Author's Note: Yeah, I titled my Falling In Reverse werewolf fanfic after a werewolf-themed song from a completely unrelated band. What are you going to do about it? MIW is good and also Popular Monster is kind of played out. Also, yes, I know that Ronnie's uncomfortable with fanfic about him. I don't care. Number 1, I don't abide by the wishes of people who don't consider my gender real, and number 2, if he can write himself as an alien demon werewolf vampire zombie supervillain with laser eyes, I can write him as a sparkledog. I do what I want.
"Induced temporal rift trial 0.15.2, activate!"
Rhi pulled a switch on the wall connected to an array of cables, screens, and various other high-tech animum equipment, which all networked into...a plushie. Specifically, the Ronnie plushie that Cliff made for me. After the whole time traveling Ronnie from 2006 thing, something apparently happened with the plushie's animum signature to irrevocably connect it to the fates and timestreams of myself and that particular version of Ronnie because of all the love I'd put into it, and by extension, him as a concept, over the years. So if this worked and whatever Rhi had set up properly connected to it, then it could be used to open portals to wherever Ronnie happened to be in his timeline so we could visit each other. I held my breath while bursts of cyan and purple light arced up and down the cables and through the plushie, eventually culminating in a rip in reality, much like an Ultra Wormhole but qualitatively different (the edges were jagged instead of looking like a 3D wireframe), with a view into what appeared to be a perfectly normal apartment, looking towards Ronnie on the couch fiddling with a chunky mid-00s laptop.
I called out to him, which got his attention, prompting him to jump to his feet and frantically look around, staring at the rift.
"Uh...Arlo? How are you..."
"It's a long story. But hey, if you've got time to visit, come on through!"
"Eh, if I get spaghettified, I get spaghettified."
Ronnie shrugged and stepped through the portal, which collapsed with a noise not entirely unlike a fart. He looked around the room, nodding upon seeing Blanche and Rhi, who were both furiously taking notes and examining readings on various devices. I grinned and enclosed Ronnie in a hug, which he reciprocated complete with some pats on my back, the way that guys do to clarify they're not hugging each other in a way that designates attraction. I got Blanche's attention once I released him.
"So, the trial worked. He's here and we haven't collapsed spacetime or anything. Can I take him back to Instinct HQ now and take my plushie back?"
"All systems are operating at standard levels. Here you are."
Blanche handed me the plushie, which I promptly squeezed. The real Ronnie looked at it with moderate confusion. Even though Cliff had made him a plushie of himself of his own so we could communicate across timelines, he still hadn't quite gotten used to its existence. We headed back to Instinct HQ in my car.
"So, what's new with you? I listened to the demos you sent me. Have to say that they're really fucking good; you definitely chose some great replacements for the other guys."
"Yeah, I'm not sure how I feel about kicking them out; Max especially seemed really mad, but it was for the best. After all, they weren't helping me grow as a person or an artist and given that Escape the Fate continued to exist in the future without me, it's pretty clear that they were going to abandon me whenever I stopped being useful, whether I got arrested or not." He let out a low growl and scrunched up his body a bit in the passenger seat, his last sentence shifting into a hiss at the end. It was pretty clear he was still a bit torn up over the whole situation. I would have offered him pats, but I was driving at the time.
"So, how are things in your life otherwise?"
"Well, I read some of the articles you sent me about ADHD and they made...a lot of sense, so I'm actually seeing a neuropsych now. Following up on that, I've been taking some night classes to try to get my GED and make up for dropping out of high school back in the day. Turns out school's a lot better now that I'm on meds and actually want to be there. Speaking of night classes, something weird happened when I was on my way back from one last week."
"Oh? Spill the beans!"
"Okay, so I was on my way back to my apartment and I saw a big dog or a coyote or something on the side of the road. It was kind of dark so I couldn't see very well, but it was moving kind of weirdly, so I pulled over to check if it was okay. It looked like it was trying to stand on its hind legs? Anyway, I pulled out my phone to take a picture, but before I could do that, it bit me, and by the time I figured out what had happened, it was gone."
"You did get the bite checked out, right?"
"Yeah, stopped at a 24-hour clinic. Doc said it wasn't infected, put some antibiotic on it, wrapped it up, and your friend with the white hair made sure my rabies shot was up to date."
"Hmm. Walking on its hind legs. You don't think it could have been --"
"-- a werewolf? Heh, that'd be cool, but I...don't think those are real."
"I was going to say a Pokemon. There aren't that many wild Pokemon around where you are, but maybe someone had a Zoroark or Lycanroc or something that escaped?"
"I guess that would make sense. Wouldn't one of those be more likely to throw rocks at me or hit me with a burst of darkness or something than just bite me, though?"
"You're right. That doesn't quite make sense. But either way, if your doctor said the bite didn't look infected, it's probably okay. You seem fine."
Once we arrived at Instinct HQ, Spark greeted me with a kiss on the cheek and looked at Ronnie with vague suspicion before we headed to the couch and I handed Ronnie the streaming remote to find something. Netflix wouldn't be a thing in his timeline for about another year, but he seemed pretty willing to handle it. We ended up watching some 90s horror movie. I wasn't paying much attention, but Ronnie seemed to be into it, probably because it had scantily clad girls and corny blood special effects. We didn't really talk much, save my handing him my phone so he could look at interesting photos and stuff, until I found an interesting post from my favorite weather column.
"Hey, check this out." I handed him my phone and he turned my volume up and down a couple of times before remembering it was a touchscreen and swiping to scroll.
"So there's going to be a...Hyper Blood Storm Flower Wolf Moon tonight. What's all that supposed to mean? Is it a sign of the end times?"
"No. From what I can tell, it basically just means that it's going to look a little bigger than usual and have a kind of purple tint from the right angle. The name mostly just caught my eye and I thought you'd get a kick out of it. Hell, maybe you can write a song about it, definitely sounds like the kind of edgy word salad you like."
"I guess I wouldn't mind going to look at it. I'm free since we're in between tours and it's not like I have anything better to do."
Spark walked in, took a brief look at the screen, which presently showed a "teenager" being played by someone at least 10 years older than her character strapped to an axe throwing target by someone in a modified football helmet, and tilted his head. He then darted his head away from the screen when Ronnie let out an animalistic growl, without moving his gaze from the screen. Spark picked up the remote, turned off the TV, and glared at him.
"What the hell, dude?"
"I didn't do anything! What the fuck? Your boyfriend's allowed to have friends, you know!"
"It's not that. You just growled at me! Why?"
"Uh, yeah. You sounded like my Luxray when the Furfrou down the street starts barking. You literally did it as soon as I got close to Arlo."
"I...I guess I could have done that? I don't know what to tell you; it was some sort of subconscious thing, I guess. I don't usually growl at people, well, except in songs, but that's different."
"Well, if you honestly didn't know you did it, I guess I'll write it off as some weird reflex. My ex used to hiss at people. So, what are you two watching, and should I be worried about having it on my history?"
I shrugged. "I don't know. I gave Ronnie the remote to pick something out."
"It's called Bloodfuck. It's about an undead murderer who breaks into a cheerleading camp retreat and starts doing what undead murderers usually do. I really liked it in high school. I wrote a song about it for my first band, but they rejected it. I think I'm starting to see why. The plot doesn't make any sense and the special effects are shit, even for 1997."
"...okay, then. I guess that seems like the kind of thing you'd like. So, do you boys have any other plans?"
I decided to bring up the blood moon this weekend. After all, Spark was usually in the know about team leader events and Blanche periodically hosted astronomy get-togethers for the Mystics for various sky light events which we could probably freeload off of. "Well, apparently there's going to be a...super blood wolf storm moon or something like that tonight, and Ronnie wouldn't mind going to look at it since we don't have any plans. Do you know if Blanche is going to be hosting one of their Mystic astronomy events for it?"
"I don't think they are, but I can ask. Even if they're not, we can probably drive out. If we go by your HQ, there's not much artificial light in the woods so we get pretty good star visuals."
"Hey, if we're going to be in the menacing building in the woods, you two can sleep over!"
"...is Sierra willing to accept Ronnie's presence in your HQ?"
"What's she going to do about it if she's not?"
"Fair point. I'm calling the bed, though."
"Great, take it. You are his boyfriend and while I've shared beds with other guys on a non-zero number of occasions, that was just because we were on tour and could only afford one hotel room; it wasn't by choice. Also, we had our backs to each other so it wasn't gay."
"You know, Ronnie, physical affection is a perfectly reasonable way to express friendship. After all, everyone needs to be cuddled sometimes and it doesn't have to have any sexual connotations."
"So you're saying you'd be okay with sleeping with me if I wanted and it wouldn't be gay even though you are."
"I'm bisexual, but yes."
Spark loudly cleared his throat from the other side of the couch, evidently concerned that I'd forgotten he was there. "Uh, yeah. We can have a sleepover at Team GO Rocket's building in the woods along with stargazing and looking at the moon on Sunday. But even though I understand that plenty of cultures accept cuddling between male friends as perfectly platonic, I don't think I'm okay with my boyfriend sleeping with another guy."
"I could bring both of you. You wouldn't all fit in my bed, but we have a bunch of air beds in the basement from when we had grunts in there, so if we stuck them all together..."
"No." Spark and Ronnie made that response in unison, probably one of the only times they'd unanimously agreed. I decided to change the subject upon seeing them both looking at me and refusing to stop.