|River paces the length of her office. |
Inside, there is bright sun shining down from the ceiling of the solarium. The lighting in her office tends to be rather cheery as well. But beyond the window seat, where she loves to sit and read for hours the story is different. Outside the bay window, the ocean is dark and turbulent, the skies gun metal grey. Stormy seas for stormy thoughts, CAL used to say. Now, it is just a fact. When River is discontent, the water shows it.
She has a wall cleared for research and she's muttering to herself as she walks the length of the carpet and back again.
"Give me everything we know about lycanthrope species catalog number 1010."
Files start flying up from the background, the pale blue light of the terminal casting a glow over her cheeks as she stares. Her hand reaches out to touch an image and drag it to the foreground. The transformed lycanthrope image taken at an undisclosed location in the Scottish Highlands, Earth, circa early twenty first century. It was a file she'd gathered from the bar feeds, Richard's timeline.
She taps a corner and the image becomes three dimensions. She spins it in place, the off camera bits filling in with extrapolated data.
"This one is male. Do you have an image of a female?"
The computer shuffles through a handful of images and offers a few as most likely to match criteria. She snags an image.
The selected candidate is a dark grey, with white on her muzzle. She stands almost 2.5 metres tall, according to the read out. Her features are more refined than her male counterpart, her body more lithe, though just as well-muscled. River can just see the barest hint of a shadow on the image, two pairs of extra nipples running down either side of the torso. Claws just as long and sharp, and a mouthful of formidable looking teeth.
She spins the image again, her brow furrowed in thought. Not something she'd care to run into in the forest after dark. Outside, the wind batters against the window panes. The water is pounding the rocks below and huge plumes of salt spray reachfor the heavens.
What does she know? Increased metabolism (hungry all the time). Enhanced hearing, enhanced sense of smell (oh to smell everything so deeply). Ability to read emotions. (to read the lies) Oh and the ability speak with canine intelligences. And an unbreakable, unavoidable connection to the lunar phase of what ever planet one is on. A violent physical transformation. A blood thirsty physical counterpart.
It is the wild aspect of the whole thing that terrifies her. The idea that she must give up her intellect, give up her reason, to run and hunt and kill and feast.
It terrifies and thrills her simultaneously.
It's wrong to even think of this, part of her screams.
It was forced upon him, a curse, not a gift.
Could he live with you knowing that you had a choice where he did not?
Could he look at you every day and know that you could undo it?
Surely there's a way to undo it for him as well.
But would he? Would he even consider it?
I don't believe he would, not for a moment.
It is a part of who he is.
He is as much wolf as he is man.
Only because that is how I have known him since the beginning.
These are the real questions I must answer.
Not whether or not to undergo this transformation,
but where it would leave the two of us, on the other side.
River spins the image again, looking into the golden eyes of the creature.
To be able to taste his scent, to drown in it.
Wouldn't that be a gift?
Wouldn't he want that for me?
Why don't you ask him, River?
Why don't you just talk to him about this?
I can't lose him.
I won't do anything to jeopardise what we have.
Can I live with the status quo?
She pulls back up the image of the male, his coat black as coal, his gaze turned away from the piercing flash of the camera. Gore drips from the creature's jaws. Human blood, if the reports are to be believed.
if it means having him by my side.
My love, my mate.