Tommy woke in a soft bed that smelled of wild flowers. The white sheets felt fresh under him. For a few minutes he had no clue where he was and felt exhausted like after a full moon run. He scented the air and realized he was in his wolf form curled up in the middle of that comfortable bed. From the smells around him he knew he was at Adam’s place. He perked his ears up to listen to the sounds of the building. He heard distant steps from the other end of the house. Now he remembered this room. He slept here last week when he’d spent some time with his new pack.
He had no idea how he ended up here. His mind was too lazy and slow to work properly just yet. Closing his eyes he huffed and rested his big head on his front paws. He pulled up his sensitive nose as the smell of disinfectants slightly irritated him. The haze on his mind suddenly disappeared as the scent triggered his memory. He remembered the agonizing pain, the smell of burned flesh and wolfsbane and then Adam. His eyes popped open as the explosion and the seconds before that came back to him.
What happened to the other pack members? He wanted to jump up, but his aching and sore muscles protested. Now he understood why he was in his wolf form. He was hurt by the bomb quite severely and once his body healed enough, he must’ve shifted to get better quicker. In wolf form he could heal much faster. He slowly sat up, trying to stop the room from spinning and ignoring the pain that made his head throb more. He had to know what happened after he passed out. He remembered that summer forest scent, the remains lingered on his fur and around the bed sheets stronger than he expected. Was Adam carrying him or holding him while he was out of it?
He tried to shift back, but his wolf didn’t let him yet so he figured his human form still needed some more time to heal. Were his injuries that bad? He couldn’t imagine how the others must have looked after the explosion. He really hoped no one died at least. He was about to try getting off the bed when he heard the door open and a disapproving grunt came from the person who stepped in.
“Where do you think you are going?” Sutan asked closing the door behind him. He was carrying a tray of raw stakes Tommy could smell from across the room. His stomach growled expectantly.
‘I just want to know how the others are… Did everyone survive?’ he froze as he answered Sutan through a mind-link.
“Oh, so you are starting to take your Beta role seriously now?” he asked a little teasingly, which earned him a huff from Tommy. “Alright, alright. Here, you should eat and drink some water. You yourself were pretty much a goner too,” he smiled faintly, but it didn’t reach his eyes as he walked to the bed and set the tray down on it.
‘Thanks. So?’ Tommy asked and sniffed the stakes before he took one and started chewing on it with delight. He really was hungry as a wolf.
Sutan sat down on the edge of the bed and waited with his reply until the first stake was gone and Tommy drank some water too. “Luckily the explosion was smaller than probably intended. No one died, but Jeremy and Tanya are still unconscious and in a pretty bad shape. It’s still not clear if they’ll fully recover.”
‘Shit,’ Tommy sounded worried and pissed off in Sutan’s mind.
The tall and skinny man watched the white wolf stop eating and staring at the bloody stakes as if they were to be blamed for all that’d happened. The silence stretched for a long minute then Sutan waved towards the tray elegantly and crossed his long legs. “Eat the rest of the meat, Tommy. You need to get your strength back. We’ll need a strong Beta like you and Adam’ll want to ask about the explosion as you were the one who noticed something was off and was the closest. Oliver doesn’t really remember much either,” he explained.
Tommy huffed and obediently ate the meat. He was really hungry despite the short film of that awful night which seemed to be replying over and over in his head while he ate. He knew Sutan was right and he couldn’t let the pack or Adam down in this. Not when the situation was this serious. They were attacked, lives were risked and people got seriously hurt. It was an open attack against the LA pack and they had to look into this and take the necessary steps – or at least that was what Tommy’d have done in his old pack. Now he didn’t know what Adam was planning. They really needed to talk.
‘Adam was here with me for a while, wasn’t he?,’ he looked up at Sutan when he was done, wanting to know if he was right about the source of the Alpha’s strongly lingering scent on the sheets and on him.
“That’s correct, honey. You were in a pretty bad shape yourself. As an Alpha it’s his responsibility to take good care of his pack members – especially when injured. He licked your wounds better so you could heal enough to shift,” he nodded, closely watching Tommy’s reactions – as much as it was possible in his wolf form.
Tommy turned his big head and looked down at the white sheet under him. He knew what Sutan was talking about. Alphas and often Betas too had the ability or magic, if you like, to use their saliva to make the pack members heal faster by licking their wounds. And apparently Tommy had a lot of wounds from the silver and the wolfsbane that hit him during the explosion.
“How do you feel about that?” Sutan asked softly.
Tommy licked his muzzle to clean off some blood from the stakes and lay his head down on his paws as his bushy tail curled around his body. He lifted his golden-brown eyes at the other wolf and huffed. ‘I don’t know. Grateful, probably. Judging by what you told, I wouldn’t have been able to survive without his help.’
“I’m afraid not. We were lucky to be nearby Howl and managed to get there quickly. Adam was restless for a while that day so when the call came that something had happened, it wasn’t hard to connect the dots. He could sense the danger ahead.”
‘How long was I out and what steps did he make about the bombing?’
“You were out for nearly four days, Tommy. We were starting to worry, but we saw that you were healing and Adam could feel the Alpha-connection with you. Sadly with Jeremy and Tanya that connection is barely there. He’s spending more time with them now, but I’m sure he’ll come to you soon enough once he knows you woke up,” he explained propping his chin on his palm, elbow on top of his crossed knees. “He sent out some wolves to Howl to sniff and look around in hope that they’d be able to track down the bomber, but no luck yet. He connected everyone in the pack and the Santa Monica pack too to ask about recent vampire activity since you told him the bomber was compelled. He wanted to wait asking for an audition from the vampires until you came around.”
‘I see…’ Tommy huffed again and looked in front of him as he was thinking, his wolf calm and in the back of his mind this time to let him think more like a human in this serious situation. ‘I should talk to him then. I also want to find out what this was about. Why we were attacked like this.’
Sutan nodded and hummed looking at the wall opposite him. The silence stretched between them for a couple of minutes then the other Beta turned to look at Tommy again. “There’s something else on your mind. I can tell. Ask away,” he said softly.
Tommy’s eyes met his for a second then he stared at the empty plate on the tray. He stayed quiet, contemplating if he should ask or not but then he decided he wanted to get an answer to his question too much to keep it to himself. ‘I was wondering if you ever felt or heard about something I’ve noticed when I was around Adam. Especially when our skin touched. I can smell the scent of a summer forest besides the pack scent… and a different kind of home feeling. Any idea what that might mean?’ he quickly glimpsed back at the skinny man.
Sutan watched him with an amused little smile, which made Tommy a bit uncomfortable. He clearly had some idea of that phenomenon. ‘So?’
“Yes, I have an idea, but I think answering this question isn’t my task,” he grinned.
‘Then whose?’ Tommy growled frustrated.
“Adam’s of course. You should ask him if he felt the same around you. He can explain it to you,” he said and stood up to pick up the tray with the empty plate and water bowl.
‘Isn’t it easier if you just tell me now?’ he asked annoyed by all the secrecy when he just wanted to see clear.
“Surely it is, but that’s no fun. Besides it’s something you two have to figure out on your own. Then you’ll understand some things I’ve told you about not letting you take my place before. Remember? I see things others not.”
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ Tommy lifted his head and made an expression as if he lifted his eyebrows.
“Oh silly, you still haven’t figured out? In the pack I’m something humans would call ‘shaman’. More than just a healer, you know. Visions, hunches, connection with our ancestors and all the rest,” he waved with his free hand still smiling. “So trust me when I say you should talk about this with Adam. I go see if he returned and tell him you’re awake.”
Tommy just watched him with an annoyed look and huffed once more as Sutan sashayed out of the room. A ‘shaman’, huh? But what the hell did he mean by the rest?, he wondered and kept thinking about the possible answers until the food made him sleepy and he found himself napping soon after.
It was nice warm and cozy and the petting of his head felt so good that he could’ve stayed like this for hours. But as he rubbed his muzzle against a strong thigh and felt the scent of the summer forest stronger again, his human mind caught up and he opened his eyes. It was Adam’s thigh and hand in his fur. Tommy suddenly felt embarrassed for forgetting himself like this during his sleep and was grateful that his wolf-form hid his blush.
‘Sorry…’ he mumbled through their mind-link as he sat up and pulled back.
“It’s okay. You were cute. Definitely less a pain in the ass while sleeping,” Adam teased but the gentle smile Tommy saw on his face made his spicy response die in his throat. It showed relief and worry too as Adam put his hands in his lap, not moving from the middle of the bed. “So… you seem better.”
‘I am better. I just can’t shift yet,’ he answered glimpsing up at his calm Alpha, that scent still lingering around them. ‘Thanks for helping my healing.’
“You’re part of my pack now, my second Beta. Of course I helped in any way I could.”
Tommy nodded his big head and curled his bushy tail around his legs as he was sitting nearly opposite Adam. ‘Sutan told me you wanted to talk to me about the attack. I don’t remember what I told you before I passed out.’
“That it was a compelled human and the bomb contained silver and wolfsbane,” Adam frowned lightly.
‘That’s pretty much what I noticed before the bomb exploded. What did the Santa Monica pack say about the latest vampire activity?’
“I see Sutan helped you catch up a little,” Adam smiled a little, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “I got no useful information from them. Everything seemed to be normal over there and my scouts didn’t notice anything either.”
‘What about those whom you sent to track the trail of the compelled human?’ Tommy frowned.
“The trail led to a nearby alley but stopped there. The human was probably dropped off there by a car. We tried to track that down too, but the scent was gone due to the rain in the morning,” he sighed shaking his head. “We aren’t closer solving this.”
‘But the hand of at least one vampire is in it. You should ask for an audition as soon as possible. This is important. We can’t let assassins attack us like this, and the Vampire Queen would want to clear the suspicion of her kind too if they weren’t behind the attack,’ he growled clearly frustrated by the situation.
“You said ‘us’. Sutan was right, you’re starting to take your Beta role more seriously. I’m glad,” he nodded and ignored the quiet huff he got in response. “I’ll ask for that audition. But I don’t know when we’ll get an appointment by the Queen. It might take weeks. I don’t want to wait for that long.”
‘Maybe I could help on that…’ Tommy thought after a short pause.
“How?” Adam frowned a little confused and maybe suspicious.
‘I have my ways,’ he said making the wolf equivalent of a shrug.
“Really? That’s interesting, but yes, if you can do something about that, I’d be grateful. As you said, we cannot live in fear of another attack. Either way, Howl is being restored by the pack as we speak and I think until we figure this out, we should only let in wolves. There were some humans too who got injured in the explosion. It wasn’t easy to keep the media away until we could bring every wolf into safety.”
‘I’m sorry,’ Tommy bent his head down.
“For what?” Adam looked at him surprised.
‘For not being able to sense it sooner or stop it. I was… on my break when the human walked in.’
“Yeah, Mike told me about you and Janice being on break before the explosion happened,” he nodded and Tommy felt grateful again for his fur hiding his blush. He hated to feel like a teenage boy all of a sudden. It was none of Adam’s business, really. Thinking back now, Tommy was sure that the Alpha could smell her all over Tommy even after the bombing and probably his scent stuck to Janice too. “But, you know, it’s not your fault. It’d have happened anyway and maybe you wouldn’t have survived in that case,” he sighed heavily. “I was relieved you survived,” Adam said not looking directly at Tommy.
‘Why?’ the white wolf turned back to him, a bit surprised at the amount of relief and honesty in his Alpha’s voice.
Adam lifted his gaze to meet the golden-brown wolf eyes and didn’t answer for a minute. “You can’t feel it? Smell it?”
‘What do you mean?’ Tommy wolf-frowned, his ears perking up with interest.
For a moment it seemed Adam wanted to say something but then he just shook his head as if it wasn’t important.
‘Tell me! Is this about what I asked from Sutan?’
Adam looked a bit confused. Maybe Sutan didn’t give a heads up on that topic at least. “What did you ask him?”
‘I asked… if he knew anything about a certain scent I smell when I’m around you. And a different kind of home feeling. Not the same kind like when I’m with the pack,’ he looked questioningly at Adam, his senses on full alert to notice if he wanted to hide something.
“What kind of scent do you smell around me?” Adam asked instead of giving a direct answer, which made Tommy huff as now he suspected the Alpha did know more about this. Just like Sutan implied.
‘The scent of the summer forest. And warmth.’
“How come that as a Beta you never heard about something like this?” Adam sighed and looked a little puzzled.
Tommy went into defense mode right away as it sounded to him pretty much like a nearly-insult. He growled low and pulled further back, his fangs showing for a split second. ‘You don’t know much about my old pack or me.’
“Yeah, you made sure of that with your stubborn behavior,” Adam rolled his eyes which seemed to glow more in the wolf’s piercing blue color.
‘Fuck you,’ it slipped his mind before he could filter it, but he didn’t take it back as he stood up on the bed, towering over Adam, although both of them knew that Tommy wouldn’t dare to attack the much stronger Alpha, even if he wasn’t injured. ‘For once I’d like to get a straight answer to my question. In the Burbank pack everyone was open, we shared the information we gathered. But here in the LA pack it’s like pulling someone’s teeth. For once stop the secrecy and tell me what the fuck is going on between us!’
Adam nearly looked amused by Tommy’s outburst. It’d have been even better if he had the chance to see it happen in his human form. “Very well, but if you’re not ready to hear the truth, I tried…” he finally shrugged. “Yes, I know what you are talking about. I’ve seen it in my pack once or twice. I feel the same around you, except that I smell the scent of the winter forest. The explanation is simple: we are Mates.”