Disclaimer: I don't own Oban Star-racers. I do own Remus and Lupanians however.
Part One: Alwas
Moon and Star
Ch.1: The Lupanian Boy
Don Wei drove down a deserted back road, trying to clear his head. Today was the anniversary of his wife's death—this day always brought back bad memories now matter how hard he tried to forget.
They were coming around the final turn…Spirit dropped low over the Star-racer…he sped past…the Star-racer exploded.
Don gripped the steering wheel, his knuckles turning white. No, don't… he scolded himself for the millionth time that day. Don't think of that…
It didn't help that today the sky was gray and it was drizzling. Just like the day he'd left Eva at the Stern Boarding School…
"Daddy needs you to promise to be a good girl. I'm too busy…to take care of you now. Surely you can understand…"
Don shook his head. Of course she didn't understand! She was only five! Don growled at the voice in his head. Shut up, shut up, shut up!
He glanced to the right. He was passing the cemetery. He hadn't even realized he was traveling this road… He stared for a moment, unconsciously scanning the area to see if he could find his wife's grave. Then he realized what he was doing and tore his eyes away and back to the road.
He slammed on the breaks, pitching forward. He took a deep, shuddering breath, eyes wide in horror as he stared at what lay in the middle of the road. It was a boy who couldn't be any older than fourteen.
Don got out of the car and hurried to the boy, kneeling beside him. He had black hair, and his skin—or what Don could see of it—was pale. The boy's hair was long and the rain had plastered it to his face, which was turned away from Don. His clothes—a gray sweater, shirt and dark blue jeans were much too large for him. He seemed to swim in them.
Don placed a hand on the boy's shoulder and rolled him onto his back. He froze. The boy's face was gaunt, pale and there were dark circles under his eyes. Don felt the boy's arm through his clothes—he was skin and bones. Looking at the boy's hands confirmed it; Don grimaced.
Don looked around. He didn't know what to do. Was the boy even still alive? He took off one of his white gloves and held his hand close to the boy's mouth…there! He could feel a faint breath. Or was that the wind? He placed two fingers against the boy's throat. There was a pulse. He could feel it. The boy was still alive.
Don sighed in relief. Then he noticed something shiny around the boy's neck. He grabbed the pendent to get a closer look. It was a silver crescent moon on a chain. It looked familiar like he'd seen it or heard about it before, but he couldn't remember…
What am I doing? he wondered. I should be calling an ambulance!
Don pulled out his cell phone. He had just punched in the first number when a hand grabbed his wrist.
He looked down at the boy with wide eyes.
"What are you doing?" the boy rasped.
"Calling an ambulance," Don said.
"Don't," the boy said. "I just…need food. That's all. Don't call the hospital, they'll send me…to the orphanage. Do you know how long I've run from them?"
"The orphanage? Why were you running from there?" Don asked.
"Because…I've got no place there, do I?" the boy said with a wry smile. "After all…who wants Remus Lycaon the Lupanian?"
"You're a Lupanian?" Don asked surprised. "You don't look like one…"
The boy gave a bark of laughter. "You'd think that wouldn't you… But really…we're all the same, humans and Lupanians…we're both human… just different breeds…like different breeds of dogs. A bull dog is a dog the same as a dioxin."
It was then that Don remembered why the pendent had looked so familiar: it was the symbol of a Lupanian. He'd learned that somewhere but it wasn't common knowledge. It was one way for Lupanians to identify other Lupanians. There was another one, but Don couldn't remember what it was… Smell or something…
Just what am I doing? he shouted at himself.
Don sighed in frustration and shook his head. "I'm calling the hospital."
"NO!" the boy shouted and grabbed the cell phone. "I won't let you!"
"Give it to me!" Don said angrily reaching for the phone. The boy pushed him back forcefully. Don was shocked the boy was so powerful given his current state.
"Please… I just need a place to stay," the boy said desperately. "Can I stay with you? I'll sleep in your garage, I swear, just give me a place to sleep and then you'll never know I'm there! You don't even have to feed me or get me anything, I swear!"
Don eyed the boy. "What did you say your name was again?"
"Remus Lycaon," the boy answered.
Remus was tense, ready to bolt at the slightest movement. Don seriously doubted that the boy would do any better than he was now if Don gave him a place to sleep and nothing else, but if he tried to call the hospital or anyone else, the boy would disappear and surely die.
No matter what his employees thought, he wasn't that heartless.
"What if I gave you a job?" Don sighed. "So you can buy your own food and clothes?"
"Sure!" Remus said eagerly. "You've no idea how good it would be to eat normal food again!"
Don wasn't sure he wanted to know what Remus had been living off of. "Are you any good as a mechanic?"
"Yeah," Remus said. "I used to work at a gas station."
"What happened to that job?" Don asked.
"I was fired…when the man found out I was a Lupanian," Remus said.
"How did he find out?"
"Well, you see… My parents died before they could teach me how to control my transformations. I got the job right after I had been hurt and naturally transformed back into a human. But then, someone got me really angry and I transformed," Remus said. "It takes me a little while to be able to transform out of my werewolf form. Usually."
"Wait… 'werewolf form'?"
"Yeah," Remus said with a wicked grin. "Lupanians have lived on Earth as long as humans. We're what you used to call werewolves. Except we can't make you a Lupanian by biting you. That's pure legend."
They had been driving in silence for fifteen minutes when Remus said, "So…what's your name?" His voice was still raspy.
"Hm?" Don said, flicking on the turn signal.
Remus waited until Don had made the turn and turned off the signal. "I never got your name. What is it?"
Remus, who had been looking out the window, turned to look at Don in surprise. "The racing manager?"
"How did you know—?"
"Hey," Remus said sharply. "I'm a runaway not a newborn."
Don shot him a look, but didn't say anything.
"So where do you live?"
"Not too far from here," Don said. "May—I hated living in the city."
Maya hated it more than me, Don thought. At least until Eva was born. Then I agreed it would be safer…outside the city…
Don sighed and shook his head. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Remus watching him interestedly.
What am I doing? he wondered. Lupanians are dangerous…if only he hadn't looked like a human boy…I could've just left him there… But somehow Don wasn't sure he would've been able to just drive away.
Maya would've help him, said the traitorous voice in the back of his head that always resurfaced this day every year. Maya would've helped him…even if he wasn't a child…even if he looked like a Lupanian.
"Sir…if you don't mind my asking…" Remus said hesitantly. "Is something wrong?"
"Everything's fine, what would make you think otherwise?" Don said stiffly.
"Well, it's just…Lupanians have a very acute sense of smell and I mean very acute. We can smell emotions," Remus said. "You just…er…smell sad… Oh, yeah," he muttered to himself, "because that didn't sound at all weird…"
"I'm fine," Don said, gripping the steering wheel harder.
"Okay," Remus said. "I was just checking… but, um, if you ever need to talk, I'll listen. I think I should be able to relate, you know, I'm an orphan so I think I'd know all about losing something and being sad… I'm just gonna shut up now."
Remus turned to look out the window again.
It was another five uncomfortable minutes before Don pulled into his driveway. He stopped at the gate, punched in the code and drove through the gates when they opened. Remus turned in the seat to watch the gates close automatically behind them.
He studied the fence. It was wrought-iron with spikes at the top like all the old stereotypical mansion had. He'd be able to scale that easily enough. That would make it easier to keep his promise that he'd be like a ghost. Remus turned back around and studied the approaching house. It was large and nice, but not a mansion.
"So," Remus said, "when do I start? As a mechanic, I mean."
"Tomorrow," Don said as he stopped the car and got out.
"Good," Remus said. "I'll be there."
"You'd better be," Don said. "If you'll be living here I guess I'll be driving you."
Remus shrugged. "Maybe," he said.
"What do you mean?" Don asked, starting toward his house. Remus followed.
"I have spasmodic sleeping hours," Remus said. "Some nights I sleep eight to ten hours, some I sleep two…all depends really."
"How safe I feel," Remus said.
"So how does that affect whether or not I take you to work?"
"Well, if it's one of those nights that I don't sleep much, you might go off to work and find me already there," Remus said. "So I wouldn't worry about waiting for me in the morning or anything if I don't show up."
They entered the house into a dark paneled hallway. On the left was a doorway that led to a kitchen and on the right was a doorway that led to a living room. Straight ahead was a staircase.
"Do you have any other clothes?" Don asked.
"No," Remus said. "Although, I've got about twenty dollars in my pocket."
Don sighed. "My clothes would be too big for you… I'll give you some old clothes. That way you don't have to worry about getting them dirty… You can take a shower. It's the second door on the left upstairs. I'll be up in a few minutes to take your clothes to wash them. I'll leave some clothes out for when you're finished."
Remus nodded. He went upstairs.
Don rubbed his temple tiredly.
Fifteen minutes later, Remus came down into the kitchen, looking a bit ridiculous in clothes that were rolled up about five times. He froze like a deer in headlights when he saw Don sitting at the kitchen table.
Remus stomach growled, but he didn't say anything.
"Would you like something to eat?" Don asked. "I have soup."
"Soup?" Remus asked blankly. "Why soup?"
"You don't look like your stomach could handle anything else," Don said. Then he shrugged. "Besides, it's the only thing I trust myself to make. I'm not much of a cook."
Remus smiled slightly. "I'm not either. I met someone once who said the things I eat would kill him. Although," he muttered, "it being a bird cooked over a fire might've had something to do with it." Then Remus grinned sheepishly. "You got chicken noodle?"
"Yes, actually," Don said. He stood up and grabbed a can from a cabinet. Remus quietly sat down at the table and watched as Don opened the can and poured the soup into a bowl. Remus rubbed his scratchy eyes. The microwave beeped as Don put in the time and then hummed as it began to heat the soup.
Remus stifled a yawn. He glanced out the window thoughtfully. He still didn't know where he was going to sleep tonight, although the surrounding bushes and trees should offer a good spot. He intended to make good on his promise not to be a burden.
He began to plan in his head how he was going to make this work. First off, he would keep these clothes; they were old clothes anyway. He could see some stains on them. So he could slip in each night and take a shower after Don had gone to bed. Then—every other night—he could wash his clothes and where these ones for a little while until his other clothes where finished.
Once he got his first paycheck, the first thing he would buy was some food that wouldn't go bad if it wasn't refrigerated or something like that. Potato chips or a can of soup each day that he would eat for lunch or something.
The next thing he'd get was a blanket. It was getting near the end of summer so it would begin to get cooler. He'd then have to get some heavier clothing… Gently, Remus bit his tongue. He hated not being part of a pack. He wouldn't have to worry about freezing to death if he was in a pack. In packs, the members all curled up with each other and kept each other warm, especially during the winter nights.
The microwave beeped shrilly to signal the soup was done.
Remus jumped so badly he nearly fell off the chair.
"Are you alright?" Don asked, taking the soup out of the microwave and grabbing a spoon.
"Y…yeah," Remus said. "I was just thinking…Startled me…"
"I see," Don said. He placed the bowl in front of Remus and sat down as well. He didn't even know why there were two chairs in here. He never had anyone over to eat…but it was just there and he'd never bothered to move it.
"Thanks," Remus said quietly. He blew gently on the soup before eating.
After a moment, Don said, "What did you mean that a werewolf bite wouldn't turn you into one? If it doesn't, where did that come from?"
Remus ate another bite of soup. "It came from way, way back," Remus said with a bit of a smile. "When a Lupanian bit you, it used to be that you died because of all the bacteria in our saliva. There wasn't proper medicine to treat the infections. And people didn't know where Lupanians came from. So they thought that when people bitten by Lupanians died, if they passed some sort of test of the devil, they became his servants—werewolves.
"Now people back then weren't stupid and they knew that the devil was smart. He wouldn't have his servants go back to a place where they were known to be dead. So they moved to a different town far away so they'd never be discovered by people who knew them to be devil creatures. That's how the legend spread. Because no one was able to prove it wrong. How could you? Search the globe for a dead person?
"Now-a-days, though, there's medicine and proper dental care and food. Our mouths are cleaner and we're eating less raw meat so our saliva carries less bacteria and wounds are thoroughly cleaned and so resulting infections are easier to combat. Plus, less Lupanians suffer from bloodlust during the full moon so we're perfectly harmless. And most of us have chains handy just in case…we can tell if we're going to suffer from bloodlust during the full moon in advance. Plus, with all the sleeping medicines out there, we can get a hold of them and just sleep the full moon away."
Remus fell silent again as he began to eat his soup. Don sat, staring at him for a moment…
"Do you have chains?"
Remus almost choked on his soup. "Er…I used to…but ah…they're old and rusty…not really good for anything, really… Plus, I took up the art of meditation from an old Lupanian I once met… He was an old man… He was the closest thing I had to a father in a long time… But he past away. And I was alone again."
Remus gaze had turned to the table. He looked up at Don with a wry smile. "But I guess that's the curse of the werewolf, huh?"
Don's hands, which had been resting on his knees, curled into fists.
He stood up quickly. Remus looked at him, surprised as Don hurried from the room.
The next morning, Don stood by his car, looking around for Remus. Where is that boy…? Don had looked for Remus all through out the house, but the guest bedroom hadn't been slept in and the couch didn't look like it had been touched. He had checked to see if Remus was getting his clothes but Remus had apparently already grabbed his things because they weren't there.
"Well, if it's one of those nights that I don't sleep much, you might go off to work and find me already there. So I wouldn't worry about waiting for me in the morning or anything if I don't show up."
Don sighed and shook his head. You'd better be there, boy, because I don't have a problem getting rid of you…
It only took Don thirty minutes to get to his company. After a few years, you learn the quickest routes around the city. He parked his car and headed toward the hangers.
"You," he said to a passing mechanic, "have you seen a young boy here by any chance?"
"Er…you mean the new mechanic? Yeah, he's over there, sir," the man said, pointing toward one of the hangers.
Don nodded to him and started over.
"Darn it…no use," he heard someone say, "it's not coming out…"
"Here, let me try." That was Remus voice. Don stepped into the hanger and quickly located him. He was standing with four other mechanics near a star-racer. They were looking at Remus and began to laugh.
"Kid, if we can't get it out, what makes you think you can? You not only look like you should be dead, but just how strong can you be?" laughed the head mechanic.
Don narrowed his eyes and looked at Remus. Remus saw him standing a few feet behind the group. He smirked and reached into the Star-racer. He fiddled around with it for a few second…then he yanked on something.
The upgrade piece came out without a bit of resistance.
Remus smirked at the other mechanics. They were staring at him in shock.
"No way…we must've loosened it for you," the head mechanic said angrily. "'Cause there's no way a twerp like you is showin' me up…"
"Ross," Don Wei snapped.
The group froze before slowly turning around.
"Y…yes, boss?" Ross, the head mechanic, said sheepishly.
"I expect you to teach this boy what he needs to know and tell him what he needs to work on," Don said. "Found out what he's best at and have him begin working there. Don't give him trouble."
"Psh," Ross muttered. "Never got all up in anyone's face over me…"
Don narrowed his eyes and raised an eyebrow. "What was that?"
"N…nothing, sir," Ross said weakly. "Come on kid, let's get you started."
"My name's Remus," Remus said a little testily.
"Well, I'm callin' you kid," Ross shot back.
"Fine, I'll call you 'R' then," Remus said. Ross raised an eyebrow at the nickname and started off toward another racer. Remus followed, passing Don Wei as he muttered, "For retard…"
Don shook his head. I really do hope that boy is a good mechanic…perhaps he'll cut Ross down a bit.
Ross was getting progressively more aggravated as the day went on. Remus was cheeky and a good mechanic and a good deal stronger than anybody his age should be, let alone one that was skin and bones. He picked up heavy crates that took two grown men to move and walked around with ease. He could hold these crates for several minutes without problem while someone figured out where they were supposed to go whereas the other men began to shout that the crate was heavy and they needed to set it down.
All in all, there was no way the boy could be human, and Ross was going to prove it.
I bet ol' Don Wei doesn't even realize this kid's something else entirely, Ross thought with aggravation.
When he had mentioned this to the other workers over lunch, they had said that there was something funny about Remus and that maybe he wasn't entirely human. "But really," said one man, "what does it matter? He's a good kid."
Ross had argued that Remus wasn't a kid at all, but no one really seemed to care. Ross had played the 'what if there are more of them' card and 'if Remus is that strong while skin and bones how strong must the others be' but no one bit. They weren't going to play this game. Remus looked human. He'd cut his finger and bled red blood. So what if he was part something else?
Ross growled softly as he remembered his final stab at making the others see things his way.
"When he was lifting those crates, his hair moved away from his ears…they were pointed slightly and he grit his teeth when he cut himself…his canines were fangs and his eyes glowed the slightest bit… Don't those sound like the marks of a Lupanian? And what about that necklace? I've heard that's the sign of a Lupanian," he had said.
The others had laughed. "Lupanians are harmless," one had said. "We're more likely to all get struck by lightening right now then get attack by one of those! Besides, they're only a problem during the full moon and with sleeping medicines they just sleep it off. Welcome to this day and age, Ross. The lot of the whole world isn't xenophobic anymore."
Ross snarled and punched a wall. Then he hissed in pain and cradled his hand. "Darn it…"
He looked around. Now…where's ol' Don…
Finally he spotted Don Wei speaking with Remus. Ross grinned evilly. There we go…
Raff, another of the mechanics, noticed his look. He nudged A.J. and Duncan.
"Hey, Ross, don't go doing anything stupid now, why don't you?" Raff said. Ross ignored him.
"Hey, boss, I've gotta speak with you," Ross said.
Don looked up at him, annoyed at being interrupted. Remus face grew darker.
"What is it, Ross?" Don asked.
"Do you know you've hired an alien?" Ross asked, staring straight at Remus.
If it was possible for Remus pale skin to get any paler, it did. "What makes you think I'm an alien?" His voice was surprisingly steady for how shaky he looked.
"Well, lets see," Ross said mockingly. "You can easily lift more than two grown men can do together; I've seen your ears and their pointed—"
He reached out to brush Remus long black hair away from one of his ears. Remus shied away, growling at him in a very wolf-like way. Ross smirked.
"And there," he said. "Your canines are pointed…especially when your angry or in pain… You're a Lupanian. And everyone knows how dangerous those are."
Remus was about to retort when Don cut him off.
"Then you have to be the stupidest man on earth for intentionally trying to get one angry," Don said. "I should fire you for your stupidity alone."
Ross looked like he'd been slapped in the face. "What?"
"I told you not to give Remus trouble, didn't I?" Don said.
"Er…well, maybe, but sir…"
"I'm warning you, Ross, leave Remus alone or your fired," Don said. "There's nothing wrong with Lupanians."
Ross growled. He shot Remus a nasty look, ground out, "Yes, sir," and stalked off.
"Thanks, sir," Remus said quietly.
"I expect you to work your hardest," Don replied. "I won't defend you or keep you on if you don't do your job."
Remus smiled slightly. "Don't worry, sir, I won't let you down."
Don nodded and started to walk away.
After all, Remus thought, you're only the second person to help me after my parents died… I won't let you down… I just hope nothing happens to you too…
Chapter Preview: Enter Eva –
The girl was too young to be a friend or anything like that and Don didn't seem to know her… The basic sent was too closely relating to Don for her to be a niece (the sent was basic, yet had a singularly unique quality for each member) so that meant she had to be his…
Everyone spun to look at him. Thinking fast, Remus grabbed his foot. "Sorry," he muttered quickly. "Stubbed my foot…stupid crate…"