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Warrick Meets the Stranger

It was nearly four weeks later before she showed up again. Two days before the next full moon cycle began. Warrick saw what he thought was a white dog or wolf go slipping into the shed. When he opened the door he found a young lady, about fifteen years old or so.

She looked at him questionably and demanded, “Who are you?”

He stepped fully into the door so that his figure filled the only entrance, blocking most of the light. “I’m Warrick.” he replied, “I live here, and now I want to know who is in my shed.”

The girl stepped forward, looking straight at him. Warrick stared into her deep green eyes, and felt the soul search of them. In that moment he decided he never wanted to quit looking into the eyes that captivated him.

I’m not certain how long they had been standing there, silently staring at each other, as if time had stopped. I came into the back yard yelling for Warrick. I came across them, not knowing what had been going on.

Warrick snapped back to reality and called back, “Over here, trying to find out who our visitor is.”

The green eyed girl informed him, “If you are Warrick, then I am waiting for you to name me.”

“But the girl they want me to name is a mere twelve years old.” Warrick stammered, “You must be between fifteen to seventeen, depending on how old or young you look for your age.”

I reminded him, “She did say it might be an older sister that returned.”

Warrick turned his attention fully towards me, preparing to ask me a question. Then Jed came out to see what was taking me so long to get Warrick, so he said to Jed, “Why would you give such a unique treasure the name Annabel?”

Jed smiled, ignored Warrick’s question, and asked, “Is she here?”

The girl once called Annabel, stepped out of the shed, brushing past Warrick on her way out. She rushed over to Jed and gave him an affectionate hug, and then gave me one too.

Warrick stared at Jed and declared, “Giving her a hug doesn’t excuse the bad name. I mean Annabel is a great name for a girl, if it fits, but…”

Jed interrupted Warrick’s rant and stated, “The Sheriff had me on the spot. If I stammered or searched for a name I would have blown everything. I said the first name that came to my mind.” He took a deep breath and added, “What would you have said in that situation?”

We all turned our attention to Warrick who grinned mischievously as he answered, “I would have given her the name I will give her now. Since she has aged so much it would be hard to explain why two girls in the same family would have the same unique name, I suppose I should be grateful for your blundering naming offense.”

I kicked the dirt. “Quit messin’ around.” I called out, “What’s her real name?”

Warrick answered, “Lakiya, for she is a found, hidden, precious being.”

The green eyed girl smiled big, and hugged Warrick, as she told him, “Thank you for my beautiful name.”

He hugged her back, and for a moment they appeared to be nuzzling with their necks in a hug of their own.

Jed slapped Warrick on the back as he conceded, “No one can name any living creature on this planet like you can.”

Warrick turned to respond to Jed, and when he did his arms moved in what appeared to be her black vest, only now he noticed something strange, but unable to put his finger on what it was he asked Lakiya, “What is this made of?” as he loosened his grip and let go of her.

“That’s my fur.” She answered, “I’ve learned how to copy clothes with it, so no one sees me naked.”

Warrick’s eyes widened as he looked from Lakiya to Jed, and even to me, in search of understandable answers.

Jed replied to the unstated question, “We told you that there are strange things about her that beg you to ask questions you can never be certain if you want the answer to.”

“Maybe we should get inside.” I quickly suggested.

The others agreed, and moments later we were sitting in our living room. Warrick held her hand in his as if the act of letting go would somehow make her disappear. I teased her, “I see your hands have caught up with your big feet.”

She smiled briefly, and then stuck out her tongue. For a moment I forgot how much she had grown over the last month, and only saw my buddy, playful and silly.

Then they sat on the couch, next to each other, but looking towards one another. I had no idea what real love was, but there in that moment I knew something powerful had grabbed a hold of my brother, and things were going to change fast.

Warrick switched hands holding hers, so he could put his right arm around her back, and nuzzle her into his side. Somehow, despite her being the same basic size as him, when she curled up she seemed so small, I’ll never know how she made it look as if she shrunk.

“Lakiya.” Warrick said in a softness I had never heard, much less thought I could, or would, hear from my brother, “How old are you really?”

Lakiya shrugged her shoulders. “These are my first seasons.”

Warrick pitched his head slightly as he contemplated her answer. Finally he admitted, “I don’t understand.”

She closed her eyes briefly as she replied softly, “Perhaps it is best if I show you.”

Before anyone could respond; her clothing went from looking like a black vest, and blue shorts, to a black sweater, and blue jeans. Then moments later the entire outfit was white. Lakiya’s hands and feet became paws at exactly the same time her faced turned to that of a wolf. This, somehow, came off as both instant and fluid. I truly have never found the words to properly describe watching the change, let alone the first time’s awe.

(I pause for a moment, trying to hold the image, and feeling of that moment, for just a little longer.)

Lakiya shrank in size, and when all was said and done she looked like a seven or eight month old wolf pup.

“I’m growing about twice as fast as the other pups.” We heard her say, “That’s one of the reasons the elders think I’m the one they’ve been waiting for, despite being an unwanted half-breed.”

“Wow,” I exclaimed, “We can hear you in your natural voice.”

“Thought transfer.” She explained, “Comes naturally to us.”

Warrick, still staring at the white wolf pup in his arms, with a soft blue luminance to her, which made her green eyes stand out even more, finally managed to ask her, “What are you exactly?”

Lakiya took a few moments to turn back into the beautiful girl we now knew her as, returning the look of the black vest and blue shorts. Then she stated, “It feels more natural to talk to you in this form.”

“Speaking of more natural,” Warrick blurted as he jumped up from the couch, grabbing Lakiya’s hand as his right hand came down from her shoulder and across her hand. He picked her up, with only a momentary jerk. Then he dragged her to his room as he explained, “This trick is great for emergencies, but regular clothes are better.

Warrick grabbed an outfit out of a box as he stated, “I got this on my last trip, but when I got home I realized it wasn’t quite me. I think it might fit you nicely.”

He then exited his room, closing the door behind him, as he came to sit on the couch. It seemed like only a few minutes before she reappeared wearing a brown t-shirt and a pair of forest green cargo shorts, with a black baseball cap. It looked natural on her, much better than the outfits Jed and I picked, plus the brown shirt and dark hat really made her eyes appear as if they could see right through you.

I quickly offered her a pair of sunglasses. They were just dark enough to cover the brilliance of her eyes without making it too dark to see.

Lakiya took her seat next to Warrick, and they continued their cuddling embrace. Warrick gently reminded her, “You still haven’t told us what you are.”

Lakiya nodded her head. “That’s because I don’t know what you would call the others.” she explained, “Much less an oddity like myself.”

I volunteered, “Since you consider the others normal, lets start with them.”

Jed added, “Do they switch between human and wolf too?”

She nodded her head as she answered, “They turn from wolf to human every full moon cycle, once they’ve had their first turn.”

I exclaimed, “The exact opposite of were-wolves!”

Lakiya looked at me strangely as she inquired, “Are there humans that turn into wolves when the moon is full?”

“There are legends of them.” Jed explained, “But they are believed to be nothing more than made up stories to scare those weak of mind and heart.”

Warrick argued, “If Lakiya’s wolf-people can exist than I’m certain so can Were-Wolves.”

“We’re not going to call them wolf-people are we?” I asked with a bit of a wine to my voice.

“What would you call them?” Jed asked, “Were-Humans?”

“Not bad.” I replied.

Warrick pointed out, “Actually the were in were-wolf means man, so were-human would be a man-human.”

“That won’t work.” Jed stated glumly.

“We can’t just call them wolf-weres.” I declared, “That would get confusing fast.”

Lakiya watched us debate with interest, but added nothing to it.

“Due is another word that means wolf.” Warrick informed us, “So we could call them Due-Weres.”

“Due-Weres, so you’re a Due-Were, nice to meet you.” I playfully tried out the new word.

Jed laughed and said, “I think it works.”

Warrick turned to Lakiya, “What do you think?”

“I think Due-Were is another perfect choice.”

“Then Due-Were it is!” Warrick announced as if there was a crowd to tell.

After a few moments of silence I squirmed in my seat a bit. I didn’t give anyone a chance to ask why when I realized the reason. “What if the Sheriff is a Were-Wolf?” I speculated.

Jed nodded his head. “That would explain a lot, like why he is never at the full moon dances, but is obsessed with everyone elses’ attendance.”

Lakiya smiled as she informed us, “That would also explain a lot about my conversation with a young wolf the other day.”

Warrick grinned as he confirmed, “You can speak with regular wolves as well?”

She nodded her head as she explained, “Due-Weres,” She paused to make sure she had the term correct, then she continued, “They can speak to both wolves and humans, depending on which form they are in. We, or they, are born with both languages in their heads, of course some develop these abilities, and some let the human language go, since we are not supposed to interact with humans.”

Warrick asked her, “What did the wolf say?”

Lakiya told us, “At first he was scared of me, but then his curiosity got the better of him and he asked me, ‘How do you smell of wolf and human, and yet have no stench of corruption?’ I didn’t know how to answer him so instead I asked, ‘Should I smell in this way?’ I puzzled him and he informed me, ‘Those who smell of both usually let the man rule the wolf, and this corrupts the wolf’s heart. Others leave the wolf in control, which destroys the Human’s mind. Some achieve balance, but you smell different yet. It makes no sense to me or my pack.’ Then he walked away. I’m fairly certain more confused than when we met.”

“How great would it be to be able to talk to animals like that?” I gasped.

Warrick brushed me off and focused on Lakiya. “Jed told me that you knew the Sheriff would wait because Annabel was too young and weak, does that mean he’ll come after you now?”

Lakiya shrugged her shoulders and replied, “I guess that depends on how much of a threat he sees me as, or if his desires are more basic.”

Warrick’s hold on Lakiya tightened as he announced, “Whatever he wants, he won’t be getting it.”

“Relax,” Lakiya told him as she raised her hand gently to his chin, “Even if he is this Were-Wolf, his increased hearing, sight and smell were diminished to natural human levels before the next moon rose, which means they shouldn’t be heightened again until at least the morning of the full moon, which is tomorrow.”

Jed smiled in a playfully wicked way as he stated, “I just have to ask, why are you so willing to tell us all of this now, but couldn’t last month?”

Lakiya answered, “Honestly, my Father will be furious with me, but I have this pull inside me, that won’t let me hide anything from him.” She looked into Warrick’s eyes as she exclaimed, “I don’t think I could even if I tried.”

Warrick chuckled and asked, “Then will you explain to me how my brothers found you behind the couch?”

She blushed. “I shifted into my wolf form while I was sleeping, and apparently went on an adventure.” she explained, “I was trying to get out when they came looking for me, and I had no choice but to smash my human form into the tight space.”

Warrick’s chuckle deepened, and he daringly admitted, “I would have liked to have seen the whole thing.”

Jed shook his head and claimed, “She looked so scared, and confused, you would have felt worse for her than I did.”

Warrick rubbed Lakiya’s shoulders as he stated, “I hate when he makes a good point.”

“Hey,” Jed reminded him,” That’s what brothers are for.”

I looked at Lakiya and asked, “What makes you so different than them?”

Lakiya explained, “I was born just before a winter full moon to a human mother. I was found by my Due-Were mother near a large tree, abandoned, and crying strangely. She took pity on me, certain she smelled my Father’s blood running through my veins. Even though I was only a few days old when the full moon entered the sky I turned into my human form. Most Were-Human pups don’t make the change until at least two seasons have passed.”

Jed smiled his paternal smile as he said, “You’ve been better than the rest, right from the start.”

Lakiya nodded her head, just enough to acknowledge Jed’s statement, while she took a deep breath and continued her answer, “Since a few nights before I met Jed and Riley I have been able to change forms away from the full moon, which has never been done by a Were-Human before. The day I met them was the first time I was able to change during the day, and now I can change forms as I please, and copy clothes with my fur. My senses don’t dull when I’m in human form, but every Were-Human is different as far as the level of dulling they experience, but I’m the only one who reports no change. I also maintain both minds regardless of the form I’m in, even on no moon night.”

“I think she means the new moon.” Jed offered, “When it almost looks like the moon is gone.”

Warrick smiled and informed her, “It sounds like you have the best of both worlds.”

Lakiya shrugged her shoulders and admitted, “I enjoy both forms, and wouldn’t want to be anyone else, but the council comes again tonight. They will be staying through the full moon cycle, and they must decide if I am the first leader of all they have been waiting for. Then it will be my job to lead all five clans against our true enemy. Until they decide my time is theirs to do with as they please, and after they decide I have a duty to perform whether I want to or not.”

Warrick shook his head in disbelief. “Are you trying to tell us you might not be here for the full moon parties?”

Jed stood from the chair he was sitting on and started pacing the floor. “This isn’t good.” He mumbled to himself, “I already have to leave for business, like I always do, so nothing appears out of the ordinary. I was already worried about that, but not having you come to the full moon festivities, when the Sheriff has been waiting, and not very patiently I might add.”

“The Sheriff has been asking him practically every day if he knew yet which cousin would be coming, and on what day she would be arriving.” I volunteered, “He is watching the town line like crazy.”

Warrick added, “Since Jed hasn’t had any details to be able to share he has been able to play dumb, but the Sheriff’s patience is wearing thinner by the day. The closer we get to the full moon, the more he stalks angrily about the town. His temper to everyone has been edgy.”

I pointed out, “That’s probably another sign that he’s most likely a Were-Wolf.”

“Riley,” Jed snapped, “This is no time to go jumping to wild accusations. We can’t just assume he is a Were-wolf, because we have met a Due-Were.”

“Mutt.” Lakiya added under her breath.

Warrick looked at her and asked, “What do you mean mutt?”

“You have met a Due-Were Mutt.” She replied, “Since I am only half Due-Were.”

Warrick shook his head unable to formulate a response to her statement and instead declared, “Jed is right. It’s time to be making plans; while we’re here and the Sheriff aint.”

( I take a deep breath and ask my grandson for some water. He happily goes to a nearby cooler and grabs me a bottle.)

The rest of the day was spent making plans, back up plans, and counter plans, we made secret signals for every kind of situation we could think of. Truth be told it all made my brain hurt back when I was young.

(My grandson hands me the bottle and takes his seat while I take a drink.)

I wouldn’t bore you with the details of the plan making, even if I could remember them, but I will get to what actually happened. Besides that’s much more interesting.

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