Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night,
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the Autumn moon is bright.
- The WolfMan (1941)
He would have told you it was all hooey.
He would have … until he’d stumbled too far from the campgrounds in the dense woods of Washington state and gotten attacked by something he really couldn’t define.
Jensen had been camping with some acquaintances from work. Not friends. He wouldn’t call them friends. He didn’t really have any of those. Not since his entire life had been stripped cruelly away from him and scattered across the plains of Texas. Three hundred mile an hour winds bundled up in the form of a devastating F5 tornado. “The Hand of God” was what the one movie had called it. He’d always liked that movie … until it had become his life.
He had been away for the weekend. Some ridiculous get away that was an last ditch attempt to salvage the current relationship he was in. When he looked back on it after it all was said and done, he really wished he would have stayed and died with his family, instead of bowing to the whims of a woman he didn’t really even like anymore.
Instead he came home to a small town that had literally been wiped off the map. Home, hearth and family … all obliterated instantly. He’s not sure if he even wept at the discovery. It was too much like some surreal nightmare that had left him in a state of shock. So much so, that when his uncle had arrived from Dallas, Jensen had signed over power of attorney to the man, hopped into his truck with the few remaining belongings he’d had … and driven away.
He didn’t want to see anything. Not the remains of his childhood home, or his apartment, and most definitely not the bodies in the morgue that he had left his uncle the task of identifying. He didn’t want to plan a funeral, or buy caskets and plots of land, or lower his entire fucking family into the ground.
So he left. He ran away. Ended up running out of money in a sleepy little town just outside Seattle. It had a small university and a pretty laid-back population. He fell in love with it instantly. So he got a job at the local Starbucks (completely clichéd, but amusingly so) found a tiny apartment, sold his truck and bought a beat up old Harley Davidson.
It was the cowards way out, and he was sure that if he ever actually listened to any of his Uncle’s voicemails before he deleted them, that’s exactly what the remainder of his family would be telling him. This way, though … he could pretend. He could live his life and pretend that his family were still living theirs down in Texas. That they’d had a serious falling out of some kind, and were no longer on speaking terms, but they were still there. They were still alive.
And so, two years later all of that culminated into Jensen Ackles taking a camping trip with three other baristas from the coffee shop and stumbling away from the group to take a quick piss under the light of a full moon.
The timeline of events for the rest of the night were a bit muddled in his brain, but he knew one thing for certain … the thing that had stalked up to him in the blue haze of moonlight had not been ‘an ordinary timber wolf that had been startled by his presence.’ No matter what the park ranger said. Ordinary timber wolves did not walk on two massive hind paws bipedaly. They also weren’t the size of a brick-fucking-shithouse.
No… that thing… had fucking intelligence behind it’s glimmering silver eyes when it pinned Jensen to the ground and sank its inch long teeth into his shoulder. It had only growled and clamped down harder as he’d screamed and thrashed. It sure as hell wasn’t startled. And it sure has hell wasn’t a wolf. At least not a normal one.
So, yeah … two weeks ago, if you had asked Jensen about werewolves with any sort of serious intent, he likely would have laughed in your face. As it is now however, with a newly healed silvery scar of a bite on his shoulder and two weeks until the next full moon? Well … suffice to say, that Jensen Ackles would probably tell you that he was pretty sure that vampires didn’t sparkle … but he was deadly certain that werewolves stalked the night under the glow of the full moon.
Absently scratching at the scar that was still slightly raised from the skin he read the engraved plate next to the door for the fifteenth time in the last five minutes.
Prof. J.D. Morgan - Head of Anthropology & Mythology
Jensen rubbed a hand wearily down his face. The man behind this door was supposed to be the go-to guy at the university for all manner of myths and legends. Apparently he had some kind of fixation on it. At least, that’s what all students he’d asked at the coffee shop had said. He was also Jensen’s final hope for any kind of real information … and his time was running out. The silver bullet idea was appealing more and more.
Finally, he worked up the last of his courage and reached forward to knock hesitantly on the door.
The voice was warm and rough and it tickled in Jensen’s ears pleasantly. Cautiously opening the door, he was greeted by an attractive older man sitting behind a desk strewn with books and papers. Salt and pepper hair, full beard and a welcoming smile. Jensen returned the smile with a fairly wane one of his own. An odd mixture of old books, aged leather and the sweet/sour smell of cigars teased his nose.
“Hello, son, how can I help you?”
Jensen cleared his throat and clasped his hands loosely behind his back.
“I was wondering if I could ask you questions … about a certain legend … or … creature, really. If you don’t mind, sir.”
The older man grinned again and motioned for Jensen to sit in the worn, leather visitors chair facing his messy desk.
“Of course. I do so love to gossip about my field. Are you in one of my classes?”
Jensen swallowed thickly, making his throat click audibly, as he scooted quickly into the offered chair.
“N-no, sir. I’m not a student here. Can’t afford it.”
The warm smile on Morgan’s face dimmed just a fraction as he crossed his arms over his chest.
“Well that’s a shame. What can I do you for?”
Jensen chuckled a little nervously under his breath before he spoke again.
“I was wondering what you knew about … werewolves?”
There was a flash of something he couldn’t define in Professor Morgan’s gaze. It made Jensen tense a little in his chair.
“Are you curious about the European mythology? Or more the-”
“If you please, sir … um … do you know anything about … the … the real thing?”
Morgan froze in his chair. His gaze seemed to sharpen as he looked Jensen up and down … then caught on the scar barely peeking out from beneath his gray Henley. Morgan chewed on his bottom lip for a second, clearly deep in thought, before he finally lifted his gaze to meet Jensen’s once more.
“You in trouble, son? How old is that bite?”
A wave of relief warred with a tsunami of nausea in Jensen’s gut and he slouched down into his chair.
Morgan ‘hmmed’ under his breath, then suddenly shifted to pull out one of the drawers of his desk and rifle through some papers inside.
“They don’t socialize much … and they don’t take kindly to strangers … but I’ve heard of a guy. He’s one of the good ones.”
Jensen had trouble swallowing around the lump in his throat.
“There are good ones and bad ones?”
Morgan chuckled deep in his chest.
“They’re just people, kid. Like the rest of us.”
Jensen shuddered as the memory of the monster that had attacked him bubbled to the surface.
“With all due respect … that thing didn’t look like any person I know.”
The other man paused to glance at him for a second, then finally tugged a business card out from the stack of papers jammed into his desk drawer. He quickly handed it over and then stood from his chair.
“Be that as it may … Jared can help you. Just … be polite and honest with him. Now … I really must insist that you move along. I’m not supposed to share this knowledge as it is … and if any of the local pack finds out you came to me… well. I’d rather you just pretend you never came here.”
Jensen stood slowly and it felt like he left his stomach somewhere on the seat beneath him.
“There’s a … pack? Around here?”
Morgan made shooing motions with his hands and not-so-gently ushered Jensen out of his office.
“Off you go, kiddo … and good luck!”
There wasn’t even a chance for Jensen to respond before the door was slamming shut behind him. He leaned back against it for a moment to gather his wits about him once more. Too much information in too short of a time span … but at least he had something to go on. He glanced down at the small card gripped in his hand.
“Even a Man Who is Pure in Heart”
There was nothing else on the card, save for a phone number scrawled on the back. It had a Washington area code, but that didn’t mean it was anywhere nearby. Jensen licked his lips in a nervous gesture before stuffing the card into the back pocket of his jeans and hurrying home to his tiny apartment.
Finally, late on a Friday evening, he snatched up the card and dialed before he could second guess himself. It only rang twice before the call connected and a honey-rich voice came over the line.
For a moment, Jensen considered hanging up … but he remembered that he was not, in fact, a teenage girl and it was time to start acting that way.
“Um … Hi … is this, Jared?”
Werewolf. Werewolf. Werewolf. Was on repeat inside Jensen’s brain. Banging at the walls of his internal filter and begging to be screamed out loud for the world to hear.
“Speaking. Can I help you?”
Jensen collapsed onto his beat up, thrift store couch and allowed his body to list bonelessly to the side.
“God, I really, really hope so.”
There was a weighted silence from the other end of the connection for a couple seconds.
“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi… you’re my only hope?”
Jensen burst out laughing without even meaning to. He couldn’t even remember the last time laughter had so freely leaked out from within his chest … but it had been over two years ago, to be sure. The answering chuckle on the other line was sincere and friendly, and he hoped to God that he wasn’t about to be classified as a mad-man.
“Yeah … yeah … pretty much … but Chewbacca may be more appropriate in this situation.”
He expected the amusement from the man on the phone to die off at his remark, but he was rewarded with another warm chuckle instead.
Jensen picked at a string on his threadbare jeans, but for some reason his voice had left him now. He just waited for Jared to respond on the other end of the line.
“So … what’s the matter then?”
Steeling himself with the reminder that it was all or nothing, he only had a week and a half left until the next full moon, Jensen chose his words carefully.
“I was bitten. A little over two weeks ago. I don’t know what to do.”
Jared ‘hmmed’ thoughtfully over the line.
“Willingly? Or not?”
Jensen choked on the next inhale of air into his lungs.
“People get bitten WILLINGLY!?!”
The deep voice clucked in some odd form of disapproval.
“I’ll take that as a no, then. Which is … actually not a good thing.”
Nerves began gnawing their way up Jensen’s spine as he considered the applications of those words. Thought of himself Hulk-ing out into a giant, furry rage monster and shivered straight down to his toes.
“Wh-why is that?”
The other man (werewolf!) was now clearly moving around whatever building he was currently in. There was the sound of muted footsteps and the shuffling of paper.
“Well … because unwilling bites are forbidden. Pack law.”
Goosebumps were trekking their way down Jensen’s flesh now.
Jared hummed in agreement and there was a soft ‘snickt’ of noise over the line.
“Look … where are you? How far are you from Tilbury Falls?”
Jensen considered the route, considered the area. Tilbury Falls was a tiny town of less than a thousand people that backed right up to thick woods. He’d never ventured there himself, but had heard stories from locals about the nut jobs that inhabited the place.
“Maybe … maybe two hours away? Give or take?”
Jared made a soft noise of approval.
“Awesome. How soon can you be here?”
Jensen licked his lips and glanced around his apartment.
“I’d have to ask for time off from my boss and-”
“Quit the job.”
There was a handful of seconds wherein he had the urge to sputter indignantly and tell the other man to go fuck himself … but the mental image of his own personal time-clock of disaster tick-tocking away kept him from doing so.
Jared clucked in disapproval.
“Look … I don’t know your name…”
“Right, look, Jensen … you don’t have a lot of time here. And you damn sure are not going to have any control … or even a fucking clue what to do. So, you either pack your shit up and get over here ASAP … or I have to report you to the pack. You … won’t like that choice, I promise you.”
There were tears tapping at the back of his eyes, politely asking permission to be freed, but Jensen ignored them stoutly. He thought about his job. Which provided him with a paycheck, but he didn’t really like. He thought about his apartment. Which gave him a roof over his head, but he secretly hated coming home to. Running his fingers lightly across the scar at his shoulder he considered Jared’s words.
Jensen wasn’t stupid by any means. If unwilling bites were not allowed, that meant he was a dangerous loose end, and if Jared said he wouldn’t like the other option … he believed him.
“Okay … yeah … okay.”
His voice broke a little in the middle and silence greeted him from the other line for several seconds. When Jared spoke again, the soothing warmth had returned and Jensen clung to it like a lifeline.
“Jensen … it’s gonna be okay. I promise. It’s gonna be fine.”
A startled laugh broke free before he could stop it.
“Sure. I’ll um … it’ll take me a couple days to sort it all out.”
Jared breathed deeply across the connection.
“Call me when you’re about twenty miles out of town. Under no circumstances do you come into Tilbury by yourself. Got me?”
Jensen made a quick sound of understanding and then snapped his phone closed. For the second time in his life he was about to lose everything. His only consolation was that the stuff he had now… he really didn’t give a shit about.
His one splurge was a Bluetooth earpiece that he could fit under his helmet and listen to radio on the road. Thirty minutes into the drive, with everything he owned in his saddle bags and backpack, Jensen called Jared. The phone only rang once this time.
The voice was just as warm and stable as he’d remembered it.
“Yeah. I’m on the road. About an hour and a half out.”
He could make out the sound of Jared walking barefoot on some kind of hard floor and that gave him pause. There hadn’t really been much of a chance to talk with anyone across a phone line since he was bitten, but Jensen was pretty sure that he’d never been able to make out the sounds of soft footfalls before.
“Does your hearing get affected? You know … when you’re turned?”
Jared laughed full out and Jensen found himself appreciating the sound. Not something that had been directed towards him in a long while.
“Geez, man … abrupt subject change much? Yes it does … why do you ask?”
Jensen considered playing off a bullshit answer, but the truth of the matter was … he really needed to trust Jared. And trust was a two way street. So he would be as open and forthcoming as he possible could.
“I just realized … I could hear you walking barefoot on a hard floor … and I couldn’t remember ever being able to do that with anyone before.”
The other man hummed softly under his breath.
“There’s going to be a lot of changes you’re going to have to get used to, Jensen. Some a lot more difficult to handle than just being able to hear better over the phone line … but yeah. I can tell that you’re on a bike, obviously, but I can also hear the nylon of your backpack shifting against your shoulders and the creak of your leathers as you shift around.”
Jensen blew out a calming breath, but Jared kept speaking, his voice seeming to echo inside the helmet.
“Did you tell anyone where you were going?”
An old pang of remorse and loss jabbed him in the side.
“No one to tell.”
Silence filled the line for several beats.
“No family? No friends?”
Jensen beat down the twist of pain that was blossoming in his chest.
“No coworkers that might worry where you’ve gone?”
“Seriously? No one? No one is going to wonder what the hell has happened to you?”
He grit his teeth slightly at the disbelief in Jared’s tone.
“I said no, didn’t I?”
Jared’s voice was a little breathless when he next spoke.
“Wow… that actually explains a lot … you’re perfect.”
The bike swerved for a second under lax fingers before Jensen swore and regained control.
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean, man?”
“No! No! No! Hear me out! I … I didn’t mean it to sound like that…”
Jensen released a slow, controlled breath but didn’t speak up, waited for Jared to continue instead. A bit of movement in his periphery caused him to glance down to his side mirror, and there was a black SUV pretty far back on the road behind him. It was the first vehicle he’d seen in a while.
“… it’s just I had been thinking over your situation. How it just doesn’t really happen anymore. And when you said you don’t have any friends or family … it all clicked.”
The SUV was gaining ground, little by little, and something was making Jensen’s proverbial hackles rise … so he increased his own speed.
“Well … no one will look for you if you disappear, right? You’re alone with no real connections.”
“…………… so I don’t think this was an accidental run in, Jensen.”
A cold pit of fear dropped low in his belly and his gaze immediately shot to his mirror, where the reflection of the SUV was closing in again. Oblivious to Jensen’s situation, Jared kept talking over the line.
“I think someone has been watching you. Following you. Waiting for the right opportunity … and when you were alone … they took it.”
He could now tell the make and model of the vehicle bearing down on him. The windows were tinted too black to see inside.
“Yeah, man … I think you had your own personal werewolf stalker … who apparently decided he was done with watching and waiting.”
The massive car behind him pulled right up on his ass … front bumper nearly scraping the fender of Jensen’s bike. He ripped back the accelerator as far as it would go and prayed the old girl would stay together for him.
“Jensen? Was that a car? Jensen?”
The SUV gunned it as well and started to pull up again.
“JENSEN!? What’s going on!?”
Behind his own panic, and the worry in Jared’s voice, Jensen could hear the other man scrambling around and fumbling with a set of keys. Then a door slammed and a car started up before Jared spoke again.
“I’m on my way! What’s going on? Where are you?”
The SUV was nearing him again and Jensen swore. No way this was a good situation. No way. He supposed there was always a chance that whoever was in the car was out to help him … but something in his gut was telling him ‘not fucking likely’ … and he decided to go with that.
“There’s a truck. I think it’s … it’s after me.”
Jared swore this time and Jensen could hear him step on the gas. The SUV closed to his side suddenly swerved over into Jensen’s lane.
“He’s trying to run me off the damn road!”
Jensen found himself frantically peering to the road ahead, trying to find some sort of escape route. For the most part the two lane highway was empty fields of nothing. Some thick with trees. Others barren except for the tall stalks of bright green grass. Finally in the distance a smudge of brown angled away from the paved lanes and disappeared into woods.
“Feeder road! Taking it!”
Without so much as a thought to where the dirt track could lead him, Jensen veered off sharply the moment it appeared. He heard the SUV’s breaks squealing on the blacktop behind him, but didn’t let off the throttle, kicking up clouds of dust as he tore down the road.
“Where there any signs? Numbers? Names?”
He had almost forgotten that Jared was on the other end of the phone line.
“Don’t think so … there was an abandoned gas station about a mile back.”
“Okay! Okay! I know where you are! You’re almost to pack land! That’s good!”
Jensen took the chance to flick his gaze behind him. He couldn’t see much beyond the dust and dirt he was kicking up … but there was a distant rumble of tires on gravel.
“They’re still coming!”
Jared cursed, and Jensen could make out the sound of tires squealing around a corner through the line.
“Just a couple miles! There will be a really old rock wall covered with vines. The road you’re on will pass right through it, and then you’re on pack land. If they follow you after that … then we have a problem.”
Jensen gunned the throttle again and desperately sought out some sort of wall in the distance. The roar of the other vehicle seemed to get louder behind him, but he didn’t dare turn around and check, and his side mirrors only reflected back his dust cloud. Finally a dark shape began to form on the horizon. At the speed he was going it shot up pretty fast, and he flew through the small opening carved into the decrepit wall. The woods around him seemed to instantly get heavier and the shadows more pronounced.
“Are they following?”
The road beneath his tires turned into rich, moist dirt and the cloud of dust dissipated behind him. Taking the chance, Jensen cut his speed back and swiveled his head to glance behind him. The SUV was stopped. Right at the line of the wall. The clenching fear in his gut relented by a fraction.
There was a weary sigh in his ear and it sounded like Jared may have rubbed his hand down his face.
“Thank God. Get into the tree line where they can’t see you anymore and then stop. Wait for me there. I should be less than an hour. Don’t move unless they come after you, alright? I gotta make some calls.”
The idea of losing the connection to Jared spooked him just a bit, but Jensen made an affirmative sound and the line disconnected. He slowed his pace as he breached the tree line and followed the dirt road just a few dozen meters in before coming to a stop. Turning off the engine to the Harley caused the pounding in his ears to become even more pronounced.
There was the distant rumble of an engine, and Jensen hopped off the bike and jogged towards the tree line until he could make out the wall in the distance. The SUV had turned around and was driving away. Stumbling back towards all his earthly belongings, Jensen’s knees gave out and he collapsed to the ground.
Jensen had curled up in a particularly dense section of it and tugged his backpack off to use as a makeshift pillow. The first thing he had noticed after his heartbeat had regained its normal rhythm, had been the unusual smell that surrounded the area. It was a spicy, sort of peppery, scent that made his nose tingle. He’d never smelled something the like of it before, and oddly enough … it was making his gums itch.
The sunlight was dappling the ground around him with sparkles of warm yellows and he could make out all sorts of particles and flotsam drifting through the rays. He had just managed to calm himself down from the car chase and settle in to wait for Jared … when there was a sound of shifting foliage in the distance.
Not wanting to make any sudden movements, Jensen slowly drifted his gaze towards the sound, and was startled to find a pair of golden eyes watching him from between the trees. Not even twenty yards away a large dusty gold wolf was standing in a copse of smaller saplings just observing him. Jensen swallowed so hard his throat clicked. Jared’s warning about not going into town alone was echoing in his brain, but he found himself frozen in place. The peppery scent was stronger now … and he wondered if that was the olfactory mark of a werewolf.
The wolf took a couple steps closer before sitting on it’s haunches and tilting it’s massive head to the side in a questioning manner. Jensen licked his lips, but didn’t dare move. If anything, he figured, he was prone on the ground and not threatening … so that should be good, right? Unless there were a couple other wolves out there ready to pounce on him and rip out his spleen. Fuck.
“I’m … I’m just …”
He hadn’t even realized he was going to speak until the words were already leaving him. The wolf straightened it’s head and perked up its ears as if to say ‘go on, I’m listening.’ Jensen absently scratched his belly but didn’t move to rise.
“I’m sorry if I’m trespassing … I’m waiting to meet someone … do you … do you know him? Jared?”
For a second Jensen’s inner voice felt the need to remind him that he was talking to a fucking wolf. There was a chance that the creature before him was nothing beyond that … an animal … that might just be wanting to eat his face off. It might not be a werewolf at all … after all … it looked nothing like the thing that had attacked him three weeks ago.
When he mentioned the name Jared, however … swear to fucking Christ if the wolf didn’t huff out an annoyed noise and roll it’s goddamn eyes. Jensen pulled himself up to a sitting position and met the wolf’s gaze head on.
“Jesus Christ … you really are… Jesus Christ.”
He reached his hands up to rub wearily at his face and chuckled under his breath.
“I can’t believe this is fucking happening to me.”
There was a shuffle of noise, and when he opened his eyes once more the wolf was sitting only five feet away from him.
The wolf made a chuffing noise that sounded almost like a laugh when Jensen had startled. It regarded him with interest, and just like the thing that had attacked him, there was an indeterminate amount of intellect glowing from the golden eyes. It would be obvious to anyone who happened across this animal that it was in no way a normal wolf.
“Are you … I mean … did I do something wrong? Am I in trouble?”
An annoyed chuff was the only response he received, before the wolf was turning it’s head sharply to the right and perking up it’s ears. Jensen followed the animal’s gaze, but didn’t see anything. After a few seconds the hum of an engine echoed through the trees. It didn’t take long for a beat up red pickup to come into view.
“Is that Jared?”
There was another chuff in affirmative, and Jensen slowly pulled himself up to his feet. He could make out a rather large silhouette behind the wheel. When the truck pulled up to a stop not far from his bike another wave of scent washed over him. This time it was less peppery, and more a warm spice … like cinnamon or nutmeg. For some reason it sent a shiver down Jensen’s spine.
The door of the vehicle creaked open, and a freaking giant of a man hopped out. He had to have at least a couple inches on Jensen, extremely broad shoulders, and legs that practically went up to his neck. Shaggy brown hair fell partially into his eyes, and a large smile was causing deep dimples to appear on his cheeks.
Jared skittered to a stop and his eyebrows nearly hit his hairline. He seemed to shuffle about cautiously for a moment, but Jensen could see him scenting the air around them as well. For a brief second it almost appeared as though the other man’s eyes glimmered with a golden sheen, but it faded quickly.
The wolf between them suddenly let out an undignified snort of a noise that Jensen could have sworn sounded like an annoyed huff of disbelief. It made Jared jump a little, however, and turn his attention to the massive animal.
“Thanks, Chad … I’ll see you later at the house, okay?”
‘Chad’ yipped a noise of agreement and then quickly took off into the trees. Jared returned his gaze towards Jensen and smiled warmly. The hint of whatever was there previously had vanished. He rubbed the palms of his hands roughly across the denim of jeans in a sort of nervous gesture.
“I … uh … I think I maybe understand the werewolf stalker issue a little better now.”
A single eyebrow rose upwards on Jensen’s face, and Jared stammered on.
“I mean … you’re very … you’re … well …”
There was a flippant hand movement that indicated Jensen from head to toe, and he glanced down at himself in confusion. Threadbare white t-shirt. Black leather riding jacket. Soft-worn jeans covered by his leathers. Beat up pair of Doc Martens he’d had since he was seventeen. Nothing extraordinary.
Jared chuckled softly under his breath. Somewhere close by there was a very Lupine snort of amusement and Jared was blushing faintly across his tanned skin.
Oh. OH… well… okay … well … OH!
For his entire life Jensen had considered himself as hetero-normal as he could possibly be. He’d never given the briefest of thoughts about being attracted to another man, but surprisingly … the idea that Jared might find him attractive didn’t really bother him that much. His entire fucking life had been ripped out from under him violently … twice. Another man cruising him was so fucking LOW on his totem pole of worries that it didn’t even register a feeling of discomfort. Life was too short.
Jared cleared his throat and stepped forward, offering up his … Jesus… massive hand.
“Anyway … official introductions? I’m obviously Jared … Padalecki.”
Jensen rolled his shoulders a bit before reaching up to take the other man’s hand and shake it firmly.
“Jensen Ackles. Thanks for … you know…”
The taller man nodded and squeezed his hand once before releasing it.
“Yeah… yeah man, don’t mention it. Welcome to Tilbury Pack land. You wanna put the bike in the back of my truck and we’ll get outta here?”
Jensen nodded and stepped forward to help Jared heft his old girl up into the truck bed. It wasn’t until after they had already completed the maneuver, that he realized it shouldn’t have been as easy as it had for two men to lift a full size motorcycle. Jensen froze and stared down at his own hands in disbelief. Apparently Jared noticed the action.
“It’s getting closer to your first full moon.”
The soft tone of his voice made Jensen raise his eyes to meet the other man’s. He didn’t even have to speak, Jared continued to explain on his own.
“The last week before your first shift is when all the changes start to happen. Better hearing, better eyesight, increased strength. The ability to scent things.”
These last words were accompanied by a faint blush across the taller man’s cheeks. Jensen cleared his throat and glanced off into the distance.
“Guess that explains why I couldn’t wear my contacts anymore. Seemed like one minute they were fine… and the next I could see better without them. Figured it was a werewolf thing.”
Jared nodded in silent agreement before shifting around to open his driver side door and slip into the beat up interior of the truck. Jensen walked around the bed of the vehicle to hop into the other side. While he was clicking the safety belt into place, he considered something else.
“Will … will I be able to do that … what Chad did? Be a wolf?”
Jared grinned as he fired up the engine.
“Yeah … sure will. After your first full moon. You’ll see. It’s like a whole new world.”
Jensen snorted as the other man shifted the truck into gear and began to turn back the way he had come.
Without warning, Jared laughed loud and free into the warm cab. He reached over and smacked Jensen hard across the shoulder. The easy affection of the gesture made something cold and forgotten clench deep in Jensen’s belly.
“Shut up, princess.”
And with that … they headed into the town of Tilbury Falls.
“It’s a little overwhelming, isn’t it?”
Jensen grunted in affirmation before he flared his nostrils and breathed deeply once more. The town of Tilbury Falls itself seemed fairly small. There seemed to be maybe only a dozen blocks of buildings that made up downtown, all centered around a gorgeous gothic town hall that was at least a hundred years old. The streets directly around it were lined with old brownstone brick stores with dates in the 1800’s all marked in their gables.
His mom would have called the town ‘quaint’. In the five minutes since they passed the city limits he’d seen a dozen antique shops and just as many café’s. There weren’t as many people as he would have imaged on the streets, but when they did pass one or two … he scented them and realized he could immediately tell if they were wolves or humans.
“Most of the humans here have no idea what kind of town they’re in. They’re usually tourists stopping through for the shops or food. Any human that takes up residence usually knows what they’re getting into. We try and discourage those that don’t.”
Jensen finally pulled his head back inside the car.
“Less chance of something bad happening?”
Jared’s gaze flicked over to him for a brief second.
“More like less chance of us being exposed.”
Jensen nodded and slouched down further into his seat. The longer they drove through town, the more he noticed gazes turning his way. He could make out people scenting him from all the way across the street.
“So … everyone smells different, huh?”
The other man chuckled warmly.
“Yeah … it’s kind of like your wolf thumbprint. How you can tell who’s who and were they’ve been.”
Jensen nodded and licked his dry lips.
“So, they can all smell me? Smell that I’m a stranger?”
Jared cleared his throat and turned the truck out of the downtown area, heading towards the west of town.
“That’s why you didn’t want me to come into town on my own?”
“Yeah. I mean … it’s not like the old days, when a lone wolf would have been killed on the spot or something. We’re actually civilized now, you know. No matter what popular entertainment likes to tell you. It’s just better when there’s already a member of the pack present. Less apprehension that way.”
He would be a liar if he didn’t admit that Jared so flippantly speaking about someone being murdered didn’t send a pit of cold fear straight down into his gut, but Jensen still found himself trusting him. He just hoped it was the right call to make, and that he wasn’t being deluded by the absolutely delicious smell of the man. And speaking of his scent, Jensen was desperately curious about something.
There was a quick flick of eye movement at this question, but Jared’s gaze never really left the road before them.
Jensen pursed his lips in thought for a moment, then figured ‘fuck it’ and just outright asked.
“What do I smell like?”
Jared actually sputtered and blushed a little, which was highly amusing.
“Uh … we … we don’t actually usually ask other people that.”
Not the answer Jensen was expecting.
There was still a heated flush to Jared’s face, and he refused to meet Jensen’s eyes.
“It’s just … I don’t know … it’s just not done.”
Jensen shrugged his shoulders absently and leaned back against the headrest.
“Hmm… well … you smell like cinnamon and nutmeg. Makes me think of my Gran’s spice cake recipe. It’s nice.”
There was silence in the cab of the truck for several moments. The buildings of the town had given way to woods, with the occasional house thrown in. Jensen closed his eyes and briefly contemplated his Grandmother. He’d lost her long before the tornado. She’d been the last grandparent he’d had, and quite honestly … his favorite.
She’d always called him her ‘little jewel’ because she had loved his green eyes so much. He lost count of the times she would sit him down and tell him that he was destined to be something special. Something wonderful. He wondered what she would have thought about his life now. What he was going to become in a weeks time. A monster.
“You know how grass smells fresh and clean after a spring shower? Like mother nature has just washed away the grime of the world … and there’s this crisp, sweet new start to it all?”
Jared’s soft rumble had broken Jensen from his musing, but he considered the man’s words a moment before he spoke.
Eyes glued resolutely to the road before them, Jared smiled … just a little.
“That’s how you smell.”
Heat immediately flushed across Jensen’s face, and he knew without even looking in the side mirror that he was blushing something fierce. It suddenly seemed like way too intimate a conversation to be having with a virtual stranger. He watched, though, as Jared’s nostrils flared slightly … as if he was taking in more of Jensen’s scent. Without even thinking about it consciously, Jensen reciprocated in kind. Grabbing a deep inhale of that warm, spiced scent that tickled his gums and sent a pleasant curl of something straight down to his belly.
“Here we are. Home sweet home.”
Jensen eyed the house as he slowly opened the door and hopped out of the cab. The trim was white with splashes of electric purple accenting some of the more ornate decorations. The double doors at the entrance were purple as well. A large porch wrapped around the entire lower level of the house and there were hanging baskets filled with flowers just about everywhere a hook could be attached. It was … nice.
“The flowers are all the girls doing … I have a black thumb, seriously.”
They shuffled around the back of the truck to let down the tailgate. Jared hopped up into the bed and they slowly worked the motorcycle back out of the truck.
Jared nodded and grunted as they finally got Jensen’s old girl back on terra firma.
“Yeah… the pack jokingly calls this the Frat house … but we refer to it as the singles bar.”
A soft laugh caused Jared’s broad shoulders to shake just slightly and Jensen swore he could feel an accompanying shiver all the way to his toes. He wasn’t sure what the hell was happening here between himself and this giant of a man … but he wasn’t going to argue. Couldn’t really … he didn’t have anything else going for him at the moment.
“Basically, it’s just a giant house filled with unmated wolves.”
The wording brought Jensen up short just as he was reaching into the bed to snag his backpack.
Jared coughed and shrugged his shoulders.
“Unattached, really. Mated and unmated are just really old concepts that don’t seem to be able to disappear from our vernacular.”
Jensen nodded and turned his attention to the house. His nerves were starting to reek havoc on his stomach. He could scent at least half a dozen werewolves inside, a strange mixture of spice and fruit and flowers that made his internal organs twist a little. A huge, warm hand suddenly patted softly between his shoulder blades.
“Come on … it’s going to be alright, I promise.”
With a quick nod to cover his nerves, Jensen silently trudged after Jared up the path and stepped to the front door. When the neon purple door was pushed open, a wave of sound washed over them. There was a large group of people laughing and carrying on somewhere inside, and the waft of grilled meat that accompanied the noise made Jensen’s empty belly gurgle.
“Let’s get you something to eat, huh?”
When they crossed the threshold of what appeared to be the formal dining room, everything went silent. Dozens of eyes were instantly on him and nostrils were flaring wide to breathe him in. The barrage of scents was heady and overpowering to his senses. It was suddenly too overwhelming … too much. His bag hit the ground with a loud thunk and Jensen could feel his upper lip curling in a snarl, gums burning with a need to do something he hadn’t figured out yet.
Two of the men seated at the table jumped to their feet and the motion had him skittering backwards until his back slammed into a wall. There was a low, deep growl echoing across the room and it took him several seconds to realize that it was emanating from him. It’s like his brain was shutting down it’s ability to focus. All he could think was ‘cornered, cornered, cornered, out numbered’.
His gaze snapped to Jared for a brief second, and in his distraction, one of the others stepped closer. The man was short, but solid, with dark hair that fell about his shoulders. He smelled like leather and soap.
“Jared… what the fuck, man? Thought you said the kid was a newbie?”
Jensen’s jaws ached from being clenched so tightly, and he tried to follow the conversation between the two men, but his brain felt like it was trudging through molasses.
“He is! Only three weeks old!”
The shorter man stepped forward a little more and Jensen braced his feet apart in a wide stance. He wasn’t even sure what he was doing anymore … his body seemed to be reacting all on it’s own.
“Well he’s got a hell of a lot of mojo working for just a pup.”
A different man surged gracefully up from his seat at the table and slowly walked forward. Dark haired with piercing blue eyes, but a light scent of wisteria and snow … it was a calming smell and Jensen liked it immediately. Not as much as Jared’s, though.
“Three weeks ago? At the full moon?”
Jared nodded in Jensen’s peripheral vision and the blue eyed man tilted his head in thought. Jensen had the sudden urge to edge towards Jared and keep this other wolf away from him. Somewhere in his rational brain, he screamed at himself to stop acting like this. To get control of himself. The new animal inside of him completely ignored his requests.
“Wasn’t that a blue moon? Last month?”
Blue eyes’ voice was soft and soothing and Jensen appreciated its subtle timber.
“Yeah, I think so… does that matter?”
“Not sure … never met someone bitten on a blue moon before.”
The shorter man with the long hair took a step closer to Jensen and he felt his shoulders drop in preparation to lunge.
“Fuck, son … calm the hell down.”
Jensen snarled at him, and the other man paused his movement. Without taking his eyes off Jensen, he directed his words to Jared.
“Didn’t y’all just come through town? Helluva lot more wolves on the streets than there are in this house.”
Jared took a cautious step closer to Jensen and spoke in a hushed voice.
“Yeah. He was fine. Jensen? Jensen, can you look at me, please?”
His request went ignored. Jensen felt too twitchy and on edge to comply to the other man’s words … no matter how much he may have liked him.
“Well he’s reacting to something, dammit!”
A new, gruff voice joined the conversation.
“I think that may be my doing.”
An older man stepped out of the side door that led to the kitchen. He was in jeans and a faded flannel shirt with slicked back hair and a beard more gray than auburn. White hot rage suddenly slammed through Jensen’s nerves and an ungodly noise reverberated from his chest. Even his vision seemed to go a little red around the edges.
“Jim! What’s going on?”
Jensen didn’t even register Jared’s voice, he was too focused on the newcomer. His skin itched like it was begging to be peeled off and he leveled his body to prepare for an attack.
“Got yourself an Alpha there, Padalecki … that’s the problem.”
There were several gasps around the room and more people jumped to their feet. Beside Jensen, Jared froze.
“An Alpha? How is that even-”
Three things happened almost simultaneously. First, a younger blonde male burst through the door exclaiming his greeting, which in turn set Jensen into motion. Second, the older man, Jim, yelled at Jared to ‘put him down’. And finally, just as Jensen was surging towards the cause of his irritation, a massive hand grabbed him roughly at the back of the neck and slammed him bodily to the floor.
Chaos erupted all around them.
“Keep him down!”
“Dude! What’s up with the Justin Beiber look-a-like?”
“Shut up, Chad!”
“What do I do? What do I do?”
The hand that gripped the back of his neck had Jensen’s face smashed against the floor. When he started to get his hands beneath him and push up, Jared’s full weight dropped down onto him, bony knees digging in to Jensen’s upper arms. Jensen snarled and spat and tried to turn his head enough to snap at Jared’s arm. Everything inside of him was screaming DANGER!DANGER! And telling him that being held down this way only led to death. He couldn’t quiet the voice of instinct inside him. Couldn’t bend it to his rational will. For a brief moment … he considered himself lost.
“EVERYBODY SHUT THE HELL UP!”
The power behind the voice and the words themselves brought everything to a halt in the room like some kind of hilarious cartoon freeze frame. There was a shift of movement and a strangled grunt proceeding two knees appearing in Jensen’s direct line of sight. The older wolf, Jim, had knelt down by Jensen’s head. Jensen growled and struggled at the man’s nearness. Everything telling him it was bad. The voice that poured into the silent room was oddly soft and kind, in contrast.
“Put him in his place, Jared.”
“You brought him here … he’s your responsibility … now … Put. Him. In. His. Place.”
Jensen snapped his teeth loudly at the words, but the next second the fingers at his neck pinched cruelly, almost like a bite, and a deep growl resonated from the large man pinning him to the ground. Jensen tried to fling his weight backwards and free himself, but that damn giant hand slammed him to the floor again and the responding growl was down-right hostile. Jared was pushing all his weight onto him now, and sparks of pain were flaring to life in Jensen’s joints and spine.
Then, just as instantly as the animal instinct inside him had flared to life … it relented. A high pitched whine keened from Jensen’s throat and his body collapsed beneath the larger man holding him down. Jared released a deep sigh of relief, and Jensen had the strangest urge to expose his belly to the man. The word submission rang out in his head, and against his will, tears began to form in his eyes.
He was no better than a fucking dog. The way he had acted … like a mindless, stupid animal. His family would have been shocked and disgusted. A painful sob wrenched from his throat, and it took him several seconds before he realized he was chanting ’just kill me… please just kill me’ in a broken whisper. Jared sucked in a sharp breath above him.
A weathered and callused hand stroked softly across his head. Jensen’s hair was soaked with sweat, and he could feel it sticking to his forehead … but Jim didn’t seem to notice. Simply continued his soothing petting motion and speaking calmly to the room.
“Don’t hold this against him. Don’t blame him. Whoever did this … whoever changed him … was very powerful. Likely an Alpha themselves. Maybe trying to create their heir … or even the ideal mate. Seems there was a lot of power bleed into the bite … and on a blue moon, to boot. That always makes things a little crazy.”
The sound of shuffling reached his addled mind, and Jensen realized that nearly all of the occupants in the room had copied Jim’s example and settled on the floor around him. He could even feel a decidedly female hand rubbing circles on his calf, trying to soothe him. Jared’s weight was a heavy presence on his back, but the man had backed up a little and it wasn’t as much uncomfortable anymore as it was … a security.
“Been a long time since I’ve met an Alpha that wasn’t natural born. It’s a rarity. His wolf is new … untested … but with a heap of power to back it up. A puppy with the strength of an adult … and no upbringing to learn how to tame it. This is going to be hard on you, kid … this isn’t an easy life you’ve been forced into.”
Jensen’s voice was rough and broken … his throat felt like sandpaper. He wanted to scream, but could only manage a whisper.
“Used to it.”
Jim grunted an affirmative response. The older man’s hand moved down to cup Jensen’s jaw lightly.
“Most of you wouldn’t know, because you’re all natural born … but a changed wolf … the animal that appears … it’s usually a direct reflection of the strongest personality traits of the human it was before. I’d say you’ve had a pretty rough life, kid … and I doubt you would disagree with me.”
A strangled sound of distress bubbled up from Jensen’s throat against his will. He clamped his eyes closed, and tried to ignore the tears he could feel leaving tracks down his face. The large hand that had been gripping the back of his neck loosened and moved to rest between his shoulder blades. This day had just become the icing on the fucked up cake that was his life in a nutshell. For the hundredth time in the last two years, Jensen wished the tornado would have taken him as well.
He was done. He was just so completely done.
Jensen welcomed the retreat of adrenaline with open arms, allowing it to drag his body down into exhaustion so that he could slip away into blackness.
“I just don’t think I should have done that.”
“Dude, it was fucking awesome!”
“No, it really wasn’t.”
There was a heavy sense of unease in Jared’s voice and it made Jensen’s stomach clench painfully. Obviously the conversation had something to do with him. Probably the other man was regretting ever allowing Jensen to come here. Probably wishing he’d let that SUV just grab him and be done with it.
“Why wasn’t it awesome, man? You slammed down an Alpha! You actually made an Alpha submit to you! It was kinda so beyond hot that it made me question my straightness for like… two seconds!”
“For fuck’s sake, Chad, will you listen to me? It wasn’t acceptable … it’s just not … done!”
Chad. So this was the golden wolf he had first met in the woods. The heavy sense of sarcasm that Jensen had gathered from the beast actually translated pretty perfectly to the voice and words he was hearing now.
“Jay, man … neither is attacking some poor shmuck and biting them against their will, or attacking another Alpha inside his own territory … but this unlucky bastard is just breaking all sorts of taboos, isn’t he? What’s the big deal?”
“I don’t know. I’m used to helping runaway strays, or helping loners adjust to the pack. This is so beyond my level of expertise it’s not even funny.”
“Well … you better make it your expertise pretty quick there, bud. Because this dude is going to be counting on you for his survival. And like Big Jim said, he submitted to you … that makes him all yours. Good, bad or indifferent.”
“Doesn’t hurt that he’s smoking hot, eh you perv?”
A loud smack resounded in the air, and Chad howled with laughter before drifting further away. The soft tread of Jared’s bare feet slowly moved closer to Jensen’s position. He concentrated hard on keeping up the ruse of sleep, even when the surface he was laying on dipped as Jared sat down beside him. The other man sighed heavily and Jensen had an instant dislike for the despondent noise. The new instincts that were at war with his human sensibilities demanded that he do something to cheer the man beside him up. The warmth and scent that was pooling off Jared had his insides all twisted up in knots. Jensen had no idea what his own wolf was telling him to do, so he simply gave up and allowed those instincts to take control.
Immediately, his body rolled over to practically curl around Jared’s hip and thigh. His nose ended up smashed against a denim clad knee, but he continued to feign sleep and breathed in deeply. That wonderful, wonderful scent shot waves of delight down his spine. His brain was tingling on a high from its nearness. Doing happy little dances and singing ‘Mine! All mine!’ in a high falsetto voice.
And yeah… he really wasn’t ready to think about any of those things right now.
“What am I going to do with you, Jensen?”
The words were spoken so softly, that if Jensen hadn’t already been awake, he would have slept soundly right through them. A warm hand was suddenly smoothing over his scalp, bristling his hair back away from his face. It was eerily similar to when Jim had been petting him before. He shifted under the pleasant sensation, and then slowly blinked his eyes open.
Jared was leaning partially over him with a small smile gracing his lips. Jensen met his gaze steadily and had the strangest urge to beat a nonexistent tail against the mattress in contentment. Contentment was an emotion had hadn’t felt in such a long time, that it honestly took him several moments to recognize it for what it was.
“How are you feeling?”
The other man’s voice was still soft and whispered in the semi-darkness of what appeared to be a bedroom. Jensen’s human brain chose that moment to point out the intimacy of the moment, along with the fact that he currently had his head pillowed on a man’s knee, who was stroking his scalp gently, and they were alone … on a bed. His wolf brain squealed with glee and kicked the human one to the curb.
Odd how he was starting to differentiate between the two. Perhaps he was actually going insane. Would have been a long time coming, tell the truth.
He had forgotten that Jared asked him a question. He pursed his lips in thought, and didn’t even allow himself to be disturbed that he liked how Jared’s gaze instantly shifted to his mouth.
“Um … I think I’m okay.”
Jared’s eyes flicked back up to meet his and he smiled.
“That’s good. Do you remember what happened?”
Jensen started to nod his head, then realized he was basically just rubbing his cheek on Jared’s knee with the motion.
“I remember everything until I passed out. I just couldn’t … control … it … the … the wolf.”
Jared hummed a pleasant tone of understanding.
“It will get easier. I promise. Once you learn that you and the wolf are actually one and the same.”
Jensen snuffled quietly and closed his eyes. He was lost in the strength and security of Jared’s presence.
“Can you tell me what exactly happened? Why did I react like that? I remember what everyone was saying around me … but I still don’t understand. What did Jim mean when he said Alpha?”
The hand in his hair stilled for a couple seconds before it continued its stroking motions.
“Well … you know how wolves have Alphas, Betas and Omegas, right? Werewolves used to be the same, back when we were closer to our origins. The last several generations, though, Alphas have all but disappeared.”
“Not sure really. The most accepted theory is that we really don’t need them any more. With modern times and beliefs, werewolves have managed to fade into the background of the worldwide culture. We’re fictional characters. Legends. Myths. We really don’t need Alphas to lead us and protect us anymore. Modern werewolves don’t even differentiate between Betas and Omegas any longer. We’re just all werewolves.”
“Then why are Alphas still such a big deal?”
Jared hummed under his breath and shifted so that his hand moved lower to rub up and down Jensen’s spine. He arched into the touch unconsciously.
“Just because of their rarity, really. And they still are the strongest of us. We respect them and admire them because it’s ingrained into us … and they are usually very deserving of that respect. Usually, they will be the Mayor of the community, or an equivalently important role. Jim’s the Mayor here in Tilbury. He’s also the oldest wolf in residence.”
That caused Jensen to open his eyes. Jared’s gaze was tracking his hand as it moved across Jensen’s back.
“Why is that?”
The larger man chewed his lower lip for a moment, and Jensen watched with interest as his gaze moved down Jensen’s back to ogle his ass.
Hazel eyes snapped back to his, and a slight blush spread across those tanned cheeks.
“Um … see … Tilbury is different from other werewolf towns. The founding Mayor wanted it to be a place for wolves without a pack to find a home. Anyone and everyone is welcome, as long as they follow the rules. Basic pack rules. Most of the town is populated by runaways and outcasts. We make our own home here. It’s a good place for a second chance.”
Jensen chuckled darkly.
“How about a third one?”
Jared titled his head to the side and frowned. His long fingers came up to trace along the wrinkles at the corner of Jensen’s eyes.
“You used to laugh and smile a lot. You don’t any more?”
“What’s your story, Jensen? Will you tell me?”
It took a lot of effort, but Jensen pulled away from Jared and pushed himself up to a sitting position in the middle of the bed.
“What’s going on here? Between us? Why do I feel like I’m supposed to do anything you ask of me? I don’t even know you.”
Jared didn’t call him on his obvious change of subject. Instead he pulled himself up further onto the bed and scooted closer to Jensen, their knees ended up touching denim to denim.
“You said yourself … you lost control. Someone needed to get you to calm down.”
“And to do that … Jim told you to put me in my place.”
It was phrased as a statement, but it was clearly a question. Jared licked his lips and dropped his gaze to his own hands, folded in his lap.
“It’s kinda like … when you see adult dogs correct their puppies. Make them understand that enough is enough, they aren’t in charge. They aren’t the biggest on the block. Your wolf is still young. It wouldn’t have worked if you had been a full-fledged Alpha and I had tried to do that. You probably would have ripped me apart.”
Jensen swallowed harshly.
“Okay… okay … I get that … but instead you made me submit to you, right? So what does that mean?”
Jared looked decidedly uncomfortable and flushed. Suddenly he seemed to have an issue with meeting Jensen’s gaze. He chuckled nervously before speaking.
“It … uh … it’s kind of like … I made myself your Alpha. Even though I’m not one … technically.”
“Made yourself my Alpha…”
He felt his eyes go wide as a realization slammed home into his brain. A slightly hysterical giggle burst from Jensen’s lips.
“Jared… Jared… did you make me your bitch?”
A deep crimson blush plumed across the other man’s face and Jensen burst into laughter. He fell backwards on the bed and roared in hysterics. Tears rolled down his face and his stomach clenched with spasms, but Jensen just couldn’t stop laughing. Because, seriously … his life. His fucked up life.
Out of nowhere and deep growl of irritation echoed through the room and Jensen froze. His new instincts screamed ‘Show your belly! Show your belly!’ so he rolled onto his back and went boneless. There was a thunderous scowl on Jared’s face, but the light of humor in his eyes, and Jensen sneered good-naturedly.
“Oh, fuck you!”
Jared threw back his head and laughed out loud. The long line of his neck caught Jensen’s gaze … and he really needed to spend some time thinking about his sexuality, because damn. He couldn’t be sure if it was the newly submissive wolf’s reaction, or his alone, but the attraction was there and it was new and scary. Jared rolled gracefully off the bed and onto his feet.
“Come on … let’s go get you some food.”
Jensen copied his movement but paused when he was standing before the other man. He had obviously noted Jared’s size the instant he’d hopped out of his truck, but that was just peripherally … and absent observation. Now, thinking about it … and being confronted with the broad shoulders and massive chest straining behind the man’s shirt, brought whole new ideas to Jensen’s imagination. Somewhere along the lines of ’he could totally pick me up and slam me into a wall’ … and that shouldn’t really be as potentially hot as his libido was finding it.
He was so lost in his own newly discovered big gay ponderings, that he didn’t even realize Jared had called his name twice. Then a quick, sharp growl split the air and Jensen all but fucking snapped to attention. Jared was looking at him oddly, so he just shrugged his shoulders indifferently and sucked his bottom lip into his mouth to chew. Jared turned and moved towards the door. Jensen followed without even thinking about it … like he was bound by an invisible leash.
They made their way down a beautiful wooden staircase, and Jensen could hear conversations taking place nearby. Jared sent a worried glance over his shoulder as they neared the same dining room Jensen had previously lost his shit in … but he was feeling calm and under control. He could still smell all the wolves in the vicinity, but Jared’s scent blanketed everything and brought that feeling of security with it.
For the second time that day, all sound and movement halted when they stepped into the room. This time, however, Jensen felt none of the panic and fear as the first and could actually look around the table at the people seated there. Four men and three women. All ridiculously attractive. And no Jim to be seen. Jensen flared his nostrils wide and breathed them all in. It was a very pleasant mixture of scents. The seven werewolves in the room copied his action and all scented him right back.
Jared cleared his throat, but the focus of the room remained on Jensen.
“Okay, well … guys… this is Jensen. Jensen, that’s Chris, Steve, Danneel, Misha, Sandy, Genevieve and Chad.”
Jensen followed along as Jared named the people seated at the table. Chris was leather and soap guy from earlier, and Misha was wisteria and snow. Steve had long, sun-bleached hair and an open friendly face. He smelled like mesquite wood and wheat. Danneel was a curvy red-head with a steely gaze and the scent of honey and lime. Sandy and Genevieve were both petite, delicate looking brunettes with pretty smiles and laughter in their eyes. Sandy was warm sugar and honeysuckle. Genevieve was peppermint and tilled earth.
“What’s up, Bieber-fever!”
And then there was Chad. The familiar peppery smell, laced now with lemon and ginger, that Jensen had first been greeted with upon entering pack land. The human version had short blonde hair and exotically slanted eyes. He was seated closest to where Jensen was standing, and reached out a hand to smack Jensen on the upper arm in greeting.
Jensen snarled and twisted away from the movement, snapping his teeth only centimeters from Chad’s fingers. He hadn’t even realized he was going to react to the motion, but he had released the wolf to follow its instincts.
“Whoa, dude! What’s your problem?”
There were a couple snorts and scoffs around the table, but Danneel was the one who spoke up, voice thick with annoyance.
“Don’t be a moron, Chad. He didn’t submit to you … you can’t go around smacking an Alpha, for fuck’s sake. Even a new one.”
Chad rolled his eyes and slouched back into his seat.
A new, faint scent breezed by on the air and Jensen lifted his nose slightly. It didn’t smell like any of the wolves around in the house. It wasn’t even Jim for that matter, who had scented of fresh tomatoes and warm bourbon. This new smell had a sour tang like rusted metal or copper. It had wafted through one of the open windows, and Jensen turned toward the portal for a better inhale. He had an immediate dislike for the scent and it sent a chill down his spine. He must have made a noise of discontentment, because the room silenced again and Jared turned toward him.
Jensen took a step closer to the window.
“Did you smell that?”
Jared stepped closer to the window, and Chris hopped up from his seat at the table to join them. He could tell the two other men were trying to scent whatever it was Jensen was smelling, but they didn’t seem to catch it. It was fading on the wind, too. As if someone had been standing outside, but was now gone. Chris stuck his whole head out the window and breathed deep.
“What did it smell like?”
Jensen shrugged his shoulders and tried to catch it again, but the smell had dissipated.
“Dunno… something sour and sharp. I didn’t like it.”
Chris made a non-committal noise and returned to his place at the table. Jared placed a hand gently on Jensen’s shoulder and pulled his attention away from the window.
Jensen nodded and followed Jared’s lead to pull up a chair to the table. He seated himself to Jared’s right and was a little surprised when a plate piled high with meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans suddenly appeared. He blinked and turned to face Sandy, who had deposited the meal before him. There was an eager and hopeful look on her face, and it took him a moment to realize she was waiting for his approval. He nodded and told her thank you and she appeared to nearly burst apart with joy.
Jared cleared his throat, and when Jensen turned toward the other man he realized no one at the table was eating. They were all staring at him. Jared pointedly glanced down to Jensen’s plate and raised an eyebrow. Slightly confused by it all, Jensen snatched up his fork and shoveled a load of mashed potatoes into his mouth. Instantly the table broke into motion, everyone devouring the food set before them. His stomach rumbled a reminder of its desire at the first bite, and soon Jensen was joining them gleefully.
Dinner passed quickly and fairly silently. Afterwards, Chris and Steve moved out to the porch to sit on some rockers and sip at some beer. Jared followed them soon after, and Jensen trailed right behind him. They sat a little apart from the others, sharing a swing and staring out at the star-scattered night sky. Jensen took a long pull at his beer, and then licked the taste off his lips.
“Why wouldn’t they eat?”
Jared didn’t turn towards him when he spoke, just continued to gaze out into the darkness.
“Instinctively ingrained into them. No one eats before the Alpha.”
Jensen’s brows shot up towards his hairline.
“But … you said yourself… I’m just a puppy. I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing or why… why would they do that?”
Jared shook his head slightly, and his hair shifted with the movement.
“Doesn’t matter. An Alpha is an Alpha. And when other wolves are around an Alpha, we just can‘t help it. They’re going to look to you for certain things as long as you stay here. Hell, Sandy’s probably going to be a nightmare to live with since she was the first to garner your approval.”
The larger man chuckled and resumed sipping on his beer. Jensen returned to gaze to the stars and considered the entire situation. It was all pretty surreal … but after the other things that had befallen him in his lifetime … it didn’t seem too large a change to adjust to. He was a werewolf now. Well okay then. He was apparently going to be a powerful and influential one. Well, sure. He had somehow managed to tie himself to the man next to him. Why the heck not?
He leaned back further into his seat, and then kicked out with his legs to send the swing sailing backwards. Jared sputtered and laughed into his beer, and Jensen felt something settle tightly inside his chest. So be it.
Once everyone was done making small talk and electing chores for the next day, a silence fell over the crowded living room. Jensen had been concentrating on the room furnishings, and not really paying attention to the gathering until Jared nudged him with his elbow. Again all eyes were on him, but this time he couldn’t figure out exactly what they wanted. Next to him, Jared cleared his throat.
“Time for bed, Jensen?”
Jensen nodded distractedly and everyone scattered. Seriously. Fucking surreal. Jared lingered until they were alone.
“I’ll show you to your room, okay?”
They trudged up the stairs and Jensen was shocked to realize how completely exhausted he suddenly was. Jared herded him into a small bedroom with a large bed, a small dresser, and his saddle bags and backpack piled on the floor. His jacket, leathers and boots were stacked nicely on an ornate rocking chair in the corner. The room was a soft powder blue and had a large picture window facing the front yard. There was a tiny attached bathroom tucked into the corner which was basically a toilet, sink and minuscule shower.
Jensen flopped face first down on the bed and was pleasantly surprised at its softness. He was already drifting off into dreamland when he heard Jared ‘tsk’ and felt a tug at his pants leg.
“Don’t sleep in your clothes, man. Get comfortable.”
He groaned and rolled onto his back with a Herculean effort. With a little difficulty he popped the button of his jeans and started to shimmy out of them. Jared chuckled from the foot of the bed and tugged at the pants to help with the effort. Finally, they slid off and then Jared’s warm hands were slipping off Jensen socks as well. Jensen’s eyes had slipped closed midway through, and he couldn’t really muster the effort to open them again. Jared patted his foot softly.
“If you need anything, I’m right across the hall, okay?”
Jensen grunted in affirmative, but was already so close to sleep that the words barely registered. He was asleep before Jared even flicked off the light and shut the door. He hadn’t slept well in the weeks since his attack, always on edge and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Now, here, in this house and surrounded by these people … he felt the safest he had in ages. He slept the sleep of the contented dead.
For about three hours.
He wasn’t sure what woke him up, just that something was off and he needed to discover what it was. Jensen rubbed the sleep from his eyes quickly before he silently slipped from the bed and edged his way over to the open window. He could see the front garden, softly illuminated by the porch light. There was a slight breeze and he took a deep breath. He got the odd mix of smells from the town, carried into the house on the wind, and the stronger scents of those that lived here.
That bitter copper tang was there again, but further away. Not as close to the house as it had been before. Still, there was this itching need to head outside, and Jensen allowed it to carry him to the window. Likely, it was the factor that he hadn’t fully shaken off the dredges of sleep that he didn’t even think about the fact that he crawled out a second story window barefoot and hopped the fifteen feet to the ground effortlessly.
His toes curled into the dewy grass as he stretched his arms up over his head. Taking another deep whiff of the air brought the pleasant mixture of leather and soap that indicated Chris was nearby. Jensen stopped fighting the yawn that had been knocking and allowed his mouth to stretch wide with it, cracking his jaw. Sure enough, a couple seconds later a chocolate brown wolf padded up to him out of nowhere and settled by his side.
The wolf chuffed at him and Jensen rolled the tension out of his neck for a moment. He had the sudden urge to walk the perimeter of the house, so he let himself go with it. Chris followed dutifully behind, golden eyes constantly shifting to observe their surroundings. At one point the wolf let out a low growl and an orange tabby cat shot out from under the steps to take off into the woods. Jensen chuckled.
“What kind of masochistic fucking cat lives in a werewolf town?”
Chris made an odd noise that closely resembled a laugh, and without even thinking about it, Jensen reached down and patted the wolf on the head. As soon as he’d done it, he worried that Chris might snap his fingers off, but the wolf simply trotted ahead of him back towards the front door. Once they were back inside, Chris disappeared into the darkness of the house and Jensen quietly made his way up the stairs.
He stopped outside the door to his bedroom. The warm cinnamon and nutmeg scent of Jared was lingering in the space between their rooms. When Jensen finally stepped inside his own bedroom, the other man was pacing back and forth before the open window. Immediately upon his entrance, Jared had whipped towards him, and then sagged with relief.
“Jesus, fuck … thank God. What in hell were you doing outside?”
Jensen shrugged a shoulder and slowly moved towards his bed.
“Checking the perimeter with Chris … I think.”
Jensen chuckled and flopped belly first onto his mattress.
“Yeah. I’m kinda just letting instinct rule right now. And it wanted to go outside.”
Jared sighed and rubbed at his face with both hands. For the first time Jensen realized the taller man was wearing nothing but a worn gray pair of sleep pants that were so low slung they barely covered his dignity. The planes and dips of Jared’s quite impressive musculature stood out in stark relief in the muted light of the room. Jensen was aware enough of himself and his own mind to admit he found the other man stunning. Now, he wasn’t sure if that was because of the submission … or if the submission just amplified it.
“Jensen… please… try and stay in the house at night.”
“Why? Is it not safe?”
Jared sighed again, this time taking a step towards the doorway.
“Of course it is. It’s just … you don’t have the ability to shift yet, so you couldn’t protect yourself against another werewolf right now. Plus, we still don’t know what the hell that car chasing you was all about. So, if you could just … keep to the house? For just a couple more days?”
Jensen sighed and nodded his affirmative. He watched the broad expanse of Jared’s back as the man moved across the room and out the door, as whispered ‘good night’ following him. Jensen burrowed his head into the soft pillows of his bed and tried to relax once again. There were just so many changes in his life to take into account. And, sort of hysterically, the werewolf thing seemed to be the least crazy at the moment. He chuckled at the thought and allowed himself to drift into slumber.
When he woke in the morning he was curled around Jared in a room that … wasn’t his. Pale green walls were painted with spots of warm yellow sunshine, and the sounds of morning birds drifted in through the window. His face was smashed into Jared’s hip, and his arms and legs were twined around one of Jared’s ridiculously long ones. He stared at the bare skin before him for a couple moments, blinking in confusion, until he shifted to glance up at the other man.
Who was wide awake and eyeing him with a fair amount of humor in his eyes and a smile fighting to break free on his mouth. Jensen blinked at him.
He could feel his face flush with embarrassment and licked his dry lips.
“Um … how did I get here?”
“You tell me. You were there when I woke up.”
Jensen slowly untangled himself from the other man and scooted off the bed.
“Last thing I remember was you walking out of my room.”
Jared ‘hmmed’ and rolled gracefully to his feet. He reached his arms up to the ceiling and arched his back with a happy moan of someone who had just achieved stretching nirvana. Jensen’s human brain informed him that many straight men could look at another man and find him attractive. It didn’t have to actually mean anything. Jensen’s wolf brain kind of just wanted to hump his leg. And the wolf brain was winning.
Jensen high-tailed it out of the room and straight into a cold shower.
Misha explained that while there were no “official” books of history, there were several that werewolves had sneakily published as occult myths and legends books that contained a lot of factual information. So Jensen was soaking it all in and trying to learn as much as possible about his new life.
A couple times a day, he would ignore Jared’s warning and patrol the perimeter of the house. He knew it was probably a bad idea, but couldn’t handle doing nothing all day. He’d never been so unproductive in his life … and it was driving the wolf nuts. He wouldn’t go further than the wrap around porch, though. Once or twice into the back garden to watch the butterflies drift around. Then he would head back inside and continue to go stir-crazy.
Around three or four in the afternoon, people started to drift home. One by one, usually beginning with Chad and ending with Jared and Danneel arriving around six. Then chores would be divvied up. (None of which they would allow Jensen to do.) And dinner would be made. (Not that they would let Jensen help.) When everyone sat down for the meal, no one would eat until Jensen started, and no one would leave until he was done. Then the household would go their separate ways to enjoy the evening watching television, reading, drinking, or who knows what … only to reconvene right before bedtime. Where the next day would be planned and no on would leave until Jensen gave the okay.
He felt like he was living in some kind of bizarre movie. For most of his life he had just been another one of the Ackles. A son, brother, friend and lover. Then he had become a ghost. Drifting through a life that he could barely stand, seemingly unnoticed by everyone around him. Now, he had a house full of people that were beginning to look at him as if he’d hung the moon in the sky. Just because he’d apparently been chomped on by the werewolf equivalent of Superman.
The only odd one out was Jared. Jared didn’t cater or cower to him. (Not that the other’s cowered, mind you… figure of speech and all that.) The exact opposite seemed to be true with Jared. Jensen found himself looking to the other man for approval, for a smile, a grin, a pat on the back. He knew that he was following Jared around like a little lost puppy half of the time, but he absolutely couldn’t stop himself. The man would step inside the door after a long day at work, and Jensen would have to violently suppress the desire to bound over to him and wag his proverbial tail.
Every night Jensen would go to sleep in his own room, his own bed, and every morning he would wake up wound around Jared and clinging like an octopus. For his part, Jared never said anything about it, and Jensen was kind of eternally grateful for that. Although he was curious as hell at the behavior. He just couldn’t bring himself to ask the man in question about it. So he asked Chris.
“It’s a wolf thing, man.”
They were circling their way around the house during their three AM perimeter check that had become a nightly ritual. This time, however, Jensen had asked Chris to shift back to human so that they could talk. He was studiously keeping his eyes above waist level, because Chris was … hello naked.
“What do you mean?”
The shorter man shrugged a shoulder and stopped to watch that same damn ginger cat scurry out from the back porch and take off into the night.
“Well … wolves take pack relationships pretty seriously, you know? And even though we aren’t technically the same, there are similarities. Even though you didn’t really understand what you were doing at the time, you submitted to him and basically told your wolf that Jared was your mate.”
Jensen tripped over his own feet and nearly swallowed his tongue.
“MATE!? What the hell? Just because I was submissive?”
Chris laughed low and warm.
“Naw, son … you two came in the house that afternoon reeking of attraction. If that hadn’t been there already you probably wouldn’t have submitted at all. What you did instead was pretty much tell your wolf that you were the Alpha bitch to Jared’s Alpha male.”
Jensen sputtered and subconsciously crossed his arms over his chest.
“But Jared’s not even an Alpha.”
The smaller man chuckled again and shook his head.
“To us? No … to you? Yes. It’s an all around pretty bizarre situation … but hell … werewolf town. You really gonna be surprised at anything anymore?”
He chewed his bottom lip absently for another moment before stopping to face Chris directly.
“But … mate? Man… that just sounds…”
Chris nodded his understanding and turned his gaze out towards the twinkling lights of the town.
“I know it sounds kinda corny, but its … like … you know how humans like to talk about soul mates? Even though it’s really more about perception and personal beliefs? With werewolves … mates are sort of the same thing. A romanticized ideal. Real wolves in the wild have mates, and often times they do actually mate for life. To us, it’s more like a romance novel. Teenage werewolves swooning at the idea of finding their ‘one true mate’ or some shit, and adults understanding that it’s just a game of chance. You work hard at just finding someone that compliments you and loves you … but in the back of your mind there’s that idea. The mate. The soul mate. The one person you were destined to be with. So we use that term to describe a pairing that seems like … more. Something driven more by instincts then brains. Something like what happened between you and Jared.”
Jensen felt his jaw drop and his eyes widen as he had listened to Chris’ words. Not only because it was probably the most he had ever heard the man utter at one time, but also because it instantly reminded him of his mother. His mom had always said that ‘everything happens for a reason’ and that you would never really understand that reason until you were already smack-dab in the middle of it. She believed in soul mates and destiny and meant to be. If she had been here at this moment and heard Chris’ words, she would have immediately told Jensen that he had meant to be bitten by that Alpha werewolf. That he had been destined to come to Tilbury Falls. Destined to find Jared.
He giggled a little hysterically. It was all a bit much.
Chris was shifting instantly beside him when Jensen realized the thing charging him was a massive black wolf … with gleaming silver eyes. He froze for a second and Chris nipped at his knee. They were no where near a door to the house and everyone was asleep. Jensen turned on his heel and took off towards the unlocked back door. He could hear Chris on his heels in wolf form, and he was making loud calls of alarm towards the house. Jensen risked a glance over his shoulder and the black wolf was barreling down on them. They would never make it to the door.
Suddenly Chris spun around and stood his ground, hackles raised and growling. Jensen skidded to a stop. He knew logically that he would be no match for a wolf that size, but he also knew instinctively that he was responsible for Chris’ safety and he couldn’t leave him alone. Lights were popping on all over the house which meant they would have backup soon.
The black wolf slammed straight into Chris and the smaller animal yelped once, but then proceeded to bite and claw with abandon. Jensen took a spare second to glance frantically around the yard for some sort of weapon, and apparently that was all it took for the black wolf to dislodge Chris and send him flying. The next thing Jensen knew, he was being knocked to the ground by a solid wall of furry muscle … and then those familiar silver eyes were glaring at him only inches from his own.
There was no doubt in his mind that this was the Alpha that had bitten him. The beast growled low in warning, as if trying to force Jensen to submit to it. His own lips split into a snarl and a low rumbled growl rose from deep in his chest. He wasn’t submitting to this son of a bitch! He had a mate! He had an Alpha! The wolf seemed taken aback for a moment, and then a blind rage filled those silver eyes and a spike of fear lanced down Jensen’s spine.
Its growl was angry and combative, and Jensen responded in kind. He was prone on the ground with the monster hovering over him, but he wasn’t ball-less god dammit! He was an Alpha, too! The back door slammed open and wolves of all colors piled into the back yard. There was a large, tawny one in the lead with glowing gold eyes and a massive stature. It wasn’t as big as the wolf pinning Jensen down, but it was still significantly larger than the rest. It had to be Jared.
Jensen could tell the instant the big black scented Jared and realized exactly who and what he was. The massive animal snarled in rage and shifted to charge. Not even considering his own safety, Jensen gripped the front legs of the wolf above him, preventing it’s movement. Those silver eyes swung back his way and Jensen growled through his grit teeth.
“You don’t touch him!”
In the next instant, the sharp teeth that had been precariously close to his face before were puncturing deep into his upper arm. Jensen howled in pain and brought his hands up to pull at the jaws clamped on his shoulder. He could hear the echoed howls of rage from his pack in the yard around them. The giant tawny wolf had reached them and had sunk it’s own teeth into the attackers flank. Several others had surrounded them and were snapping their jaws at the large Alpha.
Jensen felt the jaws biting his shoulder start to loosen and slip away and a spike of adrenaline shot through his system. If the wolf released him, it would be free to attack the others. So he ignored the pain and released the jaws in his hands to fist his fingers around a solid, furred neck and hold the head in place. The wolf snarled in frustration and bit down harder in retaliation. Jensen couldn’t help the cry that escaped him and it seemed to send a ripple of fury through his friends. They increased their efforts and latched on where they could. Finally, Jensen brought up his knee to slam into the wolf’s underbelly. He could feel the ribs creak through the fur. He repeated the movement and the wolf pinning him keened slightly.
“If you leave now … we won’t kill you.”
He wasn’t really sure where his bravado had come from, he only knew that he wanted his attacker gone … and all of his pack safe. Jensen almost didn’t recognize his own voice, for that matter, it was a mixture of words and snarls and growls. The nameless Alpha heard, and apparently understood, because with one massive shake of his body Jensen’s pack was sent flying and the jaws were releasing his shoulder. As quickly as he had come, the wolf took off into the night leaving them all stunned for a moment.
Jensen didn’t move from the ground, still panting from exertion as he heard his pack shift back to human around him. And then he realized he had been referring to his housemates as HIS PACK in his head … and his wolf had been determined not to see a single one of them injured in this. And holy FUCK … he really was an Alpha werewolf.
The stars blinking at him merrily from above were blocked out by Jared’s head and shoulders as the man knelt over him. Silhouetted shapes of the other others began to move closer and Jensen allowed his eyes to fall shut, because … again… hello… all naked. Apparently this was the wrong thing to do, because Jared screamed his name again and frantically gripped Jensen’s face between his hands. Jensen opened his eyes to worried hazel ones.
“Oh thank God! Stay awake! You have to stay awake! Stay with me okay? Please stay with me?”
Jensen lifted the hand of his good arm and tangled his fingers in Jared’s hair. He fought to smile at Jared, but was pretty sure all that came out was a pained grimace. Now that the fight was over, his bitten arm was on fire.
“Jared. It’s just a bite. I’m not dying, promise.”
Jared nodded and then started chewing on his own bottom lip in worry. Jensen shifted to sit up and gasped as the pain sent lightening through his nerves. He could tell that his arm was mauled pretty badly, but he just wasn’t ready to look at it yet. He leaned heavily on Jared until the man got the idea and gingerly helped him to his feet. He wobbled a bit, but when he was steady enough Jensen glanced around the yard.
Steve was supporting Chris, who appeared a little bruised, but no worse for the wear. The girls were all standing together with nervous looks on their pretty faces. Misha was eying the tree line as if he didn’t really trust it was over. And Chad was standing behind Jared staring straight at Jensen with a shit-eating grin on his face. As soon as Jensen met his gaze, Chad whooped out loud.
“That was fucking awesome, man! Dude! We’re going to be the most bad-assed of packs ever! Our Alpha beat another Alpha before he could even shift! We’re gonna be legen-fucking-dary!”
Jared tensed against Jensen and everyone else froze. Maybe it was taboo to call yourselves a pack before the Alpha gave the permission, but it wasn’t as if Jensen cared. He had already termed them that in his own mind anyway. He realized that everyone was waiting for his reaction to the words, so he slowly reached forward and scratched Chad behind the ear like you would a puppy. Chad looked mortified, Jensen chuckled, and the rest of the pack let out a collective breath. Jared grabbed Jensen’s good arm and wound it around his own neck to support him.
“Chad. Get the first aid kit up to Jensen’s room, please? And-”
“Duuuude… you know the sight of blood makes me sick, right? Can’t Mish-”
Jensen snapped loudly, adding a growl to his tone.
“Chad. Kit. Now.”
The blonde took off like a jack-rabbit muttering a quick ‘yes, Alpha’ under his breath. Jensen turned to the rest of them. If there’s one thing he had noticed about this group of people, was that not a single one of them seemed inclined to step up and take charge when the situation demanded it.
“Steve, get Chris to room. Figure out if he needs medical attention.”
“Danneel, whoever we need to contact. The police, Jim … whatever.”
“Misha, girls … shift and patrol the perimeter until the authorities arrive.”
Jensen watched people and wolves scatter and thought … maybe this is why packs still need Alphas. He turned to Jared, and the other man was staring at him aghast … with the strangest look on his face. Jensen quirked an eyebrow and Jared shrugged off his stupor and blushed. He turned his gaze to his feet and began to maneuver them slowly towards the house. Jensen had never seen the man appear so shy before.
The taller werewolf shook his head and laughed deprecatingly at himself for a second.
“At the risk of getting my head snapped off … um … it’s just that … that was really hot.”
Jensen’s face instantly flamed up to match Jared’s and they walked the rest of the distance to his room in silence. Chad was waiting for them with a bowl of warm water, clean towels and the first aid kit. They helped Jensen cut away his ruined shirt, and then lay prone on a towel-covered bed. Jared cleaned the wound slowly, having to carefully pull out little bits of fabric from the ruined shirt.
“The good thing is, since tomorrow night is the full moon, you’ll heal a lot faster. Most of the wound should be gone before you shift. I hope so at least … it’s going to be hard enough on you the first time.”
Jensen hummed a response, but his energy was draining quickly. He had been tired all day, a strange sort of ache deep in his bones, and now after the fight and subsequent victory … he just wanted to sleep.
“Go ahead. Get some rest. We’ll be okay.”
Jared’s voice was warm and pleasant in his ear. Jensen was out before he could even formulate a reply.
A deep ache had settled into his bones again, stronger than the day before, and it took several attempts to pull himself up off the bed. He staggered into the bathroom and immediately started up a hot shower. When he stripped of his sweats and underwear, he also gently unwound the gauze on his arm. There were angry red marks were four teeth had broken his skin, but the skin itself was closed. He marveled at it for only a second before stepping under the spray of the shower.
He took his time rubbing off the grime and blood from the early hours, and then rested his forehead on the tile and allowed the hot water to sluice down his sore back. Fuck. Jared had warned him that his first shift wouldn’t be easy, but if he already felt this shitty when his body was just preparing for it … he was seriously not looking forward to tonight.
Jared’s voice was muffled outside the door of the bathroom. Jensen turned off the taps.
He pulled back the shower curtain and stepped out into the bathroom … just as Jared opened the door and stepped in. They both slammed to a stop. Jared was fully dressed in his jeans and white t-shirt, barefoot as usual, hair and face neatly groomed and ready for the day. Jensen was naked as the day he was born, wet hair plastered to his forehead and rivulets of water still tracking down his body. Jared swallowed so loud that Jensen could hear the man’s throat click. His hazel eyes were blown wide as they followed the droplets of water on their southward journey.
Jensen couldn’t move, and he honestly couldn’t tell if it was because he was embarrassed … or just waiting to see what Jared would do. Jared’s scent spiked strong and steady into the room and Jensen recognized it for what it was. Arousal. Licking his lips slowly, Jensen took a step forward. The movement seemed to break Jared from his trance and the other man scurried out of the bathroom quick as his feet could carry him.
“Sorry! I’ll just wait out here!”
Jensen sighed and turned to bang his head softly against the wall. What. The Hell. Seriously. Jensen understood that he was new to the whole werewolf thing… and even newer to the gay thing, but shouldn’t something be happening by now? He woke up every morning in the other man’s bed. He followed him around like a lovelorn teenager. He knew the attraction was reciprocated. Jared was the fucking poster boy for LUST when Jensen would catch him giving him the once over. He just didn’t get it.
Throwing a towel around his hips, but leaving himself dripping wet, Jensen sauntered out into the bedroom. Jared’s eyes flew wide again when he saw him, but he quickly cleared his throat and regained his composure.
“How are you feeling?”
Jensen rummaged through his saddle bag and pulled out a clean pair of black boxer briefs. He worked them on underneath his towel, then whipped it off to dry his hair.
“Tired. Sore. Arm’s okay, though.”
He turned back around and smirked when Jared quickly shot his gaze up to meet Jensen’s from where he had been staring … much lower. The towel was unceremoniously tossed into the bathroom. Moving back to his bags, Jensen pulled out his favorite pair of dark gray lounge pants that slung precariously low on his hips, and a plain white tank. Slipping them on quickly, he quirked an eyebrow at Jared, waiting for him to speak. Jared finally smiled, but it was a little strained.
“Big Jim’s here. He wants to talk to you … do you think you can? Without… you know… attacking him?”
Jensen shrugged his shoulders and moved towards the door to his room.
“Guess we’ll find out.”
He sauntered out into the hallway and made his way down the staircase. His bones might ache and his arm might be twinging … but fuck … he felt … strong. Powerful. Defiant. Unbeatable. For a man who had spent the last two years trying to disappear into anonymity and shadows, right now he had the urge to stroll into the middle of the room and shout, “Here I am, mother fuckers! You want a piece of this?”
It might have been the fact that tonight was the full moon. It might have been the fact that last night he had defended his pack against another Alpha. It might have been the fact that he now had a fucking pack to begin with. He couldn’t be sure what was giving him this strange new burst of confidence… but it felt good. There was a strained tension radiating from the living room that spiked when he strode in. His pack was there, along with Jim and a police officer. He didn’t need to scent them, he’d done so in the hallway. The officer’s eyes widened upon seeing him, and he glanced nervously between Jensen and Jim.
For his part, Jim just watched him enter the room with a small knowing smile on his face. And nothing happened. There was no overwhelming need to attack or defend or run away as there had been the first time. In fact … he didn’t feel threatened by the other Alpha at all. Jim stepped up to him and offered his hand to shake. Jensen accepted it readily and the whole room seemed to relax.
“Damn, boy … you’re going to be something else, aren’t you?”
Jensen tilted his head in a silent question, but Jim just smiled and introduced the police officer.
“This is Detective Cohen. Your pack has already filled him in on what happened last night. Is there anything that you want to add to the report? Things like this go straight to the American Werewolf Council, so any little detail might be relevant.”
For his own part, Jensen didn’t even react when Jim referred to the others as his pack. Officer Cohen did seem a bit startled, however. Jensen wondered briefly what the protocol was for a small pack existing inside of a larger one.
“Yeah, I do actually. The Alpha that attacked us last night was the one who bit me a month ago.”
There was a collective gasp in the room, and Jared stepped up to grasp Jensen’s shoulder tightly.
“Are you sure?”
Jensen nodded but kept his focus on Jim.
“Not likely to forget, am I? It was him. And he’s been hanging around here ever since I arrived. I scented him the first day, and a couple times since then, but didn’t know who it was until last night. There’s something else, too … he seemed familiar somehow… but I just can’t place it.”
Jim nodded and Cohen scribbled something down on a notepad.
“Tonight is your first full moon. Keep your pack close to you. Stay near the house. I’ll have the Police patrolling the borders and the woods, and place an alert on the town. Everyone needs to know that there’s an intruder who attacked a resident Alpha.”
A few more pleasantries were exchanged and then Jim and the officer headed back into town. As soon as they were out of sight, Jensen turned on his heels and stomped barefoot out the back door and into the garden. Jared called his name and the pack bustled after him. His feet met the cool grass of the yard and he breathed in deeply as he made his way over to the battleground from the night before. That copper tang was still there, but diluted with time. Jensen sniffed the air and could follow the direction his attacker escaped to. He’d only made it a couple yards before Jared was in front of him halting his movements.
Jensen growled low in his throat, but Jared held steady.
“I want to find him. I want to rip his limbs off his body and tear out his jugular with my teeth.”
Jared brought his large hands up and framed Jensen’s face with them ever so gently.
“I know. I know, Jen. But you’re not thinking clearly. The full moon is fucking with your head, it happens to all of us. Makes us more aggressive, more territorial. Just wait. Just wait until after we get you through tonight. I promise we’ll find him, okay?”
Jensen pushed forward, trying to side-step Jared, but the other man stopped him. He growled dangerously deep in warning, but Jared responded with a snarl and growl of his own, and Jensen’s wolf reminded him that this was his Alpha. His mate. So he backed down. He whipped out of Jared’s hold and stormed back into the house, pissed off that Jared only chose to act like his mate when it was in his own fucking best interest.
His hearing had become so sharp that he could make out members of his pack moving around downstairs. He could scent Chris, Steve and Danneel … but the rest were gone. He vaguely remembered Misha saying something about patrolling the area with the others, but he had been in the midst of fighting back a wave of nausea and couldn’t really remember clearly.
He must have drifted off for a time, because the next thing Jensen was aware of his room had darkened with the colors of a fading sunset and there was a dark figure standing just inside his window.
Just as the words had left his mouth, Jensen was assaulted by the sour scent of his attacker. Fuck! He tried to vault to his feet, but found himself weak as a kitten and slammed bodily to the floor. The approach of his first shift had left him feeble and powerless.
“Not quite, I’m afraid. I really didn’t want to do it this way, but you left me no choice.”
The voice was familiar but Jensen just felt so, so tired and he couldn’t even concentrate. There was an odd chemical smell close to his mouth and nose, and he hadn’t even registered the man drawing closer until the cloth was placed over his face. He had no choice but to breathe in, and his already drained body quickly turned to jelly.
He didn’t lose consciousness, could feel himself being picked up and hefted over a broad shoulder … he just was unable to do anything about it. They crawled out through the window, and his captor crept silently along the roof until he hopped down into an area of the yard that was blind to the house. Jensen could hear his pack inside. He could hear his mate’s deep rumbled voice speaking with someone, tight with concern. Jared. God, Jared!
They moved silently towards the tree line, and Jensen could tell that his patrol had just recently been through the area … so they wouldn’t be back by for a good fifteen minutes. Which meant that his captor had been watching them all and waiting for the exact right moment to act. Just as they made it into the shadows of the woods, and panicked howl echoed into the night air. Jensen could tell it was Chris. He must have been doing his own independent patrol … thank God.
The man beneath him cursed softly and took off in a steady run. Jensen gasped as the motion repeatedly jabbed a solid shoulder deep into his gut. There was a clearing up head, and upside down as his vision was, Jensen could still make out the large black SUV they were quickly heading towards. Fuck, shit, fuck! He had to do something! And soon! Give the others a chance to track them down.
Gathering up every bit of strength he could muster, Jensen craned his neck and bit as deeply into the man’s side as he could. Felt the skin break even under the dark t-shirt. His captor yelped and Jensen found himself somersaulting through the air and landing in the damp grass only feet from the vehicle.
“Goddammit! You are a stubborn son of a bitch, aren’t you?”
The man before him turned around, and Jensen knew that dark hair, that beard, that face. Mother fucker.
Morgan snarled in warning and stomped toward him, but Jensen could feel the chemical fading away and scrambled back several paces. He was still trying to fit the pieces together in his mind.
“You? You’re a werewolf? You bit me? Why?”
A deep growl reverberated from the older man’s large chest and he surged forward and wrapped a strong hand around Jensen’s ankle.
“Do you know I went into that damn coffee shop every single morning? Every day I ordered something and tried to get your attention, tried to get you to talk to me, and you wouldn’t even give me the time of day.”
Jensen felt his eyes widen impossibly large at the confession, then Morgan was moving. Dragging Jensen back towards the car by his ankle along the slippery grass. He kept talking as if Jensen wasn’t even there.
“Did everything I could think of and couldn’t even get you to look at me. Asked around about you, found out you were that cold and aloof with everyone. But I knew what I wanted. Knew how fucking glorious you would be as a wolf. How strong and beautiful. Then I overheard your coworkers convince you to go camping with them. Figured I would just have to take what I wanted.”
Rage bubbled up inside Jensen and colored his voice.
“So you broke pack law and bit me without permission?”
Morgan burst into laughter and Jensen took the opportunity to kick at the man’s wrist and free himself from his grip. He struggled to his feet.
“Pack law!? I’m an Alpha! Pack law shouldn’t apply to me! Now get in the damn car. Don‘t make me force you to submit to me.”
Jensen growled low and deep.
“I’m not going to submit to you, asshole. I have a mate. I belong to him!”
Morgan’s smile faded and he stepped closer.
“A mate? Some stupid lowly Beta that hasn’t even claimed you yet? That’s not a mate, Jensen, that’s a joke.”
Jensen couldn’t stop himself from reacting. He howled his rage at the insult to his mate and charged the older man. Morgan caught him on the shoulders and slammed him into the side of the SUV. Jensen snarled and snapped his jaws, arms gripping Morgan’s biceps and sinking his blunt nails into the skin as far as they could go. Morgan pulled him forward and them slammed him against the unforgiving metal of the car again. This time Jensen’s skull rebounded of the hard surface and he saw stars for a moment.
“It’s a joke, Jensen! And it’s an insult to me! I sired you for myself! You’re MINE!”
Jensen blinked his eyes a couple times to resettle his vision. Peripherally, he noticed that the sky had darkened to a midnight blue and the stars were beginning to sparkle in the heavens. The full moon would be up in minutes.
“I belong to Jared. I don’t care what you say.”
Morgan snarled in warning, but Jensen continued to speak.
“The moon is almost up, Morgan. What the hell were you planning on doing? Driving as far as you could before we both wolfed out and crashed the car?”
The older man laughed loud and long, and in the process startled the shit out of Jensen.
“You dumb, naïve boy. I’m a Blue Moon werewolf … and so are you. I couldn’t believe my luck when you decided to go camping that particular weekend.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means, sweetheart … that we are not subjugated to the whims of the lunar cycle like the rest of our kin. We aren’t forced to shift into that half man, half wolf monstrosity at a full moon unless we want to. Unless we chose.”
There were so many questions still thrumming through Jensen’s brain, but no matter what Morgan said … he could feel his body reacting to the call of the moon … to the shift. But maybe … maybe it was because he wanted to shift for the first time. Maybe, despite the warnings of pain and agony, he was looking forward to it. Finally being able to be a part of his pack. An equal to Jared. A real werewolf.
“Why did you send me here? If you wanted me for yourself … why give me that card?”
Morgan blinked at the abrupt change of topic.
“You surprised the hell out of me, showing up to my office. I wasn’t prepared to confront you yet. Claim you yet. And there are members of the werewolf council at my University, the nosey bastards. I couldn’t take the chance.”
“So you wanted me to head to this secluded town… snatch me up along the way when no one would notice. Not a single person would even realize I was gone.”
“See, sweetheart? I knew you were smart.”
Jensen snarled at the words, but then something in the sky caught his gaze. The full moon was rising. A spark of electricity shot through him and he couldn’t look away from the glowing orb. His gums tingled and his knees shook and something deep inside him wanted to howl into the chilled air. Morgan snatched his jaw with a strong grip and turned Jensen’s face back towards him.
“No. I forbid you to shift tonight. We have to-,”
Dozens of deep howls split the silence of the night, some extremely close by. One in particular sounded full of rage. Morgan cursed under his breath and tried to manhandle Jensen into the car. He pushed and shoved back at the larger man, fighting every inch of the way. Suddenly a low, deadly growl sounded from only yards away, and the struggling men froze.
When Jensen turned his head toward the noise, his jaw dropped. A large werewolf was stalking towards them on two long legs. It was tawny furred and well muscled, with a wolf face that looked like it would normally be sweet and playful, if not for the anger currently contorting the features.
Jensen just knew it was Jared. And the sweet scent that wafted toward him proved he was right.
There were a handful of other hulking shapes slowly making their way into the clearing, and he finally breathed a small sigh of relief. His pack had come for him. In his moment of distraction, Morgan managed to shove Jensen into the SUV and slam the door behind him. Before Jensen could even reach for the door to fight his way back out, the older man started to shift into the massive black werewolf that had attacked Jensen all those weeks ago. Staring at him now… Jensen realized just how large Morgan was. Bigger than Jared. Bigger than all the members of his pack. They were going to be hard pressed to defeat him.
Then he noticed something else. The moon was high in the sky and all his pack-mates had shifted. But he hadn’t. Morgan was right. There was a sudden yelp and the vehicle shook. A golden werewolf that had to be Chad went sailing over the hood. His pack needed him. They needed their Alpha.
Jensen lay back on this seat of the SUV and raised his gaze to the sunroof. The moon was just beginning to peek through the opening of the glass. He focused on it and felt that spark travel through his body once more. He demanded the wolf inside to change. Shift. Save the pack. Pain flared to life deep in his bones as he felt them start to pop and lengthen. He bit his lip to keep from crying out, but tears leaked from his eyes. His body was growing and contorting and blazing fire across his nerves. Every single piece of fur that sprang from his skin felt like a needle piercing his flesh, and each bone on his face cracked and morphed outward to lengthen his skull.
The pain was excruciating, and it took him several moments of panting deep lungful of air to even realize that it was done. He had shifted. Jensen opened his eyes and glanced down at his body. It was unrecognizable. Most of his fur was so white that it glowed in the moonlight. Except for his legs and arms which were a warm copper color. He blinked his eyes and twitched his nose, which was now a massive snout protruding from his face. His snout appeared to be the same copper color, but he almost had to cross his eyes to see it.
A pained yelp broke through his shocked stupor, and he remembered that his pack needed him. He pushed on the sunroof with his clawed hands and the glass gave easily to his strength. Clambering up through the tiny hole clued him in on just how massive his body now was. He felt gigantic and heavy and thick with muscle. Finally he hopped to the roof of the car and the vehicle shook slightly under his weight.
The scene before him was chaos. More werewolves were here besides just his pack now, and several of them were already laid out on the grass. In the middle of the fray, the massive black hulk of Morgan was clawing and biting and ripping through people with little effort. It only seemed to take one good solid blow for him to send someone flying. The only one he couldn’t seem to shake off was Jared.
Jared, who was covered in superficial wounds and bleeding heavily from a cut above his eyes. Jensen’s nostrils flared wide at the scent of his mate’s blood.
And he saw red.
The sound that exploded from him was more of a roaring bellow of a male lion than the howl of a wolf, but it was filled with fury and loud enough to rattle the windows of the car he was perched upon. The battle in the clearing ground to an instant halt, all eyes turned quickly upon him, but he only met the silver ones that had haunted him in his nightmares. Jensen roared again and hopped off the SUV to land on the ground with a loud thud. His and Jim’s packs began to slowly back away from Morgan. All except for Jared, who only stepped back a couple of paces.
Morgan answered him with a low growl, and they slowly began to pace circles around each other. Jensen realized with a start that, while Morgan appeared so much larger than all the other werewolves, he and Jensen were about the same size. Jensen snarled and snapped his jaws.
Morgan responded in kind.
Jensen launched himself at the other werewolf. They collided with a painful jolt in the air and landed with a roll onto the ground. It was a frenzy of claws and kicks and bites as they rolled and tumbled across the grass. Morgan landed a deep gash across Jensen’s belly, and he reciprocated by ripping down Morgan’s side with his claws. The sounds were inhuman, as well they should be, and accompanied by several excited yips and howls from the packs around them.
Morgan unleashed a vicious kick that sent Jensen flying several meters across the ground. He clawed into the earth to stop his momentum and crouched on all fours to growl at the black werewolf before him. Morgan snapped his jaws and puffed up his chest in an impressive display of dominance … and just like that, Jensen understood. The older man wasn’t going to stop, wasn’t going to stay away, until he’d gotten what he’d wanted. He would continue to return and hurt the pack and cause disruption until he claimed Jensen for his own.
The gash across his belly was bleeding steadily, but his strength was still at its peak. Regardless of both these facts … the fight just sort of … went out of Jensen. He sat back on his haunches and relaxed his snarl. The clearing went silent around them. Morgan copied his actions and they stared at each other intently. Jensen wanted to flick his eyes toward Jared, but he didn’t trust what Morgan might do in those few seconds of distraction.
Jensen absolutely did not want to go with Morgan. He had no desire to become the arrogant Alpha’s bitch. But … if Morgan kept coming back … he could eventually kill someone. Maybe even one of Jensen’s pack. Or Jared. And it would be all Jensen’s fault.
If Jared had just claimed Jensen like Morgan suggested… maybe none of this would have happened. But then… maybe Jensen was supposed to initiate the claiming somehow… and he didn’t do it, because he didn’t realize he was supposed to.
There was a shimmer of movement before him, and suddenly Morgan was standing in the field in his human form. Naked and bloody, but with a smirk on his lips.
“You’re thinking about it, aren’t you? Coming with me and ending all this? I promise I won’t hurt anyone else if you submit to me.”
A large tawny form shot between them, facing Morgan and growling low and threatening. Jensen watched Jared’s display and felt torn. Despite all his previous sexual leanings being to the female side of the spectrum … Jensen had actually been looking forward to see what a relationship with the other man might be like. But if it cost Jared his life … Jensen just couldn’t survive that. Not after everything he had already lost.
It took some effort, and a fair amount of hurt, but Jensen managed to shift back to his human form. He gasped when he was finished and clamped a hand to the wound on his belly that now seemed worse in comparison to his larger body. He calmly walked around Jared so that he could stand before Morgan again.
“What would it take for me to convince you that I don’t want you. Even if you managed to take me with you I would fight tooth and nail before I submitted to you. You would have to kill me. Then what would all of this had been worth?”
Jared snarled and stepped up behind Jensen until he could feel the heat emanating off the werewolf’s massive body. Morgan’s eyes flashed with fire and he sneered.
“You. Belong. To. ME!”
Jensen pulled his upper lip back in defiance and heard Jared growling thunderously behind him.
“You don’t own me. You never did. You broke pack law when you bit me without my permission. You destroyed the life that I had. Maybe if you had told me the truth in your office. Maybe if you had comforted me and assuaged my fears. Maybe then I would have been yours. But instead you sent me here… and I really have to thank you for that, because I found my pack. I found my mate.”
Morgan howled with anger and pointed an accusing finger at Jared.
“That ridiculous Beta is not your mate! He’s a simpleton fool that hasn’t even claimed you yet! He probably doesn’t even know how!”
Before Jensen could even formulate a response, the body behind him was moving. Massive clawed hands gripped his upper thighs, and when Jensen looked down Jared’s impressive jaws were opening wide and then clamping down around Jensen’s hip. The two front incisors were dangerously close to Jensen’s groin, and the back two were poking right into the meat of his ass. Jared’s golden eyes were pleading with Jensen to give his approval. With only a vague idea what was happening, Jensen nodded and instantly those jaws tightened and Jared’s teeth punctured his skin.
Jensen cried out as something close to pain, close to pleasure raced through his system. He could feel rivulets of blood escaping from the wounds, and Jared’s scalding tongue as he lapped them up greedily. All the wolves around them howled with delight save one, the sound he made was much closer to blind rage. Before their eyes Morgan began to shift again, and Jensen raced to catch up. He felt a little lethargic with all the pleasure/pain still hiccupping through his nerves, but he managed to finish his shift mere seconds after Morgan.
Morgan lunged towards Jared, but Jensen intercepted easily. He sank his teeth into Morgan’s shoulder and knocked them both away from his mate. Snarling and growling, Morgan drove his claws deep into Jensen’s belly once again, and Jensen had to release the flesh in his bite to yelp in pain. When Morgan turned to crow his victory Jensen lunged forward and sank his teeth into the solid neck before him. Teeth on either side of the jugular vein and jaws clamped tight.
The werewolf beneath him froze and Jensen growled a low warning. Thick blood was leaking between his teeth, but he didn’t dare break the hold. Morgan shifted once and tried to struggle free, but Jensen slammed him back into the ground and held firm. He wanted to scream ‘give it up! Give it up! I won!’, but settled for a deeper warning growl.
A shot suddenly rang out in the clearing, echoing off the woods and ceasing all movement and noise.
“I think that’s damn near enough of that.”
Jensen couldn’t see who it was walking up to them, but he knew the voice and the scent. Big Jim. The wolf in human form lowered his rifle and pursed his lips in distaste at Morgan.
“Thought you were the only Blue Moon wolf round these parts, boy? Tough luck. So let me tell you how this goes. Jensen won this fight, fair and square. He’s also been claimed good and proper … like he should have been done days ago.”
There was a faint whimper nearby that must have been Jared.
“So now, you’re going to get in your big fancy car and high-tail it outta town. And when I report all of this to the council, you better hope they’re pretty damn forgiving … or you better be so far away that they never find you. Got it? Let him go, Jensen.”
Jim raised his shotgun to level it at Morgan, and Jensen relaxed his jaws and moved away. There was a shimmer of movement and Morgan had shifted back to a man. He glared at Jim, then at Jensen before taking off to his car and pealing away. Jensen watched the red taillights of the SUV disappear into the night, hopefully forever.
“You okay, son?”
Jim caught Jensen’s gaze for a moment, and then pointedly slipped his eyes downward. When he followed the other man’s attention, Jensen was surprised to see the amount of red staining his white fur. He only managed a weak whine before his legs gave out beneath him and he collapsed to the ground. Jared was there in the next second, licking excessively at the wounds on his belly. Jensen gave a pained whimper with each swipe.
“Stay shifted, son. It will help with the healing.”
Everything was a flurry of movement after that. Werewolves were lumbering off in every direction, some with the assistance of a pack-mate. Jensen’s own pack all curled around him to keep him warm as Jared continued to clean the wound. Jim approached one final time and kicked Jared lightly on his flank.
“Make sure you finish the claiming as soon as he’s recovered. I don’t want to have to deal with this shit all over again.”
Jared grunted in affirmation, and the older man disappeared. Jensen closed his eyes and drifted off in a haze. He felt worn out, beat up, mangled and mauled … but all in all … pretty awesome. He had beaten his enemy, been claimed by his mate, and would hopefully survive to tell the tale. Jared’s tongue dug in deep to the largest slice on Jensen’s belly and he keened low in pain. The pack around him shifted at his distress and nuzzled into his fur, and feeling safe at last … Jensen passed out.
“Hey. The wounds pretty much closed. Feel any better?”
Jensen flexed his abdominals and only met a slightly tender resistance. He rolled to his side and sat up on his haunches, stared down at the gigantic furred hands that now belonged to him. He felt pretty content actually. There was an odd twitch at his rear accompanied by a soft swishing sound. He turned his head and was stunned to find a large copper tail wagging in the grass. He blinked at it a moment.
“You’re beautiful, you know?”
He turned back to Jared and was pleased to find a healthy blush staining the man’s cheeks. Jensen tilted his head in confusion and Jared chuckled.
“I mean the cream and copper coat? I’ve never seen anything like it. Your ears are tipped with it and your eyes are even copper, like a bright new penny. Most werewolves have gold or silver eyes. It’s pretty awesome. Figures you would be just as pretty as a wolf as you are when you’re human.”
Jensen chuffed a little in embarrassment and glanced away.
“Try to shift down to a wolf. Human’s still not a good idea yet, and I damn sure can’t carry you like this.”
It was getting easier to demand his body to change, so it didn’t take very long for Jensen to feel himself shrinking down to a smaller size. He stood a little unsteady on his four legs, but turned in a slow circle a couple times to get the feel of this new form. Jared laughed beside him.
“Figures you’re still huge.”
Jensen wanted to laugh with his mate, but had to settle for his tail swishing back and forth.
“Come on, let’s see how far you can walk.”
The trek back to the house was slow going. He still felt a little weak and off-kilter, but when Jared had tried to pick him up Jensen had snapped lightly at his fingers. He didn’t want his pack to see their Alpha being carried in like a wounded mongrel. Jared had growled in warning but acquiesced. When they entered the back garden Chris and Steve, in wolf form, bounded up to them. They quickly flattened their ears and dropped their heads low in deference, but Jensen yipped at them happily and they took off like streaks toward the back door.
When they made it to the living room, the whole pack was waiting for their arrival in human form. After each bowed their deference to his position, the girls started to coo about how pretty he was and the men started to recount the highlights of the battle. They each looked all bit bruised and tired … but all were perfectly healthy. Jensen’s heart felt light with his ability to protect his family.
It struck him like a physical blow.
After so long without … he once again had a family. Jensen wasn’t sure if wolves could weep, but he suddenly felt weighted down with his emotions. He turned from the room and moved towards the stairs, nails clicking echoed sounds off the hardwood floor. He could feel Jared’s presence at his back like a steady heartbeat. The stairs were an annoyance, but when he finally made it to his room, there was his wonderful soft bed just waiting for him. He hopped onto the mattress and turned to face Jared.
“It should be okay to shift now … but let me run you a bath first okay?”
Jensen chuffed softly and eyed Jared’s naked backside as he moved into the bathroom. He supposed he was going to have to get used with exhibitionism in a house full of werewolves. No one seemed to even think about the fact that they walked around naked half the time. Jensen figured it was probably a good thing that he had a decent enough body, then.
Steam was starting to billow from the door to the bathroom as Jared stepped out. Jensen closed his eyes and requested his body to shift back to human. He felt his bones and sinews stretch and realign and his fur recede, and then he collapsed breathless back on the mattress.
“Damn… that feels so jacked up.”
Jared chuckled and came to stand beside him.
“Can you walk?”
Jensen nodded and gingerly pulled himself to a standing position. Jared had to assist him a little across the floor and into the tub, but it was totally worth it when he sank down into the hot water. He sighed happily and reclined back. Jared reached up to snag Jensen’s bar of soap and lathered it between his hands. Without even asking permission he began to scrub across Jensen’s skin, sluicing off the dirt and blood with the hot water. Jensen couldn’t even bring himself to be embarrassed, just closed his eyes and marveled at the feel of those large hands.
Once he was scrubbed to pink and his hair was washed, Jared helped to pull him from the tub and set about drying him off tenderly. By the time they made it back to his bed Jensen was so sleepy he was stumbling. Jared rolled him under the covers and then tucked him in against the chill from the open window.
“I’m going to clean up. You hungry?”
Jensen mumbled a negative response and slipped off into dreamland. Distantly he listened as Jared left the room and to the sounds of life as his pack tried to regain normalcy. He must have dozed for a bit because Jared was seated on the bed watching him the next time Jensen opened his eyes. He smiled and it was returned just as warmly. Untangling himself from the covers, Jensen scooted up to lean back against the headboard.
Jared nodded and shifted closer. His pupils were blown dark and wide and he was staring at something low on Jensen’s newly bared hip. Hip. Oh! Jensen glanced down and was greeted to the sight of two silvery scars where Jared had left his claiming bite. He lifted his fingers to run the tips across the marks gently. Jared sucked in a breath.
“Are you … are you mad?”
Jensen tilted his head slightly at the nervous words.
“Mad? Jared, I’m not mad. You were driving me crazy with all the mixed signals. I thought you didn’t want me. That you wished you’d never-”
“Fuck no! Jensen! No! I want you! God, I’ve wanted you since I first saw you! I just figured I was taking advantage of the situation. That you didn’t realize what was going on and would hate me for it later.”
He looked so ashamed that Jensen rolled his eyes and chuckled softly.
“Don’t we make a pair, then, huh?”
Jared shook his head and shifted on the bed.
“I’m not good enough for you. You’re an Alpha and I’m-”
“Jared, seriously … shut up and come here.”
The younger man slid cautiously across the bed until he was seated beside Jensen, his knees touching Jensen’s upper thigh. Once again his gaze had fallen down to the claiming mark on Jensen’s hip, so Jensen reached forward to snatch Jared’s hand and lay it across the bared surface.
“You can touch it, Jared. It’s yours.”
Long fingers skated softly over the smooth scar and Jared sucked his bottom lip into his mouth to chew. He slowly moved the touch towards the longer scar that split Jensen’s belly and traced along the edge of it. Jensen hummed in delight at the touch. When their gazes met again, Jared’s eyes were blazing gold, and unbeknownst to him, Jensen’s were a fiery copper.
He wasn’t really certain who moved first, only that finally … finally soft lips were crushed to his and a hot tongue was licking at the seam, begging for entrance. Jensen opened his mouth eagerly and granted passage to the nimble muscle. It laved against the surface of his mouth, and then moved to tangle with his own tongue. Jared suddenly growled deep in his throat and grabbed Jensen by the hips, yanking him down to a prone position on the bed. Jensen gasped through the kiss at the movement, but didn’t protest.
Then Jared was blanketed over him, weight pressing Jensen down into the mattress and this was definitely different from being with a woman. Jared pulled back enough to nip at Jensen’s lips, still rumbling out low growls that sent shivers down to Jensen’s toes. He arched his neck to offer it to his mate, and Jared nibbled down the length of it, sucking a deep bruise into the curve of his shoulder.
God, his voice was already fucked out. Jared snarled and then snatched the covers off Jensen leaving him bare. Jensen tried to not be too embarrassed by his own rock hard cock, or Jared’s when the other man nearly ripped off his own clothes. Jared was nipping and nibbling all the way down Jensen’s flushed chest and all he could do was writhe against the mattress. When that gloriously hot mouth sucked Jensen’s straining erection down deep without any preamble, Jensen’s back arched right of the mattress and he cried out his pleasure.
Jared laughed around his full mouth before he pulled off with a lewd ‘pop’. Then, with pretty relative ease, he suddenly flipped Jensen bodily until he was on his belly, legs on either side of Jared’s kneeling form, and ass apparently up for the offering. He breathed deep as he could and commanded himself to stay relaxed. Everything would be better if he stayed relaxed, he was sure of it. Jared leaned forward to fit his human mouth over the same hip graced with the claiming mark and bit down hard. Jensen gasped and clawed at the sheets beneath him.
He was so focused on those teeth that he didn’t even notice the slick finger probing at his hole until it had already slipped inside. It burned some, but mostly just felt very, very strange. He tried desperately not to think of the significantly larger appendage that was going to be pressed inside soon enough, and concentrated on the licking and sucking Jared was treating his hip to. Another finger slid inside and the burn intensified. Jensen gasped and Jared’s large hand started rubbing soothing circles on his lower back.
“Shh, shh…. It’s okay.”
The fingers pushed deeper then crooked inside him and rubbed over his prostate sending fireworks of pleasure all along his spine and straight to his dick. Jensen moaned and bit the pillow beneath him, arching his back towards the ceiling, and giggling a little when Jared cursed.
“You’re so fucking gorgeous like this. Fuck.”
A third finger pressed inside and that burn and stretch were getting a little addicting. They rubbed his inner walls and tripped over his sweet spot, and Jensen was so hard he could probably pound nails through a two-by-four. Jared was gnawing on the hipbone opposite the bite mark when Jensen had decided he’d just had enough.
“Jared. Come on. Now. ‘m ready.”
Those lovely fingers slipped away and the slick sound of Jared coating his cock echoed in the silent room. Jensen pulled his knees up under him and lifted his ass in the air. His mate swore a blue streak before grasping Jensen’s sore hips and lining the blunt head of his dick up to Jensen’s stretched hole. The pressure of the first push had Jensen keening softly, but Jared soothed him through most of the burn and before he knew it they were flush against each other with Jared buried balls deep inside.
Jensen whimpered at the fullness and the pull on his rim, but it felt good. It felt really good. Then Jared started to move and that blew ‘good’ out of the water. The push and pull friction of Jared’s cock rubbed his prostate in all sorts of nice ways and the slap of skin on skin jerked his balls and dick with instant gratification. Jared’s speed and the force of his thrusts increased and Jensen realized he was mewling loudly and trying to shove back and impale himself harder.
Jesus, fuck … he never knew it could be like this. Jared was growling and biting at Jensen’s shoulder blades and his orgasm just hit him out of nowhere. Jensen wailed his release high and loud, and there was no way anyone in the house missed that. Not that he really cared. Jared was snapping his hips with abandon as Jensen collapsed on the bed. He was pushed forward several inches with the power of Jared’s thrusts but it was only a couple moments before there was a hot pulse of release inside his channel and Jared was groaning and shaking above him.
They collapsed sideways, still sticky and sweaty, with Jared’s slowly softening cock still tucked up deep inside Jensen. They panted roughly together trying to catch their breaths and Jared wound his arms tight around Jensen’s middle. He nuzzled his neck and Jensen sighed with satisfaction. Jared chuckled.
Jensen laughed softly.
“Not bad? That was … awesome.”
He could feel Jared’s smile where it pressed against his skin.
“We’re officially a mated pair, you know. Like … married.”
Jensen yawned and turned onto his back, grimacing a little when Jared’s softened cock slipped out. He pressed himself up and down the length of his mate and burrowed his face into Jared’s long neck. His asshole felt tender and swollen, but there was the phantom feeling of Jared still inside him that he thought he could get really used to.
Jared’s face broke into a wide, dimpled grin and Jensen could only smile softly in return. Two years ago a tornado had taken everything away from him. All that mattered to him, and made him feel whole were lost in less than ten minutes. Four weeks ago an egotistical Alpha bastard who was only concerned with a pretty face cost Jensen everything he had tried to rebuild with his life.
One week ago that same asshole had chased him straight into the arms of Jared Padalecki, who had given Jensen back everything that had been missing in his life since that F5 hit his home town. It wasn’t normal, and it damn sure wasn’t going to be perfect, but this time he was going to grasp it tight with both hands and never let it slip through his fingers again.
And gay sex wasn’t so bad, either. Who knew?