Over The Hills And Far Away
by LindaMarie

"The llama," the Tibetan guidebook helpfully informed him, "is not native to Tibet, but is a recent import from the Americas."

Oz tucked the small volume into his jacket and reached out to pat his pack animal's neck. "So we've got something else in common, huh, Elfman." He sighed, looking around the area outside the gates of the ashram, at the dozen or so people lined up to get a glimpse inside. There was a conspicuous lack of natives--only a single guide--among them. He heard English, French, Italian, and what was possibly Klingon but more likely Russian.

The problem, of course, was that they were all just people. Normal people. Not that he'd expected to see a bunch of fellow werewolves with blue hair and blue-dyed llamas to match, but he'd assumed he'd see something...different. Something that wasn't just another stop for the disillusioned upper-middle-class Westerner.

Oz, after all, was not upper-middle-class.

When he got the invitation to come here, he'd been at the foremost Tantra school in India--which hadn't cured the wolfiness one bit, but did seem to help with the aggression. He'd had a safe secure place to stay, at least. That was more than he'd come to expect, right there--and yet he left. He left ebcause he got a letter in the mail, a note consisting of three simple words: "We can help." There was a crude map on the back, and a date.


So he left. It was ridiculous to hope, not to mention stupid to come alone when they mysteriously knew so much about him as to seek him out; but there was something in that envelope--a smell? A memory?--that drove him to it.

Now he was shivering under his warm clothing. It was barely afternoon, but already that feeling, wolf-feeling, was rising in his belly. The sensation was somewhere between apprehension and arousal, and not altogether unpleasant, save for what it heralded.

Full moon tonight.

Oz turned, inhumanly quick, when he felt someone touch his arm. It was a young man in monks' robes--and he was undoubtedly American. "Mr. Osbourne?"

He flinched away from the touch. "Oz. I'm Oz."

"I'm so glad to see you," the monk said, tanned face breaking into a smile. "We were worried you'd be delayed."

"Me too," Oz said, truthfully.

"Here, follow me. I'll show you where you can put him"--he pointed at Elfman--"and we'll get someone to carry your stuff inside."

Oz nodded and followed. The guy had a tattoo on the back of his neck, of Wile E. Coyote. Oz looked back to see the other arrivals still waiting in the cold. His host (?) unlocked a side gate and led him through, taking the llama's bridle in hand. "They've been waiting all day, you know. Pretty soon the guide will take them back to the village, which as you probably noticed is over two hours' walk from here. He does it every day, and we never let anyone in. It's gotten him some serious cash, though." They were walking along an outside corridor. The man said over his shoulder, "How much did it cost you to get him all blue, anyway?"

Oz smiled despite himself. "Not too much. I've got connections."


"Well, here's your room."

There was a bed, a chest of drawers, a lamp--and in the corner, a man-sized steel cage. Oz looked questioningly at the young monk in the doorway.

"It locks automatically when you close it. We can only unlock it from the outside."

Oz let out a breath he hadn't known he'd been holding. "Thanks, man. What's your name?"

"It's Patrick. Listen, I've gotta go, and you probably want to clean up. If you get hungry, wander down the hall to your left, and you're bound to hit the kitchen. Help yourself." Then the door to his room closed, and Oz was alone.

I can't help myself, Oz thought. That's why I'm here. So you can help me.


Oz didn't get hungry for food. When he could feel the sun start to set, he went into his cage and shut the door behind him. He stripped off his clothes and sat, waiting.

The change was just beginning--fur on his hands, but no claws, yet--when someone walked into his room, keys in hand. It was Patrick, except that his eyes were yellow, hair rapidly covering his bare skin. He was naked.

While Oz was processing all this, Patrick unlocked his door and pulled it open. "No! No, you can't, it's," and Oz had to stop and just hold himself as his ribcage expanded and his legbones stretched. "No," he gasped, and Patrick didn't say anything for at least a minute, when a howl burst from his throat. A few seconds later Oz's wolf-voice was soaring around his, and he could hear others, not far away. Oz was aware during his wolf-time now, though he couldn't think or change anything.

They ran together, then, out into the hall.

That night he ran with a pack, fourteen others, over the moonlit snow. Their wet breath made clouds in the frozen air as they chased one another over the whole of the isolated valley where the monastary stood. They never even scented man.


Oz woke up in a big warm room full of naked bodies. The pack, he thought, and stood.

A few of the people opened their eyes or rolled over at the sound of movement. An older woman to the left of him smiled, and sat up. She had a bone through the septum of her nose. "Welcome, Oz."

He looked back at her, unsmiling, trying to conjure an anger that he couldn't quite grasp in the aftermath of such a night. "So this is what you meant when you said you could help me?"

Patrick's voice was quiet, from somewhere behind him. "Yes. Are you disappointed?"

"I--" He turned full-circle to look at all the people in the room. All the not-nearly-normal people. He wanted to say yes, he really did. It had been a long time since he'd really believed in a cure, but he'd kept looking anyway, not knowing what else to do. Without that, he wouldn't go back to Willow. He wasn't sure he'd want to anyway, any more. "I'm not sure."

"No one comes here at night, Oz. We've been here four years now, and never hurt a soul. It's safe here, to be what we are." This from a young girl barely in her teens, who wore an eyepatch.

"What are we?" His voice was dry as he asked, afraid of an answer he didn't know he wanted.

Oz didn't see the guy who answered. "Family," he said, and Oz thought about Veruca. What if she'd known about this place? Would it have been enough?

"So why don't people come here at night? Do they know about you?" He turned to look at Patrick, the only one of them who had a name for them yet, though he felt like he knew them all.

"Not exactly. The locals think the valley is full of yeti. They only tell the tourists that they won't guide them, and it's not on any maps."

Oz couldn't help but smile. He could live with this, couldn't he? "You want me to stay here?"

"Be one of the pack," said the same one who'd said "family," and Oz spotted him this time: An older teen, with shocking green hair, who grinned. "We're not letting you leave now, anyway. Pat told us you've got connections."


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