Prospector's make new friends and fuck the old
Felipe was going to need some new friends. His roommates were annoyed with what they called his antics- such as needing to be picked up in the most random of places because he was completely naked and without his wallet or phone. They assumed he was off getting high. Felipe knew he wasn't. He tried to explain that maybe he was a sleep walker like that author on tiktok, but they said there was no way. Even he knew it was unlikely. But some of his friends outside of his roommates were worse. Way worse.

Felipe put his head in his hands. They were supposed to meet up for BBQ and Beer at Prospector's. It had been a weird outing, since they were more of the club going type. There had obviously been a reason though: none of them showed up. They had texted him that they were on their way multiple times. He'd been sitting at a large booth by himself for the better part of an hour when one friend finally reached out and said that they were all at a club in Ridgefield and weren't coming to Prospector's. It was cruel.

So Felipe apologized to the waitress and moved from the booth to a spot at the bar and ordered himself another beer.
After his shift, Emmett had come to Prospector’s to grab a bit of grub before heading home. He’d been through a pound of brisket and was close to done with his ribs when his gaze found the guy leaving the booth to join the bar a chair or so away. Dude was definitely a were which wasn’t like a weird thing to run into. No, what’d stood out was the fact he’d been here before him and was now not leaving, but moving here instead.

Wiping his hand roughly on what used to be a pristine white napkin, Emmett took a chug of his iced tea before clearing his throat when the plastic tapped back to the bar. ”Everything alright,” Emmett questioned.
Felipe was also starving, but that wasn't anything new these days. For some reason, he just always felt ravenous. It left him hangry often, even after a meal. The meals he ate just no longer seemed fulfilling like they had been. Worse still, many of his cravings centered around meat. He'd never been a vegetarian or anything, but he'd also never been a "meat guy".

The smell of the BBQ was excruciating, but he'd not wanted to order until his friends got there. But they weren't coming. And with a beer on the way, he finally took a look at the menu to see the cheapest thing he could order. There was a man nearby who smelled weird and he looked over at him at the question. "Yeah, I'll be alright," he said quietly. "Just weirdly starving."
The response had Emmett pulling his lips up in a partial smile. He’d be alright. That kinda feeling sucked. But, confusion left Emmett murky with what the guy meant about starving being weird. It wasn’t weird to be starving as a were, it was just normal.

”Why? Did’ya, uh,” a look at the bartender for a moment. Yeah, better be discreet. To the guy again. ”Have an unexpected good run or something?”
Felipe was caught up in his own misery to notice the sideways glance at the bartender or that there may be a hidden implied meaning behind the other man's words. With Felipe taken care of, the bartender meandered down to the other side of the bar to help patrons on that end. Felipe shook his head. "No, it's just," he paused to look at the other man. "I have been so hungry all the time for a while now and it doesn't make sense. I've never had this happen. And there's other weird stuff going on and I don't even know what's wrong with me, but it's made all my friends mad at me. They think I'm just constantly drunk or high, and I haven't been neither."

Felipe sighed and finished the rest of the beer he'd had before starting on the new one. "Might as well now though."
The guy wasn’t catching his drift, in fact, he was completely on some old side pot holed filled dirt one without an ounce of understanding where the fuck he was. Emmett grabbed some napkins, tried to wipe some of the muck off his hands as the dude explained his hunger, how it didn’t make sense. New were, who dis basically and Emmett was the one to introduce him to his double life it looked like.

He made to wipe at his mouth, balling up the used napkins to be plunked onto the bar. ”Nothing’s wrong with you though... Well,” that was a lie, but not really, let him amend, ”Kinda, but not like bad bad, y’know?” It ended up as a long question mark because, yeah? ”I got the same bug and I'm fine.”
Felipe scoffed when the man told him that there was nothing wrong with him. He turned, about to ask him how he could possibly know that when the other elaborated. A bug? The thought snapped Felipe's mouth shut. Was he just sick? If so, it was the weirdest sickness ever. A light at the end of the tunnel seemed to shine now- this would all be over then! He was just sick! "So I'm just sick?" he asked. "How long did it take you to get over the bug?"
Brows went up and his head lightly tilted down and to the side at the questions from him. ”Well, yeah.” He was sick. They were all “sick”. Whatever made sense. As for when it would be over, Emmett scratched the back of his neck. See….

”Uhh, you don’t,” Emmett said quietly, loud enough for their ears though. ”That’s the thing.”
That... was definitely not the news Felipe wanted to hear. His eyes went wide before they suddenly filled with tears, and he cleared his throat and looked down at the bar top. So he was stuck like this forever. He'd lost his job. His friends. All because of some disease he couldn't treat or get over? It seemed highly unfair. He didn't understand why life seemed to have it out for him. He wasn't bad, right? A few mistakes here and there, but he tried to do right. Didn't that count for anything?
Oh god, that didn’t come out right did it? One minute the guy was super interested and then the next his face was all ready and watery.

Emmett shuffled and leaned closer, hovering a hand close to his back before tentatively putting a hand to it. The bear immediately was smelling closely, trying to get a good look. Brown fur. Feline. Hmm.

”It’ll be okay. It gets better, trust me.”
It gets better?

"How?" Felipe said, turning to look at the other man. It was at first a pitifully asked question, but the longer it sat with Felipe, the more it just made him angry. His eyes flashed blue as anger swirled through him, riling up the cat inside him he wasn't even aware of. He started to feel sick. Started to feel his body turning on him again. "My friends don't like me anymore because of this! I've been getting in trouble at work because of this! So HOW do things get better?"
Well, at last he was looking at him instead of the bar top of his hands – a step! Except, those blue eyes had him concerned. Haha, this was a ticking time bomb in the works wasn’t it? Stay good, kitty cat, this was his favorite bbq place. >:(

The raising voice had him grimacing, hands coming up in defense to placate. ”Look, I’ll be honest, that stuff suuuucks. I get it, really I do. Just, uh, how ‘bout we go outside? It’s easier to explain there.”
God, he felt sick. The other man raised his hands up and emphasized with the situation. He asked if they could take it outside, and the anger Felipe was feeling melted into a couple of angry tears and sniffles. He wiped at his eyes, which had calmed back down to brown, and nodded. "Alright," he said quietly. "I'm sorry I got mad. It's not your fault. Let's go outside." He stood up from the stool, feeling a little better now. He put down enough money to cover the food and drinks he bought, plus a sizable tip. Being here by himself put quite a dent in his funds, but he'd drawn attention to himself and couldn't dine and dash.
As long as the guy didn’t immediately burst into full on tears or shouting, they’d be okay. He could only hope. The glimmer of color going back to normal eye mode at Emmett for the moment at least taking that needed exhale of relief.

”Cool.” Nodding, he regretfully looked down at the last few bites and instead swiped a few more napkins, scrunching them between fingers as he slid off the chair. Tossing them onto the tray, he pulled out a crumpled twenty and left it by the mess.

With that, he’d lead the way out the main area and through the swinging door before taking a sharp left into the side parking where the dirt was slowly eating away at the asphalt and only a car or two shone in summer sun. Perfect. ”Kay, so.” What was he gonna say? How to word? He looked at the guy an was just out with it on the wings of shrugged shoulders. ”Name’s Emmett. I’m a bear and you're... a cat something.”
Felipe followed the man into a less populated area of the parking lot, briefly wondering if this was going to be a good idea or not. But it was still light out, so it couldn't be that bad, right? If he tried to mug him, he would clearly be seen by other patrons of the bar, surely.

But instead of mugging him, the man said words that made sense in how they were put together, but not in their meaning. Not to Felipe anyway. He looked at him, confused. Was this like a flirting thing? He knew there were people called bears among gay men, but he hadn't heard of cats? And he also didn't understand how that fit in at all with what they'd been talking about before. "Listen, you're attractive, but I'm not interested in a relationship," he mumbled out, not entirely sure how to deal with this.
Emmett searched for something on the guy’s face to show that the meaning had landed, clicked, or whatever. Anything? C’mon, he’d been so blunt. What Felipe came back with though flew over his head completely and Emmett sort just blinked at him, not following in the slightest.

”What?” How did anything he say translate to attraction or relationships?

There was a pause as he gathered his thoughts and kept going. ”I’m saying you’re a were.”
"What?" Felipe repeated, still clearly confused. If he wasn't talking about relationships then...

And then he was filled in. A were. Felipe was at least aware of that term. His mouth dropped open. Cat. The cat that'd attacked him in the park.

His mouth slowly closed and he nodded. He looked around for a second before spotting a parking curb and sitting on it, pulling knees up to his chest. His eyes were wide now as he tried to process through everything. After a few moments, he looked back to Emmett. "How am I supposed to live like this? I know nothing."
There was a moment where Emmett wondered if he’d have to go further, but then something clicked into place. It was like some kinda balloon had been popped, the man deflating right in front of him before making to sit down.

Well. Cool? Locke was probably better here for this sort of thing because his brain wasn’t really providing much to do other than watch as the guy processed the truth bomb of the century.

A question though was something he could answer and work with though. Emmett scratched the back of his head, walking up to him. ”Whelp, you’re in luck.” Plopping onto the curb by him, he continued on. "I can help some. I know a whole buncha people that can step in too.”
Truth be told, Felipe wanted to cry. But there was nothing in him to do it. He was somewhat in a state of shock still. He felt the man next to him plop down, and the sudden rush of fur and woodsy scent made sense now. A bear. The man next to him was a bear inside. Felipe rubbed his face and looked over at him. "Yeah?" he said, voice still a bit dead but maybe just a teensy bit hopeful. Obviously people did live like this. "Do you know any other cats?"
Yeah, this was definitely a giant explosion of ‘what the fuck’ for this guy’s life, but at least he was digesting it all.

Emmett exhaled in thought, arms resting on knees as he looked off into the parking lot. ”Yeah, I know of a few. Jaguars and a black-footed cat." What he was wasn't a lion either, right? He’d smelled those at the fight night thing before and this was definitely not that. Maybe Cliff or Natasha had run into this kind of were before. "They're all pretty chill."
Felipe was glad this man was at least being understanding with him. This all felt horrible and wrong, but at least he knew what was going on and this man knew how to get him some help.

He nodded, but knew he was not any of those kinds of cats. "It was a mountain lion," he said quietly. "Outside Washakie. I was drunk and in an Uber I couldn't pay for and the driver dumped me off there." He struggled to remember all the details, brows furrowing together. "It attacked me and then left."

He groaned. "Ugh, I'm so stupid!" All this time and it hadn't occurred to him what had actually happened. How all of this started after he'd been attacked. "I don't remember much else about that night. I just remember waking up the next morning feeling like shit- probably from being drunk- and not finding any marks on me. My coat and clothes had blood on them, but." He shook his head. "I didn't know what happened."
A mountain lion? Emmett blinked at him, listening to the recount. Damn, dumped and then attacked drunk. That had to completely suck.

”Yeah all that stuff heals except maybe a scar.” Emmett pushed up the fabric of his sleeve before twisting his body so the guy could see. There, puckered and silver with scarred skin were various tears from gashes of teeth. ”Got this from the bear that turned me. Pretty sure I almost died.”
Felipe hadn't even considered looking for scars. As the man next to him twisted his body a certain way so he could see it, Felipe leaned close and traced some of the scar marks with his finger. He thought back to when he was bitten. "It was my shoulder," he said, before suddenly pulling off his shirt. He remembered the pain coming from the cougar's teeth chomping into his right shoulder, so he moved that one closer to the man. "Do you see anything?" He twisted his neck at an angle to try to see it himself, but maybe it would be easier to look in a mirror when he got home.

But the bear man would be able to see the scar. The two puncture marks of the big cat on either side of his bony shoulder. The tearing of skin that dragging teeth had made. The man said he almost died. "So how did your attack happen?" he asked softly, knowing it was probably a sensitive subject. He quickly put his shirt back on so he didn't look so weird.
Scars were the ticket, they always got people excited. Best conversation piece hands down.

Suddenly, he remembered where he’d gotten attacked and Emmett watched with surprise as his shirt was quickly pulled off. Back shuffling close to him, no homo, Emmett blinked before really looking at the prompt. Right. ”Uhhh… Yeah! It looks pretty sick.” He tapped the area. Looked like the guy had probably lost a lotta blood if that was anything to go by.

As the dude’s shirt was put back on the question about how he got attacked was asked and Emmett shrugged for it. ”I went backpacking and this giant bear attacked in the middle of the night, shredded the tent and everything. I was pretty sure I was going to die, but I woke up just fine. It was weird.”
The man confirmed that he had scars and Felipe nodded. He'd have to actually look at them when he got back home. But for now, he was more interested in the bear's story. There wasn't much to it, which he wondered if that was just the case with all shifters. Been in the wrong place at the wrong time and was attacked. How awful though.

Still, the story was vaguely familiar to his. Thought he was gonna die, got hurt, but wound up completely fine. Felipe sighed. "Did you have anyone to help you through it all?" Was there like a president shifter who took care of everyone? He didn't know.
A short ha of a laugh escaped him with a sort of ‘now that you mention it’ vibe. ”Yeah, my brother.” Through thick and thin, it only made sense that Locke would be right there alongside him. As much as their circumstances sucked, it was hard to imagine going through this all without his brother. ”He got attacked right alongside me and from there we figured it out on our own till eventually moving here and running into a group of bears.”
Felipe silently chided himself for first having the thought Must be nice. No, none of this was nice. It wasn't nice that this man and his brother were both attacked and turned. It wasn't nice that they had to lean on each other to figure everything out until they finally found someone who knew something. Likewise, it wasn't nice what had happened to him. Felipe waged war within himself for a few moments before looking back to the man and nodding. "I think I need to find more people like me. Like you. None of my friends understand it, and I don't know what to do now."
There was a lull between his words and when the guy spoke up, enough for him to be lost thinking about the past. It was such a relief to have finally moved here. With Cliff, they’d found some semblance of normalcy for once.

And suddenly, they were back to now with lines Emmett immediately nodded to. ”Def. Otherwise, you’ll be floundering one minute and the next eating boxes of uncooked popcorn.” Which may or may not have happened, they weren’t gonna dwell on it. ”Let me ask the Big Boss Man if he knows of any like you, uh… what’s your name again?’ Emmett was sure it hadn’t been said yet and he couldn’t really keep referring to him as ‘that guy’ aloud.
Eating boxes of uncooked popcorn sounds horribly unappetizing, but Felipe was sure he'd gotten into something horrible as a cougar judging by how he felt whenever he woke up after a shift. His eyebrows hitched together at the mention of a big boss man, and he hesitated in telling the other his name. In the end, he figured it was probably for the best. "Felipe," he answered quietly. He looked away for a moment, as the bearman began texting, before looking back to him. "Sorry- big boss man?" Was there a leader of all weres he was supposed to meet?
Felipe! He smiled wide for a name finally as he set to the task of [url=]texting Cliff.[/url]

The immediate cut in at the nickname had him looking up, brows furrowing some and, oh! Ha! ”Sorry, just a joke. He’s the leader of the group I’m in.” Looking more fully to the screen again, Emmett continued. ”If he doesn’t know, he’ll know who to loop you in with.”
Felipe nodded, as though what Emmett said made complete sense. Except it didn't. His nodding turned more into a confused wag of his head, before finally shifting all out into a shaking of his head. "I'm sorry. You're being very patient with me, and I am real appreciative of it. But there are groups? Is he like the big leader of all weres?" Or something else? Gosh, this was making his head hurt.
Emmett was balancing looking from Felipe and the conversation with Cliff. Multi-task king over here.

Dude, was pretty uptight as he stumbled through apologies before getting to the questions. Oh, yeah. Emmett was kinda speaking a different altogether wasn’t he? ”Yep and ha, no.” He laughed some, shaking his head, trying to picture the guy currently making cougar jokes as the king of all weres. Nah.

”He’s just the leader of a group of bears in town that I’m a part of. People like us like to sometimes group up with similar animals and they have a leader who’s like, super strong.”
Felipe listened and nodded. Okay, that made better sense. Weres grouped up with like weres. So, bears hung out with bears. And he'd hang out with other cougars? Maybe? "So does he know of any cougar groups?" he asked.
Cool, he was making sense. Grinning for it, he’d look back to his phone, frowning.

Sighing, Emmett ruffled his hair. ”Nope he’s at a loss. He’s gonna ask around though.”

Stuffing the phone into his pocket again, he put his full attention to Felipe. How was he supposed to mentor a cougar? He could barely make a fried egg without it busting.

Fake confidence! Just do it and try!

”Buuut! Don’t let that get you down, I can help ya out on giving you the were 101.”
"Oh," Felipe said quietly, definitely letting it get him down. He looked back up at the man when he spoke again, nd he let what he said lift his spirits. "Okay," he said quietly, a small smile forming. "So here's some samesies that happen between the different, uh, animals?" He hoped that made sense.
Not that exuberant, but Emmett couldn’t blame him. He also didn’t like being a bear to be honest.

The question had him nodding, pushing out his legs to stretch. ”Yeah, a whole lot. Like, the moon for instance.” He pointed at the sun because, sure. ”That whole full moon thing is legit, make us change and stuff.”

tw: alcohol and drug abuse mention

Felipe was now listening more intently than before. He nodded slowly in learning about the full moon. Made sense now why he seemed to get sick and then black out every month- he put the two together in his head- he was shifting, like he was on some animenstrual cycle. "So that explains why I feel awful once a month then," he said with a small smile. "My friends thought I'd become addicted to alcohol or drugs and was just getting black out drunk or high each time I was, I guess, shifting."
A buffet of air escaped him at the excuses his friends had come up with. ”Did you think that too?” Surely, Felipe knew if he was doing all of that.
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