going to be alright?" Dodger asked with concern.

"Yeah. No matter which way it goes, I'll get through it. If nothing else, I need to be strong for Duran to show him how to deal with things." Lane said seriously, then added more quietly, "This could destroy him."

"I'll do my best to give you space to work things out on your own, but remember that I'm here for both of you if you need me." Dodger said frankly.

"I keep forgetting that you're so much older than we are. You're probably used to stuff like this." Lane said with a pained smile.

"Actually, no. Losing the precious people in your life never gets any easier, it's just as raw and painful every single time. The most you can do is surround yourself with trusted friends and family and try to develop effective coping strategies to help you past the worst of it." Dodger said quietly.

The sound of footsteps on the stairs drew their attention. Even Beau looked up to see who was about to join them.

"How was the blood test?" Dodger asked anxiously.

"As good as I could have hoped." Rafe said as he descended the stairs with Duran at his side.

"So you're going to do it now?" Dodger cautiously asked.

"Yes. Unless you can come up with a compelling reason for us to delay it." Rafe said unenthusiastically.

"I would really like to put it off, but I know that that won't improve Beau's chances of coming through this." Dodger said regretfully.

"That's right. This is his absolute best chance to overcome his condition and recover to any notable degree." Rafe said sensibly, leaving no room for ambiguity.

"What do you need for us to do?" Dodger asked resignedly.

"If you'd move Beau over to the mattresses, we might appreciate the extra room to spread out later." Rafe said professionally.

"You're probably right." Dodger said quietly as he coaxed Beau to stand with him.

"I think Duran should take your place holding Beau." Rafe said simply.

"Is that okay with you?" Dodger cautiously asked his nephew.

"Yeah. If that's where Beau needs me, then that's where I'll be." Duran said uncharacteristically seriously.

Dodger cautiously scooted away from Beau enough so that Duran could wedge himself between them.

As soon as Beau had transferred his hug to Duran, Dodger moved to Rafe's side.

"Lane, why don't you get in there and hug them both?"

"What are you up to?" Dodger asked curiously.

"I'm just trying to make it so that Beau has everyone who keeps him safe and secure as close as possible before we do anything else. Once things get set into motion, there's no turning back." Rafe said professionally.

"Where do you want me?" Dodger asked cautiously.

"Here with me is fine. I think Beau will feel most reassured if he knows that you're nearby, watching over him and ready to help whenever he needs you." Rafe said thoughtfully.

"Is there anything else we can do to improve his chances of coming through this?" Lane asked anxiously as he settled into place with Beau and Duran on one of the mattresses on the floor..

"From a medical standpoint, I've done all that I can do. I think that if there's anything else that can be done to influence the outcome, it's going to have to be up to Dodger. He's the one who's studied the intricacies of the Shadesider transformation." Rafe said frankly.

Dodger slowly nodded, then quietly said, "Guys, listen. It sounds to me like Beau is about to be dragged through the Shadesider change backward and possibly inside out. What's worse, I have a feeling that we're not going to be able to use the thrall to try and calm him. If we do, it will more than likely push him into losing his humanity completely."

"Hasn't he already?" Duran asked curiously.

"He's lost his higher reasoning, but he still has a good heart and an innocent soul. I'm afraid if we mess this up, he'll lose that too." Dodger said frankly.

"What we're about to do, will it do anything to get his reasoning back?" Lane asked cautiously.

"It might. I can think of a dozen different ways that this could turn out and there are probably a dozen more that I haven't even thought of yet." Rafe said honestly.

"But if we do nothing, he'll never improve. No matter how hard we try, we won't be able to prevent despair from chipping away at him until someday, possibly tomorrow, possibly a century away, his goodness will eventually be extinguished." Dodger quietly explained.

"But this will change that?" Duran asked uncertainly.

"It could." Rafe hurried to declare.

"In living his life surrounded by good friends and in achieving things for himself, he'll be able to stave off the despair that often seeks to ruin people. If we can get him to the point where he can feel a sense of family or community, we'll have a good foundation to deal with the rest." Dodger said frankly.

A long silence fell over the group as they all waited for someone to take the next step.

Finally Rafe reluctantly said, "If you guys want to gently enthrall him, I'll give him the injection."

"I thought you just told us not to enthrall him." Lane said cautiously.

"Don't enthrall him once the change has begun. But if possible I'd like to keep him calm at the beginning of the process. Him having a panic attack over the needle might not be the best way for us to start this out." Rafe quietly explained.

"How about I handle the thrall and let you three relax for now?" Dodger asked in a soothing voice.

"Sounds good." Duran said as he snuggled into Beau's embrace.

Lane reconfirmed his hold on his family, then nodded to Dodger that he was ready.

Dodger, in turn, glanced at Rafe to be sure that he too was ready to begin.

"From this point on, there's no stopping, there's no turning back. If something seems to be going wrong, do your best to turn it around. All of us need to work together to see this through." Rafe said solemnly.

"Got it." Dodger said in nearly a whisper, then began to glow as he very gently, yet very precisely, sent out a flood of contentment and well-being.

After a moment for the thrall to take hold, Rafe moved forward and gave Beau the tiniest little 'prick' of an injection, which Beau didn't even seem to notice.

"Ease off the thrall and from here on out we'll do our best to keep Beau comfortable and happy the old-fashioned way." Rafe said as he backed away and discretely tucked the spent hypodermic into his little black bag.

"If you want him to be happy there are things... I mean, he already knows about whacking off, so it's not like we'd be corrupting him." Lane said uncomfortably.

"If he ends up going down that path on his own, we'll accompany him, but I would rather not push him in that direction. Traditionally, the transformative rewires the emotions and thought processes. Whatever Beau is going to become might well be determined by the decisions we make here today." Dodger said instructively.

"I thought you and Leila did all kinds of sexy things when you were helping people through the change." Lane said honestly.

"Yes. But in those cases we're dealing with people who can be reasoned with. In Beau's case we're essentially dealing with animal intelligence. Hopefully our talking to him and holding him will help him form pathways to his higher reasoning rather than to his primal instincts." Dodger said frankly.

"Are you talking about providing intellectual stimulation?" Rafe asked cautiously.

"Yes, but not randomly. What we do and what we say this afternoon might end up determining the type of person he eventually becomes." Dodger fought to explain.

"And you don't want him turning out to be some sex-obsessed weirdo who's whacking off all the time?" Duran guessed.

"I'm hoping that we can do better than that." Dodger confirmed, then added more quietly, "We only get one chance."

"Then we'd better make it count." Lane said anxiously.

"How likely is it that once Beau's all rewired that we'll end up with Devin?" Duran cautiously asked.

"I won't say it's impossible, but I think we're talking about a one in a million billion or so chance." Rafe said honestly.

"Do you want Devin back?" Lane asked curiously.

"I just want for Beau to be happy. If he woke up as Devin, there might be a way that he could be." Duran said seriously.

"It wouldn't be easy, but I think we could find a way to make it work." Rafe said honestly.

"I think something's happening." Duran said hesitantly.

"Keep in mind that Beau's got a battle going on inside him at the cellular level. What we see out here is most likely just the aftermath of some of the battles. Don't be discouraged if things appear to be going badly for a moment." Rafe gently cautioned.

"He's sweating." Duran said simply.

"Try to give him a little air to make him comfortable, but do your best to make sure that he doesn't feel abandoned or rejected by you." Dodger said cautiously.

"Do you want to get in here and do this? You want me to let him go without letting him feel like I let go? Just how the hell do you suggest that I do that?" Duran asked belligerently.

"There's the Duran that I'm used to dealing with." Rafe chuckled.

"Good. Beau wouldn't recognize him being all nice and gentle like that." Dodger agreed.

"You know what? You guys do whatever you want. I'm going to help Beau my way." Duran said frankly as he struggled to pull his shirt off over his head.

"Actually, that sounds good to me. You being yourself is probably the best way to lure Beau out of his internal hiding place." Dodger said frankly.

"Would you just decide what you want me to do before he completely changes?" Duran asked frustratedly.

"This is a unique situation. We're doing our best to come up with ideas of what to do next, but there's no manual on how to convert a werewolf into something else." Dodger fought to explain.

"So Beau's not going to be a werewolf anymore?" Lane asked curiously.

"Possibly not. We'll just have to wait and see how it ends up." Rafe said honestly.

"It's okay, Buddy. I've got you." Duran said gently as he cuddled, skin-to-skin with Beau.

"Do you want me to take my shirt off too?" Lane asked uncertainly.

"Not yet. Right now just hold us and keep us safe." Duran said seriously.

"I'm going to get some juice so that you can have a drink if anyone starts getting thirsty." Dodger said as he started across the room.

"Buh." Beau said in nearly a whisper.

"What was that, Beau? What did you say?" Duran asked excitedly.

"Buh." He said again, this time more confidently.

"Maybe he's trying to say his name." Dodger cautiously suggested as he hurried back to the mattress where the boys were.

"Buh." Beau said as he got a determined look.

"Beau. Buh-oh. Beau." Rafe slowly enunciated.

"Buh-buh." Beau said uncertainly.

"You know what? If you want to go by Bubba, I have no problem with that. I'll be happy to call you that all day long." Duran said with a joyous laugh under his words.

"Let's not settle for second best just yet. Once Beau's completed his change, we can take stock of what we've got to work with." Dodger said urgently.

"Beau? Can you say Beau?" Lane gently asked.

Beau appeared to summon his resolve before carefully articulating, "Beau."

Lane, Duran, Dodger and Rafe cheered in triumph.

"Yes! That's it! That's how you do it!" Duran exclaimed.

"Can you do it again?" Dodger asked hopefully.

"Say 'Beau'. Come on. I know you can do it." Lane implored him.

"Beau." He said with more confidence and a burgeoning smile.


"Way to go!"

"Beau, can you say anything else? Can you say Lane?" Dodger quickly asked.

"He just figured out how to say his own name. If we push him too hard he might lose it." Duran said worriedly.

"Or his brain might be at its peak of elasticity and what we do now might give him the tools that he will have to work with for the rest of his life." Dodger countered.

"Say 'Duran'." Duran urged him.

"Can you say 'Lane'?" Lane asked hopefully.

"Can you tell us if you're hungry or thirsty?" Dodger asked urgently.

"I think you're overwhelming him. Why don't you stop interrogating him for a minute and let him know that he's loved?" Rafe cautiously suggested.

"Love?" Beau asked in a bewildered voice.

"Yes, we absolutely love you." Duran hurried to assure him.

"We all love you very much." Dodger said gently.

"He's starting to shake again. I don't think he's cold. I think it's more like a seizure." Lane said anxiously.

"Don't restrain him, we don't want him to feel trapped. But do what you can to reassure him that it's going to be alright and try to keep him calm." Rafe instructed professionally.

"It's okay Beau. We've got you." Duran hurried to assure him.

"Beau." The boy said with a terrified tremble in his voice.

"That's right. You're Beau and everyone here loves you very much." Lane said in as calm a voice as he could manage.

"His shaking seems to be easing." Duran reported cautiously.

"Good. Just let it pass. That was probably some old werewolf cells that didn't want to make way for the updated Shadesider cells." Rafe said in a calming tone.

"So you think it's working?" Dodger asked cautiously, obviously reluctant to hope.

"Something's happening. Preliminary evidence would suggest that it might be something good. All I can do is speculate at this point." Rafe said honestly.

"Durr..." Beau struggled to say, but seemed to get caught.

"You've almost got it. You can go ahead and stop and then do the 'an' at the end." Duran hurried to explain.

"Dur Anne." Lane said slowly, drawing out the pronunciation.

"Durrah." Beau said uncertainly as he looked deeply into Duran's eyes.

"That's pretty close. I think with a little practice you'll have it just fine." Duran assured him.

The delight shown brilliantly in Beau's eyes as he felt joy over his accomplishment.

"Can you say 'Lane' now?" Lane asked hopefully.

A puzzled expression fell across Beau's face, then a moment later, he absently mumbled, "I don't know."

"Don't worry about it. Are you hungry or thirsty?" Dodger hurriedly asked.

"No. I don't think so." Beau said uncertainly.

"What about the bathroom? Do you feel like you need to go?" Dodger asked seriously, trying to not put too much pressure on the fragile boy.

"Yeah. I think that's what I'm feeling." Beau muttered absently.

"Do you remember where your sandbox is?" Dodger asked hopefully.

"Yeah. But I'd rather use a toilet, if you can tell me where it is." Beau mumbled timidly.

"It's right over there beside your sandbox, just open the door." Dodger assured him.

Beau wriggled loose from his bedmates and bounded across the room on all fours.

"Do you think he'll want to wear clothes?" Duran asked curiously.

"It's possible. Do you have anything he could wear?" Rafe asked in return.

"Things like socks maybe. I'm a lot smaller than he is." Duran said honestly.

"I'm too tall and thin to be able to share my clothes with him." Lane automatically volunteered.

"I should have some things he can wear. As long as they don't offend his sense of style, they should fit him otherwise." Dodger said as he started toward the stairs.

"Be sure to get him something like gym shorts or sweatpants, in case he isn't ready to commit to being 'fully' clothed just yet." Rafe quickly suggested.

"I'll find something." Dodger assured Rafe as he headed for the door.

* * * * *

"How are you doing, Beau?" Rafe asked when he noticed the boy cautiously walking upright toward them.

"Is that my name?" Beau asked uncertainly.

"It's the name that we've given you. If you'd rather be called something else, we could probably do that." Rafe easily explained.

"No. That's okay. I just wasn't sure." Beau said distractedly.

Rafe noticed that Beau had his hands strategically placed to cover himself.

"Dodger's upstairs getting you some clothes. You can wear them if you like." Rafe said in a low, even voice, to hopefully put Beau at ease.

"Why am I naked?" Beau asked cautiously.

"You were naked when we found you and you haven't shown any interest in wearing clothes since. You can choose to wear clothes or not, as you like. We won't be upset with you either way." Rafe said seriously.

"Yeah. I think I'd like to." Beau said quietly.

A sound upstairs caused Rafe to look up as Beau followed his lead.

"Beau has said that he'd like to wear clothes." Rafe happily announced.

"I grabbed a few things for you to choose from." Dodger said as he continued down the stairs.

"Why can't I remember who I am?" Beau asked in an anguished tone.

"You were somehow infected with a transformative agent. Your body couldn't process it the way most people do, so along with some other changes, you also lost your higher reasoning for a while." Rafe explained as Dodger handed Beau some soft comfortable clothes.

"So why can I understand you now?" Beau asked cautiously, half afraid of the answer, as he examined the clothes, deciding what he wanted to wear.

"Over the last several weeks, we've worked to get you as healthy as possible so I could try an experimental treatment on you to hopefully reverse some of your condition." Rafe cautiously explained.

"So it worked?" Beau asked hopefully as he pulled on a pair of gym shorts.

"Something happened, and it seems like it's something good, but the treatment's not complete so you could still regress to some degree before it's all over." Rafe said seriously.

"Without being able to think, I'm not really a person, am I?" Beau asked bravely before pulling a plain white t-shirt over his head.

"Since you seem to have reclaimed your ability to speak rather than having to relearn it, I think it indicates that there are things hidden within your mind that might be accessible by some means or method that we haven't tried yet." Rafe said seriously.

"Do I even want to remember being the person I was before?" Beau cautiously asked.

"I can't answer that. From all indications, you were a perfectly normal boy leading a wholly unremarkable life. I can say with some certainty that you can never go back to being the person that he was, but I'd guess that it's at least possible for you to remember his life." Rafe said frankly.

"But something to keep in mind is that being like we are makes it so you can't really have very many relationships with people who aren't... us." Duran stammered at the end.

"I don't understand." Beau said in a voice that was beginning to tremble.

"Why don't you sit down with the guys while I get us all some juice?" Dodger asked encouragingly.

Beau seemed uncertain about what he should do, but offered no resistance as Dodger guided him to sit on the couch as Lane and Duran moved over from the mattress to join him in a more 'civilized' setting.

"It's okay, Beau. We'll keep you safe." Duran fought to assure him.

"But why? I'm just some stranger that you found, right?" Beau asked cautiously.

"We're Shadesiders. We don't have babies." Lane carefully explained, then glanced at Rafe before amending, "Usually."

"That's right. This is how Shadesiders reproduce, a regular person gets changed into one of us and if everyone involved is very lucky, the new person gets to join a family and become part of their community." Rafe gently explained.

"Shadesiders?" Beau asked cautiously.

"Yeah. Like vampires, but without the bad attitude." Duran said gently to assure him.

"Or sparkles." Lane hurried to add.

"It doesn't matter. Just as long as you know that you've got people that love you and that you can depend on." Lane said warmly.

"Love?" Beau asked cautiously.

"When we found you, basically functioning like an animal, we took on the commitment to look after you and help you however we can." Rafe quietly explained.

"And when you did that, you decided to love me?" Beau asked even more slowly.

"I don't know if anyone decided that part, but in the process of taking care of you and sharing in the achievements that you were able to make, we've all adopted you as part of our family and began to love you." Lane explained.

"You all love me?" Beau asked uncertainly as he looked around.

"Yes. Each of us in his own way." Dodger said as he handed Beau a sports bottle of juice.

Nods of agreement went around the group.

"How do I know if I love you?" Beau asked anxiously.

"That's a tough one. You're a teenager, so that not only means that all your emotions are jacked up to eleven, but also that your feelings can turn on a dime." Dodger said frankly.

"Hey, we're teenagers too." Lane said in offense.

"Your point being?" Dodger said sweetly.

"To answer Beau's original question, I don't know how you'll know if you love us, but what I would expect to happen is for you to love some of us sometimes, maybe hate some of us sometimes. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to find that you love and hate yourself at various times for various reasons too." Rafe explained.

"What if I go back to being the way I was, you know, like an animal?" Beau asked uncertainly.

"We'll do what we can to provide you the best quality of life for as long as we can." Rafe answered dispassionately.

"What does that mean?"

"We'd try to keep you fed and happy, but life has a way of seeking out that type of happiness and finding creative and interesting ways to disrupt it. Everything eventually ends, no matter how much we fight to keep it going."

"I'm feeling something. I don't want to hurt you." Beau said before dashing away from them toward the far side of the room on all fours.

"Just tell us if there's anything you need for us to do." Lane called out with obvious concern.

"Just get out of here, I'm losing it! I'm losing me!" Beau struggled to say before devolving into snarls and growls.

"We're not leaving you." Duran stated firmly.

"Yeah. No matter what happens, we'll see you through it." Lane said as he stood at Duran's side.

"I might hurt you." Beau called out in an anguished cry.

"We'll be fine. You'll be fine. However this turns out, we'll stand by you." Duran said confidently.

As Beau took off running toward them, Duran started running away from the group using quite a bit more than normal human speed and agility.

"What are you doing?" Rafe asked curiously, not raising his voice, since he knew that there was no need.

"Beau's worried about us, so I wanted to show him that we're not slow or fragile." Duran said before throwing himself, feet first, at the far wall, then bouncing himself back the direction he had come from.

Beau had stopped and was watching Duran's actions curiously.

"He might be evaluating us as potential members of his pack." Dodger cautiously suggested.

"He could be establishing the pack hierarchy before settling into place." Rafe suggested with a nod of confirmation.

"Either way, showcasing our abilities for him would seem to be the wisest course of action to settle his current mental state." Dodger said speculatively.

"Then let's do some showing off." Rafe said with a grin before disappearing in a flash.

* * * * *

Even Dodger was surprised by the speed at which Rafe moved. Despite Shadesider enhanced vision, he could just barely keep track of him. Rafe's fluid grace reminded Dodger of a certain mugging attempt in their distant past.

"What's he doing?" Lane asked at the abrupt action.

"We're showing Beau that we're not helpless burdens and that we're worthy to be considered his packmates." Dodger said simply before projecting the thrall in such a way that he was enveloped by it, seeming to have a halo and fully formed wings.

"I thought you said 'no thrall'." Lane said hesitantly.

"We can't direct it at Beau, it might interfere with his transformation. But doing it like this demonstrates our power and shows him another valuable tool that we have in our arsenal." Dodger said frankly.

"What can I do?" Lane asked cautiously.

"If we were outside, I'd tell you to show Beau how well you can hunt and track, he would recognize the value in that. But since we're in here, you could show off your control of the thrall, or maybe just show him how strong you are." Dodger suggested as peace and benevolence radiated out from him.

Lane glanced at Dodger dubiously, then turned to Beau and tentatively asked, "Do you want to arm wrestle?"

Lane couldn't be sure if Beau understood him or if he interpreted his caution as weakness, but either way, in an instant, Lane found himself face-to-face with Beau, with their fingers interlocked, trying to force each other to take a step back.

"That's it Lane! Show him that you're not a skinny little string bean!" Dodger called out with a grin.

"Not helping!" Lane responded past gritted teeth, while maintaining his balance and strength to match Beau move for move.

"How do you like that? I go to all the effort of being impressive and he focuses all his attention on Lane." Rafe said as he fell into place at Dodger's side.

"Tell me about it." Duran said as he stopped running and moved to stand in line with Rafe and Dodger.

"No matter what you say, no matter what you do, we're never going to give up on you." Lane ground out as he continued to match Beau's strength and held him at a standstill.

Beau reconfirmed his footing and pushed back with all his might.

"No matter how deep you go into yourself, you'll always know that you'll never be left completely on your own." Lane said as he held his ground.

"You're part of our pack, Beau. We share your triumphs just as much as your defeats." Dodger said firmly.

"Are you guys going to help me or not?" Lane called out in a voice strained with effort.

"He's not testing us right now. He's testing you." Dodger said frankly.

"Are you strong enough to watch his back? Are you smart enough to keep your pack safe? Are you powerful enough to be his alpha?" Rafe asked seriously.

"You got this, Lane!" Duran said confidently.

"But I can't be the alpha! I'm just barely getting my own life put in order." Lane objected.

"Beau needs you to be his alpha. That would make you the leader of your pack. Once that's all established, your pack can coexist with my pack, at least, for as long as our goals align." Rafe cautiously explained.

"Are you expecting us to go somewhere?" Duran asked curiously.

"Eventually the young ones will leave the nest to go out and forge their own destinies. Who knows? One of these days, Beau may be ready to establish a pack of his own." Rafe said, finishing with a smile.

"Beau, I don't want to fight you, but if I have to prove that I'm strong to you, so that you'll feel safe enough to stay with us, then that's what I'll do." Lane said with conviction as he searched Beau's eyes, looking for any indication of intelligence.

When Beau twisted, trying to gain the upper hand, Lane instead threw his weight in that direction and in doing so, pulled Beau off his feet, causing him to land on his back.

Lane kept his fingers interlocked with Beau's as he moved onto Beau's chest and forced his hands back to the ground.

"I love you Beau. I don't want to fight you, but I will fight to protect you. Just find a way to let me know what you need and I'll do whatever it takes to prove that this is the best place for you." Lane said firmly.

"This world doesn't make sense." Beau growled.

"That's why we need to stand together to face it."

"We're stronger together?" Beau cautiously asked.

"We're stronger, faster, and more powerful in a lot of ways. If you fall short in some way, one of us will step forward, just the same as we'll count on you to step up and help us when the time comes." Lane explained seriously.

"Something's happening. Something's moving under my skin... in my teeth. You'd better let go of me." Beau said anxiously.

"Dodger? Did you hear that?" Lane asked as he disengaged from his hold on Beau.

"Since his case is so unique, I can't be sure, but it sounds like he might be finishing his transformation." Dodger said uncertainly.

"That's awfully quick, isn't it?" Rafe asked curiously.

"He was already mostly transformed from his encounter with the Darksider transformative. The introduction of the Daywalker variant didn't have a lot left to change, so it would stand to reason that it might not take nearly as long for the transformation to complete." Dodger said speculatively.

"That would make sense from the medical side of things too. Most of his physiology has already been altered. We'll just have to wait and see how it ends up." Rafe said simply.

"Isn't there anything we can do to make it easier for him?" Lane asked desperately.

"I have a feeling that the rest is up to him. We've explained his situation to him and told him how we feel about things, but what we can't do is fight this battle for him. He's going to have to fight for whatever humanity he can recover for himself." Rafe explained.

While the four watched, Beau squatted and began to physically transform.

His earlier physical alteration had been described as him being a werewolf, however now his body hair was growing and his skeletal structure seemed to be changing.

"What's happening to him?" Dodger asked in a hollow voice of disbelief.

"It seems that the stories about werewolves weren't as fanciful as I originally thought." Rafe said frankly.

"So he's actually turning into a wolf?" Lane asked as he backed away from Beau to stare in horror.

"His werewolf transformation appears to be progressing to a new level. That doesn't mean that it will turn him fully into a wolf or that he won't be able to change back. It just means that he's taken his ability to transform himself to a place that I didn't think was possible." Rafe said seriously.

"So he can change back?" Dodger asked to verify his understanding.

"It's possible, but there's nothing to say that he will. I can't even imagine what he's feeling. It might be beyond his capacity to consciously take that step. If that were to be the case, then he might return to his human appearance when he's sleeping and become this... creature, when he wakes up." Rafe said seriously.

"So you don't think that he'll just turn into a wolf on the full moon?" Lane asked curiously.

"I can't see any reason why he would. Nothing I've seen so far suggests that there's any supernatural cause for his condition. But considering all the strangeness in the world, I also can't say that it's outside the realm of possibility."

"What's he doing now?" Duran asked cautiously.

"Evaluating us, I think. Perhaps his conscious mind and his animal instincts are trying to decide if we're friends or foes." Rafe said slowly.

"He doesn't seem to be reacting to my thrall." Dodger cautiously mentioned.

"We know it affects him when it's directed at him, but he doesn't seem to be worried about it otherwise." Rafe observed.

"Maybe he's had enough positive experiences with it that he doesn't perceive it as a threat." Dodger suggested.

"Yes. By using it to provide him safety and comfort you've shown him that it's nothing to be afraid of." Rafe agreed.

"How did his hair grow like that?" Duran asked curiously.

"You know how your hair stands on end when you get spooked? I'm guessing that it's some variation of that natural mechanism, altered by his new physiology." Rafe said speculatively.

"So just like our teeth drop to give us fangs, his skin changed to give him a fur coat?" Duran asked cautiously.

"That's my guess. Whatever it is, I feel safe in saying that it's a completely natural physiological phenomena without any mystical component." Rafe said with reasonable confidence.

"Do you think he'll ever go back to being a person again?" Lane asked anxiously.

After a long tense moment, Rafe finally admitted, "I honestly don't know."

To Be Continued...

Editor's Notes:

Well, this is a nice surprise.

How long has it been since we had the last chapter of this wonderful saga?


I love the expansion of the rules to include the existence of werewolves.

I mean, we already had a pairing of the magical world and the shadesiders, and some of the magicals are shape shifters, so maybe... something can be arranged to help Beau become the best being he can possibly become.

Maybe someone should contact that FBI agent, and ask for some help.

I mean, what harm could it do?

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher