In Cop's Clothing

The day was a boring one. It was slow, with calls for pointless things like prowlers that turned out to be alleycats or garbagemen, and stolen bookbags which turned up in the "victim's" car. Yokas wasn't complaining -- tomorrow it would start to get crazy, and stay that way for the next three nights. Slow and boring was nice, anytime. She glanced sideways at her partner, who was still fidgeting in his seat. He'd been fidgeting all afternoon.

"Is it hot in here?" Bosco asked, squirming in his seat. "Because it feels hot in here."

"It isn't hot in here," she replied for what must have been the fourth time. "If you're hot, why don't you get out and walk? It looks real cool out there." It was September, so it actually *was* cool.

Bosco looked at her surprised. "What's your problem?"

"I don't have a problem," she replied evenly. She knew it would be pointless to argue with him. He got this way every so often; the only way she'd found to deal with it was to ignore him. Besides, tomorrow he was working second shift, then he had two days off. By the time he'd be back, he'd be calmed down. He always was.

"Fine." A moment later Bosco started tapping his hand against his window rhythmically.

Yokas sighed, and refrained from asking him to stop. Mercifully, he stopped when they got a call. The dispatcher reported, "5-5 David, suspicious man reported at 115 Dugan. Woman requests 5-5 David respond to the call."

Bosco rolled his eyes. "Not again. We should arrest her for harassment."

Yokas gave him a brief glare -- brief because she couldn't really blame him. But she acknowledged the call and turned the car towards Ms. Murphy's home.

"You know, what I can't figure out is whether she wants to adopt you or date you."

This time the glare was less brief. "Bosco, can't you find something helpful or constructive to say? Ms. Murphy might actually *have* a lurker. This time." She wasn't sure she believed it, but they couldn't afford to dismiss the possibility until they'd checked it out.

"Yeah, right. And Sully's going to grow fur out of his butt."

"Bosco, one of these days--" She cut herself off. Don't argue with him, she reminded herself. Ignore him and he'll go away. In six more hours...

"One of these days what?"

"Nevermind. Look, just do me a favor and don't give Ms. Murphy a hard time, OK? It isn't her fault she..." sees things, she stopped herself from saying. "She's a nice lady, she just...." Oh, hell. "Sees things."

"She's a total loony."

"Yeah, and she pays taxes, which means she pays your salary. Which means *you* have to be *nice* to her."

Yokas hoped that when her son got older, he was easier to deal with than Bosco. Then again, Bosco was providing her with some good training. Bosco muttered something she couldn't quite hear, but she could guess at the meaning. She hoped her son didn't talk like that either.

And if he did, that he didn't do it loud enough for her to hear, either.

Fortunately, they were approaching Ms. Murphy's place. While she didn't expect Bosco to behave, at least the call would provide some distraction for them both. Bosco climbed out of the car and even made a minimal effort at appearing interested.

Very minimal.

Ms. Murphy didn't seem to notice, keeping her attention on Yokas as they walked up. "Ms. Murphy," Yokas greeted her.

"Officer Yokas, thank God you're here." Ms Murphy's hands fluttered nervously, like agitated birds.

"Yes, ma'am," she replied as calmly as she could. She wanted to give Bosco a swift kick to make him pretend like he was paying attention. "You reported an intruder?"

"Oh yes! He's been creeping around, I heard him at my window." She shivered and moved closer to Yokas.

"Did you see him? Can you describe him?" Yokas waited for the expected reply -- and hoped, for her sake, that it was more imaginative than usual. Otherwise Bosco would be bitching about it for the rest of the day.

"He was big. Very big. And he had on a mask..."

"What sort of mask?" She made notes, ignoring the way Bosco was rolling his eyes behind Ms. Murphy's back.

"It was one of those... sports masks... like they wear playing hockey..."

"A goalie mask," Bosco said. He turned to Yokas. "There was a Friday the 13th marathon on last night."

*Another* brief glare, then she turned to ask Ms. Murphy, "Was he carrying anything?" It sounded harsher than she'd intended. Sometimes she wished she didn't have to be the nice one. Bosco was right -- every time the woman described her suspiscious lurker, it matched the starring villian in last night's horror movie.

What she wanted to know was how Bosco always knew which horror movie had been *on*, since they were usually on duty at the time.

"I think so, yes," Ms Murphy was saying. "Some kind of big knife, oh what's it called." She frowned as she thought. "A machete, that's it!"

Yokas stopped writing. "And what was he doing, exactly?"

"Well he wasn't doing anything. It's what he was planning to do. I mean you don't go wondering around in a mask with a machete if you're not planning to do something horrible."

"Or going to a costume party as Jason," Bosco threw in.

This time Ms. Murphy sent Bosco the glare.

"Ms. Murphy, how long ago did you see him?" She figured they'd end up wandering around a little, pretending to look for the fictional intruder, before reassuring her and leaving.

Just like every other time.

"Less than an hour ago. You've got to find him, Officer Yokas, before he does something..."

"Yeah, yeah. Before he starts chasing and chopping up cheerleaders," Bosco muttered.

"All right, Ms. Murphy, we'll take a look around." She closed her notebook and gave Bosco a nod.

"Well that was a colossal waste of time," Bosco said as they walked away.

"Just look around, OK? One of these times it's going be for real."

"Yeah, some out-of-work bad guy from a slasher film is going to come re-enact his moment of glory on Ms. Murphy." He snorted. "We should get so lucky."

"You wanna be the one responsible when she ends up being killed?" Truth was, she didn't believe it would happen, but sometimes she just wanted to wipe that smug grin from Bosco's face. It didn't help that she knew he didn't really mean what he said.

"Don't tempt me."

"Go look around." She gave him a not-to-gentle nudge in the opposite direction she was heading.

"Yeah, yeah." He stopped and grinned over his shoulder at her. "If you run into any machete-wielding maniacs, just scream."

Yokas rolled her eyes and decided to take her time looking. A few minutes' peace was all she needed.


For Bosco, the shift couldn't end fast enough. He knew he was getting on his partner's nerves, but he couldn't help it. As always, this time of the month he felt like a stranger in his own skin, felt like that skin should belong to someone else.

Under these circumstances, Yokas was lucky he was only fidgety.

"See you in three days," she told him, sounding relieved, though she was trying to hide it.

"Yeah," he responded, feeling a little guilty about how annoying he'd been. But what could he say? It wasn't like he could tell her what was really going on. She was already heading off, though. Fortunately, by the time he was back on third shift, everything would be back to normal.

That was when Carter tapped him on the shoulder. "Lieu wants to see you."

"Um, sure." Bosco headed for his superior's office wondering what this could be about.

The lieutenant barely glanced up at him from the piles of paperwork. "You're working your regular shift tomorrow, Bosco," was all he said before dismissing him again.

For a moment, Bosco stood stunned. "But I can't!" he finally said.

"Tough. Now beat it, I was supposed to be home hours ago."

The lieutenant stood up and walked off while Bosco was still standing in shock, his mind trying to come up with a reason why he couldn't work third watch the next night.

Well, a reason other than the actual reason.

It was entirely too late to appeal to the Captain. He'd have left hours ago -- so the question was, did he dare call the man at home?

At this hour? After all the trouble he'd gotten into the last two months?

After the incident with the Captain's daughter in the police car?

Oh, he was sunk.

There *were* other options, however. He thought it over, frantically.

Weren't there? He just couldn't think of any. Maybe he'd call the Captain.

Nah, the Captain would kill him. Maybe he should just hide, and call in sick.

Actually, that wasn't a bad idea. It was even kinda true, in a weird sort of way. Feeling reassured, he decided to head for home.


It was several hours yet until sunset the next day when the phone rang. Answering it, Bosco snarled, "Yeah, what?"

"Bosco, you all right?" It was Yokas.

Sighing, Bosco closed his eyes and counted to ten, doing his best to calm down. It wasn't easy the way his nerves were right then. "Yeah, Yokas. Hunky dory."

"You called in sick. Do you need anything?" She sounded concerned, like she'd forgotten how much he'd been annoying her yesterday.

Which made him feel even more lousy about lying to her. "No, it's just the flu or something. No big deal."

"Do you have juice? Soup, stuff like that?"

"Jeeze, Yokas, I'm not one of your kids."

"According to who?" she shot back.

He rolled his eyes even as he felt his mouth tug upwards into a reluctant smile. It was nice to know that there was at least one person who gave a damn about him. "Okay, *Mom*, yes, I have juice and soup. Yes, I'm staying in bed, taking my medicine. Is that everything?"

"Should I come by and check on you later?" She sounded partially amused, though he knew she was serious.

"No," he countered quickly. "I'm probably just going to sack out. All you'd do is wake me up."

"All right," she agreed, a trifle reluctantly. "If you need anything, you'll call?"

"I've got you on my speed dial."

She laughed. "OK, Bosco. I'll see you on Friday."

"Yeah. Be careful out there." He grimaced at sounding like an old tv show, but the sentiment was real.

"I will." Then she was hanging up, and *he* was off the hook.

He sighed, leaning back in his seat and closing his eyes. God, he hated the last hours before it happened. His skin felt more and more alien and he itched. But there was nowhere to scratch, not that would do any good. The best he could hope for was to distract himself.

Over the years, he'd learned the best ways to distract himself, and he had a stack of videos and new books ready and waiting. He'd manage to watch or read for about ten minutes before being unable to concentrate -- at which point he'd switch to another book, or movie.

He managed until it was nearly sunset. At that point, nothing was distracting him. Bosco got up and started pacing the length of his apartment, both yearning and dreading the swiftly approaching moment. There was a knock on the door.

He froze. Maybe if he was silent whoever it was would go away?

"Bosco?" Yokas' voice came through the door.

Shit. His partner, he knew, wasn't just going to go away. More knocking, then he heard the jangle of keys. She had one to his front door, just like he had one to her place. He stood frozen for a second more, then ran for his bedroom.

"Bosco?" Yokas called out again, from the hallway. She wasn't calling loudly, as if knowing he might be asleep and trying not to wake him. He dived for the bed, intending to pull the blankets up over his clothes... only to trip on a pile of books and go sprawling.

"Bos?" This time she sounded worried. And closer.

He heard the bedroom door opening. "Uhh hi," he said from his position sprawled among the books on the floor.

"Are you all right?" she asked even as she was coming over to help. "What happened?"

"I tripped over my own feet and my reading material." He accepted the hand she offered, helping him up.

She was looking at him oddly, as he got to his feet.

"What?"

"Are you sure you're all right?"

"I said I was, didn't I?"

She gave him a flat look. "Then why did you call in sick? You don't look sick and you aren't *acting* sick."

Shit. "I, um...That is..." he fumbled to a stop.

She crossed her arms, and gave him that Look. He had seen it a hundred times on his own mother's face.

He sighed, and ran a hand over his face. "Look, Yokas, it's complicated okay?"

"Too complicated to come to work?"

"Yeah."

She kept looking at him. Waiting.

Suddenly Bosco felt it. It was about to happen. "Yokas..." he began, shifting from foot to foot as the physical sensations began.

"What's wrong?" She was frowning, now. "Are you sure you're not sick?"

"Could you please leave?" he asked, almost begged. If she didn't in the next minute or two...

"Bos, what's wrong?" He knew from her tone she was *not* about to leave. She was, in fact, moving forward.

"Don't touch me!" he yelled, back pedalling. Already he could feel his senses starting to spiral upwards. He didn't see her reaction, didn't hear her over the rushing in his own ears.

But a moment later he felt her hands on his arms, trying to pull at him. He pushed her away, before he collapsed, feeling his flesh start to crawl, his bones start to melt.

God, he hated this part.

"Bosco? Oh my god... I'm going to call an ambulance."

"No!" he managed, his voice already more than half growl. "Please..."

"You said you weren't sick, what is this?" He could hear how worried she was, feel him trying to roll him onto his back.

"You... don't... want... to... know..." Words were getting harder and harder to say, even as he resisted her attempts to move him.

She kept pulling, though, bringing him around to face her. She was touching his face, as though checking for fever. "What the hell?" Her hands suddenly dropped away.

He attempted a smile, even though he knew it wouldn't succeed. "T-tol... you...." he managed before the change stole his words entirely. For a moment, all he was aware of was his shifting, melting form.

Then it was over.

When he looked up, she was staring at him. He could smell the fear, though it wasn't as strong as he'd expected it to be. He grinned at her, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth.

"You're a dog." She was suddenly sitting down, staring at him from eye-level.

He growled. A dog?

She scooted backwards a few inches at his growl. She was muttering something under her breath, which normally he wouldn't be able to hear. She was saying, "Ohmygod," over again. Cursing himself for scaring her, Bosco got to his feet and made to go over and do his best to reassure her.

Or that was the plan at least.

But he hadn't had a chance to strip before he changed and as soon as he tried to take a step he got tangled in and tripped on the remains of his clothes. Falling on his nose.

That started her laughing. When he looked up at her, she stared back, then laughed even harder. He glared at her, but was too tangled up to do anything else. Finally she scooted forward onto her knees and reached out. "Here, let's get you out of those." She stopped. "Unless you're going to change right back?"

He shook his head.

She just nodded and proceeded to remove his clothes. It was difficult manouevring the shirt off his upper body -- bulkier across the chest, forearms that no longer had ball and joint sockets. But she managed, and soon his clothes were strewn in a nice, messy pile.

Once they were off, he stood and shook himself, revelling in the absence of confinement. A sudden mischievious impulse led him to lick Yakos' face from chin to hairline.

"Bosco!" She sat back, her tone of outrage shifting in mid-outcry to wonder. She reached out and grabbed a hold of his face -- a handful of thick fur. "Bosco?"

He nodded, grinning at her again.

"Oh my god. You... you're...." She looked towards the window, over which the curtains were drawn, but it seemed to tell her what she needed to verify, anyhow. "You never do work third shift on a full moon. I always thought you were too chicken to deal with the weirdoes..."

Bosco snorted at that, giving her a look of disbelief.

"Present company excluded," she added.

Yeah, right. He wasn't a weirdo. And he certainly wasn't chicken.

He was just a werewolf.

She looked at him, askance. "You're not going to bite me, are you? Turn me into..."

The idea made him collapse in laughter, little yips and barks coming out of his muzzle as his whole body shook in hilarity.

"Oh, excuse me," she said, sounding offended. "But you're the first werewolf I've met. How am I supposed to know? I've seen American Werewolf in London a dozen times. You want to tell me that isn't real?"

Bosco rolled his eyes. It looked like he was going to have to explain everything to his partner from scratch. The only problem was that it was a bit hard to communicate right now.

"If you're not going to bite me, and you aren't sick... are you going to be all right? I have to get back on-duty soon."

Bosco nodded, blinking at the sudden turnaround. He stood and padded towards the door, stopping and looking back over his shoulder at his partner.

She stood up, looking a little off-balance still, despite having calmed down. "Bosco?"

He gave her his best inquisitive look.

"Are you going to be OK? I mean, here alone?"

Resisting the urge to roll his eyes again, he nodded.

"You're sure?" She had gone into her 'mother mode' again, looking at him with a calculating expression. "How can you... do anything, with no hands? Don't you get bored? What if there's a problem?"

In response Bosco walked back over to the pile of books that had been knocked over, pulled one out with his teeth than pushed it open with a paw. He looked up at Yokas expectantly.

She half-grinned, then came over and took the book, reading the cover. "Anne Higgins? Bos, she writes *romance* novels."

Unable to argue with her that this didn't happen to be one, he settled for glaring. Yokas laughed and shook her head, setting the book back down. He tried to get his muzzle in the way of her hand when she reached for another book. Then he blinked in astonishment as he felt his head being scratched. *Right* behind the ears.

His eyes half-closed and his tail began to wag. He heard a stiffled giggle. He tried to glare again but with the scratching still going on it was at most half-hearted.

"You'd make a good watch-wolf, I can see that."

He growled. Very softly.

"Uh-huh." Yokas rubbed his head, then she got a very evil look in her eye. "So if I scratched your belly, would you--"

The growling got louder.

"Geez, ask a simple question." She was smiling easily now, though; the scent of fear was almost totally gone. She looked at him again.

He grinned at her.

She shook her head. "This is too weird. Even for New York. I have to get back on-duty." She began to head for the front door, still glancing back at Bosco every other step.

Remembering his manners, he got up and walked her to the door.

She stood there for another moment before opening it, staring down at him. Finally she just said, "You're a huge wolf. You know that?"

Bosco nodded and grinned.

"All right. I'll see you on Friday." Then she let herself out, carefully re-locking the door behind her.

With a sigh, he flopped down in front of the door.


It was really, entirely too early the next morning when he woke to the sound of knocking. He groaned and rolled over, hoping whoever it was would give up and go away.

The knocking continued. Peering out from under the blankets, he realised the sun was up -- had been for a few hours.

Entirely too early to be awake.

"Go away," he yelled, pulling a pillow over his head.

"Bosco?"

It was his partner. *Again*. Swearing under his breath he got up, grabbed his robe and headed to the door.

She was knocking again as he reached the door. "Bosco?" she called again, then he heard the keys jangling.

"I'm coming already!" He jerked the door open before Yokas could unlock it.

She looked startled, when he got the door open; for a moment neither of them said anything. Finally Yokas asked, "Can I come in?"

He stared at her for a moment, feeling awkward. "Sure," he said shortly stepping back to let her in.

"So." She seemed at least as awkward as he felt, not moving past the entryway.

"If you're coming in, come in already." He turned and headed for his kitchen, feeling in desperate need of caffeine.

"Bos," she said as she came after him, then stood at the threshold of the kitchen. "I'm sorry."

He turned and looked at her surprised. "For waking me up?"

She shrugged, but said, "For last night." She grinned slightly. "I'm not sorry for waking you up."

"Didn't think so. You want some coffee?"

"Sure." She waited, watching as he began to make a pot.

Neither of them spoke until Bosco was handing over a mug of coffee to his partner. Then he said, "There's nothing to be sorry for." He paused. "Well, maybe the dog crack..."

"Dog crack?" She gave him a guileless look and took a sip of her coffee. "That was your own fault, you know. You should have told me you were staying home to turn into a wolf."

He felt his lips twitch. "My mistake."

"So, tonight and tomorrow, same thing? Then you're back to what passes for normal, for you?" She seemed calm, asking her questions casually. Bosco figured if he didn't start telling her more she would just ask some of the thousand questions she had and he'd have to answer, or hedge, anyway. Might as well answer and hedge, upfront.

"This is normal for me." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Look, what do you want to know?"

"Have you always been a werewolf? Or did one of your dates bite you?" she half-grinned.

"Yes, I've always been a werewolf and it's none of your business about what my dates have done to me." He grinned back.

"Good; I really didn't want to know." She tilted her head. "So were your folks werewolves?"

"That's generally the way it works."

"So you really were raised by wolves?"

"For three days a month anyway." He sat down at the table. "And I was very cute as a cub."

Her eyebrow raised. "You have pictures?" Her tone was eager -- a tone he had long ago learned to be wary of.

Bosco snorted. "Yeah, right, like I'm going to show them to you."

But that told her all she needed to know. "That's OK; I can call your mom."

Great. He made a mental note to visit home and "lose" the old photo albums.

She opened her mouth to ask another question, then stopped. Curiously, she reached out and scratched his head. Right behind the ear. He felt his eyes start to close in pleasure before sense kicked in and he pushed her away. "Yokas!"

She just laughed.

"Geeze, keep your hands to yourself!"

"I just needed to know if it would work." Setting her coffee mug down, she gave him a slightly stern look. "Bosco..."

He knew that look. "No," he said, holding his hands up defensively.

"You're going to tell me that you've never once gotten into trouble, being here alone?"

"Nothing I couldn't get out of," he hedged.

She folded her arms, and continued to look stern. "Before you changed back in the morning?"

Bosco opened his mouth, then closed it again under his partner's glare.

"You're coming over to my place tonight."

"Yokas-"

"From now *on*, Bosco. Or I'm going to sign up to work a K-9 unit three nights every month."

"Fred and the kids are just going to accept your partner turning into a wolf?"

She shrugged. "Fred gets along with my mother. This is nothing." With a sly smile she added, "The kids will love it."

"I bet." He sighed. "What -- did you promise them a dog or something and this is your way of wriggling out of it?"

"Five o'clock, Bosco. My place."

"Yok-"

"Don't argue with me or I'll come over here and drag you there, myself."

Looking into her eyes, there was no doubt in Bosco's mind she was serious and he had a sudden image of her pulling him along on a leash. "Fine," he grumbled, giving in.

With a satisfied nod, she picked her coffee mug back up and took it to the sink, rinsing it out before setting it on the dish drying rack. Bosco finished his coffee with another gulp, then handed his empty mug to her. She was halfway through rinsing it as well before she stopped, gave him a glare and returned the mug.

He gave her his most winning smile. "It was worth a try."

"I need to get back home," was all she said. "I'll see *you* tonight."

"Yeah, yeah." He muttered just loud enough to be heard by pushy partners.

She was almost to the door before she stopped. "Is there anything else you'd like to tell me? Werewolves are really aliens from another world? You're secretly a libertarian?"

"Yokas, please. Me, a libertarian? Who would believe that?"

"Who would believe you read Anne Higgins?" she countered.

"Well, only when I sprout fur."

"So you turn into a libertarian on a new moon?"

"You found me out. Are you sure you want me around your kids?"

"They'll manage. They're tough kids. Besides, I like exposing them to people less fortunate than themselves."

"Hah hah. Very funny. You sure you're not in the wrong profession?"

"Like what, social work?"

"I'm surprised you didn't say dog catcher."

"Don't you have a license?" she asked, surprised. She frowned, slightly. "Does this mean you don't have your rabies shot?"

Bosco resisted the urge to bang his head against the kitchen table, but just barely. He'd just *had* to say that. "Don't you have somewhere to be? Other people to annoy?"

"You're right, I have to get home." Her tone made it sound much less concilatory than her words implied. She stopped, though, with her hand on the door. "You'll be there. Five."

He glared but acquiesed grudgingly. "Yeah, right, whatever."

There was a part of him, however, that warmed at his partner's concern and how quickly she seemed to have adjusted to this new aspect of his life. Not that he would ever admit it though.

This time she just nodded, then simply let herself out.


It was ten 'til five. Bosco stood in the hallway outside the door to Yokas' apartment. He had, after promising half a dozen times to show up, almost decided not to. In fact, he had been well on his way to staying home when his partner had called his place at 4.15. She and he both knew it took almost half an hour for him to drive to her place from his.

She hadn't said anything -- she hadn't needed to. Bosco had felt immediately chastised in the way only his mother and police captain had been able to do before he was partnered with Yokas. Thus, here he was, standing in the hallway, about to spend the night with people who before today had had no idea what he was.

And he was going to be what he was, in front of them. He should have told Yokas just how awkward he felt, being on display like this. Maybe she'd have let him get out of it.

No, probably not. She'd just talk him into it, again. It wasn't like he'd gotten into *serious* trouble, on his own. Very often.

And it was never *that* serious. Except the time he'd had to call a friend of his folks' to come over since he couldn't very well call 911.

He sighed, and raised his hand to knock on their front door. If he'd breathed a word of *that* one, he'd be over here every full moon for the rest of his life.

Fred was standing there, looking as nervous and awkward as Bosco felt. That cheered him, immensely. "Come on in." Fred stepped back, waving him in.

"Thanks," Bosco replied as he walked by the man and into the apartment.

Fred closed the door behind him, and then headed towards the kitchen. He was obviously in the early stages of preparing dinner. "You, uh, eating with us?" Fred asked.

"Depends on when it'll be ready."

"Half an hour." He started, slightly, apparently realising how close to moonrise that would be. "You, uh, don't eat when...?"

"Not cooked meat."

Fred looked startled. "Oh. I could... I mean, I haven't started cooking it yet."

It was weird, Bosco reflected, to be talking with the man like this. Normally they barely tolerated each other -- Bosco enjoyed needling him and watching him simply deal. Now, though, they had to be polite -- without Yokas around to referee. "Um, thanks, but I'm... um... not very hungry."

Fred nodded, looking relieved. Before either could realise they had to think of another topic of conversation, Emily and Charley came running in. "Dad, dad!" They stopped short when they saw Bosco.

"Uncle Bosco? Whatcha doing here? Gonna have dinner with us?" Emily asked in rapid succession.

"Umm... something like that," Bosco answered, glancing at Fred. Hadn't Yokas told them about...?

He was going to kill her.

Fred just shrugged, unhelpfully. But he didn't answer his daughter's question. "He's staying the night, sweetheart. Remember?"

"Oh... that's right. He's sleeping over. Can he read me the bedtime story?"

Fred gave Bosco an amused glance. "Of course, Emily."

"Cool! He can read me the next chapter out of my fairy tale book." She grinned and bounced.

"Uhm..." Bosco said intelligently.

"You need to finish your homework," Fred reminded her.

She sighed dramatically, "Yes, sir." Then she wandered back to her room as if doom itself was awaiting her there.

Fred smiled, apologetically. Then Charley, still standing at Bosco's side, tugged at his hand. Bosco looked down at the boy. "Come watch cartoons with me." Charley said, tugging again. "Wanna ask you something."

"What?"

"Come on." Charley dragged him into the living room.

The TV was on, animated images flickering past. Bosco recognised the show and grinned. Charley had been watching his face and grinned back before pulling him over to the couch. "I love this show," he admitted. It was on in the late mornings, on another channel so he watched it a lot, while getting ready for work. He could see that he had gained a measure of respect for that.

"Cool, Uncle Bosco. I wanna ask you about the wolfy stuff." Charley cut right to the chase, "Are you really gonna turn into a wolf? How come? Does it hurt and get all icky like that one movie? Do you like to howl? What about--"

Bosco restrained a groan. Yes, he was definitely going to kill his partner.

"Does that mean you're changing now?" The boy looked positively delighted.

Ignoring the boy wasn't going to help, though -- soon enough he'd be changing, and then he wouldn't... Bosco smiled to himself. He wouldn't be able to talk. When was the moon rising again?

Twenty minutes, surely he could divert the boy that long. Fortunately, the cartoon would still be on for 15 minutes. On the other hand, he found at every commercial break Charley had more questions.

"Do you get fleas?"

"I'll be right back," Bosco said, getting up and going into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. He stood there, staring at his reflection in the mirror for five minutes. They didn't know how long it took, he told himself. They wouldn't know he was hiding until he *did* change.

There was a knock at the door, "Uncle Bosco? Does the fur itch? Does Mom need to get you a collar or something? Can I take you for a walk?"

Emily's voice joined her brother's. "Is he changing? Uncle Bosco? Are you changing now?"

The boy's voice came through the door, "I think so. It's been real quiet. No growling yet, though."

Not that he didn't feel the urge to, but that had nothing to do with him changing. He was running out of time to stall. Part of him was relieved -- the other part was *not* ready to go out there and be seen.

"Do ya think his fur the same color as his hair?"

"I dunno. Is he locked in and can't get out? He's been in there forever. At least one cartoon already."

"Charley? Emily? What are you two doing?" Bosco heard Fred calling out, and walking down the hall towards them.

"Nuthin, Dad. Just waiting for Uncle Bosco to come out and be a wolf for us."

That time Bosco *did* groan. It lengthened, involuntarily, as the change began. He quickly stripped off his clothing, then soon found himself on all fours.

He heard the distinctive thump of an body being pressed up against the door, "It's happening! I heard him yowl or something."

Bosco looked at the door. Now or never. How long could he hide in the bathroom? The tile couldn't be that cold to sleep on....

"Uncle Bosco?" came Emily's hesitant voice. "I gotta go."

"Me too." Charley chimed in.

Faintly he could hear Fred, "Yeah, Uncle Bosco... me three."

Rolling his eyes and thinking up new and painful ways in which to get back at his partner, Bosco nosed the door open. And glared at the three people standing there.

There was a stunned silence then Emily stepped back. "Big teeth." Bosco just turned his head towards her. She examined him critically. "I like your face," she declared.

In spite of himself, Bosco found himself grinning at her. She giggled, then pushed her way past, into the bathroom. He looked up at Fred and deliberately yawned.

"Grandma, what big teeth you have."

Charley looked up at his dad and giggled. With as much dignity as he could manage, Bosco pushed past them and went back to the living room.

Dignity was tested when Charley clambered after him -- Bosco was only a bit taller than the child, and the boy seemed to be entranced by his new playmate. Climbing onto the couch and flopping down, Bosco gave him a "What?" look.

Charley climbed up beside him, half-lying on him. "You're cool, Uncle Bosco. Can I take you to show and tell?"

Bosco shook his head.

"We talked about that, Charley," his dad stuck his head into the room. "Remember? You can't tell anybody."

Charley looked disappointed, but nodded.

Giving in to an impulse, Bosco licked the boy's face, making him giggle. What the hell. The kid wasn't that bad. Charley grabbed him around the neck, hugging him tightly.

Which would have been fine, if he wasn't being strangled.

It was probably a good thing he couldn't speak -- he suffered in silence throughout suffocating hugs, fur pulling, and being lain on, for the rest of the evening. He had never been more grateful to hear the words, "Okay, bedtime!"

From the look Fred gave him, he knew his gratitude was not unnoticed. Charley tried tugging him towards the bedroom, though. "Can't he sleep in our room tonight?"

Bosco was sure he wore a look of horror at the suggestion.

Of course, Fred wasn't being entirely helpful. "If he wants to, Charley." The boy cheered, though his father continued, "But you gotta remember he ain't used to going to bed this early. You can't expect him to wanna go to sleep now."

"But-"

"Don't argue, Charley."

Bosco shot Fred a grateful look.

"Can he stay with me until I fall asleep?" he tried.

And if he was in there would the kids ever fall asleep? Or just keep tortu- playing with him?

Fred scooted his son down the hallway. "You get ready for bed. He can come in for a few minutes." Fred shot him a questioning look, to make sure he didn't mind.

Too much. He sighed and shrugged. Yokas was definitely going to owe him big.

He was lying on the couch, waiting for the kids to get ready to be tucked in, when the front door opened. Yokas.

"Hon?" she called out, as she came in.

"In here," Fred called back.

Bosco raised his head to look at the doorway, but otherwise didn't move. He saw her walk in, see him, and stop. "Bosco--" she began in a stern tone. Then she shook her head. "If you shed on my couch, you're vaccuuming it tomorrow morning."

He stuck his tongue out at her, then deliberately scratched in such a way to shed the maximum amount.

She muttered something about the things she had to put up with, and went into the kitchen. Fred headed after her, stopping briefly by the couch. "They're, uh, ready for you in there. Don't keep them up too long, OK?"

Oh you can bet on that. The sooner they went to sleep, the sooner he could have some peace and quiet.

Both the kids were in bed when he came into the room, and they both sat up, bouncing, at the sight of him. "Are you gonna sleep with us?" Charley asked excitedly. "There's room for you on my bed!"

He settled on the thick rug on the floor between the beds. He wasn't a fool. It would be a lot easier to sneak out if he wasn't on the bed. Not to mention there was less chance of getting kicked down here. Or huggle-squeezed out of air.

Or -- the excuse he had from Fred which he could use if anyone asked... not that he could answer anyhow, but it was a good answer regardless -- it would be less likely to keep the kids awake all night.

Charley and Emily hung over the sides of their beds. "You're a really big wolf," Emily said.

"He's the biggest I've ever seen!" Charley added in an impressed tone.

Bosco snorted. Somehow he doubted the city-bred boy had seen many wolves for comparison.

With the air of the more knowledgable older sibling, Emily echoed Bosco's thoughts. "You've never seen *any* wolves."

"Have too, at the Bronx city zoo on my class trip." A little pink tongue came out and made a defiant gesture.

She rolled her eyes. "Those don't count."

"Whynot?" He ran the phrase into one word.

Bosco rolled his eyes and resisted the urge to put his paws over his head.

"Because those are *regular* wolves. Not werewolves. Werewolves are always bigger than wolves."

"And how would you know? You read a book or something?" Charley's fingers reached towards him, trying to touch his fur. He shifted, moving out of reach. Which only moved him into more into Emily's.

"I know all about werewolves," she said, haughtily. Bosco caught the guilty glance she sent him knowing that he, of course, would know if she were wrong. But her brother didn't know that.

"So tell me. Tell me. Tell me!"

And there wasn't much he could do about it, given that his vocal chords were not capable of speech in this form anyway.

"They only change during the full moon, which means he'll be here tomorrow night, too." She ticked each Werewolf Fact off on her fingers. "They can only be killed with silver bullets," she added, then fell silent, thinking.

Bosco sighed. He wished that was true.

"So? Everybody knows *that*."

Except the werewolves, Bosco thought.

Charley's leg was now dangling over the edge of the bed. It wouldn't be long before they were on the floor with him.

"I bet you don't know they can't stand garlic," Emily said. She'd scooted a little closer, towards her brother -- and hence, towards the floor.

Bosco considered vacating the premises before he ended up with the two kids trying to strangle him again.

"No spaghetti tomorrow for dinner then." The little boy's gaze drifted from him to the door to his sister. Clearly debating whether it was worth getting trouble for.

"No spaghetti?" Emily frowned for a moment. "No garlic bread, either." She slid onto the floor and wrapped an arm over his neck in sympathy. "Poor Bosco."

That did it for Charley. He was there an instant later. Only the boy grabbed him around the middle since his head was already taken.

Oh, he was gonna get Yokas for this. He wasn't sure how or when, but he would get her.

"OK you two, back in bed. NOW!" Yokas added sternly, when the children got their protesting faces, but before they could actually whine. "Bos, you better leave their room else they won't get any sleep."

"But Mom we were just--" Charley hushed at his mother's thunderous expression. "Yes, ma'am."

Emily climbed into bed with equal disgust, pouting as much as she dared. With a grateful sigh, Bosco climbed to his feet and made his escape.

"If we're good, can he sleep with us tomorrow night?"

"Pleaseeeee?"

Yokas gave her kids a measuring look. "How good is 'good'?"

"Ultra special super good, Mom." The boy answered quickly.

Oh no. He was not going back in there. They couldn't make him.

"We'll even clean our room!" Emily said, earning a dirty look from her brother.

"And take out the trash." Charley upped the ante, getting a glare back.

"Uh-huh. Tell you what, you two clean your room tomorrow, and take out the trash, *and* do what your father tells you without talking back, and he can sleep in here tomorrow night."

What? Nope. No way. It wasn't going to happen.

There was a long pause while the siblings debated it silently between themselves, then in chorus they answered, "Yes, Mom."

"Good." She sounded pleased with herself. After they'd left the room and she'd shut the door firmly, she looked down at Bosco. "Don't worry," she said quietly. "They'll never manage to do all three."

Bosco just glared at her, making a note to have a discussion about "things you do not do to your partner when he's a wolf" in the morning.

"What?" she asked with exagerated innocence. "Hey, if they *do* manage, I'll owe you one! They haven't cleaned their room without arguing for five days beforehand in months."

He just continued looking at her steadily. Projecting with all he was worth that he wasn't a bargaining chip.

"Oh, like you don't already owe me a big one for doing the reports last week?" Apparently she could still read his mind.

Okay. So maybe he did owe her. But not this big.

"And the week before? And when I told Masters that you weren't the one who--"

Bosco winced.

"So I think you could suffer a couple hours or entertaining my kids." She gave him a look. "They really aren't that bad."

If he had been in human form he would've just raised an eyebrow at her. Somehow he still managed to convey that impression.

She whapped him on the top of the head. "You're one to talk. I have to live with them." Then she glanced at her watch. "Oh, hell, I have to get going." She gave him a very direct look. "Be good."

He grinned at her and wagged his tail, doing a passable impression of a brainless dog.

She cocked her head sideways. "You know, you look like you, when you do that."

He made a mock lunge forward at that with a growl.

"I'll see you later." She went into the other room, told Fred goodbye and gave him a kiss, then left.

Fred gave Bosco an uncertain look, then went back to watching his hockey game.

With a sigh Bosco flopped down on the floor in front of the couch to watch the game as well. Soon Fred was shouting back at the TV, unselfconsciously, and offering Bosco his opinions on the stupidity of plays. It felt nice to have company and to have company that was treating him perfectly normally. Maybe this wasn't going to be the total disaster that he had been thinking it was.

Then he noticed the glance from Fred. Fred quickly turned his attention back to the game. It was difficult but Bosco kept from muttering. Or growling.

Fred kept watching the game, kept talking to both it and Bosco in as normal a tone as he ever talked to Bosco. But every once in a while, there was that glance. Bosco had the sudden urge to cross his eyes and stick his tongue out at the man at the next look.

The next time he glanced over, he found Bosco staring back at him. Fred flinched slightly, then gave him a defensive look. "So what? You think I'm used to having werewolves in my living room?"

The look Bosco gave him clearly asked, "Are you?"

"I mean, when Faith told me... I figured it was a joke, right? Trying to get me back for something -- or you." He shrugged. "Tell you the truth I didn't really believe her until you... you know." He gestured towards the hallway bathroom.

Yeah. He knew. Seeing is believing.

"You, uh... need anything? I know you can't talk and all, but Faith said I was to, um," he trailed off, his face growing slightly red.

Bosco just sat there, not helping.

"So you need anything?" he asked again.

He paused just long enough to make Fred uncomfortable before shaking his head.

Fred nodded quickly, asking, "You'll let me know?"

Bosco nodded once then laid his head back down on his paws. He heard a relieved sigh.


Work promised to be long today. Though he'd only be working a half-shift, Bosco *knew* his partner was going to be constantly after him about one thing or another. Even though he *had* vacuumed the couch that morning before he'd left for his own apartment. He'd gotten out before Yokas had woken; the kids and Fred had made enough noise to waken even the deepest-asleep wolf.

Things were routine until they got into the car. Yokas kept shooting him looks.

"What?" he finally demanded.

"Don't yell at me," she responded. Perversely, she went back to concentrating on her driving. For about two seconds. Then she glanced over, again.

"You're staring."

"So? Since when has that bothered you?" She didn't sound at all ruffled.

"'Since when has that bothered me?' Since forever!"

"You usually don't try to deafen me, though," she said, still calm. Like they were discussing the weather, or that day's list of suspects to watch out for.

Glaring, Bosco turned away, trying to ignore the feel of her gaze on him.

For a while there was an incredibly annoying silence. Then, "Fred says you didn't eat anything... normally you like his cooking."

"Wasn't ready before moonrise," he muttered.

"You can't eat when you're a wolf?" she asked, surprised.

"How many wolves do you know who eat cooked food?"

"Ask me how many wolves I know, period." She glanced at him again. "We had more meat in the fridge. You could have asked, Fred would have got it out for you."

"Yeah? And how was I supposed to do that?"

She laughed. "Come on, Fred's smart enough to understand a wolf saying he's hungry." There was a pause, then she added, "I'm not saying you *have* to eat at our place. I'm just saying you can." As if she'd guessed he might be more concerned with feeling self-conscious, than hungry.

"I'd rather eat at my place. And sleep there, too." He was not sulking, he told himself.

"Don't sulk. I don't want you staying by yourself. Do we have to go through this argument again?"

He reminded himself he was arguing with a mom. She was used to stubborn and used to winning. But he couldn't just let it go. "It isn't like I don't know how to take care of myself. Been doing it for years."

"You're the one who said you got into trouble because you were alone."

"Nothing I couldn't get myself back out of. I'm here aren't I?"

"You're saying that the time you were out sick for a week right after the full moon was a coincidence?"

"Would you believe food poisoning?"

"Not really. You came back sporting a bandage on your right forearm."

"That could've happened to anyone," he muttered.

"Anyone with paws instead of hands?"

He glared at her.

"So you're staying at my place tonight." She sounded like she'd won the argument.

"I'm not sleeping in the kids' room."

"Was the couch OK? I noticed you vacuumed it; thanks. Do you want me to call Fred and have him set something out for you? I don't know what's in the freezer..."

"Faith," he said breaking into her questions. "Chill."

She glanced at him almost guiltily. "Sorry. I'm just wanna make sure you're OK."

"I'm fine, I'm great. It's not like this is a new thing for me, y'know. I've been doing this all my life."

She gave him another look, then said quietly, "You really don't wanna come over, do you?"

He sighed. "I appreciate the concern, Faith, really. No offense, but I'm not thrilled about playing family dog for your kids."

"Then you won't mind if I stop by your place tonight and check on you?"

It was a fair compromise. And, truth be told, he did like the feeling of having someone worry about him. Not that he'd ever admit. "Guess I can't stop you," he grudgingly grumbled.

From the way she half-grinned at him, he figured she knew exactly how he felt.

"5-5 David, suspicious man reported at 115 Dugan. Woman requests 5-5 David respond to the call."

"Great, just great! It's going to be one of those days, isn't it?"

"I thought you liked Ms. Murphy," Yokas said, grinning, before she acknowledged the call.

Bosco just gave her a disgusted look.


They arrived to find Ms. Murphy waiting for them, as usual.

"Oh, thank god you're here!" she exclaimed as soon as they'd gotten out of the squad. She went over to Yokas and took her arm. "It was horrible!"

"What is it this time?" Bosco asked sarcastically. "Freddy Kruger?"

"Oh, no, of course not! Freddy Kruger is fiction!" She gave Bosco a look of scorn, before turning back to Yokas with real fear in her eyes. "I saw it last night, but I didn't remember until just now! He must have hypnotised me or something."

"Who did, Ms. Murphy?" Yokas asked patiently.

"If she says Count Dracula, I'm outta here," Bosco muttered.

Yokas gave him a dark look, but the frightened woman nodded. "Not him, of course - but one of them! It was, I remember his eyes and his fangs..."

Yokas stared at her in amazement, then shot a querying look at Bosco.

"Not my department."

She turned back to Ms. Murphy. "Could you... describe him?"

Yokas made notes as Ms. Murphy earnestly described the dark, mysterious figure who snuck into her locked house and made unseemly advances, threatening to bite her neck then bewitching her into forgetting it all. Yokas kept a straight face throughout and promised to let her know if they found the man. Vampire.

Finally they left, with Yokas reassuring Ms. Murphy that the vampire wasn't likely to return.

"Wish there was some way to cut off her cable."

"Be nice," she scolded. Then she gave him a worried look. "Bos--"

"What?"

She glared at him. "Don't look at me like you don't know what I'm asking. Are vampires real?"

"How the hell would I know if they were?"

"Excuse me? You're a werewolf, aren't you?"

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"Well you're both mythical creatures. Don't you keep track of each other or something?"

Bosco rolled his eyes. "Oh yeah. We all get a newsletter, and go to conventions once a year."

"Gimme a break, Bosco. I've known about this for what, two days now? Cut me some slack while I get caught up. Which, may I remind you, involves you actually answering my questions instead of rolling your eyes at me."

"Well, don't ask stupid questions then."

"How am I supposed to know what's stupid question until I ask?" She gave him a look, shaking a finger at him briefly before returning her hand to the wheel. "Don't think I don't know you're being this way to make me stop asking questions at all."

He was silent for a moment. "Don't like being treated like a freak," he finally said.

"You're not a freak, Bosco. You're different. I just... I just wanna know. I don't like the idea that there's a million new things about my partner that I don't have a clue about."

"I'm still the same guy, Yokas. The only thing you didn't know is that I happen to change into a wolf three nights a month."

"So the thing about silver bullets isn't true?"

"They'll kill me. So will ordinary bullets."

"And bad pastrami?"

"Is still usually lunch."

She rolled her eyes at him, but fell silent. Bosco was about to be thankful for it, hoping they could get back to doing their job and leaving the interrogations for the criminals, when Yokas spoke up again.

"So, is your being a werewolf why you've never made a move on Doherty?"

"What?!"

She gave him a confused look. "Wasn't I supposed to know?"


Next Story: Dog's Day