The flush that enveloped Lilac’s face was immediate. The room began to sway as he spoke. Her voice felt further and further away as the shock set in.

    “M-ms.Teddy, are you certain now is the best time to undo those restraints?” A concerned nurse assistant asked, clutching tight to her clipboard. Despite this, Teddy continued, reaching to undo the heavy manacles encasing each limb that affixed Lilac to the bed. 

     The older woman beside her placed a hand on Teddy’s shoulder.  “Even with you here it would be a…a nice comfort for the staff.” Only then did her hands halt their unfastening. 

    “She’s panicking.” Teddy remarked as though it were obvious.

    “Yes and thats why we would prefer them on, miss!” The nurse chastised. Teddy's eyes glanced upward with a slight petulance but otherwise granted their request. You’d think they’d be used to this by now. She thought. The woman beside her only sighed.

    The heart monitor beeps increased their pace. Lilac’s fur stood on ends as she processed this information through a drug addled mind. Truly this had to be a mistake, a wrong identity, a cruel unusual prank. 

    Right? 

    Teddy brows knit together at the sight, crossing her arms with hands itching to intervene. “Hey…I need you to understand you have a very, very large dosage of tranquilizer in you, you need to calm down before you make yourself ill.” Teddy’s small hand laid itself on an arm full of muscles twitching arrhythmically. 

 

  The response came out broken through seizing breaths. “H-how do you- how…? How? I don’t understand. I don’t. I don’t get it. I can’- I don’t-” Lilac’s voice shifted between octaves as her pupils grew and shrank. “Is-is it happening? Am I dying? Please I don’t understand.” She sobbed. Her hands tightened evermore along the metal railing until she was certain her fingers were going numb. The metal against her skin stung like thousands of pinpricks as her muscles fought to expand. 

    I’m a monster I’m a monster I’m a monster. I’m in chains and my body isn’t working. Oh god what’s happening to me!? A terrified mind cried to itself. Her teeth clenched tightly as she felt the muscles in her jaw burn. She felt her veins pulsing with fire hot blood- her skin tightening as her body forced outward growth…the nerve endings in her mouth pierced like needles as the teeth within slowly elongated.  

    Teddy’s arms crossed tighter into themselves. She shot a look to the stocky woman next to her, tossing a glance at the cowering nurses in the corner. With silent understanding, the woman dismissed them. Without a moments hesitation, they nurses scrambled out of the room; leaving the two women, a thrashing patient, and a doctor typing silently at his desk. Lilac’s wide unfocused eyes grew dark along the whites. 

    The larger of the two women stepped forward. Her movements were slow and gentle as she leaned in towards the panicking patient whose body was gradually enlarging its own muscles.

    “My name is Henna. I’m the head of this facility. This is Teddy-” She gestured to the woman beside her staring at Lilac with calculating eyes. “Please know that you are safe here, you haven’t hurt anyone, and you’re not in trouble.” The larger woman spoke, but it was clear the words fell on deaf ears as the panic became all consuming. Gradually, Lilac’s small ears began to grow. Her fur began to darken incrementally reflecting the agitation despite the profuse amount of sedatives coursing through her rising blood pressure. Her weighty giant tail now touched the floor as it banged against the sides of the bed. Her ragged breath slowed as her mind began to blank. The metal cuffs round her wrists and ankles ignited a deep groan as they dug deeply into the expanding body.

    Placing a hand upon Teddy’s shoulder, Henna silently granted permission to her colleague. In response, Teddy cast the a smile before gingerly pried one of Lilac’s massive paws from the railing and into both of her own hands.  Her muscles were taught and twitchy, just on the brink of a full body meltdown.

     I don’t think the nurses would like me very much if I let that happen. Teddy smirked internally. 

    Taking a single, deep breathe Teddy released all the tension from within her own body. Slowly, she let two fingers trace from the palm to the tip of each finger. One at a time; repeating the motion in time with her audible, deep breaths. Teddys pressure was light, but even. They stayed like that until the hyperventilation began to descend. 5 minutes? 20 minutes? Time was a blur for how long they stayed in that position but eventually, the initial panic began to subside. Lilac’s eyes subconsciously closed, hearing only the sound of Teddys breathing, and the feel of slender fingers tracing the lines of her palm. A shiver ripped through her and her eyes returned to their bright blue hue from their darkening tint.

    As the newfound werewolf became more aware of the situation she couldn’t help but jerk her hand out of the women’s grip with a flush of embarrassment as the chains clinked sling the railing. They stayed in silence for several moments while sharing a look. 

    “No matter how many times I see it happen you still manage to impress me.” Henna said in awe. 

    “You can tell me later.” Teddy said with a smug grin before returning her focus. “Deep breaths.”  

    Silence filled the room as everyone allowed the chained woman to regain her composure. Lilac allowed herself to find comfort in soft blue eyes as she finally willed her body into speech. “So-sorry. I’m sorry. Can you…tell me more? More about…me?” 

    The doctor spurred to life. His mouth pulled tight at the corners before elaborating. “We’ve come to be aware of quite a bit of misinformation surrounding the condition. Please understand that you are not contagious, nor did you obtain it hereditarily. Few to no werewolves are inherited from their parents.” He paused for any questions, but her gaze insisted he continue. “While there is no one cause for this mutation, there…up until now had always been one connecting thread. Only purebred wolves have ever experienced this. It was our understanding that a patient must have at least 85% wolf DNA but at a glance it doesn’t seem that’s applicable here. Am I incorrect?”

    Lilac’s expression scrunched in thought. “My…my dad is mostly wolf but…my mom’s full Akita.”

    ”Of course, and as you know that is quite uncommon.” The doctor bemused as he wiped off his glasses with his lab coat.

    “It is?” Lilac muttered. 

    Teddy’s head snapped around at that. “Where are you from?”

     Lilac shuffled under the intense gaze. “N-new haven. I was staying here for a few months but…” Lilac glanced back down to the heavy silver shackles around her ankles and wrists with heavy eyes. Her short pointed ears drooped slightly. ”I’ve just been having a hard time.”

    The two colleagues shared a look before Henna pried. “New haven? Why that’s up in the western mountains. Things are quite different up there from what I understand. It’s a pretty secluded mountain town.” The doctor gave a deep sigh. “All right Ms Lilac, I need you to try to follow me with this. Please forgive my phrasing but I’ll try to be graspable. So I need you to imagine yourself- your bio matrix as a sort of cake.”

    Cake?” Teddy smirked. Her arched ears waved gracefully as she tilted her head at him. Lilac noticed a heart shaped tunnel gauge at the ends of both ears. She felt a small tug at the corner of her mouth before the doctor fussed loudly, stealing her attention.

     “You know I’m trying here. This is abnormal at best!” He cleared his throat before beginning again.

     “Apologies…now try to imagine a cake and your wolf side is the milk. Your akita side is the flour. In very specific scenarios milk can can develop cultures and abnormal proteins. Those…curds are lycanthropia.” The three women all grimaced. “Once they're baked in, they're part of you. Even if you could un-bake it you’d have to take out all the milk, as well.” He sighed. “We thought that for those curds to develop and actually, well, impact the end result meant that milk had to take up a very large portion of recipe. Most of it actually- but yours…is most certainly less than half.” 

    The doctors small hands rubbed his eyes under his glasses as he pushed forward. “We’re entirely not sure why those cultures develop, only that at some point your body simply...”

    “Curdles?” Lilac asked, disgusted.

“I mean…cheese isn’t half bad.” Teddy mumbled. The doctor rolled his eyes and returned to his notes dismissivly.

    Henna stepped forward and commanded the room. “You’re here because last night, you shifted -er- rather, you became your werewolf self. It’s our job to diagnose, catalog and treat your condition as symptoms develop. We have worked with hundreds of cases. So however this may affect you, we’re more than capable of working through this together. ”  

    Lilac’s face couldn’t hide the devastation that flooded her despite the attempt at reassurance.

    Henna sighed. “Werewolves on their own are uncommon…a percent of a percent. Every documented case thus far has been at bare minimum, 85% wolf. So by classification you are the first documented were-dog. Truth be told, we didn’t think such a thing could happen to non wolves. We’ve dealt with hundreds of cases, recorded our findings and we do what we can to understand the mutation. Our goal is to mitigate the effects so our patients can live normal, happy lives.”

    “So I’ve…gone bad?” Lilac whispered on the verge of tears. “So I’m not supposed to be a werewolf I just…am?”

    “Please know we are coming closer every day to understanding the origins of this mutation. You may be an extraordinary circumstance- you may simply be case zero. But being a dog with the Lycanthropia gene has certain… implications that we should want to avoid before knowing more. We try to handle new cases with discretion. No need to jump to conclusions.” Henna spoke matter-of-factly. Lilac’s short ears angled downward as she looked away in shame. “Why me?”

    Before they could continue, Lilac’s body began to slow. Sounds of the room became more static. Her violet eyes became heavy and bones weighed her down like iron bars. Her muscles fell like dead weight as the effort to use them was unreachable. 

    Henna seemed to notice the drugs beginning to take their full effect and turned to leave the room as the doctor concluded his notes. “For now just try to get some rest. We’ll be here. I’ll be finding a specialist to work with you.”

    “Hmm?” Lilac’s head felt heavier with each passing moment, bobbing as her eyes drifted closed.

    Henna looked thoughtfully at Teddy, a question in her gaze.

    The border collie glanced back at Lilac’s dozing form, taking her lip between her teeth in contemplation. After a moment she flashed a lopsided grin full of teeth. “Alright.” Teddy muttered just before Lilac’s eyes fully shut as her listless body dropped into a dreamless sleep.

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