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When crisp spring began to turn to warm summer, Will sensed the turning inside him. He glanced at his father, the older omega stirring the contents of a pot over the fire, the catch of the day bobbing in the rich and flavourful stew. His beloved father had taught him what it would feel like. A heaviness in his belly, a tightness across his lower back. A pressure that foretold of an upcoming ache. It was time.

"Father..." he said carefully as he plucked two sets of bows and spoons from the nearby shelf. “I believe this winter will be my time." 

John paused and looked at his son. His face was determined, but a shadow of doubt marred his young features. Not doubt of his own self-diagnosis. No, he doubted the future before him. He was sacred.

Call it an omega’s bias, but John had known from Will’s first plaintive cry fresh out of his womb that the child was special, unlike any other omega he could ever hope to meet or conceive. Will was born with a strange loneliness that was not ideal for their gender.

He wasn’t sure how to console his son. Omegas are solitary, their futures lonely outside of brief heats, their lives centered on themselves and their occasional pups.

Will...Will was someone who felt the emotions of others so acutely, and he derived such an instantaneous and deep connection with others from the briefest of interactions, and those connections made him feel profound joys and sorrows, John often wondered if he'd lose all feeling if he became isolated. Would he, could he feel joy in those months where John wouldn't be able to visit him? Those months while he waited, possibly for nothing at all, until the spring thawed the winter away and he appeared on the other side either alone, or with pup and no alpha?

John shook his head a little at the thought. His stunning boy, blue-eyed with thick, dark locks; lean and well-muscled with softness in all the right areas. A strong boy…no, a man. A man who would bear beautiful, resilient pups after his own likeness who would weather all seasons and stand on their own feet.

His son was, beyond a doubt, a creature beyond any other Omega in memory (again, possibly a proud omega’s bias).

No alpha would pass him up, and there was no outcome where Will returned in the summer without a pup. No, what he worried about was how Will would react to being alone, for those winter months, isolated after his first act of intimacy with another.

He worried, as any father would, but this was not his burden to bear, and he could only have faith in his son.

He cleared his throat carefully. “We’ll…we’ll go to the place you chose all those seasons ago, today. We’ll begin with the logs. Once we get the amount you need, you can begin the foundation pit and I’ll begin catching for your season. Hmm? Sound good?” Will nodded slowly, looking down at his hands.

John nodded and took the bowls from the table, filling them up as he contemplated what sort of shelter Will would create, how large or small he would aim, how deep the foundation would be dug. He had no say, it was the omega’s job to build alone, but he hoped he had given advice enough before now for Will to fare well.

 

Handing a full bowl back to Will, he felt a trembling hand wrap around his wrist.

“Father…”

“Yes, my boy.”

“…Will I be a good father?” Will asked, scared eyes looking up into John’s own. John sighed and put the bowl on the table taking his son’s face into his hands, warm fingers from handling the hot food running over Will’s cheeks and drawing redness to the surface. His cheeks were losing their childish roundness, bless his heart, and John felt his throat catch at the thought of his son leaving him. But now was not the time for his own heart, he had to reassure Will.

 

“You will be” he kissed Will’s cheek

“The best” the other cheek

“Kindest” his nose

Strictest father to ever be.” He ended with a loud smacking kiss on his forehead.

 “And your pups will be all the better for it.” He added, for good measure.

 

Will chuckled. “I’d never let my child get away with what you let me get away with.” Will stated slyly. John gave a put-upon eye roll, and smiled. “Little gremlin.” He chuckled and shook his head.

 They ate in contemplative silence, the dark doubts abated for now, and left in their wake, anticipation and hope for the future.

 


  

Hannibal gazed over the pebbly beach around him, turning to look back upon his boat as the sun rose over the horizon. He had been pushed in unknown directions during the storm that had raged for the past two or three days (he had not been able to note the comings and goings of the sun through the rains and dark clouds). When the rain and clouds had subsided, and he saw the land in the distance, he had considered providence. Fate, maybe.

He had intended to leave his lands far behind him, and nothing was quite so far as a land outside of his own geographical knowledge. He had gotten what he had wanted. Assessing his surroundings, he eyed the woods nearby, and the mountains beyond; he could taste the foreignness on his tongue. Tugging his disheveled hair into the intricate braids he had become accustomed to, he took stock of his worldly possessions carefully.

A battleaxe, a machete, a long knife about half the length of his forearm and a skinning blade. He shook his ration bag. It sounded like two days of tasteless misery, if he were careful about it. He had made land just in time.

Securing his smaller knife at his side, his other more obvious weaponry was stowed out of sight (though he made sure his battleaxe was at the ready to be used), and ventured into the nearby woods, not so much as a glance back at his boat and the past that lay behind him.

Three hours into the woods, he came across a river. Taking advantage of the clear water, he filled his depleted water-skin and washed the crystalline salt off of his face and neck, reveling in the iciness it left on his skin. He was busy washing his spare tunic, which had become crusted with brine, when he spotted movement in his peripheral vision. Focusing, he realized it was an elderly woman.

She appeared to be spear fishing, her tunic tied up to her knees and her feet bare standing steady in the icy current. She positioned herself then held still...so utterly still and statuesque that for a moment, Hannibal wondered if he had indeed come across a sculpture.

Her spear arm held upright and steady for some minutes as he watched, before she struck out. The weapon broke water like an arrow loosed from a bow and she gave a bark of triumph when she drew her large catch from the water.

He wasn't quite sure why, but Hannibal found himself standing and watching as she sat on the shore and got to work on the fish. She had gotten only so far as to remove a few unwanted entrails before her nostrils flared and her dark eyes shot up to find him.

Ah...how foolish of him to forget he was upwind.

She gave a nod.

He nodded back.

Then took a few steps towards her. 

She was instantly on her feet, her mouth turned down in a grim line and her spine straight as a pole. The knife that had been slicing through the fish was now held firmly in her fist, ready to plunge if necessary. 

As he got closer, he noted her lack of scent. He wondered if she were a Witch of the Woods. They knew plants in a way few did, and often concocted tinctures that could do many things to a body. Cure ailments, increase or decrease fertility, even stop scent production. Though he had a feeling her scentless-ness was more natural than otherwise...she looked around the age for an omega to stop producing heat pheromones. 

 

“Alpha…passing through?” she asked seriously once he was close enough. He took that as a sign to pause here, outside of her...stabbing range. He was still a good 10 meters from her. He felt relief in the fact that he at least knew her tongue, if that tongue happened to be in the mouth of a woman that looked prepared to kill him. Not that he could fault her vigilance. One could never be too careful, with strange men.

The twang to her words was unfamiliar, but the words sounded like the language used by the southern tribes, along the coast, who must have populated these lands long ago.

 “I am.” He answered, relaxing his shoulders in an attempt to shrink himself, to appear less of a threat. They both knew lax shoulders wouldn’t save her in a scuffle.

 

“You pack light, alpha. You’re no trader.” she stated, eyeing his pack and likely catching the glint of his battleaxe.

“I’m a stranger to these parts. Searching for the nearest township or village. If you could point me in the right direction.” He said in response.

 

That seemed to relax her a bit, her eyes darting to his hair and attire, assessing the foreignness of his garb and credibility of his statement. She indicated to the mountains in the horizon with her bloody knife. “Towns are behind those mountains. You won’t find more than family groups till you reach there. This here, this is Wolf territory.” His confusion must have shown on his face, as her smirk widened. “You’ve no idea of the Wolves, alpha?”

 “Hannibal.” He said, which just made her throw her head back and cackle.

 “You really must not know of the Wolves.” She said, grinning from ear to ear. “If you proceed further without an idea, you may die at the hand of a stray alpha or a rearing omega. Gut these fishes while I start a fire, and I’ll let you have some while I tell you a bit more about what you might find going forward.”

 

He stared at her a moment, weighing his options.

He had no qualms about killing those who got in his way, alpha omega or scentless as this woman here. He also didn't enjoy useless confrontations brought about by misunderstandings. Rudeness was not something he tolerated, and he would hate to be the rude one in a land likely unlike his own. 

He nodded to her and she stepped aside, letting him get to the fish she had dropped on the bank, while she stoked a fire nearby. He watched as she got comfortable and watched him.

“It is gracious of you to offer me information on my journey. Most would leave me to my own devices.” he said, ripping the gills from the fish.

She chuckled and shook her head. “Not for love of you, alpha. I am gracious to the omegas in these woods. The good alphas aren’t too shabby either. No. I do this to spare them. You look like you would win...I don't want them to die for nothing.”

"Then we are on the same page. Tell me of these Wolves."

and so she did.