Pine Peak Sanctuary and then the sun came crashing in

no hat tho
Its the 6th


The day after the full moon was always a pretty good day. Just felt settled, at peace with the bear in him, all that. Hungry, though. Most of the day, no matter how much he ate. Probably because he turned into a bus the night before, but whatever! This day specifically was one he was looking forward to. Despite the prior night's activities, which earned him some fun scabbing in the morning, he was feeling pretty great about things.

As per usual, the gathering was designated to be on the back deck of the cabin, overlooking the vastness of the property. The plan was grilling, but he also had pizzas, chips, dips, and pie. Food! Lots of it. Because he was feeding five Weres this time. That made his chest swell up funny, so he didn't think on it too much. Instead, he did his duty at the grill, and let the Sleuth (and their guest) arrive at their leisure.




Natasha was here, and with alcohol, because that was obviously needed at every party. Two cases of beer would be the primary source of it all, but she'd also pulled a bottle of tequila off her top shelf as well in case someone wanting something a bit stronger. The smell of food was already wafting into her senses when she exited her car, waddling through the cabin with her hands full as she made her way out back towards Cliff, a happy skip to her step as she called out to him.

"Hey Cliff!" Her hands would be dropping the cases of beer, carefully placing the tequila on the table as her free hand was already reaching for a chip.

Outfit but w/o a belt

The twins were arriving together, taking the truck with their contribution in the back. Emmett was fired up to hang out with everyone again and to also meet Maxine (and also the free food). He only really knew about her through the initial information dumps from Levka and Cliff so it’d be great to meet her in the flesh. Hopefully, she’d join after finding out they were obviously the most awesome sleuth ever.

Parked, he quickly got out with cut up watermelon and sodas in tow, walking quickly to the front door of the cabin with his bro where the smell of bbq was perfuming the air. Doing a quick indoor detour then towards the back door all the while the bear kept its wits aware as they got closer, feeling only familiar presences so far. Opening it for Locke and him, a smile burst onto his face. ”What’s up, guys! The party has arrived.”

Outfit but they're shorts >:|
There next round

It was an ordinary Saturday but for Maxine, it felt like a long time coming. She was meeting Cliff’s friends—family?—and if the cards fell right they could be hers by extension. Gosh. First date jitters were in the air.

As the morning wore on and she prepared, she tried to make sense of her feelings. Figured she wasn’t interested in impressing as much as she was interested in not being the one who left a bad impression on everyone? Again? Her first go at this had been completely scarring. Having no choice but to group with strangers on the spot or otherwise be chased out of your own home was something you didn’t just sleep on, move on from, and forget. It followed her around, a devil on her shoulder preaching yet another lesson to be learned.

Had to be optimistic about this go, though. Had to, had to, had to. Had no reason not to be, and there weren’t even any strings attached. Just nice and easy. That’d do it.

By the time Maxine arrived to the jaw-dropping lodge, there were already a few cars lined up out front. Phew, alright. She gathered a small wicker picnic basket in her hands—freshly made conchas snuggled inside—and a long plate of raspberry cheesecake danish as dessert for the bears with a greater sweet tooth (her). Hopefully she’d done alright by everyone with her choices.

Nervous, though.
Locke kept behind Emmett, only because he was lugging a mesh bag full of shucked and seasoned corn ready for the grill. Bear metabolisms were very forgiving, but it would satisfy the human brain to add a little veg to their meal.

The awkward size and bulk of the bag had Locke goose-stepping a bit, but soon he would find a spot to set down the food, alongside Emmett's containers.

It wasn't difficult to quickly notice the odd bear out. This had to be the famous Maxine. Locke's nose immediately picked up the goodies she carried, sweets and more sweets by the sugary scent hitting his nose. A very good first impression she would make. Locke sent a grin and pair of wiggling eyebrows Cliff's way. What kind of history did the two have exactly?
Natasha was first to arrive, bringing with her plenty of alcohol. He greeted her with a grin, waving the tongs in his hand about with a few sharp clicks. "Heyooo,"

Soon, the twins, lugging in more food. Watermelon and corn, an odd pairing, but it'd all go well with the rest of the food provided. "Hell yeah, not a party without watermelon." He teased them. In the back of his mind, he was of course aware of the incoming presence that was similar to the lot of them, but different in the way it felt to him. Bear, but not his. Not yet. But she was close, in multiple instances of that word.

In the time it took for Maxine to arrive, though, Cliff announced, ”She should be here any minute.” To them all, but directly to Natasha, moving closer for the sake of not loudly announcing it to the twins, ”You mind not mentioning goats?” :)!
The twins were quick to arrive next, Nat moving to help with whatever she could and get it placed upon the table. She wanted to hug them, but food came first, and Maxine was going to be here soon!


She was beyond excited to meet the woman, not only because she was a bear but because she was a she!! She was already wiggling with excitement when Cliff came in closer, whispering under his breath about goats. Lifting a brow curiously, Natasha had half the mind to ask about it regardless of his request, but in fear of upsetting Maxine would set the topic aside this one time.

A hand came to her mouth doing the lock and key action, as her eye gave a wink. "Consider them sealed." She assured, bouncing forward and prepared to give Maxine a welcoming hug upon her arrival... Unless she was like totally denied :,(
Look, watermelon had been just fine for them all before! It was a call back! And who didn’t want a bbq with the fruit anyways. The wrong kinda people in his opinion.

Setting down the food with a light-hearted huff, he was surprised that immediately Maxine was being brought up. Heh, telling. While Natasha and Cliff shared some kind of private words full of secrets, Emmett made his way over to the chips, opening a bag with a squelch of plastic moving against itself. A buffet of potato air hit him just as the presence of another bear had his own sending a hesitant look towards the door, Emmett curiously looking over as well, watching for a woman to enter stage right.
Alright! Maxine had no idea where to go, so she followed the freshest trails of bear. They led her through the rustic lodge, ceiling high, and to the back door where the smell of grilled meat was smoking off the barbecue.

Wow, hi!

She wore a sheepish grin as she stopped, cheeks slightly rosy. Hands full, she took in the others. Young, with an instantly different energy to... well. You know who to.

”Hi everyone,” Maxine tested warmly, lowering the homemade sweets as a young woman leapt towards her and enveloped her in a hug.

Oh my goodness.

It took Maxine a moment to process it, to respond to the warmth, before she instinctively wrapped a secure arm around her small waist. She, for all intents and purposes, didn’t know her. But for a moment as the bears nudged into each other, it felt like she did.
Everyone's bears were out in welcoming force. Locke had never felt this type of energy before with all their animal sides coming into clear focus to sniff and observe the newcomer. The sound of his brother chowing down on some chips helped bring Locke back to the present. Emmett was his steady anchor and he slapped a brotherly palm on his bro's shoulder in solidarity.

Natasha had shot out like a bullet, leaping at Maxine as if they were the long-lost friends instead of Maxine and Cliff. She must have really been suffering from all the testosterone around.

"Hey Maxine. We've heard a ton about you." Locke grinned brightly. Cliff deserved to flounder a little if she became confused by the comment. After all, he had taken an awfully long time to introduce her and Locke wanted in on the ribbing that Natasha had the monopoly on.
He offered her a little sage wink, nodding once to her before stepping away to deter from any attention on their exchange.

Not much longer, and there she was. He was, of course, happy to see her. But, he'd just seen her the day prior, so it was easier to hang back and let the others descend upon her. Which, Natasha wasted no time in doing. In true Natasha fashion, she encased Maxine in a surprise hug. Cliff chuckled, sure that she hadn't been expecting it.

And, of course, Locke was there to go right for the throat. Jeez. Touchy, considering the conversation, and subsequent disagreement... eesh. He took comfort in knowing Locke was just ribbing, and whatever he knew about her, it was vague at best. Unless, of course, Levka told him more. Which made anything negative easy to discount.
Mary was all about this other bear, sniffing and nudging against a bear that was actually smaller than herself!

It made for fair wresting matches. >:3

Natasha would pull away after a moment, the happiest grin plastered on her face. "Very good things." She followed up with Locke's statement, stepping back so that the twins could give their own choice of greetings. "It's great to finally meet you." There was an urge to just squeeze her into another tight hug, but she would refrain, instead turning to grab herself a beer.
Natasha was quick to offer out a hug to the girl that’d entered as Emmett tried to get a feel for her in the first interactions, not exactly sure where she stood. There were sweets, he could smell them and the small bear was cute even if his own was looking out from around his brother’s grizzly’s legs.

As he chomped down on chips, his brother’s hand to his shoulder had Emmett sheepishly putting the bag back on the table. Wiping crumbs off on pants as the introductions started, he smiled, pointing to his brother and then him. ”I’m Locke and this is Emmett.” :3
An accent! Strong bears! Was Maxine seeing double of these fine young men?

To the tease, first. ”That so?” she murmured as everyone sort of spoke over one another. She took the chance to throw a questioning look in Cliff’s direction, as though it might help her read his mind.

I’m glad to finally be here. Locke, Emmett,” Maxine repeated, committing their names to memory (she would scrutinise the differences in their faces later, alright). For now she went to hug each brother respectively—a bit more softly, mindful of lady parts!

... Little did she know she was being spun a lie. :(
Locke didn't mind the lady parts one bit! He returned the hug with the same enthusiasm as his bear did with bumping the female black bear in greeting.

"Thanks for coming out." He rattled off the customary pleasantries but he very much meant the sentiment. It was nice to have more bears together, it felt right.

"We're hoping you can share embarrassing stories about Cliff." The mischievous smile returned in blinding force.
Honestly, what a welcome. Maxine took it all in stride, and what she got in response to her glance would be an innocent lift of his brows. It didn't linger long, she was being introduced now. And, he noticed, lied to. Emmett claimed his brother's name, and Locke did nothing to correct it. Cliff clicked his tongue, head shaking some, but it could just as easily been taken as reaction to Locke's request as he moved to join the gathering. He extended a hug for Maxine as he answered, "I'm sure there's plenty."
Natasha had thought she knew which twin was which.


But clearly she didn't because the twin she thought to be Emmett was saying that the one she thought was Locke was Emmett and that he was Locke and now she was just so confused!!! If they were bears right now, the difference would be so clear, or even if they were alone.

But with there being so many bears close together and different amounts of powers surrounding her. She couldn't really tell which was weaker and which was not, and it wasn't like she could just slap her hand onto both of the brothers to find out either!!

What a predicament. She would just sip on her beer.
For a moment, Emmett was sure Cliff was going correct them which would be super lame. Let them have this, dude. And then, blessedly, nothing got brought up and Locke was marching forward about embarrassing stories. Taking the hug, the grizzly shuffled forward to shyly sniff from a paw’s distance at the smaller bear. They’d have time to warm up, he was sure, but already a lot more progress for them than the big guy wanting to blindly run off.

”Want anything to drink,” he asked after letting go, turning to head towards the cooler. Was that how you adulted politely? He was pretty sure.
They. Were both. So. Adorable. Her bear said so!

And then there was Cliff, to whom Maxine briefly leaned into for the hug. ”Beer’s good,” she replied, grateful to be considered?

“Not really.” She grinned awkwardly. “Think I’m the embarrassing one. Heard Cliff’s already started sharing one of my great stories?” Maxine looked to the other woman with her brows raised, friendly as she invited her to say something.

What better way to reclaim her pride than to spill it to everyone!
Sensing that there was something juicy that he had missed, Locke's gossip ears perked right up. "Oh? I don't think Locke and I heard the story." He shot the accusation toward Cliff and Natasha. Whatever their bear king knew, he likely shared it with their new second already. Locke, masquerading as Emmett for the time being, needed to weasel his way into this private group of story keepers.

Let the twins learn the funny antecedents! They had plenty to share in return.
Eesh! Alright! You know, that was one way to do it. Maxine taking back ownership of the information she'd wrongfully shared in the first place. Still Cliff grimaced briefly, and stepped away to let her get settled in without feeling bombarded. He went to go get food things finalized and ready to be piled onto their plates. "You're forgetting when I broke my deck." He added, mostly to soften the blow of her self depreciation.
Natasha's eyes would widen some as she glanced between Cliff and Maxine, a bit caught off guard since she had just been told specifically not to mention the goat story. She was no liar though, and since she'd been called out pretty directly, Natasha would pass an apologetic smile towards Cliff before turning back to Maxine with a more genuine one.

"I'm not sure about embarrassing." She corrected with a shake of her head, "but I have heard about a really interesting shift." A pause as she caught Emmett/Locke's look.

"Maxine probably can tell it better than either Cliff or me." QuQ
A beer! He could do that. Opening the chest, Emmett grabbed a bottle before fishing out a caprisun, shaking off excess ice before making the way over to Maxine to hand her her beer. The subsequent conversation happening around him though found Emmett all ears, taking it all in: the looks, the implied stories.

Stabbing the small yellow straw through the cheap plastic, his final gaze landed back on the lady next to him. ”What? Were you able to form a giant bear or something?” Stabbing the pouch, he gave an inquisitive lift of his brows, taking a sip.
Nothing embarrassing about breaking that deck.

”Thanks,” she winked, cracking the beer open. ”You know... you’re not far off,” Maxine indulged, moving to lean against the lodge’s railing.

She eyed them all. Took a sip of beer to stall and grinned nervously at the same time.

”It was a time when there was some strange magic going around Ridgefield. Vampires—of all people—were turning into goats... get the gist, anyway. I myself did the um, hybrid shift, around that time. Went sort of wrong though, because...”
Locke inched his way closer. No way in hell was he missing something that was clearly so notorious among the bears.

Natasha gave the first big clue: a shifting accident? Locke could actually feel his own ears perk up. Then his brother gave the single best response possible. A mega bear!? He so wanted that to be true, but also not – because if anyone was going to merge into the ultimate bear it would be the twins first, no exceptions.

Still... if Maxine did have an even crazier bear form than hybrid, Locke would be nothing but impressed and maybe a teensy bit jealous.

The actual answer was...goats? What?
Natasha, you beautiful creature. She let Maxine take ownership of what was shared, which... he should have done from the beginning. But, lessons learned, right? Eesh. Anyway, he tended the food, turned off the grill and scraped it as Maxine was pressed for info, and delivered with the grace he never really gave her credit for. Engaging, informative, but less awful than 'I turned into a goat.'

Mindful not to smile, he glanced to Maxine for the explanation as he set the tools down on the hook beside the grill, and turned to start making his plate.
Wait wait wait!

Vampires were the ones turning into goats? What in the hell?!

”Because?!?” Don't be shy finish your story Maxine, Natasha was already biting at the bit.
Not a giant bear, okay. That was still Locke and his’ to accomplish.

There was something big here though, the build up doing exactly what it was meant to do, grasping his full on attention. Instead of weres though, it was turning vampires into… goats. Wait, what? And then Maxine had hybrid shifted into what, a two-legged goat?

Natasha mirrored his own thoughts on this and he waited for the answer to drop, needing it like air. Had she turned into a chupacabra, maybe?
Pin drop silence. Not what she’d expected! Where were the guys now—it’d been left open for them to throw their bets in!

There was one contribution, though, and Maxine giggled sillily, glancing to the other woman. Her beer slushed around from the movement.

Because,” Maxine said, chin tilting down with the word. ”I um, ended up becoming a sort of monstrous goat hybrid? Head, hooves... the whole picture.”

She managed to hold eye contact for... two seconds. But then her face became increasingly red and with a cry, Maxine slapped a regretful hand over her eyes, spinning away from every. One. Of them.

Locke's eyes grew comically. A hand shot up to cover his mouth like a scandalized Victorian lady.

"Hybrid goat creation? Are you saying you turned into SATAN?"

My word! How fucking sick!
Oh noooooo. He'd thought maybe it would be good for her to be able to claim it, but she immediately turned red and away. Grimacing, he was in the midst of trying to figure out what to say when- "HA!" Except NO! "No, oh my god. It was actually pretty metal." Help. He wasn't laughing at you, Maxine, he promised.
Oh GOD Emmett/Locke!!

What a comparison to make!!

In favor of laughing, Natasha's jaw would just drop open, a hand coming to hover over her mouth as she just sort of gaped.

She'd turned into literally the description of the Devil, oh my god. Locke was quick to the draw of announcing the same wtfness to this whole revelation of surprising forms a bear could take when vampires turned into goats. Maxine was turning away from them all embarrassed, meanwhile Cliff was trying to make it better as if such a fact wasn't cool as hell.

"That's so fucking metal, oh my god," Emmett breathed.

Maxine, please confirm.
SATAN!? This boy.

Only Maxine was also laughing, painfully, whilst considering flying off the balcony. Kind of crying, too. But from laughter.
Locke was pretty damn pleased with himself, successfully derailing the conversation. She did mention a goat person and the most famous one was the literal devil, so....

Since he caused the whole thing, Locke could throw a bone and divert everyone's imagination away from pitchforks and firey landscapes. "How long were you stuck like that?"
God. At least they were all laughing about it. Hopefully everyone gathered their food while they had this conversation, because Cliff was definitely getting into a place to sit and dig into his.
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