Sheamus O'Mallory misses the good old days. Back when you could smoke without worrying about getting cancer, police work was simple, and Toronto hadn't been rebranded The Neon City, supernatural refuge of the country. Now monsters crawl around every single corner, and while it makes for good business working as a PI in this new neon landscape, he can't help but miss a lot of other creature comforts.
Things change when he's been tasked to track Jake Ohk, an MIA werewolf who needs to return to his pack in order to fulfill his biological duty in his birth gender. While Sheamus is sympathetic to gender concerns in this new landscape, he knows from his time on the force to not mess with supernatural law. So when he finds Jake, he is determined to bring him back to his pack leader, and wipe his hands clean of the entire affair.
The night does not go as planned. Even though it is not a full moon yet, there are already far too many changes lurking under Jake's skin to simply walk away and never think of his piercing blue eyes again ...
“Don’t tell me that I need to sacrifice or that that breeding is only one night, because it’s not. It's nine months, ten moons in total usually. And I still have to keep that gender in this form." Jake gestured to his masculinized body. His facial hair was faint, but present. He'd clearly been on hormones for some time too, since his voice was pitched lower. His breasts were bound as well, making his chest flat. "I just can't do that. It’s tearing myself in two."
“That wasn’t what I was going to tell you,” Sheamus said slowly, “but I’d also never considered that aspect before. It’s hard being one thing, and having everyone else want the other. I can’t imagine being pregnant in that state.”
“Yeah. Well, it’s shit. So I hope you know, that is what you’re returning me to. Shit. Pure shit. I’m going to be torn in two.” Jake shuddered as he wrapped his arms around his chest. The crime scene photo of the other werewolf breeder flashed in Sheamus’s mind. He was cold, bone cold, in a matter of seconds and no amount of coffee was going to warm him up. It wasn’t even likely that his pride in his mission was, either. He could now feel the fear and despair coming off of Jake in waves.
It was just too much. “Fuck the diner for now,” Sheamus said, surprising himself with his venom. “Let’s talk in the car. Probably warmer, too.”
“And closer to the end of me. So yeah, sure, let’s not drag it out.”
Sheamus wanted to argue, but fell quiet. When Sheamus stepped close to Jake, he didn't move away. Sheamus grabbed only one arm as he led Jake across the street and into the van. Jake moved, albeit slowly. Once Sheamus shut the door, he locked it, and slid in the driver's side. He tried to be light about the whole affair, asking what kind of music Jake would prefer and other niceties, but he was sullen. Quiet.
Sheamus selected his top hits of the 1980s. He needed something light, but produced during some of the darkest economic and cultural periods of recent history, to get him out of his own despair. I’m only doing my job. I’m only ... He pulled out from the parking space and merged onto the thickly packed Neon City streets. The city centre lived up to its name as they drove through it. Showers of colour seemed to emerge from every single building. No one was sleeping, no one ever slept here, and it wasn’t some overdramatic statement ripped off from old New York City, either. Sheamus was pretty sure the latest street drug was a magical elixir that turned reality into dreams, and so, no one really did sleep anymore.
"You are an old man," Jake said as they merged onto the highway, the bright lights of the city behind them. Hearing Jake’s voice startled Sheamus back to the moment. Jake gestured to the radio in the car as another hit from the 1980s came on. "This song is ancient."
"This song is classic. You better respect Prince, too. He did this whole post-gender stuff better than any monster."
Jake looked at his lap again, shamed back to his eventual reality. Sheamus let the sound of Prince's single transition to David Bowie, another gender bender most likely before Jake’s time, as he merged onto the Don Valley Parkway. He wanted the music’s soothing effect to work on Jake, but it was hard to be excited about past hits when the future seemed terrifying.
Sheamus watched as they passed a green sign marking the kilometres to the next city. The werewolf den was in Lakewood, a sleepy town known for werewolf activity and a nearly three hour drive from the Neon City. They could make good time since it was the middle of the night, but Sheamus also wanted his clock to run a little long. He was already making plans for taking the scenic route than ran through some old vampire caves when Jake seemed to shudder.
"You okay, Jake? Still cold? I have the heat on. You gonna be ...?" Sheamus gasped when he noticed the hair on Jake's hands. It hadn't been there moments earlier. His face had started to change as well, the bones in his jaw shifting and becoming far more chiselled.
"Oh no. No, no." Sheamus slammed a hand into the wheel. The moon wasn't supposed to be full. He’d been watching it swell on an app on his phone, but the timer assured him it was still days away. He looked at the sky through the windshield and still saw the missing slice from the moon.
"It's not full yet,” Jake said slowly. “But it's shifting. Changing. And so am I ...”