Freshly showered Tommy was sitting in a smaller room of Adam’s house with a breathtaking view over LA, the wooden slide doors slid shut to get some privacy. He shared the greenish couch with Adam and cradled his glass of Jack to his chest, crossed ankles resting on a small rectangular wooden table’s edge. He could see from the glint of Adam’s eyes that he didn’t really approve, but he said nothing. He was probably glad Tommy showed up at all before dragging him into this secluded little room.
The Alpha couldn’t lie to himself about how the fight with Tommy then the blonde’s storming out got to him. He had a sleepless night about it for sure before he forced himself to focus on dealing with pack issues instead of diving deeper into his dark thoughts and the disappointment of his wolf. It was usually laid back, stepping forward only when it had to show its dominance and put the wolves in the LA pack to their place, or on rare occasions when Adam got pissed off at something or someone. But now… now it felt as if it was sulking because of Tommy’s – and not his wolf’s – rejection. So now the black wolf was curled up in the back of Adam’s mind, pretending to be untouchable, but it was still following the happenings from the corner of its eye.
“I’m listening…” Adam said calmly after the silence stretched too long between them. It was clear that Tommy was too lost to start the conversation.
“Uh…” the blonde sipped from his whiskey and let his head drop back on the back of the couch, but when he realized that it could be mistaken for offering his throat to Adam, he quickly lifted his head and glimpsed at the Alpha. “First of all… sorry for the punch in the face.”
Adam just shrugged and crossed his long legs, one arm resting on the armrest of the couch, the other on his lap, looking at Tommy intently to continue.
The Beta thought that if Adam didn’t say anything about that then they could move on. Sweet. No punishment for the punch then. “So… what’s the deal with this Mate thing?”
“You believe me now?”
“That… kiss was quite the proof,” he shrugged too as he was swirling the rest of his drink in his glass, ice clinking against the glass.
“Look, I don’t know what to do, okay? It was… overwhelming and confusing and I was so fucking pissed…” Tommy sighed and ran his free hand through his hair, fluffing it up absently. He could feel Adam’s heavy gaze on him and it made his skin crawl – he couldn’t decide if it was nerve or desire.
“You don’t say?” Adam murmured sounding slightly amused.
Tommy snorted as he glimpsed at him and saw a tiny teasing smile in the corner of his mouth, but he didn’t comment on it. “Try to see things from my point of view. Until now I hated you for what I already told you and it suddenly turns out that my father had changed in his last months and became a different person, who was ready to sacrifice us all. And I nearly completely missed all that. I was angry at myself too. It’s heavy shit. I needed some time and then you kissed me. I could feel it was to comfort, but it was just too much then,” he said, not being able to stop the flow of words anymore. “What I felt in that kiss though… it was all I ever dreamed of when I thought about finding my Mate one day. I never felt anything this intense before and it scared the living shit out of me.”
“Why?” Adam interjected gently.
“Because… because I’ve always been independent, even as the Beta of my pack. I did my own things while looking out for my pack. And then you came along and turned everything upside down. I hated you with passion. I made sure you knew about that.” This earned a laugh-like snort from Adam. “But… I have to admit that… all in all you’re a good guy. You care about your pack, about us. I just don’t like to be kept in the dark. I have people to look out for too.”
“I know. I’m sorry if you felt like you were left out of the loop, but you have to understand that you and your pack were still outsiders until recently. Now I see that we work well together and that you’re starting to take your role as my second Beta seriously. The incident in Howl showed that and I’m glad…”
“Yeah, Sutan told me too that he couldn’t let me closer to you at the beginning for the same reasons.”
“You know what he is in the pack, right?”
“The ‘shaman’ or something,” he nodded.
“He keeps the peace between the members of the pack. More than a regular Beta. You know by now that we stick together when it counts, but there are still clicks. It’s just natural in such a big pack. That’s why I have more Betas that usual. I need to have to trust my helping hands while I deal with wolf politics and look after my pack’s interests. Sutan is one of my oldest friends whom I’d trust my life with. He’s amazing and does a lot of work in the pack while we try to keep up with our human careers too. At the beginning – and maybe even now – you didn’t really know the workload he usually does for me. He probably had a vision or a hunch about not letting you take over his place right away. I don’t want to doubt your abilities as a Beta, but it’d have been a lot put on your shoulders right away when you still hated me…” he shrugged “and I always have to keep the interests of the whole pack in front of me. I want to be a good Alpha and build a safe home for wolves that were cast out, bitten, lost or just want to belong somewhere.”
“From what I saw, you already are on the right path,” Tommy admitted barely audible.
“What did you say?” Adam grinned.
“You heard me just right. I won’t repeat it.”
“Aw, TommyJoe…” Adam giggled and both the nickname and the sound made Tommy’s stomach flip pleasantly.
He cleared his throat and looked more serious at Adam. “I understand now why Sutan and you acted like this around me. I wouldn’t have trusted myself either if I was in your position. I’m usually more laid back… I just…”
“You were confused. Because all that went down and because how your wolf started to act around mine, huh?”
“Yeah. It was strange because… since I was bitten and it awoke in me… we usually were on the same page. But not when it came to you. It wanted to submit to you nearly from the start and I hated that when I was so pissed at you.”
“I understand. You… still hate me?” Adam asked quietly, making sure his voice or expression didn’t give anything away about his thoughts or feelings.
Tommy went quiet for a long moment as he looked deep into himself then finally shook his head. “No. I don’t think so.”
“What changed your mind?”
“I’ve been watching you. How you deal with the pack, us, and I had a chat with my sister this afternoon. She told me some things about our father that shed a different light on things,” he shrugged.
“That he’d changed and didn’t want to lead our pack anymore. She pretty much confirmed what you told me before our kiss.”
“I’m sorry,” Adam said and he looked like he really was sorry.
“Thanks. It was just a shock,” he shrugged as if it wasn’t a big deal to him, but both of them knew it was.
“Look… you know I don’t want to force anything on you… including the Mate thing… I just wanted you to know about this. I don’t want to keep stuff from you anymore.”
“I appreciate,” Tommy nodded and finished his drink. He pulled his legs off the table and put the empty glass on it before pulling his legs up to his chest. “So… about the Mate thing…”
“What about it?” Adam raised a brow watching him while looking much more relaxed than Tommy.
“I get it that you don’t want to force it on me. But what do you think about it? What does it entail? You obviously know more about this stuff.”
Adam picked on the non-existent fluffs on his designer jeans for a moment then looked at Tommy again. “I don’t know. I was just as surprised as you when I connected the dots. I won’t lie, you are exactly my type and I was attracted to you the moment I saw you shift to your human form. Looking back I can safely say that my wolf felt the same about yours although the circumstances weren’t the best…” he started and made a face. “I’m sorry we had to meet like this. But I believe there was a reason behind that too. I don’t know what. Maybe just to be there for each other or this was the way our paths had to cross.”
Tommy nodded again and tilted his head to the side. “When did you realize we were Mates?” he asked trying not to appear too curious.
“I had a strong suspicion when I was punishing you the other day and was holding the back of your neck. I could smell the winter forest for the first time then. And something else. Something more,” he shrugged and pulled a long leg up on the couch to get more comfortable. “After that I was starting to pay attention to the signs – like when you mumbled home before passing out in the pub – and I talked to Sutan too. He didn’t tell me much, you know by now how he can be, but when I asked him directly about the Mate thing he agreed.”
“Why haven’t you told me before?”
“Frankly, I had no idea how to do that. I wasn’t exactly your favorite person.”
“That’s true,” Tommy sighed scratching his skinny jeans on his knee.
“To answer your other question about what I want to do with this, first I have to answer what would happen if we decided to go for it. Becoming Mates, I mean.” When Tommy just waved with his hand as if saying ‘go on’, Adam continued. “As you know, it’s the most important bond that can exist between two werewolves. The wolves often recognize each other even before their human sides understand what’s going on. I guess that happened to us too,” he chuckled lightly. “When the Mates decide to be together, they do the Mating Ritual. It’s a small ritual in front of the pack. Well, looking at the size of our pack, it wouldn’t be that small…”
“I guess. What happens then?”
“Nothing too complicated,” Adam hurried to answer, not liking the uncomfortable look on Tommy’s face. “There’s a small ceremony where the pair declare in front of the others that they take the other as their Mate for life. In some packs the ritual doesn’t stop there.”
“What do you mean?” Tommy asked stroking his fringe out of his face.
“Well, I’ve heard cases where the rest of the ritual was performed in front of the whole pack. Namely the actual Mating… which ends with the Mate bites and knotting.”
“Jesus fuck,” Tommy cringed.
“Yeah. I might be an exhibitionist at times, but I can assure you that I wouldn’t do that if we were to decide to go for it,” he shook his head. “I think that’s a very intimate part of the ritual and not for the eyes of the whole pack.”
“I agree. But… what happens when the bites are exchanged? How does it affect the participants?”
“Are you afraid that I’d tie you to me and take away your free will?”
“Kinda,” he bit his thumb nail.
“Don’t be. It doesn’t work that way. Sure, you’ll be just as tied to me as I to you and would feel each other stronger, but you already saw that I’m not the kind of Alpha who forces his pack members to submit – unless it’s absolutely necessary. I wouldn’t do that to my Mate either. But to be honest, I don’t know how it’d feel to you or to me. I’ve never been in such a situation so I guess we’d learn on the way.”
“You want to do this,” Tommy realized after watching Adam for a long moment.
Adam hesitated but then nodded. “I’ve told you. I’m drawn to you and your wolf and I’m curious. I want to know what it feels like. And I feel like I’m ready to settle down in this meaning. I had my doubts about finding my Mate, but here you are. A lot mouthier than I expected, but that’s okay. I like it that just because I’m your Alpha, you still aren’t afraid to speak your mind.”
“Good to know,” Tommy said trying to hide his blush behind his arms which were resting on top of his knees.
“I told you I want to be honest with you.”
“You’re afraid. Is it because I’m a man and you didn’t expect that?”
“Sorta,” he nodded but bit his lip when he saw the slight hurt in Adam’s eyes. “It’s true that I thought my Mate’d be a pretty female, but it doesn’t bother me that you’re a man.”
“Oh… bisexual then?”
“If you want to put a label on it… Yes, I was involved with both sexes before. I enjoy them the same.”
“I was a bit afraid that you didn’t. Until our kiss I never picked up a vibe which could’ve told me that you liked men too.”
Tommy shrugged. “Most of my lovers were females.”
“I know you’re a tomcat…” Adam chuckled a bit dryly.
Tommy snorted. “Oh please…”
“Hey, I’ve smelled pussy on you more than once so forgive if I believe the rumors,” he chuckled and the sound made Tommy smile too.
“I won’t discuss my sex life with you, Adam,” he rolled his eyes still smiling a bit.
“Alright, alright. Just tell me… is it serious between you and Janice?”
“Why are you asking this?”
“Because I’ve smelled her on you a few times. Hell, I can still smell the faint scent of her on you right now… I’m asking because… if we ever decide to do this Mate thing, I don’t want to ruin a relationship or something.”
“Of course I am,” Adam frowned a bit confused.
“We aren’t together. We’re just fuck buddies,” he shrugged.
“Does she know that?”
“I made sure that she does.”
“Good,” Adam nodded and a tiny smile appeared in the corner of his mouth.
Tommy didn’t answer just stared out at the city under them.
“You know… if missing out on women is a concern of yours… I’m sure we could find a solution to that too.”
“Are you trying to persuade me to do the Mate thing?” he turned to look at Adam and didn’t miss the hopeful look on the Alpha’s face before he hid it behind his poker face.
“No… I’m just trying to look at this from all angles. If you’d ever say yes, of course.”
“That’s an Alpha’s job, Tommy Joe.”
“I guess,” he said and just let himself watch Adam closely. Those insanely blue eyes looked very honest and Tommy had to admit that he liked that look. His wolf grunted in agreement and came a bit closer to the surface, wanting to go to the black wolf, but didn’t push Tommy as it could feel the importance of this conversation, so the wolves were just looking at each other in that strange headspace Tommy’s brain always imagined his.
“Not to mention that when a Mating Ritual is done, the whole pack gets stronger both theoretically and literally. Especially when the bond comes alive between the Alpha and his Beta.”
“No shit…” Tommy rolled his eyes a bit amused.
“It does. You can check it out. I’m not making this up. You can even ask Sophie and Isaac or Scarlett and Lee about Mate bonds, if you want.”
“Just shut up already and let me think all this through,” Tommy sighed but there was no anger behind his words as he turned his attention back to the city, the lights coming alive as the evening was slowly taking over. From the corner of his eye he didn’t miss Adam’s tiny smile.