Homecoming, Life’s Journey # 2

Homecoming

~~

//Two Bears stood a few stone throws away, downwind and out of sight.///

“You know that changing Matt into a Bear is only going to complicate his life.”

“Dont be so dramatic cub, I can already see you like him, and when you showed yourself, look what happened, you get whacked with a club behind the ear.”

“Okay Papa, but why does it still hurt, it has not healed up all the way.”

“Oh it will, its going to take a while.  Matt is special, and this is just one of the things that comes with it.  Okay, come on.  Time for us to leave this place.  You have stood as a stoic guard for long enough.”

“Papa…..I want to stay and see what happens when he meets his elders?”

“Nope, thats not for your eyes, and this is his time, not yours.  Now, move that furry ass.”

~~

It had been several weeks since Matt was changed.  On that day the Spirit Bear, Rusty, had forever changed Matt.  He had awoken with Rusty’s partner and lover Norman by his side, to discover that his body had accepted the initial change and was already starting to heal his wounds.

There was lengthy conversation about how he found them, how he put the pieces together, and what it would mean for Matt to return home.  It was obvious that Matt had given much thought to his humanity and what it meant to be a Werebear. He broke down when he spoke about Luke and how he loved him; how he missed his family and the sacrifices he endured to find the Bears.  He recounted his journey through forests and over rough terrain, navigating towns and police, the disdain and angst from the humans he encountered.  He explained to the Bears how he cared for Luke, and how it tore him up inside when he was told to leave. His homecoming would be bittersweet for everyone.  Through all this conversation, he never once spoke negatively about how he was treated when he found them; Matt considered it a natural reaction and a learning experience for all.

“So, how do you feel this morning?” asked Rusty.

“I feel very warm all over, and I still ache a lot; but I’m eager to move and explore … without getting up …” replied Matt.

“That will pass, I’m sure it’s just part of your change,” Norman smiled down at him earnestly…

“You really do need to get up and move around though, to work out the stiffness.”

“I think I will,” Matt smiled, sitting up from the bed he had been laying in. He noticed that the gashes on his body had almost healed, but he could tell internally he was still not ready for much.

“Have you given any thought to how you will tell Luke?” questioned Rusty.

“Yes, from my experience with him it’s best to just come at him head on and let the pieces fall into place on their own.  If he rejects me in my new form then that is fate and I’ll press on alone.  If he welcomes me, then the change needs to be offered to him as well.  If not, it will create a liability, a loose end if you will.” He spoke in a very matter of fact tone; both Bears could tell that Matt was set in his way and had made up his mind.  Even though this was a tremendously emotional issue, he was still handling it with caution and respect. 

“What do you mean loose end?” questioned Rusty.

“I’m aware of the great risk that you took changing me without the consent or knowledge of your Elders; I’m also keenly aware that I’m walking in a minefield, and I must navigate it very carefully. One option that I have is that I could just not come back, but that’s not the option that I would like choose.  I would sooner sacrifice myself for everyone’s safety than expose you,” He spoke, detached, staring at the Bears.

“I see your point,” Norman nodded watching Matt closely.

“I think you need to get some rest, go lay down by the fire while dinner cooks, you will feel much better after you eat.  I’m surprised that you haven’t already complained about being hungry,” Rusty said his eyes seeming to look deep into Matt’s soul. He knew Matt was special. Matt did lie back down, instantly falling asleep in front of the warm fire.  The scent of the two Bears around him was calming, but it was still hard for him to relax.  In the next week or so he would meet the other Bears, and their Elder; he accepted this as his final test.  He was still in the forest, not far from the pond.  If he was going to sacrifice himself, then this was the place to do it.  It was remote and his remains could be disposed of without much trouble.  As negative as this thought was it did not scare him, he was at peace with it.

The time before the Elder arrived was magical for Matt.  His body was repairing itself from the fight, but he was still not back to fighting shape.  He still limped and his arm was troublesome.  If he had to run he could, but it was not going to be very fast.  He spent most of his time at the pond; sitting for hours, immersing himself in the sounds and energy of the forest.  He could feel the flow around him and almost sense the animals, trees … everything that was alive he could feel just at the cusp of his senses. Time moved forward, and the day he was supposed to meet the Elder finally arrived.

Walking back to the camp he used a path worn in by him traveling back and forth to the pond; he could almost close his eyes and go all the way back to the campsite. As he approached he heard voices; stopping, he felt his body tense as his gut tightened and fear crept into his mind.  He recognized two of them, but not the rest.  The speech was pointed; he could tell Rusty and Norman were trying to explain things.  Matt realized that they were being confronted for changing him; it was not their fault, he had come looking for them not the other way around. He briskly walked forward making as much noise as he could along the way, making sure his presence was known.

He stopped on the edge of the clearing and watched, waiting.  The Bears looked back at him, two with pride and three with questions. He exhaled deeply and walked forward.

“He is small,” remarked the very tall, blond Bear. 

“Hello,” Matt said, extending his hand.

The big Bear just looked at Matt, his eyebrows raised slightly.  He took a few steps forward in a fast motion that was intended to intimidate Matt, but he stood his ground.  The blond Bear sniffed at him; out of instinct Matt returned the action with vigor.  The big Bear looked down into Matt’s eyes and smiled.  Then he turned back to his papa Bears. 

“Looks like you two have a Cub, bout time you grew up,” he smiled teasingly at Rusty and Norman, and then turned back to face Matt.  “Hello, I’m Vic.  Nice to meet you.”

As the other Bears came and greeted Matt, Vic leaned in and whispered in Matt’s ear.  “Sorry if I hurt you when I smacked you in the chest.”

Matt turned to face the huge Bear and time slowed.  The pieces snapped into place and the dreams came rushing back into his mind.  It had been Vic in his dreams all along.  It had been Vic who had led him to this place.  Vic was a Dream Walker, one who leads without being seen, who advises without being heard, and the omnipresent voice of the Great Bear Spirit that had accompanied Matt in the void.

In that moment, Matt fought his hardest not to break down.  He did not notice that he had been holding his breath and had taken on an almost defensive stance as Vic had approached him.  Over the rest of the afternoon, the Elder and Vic spoke quietly with Matt.  Matt once again told his story, just as he had to the others.  Vic had filled him in on most of what he was to expect from the change; he also cautioned Matt about offering the change to Luke explaining what it would mean if he refused.  At the end of that conversation, Vic and the Elder were assured that given any situation, Matt would do what had to be done to protect the Werebears.

After a few more introductions and short conversations, Vic, the Elder and another Bear that had kept his distance left.  That Bear had been nervous around Matt; he had watched the sky and kept watching the trees and surroundings. 

“So, I guess it’s time to make our way back to the civilization,” Norman said, giving the much smaller Matt a hug. 

“Yes, but I doubt I’ll remember how to interact,” Matt shook his head smiling sheepishly.

“Don’t worry; we’ll be with you all the way home; you won’t be making this journey alone.  Actually, you will never be alone again,” spoke Rusty his chest extended, a proud Papa.

Homecoming Part II

Rusty and Norman led Matt back down the mountain he had ascended almost a month earlier.  The trip down was pleasant, but painfully slow for the Bears.  Matt could still tell he was still healing slowly; he had to stop several times just to rest and needed help navigating most of the obstacles on the trail.  When he did Norman was always there helping him, and apologizing for what he did. Matt would just smile and respond with “You were forgiven before you did it”. 

Eventually they reached what Matt would come to know as the Lodge; it was located exactly where his image data had said it would be.  The times and data listed in the stories had been written for Bears not humans, no wonder it didn’t match his own.  For Bears, distance could be covered at a much faster speed and larger loads could be carried with ease and without the need of equipment.  Matt was excited when he reached the lodge more of the details he had discovered snapped into place and everything was proven real.  Inside Matt was overjoyed; he had finally found what he was looking for.

They walked straight to the vehicle and loaded both their gear and Matt securely inside.  Standing on the very top balcony overlooking them, a majestic black Bear stood in half Bear form watching, clutching a cup between its paws.  As they climbed into the vehicle to make their departure Matt waved farewell to the Bear; a gesture that it returned as they drove off away from the lodge.  Settled in, the trip home began bringing with it feelings of nervousness, dread, sadness, and longing.

“You’re awfully quiet,” Rusty said after several hours of silence from Matt.

“Yeah … guess I’m just lost in thought today,” he responded.

“Don’t worry. If you treat Luke half as good as you have treated me on the trip down the mountain then you have nothing to worry about,” Norman chuckled, winking at Matt in the rearview mirror. 

He nodded, sighing and sat back quietly.  A few hours later they stopped, pulling over the car, for a rest break.  Getting out of the car, Matt’s legs audibly cracked loud enough for both Bears to hear. 

Norman came around to Matt’s side of the SUV, “What was that?”

“It’s my knee and ankles, the plates and joints get stiff when I sit for long periods; they always crack whenever I start to move.  Sorry to alarm you,” He blushed and hung his head.  Norman leaned down and pulled Matt’s chin up so he could look into his eyes.

“When you change, all that will be gone; you will never know that pain again,” said Norman as he lifted Matt up and out of the car.  He let Matt take his weight slowly and realized that even though Matt was healing, he had beaten the hell out of this Cub.  Matt had not been like the others.  He had come in search of the truth.  He had followed a path and had connected all the pieces to find them.  He was not like the others; he was not just a human.  He was special, he was their Cub and Norman would protect him.

“You can stop beating yourself up anytime now.  I promise, I’ll be fine,” said Matt as he reached around Norman with his left arm; his right arm was still not working quite right. 

“Stop apologizing.  You both reacted as you thought proper, so did I.  Given a few different circumstances, I would have won,” He looked up and winked at Norman, a wide smile on his face.  Norman returned the smile and hugged Matt close.

“If you two are done, let’s get fueled and back on the road,” Rusty looked at them pointedly, raising his eyebrows. 

“Yes dear … Whatever you say dear,” responded Norman letting go of Matt and moving to the fuel pumps.

Matt stood and walked around the car, trying to work out the stiffness he was feeling.  He had fallen asleep in the car and his whole body was achy.  He was hungry, but nothing smelled, sounded, or tasted good lately.  As Norman finished pumping the gas, Rusty came back with sacks full of fruit, water, juice and sweet breads from the roadside vendor.  He handed a bag to Matt, who promptly put his face in the bag, inhaling deeply.

“Well Papa-Rusty, I think you found something that the Cub wants to eat,” Norman joked winking at his lover.  Matt had nibbled at the food in the forest; it was mostly meats and some grains.  He would pick at it and just eat enough to curb the hunger, but nothing more.

They loaded back up and took off; in the back seat of the SUV Matt was tearing through the fruit and juice at a Bears pace. “Well, we finally found something you want to eat.  It’s a sign of what type of Bear you are becoming,” Rusty said while turned around in the passenger front seat, smiling from ear to ear. 

“Is there any more up there?” asked Matt as he burped happily.

“Yes!  Here, keep eating; we will stop when we cross the border.  There is an IGA we can grab more at if needed,” Rusty passed back the next sack. He nudged Norman who looked over; they smiled and winked at each other.  Locking hands and squeezing tight, they knew everything was going to turn out okay.  They had become quite attached to Matt in the last month; he was just a nice being to be around.  He was kind to a fault, gracious, and completely forgiving of others.  To Rusty, Matt felt like cool water flowing in a river; it was a shame the military had taken and used his other skills rather than these.  From the few stories Matt had told, he had been asked to walk through Hell for his country.  It had left him broken in more ways than just physically.

The trip back would take several days so the trio stopped at a motel for the evening.  This would be the first shower they would have had in over a month.  For Matt it had been a bit longer.  They made a quick stop at a corner drug store and purchased the toiletries they needed.  At the motel, Matt and Rusty sat in the SUV and Norman went into the lobby to make the necessary transactions.

“You seem nervous; what’s bugging you?” Rusty asked while turning around in his seat to look at Matt who had a death grip on his cap and was wringing it in his hands, his right knee bouncing.

“Oh … I’m sorry. Guess I’m all keyed up; I don’t know why.  I just feel anxious and need to move.  I don’t want to be sitting still,” Matt replied in a tone that told Rusty he was more scared than anything. 

“You will be fine no matter what happens over the next 72 hours.  If Luke loves you, as much as you love him this won’t be an issue in a few days.  Just relax; you were destined to find us.  You were destined to be a Werebear and nothing can change that now.” Their conversation stopped short as Norman walked back from the motel’s front office.

“We got their last room; it’s around back in the quiet part of the motel.  The young lady said that all the people around us are out on an overnight boating tour and shouldn’t be back until tomorrow so we have the whole side to ourselves.  Best part, there is just one extra large king size bed!” Norman bubbled with obvious excitement. 

Matt sat and took it all in.  In the month or so these Bears stayed with him, he had only heard them having sex a few times.  When he did, he would go back to the pond so he wouldn’t disturb them.  He knew by the way they were looking at each other that sex was on the agenda. He nodded and smiled as Norman started the vehicle and drove around back and parked it in one of the many open lots. As he was climbing out the Bears heard loud cracks and pops as he hauled himself out of the back seat and up the stairs towards their room.  The other Bears were already in the room when Matt finally entered a minute or two later. 

“Ok, it’s time for showers and fun!” Norman shouted and padded naked to the shower. 

“Matt, you can either join Norman and I or not. Those are your choices, but know that we would really like you to enjoy our company tonight.  You are safe, you are with Bears that will let nothing harm you,” Rusty spoke as he got undressed and took the shampoo into the shower room. 

Matt stood there for a few seconds, not really knowing what to do.  All he wanted was to be close to Luke and to smell him, to touch him, to taste him.  Matt was torn between the human version of Love and relationships, and the Werebear.  Looking up into the mirror across the room he spoke aloud to himself.  “I’m no longer human, these Bears are my family, and they’re my kin. I’ll enjoy their company this night”.

He took off his clothes and walked into the shower room.  As he did, the curtain slid back inviting him to step in between the two soapy Bears.  The three enjoyed each other’s company and Matt was more than satisfied that night.  After, as they were settling down to sleep he was perplexed.  He was sad that it wasn’t Luke he’d just had fun with, but he was also excited that sex was now so free.  It felt so right, and it was just what he had wanted.  Sleep came easily that night; dreams were care free and bright. 

The morning came and Matt was not the first to rise this morning; he was snuggled between the two larger, furry Bears.  Each had shifted to their half-Bear forms before sleep took them and nestled down with Matt in between. They were much larger in this form and dwarfed the newly changed Cub.  Their scent put him at ease and let him rest.  In the outdoors it was barely noticeable, but here in this confined space it was strong.  He was sleeping deeply when Norman jostled him gently from sleep.

“Time to get up Cub, it’s almost ten in the morning,” Norman spoke, while sitting on the side of the bed.  Still in his half Bear form, he leaned down and licked Matt on the face and kept licking until both his eyes were open and he was semi-wrestling with the larger Bear to stop. 

“Okay you two, let’s get going.  Time to shower, dress, eat and depart,” Rusty said, standing in the entrance to the shower drying himself off. 

“Yes, dear,” Norman replied. He stood up and padded to the shower, changing back to a human as he went. 

The three finished and headed to the café across the street to eat.  Entering, Matt eyed the huge basket of fresh fruit; the smell of biscuits and honey hit his nose and a light bulb went off. 

“I want fruit, honey and biscuits,” Matt blurted out, before they had even sat down. 

“The Cub is hungry after his adventures,” Norman winked. 

“It would seem that we have found the food grouping of his Bear,” Rusty said as the waitress came to the table.

Norman ordered for everyone.  The waitress thought it was odd that he asked for three pieces of each of fruit from the basket and six biscuits with honey just for Matt.  However, when the food arrived not a word was spoken until they pushed away from their plates.  The two older Bears looked over at Matt who was still working through all the food at a slow but steady pace.  He was rolling the fruit in his hands, inhaling its scent deeply as he ate.

“Yep, you are becoming a Bear,” Rusty spoke with pride.

Matt looked up puzzled, his mouth full of mango, the juice running down his chin.  “You are eating like a Bear, silly Cub,” Norman winked at him and rubbed his shoulder, then wiped his face.  Matt was double handing the food and had not noticed the state he was in.  He smiled, cleaned his face and regained his human composure.  The two Bears at the table laughed, as did the passing waitress. 

The rest of the day progressed in blocks of eating and sleeping for Matt.  The Bears escorting him home seemed to take their time on the drive; they were in no rush to deliver Matt however, Matt was eager to see Luke.  And to prove to Luke he wasn’t crazy.  To show him what he was to become and to also offer the same to him.  Both of them could tell Matt was anxious, nervous, and deeply, deeply scared.

“What’s that smell?” Matt asked groggily from the back seat. 

“We are passing a cattle farm of some sort,” replied Norman.

“I smell peaches and honey.  Please can we stop? If you see an ATM, I’ll pay for it,” Matt said almost drooling, leaning forward in the seat. 

“It’s up there somewhere.  Gosh, I didn’t even smell that with the other smells. Whatever Bear you are becoming it looks like you are a fruit eater, not a meat eater,” replied Norman, with his head half out the window.

“Norman, get your head back in the car.  You’re not a dog,” Rusty huffed at him.

“There it is!” Matt excitedly pointed to the roadside farmers market stand; he all but jumped from the car when it stopped and hobbled over to the stand. 

“We need to stay with him, he’s acting like a Bear-Cub, not knowing there’s anything wrong with it,” Norman said, getting out the SUV.  They both followed their Cub and helped him fill a large paper sack with fruit.  Matt’s right arm was still not working right; he could lift it now and had some better range of motion, but it was still painful to use his hand to grasp things tightly or pick up small items.  Norman still felt horrible but every time he went to say something Matt would hush him, smile and give the large Bear a hug. 

Matt’s eyes were beaming when they got back into the car.  “Wait, put this towel over your lap, you can get quite messy,” Rusty teased smiling at the Cub who was about to dive face first into the bag. 

“You know … the behaviors he is displaying are not common to any North American Bear,” Norman whispered to Rusty as they drove.  The Cub in the back was making enough noise eating and rustling about he did not hear them. 

“I know, I have been thinking about that a lot.  Let’s just let the Gods work that out, we will love him no matter what,” Rusty said while looking over at Norman.  They clasped hands again and squeezed tightly.

The rest of the day hummed along and soon the Bears stopped for the night at another motel.  They were closer to their destination, but the slow pace was letting Matt adjust to being around humans again.  His angst was easing away.  He was feeling very safe and secure with these two Bears.  That evening he was more than willing to enjoy the company of the Bears without hesitation; once again he fell soundly asleep in between them.  He had not yet fully imprinted on Rusty and Norman, and that was good.  From talking with Matt, he desperately needed to be close to Luke;  Rusty could tell Luke was who Matt wanted to bond to, whom he wanted and desired to be with far beyond the Bear sex he was having.  He wanted his mate, in much the same way as Rusty desired Norman.  He and Norman had never been apart for more than a day in the past thirty years. Rusty understood Matt’s needs.

This morning was pretty much a repeat of the last.  Matt was still fast asleep after the two Bears around him had risen from slumber.  This was a stark contrast to the time in the forest.  There, Matt was always awake, he was always alert, and he was always on guard, so to speak.  Here he was being a lazy Cub, and the two Bears knew it was a good thing.  Matt’s body and mind were healing.  In the night, Rusty could feel the muscles moving in his right shoulder and heard a snap as something put itself back in place.  Matt had moaned audibly in his sleep, and then curled back up between them.

“Do we have to wake him?” Norman asked looking over at the Cub curled up in a nest of blankets, sheets and pillows.

“It’s almost checkout time, so yes.  Let me do it,” Rusty spoke, just over a whisper.  Both were still in half-form; Rusty pulled the sheets gently back and started to sniff and lick Matt from his feet, up his backside, stopping at his neck.  This produced a little giggle from the sleepy Cub.  He grabbed a pillow and pulled it over his head, but Rusty was not going to be denied. The Bear ended up curled up behind Matt with his arms wrapped around him, licking his ears and neck as Matt struggling, well not struggling to hard, to get away. 

“Okay, Okay, Okay!  I’m up,” proclaimed Matt looking back at the Bear holding him and then the Bear standing at the foot of the bed. 

“In the shower little Cub, get cleaned up, and let’s get a move on,” Rusty spoke through his muzzle still holding tightly.  Rusty let him go and Matt bounced out of the bed.  He paused at Norman, who was standing with his arms crossed looking left out.  Matt stopped, looked back at him, then ran back and hugged him tight around the middle.

“Hey! My arms fixed!” Matt shouted, as he held up both arms, put them through full range of motion, flexed his fingers, and picked up some things with his right hand.

“I’m so glad that it’s healed.  You know I …” Two hands stopped Norman short with a soft grip around his muzzle. 

“Hush Bear, you were forgiven before you did it.  Now, give me a kiss and get dressed I’ll not be long,” Matt said, releasing Normans muzzle.

“That Cub is kind to a fault and totally forgiving,” Rusty said looking up at Norman as Matt danced off to the shower.

As the three dressed, packed and loaded up; it was amazing to see Matt be able to move again without aid.  This would also be the day when he would arrive home.  This would be the day that would be his end or the happy beginning of a new life with his mate.

Later that day they did arrive home; Norman and Rusty had gone to the door first and talked with Luke while Matt waited in the vehicle.  Susan had been away with the Grandparents for the rest of the month. Rusty had expressly made Matt promise that he would let them handle the initial contact. They had to determine if Luke was kin.

As the Bears spoke with Luke he was ecstatic that Matt was alive and well, but deeply regretted that he had told him to leave. Luke had searched, but Matt left no trail or trace to follow him by.  He had simply disappeared.  Luke still didn’t believe that Matt had been right all along, until Rusty had gone through a complete transformation.  After that moment, conversations were much deeper between them.

Rusty spoke of how Matt searched from town to town, slept in shelters, hitched rides and then finally found them.  Rusty had read Matt’s journal several times and related it all to Luke.  All the hurt, all the pain, and all the love was made known to Luke.

Norman related how they had tracked Matt, tried to scare him away, and when it didn’t work had hunted him.  Norman admitted this was a mistake and went on to recall every detail of the fight.  How Matt never gave up, how he never gave into his fear, how he fought so hard to live, to get back to Luke, and how he would have won given a few different circumstances.  They both told Luke about Matt almost dying and being saved by the change.  Rusty told Luke of Matt’s approval by the Great Bear and how he had healed since the encounter.  In the end of the conversation, Luke spoke a few words and begged for the chance to be like his lover … forever.

“Matt went through all that for me?  He came back to his family when he did not have too.  It’s obvious that you two would have taken great care of him, but he came back to take me with him.  Matt, I’ll follow you anywhere.  As long as you are with me, I can handle anything.  Yes, I want to be like you. I want to be changed,” Luke spoke almost sobbing, tears in his eyes.

Later that day, Norman changed Luke after the group retired to enjoy each other’s company.  Afterwards, all Luke wanted to do was to touch Matt, hold him, and to be close to him. Norman and Rusty knew they were a mated pair, just like they were; the Papa Bears looked at their Cubs with pride.  They were both special.  They were both kin and destined to be Bears.  They had found each other through all hardship, they had walked through the doors of life together and now they would never be apart. 

Rusty and Norman stayed with the newly changed couple for the rest of the month, leaving a few days before Susan was to arrive home.  In that time, Matt had adjusted and wrestled hold of his Bear like mannerisms.  He was aware of them and was starting to eat more, but still it was just fruit and honey.  He was not growing very fast, but he was still taut with muscle. 

When it came time to leave Rusty and Norman were sad, but excited for the couple.  They had charted out when Matt would change and would be back for that event.  Secretly, they had rented a small-furnished apartment only 20 minutes from them; they had to be close to their Cubs!

Beer and Pizza

Luke was watching Matt sleep.  In the two months after Matt arrived home, his body had healed completely but gone though none of the changes that Norman and Rusty spoke of.  The increased hunger, enlargement of the body, and the fur and hair growth was non-existent in Matt’s change.  These changes were needed to accommodate being a Bear, but whatever kind of Bear Matt was becoming must not have needed it.  This was a major concern for Luke.  Lately, Matt had been achy and lethargic most days.  He was running a constant fever and could not seem to get warm.  As Matt shivered in his sleep, Luke pulled him close. He glanced at his watch; 3:30am, ‘damn I’m still awake’.  Matt stopped his shivering and curled his nose into Luke’s chest.  The morning would come too quick for Luke who had lost a lot of sleep after Matt left, and it would seem even more now.  He was afraid of losing his little Bear all over again.

When he did sleep, Luke’s dreams were awash with visions of ice and water, fish and streams.  He had always wanted to be more of an outdoors person, but being a guy of comfort stopped that.  Matt in contrast would take weeks at a time in the wilderness in stride.  Several times Luke had dropped Matt off at a park and he would hike in, and hike out a few weeks later.  He wondered if this was part of the process, part of his change.  The dreams weren’t negative at all, just a warm walk in the wilderness, transitioning to ice and snow. Wonderful!

He still had a hard time taking it all in.  He never believed in creatures other than humans, and the animal kingdom of empirical science.  Matt on the other hand had believed there was always more to life than just human form.  Matt was not a Sci-Fi geek, but he always said his gut told him there was more.  Luke was the more grounded, he was a button down shirt and overalls kind-of guy; they were polar-opposites.  However, after Matt came home accompanied by two Bears, it was hard to not believe.  It was a mistake for Luke to not listen to him.  Over the years, Matt spoke rarely on topics and was the quieter of the two in most settings, but when Matt did speak, it held weight.  Luke cursed himself for passing him off and putting his lover through such a life altering ordeal.  However, the ends may have justified the means because they had embarked on a new life together where they would never again be apart from each other.

When Luke was offered the change it had been after Matt came home, his homecoming was a rough time for Luke.  He had returned or … been escorted by two men.  Norman and Rusty took Matt home almost nine months after he had left.  It was hard on Luke because after so many years of Matt following Luke, it was time for Luke to follow Matt.  11 years ago they had fallen for each other after only one meeting they had felt destined and pulled together.  They called themselves life mates, but it was the Bear within them both that glued them together.  They fought like any couple, they made mistakes like any couple, but the two of them being together was never in question. 

“Morning my Bear,” Matt nudged Luke gently. 

Luke proceeded to grumble and roll over.  “10 more minutes, please?”  He begged. 

“Ok, I’ll get Susan to school then come back and wake you,” whispered Matt.  He kissed his lover on the head and walked out of the room, shutting the door he hurried to get their daughter to school.  Matt was hurting, but he looked forward to the time when he would be a Bear.  It is what kept his spirits up; he still walked with pops and cracks, but he could tell there was some improvement though nothing like Rusty and Norman described.

“Susan? Two minutes love,” Matt spoke as he poked his head through her bedroom door. 

The response was expected.  “Dad! Get out, I’m getting dressed!” she shrieked and punctuated that with the tossing of a bed pillow.  Matt shut the door and headed down to find his shoes and keys.  Susan being the younger of the couple’s two children lived with them.  She was a typical teenager with all the sass to go with it; she was nothing like her brother and had taken after Luke in mannerism, wit, and charm … the charm of a 15lb sledgehammer.

At the bottom of the stairs he was greeted by his dog, Sterling.  A silver and black Schnauzer that was slightly larger than a teacup, and smaller than a standard.  That dog loved Matt and they were just about inseparable.  Matt recognized the dog’s vocalization, “Okay, okay, let’s go for a quick walk before I take Susan to school,” He spoke to the dog like a person.  Sterling danced a bit and went to sit on his crate, waiting for the snap of the leash. Matt grabbed his coat, clipped the leash and they were out the door.

In the meantime, Susan came down and found that Dad had set the breakfast table.  He made toast in the shape of hearts today.  Susan smiled, devoured the oatmeal, coffee, and toast and then headed for the door.

Matt and Sterling met her at the entry door, “Hey, all ready to go?” 

“Yeah, let’s go, I need to get there to work on my art project,”

“Okay,” Matt responded.  He quickly grabbed his keys, and made sure the dog gate was in place. They jumped in the car and took off towards school.  Matt noticed an odd car down the block but passed it off as one of the neighbors. 

“Do you think they’ll be able to manage this?” asked Norman as they sat in a car up the street, watching the daily hustle.  It was a lazy New England town, small streets, sidewalks, and kids riding bikes to school.  Not really the ideal place for two newly sired Bears to make a change.

Rusty responded, “They’ll be fine.  Matt and Luke are a mated-pair.  They were before we changed them and they’ll still be one after they transform.”  Rusty knew they were mated just like he and Norman.  It was a genetic marker that brought some Bears together either as humans or Bears.  They may flutter off to sniff around once in a while, but they will always end up together.

“I can see that, but what about all the details?  They have a daughter and a full life with children, work, social activities, and charity events.”  Norman was frightfully aware of the challenges of being gay and having children.  He admired the pair for raising them.  Their oldest child, Steve, was still in Kansas working on being his own person, and their youngest, Susan lived with them.  She was a handful from what Matt had told him and took after Luke in most things.

“They’ll be fine.  Trust me,” Rusty said, rubbing Norman’s thigh.  They winked at each other and looked at the clock on the dash. 

“We have a few minutes,” Norman shyly grinned.  They smiled at each other and reclined both seats.  The windows in the car steamed up and the car shook a little.  Grunts and growls could be heard, but this went largely unnoticed with the hustle and bustle of the waking street.   

Be a Big Bear

Luke woke with a jump and looked at his watch; Matt would be back in a few minutes.  He rolled over and inhaled the new scent coming from Matt’s pillow.  “Damn I love that,” he said aloud.  Matt was developing a scent that made Luke excited, aroused, and deeply in-need of him.  Matt had always told him that he had a scent that drove him wild.  Matt called it Luke’s Bear-in-the-Woods scent.  He got up, scratched his belly, stretched, and grabbed the clothes that Matt had laid out for him.  “I love that Cub!” He spoke aloud.  Luke had been more than clinging to Matt after the last few months.  It had been hard.  Luke admitted to Matt that it had been a mistake when he told him to leave.  It was not until the next morning when Luke awoke alone that he felt the full weight of that action; with all that had transpired, he was reflecting more on the times he hurt Matt than the times he loved him.

His cell beeped, it was a text message from Rusty asking if was ok to come inside.  Luke responded with Yes, come on in! and continued to dress.  In a few seconds he heard the door open and dogs start to issue love and kisses to the guests.  They were an Ark shy of being Noah, with dogs, cats and various wild animals that Matt would tend to.  Matt had always had a way with just about any kind of animal he came in contact with.  It was amazing to just see him in the yard.  Animals just came to him, more so now than before.

After brushing his teeth, he headed downstairs to greet his guests.  Seated at the kitchen table were their Papa-Bears, all a-beam with smiles.  He had not bonded so quickly with the pair; they were very friendly, protective, and very supportive, but Luke was not in control of this, and it was hard for him.  Luke’s reaction was to keep them at a distance, and be weary of all action.

“You two look freshly cleaned and pressed,” a smile came from Luke’s lips, while he walked to the coffee pot. 

“No kissing and telling, I got the picture,” Luke was quick with the follow up. 

“It’s good to see you, but why the early A.M. visit?” Luke questioned while pouring his coffee. 

“Just checking on you both.  We communicate with Matt via email and cell, but we wanted to come by and see you both …” Rusty let that last word trail off. 

Luke sat down, “Bullshit.  Now tell me the truth!” he said in a very matter-of-fact tone.  He was weary and trust came hard for Luke.  He lacked Matt’s gut sense, so it was hard for him.

Norman chimed in, “Seriously, we just want to make sure that you are both OK.  Usually Cubs are under the care of their Papas in the time before the change; this is a situation new to everyone and it has more than a few concerned.”  Rusty waited, while Luke drew a long sip of coffee.  Rusty was very worried about them.  They were carrying on with their human lives like nothing had happened and nothing was going to happen.  It was the duality of the situations, which many thought impossible to maintain.

He looked directly at the pair and with a very deep tone proceeded to unload on them; “If you want my impression, this sucks.  I’m watching the man of my dreams go through hell.  He’s not having any of the nice parts of the change that you both spoke about.  Actually, he’s a mess.  He aches all the time, spends hours in the hot shower or bath.  The only relief he can seem to get is swimming or floating in a pool.  He’s running a constant fever and will hardly eat.  He has lost almost seventy pounds and I have to force him to eat and drink.  I’m watching him suffer and I’m starting to hate you both for it.”  After he was finished, they sat in an awkward silence.  Luke was used to being in control, always being the boss, in this situation all he could do was wait, powerless.

Rusty was the first to break the tension.  “We’ve asked the Elders about this.  They have no explanation.  You are both Kin, you’ll both change to Werebears.  No one has seen this type of reaction to the change. We’re sorry that we have no advice to offer.  We’ll have to just ride it out and see what happens.” 

“Really, that’s all you both have?  Ride it out.  GET OUT of our home! Just get out!”  Luke almost yelled at them as he got up and left the room, slamming the door behind him.  In the living room, he shook his fists and stamped his feet.  He was mad, but he could not focus his anger on any one thing.  He wanted to throw something, but did not.  He wanted to hold Matt and he was not there.  All the mistakes he had made with Matt flooded back over him.  Every unkind word said in anger, every snide comment, and every bit of pain he had ever put his soul mate through came rushing back to him, washing over him like a winter storm.  It was a raging blizzard that he could not stop; one he couldn’t find solace from.

The two Bears sat for a few seconds, and then left. “We need to find Vic,” Rusty whispered, closing the door behind them.  In the car, Rusty made the necessary calls and within a few hours a gathering of Bears was en-route to meet and hopefully help Matt and Luke.

“I hope he can help,” Rusty whispered.  He wanted to help them; he wanted to be able answer all their questions, but some things were just beyond him.

About 10 minutes later Matt bounded through the door and into the house, hugging the puppies as he went. 

“Where’s my Bear?” Matt shouted as he came into the kitchen.  Luke emerged from the living room with a smile, truly glad to see him.  They hugged and held each other in a long kiss.  Luke felt Matt and he was still feverish, but also slightly cold to the touch. 

“Are you cold?” Luke asked.  Matt nodded and put his head on Luke’s Chest.  He wrapped his arms around the big man and just hugged him close. He had healed from his encounter with the Bears, but now his body seemed to be breaking down and it scared him.  He had been a heavy guy when he left; when he came back he was taut muscle and now he seemed to be wasting away.

“I’m fine. This will pass … you’ll see,” he said looking up into the eyes of his Bear, his soul mate, his everything.  He tried to sound upbeat and cheery even though he was scared.  Nothing that Rusty said was going to happen was happening.  Actually it seemed to be the opposite.

“Are you sure you’re ok?  I could take today off and take you to the Float Spa, you could soak for a few hours,” Luke blurted out in tone that said, I’m worried and want to help, but I don’t know how. 

“Bear, I’m fine.  I’m going to the gym for a swim in a little while.  I’ll be fine, you’ll see,” He spoke to his Bear as upbeat as he could. 

As he turned he noticed the extra cups in the sink, the chairs weren’t where he had left them, and there were extra sets of wet boot tracks in the entry room.  “Who was here?” Matt asked. 

“Rusty and Norman stopped by, but I asked them to leave,” Luke said looking down at his feet.  He knew he had done the wrong thing, but he didn’t know how to fix it.

“What? Why? I would love to see them again,” Matt quipped.

“I lost my temper; I got mad that you are in so much pain and they can’t offer you any help.  Forgive me?” The big Bear huffed and let the last few words escape him like a long sigh.  He wanted so badly Matt to be okay; he deeply needed for Matt to forgive him for what he did.  Matt had never mentioned that day since he returned.  Sometimes Luke wished Matt would get mad at him, but he never did.  He would just smile, hug him and move forward with whatever was happening.  That was what made Matt special; he forgave everything, loved everyone, and moved forward, never looking back.

Matt smiled and spoke to his Bear, “You were forgiven before you did it. Grab your phone and ask them to dinner.  Susan wants to meet them.”  Luke smiled, kissed his lover and started tapping away on his cell.  Matt wished Luke was not so hot tempered.  However, he knew that for Luke to change he had to want to change, not be told to.

Help from the West

On the opposite coast, seated at his well-worn kitchen table, Vic hung the phone up and looked over at Mitch.  “Go get Walt; we need to make a trip.” He said and went back to reading the paper. 

“Umm… Ok?” Mitch trotted off to find his lover and mate.

When they’d gathered Vic filled them in.  “Guys, we’re going to Virginia.  Rusty and Norman’s Cubs are having a very hard time.  Matt isn’t changing like any Bear I have known and Luke is defensive and does not want anyone around.  We need to meet them and decide if they’re salvageable or need to be dealt with.”  He let last part sink in.

Mitch was first. “What do you mean dealt with?  Is this like when we dealt with the rogues all those years ago?”  He hoped it wasn’t; the time since that incident had been magical for everyone, he didn’t want it to change.

“Not exactly, Matt is going through the stages getting ready to change, but it hasn’t been like yours at all.  From speaking with Rusty, he’s not growing … actually his body seems to be breaking down, getting smaller, more compact,” Vic spoke kindly. 

“Ok, so this is a first-aid mission!” Walt chimed in. 

“Yes, you could say that.  Now go pack some things, we need to leave today,” Vic said in a commanding Papa-Bear tone.

The two hurried off to make preparations while Vic sat silently, wishing above all else that they didn’t have to be dealt with.  Some Bears went insane and became animals when they changed and some didn’t.  There was already too much blood on his hands, both Bear and Human.

The ride to the airport was quiet; in the car they were all a little lost in thought.  After security they sat at the coffee shop, waiting for the plane to board. “So how long are we flying for?” asked Mitch. 

“We’ve got a 4 hour flight directly into Virginia.  We’ll pick up the rental car and be at Matt and Luke’s home in about 40 minutes,” Vic rattled like recorded instructions.  Actually, the directions Norman had given him were pretty easy.  They lived in a quaint little village; it was very romantic.

“Are Norman and Rusty there?” questioned Mitch.

“Yes and no.  Luke was upset enough this morning that he told them to leave.  Then called, apologized, and invited them for dinner.  They’ll meet us there,” said Vic, his gut churning under his smile. 

Overhead the airport boarding announcements were heard.  In line the three were a head taller than most and found it a little difficult to get into the seats.  When they settled Mitch and Walt were asleep before the plane even took off.  Vic on the other hand, was gripping the seat and holding on.  He hated flying!

Fruit and Honey

“Okay, that was Rusty; they’ll be back at 6:00 P.M., and they also said three Bear friends of theirs would like to meet us.”  Luke looked at Matt as he finished the statement.  The look on Matt’s face was filled with shock and the panic of a caretaker that was just told guests would be arriving.

“Honey-Bear, there is no way we can fit 8 people at our table.  Let’s make reservations at the Inn.  They’ve a great dinner menu,” Matt asked a little hopeful.

Luke’s phone rang again; “Hello, this is Luke?  Yes, hello Norman.  Just order Pizza! Ok, I’ll tell him.  Yes, he’s glaring at me.  Yes, I’ll give him a hug.  Ok … bye,” Luke hung up and put a finger on Matt’s lips.  He knew that Matt was a caretaker, one who takes care of others to the point of his own detriment.

“Not a word from you.  Order the pizza and the drinks, I’ll go get beer.  Do not, I repeat, do not cook anything or try in impress anyone coming to this home.  Do you understand?”  Matt nodded, but still glared at him.  Left on his own, he would have prepared a four-course meal complete with all the finery.  It was ingrained into him to take care of the people around him.  Right now, he was the one that needed to be taken care of.

Luke grabbed a hold of Matt, pulling him close and kissed him very deeply.  “You need to eat more; you’re wasting away.” Luke said as he broke the kiss.  He hugged and touched Matt as much as he could.  It was like Matt was a positive energy source and touching him made Luke feel better.  He was watching Matt become more compact, if that was possible.  It seemed that whatever type of Bear he was becoming, a smaller frame than most was needed.

“I know, I know; I just have no appetite. I thought Rusty said I was going to be ravenous but all I want is honey and fruit.” Matt said, his head resting on Luke’s shoulder.  Actually he was hungry, but he couldn’t place his mind on what it was he wanted. The fresh fruit and honey seemed to be the best thing; it was what snagged his nose at the market and he had eaten little else in about a month.  He was finding it increasingly hard to go to the grocery store.  The smells, sounds, and people assaulted his changing senses making him uncomfortable.

“Ok, I have to get to work.  Promise me you’ll eat something and rest today.  Promise?” Luke held Matt’s face in his hands, looking into his eyes. There was nothing in the world that he wanted more than for Matt to be okay.  He still wanted to be forgiven for what he had done and for how he had treated his lover, but Matt never brought it up.  Matt was like that, mistakes were never brought up again, and they would never be drug up in anger or a fight.  Matt lived to move forward, not to muddle himself in the past.

“Yes Bear I will.  I will,” Matt said, just over a whisper. He was hiding the pain today, he felt hot all over.  He could feel his body and muscles moving under his skin.  He noticed some hair growth on the back of his neck that morning, but nothing more. 

After Luke left, Matt called Rusty.  He invited them back over.  “Just let yourselves in, I’m going to grab a shower.” Matt wanted the Papa Bears to be proud of him.  He searched for their approval in most things.  The odd thing was being a Bear brings with it a standing-approval of all things and an acceptance of what you become and the directions you take.  As he went upstairs, stabbing pain wracked his body.  The pain washed over him like hot wax in an open wound.  It dropped him to his knees, hard to the steps.  His legs would not work and his hands seemed to contract on their own.  Blackness came to Matt on the stairs as the pain faded into the void.

Floating

Blackness fading to smells and sounds. 

He must have passed out, and tumbled backward down the stairs.  When he came around Rusty was holding his head at the bottom of the stairs.  “Are you okay?” He asked.  Rusty was more than worried about his little cub. 

“Yes, what time is it? Where’s Luke? How long have you been here? Where are the dogs? Is Susan home?” Matt rattled the questions in a panic …  Rusty felt and saw the panic rise in his eyes.  The look of a caretaker that was somehow not able to perform that duty.  As much as Matt took care of others, he had a hard time being take care of.

“Stop… It’s about 1:30pm, Luke’s still at work, you’ve been out about an hour or so, they’re in the kennel, and no.  Did that answer all your questions?” Rusty spoke while looking down at Matt, one hand on his chest the other rubbing his head. 

“Thank you.  I need to get up,” Matt talked just over a whisper.  As Matt moved he could feel the plates and screws in his body.  The crack and pop of movement was audible to the two Bears in the room, they looked at each other concerned.

They could tell he was still in pain, but let him get up and move around.  He hobbled a bit, but otherwise seemed functional.  As he moved the stiffness went away and the ache stopped.  He had been unconscious for about an hour, which made him very uncomfortable.  He was pacing in the kitchen when Susan got home.  Matt was worried about the visitors that were coming. 

“Hey, Susan-Susan.” Matt spoke in an upbeat tone that washed away the anguish from the day.  He hugged their daughter, pulled her close and up off her feet. 

“I’m good dad, who’re these guys?” Susan asked, locking eyes with each of them as they spoke.  Luke taught her that; she had taken after Luke.  The way she dealt with people, the way she spoke and handled herself.  Like Luke, Susan was getting used to being in control and she liked it that way.

“Susan, this is Rusty and Norman, two close friends of Luke and I.” Matt took a few steps back and sat down in the kitchen chair.  He was hungry.

“It’s good to meet you,” Rusty spoke first followed by Norman.  Handshakes were exchanged and Susan excused herself to do homework upstairs. 

“Too many men down here for me to concentrate,” she smiled, winked, and scooted up the stairs.  It was nice being around all the manly, furry, beefy men, but she could tell they were a couple like her dads.

“She’s such a flirt,” Matt murmured. 

“She must be a handful?” Norman spoke up.  Quietly missing his children and proud that Matt and Luke had taken on the challenge of raising them.

“Yes, yes she is a total flirt handful. We’re already beating the boys off with sticks; I cannot imagine what the next few years are going to be like.” Matt trailed off.  Everyone laughed, a much needed tension breaker in the day.  As the three settled in to wait for Luke to arrive home they chatted.  He related his dreams, how they were of a cave, the ringing of bells, and the Great Bear. They discussed their dreams leading up to their change and how different they were.  Matt would dream of locations like forests, deserts, fjords, and valleys.  It was like his dreams were leading him somewhere.  Trying to show him a path, places he needed to be, something he needed to follow.  Toward the end of the conversation, Matt excused himself to lie down. He had eaten more fruit and honey, but he felt extremely tired and he was feverish.

  Remembrance

As the day progressed it was clear that something was terribly wrong with Matt.  In the midst of all this, he arranged for Susan to go to a friend’s house.  She was excited; hanging around the house with a group of large, furry, gay men was safe, but not as much fun for her.  Matt put up an honest show for his daughter.  He never let on that his body was writhe with pain and he just wanted to curl up in a ball. 

He was on the couch when Luke arrived home.  He was feverish, shivering and pretty much out of it.  “What’s going on with him?” He pleaded with Norman and Rusty.  In sharp flashes of flashback, every voice raised in anger, every snide remark, every hurt Luke had slung, washed over him looking at his mate helpless on the couch.

“Please … help him,” Luke pleaded and repeated, grabbing hold of Matt and rocking back and forth while kneeling by the couch.  Luke easily hefted his weight.

Matt’s breathing was going shallow, but his fever and shivering was slowing.  As Luke cradled Matt, a knock came from the back door.  Norman went to answer it.  It was Vic, Mitch and Walt.  They came in and Vic headed straight to Luke and Matt. 

“Luke, you don’t know me, but please trust me. We’ll figure out what’s happening to him.  This isn’t normal.  Please lay him back down and let me take a look at him.”  Vic said all this, looking straight into Luke’s eyes, never breaking contact, full of concern.

In a daze, Luke put Matt on the couch and stepped away.  When he did, Norman wrapped him in a big hug. 

Vic leaned down to the couch, and sniffed intently at the now passed out Matt.  He sniffed, and sniffed then he turned to Rusty, “How long ago did you sire him?” 

“Three months ago today,” Rusty replied, ashen faced and starting to pace.

“Well, he’s about to make his change, tonight by the smell of it,” Vic looked up at Luke. 

Hearing this, Luke locked eyes with Vic and managed to shudder a short question, “Will he be ok?”

“Yes, I would think so. But we need to move him somewhere bigger and more private.  Things may cascade out of hand; every change is different,” Vic said, real concern and genuine fear on his face.

“We can go to the Terminal. There’s nothing in the shop; it’s plenty big and we can secure all the doors from the inside.  It’s the down time, no one is working tonight or this week,” Luke responded. 

“Good, let’s go now!” Vic replied.

In short order they’d loaded Matt into one of the vehicles.  He was talking in fits, calling Luke’s name and the words run and don’t hurt him were heard more than a few times. 

Up to this point Mitch and Walt had been silent.  “What’s happening Papa?  Why is he changing so fast?” they both asked in unison. 

“I don’t know … I don’t know.  All I know is he’s about the change.  Did you notice how he smelled when we loaded him?  I have the feeling something special is about to happen,” Vic let his words trail off, knowing that Rusty had changed this human and with that came worry. 

They arrived at the Terminal and unloaded Matt; they secured all the doors and found a few pallets and pieces of cardboard for him to lie on; Luke took a seat beside him. 

“Luke, you need to let him lie alone and change.  You might get hurt; we’ve never seen anything like this before.  He could hurt, or even kill you,” Vic said in the warmest tone he could muster.  Luke looked up at him.

“I won’t leave his side.  What you don’t know is that in the case by my foot is a revolver Matt had made for me.  He was well aware that he or I might go insane during the change.  The last promise we swore to each other was that before he hurts anyone or hurts himself that I was to put him down.  The greatest love I can give him is to protect him, not only from others, but also from himself.  He would do the same for me,” he looked back down at Matt, who’d opened his eyes.

“It’s about to get crazy lover, I can feel it about to happen.  Please lay me down, take out the gun, and step back … please,” Matt spoke softly and tenderly to his mate.  Even in all the pain he was in, and about to go through, he thought of Luke first. 

Luke nodded laying him down, grabbed the case, and stepped back.  The others had stripped off their clothes and shifted to half Bear form, in this form they would have some extra strength.

From the floor the change started. Matt was on his back, in and out of consciousness.  He body began to elongate, and then retreat.  His fur would start to show only to retreat.  Thrashing and crying, he clawed at the ground beneath him.  His fingers were bloody, arms, elbows, knees skinned to the bone.  It was like his body was trying to push out or expel something.

Luke raised the gun and a small red point of light could be seen on Matt’s head.  “I have to stop this, I cannot watch this,” Luke said as he pulled the hammer back. 

Vic stepped in front of the gun.  “Not yet,” Vic said and turned back around.

From the floor the thrashing reached a climax and stopped, Matt became still, deathly still.  The scent in the shop was thick, even in this large space it was pungent.  Everyone froze for a few seconds.  As they watched, his wounds started to heal themselves.  What little hair Matt had on his body totally retreated as he woke up, shook his head, and stood up.

“That was a bit strange,” he said. Matt looked over at Luke and smiled, then looked around the room. 

“Wow, my sight is sure as hell different, so is smell.  Damn this place stinks,” Matt exclaimed like a kid working out the kinks on a new toy. 

“Matt, you need to change into your Bear.  You have to, or you’ll always have trouble,” Vic said in a commanding yet even tone. 

“Please let me hold Luke, while I change. I won’t hurt him,” Matt’s voice was cracking and he was tearing up a little. Luke took a few steps and was blocked by the Bears in half form. 

“Matt, you have to change, it’s part of the package,” Vic spoke in a caring almost fatherly tone. 

Matt looked up at Luke and started his transformation. It was steady and progressive.  He went to all fours as his body morphed.  The popping and cracking associated with changing forms were not there; it was smooth, like liquid flowing in a stream.  During the change all of the metal plates, screws, fillings, steel wire and joints that held him together were pushed out of his new body.  His human teeth were pushed out and all the deformity in his joints repaired.  At the end, an assortment of bloody metal parts lay around him as he panted now in his full Bear form. On all fours, Matt sniffed the metal parts and the teeth, chuffing softly.  Looking up, he stood onto his hind legs.

Everyone just stopped, silence filled the room around them.  What stood before them was a Bear of odd size.  Matt was a pitch black Bear with a blond muzzle and streaks running down his chest as well as up across and around his eyes.  He had the roundest ears of any of the Bears.  The Streaks on his face connected in lines to his forepaws; his paws were narrow and the claws were very long.  His eyes were a bright shade of crystal blue; they hadn’t changed to brown like the other Bears.  His size as a full Bear was small compared to the Bears around him, he was not much taller in his full Bear form than he was as a human.  He was calm, but Vic could tell he was working out the kinks, as he stretched, leaned his head back and roared as long as he could.  The sound of his first Bear vocalization was music to the Bears in the room. 

“What … is … he …?” asked Rusty.

“Andean … he’s a freaking Andean MoonBear!” Vic muttered excitedly.

  A chuff of amazement came from everyone but Luke, who didn’t understand. 

“Go to him, go hug your Bear,” Rusty said. Luke dropped the gun, and ran toward Matt.  The new Werebear had sat on his rump with an audible plop and held his arms outstretched.  They hugged.  Matt didn’t hurt Luke in any way. He scooped him up and held him tight, hugging and licking Luke all over. They stayed that way for some time. 

Vic turned to Rusty and Mitch, “That was special.  I don’t know what just happened, but we need to watch these two.”

Matt did turn back to his human form and they cleaned up the shop before they all headed home.  Matt was neither hungry, nor angry.  He was just…well just Matt.  It was like nothing had happened.

Later that night, they made love and Luke had his first taste of Bear Sex or Cub Booty, however you want to think of it.  He was hooked.  They worked on each other till the wee hours of the morning.

As the visitors ambled outside the house, they heard a few growls and “Bite me damn it” from Matt; besides that only simple sounds of lovemaking could be heard.  Their new family took over Matt and Luke’s RV and crashed there for the night.  It was a good thing that Matt kept it maintained, powered and well stocked; the visitors were very well taken care of; there was beer, wine, soda, snack food, and of course lots of lube and towels. 

“Mitch, Walt take the bed in the back.  Norman, Rusty take the pullout up front.  I’ll take the bunk in the nose,” Vic said as he opened up the fridge. 

“Ok Papa.  Do you think Matt will be ok?” asked Mitch.

“Yes … Yes, I do.  Let’s get through the first night and we will see how tomorrow goes; stay alert tonight for disturbances.  However, I think all is well,” Vic said as he grabbed Beer for everyone.

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