Something wicked comes this way
Rabbit chewed on her lip nervously, staring into the bathroom mirror. Her teeth smudged the red lipstick it had taken her ages to apply. She cursed and rubbed at the vibrant smear on her teeth, then whacked another layer on her already colourful lips. Her tangled curls were piled on her head like a birds nest and she tugged at the dark brown mass unhappily. It was the first day back at school, but already the idea of facing her friends terrified her. Rabbit's hands shook slightly and she began to feel the signs of an oncoming shift.
"Fuck fuck fuck no!" she cried, pressing her head against the cold mirror. Her hands balled into fists and she willed the sensation away. "Not now, please go away."
Her apprehension about the daunting day ahead was screwing with her powers. Strong emotions, usually related with fear were what brought on the change, and sometimes it was hard to control. She focused on something else, hastily organizing the mess in her bathroom. After a few minutes the tremors stopped and she let out a sigh of relief.
"Honey, Frank just pulled up outside!" her mother called from downstairs.
Rabbit tugged on her fringe one last time, gave a fake smile to the mirror and then hopped down the stairs to the front door. She grabbed her bag and shouted out to her parents before slipping through the door, out into the cold New Jersey air.
The black convertible parked on the curb roared to life as she skimmed across the grass towards it. The icy morning air bit at her skin and she was glad to sink into the soft, warm upholstery of the vehicle.
"Morning Frank." she murmured with a small smile.
"Hey, pumped for first day of school?"
She just rolled her eyes.
The car surged forward onto the road, purring beneath it's drivers tattooed hands like a well fed cat. Rabbit knew that it had been a birthday present from his parents, who were very well off. You wouldn't guess it though just by looking at Frank. He was the epitome of a punk; skinny jeans, hoodie, lip piercing and enough ink to call him a living artwork. Everything about him exuded confidence, which he had. You had to be confident if you were the leader of the shape shifters.
"What's on your mind, Rabbit?"
She glanced at him, then resumed to staring out the window. "First day of school, just thoughtful as to what this year will be like."
The pressure of the starting of the year weighed on his shoulders. "You done the shift yet?"
She cringed, fiddling with hem of her shirt. This was the conversation she had been dreading.
"Rabbit," his voice was layered with authority, "I asked you a question."
Her teeth once again gnawed at her lip and she took in a shaky breath. "No... I haven't."
"Jesus Christ Rabbit!" he cursed, slamming his fist against the steering wheel. "We could be ambushed any day and you can't even turn into a ferret. Sure, you've shifted into birds and a few big animals, but they're not fighters!"
She didn't reply, keeping her head down against his fury.
"Just because you were the first to transform doesn't mean you're the best shifter. You've got no commitment to this gig, or else you wouldn't be stuck being a deer half the time. That's why you weren't chosen to be the leader."
Rabbit snapped at that. "You know full well that's not why I'm not leader. It's because I'm a girl and I don't have 'Iero' tagged on the end of my name."
Frank parked the car viciously in the school parking lock and turned on her. He seized her by her shoulders firmly and forced her to look at him. "Don't you ever suggest that I don't deserve this position. I work harder than anyone to keep our people safe. I might have been the second to shift, but I've overtaken you by far." She tried to turn her head away but he grabbed her chin and pulled her head back around. "The only reason why you're not at the bottom with the rest of the tainted is because I had to convince my parents that you were worthy of being second in command. Don't make me regret that decision."
He let her go and she slumped back against the chair, visibly shaken. Frank softened, seeing how much he had upset her and placed a hand hesitantly over hers. "I'm sorry I'm so hard on you, but you need to grow a thicker skin. There's plenty of shifters in the family who will pull you down if they get the chance. They don't like seeing someone from a human family rise so high, so you gotta keep your weaknesses covered."
Rabbit nodded and wiped away a tear from her cheek.
"Don't tell anyone about your trouble with the shifts, okay?"
Frank squeezed her hand slightly. "How about this afternoon we work on your transformations? I'm sure you can do it with some help."
Rabbit finally looked up and him and pulled on her game face. "Sounds like a plan."
He grinned and ruffled her hair teasingly. "Come on 'lil bunny wabbit, time for school."
She rolled her eyes and stepped out of the car after him.
They strode towards the front gate, heads held high, her one step behind his shoulder. Leaning against the boundary wall was a familiar figure, although unwelcome to Rabbit.
"Mornin' Fox." Frank greeted her, stealing the cigarette from her lips and taking a drag himself.
She gave him a slow smile, eyes glinting with amusement. "Good morning Boss. What's news?"
Frank shrugged, smoke slipping out one corner of his mouth. "Not much. To be honest there hasn't been much activity among the other supes that I know of. Bit too quiet if I"m honest."
Fox nodded, pondering over this for a moment before turning and shooting Rabbit a cold stare. "Haven't seen you around much, fuzzy-tail. Neglecting your duties as a shifter, I suppose?"
Rabbit gave her an equally threatening look. "Back off hound fodder. I neglect nothing, unlike you who blatantly defies your rank."
The red-haired girl smirked. "Ooh she's grown a backbone over the summer, how useful."
Before Rabbit could reply Frank cut them both off. "I know you're both eager to take up the insults where they left off, but let's not be late on out first day back."
Fox ground the cigarette beneath the heel of her boot and smiled at their leader. "Sure Frankie, let's go."
The three of them stepped onto the school ground, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the mass of human teenagers all fresh from the holidays.
There were the stereotypical groups of highschool kids, each crowded in their place. The nerds took up the seats near the library, jocks over on the football stands, barbies flitting around the fountain with the rebels edging towards the outer wall.
And then there was the shifters.
Frank, Rabbit, Fox and their kind marked out the stand of trees on the edge of the sports oval as their own. The shifters were a strange assortment of people, the kind that didn't look like they belonged. Oliver Sedgewick was the refined English boy who wore sweaters and read books. Often sitting next to him was Jarred Windsor. Jarred was the geek, but seemed happy enough being part of the group. Lola Richards was the only other girl, apart from Rabbit and Fox. She didn't take shit from anybody, but was the weakest shifter of them all. Fox's real name was Astrid Taylor, although she would never allow people to call her that. Dimitri Spencer was Russian and rarely spoke, although his skill for shifting was superior to most in the group. Blake was the most recent. No one knew his last name and everyone referred to him as Scar. He and Frank Iero were the rebels, although Scar had far less tolerance for rules. Together, the eight of them made the misfit group of Belleville High.
Oliver looked up from his book as Rabbit drew near and patted the grass next to him. She sank down onto the soft green and greeted him with a hug.
"Hey Ollie, missed you last week."
He placed the bookmark back in it's place and shut the novel. "My parents though it would be good to see home again before school started, although I am sure I missed out on a lot of shift training."
Rabbit shrugged. "I guess. There hasn't been much for us to do. All the supes are just... Gone. I mean, I saw a few fairies the other day, and I'm sure that there was a werewolf near the lake last Tuesday night, but there's been no confrontations. It's like they're trying to play nice with us."
Oliver watched her face carefully. "You made it sound like that's a bad thing."
A nervous laughed escaped her lips. "Yeah, well call me pessimistic, but peace like this doesn't just happen."
The English boy nodded thoughtfully "While I was home, my parents were notified that the vampires had vanished from Britain. The other supes weren't as active either. Strange that this is all happening at the same time... Perhaps an explanation will arise soon."
"I sure as hell hope so." Rabbit replied, leaning into the arm he put around her shoulders. "I don't like waiting for something to happen, and the longer we wait the worse I fear the outcome to be. What if something happens and the elders are killed? The adults aren't finished learning either, so we would be vulnerable. We can't patrol our territory alone, we're just kids!"
Oliver laughed at her paranoia. "Oh ye of little faith." His soft grey eyes met her wide brown ones. "Nothing bad is going to happen, Rabbit. Sure there's been some unusual occurrences, but it's nothing to jump to conclusions about. Just concentrate on getting through today, alright?"
She nodded and jumped slightly as the bell went. Frank was waiting patiently for her nearby.
"I'll see you at break, Oliver." She hurried over to their leader and situated herself just behind his shoulder, where she would always be.
Each generation of shifters had a strict ranking, starting with the leader, then their second in command. The rest of the group was sorted out by a combination of skill and family ties. 'Tainted' was the word given to those who were not born into a shifter family. Rabbit and Jarred were two such people. As a consequence Jarred was at the bottom of the ladder, although Rabbit was an exception. She was the first of their generation to shift, and traditionally would have inherited the title of commander. However, everyone knew that the Iero's, who were currently at the head of the adult shifters would have never have given her that responsibility. Until three years ago women were forced to accept whatever title their husbands had and were not acknowledged as true shifters. Rabbit's generation was the turning point, but that did not mean that all prejudice had been squashed.
Mr. Iero had reluctantly let her be his son's deputy, which meant that wherever Frank went, Rabbit went too. They shared every class, regardless of whether she wanted to take it or not. Apart from going home at the end of the day, Rabbit had been forever at his side for the past eighteen months, ready to defend him.
The two shifters entered the crowded hallway, cutting a path swiftly through the sea of bodies. Humans may not have consciously known what Frank and Rabbit were, but natural instinct told them to get out of their way. Rabbit always counted that was one of the blessings of being a shifter. She was artistic, often shy around strangers and didn't stand out from the crowd in terms of beauty. So the day she realized that she was a shape shifter suddenly answered her lifelong questions as to why she was never bullied. However she never made any friends either, until she was welcomed into her new family.
Rabbit pondered this small stroke of luck in her otherwise tiresome life when a sudden coldness came over her. Her skin tingles with icy shivers and the hairs on her arms rose in alarm.
"Frank!" she hissed, grabbing his arm and pulling him into a doorway.
"Hey, what gives!" he cried, trying to remove her hand clamped onto his wrist.
Rabbit ignored him and shoved her charge behind her, so that he was between her and the wall. Frank protested, confused by her actions.
"Shut up, Frank." she growled.
He could hear the warning in her voice and slowed his thoughts down. Then he began to feel it, a sensation like icy water rippling across his skin in waves. His nose caught scent of something sickly sweet, sweeter than teenage girls perfume. It terrified him. "Rabbit?" he whispered in her ear. "Do you know what that is?"
She shook her head slightly, pressing him closer to the wall, willing herself to become invisible. Teenagers and teachers bustled past; bumping into each other, bags swinging, phones beeping, voices shouting, books falling, heels clicking. Rabbit's eyes were glued on the river of people before her, scanning the mundane faces for anything unnatural... Anything supernatural.
Suddenly the sweet smell intensified and there was a break in the crowd.
Time seemed to slow down, in sync with the temperature as it dropped in the bodies of the two shifters. Rabbit's gaze zeroed in on the ashen, angular faces of six teenagers gliding through the crowd, not unlike how her and Frank had moments beforehand. She observed the dark haired boy at the front of the formation. His eyes were mostly hidden beneath black locks sweeping across his face. He was averagely built, but floated like he weighed nothing. His black hoodie was pushed back up his arms, revealing the white skin that looked like cut marble. Everything about him sent panicked adrenaline through her system, but it was the arrogant smirk playing across his chiseled lips that made her spring into action.
She could feel supernatural eyes on her as she shoved Frank away from the apparent danger.
Frank found himself being pushed back through the door into the (luckily) empty classroom. He stumbled slightly and turned to see her firmly close the door and flick the lock. She then turned and grabbed him again, forcing him to follow her as she darted towards the window. Seeing what she was about to attempt he dug his heels into the carpet.
She ignored him, opening the window and looking down at the two story drop. Thinking fast she began to pull her sweater over her head.
Frank grabbed her by her shoulders and swung her around to face him. "That was an order. Now stop!"
The fearful look in her eyes clenched his stomach muscles.
"What did you see in the hallway?"
Her eyes flickered to the door, then back to the boy in front of her. She shook her head. "I don't know, but we aren't sticking around to find out."
He gaped for a moment, watching her as she tugged her jeans off. "What the hell do you-"
"We're flying out of here." Rabbit replied, gesturing at the window. She faced him, clad only in her underwear. "Look Frank, you know as well as I did that whoever they were, they aren't human. Belleville high is our school, it's in shifter territory. They have to know that, and yet their confident enough to show up here, two men short of us." He still didn't look convinced. "I know you felt it when they were in the hallway, I know you smelt it. You didn't see them but I did, and trust me when I say that we need to leave. Right. Now."
She fixed her eyes with his frantically. "No, I am here to protect you. We leave now."
Frank nodded and began to remove his clothes when there was a knock at the door. The both froze where they were, bodies trembling with nerves. Rabbit shook off her fear and stepped towards the door. The glassless panel of wood betrayed nothing, but her nose twitched at it caught the scent. It was them.
"Hello?" a voice called from the other side, masculine and smooth. "Is anyone in there?"
Rabbit clamped her hand over her mouth and scrambled back to where Frank was. Not caring about decency in front of him she ripped off her bra and panties, slipping them into the pockets of her jeans. The door rattled as she tied her clothes together in a bundle. When she looked up Frank was thankfully doing the same thing. His eyes met hers briefly and she could see her fear reflected in them.
"I know you're in there. Please open the door, we only want to talk." the dark voice wafted from beneath the door.
Rabbit stopped trying to block the fear and let it wash over her. The voice outside continued to talk, fueling her shaking body.
"I know that one of you is Frank Iero, leader of the shifters. I'm sure that you are suspicious, but really there is nothing to be frightened of..."
"Bird." Rabbit whispered to herself, envisioning the creature. "I am a bird."
The tingling in her body was replaced by the familiar ache of the transition. Her bones began to compact, dragging her closer to the ground. For a few seconds she was in complete agony as her muscles contracted and twisted, tearing away from the bone only to be reattached a moment later. Her jaw lengthened and made room for a beak and her eyes rolled back in her head due to the trauma of the transition. Rabbit's skin morphed and stretched over the unfamiliar structure. Then finally hundreds of feathers exploded from her pores, covering every inch of her new body in softness.
She opened her new eyes, looking around the room from knee-height in bird vision. Frank twisted next to her, settling down into the shape of an eagle. She had chosen a Hawk.
They paused for a few seconds, allowing their mind to sync with the alien body, before stretching their wings upwards.
Just as they lifted off the ground the door broke inwards and six dark figures spilt into the room.
Rabbit shrieked, nostrils filled with the alarmingly sickly scent, and swooped low to seize the bundle of clothes in her talons. Her powerful wings rotated as she lifted herself effortlessly. She hovered for a second as Frank plunged through the window and rose into the sky outside.
"Wait!" the dark haired boy cried, running towards her. "We don't want to hurt you, we just need to talk-"
She ignored his words and darted through the open window, feeling the tug of gravity as the soft breeze lifted her light body higher.
Frank was suspended above the building, floating comfortably in a pocket of air. He watched as Rabbit flew out from the window and up towards him. Six dark figures appeared behind the glass and he could feel their cold gazes on him.
Rabbit ignored the bird instinct telling her that flying towards an eagle was suicidal and joined him in the open expanse of the sky. His warm, familiar eyes connected with hers and she felt safe. Frank nodded to his companion and began to glide towards his home. After a pause Rabbit followed him, although she struggled to keep up with him. She let out a cry of frustration and he slowed up so that she was gliding beside her. He shrieked three times in amusement, wishing that the rigid beak could form a grin.
Rabbit didn't like the idea of going to his house. She knew that his parents were likely to be at work, but running into Mr Iero wasn't high on her list of favourite activities. The streets and houses passed below them like blocks of lego. Her keen eyesight was able to pick out the individual stones on the pathway in the park and she was amazed at the amount of small animals bounding through the shrubbery. Her claws tensed at the thought of latching onto a small furry animal, but her mind was her own. Besides, the idea of eating her namesake was rather repulsive.
Frank spotted his families large house, situated at the top of a wooded hill and began to descend towards it. The familiar shape of his room's balcony beaconed and he aimed at the table. As always he was amazed at the accuracy of the bird body as he dropped his parcel of clothes on the chair and the alighted on the back of it, tucking his wings into his sides comfortably.
Rabbit followed him and did the same, dropping her clothes and then perching on the railing. There was an awkward pause as neither could speak. Frank flapped his wings for a moment, trying to communicate something to her, but she didn't know what it meant. He scrunched up his eyes in frustration then nodded towards the door with his beak. It clicked and Rabbit snatched up her clothes in her beak and half hopped, half flapped through the door into his room.
It was dark, but she had no trouble seeing where she was going with her night vision eyes. She stalked across the carpet, amused by the tug of the material as it got caught on her claws. When she reached the bathroom she had to be more careful, balancing on the textureless surface. It took her a few second to alert her body to the change, but once she did it was easy to revert back to her normal self. Her muscles and bones almost rejoiced as they sprang back into their intended shape, accompanied by only a slight ache.
Rabbit saw herself in the mirror, human and whole and she let out a sigh of relief. Her rapid heartbeat slowed as she slipped her clothes back on.
Frank wished once more that he could smile as he saw Rabbit emerge from the bathroom. She meandered towards the door and then held out her arm. He swooped over to it and alighted on her outstretched limb.
"You know Frankie," she teased, taking him inside, "you're kinda cute as a bird." She petted him gently and scratched his neck. When he visibly rolled his eyes she laughed and popped the giant bird in the bathroom.
When he emerged he could see Rabbit sitting beside his bed, head leaning against the mattress, fast asleep. He was tired himself. Shape shifting took a lot of energy and could often give people headaches. He rubbed at him temples, knowing the headache wasn't only from the change, but also the latest development. His thoughts turned to the shifters in the school and worry gnawed at his stomach.
Rabbit sleepily opened her eyes and saw Frank texting rapidly. She rubbed her eyes, trying to shake off the weariness that had settled over her. "Mmmm what you doing Frankie?"
He pressed send and sat down next to her. "I was sending a warning to the kids at school, telling them to bail at the first chance they get. From what they were saying, those supes were only interested in talking to me, but I don't want to risk it."
She nodded then placed a hand against her aching head.
Frank noted her discomfort and felt concerned. He grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet, then lead her downstairs. "I'll get you some aspirin, and something to eat could be in order as well."
Rabbit thanked him as they made their way through the maze of hallways that was his house. When they reached the kitchen she was relieved to find a chair and plonk herself on it.
"Fucking migraines." she grumbled into her hands.
Frank chuckled and slid a glass of water and two pills towards her, which she downed gratefully.
"So, what do you want to eat?" he asked, looking in the fridge. "I can make some pasta or we could make pizza or-"
"A sandwich is fine, thanks." she broke in, not wanting him to make a fuss.
He rolled his eyes. "Sandwich it is, but you'd be better off with something warm inside you."
She smiled in response, relieved that there was no awkwardness between them. She blushed slightly thinking that he had seen her naked, but she knew that he was probably far more preoccupied with the six supes on the other side of the classroom door.
"Frank?" she started.
He looked up from where he was making them toasted ham and cheese sandwiches. "Yeah Rabbit?"
"What do you think they were?"
Frank flicked his lip ring with his tongue for a few seconds before answering. "I honestly dunno. That smell.... It's like nothing I've ever come across before. And that coldness... All I know is that they're fucking strange."
Rabbit twirled the glass in her hands, pondering. "You don't think... Oliver said that... Could they be vampires?"
His head snapped up and he stared at her, mouth half agape. He processed this idea before discarding it. "No way Rabbit, there's never been any vamps in America. They're UK based only."
She nodded and took a sip of the cool water. The throbbing in her head was beginning to lessen, but her thoughts remained a swirling mess.
Frank tried to rid himself of the notion that they could be vampires. His parents always said that the living dead kept to themselves, that they never felt the need to travel. They were rumored to be the strongest of the supes with the worst temper if caught wrong. Frank shivered at the thought and his eyes subconsciously alighted on the shadows in the room. The smell of burning cheese returned his mind to food.
"Here we go," he declared, placing a plate in front of Rabbit, "lunch a la Frank."
She grinned and bit into the warm sandwich happily. Their conversation resumed as normal, talking about missing the first day of school and how they already missed the holidays. Frank complimented her on her transition that morning, and although she thanked him she couldn't help but feel insignificant next to him who had shifted into a fully grown eagle in the space of five seconds. The conversation slowed, both feeling more sleepy than they'd like to admit. They leant against the counter, hands barely holding their heads up, when the front door opened.
Frank leapt to his feet and Rabbit did the same. They waited as raised voices drew closer.
"We need to go get Frankie!" a woman's voice cried.
"But it's the first day back, surely you don't think that the-" the male voice was cut off.
"They're vampires! They'll do what they like!" Frank's mother shrieked as her and her husband came round the corner into the kitchen.
The two adults stopped arguing and then rushed towards the two teenagers.
"Are you alright?"
"Why are you at home?"
"Where's your car?"
Frank held up his hands. "It's okay, we're fine. We has a run in at school with some.... Well I'm not sure what they were."
"Vampires." Rabbit whispered.
Three sets of eyes locked on hers.
"Are you sure?" Mrs Iero asked, stress lacing her voice.
Frank's father seemed less convinced. "You don't know what you're talking about. You've never seen a vampire before."
Rabbit met his disapproving look head on. "No, I know what I saw. There were six of them, all very pale and angular looking. They smell disgustingly sweet and when they're nearby... It's like being dowsed in icy water."
The Iero's exchanged serious looks and Frank placed a hand on Rabbit's shoulder comfortingly.
"Tell us everything." Mr Iero commanded.
"Fuck." Gerard cursed, slamming his hand down on the window sill.
A light hand clasped his shoulder. "It's okay, we'll catch up with them somehow." Mikey assured his elder brother.
They all stared out the window at the Hawk that was gracefully flying away, towards the larger bird waiting for it in the sky.
"That eagle, it's the Iero kid. I can smell the generations of shifter in his blood." Gerard hissed, tapping his hand against the glass.
"Who's the girl with him? She feels tainted if you ask me." Ruby mused, checking her nails for nonexistent dirt.
Robby nodded. "She is. You can smell the human on her. She's running at a lower temperature than the others." His ultramarine eyes focused on the smaller bird hovering next to the big one.
"Yummy," Charlie grinned, fangs glinting, "human supe; tastes like I'd imagine strawberries and cream to."
"You really are despicable." Robby chuckled, ruffling the white-blonde hair of the smaller vampire.
"How interesting." Ruby commented, narrowing her gaze as well on the Hawk. "A tainted shifter with the leader... And a female at that."
Gerard pursed his lips, pouting as the two birds flew away. He knew that they couldn't catch them on foot, and flying wasn't acceptable in the day. Besides, the sun was already stinging his eyes. He sighed angrily, pushing his hands through his inky hair.
"What do you want us to do?" Mikey asked.
He rolled his eyes and frowned. "I don't know... Now that Iero knows something's up he probs wont come down for a while. I need to talk to him civilly for five minutes and then each species can go back to killing the other..." he could feel the thirst pawing at his throat. "I'm hungry."
Mikey sighed. "We all are, but we can't eat until we fix this fuck-up."
"Yes.... Eating the natives without at least asking permission first wouldn't look very good." Robby pointed out.
Charlie shrugged. "Who cares, let's go find someone tasty to chew on."
Ruby lightly slapped his shoulder, scolding him for his blatant rudeness. Charlie was the newest of the vampires, barely a century old. He was still a baby in their eyes and so they spoiled him. However every now and then he would overstep his rights and Gerard would snap. The last time that had happened Charlie nearly died for real, so Ruby was making sure that he treaded lightly for a while.
Gerard came to a decision. "Mortimer." he ordered.
Johnny strode to his makers side in an instant. "Yes Gerard?"
The raven haired teenager, over two thousand years old, smiled at his well trained child. "Go and introduce yourself to the principle. Tell him that we are enrolling in the school, all of us."
Charlie made a sound of protest, but Ruby clamped her hand over his mouth and shook her head.
Johnny nodded. "What age am I to assign us?"
"Hmmm.... Mikey you'll be fifteen for the purpose of this life. I will be seventeen, along with Ruby and Charlie. Robby you can be fifteen with Mikey I think... Yes you'll pass for that age if you play dumb." He looked at John Mortimer, fiddling with a strand of hair. "On second thought, Johnny you're going to be our guardian. Use your doctor identity... Tell them you adopted us all or some bullshit like that."
Johnny nodded and walked out to find the front office.
"So," Mikey said, eyeing his brother who was staring into the sky after the long-gone shifters, "what's the plan?"
The older vampire smiled. "What plan? These games are far more fun when you let the other supes have a head start." Gerard turned and faced his children and his younger brother. " It seems my friends that we are going to call New Jersey home for a while."
"But what about the other supes? This city is crawling with werewolves, witches and fairies. Not to mention the shifters are based in this state." Ruby stated, surprised at her maker's announcement.
Robby agreed with Ruby. "I even hear that there's a zombie colony not to far from here." He shuddered visibly at the thought.
Gerard laughed at their doubts. "Oh my children, you have so much to learn." Mikey smirked along with him. "Half the fun of living here is because of all the supes. If you think cat-and-mouse is fun with humans, then just wait till you try it on a shifter."