You know, a lot of people think that my kind only work in woods or swamps. They don't realize that the grasslands of the mid west work just as well as any other natural paradise. Long as my little boy can be happy, I can be too. But, sometimes its hard to find food for us, as wolves tend to eat a fair bit to keep up with their exercise. Especially mine, who's large enough for me to ride around on like a horse. But once, just once, we found a place willing to accept us.
The freaky part is when we found it. It was the turn of the month into October, and a blood moon was out. In the shadow of it stood this little tavern in the middle of nowhere. "Farside", it called itself. Freaky little thing, standing there in the middle of nowhere with the reddened moon laying just behind it on the horizon. But we can't argue much, especially since the white man had long since devoured the natural resources of this land.
As we approached, I expected to need to leave Lobo outside. I know it's not a creative name, but getting caught in a mosh pit of major cultures causes people do dabble in a little bit of each. Either way, when we approached a man opened up the door for us. Rugged, clearly a man from around here. Texan through-and-through, didn't need to hear his accent to know that.
"Well, don't leave him out in the cold. We can get a dish for him." He told us, motioning a welcome.
"Thank you, from both of us." I replied, whistling to Lobo and walking in. The place was lively, but not in the way I had expected. It felt like... home, for some reason. I'm not sure why, but despite the... oddities of this place, they all seemed at ease compared to where I've been. I feel like in this place I could sit face to face with a Wendingo and make peace. Course, once we leave is a whole different story, but still.
"What can I do ya for?" He asked in a jovial manner, cleaning a cup.
"Steaks. One blue rare, one medium rare." I ordered, scratching Lobo behind the ear. He nodded and walked into the back for a short moment, I assume to give the order to the cook, before walking back. He brought a dog dish with him filled with water. Lobo grunted a bit in displeasure, but I thanked the barkeeper nonetheless.
"What, ya'd rather have whiskey?" When he asked Lobo perked up, the dumb pooch. "You are a goofy little woofer, ain't cha?" He chuckled, looking over to me.
"Well we are at a bar, so why not a couple shots. Go ahead and pour one of them into his dish, not like Lobo hadn't gotten drunk before." I answered, leaning up against the bar a bit. The barkeeper gave me a look of disbelief when he heard Lobo's name before sighing and shaking his head.
"Plainsmen are weird, that's for sure." He then poured a couple shots and put both of them into the dog dish before pouring another one for me. "But if he gets drunk off of only one shot I'm gonna be disappointed." I was, frankly, shocked by this action, but Lobo chuckled as he started to lap up the watered down booze. I took my shot and blinked, being able to taste right away how strong the alcohol was, before looking over to him.
"We... don't have much in the way of cash, so I need to know how much this all is going to cost." I point out, not sure exactly how much I had on me but not willing to check right in front of him.
"Well, all together for two stakes and two shots that'd be about-"
"But you gave us three shots." I reminded. I never haggle with kind people, let alone steal from them.
"First shot's free. Company policy." He pointed out, poking my nose. Strange man to do something like that, but it was probably playful given his light grin. "Either way, that'd come to almost $30, assuming you stopped there. Probably more like $45 if you got your fill and used one of the rooms upstairs, since you sure do look like the kind that needs a place to sleep."
"I... fear I may not-" He know what I was going to say, and Lobo knew how these conversations usually went.
"Now, way I see it there's two ways of goin' about this. Now for a pretty little thing like you, there's always options of using it to your advantage," I immediately move to cover my breasts, not so naive as to think he'd only want eye candy. Lobo was growling as well, having expected this. "But, I'm not that kind of man. That'd be bad business. Heck, had to kick a customer out once for that."
"And what's the more reasonable option, then?" I ask, aware that he was probably about to tell me.
"Work for me. Part time, of course. You seem like a busy gal. But if you work for me a bit, probably cleaning until I find your real talent, I'll give you one free meal and a place to sleep each night." He smiled, holding out his hand. "If that's reasonable, then go ahead and shake on it. No contract, so just write me a note the day you quit and off ya go."
I find myself smiling at his kindness, taken aback by the sudden change from his first... option. I shook on it, and Lobo lifted up his paw and placed it onto our hands, showing that he was okay with this deal. I gave him a surprised look, but he merely nodded.
"Well, after ya git done eating I'll have one of the workers here show you up." He offered, going back to get our two steaks. Only one of them, mine, had silverware on it. When he crouched down to give Lobo his he held a finger towards him. "Now you can't clean up to well like that, so make sure not to make a mess while eating it alright?"
Lobo gave him and odd look before nodding, chomping away at his dinner while I ate mine. It was odd, I feel like in these kinds of places people would be more active and open to approach. A number of ideas went into my head about why they didn't do this, but I ended up coming to two conclusions: Either they say me as too different to approach, or too alike to need a formal welcome. It was nice, being able to eat like this. Being by myself, but not actually alone.
After our meal one of the workers there, I didn't catch his name, showed us upstairs to the room we'd be staying at. It reminded me of a bedroom one might see in a woodland cottage more than anything else, but I wasn't expecting a hotel room either. I sat down in bed and pulled off my backpack, setting it down as I changed into my night clothes. Of course Lobo would be watching, the goofy pervert, but as long as it was just him I'd be fine.
When the morning sun came up, Lobo had shifted back to his human self. I am always a little bit sad each morning, cause his fur is a lot warmer than that icy morning skin of his, but it's better to have someone I don't need to treat like a pet for appearances.
"You sure it's alright for us to stay here and work at a place like this?" He asked, opening one eye when he realized I was awake.
"Of course, long as your buddy there isn't poking at my leg each morning." I tease, gently rolling him off. "Besides, who's going to stop us from leaving? There was no paperwork saying that we were here to begin with, so he has no legal grounds to-"
"You saw the crowd down there. Half-humans, undead, and God knows what else. Last thing we need is to be affiliating ourselves with monsters." I only needed to give him a hard look for him to realize the hypocrisy of that statement.
"Look, as soon as we settle our debt then we're gone. I'm not staying in debt to anyone, and if those monsters can leave as well then just running away will only make things worse, alright?" I point out, crossing my arms. I'm not surprised about him being cautious, all things considered, but the last thing we needed was him starting to freak out over things again.
"Well then lets just get it done fast, alright." He nearly ordered, reaching into my backpack to grab his clothes. Everything needed to be washed soon, so I started to wonder if there was any place we could do that around here. I doubted that this place would have anything for that, though.
"Morning." One of the workers here called into the room after knocking on the door, thankfully not entering. "When you're ready feel free to come downstairs." I could then hear him walk off.
I reach my hand over and touch Lobo's shoulder, whistling to him. "Everything will be fine, and even if it's not I have THE best guard dog in existence." I assured, smiling to him. He smiled back and gently kissed me, giving me the same light feeling it always did, before putting on his shirt and handing me my clothes.
When we came downstairs to see the Barkeep cleaning the counter top. "Welp, if you guys do some cleaning work for the day then tonight you can leave as you please. I figured it'd be best to leave after your buddy there has shifted over, after all." He pointed out, giving Lobo a look of surprise. This man knew about him the moment he saw Lobo's wolf form, and seemed aware of him before we even entered the bar.
Lobo was right, this is not a place for us to be. We did our work, had a meal when it came close to time where Lobo would shift over again, and then we left. It only took that one moment of realization, that a man could spot Lobo's condition before even laying eyes on him, to know that we couldn't stay. But, to this day, I still wonder about that man.