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Through the Trees

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Anita sighed, finally feeling the exhaustion from driving nonstop for hours.

 

After being away for two weeks sleeping on springy beds in rural motels, she was adamant on sleeping on her own bed tonight. A quick look on the dashboard clock told her that she at least have an hour or two before the sun rises.

 

She got off her truck stiffly, bones cracking and half of her ass numb from sitting. She stretched her arms as she looked at the tree saplings sitting on the bed of her truck, finally deciding that she'll deal with them later in the day.

 

She turned towards her cabin with a weary shuffle, missing the sleek SUV parked at the other side of her tool shed, looking out of place in the forest.



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The very first thing that Anita saw when she entered her cabin was a black high heeled boot, resting haphazardly on the floor right across the doorway. It was laying on its side, looking a bit odd without its pair. Further in, she saw a trendy jacket hanging at the back of her sofa and the other boot sticking sideways from under it.

 

The groan she let out was loud. She forgot about the full moon and her guest.

 

She ignored the other clothing articles scattered around her living area and headed towards the bedroom.

 

Anita was close to tears when she saw the giant white wolf sleeping on her bed, sprawled and occupying the whole thing.



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"Lo," she called out.

 

"Loba, please, I'm so tired. Can you move a bit?"

 

She saw the wolf's ear tweak, but it didn't wake.

 

"Andrade," she tried again, a little louder this time. She placed her hand on the soft fur of the wolf's haunches and pushed. "Come on, I want to sleep. Please move."

 

Nothing. The wolf was dead to the world.

 

Anita frowned. There was no way she could move her guest with sheer strength alone. She had tried before. Loba was heavier than she looked in her wolf form, especially when she's adamant on being a nuisance. She wouldn't be able to fit herself in the sliver of space behind her guest either, and though her years in the army had taught her how to sleep on a plank of wood without falling off, she deserved to have a good night's sleep on a proper bed.

 

Hers, preferably. But she accepted quickly that it wasn't going to happen now.

 

With one last longing look at her soft bed, Anita let out the heaviest sigh of the night, and headed out the room towards the sofa.



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Two years ago...

 

Anita let out a breath as she stretched, popping her spine with a satisfied groan. The new saplings she planted the week prior were healthy. Despite the uncharacteristic heat the past few days, they were thriving.

 

She looked around and let herself smile. Five years of hard work and a considerable part of the land that she had bought was now covered with fledgeling trees. It wasn't anywhere near it's previous state, but it was a start. It was hard work, but it felt good. She welcomed the sweltering heat against her skin as she placed her hands on her waist, feeling a sudden nostalgia of her days as a grunt.

 

It was hard back then too, but her whole family had been in the army and it was the only thing she knew. She was good at it–not the killing, more like the helping. Although she could argue that she was good with the killing too. It was an odd thing to be proud of, but that was the truth.

 

When she realized that it wasn't for her anymore, she packed everything up, used up most of her savings to buy a piece of land that was damaged by a wildfire and decided that she wanted to rehabilitate it, whatever that meant.

 

Anita was a different person back then–she always carried around a certain kind of guilt being in the army–so when others saw nothing but ash and burnt stumps and a lot of years wasted tending to land, she saw salvation.

 

Her family was sad when she left, but they understood. They all had a different way to cope.

 

Now Anita spends her days planting trees.

 

The sound of a twig snapping pulled her out of her head. When she turned to look at the direction, she was greeted by a pair of cunning amber eyes and a bloody mess of a fur.

 

Anita had accepted that she was going to die that morning, eaten by a white wolf almost bigger than she was.



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Something felt odd.

 

It was warm all of a sudden and there was a certain weight on Anita's torso that was getting harder and harder to ignore. She helplessly tried to grasp at the edges of her sleep but it was already gone.

 

She opened her right eye and saw a pair of bright yellow ones looking back.

 

Anita let out her first groan of the day.

 

"Whyyyy..." She croaked, frowning as she rubbed her eyes. She shot the wolf resting on top of her a sleepy glare. "You had the bed, why are you here?"

 

The wolf simply yawned before resting its head back on her chest. Anita felt it huff against her neck.

 

"You're heavy," she whispered, voice tired. She buried her hands in the fur of Loba's back and stroked gently. 

 

When she didn't get a reaction, she held the wolf tighter to her before closing her eyes again.

 

She felt the wolf's nose boop her chin before falling back to sleep.



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Anita's hands went to her hip, instinctively, patting for holsters. She cursed, finding nothing but her belt of small pruning tools.

 

"Easy, easy," she said, appearing calm. She held her hands in front of her in a placating manner while her heart continued to thunder in her ears.

 

The wolf stalked forward and Anita fell backwards, tripping on a sapling. From her position on the ground, she finally confirmed that this wolf was bigger than usual. Unnaturally bigger.

 

She was out of her depth. She learned many things in the army, but nobody had taught her how to fight a huge apex predator that looked all too ready to tear her throat out.

 

Anita continued to crawl backwards on her hands, slowly patting along the way. She knew she had dropped a small axe somewhere. She refused to go down without a fight.

 

She grabbed the handle as soon as felt it. She rolled to the side quickly and got up, preparing to strike.

 

The wolf howled all of a sudden and fell sideways on the ground, writhing.



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The next time she opened her eyes, it was already late into the day. Judging by the harsh ray of sunlight peering in through the windows across the sofa, it was probably some time past noon. She was starting to feel the signs of hunger when she heard footsteps approaching.

 

"Good morning, Sergeant."

 

Anita sat up and faced her guest only to turn away a second later. Loba had a sadistic habit of walking around in her underwear after a full moon turn.

 

'Clothes are restricting,' she once said, some time around the first three months of their odd friendship. Apparently her wolf didn't like it, at least not as soon as after turning back. It took Loba three days before she wore a shirt and a pair of shorts.

 

It wasn't anything new, but Anita tend to forget. And it didn't help that Loba had an affinity for laces that barely covered anything.

 

The sofa dipped beside her and Anita glared at her guest. 

 

"You had your hands on me a few hours ago and now you're blushing?" Loba teased. Anita wanted to punt her sometimes.

 

"That was different and you know it."

 

Loba only hummed as she checked her nails innocently, the edges of her lips raised in mirth.

 

"Whatever you say, beautiful."



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The bathroom door swung open and out came the most beautiful woman Anita has ever seen in her entire life. Thick white fur was now a stretch of golden brown skin, still glistening with water from the shower. Her hair was dark brown that reached the middle of her back, with the tips colored like leaves during the fall. The woman looked nothing like the bloody mess that she carried towards her cabin.

 

Anita snapped to attention when the woman cleared her throat. The same amber eyes watched her with caution. Now that they’re on equal footing, she was surprised to discover that she was actually taller than her.

 

“Thank you for the clothes,” the woman started, pointing to her borrowed old army shirt and boxers. Then she looked at her with a small, self-deprecating smile. “And for not killing me while I was turning,” she ended.

 

Anita kept quiet, palm itching as she remembered the iron grip that she had on her axe.

 

She crossed her arms tighter against her chest and nodded.

 

There was a tenseness in the air while they stared at each other. It was thick but it wasn’t hostile. The initial fear that Anita had when she faced the wolf was replaced by curiosity and a slight hint of disbelief. Never in her life did she imagine something like this happening. She had a lot of questions.

 

Anita opened her mouth but was cutoff by rambling.

 

“Okay, look,” her guest said hurriedly. “I’m not gonna insult your intelligence by denying what you saw.” She pinned her with sharp eyes and Anita couldn’t do anything but nod in agreement.

 

“Yes, I was the wolf,” the woman said next, slowly, word per word. “And yes, I turn once every month during full moon. And then I turn back not too long after it’s done.”

 

She paused, as if gathering herself.

 

“I apologize for startling you earlier, but I promise I wasn’t going to harm you. I think I caught the scent of your truck and thought it was mine so I went into your property. I knew I was going to turn back any time soon but I got lost. I’m, uh, actually new to the area,” she shared, sounding slightly uncomfortable. “This was my first run on this side of the forest. And I couldn’t find my way back to a car that I hid off the highway.”

 

Anita didn’t say anything. Nor did she move. She kept her eyes on her guest, thinking hard about what all of this meant.

 

After a few silent beats, she finally let out a sigh.

 

“I’ll help you find your car,” Anita offered, unsure, but feeling good about it.

 

She watched the woman’s face light up with a bright smile.



---------



After her awkward afternoon (no thanks to Loba), the woman sat her on her small dining table and insisted that she would cook. Anita was too tired and too flustered to say no. She kept her eyes on the table while Loba puttered around her kitchen.

 

“I found a new butcher,” she heard the woman say from the stove, “a bit more expensive but the cuts are high quality.”

 

Anita scoffed. Without thinking she lifted her head to answer, only to choke on her own spit at the sight of Loba’s lace-covered ass directly right in front of her.

 

She heard Loba laugh.

 

“Oh Sergeant First Class Williams, were you looking at my ass?”

 

The coughing only seized long enough for her to glare before her throat itched again.

 

She saw Loba roll her eyes before she turned the off stove.

 

“I don’t even know why you’re still surprised,” the woman said, bringing over some plates. “You already saw me naked the first time we met.”

 

Anita accepted hers with a thanks . Her stomach rumbled at the sight of the perfectly cooked steak.

 

“That was different,” she muttered as she cut the meat. “You were in distress and covered in blood.” 

 

“So? When am I not in distress and covered in blood?”

 

It sounded so matter-of-factly that Anita couldn’t help but chuckle.

 

“You’re a pain in my ass, Andrade,” she muttered around a bite.

 

Loba giggled and looked at her with a soft teasing.

 

“You know you love me, Sergeant.”



=========

Chapter Text

It was already late in the afternoon when Anita remembered the new saplings that were still sitting on her truck bed.

 

She was supposed to unload them after she ate, but she lost track of time because Loba insisted on taking another nap, because full moons are exhausting, Anita, and I know you're still tired too .

 

So they slept, but this time on her bed.

 

She found herself in a familiar situation when she woke up to a faceful of dark brown hair.



---------



One of the advantages of living in the woods was that Anita didn’t get visitors. Her family was scattered all over the country but the nearest ones were still a couple of states away. None of them expressed the intention to visit anyway, and frankly she was thankful for that. Between trying to rehabilitate her side of the forest and doing odd jobs here and there in the town proper for extra cash, Anita just didn’t have the time to play hostess.

 

So when she heard the familiar crunch of gravel against tires on her driveway, her first instinct was to reach for the nearest weapon she could. 

 

A pair of garden shears in hand, she pressed herself against the wall of the tool shed and peeked through the adjacent window.

 

Anita frowned when she caught sight of a familiar SUV.

 

“Miss Andrade?” She called out, dropping the shears on her work bench before heading out of the tool shed.

 

"Oh please," Loba waved her hand in dismissal, stepping off of her sleek vehicle before slamming the door shut, "after everything that's happened the last time, I think we both deserve to call each other by our first names."

 

Confused as she was, Anita could only nod in agreement. Frankly, the mere sight of this woman was throwing her in for a loop. She looked so different, and she couldn’t tell if it was a good thing or a bad thing.

 

"Very well,” she finally managed to say. “To what do I owe this unexpected visit?”

 

Loba stopped just a few feet away, looking devastatingly beautiful.

 

"I have a proposition for you."



---------



She slowed her breathing when she felt Loba move against her with a soft whine. The woman was laid half on top of her, head on her chest and her full hair on her face. Her arms were wrapped around her waist, pinning her down. Anita could only sigh. There had been a pillow between them when they slept.

 

It was further down in their arrangement that she discovered how Loba’s body ran hotter than normal. They first met right around the middle of spring, and she didn’t get to experience the human furnace completely until summer. She suddenly woke up one night sweating her ass off because Loba thought it was a good idea to sneak in and join her on the sofa during one of the hottest nights of the year. ‘It’s just a wolf thing,’ she just said the morning after, brushing it off like she didn’t almost kill Anita by overheating.

 

Still, she wasn’t convinced that Loba wasn’t out to get her in the end.

 

But Anita got used to it, somehow. Kind of.

 

She couldn’t remember when it started to be that way, but there had been a part of her that agreed that it was sort of inevitable. It wasn’t like she did anything to stop it either; resisting didn’t actually get her anywhere anyway. She learned early on that it was easier to go with the flow whenever Loba was involved. It was such a waste of energy to complain, especially when most of the time she didn't actually mean it. Hard it was to admit, she enjoyed her company.



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"So what you're saying is," Anita started as she wiped her face with her palm, a little confused and just overall annoyed, "you want to stay here in my cabin, once a month, so you can run around my property as a wolf while you yell at the moon?"

 

The woman rolled her eyes. "It’s howl, but yes."

 

"Why?"

 

"Because Anita," Loba answered, "I prefer spending my full moons in a safe environment. The reason why I moved to this state was because some jackass bought the chunk of land where I used to run around in to develop some property. I almost got caught by loggers the last time I was there." The woman continued, looking inconvenienced by the memory. "And I know that won't happen again here because this area is protected," she added.

 

It made sense, Anita thought, but she won't say that out loud.

 

She was running all the possible scenarios in her head, all the changes that could happen if she agreed. Her solitary freedom, for one, would be the most obvious casualty.

 

"I don't know, Loba–"

 

"I'll pay you."

 

Anita scoffed, feeling a little touchy all of a sudden. "I don't need money."

 

"Yes you do, Sergeant First Class Anita Williams."

 

She didn't notice the low growl she let out, more so than the gritted teeth. She never told Loba she was in the army. The shirt she lent her before might have given that away but she never shared anything else about her life in the military, especially her rank.

 

And nothing in her cabin had referenced to it either.

 

"How did you know that?" Anita asked, voice dangerously low, tensed. She didn't like how Loba was looking at her like she was caught.

 

She watched the woman flicked at her long nails, nonchalant. "Let's just say that I have my ways."

 

The next thing she knew, Anita was out of her seat and now a step closer towards her guest, body tensed like a tightly coiled spring.

 

The only thing that stopped her was the tip of Loba’s boot, defiantly pressed against her abdomen.

 

“Ah, ah, ah,” the woman teased as she waved her finger at her. Loba was still in her seat unbothered, legs now delicately crossed. "You need to calm down, Sergeant.”

 

That snapped her out of it. She sat back down with an embarrassed grumble. “You’re not exactly giving me a reason to.”

 

“I'm not here to antagonize you. I'm not interested about your past, or whatever shit you did. All I’m saying is that I can pay you a lot of money so you could stop doing your odd jobs and just concentrate on your gardening.”

 

Anita huffed, crossing her arms against her chest as she leaned back, head turned towards the living room to escape Loba’s heavy stare. This woman was intent on running her fuse.

 

"Look, I just need to stay in your cozy little cabin for four, five days max. I'll arrive some time around the day of the full moon, then I'll leave a day or two after. Quick and easy. I doubt you'd even notice me because I'll be out most of the night and I'll be spending the next few days sleeping and resting."

 

It didn’t sound half as bad now that she’s thought about it. And she could use the funds as well. Loba was wrong for looking her up but she wasn’t wrong about the money.

 

Anita has spread herself too thin by spending almost all of her savings buying the land, and if it wasn’t for a few people in town who gave her some jobs, she wouldn’t have lasted as long as she had. Ultimately, her priority were the trees. She’s not a stranger to not eating three meals a day.

 

“How much will you be paying me?” She replied gruffly, hoping that she didn’t sound as resigned as she was. 

 

“Is that a yes, Sergeant?”

 

“Stop calling me that. And no, not unless you tell me how much.”

 

“I can pay you five grand–”

 

“Make it ten and we have a deal.”

 

Loba chuckled as she shook her head, amused. Anita watched as she rose gracefully from her seat with one of her manicured hands extended in front of her for a shake.

 

“You got yourself a deal, Sergeant.”



---------



“So how was your trip? Did you get everything you need?”

 

Anita’s eyes flicked over to where Loba sat briefly, trying her hardest not to blush. Her guest had the habit of sitting on her porch banister, regardless of what she was or was not wearing. Right now she was leaning against the wall of her cabin, legs stretched out and balanced perfectly on the wood. She could see the edges of her lace boy shorts peeking past the borrowed army shirt.

 

Anita suddenly felt hot. She downed the remaining beer in her hand before opening another.

 

It made Loba laugh.

 

“So?” The woman asked again after a while.

 

“I did, but I need to go back there next month to get some new ones.”

 

She heard Loba hum in reply.

 

Quiet nights like this made Anita contemplative. She liked living alone, and for so long that’s what she’s accepted her life to be. She didn’t expect the universe to throw in a curve ball in the form of Loba Andrade, but truthfully she didn’t hate it as much as thought she would. Loba embodied everything that she found annoying in people, but she had discovered soon enough that she was a good person to the core. Bossy and too provocative for her own good, but Anita’s convinced she’s got a good heart.

 

She was also a little in love with her, wolf and all.

 

And Anita hasn’t felt that way about anyone before.



=========

Chapter Text

Anita found herself bored all of a sudden.

 

The saplings she recently got have already been planted, and now that Loba has also left for the city a few days ago, there wasn’t anything much to do anymore. She's thought about planting more but she won't be able to get new ones until next month.

 

The quiet was something she used to enjoy a lot, but now her little piece of paradise felt emptier than ever.

 

A few years back she would have spent this lull doing jobs for Makoa, hauling lumber for his wood furniture shop in town. If it weren’t that, it would be at Ramya’s, helping her treat metal in the forge.

 

But now she didn't need to; she has more money in her bank account than she’s ever remembered having in her entire life. It almost came to the point that she refused the payment after the sixth month but Loba was having none of it.

 

‘A deal’s a deal, Anita,’ the woman had said with finality.

 

With a sigh, Anita decided to drive into town anyway. Maybe get a drink or two, if Makoa and Ramya were free.



---------



“Why didn’t you just buy your own land so you’d have somewhere to go to during your turns?”

 

Anita asked as she watched Loba let her hair down from their usual braids. It was a full moon that night, and she could tell by the woman’s restless energy that she’s close to turning.

 

She took a huge bite out of her sandwich and waited for an answer.

 

“You know, I’ve thought about it, but I didn’t feel like it.” Loba answered, taking off her tee shirt in one swift move. She stood there in her sports bra, looking like she was contemplating on whether she needed to remove that article as well. Anita prayed that she didn’t. She’s flustered enough as it is at the sight of the woman’s naked torso. 

 

“That doesn’t make sense,” she said eventually, eyes still lingering on the flat plane of Loba's abdomen. She was trying to keep her eyes above the woman's waistline but the running tights that Loba had on was making her thighs look really–

 

Anita shook her head and focused on her food instead. Apparently it was from a new deli Loba found in the city. It was really good.

 

She kept on eating while she stole glances at her guest, and soon enough she had an empty, crumpled sandwich wrapper in her hands. She threw it towards the bin and missed, making Loba chuckle when she saw it bounce on the floor.

 

"You know I'm a city girl, Anita. And besides," she picked up the wrapper and handed it back to her with an amused look, "being tied to a property like that could raise questions."

 

‘What kind of questions,’ Anita thought, giving the crumpled paper another throw. This time it went in.

 

They were on the fourth month of their arrangement and Anita hadn't really learned much about her guest. Aside from the obvious wealth, Loba hadn’t really shared anything else about her life. All she knew was that she lived in the city, and that she inherited a lot of money. Loba didn’t mention any friends, except for that one guy who used to help her during her turns before she moved to this state. No pets, no significant others.

 

‘Not my business,’ Anita finally decided after a while.

 

She looked back at Loba and let out a pained groan before turning her head away.

 

“Can you please stop doing that?”

 

“What?” The other woman asked, confused. She now had her running tights in her hand and was only wearing a pair of boy shorts. 

 

“Stripping!”

 

“I’m not!”

 

“Then what do you call that?!”

 

“I just don’t want to ruin any more clothes, okay? I know I can afford it but I’m tired of constantly buying more! I shouldn’t even be wearing anything but someone’s being a prude.”

 

Anita groaned louder as she closed her eyes and massaged her temples. She frowned when she felt the other woman come closer to where she was sitting.

 

She could feel the heat coming from Loba’s body.

 

“Why Sergeant,” she felt the ghost of fingertips caressing the side of her face, “do you not like my body?” Loba asked, voice low and dripping.

 

Anita felt all the hairs on her body stand on end. She could only whimper in reply.

 

She finally let out a breath when Loba walked away with a loud laugh.

 

“Alright! As much as I love teasing you, it’s time for me to go and yell at the moon, as you aptly put. My wolf and I will be back tomorrow. Bye, beautiful!”

 

Loba finally left through the back door, taking Anita’s remaining sanity with her.



---------



It’s been a long time since Anita felt light–the kind that made her smile wider, and not think about anything else other than her beer and her company. She was grateful that both Ramya and Makoa were free, busy as they were with their shops. And it also felt good buying them drinks for once, now that she had more to spare. They planned to meet again in the coming weeks for some dinner.

 

Anita felt a deep kind of happiness the whole drive back to the edge of town.

 

And when she saw Loba waiting for her on the steps of her porch, she felt it engulf her even more.

 

 

---------



“This is a nice surprise. You’re a bit too early for your next turn, though.” Anita teased with an easy grin. She left the bar sober but the smell of Loba’s perfume was making her feel a little loopy.

 

She waved Loba in when she unlocked the front door, gesturing for the other woman’s coat after removing hers.

 

“I mean, I’m nothing but punctual.” her guest fired back as she handed her jacket with a thanks . Anita led them both towards the kitchen with a chuckle.

 

“What’s up, Lo? Anything wrong?”

 

Loba waved her off with a shrug. “No, no. Don’t worry about it. I was just in the area.”

 

Anita chuckled, playfully bumping her on the shoulder on her way to the fridge. “Yes, because I live in the most accessible place that didn’t need hours of driving to get to,” she joked as she bent down to get herself a bottle of beer and the wine Loba left from last time. “Wine?”

 

“Yes, please. Thanks.”

 

She handed her a glass, and it might have been the lingering alcohol in her system, but Anita was sure Loba was giving her a very weird look.

 

“You sure you’re okay?” She asked tentatively.

 

“I'm fine.”

 

Loba's smile didn't reach her eyes.



---------



When Loba came back after the full moon at the start of their agreement, she was as bare as the day she was born. She strode in through the back door in all of her naked glory–hair wild, feet and hands streaked with dirt. And though technically Anita has already seen all of her before, it sure was hell a lot different when the once incapacitated woman she carried in her arms now walked (strutted?) on her own with so much bravado and confidence it was slapping Anita on the face.

 

She felt so dumb for thinking that the clothes the woman had on when she left before the full moon will still be on her when she came back. They weren’t. Every bit of skin was proudly on display and Anita was helpless before it.

 

She made sure that there was a clean robe ready and hanging by the back door since then. 

 

The back door creaked open, snapping Anita from her stupor. She shook her head lightly to shake the fog off her mind and perked up to greet her guest, only to drop her head again with her eyes tightly closed. She’s learned her lesson.

 

Only when she heard the telltale rustling of clothes did she open her eyes. Loba looked a little worse for wear.

 

She watched her guest quietly as she trudged around the living room before finally plopping on the seat across from where she was. She winced at the sound of Loba’s head hitting the dining table.

 

“You okay, Andrade?”

 

A groan.

 

“What happened?”

 

“It’s nothing, it’s–” a sigh, “The wolf didn’t want to turn back yet so we had a fight, it’s–It’s fine, I’m just tired.”

 

Loba looked pitiful. Now that she’s close enough, Anita could see some scratches on her arms and legs. Some of them were lightly bleeding.

 

She made a mental note of checking the near vicinity of her property for errant twigs and sharp branches that Loba could accidentally step on. It might not even help but she liked the thought of doing something about it.

 

“Hey,” she called out after a while, crouching beside Loba’s chair. She placed her hand on the edge of the table near the woman’s head and gently poked her forehead with a grin. Even deathly tired, Loba still looked beautiful, glaring at her.

 

“Why don’t you go shower and I’ll make us some food?”  

 

The glare soften.

 

“I’d like that.”



---------



Anita tried to ignore it the whole night, but the later it got, the more off Loba felt.

 

There was a sort of restless energy around her that she couldn’t recognize. It was different from the restlessness she had before her full moon turns. Her smiles were big but they barely reached her eyes. Her usual flirty quips sounded off. The whole time she was looking at her with a guarded expression. And her fingers never stopped fidgeting with her wine glass and nails.

 

Anita wasn’t sure if Loba was even aware of how unusual she was acting.

 

At the very least, she let out a relieved sigh when Loba accepted her offer to stay the night. And when the other woman teasingly offered to join her in the shower with her usual, smoldering look that Anita was familiar of, she believed that everything will be alright again.

 

She could only hope.

 

Finally refreshed and ready to retire for the night, Anita went to her room to get some pillows for the couch. She decided to give Loba the bed tonight, so the other woman could sleep comfortably. Maybe she’d feel better tomorrow morning when she gets a proper rest. She might not know what was troubling her, but Anita knew that Loba loved her beauty sleep.

 

When she walked in, she saw the other woman still standing at the foot of the bed where she left her. Their eyes met briefly before Loba looked down at the borrowed shirt she was holding.

 

“I wasn’t joking,” the woman suddenly said, voice just loud enough for her to hear. She had Anita's now-threadbare army shirt clutched in her hands. 

 

"What?"

 

When Loba looked up at her again, she had a somewhat embarrassed look in her eyes. “When I said I was in the area. I wasn’t joking,” she repeated.

 

"I don't understand."

 

Loba lowered her eyes back to her hands, chuckling to herself.

 

“I’ve driven past the dirt road entrance a hundred times because I couldn't decide if I should just drive right in and see you.”

 

Anita furrowed her eyebrows, confused. She walked closer to where Loba was and reached for the other end of the shirt, tugging slightly to get her attention. She bent down a bit to catch the woman's eyes.

 

“Why?”

 

Loba finally looked at her with an expression she hadn't seen often on the woman's face before. “You know why,” she said softly.

 

Anita could count in one hand all the times that she’s seen Loba blush–when she got out of the bathroom the first time they met, that one time she brought an expensive bottle of tequila and got herself drunk, that time in the summer when she arrived for her full moon turn and found Anita chopping wood at the back wearing only a pair of worn out jeans and her sports bra–

 

Oh.

 

Oh.

 

Everything suddenly made sense.



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Anita knew what it felt like to be hit by a ton of bricks; it happened once while she was on tour. She was hiding behind a concrete wall while scouting for enemy forces, when an explosion at the other side collapsed the wall she was pressed against, burying her in concrete blocks. She got hospitalized for a lot of broken bones but she was mostly fine.

 

That moment couldn’t even compare to this.

 

Anita felt like she blacked out for a bit. When she came to it, Loba was now looking at her with a pained expression, and she was farther away from her than she remembered. Her borrowed army shirt laid crumpled on the floor between them.

 

Loba looked ready to bolt.

 

“I–I need to go.”

 

She reached for the woman’s wrist and held on before she could run.

 

“Loba, wait.” Anita tugged at her gently but Loba refused to look at her.

 

“Just forget I said anything–”

 

“Hey.”

 

Another pull and Loba finally went with it. The sight of her angry, unshed tears felt like a punch to the gut.

 

“I’m an idiot,” Anita sighed, pulling the other woman in to a hug. She felt Loba’s arms tighten around her neck.

 

“I’m sorry for not saying anything, I think I just went through the biggest realization of my life back there.”

 

She smiled when she heard Loba sniffle and chuckle against her neck.

 

“I’ve spent most of our time trying to walk around you naked. It’s just impossible for you to not know at this point.”

 

A laugh bubble out of Anita’s lips. She wrapped her arms more firmly around Loba’s waist and lifted her a bit playfully.

 

“I thought you were just teasing me.”

 

“I was. But I was also just hoping that you’d crack and just grab me and throw me on the bed–”

 

“Loba!”

 

“Or the sofa, I’m not picky–”

 

“Stop!”

 

“The dining table can also work–”

 

Anita’s pained groans could be heard around the vicinity of her whole property.



=========

Chapter Text

Loba woke up slightly irritated.

 

It didn't matter that she slept wrapped up in Anita's strong arms, or that they spent the whole night whispering lovely things to each other. It didn’t matter that Anita felt the same way—which surprised her by the way, because she wasn’t one for wishful thinking—but the audacity of leaving her unkissed after everything that’s happened made her blood boil.

 

They both managed to fall asleep before the sun rose, and it was so adorable of Anita to press a shy kiss on her forehead before saying good night and promptly falling asleep, but frankly, she was expecting more .

 

‘That’s what you get for pining after an oblivious idiot.’

 

Loba rolled her eyes. It was true, but her wolf didn’t have to say it like that.

 

‘Right, because I was the one who caught her scent from miles away and decided to investigate,’ she thought, sarcastic. ‘What was it that you said? Oh something smells really good, I must check it out ,' she continued with a mocking voice. 'If there’s anything, it’s your fault we’re pining after the idiot.’

 

The wolf huff in her mind and then it was quiet. Loba smirked in victory.

 

Her smile dropped when she felt Anita pull her in tighter against her body, heard her murmur something against the back of her neck before snoring lightly.

 

She could only sigh. There was no addressing anything while Anita was dead to the world. The least she could do at the moment was bask in the warmth that the other woman was giving. Though it wasn't the first time that they slept close to each other, it was definitely the first time where Anita has shown unrestrained initiative.

 

Before she succumbed to the pull of an extremely comfortable slumber, Loba vowed to herself that she was going to be kissed today.

 

On the lips.

 

They could work on other places next time.



---------



Two years ago…

 

Loba rested her forehead against the cold tiles, sighing under the shower spray as she closed her eyes.

 

She was exhausted.

 

But more than that she was annoyed.

 

‘You’re mad.’

 

Loba rolled her eyes and huffed, turning off the shower head before stepping off. She yanked the borrowed towel from the rack and stomped towards the sink mirror before aggressively wiping the condensation on it.

 

‘You almost got us killed,’ she scowled as she tried to untangle her wet hair. She hated washing it without treatment but the situation she found herself in wasn’t exactly ideal. There was absolutely no time for shampoo and conditioner.

 

She wasn’t even in her own bathroom.

 

‘She’s not going to hurt us–’

 

‘Shut up, you don’t know that.’

 

Loba angrily pulled the borrowed shirt over her head, pausing for a bit when she saw the bold ARMY print at the front. It was a bit tight around her chest but loose around the shoulders and arms. She pulled on the boxer shorts next and had a bit of trouble making it past her hips but she made it work. She felt odd in the borrowed clothes but she didn’t have a choice.

 

Loba didn't get to see much of the woman who saved her, but judging by the tee shirt and the bare state of the bathroom she was in (everything was too much in order), she had stumbled upon some kind of military personnel. Which, in hindsight, made everything feel a lot more dangerous for her and the animal spirit she was sharing her body with.

 

In any case, they could fight when the need arises.

 

'I told you, we're safe here–'

 

'Just stop. You had your turn. Let me deal with this now.'

 

Loba took a deep breath, held the towel tightly in her hands before heading towards the door.



---------



She didn't know what to expect when she finally stepped out of the bathroom, but it certainly wasn't awe. She had expected fear, or weariness, or even anger, but never awe. The woman who had saved her was now looking at her with so much unveiled interest that Loba wasn’t sure if the other woman was even aware of it.

 

It made her cheeks heat up.

 

Suffice to say, Loba had managed to ramble her way out of the situation, although she was thankful enough that Anita Williams turned out to be a rather decent person.



---------



The next time she woke, the sun was already up. She found herself alone in bed, but it made her smile when she felt a pillow pressed tightly against her back, no doubt Anita’s doing. She could hear the other woman puttering about in the other room.

 

Loba groaned as she stretched, finally laying on her back. She let her hands touch the space where Anita slept and found it still a bit warm. Across the bed she saw her own clothes folded on a chair. Like everything in the cabin, it was arranged neatly.

 

She took this time to properly scan the room. She realized she didn’t always get to observe her surroundings while she was here. Most of the time it had been a rushed entrance, stripping off her clothes all over the living room before running outside in her underwear so she could well be out of sight by the time she turns. Occasionally she would arrive early in the day to lounge before night falls, but those times have been used to tease Anita mercilessly than to check out the woman’s taste in decor, or lack thereof. 

 

There wasn’t anything much about the space that could tell anyone about Anita’s life. The whole cabin was small—it only had one bedroom, one full bathroom, and a living room that was openly shared with the kitchen. There were no curtains, no trinkets. No certificates nor medals. There was only ever one framed picture of Anita’s family displayed, and even then it was hung in a corner in the bedroom. 

 

As bare as it was, Loba found it to be quaint. There was a bit of sadness in it, but it suited someone like Anita, and it was enough for her to see that it was perfect. After the first few months of their arrangement, it had Loba thinking about her life of excess.



---------



A year ago…

 

Loba’s smile was wide while she drove along the highway that led to Anita’s cabin. She hadn’t had a good day in weeks, but today had proved to be one of the best. She had been tracking an ancient artifact in the black market for months, stolen by mercenaries and smugglers from a country down south. It kept on appearing and disappearing sporadically, but a few days ago she and her partner had managed to pinpoint its exact location and had successfully recovered it before turning it over to the authorities.

 

The country’s embassy had given her an expensive bottle of tequila as a token of gratitude.

 

She hummed with the music as she tapped her fingers rhythmically against the steering wheel. The full moon won’t be for another day but she wanted to celebrate her successful operation with Anita. And probably finally share with the other woman what she has been doing for most of her life.

 

Loba parked beside the tool shed, the exact area where Anita had told her to. It had a huge tree beside it that offered the widest shade in the area.

 

She held the tequila bottle carefully in her hand as she shouldered her tote bag, almost skipping towards the cabin in uncontained excitement. Coming here a day early had been a good idea.

 

Loba could get drunk tonight.



---------



“So you’re a treasure hunter?”

 

Loba heard her wolf snort in her mind.

 

She rolled her eyes—more to her wolf than to Anita—before tipping the shot glass back, barely grimacing at the strong bitter taste as she licked the salt from her hand. Anita pushed the bowl of cut lime wedges towards her and she thanked her with a wink.

 

“I guess you can say that,” she said as she discarded the wedge before lining up a new shot for the other woman, “but it’s probably more like a treasure recoverer.”

 

Anita only hummed in reply, downing her shot as smoothly as Loba had. She nodded in understanding as she sucked on her lime wedge. Loba felt her throat suddenly go dry at the sight.

 

The other woman had been surprised by her sudden appearance, but she had gladly let her in when she had presented the bottle to her with a proud smile. She thanked the heavens for having the foresight to bring limes because Anita sure as hell didn’t keep any in her fridge. Now they’re a few shots down, and Loba had finally opened up about her job.

 

“But isn’t that dangerous?”

 

“Oh, it is very dangerous. But I can handle myself. I like it whenever my enemies underestimate me because I wear six inch heels and have very long, breakable nails.”

 

She let out a laugh when she saw the other woman grimace while looking at her blood red nail polish.

 

“How did you even get into that?” Anita asked, finally refilling the glass.

 

Loba paused, feeling sober all of a sudden. Somehow she knew that the question would eventually come up, but it didn’t make answering it any easier. It had been years, and she had definitely moved on, but it still hurts to think about them sometimes.

 

“Well,” she started, letting the word hang for a bit as she gathered herself, “my parents were archeologists.” Loba smiled. It was small and didn’t reach her eyes. When Anita’s eyes softened she knew that the other woman had understood. She accepted the glass that was nudged in front of her.

 

“A bunch of rebels decided to raid and steal some of the artifacts that they’ve found at a dig site they were working on. Their whole team had been killed.”

 

Loba took the shot but it didn’t affect her at all. She remembered the dread that filled her when she realized that she was now alone in the world. She had been so young.

 

‘You were never alone. You’ve always had me.’ The wolf suddenly said, protective.

 

And it was true. The loss of her parents had been hard, and she would probably never know how it happened, but her grief had released the wolf inside of her.

 

And now she will never be truly alone.

 

“I’m sorry, Lo.”

 

Loba shook her head and blinked the unshed tears away, feeling her cheeks warm all of a sudden. She had a habit of getting lost in her head whenever she thought of the past.

 

“No, no, it’s fine,” she finally said as she tried to smile, “I’ve moved on a long time ago. Now I recover artifacts to honor my parents.”

 

“That’s a very noble thing to do. I know they’re proud of you, wherever they are.”

 

Loba felt her wolf preen. The warmth on her cheeks spread like wildfire across her face.

 

“Thank you, Anita,” she answered with a soft smile.



---------



There was a creak on the floor and it made Loba turn, smiling when she saw a rather disappointed Anita standing by the doorway holding a tray of food. She still had her sleep wear on, and it almost pained her how cluelessly devastating Anita could be in her sports bra and boxer shorts.

 

“I was hoping to surprise you, but you’re already awake,” the other woman finally said, frowning. Loba let herself linger on Anita’s bare, muscled abdomen before answering.

 

“Aw, did you make me breakfast in bed?” She cooed, endeared. “You know you didn’t have to, I can just eat you—”

 

Anita tutted but her face was as red as the cherry tomatoes that Loba could see on a bowl on the tray.

 

“I worked really hard for these and I won’t let you make me drop them,” Anita deadpanned.

 

Loba shed her flirtatious persona and finally gave a hearty laugh. She pulled on the rumpled duvet and patted the empty space beside her.

 

Sure enough—and judging by the huge assortment of food—Anita did work really hard for their morning meal. Loba did have an insane metabolism—something that she had explained to the other woman during the first few months of their arrangement—because she was technically eating for two entities. Most of the meals they’ve shared have been more to Loba’s benefit and her required caloric intake, and it warmed her that Anita understood. But she liked bringing her delicious treats from the city as well as thanks.

 

Eventually they finished, with Loba eating most of them. Anita looked at her fondly the whole time.



---------



Some time ago…

 

Loba was exhausted.

 

The day before, she was in another state, turning over a recovered artifact to a museum. The day before that, she was in a different country being shot at by thugs for recovering said artifact. She knew that it was dangerously close to the full moon but she didn’t really have a choice. It wasn’t like there was a regular schedule on when stolen artifacts would reveal themselves.

 

Either way, another successful recovery just in time for a turn.

 

But, tired as she was, she made sure that she didn’t look like it. Her hair was in their usual braids, her shirt was low cut but tasteful, and her pants were just tight enough to elicit some hilarious fumbling from Anita.

 

Yet deep down, in spite of all the teasing, she was just really happy to see her as well.



---------



By the time she reached the cabin, her wolf was already restless. There were still a few hours left in the day but being on the cusp of a full moon had always given her some extra energy that she really couldn’t tap into no matter how tired she was. It usually went into the actual turning—a little burst of power to help her shed her skin and free the wolf—but containing it before it got used always felt like a chore as well.

 

The cabin was empty when she let herself in. When she got into the kitchen to deposit the pizza she wanted Anita to try, she heard the rhythmic thumping of an axe coming from the back. Her wolf suddenly perked up as she opened the screen backdoor.

 

It hit her harder than she expected. She knew that Anita was beautiful and that she took care of herself—perhaps influenced by being in a physically taxing job all her life—but the sight of her in a tight sports bra and a pair of well worn jeans, muscles slick with sweat and arms straining from swinging down an axe was too much of an image for her tired brain to process.

 

A groan (a growl?) escaped her lips as Anita’s axe sliced through some wood and hit the stump underneath in one straight swoop, alerting the other woman. Anita’s confused face suddenly grew into a smile at the sight of her.

 

Loba’s face felt a lot hotter than the rest of her body.



---------



Loba hummed as she made her way back towards the bedroom, shaking her head and chuckling to herself when she remembered her slight argument with Anita on who would wash the dishes. She won of course, but only because she used her womanly wiles that Anita was so weak against. But frankly, washing them was the least she could do after having one of the best breakfasts she’s ever had in her entire life.

 

She paused by the doorway, careful not to step on the loose floorboard and leaned on the doorframe. She looked at the woman she left lounging on the bed fondly. Anita looked deep in thought.

 

“Hey,” Loba called out. “Penny for your thoughts?”

 

She frowned when Anita answered with a shrug and a smile that looked more like a grimace.

 

‘Something is wrong,’ Loba heard her wolf say in her mind. She’s inclined to agree.

 

“Okay,” she then said, leaving her post by the doorway before climbing over Anita’s body so she could sit on her abdomen. She sat back and leaned on the other woman’s raised thighs, crossing her arms against her chest. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

 

“Nothing’s wrong, I just…” Anita bit her lip. Her look of apprehension made Loba relax her body a bit. She leaned forward and let her arms drop, taking Anita’s hands in her own with a light squeeze, encouraging her to continue.

 

She smiled when she felt the other woman squeeze back. “I just feel like I haven’t earned it yet,” she finally said, eyes focused on their joined hands.

 

“Earned what?”

 

Anita’s face was suddenly painted with a beautiful shade of red. Loba was transfixed.

 

“You,” the other woman finally said after letting out a heavy sigh. “I feel like I haven’t really earned… you.” Anita was now staring at her with a shy look on her face. 

 

“I don’t understand.”

 

“Just—Look at you, Loba.” Anita dropped her hands and pointed at her, defeated. “You’re smart and you’re beautiful and you’re rich and successful! And the fact that you’re a werewolf makes you even more extraordinary! You’re all of these things and more and I’m just,” the other woman paused before looking down, “I’m just me.”

 

It was right then that Loba understood what she had to do.

 

She took Anita’s face gently in her hands and leaned down to kiss her.



=========

Chapter Text

Anita wiped the sweat from her brow as she hammered in the last nail through the plank.

 

It was done.

 

After almost a year, the renovation and additional construction to her small cabin was finally finished, making it look more like a house than a big tool shed.

 

Her old bedroom was now a storage room, connected to a newly added room that was now sort of an office. With the help of both Makoa and Ramya, and a few other friends from town–not to mention the shit ton of money that Anita had saved from Loba’s payments–they had managed to safely tear the roofing, renovate a major part of the cabin to install a  new room and a spiral staircase, and build a bigger bedroom at the top.

 

Equipped with huge windows on every wall, it was proving to be Anita’s favorite room. She now had a higher and almost three-sixty view of the nearer parts of her property. From there, she could see her growing trees thriving. There was also a balcony that faced westwards. Even unfinished, Loba loved watching the sunset there.

 

She also liked jumping off said balcony whenever Anita was somewhere near the bottom, causing most of her mini heart attacks.

 

A chuckle suddenly bubbled out from her lips. The thought of her girlfriend and her silly antics made her smile. Officially together for almost a year yet every day still felt like the first. It was amazing how one kiss—a hell of a kiss—had launched her life into such a profound trajectory. She was happy now, truly and honestly happy. And Loba made sure that she never doubted herself ever again. Though the teasing never did stop, Anita wouldn’t change it any other way.

 

Her smile turned into a grin when she felt a pair of arms wrapping around her waist, followed by a warm body pressing flush against her back. She felt Loba place a soft kiss on her neck, just below her ear.

 

“What’s got you smiling?” Loba whispered, hands sneaking under her shirt to caress her abdomen. If she wasn’t so used to her girlfriend groping her every chance she got, she would have melted away.

 

Anita placed her hand on top of Loba’s through her shirt and gave a light squeeze. “Nothing, I’m just really happy,” she said before tossing her hammer towards the tool box. She turned in Loba’s arms, pressing a quick kiss on her lips before draping an arm around the other woman’s shoulder. “Also because the house is done.” 

 

They stood side by side, looking up at their new home.

 

“You know,” Loba said after a while, hand snaking around Anita’s waist, “when you told me that you were going to build me a house, I didn’t really believe you.”

 

“That’s because you’re a mean wolf lady.”

 

Anita laughed when Loba swatted her stomach, muttering an amused stop that .

 

“Although technically, I only built you half a house.”

 

She heard Loba hum. “You’re right,” her girlfriend said, dropping her arm and taking a step away from her. Her lips were pursed but there was a twinkle of mischief in her amber eyes. “Take it back, I don’t want it anymore.”

 

A gasp came out of Anita, hand on chest in mock offense. She closed her eyes as she sighed loudly. “But who’s going to try the new clawfoot tub with me?” She asked, voice dripping with dramatic insinuation. She started walking backwards when she saw Loba’s eyes widen.

 

“I guess I’ll just be soaking on my own,” Anita said finally before bolting towards the backdoor. 

 

“Anita—Hey! Come back here, hey!”

 

She tried but Loba, even in her heels and ungodly tight pants, managed to catch up to her in a pounce. Soon enough she had the other woman perched on her back, arms wrapped around her neck and legs expertly encircling her waist in a piggy back.

 

Anita closed her eyes when she felt Loba kiss her temple. She turned her head and caught her lips in a kiss.

 

“I love you,” She whispered, bumping the tip of Loba’s nose gently with her own.

 

Loba nuzzled back with a smile. “I love you, too,” she whispered before pulling her in for another kiss.

 

The trees around them swayed lightly with the passing wind.



The End.