Hali watched as Conan paced around the kitchen, preparing them some cups of tea. He brought over the teacups, complete with saucers. He then placed some milk and sugar on the table and brought over some cookies. When the water finished boiling, he poured it into the teapot and brought it over to where she sat; taking a seat across from her.
They stared at each other for several minutes, neither having the words to speak. Hali kept glancing at his arm, expecting any of his movement to make it bleed once again. He noticed that she was watching him, but he couldn’t blame her, he should’ve still been bleeding.
He poured himself a cup of tea, added some milk to it, and took a long sip. Hali’s own tea remained untouched as she stared ahead. Conan cleared his throat and then looked at her, meeting her eyes for the first time since they sat down.
“So, you opened up earlier about your… special talent, right?” he began “And I guess it's time I opened up to you about my arm.”
Hali agreed with a nod and waited for him to continue. He grabbed a cookie, dipped it in the tea, and took a bite. Hali wasn’t sure if he was hungry, or he was using the time to eat and drink to stall as he found his words.
“I didn’t believe you at first about your ability, but after seeing how… well… how accurate you were, despite me trying to trick you, I do now. Not just because I saw it with my own eyes, but because I too have an ability,” he explained, “I can heal rather fast.”
“You mean like.... instantly?”
“No, not that fast,” Conan chuckled, “But I’ll stop bleeding and my body won’t have time to bruise, so I never get them. This open wound will be gone in a day or two. It won’t be able to get infected either. A normal scratch would disappear in just a few hours.”
Hali only stared unblinking. As she processed the information, she turned to the back door leading out to the alley. “And what happened there? The wolf stopped in mid-air like it hit a wall. Can you explain that?”
Another long drink from his tea and he nodded. “So, about those wind chimes I put at all the entrances?”
“Yes?” Hali looked over to the door, studying it from her seat. They were hanging by the entrance of the kitchen, but away from the door so only the breeze from outside allowed them to make any sound.
“The charms are enchanted. Protective spells,” Conan continued.
“Spells?” Hali asked, “M-magic?”
Conan poured himself some more tea. “You can sense right and wrong choices, and I can heal quickly. We are the last people who should question the existence of magic.”
“I guess that’s true,” Hali sighed.
“Have you ever had a nasty customer here? Thefts? Robberies?” Conan asked her.
Hali sat and thought about it for several minutes. She enjoyed working at the cafe, but she always thought it was just the great staff, and Conan’s abilities as a Boss. But now that she thought about it, Hali couldn’t remember any time she had had a terrible customer and she didn’t recall any staff being fired for theft, or even an attempted robbery.
“Huh...” Hali mused “No.”
“I put those up to prevent robberies, but the other stuff was a bonus. No one intending harm can enter this building. That werewolf intended us harm so he-”
“WEREWOLF!?” Hali shouted. Conan’s eyes went wide, realizing his mistake and he turned to look at her as she stood from her seat, shaking the table a little. “What heck do you mean, werewolf?”
Silence returned as Hali waited for him to answer, but he seemed even more lost for words than before. He sighed after several minutes, sensing her impatience. “So you and the staff make fun of me for being so ‘old’, right?”
“It’s because I am not in my twenties, despite looking like it. I am ninety-seven-years-old,” he stated.
“Okay, now you're pulling my leg!” Hali sniffed in disbelief.
He raised his hand, showing her he had more to say. “I know that wolf is a werewolf because I am one too. We live longer than the average human and we stop aging after a certain point and then age some again at another point; one I haven’t reached yet.”
Hali didn’t believe him. How could she? Conan continued, “The wolf who attacked that wolf last night. It was reddish brown, you said. As was the wolf on the first night. Tell me, was it also not reddish brown?”
“Yeah,” Hali agreed.
“Would you say the wolf’s fur matched, say, my hair colour?” Conan asked.
Hali was still standing, but as she stared at the colour of Conan’s hair, her knees got weak as she realized that, yes, it matched the wolf she had seen. She fell back into her seat and stared at him, wide eyed. “That dog attacked me Tuesday night. You attacked me?”
“I didn’t attack you,” he defended, “I just scared you into staying inside. Other wolves were out, and I could smell them and was concerned you may get attacked. So I startled you into staying inside.”
“So, you would not harm me?”
He shook his head, “No.”
“So… that’s why I didn’t sense danger that night,” Hali explained to herself. “And last night… could it be because you were on your way and ended up saving me?”
“I assume so,” Conan explained.
She stared blankly for several minutes and then looked at him. “Can… you prove it?”
“If you want to, I can. Just no screaming. It can look painful, and it is at first, but with time it no longer hurts,” he explained.
He pushed away from the table, stood and kicked his shoes off, then removed his socks and walked a few feet away. She watched as he took in a deep breath. With a low grunt, he fell forward, landing on his hands. Conan’s head bowed and she could no longer see his face. His back arched, and more moans escaped him as his body began to change shape. His arms became darker, sprouting more hair that matching his head. His hands changed shape, appearing more canine. A tail burst from the top of his pants; after, his shirt ripped in a few places and escaped being tucked into his pants. Conan’s legs bent and curled, changed and arched into the back legs of a dog. His pants ripped and hung loosely on his new body. His ears extended and changed shape themselves. The grunts changed from human, to the low, guttural growls of an animal. Conan’s head rose, and Hali was met with his wolf-like face. Her mouth hung open.
“Holy shit,” she gasped. “Y-You are a werewolf! What about the wolves that are attacking us? Do you know them?”
Conan’s head shook. He moved to behind the kitchen island, and Hali heard some low growls, and they turned back to human groans. Conan rose to his feet and reemerged as a human; though his shirt had ripped in a few places, and the pant legs were destroyed. Hali’s eyes followed his form as it moved back to the kitchen table where he sat across from her again. “The meeting I was at was about that pack. They moved in a few months ago, they have been rather quiet, but this last week they have moved about more and we talked about what we should do about them. We agreed they were looking for something, but I can’t help but wonder if they are after you.”
“Me?” Hali asked quizzically “I didn’t think werewolves existed till five minutes ago, and I never seen a wolf before in person until this week.”
“I could be wrong, but I’ll be calling around about it later,” Conan considered “It's just strange. There hasn’t been a new pack in the city for decades. I’m not part of any pack and only moved here permanently twenty years ago.”
They were unlikely to get any answers right this second, but she was curious now. “Hey, Conan?”
“How did you become a werewolf?” she inquired “If you don’t mind me asking.”
“No one has ever asked me that before,” he said “But sure, I’ll tell you. So, I was twelve, it was 1939, and they had evacuated me to Kent with my sisters.”