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Like A Mate Should

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“What do you mean you’ve never met a werewolf!?”

You were sitting at a round table with a few of your friends. Some eating as a few dishes took longer to cook in the restaurant. You saw each other a lot since you were the same major and thus shared multiple classes and so had made it a thing to eat lunch together after class.

You shrugged and swirled the straw around in your glass of water with your tongue. Your friend, [F/N], stared at you with wide eyes and shook her head in disbelief causing you to laugh and abandon your drink. “What do you want me to tell you? My childhood was very sheltered. My mom didn’t trust them.”

“And what about you?” one of the girls was watching you with a scrutinizing gaze. She was already on edge with the liberal use of werewolf because while it wasn’t considered a slur, it was seen as ignorant and derivative. Shifter was the technical term. Her minor was in Hybrid Law and shifters fell under the umbrella of hybrids since they were cousins to the wolf hybrid. It was highly debated in the field whether shifters were bred from wolf hybrids or if wolf hybrids came from shifters. Experimenting was illegal since they were part human, so it was all theoretical.

You shrugged again, “I don’t know I’ve never met one. At least I don’t think I have? I mean I don’t have any reason to hate them or anything.”

This must have been an adequate enough answer because she went back to her garden salad. You were finally allowed to eat as your usual plate was placed in front of you and the topic shifted off of you back to class.

One by one, everyone at the table paid their portion of the check and packed their food to leave. Two girls shared the same class and so they had to leave right after lunch and everyone else used them leaving as a leeway to leave themselves. Talk about plans of going to the library, dorm, or gym filled the air as chairs were pushed in and backpacks were slung over shoulders.

You waved as you departed in the opposite direction as everyone. [F/N] walked alongside you. You both got caught up in idle chit chat when your shoulder was roughly shoved causing you to half spin to face a man. You rolled your eyes and turned back to your friend to begin walking away. After crossing the road, you glanced back to see the man standing in the same spot you left him with a confused scowl on his face but when he sensed you looking, he looked up from the ground, turned, and began walking again.

You focused back on what your friend was saying with a confused roll of your eyes at the man’s strange behavior.

“So I got a date…” you look at her expectantly and grin when you see her eyes light up. After being turned down at a party some time ago and whining about it to her for a couple weeks, she forced you into a dating app. Not to find true love but to have distractions. And if you found true love then that was an added bonus. Her words.

You breathily laughed, “And before you offer to help because I know you’re obsessed with those outfit montages they do in movies,” you teasingly point to her, “I already have an outfit picked out and I can handle doing my own makeup.”

“What about your hair?” she raises her eyebrows at you.

“My hair is fine,” you lightheartedly defend yourself, “I don’t want to do anything to it because they’re taking me on a picnic and it’s supposed to be windy that day.”

***

The wind howled as it whipped your hair about. You cursed yourself for cutting it as it was now too short for you to tie it back but long enough to keep getting in your face. You dramatically pushed another strand out of your eyes and your date laughed at you from their spot on the blanket. A cliche wicker basket full of safe lunch food sat in between you and plastic cups of cheap, sparkling wine was balancing on the ground next to you.

The sun beat down on you. Sitting in the warmth felt heavenly but the hike to the field felt like pure torture. You almost sprained your ankle twice on the rocky trail in the flimsy sandals you paired with the sundress. It was annoying that your date had walked ahead of you the whole time but now that you were sitting, you quickly brushed it off.

“So….what major are you?” you asked the question to break the awkward silence.

Your date seemed to be too nervous to initiate any conversation, but once they were given a prompt, they immediately delved into what they wanted to do with their life and all the things about their major that they’re passionate about. Which would have been nice if you understood a lick of what they were saying. To you, it all sounded like jargon, especially since they jumped into complex topics rather than briefly explaining the basics. It also didn’t help that they spoke while eating so instead of focusing on the words they were saying, all you could focus on was the lip-smacking.

They cleared their throat and took another large bite of their ham sandwich. You glanced at your own paper plate of food in disinterest and slightly pushed it away from you. You sat waiting for them to ask you the same question if not something else but were left hanging as they finished their sandwich and began making another.

You sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity when your date suddenly stood up and brushed their hands together to knock of crumbs. “I really have to go to the bathroom.” They strangely bent their wrist back to point at the line of trees circling the clearing and you nodded. They were halfway to the trees when you looked at their empty cup then the bottle of wine consecutively. Nearly three-quarters of it was gone. Your cup was still half full from when they first opened the bottle.

You gave your date extra time because peeing in the woods wasn’t as convenient as a regular bathroom. But then 10 minutes passed, then 15, then 20, and after 25 minutes you knew they weren’t coming back. Whether that was because they had gotten lost or ditched you was the question.

You abandoned the basket of food and left in the same direction your date went. You should have been sensible and only walked in far enough to still see the clearing, but you stupidly kept venturing further into the woods. Looking either for your date or the path they used to escape. After a few minutes of walking and finding nothing, you turned back to the direction you thought you came from. But after walking a few minutes back to the clearing and seeing no signs of it, panic grew in your chest.

The spot you were taken to had immediately blocked you from getting service. You switched your phone to battery saver mode and pushed back tears before turning and retracing your steps. From the time on your phone, you estimated that you had been wandering around the woods for around an hour.

The more time passed, the more panicked your breathing became as you grew more and more certain that you were officially lost. The ground betrayed you with its soft appearance of dewy leaves, soft dirt, and sporadic patches of grass. What you found that the soil and leaves were hiding sharp rocks and twisted roots from your view and now you were carrying your broken sandals in your right hand. Your dirt covered feet padded along the earth, careful to sense where best to step.

The shadows that came with afternoon began stretching past you. Goosebumps formed your arms in the cool shade. The woods seemed darker than they did at the entrance and the birds didn’t chirp as loudly here. The hair on the back of your neck raised as your body instinctively began scouting for danger in the unmarked territory.

Your frustration quickly transformed into fear as a loud snap sounded from behind you. Then another, and another, and another, each one louder than the last. Your feet carried you away from the source, a quick walk then a full sprint as the snapping behind you picked up the pace with you.

Flashes of red and black flanked your sides as you ran, slowly inching diagonally towards you to cut you off. You pushed your foot into the earth and took off in the opposite direction and while it gave you a second ahead of them, their reflexes were far better than yours and you found yourself in the same situation.

You could feel the heavy thuds of the wolves paws against the soil as they got close enough from you. One wolf moved behind you and its footprints fully replaced yours with their own. The skin on your arms burned from the blood flow and a sharp pang restricted your already heavy panting.

Just as the wolf on your side made a move to knock into you, another wolf smaller than the wolf chasing you smashed into its chest and they became a flurry of black and reddish black fur and teeth.

The wolf behind you saw that it no longer had the opportunity to have fun with the chase as it and its’ partner had visitors. The wolf lunged forward and an intense pain shot up your leg as its teeth pierced your ankle. With the wolf having a hold of your ankle, you lost your balance and only when you harshly landed on your stomach, did the wolf release you to stumble forward before you caught yourself.

Ignoring your ankle, you scrambled back to your feet but once standing, the wolf rammed its shoulder into your body and you were forced back into the dirt. Stars filled your vision as you were thrown about and your body didn’t have enough time to pump blood to where it needed to go.

The wolf lurked so it was standing above you looking down at you. You blinked rapidly and your body froze as you locked eyes with the dark red canine eyes. Its lips slowly turned up into a snarl and you were introduced to the large, pointed teeth. Just as you thought this would be the end of you, the wolf was yanked off of you by another wolf that too was smaller.

This wolf may have been smaller than the black wolf it was fighting, but you could tell that it held more power that it appeared it did. The black wolf was quickly pinned to the ground by the chestnut brown wolf where its’ teeth locked into their neck. Every time the back wolf attempted to move, the brown wolf you give a vicious shake of its head and push the wolf down.

Two hands suddenly appeared under your arms as they scooped you up. As they brought you to stand on your feet, you accidentally put weight on your injured ankle causing your legs to fold under you with a yelp. Luckily, the person behind you was quick to react and caught you before you hit the ground. You tried to look behind you to see who was holding you up but a crick in your neck told you it was a bad idea and so you just kept your eyes forward.

The brown wolf gave one last shake, yanking the black wolf around before it backed off and gave a threatening growl. The black wolf sprang to its feet and ran off. Once it was some ways away, you heard a howl and another wolf joining in, you assumed it was the other that was chasing you. The brown wolf faced you and your nails dug into the arm of the person behind you. You pushed against the person’s chest but for some reason, they refused to move.

You could swear that the eyes of the wolf were human and were staring at you with sympathy. You held your breath as you waited for this wolf to take its turn attacking you but instead, it took a few step backs. The sound of bones snapping made your stomach churn as you gaped at the wolf slowly transforming into a human. When a human man, naked as the day he was born, was standing in front of you with the same colored hair atop his head as his wolf counterpart, black spots filled your vision and you slumped in the arms of the stranger.

***

“I’m telling you, this is the girl I ran into two days ago.”

“Taehyung, stop. You’re going to hurt her!”

“Stop, I’m not going to hurt your mate.”

“Taehyung, get out.”

The loud slam of a door jolted you awake and you opened your eyes to see two men surrounding the bed your on. One is tending to your leg and the other is sitting by your head and drops your hand once he sees your eyes are open.

“Jin.” the man draws the attention of the one tending to you to your state.

This Jin has black hair and soft, plump facial features with broad shoulders while the other man is thinner and most likely taller. The other man has silver hair and a weaker jawline than his counterpart though it’s still noticeable. Something about the man is familiar to you but you can’t quite put your finger on why nor do you have the time to.

Jin looks up to you while you scoot yourself back. He gives you a large smile that makes you question whether you’ll be leaving this place alive. Noticing your discomfort, Jin drops his smile with an embarrassed chuckle and clears his throat.

“I noticed your ankle got hurt. I was bandaging it wi-”

“Where am I?” you rudely cut Jin off and scoot further away onto the bed away from him.

His lips part in shock and he glances at the other man before looking back at you. He sputters, “You- um, you’re at, um, well it’s a- our,” Jin tries to explain your location with various gestures and eventually looks to the other man for help.

“This is our cabin. We found you a couple miles away from us and you didn’t look to be in good shape, so we brought you here.” He stares at you for a few moments before seemingly shouting, “I’m Namjoon, by the way,” and nervously laughing.

You disregard Namjoon by looking back to Jin. Your eyes flicker as you connect the dots in your head.

“The werewolf,” you whisper. Your head shoots to Namjoon then back to Jin. “I was attacked by two werewolves. Then there were two other werewolves. I saw one shift right in front of me.” Your eyes widen, “Was there someone with me? There was someone else that was with me. Are they okay?”

You keep your wide eyes on Jin waiting for answers. Your eyes are brought to Namjoon as he comfortingly takes your hand. Or at least tries to because to pull yourself away from him. Namjoon uncomfortably laughs and apologizes to hide the pang of rejection.

“That was Jimin and he’s fine. He helped bring you here.”

“He brought….You’re all werewolves.” You eyeball Namjoon with your eyebrows slightly pinched. You catch Jin flinching in your peripheral vision but Namjoon confidently holds your gaze.

You swing your feet onto the wood floor and stand from the bed which causes Jin to panic and runs around the bed to you. He lightly puts his hands on your shoulders to push you back onto the bed but you slap his hands away from him and limp past him.

Jin follows right behind you and reaches out to grab your upper arm, “Wait, wait, wait. You can’t be on your ankle. You’re going to hurt yourself.”

Namjoon calmly stands and walks to you and Jin. There’s something profound lurking in Namjoon’s now darkened eyes. Something you have yet to understand. So you yank open the door, nearly hitting Jin in the face and startling some other man that had his ear pressed to the door. You step over the man on the floor and continue to walk away from Namjoon and Jin. Or at least you try to.

By the time you reach the end of the hall, you’re using the wall for support and you feel the bandage around your ankle grow wet with your wound beginning to bleed again. The sight of blood sends Jin into a new frenzy and he begins to frantically beg you to go back to the bed, carry you, or even just sit on the floor so he can care for you. He keeps reaching out to you, but his hands stop just short to touching you as so far you’ve expressed your disdain to personal contact. And making you more upset at him is the last thing Jin wants to do, especially since that means you’ll reject him helping you like he should. Like a mate should.

There are three more men watching you leave a trail of blood to the door. None of them look like the man that shifted in front of you.

Right as you reach what you think is the front door, a hand drags you back by your shoulder. You stumble back and nearly lose your balance but Jin is there to catch you. He angrily scolds Namjoon before turning to you as your face is scrunched in pain.

Namjoon taps Jin out of the way to step in front of you. “You’re injured and don’t know where you are. Realistically, how far do you think you’ll get?”

You gawk at the silver-haired man, “How dare you put your hands on me like that!” You shove against Namjoon’s chest creating some distance between your bodies. “Who the fuck do you think you are? You have absolutely no right to keep me here. If I want to leave, I’m going to leave. It shouldn’t concern you how far I’ll get, I can handle myself.”

Namjoon’s jaw clenches and he meets you glare with one as equally angry. “Fine,” he waves a hand to the door, “go then. But first, you might want to clean up your puddle of blood.”

You look down to your feet to see that you are in fact, standing in a pool of your own blood. While you were yelling at Namjoon, you had shifted your weight to both of your feet equally. You hadn’t even realized you had been bleeding this much.

“Enough!” Jin steps in between you and Namjoon. He looks at both of you with a harsh glare but his gaze promptly softens on you.

“I know you want to leave and no one is stopping you, but you honestly won’t last long with that ankle.” Jin softly explains to you. “Let me take care of you for a few days and take time to heal and then one of us will lead you back to the city. I promise we won’t hurt you.”

You blink at Jin then glance around the room to see all the faces staring at you. A blush forms on your cheek and you shift your weight back onto your good ankle. You mull over all the different ways staying with Namjoon and Jin could go before you finally nod your head. Jin lets out a sigh of relief and moves to lift you, but you shake your head at him. You begin limping back to the room with Jin walking alongside you, arms stretched out, prepared for you to slip at any moment.

Well, it looks like you’re going to be staying with the very creatures you were raised to distrust. This could only go so well.