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The Winding Road to Eternity

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They find the kid curled up in the woods. Kali has no idea why Duke even made this detour. It's not like the kid is anything special, just human and tears and snot. Disgusting.

Ennis thinks the kid seems familiar but it's not his business and it's not like he cares. Kali's bitching is starting to get on his nerves though.

Deucalion doesn't know what made him choose this path through the woods. Why the winding road called to him more than the straight path he usually preferred but now, now he can't understand a universe where it didn't happen.

Przemysław takes a moment to realize he's not alone anymore and he freezes. When he looks up there's three people there, two men and a woman. The woman looks a bit scary and the darker man looks bored but it's the blond that catches his attention, which is weird 'cause he's the most normal-looking of the three, even with his weird eyes.

Kali sneers at the kid when he finally looks up at them but Duke just smiles and Kali knows this kid is coming with them.

***

It's been a couple months since Duke found him and told him he'd never leave as long as Przemysław lived.

He's still sad about his mom and dad, of course he is. He'll probably always be but it doesn't matter because now his natural curiosity is coming out and that's always been a good distraction for him. He's noticed the... weirdness of Duke and his friends (they really don't seem like that but he doesn't know what else to call 'em) so he observes and draws conclusions like dad taught him.

In the end, when Duke sits him down and tells him about werewolves and magic and the promise of the power in his heart, he's nothing but awed.

And then, because his brain's never been good at logic, he blurts out, "Did you know that in Greek myth Deucalion was the son of Prometheus? And that he survived the flood Zeus sent? And that Prometheus stole fire from the gods to give it to humans? And - -"

He keeps talking and talking and Duke just smiles at him and nods, and, sometimes, interjects with a piece of knowledge he hadn't found yet.

They talk until he falls asleep on the couch leaning against Duke.

(it's the first peaceful sleep he's had since mom died)

***

Zemy is thirteen when the first idiot comes after him. Duke's out terrorizing some pack in the north with the others and the beta (idiotidiotidiot) thinks he can use him as leverage or something like it.

Zemy isn't surprised like the beta had hoped. No, what he is, is incensed that this moron (bordering on omega) got his scent on Duke's shirt. And that... If you ever take away anything from this, it should be this; Deucalion isn't the only violently possessive one between the two of them.

The beta ends up beaten to death and Zemy's favourite bat ends up in wooden splinters covering most of the backyard. He calls the roots and vines from the nearby forest to drag the body away and use it for nourishment (easy because they would've done it anyway only slower without him).

He stares at the bloody pieces of wood scattered on the ground and casts his eyes over the yard and its plants. It's only on the second pass over that his gaze stops on the hickory and the idea is born.

He coaxes the tree's bark open slowly (so very slowly, don't harm) and bit by bit, for the lack of a better word, feeds the pieces of his bat to the tree. Blood and tissue and malicious intent covering protection. All of it he gives this tree and knows it'll never be the same. Knows it'll always protect him to the best of its capabilities.

And something that strong, something that tough given a magical gift of blood and life, a sacrifice like that... Well, there is a reason nemeton are mostly oak (stable and pure and old).

***

The first thing Deucalion smells when he comes home is happiness. The second is a strange wolf and the third is blood. But there is no anxiety, no fear, so he doesn't worry about it. Only goes to find his wayward mate to make certain his claim will be sensed by any and all supernatural beings that might run into his precious, little boy.

***

Michaels is the latest disposable Alpha in a long line of disposable Alphas. Zem's not sure why Duke wanted him and he doesn't honestly care all that much. Long as Michaels leaves Zem alone, he won't care and Duke will keep his plaything until he grows bored and tears out his throat like so many before him.

Michaels actually makes it through a few months and into that perilous position of being introduced to Zem (the same point where so many of the others had fucked up one way or another).

At first he doesn't pay any attention to Zem, dismissing him as a beta or convenient human servant. That's already against him. Does the idiot actually think Deucalion lets just anyone into his home?

But that's not what earns him a one-way ticket to an unmarked grave no-one bothers to remember. No, what earns him that grave is the sheer disrespect Michaels shows Zem and, by extension, Duke.

Like a pack bitch would be free to walk in on a meeting of alphas. Like Zem would ever allow himself to become something as worthless as a pack bitch. Duke would have to kill him first.

He relishes Michaels' surprised expression and licks and sucks the blood off Duke's still clawed hands. Smirks at the dying alpha looking so confused, barely tilts his head enough to show the scar where Duke had sunk his fangs into Zem's neck and claimed him as his own for all eternity, and Michaels chokes on his blood and dies wide-eyed with surprise.

When Zem tears his eyes away from the corpse Duke had made in his honour, he's pleased to note Ennis and Kali are gone. Those two at least have some sense in their heads.

Duke tilts his head. Zem grins. The backdoor creaks open and a vine slithers into the room and drags the body away soundlessly.

***

He plants a cutting of that hickory with his first kill in it when they move. He nurses the little thing into a fully grown tree faster than should be possible but he feels his magic and that bloodlusting protectiveness in this tree as well as in that first one and somewhere at the edges of his magic is an echo of that same protectiveness and he laughs. It worked. It actually worked.

He'll have a network of bloodthirsty overprotective magical hickories before long. No-one will be able to say what he is, druid or spark or darach or something completely new.

(it will be only years, decades, later that he realizes he'll live as long as his magic lives, and because of their bond, its strength, his mate will live as long as he wishes)

***

He likes the twins. They know instantly where they belong in the hierarchy (on the bottom) and don't question why someone (zem) is above them. They watch and figure it out for themselves. And maybe him giving Kali a tongue lashing that no-one interrupted (and made her submit, even if it was only the tiniest bit) told them more than most had ever seen but that's just good for the twins.

He rides Duke long and slow after his Alpha gives the twins the okay to join their pack properly. Duke's a growling, almost begging mess when he finally speeds up and gives them both relief.

(and if he can't shut up about how good his mate is to him and how divine his cock feels in zem's ass, well, that's just a bonus)

(and if the rest of the alphas are still downstairs, well, it's not like they don't already know what goes on between the two of them, it's not like they don't like knowing their Alpha is good to his mate)

***

He never wanted to go back. Not after his mom died and his dad started blaming him for it. He snarls as much at his mate but Duke has made up his mind and that makes him as immovable as a mountain range. Zem doesn't have to like it, Duke says, but he's coming and that's that.

It helps to burn through some of the anger and resentment when Duke pounds him into the mattress with barely leashed animality.

(it definitely helps when zem sees his marks still on duke when they wake up the next morning)

***

He goes to school (so boring) and starts recon.

(what he finds is pathetic)

(and duke expects him to work with this)

***

McCall is possibly the least Alpha-like (potential) alpha he's ever met. The boy makes him think of puppies and fluffy, harmless things. Things that get torn to pieces the moment they draw a predator's attention.

But he plasters a smile on his face and plays clueless and befriends McCall and Hale's pack.

(it feels so good when mccall finally kisses him and blushes like mad afterwards)

***

"I was young and didn't know better." Zem laughs bitterly, "Just wanted someone who couldn't ever leave me, like my parents did."

He pauses again, longer this time, and Scott tightens his arm around his shoulders. "But you know, it's really easy to grow to resent something like that. Someone having absolute authority over you."

This time when Zem stops, he doesn't start again and they just sit there, on the overlook, in silence until Zem has to go.

(scott can't stop thinking about it, about the scars on his throat marking zem as property, being forced into doing all the awful things he's heard about deucalion, can't even imagine how it must feel knowing you can't leave your tormentor)

(that's when he starts planning)

***

"God, could you have found a more bland recruit? Please, can we just kill him and take his power when he ascends?"

Deep laughter in response and he throws his hands in the air.

(maybe he wasn't completely wrong in wanting him here)

***

The Hales are very pretty, he has to admit but having one of them pinning him against a wall and growling at him to tell him everything really takes away from that.

And really, this little pup has nothing on Deucalion or even Kali (and he's not afraid of either).

He smiles at the Alpha-pup and pats his cheek. "You're adorable, you know that? Playing at being a terrifying Alpha, or even a respected one like your mother", the growling intensifies and the grip on his collar tightens and he bursts out in laughter. "You really should practice or do you like having nothing on other alphas in the threatening department?"

When there's no answer but more growling, Zem presses his fingers to a pressure point where the Alpha-pup's thigh meets his torso. Hale lets go and Zem sidesteps him and leaves.

(he might have added a little wolfsbane to his fingertips before touching hale but if that's what happened that's between him and hale)

***

The Hales are very, very pretty, he decides, when Peter Hale tracks him down somewhere between yet another session of playing the lovesick fool with McCall and getting a proper mind-bending orgasm from Duke at the pack's current temporary home. This time it isn't even diminished by useless threats.

They smile and smirk and snark and circle each other with cutting words trying to find a weakness in the other.

It's honestly the most fun Zem has had since before Duke got obsessed with the (potential) True Alpha.

***

"What would you think of getting a pet?"

"Where's this suddenly coming from?"

"The Hales are very, very pretty."

An amused huff. "I'm not helping you."

***

"But," Scott stopped to cough out some blood, "you said you hated being his and everything he's done to you."

Cold steel in his stomach, colder eyes locked with his own.

"I never said that. I said it would be easy to grow to resent something like that." A twist of the knife. "I know myself, always have; and that includes knowing what and who I want. Besides," an empty false smile, "I'd kill Duke with my own hands if he ever tried to make me something I'm not, or make me do something I wasn't going to anyway."

Scott couldn't understand it. He'd never heard or smelt a lie. He'd always thought Zem would want to be freed from that monster's grasp.

"And now," there was something dangerous (or was it unhinged?) in Zem's eyes, "your power, oh True Alpha, will be all his."

That's it! He drew a breath, tried not to cough and pleaded, "Is power more important to him than you are? Wouldn't you want to share it?"

Zem actually threw back his head and laughed. After he'd calmed down, he said, "First of all, what's my Alpha's is mine. Second of all, I don't need more power." At those last words Scott heard the groaning of trees and shuffling of leaves and cast a look at the forest surrounding them. The trees seemed to be bending towards them, no towards Zem and a fox poked its head out of a bush clearly unafraid of the werewolves.

If Zem could control the woods, control the animals, then it wasn't a surprise Jennifer had ran the moment Zem had stepped into the clearing.

Somewhere in the distance, Scott heard a surprised shout get cut off and then the snapping of bones and he winced. Seems like Ms. Blake didn't get far enough, fast enough.

***

They leave and Beacon Hills is left without True Alpha, Alpha-pup or Hale.

Let the savages fight for the territory.

(duke's happy he got two alpha's worth of power. peter's happy he's alive. kali and ennis are happy they don't need to stick around in that tiny town anymore and the twins are happy duke let them stay.

zem's just happy to have his pet and something new and old and powerful to play with.)