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The Strength of the Clan

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category: slash, fandom: ice skating rps, ficfest: mmom, fictype: short fic, genre: creature fic, genre: werewolf, pairing: is - j weir/e plushenko, rating: r to nc17, type: fiction


Merry Month of Masturbation – Day 22
My MMOM Master List 2010


When Johnny had received the invitation from Evgeni he had been a little confused; they were friends, but this was not an invitation to St Petersburg or to a show, this was an invitation to Evgeni's family's home in the country. Of course he had said yes, but that didn't mean he was quite sure why he had been invited. Yana and Evgeni met him at the airport and then they drove away from the city and Johnny found himself falling asleep. When he woke up again, it was because they stopped and he really didn't expect to see what he saw when he opened his eyes.

There was a house, a huge house like Johnny had only really seen in books and when he did the tourist thing. It was amazing and beautiful and, as he looked around, he realised it was in the middle of a forest.

"Welcome to my ancestral home," Evgeni said, smiling at the awe Johnny knew was in his face, "and before you ask, no, the government has no idea this exists."

Johnny tried to figure out how that would work for a while, but then he realised quite what trust his friend was placing in him and decided he didn't care about the hows.

"It's amazing," he said honestly; he had never seen anywhere quite like it.

"My clan is very large," Evgeni told him with a smile, seemingly enjoying the compliment; "and sometimes we all come together here, but you do not have to worry, there are only about thirty of my relatives in residence at the moment."

That made Johnny blink a bit, he wasn't sure he had thirty relatives total, so 'only thirty' sounded like a whole hell of a lot.

"Are they friendly?" he asked, trying to make light of the fact he was suddenly terrified.

"Mostly," Evgeni replied with a grin, "but do not worry, I am sure they will like you as much as I do."

Johnny really began praying that that was true and climbed out of the car as Evgeni and Yana did the same thing. Someone immediately appeared from the house, engulfed Evgeni in a very warm hug and began speaking in very rapid Russian that Johnny could not follow. His Russian was pretty good, but it failed when dialects came out and, as far as he could tell, Evgeni and his relative were definitely not speaking straight forward Russian. Johnny hung back behind Yana and hoped that he was not about to be viewed as the ignorant American.

"Hello," Evgeni's companion said in English, walking up to him and hugging him as if they'd known each other for years, "I am Valik. I hope you not mind I try English. I not get much chance to try."

"Oh," Johnny said smiling as he realised the other man didn't just think he was ignorant, "of course. As long as you don't mind me practicing Russian," he added, switching to Evgeni's native tongue for the last bit.

That earned him a huge grin and a slap on the arm that was going to smart for hours, but he figured it was an acceptance.

"I like you," Valik told him cheerfully, "we talk later."

Then Valik trouped to the back of the car and proceeded to unload the luggage. Johnny would have gone to help, but Evgeni seemed happy to leave the other man to it.

"Come, Johnny," Evgeni said and indicated the front door, "I must introduce you to my grandmother; she has been dying to meet you."

Suddenly Johnny felt way out of his depth; this was like being introduced to a mafia family or something and he still didn't know why Evgeni had invited him.

The house, of all things, almost seemed bigger on the inside that it had looked on the outside. It was all very functional, but had ornate touches that made it just that little bit special and Johnny found himself being shown into a large living room. There was a sofa at the far end and on it sat a very impressive woman; she owned the room just by sitting in it. When Evgeni had said grandmother, Johnny had instantly thought little old lady, but this woman was not little and she did not look old, in fact she appeared in her late fifties at the most. Since that didn't add up as far as the numbers went, Johnny had to assume the woman had very good genes.

Both Evgeni and Yana walked over and greeted the woman with kisses and hugs and Johnny held back, feeling very much like the outsider he was.

"Babushka," Evgeni said in English, which surprised him, "this is Johnny, Johnny, this is my grandmother, Elena."

"Very pleased to meet you, Ma'am," Johnny said with his best manners and walked over, taking the woman's hand when she offered it and giving her a small bow.

"So polite," Elena said and smiled at him; "I am very pleased to meet you also. Zhenya has told me much about you."

"Not too bad, I hope," he replied and smiled.

For a moment the smile remained on Elena's face, but then it faded and Johnny found himself looking at a very serious woman. Evgeni's grandmother had the most piercing eyes and Johnny felt just a little dizzy looking into them. They were the most amazing shade of pale blue with bright yellow flecks and they were hypnotising. It was almost as if she was analysing his soul and, when she finally smiled at him again, he all but sagged in relief. It wasn't until a moment later he realised he actually was sagging and the room span and he was very glad that Evgeni was there to catch him.

There was a very rapid exchange in Russian that he had no idea about and then Evgeni was helping him to sit down.

"You need to learn to eat more regularly," Evgeni scolded him gently and Johnny took the scolding even though he was pretty sure he had eaten on the plane.

The way his head was spinning it was difficult to remember. He'd felt fine only minutes before, but he felt quite woozy at that moment.

"Come on," Evgeni said, helping him to stand again, "I will help you to your room where we will feed you and let you recover. There is going to be a family meal this evening and, trust me, you will need all your strength for that."

Johnny chose not to argue and, for once, just went along meekly.

The food that was produced was very hearty stuff and Johnny thought about picking at it, but in the end Evgeni stood there and glared at him until he ate the lot. He hated to admit it, but he did feel a lot better after he had and then Evgeni made him take a lie down.

"Elena has that effect on many people," was his friend's parting comment and Johnny had every intention of getting up again as soon as he was alone, but found himself falling asleep almost instantly.

The family dinner was interesting. Johnny felt rested and alert, but he hadn't really expected to be introduced to everybody. It felt more like a publicity do than a family get together and he felt like he was the one on show, working the room, as it were. It was a most odd experience, but Johnny kept smiling and kept talking and kept ignoring the fact that there were hurried conversations in the Russian dialect he didn't know every time he walked away from someone. He really was confused now, and when Evgeni finally escorted him back to his room (the house was huge and he had no idea where it was on his own) he had finally had enough.

"Why did you bring me here, Zhenya?" he asked bluntly.

His friend just smiled at him in a very frustrating way.

"Go to bed, Johnny," Evgeni told him and patted him on the arm, "we will talk about his tomorrow."

That annoyed him just a little, but by the time he had worked up what to say, Evgeni had walked away and he deflated a little; it just wasn't worth it. Opening his door, he walked in and decided that in the morning he was definitely getting answers.

As it turned out, in the morning Evgeni refused to talk about anything over breakfast, then dragged him out to the stables and he was distracted enough to forget he wanted to talk about anything in the first place. They were riding through the forest, Evgeni on a huge black stallion and him on a beautiful roan, by the time he remembered they needed to talk.

"So," he said, trotting up beside his friend, "are you going to tell me what's going on, Zhenya?"

He had given up putting everything that had happened down to coincidence.

"It is just a little further," Evgeni told him, not avoiding him this time, "there is something I wish to show you and then I will explain everything."

It wasn't as much as he wanted, but it was the first inkling of the truth, so Johnny nodded and when Evgeni urged his horse into a gallop, Johnny followed.

"We must leave the horses here," Evgeni said, when he finally drew up; "they will graze happily here until we come back."

They were in a small clearing, so Johnny followed his friend's lead, sliding off his horse and just allowing the reigns to drop. Both horses seemed quite content to wander to where the grass was the lushest and start to nibble at it.

"Through here," Evgeni said and indicated a small path off to the left which Johnny had not previously seen.

They walked about half a mile and then they came into another clearing; this one was bigger and one side of it was made up of a rock formation with a large entrance in it. Right in front of the entrance was a stone wolf, posed as if about to strike and Johnny knew a warning when he saw one. He stopped instantly, just looking at the statue.

"You do not have to be afraid," Evgeni told him and gently took his arm; "the wolf is a warning to those who are uninvited."

Johnny did not feel overly calm, but he let Evgeni lead him past the statue and into the cave. As they stepped out of the sunlight he shivered and a strange sensation ran up his spine; the same one he had felt looking into Evgeni's grandmother's eyes.

"Zhenya," he said, voice low with the reverence he was feeling, "what is this place?"

"It is the home den," Evgeni said, guiding him forward and down slightly into a much larger, open chamber; "it is where each of my family is born."

"Born?" he asked, switching to English because he needed to be sure he had the word right.

"Born," Evgeni replied with a nod; "for the second time."

Johnny was confused again.

"I have watched you for a long time, my friend," Evgeni said, speaking Russian again; "and I see a light in you that I have seen in very few. I did not want to like you when we first met, but it seems I had no choice. You draw people to you and those that hate you do so because they cannot be you."

That was not what Johnny had expected to hear at all. He had always admired Evgeni and he liked him a lot as a person, but he never realised his friend had taken that much interest in him.

"You have a strength that many do not possess," Evgeni told him with a sad smile, "but, just recently, I have seen that strength failing."

Johnny looked at the ground; he was not about to deny it. When he had been failing it had been bad enough, but now, even when he was good it did not appear that he was good enough and it was wearing him down.

"So many of them hate me," he admitted quietly.

He wasn't even really sure who 'them' was anymore; just a faceless mass.

"I do not wish that strength to die," Evgeni said, touching him gently on the shoulder, "and so I have brought you here before the flame is extinguished."

He looked up again then; he was not sure what Evgeni was trying to tell him.

"My family go through two births," Evgeni told him as if that was perfectly normal; "the first is like everyone else, the second is not. When I was small they did not know if I would survive and they brought me here at a very young age; I was only four. I could easily have died, but my rebirth brought me new life and is as responsible for me as the ice is."

This was very personal, Johnny knew that, but he still did not understand what Evgeni was trying to tell him. What ground all of his thoughts to a halt, however, was the sound of claws on stone and a large, silver wolf trotted out of the darkness at the back of the cave, straight up to Evgeni. The wolf sniffed Evgeni, circled him and then came towards Johnny.

"Do not be afraid, Johnny," Evgeni said before he could take a step back; "she will not hurt you."

It was very hard not to move; his instincts were screaming at him to get away, but he held still as the wolf did the same to him as it had to Evgeni.

"Zhenya," he said as the wolf circled him, "what's going on?"

"Elena accepted you as a human," his friend said simply, "but she must also accept you as a wolf."

Johnny stared at the wolf as she sat down in front of him, straight into her eyes, those all too familiar eyes, and this time the world did not just spin, it vanished for a little while.

"Johnny," Evgeni's voice dragged him back and a gentle patting on his face made him open his eyes.

He was half lying, half sitting on the cave floor, propped up against Evgeni. The moment his brain snapped back on he sat up and found himself staring straight at the silver wolf.

"Werewolf," he said instantly.

It sounded absurd, but he knew instinctively that it was the truth. No matter how hard his logical mind screamed that he was insane, he knew what was real. Turning he looked at Evgeni, a question in his eyes.

"Yes, my friend," Evgeni replied, smiling slightly, "I am also a werewolf; my whole family have the gift."

Johnny tried to just accept that, he really did, but it was so hard.

"Aren't werewolves supposed to be stronger than humans?" he asked, just leaping at the first question that came into his mind to stop his thoughts rebelling.

"In spirit, maybe," Evgeni replied, smiling more now, "and we are more robust, but we are not stronger. In wolf form we are very powerful and we have a half form as well, which is incredibly strong, but like this, we are simply human."

That kind of made sense, otherwise Evgeni should have been doing quad, quad, quad combos, and it would have been plain unfair.

"Why are you telling me this?" he asked, genuinely not understanding.

It was an amazing thing, but he did not know how it went with what Evgeni had been saying before.

"Because, my friend," Evgeni said, placing a hand on his shoulder, "I wish to offer you the same gift. Usually we offer it only to those we choose to marry, but it is allowed to offer it to others. The wolf, I think, would suit you greatly."

Johnny just sat there and gave his mind time to process that.

"You want to make me a werewolf?" he asked quietly.

"If you wish it," Evgeni told him gently. "It does not make the skating easier and it does not heal the injuries or the aches, but it can take a strong spirit and make it even stronger."

"The dinner," he said, suddenly realising its significance.

"All the high ranking members of our clan," Evgeni said with an apologetic smile; "by our law they had to give their permission. That is why my marriage with Maria failed; when I brought her here, the clan refused her. She would never have survived the gift. That is why I brought Yana here before we were married rather than after and she took the gift just after. I think I am in trouble when she has been in the clan a few years; she will take charge."

Johnny had no trouble imagining that, but he was still having trouble with the whole offer.

"I'm thinking werewolves don't have anything to do with the full moon," he said, still trying to come to terms with the rest.

"No," Evgeni replied, amused at the question, "although our power is at its height during the full of the moon. It is when we bring in new clan members."

That was when Johnny remembered what he had seen out of the window the previous night; an almost full moon.

"Oh," he said as he realised quite how immediate this offer was.

"We are able to become wolves or wolfmen at will," Evgeni explained to him in a very calm, straightforward manner, "and even in human form our senses are sharper and our reflexes a little better than our brethren."

So far there didn't sound as if there was a down side.

"But I must warn you," his friend continued and dissuaded him of that notion, "there is a world out there that is not as simple as you have always believed. To take this step means to become part of it. There may also be emotional consequences; when we embrace the wolf, part of the wild comes with it. You may feel unbalanced for a while, until you adjust."

It still didn't sound too terrible; Johnny had always suspected there was something about the world he was missing.

"What if I say no?" he asked, since he really wasn't sure how this would go.

"I will take you back to the house," Evgeni said, seemingly understanding his worry, "and you will be given a drink. You will wake up an hour later with no memory of today so far. I will take you riding, we will have a good time and we will go back to the city tomorrow. There we will eat and drink and be merry until you have to go home."

It was clear Evgeni really did have everything worked out.

"And if I say yes?" he finally asked the question that was bothering him the most.

"Then, because you are not of the clan, you must join your spirit to the clan," Evgeni told him in a very straightforward tone, "and then I will bite you. You will suffer pain and fever for about one day and then you will become a wolf for the first time. We will run with the pack in the forest and then I will bring you back here to return to human form. Then I will teach you how to be one of us."

It sounded far too simple.

"How do I join my spirit to the clan?" he asked, pretty sure that was quite a large gloss over on Evgeni's part.

"There is a long way and a short way," Evgeni replied in a way that just had Johnny wanting to ask a hundred more question. "The long way will take about a month..."

Johnny wondered what Tara would do if he rang and told her he would be staying in Russia that long.

"... the short way will take less than an hour," Evgeni continued to explain. "The long way involves meditation and focus, the short way involves sex."

That sounded like an interesting shortcut.

"Sex?" he asked, wanting to know exactly what that meant.

"When werewolves indulge in sexual activity they share their essence with their lover," Evgeni said, smiling at Johnny's tone; "it lasts for several hours. All it requires is a mutual orgasm while in physical contact."

"Would this be you and me?" he asked, deciding that beating around the bush would not be a good plan.

Evgeni nodded.

"And just how much physical contact is required?" was his next question.

"Hands will do," Evgeni replied without batting an eyelid, "but it must be a mutual act."

"Okay," Johnny said, doing his best to get his head round that, "not that I don't think you'd be great in bed, but I don't want your wife trying to kill me."

That made Evgeni laugh out loud.

"Yana is quite aware of the short way," Evgeni assured him with a grin, "and she is happy for me to go as far as necessary, if that is how you wish to do this."

It was then that Johnny realised his decision was in fact made. The trust, the openness, the offer; it was not something he could refuse.

"Yes," he said, feeling more than a little nervous, but not willing to back down, "I do."

Before he could do anything, Evgeni grabbed him in a very fierce hug, which he eventually returned.

"Come," Evgeni said in English and pulled him to his feet, "we must feed you first. Tonight will be best and you will need strength."

Johnny did not argue and just went along with everything. Evgeni took him back to the house and then began the longest meal Johnny had ever attended. Every time he finished one plate of something it would disappear and be replaced by something else and every time he tried to stop eating Evgeni glared at him, so by the time he was done he thought he might be about to explode. When he had finally eaten enough to satisfy his friend, Evgeni took him upstairs and told him to take a shower. By then it was coming on for evening, so Johnny did as he was told and then picked out some casual clothes, since they were going to be using the horses again.

He wasn't sure how the whole werewolf thing worked, but when it turned out to be just him and Evgeni going back to the cave, he was more than a little relieved. He hadn't had the guts to ask Evgeni if it was a private ceremony, but given that everyone was seeing them off, he assumed it was.

"Do not look so worried, Johnny," Evgeni told him when they finally reached the cave, having left the horses in the same clearing as before; "you are strong. The rebirth is unpleasant, but when you change you will forget it all."

It wasn't actually the rebirth Johnny was nervous about; he'd been an athlete long enough that some pain and suffering didn't really scare him; it was sex with Evgeni that had him worked up.

When they walked in, the cave appeared very different than it had before. There was a fire burning in a pit to one side, using a natural chimney in the rock to take away the smoke and it made the whole cave surprisingly warm. Just in front of the fire were blankets and cushions and it was really kind of cosy; not quite how he had envisioned it as all.

"I think, perhaps, it would be better to be naked straight away," Evgeni decided, putting down the pack he had brought with them.

Johnny really didn't feel like arguing, so he just nodded and began stripping. It was not as if he was shy about his body and they had seen each other naked before, in locker rooms across the world. It was only after he was naked that things became a little more awkward. Evgeni sat down on the blankets and arranged himself in what looked like a very comfortable position and Johnny just stood where he was.

"I cannot touch you if you are over there," Evgeni pointed out simply.

Typically Russian and typically practical; Johnny couldn't help it if he had an uptight American at his core. He'd been doing his best to exorcise that part of himself, but it sometimes came back to haunt him.

"I'm just getting myself in the right frame of mind," he said, doing his best to do just that. "I've never really thought of you this way, Zhenya."

That earned him a grin from his friend.

"I have thought of you this way many times," was the cheeky reply; "but do not tell Yana."

It took Johnny a few moments to realise he was being teased, which was enough to make his stalk over and sit down beside his friend. Before he could argue, he found himself flat on his back with one of Evgeni's legs hooked over his and the Russian leaning over him.

"I believe the direct approach may be the simplest," Evgeni said and smiled at him and then Johnny felt a hand touching him in a very intimate place.

Not exactly how he had thought this would go, but he was a man, he was naked and Evgeni was fondling his balls in a very distracting way, so the inevitable began to happen. Evgeni was an attractive man with a very nice body, so attraction was not a problem and he felt himself beginning to get hard almost instantly; the only real issue he had was the one sided nature of the encounter.

"You ... seem very ... good at ... this ... for a straight ... guy," he managed to say, hoping to take back a little of the initiative.

Evgeni grinned at him for that, palming his erection and making him moan, just a little.

"If you meet a werewolf who claims to be completely straight," Evgeni told him, working him slowly, "or completely gay for that matter; they are in denial. We are sexual creatures. I have fucked my share of men in my time."

That was something Johnny might have liked to know before they started this.

"So," he said, making Evgeni stop moving by using his own hand over the other man's, "I am suddenly going to start liking girls?"

"Probably," Evgeni replied with a little shrug; "let us just say, you are likely to be less picky, although you are unlikely to find a female life mate; your primary inclinations will not change."

"Good," Johnny said firmly, "because that might give my mom a heart attack."

Then he released Evgeni's hand and moved his hips a little to show he was quite willing to get on with it. His friend was clearly amused by that, but began to move his fingers again. It really did feel very good.

He finally managed to get his hands on Evgeni, in the literal sense, a few minutes later. Evgeni was already hard so Johnny just went straight for the prize and squeezed lightly with his whole hand wrapped around his friend's cock. The gasp of acknowledgement was all he needed to urge him on and finally it really was about mutual gratification.

This was not about fancy sex or complication positions or anything detailed like that; it was about getting them both off at relatively the same time, and Johnny thought it was working. Anything more and Johnny would have felt guilty that Evgeni was two timing Yana and so Johnny went about his side of the bargain with practiced efficiency, both the coming and the making Evgeni come.

"I ... hope ... you're close, Zhenya," he said as he felt his body tightening in a very familiar way.

"Say the word, my friend," was Evgeni's far too polished reply, but Johnny didn't have a lot of time to care.

Something about the way Evgeni moved his hand just did it for him and the wonderful thrill of orgasm ripped through him as he shot, warm, milky fluid onto the blanket as he came. It wasn't the most stunning orgasm of his life, but then he didn't have his legs wrapped round a gorgeous man with him buried hilt deep in his ass, so he wasn't complaining; it still felt great and it meant he didn't lose all of his concentration. With a few more strokes, he had Evgeni shooting all over his hand in an all but silent orgasm and that was when Johnny felt it. If he had not known something was supposed to happen he would have missed it, but he did feel closer to Evgeni somehow in a way he could not understand.

"It is done," Evgeni said simply and released him and so he did the same.

"Well done," he felt the need to say, since he wasn't going to be totally clinical about this.

Evgeni grinned at that and slowly sat up.

"Of course," was the rather smug response.

Johnny really hadn't thought about how Evgeni was going to bite him, but, as he watched his friend's body flow from one shape to another, the fact that it had to be in wolf form became kind of obvious. Evgeni was as direct with what he had to do as he had been with the rest of it and wolf jaws closed around his forearm. It hurt; it hurt a hell of a lot as teeth sliced into his flesh, but Evgeni bit only hard enough to break the skin before pulling away. Johnny pulled his arm to his chest, cradling the wounded flesh as it bled, tears leaking from his eyes as the pain refused to go away. He curled in on himself, rocking slowly and trying to force the pain to the back of his mind.

"Ssh," Evgeni said, placing a blanket around his shoulders and it was only then he realised he had missed his friend returning to human shape and moving, "I know it hurts; it will lessen."

He would have replied, something bitchy and sarcastic, but the heat spreading from the wound was making him feel woozy and, as Evgeni urged him gently to do so, he lay down among the cushions.

"Try to relax," Evgeni told him, "I will not leave you."

It was then that Johnny remembered Evgeni had gone through this at the age of four; he could only begin to imagine what it must have been like for a child. The thought was what he needed to help force himself to take control and he breathed hard, pushing the pain away and forcing his body to obey him.

"Thank you," he said, focusing on what Evgeni was doing for him, rather than what his friend could not.

Evgeni seemed impressed by that and he could only hope that he continued to impress his friend.

The fever really started about twenty minutes later and Johnny started shivering and sweating at the same time. His body felt like it was trying to melt off his bones and freeze solid in alternate moments and he found himself being messily sick. He was very glad of Evgeni's help as his stomach got rid of anything he hadn't yet digested from the huge meal he had eaten and then he curled up and tried to suffer in silence.

At some point he lost track of what was real and what wasn't and he began to hallucinate. Paris was there, telling him fairy stories of all things, one of which was Little Red Riding Hood and he kept warning him about the big bad wolf. It was a bit freaky and he told Paris to go to hell even though somewhere in his head he knew Paris wasn't really there. Stéphane was next, speaking to him in French about fashion and scarves, lots and lots of scarves. They planned a whole line with just scarves and even decided they would have naked models; it was surreal, but it was better than the real world, which came back with a bang shortly after.

That was the point the pain really started, as if his whole body was rebelling and it kept him in the real world for a while. Evgeni kept patting him down with water, trying to get him to drink a little as well, and he hovered, just above unconsciousness for a while.

When the hallucinations came back, his mom was there with, of all people, Evan fucking Lysacek. His mom kept telling him how well he was doing and Evan kept spouting motivational quotes at him as if that would help, except that it kind of did, which freaked him out even more. He felt like death warmed over and Evan Lysacek throwing mantra at him was actually making him feel a little better; it was weirder than the whole werewolf thing.

"Johnny."

Someone was calling his name and he tried to focus.

"Yes, Johnny, look at me."

He blinked, trying his very best and finally he realised that Evgeni was holding his face between his hands and looking at him. He tried to say something, but it came out as a mumble that made no sense.

"Good," Evgeni told him, "you need to concentrate; you are beginning to change. When you feel the wolf you need to push into it. Do you understand?"

Johnny tried to nod and he thought he managed it, just.

"Do not fight the wolf," Evgeni instructed firmly; "allow it to run free. I will not allow him to hurt anyone. We will worry about control later."

That much did make sense.

Johnny's whole body felt as if it was on fire and there was pain in every muscle and joint, but he could feel something beyond that. He couldn't quite touch it yet, but he could sense it and he reached for it. It was like pushing his hand into a barrel of sawdust looking for a prize that he knew was there, but he couldn't quite find. Then, there is was, right under his hand and he grabbed it, closing his fingers around it and in his mind's eye he saw a sandy wolf with bright green eyes.

He pushed, he pushed as hard as he could, striving to reach the beautiful creature and then he screamed as agony seared through every cell. His body exploded and his flesh remade itself, showing him each change, each twist and snap in agonising detail, inscribing it on his brain like a lesson. It blew his mind and for a long time his thoughts would not move at all and, when they finally did, they were not moving very fast.

He was lying on his side, body aching, heart thumping and there were smells and sounds coming at him from all around. The strongest smell was another wolf, a male and he tried to scramble to his feet to confront this other, but his legs did not wish to work.

"Peace brother," the words drifted into his mind, words that did not make sense for a moment until the mind lurking below the wolf slowly moved.

Then he kind of remembered where he was and he realised Evgeni was sitting in front of him in wolf form.

"You need to be strong," Evgeni told him in that silent way that seemed to be perfectly natural to their wolf shapes; "we should hunt."

"I cannot run fast enough," he pointed out, feeling the weakness in his legs.

"Then I will hunt for both of us," Evgeni told him, "and another night you will return the favour, My Brother."

Very slowly, Johnny pulled his legs under him properly and stood up. He was shaky, but it was already better than before and he carefully stepped over to the other wolf. Sniffing, he took in the other's scent properly and it calmed him; he smelt pack and safety and family and it settled his instincts.

"Thank you, My Brother," he replied silently; "it would be good to see you hunt."

Evgeni smiled at him, or at least did something that his human and wolf instincts interpreted as the same thing and then stood up, trotting towards the entrance. Johnny followed and walked into a world full of wonder.

The End