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Sniff, Sniff

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Pran never really forgot this best friend was a werewolf, but it just wasn’t something he thought about very often.

“Wai,” Pran said, exasperatedly smacking Wai—who was clinging to him like a koala. “You’re sweaty and gross!”

“I haven’t seen you all month!” Wai whined. “We’re finally going to the same school and I had to go to rugby camp for the last month before.”

“You love rugby,” Pran snapped back, but gave up on getting his friend off and just continued to sketch his project. It wasn’t due for another month—school had just started—but architecture was a demanding major and Pran didn’t want to fall behind…

Pran felt an odd sensation on his neck and shrieked, “Wai!”

Though he would deny the shriek under pain of torture if anyone asked.

Whaaaaat,” Wai whined again, pressing his face into his struggling friend’s neck. Luckily, the design lab was empty but for them, so Pran could preserve his dignity. “You don’t smell… familiar anymore. It’s freaking me out.”

Pran huffed, settling back in his seat and crossing his arms. Wai took it for the submission it was. “Right, I forgot. Wolf stuff.”

Wai huffed a hot, humid laugh right against his friend’s neck, which set Pran squirming again and finally, successfully shoving Wai away. “That’s disgusting,” he groaned. “Shower first next time.” Pran accepted he wouldn’t get any more work done in the design lab, so he began packing his things.

Wai pouted. “But then you won’t smell as much like me…”

“I’m just a human,” Pran insisted. “I don’t need to smell like you.”

Werewolves existed. It was a thing. For centuries they’d had to live in hiding, but for the past few hundred years they’d integrated into society. They faced their own problems, but they could attend university, play on sports teams, and live completely normal lives. Besides the whole furry other half, thing.

Wai kept saying there was more to it than that—something about subgenders?—but he kept wanting to talk about knots and slick which were both words Pran knew, but probably not in this context. And he didn’t want to know.

“But you’re in my pack,” Wai said, walking alongside Pran as they left the lab. “That means we have to smell like each other.”

Pran knew this—Wai had explained a million times since Pran had joined his little “pack” of two—at the time—when they were children. Since then, their little group expanded to include Louis and Safe. Packs could expand or lose members frequently in the modern age—mostly forming out of convenience and comfort. But Pran and Wai had been together for over a decade, and Pran doubted that would ever change.

But he reserved the right to tease Wai about it at every opportunity.

“So, I should start rubbing myself all over you when I get sweaty?”

“Woah!” a loud, grating voice interrupted. “Do all architecture students swing that way?”

Pran and Wai stumbled to a halt as three boys rounded the corner. In engineering uniforms.

Wai took a half-step forward, arms already crossing and jaw clenched. “What are engineering students doing here?” he asked. “You’re far from where you belong.”

Something else was going on. Pran narrowed his eyes, looking between the ringleader—a guy with super dark, thick eyebrows—and Wai. Something about the way they were standing, maybe…?

“Wai,” Pran said, low with warning. A quick glance around confirmed his worry. “There’s security cameras.” Despite trying to settle his Wai’s temper, he still crossed his arms and widened his stance. Pran didn’t enjoy violence for its own sake, but if these blockheads attacked his best friend, he’d jump into the fray, too.

His parents would be disappointed, obviously. Their golden son caught up in a fight on his first day at a new university. But it wouldn’t be the first time Pran had failed to be perfect in their eyes.

“What’s this?” a new voice cut through the tension. A fourth person rounded the corner, stopping once he was alongside the engineers.

Pran’s eyes widened, and he turned to the newcomer, his face slack with disbelief. “Pat?”

The other boy’s face mirrored his shock, taking a half-step forward. “Pran?”

Several things happened at once.

Pran took a step back, not wanting a fight with his old… enemy? Friend? Cr… No, he couldn’t even think that. And what else would Pat want but a fight?

The other engineers grabbed for their friend, yelling questions.

And Wai launched forward, throwing himself into Pat’s space and snarling so loud it sent instinctive shivers of fear down Pran’s spine.

Pran wanted to snatch Wai back, both to get him away from the engineers but also to try to get him to walk away. The school didn’t approve of any students fighting, but especially not werewolves.

But Pat’s eyes flashed bright vermillion and he just snarled back, squaring his shoulders and meeting Wai’s challenge head on.

Right… Pran had forgotten Pat was also a werewolf.

Dammit, Wai!” Pran strode forward, ignoring the fact that he definitely shouldn’t be getting between two angry, posturing werewolves. He grabbed his friend’s shoulder and hauled back. It only moved his friend a half-step, frustratingly strong in his wolf haze, but it let Pran get into his line of sight.

Between two snarling wolves. Awesome.

Pran—” Pat tried to get Pran’s attention, a warm hand on his arm as if to try and pull him away from Wai.

Wai growled again, pushing forward to practically squish Pran between them. Pran shook off Pat’s hold, firmly integrating himself between the two. He wasn’t going to let Pat move him to attack Wai.

“Wai, we’ll all get in trouble if you start a fight. Probably get stuck in detention with these idiots from engineering—”

“Hey!”

Rude—”

Pran ignored their protests. “We can’t just fight them with no reason, Wai. And definitely not somewhere we’ll get caught.”

It was a blessing no one else had come this way, yet.

Wai was still looking past Pran, face lit with rage. But his eyes weren’t glowing red like Pat’s… Now wasn’t the time. “He was coming at you, I could tell! Then he grabbed you—”

Thunk!

Wai blinked several times, shocked expression draining almost all his anger as he finally looked at Pran. Whose arms were crossed angrily, his face stony. “Don’t put this fang-measuring contest on me. I can fight my own battles, as you well know. Now, if you have a good reason, we can fight them later. Somewhere without security cameras or a thousand students with cellphones. Okay?”

Wai clenched his jaw, but sighed and nodded. “Fine.”

It wasn’t a never on the fight. Just not yet.

“Wait a second!” Block Brows shouted. “You can’t just—”

But he decided Pran was the safest object of his aggression, taking a quick step into his space—

Pran was jerked back just as Pat stepped forward, intercepting his friend’s hand and putting himself in front of Pran. “Korn, let’s chill out. You heard him, right? Too many cameras.” He started walking down the hall, his three friends following his lead. “Why did we come this way, anyway? Is freshman orientation through this building now?”

“The usual path has some construction or something—”

Their voices faded, only occasionally glancing behind at Pran and Wai to be head-slapped into submission by Pat.

Pran blinked several times and shook his head, trying to physically dismantle the weirdness of the moment.

“What was that?” Wai asked, staring at Pran like he’d never seen him before.

Pran glared at his friend and started walking. He wasn’t a freshman, technically. He had transferred in as a second-year. But the architecture faculty would probably expect him to make an appearance at orientation.

“We used to go to school together.” Pran and Wai had met as children, but didn’t go to the same school. Pran had hated that growing up, especially when he got shipped off to boarding school alone. But it was perfect right now, when Pran couldn’t let anyone know that he and Pat knew each other. It would be way too complicated.

Also, it might make it harder to… Well, better not to think about that.

“You used to go to school with an alpha prime and you never told me?” Wai demanded.

Pran furrowed his brows. “I know he’s a wolf or whatever, but literally what are you talking about?”

Wai groaned and turned around, walking backwards now to make eye contact with Pran. “An alpha prime is—”

“You’re going to trip and bust your head open doing that.”

“An alpha prime is.” Pran rolled his eyes but didn’t interrupt again. It was on Wai if he needed to go to the emergency room. “Basically one of the rarest dynamics we have. Like, they’re the super alphas. Super senses, super instincts, super strength and speed.”

“Aren’t you guys already all those things?” Pran indulged Wai by asking, only half paying attention as he also checked the group Line chat to see where Louis and Safe were.

“Sure.” Wai preened for a moment. “But not like that. Didn’t you see his eyes? Mine don’t do that.”

“You’re not an alpha prime?”

Wai rolled his eyes and turned back around, falling into step with Pran and slinging an arm over his shoulder. “How many times have I told you I’m a beta? Like, a pretty dominant beta, but still.”

“In all honesty, you’ll probably have to tell me again at some point after this.”

Wai swiftly put a hand in Pran’s hair to ruffle it a bit roughly, Pran dodging away after a moment. “To be fair, it doesn’t come up that often! When has that literally ever mattered? What about Louis and Safe?”

“Betas, too. We’re the most common subgender.”

“I swear, if you start talking about knots and all that bullshit again—”

“I learned my lesson last time,” Wai grumbled. “But if you’re going to be seeing this guy again, you’ll need to study up. Alpha primes are their own breed.”

Pran huffed. “Yeah, as if that’ll happen. We didn’t get along in school.”

“That’s weird… He didn’t seem like he hated you before. He seemed—”

Anyway.” Pran didn’t care whatever Pat was feeling. Their faculties were sworn enemies, on top of the family drama. “It really doesn’t matter. He’s in engineering, I’m in architecture. I literally can’t imagine why I’d ever see him again.” Desperate to change the subject, Pran scoured his mind until he remembered the good news he’d gotten this morning. “Oh, I got my new apartment keys this morning. Once I’m settled in, we can have a pack party.”

It still felt weird to call himself “pack,” even after all this time. He was just a human. But Wai insisted, and it made him happy. And secretly, Pran didn’t mind so much.

“Hell, yeah,” Wai declared. “Can’t wait to see it.”

“Yeah.” Pran grinned. Finally, a fresh start. Not locked away at boarding school. His own apartment, his good friends, and an architecture degree ahead of him. And on such a huge campus, he doubted he’d ever see Pat again. “Me neither.”