Alameda Wolf Burrito
Meeting adjourned, goodbyes said, plans made to meet up again tomorrow, Natalie left the gym. There was a lot churning through her head and thankfully she hadn’t shifted through any of it which would’ve just added to it all in a way. How crazy would the meeting have gone then, or instead, would it have puttered off to turn attention embarrassingly towards her? Now though, before she had left Rice Bluff, the wolf was adamant to have its own time. It was a luck of the draw if she’d even get through retelling anything to Katya without stress just giving her that one last shake like soda, fur erupting out like a splintering of a can.

With a text to Katya that she’d be back later than thought because of wolf things, Natalie had headed to the pack’s normal shifting spot. There was some longing registering at doing this alone, but at the same time she was glad to have a moment by herself. When the shift did come under the darkened boughs, it was a surge of much needed energy released and relief, a moment for more calm to rule her brain that the current human side did not have. Lots of smells to be had, explorations to take on, and a deer munched on for dinner would rule the next few hours. Eventually, she’d wake up sometime close to midnight, the forest floor holding her reassuringly in its grip made of leaves and grass. No longer feeling as on edge, she'd soon enough head back to her car, a knot of leaves still in the occasional lock of hair if searched for, before driving to Alameda.

Unlocking the door, the wolf barked for its companion as soon as she took a step inside the darkened welcoming home. There was a lot to talk about and she’d promised to go through everything for Dakila even more than originally planned. Bed was definitely going to have to wait if Katya was up still.

”Katya, are you awake,” she asked loud enough to be heard through the halls, hanging her bag before beginning to follow that pull of wolf towards where her friend was.


Yeah, so, Katya wasn’t really worried? Why would she be? Natalie had gone to a pack meeting, texted her that she wasn’t going to be back for a while, and Katya just interpreted that as socialising? She wasn’t really into micro-managing the lives of her friends, sorry.

It was a Monday, and she had work tomorrow, so she’d ducked out to sleep at her normal 11AM. Except she’d also fallen asleep watching TV.

When the front door opened, keys jingling, she opened her eyes against the light of the living room. Netflix had reverted back to its home screen. The TV was new but it buzzed static to the wolf’s ears anyway.

”Shit. I’m here,” she groaned her cramped greeting. One leg had been thrown over the top of the couch and it was totally. Super. Dead. And tingling. But more importantly was Natalie doing a walk of shame?

Katya rolled her head and peered at her, still blinded as her eyes accustomed. ”Ooh-la-la,” Katya managed half-heartedly, bringing the leg down to massage it.
Movement, the low hum of the tv, and eventually a cursed greeting clued in Natalie that into the living room was the right way to go. As she got closer, she noted the propped up leg and just how comfortable Katya looked, just a smidgeon envious, but incredibly happy to see her up.

Katya’s gaze was soon on her approaching figure and the addition had brows stitching. ”What?” It took three steps and then it dawned on her. Here she was, coming home late in different clothes after being out. Face blushing hotly, she hurried over the rest of the way, hands waving ”No, whatever you’re thinking, it's not like that!” Ahhhhhh!
Who was it? Max? Dakila? A rogue? Katya giggled, waving a hand to dispel Natalie’s rosiness. She deserved better than any of those three options.

”I said nothing,” she teased and spread her arms wide open for a drowsy welcome home hug as she lay.

God. Her leg though. Katya wiggled her toes to get the blood rushing back around the limb.
”You implied it,” she groaned before her face split into a smile, leaning into the warm hug, arms sliding against the cushions and behind Katya as much as was possible. Taking the opportunity, the wolf jumped forward to give an exuberant greeting, all tail wagging and nibbles.

Letting go after a beat, she’d make that small shift and sit down on the cushion not being used currently, propped up leg in front of her. ”What were you watching?” A look to the tv in question was had.
Snuggles. Katya wrapped herself around Natalie and kinda didn’t wanna let go but yeah okay fine.

”Creepy psycho thriller,” she revealed, bending her legs up to make room for Natalie. ”Literally thought it was meant to be a comedy.” A sigh and a glance to the screen, which showed the title: “I'm Thinking of Ending Things.”
Taking in the title, the trailer for it rolled through her head, but she hadn’t thought it was a thriller? It had seemed like a comedy just like Katya was saying. ”I thought so, too?” Weird.

”Was it worth a watch at all at least?”
”Nope. It was hella weird. Totally traumatised.” Katya was vividly not traumatised, but anyway. She wore a grin.

”I think I fell asleep like halfway.”
Weird and traumatized, the kind of film that had a potential for a yawning anxiety pit in your chest to develop. No, thank you.

”That was probably a relief,” she smiled at the sleep comment. ”It was definitely better than the pack meeting by far anyways.” Natalie would've rathered suffered together on the bad movie front all and all, honestly.
She expelled a lazy, tired, chuckle, and by the time Natalie was moving on to the next sentence Katya had taken the remote to remove the show from their account’s watch list. No thanks.

”Who have I gotta beat up?” Katya prompted casually.
A sigh escaped Natalie probably more dramatic than needed as she let the cushions suck her in, looking at the ceiling.

”The whole pack, please. Well… yeah, everyone.” Even herself. The entire pack just needed a time out.

She pulled a face, deciding it was best to just be out with it. "Dakila told his boss he was a were." Her head rolled to look towards Katya to gauge a reaction.
Big sigh from Natalie. Hey. What was going on? Katya glanced to the other wolf once. Back to the TV as she messed with the remote. Then back again, as she came out with it.

Katya was usually a pretty cool cucumber, but a reveal of that nature caused even her to get red in the face. Just totally flushed outta nowhere.

Because heh. What. The expression Natalie would find was one of giant, thinking, eyes.

”Was?” Her heart went badoom-badoom-badoom.
Katya’s expression was exactly the kind she expected, very similar to how her own had been, except.... Was?

”Was,” she asked back in a questioning tone and it dawned on her and apologetic shock had Natalie sitting up, a hand going for a knee. ”No, that's not what I mean. He’s fine, he’s alive and still a wolf. Sorry, I’m tired. I can't even talk.” She exhaled. Her brain was fried.
What. Was. Happening. Why would he be DEAD?!?!!!?

Katya’s mouth was as dry as the Sahara. The knee hold, unintentionally or not, was like a little calming stroke across her wolf’s side, dousing the flame with water.

”What- What. No. I didn’t mean-“ Didn’t matter honestly. ”So his boss knows he’s currently a Were?”

Or like. Trying to douse it!!!
Okay, wait, was that not it? Clearly, they were both thinking different things here, but at least at in the end the conclusion was the same.

”Yeah. One of his coworkers got attacked by a vampire and got turned and they kept him on, so, Dakila felt like he needed to be ahead of the ball and out himself to his work before it was done for him.”

She saw why he had done it, but it didn’t mean that it wasn’t super concerning nonetheless.
And then the bucket did properly douse her, all the way from the ceiling to her face. Katya took a breath. Dakila wasn’t dead and honestly there weren’t a lot of implications to read into from Natalie’s wording. So.

”God, that sucks.” She extended an arm, placing the remote on the coffee table before fanning her face with the same hand.

Why not just leave his job?

Eh. Because it was Dakila.
Natalie watched the movement with understanding. ”Yeah…” The wolf stayed velcroed to the other, giving reassuring licks to ears.

”He says there’s nothing to connect us to him and that he’ll isolate himself where it's needed, so we probably won’t see him around very much one on one.” Which hurt and an opening of longing was definitely growing the more that news felt solid. So much for those movie and game night dreams for a good long time. She didn’t want that, Natalie liked hanging out with Dakila, he was her friend. There were only so many times you could call someone, it held but a candle to talking in person.
Katya didn’t know that it was possible to see Dakila any less than she already did, but. Yeah. It still made her pout while she was over here with Natalie’s wolf, being spoilt with love and affection.

”Damn,” she thought, scratching her own forehead lightly. ”What does it mean for the pack? I bet his boss can just zip on over into his phone records if he wanted to.”

Katya... wasn’t really afraid of cops. Not after seeing the sloppy handling of Cris’ case. That and everything about being a rogue instilled a lot of confidence in her.

”Or her.” If his boss was a she.
Her face dropped even more if that could be possible. Taking up worrying a lip, she shrugged. ”I don’t think he can unless they have a warrant.” Right? Like… maybe? She was going to hold onto hope for that part. ”Dakila said his work seemed okay with everything at least, so I hope he doesn’t.”

As for the pack. ”And he’s pretty sure nothing can come back to us at the moment, too.”
A warrant. That was optimistic of Natalie, but Katya honestly didn’t trust systems in this country.

”Okay. Well... that’s okay then, right?” she asked. But was more so asking if she was okay.
It was a wibbly sort of okay. A smile couldn’t even make itself on her face if she tried. ”Sort of for right now… I don’t know. There’s a lot that could go wrong on that end.” Natalie’s hands clasped together in her lap, legs drawn up onto the couch too. She trusted Dakila, but it was the outside parties that he couldn’t control that were the issue.
”Like?” she prompted.
Katya prodding for different avenues had her letting out a small breath. There were so many possibilities, she couldn’t exactly name them all. ”Like, Dakila being forced to give more information. They follow him to us one time when we aren’t careful. What if one time we end up on opposite sides of something? Or, I don’t know, that's not even just his team. Information spreads, you know?” And it was all too easy to see him being exploited for being a werewolf cop.
She edged up to sit against the side of the couch, affording the conversation less levity, more seriousness.

The start of Natalie’s explanation made sense but then it just kinda... rambled off into confusion. Katya gazed at a vacant spot on the floor as she thought.

”I mean I get what you’re saying. But.” Nyeh. ”Like, yeah. I can see it being a problem if one of us gets caught in public.” That was assuming his boss knew he was a wolf, though. Katya pouted to the side.

If Natalie was concerned about all this, Katya had a pretty good and speedy solution which would help save her ass. It was called going rogue!! But she had a sense of how that would fly with her.

”He did kinda say this would happen at the first pack meeting.”
Being caught in public was the very thing she hoped to never happen. Before Dakila had been leader, she’d tried to be as small as possible, out of the way, so she didn’t have to cause that kind of headache. This just made it a bit more complicated with a twist. Again, hopefully, it’d never happen.

The reminder of Dakila’s own words came up and she took a deep breath after a beat. He definitely had, she just hadn’t exactly expected it, expected it. ”Yeah, he did.” Out that breath. ”It was just surprising for it to actually happen.”

Katya... just. Yeah. That was all she had to say too, brain going blank for a second. She stretched her toes over one another, reading Natalie.
Katya had nothing to follow up with that and so naturally Natalie looked to the side in thought, the rest of the meeting rising up again. Right, there had just been so much that’d happened so quickly after that was a bit of a whirlwind to realize how it all pieced together when her mind wasn’t exploding full of wolf thoughts.

”Julian left the meeting when he heard, but we didn’t know he’d left the pack till after. I don’t know, no one really took it that well, but I didn’t expect anyone to do that.” And now Julian was out there by himself which didn’t sit right, the wolf wanting to nose around after him.

”Dakila even said he’d step down if we wanted him to, which.” Her face pulled at the thought. ”Maybe I’m being selfish, but I don’t want that, I don’t think its the right thing right now.”
Julian who? Vaguely... familiar. And he was a rogue now, apparently. Ouch. That hurt, only because she metaphysically knew what it felt like to break the proverbial chain between pack and wolf (she was like a two-time pro at it, okay).

”Really?” Katya asked at the end. Just. Like. If Dakila had offered, he probably thought it was a good idea. ”But isn’t it gonna be hard for him to be leader-y if he’s isolating and you can’t see him?“ Which was Katya’s understanding.
Even if that made all the sense in the world, an honest to goodness pout took place on her face unbidden at the idea of that. ”Maybe, but…. I don’t think I can trust anyone else to be leader.” She didn’t want that, not after the last ones had left and the entire pack had vanished in a blink of an eye. It was a very real pain to have it all crumble apart at the drop of a hat with no idea what’d happened or who to turn to besides the one wolf still in Ridgefield. ”What if they’re like the last one? What if they leave too?”
Oh, shit. Yeah. The first thing wasn’t a bad point. Katya matched Natalie’s expression.

How many wolves did they even have in the pack? She didn’t know. Jane was MIA, but given that she’d never met a Julian, she guessed there were a couple other wolves around that Katya wasn’t familiar with? Maybe?

Maybe Liza? Wasn’t she championing her title of Second around?

”... I think I’ll still be here. This house will still be here. You’ll have a home here, doesn’t matter what happens,” she answered her question.
Out of any number of things Katya could’ve followed up with, this was the most helpful. It brought her out of all the possibilities that made her brain whirl and chest tighten, the wolf reminding just how awful it’d been compounding it all, and sweeping it away reassuringly. If anything awful happened and the pack was no more, Katya would still be here, she’d still have a home. There was a foundation here and that wasn’t shaking.

A watery smile pulled at her face briefly, making to lean against Katya without much preamble besides just sliding over. ”Thanks, that means a lot.”
There was half a second after that where she worried that... that wasn’t the problem solving answer Natalie needed. It’s just tumbled out of her mouth, really, but when Natalie slid over she realised that it was the best she could’ve done.

Katya couldn’t fix this for her any more than she could fix Shane outing her. She could just listen, and ask, and hope that by talking about it Natalie’s feelings and opinions would go from clay to ceramic.

“Is there anything I can do for you?” she murmured, propping an arm along the back of the couch to bring Natalie closer. She squished her cheek along the side of her head. ”... With this Julian dude, or anyone? Anything?”
As Katya got closer, she allowed herself to be smushed, taking comfort where she could get it, the wolf burying its muzzle into the fluffy fur of the other.

What could there be done, really? If they could actually go back in time, Natalie would immediately ask for help in talking with Dakila out of his actions, to quit and reconsider. It would’ve probably taken a hell of a lot, but they could’ve done it. But, that wasn’t the hand that had been dealt nor where they were at right now.

”I don’t know,” she managed as the most useful answer that could be landed on. Natalie didn’t even exactly know Julian outside of the occasional pack meet or from second hand account and yes she wanted to check in on him, but it wasn’t even that that was the sole reason for being shaken up. That was just one thing that was up in the air out of many big things that were too together. ”Being here helps.”
Vague as it was, she’d seen the answer coming. ”Mmkay,” Katya hummed lightly. She used her other arm to pull it into a proper hug, at least on her side of things. ”I’m not goin’ anywhere.”

And she really fucking hoped that was the truth.
That was a promise that she’d tentatively grasp onto like a lifeline. Where things were seemingly about to crumble all over again, this had to stay. Please.

Rotating, she smooshed her face against Katya in response, grateful.

After several minutes, Natalie realized she was still leaving off parts of this night that still had her wolf bristling and her stuck at a weird point of personal questions to wade through. It was better that Katya heard now than from the grapevine.

So… ”You know Max challenged Dakila?”
Excuse me, sorry, what.

Shut the front door,” Katya boomed, pulling her upper body back to get a good look at Natalie’s face. So she could deduct if that was like, the truth, from her features.
The reply was to be expected, surprise riding through in that tone familiarly.

No, she was pulling away. ;n; Letting Katya put space between them, she took in Katya’s searching look. ”He did,” she confirmed, running the scene through her head all over again, the wolf’s lips peeling back in distaste. ”Right after Dakila said he’d step down if we wanted, Max said he didn’t support him being leader and he’d challenge him for it.”
Katya's jaw just hung. Being kinda the worst, she mostly fed on the high of this as gossip. She'd thought Max was a chill guy?? Was he? Maybe. Maybe not. Since when did he wanna be leader?


"God, that's so commie of him." Usurper vibes. "What did Dakila say?"
Katya’s reaction and name for it had her lips quirking up at the edges briefly.

”Well I,” gosh,”Kind of spoke up before he could say anything.” Natalie pinched a stray thread from her shirt, beginning to twirl it around, gaze drifting to it. ”I told Max I didn’t want another leader and then Dakila that he needed to start asking for help regardless if he wanted to be leader or not. He said he wanted to do the best he can for us, that he’s trying to learn how to take help. Max argued that he’d tried to help take some of that load and Dakila hadn’t taken the offer at all so then the guy left to find Julian.” And then, yeah. Gosh, how had the night evolved into something so crazy?
By the end of Natalie’s explanation, she was just doing a lot of blinking and a lot of eye fluttering. Because oh my god. What a disaster. Katya was pretty sure she’d never been happier about roguing it as much as she was now.

”Where was Liza during all this?”

She lightly grimaced, pulling at the thread, looking up.

”She wasn’t around. It was just Dakila, Max, Julian, Emily, and me.”
What the fuck?

Katya puffed her cheeks. ”Sounds pretty bad.” Heh...
”Yeah it was. When Max came back he took back the challenge and we agreed to split up a lot of the things Dakila was doing, so we’ll see.” Natalie wondered if she should just keep plowing forward since Liza’s absence had been spoken to. Either way, she was going to end up tossing under her covers in indecision till tomorrow or whenever the pack finally figured out what they wanted.

”Emily also brought up that she wanted a new second.”
Katya... didn’t really see how divvying things up would help anything, if like, Max was already uncomfortable with Dakila as his leader. And Natalie was uncomfortable with anyone but Dakila as her leader.

”Yeah. That makes sense. I guess.” It didn’t. Not really. But Katya was at a loss to how five people could demolish a pretty simple hierarchy so fucking effectively.

How hard was it to manage. Four. People. Honestly. Why were there challenges and missing Seconds and wolves disbanding and police being informed.


She puffed her cheeks full with air again.
Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t, Natalie was just trying to follow with the punches of the night as much as she could handle. But this next bit had Natalie looking back down to her lap again, trying to figure out how she wanted to word anything.

”Dakila-” Hi, wow, what were words? Her face played a whole thought game, several stages of seemingly finding words and then immediately not wanting to use them only to retry all over again. It was frustrating and her wolf yawned to give a release of tension as if that might help.

”Do you think I’m doing okay, as a werewolf I mean?”
Something was happening. There was an undercurrent of it. Whatever it was. Anticipation? Uncertainty? Validation?

When the question tumbled out of Natalie’s mouth, Katya hung her head back in a sorta incredulous “reaaaally?” She squinted at her—as if Natalie didn’t already know the answer to that?

”Yes.” Dumb question. Katya left it there.

Except no she didn’t.

”You handled that Blair thing like a total pro. You came out of fight night like a pro. You’re balanced. You don’t lose your shit. You’re smart and talk when something’s eating at you. So. Yes, you’re doing okay. As a roommate, I’ve literally never worried about you.”
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