Kyle considers himself good at reading people, for the most part-- reading people is a big part of being a divorce lawyer-- and as far as he can tell, the wolves are just people with big enough teeth to back up the claims they make. So he loves Warren, and now Mercy, and he understands most of the others, Darryl's discomfort and Adam's grave courtesy and Honey's bitchiness.
But Ben, Ben is something else. Sometimes he flirts, especially when he knows Warren's watching, and he's cute even if he's not Kyle's type so Kyle lets him get away with it. But he doesn't like to be touched-- not in human form, anyway. Which could mean a lot of things: that he's straight, and a tease, or straight and trying to get under Warren's skin, or gay and too afraid to admit it to himself.
There's lots of things it could mean, that aren't anything. But Kyle wonders. He's had female clients before who flinched when you moved too fast, who didn't want to to be told they were pretty unless you said it in the queeniest way possible. Women who didn't trust men, women who'd not just been cheated on, but beaten, abused, raped.
Women who wanted, desperately, to be normal, but were afraid to be. Kyle's not a wolf, but he knows better than to say anything to Ben. Warren, when he asks, just shrugs. He thinks there was something. Back in England. But the only one who would know the details is Adam, and he keeps his wolves' secrets the way he keeps their lives-- safe.
He should leave it alone, probably, but he can't. Kyle's never been much good at leaving things alone. So they invite Ben over for pizza and beer and movies every week or so, sometimes with Mercy or one of the other wolves, sometimes even with Kyle's friends, sometimes alone. They sit on the couch next to him, and reach across him for napkins and bump him with their hips to make room and once Kyle goes to sleep with his head on Ben's thigh.
He lets them, although he looks worried sometimes and confused more often. They touch each other in front of him, casual and kind, and far more frequently than usual. Kyle notices that he looks down, or away, when they kiss, and he wonders if it's shyness or something more.
They start in October with what Kyle privately thinks of as Operation-Get-Ben-Laid and Warren almost definitely thinks of as a giant waste of time. By December the only things Kyle's really learned is that Ben's probably bi, and that it's men who scare him. Women don't scare him, Mercy excluded, but he doesn't respect them either. And the Mercy thing isn't physical. The Mercy thing is because she's been raped, Kyle is pretty sure, because she's put her life back together. Because she's not careful, even now that she should know why she needs to be.
He should let Ben be, maybe, and maybe he'll heal on his own. Kyle thinks that's what Warren thinks, although he never really expresses an opinion even when you ask him directly. But Kyle can't let it go. He and Warren take Ben Christmas shopping, and Kyle steals a sip of Ben's cocoa. They get him to help pick out a tree, and then to help cram it into Kyle's living room, and then to help decorate it.
They order Chinese, and Kyle knows Ben's favorites as well as he does Warren's. After dinner they lie on the living room rug, watching the tree lights flashing on the white walls and ceiling, and Kyle holds Warren's hand and thinks about holding Ben's, too.
But in the end Ben goes home alone and Kyle and Warren don't talk about him once he's gone. They don't talk about what they're doing-- Kyle tries not to even think about it. When he does, it's oblique. If Ben starts to spend the night we'll need to buy a bigger bed. He doesn't know what the wolves think, if something like this is completely unheard of for them.
Kyle isn't sure he cares. Before Warren, he used to be kind of wild, kind of slutty, even. But even though the sex is great, sex isn't what they're about. And with Ben, sex is the least of it. He thought he was doing this to save Ben, out of basic human decency. Somewhere in there, it stopped being about rescuing Ben; somewhere he started to be part of their weird, awkward family.
Somewhere along the line, it became expected that Ben would be there on Christmas morning for blueberry waffles and opening presents, some time it became right that he wouldn't leave afterward. So now when Kyle kisses Warren in front of him he doesn't keep his eyes open to see if Ben's looking. He doesn't need to check.
And then somehow three more months go by and Ben doesn't go home at all any more, and he doesn't flirt with Kyle, either, not the way he used to. He and Kyle and Warren have dinner together, most nights, but they don't all sleep in the same bed unless Ben is in wolf form, and he lets them touch him “accidentally” but he still doesn't touch them. Kyle wonders if maybe they're just fucking him up worse.
Finally he bites the bullet and goes to see Adam at the office, alone. “I need you to tell me how to help Ben,” he says, “I need you to tell me what wolves do.”
Adam's extraordinarily handsome when he smiles, but he's not smiling. “There's no special secret. Nothing I can do that you can't. Don't you think, if I could fix Ben, I would have?”
“You helped Mercy,” Kyle says, not backing down. He knows better than to meet Adam's eyes when he says it, though, knows that's a challenge he doesn't want to make.
“Mercy helped herself,” Adam says. “Kyle-- it takes as long as it takes. But Ben's worth it.”
“I know that,” Kyle says, and he slams the Alpha's door on the way out.
They watch more movies and drink more beer, they take Ben out to dinner on his birthday, they hug him when he comes home from work, they kiss his cheek goodbye. They take him dancing, and sandwich him between them.
He lets them. It's progress, achingly slow. And Kyle thinks, maybe this is enough. Because it's true that Ben is happy now. He doesn't seem to think anything's missing-- and normal, for a werewolf, doesn't necessarily mean what Kyle thinks it means. So he stands between Warren and Ben, holding hands with both, and he lets it be.