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The Alternative (1/6)
space beauty
Warnings and other information can be found in the masterpost.
If there was one thing Paw hated more than anything, it was being interrupted when he was in the middle of something. It was even worse when he wasn’t actually working at the time- especially when he wasn’t working. He didn’t get much free time, given that he had to help Roses with her spells and Todd with the club, so to have someone call him when he was in the middle of listening to his record collection made him really, really annoyed.
Angrily, he fumbled his phone out of his pocket, flipped it open and lifted it to his ear. “What?”
“Well, aren’t you polite,” an all too familiar voice drawled.
“Snob, what the fuck do you want?” Paw snapped, instantly irritated by the vampire’s velvet tones.
“Look out your window,” Snob commanded him.
Paw nearly told him to go fuck himself, but instead, he walked to the nearest window and glanced outside.
A familiar grey SUV was parked in the driveway. Snob was leaning against it, his hand to his ear.
“The fuck?” Paw snapped.
“I got someone you need to meet. Come on down,” Snob invited, before hanging up.
Paw swore richly, grasped the phone and threw it at the wall as hard as he could. It hit the wall and shattered, pieces flying everywhere.
Paw cursed again and turned away, closing his eyes in frustration.
The door opened and Roses entered, eyes wide and confused. “Paw?” She looked from him to the remains of the phone and sighed.
“Snob says he has someone I need to meet,” Paw explained.
“You? Not us?” Roses asked warily.
“That’s what he said,” Paw confirmed wearily. “Oh, and he’s downstairs as we speak.”
Roses’ eyes widened, and she whispered something Paw couldn’t make out. “You want back-up?”
“Damn right,” Paw replied.

The two practically fell down the stairs in their haste, and when they reached the door, Paw kicked it open so hard he nearly knocked it off its hinges.
“I wish you wouldn’t do that,” Roses muttered, gripping the protective charm she held in her hand tightly.
Paw bit his tongue, not wanting to snark at his girlfriend. Instead, he watched as Snob stopped leaning on the car and leaned through the back window. After a few seconds, the door on the opposite side opened. Paw and Roses watched as a tall redhead in jeans and a worn black jacket emerged, her hands trembling as she shoved the door shut.
Roses looked at Paw. “You know her?”
Paw shook his head, confused. “Never seen her before…”
His voice trailed off as Snob approached, his companion a few steps behind him.
“What?” Roses asked, confused.
“Werewolf,” Paw growled, his eyes flaring. He took a few steps forward and put himself between the visitors and Roses. He inhaled deeply, his mind quickly analysing the scents that came to him.
He blocked out the immediate environment (the spicy scent of sunlight, the acidic scent of heat, the rough, mixed scents of the city, the distant scent of the sea carried by the wind) and Roses (young, female, the sharp scent of the herbs she’d been grinding, the alien scent of her protection charm and the exotic, fruity scent of her perfume), and focused instead on the newcomers.
There was Snob, his scents much stronger- the scent of the freshly-cleaned and pressed suit he wore, the strong scent of his aftershave and hair gel, the ever-present stench of vampire, and the oily yellow scent of… nervousness.
Paw smiled, baring his teeth. It wasn’t often that Snob got nervous, and he always enjoyed it. He and Snob had an uneasy form of truce, but they weren’t friends. They’d never be friends.
The wolf, on the other hand…
Paw felt his fists clench as he fought his inner wolf, fought the urge to knock the newcomer to the ground and rip her throat out. Instead, he took another breath and catalogued the scents automatically.
Young, female, unfamiliar, tired, scared, hadn’t been turned by anyone he knew, was maybe a day past being turned…
All of a sudden, he knew what Snob was doing there.
He opened his mouth to object and was shoved aside by Roses, who walked past him and Snob and went straight to the strange wolf, talking to her quietly.
Paw opened his mouth to object, closed it again and looked back at Snob. “You have got to be fucking kidding me.”
Snob shrugged. “Spoony’s orders.”
“Fuck Spoony,” Paw snapped. “I don’t answer to him.”
Snob took a step forward, holding his hands up. “Look, man, she’s alone, she’s scared and she doesn’t have anywhere else to go. This is literally her only chance. Come on, Paw, don’t be a bastard…”
“I don’t see you taking in random strays,” Paw snapped.
“Spoony does,” Snob pointed out.
“Spoony has a family of dozens. I have a pack of three including me. See the difference?”
“You’re seriously going to turn her away?” Snob asked sceptically.
Paw glanced over at the wolf and Roses. Roses had embraced the other woman and held her tight as she sobbed. Somehow sensing Paw’s stare, she turned and looked him in the eyes, and shook her head once.
Don’t even think about it, she thought to him firmly.
Paw sighed and rubbed his forehead. “Fine, I’ll take her. But Snob, one thing…”
Paw took several slow steps forward until he was standing barely an inch away from the other man. “Give Spoony a message for me, will you?”
“I’m not your messenger,” Snob said, leaning forward until their faces touched.
“And I’m not Spoony’s bitch,” Paw hissed, furious. “I don’t exist so he can load all the shit he doesn’t want onto me. He does this again and there’ll be trouble, you get me?”
Snob stepped away, holding his hands up. “I get you, Paw. I’ll tell him.”
“I know why he did it,” Paw said as evenly as he could manage. “But he fucking asks me next time he needs something. I don’t take orders from anyone, especially him.”
“I get you,” Snob repeated calmly. “I’ll tell him.” He took another step back, and an expression of worry flicked across his face.
Paw nodded tersely, and took a deep breath, trying to calm down. He looked down at his hands, and blinked. They were covered in dark fur, and his nails had become long, sharp claws.
Paw closed his eyes and took another breath, focusing on being calm. A few seconds later, he opened his eyes and looked down. The fur had vanished, as had the claws.
He looked up at Snob. “Sorry.”
“You really need to deal with that,” Snob said.
Paw just nodded.
Snob paused, thinking, and Paw waited. Finally, the other man spoke. “Keep her away from Spoony’s court for a while. A few of the others looked pretty interested in her.”
Paw frowned, feeling his fingers curling into a fist. “Got it.”
Snob shot him another look and turned away to get into the car. Paw watched as he reversed into the street and pulled away.
Roses and the new wolf hadn’t moved from their position. Paw folded his arms over his chest and watched as Roses hugged the wolf tightly.
After a second, Roses tugged on the wolf’s hand, pulling her along as she walked back to the house.
Paw watched them go and stared at the back of the wolf’s head, thinking.
Mine, he thought experimentally, trying it out. My pack, now.
As if she heard him, she turned her head and looked him directly in the eyes.
Mine, he thought again, and something… clicked.
It felt like someone had tied a rope around his wrist, tightened it hard and then tied the other end to the new wolf’s hand. He felt the tension ease out of his shoulders and the pain in his head slowly disappear- and best of all, he didn’t feel like killing her any more. He looked at his hand, half-expecting to see the bond connecting them, feeling her fear and despair hitting him like the tide, and saw nothing.
Instead, he looked up at her, and tried an awkward smile, really looking at her for the first time.
The two stood there, staring at each other, until Roses hissed something he didn’t quite hear at him and pulled the other wolf away.
Paw shook his head and followed them back inside.

Todd’s place was huge, to say the least. Paw had no idea how Todd had made the money he would have needed to buy such a huge house, and he wasn’t asking. God knew the club wasn’t even remotely eligible to be the answer, but Paw didn’t ask Todd about his finances. They were strictly need-to-know, and most of the time, Paw and Roses didn’t need to know.
The house had probably been intended to hold some ancient millionaire, his trophy wife and the three kids they neglected along with their army of underpaid staff, but instead it held Todd, Paw and Roses.
When the three of them had become a thing, Todd had done some serious work on the house, turning it into a two-storey pentagram-shaped building. He’d said something about focusing the energy for Roses, but Paw thought it was bullshit.
Then again, it wasn’t like the reason really mattered in the end.
There was plenty of room for the three of them, almost too much room- each of them had one of the points, and the points were almost like houses unto themselves. It was a good thing, actually- Paw tended to go crazy without enough space; Roses needed heaps of space for her works, and Todd had private stuff that needed to be set apart so nobody walked into it by accident, lest things go really wrong.
In short, there was plenty of room for the new kid.
Roses steered her into the middle of the pentagram- a combined atrium/lounge room- and lightly pushed her onto the nearest couch. She stepped back and yanked on Paw’s arm, pulling him away from the other wolf.
“What?” Paw asked, confused.
Roses gave him a look that could have scorched paper. “You don’t want to know anything about her?”
Paw opened his mouth to correct her and dropped it. “Of course I do.”
“Fine. Her name’s Lupa, used to be Allison. She doesn’t live here, she was just in town for the week and got attacked by a werewolf on the edge of town.”
Paw’s fists clenched. He knew that technically, the city belonged to Spoony and he just had a small piece of it, but fuck that. When it came to werewolves, the city was his.
That said, the other werewolf hadn’t stuck around, which argued some knowledge at least. Most packs were willing to let others stay in their territory as long as they behaved, and a few even welcomed guests.
Paw did not- and even if he did, the Arcane had declared the entire city to be out of bounds for any wolf except him, so whoever had turned Lupa had been playing with fire.
“She has no idea what’s going on,” Roses said sympathetically, her tone edged with sadness. “Poor thing didn’t know anything about our world until yesterday.”
She perked up and pulled Paw over to Lupa. “Make friends!”
Oh, Jesus…
Paw sat down, unsure of what to do, and finally shrugged. “Um. Hi.”
Roses looked pissed. “Are you kidding me? That’s your opening line?”
“The hell do you want me to say? ‘Hi, I’m the guy you got foisted on ‘cause there’s nobody else in this city who knows shit about werewolves, nice to meet you, guess you’re living here now, welcome to the family, sorry your life got turned upside down by some fucking douchebag who bit you and ran?’ Yeah, Rosy, that’d work out just fine.” Paw leaned back and made an exasperated sound.
Lupa glanced from one to the other, her face crumpled, and she started to sob.
“Brilliant,” Roses said, disgusted. “Thank you very fucking much for your help, Paw.”
“This is your job,” Paw muttered.
“Are you the Alpha Male or not?” Roses snapped.
“Are you the Alpha Female or not?” Paw snapped back. “Women are your department, I don’t know shit about them…”
“I never noticed!” Roses gasped, clapping her hands against her cheeks dramatically. “What the hell do you want me to do, anyway?”
“Take her shopping,” Paw muttered. “Get her some actual clothes. Tell her what she needs to know. Help her out. And can you get her to stop crying?”
He knew it would work, and Roses did not fail him: at the mere mention of shopping, she let out a little squeal and clapped her hands together.
Within seconds, she and Lupa had vacated the premises, and Paw sank down onto the couch and closed his eyes against the non-existent dust cloud that would have risen in their wake, had the floor been dusty.
He only got a minute of solitude before the shadows in front of him swirled and flared. In seconds, they rose, forming a tall cocoon, which split down the middle. Todd stepped out of it, looking bemused.
Paw slumped back against the couch. “Don’t ask.”
Todd shrugged. “Why do we have a redhead?”
“Some fucker bit her yesterday,” Paw said dully. “She’s got nowhere to go. The hell was I meant to do?”
Todd blinked. “I’m not judging, Paw.”
Paw rested his head against the couch and closed his eyes. “Fuck, why me?”
“Do you actually want me to answer that?”
“No, just… everything was going fine, and now it’s all fucked…”
Todd folded his arms. “Stop it.”
Paw opened his eyes, surprised. “What?”
“Stop the bullshit. So you got hit with some unexpected problems. Deal with it. Nobody here can afford to have you sitting around feeling sorry for yourself.”
Paw’s jaw dropped.
“Seriously, man. Grow a pair and get over it. This kid needs an Alpha, not a whiny hipster douchebag.”
With that, the shadows flared again, and Todd vanished, melting into the darkness.
Paw paused for a second, and then rubbed his forehead. “I hate it when he does that.”

Somehow, Roses managed to break her record of three hours, returning with Lupa in two and a half hours, laden with bags.
Paw never knew how Roses managed to spend so much time shopping, especially when she went out for four hours and came back with one shirt. It was just a Roses thing.
Then again, it was entirely possible that she’d gone out for coffee and ending up fighting killer dragons in an alternate dimension. It’d happened before, it’d happen again.
Feeling like he had to participate, he took as many of the bags as he could carry and followed them to the upper-right point of the star. He and Todd occupied the upper-left and lower-left points, respectively, and Roses had the top point.
It wasn’t until they actually got to the point that he realised that it might not be a good idea.
All of them had decorated their parts of the house as they saw fit, but they’d been left with two empty parts. They’d decorated one very simply, and turned the other into their personal theme park.
They’d given each room a different theme, like space for the bedroom, forest for the lounge room, and they’d turned the bathroom into a combined swimming pool/bathroom. It was fun as hell to play around in, but probably not so good for Lupa to live in…
“Rosy,” he said as they approached the door, “this probably isn’t a good idea.”
“What?” Roses asked, turning to face him, and he could see her just daring him to tell her that he didn’t want Lupa living with them.
“Using this part of the house,” he clarified. “It’s not really… good for living. Unless you’re a kid.”
Roses paused. “You may be right.” She turned around and headed to the lower-right point, followed by a bewildered Lupa and Paw, whose head was starting to hurt from constantly feeling her trepidation and worry.
They reached the point, and Lupa timidly asked, “Um… why wouldn’t it be good for living in?”
“We turned it into our own funhouse,” Roses explained.
“Without any evil clowns,” Paw quickly clarified.
Roses glared at him. “The three of us are in and out of there all the time, so there’d be no peace and quiet.”
“Oh,” Lupa said, hiding a smile.
They put the bags in Lupa’s bedroom and showed her around her part of the house, from the kitchen to the library to the observation deck, which looked out over the backyard and the forest. Once they’d returned to the bedroom, Lupa sat down on her bed, looking shocked. “I can’t just accept all of this…”
“Yes, you can,” Paw said, trying to not sound like he was ordering her to do it. “Look, you’re part of the pack now. We take care of each other.”
To emphasize it, he focused on sending feelings of acceptance and welcoming, and he felt her unconsciously relax.
Next to her, Roses nodded, and Paw felt her approval.
He smiled.
“It’s not like you’ve got much of a choice,” Roses said apologetically. “Not with Spoony and his posse around.”
“We’ll take care of you,” Paw said slowly, “but you need to stick around here for a while, at least until you’ve got the hang of being a werewolf. Then we can look at other options.”
Paw looked at her. It wasn’t a particularly forceful, demanding or authoritative look, but Lupa fell silent in a second.
“Agreed,” she said obediently.
Roses glanced from one to the other, and frowned. “Lupa, give us a moment?”
Without waiting for a response, she grabbed Paw’s arm, towed him outside and shoved him down on the nearest seat. “The hell was that?”
“That look,” Roses replied, sitting on Paw’s lap and grabbing his shoulders.
“I don’t know!” Paw protested. “I’m new to this shit!”
“What, you never saw… him… do anything similar?” Roses asked, carefully trying to avoid actually triggering her boyfriend.
“He did all kinds of things,” Paw said glumly. “I’m still trying to forget them all.”
“Try harder,” Roses said firmly. “You have to be nice to her.”
“What the hell did you think I was going to be?” Paw asked indignantly.
“Not as nice as you should be,” Roses retorted. “We’re all she’s got now, and you need to remember that.”
“Like I could forget,” Paw muttered. “Look, not to be obviously distracting, but where’s Todd?” he asked. “I haven’t seen him in hours.”
“Probably at the club,” Roses sighed. “He mentioned something about problems with the alarms.”
Paw sighed back and hid his face in her hair. He mumbled something, and she groaned. “Paw, what?”
He lifted his head, eyes downcast. “I… I’m scared, Rosy.”
“Scared? Why?”
“Everything was fine. Spoony left us alone, Linkara left us alone, the High Council left us alone, the bitch left us alone, the Arcane left us alone… and now she comes along.”
“One werewolf isn’t going to make much of a difference, Paw,” Roses pointed out, wondering where he was going.
“Yeah, but… look, Linkara and Spoony won’t care, but the Arcane and the High Council are leaving us alone on the condition that I don’t make my own real pack. What if they find out about Lupa? What if they come for us?”
“Let them,” Roses said calmly. “They can just try to do something. We’re hardly defenceless, Paw.”
Paw held her tightly. “Thanks, Rosy.”
Behind them, the shadows flared, and Todd emerged. “What she said. Seriously, Paw, nobody’s going to give a fuck about Lupa. It’ll all be fine.”
Paw looked up at his boyfriend and smiled. “Thanks, Todd.”
“You’re welcome,” Todd said, and embraced his partners.

[Next chapter]

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Great! I LOVE werewolves. I've been wishing we had an AU focused on werewolves for a while!

My favorite detail of this part was the description of the scent of each character and how moods like nervousness have their own distinctive scent. (I really find fascinating reading stories from the point of view of creatures with different sensory capacities).

I suspect Lupa's presence is going to cause troubles just like Paw fears, and now I'm curious how having Lupa around is going to affect the dynamic of the three partners... up to the second chapter.

Edited at 2013-04-23 02:30 am (UTC)

:D Hope you like the rest!

Yeah, I like Terry Pratchett, and his werewolves had incredible scent-o-vision, so I sort of ran with it.

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