Derek crouched down and looked into the cage. The German shepherd inside was both growling and a minute away from pissing itself in fear. He sighed.
“I'm sorry love, they really don't like you, do they?” the kindly old lady who worked at the shelter said. “The first time I've seen somethin' like that, wouldn't believe it if someone told me...”
“It's alright. Maybe I should get a snake or something instead.”
“Is there a problem here, Violet?” a younger woman joined them. She was wearing an ugly old sweater and carried a contraption consisting mainly of indefinable plastic parts and a lot of tubing.
“Oh Barbara, it's the darndest thing! This young man here wants to adopt but all the animals take one look at his face and go completely dippy!” She patted the face in question - to the complete mortification of the werewolf it belonged to. “A shame, it bein' such a pretty face, ain't it, love?”
Her younger colleague looked at Derek, then at the row of cages with upset dogs, then narrowed her eyes at Derek once more. After a few seconds she said: “I think I've got exactly what you need. Wait here!”
She shoved the plastic tubing in Violet's arms and disappeared through a doorway.
“That Barbara, I wonder what she's thought of now...”
For the hundredth time since he arrived Mar-rhûhn plotted his eventual daredevil escape from this blasted tiny cage they put him in.
Oh, it had seemed like a great idea at the beginning: get a human servant like all those fat and well-groomed cats you saw during the daytime. The concept appealed to him – to have someone who had to feed him and clean up after him and pet him whenever he wanted. Also he was heartily sick of being chased out of all the warm and comfortable places he wanted to sleep in.
As far as he understood every human servant came with their own comfy place that they had to share with you. All in all it seemed like a good deal for putting up with one of those bumbling idiots.
Until recently he hadn't known how to go about getting a servant, though. Then he met Uuguira, a stray who used to have several of them. She explained how you had to go through a place called 'shelter', where you would stay for a while and they assigned you a human.
Now that he was here, though, he regretted his decision. He just hadn't anticipated how damn long all this would take. He'd been here for ages and they still hadn't found a servant for him! Sure, they had shown some to him, but they all came in twos and threes and the tiny grabby one had smelled of even more people. This was his first time having a servant, he didn't want to be responsible for a whole gaggle of them.
What did you call a herd of humans anyway? Probably a chatter.
The days stretched on and on and the boredom and lack of space were killing him. At least the food was okay and plentiful. But he wanted to walk on the streets again, run and jump and hunt! He'd take the next human, no matter who, just to get out of here.
At this point his thoughts were interrupted by one of the shelter people entering the room. She was smiling and cooing, and now she opened his cage.
“Does this mean you found someone for me? Am I getting out of here?” he asked her as she carried him somewhere. He squirmed excitedly, eager to see who they got for him.
That was a wolf.
“What the hell,” he said. Why on earth would a wolf want to be a servant to a cat? “Is this a joke?”
And there was the other shelter woman, the weird one, cooing and gurgling happily and flapping her hands. The wolf looked extremely uncomfortable and stared at Mar-rhûhn like he expected him to claw his eyes out or something.
Aaaaah, so it was like this. Clearly this was the most pathetic wolf on the planet and he needed a tough cat to take care of him. This was not a job for one of the kitties or soft-bellied fur cushions in the other cages of the shelter. This was a job for a cat who could fight, who was strong enough to protect even a wolf. This was a job for Mar-rhûhn.
“Never mind, it's perfect, I'll take him,” he announced and sauntered across the table he had been put on. The wolf eyed him dubiously. “Come on, don't be shy, I'll protect you from now on.”
This seemed to do the trick. The wolf hesitantly put a hand forward, obviously wanting to be claimed. Mar-rhûhn obliged and rubbed his jaw all over it, spreading his scent. There – a clear sign of ownership.
“Awww, look at the little fella go! Comes right up and demands to be cuddled!” Violet was positively delighted.
“Mar-rhûhn is a street cat,” her colleague added. “He doesn't scare easily.”
“Why do you call him Maroon when his fur is black?” Derek wanted to know.
She shrugged. “A cat has many names. You can call him whatever you like.”
He looked at her dubiously. “...Maroon is fine.” He scratched the cat behind its ears (one and a half, he noticed). It approved of his technique with a rattling purr.
“The black ones are always the last ones to go because of the superstition, you know?” the old woman told him. “It's silly and horrible of people if you ask me.”
“I don't mind, I'm not superstitious,” he hastened to clarify.
“Good! That's good. Poor baby was all scratched up and starved when he came to us, he deserves a good home with someone who loves him. We had a few people come and look at him but he gets a bit weird with kids and he's hardly gonna win a beauty contest, are you, sweetie?”
“...That's alright. He's not sick, is he?” Derek fished around for something non-awkward to say.
“Oh no, love, he's fit as a fiddle! Here, let me get him ready while I tell you how to take care of him. And his paperwork! Can't forget the paperwork, silly old me.”
His new wolf servant had a car. Mar-rhûhn was unsure how he felt about this. On the one hand: he didn't like cars. On the other hand: it turned out to be much nicer to be inside a car than being outside and running away from one.
He watched trees and houses fly by the window. Yes, this was acceptable.
Derek spared a look at the transport box next to him while driving. The cat seemed calm enough.
“You're probably glad to be out of there. Those people all seemed crazy.”
The cat stayed silent. Derek wondered if weirdness was contagious since he was now apparently talking to animals as if they were people.
As soon as the door to the extra-tiny cage opened, he was out of there. He looked around: this must be his new home! Very nice. There were some soft places to lie on, some high places to climb and quite a lot of space. After the shelter it seemed like a palace.
He sniffed a few things. Everything smelled like wolf, not just his but other ones as well. Drat. He figured wolves must be like stray dogs, running around in packs. Hopefully the others weren't as pathetic as this one and wouldn't need Mar-rhûhn to look after them as well.
He looked around to see what his servant was doing. It turned out that he was still sitting beside the extra-tiny cage, watching him. Did he want Mar-rhûhn to give him orders or something? But he didn't need anything at the moment.
“You can do what you like for now, I'll let you know if I need you for something,” he told him and then ignored him to go on exploring. After a while the wolf seemed to get the message and sat on the couch, presumably amusing himself.
A few hours later Mar-rhûhn decided to test how well his servant followed orders. He sat in front of the couch and said loudly and clearly: “I'm hungry. Give me food.”
To his delight, the wolf actually put aside the thing he'd been looking at and went to prepare him a meal. It tasted better than what he'd been served at the shelter too! This was awesome. After nightfall his demand for back scratches was also promptly met. His wolf might be a total wimp but he was unexpectedly good at being a servant.
The first person to visit them was a guy who smelled of other cats and dogs. He must be working at a shelter, Mar-rhûhn realized with some shock. What did he want here?
“I don't need to go back to the shelter, I've already got a servant!” he told him. That didn't seem to deter shelter guy who was kneeling down and trying to lure him closer.
“No, no!” He ran for his wolf and rubbed himself exaggeratedly all over his legs. “See? This is mine. He's a wolf but he's good, I swear!”
Shelter guy didn't leave. He sat down on the sofa, doing his own thing, but occasionally looking at Mar-rhûhn as if to remind him that he hadn't forgotten about him. It was unnerving.
He didn't like to admit it, but he was quite worried. Did the shelter send people over to make sure the servants did their job properly? “He's doing fine, I'm very satisfied with his services,” he said to him. The guy just looked at him quizzically. Right, he probably didn't understand speech.
So Mar-rhûhn decided a practical demonstration was needed. Hopping over to his wolf he commanded: “Hey you, you need to pet me! Pet me now!” His servant bent down, murmuring something, but scratched his head and under his chin. Mar-rhûhn encouraged him by leaning into the touches enthusiastically. To his delight he got picked up and petted all over, which had the benefit of putting him in a position where he could scent-mark his wolf's neck. “Good thinking,” he praised.
He turned around, looked shelter guy straight in the eye and told him in no uncertain terms: “See, he does as he's told even though he can't understand a word. We're all quite happy here.” His wolf moved so they were sitting next to the stranger on the couch. “So you can go now,” he concluded, hoping that this was getting his message across.
To his horror, shelter guy leaned over and stretched out a hand. “NO! I meant you should go without me! I don't want to go with you! Jeez, you are an idiot, how is this so hard to understand?” he hissed. Thankfully, shelter guy was intimidated by his claws and backed off.
Hours ticked by and Mar-rhûhn got more worried. What if he'd gotten it the wrong way round? What if this inspection was about how well he performed as a master? After all he'd never even had a human before and now he was in charge of a wolf.
He peered at both of them while he pondered. They were talking sometimes, but what were they saying? Were they talking about him? Criticizing him? Damn, he'd thought the deal was that he'd protect Wimpy Wolf from any threats and did his own thing when there weren't any, but what if that was not enough? What else could he do for him?
He scrutinized him in consideration. Well, he looked a bit scruffy, not that there was anything wrong with that. Still, giving him a wash couldn't hurt.
Mar-rhûhn got up, stood on his servant's lap, put his paws on a shoulder and started grooming the short fur on his face. Or tried to at least, but then the idiot started squirming away. He even picked him up to hold him at arm's length, so clearly that plan was a no-go. Scowling, Mar-rhûhn desisted.
“Dude, I don't get your cat,” Isaac said, watching Derek wrestle his overly affectionate feline. “He just meows at me all the time like he wants something but when I try to move closer he throws a fit.”
“You work for a vet, you know more about cats than I do,” the other werewolf answered after he had successfully settled Maroon and picked up his novel again.
“Clearly you're doing something right.”
Derek just shrugged. “He was pretty friendly from the start.”
“...You're loving this, aren't you?” Isaac narrowed his eyes at him. “You love that there's someone who likes you best, even though it's just a damned cat.”
Derek pointedly said nothing. He also didn't smile when the younger wolf huffed and punched him playfully in the shoulder, but it was a close thing.
“Fuck, Stiles is gonna throw a party when he finds out that his unconditional-love-is-therapeutic bullshit is actually working,” the teenager went on. “He'll never shut up about it.”
“He never shuts up about anything anyway.”
So it turned out that shelter guy actually lived here and slept in the room with the closed door. He was probably a member of the pack since he was a wolf too, a fact that Mar-rhûhn had overlooked in his initial panic. Sue him, everything smelled of wolf around this place.
Nevertheless there was still a chance that the guy would take his wolf and give him to another cat. For all he knew, that's what shelter people did. Deeming this unacceptable, Mar-rhûhn stuck close to his servant and kept an eye on him whenever the new wolf was around. He even sat on him whenever possible to remind shelter guy that this was his property. (It turned out to be a most comfortable seat, pleasantly warm and just the right amount of squishy).
One positive outcome from all this was that he now knew that his servant's name was Derek. He resolutely refused to learn any human-speak, but he figured it was only polite to know the name of the person you owned.
Shelter guy was called Isaac. Sometimes other people dropped by, which Mar-rhûhn didn't mind. Mostly those were Erica who quickly learned (the painful way) not to mess with him. He forgave her because she kept Isaac busy and distracted. There was Boyd whom he liked best because he never did or said much. Most memorably, there was Stiles who was loud and human and kept running into things and falling over for no reason.
“Dude, I can't believe you got a cat,” Stiles exclaimed the first time he came over.
“You were the one who suggested it in the first place.”
“Well yeah, but not a cat! Since you know, you're a werewolf and all, I thought dogs and cats couldn't stand each other.
...Stop glaring at me, I'm not scared of you. I know you won't kill me over a dog joke. Anyway, I figured you'd go for a pit bull or something like that. Something vicious.”
“Maroon's plenty vicious. He nearly took off Erica's finger the first time she tried to play with him.”
“Ok, firstly: wow! I'm not going near him without protective gear then. And secondly: how did you end up calling that cat Maroon? He's black and also that name is so lame it's got its own disabled pass for the bus. Look at him! Clearly his True Cat Name is Killer. Or Scarface.”
“Shut up, Stiles, I'm not calling my cat Scarface,” Derek growled and stomped off to the kitchen.
“Wow, Whiskers McLameName,” the teenager said to the cat, “I pity you for having to deal with that every day.”
Mar-rhûhn missed the streets sometimes, but definitely not tonight. He sat on the windowsill and watched fat drops run down the glass. It smelled a little bit like rain even in here where it was safe and dry. A tiny breeze managed to squeeze through the cracks and brush against his paws.
He jumped nimbly down and then made his way upstairs. He climbed onto the soft bed and his own personal wolfy heat-pillow. Derek shifted a little and ruffled his fur a couple of times before settling back into sleep.
Yes, this was the life. No regrets for him.
Derek went out sometimes during the day or night. Mar-rhûhn could not work out the pattern behind his comings and goings even though they'd lived together for weeks now.
This day marked another strange occurrence: Derek was holding the front door open and calling for him. Mar-rhûhn couldn't believe his luck, freedom at last! But as he slipped by his wolf he wondered why Derek wanted him by his side today. Was it especially dangerous outside? Did he not dare to go alone? Did he need a bodyguard?
Mar-rhûhn decided to reign in his enthusiasm and see what was going on. They descended the stairs together and stepped out into the street.
It was a beautiful sunny day with no threats anywhere in sight. “Seems fine to me, Derek,” he said but the wolf just stared at him dumbly. “Seriously, there is literally nothing here for you to be scared of!”
Derek pushed him gently in the direction of some nearby bushes. He obliged him and went to investigate but didn't find anything more menacing than some birds. “All clear!” he announced upon his return. Not that it seemed to help.
He took his wimpy servant on a slow walk around the neighborhood to show him that no, there was nothing to be worried about with this tree or this grate or this wall. They came by a nasty big dog in a front yard which had Derek tensing up but Mar-rhûhn just strutted past it with his tail held high and explained: “There's a fence, you idiot. It can't get to you through a fence.”
What a piece of work that wolf was.
The first time he actually saw any action was a couple of days later when Scott came by.
Scott was yet another wolf but clearly an enemy of Derek. He'd been here twice before and each time they ended up growling at each other and stalking around and arguing. Much like they were doing now.
Scott was shouting and while Derek had growled a bit at the beginning, now he just sat there and let him! He was visibly angry and frustrated but still didn't do anything to reprimand the younger wolf for his impertinence or better yet: throw him out of their territory. That wouldn't do.
Mar-rhûhn decided to give his servant a practical demonstration on how to deal with snotty little upstarts like this.
“Dude, I'm telling you, he trained that cat to attack me!”
“I don't think you can train a cat to do anything, Scotty,” Stiles tried to appease his friend. “Especially not that cat.”
“Where did he get it from, anyway? Hell? I had open wounds, Stiles. And it shredded my favorite shirt.”
“You're just bummed out that you are the only werewolf on the planet who fought a cat and lost.”
“I didn't lose,” Scott folded his arms across his chest. “I can't just hit a cat, even if it's an evil demon cat.”
“He's a sweet guy, really, once you get used to him. Or more like once he gets used to you. But! Watching him with Derek would melt the heart of even the most cold-hearted villain. Which is weird because I would've bet anything that if Derek had a cat soul-mate, it would be Grumpy Cat.”
They both chuckled at that mental image. Stiles popped another nacho into his mouth. “Wanna play Mario Kart? I may even let you win to soothe your wounded pride,” he suggested.
Derek rounded a corner and tried very hard to look like a man who didn't own a cat while he dialed his phone. “Isaac,” he growled once his call got picked up, “no, it's not an emergency. I just need to know if Deaton does neutering.
...Because I just witnessed Maroon violating our neighbor's dog.
...Who's Tracy? No, I mean the hipster guy who puts sweaters on his terrier.
...I know the thing is bigger than him! I don't think he cared.
...Look, once you're done laughing just text me a date and a time.” He hung up and ran a hand down his face. This cat, seriously. Who had thought this was a good idea?
Mar-rhûhn was miffed when Derek bundled him into the extra-tiny cage again. “Look, I don't need to be in this thing just to ride in a car. I can sit in the car-chair just like a normal person,” he complained.
All these thoughts passed, however, once Scott showed up when they arrived. This made sense: he was in the cage because that coward was too scared to face him eye to eye after their last meeting. Look at him smiling about Mar-rhûhn being stuck in a box and unable to give him a run for his money.
Just you wait, Mar-rhûhn thought with vengeful glee, this door has to open at some point and then you won't be smiling anymore.
He woke up feeling woozy. They had put him back into the extra-tiny cage but he couldn't remember when. Couldn't remember much of anything.
He recalled fighting against Scott after the guy had found the courage to open the cage-door. It had been a pretty evenly matched fight too, but then Scott had managed to pin him down on a metal table and he had felt a jabbing pain in his leg. After that everything went black.
“Derek, I think Scott got one over me,” he whined. The wolf answered in a soothing voice from the car-chair next to him.
When they arrived back home Derek proved once again what an impeccable servant he was. He carried him to their bed, brought him water and his pee-box so that Mar-rhûhn wouldn't have to go downstairs. He kept quiet to let him sleep and didn't even say anything when he had a little... accident. He just wordlessly took away the soiled pillow and gave him a new one. Mar-rhûhn decided groggily that he'd keep this man forever.
Later Derek held him close when he was screaming in rage over discovering exactly why his lower body was hurting. That bastard, he thought as he buried his head in his wolf's shirt in humiliation, this meant war. Scott didn't believe in playing fair? Fine, then neither would he. Let's see how Scott liked having his balls cut off.
“Hey Derek, how's our little Shere Khan?” Stiles swung around on his chair and mimed claws with the hand that wasn't holding his phone.
“What, I'm not allowed to ask after him? According to Scott he battled like a cat twice his size and ten times his claws. You know, all ''You can take my testicles but you can never take my freedom!'' Haha. Isaac took one look at the remains of his shirt and said he was so glad to have won that coin-toss.
...Yeah, he's staying with Scott for a few days. Apparently cats get bad-tempered after the operation and he fears that if he shows his face around Maroon he might decide to take his nose off. How are you holding up?
...No, I'm just amazed. Not even I would be able to love you if you took me to get castrated. That is just crossing every line ever, if your cat forgives you that he would let you get away with murder. Hell, knowing your cat he'd even help you with all the murdering.” Stiles stopped, played back his last few sentences and flushed deeply when he realized what he'd let slip.
“Look, I'll let you get back to playing Florence Nightingale for Kitty Braveheart. I'll see you whenever! Or hear you - not that you ever call. Anyway, bye!”
Life went on as before after that. Scott didn't come around again so Mar-rhûhn had to postpone his bloody revenge. Right now he had different things to concentrate on.
He crouched behind the leg of the table, ears flicking, tail swishing, every muscle tensed to pounce. His eyes were on the spot of the carpet where the Green Glowy Bug sat, deceptively still.
Now it was moving in slow circles, unaware of his presence. He had to wait for the right moment because he knew it could run incredibly fast. It showed up from time to time in his home but he had never managed to catch it.
He pounced and struck his claws into the rug, but the bug had somehow jumped on top of his paw. He tried to smack it with his other paw, but it was already curving away from him in a mad dash across the room.
“Ahahah, oh God, this never gets old,” Stiles crowed in delight as he swung the laser pointer around and watched Maroon careen after the dot like a cat possessed.
Derek had lost his strange fear of going outside without Mar-rhûhn there to accompany him relatively quickly. Now they usually left the building together, Mar-rhûhn spent the day on the streets however he wanted while Derek went and did whatever it was wolves did.
He generally approved of this arrangement and didn't particularly care about what his servant was up to until the day when Derek came back beaten and bloodied. He couldn't even walk on his own, Stiles and Isaac were carrying him between them to his bed.
“What the hell? What happened to him?” Mar-rhûhn demanded to know. “Who did this?”
He jumped up on the bed. Derek's shirt was barely more than a couple of blood-soaked threads, several gashes longer than Mar-rhûhn's entire arm marred his flesh, bleeding sluggishly.
“How could you have let this happen? Why didn't you help him?” Even as he asked the question he knew with icy-cold certainty that this was all his fault. Protecting Derek was his job. You couldn't ask Stiles to do it since he was a useless human and he suspected Isaac of secretly collaborating with Scott.
Keeping his servant safe was the one thing he had to do around here and he had utterly failed. Had never thought to find out where he was going, whom he was meeting. He'd even made fun of his obviously well-justified fear of leaving the house alone. “I'm so sorry Derek,” he whispered, “this is my fault. I'll do better from now on, just please don't die.”
His wolf turned glittering eyes on him. “Maroon,” he pressed out between two beleaguered breaths and dammit, he may butcher the pronunciation terribly but Mar-rhûhn wanted to hear him call his name forever. He gave his face a couple of licks and it broke his heart when the wolf made no move to push him off like he usually did.
He turned around and wondered what he could do now. He remembered Derek taking care of him after his biggest defeat and he'd love to bring him water (but Stiles had already done that) and a box to pee in (but Mar-rhûhn was no servant and wouldn't be able to carry the thing). He stretched out along his side to keep him warm as best as he could.
By the next morning Derek's wounds had all closed up. Mar-rhûhn had stayed beside him all night and watched it happen with the patience only a cat could muster.
The wolf seemed fine now, he stripped out of last night's clothes and then took a shower. Mar-rhûhn didn't even complain that much when he made him shower as well. Whatever, the hot water was not too unpleasant and it got all the blood clots out of his fur.
Soon they looked presentable again. Derek proceeded to strip the bed and change all the sheets like this was somehow normal, like he did this every day. Mar-rhûhn sat next to him and felt entirely wrong-footed. The feeling got even worse when the wolf bent down, cuddled and petted him while murmuring into his ear as if it was Mar-rhûhn who got beaten up and needed soothing, not him.
He let himself be carried downstairs and then Derek made him eat some of the food he had heard Stiles set out in the evening but that he hadn't touched. Afterwards, they spent most of the day napping and cuddling on the couch. Mar-rhûhn graciously allowed Derek to look as much as he wanted at one of the paper things the wolf liked to look at for some reason, happy to lie on his chest and feel him breathe.
When it got dark the other guys came by to bring lots of food for Derek. All of them in one place got rather loud and rambunctious but he could tell this made his wolf happy, so he stayed seated on his lap and good-naturedly observed the proceedings.
The next time they went out together Mar-rhûhn followed his wolf to the car and hopped in as soon as he got the door open. Derek looked at him incredulously. “No, Derek, you see,” Mar-rhûhn explained, “things gotta change. I need to know where you're going. I was too careless before, but that stops now.”
The wolf picked him up and deposited him outside again, but quick as you please, Mar-rhûhn was back. “I can do this all day, you know.” He narrowed his eyes. “Now be a good servant and close that door.”
Derek huffed and shook his head but obeyed his orders.
As Mar-rhûhn had expected previously, riding in a car without being stuck in a box was far more agreeable. He looked out of the window and enjoyed the speed at which things whizzed by.
It turned out that what wolves did in their free time was run around in the woods. He guessed that made sense since they weren't animals commonly found in cities and they had to get their exercise somewhere. He now also understood how Derek had been attacked, completely vulnerable out here where anything could be hiding in the underbrush.
Derek was pretty damn fast. He supposed that was a good thing since it meant that he could run away from danger more quickly. It was also frigging inconvenient - Mar-rhûhn thought as he desperately tried to keep up - because at this rate he would be too winded to fight if they encountered any danger the wolf couldn't outrun.
After a while Mar-rhûhn had to give up. He fell back, wheezing and panting, and barely noticed Derek returning to his side. The wolf kneeled down and patted his fur as if he understood that yes, cats were natural born sprinters and wouldn't have none of this long-distance bullshit. Maybe he did, his servant was occasionally more intelligent than he looked.
Derek lifted him up and settled him on his shoulders. Mar-rhûhn held on tightly as they started to move again, first at quite a sedate pace but soon they were even faster than they had been before. Yes, definitely not as stupid as he looks, the cat thought happily.
The next time they came out to the woods, Derek showed him a strange cloth bag he had brought with him. He placed Mar-rhûhn carefully inside the opening and when he hefted the whole thing onto his back it clicked: This was a saddle made for cats to comfortably ride around on their servants! What a marvelous invention!
There was a woman who smelled dangerous and she was threatening Derek with a long stick. And because this wolf was a total idiot he just stood there, frozen in fear, instead of running away like any sensible person being threatened with sticks would do.
The woman said something. Oh great, now he was growling. What good did he think that would do? Which part of 'fight or flight' idn't he understand? Why would he think 'provoke the dangerous person' featured anywhere in a good survival strategy?
There was nothing for it, time to intervene. Mar-rhûhn jumped.
“Derek! Oh, great, you're still alive, that's good. And you got the crazy hunter lady too, well done.”
“What are you doing here, Stiles?” the wolf grumbled as he pushed the woman in the direction of the car.
“Well I got a call that some guy trapped your betas in a factory and had to go and un-trap them. And since the guy apparently had a wife working on plan 'Kill The Alpha While He's Alone' we tracked her over he-WHOAH hold on where did your shirt go?” he flailed in the general direction of the werewolf's upper body, currently only covered by his leather jacket.
Derek indicated the cloth strips making up the hunter's makeshift restraints.
“Man, you shred your clothes at least once a week, don't you? Not that I'm complaining. Not that I'm not complaining! Hahaha, the fact that you look like biker porn is none of my business.” Awkward silence followed. “So I take it you got to her before she could get to you?”
“Not as such,” the werewolf answered testily. “I was caught in a mountain ash circle and she pointed a wolfsbane-laden shotgun at me from point-blank range.”
All the color that had accumulated on Stiles' cheeks in the last couple of minutes drained at once.
“Apparently she had not prepared for an angry cat to the face, though. She stumbled over her own barrier, I could grab her weapons and make her break the circle.”
“Seriously?” the teenager exclaimed. He looked down at Maroon who was walking peaceably beside them, never taking his eyes off the hunter in front. “Your cat both amazes and terrifies me.”
Yawning, Mar-rhûhn turned onto his back, blinked lazily and tried to tune out the constant babble streaming from Stiles' mouth. The guy had been over a lot lately, a lot. The continual talking or tapping of fingers on various surfaces was grating on Mar-rhûhn's last nerve. He would have voiced his opinion a lot sooner – in the form of sharp teeth to the ankle, maybe – if it wasn't for the fact that his idiot servant clearly wanted to mate with the irritating diphead.
The wolf always slunk around in his periphery, acting aloof and growly while broadcasting want and sexual frustration like a sprinkler in July. And while Mar-rhûhn couldn't for the life of him comprehend what he saw in the twitchy teen, he was sympathetic to his plight. He remembered what it was like to have that kind of passion inside of you, to feel the heat coursing through your veins and become blind to anything but your chosen conquest.
Though he himself didn't get like that anymore, thank you Scott.
He watched Derek watch Stiles and wondered how hard it could be. Surely the wolf realized that he was strong enough to hold the other guy down? A quick bite to the neck and then the show could begin. Unless humans did it differently. Or wolves. Maybe it was the wolf/human thing that was the problem.
Mar-rhûhn rolled to the side and thoughtfully cleaned his paw. No, that couldn't be it. As long as something had the right parts in the right places and was roughly the same shape as you, mating was not an issue.
Maybe it was Stiles who was rejecting Derek, he thought irritably. His tail flicked angrily back and forth. Who did that little shithead think he was? Yes, his servant was pathetic for a wolf but definitely not so bad once you got to know him a little. In fact he was far too good for such a clumsy, puny human like Stiles, that's for sure. If Derek wanted Stiles he should damn well get him.
As his master, Mar-rhûhn felt that it was his responsibility to make sure his servant was happy. But how could he help him win Stiles over? It was probably not that difficult, he'd just have to make the young man understand that what Derek lacked in strength and courage, Mar-rhûhn would make up for. They were a package deal and Stiles really didn't have to worry about anything.
The opportunity to show him just that came a few days later. Derek had left their home while Mar-rhûhn was busy eating breakfast and hadn't returned all day. Or the next day. But he had left him Stiles as a substitute servant, so while Mar-rhûhn was not happy about his wolf being out there alone he understood how important it was that someone looked after his intended mate.
And if he took the chance to impress the human a little, all the better. Time to hunt.
“There he is!” Stiles crowed in triumph as Derek's face appeared on the laptop screen in front of him. “The Homo lycanthropus neanderthalensis has joined the 21st century at last!” Derek's frowny eyebrows traveled the digital highway remarkably well.
“I don't get why we couldn't do this over the phone, Stiles.” His growl, however, sounded way less impressive when it came out of tinny speakers.
“And deprive myself of the pleasure of seeing your pretty face? Never!” Stiles sat back and made himself comfortable on Derek's couch. “Anyway, how was your day? Did Isaac chew up people's shoes? Tell me Erica had a wee on the carpet.”
“The pack negotiations are going well, everyone's fine and no one is a dog, Stiles.”
Maroon jumped up on the table to investigate the strange box talking in his owner's voice.
“That's right, David Meowie, I am a great and powerful wizard who put Derek in this shiny box for you to look at. Fear my might, cower before me!” He gave an unattractive snort when the cat carefully touched its paw to Derek's nose on the screen.
“You are an idiot,” the werewolf answered.
“No, this was obviously a great idea. He tries to act all stoic and grumpy but clearly there is pining going on. Pining of the greatest magnitude! Remind you of someone?”
Derek glared at the camera. “I'll be home in a few days. Did he give you any trouble?”
“Trouble? He killed a rabbit for me, that's what he did. Fluffy bunny rabbit - and he tore its throat out with his teeth! Clearly you're a bad influence. He looked so smug about it, too.
I cleaned the stairs, by the way, since it would upset your neighbors to find a trail of blood leading to your door again. I don't even know how he dragged that thing upstairs, it was bigger than my head. I didn't know bunnies got that big. I feel both flattered and disgusted. You should call him The Terminator, he's earned that title!”
“Stop renaming my cat every five minutes,” Derek grumbled.
“No, I get to do that because clearly I'm his favorite. He can be rude and ignore me all he likes, I'm on to him now. He loves me. Not just likes me, he loves me. Because I figure people he likes would get a mouse or something. Maybe a bird. But not me! I get a rabbit. A whole rabbit. If that isn't a universal sign of undying devotion I don't know what is.”
“...If you say so.”
Mar-rhûhn had to admit to himself that he had gotten ridiculously attached to his servant. He would also – and more readily – admit that Stiles was an infinitely inferior replacement for Derek.
He'd tried sitting on him once, but the guy seemed incapable of holding still and he wasn't warm enough anyway.
As more days passed Mar-rhûhn found that he even missed the stink of wolf in their increasingly cat-smelling bed. He swore never to mention this to anyone.
Therefore he was very relieved when he finally heard Derek's car return and he could rub himself all over the man. He briefly wondered if the wolf had missed smelling of cat as well. Probably, since cats smelled far nicer than wolves.
Stiles was still there and Mar-rhûhn's chest puffed with pride when he saw that Derek had followed his example and brought the boy a fat rabbit. However, on closer inspection it turned out to be one of the squishy inedible ones. That wolf really, really had a lot to learn.
--Or maybe not? Stiles looked at the rabbit in - a miracle! - complete silence and stillness, then directed a searching gaze towards Derek. The wolf returned it, quiet and intense. Stiles then looked at the rabbit again, made a noise that left Mar-rhûhn's ears ringing and he had to jump out of the way because the human bodily threw himself at Derek.
So apparently Stiles was more easily wooed than expected. Mar-rhûhn decided not to question this development, congratulated himself on a job well done and slunk off to watch the proceedings from next to the couch.