“Are you sure you’re going to be alright here by yourself?” your best friend Kaya asked nervously glancing around the small condo.
“I’ll be fine,” you assured her for what felt like the thousandth time, though you couldn’t blame her for her worry, the neighborhood you’d moved into was a little sketchy, but it was the best you could afford. You couldn’t all be rich heiresses like Kaya.
“You could always stay with us longer, mom and dad like you a lot, they wouldn’t mind,” Kaya tried again.
“I appreciate the offer,” you told her hiding a grimace. It wasn’t that you didn’t like Kaya or her parents, but staying with them made you feel like a leech. It was about time you made your own way in the world, “But I think I’m going to like it here. I can’t just live with you forever you know?”
Kaya pouted at you, which you couldn’t help but find adorable, you and Kaya had been close since preschool when you’d jumped on then bitten a little boy on the arm for knocking her down on the playground. You’d been inseparable ever since, and you thought of her like a little sister.
Admittedly you were the same age, but Kaya just seemed so much more fragile to you, like she needed to be protected, which of course you were more than happy to do for her. You were more than a bit maternal and protective by nature and it was good to have somebody to protect, it gave you purpose.
“You could always just stay for a little bit, just until you can find somewhere better than… well… this,” she pleaded, wrinkling her nose at the slightly shabby walls and second hand furniture.
“I like it,” you told her, and you did, it felt comfortable, maybe it needed a few things to spruce it up a little and add some color, but it felt lived in. Kaya’s house always made you afraid to touch things in case you got dirt on it or broke something expensive, “Besides, with what I had saved up I managed to buy it outright, that means I can do some fixing up, a fresh coat of paint and some new flooring will work wonders.”
“Changing how it looks won’t change where it is, this part of the city isn’t safe,” Kaya argued frowning at you.
“So I’ll reinforce the locks on the doors and windows,” you told her with a shrug, “and keep my baseball bat handy. Really Kaya you fuss too much.”
“I’m just worried about you!” Kaya protested unhappily, “What if something happens? You’re here all alone! I know you’re tough and can protect yourself I just wish you had some kind of back-up, so you weren’t by yourself.”
“What like a room mate? Did that in college, and it sucked, dirty dishes, unwashed laundry, and getting kicked out so they can have alone time with their significant other? Yeah I’ll pass,” you told her wrinkling your nose unhappily.
“I wasn’t thinking about a room mate, you never know what you’re going to get with that,” Kaya retorted with a sniff, for all that she was a very kind girl she could be a bit stuck-up at times, her upbringing as an heiress shining through, “No I was thinking more along the lines of a pet.”
“A pet?” you asked curiously. It actually wasn’t a bad suggestion.
“A dog more specifically,” Kaya elaborated with a smile, “You’ve always liked animals, and they tend to like you too if I’m remembering correctly.”
She was right you were an animal lover, and you’d always had a soft spot for dogs, usually the bigger and scarier looking the better. They tended to like you too, though you weren’t exactly sure why. At times you’d been approached by the meanest, fiercest dogs in the neighborhood, ones known for lashing out or biting, and they would prance around like harmless happy puppies for you, all wagging tails and slobbery kisses.
Kaya had on more than one occasion asked if you were a dog whisperer. You just shrugged her off, not particularly believing in such things after all, it’s not like you could actually understand what a dog was thinking, you just had a vague instinct of how they were feeling based on body language.
“I’ll think about it,” you told Kaya with a smile.
Kaya beamed, “I’ll start looking into breeders in the area right away!”
You just shook your head in amusement and let her go, knowing there was no way to talk her out of it, still though, “I didn’t actually agree I said I’d think about it and if I did get one I would probably want a mutt from a shelter.”
Kaya pouted again and you knew you had another argument on your hands, still it was something to think over as the two of you carefully finished the unpacking and ran to a nearby hardware store for supplies.
By the time she left for dinner she’d talked you around to the dog, but you’d compromised that it could come from a shelter. With plans to go pick out one tomorrow you fell into your bed with a tired sigh, imagining different dogs, with the sounds of barking and howling echoing through your dreams.
The racket at the shelter was terrible, as a worker led you into the back where the dogs were kept. Several large dogs jumped eagerly against the fences penning them in, trying to catch your attention as happy barks and yips echoed around the concrete walls.
Walking slowly down the aisle you paused to read information and stick your fingers through the bars of the enclosures, receiving happy licks as you doled out pets and scratches to the eager animals, accepting treats from the worker and handing those out as well to the enthusiastic pups.
Almost every single one had come to the front of their enclosures to greet you, all but one. The dog was in the last enclosure on the right, with its nose in the corner, thus you couldn’t see much of it, but what you could see was absolutely massive.
It was at least the size of a St. Bernard with long, what looked like black fur though it was hard to tell with the amount of dirt and grime caked in it, but you knew it wasn’t a Bernard based on the ears, which stood at attention like a Husky’s, flickering every so often with the noise in the kennel. Glancing at the info card you noted it was a he, and he wasn’t at all friendly, in fact the card actually advised against any and all interaction.
“Best to leave that one alone miss, he’s a hostile beast, we think he’s at least part wolf and he won’t let anyone near him. Had to tranq him to get him vaccinated,” the shelter worker told you nervously.
“And you couldn’t give the poor thing a bath while he was out?” you asked unable to help the sharp tone on seeing the poor condition of the animal.
“Look miss, it was all we could do to get him vaccinated, the tranquilizer only kept him out for fifteen minutes, we were supposed to have an hour. It took everyone to even just get him corralled back into that enclosure, I even have marks to show for it,” he bit back shoving up his sleeves so you could see his bandaged forearms, liberally covered with scratch marks.
“He didn’t bite you then?” you asked interested.
“Naw, he didn’t manage to catch any of us with his chompers, but I pity the poor fool that gets bitten by a beast like him,” the worker told you seriously with a shiver.
“You don’t like him then?” you pushed eyes on the dog.
“Not a bit miss. He’s a monster that one, we’re generally a no kill shelter, but the boss is thinking we’re going to have to put him down, and I agree he’s way to hostile for adoption,” the worker told you firmly, “He just went out to finish getting someone who can fire a tranquilizer gun at him since no one feels safe enough to get up close and personal.
The bunching of muscle gave you the indication of what was going to happen before it did, as the dog whirled from the corner and launched himself at the door to the enclosure, making the whole thing rattle dangerously and bending the metal fencing out of shape, ferocious jaws snapped close to your face as he growled and snarled furiously.
It was only this intuition into his movements and instinct that let you hold your ground even as the worker stumbled away with a squeak, falling back on his ass and then scrambling away and running down the hall shouting for help, completely abandoning you.
You watched as the dog’s eyes followed the worker down the hall, a strange look on his face that had he been human you would’ve almost described as smug. Now that he was facing you, you could see why they thought he was part wolf. Hell, if you weren’t sure wolves didn’t actually get that big you’d think that was all he was. You were pretty sure wolves were supposed to be two hundred pounds max, and this fellow certainly looked over two hundred pounds. Standing on his hind legs he actually dwarfed your 5’8” frame by at least a foot, his front paws resting at around shoulder height for you.
The color of his eyes was really interesting too, unlike anything you’d ever seen before, the color of molten silver, and filled with intelligence and suddenly trained right on you.
“Well hello there handsome,” you acknowledged keeping your voice even and calm, knowing dogs could pick up on such things easily. Slowly you held out your hands palms forward toward his face so he could catch your scent. His lips curled back aggressively at your movement and you held still and waited, not looking away from those molten silver eyes, knowing to do so would be submitting to him, which was an extremely bad idea.
“It’s alright,” you crooned softly, “I’m not going to hurt you.”
The dog/wolf whuffed and you wondered if he was amused by the idea of a puny human like you being able to hurt him, before pushing the thought aside and watching as he slowly eased down to the ground of his enclosure. Even on all four paws he still looked enormous, his head coming even with your sternum.
Not wanting him to think you were looming over him you slowly lowered yourself into a crouch so that the two of you were closer to eye level, offering your palms again. This time he did sniff them, though he kept his eyes locked with yours.
“There, that’s not so bad right handsome?” you asked gently, “You really are a gorgeous fellow aren’t you?”
To your surprise the dog glanced away, head turning to the side. In a human that would be embarrassment, but in a dog such movements were submission. Slowly you reached forward and gently touched the bars of the enclosure close to where he was.
The noise had him looking back swiftly his eyes locking on your fingers and then on you, but he made no aggressive move against it. Glancing at the door to his enclosure you slowly eased out of your crouch and made your way over to it. This was probably the worst idea you’d ever had in your entire life, but you’d never seen such a magnificent animal before, and it would be a shame to see him put down.
You could feel his eyes on you as you slowly eased the door open, heart pounding and slipped inside, locking it firmly behind you. That done you moved over to the wall and slowly slid down to a sitting position, crossing your legs and waiting. The dog watched for a few seconds and you wondered if he, like you, were wondering if you’d totally lost it.
“Come here handsome,” you coaxed, carefully extending a hand and gesturing. Several long minutes passed as he just stared at you, eyeing you thoroughly before slowly taking several steps forward.
You waited patiently for him to come to you, and in no time he was standing in front of you, towering over your sitting form staring you down. You held his gaze fearlessly and watched, keeping your body language as relaxed as possible as the shaggy head of the dog lowered so you were literally eye-to-eye.
There was a surprising amount of intelligence in those mercurial eyes, and for a moment you could swear they were almost human, before the head lowered further and you felt him sniff you thoroughly, his powerful jaws right near your vulnerable neck, and against your will you felt your heart race.
Still he didn’t do anything more than sniff you and taking that as encouragement you slowly lifted a hand, experimentally touching his side. He stiffened for a moment, but you gently smoothed your hand along muttering soft encouraging phrases to him.
“You poor thing, you really do need a bath and someone to look after you properly huh?” you asked gently lifting your other hand to gently caress his fur.
He whuffled and you nearly jumped out of your skin as he licked a long stripe up your neck. You made a face at the sounds he made after, soft chuffing noises that sounded like amused laughter to your ears.
“Very funny mister,” you told him with a pout tangling your fingers in his fur and nuzzling your face into his, encouraged by his nonaggressive behavior, “Now is that you saying you like me or you trying to see if I’d taste good for dinner?”
He chuffed again and accepted your gesture of affection, this time licking your cheek, “I’m going to take that as you like me, and not ‘you taste like chicken’.”
You jumped as his wet cold nose found your ear and his breath ruffled your hair, and winced slightly, “Poor baby, you really need a bath handsome, and a toothbrush.”
The dog huffed, and you could almost imagine he seemed indignant so you ran your hands over him reassuringly, “Not your fault huh love? The awful people here weren’t very nice to you were they?”
Your bonding was interrupted by the sound of running feet and shouting,
“Oh my god he’s got her!”
“Get away monster!”
“Someone tranquilize him quick!”
“Forget tranqs, kill it!”
The dog quickly stiffened and began to growl, and you peered out from around his bulk to see the cowardly worker from before had apparently brought reinforcements, who were leveling a gun at the dog. Who was snarling ferociously, all the other dogs in the enclosures were only adding to the racket, howling and barking and snarling. The sound was nearly deafening.
“Wait!” you shouted angrily at the shelter workers trying desperately to work your way around the dog’s enormous bulk and be heard over the cacophony of noise.
Only they couldn’t hear, and the dog was standing between you and them, almost protectively, but making it impossible for you to see and be seen. You finally scrambled to your knees and were able to peer over the dog just in time to see a dart sink into his side.
He swayed woozily but stayed on his feet snarling aggressively, and you could see them loading another dart, completely uncaring that overloading the dog with tranqs might just kill him. You shouted in horror, trying to get them to stop, but your voice just added to the confusion and the noise.
You saw him raise the gun and you tried to do something anything to push the magnificent creature away, to protect him, to do something, but he refused to move from in front of you, not even to lunge at the workers to attack or make a bid for freedom.
You saw the man begin to pull the trigger, and you felt your heart squeezing in your chest. You couldn’t just let them kill this amazing animal, you wouldn’t let them hurt it anymore.
“DON’T YOU DARE!” the command was practically howled, fueled by your anger and desperation, you could practically feel it explode out of you and suddenly everything was quiet.
The dog in front of you swayed and turned to look at you with sad confused eyes a piteous whine leaving his throat as he stared at you with that unnerving humanlike gaze.
“Not you love, never you,” you instantly reassured him, reaching up and pulling him to you. As unsteady as he was on his feet he instantly fell into you, knocking you into the wall, and stealing the breath from your lungs. It didn’t stop your from wrapping your arms around as much of him as you could reach.
It enabled you to see over his neck finally, and allowed the shelter employees to see you at last.
“Miss you need to get away from him right now,” one of them told her earnestly, “That beast will take your head off!”
“He won’t,” you defended fiercely tangling your fingers in his fur and holding him to you protectively, “All he’s done since I’ve been in here is lick my face, not once has he tried to hurt me. I don’t have a scratch on me.”
“You’re crazy! He was trying to maul you earlier,” the worker who’d shown you the way earlier informed you flatly.
“He wasn’t!” you replied angrily, gently unwrapping your arms from the dog you moved so you could look at him face to face. He was looking back at you a bit blearily, but you could see he was coming around from the dart. Completely unafraid you reached out and took hold of his face nuzzling yours against it affectionately.
You completely ignored the worried cries, and protests that he would “bite your face off” just waiting until his eyes focused properly on you and he licked your cheek affectionately.
“There’s my handsome man,” you crooned softly tenderly running your fingers through his fur, ruffling his ears and stroking his cheeks affectionately.
“I don’t understand, he hated you,” the worker from before said dazedly.
The dog’s head whipped around and a fierce growl left his throat glaring at the worker who had spoken. Completely confident in your safety you wrapped your arms around his neck and glared at him as well, “Seems like it’s not me he hates.”
“Still miss, that beast is proven to be violent, it really needs to be put down,” one of the other workers insisted.
“Does this look violent to you?” you demanded frustrated running your hands over him gently trying to soothe him even as you got more and more agitated, “It’s starting to look to me like you just don’t know how to handle a dog like this, which is fine because I’ll be taking him with me.”
“Miss you can’t just…” another worker protested, “I can and I will, he’s not going to hurt me and so long as you stay far away I think I’m more than capable of keeping him from hurting you as well. It’s obvious he likes me more than anyone else here, so he’s best off with me.”
“Is that alright with you love? I’ll get you out of here okay?” you crooned at the dog who’s eyes were clear again and regarding you with clear interest. A soft chuffing noise was your answer, which you took as agreement.
“Alright someone get me my paperwork,” you ordered, “I’m taking him home today.”
Newly clean and smelling like a combination of wet dog and herbal shampoo Portgas D. Ace watched the woman who’d taken him out of the animal shelter and into her home.
He wasn’t entirely sure how he had ended up at the shelter in the first place, but he got the feeling it was supposed to be payback for a prank probably by one of his brothers. The timing fit anyway because the only time they really got drunk and ran around in wolf form was on the full moon and that had been yesterday.
He was appalled to have woken up in a kennel of sorts and had still been hungover from the booze, which was why he’d been more violent with the shelter workers than he probably should have been. In his defense he had at least refrained from doing any serious damage, and hadn’t bitten anyone. It didn’t help that while in canine form Weres tended to be more ruled by their instincts, and none of the shelter workers had approached the way they should have.
He really hadn’t appreciated being stabbed in the ass with a tranquilizer either and had taken out his displeasure on them when he woke up. After that he’d been sulking in a corner thinking about how much his brothers were going to tease him about his situation and plotting his escape for later that night. His thoughts had been interrupted by the arrival of someone new.
The rest of the dogs in the kennel, who knew what he was and respected him as alpha, had immediately become extremely excited, bouncing all over the place like hyper puppies, their eager greetings making the noise level almost unbearable, especially since the headache from his hangover had never really receded no thanks to those tranquilizers.
He’d been doing his best to ignore them, blocking them out to the best of his ability when the annoying voice of one of the workers from this morning penetrated his bubble, apparently telling the newcomer what a vicious, dangerous brute he was, and complaining about some measly scratches. Served the ass right for being part of the team to capture him, and for bugging him when he was so hung over.
Still listening to him whine was getting on his nerves, and he was starting to get really bored just staring at the corner. Everyone who knew him would tell you that a bored Ace is a mischievous Ace. Taking everything that the worker was saying in, Ace chose his moment and lunged.
He had a brief moment of panic as the metal frame of his enclosure gave way slightly under his paws and he wondered if he’d tumble through tail over snout, which would be really embarrassing. Luckily it held out and he snarled and snapped playfully eyes locked on the worker, laughing to himself as the man ran screaming like a baby out of the kennel area.
He was surprised that he wasn’t followed by the newcomer and turned his gaze on to her. She was fairly small by his standards, even in human form he would’ve had at least six inches on her but decent size for a human, about 5’ 8” with ample curves, clothed in practical jeans and a black v-neck t-shirt.
She had chestnut colored hair held back in a ponytail, with short bangs clipped out of her face with a couple of fancy clips, her skin was tanned, as if she spent a lot of time outdoors, her lips were full and a nice soft pink, her cheekbones were sharp and defined in a way that might’ve been unattractive if not for the luminous eyes that they helped to frame. Ace had never seen eyes like those, a vivid color that seemed to shift between blue and green and back again.
There was something fierce about her face that reminded him of an amazon warrior. This one was a fighter for sure, and apparently not afraid enough to back down even if he could hear her heart racing in her chest from the scare he’d just given her.
He’d half expected her to just up and leave, though in a far more dignified way than the shelter worker, but she had stayed, and approached. It was hard to tell with the other smells of the shelter in the confined area being so strong, but something about her smelled intriguing. Enough that he allowed her to enter his temporary prison without issue.
It helped that she made all the right moves, never too dominant or too submissive, letting him come to her. Even if he had actually been a dog he probably would’ve warmed up to her, as it was he was a werewolf with absolutely no desire to hurt humans, especially pretty girls, and certainly not pretty girls who acted so strangely whose brief whiff of scent had piqued his curiosity.
So he approached her, trying his best not to make her uncomfortable and doing everything he could to ignore when she called him handsome, sweet or love, because while it should’ve been humiliating it was instead more embarrassing. He would’ve been flushing badly if he was in human form from her compliments.
He’d been surprised when she reached for him, but decided it couldn’t hurt anything and let her as he breathed in her scent. Up close like this, close to her skin near the glands of her neck, it was strong enough to overpower the stench of the shelter, and it was intoxicating. He wasn’t sure what exactly he could liken it too, all he knew was that it was good, and he would’ve happily spent hours just breathing in her scent.
Interested to see if she tasted as good as she smelled he’d licked her, and been amused by her witty commentary, because despite what folklore may say werewolves didn’t actually eat human flesh. The very thought was appalling, sure he was extremely fond of meat, perhaps even overly fond, but that didn’t mean human flesh sounded at all appealing.
Seeking to reassure her, since he could hear her heartbeat racing, he’d carefully licked her cheek. Noting she did taste nice, not at all edible, but still nice somehow.
Admittedly he’d been a bit offended when she said he needed a bath and a toothbrush. Sure she was right, but what did she expect? He’d spent the night before drunkenly romping through the woods with his brothers, it was practically a given that the next day he’d need a nice long shower and to brush his teeth.
But it hadn’t been enough to make him move away surprisingly comfortable with letting her into his personal space, which was highly unusual for him. The number of people he let into his bubble without issue could be counted on two hands with fingers left over. The fact that he’d allowed a stranger to do it was unprecedented.
He’d still been caught up in her smell and his thoughts when the shelter workers had rushed in and assumed he was attacking her, which was ridiculous, as it was patently obvious she had entered his cage of her own volition. Something no sane person would do with a dog who was behaving aggressively towards them, although he did have a few worries about her sanity.
What happened after was a bit of a blur no thanks to the tranquilizer dart someone had fired into his ass again. What he did remember though was that his first instinct had been to protect her, getting between her and the potentially trigger happy workers.
He also remembered the Voice. He could still hear the words “Don’t you dare” echo through the confines of the dog enclosure. The only time he could ever remember being hit by a Voice that strong was when he’d faced off with his Pops. It was a Voice only alpha werewolves were supposed to have, one that enabled them to take control of and direct the members of their pack.
Ace himself had the Voice, but rarely used it, disliking the fact that he knew it was something he’d inherited from his father. Other than himself and his Pops he only knew a handful of others who could use it, and all of them were alphas and werewolves, none of them were tiny human girls.
If his interest hadn’t already been piqued that would’ve done it, the fact that even he, a strong alpha in his own right, had wanted to submit to her afterwards made her impossibly strong.
He’d had his third shock of the day when the strange woman had defended him from the workers, refusing to let them hurt him. He had to conclude that she must really like dogs in order to champion him against all those people, and he’d been touched by her kindness.
All these reasons meant he hadn’t bolted the minute she’d gotten him out of the shelter, instead calmly hopping up into her SUV and letting her drive him, first to the pet store and then to her home. Of course if he’d known the indignity that followed was going to occur he might’ve bolted.
Instead in order to maintain his cover as a dog he’d been forced to let her bathe him and brush his teeth. Luckily the toothpaste didn’t taste awful, but having it done for him was humiliating and he didn’t even want to touch on the bath. In revenge he’d made sure to shake himself thoroughly, throwing water all over the bathroom and drenching the woman as often as he could. By the end of it her clothes and hair were soaked, and he felt very much vindicated despite the annoyed looks she kept throwing him.
Sensibly as wet as she was, she’d decided to simply take a shower herself, after sending him out to the bedroom. He’d settled on to the bed, intending to think more on the strange woman, but his narcolepsy had attacked with a vengeance and he’d found himself sleeping until she returned to the room.
He’d woken to the sound of the bathroom door opening, and had absolutely no time to brace himself as the woman walked into the room in only a towel. The shock of it had kept him from reacting until she’d walked over to the dresser, and he remembered to shut his eyes, but not before he’d gotten a nice view of her naked backside.
He had been positively mortified, and if he’d been human, would’ve been blushing so badly he’d look like a lobster. He’d refused to even consider opening his eyes until the bed dipped beside him, leaving him where he was now, staring up into the eyes of the woman who’d taken him home.
She was gazing back her eyes locked with his having flopped over and arranged herself so they were face to face. Hands reached out and Ace held very still as she gently ran her fingers over his cheeks rubbing soft circles on them. He had to fight to hold still and not jerk his face from her grasp in embarrassment.
“You know I realized that I haven’t given you a name yet handsome,” she informed him softly, “I spent a lot of time thinking about it in the shower, but I’m having trouble.”
“I went through all the traditional names, for black dogs like Jett, and Shadow and I just,” she made a face and Ace chuffed in agreement, no way would he ever respond to something that lame.
“I tried normal names too like Rover, Fang, and Spike, and outlandish things like Kage and Inuyasha, but those don’t really fit either,” she informed him moving her hands to play with his silky ears gently scratching them in a way that made his back leg want to shake in pleasure, though he fought the embarrassing gesture with all his might.
“I can’t seem to come up with anything, so until I do I think I’m going to call you freckles,” she told him firmly.
She must’ve seen the flat unimpressed look on his face because she hurried on to explain, “I know it’s not the most masculine name in the world, but after I washed you I realized you have these tiny white spots on your muzzle that look just like freckles, it’s adorable.”
Ace let forth an unintentional whine of protest. If his brothers ever found out about him being called Freckles, of all things he’d never hear the end of it.
“Don’t worry love, it’s just until I can find you something more appropriate,” she eyes him speculatively, “You know you’re awfully smart for a dog, I’m starting to wonder if you understand everything I say to you.”
Ace panicked, he couldn’t help it, humans were definitely not supposed to find out about Weres not unless they’d been turned or had agreed to be turned. He would deny for the rest of his life what he did next…
You stared blankly at the dog you’d started to think was more human than you’d thought, who was currently in the process of licking himself.
“Or not,” you said flatly, face-palming at your own paranoia, “Guess I’m reading to much into things huh love?”
You gently patted his flank and left him to his business, heading for the kitchen to get dinner started, not noticing the absolute relief plain to see on the face of the dog behind you.