It's late into a cold mid winter's night, the distant howls of a few lycans sounding into the silent atmosphere. The wolves are out to hunt tonight, tracking a few stray deer that wandered into their territory. The moon is high, casting it's light onto the frosted grass of the woodland area that belonged to the small pack. The head alpha male has his nose to the ground, tracking a buck that could provide food for at least a few of them. His soft chestnut fur is damp with falling snow, deep red eyes spotting his prey off in the distance. His second is right by his side, staying low to the ground as he waits for his alpha's command. The beta is nearly impossible to spot in the darkness, black fur blending in and leaving only a pair of lavender eyes behind. The alpha waits, glancing at his second to give the signal. The beta takes off to the left, flanking the startled buck while his alpha goes in for the kill. It's over within seconds, the proud alpha tipping his head back and howling to signify a kill. His bushy tail wags slightly at the sound of his pack praising him in the distance, his bloodied snout bumping against the beta's neck as he stood beside him.
"It's almost sick how much they love you," Nate mutters towards the wet grass below his padded feet, his stunning violet eyes meeting the blood red of the alpha.
"Your mood is horrible tonight," Mark whispers back as he licks at the drops of dew hanging off the black fur of the beta. "Usually a hunt with me helps your spirit."
The beta grunts as he shakes the wetness off of his scruff and curls around to the front of the fallen buck, sniffing it's sturdy antlers with his nose. His violet eyes narrow at the blood staining the thick showy throat of their latest kill.
"It's a shame we waste your gift on such beautiful creatures," Nate sighs as he begins to tear off a piece of flesh from the bone.
"Don't start up again," Mark warns as he turns towards the approaching pack. "Even if we didn't have a truce, our pack doesn't kill humans."
The sounds of the other wolves are getting closer, and despite Nate's need to vent he doesn't dare argue with Mark when there are other eyes and teeth nearby. The beta will find a better time to bring up the stupidity and danger that Mark's forever putting the pack into with his reckless compassion for such vile creatures.
"After we feed," Nate begins, his large ears lowering slightly, "I would like another word about -"
"Enough beta," Mark growls, his heckles raised. "You try my patience more and more. You share my bed, Nate, but not my role. Remember that."
Nate feels his heart twist at this, and wants to retort with something just as hurtful to the alpha's soul, but the grounds are now full of the pants and sniffs of the others, so he maneuvers to take his place at Mark's right side.
The beta swallows down the urge to whimper, his heart aching to be seen as something more than just his alpha's second. Mark has been sharing his bed with Nate for almost three years and never once has he mentioned mating him. The others don't see him in the light Nate believes he deserves. To them he's just another beta that Mark fucks from time to time. He's not their luna, and he never will be.
The pack is comprised of about six lycans. Tyler, a large wolf with piercing navy blue eyes and thick chocolate brown fur, is the only other alpha besides Mark. His demeanor is quiet and a bit militant, but the pack greatly respects him. In the pack's eyes Tyler is their second in command, not Nate.
It is Tyler who first notices the bitten leg of the deer, and shifts his steely gaze to the dark beta next to Mark’s right flank.
“Didn’t know that betas got first taste of the meat now,” he states, his tone fairly casual. “Unless you were testing it for poison, Nate. Is that what we all should assume?”
Nate growls at Tyler, his irritation was already being pushed too far to be called out by the other alpha. Mark always allowed him to enjoy any kill he wishes, even though Nate rarely took the loving gesture.
Mark flicks his tail, and it brushes against the black fur of his lover’s side. Nate goes silent at once, though his eyes still glare at the large chocolate wolf.
“This is supposed to be a meal, not a meeting,” Mark grumbles between the two. “I give first bite to whomever I choose, Tyler. This isn’t a new concept, which you very well know.”
The other lycans are shuffling around, their need for food becoming greater, especially with the smell of the new kill so close. Felix groans softly just behind Tyler’s back, his sandy blonde fur striking against the blackness of the forest.
“Alpha,” Felix says, his voice soft but still loud enough to be heard. “Is everything alright? Will we be able to eat soon?”
Mark raises his head to connect the red in his eyes to the bright blue of Felix's, making sure that the beta knows that he is speaking directly to him.
“There’s nothing wrong. Just a slight disagreement between old friends, but I won’t allow our petty quarrel to stop a meal.”
The alpha lifts his head high and barks loudly to call the attention of the others, and all eyes are on him.
“All but Tyler, Nate and myself feast on the buck. Pick it clean, and then head back to the sleeping grounds.”
The other lycans mutter sounds of both surprise and delight as they surge forward to get to the large carcass of meat, both Ethan and Felix saying soft “thank yous” as they pass by Mark to tear into the meat. Tyler gives a quick snort of annoyance, but turns to head to the clearing without another word, while Nate is almost beside himself with rage. Mark follows quickly behind Tyler without a backwards glance to the beta, his message clear that this is their punishment for arguing in front of the pack.
The three make their way back to the sleeping grounds, which are a few small cabins scattered across the forest floor. Mark's of course is the largest, which he shares with Nate. There's an unspoken rule that only mates can live together, but Mark has been bending this rule for the past three years. Everyone knows what goes on inside that cabin, yet they all turn a blind eye. Nate is just a hole to fuck, nothing more.
Mark stalks up to the front door of his cabin, standing to his feet as his body seamlessly shifts to reveal a strong Eurasian man with warm chocolate eyes and messy black hair. Nate and Tyler shift as well, following the alpha's lead as he ushers them into the cabin. Mark slips on a pair of shorts, tossing Nate's clothing at him while Tyler covers his nudity as well.
"You wanna explain what the hell that was all about back there?" Mark's question is aimed at Tyler, and there's a bite in his voice that shows just how offended he is about how Tyler treats Nate in front of him.
Tyler's mouth forms into a tight lipped frown, but he pauses his thoughts to be as diplomatic as possible. He has never liked Nate acting as if he was actually Mark's mate, let alone his equal. The slender man sits at a small table and tilts his head towards the beta, though his blue eyes still stay locked on Mark’s brown gaze.
“He's too full of himself, Mark,” Tyler begins, “And as your friend, and as the only other alpha in this pack, I think it's my duty to mention it when your furry toys get better treatment than they deserve.”
Nate actually growls at the comment and advances on the taller man, his dark features menacing under dark brown hair. Mark raises his arm and stops Nate’s movement towards Tyler, though the smirk on the other alpha’s face shows that he has made his point.
As Mark pushes Nate behind him and surges towards Tyler himself, it's too late for Tyler to realize that he has stepped out of bounds. Within a few moments Mark has slammed the larger man into the dusty cabin floor, his strong hand pushing the side of Tyler’s head against the dirty wood.
“You don’t have to like my choices,” Mark growls as he feels Tyler whimper in submission, “but you will respect me. Is that clear, alpha?”
Tyler suppresses a growl, letting his body go slack to show that he wasn't up for a challenge right now. Tyler has never once challenged Mark for the right to lead the pack, but Nate was becoming more of a liability with each passing day. The beta has made it clear that he despises the humans, and his recklessness will only start up a war between the humans once again.
Nate smirks, crossing his arms as Mark let's the alpha go. He's not inconspicuous about how much he enjoyed seeing Mark put the alpha in his place, but he keeps his mouth shut for the time being. He's still on Mark's shit list and mouthing off will only earn him a night out in the cold with an empty belly.
"I expect you to respect Nate as a member of this pack. Whether he's my mate or not is irrelevant. He still contributes to the survival of our pack, and so he deserves your respect. Understood?"
"Yes, alpha." Tyler murmurs, shuffling to his feet once Mark allows him to move. The head alpha dismisses him, waiting until Tyler has left the cabin before turning his attention to Nate.
Mark waits until the scent of Tyler has died down to a soft hint of musk before rounding back towards his lover. Nate is already on the ground and lowering his head to expose his neck in submission.
“Forgive me alpha,” he offers as his dark eyes flicker to watch Mark’s bare feet come towards him.
“Stand up,” Mark sighs as he takes hold of Nate’s narrow shoulders. “I’m done with dealing with such useless bickering tonight.”
Nate nods his head and gets to his feet, Mark already slinking into the large bed in the corner and under the covers. The alpha exhales a deep breath as he turns away from the beta, already feeling the dark brown eyes on his naked back as he tries to get more comfortable. Mark tries to remember that Nate has softness and kindness underneath the sharp tongue and teeth, though it gets to be more days and nights between seeing that side of him appear.
The beta thinks carefully about his next move, already aware that Mark hasn’t said that he can’t go back out and eat on his own. He feels a slight tremor of hunger in his torso, and considers leaving for a quick hunt, the lingering smell of a rabbit or two not very far away at all.
“If you were waiting for my permission to hunt, then you have it.” Mark says, a slight yawn in his deep voice. “Your nose can smell the small ones outside just as well as mine.”
The beta takes a step towards the door, and then reconsiders his plan. The need to get in the better graces of his alpha was more important than food.
Nate bites his plump bottom lip, inching towards the bed they shared and climbing in next to his lover. Mark's scent is radiating off of him in waves, his rich woodsy aroma thickly weaved with stress and irritation. Nate could smell just how agitated he was, and so the beta hesitantly reached out to touch Mark's shoulder. The alpha growled, shifting onto his back to glare at Nate. The beta ignored his look of irritation, pushing back the covers to straddle Mark's lap. They both knew where this was going, and soon the cabin would be filled with Mark's animalistic sounds and Nate's moans of pleasure. The beta was offering his body to his alpha as an apology, letting him work out his stress in a more intimate way. Mark narrows his eyes, watching as Nate leans down to brush his soft lips against his jawline.
"Nate..I'm tired and very cranky. Now is not the time for this." Mark snarls, hands gripping Nate's hips tightly. The beta smirks, kissing his lover's neck in the exact spot he wishes to mate him.
"You're tense, alpha. Let me help you." Nate murmurs, gently biting at Mark's neck. The alpha let a very inhuman noise slip past his lips, roughly flipping them over and pinning Nate against the bed. The beta was offering to help, so why not take advantage of that?
Nate looks up at his alpha with wide brown eyes and a soft smile, his warm hands reaching up to touch Mark's thick muscled shoulders. Mark’s toned legs brush against the beta’s smaller frame and Nate spreads his thighs open and pushes himself towards Mark’s growing erection.
“Alpha,” Nate whispers, his eyes half closed and dreamy. “Let me make you feel good. End the night with just us, together.”
Mark feels a rumble in his chest, the cool air on his back mixing with the heat underneath the thick blankets. He leans down to nibble at the beta’s chin and soft lips, the smell of lavender and thyme deep in his nostrils as Nate sighs in his ears.
“You know I can’t say no to you when you smell the way you do,” Mark coos as he peppers the man under him with soft kisses. “Your scent is my weakness my love, and you know that.”
Nate chuckles as he opens his mouth and his legs wider, and the alpha surges forward, his tongue roaming around the beta’s mouth like a serpent, strong fingers pulling down the soft shorts of his lover to reveal his rock hard length underneath his grasp.
A short thrust and a moment later, Nate is filled and gasping for breath. Only the growls of Mark and the soft squeak of the bed are all the sounds that can be heard.
"Alpha.." Nate mewls, blunt nails digging into Mark's shoulder blades. They're moving slow, with Nate grinding his hips into his lover's to meet Mark's gentle thrusts. The air is already thick with the scent of sweat and sex, mixing with each wolf's musky aroma. Nate's lips are on Mark's, tongue sliding against his alpha's to taste the hint of blood that still lingered from their kill. The beta is whining, a different sort of hunger growing as Mark begins to grind his cock against Nate's sensitive walls. He's still a bit loose from their romp last night, but the sweet sting of stretching past his limits is still there. His alpha was not a small man, and even after three years of fooling around he's still surprised by how thick his alpha is.
Mark's hips are circling, thrusts gaining speed. Nate is finding it difficult to breathe, the sheer force of Mark's thrusts is forcing the air from his lungs and slamming the bed into the cabin wall.
"F-fuck! Harder, alpha please!" The beta begs, his voice strained. Nate's moans are getting louder, and Mark can feel him clenching around his fat cock as he comes closer to release.
Mark grinds deeper between Nate’s shuttering thighs, still dizzy from how tight the beta is around him. Nate was always intoxicating when they made love, and the alpha could barely stand how beautiful he is when he's trembling underneath him, his small chin and thick lips lifting up towards the ceiling.
“Beta,” Mark moans as he brushes the back of his hand across Nate’s smooth face. “So gorgeous when I’m inside you. So gorgeous.”
Nate’s heart flutters at the words, wanting to hear more but too focused on meeting Mark’s hips that he can’t think, let alone speak. His mouth releases a high pitched cry, and Mark picks up speed. It won’t be much longer now until they are both cumming under a veil of rich howls.
The others will hear them and shake their heads as they move to their small cabins, their respect for their alpha going past their growing fears for the mouthy beta, but just barely. As each day goes by with more unrest between him and the rest of the pack, Mark will need to make a choice and the pack is fairly certain it will be them.
The smell of climax is in the air, and Nate claws at the tanned back of his alpha. Mark's thrusting is getting even deeper and faster as he snarls behind gritted teeth. Nate opens his eyes and exposes his neck, hoping...almost praying that the alpha will finally mark him on his own. When Mark dips down to kiss at his scent gland, Nate feels his heart almost stop.
“M-mark, please,” he stammers, “make me yours forever. I love you, alpha. Please.”
Mark's hips stutter, teeth just barely grazing the skin of Nate's pale neck. They've never discussed mating before, at least not to each other. But Mark knows how desperate the beta is to finally have that title. Mark laps at his lover's neck, reaching in between them to fondle Nate's neglected cock. The beta pants as Mark jerks him off, clenching around his lover so tightly he can hardly move. Mark swears under his breath, Nate's thick release covering his hand and chest as he works him through his orgasm. Mark groans, eyes closing as he unloads deep inside the beta. Nate's eyes roll back, panting and squirming as he waits for the bite that will never come.
Mark is an alpha, and alphas belong with omegas. Mark needs to carry on his lineage, and Nate can't give him pups due to his subgender. It kills him to know this, to think that Mark is only wasting his time on Nate until he can find a good omega to carry his pups. Nate's heart is shattered when Mark kisses his neck and pulls away, trying to catch his breath.
The alpha pulls out with a wet 'pop', already flipping Nate over and spreading his cheeks to clean up the mess he made with his tongue. The beta shivers, fisting the sheets and trying not to let that bitter feeling of rejection ruin this moment for them. He just hoped that Mark would have mated him by now. It's been three years and Mark still hasn't shown any interest in taking this any further than fuck buddy status. He's using Nate, even though he doesn't want to. Mark loves him, but he doesn't love him enough to bond them together for life, and that hurts more than Nate cares to admit.
Nate's head lies heavy on the pillow as he feels Mark continue to lick him clean, his vision becoming blurry through slow forming tears. He blinks and they fall, smearing on his soft cheeks. The alpha grunts lovingly as he reaches for the beta's hand, but Nate pulls away when he senses Mark's fingertips grazing his knuckles.
"I thought cuddling afterwards was your favorite part," Mark mumbles as he licks the inside of the beta's slender thighs.
"Holding me will just give me nothing but false hope for more," Nate mumbles back. The beta feels Mark sigh against his skin and shuffle gently next to him in the bed. Nate turns his head away from the warm brown eyes of the alpha as he nuzzles up behind him. Strong hands wrap around his chest and rub the black pawprint mark on the spot right above his heart.
Lycans always carry a mark in the shape of a pawprint on their chest when they are in human form. If the wolf was born of another wolf the mark would be the same color as their fur when in wolf form. However, if the wolf was a turned human, then the mark would be the same fur color of the wolf who turned them.
"Please just let me be," Nate whimpers as he curls up in a smaller ball. "Your comfort feels like pity, and nothing more."
Mark pulls away from the beta, and turns over so the two males are back to back. In his heart he understands that Nate is suffering, and he has been since his mate Cristina and their pup Willow were killed over three years ago. The alpha was there, his sturdy feet too late to stop what those twisted humans did to so many or their kind. There are nights even now where Mark searches his soul to find out how those men knew where the nursery was. The elders and the leaders of so many packs had kept it's location a secret for so long.
It was Mark who heard the howls of the fallen, and who's paws were the first to dig into the soft earth to bury so many females, male omegas, and small pups. So any graves and so many howls of despair.
"Not all humans were like the ones who killed your family," Mark says softly, his back still turned but the intake of breath behind him let's him know that Nate did hear him. Truth be told Nate wasn't the only one that lost someone that day. Felix lost his mate as well, a beta named Marzia that honestly brought out the best in him. And Mark lost his littermate, Amy. To say that Nate was alone in this would be a baldfaced lie. Everyone suffered from what happened that tragic day. But while the others chose to channel that loss into something good, Nate let it eat away at him until he was nothing but an empty shell. He's bitter and angry, vengeful against the humans that have already payed for their crimes.
Mark took him in after that, offering comfort while Nate licked his wounds. But what was meant to be just a friendly gesture soon turned into a relationship that would only bring them pain.
"Where were you that night? When my mate and pup were slaughtered by the hands of your precious humans..Willow was only five months old, Mark. She didn't deserve to die that way." Nate softly whispered, but Mark could hear the venom in his words. He was accusing Mark of abandoning his pack.
The alpha twitches violently at those words, and even more at the emotions behind them. How dare this wolf...this beta...hurl his body at him less than an hour ago, and now during a time where they should be enjoying each other's warm scents they're bringing up cold reminders of the past. Mark had no way of knowing that him leaving to meet with the Elders to discuss the new territories would be the day that so many wolves would die.
He would have done anything to protect the others, and the burden of all that loss was heavy on all of the pack leader's hearts.
The look of terror frozen in Cristina's bright yellow eyes haunted the alpha even now, her dying breath to protect little Willow from the blows of the invaders. If the pup had just been a little bigger she may have been able to run faster, but her tiny body was only feet away from her mother. Her small face terrified and confused.
Mark still has the scar on his leg from Nate attacking him when he tried to block him from searching the grounds for survivors after so many days, his obsession past anything the other wolves had ever seen.
“I take your silence as you have no more to say on the matter," Nate grunts as he pulls up the blankets ever tighter around him.
“There's no need to fight," Mark says, his voice as calm as he can make it. "Especially about that. Your loss was great, and I am not ever going to say that you have no right to be angry."
Nate feels burning tears on his cheeks again, and the need to be held is wearing down the desire to be hateful towards the alpha. Mark realizes his struggle and slides his strong arms around the smaller waist of the beta, and pulls him against his muscled chest. Nate almost purrs as Mark licks the shell of his ear, the calming heartbeat of the alpha exactly what the beta needed.
“I love you Nate," Mark mutters as he nuzzles his nose against the back of the beta's head. "Let me help you get past this hatred. I love you so much."
Nate chokes on the air in his lungs, unable to hold back the searing pain he felt in his heart. If Mark truly loved him he would mate the beta and put and end to all this silly drama. Nate's heart beats for his alpha, and even though he knows Mark won't give in he still holds out hope. He knows that mating a beta is against tradition, but that shouldn't matter to Mark.
Nate turns to face him, and Mark can see just how broken this beta truly is.
"Then why didn't you mate me? I've been waiting for three years, Mark. I've put my trust in you, gave you my heart and my body. But it's still not enough. What do I need to do to make you see that we belong together?"
Mark is silent for a moment, choosing his words carefully. What could he say that wouldn't wound his lover anymore than he already was? The alpha sighed, sitting up as he forced his mouth to spew out his truthful response.
"Because you're unworthy."
Mark's response burns like liquid fire in the beta's ears. His dark brown eyes turn bright violet as he growls at the alpha. Nate sits up and snarls lowly as he shifts, his skin covered in thick black fur, and his nose now a thick muzzle of sharp teeth.
“Nate," Mark says, his low voice hinting at a severe warning. "You need to calm yourself. The pack is asleep, and they don't need any more noise than -"
"The pack," Nate snarls as he jumps down to the cabin floor, large paws thundering as he paces the bedroom area. "That's all you fucking care about, alpha. The pack. Never me. You never cared. Never loved me. Even tonight I gave myself to you and what do I get in return? Unworthy of you? Unworthy to be your mate. I'll only ever be your...toy."
The alpha slides from the bed and stands up, still nude and glaring down at the wolf.
"There are reasons to why I said what I said," Mark replies, his voice trembling with impatience with the lycan circling him.
“Just because I can’t carry your pups is no reason to call me unworthy. There are plenty of females and omegas who can’t carry to term, and they are worthy of being by the side of their alphas. Mated and respected by -“
"Even if you were an omega, I couldn’t mate you. You're dangerous and reckless, Nate," he continues, "In your heart and mind you know that to be true. I need someone by my side who I can trust to be fair handed in the pack, and who can lead the weaker without using fear or pain."
Nate lets a vicious growl rip from his throat, his lips curled up to reveal his sharp teeth. His heart is filled with rage and pain, hearing the exact words that he's been so terrified of since they started this little affair.
Those words burned into him like a hot brand, and Nate knew he had no place here anymore. Mark used him, led him on, and hurt him. He didn't belong here. He never did.
"You..fucking hypocrite. You say I'm the one that's going to get us killed? You are so blinded by your own ego that you can't see the threat that lies before you. Those humans will be back to finish us off! They've already cut our numbers down by more than half, yet you say they're harmless. You're a fucking joke, Mark. This pack is a joke. And I will not stand here and let you get us all killed!" Nate snarls, but he makes no move to attack Mark. He just wants to run, to get as far away from these lycans as he possibly can. He's not going to die here because of Mark. Fuck him and fuck the pack. Nate was always a lone wolf anyways.
Nate turns his head towards the door, the decision already settled into the marrow of his bones. This wasn't his pack anymore. It hadn't been since he lost Cristina and Willow. He would get over Mark in due time, once he got away from seeing those soft brown eyes in his mind and his scent out of his nose, then he would be free. Finally free to do what he should have done years ago. Avenge the fallen wolves, and his mate and daughter.
“Please Nate," came Mark's voice as he walks towards the snarling wolf, his right arm outstretched in a calming way.
“Don't you dare treat me like I'm some fucking dog to be patted," Nate spat back at the alpha. "No more will I bow to your word or waste my love on the likes of you. I'm done with us, Mark. You and I...whatever the fuck you call this, It's over."
The alpha knows that there is no reason to try and talk this out, and with a nod of his head he lowers his hand. It takes all of the strength Mark has not to cry at the loss of his love, but he knew this day would come eventually. Mark would need a mate soon, and Nate just wasn't that person for him.
"Take care of yourself, Nate," Mark says simply as he sits back on the bed. "Even though it was hard to see at times, I do love you dearly, but I would never force you to stay."
"You never tried to keep me here in the first place. You only used me to keep your bed warm. My alpha, the greatest liar I've ever known." Nate lets a tear slide down his face, soaking into his fur as he turns to leave. Mark never begged him to stay. Never chased after him and told him he was wrong. He let Nate go, and once the beta was gone and his scent had left the room Mark broke down in a heap to grieve.
In the course of a single night he had attacked a member of his pack and lost the love of his life. Mark's heart was heavy with grief, and the only comfort he had to ease the pain was the pillow he held crushed against his chest. Nate's scent was heavily saturated into the fabric, and Mark wished that things could have been different between them. But Nate made it clear that he expected more from Mark than he was willing to give. The beta had every right to be hurt and angry, but so did Mark. Nate's hateful words hit him like an axe to the chest, and it was taking everything in him to not chase after him and bring him back. Part of him wanted to believe that this was just a fight and that Nate would be back in the morning. But that was just a fantasy. He'd lost Nate, and Mark didn't know if he'd ever see him again. The alpha cried into the pillow, tipping his head back and howling in agony. He doesn't remember falling asleep, but soon Mark is quiet and still, having one last dream about the violet eyed wolf.
The black wolf moves swiftly through the forest, his violet eyes stinging with falling tears as he weaves around thick tree trunks. There are only two goals on his fevered mind, to get as far away from the sleeping grounds as his paws will carry him, and to look for humans.
The second task would prove to be more difficult, as Mark made it a point to always keep as much distance from humans as possible. Nate recalls the alpha explaining that it was for “everyone’s privacy” but the beta knew better. It was to protect those brutal beasts from the lycans. Even then Nate knew that Mark was little more than a puppet for men. He sniffs at the air, still trying to get the last lingering scent of the alpha out of his nose. What the hell did he ever see in him? That pathetic excuse of fur and teeth wasn’t worth the tears he shed for so many years.
He turns his head back for the first time and his heart soars at not seeing even a hint of the sleeping grounds anymore. His lips curl in satisfaction as his striking eyes dart towards a large thicket of moss, where a hapless brown rabbit is sitting as still as possible. It’s black eyes are wide in fear as it looks up at the hulking wolf.
“Don’t worry my friend,” Nate coos as he turns away from the tiny prey. “You are not what I am hungry for tonight.”
The wolf wanders further into the forest, the sun barely peeking out from behind the horizon line. The thick coverage of trees are beginning to thin out, and there, just beyond the treeline is a village. It's dark and quiet, the dying embers of a fire long since put out. Nate growls lowly, stalking up to the small assembly of wooden houses. It's dawn, which meant that most of the humans that lived here should still be asleep. Nate's belly growls, demanding fresh meat to satisfy his growing hunger.
The black wolf is silent, violet eyes locked on the sleeping frame of a boy curled up in bed. The door is unlocked, allowing Nate to nudge it open with his snout. The boy isn't alone. His entire family is sleeping beside him, and Nate growls at the memory of his own mate and pup that were ambushed as they slept.
The boy looks to be no more than three or four years old as he snuggles tightly against his mother’s side. On the other end of the bed is an older man, and with the identical noses it's clear that this is the father of the boy. They are all sleeping soundly with not one ounce of protection around them. Were humans this stupid or is this their arrogance to think that the truce would always keep them safe?
Whatever the reason, Nate was ready. He would be able to kill everyone in the first cabin within minutes. Then he would slip into the next cabin and repeat the deed until all the floorboards in every home were stained crimson.
The beta sets his violet eyes on the father first, then the mother, and lastly the boy. His teeth are bared and he places a paw inside the dark room, his movements as silent as a shadow. Then as if it's a ripple through the cold night air he hears Mark’s deep voice echo inside of his racing mind.
Don’t become what you hate.
Nate flinches at the imagined warning, and shakes his head to remove the lingering doubts. This is the choice he should have made years ago. One day the others, and perhaps even his former alpha would understand what he had to do.
Then he takes a final breath and goes charging into the cabin, his jaws opened wide to attack.
The father was the first to die, startled awake by Nate's vicious growl. There was no time to alert anyone. No time to scream before the wolf's jaws were clamped around his throat. Within minutes the cabin was stained crimson, and Nate had effectively slaughtered an entire family. His fur was matted with blood, moving from house to house with an insatiable appetite for blood. Each victim represented his anger and resentment towards Mark, and their deaths were retribution for his own lost loved ones. Nate had no remorse for what he'd done, and by the time the sun came up the village was reduced to a graveyard.
The wolf licked his maw, ears perking up at the sound of footsteps behind him. Nate turned his head to face his next victim, violet eyes narrowed as they met with the startled blue of a young man. He must have been hunting while the village slept, dropping his gun and satchel as fear overtook his body.
“And then there was one,” Nate mutters to the man, and it is only then that the human realizes what he’s facing. This was not a mere wolf, but what his village has whispered about around the campfires for years. That there was a truce between the humans and the lycans, but no one truly knew how long it would last.
The small man takes a tentative step back and the beta gives a dark chuckle. Did this filthy thing believe that he could actually outrun him?
“Please, don’t hurt me,” the man says, the soft inflection of an Irish accent playing around the small voice. Nate’s large ears perk up, realizing that his last kill wasn’t from this land. Mild curiosity gets the better of him and he wants to hear the accent again.
“What’s your name, human?” Nate asks, his violet eyes scanning the slender body and soft face of the boy.
“Jack,” the man stammers, his eyes transfixed on the dark creature in front of him.
“It’s a shame that you weren’t here earlier Jack,” Nate coos as he squares up to leap upon his final prey. “You missed so much fun, but don’t worry. I’ll make sure to remember your death the most.”
The boy shifted back on his right foot, eyes fixed on the wolf before him as he prepared to make a run for it. He most likely wouldn't even make it a foot away before the lycan was able to take him down, but he had to try and make it to safety. Nate widened his stance, thin black lips pulled back in a threatening snarl. Jack exhaled slowly, calming his racing heart for a moment before he made his move to escape. The boy turned his back on the wolf, taking off into a sprint that was surprisingly fast for a human.
Nate barked out a growl, snapping his jaws as he chased after the frightened Irishman. The boy had his sights set on a small opening near the cliffs, and Jack knew from experience that it was just big enough for him to squeeze through. Even if Nate were to shift into his human form he wouldn't be able to fit through the gap in the rocks. Jack was smaller than the average human, which gave him quite the advantage when it came to running and hiding. He just had to make it two more feet and he'd be safe.
The wolf was hot on his heels, snarling and snapping at the back of Jack's legs as he neared the opening between the rocks. Jack glanced behind him, gasping when the wolf pounced. Nate sank his sharp claws into the boy's back, taking him down to the forest floor in a crumpled heap. Jack yelped, panicked blue eyes wide with fear as Nate bit down on his shoulder. He was no more than a foot away from the opening, clawing at the ground in a vain attempt at freedom. He just needed to gain the upper hand for a moment and he'd be ok.
Jack grabbed the large rock next to him on the ground, straining his arm as the wolf tore into his back. The Irishman twisted around and bashed the rock against the side of Nate's head, stunning him enough for Jack to escape certain death.
Nate gave a quick yelp more out of surprise than out of actual pain. His massive head was made of tough muscle and thick fur, but he still shook it, trying to throw off the daze he felt. Jack scrambled to his feet and ran as fast as he could towards the opening of the cliff, not daring to look back. The only focus in his mind was to get to safety and then check on his wounds.
The beta was moving now, this steps tentative at first. His growls rumbling in his chest as he slowly advanced on the young man.
"You're a fighter, Jack," Nate called to the human's retreating back. "I like that, making me work for the kill."
The Irishman was doing his best to ignore the lycan, though the taunts were making him angry. He knew that the jabs were just a way to distract him from getting to the cliff side, and Jack had no plans to die here by the jaws of a wolf.
Nate glanced his vivid eyes towards the place where Jack was going, and he give a loud bark of laughter as be began to pick up the pace.
"So you're a bunny scampering to your little hole now?" the beta asked, his tone laced with extreme amusement.
The pain in Jack's opened back was searing now, and his legs were shaking as he continued his surge to safety, very aware that the steady foot falls of the wolf were getting closer to him. He was almost to the opening, if he could just keep moving a little longer..
Then with a burst of energy that the man didn't know he had, he takes a leap and makes it inside the opening of the cliff, just as sharp teeth clamped onto the air just behind him. Nate was just out of his reach, snarling and snapping his jaws as those vivid eyes glared daggers at Jack through the opening. The wolf was slinging curses and death threats at the brunette, foaming at the mouth like he was rabid.
The human ignored him for a moment, his mind too caught up in the searing pain radiating down his back. Nate had opened up a nice sized wound on his back, and Jack was pretty sure that he would die from infection if the blood loss didn't kill him first. The bite on his shoulder was throbbing, gushing warm blood down his chest as he let his tired body collapse onto the ground.
Jack's vision was spotty, head swimming. Nate's voice was becoming warped and distant, fading into the background as he began to black out.
The beta watched the human struggle to stay upright, very aware that the bites he gave him were incredibly deep. There was no way that the boy would survive the wounds he inflicted, but Nate was taking no chances if he could help it. The opening was too narrow to get his head through as the massive wolf, but perhaps in human form he could make it to the man huddled in the back of the tiny cave.
Within a few moments Nate's thick fur retreated into his skin, and his large paws became much smaller hands and feet. He stretched his nude body for the slightest of moments before he stood up, his now dark brown eyes still glued onto the tiny crack of the cliff side.
"Jack," the beta said, his voice as smooth as he can make it. "It's time to stop this game, and accept your fate. Come out of your hole, little rabbit."
"F-fuck you." Jack managed to murmur, flopping onto his stomach to try and crawl deeper into the cave. Nate huffed, slipping his hand into the crack between the rocks. His fingers could just barely touch the ball of Jack's foot, but Nate's wider torso stopped him from getting too far inside the cave. The lycan cursed under his breath, growling as Jack managed to escape his grasp. But the human wasn't out of the woods just yet. That bite to his shoulder would bring with it a nasty curse, if it didn't kill him first. Nate knew this, could feel how weak his fragile body was as blood poured from his wounds.
"You're going to die in there, little rabbit. Your soft form will be nothing more than a writhing pile of rotten bones! This isn't over. I will single handedly wipe out your worthless species if I have to!" Nate spat, glaring daggers at the semi unconscious human before him. There was no way that Jack would make it out of this alive. So Nate decided to leave him there to rot, shifting back into his wolf form before taking off into the forest to find the other villages nearby.
The morning dew is thick on the leaves of the forest as Mark opens the door to his cabin, his warm brown eyes still mingled with redness from all the tears from last night. He is soft in his movements as he shifts into the black form of a wolf and sniffs at the air hoping to catch even the slightest scent of lavender and thyme.
"He left didn't he?" asks a small voice from behind a small thicket of bushes, and Mark feels his heart race until his scarlet eyes see Tyler crawling out of the underbrush to join him.
"Our relationship is complicated, Tyler," Mark mutters, his nose still twitching as the breeze changes direction. "Even if it was any of your concern, I need to at least see if I can make him see reason."
The other alpha narrows his striking blue eyes towards the brightening sky. He doesn't understand the pull that the beta has on his alpha, but he can't help but feel the need to help his friend's breaking heart. Tyler snorts to get rid of the scent of stale air and lifts his nose to the sky to offer help.
"The wind to the north has shifted since I have been out to watch the sunrise," the brown wolf mumbles. "As if there has been some change in the forest, and not for the better."
Tyler turns to watch as Mark begins to head north at a steady pace, his ears alert and large tail swishing in concern as he disappears into the thicket of the tall looming trees. The other alpha sighs as he shifts into his human form, his blue eyes wary of what Mark will find, and what Nate might have already done.
The alpha's nose catches the faint scent of copper and earth, his ears pinned back as he follows the telltale signs of death's arrival. The sunrise is painting soft shades of red across the pale blue sky, and Mark knows that blood has been spilt this night. His eyes are narrowed with concern as he approaches the dying embers of a fire long since burned out, smoke rising towards the sky in wisps of grey. It's deathly quiet, and the closer Mark gets to the village the more apparent the dark crimson is that stains the earth at his feet.
Mark feels his heart beat hard against his rib cage as he begins to search the grounds. He feels the ripple of heartbeats newly stopped, and the smell of Nate heavy in the air. The village is as silent as a whisper and he begins to search each of the little houses, already terrified of what his fight with the beta had caused the poor humans in this tiny place.
The alpha winces at the carnage and the senseless overkill. The rage of his lover was in every torn out throat and eaten muscle. Mark nuzzles a small boy’s cheek, his brown eyes wide and empty.
Mark moves from doorway to doorway begging in his heart to find at least one survivor, but his hope is in vain. Nate was always a skilled killer, no matter what the prey was.
Scarlet eyes in tears, Mark finds a nearby stream by a small cliff to wash off the blood from his large paws before he heads out to find Nate. The need to stop him is deep in his pained soul, but first he will need to alert the elders to the slaughter. Each and every one of these humans deserve a proper burial, and that’s the least that the alpha can ensure.
But the alpha's ears perked up to the faint sound of a pained whimper. Mark cocked his head, confused as he followed the sound to the opening in the cliff face. He expected Nate to leave no survivors behind, but apparently he missed someone. The alpha warily approached the gap in the rocks, peering inside to see where the source of the sound was. And to his utter horror and surprise a young man was lying on the ground, his lithe frame shaking like a leaf as blood seeped into the soil from his open wounds.
This boy was very clearly the victim of a lycan attack, and Mark could see the deep puncture wounds on his shoulder that could have only come from a lycan's bite. He could smell death in the air, could hear his faint heartbeat thumping against his ribs. But he could also sense a change in the boy's bones. He wasn't exactly human any longer.
Mark takes a deep breath, his red eyes turning back to deep brown and paws extending into long muscled fingers. Once he has fully shifted into a man he reaches in and is just able to grab hold of the ankle of the of the young man. He pulls as gently as he can, his right shoulder almost wedged in the slender gap, but with relief he is able to drag the poor creature out of the hole.
The alpha scoops him up in his arms and moved him swiftly to better air and light to look him over, his dark features scanning his soft face. The wounds are even worse than he first thought, and still heavily bleeding. The boy is mumbling softly, blue eyes crusted with a blending of tears, sweat, and dirt. It might be better to just put him out of his misery, but something about his spirit tells Mark that he’s fighting with all of his heart to stay alive more than anything.
Mark bit his lip, knowing that the only thing that can save him is to let him turn. As a lycan he'll be able to heal himself rather quickly, but Mark will have to keep him stable until the bite consumes him. It shouldn't be long, since the boy was bitten by a rather powerful wolf. Mark can't be sure that Nate was the one responsible for this until he sees significant evidence that it was his doing. There are a few rogue lycans that like to roam around this area, and killing humans isn't nearly as taboo to them as it is to Mark's pack. Only time would tell if the boy in Mark's arms was attacked by his former lover, and if that were true it would absolutely kill him to know that.
The small man cries out and curls into a ball as Mark holds him close to his bare chest, and the alpha feels his already broken heart break into even smaller pieces. The alpha places his strong jaw against the bleeding brow line of the boy and coos softly in his ear as he feels the man begin to relax into painful sleep. Mark raises his eyes to the cabins of the dead to start to figure out which ones will have bandages to protect the human as he turns into what tried to destroy him.
Mark cradles the injured boy in his strong arms, soft brown eyes searching for supplies to help aid the poor creature. His eyes are barely open, but Mark can still see the vivid blue of his irises. In his half unconscious state he's still trying to fight whomever is holding his body still, but he's far too weak and listless to inflict any damage upon Mark. The alpha finds it inspiring, that even though he's close to death the boy can still put up a fight.
"Hush now, little one. I'm here to help." Mark murmurs, smoothing Jack's hair back with his hand. His calm tone seemed to be enough to settle him while Mark looked for the bandages.
"What's your name?" Mark asks, trying to distract the brunette with light conversation. The boy mumbled that his name is Jack, and the Irish accent that covered his name was such a delight to Mark's ears. The alpha locates the bandages in one of the cabins, taking care to avoid the bodies that littered the floor. This was such a mess, and he knew that the elders would have a field day once they heard about this.
"He asked me my name too," Jack whispered when he sees Mark shuffle back with dressings for his wounds.
"The one who hurt you, Jack?"
The young man nods as he opens up his eyes as much as he can to make out the man who rescued him. His blue gaze hovers over Mark's dark eyes, then his muscular chest and lastly, the alpha's strong arms and sturdy legs.
The alpha is as gentle as a shadow as he cleans Jack’s cuts and deep bites, but the need to ask something more of the boy lingers deep within his heart.
“Do you remember what the creature looked like, Jack? Anything at all?”
Jack inhales the air around him as if the ability to recall memories by scent was already beginning to grow. He closes his eyes tightly and frowns as if recalling a terrifying dream.
“He was a huge wolf, thick black fur and a voice full of barely contained rage. It’s his eyes I remember the most though. Bright violet that glowed as he leapt at me.”
What is left of Mark’s heart is now dust at Jack’s words. His hands tremble as he tries to remain calm enough to make sure the boy’s bandages are tight and secure.
Jack's shirt was all but destroyed in the attack, so the Irishman's pale chest was completely exposed to the alpha. Nate's status as a purebred lycan would only speed up the process of changing Jack into the beast that tried to kill him. The mark over his heart was already starting to appear, and just like Mark feared it was pitch black. Just like Nate's fur.
Mark wondered what the pack would have to say about this. Nate has done a lot of questionable things, but turning a human is definitely a new one. He wouldn't be accepted, and now that Mark thinks about it he'd most likely end up dead before the sun even set. Outsiders were not welcomed easily once a pack has been formed, and the alpha has seen how new wolves are treated amongst the purebreds. It's awful and quite often violent. As Mark finished up dressing Jack's wounds he was alerted to a new type of smell in the air. It wasn't at all like Nate's, but the sweet notes of honey and lilac gave away what subgender the boy would end up becoming. Only omega's carried a sweeter aroma. It's how alphas can easily seek out a mate. Jack's honey rich scent complimented Mark's earthy tones in such a way that could make Mark howl. But now wasn't the time to think about such things.
The alpha shakes his head to get rid of any thoughts except for how to best take care of Jack until he fully turned, but the desire to have more wouldn’t stay pushed back in his mind for very long. Mark places the newly forming omega by a large tree and heads off to look for any type of human food he can find.
Mark is aware that the taste of freshly killed prey will be all that Jack will desire once he finally turns completely, but in the meantime he wants him to try to stay in human form as long as possible. The desire not to shock the boy is important so that the change he’s going through will be less traumatic when the shift finally occurs.
After a small amount of time the alpha returns with some bread and warm cider from one of the furthest cabins. With tender hands Mark helps the boy eat what he’s able to keep down, and tips the cider slowly into his opened mouth.
It is only when the sun beginning to set as the forest turns darker that Mark considers it to be the right time to get Jack back to the sleeping grounds. The cover of night will protect them both from being seen until Mark can come to terms with what his mind keeps telling him is the only way to take care of the young man.
Jack would need a pack, a home, and an alpha. Any lycan that didn't have a stable environment was considered rogue and a danger to both humans and lycans alike. But Mark's pack is very narrow minded when it comes to new members, as they should be. A pack is family, and family looks out for each other. There was really only one option available to Mark, and if he were honest it didn't sound all that bad when he thought about it. But that might have been his hormones working against his brain. A pack won't attack their luna, no matter where they came from. So Mark's option was to either abandon Jack to the wilderness, or take him home and make him apart of his pack. And the alpha's mind was already made up.
The alpha is tentative in his steps, his bare feet avoiding thick vines and naked legs on the look out for sharp bushes at every turn. Jack is bundled up against his chest, warm breath rough and small body shaking in the chill night air.
"Just a little further," Mark mutters as he presses his lips near the other's slightly pointed ear.
The pack should be out by the time the alpha returns to hunt for food. With Mark not there and Nate gone, the normal order would have Tyler taking the lead. As they reached the small clearing right outside of the small cabins, Mark stops and waits. His ears listen for any signs of moving feet and his nose sniffs at the air for the smell of any of the pack.
Jack gives a soft moan in Mark's arms and is softly hushed by the alpha. Once there is silence again, Mark holds on to Jack as tightly as he can and makes a quiet dash towards his cabin.
The boy remains half out of his mind, his body now hot to the touch. His first shift would be a rough ride for both of them. Mark would just have to keep Jack quiet enough as to not alert the pack of what was transpiring. His leadership was already being questioned, and if Tyler ever got it in his mind to challenge Mark he could very easily win over the pack and take his place as leader.
The alpha made it to his cabin rather quickly, avoiding prying eyes as he slipped inside and locked the door behind him. Jack was shivering violently, sweating as heat spread across his pale skin. The shift should happen any minute now, and after it was all said and done Mark would have to be quick in his next course of action. The alpha was anxious, lying Jack down in the center of the bed he shared with the lycan that did this to the poor boy. Pained whines and growls poured from his opened mouth, his bones loudly popping as they shifted underneath his mottled skin. Long nails sprouted from his finger tips, fire shooting though his veins and burning him from the inside out. Mark paced by the side of the bed, casting glances at the front door as he tried in vain to quiet the boy down.
Jack clawed at the sheets, arching his back like a bow as pain overtook him. The full moon was practically pulling the wolf out of him, ripping away his fleshy exterior to reveal the stunning omega underneath. But just as quickly as the change began, it suddenly stopped and Jack's body fell limply against the mattress. Mark froze, eyeing the new omega warily. He could still hear a heartbeat, which meant that Jack ultimately survived the shift. But his body remained in human form.
The dark brown eyes of the alpha remain puzzled at the gasping man in the middle of his bed. The first thought is that he is still too weak to deal with the immense pain involved in the first transformation. Regardless though, Jack was still hanging on to life, his chest rising and falling with deep breaths and shaking limbs. He has earned what the alpha needed to do next to protect him.
With steady steps Mark crawls onto the bed next to the man, pushing his sweaty brown hair away from his brow. The boy was whimpering softly, but leans into the strong touch of the man above him.
Mark places his nose to Jack's neck and inhales deeply until he the smell of sweet honey invades his nostrils. Then a tongue gently passes over his scent gland just to make sure. The young man shudders at the warm feeling of Mark’s mouth on his skin.
“Lay still now, little one,” the alpha whispers. “I promise to do everything I can to be a worthy mate to you.”
Mark shifts his teeth a bit, sharp canines replacing his blunt human teeth as his jaw widens. Jack weakly lifts his hand up, thin fingers tangling into the alpha's black locks. One brief moment of pain and they'd be together forever. Mark felt terrible for taking this choice away from Jack, but it was the only option he could see that kept the boy safe. The alpha bit down on Jack's scent gland, a burst of honey-like sweetness mixed with copper flooding his mouth as Jack arched his back up into Mark's bare chest. Their pupils dilated, blinding them both as strong waves of intense euphoria washed over them. The mating bite was only a second or two long, but to them it felt like an eternity.
Instinct took over in place of common sense, and as Mark pulled away to lick his lips he felt the sharp bite of Jack's canines pierce the skin of his neck. The boy didn't even know what he was doing or why, but his body just seemed to know what to do next to seal the bond between alpha and omega. Normally mating is a very intimate act that leads to mind blowing sex and often a different kind of mating. But Mark had to hold himself back from tearing into the weak omega sprawled out on his bed. Mating didn't mean the same thing as consent, and Jack never gave that to Mark. They both would want to engage in physical intimacy for a while after the bond has been created, but Mark wouldn't lay a finger on Jack unless he knew for a fact that it was what Jack wanted.
The alpha begins to get off of the bed when Jack grabs at his arm with firm fingers, holding him still. Mark’s warm chocolate eyes dart to the face of his new Luna, his heart racing as the omega struggles to speak.
“A-alpha, please don’t leave me here,” the man mutters, his blue eyes sparkling with fresh tears. “I need you..”
Mark sighs at the words and slides under the covers, his arms reaching around the smaller man and pulling him close. The alpha licks at the bite as Jack relaxes into slumber, with the fact that he’s done the right thing clear in his mind. Now he will need to find a way to convince this to his pack.
It was a few hours later when Jack's weary eyes finally fluttered open. The strain of mating and going through both a lycan attack and a failed shift practically ran his body into the ground. But during his deep sleep the wounds on his neck and back were nothing more than faint pink scars that decorated his porcelain skin. Of course he didn't know that yet. His blue eyes were still blurry with sleep, slowly focusing until the surrounding environment was crystal clear. But that also let him see the source of all that warmth that covered his body like a thick blanket. He wasn't in his cabin, warm in his own bed. There was a rather large Eurasian man holding him close while he slept. His tan skin was marked with old and new scars alike, his features relaxed and blissful as sweet dreams held him under a deep sleep's spell.
The first thing to pop into Jack's mind was a drunken one night stand, since his body ached like hell and his memory was far too fuzzy to clearly remember meeting this man. But they must have slept together, right? What other explanation could there be? A pit settled in his stomach as he spotted the dried blood on the sheets, and the bite mark on the man's neck. With trembling hands Jack reached up to touch the similar mark that adorned his own pale neck. And then he began to panic.
The sudden movement alerts the alpha beside him, and Mark opens his dark eyes. He blinks for a minute, his brown gaze meeting with confused blue. The omega pulls away from the strong arms of the other man, realizing too late that there’s a sturdy wall in his path until his back hits it with a dull thud.
“How’s your neck,” Mark asks gently as he sits up in the bed and watches the frightened man.
“That’s not the first question I was expecting,” Jack admits, his eyes moving from the other man to the rest of the cabin, and especially towards the cabin door.
“Lets start with where the fuck I am,” the omega continues, “and how the fuck I got here?”
Mark gives a short sigh as he gets out of the bed and walks over to the table to grab a small mirror. He misses the look of shock on Jack’s face as he watches Mark walk around the cabin, so casual in his nudity.
The Irishman averts his gaze, sighing in relief once he notices that he still has his pants on. So maybe nothing that intimate actually happened last night? He knows in the back of his mind that Mark is a familiar face, but he doesn't recall all that much about him. Not yet at least. Sometimes the mind can block out memories to try and protect us, and that seems like something Jack might be experiencing at the moment. But it all comes flooding back to him once Mark hands him the mirror and gestures to their matching bites.
"Please try to understand that I did what I felt was necessary to keep you safe. My pack isn't fond of outsiders, but they won't harm their Luna, no matter who they are. Mating you was the only way, Jack. And no, before you ask, I didn't touch you like that." Mark murmured, taking a seat on the side of the bed next to Jack while the boy processed all this new information. Mating, packs, talks of Jack being a Luna. Mark was speaking like a wolf, and suddenly the answer clicked inside his head. Mark wasn't an ordinary man. He was a lycan, and by the sound of it a very strong one at that.
“Why did you need to keep me safe?” Jack asks as he places the mirror back into the lycan’s hand. “Did you know the wolf who attacked me? Was he a friend or something?”
The alpha slowly sighs as he puts the mirror down next to him, his dark brown eyes fighting back burning tears.
“Something like that,” Mark replies, his gaze lingering on the pillow next to his own, where the beta once laid his head. “He was someone I deeply loved, and in his pain for what I didn’t do, he made your little village suffer."
Jack tries to connect the dots in his foggy head. Those violet eyes glowing in the back of his mind still makes his bones feel ice cold. That killing machine once slept with this seemingly kind hearted man? It was hard to believe.
"So, you're the reason I almost died? Why my friends and family are all rotting out there like animals!?" Jack snapped, his anger outweighing any other emotion. He remembered the pure terror that rushed through his veins when he saw what that monster did, and he felt it even now. Whatever Mark did or didn't do was enough to cause Nate to snap like that, and because of that Jack's village is gone and he's no longer even a part of that species anymore. Mark narrowed his eyes, swallowing down the sudden burst of negative emotions so he wouldn't frighten the poor boy. Anger and grief are understandable emotions that Jack should be feeling, but Mark wasn't about to take all the blame for something Nate did.
"Nathan is his own person, driven by his own morals. What he did was unthinkable, but I in no way caused what transpired last night." Mark growled, "We have been at peace with the humans for years, but Nathan was always bitter towards them. It would have happened regardless."
“Even though that might be the case,” Jack snaps, his voice trembling in his throat, “You still had a choice when it came to what happened to me. Now I’m stuck here with you as my mate, or whatever the fuck I’m supposed to be now. I want to hate you but for some reason I can’t do it. I’m drawn to you in a way I don’t understand.”
“That’s due to us mating,” Mark mutters as he gets up off of the bed again. “If you will allow us time it will get better, Jack.”
The omega let’s out a hollow laugh that echoes bitterly in the cabin. Mark is insane to think that anything will get better. Jack never asked for this, and even if the desire to survive the bite was clearly what he wanted, if the alpha had any mercy he would have let him die that night.
“I don’t want to be here,” Jack mumbles. “I want to go home.”
Mark walks towards the small table and sits down, his brown eyes looking sadly at the young man.
“I’m sorry Jack, but from this night on, this is your home.”
The room grew deafeningly silent, and Mark thought that it would suffocate him before Jack finally spoke once again. He didn't expect the boy to just openly accept this new reality and move on as if nothing happened, but he did hope that eventually Jack would come around and they could start to at least act like they were mates. He couldn't deny that his instincts were going crazy with want, and he honestly didn't know how much longer he'd be able to hold off before the beast came out to claim Jack's body.
"Why me? You should have just left me in that cave to die, but you didn't. Now I'm just some fuck toy for you to use after a hunt."
Mark sighed, fingers pressing into his temples. This boy had no idea what mating entailed, or what omegas actually did for their alpha. Contrary to popular belief an omega's worth is not directly tied to whether or not they're mated or carrying pups. They might be the lowest ranking wolf in the pack but the group's survival is dependent upon them. And Jack's role as their Luna was the most important role there was besides the one Mark held. The Luna is the pack's den mother and mentor. They teach young pups how to hunt and assist their alpha with hard decisions. So for Mark to place Jack in that role without a second thought was a pretty big deal.
The alpha growls softly as he approaches the young man. His handsome face looking for the first time, dangerous and angry. “Please don’t insult what you are.” Mark says, his tone incredibly firm. “When you do you bare your teeth to all the omegas who have carried the title of Luna. Your role is as my second, my right side, and the heartbeats to my breath. You are the whisper in my ear when the weight of my crown gets too heavy.”
Jack’s eyes become wider as the alpha reaches him, and places a hand on his shoulder. The young man’s pull towards Mark's power and strength makes him feel like his blood was rushing to his head.
“You’re now my light in the darkness,” the alpha continues, his soft brown eyes looking into the omega's memorized blue. “You’re my mate, and my Luna. At least you will be, when you are ready.”
Those deep words leave Jack struggling to find the proper thing to say, his ignorance to what he is now sends painful chills down his spine.
“I’m sorry,” he whispers, still staring into his alpha’s eyes. “I didn’t know”
“You didn’t ask,” Mark sighs as he removes his hand from the omega’s slender shoulder, his gaze shifting towards the open cabin window.
Jack hears the sounds of soft talking and gentle footsteps.The pack is returning to the sleeping grounds after the hunt. Mark knows he can't avoid this, but he feels it's too soon to let the pack meet their new Luna. Jack doesn't yet understand what is required of him, or pretty much anything that deals with his new role as a lycan. The boy has yet to shift and Mark's inner wolf is begging to see this stunning omega in all his glory. But is he ready?
Mark crosses his arms, hard eyes set on Jack as he sat on the bed.
"Stand up." Mark commands, and Jack hates that a part of him can't disobey this man. He could, but it's like he needs to please the alpha with his obedience. Jack slowly shuffles off the bed, standing beside it silently. Mark smirks at the boy's obedience but says nothing about it as he continues on.
"Remove your pants." The alpha gestures to the sash around Jack's waist, holding up his trousers that were badly torn in the attack. The boy's eyes went wide, a blush covering his hot cheeks as he knit his brows together in confusion. Any and all willpower he could muster to defy his alpha was quickly gathered, a quiet growl bubbling up from his chest at the request.
"Why? So you can claim me or some shit? I am not some prize to be won!"
Mark cocked his head, remaining calm despite his mate's tone.
"No, it's so you can shift. Not everything is about sex, Jack. Your clothing will be ruined beyond repair if you keep them on."
Jack bites his bottom lip as he turns away from the alpha so that he can have at least the smallest illusion of privacy as he begins to disrobe from the front. Mark moves over to the window and narrows his eyes to see how far away the others were now. In front of the cabin he sees the dark shape of Tyler trotting with Felix close to his left side. The two seem deep in conversation and barely are noticing anything but their own words to each other. Good. That buys him some time.
Then with a soft noise of fabric hitting the cabin floor, the alpha turns back to see Jack facing him. The omega’s face is scarlet as he stands naked in front of his alpha, his hands slightly covering his privates as he looks at Mark.
“Ok,” Jack says, nude and embarrassed like hell, a slight bite is in his voice. “I’m undressed. Now what?”
Mark rolls his eyes, knowing that modesty is a human trait. Jack must be thinking a thousand different thoughts right now, and the alpha could guess that the majority of them revolved around their shared nudity. The Eurasian wolf steps forward, keeping his eyes on Jack's face as he closed the distance between them. The boy's heart was pounding like a drum, short and shallow breaths passing by his quivering lips. Mark's fingers curled around Jack's, lifting his hands away from his groin and up towards his chest with only slight resistance from the Irishman.
"Close your eyes. I need you to trust that I won't harm you, Jack. Can you do that?" Mark murmured, his warm breath ghosting against Jack's cheeks. Could he trust Mark like this? He was about to find out. The omega nodded, his blue eyes slipping shut. He heard the alpha hum in approval, his grip loosening around Jack's hands.
"Good. As an alpha I need to have your trust in order to care for you and the pack. Your trust is precious to me, and you can be certain that I'll never abuse it."
Jack nods but remains silent, awaiting Mark's next instruction. The alpha tells him to visualize fire in his heart, swirling inside his chest like hot magma. It's not a hard thing to do, since an odd tingling heat is ever present in the back of his mind. He can feel it flowing, circling his chest slowly.
"Good. Now push the fire away from your heart. Don't stop until you're completely consumed by its heat." The alpha instructed, watching Jack very closely to see what his next move would be. The boy took a deep breath, his mind visualizing the liquid fire exploding inside his chest. Heat rushed through his veins, wrapping him up in its sweet warmth. Jack felt the air leave his lungs as he hit the floor, Mark stepping back to marvel at the sight before him. The boy was on all fours, panting as heat and pain consumed him. He tried to claw at the floorboards to better ground himself in reality, but instead of ten fingers and toes Jack opened his eyes to see four large stark white paws resting against the ground.
The omega pants, his senses quickly realizing that his mouth is longer, and his ears are surrounded by muscles that now allow them more movement than ever before. Jack turns his head slowly and looks up to meet the alpha's gaze, confused as to why Mark is staring at him from above.
"What's wrong?" Jack asks, his heart racing, terrified that Mark is angry that he didn't follow his instructions exactly. The alpha's deep brown eyes scan Jack's lycan form. The omega is smaller than Mark, but he's slim and agile like an omega is supposed to be. His fur is as dazzling white as new fallen snow, and his large eyes are a breathtaking shade of green fire. He's stunning.
"Nothing's wrong," Mark says, his voice barely over a whisper. "Far from it, in fact. You're beautiful, Jack."
The white wolf huffs, ducking his head to avoid Mark's piercing gaze. Jack is overloaded with stimuli from every direction, from his perfectly precise hearing to his advanced sense of smell that could pick up the hint of copper in the air from the pack's recent kill. Even his vision was enhanced, letting him see exceptionally well in the dark. Jack was made to hunt and kill the creatures of the forest, and already his mouth was salivating at the thought of fresh blood on his tongue. The full body mirror on the wall catches his eye, and Jack can see how fierce he looks for the first time.
"Holy shit.." He breathes, showing his teeth as he takes in his new form. It only takes Mark a second to shift, the large black wolf gazing into the mirror along side of his mate. Those scarlet eyes are terrifying, but Jack isn't afraid. He's mesmerized.
"You are beautiful, Jack. So strong and fierce, a true marvel to behold." Mark purrs, bumping his nose on Jack's furry cheek. He wants to run, to stretch his legs and feel the cold wind rush through his fur. It's an all consuming need. An itch he has to scratch.
"Mark, I should be scared out of my mind, but seeing myself like this isn't as odd as I thought it would be. Why is that?" The omega asks, and Mark isn't quite sure how to answer that question. Perhaps Jack is a bit numb to what's happening right now. He's been thrown into this situation with nothing to hold on to except for Mark himself. Anyone else would have lost their mind with panic, but Jack is surprisingly calm in this moment.
"I'm not sure, but perhaps a morning run would help you clear your mind? I can practically hear your inner wolf crying out for it."
The bright green eyes of the omega look suddenly excited as he shifts his gaze over to front door of the cabin, and then back towards the alpha. His heart is already beating so fast against his ribs that it almost hurts standing so still.
"You mean right now?" Jack asks, his Irish accent tinged with disbelief.
Mark chuckles softly as he swishes his dark tail and moves towards the back window of the little cabin, and the omega watches the sturdy hunches of the alpha's hind legs as he passes him to sit.
"Yes, I mean right now," Mark confirms. "If you think you're up for it. Just follow me and try to stay close for now."
Jack hesitates as he moves towards the other lycan, his desire and fear fighting each other inside his mind.
"Unless you're too scared," Mark suggests, the slightest air of daring in his tone. Jack feels the fur on his thick neck bristle at the idea, even though there is truth in the statement. He may be small and still getting used to his paws, but to call him scared?
"I'm not afraid of the forest, or anything in it." Jack grumbles. "I've spent most of my life among the trees."
Mark nods at the white wolf's words, and he stands up to face the morning sun through the open back window.
"Then let's see what you're made of omega. Catch me, if you can!"
Then before Jack could register what the larger wolf was doing he was already jumping out of the window, his large feet hitting the wet grass on the other side, and beginning to run. Jack gave a small squeak in spite of himself, and followed the alpha's lead.
Jack lands much harder than he means to, but he recovers quickly. Mark is already at least twenty feet away and gathering speed. The Irishman pushes off on his back legs and surges forward, the wind already catching his fur in the cool morning breeze.
He is shocked at how naturally he sees tree roots and fallen branches, and leaps over them as easily as taking a breath. Mark turns this head to make sure that Jack is behind him, a small smile showing at the way he is bounding through the undergrowth. It's as if Jack is an ivory dolphin swimming through a forest green ocean. The omega giggles as he reaches Mark's right side.
"This feels so fucking good. It's like a breath of fresh air, clearing my mind." Jack said, keeping up his quick pace next to Mark. There's a new feeling surging through them both, but it's light and playful. Jack is far too focused on dodging trees to counter the sudden attack from Mark, who's larger body knocks into Jack's with the force of a freight train. The alpha's instincts are getting the better of him, and he wants to play with his new mate. Mark is quick to pin the omega on his back, growling playfully as he nips at his neck. Jack doesn't seem all that put off by Mark's actions, his slender body kicking and wiggling to try and escape the alpha's clutches. There's laughter in the air, and for the first time in a long time Mark feels like a pup again. The weight of his crown can break him down, aging him rapidly until all that's left is a pile of dry bones. But right now he's not concerned about anything besides having fun, and it makes his heart soar.
Jack manages to slip out from under the alpha, taking off at lightning speed and daring his mate to try that again. Mark is all too willing to play this little game, weaving through thick trees as fast as his paws can take him. He flanks to the left, pouncing on Jack and taking him down to the forest floor. Jack's laughter was infectious, entrancing Mark with it's wonderful sound. He's lost in It, completely missing the foreign footsteps that are closing in on him until the wolf is already there.
"Mark? Who is this?"
Jack turns his head towards the gruff voice and there looms a dark brown wolf with electric blue eyes. His gaze darts from Mark, then down at the white one on the ground, and then back into the blood red eyes of the other alpha again.
The rest of the pack were slowly appearing behind Tyler’s large body, some faces curious, and a couple clearly frightened of what their leader was doing frolicking with some stranger so close to their home.
Mark leans in to Jack’s ear, his voice clear and strong.
“Get up very slowly, and say nothing until either I or the wolf directly in front of you tells you to speak. Do you understand, Jack?”
“Yes,” the omega answers, his tone soft and obedient. Mark backs off slowly, letting Jack roll onto his stomach and rise to his feet. All eyes are on him, staring at the white wolf with curiosity.
"I was hoping I could do this a bit differently, but this omega is Jack, your Luna." Mark responds, eyes fixed on Tyler. Jack's heart was beating out of his chest, his scent changing to reflect his emotional state. Tyler cocked his head, giving Mark an unreadable expression.
"Luna? I don't recall any courting, or really any indication that you were seeing this..outsider. What about Nathan? Have you discussed this with him? I don't want a fight brought to our grounds, Mark."
“Nathan is no longer a part of the pack, or my heart. As far as courting Jack goes, that’s a more complicated conversation. One I would prefer to have with just the three of us, Tyler.”
The other alpha gives a loud sniff as he lowers his ears. The rest of the pack had just as much of a right as himself for an explanation of what their head alpha was bringing into their world, and especially his bed.
“I think that it’s about time that secrets end, Mark.” Tyler says, his voice louder so that the others would hear him clearly. “If this wolf is to be our Luna, then we should all get to know him in the open air.”
Tyler turns his head to the other wolves who now are looking even more suspicious. Only the bushy tail of the only other omega in the group, Ethan, wags excitedly for the news of a fellow omega joining the pack.
“I think that the first thing that we should all see is how our Luna looks when he's not covered in his pretty white fur.” Tyler continues, now completely speaking to the pack behind him. “Do we agree?”
The lycans behind Tyler gave a collective sound of agreement, and Mark's worst fear was coming to pass. They would see the mark on his chest and mating bite on his neck. There was no way around it.
Mark turned his head to face Jack, the boy looking confused as his eyes darted around the area. He had no idea how to shift back into human form, and his hesitancy to do so wasn't making things any better. Tyler huffed, narrowing his eyes at the white wolf before him.
"Now, omega!" The alpha snapped, widening his stance just in case things took a nasty turn. The wolves behind him were getting restless, yipping to spur Tyler on. There'd be a fight amongst them before long, and Mark needed to diffuse the situation and fast. Jack's eyes shifted toward Mark, silently pleading for advice. The alpha whispered for him to pull the fire back towards his heart, and that he should feel cold once the shift was done correctly. Jack whined but did as he was told, closing his eyes to try and visualise an implosion of frigid air. This part of the change was actually difficult, and by the time Jack began to feel the cold wind outside the damage had already been done. The pack was rowdy and wild, snapping and growling at Jack to show himself. The boy sucked in a deep breath, pulling back the heat of his fur like a flash freeze, until all that remained was a skinny man kneeling on the ground before them.
Jack could feel Mark move closer to him, his black fur brushing against his cold skin. The omega had hoped that shifting back would have calmed down the pack, and whomever this Tyler is, but if anything, the barks of rage seem even louder in his ears.
“A new wolf?” Tyler asks, his tone almost startled as his dazzling blue eyes look at the black paw print on the young man’s chest. “Explain yourself, Mark.”
“Jack was attacked in the forest,” the alpha begins, his voice loud enough to carry over to the others, who despite the desire to see the two alphas battle, quiet down to listen.
“This omega was strong and brave enough to survive and be turned. He earned my respect that night, and the honor of our pack’s protection. He is now not only part of our family, but also my mate. I’m sure that your sharp eyes have seen the bite on his neck. I hope that you all will welcome Jack with open arms and open hearts.”
There are whispered murmurs between the pack, and Jack shivers slightly from the cold wind. Mark moves even closer to the boy, and the omega wraps his slender arms around his alpha’s thick neck. He feels instantly warmer.
“And what about the elephant in the room,” Tyler growls, and the whispers of the others stop to listen again.
“That color on his chest looks remarkably like your own fur, Mark. Should we assume that the attack on the boy was from you?”
Mark growled viciously, making the hairs on Jack's neck stand on end. The boy let him go, scooting back to give them some space. He's seen enough to know that a fight between alphas was something he didn't want to be a part of.
"Is that a challenge?!" Mark barked out, his thin black lips pulled back to reveal his sharp teeth. The others backed away but remained close, moving around to circle Jack as Tyler closed in on Mark.
The alpha's leadership has been in question for years, but this is the straw that broke the camel's back. Tyler was no longer submitting to his alpha, and it seemed the others were supporting him as lead alpha now that Mark was charged with a terrible crime.
"It's about time someone called you out on your shit, Mark. You're putting us all at risk! Bedding that fucking psychopath and now this?! You've lost your way, and I think it's time I stepped in to fix what you've destroyed." Tyler growled, venom dripping from his tongue. Mark held his ground, lowering his stance to that of pure aggression. If Tyler thinks he can defeat Mark and possibly harm Jack then he's horribly mistaken. Mark was bigger and stronger than his challenger, but Tyler was quick on his feet and smart as a whip. It wouldn't be an easy win for either wolf.
"I accept your challenge."
The silence is chilling as the two alphas face each other, their shoulders squared up as both bare sharp teeth and ready claws. They dare each other to make the first move. Mark has no idea if this will be a fight to the death, but he will do whatever it takes to protect Jack, even if it means killing his closest friend.
Tyler finally springs forward, his mouth open to bite at the other alpha’s neck. Mark jumps out of the way just in time, and Tyler lands hard in the dirt. Now it’s the black wolf’s turn to strike and he slams hard into the other wolf’s side.
Tyler roars at the sharp pain as Mark’s jaws clamp down on the softer skin of his underbelly. It is clear that Mark is trying to stop the fight quickly, but Tyler isn’t going to lay down like a puppy that easily.
The brown wolf recovered quickly, using his hind legs to kick and scratch at Mark's soft underbelly. The cuts were enough to stun Mark so that Tyler could wiggle free, suddenly retaliating with a harsh bite to the scruff of Mark's neck. The alpha yelped, shaking Tyler loose and clawing at his eyes. The time for diplomacy was over. So if Tyler wouldn't listen to reason and logic, he'd put him in his place with brute strength.
The two fought each other valiantly, delivering blows and bites that littered the ground below with fur and blood. The pack kept Jack surrounded, drowning out his cries with their howls and cheers. But every battle needs a victor, and with brute force and a cunning mind Tyler ended up pinned against the ground, Mark's teeth softly closed around his throat. He could very easily kill Tyler, but he chose to let him live for now. Next time would be a very different outcome.
Blood stains the forest floor with angry droplets as both alphas move away from each other to lick their wounds. The pack spreads apart enough for Jack to race over to Mark's side and help him as best he can. His hands move quickly to check the cuts and tears in the wolf’s tough skin, and his eyes scanning for places that need the most attention. The omega feels Mark’s muscles tremble slightly from the battles, his breathing strained.
“You could have been killed,” the omega whispers, his voice sounding terrified. “There was no need to start a fucking war over me.”
Mark sighs as his scarlet eyes look up at the frightened omega, and for the first time since they mated, the alpha sees genuine compassion for him in those bright blue eyes.
“You’re my Luna,” Mark says, as he nuzzles Jack’s slender hand with his nose. “For you I would fight a thousand battles.”
That declaration strikes a part of Jack that he doesn't quite understand. He feels his heart clench at Mark's words, but his mind chooses to disregard them. He just met Mark. He knows little to nothing about him, and yet they're tied together for life. It all feels like too much. The fighting, the odd mannerisms that these people possess. If Jack were honest with Mark he would tell him how inexperienced he is when it comes to being someone's mate, human or not. He's only ever loved one person in his short life, and Signe is back home in Ireland happily married with a baby on the way. Good things don't happen for Jack. The attack and subsequent mating to a strange lycan is proof enough of that. So the boy remains silent as Tyler backs away, clearly angry at his loss.
"Anyone else care to try that?" Mark barked, and the lycans hung their head low, bowing to their alpha. If Tyler couldn't take Mark down then none of them could. Of course they could stage a coo and gang up on the both of them, tear them to pieces and crown Tyler that way. But that wasn't respectable and the elders wouldn't see that as a victory in combat. Only king on challenger was permissible for a challenge to the throne, and even Tyler wouldn't stoop that low to get what he wants. Mark won fair and square. He just wasn't happy about it.
"Good. Let's keep it that way. Jack is and will always be a member of this pack, as your Luna. I expect nothing but respect and kindness towards him. And for those that are wondering, I did not attack him. I found him half dead in a village not far from here, where a lycan slaughtered thirty plus people in their sleep."
The other wolves, including Tyler look stunned at this information. Felix and Ethan seem especially unsettled, their heads low in soft conversation with each other. Mark turns away and begins walking back towards the sleeping grounds. Jack frowns as he see the alphas steps, the weight on his right back leg more carefully placed than the others.
In moments Jack is covered in white fur again as he changes and catches up to Mark in just a few strides, his stunning green eyes connecting with the narrowed crimson on the the alpha.
“You’ve been hurt,” the omega says softly when they are safely away from the others. “Let me help you when we get back.”
“I’ll be fine,” Mark mutters, “I just need a bit of rest is all. There is no need to worry about - “
“If I’m your Luna,” Jack interrupts, though his tone is still quiet. “Then let me be there for you. Please?”
Mark huffed but nodded. If Jack wanted to fulfill his role as Mark's second then this would be a good place to start. The alpha's wounds were extensive, but they'd heal before the sun set. Jack was only doing this to pacify his need to care for his mate. It's a very human thing to do, but Mark wasn't complaining. This was just a small step in the right direction for them.
The alpha made it back towards the cabin with Jack hot on his heels. The concept of mating was still forign to Jack, but he figured that it was no different than a husband would treat his significant other. And of course to make things even more difficult the boy has virtually no experience with males in a romantic setting. He's been raised to court and wed a woman, not a man. In human society homosexuality was still taboo, so the thought of Jack sleeping with a man like Mark was a little intimidating. But the want and need to be close and intimate was definitely there. He just chose not to acknowledge it right now.
Jack watches as the alpha shifts smoothly back into a man as they reach the front door, turning the doorknob to let them both inside. Mark is hobbling badly now that he is on only two legs, and his face winces as he makes it to the bed to sit down.
Jack changes back more slowly, still needing to learn how deal with the cold feeling of his human form again. Was he getting used to being a wolf already?
Mark groans as he lays down more comfortably on the bed. His right leg covered with deep cuts and bruises. The omega moves close to him after finding some soft cloth near the kitchen area, and sits down beside him.
“Where does it hurt the most?” Jack asks, his blue eyes trying not to focus on anything but Mark’s battered leg. Mark told his mate that pretty much everything felt the same intense throbbing, but that he was already starting to heal. Jack rolled his eyes, scoffing as he rose up to fetch a bowl of warm water and a rag he could use to clean the alpha's body up a bit. He was caked with blood that had already trickled to a stop, staining the sheets with its dark maroon pigment.
The omega knelt down, setting the bowl on the floor next to his knees as he began to wipe Mark down. And just like he said his wounds were already starting to close up and scar over. Some of the deeper puncture wounds would take a bit longer to heal, but he'd be fine in due time. Jack was successful in removing the dried blood from Mark's skin, patting him dry with a separate cloth to make him more comfortable. He still felt the need to bandage Mark's leg, which he did against his alpha's wishes. He called it a waste of supplies, and that had Jack rolling his eyes so hard they could have rolled right out of his head. Alphas were stubborn creatures, very head strong and masculine. It was a bit much for Jack, but he decided not to dwell too much on that. As much of a pain in the ass as Mark was, he had to admit that he was a fine specimen of man. That tan skin lined with scars was calling to him, begging to be touched by pale hands.
Mark just watched him curiously to see what he would do. Jack seemed to be waging a war inside his head, his hands clenching to keep them from sliding across that smooth expanse of muscled alpha. It didn't help that Mark was buck naked, splayed out like helpless prey to Jack's ministrations. A sharp inhale of breath from the man below him let the omega know that his attempts at restraint had miserably failed, blue eyes shifting down to see a pale hand resting on Mark's abdomen, right above the soft curls that tried to hide his manhood.
“You don’t have to do anything that you’re not ready for Jack,” Mark insists, his voice kind and soft.
The warm tone of Mark's words cause his blue eyes to shift up to the deep dark gaze of the alpha. This moment is radiating with a tension that seems familiar to Jack, but different because the jawline he considers to kiss is stronger. The mouth...larger.
Teeth sink into the omega’s bottom lip as he moves closer, the need to satisfy the urge of gentle curiosity surging through every pore of his skin. Mark sits as still as possible while the young man inches closer to him, his own heart beating fast against his chest.
“I just need to try,” Jack whispers, more to himself than to the man in front of him. “To see how it feels.”
Mark remained still against the bed, dark eyes following the hand that was now sliding up his chest to rest against the side of his neck. Jack's hands were shaking, his warm breath ghosting against Mark's chin as he moved a little closer. What was he even doing? He's never kissed a man before, and yet here he is, letting his instincts guide him while his mind kicked and screamed. A pale thigh rose up to rest on the opposite side of Mark's hips, and now the omega was straddling his mate's waist, throwing caution to the wind as he gave in to the intense internal pressure. Mark's eyes slipped shut, full lips parted slightly as Jack's mouth gently molded against his. The first kiss is always awkward, but once their lips separated and the two opened their eyes again it was much easier to repeat the action.
Jack pressed his lips to Mark's once more, kissing him a bit harder this time. It was like an explosion of warmth in his belly, causing his heart to skip and stutter. The boy's hands moved up to cup his mate's face, moving their lips together seamlessly now. It felt foreign yet completely natural at the same time, like breathing in air from some strange place. As the kiss became much more heated the boy decided to let his instincts take the reigns completely. His hips moved against Mark's, grinding down on his mate in a dirty circle. A deep growl bubbled up from Mark's chest, his teeth sinking down into Jack's bottom lip as he gripped onto those curvy hips.
Strong hands dig deeper into his plump bottom as the omega sighs, the kiss turning into something more. Jack is lost in the alpha’s teeth and tongue, mind slipping away at the feeling of the man underneath him. Mark is the one who moans as he painfully pulls away from the omega, his body lurching with desire. He's terrified of pushing the new wolf too quickly.
“J-Jack...” The alpha stutters as he catches hold of his senses. “We need to stop. This is too much too soon for you. We need more time for you to get used to all of this.”
The disappointment in his blue eyes almost crushes Mark as their foreheads meet, and they inhale the same heated air as one.
“Ok,” Jack whispers softly. “That was more powerful than I ever imagined a kiss could ever be. I’m so confused about so much now...but not about...”
The omega leans in again, but Mark is just able to stop their mouths melting into each other for a third time. Jack sighs sadly, but nods that he understands. Mark is only trying to protect him.
The atmosphere has a thick tension built up around the two as Jack moved to sit beside Mark. It's like the humidity that comes before a storm. Mark sits up on his elbows, trying to read the enigma that is Jack. He seems so torn all the time, fighting against himself to keep what's left of his old life alive. Mark brings with him an uncomfortable change, and he's not sure how to deal with this. In the span of twenty-four hours he was attacked by a lycan, bitten and left to die in some cave. Then found and mated by the ex lover of said lycan, and turned into a wolf hybrid. And apparently he was now into men. What an exhausting day.
"Jack? You can talk to me, you know. I'm aware that this is a lot to take in. It's why I stopped when I did. Please don't bottle things up." Mark gently murmured, keeping his hands against the bed to give Jack some space.
The omega laughs at what Mark just said. A lot to take in was right. Now that the moment has passed between the two of them, his mind is racing again with what he’s supposed to be, and how he is going to live this new life.
“My chest burns,” Jack groans as he rubs his palm near the center of his rib cage. “Is that a normal thing?”
Mark lifts up his hand slowly, and after waiting for Jack to nod that it’s ok, he places his palm on the same spot that the omega’s hand was moments before.
“Your soul is conflicted, Jack. It happens a lot with new wolves like yourself. The burning is your new self fighting with your old life. It should get better with time, and learning to trust what you are now.”
"And..what if I don't want this life? What if I just want to be myself again?" Jack asks, pain deeply woven into his voice. He didn't mean it as an insult to all lycans, and he damn well didn't want to hurt Mark, but he was much more suited to life in the village. Not this. Mark sighed, moving his hand down to grab Jack's. He gave the omega a reassuring squeeze, letting him know that he meant well when he said this.
"If you leave there will be pain, deep immeasurable hurt that nothing can soothe. A bond between mates isn't meant to be severed. Death is the only exception. For as long as my heart beats along side yours, you'll feel me."
Jack cringed, feeling trapped in a beautiful prison that was Mark's heart. There really was no easy way out of this, was there?
“So there’s no way out of this,” Jack whispers, his hand still inside of Mark’s strong grip. “This is really where I’m supposed to be now, isn’t it?”
Mark releases his mate's hand from his own and reaches up to the omega’s pale face. Jack leans into the warm touch like he needs it more than anything else in this world.
“Please don’t see this as a punishment,” the alpha says, his deep voice calm and hopeful. “Just give it time. Give us time. I promise that I will do what I can to make this transition as smooth as possible. Today was rough, but the sun will rise again, even brighter.”
Jack wants so badly to believe him, and the feelings from those kisses felt so incredibly real. Like they truly belonged together. Even Mark’s scent was causing his body to yearn to be closer to him, to continue where they left off until they both were howling under the full moon as they made love.
The omega turns and nuzzles into Mark’s large chest, and feels large arms holding him close. The alpha’s black paw print is close to Jack’s lips, and he kisses it softly and Mark rubs the slender back of his Luna. The two lie in each other's arms, surrounded by comfortable silence. It feels right to be skin to skin, to have nothing between them. Jack had all but forgotten about his own nudity, too lost in the warmth Mark was wrapping him up in.
Minutes turned to hours, and before Jack knew it he was nodding off. Mark was quietly sleeping off his injuries, getting ready for the hunt that came with the setting sun. His steady heartbeat was like a lullaby, pulling Jack down into a sweet slumber. The omega was content in this moment, drinking up the affection that came with Mark's gentle cuddles. Who knew that a wolf as big and scary as him could act like such a gentle giant around Jack.
The boy closed his eyes, a sleepy smile on his face. All he could think about was Mark and the words he had said. They rang in his ears like bells, drowning out everything else.
Forever is a very long time to be with someone. But forever may not be long enough for this love. Jack was fighting against his feelings, trying to find even an ounce of imperfection in the way his mate treated him. He wanted a reason to leave, but Mark was as loyal and considerate as a good mate should be. He couldn't leave, and by the sound of it he wouldn't be able to even if he did.
The rumble of the alpha's snores pull Jack in like waves of relaxing warmth and he sinks further into the thoughts of this thing called "forever". Maybe there is something inside him that can make this work, to find a new home in the bed of this loving stranger.
Yet, there is a chill that runs down Jack's narrow spine that has dark fur, and a rage barely contained behind vivid violet eyes. That wolf that caused so much pain in his body, and to his new mate's heart was still out there. Still violent. Still waiting to strike again.
Warm breath billows in front of a dark wolf's maw, his violet eyes flicking up to the bright moonlight filtering down over him. The second village he's come across has been wiped out, leaving nothing and no one behind. Nate is proudly licking the blood from his fur, staying in lycan form to release the animal within. He doesn't feel right walking around in a human's skin, but he will shift if he has to. Like when the young ones hid under the floorboards to try and escape his judgement. They didn't think that wolves could sprout fingers to peel away the protection they so desperatly needed. It was pathetic to think that they could outsmart him. He would search every crevice on this earth just to find every last human and snuff them out.
Nate's ears perked up at the sound of cold earth shifting behind him. He could tell that it wasn't a human based upon the soft padding of the creature's feet. The lycan smiled, speaking firmly to the wolf approaching him from behind.
"Have you come to stop me? Have I finally proven my madness to those old fools you call elders? I can assure you that you'll end up just like all the others if you get in my way, lycan."
The voice behind him was foreign, but pleasant to listen to. Higher in pitch with a false sense of kindness hidden within. It was intriguing to say the least.
"Why would I try to stop you? I happen to enjoy stumbling upon your little messes scattered across the forest. We are of a similar mind, my sweet."
The beta sniffs at the air. The gentle scent of an omega fills his nostrils, and his loins begin to ache. He takes a step back to give himself plenty of room, though whether that room is needed to attack or fuck this omega will remain to be seen.
“You say such sweet words in the shadows, omega. Why don’t you come out and let me see if your form is just as appealing.”
There is a soft chuckle as a slender black wolf appears with a splash of white on his chest and his paws. His eyes are a stunning hazel that glistens in the moonlight. Nate smiles as he takes in the lovely sight in front of him, his long tongue licking his lips.
“Am I pleasing to you, beta?” the omega coos as he presents his neck in submission.
“You are fairly easy on the eyes, yes,” Nate slurs as he approaches. “What do they call you, pretty one?”
“My name is Matt,” the omega replies, his eyes still lowered to the ground. He sits until Nate pushes his own large head on top of the omega to mark his dominance.
“It’s nice to see an omega know his place,” the beta mutters. “Such lovely manners to go with that pretty face.”
Matt lifted his eyes to meet the stunning violet of the beta before him. He seemed docile enough to please Nate, but Matt was no push-over. The omega was responsible for at least fifty human casualties this year alone. Nate may think he's the only lycan around that despises humans but he was dead wrong.
"I'm surprised to see a beta from Mark's pack out this far causing chaos. This is my territory, but I suppose I can let you live. You seem like fun, and it's been quite a while since I've had a good lay." Matt giggled, playfully nipping at Nate's neck.
Nate growls lowly at the omega, his sharp teeth shining against the dark sky. The omega is still giggling at him, with no connection to how insulting those words are to the beta’s ears. This omega is mouthy and cunning, and even though Nate hates to admit it, these are qualities that he admires quite a lot.
“Let’s make a few things clear, Matt,” Nate whispers as he advances on the smaller wolf. “I go where I please in this forest. Territories are for lesser lycans than I, and as far as being part of any pack, I’m impressed that you know where I came from, omega. But I belong to no one now, but myself.”
“Understood, of course,” Matt answers, giving a low bow. “My cabin is just across the way, if you need rest from your killings. My pack is out for a hunt. I can promise you entertainment, if you would accept my company.”
Nate scoffed. He wasn't interested in packs or whatever form of entertainment this mouthy omega could provide. The fact that he believed himself to be the pack's leader was laughable all on its own. Omega's were the grunt, the pack bitch. Their only lot in life is to service an alpha, or in Nate's case, a beta like himself. He had half a mind to just take Matt right here in the middle of the forest just to show him what he really is. A hole to be used by those higher than him.
"Let me see you without that pretty fur, omega. I wanna see your face when I claim you." The beta hissed, widening his stance. Matt chuckled, rolling his eyes as he changed form in the blink of an eye. Nate's violet eyes widened, taking in Matt's nude form. Before him stood a man about his height, with soft brown hair and hazel eyes. His build was a little smaller than Nate's, but his hips were undoubtedly that of an omega's. He was gorgeous.
Matt did a little spin, showing off every delicious curve he had to offer. It was almost like he was taunting Nate to try and make a move. The beta shifted without even thinking, too enamoured with Matt's external beauty to worry about exposing himself like that. The grin on Matt's face only widened, hazel eyes shining against the moonlight. Nate was just as pretty as his wolf, but Matt wasn't going to make this easy for him. He may be an omega, but he's cunning and ruthless. It would be a mistake to underestimate him.
The two lycans stand in the moonlight for a long while, their eyes drifting to the different parts of each other they want to kiss and touch first. Matt motions towards a fallen over tree near the edge of a small clearing, his hips swaying in a tantalizing way as he heads over to the trunk and sits down.
“Come and join me?”
Nate gives another grunt, but he can’t stop a small smirk from appearing on his lips. This omega is a strange one, with the confidence of an alpha in his heart. It’s almost like Matt is courting him, though the scent of sex is thick in the air around them.
“You always like to talk to dangerous strangers, Matt? Not the best idea considering your status.”
“I like danger,” the omega says simply as Nate sits down beside him. “The more dangerous, the better, as a matter of fact.”
Nate chuckles lowly as he slides down closer to him, Matt's sweet aroma causing his teeth to slightly grind. The barely contained urge to take him right on the spot was not lost on the omega. Matt has always been skilled at using his scent and smile to get what he wants.
“Dangerous is right,” the beta says smoothly. “You’ve already allowed me to come close enough to rip your throat out if I wanted to, and you don’t even know my name.”
Matt gives a light laugh, and places his hand on Nate’s thigh.
“There’s only one wolf in these woods with silky black fur and dazzling violet eyes. You are the wondrous beta who stole the heart of his alpha for years. Your cunning and ambition is legendary to all other lycan packs. You’re Nathan, are you not?”
Nate narrowed his eyes, placing his hand on the one Matt was currently using to squeeze the beta's thigh. They both knew where this was going, and all Nate wanted to do was put that foul mouth to good use.
"How perceptive of you, but it matters not what you've heard about me." The beta growled, swiftly moving to close his fist around Matt's throat. The omega just smiled, letting Nate have his moment of perceived dominance. If rough sex was what he wanted then Matt would make it as rough as he could.
"You know, that wicked tongue of yours should only be used to lick my cock clean after I'm done fucking you into the ground. You think you're special? No. You're just another hole to fuck." Nate spat, using his body weight to force Matt onto his back. Cold earth was pressing up against the omega's bare back, Nate holding him firmly in place as he knelt in between Matt's spread legs. The omega didn't seem one bit phased, even going so far as to wrap his legs around Nate's waist.
"Go ahead. Try and claim me, beta. I challenge you to make me your bitch."
Nate smirked, his cock already pulsing and painfully hard at the prospect of fucking this loud mouth into submission. But before he could even attempt to penetrate Matt, he was flipped onto his back with two pale hands wrapped tightly around his throat. He didn't even see Matt move, but the omega managed to pin Nate like he weighed nothing at all.
"My turn." The omega chortled, lifting his hips to press his rim against Nate's leaking tip. The beta's eyes glazed over as Matt slowly sank down on his throbbing length, teasing him with a slow circling of his curvy hips.
"You're my bitch tonight, Nate. Try and keep up, if you can."
The omega's slender fingers squeeze even tighter around the beta's thick throat, and Matt smiles at the sound of choked gasps underneath his touch. He can feel Nate's pulse quicken as he grows even harder, surrounded by such amazing heat. The beta is lost in pleasure as he groans lowly, the omega's thrusts painfully slow around him. His vision blurs as he grabs a hold of Matt's wrists with his own hands and smirks.
"Is that all you got, omega? You're disappointing me."
Just the slightest of frowns flickers across the his face, but within a moment the smile on Matt's lips has reappeared. He tightens his grip around the beta's throat, and Nate rocks his hips as hard as he can upwards. Matt's eyes roll back, mouth falling open and he shakes as his prostate is hit. The momentary daze from the hammering his ass is taking is all Nate needs to adjust his hands and make the omega release his grip on his neck. The omega falls onto his back with the other lycan still pumping hard inside him, and a leg on each shoulder now has Nate in control.
"You're mine, omega," Nate snarls as he bites hard on Matt's plump thigh. "Mine to breed and claim."
Matt screams when Nate's sharp teeth sink into his soft flesh, nearly climaxing on the spot as he jolts forward and back.
"Again," the omega groans. "Fuck, bite me again."
The next bite draws blood that drips down to the forest floor, and the fluttering around Nate's dick is mind blowing. Whatever this omega is doing to his body is causing his legs to almost give way. The need to fuck until the sun comes up the only thing on Nate's hazy mind.
Matt's sweet sounds were going straight to Nate's cock, driving him to pound into the omega harder. His blunt nails dug into Matt's thighs, twisting his body until his face was buried in the soft grass beneath him. The omega arched his back, rocking back to meet Nate's bruising thrusts. There was an ever present struggle for power and control between them, and each time the other thought that they'd made their partner submit, the battle started again.
Before long Nate was back on his ass, pinned under Matt as the omega rode him silly. The beta's mind was fuzzy, pleasure flooding his body steadily until a familiar heat began to blossom in his belly. Blood was smeared across their pale skin, goosebumps and bruises spread around evenly over bitten and clawed flesh. Matt swore under his breath, his free hand wrapping around his drooling cock to pump at the rapid rhythm his hips had set.
"F-fuck, m'close." He mumbled, tilting his head back and exposing his neck to the cold winter breeze. Nate gripped the omega's hips, thrusting up at an angle to nail Matt's abused prostate. The boy howled like an animal as he released, thick ropes of cum splattered across his chest and Nate's belly. The beta nearly blacked out from the painful pressure that was now squeezing his cock in rhythmic bliss. Nate snarled as he flipped them over, drilling into the omega's oversensitive hole until his cock twitched and began to pump Matt full of his thick spunk.
The omega tensed, his chest heaving as he collapsed against Nate's chest. The raven-haired lycan chuckled, his cock still sheathed inside of Matt's ass. His mind was blissfully blank, only slightly able to comprehend the words that Matt was saying to him as he caught his breath.
"As I was saying, my cabin is just over that hill. Care to join me?"
Nate licked his lips, a deep growl bubbling up from his chest.
The sharp sounds of panting and skin sliding together filled the cabin's interior, mixing with Matt's moans and Nate's growls of pleasure. Their pale skin was slick with sweat, blood, and cum, staining the sheets that were torn in certain places. The wall next to the headboard was dented and scratched, the nightstand turned over on its side. It looked like a fight broke out between them, with no clear cut winner to be crowned. Matt was on all fours, his slick chest pressed against the mattress as Nate pounded into his abused ass. The omega's fourth strong orgasm was rapidly building, fat beads of precum dripping from his cock onto the bed.
Nate bit his lip, digging his nails into Matt's hips as he jerked forward and unloaded into him for the third time that night. His neck and shoulders were littered with bites and scratches from Nate, none of them designed to bond Matt to him. The omega's jaw went slack, the head of Nate's spurting cock brushing up against his prostate and forcing out his fourth orgasm for the night. The sheets were a disaster, but neither really cared. Nate pulled out, watching with satisfaction as Matt collapsed onto his belly, cum leaking from his ass that showed who he belonged to for now.
"Had enough, omega?" Nate panted, flopping onto his back to try and catch his breath. Matt giggled breathlessly, nodding.
"I'm surprised you kept up as long as you did. Most lycans can't handle me."
“I’m not your typical lycan,” Nate wheezed as he begins to rub his fingers over the bites on his neck and shoulders. Even now the painful pleasure of each of them was causing his dick to twitch again.
Nate chuckles darkly as he begins to stretch his arms around the omega, breathing in the scent of himself all over the bruising skin. Matt sighs as the two lay together, the mess around them evidence of their brutal dance with the bedsheets.
“So what now?” Nate asks, his dark eyes meeting Matt's twinkling hazel.
“I’m all for another round once I get a nap in, but I have food if you’re hungry. I’m an even better hunter than I am a lover. Hard to believe, but it’s true.”
Before Nate can respond Matt is already getting up, and the beta gives the omega a hard snack on the ass as he heads towards the kitchen area of the little cabin. Nate's eyes followed him closely, sighing in content as he took in the moment. The beta chuckled, feeling satisfied for the first time in years. Matt wasn't overly filled with righteous indignation like Mark was, and it felt nice to bury his cock in someone else's ass for a change. Bottoming felt degrading to him now that he thought back on it, and he couldn't remember how many times Mark claimed him like this. The notion left a bad taste in his mouth. But his frown soon melted away once Matt returned with two glasses of wine and something that looked like dried meat.
"I think you'll find it quiet cozy here, if you choose to stay. I honestly can't remember the last time I had a lay that good." Matt said, a small smile on his lips as he sat back down on the bed. Nate hummed, thinking that it wouldn't hurt to stay here for a while. At least he would have a warm bed and a soft omega to fuck until he was drooling and unable to speak. It didn't sound all that bad.
"I'll sleep on it, yeah? I can't deny that I haven't felt this good in a long time. It's so nice to release tension like that, to not have to worry about roles or ranks."
Matt handed Nate his glass, taking a long sip from his own before setting it down on the only bedside table that wasn't destroyed.
"It's only an offer, Nate. I'm not asking for you to mate me. I'm only interested in that dick of yours, and maybe a little conversation in between."
“Nice that we are of the same mind,” Nate grins as he takes a bite out of the meat. “I’m not interested in anything but a play thing for now. As far as conversation, you’re intelligent enough for me not to crawl out of bed and leave right afterwards.”
Matt smirks as he takes another sip of the wine. The flavors melt together with the salt on his lips left from Nate’s skin. His hazel eyes travel from the beta’s full lips to his small chin and slender lines of his muscles. The desire to have something more is pushed down with such a force in Matt’s heart that he has to adjust in his chair. Nate’s dark eyes widen at his movement, and he looks quizzically at the omega.
“Just need to get used to the feeling of so much dick in my ass,” Matt chortles as he gets up out of his seat to refill their glasses. “It’s been a while since I’ve been with someone who knows what the fuck their actually doing.”
“Even now with the flattery,” Nate replies, gazing at Matt’s backside as he heads back over for refills. “Not to say that I mind the words coming out of your pretty mouth.”
Matt smiled to himself as he pours fresh drinks for the two of them, his hazel gaze looking quickly out of the window to the cabin. He can tell that it shouldn’t be long before the others return. Perhaps now that he was actively with another wolf his pack would stop pushing him to finally mate. He could always say that Nate was courting him. Even if he wasn’t part of the pack, they wouldn’t care. As long as he was playing the part of the softer omega, he could do as he pleased in the forest, including killing humans stupid enough to wander too close to his part of the woods.
“You’re taking a long time with the wine, Matt. Something troubling your mind?”
“No, not at all,” the omega purrs as he turns around with perfect drinks, setting them back on the table. “Just thinking about how I’m going to enjoy our little arrangement, for as long as you plan to hang around.”
Jack's hands were shaking as he stood outside the cabin door, his warm breath ghosting in front of his pale lips. This was a terrible idea. Not more than a few hours ago these two lycans were at each other's throats, but now it seems like they swept it under the rug. He could still feel the uncomfortable tension around him, but that might be from the four other naked men surrounding him. Jack wasn't exactly used to seeing his mate strutting around with his dick out. Add in the rest of the pack and his already frayed nerves were set to explode.
"Are you ready, Jack?" Mark asked, smiling sweetly. The brunette nodded, hoping the others wouldn't pick up on his little lie. The alpha certainly did though, leaning down toward Jack's ear to reassure him while the others began to shift.
"Relax, it's only a hunt. You'll do fine."
Jack tries to smile back at Mark, but the light of his grin doesn’t meet his blue eyes. Mark rubs his narrow back slowly before shifting into the black wolf. Jack shuffles his bare feet as he feels a soft nuzzle to his right leg.
“I won’t let anything happen to you Jack,” the alpha whispers to him. “I promise that you will be safe with the pack.”
The omega nods again and takes a deep breath as his pale skins turns into bright snowy fur, eyes becoming instantly green.
“This is Jack’s virginal hunt,” Mark calls out, and the rest of the wolves quiet down instantly to pay close attention. “Let’s give him all of the support and encouragement that he needs.”
The other wolves bark their agreement, with even Tyler bowing his large head in firm acceptance of Jack going on the hunt with them.
“Ethan,” Mark says loudly, and there is a small gasp when the only other omega in the pack is singled out. Tyler’s blue eyes follow Ethan’s smaller form as he heads up to the front.
“Yes, alpha?” replies Ethan, his voice laced with confusion.
“I want you to travel with Jack,” Mark softly says. “You know these woods better than anyone, and I believe that it would benefit Jack to learn from such an experienced hunter.”
“Wait,” Jack squeaks at Mark, before Ethan can respond. “I’m not going with you?”
"I won't be far. If anything should happen or if something feels wrong just howl for me and I'll come running. Ethan is the only other omega in this pack and it'll do you some good to bond with him. You are their Luna after all." Mark stated, a small smile on his lips. Tyler was already trotting up towards them, his light brown fur shifting with the wind. The alpha nudged Ethan with his snout, communicating something to him that Jack couldn't understand.
"Mark, Felix has picked up on a interesting scent trail up north. He can't be sure but it might be another pack moving into our territory." Tyler advised. Mark's eyes darted back towards Jack, sighing as he nodded reluctantly. He couldn't just ignore this, even if it wasn't something serious. It could just be a few wolves migrating to a new area, or it could be Nate looking for trouble. Whatever it was needed to be checked out though. So with a huff Mark instructed his mate to stay close to Ethan while the others investigated Felix's claim.
Mark and Tyler took off into the trees, leaving Jack alone with Ethan. The other omega was a little smaller than Jack, reeking of fresh blueberries and violets. His dark gray fur was streaked with strands of white, making his silver eyes stand out against the night's sky. He seemed friendly enough, like Jack could trust him to not try and kill him while Mark was otherwise occupied.
"Ready to get going? There's a game trail not too far from here. We might be able to catch a wild turkey if we hurry." The boy chirped, bouncing a bit with excitement.
“Yeah, I guess so,” Jack sighs as his sharp eyes watch Mark and Tyler disappear into the darkening woods.
Ethan gives an excited bark as he begins to head north with Jack on his heels. The smaller omega lifts his gray head and sniffs at the air as they move, and Jack copies him. The smell of the woods is thick tonight, and there are so many sounds that Jack needs to shake his own head to help himself focus.
“How do you deal with so much noise?” He asks as he reaches Ethan’s left side. “It makes me want to bang my skull against the nearest tree.”
Ethan gives a loud giggle and pauses his steps. He sits on the ground and motions for Jack to do the same.
“It can be a bit much,” the boy admits. “What helps me is when the world gets too loud is to stop and truly listen.”
Jack blinks his bright green eyes, his dubious expression making Ethan giggle again.
“Sorry, I didn't mean to have it come across like a riddle. What I mean is, close your eyes and open your ears. Your heart will tell you what the most important things to hear are.”
Jack complies, and if anything the sounds get louder without the distraction of sight. He frowns deeply, but the voice of Ethan is louder than everything else at the moment.
“Just breathe in and out,” the other omega whispers, and Jack can tell that he’s close to his right ear. “Feel the forest all around you. In between the pads of your feet, and in the cool breeze in your fur. Trust your instincts.”
Then slowly the loud noises muffled themselves in Jack’s ears and he can only hear a faint scratching noise just east of where the omegas are sitting.
“I hear something to the right,” Jack mutters. “It’s a bird of some sort, eating from the forest floor.”
Ethan beamed, his front paws patting against the dirt with excitement. He's been praying for Mark to bring home another omega for him to talk to. It's not that he didn't like or appreciate the things Nate did while he was here, but being the only omega in a pack full of wolves higher in rank than you can feel very isolating.
"Very good! Once you get the hang of it it's really quite easy. Omegas bear the brunt of the actual hunting, but since our pack only has two the rest have obviously had to pitch in or we'd all starve," Ethan murmured. "But I'm glad you're here, Jack. And I'm sorry for how my mate treated you. You're not an outsider. You're pack, and pack means family."
Jack quirks his furry head in confusion at Ethan’s last words. He had no idea that there were other mates in the pack other than him and Mark. Thinking back to the subtle gestures between Ethan and Tyler though, Jack feels slightly embarrassed that he hadn’t pick up on it before.
“Is it ok if I ask you about that?” Jack mumbles to the other omega. “About being a mate, and about, you know...”
Now it’s Ethan’s turn to look puzzled, his silver eyes blinking as he moves a bit closer to Jack to make sure he can hear every word.
“How is it?” Jack continues, his cheeks feeling hot under his white fur.
“Do you mean sex?” Ethan asks, smiling sweetly. Jack shifts his gaze down to the ground and then back up to Ethan's silver eyes.
“Yeah, how is it? I have no idea how to go about it. We’ve kissed and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t amazing, but sex...that’s, no pun intended, a different animal entirely.”
Ethan giggled, his posture relaxing. Sex wasn't a touchy topic for him, or really any of them besides Jack. To Ethan it's as natural as breathing, and the way Tyler worships him when they are intimate is one of the most precious moments in the young omega's life.
The boy looked off wistfully, recalling moments past that made his heart flutter.
"I figured you might have some questions about that. But I feel it's important to say first that your experience will depend on your partner. I'm not sure if you've been with anyone prior to mating Mark, but I can assure you that Mark will take great care of you."
Ethan gave Jack a small smile, nudging him gently with his nose. The white wolf sighed, his mind going back to his morning with Mark. He's never felt so close to another person like that, to where even physical intimacy wasn't enough. He wanted to go further, but maybe now isn't the best time to try?
"I've only ever been with one woman, but I know that sex with Mark will be a completely different experience. I guess I'm just nervous. I've never done anything like this before." Jack confessed, looking down bashfully. He felt odd talking about this sort of thing with a boy he just met, but Ethan understood him better than his own mate did at the moment. Mark would learn more about Jack as time passed and they grew closer together, it was just getting over the hump that terrified him.
"The pain is only a temporary thing, Jack. But Mark will do whatever is necessary to keep you comfortable when you two decide to act on your instincts. But sex is like a dance, it takes both people to turn a simple movement into a beautiful act of expression. Just trust your instincts and remember to relax. Mark won't hurt you."
Jack can feel his chest loosen a small amount from the young omega’s assurances about what it would be like when he and Mark finally became one. He has spent the previous night thinking about where he would place his arms and legs while they kissed. About how they would connect their bodies together in a moment of heated passion.
“Do you think that Mark will like being with me?” Jack asks, realizing how awkward the question actually is after the fact.
“If he didn’t like you,” Ethan says, his eyes wide as he looked at Jack’s nervous face. “He never would have mated with you, regardless of how you came to the pack.”
"I guess you're right," Jack sighed, rising up on all fours and sniffing the air. The scent of a wild turkey was lightly intwined with the smell of cold earth and snow. Small flakes of ice were beginning to fall from the overcast skies, almost blotting out the light of the moon completely. Ethan followed Jack's lead, his nose to the ground as he tracked his next meal. Jack was raised to be a hunter, but this was very different than the way his father taught him when he was a young boy. His senses were all over the place at times, picking up different scents that belonged to Mark's pack. The omega began to follow the scent of his mate, his brain blocking out everything else as if it was trying to tell him something important. Oak and hazelnut filled his nose, his heart beating frantically at the prospect of seeing Mark.
But the omega at his side was going the complete opposite direction, stopping once he noticed Jack veering off to the north once again.
"Jack? The turkey is this way. Did you find something else worth investigating?" The smaller omega questioned, following Jack warily.
"I don't know, I smell Mark and the others but there's a scent I don't recognize among them. It's spicy, kind of like pepper or some kind of clover maybe?"
A sudden realization clicked inside Ethan's head, chuckling at who Jack was tracking.
"Oh, that's just Ryan. He was out scouting for a bit, so I'm assuming that's who Mark and the others are meeting with."
"Ryan?" Jack cock his head, stopping to inhale deeply. "Another beta."
"Yeah. Most of our pack is made up of betas, but Ryan doesn't stick around for very long. The only person he's actually close to is Felix, but he likes to keep his personal business to himself. Hell, no one but Felix is actually allowed to address him as Ryan. Everyone else just calls him Cry."
There is a sudden rustling in a bush nearby and both omegas raise their noses into the air to sniff. The scent of whomever this Cry is grows by the moment, and to Jack’s slight concern, is laced with bitter copper.
“Is that blood I smell?” he whispers to Ethan, who is beginning to look worried.
“Maybe Cry has been hunting,” the smaller omega says hopefully. “He’s always great about bringing large prey back to the pack.”
In a moment though, a large silver wolf hobbles from the underbrush. His eyes focused on continuing to move despite the massive gashes in his right side.
“Cry!” Ethan barks as he races over to the large lycan. “What happened!?”
The silver wolf collapsed onto the ground, panting from a combination of pain and blood loss. Ethan quickly shifted, dropping to his knees with wide panic-filled eyes. Cry looked as if he'd been gored by a buck, and it was a miracle that he was even alive at this point. The silver wolf slowly changed shape, his bright fur receding until pale flesh stained crimson was left behind.
"I-It was an ambush. The truce has been broken." Cry choked out, blood leaking from his lips. Jack looked on in horror, frozen in place as Cry struggled to speak. Someone had to find Mark and the others, and with Ethan otherwise occupied with trying to keep the young man alive it looked like it was up to Jack to alert the pack.
The new omega tipped his head back, howling with a mixture of fear and sorrow. It was only a few seconds later when a series of loud howls answered him in the distance.
Ethan began to work on dressing Cry’s wounds. Even though he's healing, the process is going incredibly slow. Whatever weapon was used against the beta was made for deeply injuring a lycan, and the smaller omega is struggling to place thick leaves on the gashes to at least slow down the bleeding.
“Jack,” shouts Mark’s voice in the distance, and Jack howls again to help the others know exactly where they are. The first wolf that reaches them is Tyler, with Felix right behind him.
The blonde wolf gasps as he sees Cry on the ground, trembling in pain. Felix and Tyler shift into human form as Mark finally rushes forward, his scarlet eyes surveying the bloody scene.
“What happened?” Felix yelps, placing his shaking hand on Cry’s forehead. Cry groans as he looks back up at Felix, their blue eyes connecting with each other's.
“Something about an ambush,” Jack says quickly, more to Mark than to the others. “And a truce being broken. What does that mean, Mark?”
The alpha, for the first time since Jack has known him, looks unsettled, frightened even. Mark turns to Tyler, his voice as commanding as ever.
“Take Cry to the sleeping grounds,” he barks. “There's medication for these types of wounds in my cabin, under the loose floorboards. You know where it is.”
Tyler grunts that he understands, and lifts Cry up into his arms. The beta cries out in pain, but Felix is able to hush him.
“Felix,” Mark continues as he changes back to human form. “Go with them and stay by Cry’s side throughout the night once he’s been medicated. Tyler will protect our part of the forest while Jack and I are away.”
“Away?” Jack says, feeling confused. “But where are we -“
“Ethan,” Mark continued, motioning for Jack not to speak. “Get me the travel bag near my bed and bring it back here, then start to secure all of the cabins in case humans are able to find the sleeping grounds.”
“Yes alpha,” Ethan nods as he shifts back, beginning to run towards the cabins with Tyler trailing behind him, Cry in his arms and Felix by his side.
“We are going to see The Elders,” Mark says, finally answering Jack’s question. “Tell them what's going on. About the truce being broken, if they aren’t already aware.”
“Why am I coming with you?”
“Because you are a new wolf, Jack. The Elders need to know about any pack members that are not born naturally.”
Mark turns and rubs the omega’s shoulder.
“Besides that, you are my Luna. It is tradition that you go with me whenever an alpha meets with The Elders.”
“Oh,” Jack mutters, his cheeks going red. “Then what’s the travel bag for? Supplies for the trip?”
Mark gives a small nod of his head.
“In a way, yes. It’s clothing for us to wear when we meet up with Robin. He’s a human liaison between lycans and humans. He’s a very good friend, but he’s never been comfortable with our nudity.”
Jack completely understands Mark's point, feeling the same level of embarrassment when he was exposed to just how comfortable they were in their own skin. But what did he really expect? Clothing was an unnecessary hindrance when it came to lycans. The omega shook the thought away, his eyes focused completely on Mark and what they should do next. They weren't all that far off from the sleeping grounds, so Ethan's return would be sooner an he thought.
"Mark, what did he mean when he said that the truce had been broken? What truce?" Jack started, the answer already evident by the expression on his mate's face. There was a reason Mark mated Jack so quickly, but it wasn't the reason that Jack was already looking at.
"We had a three year truce between us and the humans. Before that time blood between our species was shed daily, but it finally came to stop with the help of people like Robin and the elders that guide our kind. If the peace between us has been broken then we're in deeper shit than I originally thought." Mark explained rather quickly, spotting Ethan's blurred form racing up to meet them. Jack sucked in a deep breath, his mind processing what his alpha had just said. He's heard about the darker times before he came to this land, but he wasn't around for the period of time that all of this violence was taking place. The Irishman didn't set foot on this soil until late last year, when his mother passed and he lost the land that belonged to his family. He figured a fresh start in a new area would help to ease his pain, but it only ended up cursing him to a life few people know of.
So was this the reason Mark mated him? Some kind of weird bridge between the two species? Mark, a purebred lycan mated to a turned human. How political. Ethan is quick to return, racing up to them with the satchel between his jaws.
“Thank you, Ethan,” Mark says as Ethan hands him the satchel. “Jack, we will get dressed now and begin to travel at once.”
The alpha turns back to the omega, who sits and patiently waits for more instructions. His silver eyes glisten in the shining light of the moon.
“Take care of each other,” Mark mutters, placing a hand on top of the smaller omega’s furry head. “We will be back as soon as we are able. Tyler will need you now more than ever, Ethan.”
“Yes, alpha,” Ethan barks as he turns and races back towards the sleeping grounds.
Mark opens the satchel and hands Jack a pair of soft pants and a loose fitting shirt. The clothes are slightly too big, but the omega is able to adjust them enough so that they don’t fall down. His light blue eyes watch Mark as he slides into a darker pair of pants that fit him quite well, with a lighter colored shirt snug on his arms and chest.
The alpha chuckles, catching Jack drooling over him as those eyes greedily drink in the sight of Mark's body, his cheeks turning red even in the pale light of the moon.
“Sorry,” Jack mumbles as he shifts his gaze to the ground. “I’m still getting used to how looking at you makes me feel.”
“It’s alright,” Mark replies, his lips forming a soft smile. “You are allowed to look at me, Jack. We are mates, after all.”
The omega ducks his head, blushing furiously at Mark's words. He doesn't know how much longer he'll be able to hold off on actually acting like Mark's mate. His instincts are going crazy, pulling him towards Mark while his mind is pulling him away. And the talk with Ethan wasn't exactly helping him to resist his alpha's subtle charm.
Mark sighed as he slung the satchel over his shoulder, turning his head to focus on the journey ahead. The alpha was about ten feet ahead of Jack before the brunette realized that Mark was moving. His blue eyes were glazed over, almost drooling over Mark's ass as he walked. Jack shook his head, his cheeks heating up as he jogged up to Mark's side. His mind was filled with conflicting images, from blood and war to sex and passion. The poor omega was just an anxious ball of suppressed desire at this point.
Jack suppressed an anxious huff in his throat. Despite the need to at least kiss him again, his feelings were twisting in his stomach and heart. So much is happening now for him to even consider asking the alpha for another moment like the one they shared in bed that morning. Perhaps something simpler would help his heart to not ache so much for more.
The alpha walks quickly in the darkness, his bare feet moving nimbly through the forest while Jack's steps are still a bit tentative. Mark seems to be making a point of slowing down just enough for both of them to stay at the same pace. The omega glances down at Mark's slightly swaying arm as he walks, his handsome face focusing on the path ahead.
It was far too quiet for Jack's liking, making that little voice inside his head all the more deafening. It was crying out for Jack to do something, to complete the act of mating and claim the alpha as his own. He wanted to. God he wanted to, but he'd have to hold off on that urge just a little longer. Jack had to remember that there was something horrible going on in the forest, and he should know better than anyone how destructive a pissed off lycan can be. Nate wouldn't just stop at one village. He wanted to wipe the humans out completely. The thought sent a shiver down his spine, making his body react to find a source of comfort. Before he even knew what he was doing he felt his fingers brush up against Mark's, tenitively curling around the alpha's hand until their fingers were laced together. Mark's sudden expression showed his confusion for a moment, but it melted away to reveal a soft smile. He gave his mate's hand a little squeeze, silently telling him that it was ok, which sent a wave of warm comfort crashing over Jack. His heart was crawling up his throat, his instincts screaming at him to do more. He wanted more than this, and eventually it would reach a point where neither of them would be able to hold back.
"I'm sorry. I-I didn't mean to grab you like that, it just sort of happened." Jack muttered, blushing furiously as he focused on his hand wrapped up in Mark's. The alpha chuckled, stopping for a moment to look at his mate. His finger hooked under Jack's chin, lifting his face up until their eyes met once again. It was endearing to see how nervous Jack was over a simple thing like hand holding, and Mark could feel his racing pulse against his skin as he stepped forward to close what little gap there was between them.
"Jack, you don't have to apologize for holding my hand or for wanting more. I can see it in your eyes, feel it when our skin touches. I want this. I want you. So please don't feel like you have something to be sorry about. You don't." Mark murmured, his thumb tracing the curve of Jack's bottom lip. The need to be closer was an excruciating itch under his skin, and at this point Jack was beginning to become desperate for relief.
"Why do I want you so badly? It's all I can think about, and I feel terrible for how primal it feels." Jack admitted, his eyes hooded and dazed as he drank up his alpha's strong scent. Everything about this man was intoxicating, and Jack just wanted to get drunk on him until the end of time.
"The simple answer is that we are mates," the alpha softly coos. "Our souls are woven together, just like our fingers."
Jack feels his hand being squeezed tightly once again, and not thinking about anything but the man's lips in front of him, he pushes himself up off of the heels of his feet and their lips meet.
Mark let's go of the omega's hand and wraps strong arms around his narrow waist, lifting Jack up off of the ground. The kiss is passionate and slow, and it eases both of their hearts in such a dark moment in time. Mark's mind goes completely blank for a moment, focusing solely on the taste of Jack's kiss as their lips move against each other's. Jack's mouth opens slightly, and Mark doesn't waste a single second in claiming his mate a little more. Their eyes are closed, letting the heat of the moment consume them just a little longer.
Mark feels the urge to push Jack up against a tree and ravish him until he's breathless and starry-eyed, but he forces himself to break the mouthwatering kiss. Jack deserves to be worshipped when that time finally comes, and Mark will make sure that every need he has in his heart is sated. Mark plants a few lighter kisses across Jack's mouth, nuzzling his nose with a sigh as he sets him back down. The boy suppresses a whine at the loss of contact, but they have a task to do. His heart can wait just a little longer.
Jack sighs as he feels his feet touch the wet ground underneath. Even now he is amazed at how strong the alpha is, and yet he's also so incredibly gentle. Those eyes, whether deep brown or scarlet red, have the same warmth and kindness in them. And Jack feels himself drowning in Mark's comfort a little more each day.
The omega holds the larger hand in his again as they continue down a path that only Mark understands.
“Will the Elder’s be upset with me being a...um, what was I called again.”
“A new wolf,” Mark answers as the two begin to move a bit faster. “The Elders are opened to more of us being around, especially since the slaughter of the nursery a few years ago. We lost many cubs, females and omega’s that night.”
Jack winced, his heart heavy at the news of what had happened previously. Was that why Nate was so angry and bitter? Had he lost someone? As if Mark could read his mind the answer to his question was said. Mark kept his eyes focused on the path ahead, holding onto Jack's hand to give them both some comfort.
"Nathan lost his mate and their pup in the culling, the girl was only five months old. Since then he's changed, and what used to be a loving family man is now reduced to what you've seen. He believes them all to be the same, that humans are a disease that needs to be eradicated. But he's wrong." Mark muttered, glancing down at Jack. The omega frowned, but he was able to relate to the pain Nathan was in. He's tasted the bitterness of loss, both to senseless violence and the cruelty of sickness and old age. Mark was all he had left in this world now.
“How are we going to stop him,” Jack questions, trying to pull away from even more sad thoughts of his past.
Mark sighs deeply as he raises his eyes towards the moon; the only light that was protecting them from being lost in dark shadows. It’s a good question that Jack has asked, and the alpha wishes he had a good answer for him.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Mark says, his voice soft. “I’m hoping that it doesn’t come down to more violence to stop him, but if it comes to that, I’ll be prepared for it.”
The finality of those words feels heavy in the air as if it's only now that Mark has realized that Nate's death is a very possible outcome. Jack can just detect a tremble in the hand he is holding, and those dark eyes seem to be sparkling with sudden tears barely holding on.
The omega tugs at Mark's hand, lifting it up towards his mouth to kiss each of his fingers. Even though they were barely acquainted with each other Jack felt his heart constrict with emotions he didn't understand. He should be upset that Mark has dragged him into this mess in the first place. The alpha's leniency towards Nate has gotten people killed, and God only knows if Cry is going to survive. Jack doesn't want to admit that he's in over his head, but he truly is.
The rest of their short journey is spent in silence, with both wolves dreading the negative response that's sure to come from the elders. They wouldn't be happy to hear that one of Mark's own was out causing problems and killing innocents, and less so about the fact that Mark has yet to do anything about it. Jack sighed as they approached an area heavily scent marked by powerful alphas. It didn't look all that different than the sleeping grounds that Mark used as a base camp. The only difference is that these log cabins were guarded to prevent an attack on the elders. Robin would be there to discuss what's been happening lately and Mark would have to fill in the details that were only known to him and Nate.
The elders are comprised of four wise wolves that supersede all others. Victor; a tall and skinny alpha with thinning gray hair and pale blue eyes is usually the voice that decides a wolf's fate. His European accented voice is like a bullhorn, and if Mark were honest he's the wolf he fears the most. Not Nate.
Amelia, Silas, and Charlotte are the elders that Mark has to win over. If Victor decides to wage a war in retaliation for what the humans have done he'll need the majority on his side to stop a potential bloodbath from happening.
As the two head towards a small clearing Mark suddenly stops, and Jack glances over at the alpha, his blue eyes wide in trepidation. Mark is focused on a tiny cabin all alone, with the windows all closed, and he sniffs at the air.
The omega sniffs as well, and the scent of fine hickory lingers in his nose. He opens his mouth to speak, but Mark softly grunts, and Jack falls silent.
“You should always signal before you get too close,” mutters a quiet voice with a vaguely Swedish accent. Jack jumps and Mark turns his head slowly to the shadow just to the side of a nearby tree.
A slender man with dark blonde hair and light blue eyes slinks towards the two lycans. In his hands are a bow and arrow, with the latter aimed directly at Jack.
“Jack,” the alpha says carefully, and Jack’s small arms tighten around Mark’s waist as he shrinks back. “Don’t move any more than you already have. The human in front of us is Robin, and he’s an expert shot. You’ll be dead before you run three steps.”
Jack's eyes widen in surprise, clinging to Mark tightly. The alpha holds up his hands, showing Robin that he means him no harm. The human is only doing what he was tasked to do, and no one was expected to come so close to where the elders were safely nestled.
"I need to speak with the elders, Robin. The truce between our species has been broken, and I fear that war is imminent." Mark speaks, showing the human no fear. Robin hesitates but eventually lowers his weapon. He knows who Mark is but this new wolf is putting him on edge. Robin may be just a human but he's incredibly in tune with the Lycans. It's a gift he's used to speak on behalf of his species as an ambassador of sorts.
"If that's true then war has already begun."
Mark motions that he understands, his strong arms still raised until Robin moves closer to the two wolves, his blue eyes shifting from Mark back to Jack. The human’s movements are slow and deliberate. It’s easy for even the omega to see that Robin is incredibly knowledgeable in how to communicate with a lycan. Without words, Jack knew that the man is approaching only him to see what he is and that he shouldn’t be afraid. Mark gives a small sound in his throat to reassure this fact to the omega once the human reaches out a hand towards Jack’s chest.
The omega is wary and slightly frightened but stands still as he feels the warm hand push the fabric of his oversized shirt off of his shoulder, revealing part of his chest. Then Robin’s sharp eyes glance at the bite on Jack’s neck, and his nostrils twitch slightly as he moves back again, now directing his gaze towards the alpha.
“This explains a bit as to why you are late to talk the Elders,” Robin says, his voice heavy with concern. “He can’t be more than a few days turned, Mark. I’m not here to question your motives for mating him, but you know that the Elders will be furious.”
“I’m aware of this,” Mark replies, his hand touching Jack’s fingers and interlacing them with his own again.
“Victor especially will be angry,” the human continues, his head turning to see the two men holding hands now. “But I’m happy to see you settling down. He has a kind heart, and he's quite the fighter for an omega.”
Jack can feel the heat in his cheeks again as both of the other men look at him and chuckle. The omega wishes that he didn’t blush at every single fucking thing it seemed.
“Your alpha is a good one,” Robin smiles, finally speaking to Jack this time. “Saved my life at least a dozen times, I think.”
The human lifts up his right hand towards Jack for him to shake.
“I’m usually not this rude,” he continues, his manners now much more friendly. “Your face and scent were not familiar, and you can never be too cautious. You have my name, but I didn’t get yours yet.”
The omega mutters a quiet "Jack" before reaching out his hand to greet Robin. His scent is muted due to his species, but Jack can still pick up some notes of spice when the wind blows just right. The human's demeanor has shifted dramatically, and Jack can tell that he's no longer a threat. The omega peels himself away from Mark's side, realizing how silly he looks. His actions definitely mimicked that of a skittish dog, making the boy sigh and roll his eyes at himself. Robin catches his expression, giggling slightly as to how apparent his emotions are right now.
"It'll take some time to get used to. You're still so new to this, but I have a feeling that you'll grow into quite the fearsome predator." Robin remarks with a kind smile.
“God, I sure hope so,” Jack replies back as he feels Mark’s hand on the small of his back.
“You will,” the alpha softly says as he rubs the omega’s back gently. “Robin is right. It will just take some time.”
With a turn on his heels, Robin motions for the other two to follow him into his small cabin, and after walking inside, Jack’s small nose is filled with the delicious smell of cooked meat. Mark smiles at the way his mate is eyeing the small amount of meat on the counter, the turkey surrounded by bright colored vegetables and a small loaf of bread.
“Help yourself,” Robin smirks at the longing look in Jack’s blue eyes. “I have more than enough for guests. Especially for the Luna of such a good friend.”
Jack glances at Mark who gives him a small nod, and the omega races over and sits down breaking off the only drumstick left on the carcass and biting into it.
“You are feeding him, aren’t you?” Robin whispers to Mark, his small smile growing on his lips.
Mark gives a loud laugh and nods his head again.
“He eats when he’s nervous,” the alpha remarks. “It’s kind of adorable, actually.”
The human watches the way the dark eyes of the alpha move from Jack's soft face to his slender neck, and then down the rest of Jack’s form.
“It is nice to see how much you care about him,” Robin whispers. “You both are welcomed to stay here until morning. The elders will be expecting you when the sun rises.”
Mark smiles and thanks Robin for his generosity and kindness, inquiring as to where he'll be sleeping for the night. The alpha considers Robin as an adopted member of the lycan family, so naturally, he wants to be close enough to keep the human safe should anything happen. Robin smiles in return, gesturing to the area right outside the cabin. The human has a place just beyond the treeline, high up in the branches to keep himself safe from predators.
"I'll be alright, Mark. But I'll be sure to grab your attention if I really need it. Just focus on Jack for tonight. I can tell how desperate you are for him." Robin murmured, keeping his voice low. Mark hummed, watching Jack devour the entire left side of the turkey before forcing himself to stop. He should never have mentioned to Mark that he was a stress eater, now he was just embarrassed. Jack turned his head, a small but guilty smile on his face. His cheeks were stuffed with turkey that he was still chewing, mumbling a muffled "sorry," to Robin for eating half of his dinner in one go. It was adorable for Mark to witness, and he felt as if he were seeing the real Jack for the first time. They haven't really had much of a chance to just be themselves around each other, so the person he knows to be his mate only looks like he has one layer to him. But Jack was more complex than that. He was sweet and silly, passionate but shy. There were a million different layers that he has yet to peel back, just like Mark. But they had an entire lifetime to see those parts of each other. Or so they hoped.
Robin gives a small tilt of his head to the small area to the back of the cabin, and Mark’s eyes move to see a tiny curtained off area. Mark whispers his thanks as the human grabs a couple of small blankets and heads outside of his cabin for the night.
It’s only when the front door shuts that Jack looks up again from his food to realize that they were alone again. The omega wipes his messy face with the back of his hand but it does very little to actually clean his lips and chin. Mark smirks as he hands him a cloth from the counter, and Jack shyly takes it.
“It’s best to get the both of us looking as well groomed as we can for the Elders,” Mark softly says as Jack tries in vain to wipe his face completely clean. “Come with me.”
Jack slowly swallowed what little food he still had left in his mouth, pushing out his chair and standing to his feet. Mark's gaze was soft, showing Jack that he didn't intend on getting too handsy with him. The desire was obviously there but Mark didn't want to push the envelope with a new wolf that had no experience with this type of intimacy. That would be a good way to scare him away from sex for a long time.
Mark extended his hand for Jack to take, leading the curious omega towards the back area of Robin's cabin. The wooden tub was surrounded by candlelight, half filled with warm water as if Robin was planning to use it before he had a few unexpected guests. Jack stood in front of the bathtub, rubbing his arms with an obvious blush tinting his cheeks. He shouldn't be as nervous as he is right now since Mark has already seen him without apparel. But he couldn't stop himself from becoming consumed with nerves once he realized that he couldn't exactly bathe in his clothes.
"Jack," Mark began, sensing a swift change in the atmosphere around them. "It's just a bath. But I promise not to look or touch if you don't want me to. I want you to be comfortable around me, and forcing you to do something you aren't ready for would be cruel of me. Would you like me to step outside while you bathe?" He asked, smiling sweetly at his mate. Jack bit his lip, shaking his head. He didn't want to be alone, and that part of him that craved Mark's attention was rearing its ugly head once again. He was nervous, but that didn't mean that he doesn't want Mark to touch him.
"Please stay. I'm just not used to so much..nudity, I guess. Not to say that I don't appreciate yours, it's just that I feel a little inadequate compared to you. You're flawless, and I'm just..me." Jack confessed, anxiously playing with the hem of his borrowed shirt.
The alpha watches Jack's pale hands intently as he fiddles with the cloth, his light eyes downcast as he tries to explain how he feels. The heat on his face is rivaling the warmth of the water, and the omega wishes that Mark would say something to stop his silly stammering.
The alpha places his larger palm on top of Jack's still twitching fingers, inhaling deeply as those crystal blue eyes slowly gaze up to meet his face.
“You have no need to think that you are anything but perfect, Jack. Your eyes are the midnight stars that carry me home in the darkness, and the curves of your body are the only road that my heart wishes to follow.”
Jack can feel himself melt at the words, his heart flutters, and he sighs without realizing it. His pull for the alpha is almost too much to bear, and even if he isn’t quite ready for sex, he still longs to be touched.
Mark pulls his hand away, waiting for Jack to make the first move. It didn't matter if the night ended with passion or not, Mark would still look at Jack with the same warmth that he always has. The omega sucked in a deep breath, mentally psyching himself up to just throw caution to the wind and do this already. It was just a bath. Nothing more.
Jack pulled his shirt up and over his head, letting it fall to the ground carelessly. His eyes stayed glued to the floor as he hooked his quivering fingers into the waistband of his pants and pulled them down. The omega couldn't see if Mark was looking at his nudity, but he could definitely feel the huge spike in arousal that came shortly after. It hung in the air like a thick perfume, dousing them both in its rich scent.
Jack kicked his trousers away, forcing his hands to stay at his side as he lifted his eyes to meet Mark's. The alpha wasn't saying a damn word, but his expression was clearly telling Jack how much he adored his mate's body. The new omega was lean and pale, with little tuffs of hair speckled across his chest. Mark's eyes filter down a bit further, following Jack's happy trail and stopping once he came across the thick curls that tried to cover his modesty. The alpha didn't care much for comparisons when it came to this sort of thing, but Jack was quite appealing for his smaller size.
Mark's gaze finally settled on those pretty round thighs of his, slightly fuzzy but exquisitely squishy and soft. His wide and curvy hips gave him this sultry look about him that Mark was powerless against, and it took every ounce of willpower he had to not pounce on Jack and fuck him raw.
"You're gorgeous, Jack. Truly a sight to behold." Mark purred, staying put despite his rising need to reach out and touch his mate's skin.
With his cheeks still a deep scarlet, Jack reaches up and places his arms around Mark’s neck, and the alpha’s face looks startled by the sudden intimacy. The Omega looks up innocently at him as he takes a small breath.
“Could you help me into the tub? It’s a bit too high for me to step into on my own.”
The alpha blinks and relaxes as he places his strong hands on the omega’s hips and lifts him into the tub. The sound of Jack blissful hum as he feels the warm water wash over his flesh is almost too much for Mark. Heart hammering in his chest, he groans in his throat as he drags blunt nails away from the tender skin, and moves towards the side of the bath until Jack is fully settled in.
“Thank you,” the omega breathes as he begins to sink into the tub up to his nose, bubbles coming up to the surface as he lets puffs of air out of his mouth.
Mark is almost beside himself at everything that Jack is doing, the omega completely unaware of how cute and naturally alluring he is as he begins to enjoy finally getting clean.
The alpha is mesmerized by Jack's hands as they glide effortlessly across his skin. The soap Robin just made is enhancing the omega's natural scent, and it's making Mark weaker by the second. He doesn't even notice the glazed look in his eyes or the way he's chewing on his bottom lip to keep himself somewhat composed. But he does notice the deep growl that bubbled up from his chest.
Mark's eyes widened, his hand flying up to cover his mouth. That noise was unmistakable code for "I'm about to lose my shit". Jack blushed, his hand coming up to grasp Mark's. He's never heard such an alluring sound, but he'd be lying if he said he didn't want to hear it again.
"You know, I'm having a hell of a time trying to wash my back. I could really use some help." The omega murmured, batting his long eyelashes. Whether he meant to openly invite Mark to touch him in a more intimate way was debatable, but it sure was fun to see Mark's loopy grin as he nodded.
Slowly the alpha bends down so that he is kneeling right next to Jack, and again the honey tones of the omega’s scent invade Mark’s nostrils. It is with a slightly trembling hand that the smaller man places the washcloth into, and then leans forward enough to allow full access to his wet and shining back.
The soap suds slide down heavily as Mark moves the cloth in small circles, his body aching at the soft moans Jack makes as he enjoys the gentle rubbing. The alpha’s free hand reaches up and touches the slender neck of his mate and the omega leans into the warm touch, the moans growing louder from his lips.
This wasn't supposed to be sexual, but Mark was at the end of his rope, so to speak. Jack was just too tempting and he didn't have nearly enough willpower to stop his hands from closing around Jack's pale neck. The action wasn't meant to cause the other harm, but it did let Jack know what Mark was after. The omega turned his blue eyes towards his mate, biting his lip in such a seductive way that caused another deep growl to crawl out from Mark's chest.
"Fuck..I'm trying so hard to resist you, but I fucking can't, baby," Mark growled, squeezing around his mate's neck just a little to invite one of those irresistible sounds from Jack's mouth. The omega gasped, reaching out to tangle his hand into Mark's thick hair.
The breathy plea was enough to break down the last shred of willpower he had, and with a groan, he leaned forward, roughly pressing his lips against Jack's in a hungry but unsatisfying kiss. He wanted more than just a few hot kisses to quench his thirst for Jack. He wanted to hear that sweet voice crack with pleasure as he worshipped his gorgeous body.
Mark stood up a little, his lips still moving against Jack's as he lifted the omega out of the tub and wrapped him around his clothed body. The alpha was quickly losing his mind with need, and before he could stop himself he felt his fingers brushing up against Jack's virgin entrance.
The omega whines at the feeling of strong fingertips against his opening, and he squeezes his legs around Mark’s sturdy hips to anchor himself. The alpha growls into the mouth of his mate as he pushes a finger in, his sharp ears listening for any sounds of stress or pain.
Jack grabs at Mark's shoulders and he groans at the feeling. The pleasure is already invading every part of him, from the soles of his feet all the way to the top of his head.
“Alpha,” he whispers as Mark pushes in his finger as far as he dares, the heat and pressure igniting the beast within him.
For once Jack isn’t scared of anything at all. His only desire is to feel as much pleasure as Mark was willing to give. Mark’s chest vibrates as he begins to push in a second finger into the omega’s soft entrance, and the cry from Jack’s mouth let him know to continue.
Mark pressed Jack's back up against the closest wall, holding him tightly as he littered Jack's jawline with gentle bites and rough kisses. His callused fingers slowly began to spread apart, moving in a scissoring motion to stretch Jack out a little bit. He wasn't necessarily concerned with whether or not he received anything in return, his only want was to inflict as much pleasure as he possibly could upon his mate before the boy came. He wanted to show Jack just how good sex between them could be, but perhaps it was better to just stick with the foreplay for now.
Mark's cock twitched inside his pants as Jack let out another drawn-out moan, and the alpha relished the sound as he rubbed at his mate's walls and stretched his fingers apart. The alpha was moving at a moderate pace by now, angling his fingers up to blindly feel around for that squishy little nub that would make Jack scream. His lips curled up into a smirk as soon as he heard that broken yelp, his teeth biting softly into the flesh of Jack's already marked up neck.
"H-holy shit!" Jack gasped, arching his back as Mark rubbed around his prostate. His body was pulled taut like a string, weakly bucking against Mark as he howled in ecstasy. Mark shuddered, loving how desperate his mate sounded.
"God, you're so fucking sexy," Mark growled, his mind long gone as he focused entirely on the sounds pouring out of Jack's mouth. He could feel his walls clenching around his thrusting fingers, drinking up every reaction he could.
The omega was pushing back onto those firm fingers like his very life depended on it, his head reared back and eyes rolling madly. He's never felt pleasure like this and he could barely speak other than the few guttural growls he didn’t even know his throat could make.
Mark groans at each push back onto his hand and every single bead of precum that falls onto his firm stomach from the beautiful creature against him.
“F-fuck, oh god, Mark,” Jack nearly screams as he moves even faster, his mouth opening up in a silent scream each time the alpha pushes in as deep as he can. The omega can’t even tell where he is anymore, his brain completely gone at this point.
His muscles are vibrating so hard they might as well be singing, hot tears falling down his reddening cheeks. It’s only when Mark pushes in a third and final finger that Jack bites hard into the flesh of the alpha’s shoulder. Mark curls all three fingers towards himself, knowing how close Jack truly is.
"Come on, baby. Come for me." Mark purred, nipping Jack's earlobe as he directed his thrusts upward. Any and all coherent thoughts left Jack's mind in an instant, his abused prostate was so sensitive, sending waves of overwhelming pleasure crashing down on him. The omega tensed, his jaw dropping as he shook violently. The weight and intensity of his orgasm was like a truck barreling down on him, and with a damn near animalistic sound, his cock twitched and painted their bellies in hot spunk.
Mark swore under his breath, watching as his mate fell apart in his arms. It was such an erotically beautiful sight, and the alpha could only imagine just how mind-blowing their first time would be. Jack's head was stuck in the clouds, body going slack in Mark's arms. He didn't even care that he was still rock hard and throbbing. Witnessing something like that was more satisfying than a thousand orgasms. The alpha withdrew his fingers, holding Jack up against him as he moved away from the wall to try and find the bed. Jack looked completely fucked out, with glazed over eyes and a dreamy expression stuck on his face. It was the cutest thing Mark had ever seen.
"W-what about you, alpha? I haven't even touched you yet." Jack mumbled as Mark placed his limp body on the mattress.
“But you have touched me,” the alpha whispers as he places gentle kisses on the pink lips of the omega. “You allowed me to worship you, Jack. That’s the best touch that I could ever receive.”
The omega hums happily as the alpha pushes his sweaty hair out of his face and slowly licks his belly completely clean. Then Jack is falling asleep to tender kisses and gentle rubs into his sore muscles, the soft afterglow too powerful for him to fight. Jack's eyes close softly, his body shutting down for a bit to recover from such an intense moment. He barely notices when Mark pulls away to clean himself up and fix whatever mess they had made. But his body curls around Mark's as soon as the alpha slips back into bed, falling into the most peaceful sleep he's had in a while.
It's a few hours later when Jack awakens to the warmth of Mark's lips on his. It's a different sort of affection this time around, and Jack can't help but melt into it. The sun is shining brightly, dousing the interior of the cabin with warm light.
"Good morning, my sun and stars." Mark murmurs against Jack's pink lips, pulling back to nuzzle his scruffy cheek. The alpha's hair is as wild as the wolf within, sticking up every which way like he'd been rolling around on the bed. Jack giggled, knowing that he didn't look any better. His love bites were already healed, but the alpha had left a different sort of mark on him last night. His once conflicted mind was now pulling him in the same direction. He wanted to see this out with Mark, and if this was going to work he'd have to give it his all. Mark was already giving Jack so much, and it's about time that he returned the favor.
The omega can already feel the heartbeat of his alpha, and he wonders if this is because of last night. Did the intimate moment they shared make their bond, or whatever Mark called it, even stronger?
“What can I do to help?”Jack asks brightly, wrapping his arms around his mate’s waist. “Tell me whatever I need to do when we meet with the Elders and I’ll do it.”
Mark smiles at the renewed willingness of his Luna to assists him, and he leans down and nuzzles his soft neck again.
“You don’t have to do anything but be yourself,” the alpha says, peppering kisses across the omega’s throat. “You will be asked questions by them, so be as honest and respectful as you can.”
Jack gives a short nod as Mark pulls away from him to get fresh clothing from the satchel bag. The Omega watches his mate slip into a dark pair of slacks and a looser fitting cream colored shirt, and he hands Jack a much better fitting pair of clothes for the day.
“Robin was kind enough to lend them to us,” Mark says, correctly understanding Jack’s confusion. “You two are about the same build.”
The alpha glances his dark eyes towards the omega’s curvy hips, and then softly chuckles.
“Well, almost the same build.”
Jack blushes, hiding his face in embarrassment from Mark's comment. He's always been told that he had feminine hips, but it wasn't until he met Mark that he knew their full power. The alpha was practically drooling over them like he couldn't wait to sink his nails into those curvy hips once again.
"Is that why I'm an omega? I've always had a few feminine traits that I couldn't explain, and I'm just wondering if I was always meant to be this way. Like the stars saw us and knew that we belonged together. It would have been different if I were anything else, wouldn't it?" Jack asked.
Mark considers the question. It’s a fair one to think about. It was true that Jack’s sweet scent and soft features were amazing to Mark. The way he naturally moved whether man or wolf with a grace and fluid charm made the alpha want to touch him all over.
“Yes, it’s true that you being an omega is what creates a burning need within me,” Mark admits, “But you are so much more than that Jack. You’re kind, incredibly brave, remarkably resourceful, and have an air of silliness that makes my heart smile. Your desire to fight is the strongest I have ever seen. That is the type of Luna I want by my side, and carrying my pups.”
Jack's eyes widen at that last statement. Did he just say pups? As in babies? Could males safely do that? Mark's words were incredibly sweet but the idea that Jack could potentially get pregnant from fooling around with his mate was making his head spin.
"P-pups? That's actually a thing that can happen? I'm a man, Mark. I can't get pregnant." Jack stammered, standing up a little too quickly. Mark's smile fell a bit, moving to steady his mate before he fell over. He figured that Jack would have a hard time understanding something as complex as this. In fact, he wasn't even sure that Jack could conceive since he wasn't born this way. Male omegas have a unique internal set up that mixes the best part of male and female genders. He's not one or the other, he's just Jack. On the outside, he appeared like most males, with a flat chest and external male genitalia. But on the inside, he was completely different. Male omegas have a complete set of working ovaries and a womb in which they carry their developing young. And when in lycan form they are able to give birth just like a female would. It's a bit confusing to someone like Jack, but Ethan would be able to explain it a lot better than Mark could.
“Deep breaths, Jack,” Mark whispers as he holds onto his waist. “Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. There is plenty of time to talk about those type of things. Besides, you having my babies is far from the only thing that makes you my mate.”
The calming tone of Mark’s voice instantly helps Jack’s heart to slow, and the omega reaches his hand towards the alpha’s handsome face. As if Mark knows what he needs they are kissing each other, and it’s only the gentle knock at the door that breaks them apart.
Robin slowly opens the cabin door, peering in at the couple with a soft smile.
"The elders are waiting for you, Mark. Jack and I will be right behind you unless they seek a more private audience." Robin says, motioning for them to hurry along. The elders aren't exactly patient, especially when it comes to unexpected guests. Mark nods and takes Jack's hand in his, leading him out of the cabin.
It is odd to Jack how natural it is to hold Mark’s hand in his. It’s almost like breathing the same air as the alpha, and the comforting warmth of his fingertips help as they exit the cabin. The walk to where the Elders live isn’t very far away, and Jack moves as quickly as he can to keep up with the other two men, who are talking quietly to each other.
“They are already aware of what happened to Jack’s village,” Robin mutters as they move through the thick trees. “And that Nate is the one who did it. We’re you aware that he attacked more than just the one settlement?”
Mark's face turns gravely serious as he frowns and shakes his head no. The idea that Nate would go so far in his hatred to kill even one human is horrifying enough for the alpha, let alone so many more.
Robin shifts his eyes to Jack, who's far too distracted by the woods around him to pay attention to them. He's almost apprehensive to even ask this question, but it's better to find out now rather than later.
“Does he know that Nate is the wolf that turned him?” Robin whispers to Mark, glancing at Jack to make sure that the omega hadn't heard him just now. Mark nods, eyes downcast towards the ground as he sighed.
“Yes, he does, and I told him everything else that I could. I wouldn't hold something like that from him, Robin.”
The human nods and returns his focus to the forest, leaving nothing but silence to fill the space in between them. Before long, a large stone building that reminded Jack of a castle came into view. The omega rolled his eyes, scoffing at the way they rubbed their wealth and status into the faces of their subjects. He knew that the Elders would have more protection than the rest of their kind, but this seemed like overkill.
"What should I say? I want to help but I have no idea who these people are." Jack asked, directing his question to both Robin and Mark. His mouth has gotten him into trouble more times than he'd like to admit, and this is one occasion that he'd rather not fuck up.
Robin pursed his lips, glancing back at Mark before answering the omega's question.
"Well, it's probably best if you just wait until they address you first. Victor and Charlotte are the two that you need to be cautious about. Don't speak unless spoken to and just try to be as truthful as you can be. Victor can tell if you're hiding something."
“What about the other two,” Jack asks as he tries to tame his wild hair a bit with his hands. “I thought that there were four of them.”
“You don’t need to worry about Amelia or Silas at all,” Mark says softly as they continue to move closer to the main entrance. “Both of them are incredibly kind and understanding. Silas especially will admire your bravery, Jack. He’s fought alongside both human and lycan alike during the bad times before the truce.”
The three men stop at a very large gate near a giant stone statue of a wolf howling towards the sky. Jack instinctively leans closer to Mark and tightens the hold on his hand. Robin takes a few steps ahead and clears his throat.
“The alpha of the North Lands and his newly crowned Luna are here to speak to the Elders,” the human’s voice rings out through the crisp morning air. “If this pleases all four, then open the gate!”
Mark and Jack exchanged a look, hearing nothing but silence in return. A few moments had passed before a soft click echoed from the tall gate in front of them. The ornate metal bars of the gate groaned as they slowly opened. Robin stepped through the opening between the metal and stone, beckoning the expected couple to follow behind him. Jack's grip on Mark's hand tightened once more, his mind flashing back to the cave he almost died in a few days prior. Even now he can feel the scape of hard rock against his wounded torso, Nate's snarling bark right behind him. The omega flinched as Mark squeezed his hand a bit, noticing the glazed over look in his mate's terrified eyes.
"Jack? What's wrong?" The alpha hummed, stopping for a moment to check on him. Jack shook his head, pushing the unwanted memory into the back of his mind once again. The ebony paw print on his pale chest was aching, softly thrumming along with his rapid pulse. Jack hasn't had a quiet moment to just sit down and process this mess he now called his life. So much had happened in the course of the past few days, and Jack was beginning to feel overwhelmed. It couldn't have come at a worse time than this when Mark needed him to be calm and composed.
"I-I'm ok." The omega breathed, the color draining from his face like he was about to collapse.
Mark narrowed his eyes as he watched the omega closely, and even Robin turned around when he no longer heard the footsteps of the two men behind him. Jack's already pale face was now ghostly white as the flashes of the attack from Nate floods over his memory, and before he realizes what is happening, his knees are buckling as he falls to the ground.
"Jack!" Mark screams as the omega's blue eyes roll back in his head. The alpha barely grabs him from falling to the ground in time. Robin calls out for help as Mark holds his mate in his arms, his dark brown eyes terrified as he looks over the unconscious man.
There are a few distant howls and then a woman with dark hair and kind eyes moves quickly to Mark's side, with her soft hand touching the alpha's shoulder. She is wearing long sweeping robes of midnight blue, her face covered with a hood, and it's only when Mark turns to see who was squeezing him gently that he recognizes who it is.
"Amelia, y-your grace," the alpha stammers. "I'm sorry for this. I'm not sure what's wrong with - "
"An apology isn't needed for your Luna. Robin will take you both to the resting room in the east tower," the Elder whispers kindly. "I'll let the others know what happened, and meet you there shortly."
Robin nods and waits for Mark to scoop up Jack and secure him, and with careful steps, the alpha follows the human to a door to the right and into a dark hallway with rich midnight blue tapestries and freshly lit white candles. The sweet smell of Amelia's rosy scent was all over them, and even though Mark had never been in this part of the castle, it was very clear that this wing belonged to her.
After moving up a large set of stone stairs Robin opens a large wooden door to reveal a fairly large bedroom, complete with a handsome four-poster bed and sturdy dark wooden furniture.
"What happened to him?" Robin mutters as Mark gently places Jack on the bed.
The alpha frowns as he places fingertips on the omega's neck, and then a hand on his forehead. Jack's eyes remain closed as he breathes in and out.
"He's burning up," Mark answers, now unbuttoning Jack's borrowed shirt to cool him down. "I don't understand. He seemed fine this morning."
There is a soft knock on the door and then it opens to reveal Amelia again, this time her face uncovered completely. Robin moves away from the bed so that she can to see the omega more clearly. Her lovely face sweeps over Jack's sleeping form, and then up to the panicked eyes of his mate.
"Let me check him, if I may," she says quietly, and Mark shuffles over.
She places a hand first on his pale chest and black paw print, and her lips turn downward when she feels the twitch beneath her fingers. Mark is almost beside himself at this point but stays as still as he can. After a few moments, she sighs and turns back to Robin and instructs him to get some cool water from the kitchen along with washcloths.
"Yes, your grace," Robin answers with a quick nod of his head and quickly exits the room.
"How many days since your Luna turned, Mark?" she asks, almost politely once the human's steps fade.
"A few days, your grace," the alpha answers, slightly thrown by the question.
The Elder's looks at the bite marks on their necks, and there are a few moments of silence before she speaks again.
"And when did you last mate with him?"
It is an incredibly personal question, but there is no need for Mark to answer. The slight body language and the downturned gaze is enough, and the Elder lycan sighs.
"Your mate has been through a great ordeal," she says as she places her hand on the alpha's right arm. "New wolves need to be bonded with their mates as quickly as possible to help ground themselves into their new life. When they don't, this type of thing can happen. I'm sure that you are worried about pushing him too far too fast, but you both need to give yourselves to each other completely to complete the bond."
Mark can feel his heart constrict in his chest at this information.
"I didn't know that new wolves were..."
The alpha struggles with finding the right words.
"Sensitive to their new bodies," the Elder answers. "The cooling cloths will help for now, along with making sure to talk to him when he's getting too overwhelmed, but you need to mate with him soon. If not these types of fainting spells will continue to happen."
Mark nods, his heart heavy with guilt. He should have just talked to Jack about the way he was feeling. It's clear from how desperate they acted last night that they wanted to go further, but fear kept Mark from even discussing the matter with his mate. In his mind, this was his fault.
Robin enters the room once again, placing the bowl of cool water next to the bed. Amelia thanked him, smiling warmly as she wrung out the excess water from the cloth floating inside the bowl. The Elder handed the cloth to Mark, his gaze falling on Jack's chest. The boy was sweating, sucking in ragged breaths like he was experiencing excruciating pain. Her tender heart broke for him, and Mark could feel the empathy in her kind eyes.
"Keep him comfortable as best as you can. He'll come around once his fever has broken." She murmured, turning to walk towards the door. "I'll give you two some privacy. You might want to remove any clothing that could trap the heat of his body inside."
She touches the alpha’s shoulder with her hand and squeezes gently, and both her and Robin leave the room. Once the door closes Mark settles his dark eyes on Jack again, and with a small sigh, he begins to take off his mate’s clothing.
First, he pulls at the last of the buttons on the shirt and then carefully wraps his arms around the smaller man to lift him into a sitting position. Jack’s head softly falls onto the alpha’s broad shoulder as Mark pulls the material off of his shivering arms. Once his chest is bare, Mark lays him back down, making sure to cradle his limp body as he settles him back onto the soft mattress.
Jack mutters something in his sleep as Mark unbuttons his pants next, taking as much time as he needs to gently raise Jack’s hips to remove the pants until they too are tossed onto the floor with a soft sound.
“I’m so sorry, Jack,” Mark whispers as he watches the omega moan and twitch in what he could only imagine were horrible dreams. The omega’s eyelids fluttered while the alpha began to place the wet cloth onto his sweaty flesh, the heat almost felt like fire under Mark’s fingertips. He took care to gently caress each part of his mate’s body, as if Jack’s pale skin was a canvas and the alpha’s strong fingers were paint.
Mark only stops worrying when Jack begins to come around, and his bright blue eyes open slowly and blink. The alpha sits next to him on the bed as he watches his mate look around the elegant room, clearly confused as to what happened.
“Hey,” The alpha mutters quietly as Jack tries to get up. “You need to rest, my sun and stars. I’m right here with you.”
Before Jack can say anything else he feels soft lips on his own and the two men are kissing for what seems like a lifetime. The alpha can feel his mate’s body relax and cool down at the touch.
Mark pulls away from Jack just long enough to take off his own clothing, and then crawls into the arms of his Luna, who places his small head in the middle of his alpha’s chest and begins to cry.
“I f-fucked up, didn’t I?”
Jack feels warm fingers through his dark hair as hot tears fall from his cheeks. He doesn’t understand all of the words coming from the man holding him close, but he relishes the feeling of compassion and something that comes incredibly close to what the omega used to call love.
“You didn’t do anything wrong at all. You are my Luna, Jack. You are, and will always be the most beautiful and precious part of my heart.”
The omega buries his face into Mark's chest, holding on to him for dear life. The need to be close to this man is overwhelming, and Jack can't help but find comfort in his alpha's touch.
The sun is beginning to set, and after such an emotionally draining day Jack is finally sleeping soundly. His face is squished against Mark's shoulder, and for once he appears to be sleeping peacefully. The nightstand is littered with empty plates from supper, which Amelia had brought up to them. Her kindness was met with gratitude from both Mark and Jack, but Victor wasn't as pleased with her level of hospitality. He was an impatient and brash man, and the longer they stayed holed up in that room the angrier he would become.
It’s Matt that wakes up first, grunting as he pushes Nate from on top of him. Another round of powerful sex has come and gone, but the dark night sky and the eerie silence has the omega’s mind racing with concern.
Usually, by now the sound of his pack would be heard either talking about the night's hunt or general discussions of the next day’s tasks would fill the air. Yet, nothing but a deathly emptiness seemed to fill Matt’s ears and heart.
“Nate,” he whispers to the beta that's now lying beside him, still asleep. “Something’s wrong.”
Nate growls in his sleep, stirring from the sound of Matt's voice. As much as he doesn't want to admit, Matt has grown on him a little more than he intended. At first, he was only interested in sex, but there's something about Matt that captures his attention. The omega shakes Nate's shoulder, pulling him out of sleep's grasp.
"Nate, wake the fuck up!" Matt snaps, baring his teeth. The beta's eyes flutter open, an annoyed groan leaving his lips as his blurry gaze falls on Matt. He hadn't been asleep for long, and Nate was utterly exhausted from how frequent their sessions have been.
"Someone better be dead or dying," Nate grumbled, rubbing his face as he sighed.
Matt’s frown is deepened by the beta’s words as he shifts back into his wolf form, his nose in the air as he begins to sniff for the others in his pack. Even if he doesn’t always see eye to eye with them, the omega values his family.
“For one who boasts so much about his strength, you still fret like the omega you are,” Nate grunts as he begrudgingly shifts into his lycan form. His violet eyes narrow at Matt as he continues to sniff at the air, completely ignoring Nate’s remarks about his subgender.
“There’s blood in the air,” Matt says quickly, pushing the cabin door opened with his nose.
“Obviously,” Nate mutters as he heads over to the doorway as well. “It’s the time of night for -“
“Not animal blood,” Matt snaps back, his sharp eyes looking around in the cool night air. “Wolf blood. My pack’s blood. We have to find them. Now!”
Nate sighs as he follows Matt outside, sniffing the air to help the omega locate the source of the copper odor. It's faint, but Nate can definitely tell that Matt isn't overreacting. This is lycan blood. Nate growls, pinning his ears back as he senses a threat he cannot see. Matt is already following the scent into the thick trees, ignoring the possibility that this could very well be a ploy to lure Matt out into the open.
"Matt, wait!" Nate barks, chasing after him. "This could be a trap!"
But Matt wasn't listening. The thought of his packmates in danger was the only thing he could focus on, and the quicker he ran the stronger the scent of blood became.
"Matt!" Nate called out, picking up the pace to a gallop. The omega weaved through the thick trees, his eyes narrowed as he came upon the body of a wolf lying limply on the forest floor. The grey fur and blue eyes gave away the wolf's identity, and Matt felt his heart catch in his throat as he suddenly stopped. The grey wolf was barely breathing, his right leg caught in a bear trap. Two arrows were sticking out of his side, blood trickling out of the wounds to join the thick pool of crimson collecting under him.
"Oh my God..Matthias." he breathed, Nate catching up to the trembling omega. "What happened? Who the fuck did this to you?!"
The grey wolf wheezed in the cold night air, his icy blue eyes glossed over from fear and pain. He tries to speak but nothing intelligible is able to be heard.
Matt yells as he paws at the bear trap to see if there’s any way to get it off and then shifts quickly back into his human form. His tears are pushing out of his eyes as he tries and fails to remove the painful device.
Nate turns his head in the direction of where Matthias seemed to have been coming from, his heart pounding in his chest. It was well known in Matt’s pack that Matthias was the fastest runner, so if he was caught here, then the others...
Nate whips his head back to see the source of the horrible noise and frowns at the crying face of the omega. The twisted head of Matthias is resting in Matt’s trembling hands, his neck was broken, ending the grey wolf’s misery.
Matt is wailing, howling with a pain that Nate knows all too well. That type of grief can weigh you down, and in Nate's case, turn you into a bitter shell of your former self. He sighs, shifting back despite the heavy feeling of danger that lingers in the air. He couldn't smell a predator anywhere around here, but his guard remained up as he crawled closer to Matt and took the weeping omega into his arms.
Matt didn't even fight it, burying his face into the crook of Nate's shoulder. The beta allowed him to grieve, remembering his own pain that consumed him from the inside out. A small growl bubbled up from his chest, knowing in his heart that this attack wasn't caused by an animal. Humans did this. Just like before.
Matt pulls away for a moment, his heart aching over the loss of his friend. But he still had to find the others. Amanda and Stephanie could still be alive, and the lack of distressed howls deeply disturbed him.
“The girls would be together regardless of what was happening,” Matt says as he shifts back into wolf form and sniffs again at the ground. “Amanda is newly pregnant with Matthias’ pup. We need to find the girls and protect them.”
Nate sighed as he watched the omega pace around, his sobs barely contained but his focus clear in his eyes. The beta already knows that it is unlikely that the females would be spared in a fight against humans. They would be slaughtered just like the males, pregnant or not.
"Matt, we need to take a minute to really think about where to go before we just charge into what could still be a trap," Nate suggests as he shifts back into the black wolf. "And to consider that the pack is dead, and only we are -"
"No!" Matt snarls as he begins to move towards the thicker area of the woods. "I'm not going to even think about anything like that. The others have to be safe, including Amanda. She needs as much support as she can now that Matthias is gone."
Nate opens his mouth to respond, but Matt is gone before he's able to say anything. The beta sighed, racing after Matt with a feeling of dread resting heavily inside his chest. He can smell the blood, hear the unsettling silence that surrounds them. This entire situation is pointing towards a bad outcome, and even though his heart hurts for Matt, he knows that nothing good can come from this.
The copper odor in the air is getting stronger, along with the scent of death and human flesh. Nate growls, finally catching up to Matt. The omega has a look of horror in his eyes, staring straight ahead. There's a trail of blood and fur under his paws, leading him towards the cold bodies of his deceased packmates.
"No," Matt whispers, the pain in his voice almost causing him to fall to the ground himself. "No, it...can't be. Not all of them....no."
The omega is moving again, his nimble legs jumping over the dead. His eyes and ears opened for any trace of a muscle stirring or the intake of breath. It's only when he reaches Amanda that the weight of what happened finally reached his heart. Her dark blue eyes half closed and empty, and her rounded belly completely ripped out and in pieces.
A broken howl rips from his throat, slowly melting into the distressed scream of a man as Matt's fur falls away. His arms are quick to cradle Amanda's body, blood and dirt staining his skin as he mourns the loss of his family. Nate stays a few feet behind, bowing his head as he listened to the sound of Matt's sobs. He remembers that pain so vividly, and even now he feels it deep inside of his soul. There is nothing that he could say or do to ease Matt's pain, but he wants to try.
Nate steps forward, violet eyes meeting hazel. The omega is a complete mess, both physically and emotionally. It's heartbreaking.
"We need to get away from here," Nate mumbles softly, shifting and placing his hand on the omega's shoulder. "Humans killed your pack, Matt. Only they use the types of tools to make these cuts."
"I can't just...leave them," Matt cries, his face still looking at the shell of Amanda. "She...and everyone else needs to be buried. I refuse to let them just rot away like this."
Nate nuzzles the omega's neck as he pulls them both to their bare feet, and Matt looks into the beta's dark brown eyes.
"The Elders will find out what happened soon enough, and the other packs will need to see what has happened. They will all be buried properly. I'm wanted for questioning for my own crimes, Matt. I have to leave, and there's nothing for you here now. Come with me."
"I can't just leave," Matt replies back softly, taken aback by the beta's words. It almost sounded like Nate cared for him in some way past just sex and a roof over his head. The conflicting feelings of pain and loss of his pack mixed with true affection and connection with Nate were just too much to handle right now.
"If that's really how you want things to be, then very well," Nate mutters. "I'll stay for the night to protect you, but by daybreak, I have to move on."
Matt hesitates, clutching Amanda's body tightly. He knows that Nate is right, but this has been his home since he was just a young pup. These lycans were the family he never had, and he doesn't want to let their deaths be in vain. Matt has an appetite for violence against humans as well, so the thought of exacting revenge makes his pulse quicken.
"Wait..y-you're right," Matt whispered, catching Nate's attention as he began to pull away. "There's nothing left for me here. I-I just..don't want to leave. Everything I've ever known is here, but with my pack gone, it's just empty memories. You're all I have left, Nate."
The beta can feel his chest tighten in a familiar kind of way. It wasn't love, but it still isn't anything that he wants to feel ever again. To say that he didn't like Matt at all would be a bitter lie, but the lingering pain of Cristina, and then Mark still line the creases of his broken heart.
The beta shook off the feeling, touching the side of Amanda's cheek with the back of his hand. Maybe there would be time to at least bury a few of the others, just as long as Matt would be able to explain what had happened to the Elders by himself.
"Amanda and Matthias should be buried together," Nate muttered, his dark eyes turning to see where they had left the other wolf. He didn't have to look far to find Stephanie's body, and his heart broke for her. No creature should have to endure such a prejudiced hatred like that, being slaughtered like cattle and left to rot like their lives had no meaning. He doubted that Matt would overcome something as painful as this. Death has a funny way of changing you, turning you into a shell of your former self. It's been years since the passing of his mate and pup, but Nathan will always carry the weight of that night on his shoulders. Just like Matt will.
The dead are carried back to the sleeping grounds and properly buried. Matt is utterly destroyed, kneeling before their graves with a hopeless expression etched on his tearstained face. He looks so lost, like he's a young pup again, separated from his parents when he wandered off too far. Only this time he has no one to save him. Nate isn't the person Matt needs him to be right now. But he's all he has left in this cruel world. So Matt will follow him like the frightened pup he is, leaning on a shoulder that wasn't meant for him because he has no choice.
The night drags on slower than Nate would have liked, but he tries to comfort Matt in the only way he really knew how. The kisses are sweeter than Nate is capable of, and his feather-light touches do little to soothe the ache that festered in Matt's heart, but he's trying his best to make him forget, if only for a moment. The Omega cries as they move together as one, clinging onto Nate tightly. It's too much. It's way too much for Nate to handle, but he does what he has to for the time being. The beta holds his trembling body, whispering meaningless words into his ear as Matt cries himself to sleep. The urge to run is growing within his bones once again, unable to take the weight of Matt's pain any longer than necessary. And so, he slips out of Matt's bed, turning his head to take one last glance at the broken omega, and leaves. Now Matt truly has no one.
Jack blinks into the darkness, blue eyes gooey with sleep. The bed that he's lying on is his own, way before either black wolf entered his life. Confusion clings to his face as he turns his head this way, and then the other. Almost from instinct, he pulls at his dressing gown until his chest is exposed, but the ebony paw print is gone. He places a trembling hand against his neck. No scars or bite marks either. Nothing but smooth, unblemished skin is beneath his fingertips.
The voice is small, but it absolutely belongs to him. Even he is alarmed by how sad it sounds in his throat. It's the type of tone one that's missing his loved one would use. The pain is deep in his bones. Too deep for this to actually be a dream.
In a few moments time, he is out of bed and walking towards the front door. The soft sounds of the no longer dead villagers echo as they chat merrily by the large community fire. Jack lingers by the doorframe, and his heart flutters at the faces of people he once knew lit up by the dancing flames.
But there is a familiar growl behind him, and he feels his blood run cold through his heart. He doesn't even have time to turn to see the violet eyes before he is knocked down to the hardwood floor. The teeth are shimmering like daggers, and the voice that he would never be able to forget was filled with barely contained rage.
"My little rabbit, have you finally come out of your hole?"
Jack could feel his heart leap into his throat, strangling him as the ebony wolf stalked closer. The happy sounds of chatter and kinship had ceased, and Jack's ears were filled with the guttural screams of his dying friends and family. Everything was quickly collapsing in on him, and the omega could barely breathe now that Nate was inches away from his face.
"I've been searching for you, hoping to set things right," He purred smoothly, his long tongue lolling out to lap at the salty tears that covered his cheeks. "I let you get away. But I won't let that happen again. Send Mark my regards."
Jack didn't even have time to brace himself before Nate's jaws were tightly clamped around his throat, shredding his skin and crushing his windpipe. Death was on the horizon for him, and Jack was trembling with a mixture of fear and pain as Nate thrashed his head to ensure that Jack wouldn't be walking away from this one. He couldn't call out for Mark, and that hopelessness sank into his chest and festered there until his core was completely rotten. Where in the hell was Mark? Why wasn't he here to save him? But then again why did that even matter in the end?
With his last strangled breath he managed to choke out a sound that resembled Mark's name, and to his utter surprise, Mark answered him. His voice sounded like it was miles away, but Mark was shouting his name like he was terrified for Jack. The shouting continued until Jack's vision blackened and Nate began to feast. Such pain and anguish reverberated throughout his body, echoing like Mark's frantic voice, which was only getting louder and more desperate.
"Jack, open your eyes. Come on, baby. Look at me!" He cried, voice cracking with stress.
"Baby, please! I'm right here. You're safe, I promise."
As if he were ripping through the thick black velvet of an angry nightmare, Jack is awake, his body quickly pulled up into the alpha's sturdy arms. His breaths are shallow, flesh scaling to the touch. The omega is shaking so badly that he can barely hold on to his alpha.
"Make it stop," Jack cries out, face buried in the side of Mark's neck. "It hurts. Please, make it stop."
Mark can feel the familiar twitch of his omega's paw print against his own skin, and the desperate way his fingernails are digging into his back. It is past the time for them to be with each other, and Mark can't put this off any longer.
"Just relax," the alpha whispers into the shell of his pale ear. "Your body will know what to do, my Luna."
Jack can feel his arms begin to wrap around Mark's neck and his plump thighs slide forward until he is sitting on the alpha's lap. His pink mouth moves down Mark's tanned face until their lips connect. The kisses move slow and sweet while Jack begins to grind down onto Mark's naked lap. The alpha's hands slink down to meet the rounded globes of his omega's ass and he squeezes just hard enough to hear him gasp.
Mark is still a bit wary, and he hopes that Jack will be able to handle this type of physical intimacy. But even if he isn't ready, they've run out of time and distractions that have only served to worsen Jack's condition. These night terrors and hallucinations will only continue until Jack is completely consumed by them, and Mark will lose his Luna to a broken mind, just as he lost Nate to a broken heart.
So far Jack appears to be calming down, letting the warm touch of his alpha soothe his frayed nerves. His skin is still fevered and covered in a thin layer of sweat, but he isn't sure if it's from the dream or the way his mate's hips are circling desperately. Their tongues dart out to taste each other, fingers tangled in the hair on their heads. They're sharing the same air, panting with need while a more primitive instinct takes over. Mark is actively fighting himself for control, restraining the urge to flip Jack on his belly and spear him with his throbbing erection like some sort of animal. They'd have plenty of time to fuck like a couple of horny dogs, but Mark wanted to make Jack's first experience something sweet and memorable.
The alpha gently shifted his position, laying Jack back down against the mattress while he settled himself in between his mate's spread legs. Jack looked so gorgeous like this, with his blue eyes glassy and distant and his face flushed while his hair stuck to his damp forehead.
"Just let me worship you, my love. I want to make you see the stars that shine like diamonds in your eyes." He murmured, his lips trailing a line of hot kisses down Jack's neck, all the way to the tuff of curly hair that covered his hardening manhood. The alpha's fingers quickly dipped into the jar of oil that was kept on the nightstand, and with a slow push, his index finger slipped inside of his mate's body while his mouth enveloped Jack's member.
The omega throws back his head further into the soft pillows as he begins to moan. The meat of his porcelain thighs are already shivering like falling leaves. The heat is so pure and so rich that Mark can barely keep himself from unleashing the wild beast inside.
"M-more," Jack slurs. "Love me. Please love me more."
The alpha twirls his soft tongue around the omega's tip while he presses a second finger deep inside of his core. Jack screams out at the sensation and trembles at each and every thrust. Then the alpha pulls his lips away just long enough to press gentle bites on Jack's curvy hips.
"You're so beautiful," Mark whispers as his free hand interlaces with his Luna's. "The perfect one to share my heart and bed for the rest of my life."
Jack is breathless and starry-eyed, his gaze fixed on the ceiling as Mark works him open. His thighs are slowly being covered with bite marks and kisses, and his head is stuck in a fog that won't seem to dissipate. He's been thinking about this moment for quite some time, and no matter how much he's tried to imagine what being with Mark would feel like, he just couldn't get it right. He could never imagine him with all of his perfection, or all of his imperfection for that matter. Mark was such a complex creature, bound to those he loved by blood and loyalty. And just the way that he was touching him, caressing his fevered skin as if it were made of the finest silk the world had to offer was something his mind would always fail to realistically create. Reality was so much sweeter than his fantasies could ever be, and Jack just wanted to soak in these sensations that Mark was gracing his body with.
Time seemed to stop completely as Mark crawled back up his trembling frame, kissing every inch of exposed skin on his way back to his mate's soft lips. His hips were positioned, arms supporting his weight as he hovered over Jack. This was it. No turning back.
Mark pushed in as slowly as he dared, making sure to watch his mate for signs of anything but the purest pleasure. The need to make Jack fall apart again and again was the only thing pressing into his heated mind.
Jack sighed as if he had never taken a breath before this very moment in time. The threads of their bond tightened so much that even Mark was lost for words.
With a swivel of his hips, they moved as one. Each touch a melody that the other one sang. The angry twitching of Jack's paw print was gone and replaced with the cooling of his skin as he engulfed the alpha completely.
The sounds of the bed swaying only added to the music they made, and Jack never knew anything could feel so wondrous. The desire to say something meaningful and delicate flits through his hazy mind, but what comes out is what he should have said from the beginning.
"I love you," he groans. "I love you more than anything, Mark."
The sway of the alpha's hips stills for a moment, and his heart constricts inside of his chest. Hearing such honied words fall from Jack's lips is quite an intense thing to experience. He can't help the growl that works its way up his throat, or the way his manhood twitches with such excitement just from listening to Jack's heartfelt confession. But the reaction from Jack is all it takes to spur Mark into a confession of his own. The omega arches into Mark's touch, pressing down on his mate's cock to keep the rhythm going.
"Fuck, Jack," Mark practically mewled, eyes rolling back from the tidal wave of different emotions that washed over him. "I love you too. So God damn much, baby."
Jack moaned breathlessly at that, eyes closing as his hips rolled to meet Mark's gentle thrusts. He could feel a warm pressure building inside of his belly, like a coil set to go off at any moment. His quivering lips were quick to seek out Mark's once again, stealing the air from his lungs as the pace they had set quickened. It wasn't until Mark's hand wrapped around his swollen length that Jack finally released. And what a sight that was. The omega's body was pulled taut like a bow, arching off of the bed as he squirmed and whimpered like an injured animal. His eyes were squeezed shut, lips kissed red and slightly parted as his face twisted with intense pleasure. The image of Jack climaxing would have been enough to send Mark spiraling down into ecstasy as well, but the way his mate's body rhythmically squeezed his sensitive length was just too much for him to bear.
Mark groaned, his chest rumbling as his cock twitched and spasmed. Having another man's seed inside of him was yet another sensation that Jack had yet to experience, but oh, was it delightful. The alpha let the weight of his body press down against his mate, collapsing as he reeled from such a sensation. Jack was purring, drooling a little as he wrapped his arms around his mate as tightly as he could. For the first time since he's been a lycan, he feels safe and secure. The images of his attack and those feelings of hopelessness and isolation had all but vanished, like they were burned away with the heat of their undying love.
It's Jack that wakes up first, his light eyes fluttering at the sound of a soft knock at the door. He yawns, blinking into the bright morning light. It takes a moment or two for the omega to connect where they are. The midnight blue walls and lavish furniture of the Elder Amelia surround every part of this gorgeous resting room.
"Just a minute," Jack calls out.
Mark is still fast asleep, with his mouth hanging open and snoring louder than Jack had ever heard before. Their arms and legs were tangled up together, and his thick hair was nothing but a mess of midnight waves.
"Mark, wake up," the omega whispers, nuzzling his nose against the neck of his alpha.
With a small grunt, those dark brown eyes blink open, lazily glancing over to look at his Luna. They both smile at the same time and giggle at the way the other looks.
"Good morning, my sun and stars," Mark mutters with a voice deep with slumber. "Did you sleep well?"
Jack gives a small nod of his head.
"I don't think I've ever slept that well. We have a visitor at our door, though."
Mark turns his head towards the door, after making sure that they both were properly covered up by blankets.
"Come in," he calls out.
With a small creek, the door opens and Amelia enters the room. Her flowing robes look radiant in the morning sunlight, and she smiles at the two of them in bed.
"You look much better," she soothes as her kind eyes look at the omega. "I see that you both used this resting room in the way that I had hoped you would."
Jack turns so pink in the cheeks that Mark chuckles, and in a moment the omega's face is buried underneath the blankets.
"On behalf of my shy Luna, thank you so much for your kindness, your grace."
Amelia smiled kindly, her dark eyes reflecting nothing but pure sunshine. She was by far the purest soul that Mark has ever met, and he wondered how she could even stomach being around someone as cold as Victor.
"I'm glad that the two of you could finally connect. Heats are the perfect time to mate after all."
Jack's face poked out from under the covers, twisting with confusion at the statement. His eyes connected with Mark's for a moment, suddenly noticing that the color had all but drained from his face. How on earth did he not realize what this was? Jack's night terrors and fainting spells were brought on by their lack of physical intimacy, but the fever was something else entirely. Yes, they needed to mate, but for more than one reason. It appeared that Jack was indeed fertile, and Mark was kicking himself for not seeing it until now. Jack was such a complex and complicated creature. His body has been under so much stress in the past few days, and Mark's distance did nothing to help. He's never been with an omega before, certainly not a new wolf, so this was foreign to both of them.
"Oh," Amelia sighed, giving Mark a sympathetic smile. "You didn't know?"
Mark just shook his head, looking a little shocked as he tried to recall how desperate they both were for each other recently.
"It's alright, my dear. His body is still getting used to things, and it will take some time before you can recognize those tell-tale queues. It's nothing to fret over."
"Thank you, your grace," Mark mutters with a look back at the omega. "It seems that we both have a lot to learn about each other still."
Amelia gave a warm chuckle as she reached a hand out to touch Mark's shoulder. It amazed Mark how even now she is so gracious and understanding. She's a healer, but even with that her loving nature and mothering touch was so needed right now. How would he be able to admit that it was his actions that caused Nate's rage to be unleashed on so many innocent humans and lycans? He would never be able to forgive himself.
"Mark," Jack whispered as he pulled away from the covers to wrap his arms around the alpha's waist. "Why are you crying?"
It's only then that the alpha realized that his vision had gone slightly blurry at the edges, and warm tears were falling slowly from his dark eyes.
"Your heart is heavy with so much guilt and sadness, young alpha," Amelia whispered. "Just remember that your true strength is in your heart, and not in your muscles and bones."
Amelia's words, though sweet, do little to calm the storm that raged within his mind. Nate was his responsibility, and it was his fault that so many innocent people were slaughtered like cattle. If he had just tried to make things work, none of this would have happened. But Mark had to remember that his relationship with Nate was severed for a reason. Nate was unstable, and he was going to eventually get someone killed. Mark did what he thought was right, even though he could have handled it better. He still loves Nate dearly, and he probably always will in some way. A love like that isn't something that can just be swept under the rug and forgotten. Mark had to be the one to confront Nate when the time was right. They both needed closure, no matter how this ended for them. He just hoped that the Elders wouldn't call for blood to settle this problem. There's been enough death to last them all a lifetime, and even though Nate has done some unspeakable things, he didn't deserve to die for them.
"I'll be on my way," Amelia said, stepping back to give them a moment to compose themselves. "Victor and the others will be waiting for you once you're dressed."
Mark gives a short nod of his head as Amelia leaves, closing the door quietly and leaving them alone to process everything that's just transpired. Between Jack's heat, possible pregnancy, and the shit going on with Nate and the villagers, Mark was set to have a nervous breakdown. It's too much. But he wouldn't dream of leaving Jack behind in exchange for a simpler life. He'd made his decision the moment he sank his teeth in Jack's neck. He wasn't going anywhere without Jack, no matter how complicated things became. And that's the main difference between him and Nate. Mark doesn't run when he's afraid.
Mark enters the large hall first with Jack close behind, still wiping off a bit of breakfast from his chin. Their bare feet make soft noises as they move from the resting room in Amelia's wing down the long winding staircase towards the main hall to meet with the Elders. The alpha reaches back his right hand which Jack takes almost desperately in his left. Their fingers interlaced firmly, but it's hard to tell who's more afraid.
"Mark, what if I make another mistake?" Jack squeaks as he tries to shuffle his feet a little faster. "I don't want to embarrass you or the pack."
The alpha pauses and turns to face the omega. His warm brown eyes are softer and more loving than ever.
"I can promise you that you'll be fine, Jack. You are my Luna and my heart, and you would never be able to do anything but bring pride and happiness to both the pack and myself."
Jack can feel his cheeks warming up from such unwarranted praise, but he cherished it all the same. The desire to say something sweet and romantic is there but his nerves are pushing all the fancier words and phrases aside.
"I love you, Mark," is all that he can muster to say in the dark hallway.
The alpha smiles and wraps his arms around him. The kiss is soft and warm, and both men feel their hearts soar when then pull away.
"I love you too, Jack. More than I can ever show you."
With a hesitant step forward, Mark entered the large chamber that led them into the throne room. Jack was slightly behind him, nervously chewing his bottom lip as he glanced around. This place was huge, the interior decorated with lavish tapestries and sculptures. The Elders themselves were seated on four different thrones near the back, with Victor and Charlotte sitting in the middle and Amelia and Silas on each end. Large portraits of each Elder lined the walls, and Jack swallowed anxiously when his gaze landed on Victor. The Elder sat on his throne made of ornate steel, his neon blue eyes burning into the omega as they approached.
"I trust that your stay here has been quite comfortable, Mark? How generous of Amelia to offer up her resting room for your sickly omega." Victor sneered, and Mark could already sense that his patience had reached its end.
"Yes, your grace. Amelia has been a gracious host, and we are eternally grateful for the hospitality you have shown us." Mark responded, clenching his jaw as he forced himself to remain calm. Victor was extremely short tempered and could be seen as hostile to some. Mark expected his mood to be sour, but he didn't think that it would be so difficult to shrug off those harsh words when they were aimed at Jack and not him.
"Well, since you have enjoyed our hospitality," Victor continued, his deep purple robes shimmering in the morning sunlight. "And apparently from the scent, have enjoyed each other...let's get to what has brought you here today. Or should we say whom."
Jack could feel the tension mounting inside of his mate's muscles at the softly veiled insults. Even Amelia was looking slightly uncomfortable at the way Victor was beginning the conversation, but she kept silent, other than trying to throw calming glances towards Mark. Unfortunately, Mark wasn't paying attention to anyone but Victor.
"It is my fault for the lateness of our arrival, your graces," Mark said softly, with the slightest bow of his head. "There are reasons, but there is no excuse for me taking so much time."
Charlotte raised her hand to silence Mark, and all eyes were on her as she leaned to the side to get a better view of Jack. She cleared her throat before she turned her eyes on the trembling omega that was hiding behind Mark.
"The explanation can wait a moment. Mark, please introduce us to your newly crowned Luna."
Jack felt his blood turn to ice at being mentioned even in passing. Though he had no idea about the four Elders until very recently, it was clear how powerful and respected they are to the rest of the lycans.
"Yes, of course, your grace," Mark stammered slightly as he pulled at Jack's arm to stand beside him properly. "This is Jack. We've been mated for only a few days, but he has already shown true strength and bravery."
Victor scoffed, rolling his eyes in irritation. He didn't give a rat's ass about Mark's new plaything. Not when innocents were dying at the jaws of a lycan. Silas sat forward a bit, his golden eyes narrowing as he inspected the small omega before him.
"He's a fighter," he said, his deep voice booming in Jack's ears. "Such a brave little one-"
"Enough!" Victor snapped. "Your Luna is a disgrace. He's impure and unfit to carry the title he wears. But that's a discussion for another time. We are here to discuss Nathan and your ineptitude as an alpha. You've been so concerned with this pitiful excuse for an omega that you've failed to perform such a simple task. These attacks have gone on for too long, and it should have been taken care of from the start."
“Mark’s been a wonderful alpha. If it wasn’t for him then Nathan would have killed every human in that first village!”
It took a moment or two for everyone to realize that the strong voice that rang out had been Jack’s voice. Even the omega seemed startled by his brashness. Victor looked beside himself with rage while the others were regarding Jack with a lot more interest than before.
“You speak bravely, little one,” Silas spoke kindly. “So you were the lone beating heart of the first attack? We knew that there had been one human left, but we didn’t know that the new wolf and the survivor were one in the same.”
Mark glanced over at Jack, who nodded his head. The omega seemed transfixed by the golden stare.
“Speak, little one,” Silas cooed. “You’re more than allowed.”
Jack exhaled slowly, trying to calm his nerves while he collected his thoughts. Victor didn't know half as much as he thought he did about Mark, and Jack wasn't just going to stand there and listen to him degrading his mate. In Jack's mind, you get respect when you earn it.
"Mark saved my life the night that Nathan tried to claim it. I was alone, half dead in a cave I had managed to crawl into when I escaped. I don't know how long I was there, bleeding out and slowly dying from my wounds, but I do remember Mark's eyes. He found me, and even though it would have been easier to just end my suffering, he chose to do something that no one else was brave enough to do. I owe him my life for that. And he is not responsible for the things that Nathan has done."
"Is that so?" Victor hissed, narrowing his eyes maliciously at Jack. "Did he tell you how he used Nathan for years before throwing him aside? How he slipped into Nathan's bed like a serpent after his mate and pup were slaughtered? His actions have directly caused this travesty, and because of him, innocent people are dead! He will not be shown an ounce of leniency. And you would do well to mind your tongue, boy."
The throne room went deathly quiet with only the ghostly shudder of Victor's words fluttering through their ears. Jack's could feel his heart pounding, but for the first time since he became a lycan it was out of anger, and not fear. Perhaps it was him finally fully bonding with Mark last night, his hormones going crazy from his heat, or most likely the fact that the omega could never stand for tyranny. That's what Victor was all about, regardless of his fancy fucking robes or title. He was a tyrant, and Jack wasn't going to let him talk to Mark that way.
"Jack," the alpha whispered as the omega grit his teeth. "Do what Victor has commanded."
He turned his head towards Mark, the blue eyes angry and confused. How could he allow himself to be talked to in such a manner?
"But - "
"Know your place, my love," Mark whispered, his voice deep and head low. "Victor is right about my decisions regarding Nate, and even if he wasn't, it is not within our status to speak out of turn. Apologize to him, and fall back behind me."
Jack was seething with a rage that he could barely contain. He could sense his inner wolf snarling to come out and challenge anyone who talked so poorly about his alpha, but the desire to obey was eating at his core. He turned back to the Elders, his eyes brimming with angry tears.
"I...apologize for my words, sir."
Victor huffed in response, as if he were getting rid of a foul smell in his nose. Amelia looked as if she would slap the smug look off his face if given half a chance.
"Forgiven," Victor said, lazily. "We must give allowances to mutts in trying times like these."
Mark growled low at the slur, though Jack didn't understand it's power. The term "mutt" was an outdated and now deemed incredibly offensive term for new wolves like Jack. It was possible that Victor didn't realize this, but it was best not cause more waves.
"Let's get on with the matter of Nathan," Charlotte said, quickly wanting to get this meeting back on track.
"Yes," Silas agreed, sitting forward a bit. "What do you plan to do about these attacks, young alpha? Nathan is still your responsibility, whether he chose to abandon your pack or not. Victor has suggested a swift execution for this beta, but I, along with Amelia, am in favor of a trial to investigate these killings. I wish to hear your strategy."
"Victor is right, Silas," Charlotte interjected, her tone sharp and commanding. "This beta is out of control and should be put down like the rabid dog he is. A trial will only cost us more time and money. Just kill the beta and put an end to this nonsense."
It appeared that the jury was already split when it came to Nathan's fate, but perhaps Mark was the one that needed to break the tie. It was obvious that Charlotte was on Victor's side, like always, volleying for violence and swift justice to keep the subjects in line, while Silas and Amelia wanted a fair and tactful approach to the matter.
But what did Mark want? Nate was once a member of his family, and no matter what he did he couldn't imagine taking the beta's life like it meant nothing. Yes, his crimes warranted a severe punishment, but he didn't deserve to die for them.
"If I may speak freely, your graces, I believe that Nathan isn't doing this because he's a cold-blooded killer. He's hurting, vulnerable, angry even, but he's a good person underneath it all. I don't want to have to murder one of my own if I can help it." Mark said, and Charlotte narrowed her icy blue eyes, disappointed in his decision to abstain from violence.
"Have you not seen the destruction he's caused, young alpha? Now is not the time for diplomacy. Nathan has sealed his own fate with the blood of innocents, and we cannot allow this to continue unchecked," Charlotte scoffed, her pale fingers idly playing with the spirals of auburn hair that framed her face.
Silas sighed, golden eyes briefly glancing towards Amelia. If anyone here knew how detrimental these attacks were on the truce between the species, it would be him. Silas was a seasoned veteran in battle, and his dark skin proved so from the many scars he received from swords and sharp teeth alike.
"I don't want to agree, but Charlotte does have a point. The humans will demand blood for this, and as much as I would like to show mercy and understanding towards this beta, for the sake of the truce, I must change my stance," Silas murmured. "The beta must face execution for these crimes. Otherwise, everything we've built will be for nothing."
Amelia was clearly outnumbered, but her opinion remained the same. She would always aim for the gentler approach, but that was her nature after all. Mark felt his heart drop into his stomach, dreading the inevitable vote that would condemn Nathan to die by his hand. This was absolute bullshit, but he wouldn't dare disobey a direct order from the Elders. They knew what was best for the pack. Or so Mark believed.
"Shall we vote on the matter then?" Victor asked, but it came off as more of a command. They all knew that Nathan was as good as dead. The vote was just a formality at this point.
"All in favor of execution, say aye."
And just like Mark feared, the combined voices of Victor, Charlotte, and Silas rang out in unison, leaving Amelia as the only one opposed to the motion.
"Very well then," Victor sighed, but Mark could clearly see the satisfaction in his pale blue eyes. "The motion carries. The beta known as Nathan will face the penalty of death, which shall be carried out by his alpha, Mark. This discussion is now closed. You and your sickly mate may leave."
Mark could literally feel his blood begin to boil. This was someone's life they were talking about, and worse yet, they expected him to be the one to carry out the sentence. Mark didn't even know if he could kill Nate, but it didn't seem like he had much of a choice. The decision was made for him. Mark turned to leave, roughly grabbing Jack by the hand to lead him out.
"Oh, and Mark?" Victor added, stopping them in their tracks. "I expect this to be done quickly. We wouldn't want anyone else to die as a result of your neglect, now would we?"
The rest of the day in Amelia's resting room was as tense as a tomb. Jack knew that Mark was angry about what had been decided, and as much as he wanted to ask questions and provide comfort, for the first time since he had laid eyes on his alpha, he was afraid.
Mark had not said a word since the meeting, but his growls and darting glances said more than enough. He was now tasked to be an executioner to someone whom he truly still loved. Rage and sorrow were eating away at his heart like a virus.
"We leave tonight," he softly said, gathering up their belongings back into their travel bag. "In the meantime, I'm having counsel with Robin. Stay here in the room until I return, Jack. Your heat makes it dangerous to travel anywhere without me by your side."
The omega frowns at the demands. The questions from what Victor had said echoed in his ears, and despite the need to obey, he needs to at least try to talk to Mark about this.
"Before you leave, is it true what Victor said about you bedding Nate on the same night that his family died?"
Mark paused by the door, exhaling slowly to calm his nerves. He knew that this question would come up sooner or later, and Jack deserved to know, but it was more complicated than just a simple yes or no answer. He wouldn't understand. Mark himself doesn't even understand how quickly things progressed from comfort to sex. It just did. He wasn't out there trying to bed Nate before the nursery was slaughtered, and he knows how shady it looks from an outside perspective. It's just difficult to explain, especially when he's stuck in this aggressive headspace.
"It's not that simple, Jack."
"Why? It seems pretty cut and dry to me, Mark." Jack countered, shoving his fear down as far as he could for the sake of getting some answers. "I mean, not that I'm ungrateful, but you mated me on the night we met. Tragedy seems to bring something out in you, and I can't say that I don't believe Victor."
"I did that to protect you," Mark growled, suddenly feeling like the weight of the world was resting on his shoulders. "What happened between Nate and I was different. I didn't force myself on him. I didn't even want things to end up that way, but I can't change the fact that they did."
Jack fell silent for a moment, unsure of what he should be thinking right now. Mark has given him no reason not to trust him, and while it does appear like Mark was taking advantage of the situation, he had to trust that Mark was telling him the truth. Mark isn't a bad person. Sometimes shit just happens.
Mark left the room without another word, and Jack was left to sit alone with just his thoughts for company. There was nothing to do but think, which quickly became overwhelming. His heat was already making him feel crazy and overly hormonal, and this situation just wasn't helping. The symptoms of his heat, though subtle enough, were irritating. It was almost like an itch he couldn't scratch, or a splinter in the back of his mind. Always there and just present enough to drive him mad.
By the time Mark returned, Jack was a ball of hormones and angst, gnawing at his fingernails to keep his mind on something other than his growing appetite for physical touch. Mark's scent was mouthwatering, but Jack made no initiative to even try anything with him. Mark was still volatile, set to go off like a sleeping volcano at any moment.
"Come," he called, "I'd like to have you back in the safety of the sleeping grounds before sunrise. Your heat makes you a target for rogue lycans, and they won't hesitate to try and claim you."
They moved much quicker than Jack would have wanted. His muscles felt like they were on fire and Mark was pulling him so hard as they headed out of the large castle and into the darkening woods. It was as if the alpha couldn't get away from that place fast enough, and try as Jack might, his legs weren't as long and strong as his angry mate's, making it impossible for him to keep up.
"Mark, slow down," the omega huffed. "I can't move as fast as - "
Jack suddenly stopped talking when Mark snapped his wrathful gaze back towards him. His dark eyes flashed with a scarlet hue, and his teeth were bared as he glared at the omega. Mark has never been this way with Jack before, and the look he was giving his mate made Jack want to crawl into a hole and hide.
"Enough," he barked, and Jack reeled back from his harsh tone. Something wasn't right about this. It's one thing to be angry and stressed, but it's another thing entirely to actively try and verbally assault your mate. Jack had nothing to do with the Elder's decision, and Mark needed to remember that. Jack wasn't going to cower in fear like a pathetic runt. He may be an omega, but he's no one's bitch.
Jack yanked his hand away from Mark's, catching the alpha off guard as he turned to face his Luna. Jack was wearing a scowl that could rival his own, and it was clear that this little spat was heading down a dangerous path.
"No," Jack snapped back. "I'm not just going to be silent when you are acting so erratic. I'm your mate. I deserve to be heard. You said so yourself that -"
The omega's bark morphed into a squeak as he was suddenly lifted into the air by strong arms, leaving his bare feet to dangle helplessly. Jack has never seen the alpha so powerful and in control, and although part of him was terrified, there was an urge inside him that wanted...almost needed to push him further.
Mark's hand was wrapped around Jack's throat, lifting him off of the ground with a threatening snarl. The omega was only dangling a few inches away from the forest floor, but Mark wasn't necessarily trying to harm him. If anything, the alpha was trying to silence him with intimidation, which wasn't working on Jack the way he intended it to. The tension was high and the way that Mark smelled while he was in this aggressive state was incredibly intoxicating to him. He knew he shouldn't push Mark any further than he already had, but he wanted to. He wanted his mate to snap and dig those perfect teeth into his flesh while he fucked him against a tree. He just couldn't stop himself from smirking, pushing Mark's buttons in the worst way.
"Go ahead, Mark. Shut me up. I fucking dare you to try." Jack choked out, smugly staring his mate down. He was openly challenging Mark to do his worst, to get rough and violent and break his skin with bites and scratches. He needed it. Mark needed it. And Jack was going to push him until it happened.
"You can't do it, can you? You're just a frightened pup, terrified of his own shadow."
"Silence! Keep your forked tongue behind your teeth." Mark hissed, eyes flashing and nails extending just enough to bite into the pale skin of Jack's neck.
"Where's the fun in that, /alpha/? There are so many things that I could do with my tongue, and I know you're thinking about it too. I can smell your arousal."
Jack's tone was a mix between playful and brash, and Mark wasn't sure what he wanted to do to Jack more. That foul little mouth would be better off wrapped around his cock, or better yet, covered by his hand as he took him from behind. Mark's grip around Jack's throat tightened for a split second before he lowered the omega to the ground and let him go. Jack was almost disappointed until he noticed the smirk that played on Mark's lips.
The kiss was sudden and bruising, knocking Jack off balance as he fell to the ground, taking Mark with him. The dirt beneath them was wet and cold, smearing across their skin as they groped and clawed at each other. Their mouths moved together with a violent urgency, with far too much tongue and teeth for it to be considered passionate. It was hot. Angry. And Jack has never felt something this good before in his life. Mark's hand's were squeezing his thighs, forcing them up and apart as he settled himself in between them.
Jack's pants were ripped away, and the omega gasped at the strength that Mark possessed. The scent of heat was intoxicating to the alpha, and Mark just couldn't get enough. Jack smelled like honey and nectar on a warm summer's day, mixing well with Mark's earthy musk. The omega's rounded hips opened up with only the smallest amount of resistance. Jack wanted Mark to claim him. Needed to feel how rough he could be.
"Mine," Mark growled as he pressed his fingers inside of the omega's entrance.
Jack moaned, tilting his chin back towards the darkened sky, blue eyes closed and mouth wide open, panting at the feeling of being opened up. The warm feeling of those strong fingers sliding inside of him was already pulling an orgasm to the surface of his body. It was already too much for him to handle and his core was almost begging to be filled.
Leaves were tangling in Jack's dark hair as Mark added another finger, and Jack was howling as his back arched. Tears were pressing from the corners of his eyes, his member swollen and dripping precum. The omega reached down to relieve some of the pressure but his hand was stopped with a firm grasp to his wrist.
"Only I can touch you," Mark hissed. "Do you understand?"
Jack nodded and stayed still. The alpha lifted Jack's pale calves so that they were hooked onto his broad shoulders, and the sound of the alpha's pants falling to the ground was like music to Jack's ears.
"Please," the omega moaned. "Please, Mark, please."
The first thrust was sharp and angled up, forcing Jack to come onto his chest and stomach like an explosion. His back was arched upwards to the sky and he suddenly had no idea where he was. His mind was lost in the stars above, drool and tears staining his face.
"Fuck, you feel so damn good," Mark growled, dipping his head down to lick and suck at the skin of Jack's neck. The omega whined, body rocking as Marked drilled his insides like an animal. The omega's nails scored Mark's tanned skin, drawing blood in certain spots. Neither could hold back from their primal desires any longer, and Mark felt so alive and invigorated as he finally claimed his mate the way he needed to.
The alpha pulled away for a moment, flipping Jack onto his belly and shoving his cock back into the tight heat of his mate's ass just as quickly as he pulled out. The air was forced from Jack's lungs as Mark began to move once again, each thrust grazing his prostate and pushing his face even deeper into the dirt. Jack could hardly breathe, and the barrage of sensations that assaulted him was becoming too much to handle. Jack was overstimulated, his cock leaking a steady stream of precum as yet another orgasm ripped through his body. Jack shook and howled as he released onto the ground, clenching around Mark's length rhythmically.
The alpha snarled, grabbing a fistful of Jack's hair as he finally reached his peak. The omega was pulled up against Mark's chest, yelping when the sharp sting of teeth piercing the flesh of his shoulder pulled him back to reality. He could feel his heart pounding, lungs burning as he tried to catch his breath. The hand in his hair moved down to cradled his cheek, turning his head to the side so Mark could claim his lips one more time. The kiss was gentler this time around, infused with copper and silent apologies as Mark pulled out with a wet 'pop'. By then the anger had died down, and Mark was able to come back to his senses.
"Are you alright? I didn't mean to be so rough with you." He murmured against Jack's swollen lips.
"M'ok," Jack slurred, head stuck in the clouds. "Please do that again.
The cold air pressed against their naked bodies, and it was Mark who spoke after the longest time, gently holding Jack in his arms.
"I'm sorry, my love," he sighed, placing gentle kisses on his pale neck. "I shouldn't have shouted at you. None of this insanity with Nathan is your fault. I was just overwhelmed and lashed out at the first person I could. But that doesn't make what I did okay. It won't happen again. I promise."
Jack couldn't speak yet. He was still reeling from such intense pleasure and was wanting nothing more than to curl up into the fresh earth and sleep until morning. He whimpered slightly as the alpha pulled them both to their feet, signaling that it was time for them to move.
"It won't take us that long to get back," the alpha chuckled, looking into the dreamy face of his Luna. "And we need to get you properly fed and rested for the next few days at least."
Jack nodded his head as best as he could, allowing Mark to redress him. Within the next few minutes, they were walking at a slow, but steady pace, with the alpha occasionally looking towards the moon or sniffing the air for guidance as they walked.
"Mark," Jack said once he was feeling a bit more grounded. "If I'm in heat, does that mean that I can get pregnant?"
"I'm not sure, but only time will tell if you're able to carry pups or not. I would assume that it's a likely possibility, but I wouldn't worry too much about it, Jack."
That was easy to say but hard to do, and Jack sighed as he tried to take his mate's advice and focus on the journey ahead rather than an impending pregnancy. It would always be in the back of his mind, festering like an infected wound, but there wasn't much that was he could do when it came down to it. If it happens, then it happens. Jack would have to deal with the fact that he could, in fact, create a new life.
The journey back to the sleeping grounds was a little longer than Mark had first anticipated, and by the time they reached the edge of the forest, Jack was curled up in his arms, fighting to stay awake. Mark didn't mind. In fact, he was the one that suggested it. Jack needed as much rest as he could get, and Mark was still feeling a bit guilty about his little outburst of anger earlier. As far as he was concerned, he would pamper Jack as much as he'd let him if it meant he could forgive himself for such barbaric actions. He just couldn't understand why things had to turn out as awful as they did. He was now Nate's executioner, and the weight of that knowledge felt like lead in his stomach.
As they entered the camp, they were greeted by a strange and alarming sight. The entire pack was out, surrounding something with their heads bowed. He could hear the wailing a mile away, and it took him a second to recognize that it was Ethan lying in the center of that little circle.
"Mark, what's going on?" Jack quarried, suddenly alert and incredibly anxious as they moved closer. Mark's brow was furrowed, concern and worry wearing heavy on his features. He knew that pain all too well. The pack was in mourning. Over what, he didn't yet know.
They moved slowly towards the circle of lycans, but the smell of death was already hitting Mark's nose. He didn't know who had died, but the scent was way too familiar to be anyone but a pack member. Felix turned towards the sound of Mark's feet hitting the ground, and he gave a small bark to alert the others. Soon, all of them were watching as their alpha and luna headed to where they stood.
"Alpha," Felix muttered as Jack wiggled his way out of Mark's strong arms, taking a hold of his hand. "We are so happy that you have returned. Please, he needs you."
Felix moved a bit, creating a gap in between the others, giving Mark a clear view of the weeping omega. Ethan was curled up on his side, clutching what looked like Tyler's shirt against his chest. He was shaking uncontrollably and no amount of gentle nuzzles and licks were able to heal his destroyed soul.
"What happened?" Mark asked quietly as he bent down to pull the crying omega into his arms. The others bent their heads lower as if they didn't know how to respond. It was only then that Mark noticed Tyler's absence.
"Where's Tyler?" Mark whispered, looking into Felix's eyes.
The omega in his arms wailed again, and Mark understood. His heart was breaking into jagged shards as he took another desperate whiff of the night air. He prayed that it was just an injury, but if that were true there would be a lycan watching over Tyler, and Ethan would be there as well. Something terrible must have happened while they were gone, leaving the pack broken and lost.
"Where's Tyler's body?" Mark whispered, and it was only then the Jack seemed to grasp the severity of the situation. He gasped and fell to the ground to take hold of Ethan, weeping with him over the loss of his mate. The feeling of warmth that surrounded him was enough to help Ethan speak, though his voice was raw with tears.
"I d-don't want to live anymore," he wailed. "I-I want to be with him. Please, just l-let me be with him."
Mark felt those words pierce his heart like a dagger, and the world began to spin out of control as he tried to process what that meant.
"Tyler was out on a hunt last night," Felix murmured, keeping his voice low so that Ethan wouldn't have to hear the details again. "When he didn't return, went out to look for him. But what we found was..."
Felix choked on his own words, shaking his head to try and remove the image of Tyler's corpse from his memory.
"Someone murdered him, Mark. And I'm not talking about a human from the village. It was too...emotional and raw, full of rage to be just an animal attack. Only a lycan could have done something as horrible as this."
Tyler was buried on the far side of the village with a small collection of stones gathered by each member of the pack. Mark visited and sat down next to his fallen friend, head bowed and lips trembling softly with words Jack could only hear if he was close enough. Ethan spent that night in the same spot until Mark himself wrapped him up in a thick blanket and carried him to the cabin he once shared with his fallen mate.
The omega couldn't be consoled, but Mark had to try, allowing Ethan to cry into his strong arms the entire night while the others took turns bringing food, water, and bowls of comfort to the broken lycan. The next morning, Mark was only just able to slip away, with Ethan finally still in his bed. His small arms were holding onto Tyler's cold pillow for dear life, his teary eyes shut tightly as he whimpered in his sleep.
Jack was struggling as well, with his feelings of desire from his heat coupled with the grief that came from Tyler's passing. He wanted so desperately to paw at his alpha when he pushed his way into their small cabin, but he had to stop himself. This wasn't the time for that, as much as his body burned with need.
And it wasn't like Mark couldn't smell Jack's desire when he walked through the door. It was so thick in the air, almost suffocating in a way. There was no way in hell that Mark would be able to take care of Jack right now. He could hardly breathe without feeling like he was about to break apart at the seams, and even though he knew Jack couldn't help the way he felt, he was angry that sex was even an option after what had just happened.
Mark dragged himself towards the bed he once shared with Nate, completely looking past Jack as he crawled in beside him to lie down. He couldn't get the image of Tyler's mangled corpse out of his mind, and the fact that he's seen that same pattern of bite marks on the villagers that belonged to Jack's old clan only made him feel sicker. Nathan killed Tyler. His best friend was murdered by the man he stuck his neck out for time and time again, and all he could think about was how scared he must have been as he took his last breath. Did he cry? Did he think about Ethan or the pups he never got to have with the love of his life? What went on in Tyler's head as Nathan took his life in cold blood?
Mark barely even notice that Jack was speaking to him, resting his hand on the alpha's shoulder to try and soothe him.
"Baby, talk to me. Tell me how I can help you." Jack softly said, and Mark flinched as his inner animal yearned to feel more of his mate's heated flesh against his own. Anything to drive away the thoughts that plagued him.
"You can't," he murmured. "No one can."
"I can try, Mark. Please, just let me love you a little bit. Let me hold you and tell you the things you need to hear. I can't stand to see you this broken, baby."
Mark wanted to feel some sort of reaction to Jack's sweet words, but everything was painfully numb, and it hurt to even think that Ethan would never be able to do those types of things for Tyler again. Who was he to deserve such love? He couldn't even keep his pack safe, and now Tyler is dead because of him. If only he'd just listened to Tyler, who told him from the start to not become romantically involved with Nathan, then he might still be alive. This was his fault. Everything falls on his shoulders, and Mark silently wept as it took him down to his knees. He couldn't do this anymore. He couldn't lead these people any longer when every decision so far has only brought them death and destruction. Victor was right. He was inept as an alpha, and his pack paid the price for it.
There was a slow and soft buzzing in his ears, and somewhere as he sank further into the deep crevices of his mind he knew it must be Jack speaking to him. There was a lingering tingle of what must be an Irish accent on the end of each of those words. The darkness of a cold calmness was pressing all around the alpha's naked form and the sounds became more insistent. His brown eyes blinked, but there was nothing in front of his gaze except failure and pain. His breathing slowed as he laid in the mingled sheets of his lovers. The scent of Nate was still there if he inhaled long enough. It hurt too much to breathe. He didn't deserve to breathe.
"Mark," Jack screamed, face red and horrified as he shook his mate's trembling shoulders. "Please say something. Talk to me, please!"
"I'm sorry," the alpha muttered, the back of his hand brushing against the scruff of his cheek, glazed over eyes staring beyond his Luna's reach.
"I'm sorry for failing you, Nate," Mark whispered. "I'm sorry for everything."
Jack's heart shattered at the sound of those wretched words. Mark was caught up in the undertow of his own guilt, quickly drowning him in sorrow and self-loathing. And Jack couldn't really blame him for it. Mark was responsible for a lot of things that negatively impacted this pack, resulting in the deaths of Tyler, and at least fifty humans from different clans across the area. Cry was also hanging on by a thread from an attack spurred on by Nathan's actions. Mark would be responsible for the deaths of two lycans as well as his mate's own vicious attack if Cry didn't make it. And from what Felix had mentioned earlier, it wasn't looking very promising for Cry.
The next few days went by painfully slow for Jack, who was suffering in such conflicting ways. He longed for the touch of his alpha, to kiss away the tears that rolled down his cheeks and hopefully heal his broken heart. But Mark was virtually bedridden with grief, clinging to the pillow that once belonged to Nate. Jack tried not to think into it too much, but he couldn't deny that it stung a bit more than he'd ever admit. Mark was still in love with Nate, and even though he was bound to Jack and had expressed his love for him as well, there were so many unresolved issues between Nate and Mark that he just couldn't let him go.
Mark was in no shape to do much of anything, and so the weight of his crown fell on Jack, who was now thrown into this mess with no guidance whatsoever. He didn't know how to properly lead this broken pack, but someone had to step up to the plate and provide some sort of leadership in this time of peril. Unfortunately, Mark couldn't give him any pearls of wisdom when it came to acting like an alpha, and Tyler took his to the grave. He was flying blind in a world that regularly dismissed anything an omega had to say, but he couldn't just stand by and watch the pack disintegrate into nothing.
According to Felix, Cry was hanging on my a thread and desperately needed a few supplies to help control his pain and the spread of bacteria. A nasty infection had set into his wounds, and the beta wouldn't make it another week unless he had an antiseptic agent and some painkillers.
Jack remembered an old remedy his mother used to use when he fell ill. He just needed some honey and the bark of a willow tree. The only problem was that honey wasn't produced in the dead of winter and the only place he knew would have it was back at the village he used to call home. He'd have to return to the place where it all began in order to save Cry's life, and he very well couldn't have Felix go in his stead when he had no clue where these items even were.
Jack sat down on the edge of the bed, head in his hands as he tried to process this mess. Mark was in this strange fugue state, unable to properly care for himself as he wallowed in guilt and grief. Jack had no idea how long he'd be this way, but he didn't have the luxury of waiting around to find out. He would take charge in Mark's absence and pull what remained of this pack together before someone else ended up dead. He could do this. It didn't matter if he was an omega. Jack was their Luna and he needed to step up to the plate and lead his people. And who knows, maybe Mark will come around once things have settled down.
The omega struggled to not crawl into the bed with Mark and stay there with him. The ever-growing feeling that he had no idea how to be a leader felt cold and heavy in his bones. He wished more than anything that he had asked more questions when the alpha was in a better state of mind. The warmth of his eyes, whether chestnut or scarlet, were nothing but a vague memory to Jack. He was truly alone for the first time since he woke up in the arms of his new mate.
By the time night fell, Jack already had shifted into the white wolf, with paws padding in the soft dirt as he headed out of the sleeping grounds. His snowy ears twitched until he got a better grip on his bearings, and the omega moved quickly towards the graveyard of his former life.
It took a much shorter time than the omega would have wished to get to the village. The air still felt wrong, as if he walked in on something inherently tragic. Lifting his head to the sky, the scent of Jack's old friends seemed to still cling to the stale air. Bright emerald eyes burning with fresh tears, Jack moved to his abandoned cabin and shifted back into his human form. He found his little box of herbs and honey still underneath the bed, and before he left he made a point of visiting each shallow grave that filled the center of the village. There was so much death here caused by so much unresolved anger.
The omega ran as fast as he could back towards the only place he could now call home, with the satchel held tightly in his jaws. Heart pounding, he lept across thick tree roots with only the thought of getting back home to his family. It was only then that he fully understood what Ethan had said once to him. Pack meant family, and right now they needed him to be brave.
“Jack,” Felix barked, once he saw the streak of blue and white against the midnight sky. “Where did you head off to? I could have come with - ”
“No, you needed to stay here to watch over Cry,” Jack said softly as his thick white fur retreated back into his skin. “These should assist in his treatment. I’ll be over shortly to show you how to use them. I just need to check on Mark first.”
The beta blinked but nodded that he understood. It was the first time that the omega was not questioned at all by a member of his pack, and Jack marveled at this realization once Felix was already halfway back to Cry’s cabin. They were actually listening to him, and above everything else that Jack felt, there was a true sense of belonging among these creatures. It didn't matter to them that he was impure or that he used to be the very thing that massacred the nursery all those years ago. The pack needed a leader, and Jack was going to make sure that everyone was taken care of, because that's what family does for each other.
The next few weeks were a blur for Jack as he struggled to be the best Luna that he could for his pack. Thankfully, Cry, against all odds and with the help of the supplies, was slowly getting better. But unfortunately, Mark was still stuck in his body numbing depression, and other than eating only when food was practically pushed to his lips, he barely moved at all.
The rest of the pack leaned on Jack more than ever, now that their alpha was so lost in his own mind. Ethan had to be tended to as well, though the desire to help Cry once he was able to shift and walk properly aided his wounded heart. Jack smiled as Ethan encouraged Cry, working with him until he was finally well enough to go out on a night hunt. Jack knew that Ethan would never be whole again, but at least the familiar bounce in his step was returning. That was a wonderful start.
"Let's try to stay as close as we can to each other," Jack called out during Cry's first hunt since he had healed. "Howl if you see anything out of the ordinary. Felix mentioned a strange scent in the air."
Felix nodded his head, and Cry and Ethan exchanged nervous glances at each other. The last thing any of them needed was more trouble. Rumors had been spreading about an outside lycan lurking in their part of the forest. It could have been Nathan, and Jack knew that an encounter with him when Mark was still so fragile would bring nothing but death.
The moon was high and the winter air was crisp, ghosting in front of Jack's maw as he scented the incoming breeze. Felix was correct. A strange scent was lightly flowing with the midnight air, just north of the sleeping grounds. It was sickeningly sweet, like death and life entwined as one being. It made the hair on the back of Jack's neck raise, and he couldn't help but feel like he needed to protect the pack from whatever it was, hiding amongst the trees like a silent predator.
From what he remembered, Nate had very earthy tones to his scent, and he relaxed a bit when he couldn't pick up those notes of lavender and thyme. But that didn't mean that a threat wasn't out there. It could be anyone or anything for all Jack knew, and just as a precaution, he barked out an order for the pack to check in every so often if they had to venture out of sight. They couldn't hunt very well if they were all in the same area, and Jack knew that. He just wanted to keep everyone safe.
Felix and Cry went off to the east, Ethan to the north, and Jack to the west. Bob and Wade, the two betas that normally went out to hunt for prey during the day, stayed behind to watch over Mark and protect the sleeping grounds. Wade, a large black wolf with streaks of ashen grey, has been quite helpful this past month. But it was Bob, the largest wolf among them, that eased the pack into this transition of power. Jack was wary about how the pack would respond to his leadership, but they welcomed his guidance with open arms, and Jack finally felt like he could actually do this.
The odd scent to the north caught the attention of Ethan, who was trying his best to follow the tracks of a rabbit he'd been trailing. His mind was still a mess of unresolved trauma and emotions he didn't want, and every minute that passed without Tyler by his side felt like a knife to his chest. The bond he shared with his mate was broken, and the pain that came with that was almost unbearable. But Jack has been actively helping him get through this grieving process, and the omega felt incredibly close to the man he now considered to be his blood brother. Yes, every member of the pack was family to him, but Jack was something special. There was such a kindness in his soul that nurtured Ethan's broken heart, and he couldn't imagine where he would be if he didn't have Jack by his side to guide him through this trying time.
The omega cocked his head in confusion when he noticed how strong the scent now was to him. It felt like it was right in front of his face, but he couldn't see anything besides the set of tracks that seemed to wander around the forest in a disorienting fashion. It appeared that whatever was out here with them was lost, and by the size and shape of the tracks themselves, it was a lycan. Perhaps a small beta or an omega.
With trembling paws, Ethan inched a little closer towards the growing scent, and soon his ears were able to pick up the unmistakable sound of whimpers. In a flash, his heart recalled how Tyler might have sounded during his final moments. He took a deep breath to steady himself, shaking away the thought of how helpless his mate must have been before he died. There was nothing he could do to change what happened to Tyler, but he could possibly change the fate of this poor creature.
Ethan stalked forward, fairly confident that whoever was softly crying was not a threat to his safety. And lying beside a downed tree trunk was a small lycan. The wolf was on his side, panting like he'd been moving for days without stopping to rest. Ethan felt his heart tug at the sight, now realizing that he could literally smell the impending death of this sickly wolf.
The lycan's hazel eyes lazily trailed up to meet Ethan's, and he sighed in such a defeated way, like he was waiting for someone to eventually find him.
"It was only a matter of time before I was tracked down," he rasped. "If only it could have been until after I died."
"There's no reason to talk like that," Ethan muttered as he shifted into human form, kneeling beside him. "My pack will welcome anyone who needs sanctuary, and it's very clear that you do."
His small hand was tentative as it slid across the white patch on the sickly omega's chest, trailing across his dark fur in a comforting way. He winced at the ribs he felt underneath his fingertips, and it was obvious that this lycan was starving. His belly was sunken in, and his eyes held this haunting sort of disorientation that proved how bad things were for him.
He knew he should call for Jack and the others, but for now, he would say nothing. He just needed to get him to the sleeping grounds as soon as possible. Omegas can sense when another is carrying pups, and unless Ethan was incredibly mistaken, the broken creature in front of him was growing a new life inside of him.
Ethan scooped the weakened omega up into his arms, finally feeling a sense of purpose again as he began the trek back to the safety of the sleeping grounds. This poor omega had been abandoned, starving and pregnant with his mate most likely missing or dead. He could understand how hopeless this lycan was feeling, and it gave him comfort to know that he wasn't alone. There were others that were going through something similar, and perhaps this was just what he needed. He could help this poor creature heal, and maybe with time, his broken heart would as well.
Tyler always remarked about how big Ethan's heart was, and that it was the first thing that he noticed about him. Tyler fell for Ethan because he was that warm part of his soul that he'd been missing, and he felt like Ethan's touch could easily penetrate those cold walls of stone that used to surround his beating heart. Ethan was born to be a caregiver, and Tyler never failed to tell him how much the pack needed someone like him. Kindness was his calling in life.
"How long were you out here?" Ethan asked, noticing how cold the lycan was. His body heat would help a little, but he could already sense that the omega was hanging on by a thread. He would surely die by daybreak if Ethan didn't do something to help him.
"I-I'm not sure," he rasped. "I went out to find someone a while ago, but I must have lost my way. He was all I had left in this world. Now I have nothing."
Ethan frowned, fearing that he must have been correct in his assumption. It would be hard enough for the omega to go through something as taxing as pregnancy and birth, but to do it alone as well? Ethan's heart broke for him, and he wished that there was something he could do to ease this lycan's pain.
"I'm sure your mate is out there somewhere. We just have to find him."
Ethan was trying to be optimistic, hoping that his poor mate wasn't actually dead. That was a fate he wouldn't wish on anyone. Even now he felt that aching hole in his heart, threatening to bury him alongside Tyler with every strained beat.
The lycan scoffed bitterly, gritting his teeth. "I never had a mate. He didn't stick around long enough for that."
"He left you?" Ethan asked, shocked that someone would do such a vile thing. Lycan's were very loyal creatures, holding those they considered to be family in very high regard. They fought, lived, and died for the ones they loved, and hearing that one of his own kind had abandoned their pregnant omega was enough to make his blood boil.
"It was my fault for assuming that he'd stay in the first place. He's like a storm, quick to destroy everything in his path before disappearing with the morning light. I was a fool to think I ever mattered to him."
There was a sob that caught in the back of the lycan's throat, almost causing Ethan to break down as well. No one deserved to be treated like some scrap of meat for the worms to feast upon, and especially when they're in such a fragile state. It was obvious to Ethan that this lycan wouldn't be able to shift until he was a little more stable. He would need at least a few good meals and nights of rest before anyone would be able to see what he looked like in human form. It would also be easier for Ethan to examine him a little more thoroughly to see if he was truly carrying cubs.
The journey back to the sleeping grounds was rough for the both of them. The wolf was still large, even with the great amount of weight that he'd lost, and Ethan could feel his small body ache as he held him close in his arms. The others would be wondering where he had gone, so his plan was rather simple. Take the omega to his cabin to rest and then run to tell the rest of the pack.
"Your blind kindness is dangerous," came the strained whisper as the omega was laid down on Ethan's bed. "You know nothing of me."
"That's true," Ethan remarked as he began to treat the afflictions of the other, placing fresh food and water within his reach. "But it doesn't have to stay that way. My name is Ethan."
The hazel eyes of the omega opened wide at the name, and the recognition caused Ethan to take notice quickly. It was obvious that this wolf knew his name and by the way he began to shuffle uncomfortably on top of the thick blanket, he was afraid.
"My name is Matt. You're part of Mark's pack, aren't you?"
Ethan nodded his head as he struggled to understand where Matt was taking their conversation. It was possible that this wolf was here to check up on Mark to see that he was following through with Nate's execution, and Ethan would have to think fast to stop any news spreading of Mark's crippling condition.
"Yes, I am," he replied, pushing a small bit of water towards the other to drink. "He is hunting with the rest of the pack at the moment. Did you wish to speak with him?"
There was the faintest sound of a dark chuckle as Matt lapped at the water. What a quick death it would be once Mark found out that one of his pack was tending to his former lover's fuck toy.
"Mark is a good alpha," Ethan muttered, guessing the wrong reason for Matt's reaction. "If you are here about Nate, I can assure you that he is doing the best -"
The growl from Matt's throat was soft but powerful enough for Ethan to take notice. There was betrayal behind those tearful hazel eyes, and his teeth were bared as he spoke in such a battered tone.
"If you pity me at all, don't speak his name. Your alpha and I share the pain of what loving him really entails."
"Jack, have you seen Ethan? I haven't heard him check in since we split up." Felix asked, concern heavy in his voice. It had been some time since the group had gone out to hunt, and the sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon, signaling that it was time for them to head back. Everyone was present and accounted for, standing by the large oak tree that Jack instructed them to meet him by once they were finished. But Ethan was missing, and the fact that no one had heard a peep from him since they left was alarming in the worst way.
"No," Jack replied, scanning the treeline to see if Ethan might have been lagging behind a bit. "I just assumed that he was with one of you. Ethan wouldn't just take off without a word. Something must have happened to keep him from calling out to us."
"Like what? You don't think he was attacked, do you?"
Jack could see the fear reflecting in Cry's eyes, and the sense of dread in his gut was heavy enough to make him feel sick. He couldn't lose Ethan to this madness as well. The pack wouldn't recover if another life was lost. He just hoped that Ethan was okay and that this was all just a big misunderstanding.
"It's a possibility, Cry. Especially with how things have been around here lately. Maybe he-," Jack stopped mid-sentence at the sound of a distant howl, echoing through the trees like a siren. Jack's ears perked up, twitching slightly as he tried to pinpoint where it was coming from.
"It's coming from the camp," Cry whispered, though Jack could sense the relief in his tone.
Jack turned quickly and with a soft bark, the others followed him. The soft light of the sun shimmered against the white fur of their Luna, making him a beacon that the others so naturally followed.
Ethan was already back in human form and pacing in front of his cabin door by the time the pack returned. Jack shifted first, with the others right behind him. The smaller omega nearly threw himself at Jack in a tight hug once he was able to be reached.
"Jack," Ethan squeaked, blue eyes wide and full of fear. "I found him in the woods half-starved, and he...I think he's pregnant."
The pack muttered to themselves as to who Ethan was referring to, but fell silent with a wave of Jack's hand. The need to do nothing but get this visitor well was the only thing on Jack's mind. The rest of the story could surely wait. Although, the timing was a bit curious. What if this strange lycan was a victim of Nate's? He's heard rumors about a pack of lycans that were slaughtered just north of their camp. He wouldn't put it past Nate to kill his own own kind. After all, he murdered Tyler in cold blood, so who's to say that Nate had enough of a conscious to spare a pregnant omega from a gruesome death?
"Slow down, Ethan. Who are you talking about?" Jack softly said, gently holding onto Ethan's shaking shoulders.
"Matt," he answered in a rush, clearly startled by what he found in the forest. "I was out to the north, where that pack of lycans was said to be found. He was just lying there, waiting to die, and I couldn't just leave him, Jack. You didn't see how hopeless he looked. I just had to get him somewhere safe before Nate found him again. I-I think he might have done something to hurt Matt."
Ethan was stringing his words together, speaking so quickly that Jack had a hard time understanding him. But he did pick up that little accusation that Ethan threw out against Nate, and apparently, he wasn't the only one that heard it.
"If Nate hurt this stranger, then it will be dealt with swiftly and harshly. I can't have anyone else die because of my negligence." Said the rough voice of Jack's mate, drawing the pack's attention to the place where Mark stood.
The other members of the pack stared in disbelief at their alpha standing behind them. It was almost as if the past month had never actually happened. He was looking slightly thinner than before but otherwise, his dark eyes were clear and sharp, and his lips formed into a severe frown that sent a shiver down Jack's spine.
“Ethan, you are in charge of caring for the sick omega.” Mark continued, walking over to where the two omegas stood. The rests of the pack moved quickly out of the alpha’s path, muttering sounds of tremendous relief and barely contained joy at his unexpected returned.
Ethan nodded that he understood, and stepped back a bit as his Luna and Alpha reached out to each other. Jack was beside himself with happiness, and though it wasn’t very noble, he giggled and threw his arms around his mate's neck, embracing him tightly. Mark was only startled for a moment before he returned the gesture. The howls of happiness rang through the sleeping grounds as they kissed for the first time in weeks.
“You’re back,” Jack cried, not caring that his alpha's fingers were wiping away his tears. “I thought...I thought that I had lost you.”
“I’m pretty sure that you did for a while,” Mark admitted, “but your strength and love for our pack brought me back home, Jack. I’m so proud to call you my Luna.”
Mark's praise and approval stirred up a fire in Jack's heart, and he couldn't stop himself from kissing every inch of his mate's face. He's missed him so much and honestly thought that Mark would never be the same again.
He didn't know what he would do if Mark was lost to his own mind, but he's overwhelmed with joy at the sight of his alpha standing tall once again.
Jack had to endure weeks of hellish agony, dealing with his unresolved heat and the stress of running the pack alone. But Mark was back, and Jack could breathe a sigh of relief once again. Mark was finally where he belonged, wrapped up in Jack's loving arms.
Matt's incessant sulking over the next few days was agonizing to everyone in the pack, but it was especially hard on Ethan. The omega could only encourage the other to want to live so much before his words started becoming redundant. It also was becoming clearer as Matt was slowly regaining his strength and shape, that he was indeed pregnant. Ethan would slip out little hints about the baby, but he wasn't sure that Matt was even aware that he was about a month along with pups. The way he spoke of Nate's abandonment and his pack's destruction ached of someone who believed that he was truly alone in this world.
Jack spent most of his days getting Mark back up to date with what the pack was dealing with during his mental break, and much of their time together was surrounded by the rest of the group. Every so often, Jack would catch his alpha's eyes, whether brown or scarlet, stealing glances towards him. The need to just talk and be with each other after such a long time was almost desperate, but they needed to wait until the forest was calmer than it was right now.
"Jack," Mark said finally, after the fourth night of silence, "I must have a word with you, please."
The omega tilted his head with slight confusion as he sat down on their bed in the little cabin. Mark was never rude to him as a leader, but there was a soft and slightly submissive quality to his tone. It was odd to hear such a thing coming from someone like Mark, but if Jack has learned anything over the past month, it's that appearances can be deceiving.
No one ever took him for a leader due to his smaller stature and shy nature, but he's proved himself to not only the pack but to Mark as well, that he can and will guide this pack to great things someday. There's strength hidden within his gentle voice, and Mark knows now that he's made the right decision when it came to mating Jack.
He never had a doubt in his mind beforehand, but Jack's leadership confirmed that the decision he made almost two months ago was beneficial to the pack in ways he never could have predicted. He owed it to himself and to Jack to show him just how appreciative he was, and that's just what he was going to do.
Mark dropped to his knees beside the edge of the bed, taking Jack's hands in his as he bowed his head submissively before his luna.
"You single-handedly healed our pack, and you did it alone, without your mate there to guide and support you. You weren't asked to take the weight of my crown, but with a selfless heart, you acted in my absence, and I can never show you how much that means to me. But I can try." Mark murmured, lifting his head up just enough to let Jack see that he was crying.
Mark doesn't cry. Ever. The last and only time anyone's ever seen him break down was when Tyler passed away. Even when his litter mate, Amy, was killed in the culling, he remained composed and calm. But now, he was showing Jack weakness that no one had ever witnessed before.
"I'm so sorry that I left you. I know you didn't ask for this life, or to be my mate, but I couldn't have picked a better man to share my life with than you. You are, without a doubt, the best decision I have ever made, and I love you more than words can express."
Jack knew that his heart was beating way too fast from the beautiful words spilling from his alpha's lips. The want to say something just as loving was there, but he had no idea where to even start. His trembling hands reached over to the alpha's face and gently wiped away his tears. He recalled so many nights under the roof of this little cabin, and a flood of emotions and memories raced through his mind as he looked into Mark's eyes.
In a flash, he saw Mark's warm arms around him as he woke up the morning after he was attacked by Nate. There's another flash, and they are both in wolf form, chasing each other through the trees after Jack's first shift. Then with a flutter in his chest, Jack can almost feel the ghost of Mark's touch the first time they made love. The swirling thoughts of all they had been through spun inside of his head, and it was only when his mouth opened wide to bite hard against Mark's neck that he understood the full measure of what he was doing.
The taste of fresh blood seeped into his mouth as his actions told Mark that he truly wanted to be his mate. There was a surge of connection and longing that rippled through both of their bodies, and as Jack pulled away, Mark growled lowly and bit him in return. It all happened so quickly, making Jack's head spin as Mark wrapped his arms around his waist and pulled him down.
It took Jack a moment to realize that they were now lying on the floor with Mark on top of him. His heart was hammering against his ribs, and he could feel the strands of their bond strengthening as Mark growled, sinking his teeth into the meat of his shoulder. He could see the stars behind his eyes, and the rush of warmth that washed over him as Mark released him and lapped at the bloodied wound was unlike anything he's ever experienced before.
He couldn't focus on anything but the ripples of pleasure that spread across his body, and as Mark dipped his head down to kiss his way up his neck, Jack could tell that his mate was feeling it too. Their lips met in a heated kiss, and Jack groaned at the taste of his own blood on Mark's tongue. They couldn't stop themselves from indulging in the ecstasy that came with mating, but then again, why would they even want to?
If two hearts could truly beat as one, then that was what was happening as Jack and Mark kissed each other on the floor of their cabin. There was a palpable ache in the way that the alpha touched his mate's body, as if each press of his fingertips to the pale skin of his Luna was sending fluttering messages of love and connection. Jack was already lost and whimpering with the pleasure of each lick and bite, with Mark equally groaning as their bond strengthened.
"Jack," the alpha growled, inhaling the rich sweetness of his mate's scent, nails digging into the omega's curvy hips. "I need you..."
"Then take me," Jack whispered back. "I'm yours now more than ever."
The omega could taste the power in the bubbling roar that rumbled from the broad chest of his alpha, and he opened his legs just enough for Mark's head to disappear in between them. His nose brushed against the inside of Jack's milky thighs and he watched as the omega cried out from the sensation.
Jack's back arched, breath quickening as Mark pressed open-mouthed kisses to his hips and thighs. His heart was pounding like a drum, trying to break free from his chest as Mark's lips moved lower. The warmth of his tongue against the omega's rim made his eyes roll back, hands flying down to tangle into those thick locks of black silk. The atmosphere was thick with arousal, filling the room like sweet-smelling incense. After a month of separation and hardship, they were finally together again, drinking in the warmth of the other's skin and the way their lips felt as they passionately possessed each other.
Jack had almost forgotten how much he needed Mark's touch, and the stress of the past few weeks had finally come to a head, threatening to pull him down alongside his mate. But this moment, this little surge of instinctive lust was quick to burn it all away. He didn't have to carry this weight alone. Nor did Mark for that matter. The weight of an alpha's crown is lighter when shared by two, working together to solve whatever problems come their way. Mark had the best support system he ever could have asked for. And so did Jack.
Mark's tongue was sliding in and out of Jack's entrance, fingers pressing into the plump meat of his thighs and he held his mate's legs open. Jack was writhing on the floor, roughly tugging at Mark's hair as waves of pleasure washed over his trembling body.
"Aa-alpha," Jack sighed, his voice a higher pitch than usual. "Fuck, baby. I missed you too."
Mark growled lowly in response, pulling his mouth away from Jack's ass. His pupils were dilated, making his eyes appear to be as black as the night's sky. The sight alone was enough to draw a wanton moan from Jack's parted lips, just begging for Mark to hurry up and claim him. He just looked so feral and aggressive, and it excited Jack to no end. The nervous excitement only seemed to strengthen as Mark moved to the nightstand next to the bed, ripping open the drawer and pulling out the oil he normally used for occasions such as this.
Jack licked his lips, watching as the alpha dipped his fingers inside the viscous liquid, crawling back to where Jack was lying on all fours like the wolf he truly was. Mark hovered over his mate, hooking one of Jack's legs under his bicep to give himself more room to work. He pressed his slick fingers against Jack's rim, sliding them into his tight warmth with a satisfied growl.
"Don't hold back those pretty sounds, baby. I want them all to hear who you belong to."
Mark's voice was a deep rumble of authority and power, and Jack obeyed his command instantly, belting out a whine that made the hair on Mark's arms stand on end. The alpha curled his fingers upward, rubbing Jack's prostate as he worked him open. There was no rush. No reason to stand on ceremony or call to impress anyone. It was just the two of them. Raw and unfiltered in their love for each other. They had all the time in the world.
Mark pulled his fingers out, silencing Jack's whimper with a heated kiss as he slicked up his leaking cock and pressed the head against his mate's stretched entrance. With a slow push in and a broken cry from Jack, Mark was buried to the hilt inside of his omega, panting as the warm velvet of Jack's body hugged him like a vice.
The alpha moved slowly at first, relishing in the thick heat of his Luna’s core. Pale skin twisted around the tanner flesh as they molded into each other. Strong fingers caressed the sides and chest of the omega’s body, neither one knowing where one ended and the other began.
“Mark,” Jack groaned, grabbing his lover’s hand and placing it on his own throbbing cock. “I want to come when you do. Please...”
The alpha moaned at the request as his hand began to match powerful thrusts with loving strokes. The cabin echoed the sounds of their mating song, and soon Mark was so close, he could almost taste the afterglow on his tongue.
Jack’s slender spine curved up like a bow while Mark’s muscles tensed as if electricity was surging through his veins. The omega’s mouth was opened wide and howling as loudly as if he were still the mighty white wolf his mate saw regardless of his form. The alpha had never felt such a peak of bliss in his life, with dark eyes rolling and head thrown back to the ceiling.
Then breathing heavily into each other's arms, they laid together for the longest time before they slid into their bed. Both of them were...changed, and both for the better. Jack became stronger than his fear, and was now able to help his alpha hold the world together when it began to split apart. As for Mark, he knew that he could finally break down the emotional barriers he had placed with his own strong hands, and love Jack with his entire heart, as they both deserved.
The bitter cold air surrounded him, shocking his system as the adrenaline rushed through his veins. This was the fifth village that he'd successfully wiped out, and Nate felt slightly better knowing that a few more humans were ripped from this world. His black fur was damp and sticky with blood, matted in certain places from his multiple kills over the past month. Nate was on his own personal crusade, and it was almost like genocide towards the human race if he really thought about it. He despised them, finding them all guilty for the crimes committed by a few. But in his eyes, every single one of them deserved to pay for what was done. For now is the end of their days, and /he/ is the reaper.
He'd been wandering for quite some time, staying in his natural form while he slaughtered anything that crossed his path. Of course, he was not without injury himself. Nathan had sustained a few lacerations and bruises from animals and humans alike, as well as a broken rib from one particular brush with another lycan. One he knew well enough to kill, but apparently not well enough to escape unscathed.
Tyler had made the mistake of confronting Nate out in the open, telling Ethan that he was merely heading out for a late night hunt. He had grown tired of Mark's stalling when it came to dealing with the rogue beta and wanted to put an end to Nathan's rampage once and for all. But he'd underestimated the beta, who put Tyler in the ground with a swift bite to his throat, crushing his trachea. The alpha died in rare form, whimpering like a pup that had lost its mother. And if he listened closely, he could hear Ethan's name on his bloodied tongue.
He didn't want to kill Tyler, even though they'd had their fair share of nasty encounters in the past. Tyler, whether he was a true ally or not, was still a lycan. Nate's anger was directed at the humans, not the ones that shared his lineage.
And of course, he was reminded once again of the omega he left behind. He often thought of Matt, wishing he would have been brave enough to stay and start some sort of life with him. It was rare for him to feel that type of instant connection with another person, even though he barely got to know the real lycan that hid underneath all of that false bravado. He was an ass for leaving him at such a vulnerable time in his life, but he was terrified he'd corrupt the innocence he saw inside of his soul. Nathan was a cancer, killing everything he touched. And Matt was no exception.
Nathan licked his bloodied maw, stalking up to a man that was hanging onto life by a thread. A thread that Nate would surely sever.
"You're just making things harder for yourself, you know," he murmured, growling lowly as he widened his stance. "Just roll over and die like the vermin you truly are. Or perhaps I should rip out your throat, snuff you out like you did those innocent pups in the nursery!"
"Look at you, so self-righteous in your quest for justice that you've failed to see what's been right in front of your eyes." The man spat, holding the gash in his side in a vain attempt to keep his own death at bay. How pitiful. He was only trying to get a rise out of Nate, to have the last laugh before he took his dying breath. It wasn't going to work. Nathan knew who the enemy was, and nothing this man said was going to change that.
"I think that you should just stay silent, human," Nate sneered back as he lifted his nose to the air to begin to sniff out the next village. "I have no need to hear the insane ramblings of something as worthless as you."
The man laughed hoarsely as he held on what was left of his side. The flame behind his clouding eyes was flickering, but there was still energy in him to throw a few more barbs towards the beta. In all honesty, the human didn't give a damn about if he survived this conversation, but he would make sure that Nate knew all the of secrets in his heart before he went to hell.
"You speak like you have the world figured out, wolf," the man spat, and Nate's violet gaze lingered on the way the blood flowed from the corners of his mangled lips. "It took you so long to catch me. How long have you wondered where I was?"
Nate had no fucking idea what the dying human was talking about, and despite the burning desire to not care, there was something that was now drawing him in to know more. The lycan took a couple of steps and sat down, as if the two were part of some sort of twisted formal meeting. The beta didn't like the dawning realization that he was seeing creep up into this disgusting man's face.
"You..you don't know who I am at all?" he chuckled darkly, allowing a splash of new blood to fall from his mouth as he looked up at Nate. "It's been a few years, I admit, but how the fuck could you forget that there were a few human survivors that destroyed that little den of babies your kind coveted so dearly?"
Nate still had no clue who the human was, but the things he spoke about were so vivid in his mind. This man was talking about the nursery, and even more sinister, he seemed to know Nathan very well. The beta growled lowly as he advanced on the broken creature.
"If you are one of the last humans who destroyed the nursery of my kind, then I'm glad that I'm here to witness your long-awaited execution. On behalf of my mate Cristina, and my daughter Willow, may you rot like the piece of shit you've always been."
The man was laughing again, and it was only then that Nate knew that he must have been mad with pain and oncoming death. There was a haunting quality to the way that he didn't fear the lycan, and it made Nate feel uneasy. There was no way that the beta would let this vermin see that he was rattled.
"Even now you are blind to senseless love," the man continued. "Cristina begged for me to spare her cub with her dying breath, and that squealing cub was killed with the heel of my boot. And what's even better, is that your beloved king, Victor, paid us to do it."
Matt breathed in and out, but no amount of twisting his slender body within the warmth of the thick blanket could help him relax. His hazel eyes exhausted from all of the tears, and even though Ethan's occasional rubs of his aching muscles relieved some of the pain, Matt would still flinch at being touched.
Nate was gone. Of course, Matt knew and understood this, but still every once in a while when the sky was dark and filled with silvery stars, Matt could remember the violet gaze turning dark brown and hazy. The sound of his own moans intermingled with the beta's growls as they claimed each other again and again. It wasn't love. Matt knew and understood this too. The bites were too calculating and words to deliberate to be anything but raw sex and domination. Yet still, Matt wept for the wolf as if he could sense something more could have happened if Nate had just given his heart a chance to beat again.
The voice was barely a whisper, but the omega knew who it was. Regardless of when Ethan would check on him, his tone always fluttered with the type of concern and care that wasn't earned. Matt had been nothing but a burden to the other omega. Ethan had a mate once upon a time, and it was only with gentle pressing that Matt has found out that Nate was the reason why Ethan's bed was cold, but the smell of another wolf still hovered like a ghost in the cabin.
Matt groaned in pain as he turned to face the omega. The slender frame of the smaller lycan was silhouetted in the moonlight as he shifted from fur to flesh. Narrowing his eyes at the hesitant way that Ethan approached him was enough to let him know that this was not going to be a short conversation.
"We need to talk about what's happening with you."
Matt pulled himself into a sitting position. He could hear his bones and muscles protest from the sudden movement, but for once he ignored them. There's a visceral need to show the same kindness to the omega as he pulled up a small chair and sat next to the bed as if visiting Matt in a tiny hospital room.
"What's there to talk about?"
There was salt in the question that Matt really didn't mean. It was lingering rage and sadness that kept him from saying really anything at all. Ethan seemed to be mentally preparing himself for days for this, but still, his blue eyes were looking at everything but the omega in front of him. Instead, he talked to his own folded hands.
"Haven't you noticed your body looking and smelling different," Ethan offered. "Over the past couple of weeks, even the rest of the pack has..."
Their eyes met finally, and the mild confusion in Matt's expression pulled at Ethan. He tilted his head down to look at Matt's rounded belly, and the soft way his body was preparing for the inevitable.
"You're pregnant," he said. "About a month or so at this point."
Ethan had been expecting a reaction of some sort. He hadn't known Matt for very long, but at least a sarcastic barb of acknowledgment or a flippant remark. It was more terrifying to see Matt not move a muscle, and his thin lips stay closed. He didn't even blink.
"Matt?" Ethan whispered. "Did you...hear what I -"
"I heard you fine," Matt snapped back. "I'm sorry that my malnutrition has confused you. I'm not pregnant. My...heats are..."
Matt paused as he was figuring out the best way to explain his body. For years he had accepted the unusual nature of his cycles. He was an omega, but rarely ever had heats. It was something that he just came to terms with, and once he found a pack that was willing to make him part of his family, he didn't care about pups or mating much at all anymore.
"Irregular heats don't make it impossible to have pups," Ethan said quickly, as if worried about losing his nerve. "As omegas, we can sense pregnancy, Matt. I know that Nate...you both weren't being careful at all, and even if you were...instinct drives our subspecies to - "
"We are not alike," Matt hissed. "Being an omega doesn't define me as a place for a dick or a vessel for bratty little ones. I'm not pregnant, and even if from some fucking twist of fate I was, it wouldn't be with that asshole's seed."
The air was way too thick with anger to believe that the two wolves wouldn't attack each other. The only thing keeping Ethan from growling low and shifting back into lycan form was the pup growing inside the other omega. There was a defiance in the hazel eyes that could barely be contained, and the way that Matt was bearing his teeth made Ethan know that he was prepared to keep himself clinging to denial.
"I'll leave you for a while," Ethan muttered, the silence broken. "Just please take some time to listen to something other than your own fucking heartache. I get that Nate hurt you. It was wrong and cruel, but don't punish your pup for the choices that you and Nate made."
In a quick motion, Matt had the other omega's ear on his belly. The warmth of the touch spread through his skin like fire, but he doesn't pull away. Ethan closed his eyes and hums low, and the rich vibrations cause the curves of Matt's tummy to slightly shake. Then, as if someone just needed to know that something was out there in the world beyond, there is a slight shuffling as an answer back.
"No..." Matt whispered, as the motion within settled back down into stillness. "N-no. I can't..it's too much to..."
Ethan sat back up to watch the lycan as he began to break apart. The way the hazel eyes became nothing but a place for tears to be reborn, and the slender body pulling in on itself as the pain doubled. For once Matt didn't care that someone saw him this raw again, and the comforting hugs were the only thing that seemed to be stopping him from disappearing completely. He hated Nate, but now he hated himself even more.
There were a few things in life that Nate always respected, and one of the most valued was silence. The stillness that came from not allowing your breath to be seen on frigid nights, and the heartbeat of your prey being the only sound that could be trusted. The beta was a careful hunter, and a patient killer, but the words of the human lingered in the cartilage of his large ears. The wolf was rattled by what he had heard from the dying human's lips. The very notion of a fellow Lycan, let alone an Elder to be somehow behind the killings of so many of the innocent was too much to swallow.
Yet, Nate was no fool. Humans were full of filthy lies, and why should the fear of death be any reason to suddenly spit out the truth along with their own blood? The black wolf had way more enemies now than ever, but he still had a few allies in the remnants of his long deserted pack so long ago. Creatures who still couldn't help but soften their eyes when they first would catch a glimpse of him in their darkened memory. Back when Cristina sat by his side and their daughter Willow was still in her rounded belly.
"You shouldn't be here, Nate."
The vivid purple narrowed as he approached the small cave in the clearing. Head bowed and teeth poised to make a swift amends if needed to get the information he so desperately craved. The wolf who spoke sighed as the ebony paws continued to move slowly towards him, but the chestnut colored lycan said nothing else to either hinder the beta.
"I'm not here to do anything to harm you or the ones you still protect, Jared."
The other beta huffed, large tail swishing carefully as he took a moment to survey his lost pack mate. The stunning golden eyes swept across the sharpened claws and then the thick leg muscles of the black wolf.
"Your reputation tells me different."
The growl was low in the base of Jared's throat, and another warning flick of the tail. Unlike Nate, the years of pain and misery were much more easily seen in the patchy coat and slight shake of the bones. It was a quiet dedication Jared had that Nate admired most. Even now with all that he had done, Jared was still giving him the option to just leave without bloodshed.
"I'm aware of my status," Nate muttered, cognizant that there were other eyes on him. Hidden in shadow and blinking behind the thick trees surrounding them. "But I need some questions answered. You are one of the last who I trust to tell me your true theories of what happened that night the nursery was slaughtered."
There were mutterings at Nate's words, but only the golden orbs flitted around. The black wolf stayed silent and still, waiting for his former friend to respond.
"You have long destroyed any sanctuary with those of us left," Jared muttered back. "But I will lend you my thoughts, but on behalf of Cristina and your daughter only. Not for you, Nate."
The large head reared back and gave a short howl to the inky sky, and at once the retreating sounds of paws met the tense air. Once the silence returned, the brown lycan twisted into a small shape on the ground and exhaled deeply. The legs settled comfortably into the soft ground and Nate surged forward to sit closer.
"I don't know what I would be able to tell you that you're not already painfully aware of," Jared began. "Our memories are practically mirrors of events."
"Not entirely," Nate said swiftly. "From my recollection you told me that you saw the humans earlier that same day. Much closer than usual."
The other beta inclined his head, the hint of a frown on the corners of his long mouth.
"Yes. The excuse was that they were hunting larger prey for their villages, but I did sense they weren't being entirely truthful. I went to the sentry wolves about it, and they redoubled the protection for nursery. It...wasn't enough."
Nate could sense the sorrow in the other beta's soul. That he had loved each and every one of the broken bodies. The violet eyes turned away to give the lycan a moment to compose himself again, then swiftly asked the question that he knew would seal his fate if he was wrong.
"In your heart, do you believe that any of the Elders could have been involved with the killings?"
Jared stood up so fast that is caused Nate to move into a defensive position, and they were squaring up again. The golden gaze turned suddenly wide and terrified, but he didn't strike.
"What you ask is a death sentence if heard by the wrong set of ears, Nathan."
"My life was lost long before now. I've been on borrowed time for years."
Another sigh, and then Jared rested his weary bones again to the ground below. Then he closed his eyes, and inhaled and exhaled again. The wind moved from the west to the east, and Nate could almost smell the human stink of that day once more.
"There are reasons why I never venture to the Elders any longer," Jared whispered, just clear enough for Nate to hear. "The stench of corruption has always twisted my sensitive stomach, and there has always been the question of how the humans knew exactly where the weak point of the defense of the nursery was, and where they were able to kill so many so quickly. Humans...are vicious when they want to be. The ones who crave power can be easily turned by the proper tongue."
Nate growled as he got back to his sturdy paws, and bowed his head low for a final time.
"On the blood of my family," he hissed. "Do you believe that Victor called for this?"
"On the blood of your family," Jared whispered, his voice shattering under the weight of his pending confession, "The humans were tracked by myself and another wolf. They met up with a dark figure at the edge of a clearing very soon after my warning to leave our part of the forest. I could not confirm that it was Victor, but after the slaughter, I was approached by a guard of the Elders to forget what I saw. If I didn't, then the few who survived might not get the medication and herbs that they needed."
Nate roared as he slammed against the much leaner frame of the one he used to call 'brother'. His teeth were bared and tasting the wetness of the dew on the chestnut fur. The other wolf didn't struggle. If anything he leaned into the opened mouth, as if begging to finally be put out of his misery for so many years of silence. Nate grabbed at neck tightly before spitting Jared back down to the dirt.
"Your death isn't worth the amount of sorrow it would cause the ones you still care over."
The thick blanket of the night envelopes the black lycan as he ran. The shimming brown eyes full of tears that no one can comfort as he howls. Nate was finished with the betrayals of the ones he used to pledge his life for, and although he knew that he was a wanted wolf, he began to race to the only one strong enough to fight for the fallen.
If only he can survive long enough for the alpha - his alpha - to listen to his pleas.
Little by little Matt ventured out of Ethan's cabin, at first only protected by his wolf form. Slowly, however, he allowed the rest of the pack to see his curving tummy along with the rest of his human form. The omega had no desire to talk to anyone other than Ethan. His hazel eyes lowered almost shyly as the rest of the pack were close enough to greet them.
Ethan had already told Mark that Matt was carrying Nate's pup, and if anything, Mark was even more accommodating and kind to the abandoned omega. Matt took this as the alpha's decision to pity him, and he hated that worse then if Mark had decided to rip out his throat in a blind rage. Despite how Nate had come to Matt's part of the forest, the beta was already loved by an alpha, a strong head alpha at that. Matt knowingly bedded a lycan who was claimed by another, and wolves have been destroyed or banished for much lesser crimes.
"You and your pup are welcomed here for as long as you wish," Mark had said as he greeted the omega on his first formal visit. "Whether that be through the next few moons or the next few centuries, I promise that you will be safe here."
The omega said nothing in response, but instinctively placed a protective hand on his belly. Ethan watched, slightly lifted by the way Matt had begun to show signs of love for his pup, even if the emotions were fleeting. It was a start.
Jack had been tentative to reach out to the new visitor. The very idea that Nate's former lover was nestled within the pack was a lot to take in already, but Jack's renewed night terrors of Nate returning to finish the job he started only added to the stress he was carrying. Mark attempted to soothe his Luna with gentle rubs and nightly lovemaking, but although the howls from Jack were breathtaking, his muscles would never fully relax.
They laid impossibly close, with limbs tangled up and chests glistened—Mark gently cleaning up the remnants of their most recent time together. The omega breathed in and out as his mate's strong hands caressed his curvy thighs, only slightly aware that his alpha was inhaling his scent.
"Jack," Mark's deep voice rumbled against his pale skin. "Your smell has changed. Are you feeling unwell?"
Jack was a little put off by the comment but thought nothing of it. He had been under quite a lot of stress recently and honestly, wouldn't be surprised at all if he was coming down with something. In the past few months, his body has endured grief, physical and emotional pain, as well as the strain of everyone else's issues. He was worn out.
"I'm fine...just a little tired." Jack murmured, glancing down to meet Mark's gaze. "I'm sure it's nothing. Certainly nothing to cause a fuss over."
Mark's brow wrinkled with concern, not buying that excuse for a second. Jack has been acting a little strange lately, and Mark didn't believe that it was just a simple case of exhaustion. He was moody, sore, and his scent was much sweeter than it normally was.
Mark pressed his nose to Jack's belly, inhaling deeply and picking up little notes of what could only be described as life. The alpha could virtually feel the presence of the little pup that was certainly growing in Jack's womb, and his heart skipped a beat as he quickly put the pieces of the puzzle together. Jack smelled similar to Matt, who was carrying Nate's pup—and the answer slammed into Mark like a freight train as he pulled away and noticed the faint glow that encapsulated his mate.
"By the stars," Mark whispered, more to himself than to Jack. "You're pregnant.."
Jack's eyes widened, unsure if he heard that correctly or not. The omega felt like he was choking on air, heart picking up speed as his mind finally caught up with the rest of his body. He shot up from where he was lying, muscles tense and mood defensive. He couldn't be pregnant, right? He wasn't ready for that. Mark wasn't ready—and with the threat of Nate growing worse by the second the timing was just all wrong. What if something happened to Mark? Jack couldn't raise a pup on his own without his alpha there to guide and support him. He'd end up just like Matt, and that scared him.
"P-pregnant? Mark, you can't be serious. I told you that it's nothing to be con-"
"Jack, your scent is telling me otherwise," Mark interjected, cutting off Jack's explanation that they both knew was bullshit. The alpha moved to Jack's side, pulling him close and hushing his worried mind as best as he could. "Your body doesn't lie, my love. It's alright. This is a good thing, Jack. A little life is growing within you, and that can be frightening—especially with everything that's going on recently. But I can assure you that everything is going to be okay."
Jack buried his face into Mark's neck, just trying to wrap his head around this. He assumed that something was off about a week prior when he began to feel inexplicably ill, but it was like the concept of pregnancy didn't even exist to him. Now Mark is telling him that he's with child and the world feels like it's caving in around him. He's terrified, and Mark's words aren't helping to reassure him right now. The implications of this are extremely heavy, and Jack doesn't know if he can do this.
The omega doesn't even realize that's he's weeping until Mark's thumb is swiping across his cheek to wipe his tears away, and Jack just collapses in on himself right then and there.
"I'm s-scared, alpha. What if I c-can't do this?" Jack whimpers, holding onto his alpha tightly as the weight of the world came down hard on his shoulders. "I-I can't.."
"Yes, you can." Mark softly said, soothing Jack with his gentle touch and warm words. "I know you're scared, baby. I am too. But there's no limit to what you can do, and I can promise you that I'll be here every step of the way to make sure you know that. You're not alone. I'm right here, and I'm not leaving your side for anything."
Three days and nights had to pass before Mark was able to coax Jack into making the announcement to the pack. At this point, it was merely a formality, since Jack's scent of pregnancy was blanketing any lycan nose that was close to their cabin, but still, no celebration could be made until it was official. It almost amused Jack that for the first time in months he realized how naked he was all the time. Ever since they had found out about the pup, his body was changing. He stared into the full-length mirror as if he had never seen it properly before now, and turned this way and that as he studied his torso.
His plump hips looked stronger now as they supported the weight of his curved belly. Jack's pale hands slid over his smooth skin and stilled long enough to feel a slight shudder.
"It's okay," Jack whispered. "I'm here."
The sound of the door opening raised his blue eyes to the dark shape of his mate returning with fresh meat clutched in his hands, his eyes settling back into the warm brown gaze that Jack craved like the moonlight.
"Darling," Mark cooed, dropping his kill on the table and placing his lips and bloodied hands on the shimmering skin of his Luna. "You're looking radiant tonight—as gorgeous as the stars themselves."
Jack's blush was so sudden that Mark couldn't help but softly chuckle. Even now with all that Jack had done to prove himself powerful and brave his head would bow at the slightest compliment given. Jack leaned into the kisses pressed upon his neck and jawline, and he sighed as Mark gently rubbed his hands over his expanding stomach.
"I brought you a little something before we head out to speak to the pack," Mark whispered. "You need to eat as much as you can, my love."
"You've already been bringing me so much food I'm sure most of my tummy is wild turkey and boar meat," Jack giggled.
Mark gave a loud laugh that made Jack's heart flutter even faster than it already was. A soft turn on his heel had their lips meeting again, but this time with much more fevered devotion. Mark's rough palms caressed the omega's waistline and bump until the life inside gave another shudder.
"Your body doesn't lie," Mark chuckled, and he felt Jack's smile against his shoulder. "Inside of you grows the future of our kind, Jack. So, eating and rest are your two most important tasks."
Jack sighed as his chin was tilted up and he was kissed again, then pulled over to the small table to begin to take enthusiastic bites through his meal. All the while, the alpha would make occasional sniffs at the air and head out in wolf form to make sure that everything was ready for later that night.
The pack was already forming a tight circle in the middle of the grounds by the time that Mark came out with Jack. Both Felix and Cry gave each other amused looks at how nervously their Luna was chewing on his lower lip. Mark's hand gave Jack's a reassuring squeeze and the omega straightened up just the smallest amount.
"My fellow wolves," Mark called out, and all ears and eyes were on him. "By your strong noses and sharp eyes let it be known that Jack, our Luna, is with child. This news is a light in all of the darkness that has surrounded our pack, and our species as of late. Please join me in celebrating this new life that's being created."
There were loud cheers and howls all around them, and Jack smiled as he wrapped his arms around the alpha. Mark's deep voice rumbled against the omega's cheek as he continued his speech, speaking to the pack to give Jack love, understanding and space during his pregnancy.
"Congratulations to our alpha and luna," Ethan squeaked out as he bounced up and down on his paws. "I offer my services for the delivery, Mark."
"Of course," Mark barked happily. "I couldn't think of any other lycan to assist with bringing my pup into the world."
Jack never would have thought that hearing his mate stake a claim over the little life that was growing inside of him would make him want to howl with joy, but his heart lept in his chest and a small growl bubble up from within him that let Mark know just how happy he truly was tonight.
The entire pack was here to celebrate this small victory in the thick of all this loss and heartache, and in this moment, Jack truly felt as if their child was the hope that these lycans needed in order to press on. Life was growing from the ashes of death, and for the moment, all was right and well in the world. But amongst the howls and happy noise that filled the forest, Jack was unable to hear the small growl of anguish that sounded from the treeline behind them.
Nate's violet eyes were glassy with unshed tears, unable to believe the things that he'd just heard. Mark—his alpha and long-lost love—had moved on without him. Life had gone on without him, and the lycan standing next to Mark's side was taking Nate's rightful place as Luna. But what's worse was that this lycan should have been dead and rotting along with those villagers Nate had slaughtered the night he left the pack. He recognized Jack as the boy that got away, and his sharp teeth were bared as he snarled with disgust.
Jack should be dead. The damage that Nate inflicted upon his body that night would have been enough to kill any lycan; so why was this pathetic boy still alive? Nate's heart was crawling up his throat, strangling him with the knowledge that Mark had indeed gone out to find him that night. But instead of finding Nate and bringing him home, Mark found Jack; barely breathing and hanging on by a thread. And now, Nate's mistake has come back to bite him, and the boy that he should have finished off was carrying his alpha's pup; standing in his rightful place.
But that was one mistake that Nate would soon rectify.
Chapter 53: Chapter 53
Jack had never seen so much food in his life as he had that night, and it was only with a desperate look over to Mark that he was rescued by even more meat and soft bread placed in front of him. His belly was rounder than he thought was possible, even with a pup floating lazily in his womb, and his alpha chuckled as he waved away additional plates. The rest of the pack performed the traditional howls of the celebration of their Luna's pregnancy, and any fears that the omega had of the ability of he and Mark being able to do this together were burned away with the large fire that lit the sleeping grounds that night.
The yawns were getting larger from Jack's mouth as the moon rose even higher in the sky. The alpha smiled at the sleepy blue eyes and knew that Jack wouldn't make it through the entire event. This wasn't unexpected. It was typical for the pack's Luna to retire early from the festivities, and Mark would leave soon after to join his mate for the night while the rest of the pack continued to celebrate in their honor until the sun returned.
"Are you ready for bed, my love?" the alpha whispered, and bathed in the smile and nod that he received in return.
"Maybe we can walk a little before we go to our cabin," Jack asked, as he wiped exhaustion from the corners of his eyes with the heels of his hands.
"It's such a beautiful night, and it's been ages since I've felt the forest floor under my feet."
"Of course," Mark cooed. The alpha helped the omega rise slowly to his feet and made sure that Jack was steady before letting him go. The smaller lycan was still getting used to the shift in his center of gravity, and rubbed his own belly to relax their squirming pup.
A couple of faces noticed the movement and Mark gave a reassuring growl.
"Jack is just wanting some fresh air before we head back for rest. Please, all of you continue to dance and howl as much as you like. Thank you for the love and protection you'be shown to all three of us."
Mark's right hand rested against the omega's soft pale tummy and Jack could feel their pup start to drift. It was almost as if their baby was trying to feel the warmth coming from the alpha's palm, and Jack could sense the tears already beginning to fall. Then, Mark's other hand brushed against his Luna's arm and slid down gently until their fingers interlaced in the most perfect way.
"Ready for our walk whenever you are, my sun and stars," he muttered, and then Mark waited until Jack began to lead them away from the center of the sleeping grounds and into the lush darkness of the woods that surrounded them.
Jack, in all honesty, didn't know where they were heading. He just wanted to feel the cool night air on his face in human form with the only man he ever wanted to be with. Occasionally, he would feel Mark pause for a moment to sniff the air, but other than that Mark was perfectly happy with the omega picking the path and pace. Even now, Jack marveled how far they had come as a couple, and how Mark was treating him like a true equal. Jack had a specific role in the pack, of course, but his crown was truly being shared by the two of them.
Mark was more focused on Jack's bare feet and belly than anything else, and the violet eyes watching them from the shadows could see this as well. Nate followed them at a safe distance as they moved further away from the pack, and he was thankful for whoever's rash decision that was. The beta's chest was already aching from the amount of violent sobs he had held back, but soon he would take care of the little rabbit that should have been dead long before now.
Nate stayed low to the ground, stalking them as carefully and quietly as his emotions would let him. The beta's heart was crawling up his throat; twisting with such raw anger and hurt that it made him want to vomit.
How could Mark do this to him– to them? Mating with that filthy half-breed; like Nate never even mattered to him at all.
His livid gaze flicked up to Jack's rounded belly, tears now leaking from the corners of his narrowed eyes. He wanted to scream, to dig his claws into that pale belly and rip that squalling babe right out of his body. And as his gaze traveled further up, the anger in his chest began to swell; gathering like storm clouds, violent and loud, screaming desperately for release.
Just the way they looked at each other; holding hands and talking about absolutely nothing. Like they hadn't a care in the world. Like all that ever mattered was the lycan walking beside them. It was a look he used to receive from Mark once upon a time, back when he thought the alpha actually loved him. But now he could see that all of it was just a lie–a rouse used to distract him so Mark could use him to warm his bed.
He was so stupid. So fucking stupid for believing anything different. And now, even when his instincts were screaming at him to remain hidden until the opportune moment, Nate's emotions came to a head, and they demanded satisfaction.
The beta couldn't wait any longer; sharp teeth bared and claws at the ready. He could smell their entwined scents–no doubt from the product of conception floating around in Jack's belly–and Nate snarled as the smell invaded his flared nostrils.
Jack and Mark both froze in place, their grip on the other tightening from the sharp sound that pierced through the forest.
"Jack, stay behind me," Mark warned, placing his arm in front of the omega and gently pushing him back to shield him with his own larger body. "We're not alone here."
That loving and selfless gesture was the last fucking straw, and Nate let out a shrill growl as he leapt out from the shadows and came barreling down on Jack, who was now only a few feet away from him.
There was a scream; a snarl. And then all went quiet.
There was a deathly silence in the air around them, all three connected in an undeniable way. Jack was curled up upon the forest floor, his arms and legs protecting the pup nestled deep inside of him. The instinct to use his body as a shield was painfully understood. If Jack had been able to think clearly enough, he would have marveled at how instinctual each and every one of his movements were. The dark flash of fur and the scream that escaped the large maw as he lunged was unmistakable. Nate had returned to finish what he'd started.
Beyond the form of the omega was his alpha, standing firmly on his two feet, right hand outstretched. Mark's strong fingers were wrapped around Nate's throat tightly enough to keep the beta gasping for air as the alpha continued to snarl. Nate struggled as he quickly shifted back to human form, and as his body adjusted to being upright again, Mark's fingers tightened even more against his throat. Mark was not letting go.
The word was more than enough to make any lesser lycan fall into obedient silence. The striking dominance of Mark was always extraordinary, and even with all that Nate had been through, he buckled under the stare of his alpha. All that Nate could do was lift his hands to the alpha's wrist and press. The hold wasn't meant to kill him, but it wouldn't take much to change that, and the beta knew this all too well.
"Jack," Mark rumbled, brown eyes still fixed on the squirming beta, "Are you hurt?"
The omega lifted his head and examined his body quickly. Nothing seemed broken or bruised.
"No, alpha," he muttered. "I - I'm okay."
"And our pup?"
A longer examination was needed to answer this question, and Jack knew it. The sounds of small gasps and swallows from Nate trying to gather air into his lungs accompanied the lingering pats and rubs Jack placed on his belly. His pale palms glided across his skin, and it was then that he noticed a small bump that had not been there before. He hesitates as his mouth opened to tell Mark, convinced that he might witness the death of Nate right before his eyes if he told the alpha of his discovery. As much as Jack despised what happened to himself and his family, this was not the same Nate who attacked him. There was desperation and despair in his violet gaze that he had never seen before. Nate was afraid, and Jack needed to know why.
"The baby is fine," Jack decided.
Mark gave a soft hum to show that he understood, then turned his head just enough to meet the terrified blue.
"Shift and head to the sleeping grounds. Tell the others what has happened and do not leave until I return. Still have Ethan examine you more fully."
No further words were needed, and in a matter of moments, Jack's snowy fur shimmered against the moonlight. Mark didn't miss the tiny gasp that left Nate's mouth as he watched what he had helped Jack to become.
Jack took one last glance at the pair before departing, heading off at a sprinting pace to get back to the pack and let Mark deal with Nate alone. He wasn't sure if Mark would kill the beta, but the look in his eye suggested that he wasn't in the mood to show mercy; especially after everything that's happened recently. Mark feels responsible for the tragedy that's gripped this forest by the throat, and his fingers squeezed just a little tighter as he shifted his gaze away from Jack's retreating form and onto Nate; boring his darkened eyes straight through him with a glare that could curdle milk.
"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't tear your throat out and leave your carcass for the ravens." Mark hissed between sharpened, clenched teeth, backing Nate up to pin his body against the thick trunk of a tree.
Nate could hardly breathe, let alone speak to give Mark the answer he was after, but his eyes revealed so much more than the beta could ever express through words alone. Nate's expression reflected fear, pain, a sense of misdirection and a general loss of confidence that gave Mark reason for pause.
This wasn't a calculated attack that Nate had thought out and meticulously planned. This was him lashing out — acting beyond reason and without regard for whatever mission he was on. Mark could see it in his eyes, feel it in the pulse that hammered against his fingers that still hugged the beta's throat.
Nate was in pain. It was plain to see that everything Nate has done since he'd left the pack was because he was hurting. Mark set this devastating chain of effect into action the moment he denied Nate the very thing he needed; a sense of purpose and belonging, and it was his fault that Nate was able to snuff out as many lives as he had. Mark should have crushed this from the start. He never should have gotten involved with the beta if he knew that nothing serious could come from it. But he did, and he did it because he was selfish.
Mark's grip loosened just a tad, but it was enough to allow Nate to take the desperate gulp of air that filled his burning lungs. The beta drew in a few gasping breaths, eyes wet with unshed tears as he met Mark's gaze and held it. His hands were wrapped tightly around the alpha's wrist; like he was trying to prevent the inevitable, but Mark was stronger than Nate would ever be and could easily kill him right here and now if he really wanted to. The very fact that Nate was still alive and relatively unharmed after attacking Jack meant that Mark must want him around for whatever reason, and that gave him a small sense of hope. Hope for what, he wasn't sure of yet.
"S-so, this is how I find you?" Nate sneered once his body had calmed enough to allow him to speak. "How long did you mourn for me when I left, alpha? An hour — a day? Seems like you moved on just fine without me. I was nothing more than a warm body to fill your bed, wasn't I?"
Mark's hard expression fell, and he nearly flinched as he finally heard the accusations he knew he'd face eventually.
"I did mourn, Nate. My heart is perpetually heavy from all that's been taken from this pack." He responded, tone even with a hint of bite towards the end.
Nate scoffed, unconvinced in the slightest. "You always did mistake sex for comfort. I shouldn't be surprised that you chose that...mutt to take my place. No doubt the same night I tried to kill him. Perhaps thanks are in order? It was my bite that made him what he is—"
"Speak like that again, and I will kill you." Mark snarled, pressing his palm hard against Nate's throat to shut him up. "Jack is more of a Luna that you would ever hope to be, and you will show him respect in my presence."
"You're wrong! It should have been me! I stayed by your side for years and you threw me away the moment I wanted more. That should have been me!"
"So you kill innocents as recompense for your imagined slights?! You were never meant to share my crown, Nate! You give up this pointless mission and face what's happened! You are a murderer. Victor has said this much, and you will face penance for the things you've done!" Mark snapped, having heard enough. But rather than challenge him further on the subject, Nate grew silent.
After a moment of thick tension between them, Nate finally spoke up, having remembered the reason he came out here to find Mark in the first place. He'd have words with Mark regarding what happened between them at a later time, but his alpha needed to hear the truth about Victor and the Elders. Whether he believed it or not was up to him.
"You know nothing of Victor." The beta murmured, pain lacing his words and causing Mark to arch his brow in concern. "Your precious Elders are the true murderers, Mark. It was Victor that led the attack on the nursery. He was responsible for the death of my mate and pup. So, please, continue to do his dirty work for him. Killing me won't set things right. Victor has more blood on his hands than I could ever have."
Nate inhaled as deeply as he could. His dark eyes squinted as he waited for Mark to consider his blasphemy against Victor. The beta knew that it was a gamble to confront the alpha with the truth in this way. He knew the ebb and flow of Mark's rage when he was in defense of creatures and convictions that he loved.
Nate winced at notion of it, but it was there in all of the actions that he was witnessing from the Lycan holding his literally hold his life in his hands. The careful way that Mark's gaze swept over the small man as he pressed on to the curves of his rounded belly. The flash of red light that echoed how powerful and dangerous the alpha was when Nate had called Jack a mutt.
Mark loved Jack.
The beta could recall the same looks and defenses when it had been him that Mark battled for day after day. Nate choked back a sob as Mark slowly released his grip and watched Nate slide down the tree and to the cold ground below.
"You're lying," Mark hissed, as Nate rubbed at his bruised throat. "Another path to whatever the fuck your goal - "
"On the breath of my Willow, I'm not."
Mark inhaled sharply, more startled by the words than he ever expected. It was one thing to declare a truth, but a much deeper with the mention of the dead. At once, the alpha grabbed up Nate in his arms and held him so fiercely that the beta gasped at the strength. Brown eyes streaming with tears and looking into the crimson flaked irises of his alpha.
"You dare bring your daughter's name into this madness, Nate?"
"Her innocence was spilled for the folly of a old wolf power hungry and wicked for more."
Their bodies were so close that Nate could almost taste Mark's scent on his tongue. The delicious essence that kept him warm and safe for so many years after he lost his family. The warmth of his earthy musk called to him, whispering to forgive the alpha's roaming eye towards another.
Nate pressed his lips into a narrow line, forcing himself to not say anything more. He knew Mark was calculating his options. Deciding what to do with this new information. Weighing out the possibilities of how much of what Nate was talking about could actually be true.
The beta felt the sensation of his heart beating as he continued to wait. His hopes were steadying more and more as the time moved forward. If Mark had thought that this truly a trick, Nate would have already been dead.
"You have until sunrise to explain," Mark rasped. "We stay together unless I say otherwise. If you run..."
The alpha released Nate once more and the beta took a couple of steps back to take hold of his senses. Their eyes met again.
"...I will go to the ends of the Earth to hunt you down."
The deep rumble of Mark's words sent a shiver down Nate's narrow spine. He inclined his head, gaze averted towards the mossy green of the forest floor.
Mark sniffed at the air before he twisted back into the black wolf, and Nate waited until the familiar form of his alpha tilted his head towards a break in the trees. The message was clear, and Nate shifted back as well, groaning as he settled back into the more comfortable dark fur and longer nose. Then like a shadow he followed Mark's quickened pace away from the sleeping grounds.
Nate knew to keep silent as they hurried along. His violet eyes watched the larger Lycan in front of him as he went towards an area that Nate knew too well. When their relationship had begun up until the night before they had the fight that broke everything apart, the two of them had a small spot of their own where they would spend lazy hours away from the pack. The beta's heart thudded hard at the memory of those times. The heat of the alpha's kisses against the softer parts of his skin.
He shuddered again.
The darkness made the place look slightly off, but the smells of wild flowers and the fresh water creek was enough for Nate to know that they had arrived. Despite himself he smiled at the feeling, though the warning motion that Mark made with his tail had the beta halt his reminiscing about where they were.
"What do you want me to know?"
Nate paused while Mark turned back into human form. Now without the distraction of Jack or the pain of strong fingers surrounding that base of his throat, Nate was able to fully remember why he fell in love with Mark in the first place. The Euroasian was stunning with the way the moonlight danced over his tanned muscles and black hair. The thick bundle of his developed thighs tensed as he adjusted to lean on the nearest tree trunk.
"I found out a lot while - "
"Shift first," Mark said, placing his arms across his chest.
Nate suppressed a growl. This was a fucking test and he knew it. A way to see if he would willingly do what Mark expected of him, and the emotions within the beta stirred yet again. A wave of his instincts battled his heart as he stared.
"That wasn't a suggestion, Nate. Shift so that I can truly see you."
The midnight fur retreated into the skin and the four legs became two once more. Violet eyes became rounded brown, and the subtle hint of deep set dimples, even when frowning like he was now, brought Mark to a part of himself that he purposely buried, but still missed like rainfall.
"Now," Mark continued, "Tell me of Victor's crimes."
Nate frown felt heavy on his face, but he still began to pace. He needed something to do with his restless energy. Mark did not hasten him or demand that his eyes stayed focused on the alpha. It was something that Nate had always loved about Mark. He allowed other to set the pace of the conversation when the situation called for it.
"I always had my doubts about what happened that night," Nate began. "You know this from the time we began our life together."
He stopped to glance up, but Mark was a still as the trees that encircled their hidden oasis. The expression on the alpha was unreadable, but Nate surged on, needing to continue his thoughts before they broke him apart completely.
"Small little questions grew in my mind like newly forming trees," the beta continued. "Like how Victor was the first Elder to arrive on the scene right after the slaughter. The others...even Amelia had been so late in the knowledge of what happened. Yet that old wolf, who never would set paw into any of the land unless it was for an official capacity, had raced in his true form to start looking after the mourning and to sniff out the dead."
Nate paused again, but this time it was so that he could get Mark's opinion of what he had said so far. It was a clinging need of validation that he hated that he craved so dearly.
"That was odd, I must admit," Mark agreed. His head turned slowly to connect his eyes with his former lover, to make sure that he knew that he had been heard. "But oddity does not automatically turn to evil, Nate."
"I am aware," Nate bit back, trying and failing to keep his temper in check. Mark growled lowly in warning, and Nate began to pace again.
It was seeing this that helped Mark to survey Nate without a questioning bark. Nate was slightly thinner than the last time that Mark had seen him. His thighs and upper arms were deeply twisted with new scars that the alpha had not witnessed before the beta had run from their sleeping grounds. It felt like centuries ago, but in the same instant, Mark could still taste the salt of the dried tears left on his own arms. He could still hear the echo of the slamming door of the tiny cabin that he and Nate shared for so many years.
Even with the lankier frame and battered skin, Nate was still stunning. The dark eyes were able to pierce through every piece of armor that Mark tried to shield himself with, and the deeply set dimples etched into the sculpted cheeks. Mark cast his gaze to the ground, willing everything that he had to think about the words Nate was saying, and not the voice that carried the tale. This honey toned lycan killed dozens of humans, almost killed his mate, and absolutely murdered Tyler. He must not let the feelings of the past fog his mind and heart.
"There's more," Nate said, still taking small steps around the nearest clump of trees. The moonlight shined as brightly as the stars above, making the darkness of the forest even more foreboding.
"There are those who will provide information on the Elders. Some by their own suspicious motives and others by fear or wealth. It took me days to convince them that I was worth the information, but my vengeance for my lost family has always been patient. I had counsel with many. Most I know you will excuse or dismiss, except for Wade."
The name had the desired effect on the alpha. His muscles stiffened and mouth opened at the mention of the guard. Wade had been a devoted member of the inner circle of the Elders since Mark was still nursing from his mother. Wade's light brown eyes and hulking mass had fought along side Mark when word had rustled through the breezes of where the group of humans who had done most of the slaughter were camped out. It was his teeth that attacked the man who had been able to pin down the alpha as they bloodied them on the proclamation of the four Elders.
"You realize that Wade can be sought after to corroborate whatever claims you are about to make."
"I know and welcome it, alpha."
Mark moved closer, though he isn't sure if it was the best option. Being farther away from Nate felt safer.
"After the burials, many of the guards left. The Elders of course stated so much grief and pain made them seek peace among the realm, but why would Wade leave? He vowed to serve the old ones until the last ounce of his muscle failed, and yet he left with not even a farewell to those he served along side. Even you had said it was...unusual."
"That was what really got me wanting to know if he was aware of something more. Beyond the laughing jeers of the filthy human. Beyond even my old pack mate Jared who started me on this road if discovery, it was Wade who I needed to see. At first I was afraid that he would break me at first sight. He knew of my crimes, both real and imagined. Or worse, he would refuse to see me at all."
Wade was a powerful hulking figure of a wolf, but as a man his shift was remarkably slight. Quiet and subdued, he was able to float into the human without detection. An asset desperately lost when he left.
"He wasn't happy to see me," Nate chuckled darkly, and then pointed to a long scar on the right side of his thigh. "That one hurt for days. Still, once I called out for mercy on the ways of the wolf he stopped long enough to listen, and to give me this."
Then that is when Mark saw it. A small item was pulled from the shell of Nate's right ear and held out in the palm of his hand. A twisted piece of parchment that Mark took and unravelled.
2 pieces of gold for every life taken. Spare the cubs of the North and females who bore them.
The color of purple was splashed along the edges, and alpha could feel himself gasp inside. The color of the Elder Victor. His hands shook as he read the words over again and again. There was no doubt in what Mark had been shown, and this truly did mean that Victor had orchestrated the attack.
"What about the others?"
Nate growled, but shook his head. "There is no proof that any of the others knew about it, and the fact that all of the nursery were killed showed that even Victor had been stupid to trust the humans to not get too bloodthirsty in their greed. Wade was able to rip this away from one of the men before he was gutted like a doe in heat. The knowledge of his own devotion of Victor and what his loyalty helped to cause drove Wade into the mountains. His oaths fueled his silence, but he knew that Victor needs to be punished for his crimes."
The beta spat to the ground to get rid of the taste of Victor from his throat, but it only did so much. His stomach was burning with the innocent lives that were torn to shreds for nothing. As for Mark, his eyes were already seeing the haunted calls from the broken bodies that he helped to place underground. How could he have been so stupid to believe blindly in what he was told about the Elders? To not judge their words or rules? He was no better than a pup brought into the world. Naked both in body and in mind.
"How could I have been such a fool?" the alpha whispered. The note of payment fluttered from his hand to the dirt below. His body swayed, as if the burden of so much suffering had weighed more than ever before, and the joy of the start of this night of celebration had shattered into nothingness.
"Alpha," Nate whispered back. "You had no way of knowing the depth of the corruption around us. You did as much as you could for the stilled heartbeats of that night."
Mark growled again, with the same flash of red in his glare. He wouldn't have notes of comfort now. Especially from the beta who broke the necks and souls of so many. Within a breath Nate choked back a cry as the alpha took him to the ground and glared down at the pleading form of the beta. Despite the truth staring at Mark he needed to end this. Nate would be first to die, and then he would go after Victor and whoever else was part of such a massacre.
"Alpha...please," Nate wailed, brown eyes twinkling in tears. "My daughter...my mate Cristina...let me come with you. Please...I must be allowed the honor of killing the one responsible for my years of misery. If you love me - ever loved me - you know it is within my status as the bereaved to ask this of you..."
In that very moment, the months melted away. Mark's snarl became a broken sob, and when Nate surged up for the kiss, the alpha didn't stop it.
For the quickest of moments it was like it had been before. The warmth of Nate's plump lips and wet tongue against the alpha's willing mouth was all there was. The blackness of the corners of the world surrounded them as they laid on the ground, the beta hitched breath brushing the clouds further into the mind of the alpha. His alpha once more.
Then something changed. A chill of a whisper of something caused Mark to stop and then as suddenly as it began, the embrace stuttered to a halt. The alpha roared as the pain of the mark left by his mate scorched within the flesh of his neck, and he reared back and howled. The black fur faded into a stunning snowy white within the back of Mark's shared soul. Violet eyes shimmered into emerald. Two heartbeats within the huddled form, and both in despair.
The name wasn't what Nate wanted at all. He needed Mark to stay. To hold his tightly in this arms for the rest of time. To take him here - anywhere. Leave him gasping for air and whole in a way that Nate could understand.
"No no...please Mark...don't go. I need you. Alpha. I love you."
The hands were grasping the shoulders. The grip desperately tight as the alpha wrestled to get to his feet. He needed to get home. Tell Jack. Beg forgiveness for a moment of weakness.
A cry through the bushes stunned both of the lycans. Breaking through a sea of green was the light brown coat of an omega. His eyes wide in shock at his alpha struggling to free himself from the wolf he hated more than anything else.
The omega opened his mouth but nothing came out but a ruthless noise of contempt. His sharp eyes already getting a very clear picture of what he interrupted. Panting hard from the amount of running he had done tracking both scents of his quarry, but never did he believe he would find what he found.
"So this is what you do when your mate is in agony?" Ethan hissed, tail switching wild. "Take this slime to a hole in the woods to fuck while my love...your best friend rots away, all because of - "
"Mark rejected me beforehand," Nate barked back. His focus completely now on the chestnut wolf. "Maybe that will bring at least a little joy to your battered heart, omega."
Ethan growled, sharp teeth shocking white against the inky cover of the night. He hadn't come here for anything but to get Mark to come back to the sleeping grounds for their Luna. The image of Jack wheezing for air in his lungs as he had collapsed into Ethan's chest. Exhausted and pleading for someone to check on the baby. That there was something wrong inside of his belly.
"There was an injury," Ethan said, pushing his rage aside for the love of his Luna. The alpha's expression twisted into a horrified stare. "Jack needs you."
That was all that was needed for Mark to shift back into the ebony wolf. His huge paws padded as he moved and called out behind the two others left in his wake.
"Nathan stays here until I return. Ethan, make sure he doesn't follow or leave."
The beta scoffed at the order as he lifted himself up to his feet and brushed the dirt from his skin. Ethan gave a low grunt of warning and Nate tilted his head, almost fascinated, but didn't move.
Mark's legs and chest were on fire, but he didn't give a damn. All he wanted was to hold Jack in his arms and feel the steady pulse of his pup inside.
It wasn't the rounded belly of his mate that met him at his cabin door, however. The silhouette was taller, and the features sharper.
"Matt, what has happened," Mark muttered as he got close enough. His shift back into a man more painful with his mind in so many places at once.
The other omega placed his palm against the bare chest of the alpha to stop him from breaking through the cabin door. His hazel eyes softened in a way that Mark had never seen before.
"Jack is stable..." Matt muttered, and the alpha exhaled for what felt like ages. "He was injured when Nate attacked, and soon after he returned his labor began. Ethan was able to stop the contractions but...we almost lost the pup."
The alpha knees buckled as he fell to the ground and Matt crouched to meet the brown eyes. It was then that Mark could see the kindness that the pack had shown the lost omega had done. There was no bite in voice or resentment in the omega holding him close. Matt was now truly another member of his family.
"This was all my fault..."
"You don't control Nate, Mark. You may have the strongest pull on his heart, but Nate will always try to create and destroy what he can."
The two wolves got back to their feet and Matt halted the alpha once more before he opens the door. His words measured and slow.
"I need you to promise two things before you see him, alpha."
Mark nodded. Anything was worth the price.
"You must promise me to not tell Nate about my own pregnancy. After seeing first hand what his rage can do...I can bear that for my pup."
Matt squeezed the alpha's arm in gratitude. The relieve on the omega's face incredibly clear.
"And second, you must promise to always protect your pack, no matter the costs. Learn from my mistakes, Mark. They trust you more than anything."
Mark gave a growl of understanding and Matt let go of his arm. Then with a turn of the handle Mark smelled the waves of Jack odor along with the faint hint of an earthy musk. Almost like how the woods smelled after a gentle rain.
Matt chuckled at the confusion on his alpha's face. The dark brown eyes looking back at him for clarity.
"Your baby is fine," Matt reassured. "The early labor just gave us a hint of what is to come is all. Now, go be with your mate...and with your son."