by JoAnn

Quick Disclaimer: Voltron is the property of World Events Productions.

Notes: "" = spoken ** = thought _ = emphasis [] = movement I didn’t want to bother with detailing.

This began as kaie’s werecatKeith story. As you can see, I put my own spin to it, but used the idea of werecatKeith -- sometimes human, sometimes cat, sometimes half and half; along with the idea that one of Keith’s ancestors was a werewolf... I think there’s some Taryn brand angst mixed in as well...

In the first part of the story, I flip between viewpoints. I tried to separate different viewpoints with a blank line. The general trend is, first Keith, than someone else, then back to Keith. Most of the rest of the story is the more traditional omniscient viewpoint.


The entire team, Coran, Nanny, and even the mice are trapped. Lotor is gloating, the Princess is proclaiming....

Keith tunes them both out, as he struggles with the ropes that bind him. *How the heck did Lotor and Haggar get so good suddenly? They usually don’t think this far ahead and aren’t this careful... All the mice are trapped in that force-field bubble, and the rest of us are tied up too far from one another to help each other. Besides that, our utility belts are gone, and Lotor has our Lion-keys... This time, it really would take a miracle to get us out of here... unless...*

A deep, rough voice interrupts Lotor's gloating with a growl, "You didn't do what you were told to do."

Lotor starts to whine, "I don't see how he could possibly..."

Keith whips around to glare at the newcomer, [shifts], snarls, and pounces.

"Keith?" Pidge whispers. One minute, the scene was familiar, except that _all_ of them were captured, even down to the mice. Suddenly, this big, golden-furred cat-like being just _appears_ out of the forest behind Keith and speaks. And then Keith turns around faster than Pidge has ever seen _anyone_ move before, breaking with apparent ease the ropes that had bound him, even as _he_ changed into a black-furred cat-like being... *Keith's going to have a great deal of explaining to do... To all of us.*

The two cat-people fight, becoming a blur of black and gold, accentuated with silver fangs, steel claws, and deep red blood. It’s over in minutes. The loser leaps back with a defiant snarl, coat maroon now, and flees into the forest. The winner roars his victory to the stars.

"ohmygod" Lance's sarcasm deserts him. *i'm sick. Keith just changed into some sort of .. of.. cat-human cross, tore at that other cat-human with his _claws_... and all i can think of is how magnificent he looks with his head thrown back like that, his mane of hair haloing his face... his clothes _gone_ with the transformation...*

After savoring his victory, Keith turns his attention to where Lotor and Haggar stand, stunned. *I’ve got to get the keys back.* Keith takes a deep breath *After that fight, I’m in no shape to deal with Lotor, claw-to-blade.* His dark eyes narrow thoughtfully. *Maybe I can scare them off... Menacing. Posturing. Not my usual way of dealing with interlopers, but I _have_ done it before. I can do it now...* His eyes narrow further, and his fur starts to rise. The bristling begins over his shoulders, then spreads over the rest of his body. He stalks toward Lotor in a silence somehow more menacing than his previous growling.

"eep" Allura's eyes are wide as she watches the great Black’s sinuous approach. *He looks... bigger... He still looks like Keith, even with all that fur, but I have never seen him look so _passionate_. His eyes burn. If he had ever turned that look on me...* Allura wrenches her eyes away, and turns a deep shade of red.

Keith’s nostrils flare as he paces past the Princess. *What the? .... Pheromones?! From her about me? Even when I’m like _this_?* He catches himself before his reaction spills over from his thoughts to his body language. *Now is not the time. I have to get close enough to Lotor while he’s still stunned, and get the Lion keys back. ... I wonder what Lance... No! Duty first. Besides, he probably doesn’t care...* Keith, now three paces from Lotor, begins a slow, gruesome snarl. His head lowers, eyes lock onto Lotor’s, his muzzle wrinkles, and his lips pull back slowly to display his impressive teeth.

Lotor is mesmerized by Keith’s stalking, his focus, and the almost palpable aura of menace radiating from the captain. All focused on him. *Now I know how mice feel...* His eyes widen suddenly in fright as he realizes Keith is barely an arms length away. He tries to back off and Keith leaps. “Haggar!” The two tumble to the ground, rolling.

*Blast it!* Keith growls in disgust. *Almost... There! I have the keys. Now, to free the others...* He disentangles himself from Lotor, and slides over to slice Hunk’s bonds.

“Oh no you don’t, kitty cat,” Haggar cackles. “Great Lords of the Dark, lend me your strength!” She raises her arms in supplication, and is swiftly answered. A surge of dark magic washes through her; she directs the blast toward Keith.

*Ha! Just what I need. But I can’t take any chances with the others....* As Haggar chants, Keith leaps awkwardly away from Hunk, betraying the wounded state of his body. He whips around barely in time to face the sorcerous blast. Before it hits, he smirks at Haggar, and mouths, “thank you”.

"What is this?" Haggar’s eyes snap open, and she stumbles back a few steps at the odd [feel] of her magic... *That foolish boy jumped into my blast of power!* She starts to grin in triumph. *So much for the captain of the Voltron force.* Haggar's eyes widen in fright as she feels energy now being _pulled_ out of her...

"ahhhh," Keith sighs, head thrown back, ears flat, eyes almost completely shut, back arched in pleasure. *It’s been a long, long time since I've fully _felt_ magic.*

Still in a heap on the ground, Lotor watches in shock. For a moment he is again mesmerized, this time by the raw joy radiating from Voltron’s captain. Abruptly, he realizes that _now_ is their chance to escape, while Keith’s occupied with whatever it is... "Snap out of it, witch! Now is _not_ the time!" Lotor unwittingly breaks the link between Keith and Haggar with his voice. *Idiot!* [a small voice, ruthlessly quashed, wonders if Lotor is talking about Haggar -- or himself.] *We need to get _out_ of here. If I didn't need her to get us out...* He rolls to his feet and starts to back away.

Keith’s eyes snap open at Lotor’s interference. He shields the Lion keys with his body while he watches warily, ears pricked, as Lotor and Haggar hastily retreat. When they are gone from his senses, he turns to free the nearest person, Nanny. Who death-glares at him and struggles away from his touch. “What--?”

"Get away!" *If you think I'm going to trust you after that... _display_... No _properly_ brought up young man would _ever_ consider acting like _that_ in front of a _lady_! Prancing around _naked_ and moving in that _vulgar_ fashion!* “Humpth!” Nanny’s eyes blaze with self righteousness, and she does her best to look down her nose at Keith (hard to do when he’s standing up and she’s sprawled tied up on the ground, but this is Nanny.) *Not to mention lying to us all!* [heaving breath] *The Princess should not be associating with the likes of you!*

[snort] "Fine, Nanny, if you want to stay tied up, be my guest," Keith mutters as he backs away from Nanny's flailing body and glaring eyes. Turning away, he dismisses her odd reaction in favor of savoring pleasure. *It's so odd, being like this now, after being in human form for so long...* Keith stretches on his way back to Hunk, luxuriating in the feel of sun on his fur and the play of fully healing muscle and skin, courtesy of Haggar’s magic. *It's been so long... It feels so good to relax. To sense everything fully, and to be able to move almost properly... Though I don't want to even _think_ about explaining this... Maybe if I left them all tied up...* Keith pauses for a moment over Hunk’s bindings; claws [snicking] out and in... and then out again, decisively. *No matter what happens after this, _now_ I am a captain of the Alliance, and this is my team....* With one quick swipe, the ropes tying Hunk’s hands together fall apart. After handing Hunk Yellow Lion’s key, Keith swiftly moves to free the others. *With his hands free, Hunk can untie his own feet, while I free the others. I’d rather not linger here.*

"Whew! For a moment there, I thought you were going to leave us all tied up. Thanks, Keith." Hunk flexes his arms and legs, watching as Keith turns to free the others. *When he paused like that... He has to know we're all his friends -- well, except for maybe Nanny -- we're not going to turn on him just because he kept a few secrets. No matter how big those secrets were. Or is that are...?* “Hey, Keith, you better let someone else free the mice!” *I trust that you _will_ explain it all to us. Soon.*

Keith smiled, carefully keeping his teeth covered. "It would be better for someone else to handle the mice. And, you're welcome, Hunk" *Why do I have a bad feeling about that look on his face?* "I promise to explain everything, just, let's get back to the castle first." *Everybody agreed. Thank God, a reprieve. Though, Lance looks .. strange. And Pidge looks as though I'm some sort of odd puzzle for him to solve... I don’t even want to think about Allura or Nanny... First things first. Cut everybody loose. Pilot the Black lion back, and then, I guess I'll have to face the music.* As he idly watches Coran struggle with Nanny’s bindings, he sighs at the thought of the explanations to come. *At least I had enough sense not to let my tail grow out. It would’ve made piloting Black lion a lot harder...*

The flight back to the castle was oddly quiet, almost everybody trying hard *not* to think.


Back at the castle, everybody moves to the dining room to talk. On the way, Keith swipes a large sheet and wraps it around himself and [shifts] back to human form.

Once everybody settles down, Keith, without preamble, starts his explanation. “One of my ancestors had been hit with a spell that forced him to change into an animal with every full moon -- in other words, he became a werewolf. He was married at that time, to an understanding woman. The sons of my ancestor also changed into animals with the full moon, but not all of them changed into wolves. And they could keep more of their human thought processes when they were in animal form than their father. So, as my ancestor’s bloodline mingled more with unmagicked humans, each succeeding generation had more and more control over their shifts -- the few who did shapeshift. Part of the training all the children in the family get is basic training on how to deal with a first time shape shifting, even though shifters are rare.”

Smiling slightly, he continues, “I come from a family of scientists -- my ancestor was cursed because he refused to believe in magic. But once he was cursed, he was determined to study his condition and learn better ways of dealing with it. And the ways in which it could be useful.” Keith’s grin turns into a smirk. “I wonder what the person who laid the curse thought when that ancestor of mine refused the option of removing the curse?”

Lance snickers. “So, stubbornness and strangeness is an familial trait?”

Keith grins. “Yep.” Grin fading, he returns to his explanation. “My family is very meticulous -- there are books upon books about each person’s way of dealing with shifting, and ways of keeping human thought while in animal form. There are also many tips on how to hide amongst nonshapeshifters. People who don’t shift have historically treated the us badly, reacting with fear and hatred. So it’s a very strong tradition in my family to hide that sometimes a shifter is born. If anyone in my family, shifter or not, takes a mate where there is any chance of having children, we tell that person about shifters. This is the only immutable law of my family -- after many very bad situations, no one, not even the nonshifters, take mates who are at all disturbed by the notion.” The dark look on Keith’s face, and the underlying growl to his voice causes everybody to recoil slightly.

Keith shakes himself, and goes on. “At any rate, there are multiple copies of every book of the family archive. The books are stored in several different places and planets, so that all who need them can read them, and that there is less chance of the knowledge being lost. One of the requirements for all the shapeshifters is keeping a journal of their life, writing down the ways they deal with the family curse so that later generations can learn. Copies of the journal are sent periodically to the storage sites. Each storage site is considered a neutral meeting place, always having the potential that many shapeshifters may meet there.”

Keith lips quirk upward in something that is not a smile. “One unfortunate side effect of shape shifting is that all the shapeshifters (and some of the nonshifters) are extremely territorial. Part of the territoriality stems from the fact that most of us shift into predator animals. Another reason is that shapeshifters require magic to keep control of their shifting. In this day and age, magic-carriers are rare, and magic-users are even rarer. As such, they are guarded jealously. That was what happened today -- Hyrrar -- the gold cat -- was in my territory and feeding off of one of my major sources of magic -- so my instincts took over. Generally speaking, unless a shapeshifter is prepared to meet another, they will attack once they sense another shifter. Hyrrar was expecting me, so he could control his instinctual need to attack me, but I wasn’t expecting him, so I didn’t control myself. Before you ask, my guess is that Hyrrar risked speaking at that clearing because he thought he was more skilled than I was. He knew that I’ve been pretty much locked in my human form. He expected me to be out of practice with battle, shifter style. And he expected some preliminaries -- most shifters do a warning off of some kind: growling, snarling -- posturing before a fight.” Keith shrugs, an aura of danger radiating from him for a moment, before subsiding. “I have always thought those were a waste of time, and so I taught myself to skip all of that.”

Lance remarks thoughtfully, “Somehow, I’m not surprised by your view on preliminaries...” Keith twitches in embarrassment, but keeps himself from flushing, and refuses to respond to the gibe.

Tilting his head to the side, Pidge asks with an air of scientific detachment, “Are you out of practice?”

Gratefully turning his attention to Pidge, Keith grins ferally for a moment, “No, I’m not.” Keith’s grin disappears as his face smoothes out to his usual mask of calmness. “I need a lot less sleep than normal humans. While I was at the academy, I learned how to sneak in and out of high security places so that I could shift and practice fighting in my other forms. Once I figured out the trick of it, sneaking out of any of the other places I was at was a piece of cake.”

Puzzled, Hunk wonders, “If shapeshifters fight whenever they meet out of those neutral places, how come they aren’t discovered more often? And, how many shapeshifters are there in the Alliance?”

Keith shrugs. “Shapeshifters don’t always fight when they meet. We’re territorial, not homicidal. If a shapeshifter knows another is coming, steps can be taken to quell the instincts before the two meet. Also, the more skilled shapeshifters can hide their presence from the lesser skilled shapeshifters. So I can’t tell you how many shifters there are in the Alliance. I can tell you that not many would do what I did. There is too much close contact with nonshifters as an officer in the Alliance, especially while in training, which leaves very little time for shifting. For shapeshifters, the most natural form, despite the fact that we began life completely human, is our half-human, half-animal form. Shifting is sort of like having a craving for chocolate -- it’s not necessary for life, but it is hard to resist the temptation.”

Pausing, Keith quickly glances around. He stands up, absent-mindedly letting the sheet he was swaddled in fall to the ground. Not willing to look anyone in the eye, he speaks quietly toward a wall. “There you have it. I think you have enough information to decide if you are willing to let me stay. I’ll be in the library; let me know what you decide.” Keith hesitates for a moment. “To be complete, you ought to see my fully animal form. I didn’t show you earlier because in that form, my jaw isn’t formed in a way that allows me human speech.” With that, he [shifts], becoming a large black mountain lion, and pads off. Still carefully not looking at anyone.

Comments for JoAnn should be sent to me with either JoAnn's name or "Masquerade" in the subject line. I'll forward them immediately to her without looking. Arigato.

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