The Gladiator's Tale
The arena was dominated by the strong late afternoon sun, the scent of blood, fear and pain permeated the air and fed the blood hunger of the watching Wolf audience. At every defeat they howled their approval for the deathblow. There were few who were spared to fight again, only those who had fought with true courage and only if the Emperor allowed it.
Even then, the reaction from the crowd could change his mind and the poor fool who had believed he or she was safe, was despatched without mercy.
The less popular morning events were over. The exotic animal displays mainly appealed to the families who attended early, getting the cheaper tickets and less bloodshed for the very young. But these were still twin souled Weres and their cubs were expected to understand the nature of battle. Therefore they brought them to see the non-lethal training matches for the younger slaves. They were the appetisers to warm up the crowds, and educate the cubs in an entertaining way as the clever Lanistae, the owners of the Gladiatorial schools had their staff handing out their school colours so that they would cheer and chant for their team of youngsters and stir up friendly rivalry before the big money death matches later in the day, when the adults only portion of the games began.
Scouts from the Ludi or gladiatorial schools regularly watched the training matches in order to discover potential up and coming talent for sale or those who were threats to their own trainee gladiators, causing them to lose money and prestige in the future.
Derek Hale, Nephew to the Emperor, Alpha General of the Emperor's Army, third in line to the throne, had no use for the public Games. He spent his life fighting honourably, leading his warriors in defence of the Hale Empire, in territorial wars or hunting down the criminals who tried to terrorize the peaceful outlying twin souled settlements. As far as he was concerned the Games were sop offered to the citified Were masses to appease their blood thirsty instincts.There was no honour in these spectacles, but even though he despised them with a passion, as a member of the ruling family, he understood the need for them.The fire and the loss of so many of the Imperial Family had weakened the Hale pack.In the aftermath of the outrage and confusion over the death of the Empress and most of her family, there had been too many opportunistic ambitious traitorous Wolves who thought the family had been weakened enough that they had a chance to ascend to the Holy throne.
The surviving Hales, his Uncle Peter, his sister Laura and Derek himself had taught them differently.
The three Alphas had been enraged with grief but Peter's political expertise, Derek's strategic vision and Laura's outrageous daring had taken them to the Senate on the day their enemies had planned to depose them and send their own Army against the Hales. They had hidden in the magically sound proofed tunnels, built by the first Emperor, Remus Hale, who had united the Wolf packs by blood and bond over the ten years it had taken the ambitious, ruthless, driven twin souled minor Lord of a small border town to raise an army large enough, dangerous enough and powerful enough to finally claim his Human Wolf Mate from the Mage protected tribes. The underground tunnels were a secret known only to the Imperial family, not even their true packs were privy to the information. There safe in the knowledge that they were undetectable, the three Hales waited patiently in the shadows, listening until the votes had been declared, noting who had supported them, who had declared the proceeding unlawful and been silenced for their pains by forced submission and threats to their family packs.
Finally, finally, their claws and fangs extended, souls screaming for blood, finally their Uncle allowed Derek and Laura to move stealthily to cover the opposite sides of the room.Derek, acknowledged military leader to thousands of Weres, terrifying nightmarish legend to the Empire's enemies, went to lurk silently beside the impressive grand entrance, and Laura, skilled politician, lawmaker and champion of the under classes, went to take her place near the large covered windows. No one would pass the Hale siblings and gain freedom without their consent. Peter had invoked the family stealth spell, and there was no breath, heartbeat, scent or pulse to warn the Senators of their presence.
Ever the showman, Lord Peter Hale, Heir to the Holy Crescent Moon Throne and Hale Empire, sauntered to the Senate floor to the accompaniment of the clang of metal as the huge Senate doors were barred and locked behind him. No one would be leaving the Senate that way. As the Senators stared in shock at the sight of the barred entrance and the elegant arrogant smirking predatory Werewolf standing in front of them, the clatter of more metal hitting marble made them turn in fear to see the window blocked by the huge metal grill which was used in times of civil unrest and hadn't been closed in living memory.
The silence was absolute until the Leader of the rebellion drew a shuddery breath and came out of his unwilling stupor. Senator Daehler straightened and then laughed mockingly, as he said "All by yourself My Lord? This makes things so much easier and efficient, we don't have to go looking for you Hale".
The smile on Peter's face should have warned them and even though a discomforted murmur ran through the room, the Senator continued his sadistic chuckling. He could not foresee anything other than success for his schemes. Peter turned to the Senators and said calmly "All those who are loyal to the Hale Empire go to your knees and do not move. If you attempt to move for any reason you will be dealt with in the same way as the traitors." The cold certainty in his voice had vengeful smiles lighting the faces of those loyal subjects who had objected the plans to overthrow the family and they immediately fell to their knees, ignoring the jeers and cat calls of the rebellious traitors.
Senator Whittemore, father to Jackson, Derek's first appointed true pack mate, looked up at Senator Daehler from where he knelt, and actually laughed. "You are a dead man you fool, Lord Peter is not alone, he has both General Derek Hale and Lady Laura Hale with him"
Before the shocked rebel leader could react, Peter's howl rang out and the three Alphas transformed into their wolves. The snarling, crunching, biting, tearing wet noises were the only sounds after the screaming had died down, until only the rebel leader and the loyal Senators were left alive. The rancid coppery tang of spilled blood flooded the room, the blood itself spreading a red glistening sheen over the area.
The Leader stared about him in disbelief, it had happened so quickly, all his dreams and plans, his co-conspirators, his future had been shredded in the jaws of what was left of the Imperial family, and then he turned to face the three red-eyed predators in front of him. Their muzzles were covered in blood, pieces of flesh hung from claws and fang and they were totally focussed on him. He hissed with fanatical bravado, "My son will avenge me and he will destroy you Hales". The savage beasts before him did not respond but before the traitor closed his eyes as they stalked forward, he could have sworn that the older Wolf in the middle was laughing.
After the massacre in the Senate, Peter had decreed that the traitors names were written into the state scrolls as dishonoured and that they were now "packless", which meant that their estates, holdings, funds, family members and true pack mates were now the property of the Emperor to do with as he wished. There had been a savage satisfaction in leading the traitors' families and servants in chains through the main streets of Crescent City and forcing their first born Alphas to publicly accept the shame of the slave mark. The more able were sold to the Gladiator schools, the weaker were given to the loyal Senators and senior Army Officers as household slaves, denied the right to form true packs, denied any possibility of freedom as the Emperor himself would have to sanction it and Peter's ruthless unforgiving rage was great. He had not yet dealt with the Argent terrorists but he had decimated those disloyal and actively traitorous to the Empire.Never let it be said that Lord Peter Hale refused to take any political advantage he could get, and raise monies for the coffers of the Imperial family.
In the blood drenched Senate Hall, with the stench of death and the shredded remains of his fallen enemies around them, Peter Hale took the fealty of his only living relatives and then in a scene redolent of the crowning of the first Emperor at the final battle of the Field of Mars, naked and covered with the glorious red blood of his foes, he roared out his challenge "Submit or die" and those left alive in the Senate great hall fell to their knees and hailed him as Emperor.
The Emperor stunned the remaining Senators by making them take the bite of submission, a humiliating act of subservience which was normally used on lesser officials only. Senators had always been accorded the courtesy of a simple oath of fealty as their honour was supposed to be paramount. The 12th Emperor made it very clear that the House of Senators now had to prove its loyalty to the Imperial family as the actions of the traitors had tainted the very institution. The remaining Senators had understood very well that the new Emperor was only allowing the House of Senate to remain by the skin of its teeth so they accepted the shameful requirement for the bite of Submission with no protest and some semblance of grace. They were grateful for small mercies. At least the Emperor had allowed them to undergo the Bite in private in the Senate great hall and not as a public display of the Emperor's power.
All the Senators had offered the Emperor their necks, and knew that they had avoided the same fate as the traitors by the satisfied smile which lit the Emperor's handsome smirking face.
But the Emperor wasn't stupid, he knew how far he could push the high caste, so he offered them a sop as he divided the spoils from the traitors' estates into quarters, one each for himself, for his niece Laura and his nephew Derek, now first General of the Emperor's legions and finally he gave the last quarter to the loyal Senators.
But the Emperor had learnt a valuable lesson, he needed the approval and support of the general populace whilst he was rebuilding the strength of the Hale pack, thus the populist revival of the Games was born.
The fighting men were criminals or slaves who could earn their freedom if they survived the games after five years. Needless to say, not many earned their freedom as they did not survive that long.
General Derek Hale had trained as a warrior, he fought with warriors, noble honourable twin souled who believed in the Empire and gave their lives for its glory and the greater good. His honoured soldiers weren't the dregs of Were society, they weren't desperate base Weres who fought to save their own worthless fur, like the criminals and slaves in the arena.
Derek had been lost in his thoughts and had not heard the announcement for the last game, but the booing from the crowd and the vitriolic calls of matricide turned his attention to the arena in surprise. All the gladiators were criminals, convicted of some heinous crime or other, and normally the only thing that mattered to the watching eager Weres was their kill rate. Criminals were forgiven much if they were skilful killers, and the blood of their opponents flowed freely in the bright sunshine. Why was this fighter so reviled? What kind of monster was he? He looked in confusion at Boyd, his pack mate, who had replaced Jackson at the event with Derek because Jackson the idiot was still sleeping off the results of drinking with his father at the pre games banquet. Boyd shrugged his massive shoulders and shook his head. He didn't have a clue what was happening either.Derek narrowed his eyes as his gaze swept the arena. It was empty except for a slender young pup, walking slowly from the fighters' gate, he could not see any ravaging beast of a gladiator. His confusion grew as the volume of hateful and contemptuous calls increased and he searched the arena again. Still there was only the young curly haired pup alone on the burning blood soaked sands. Derek watched as the crowd reacted to him with hatred but the pup just continued to walk to the centre of the arena until he stopped at the Imperial family's box and knelt as was customary to wait for his opponent and the Emperor's permission to begin the match.
Derek turned to his Uncle in shock, "By the blessed Moon Goddess Peter, what is this travesty?" he hissed under his breath, "He is not a gladiator, he's just a pup, why is he in a death match?" Before his Uncle could respond, three other gladiators made their way towards the box and knelt beside the pup. Derek growled with angry disbelief "Three experienced adult gladiators against one pup with a sword"
For once his Uncle looked disturbed but it was quickly masked by his usual bland smirk, as he growled under his breath and admitted reluctantly "I don't know Derek but if someone is playing me for a fool they will regret it"
Peter rose up from his throne and walked to the balcony. He stood there almost vibrating with rage until there was complete silence in the arena.
"Who dares to present a pup to me in a death match?" he roared his anger. The nervous master of ceremonies made his way into the Imperial box to explain. The silence in the arena meant that all the Were folk could hear his words.
"My Emperor, the pup is a matricide and fratricide, accused by his own father. His punishment is to fight to the death in the games. As a mercy, the court allowed his father to become his Lanistae, so that any monies earned will provide for the father in his old age as his son is not expected to live past the five years."
The menacing rumble of the Emperor's Alpha General was also perfectly clear as he spat out "He is a pup. He is too young to be in death matches. Is this man also a complete moron? How does he expect to gain any monies if he pits the pup against three Gladiators? He will not survive the hour"
Shouts of anger and a growing chant of matricide interrupted the Emperor and his General until the pup's father himself came to stand beside him, and the crowd was quiet again.
The Lanistae was smirking as he grabbed a handful of the pup's curls and raised his face to the crowd, "I beg you friends, look on the sweet face of this matricide and beware. Keep a tight rein on your young lest they turn on you." He let go of the pup's head and backhanded him hard enough to draw blood.
Peter roared with real anger at the insolent Lanistae, the arrogant little bastard "Be silent you worm and get on your knees or you will join your murderous offspring and fight by his side"
The discontented booing and catcalls of the crowds served to increase Peter's ire and bloodlust but his nephew's hand on his arm reminded him of where they were, and Derek's smooth voice asking his Emperor for permission to deal with the matter allowed him to draw back from his murderous madness. He returned to his throne and waved a hand at his nephew to indicate permission.
Derek dipped his head in acknowledgement and strode forward, the sun striking his gilded armour like a blow, casting beams of light out into the amphitheatre.
"Your name Lanistae and that of your pup" Derek demanded calmly, ignoring the rising calls for the fight to begin.
"Lahey, My Lord ,and this is Isaac" the man spoke begrudgingly, but with the beginnings of an arrogant smirk on his lips as if he believed his power over the crowd would allow him to run rings around the Imperial family and get his own way. Derek's eyes turned a burning red and the man paled.
"I repeat my question of earlier Lanistae Lahey, are you a complete moron? The Pup will not make you any money if he is dead"
The Lanistae had the audacity to grin at Derek, "I suggest you let him fight and see… My Lord" he drawled with derisive delight.
Derek wanted to leap from the balcony and pull the little maggot's spine from his body but the crowd's patience was rapidly turning to animosity. So Derek gave one look at the young pup, who had raised his head and was watching him almost worshipfully, a pitiful gratitude in those sad, weary young eyes before he ducked his head once again. Derek sucked in a breath, he hadn't seen the pup's face properly as he had walked across the bloody sands and then his head had been lowered in deference, even when the bastard Lanistae had raised the boy's head it had been turned towards the audience not the imperial box, so he hadn't recognised him until he had stared straight at the pups face. He was the young pup that Derek had caught at the pre games banquet the previous eve, hidden in the shadows of the elaborate garden maze, desperately stuffing his face with scraps of leftover food.
Derek had not been impressed when he was ordered to attend pre-games banquet by his Uncle.
Peter's glib words about relaxing and enjoying himself made him want to growl at his Alpha's insensitivity, how could he fucking enjoy himself when his most of his family had been killed because of him, but there had almost been something worried in his Uncle's eyes that made Derek actually obey him without creating a fuss.
At least there had been entertainment other than wholesale slaughter. He understood the need to despatch the criminals in their society but he had never understood the need to make it a spectator sport.
But he also knew how lucrative it was, his clever Uncle had instituted the Games levy from the Lanistae who took a ticket fee. When the fire had nearly wiped out his family, they had found themselves short on funds as they had to buy protection and political allies.
The fact that Peter, Laura and Derek had summarily despatched some of the remaining imperial family's biggest political enemies in one night of revenge fuelled massacre, had been a judicial reminder to the rest of the pack Senators of why it has been the Hale pack who had raised the twin souled nation to the greatness of Empire and why they had so long ago been decreed the Imperial Family. Then to soothe the common castes, Peter had revived the Games to their former glory and gleefully taxed the greedy Lanistae who were making their fortunes from them, whilst remaining popular with his people.
But Derek was bored, he had attended the banquet at Peter's thinly veiled order, and forced Scott and Jackson to attend with him. Not that Scott and Jackson saw it as some sort of punishment, they were too busy enjoying the food, the scantily clad exotic human dancers, and the boasting stories from the so called stars of the arena. Jackson was spending some rare time with his father the Senator who had also been invited, and Scott's only objection was that the Emperor was likely to be there, so he had kept close to his true pack Alpha until he realised that the Emperor was not interested in him that evening. His usual sunny smile lit his face and his reinvigorated hunger saw him tearing into a haunch of honey basted venison with true enjoyment as he swayed unconsciously along with music and the dancers. Scott could always be relied on to make Derek want to laugh even when he didn't know he was doing it.
Derek had had enough of the noise, and the inane chatter. He decided to get some fresh air and go and walk in the famous gardens. It would be his first time in the maze that his Uncle had had recently built and he would enjoy the peace and quiet.
The maze with its box hedges did not have any of the usual garden lights. Understandably his Uncle did not want the maze to burn down since it had only just been built, and the soothing darkness was no barrier to a twin souled's eyesight. Derek strolled round a corner and then he became aware of the rapid beat of another heart, and heard desperate chewing and swallowing noises. He followed the sound, masking his own heartbeat and making no noise as he moved forward until he found the starving young pup crouched beside a marble seat with his scraps of food spread out in front of him.
The Pup had obviously been too hungry to focus on anything other than eating so he hadn't heard Derek's approach. He had actually put a hand out to protect his meagre scraps when he realised that he wasn't alone and Derek felt an almost physical punch of pity for the young one.He had been so thin in disreputable rags, that Derek couldn't stand it. Who would allow their pup or even a slave to go that hungry? He had ordered a servant to fetch him a large platter of meats and some weak wine, then had fed the poor pup and allowed him to take the remaining food wrapped up in a silk kerchief of Derek's. The pup had not tried to talk to him, as if basking in the safety of the Alpha and Derek had allowed him the peace to eat. The pup had disappeared into the maze before Derek could question him .
That pup was the poor little bastard who was going to have to face down three gladiators? Derek was truly enraged. He looked at the Lanistae and smiled menacingly, he knew damn well he couldn't stop the fight and if the pup died he would make sure his evil disgrace of a father suffered. But if by some blessing of the moon goddess the Pup actually had a chance to survive this, then he was taking the young one as true pack, and his grin was viciously satisfied as he saw the expression on Lahey's face. The man even tried to bluster his way out of it until Peter asked with mock surprise, "Are you really going to deny the request of the Emperor's wolf kin and the General of his Armies my surprisingly brave little worm? If so I suppose I must give permission for my nephew to challenge you in wolf skin, what do you say? That would be most entertaining" Derek was sure that the disgusting creature was going to piss himself with fear, but he wisely retracted his objection and scuttled off the arena grounds. Derek watched in satisfaction and then turned his gaze back to the young pup.
He found the young one staring at him once again as if he was one of the god's themselves, he mouthed fiercely "Live" and the pup gave a small shy nod of acknowledgement.
Peter rose from the throne once more and after an almost apologetic glance at his nephew he raised his voice to roar, "Begin, only one leaves the field alive today"
Derek watched as the four gladiators began pacing the arena, sizing each other up, looking for weaknesses to exploit. Each drew their swords from the sheaths on their backs. They were not allowed to transform to Wolf to fight, they had to stay in their man form and use weapons.
The only thing that Derek could do for the pup now was to honour his bravery by watching the fight until he fell to another's sword. He hoped his death would be quick and merciful but it was unlikely as the others would want to play to the crowd to gain their own popularity and they already knew that Isaac was reviled by the watching Weres, but in any event, he would witness and then sacrifice to the moon goddess for mercy on such a young pup. Then he would find the pup's father and tear the mongrel's throat out with his teeth.
Derek was transfixed, he had never seen a warrior with the kind of ferocious beauty and deadly grace displayed by the Pup. He was relentless, moving to the rhythm of the song of death as he dispatched his opponents one by one, even though they all tried to attack him at the same time. He swayed, he spun, he leapt, he dropped, he rolled, he sliced, he swiped and he thrust. His sword bit into flesh and sprays of blood decorated the sand and the young gladiator, but he wasn't invincible, swords also sliced his flesh, draining his blood, gradually weakening him until he faced his last opponent, the other two lying pale and still in the burning blood red sands, and his legs gave out on him. He knelt there, using his sword to keep him upright, as the gladiator circled behind him.
"You have fought well young one" the gladiator growled, his voice hoarse with thirst and blood lust "So I will make your death quick and merciful".
The crowd roared their disappointment, and surprisingly the Gladiator roared back in challenge "Fuck you, I'm the one who has fought him and he will receive a merciful death". There was a stunned silence from the audience until they began to laugh at the fighter's cheek.
He turned back to the kneeling young one, and as he raised his sword above his shoulders to take the pup's head, he felt the shock of cold metal as it pierced his chest and looking down he saw the way the pup had thrust his sword backwards from his kneeling position, he stared at the sword sticking out of his chest and had time to hear the pup whisper sorrowfully, "I am sorry" before the metal met his heart and he knew no more.
Derek was on his feet as soon as the last gladiator hit the ground. The Pup had won but he had collapsed on the sand and was slowly but surely bleeding to death. He didn't even have a chance to ask for permission to leave before his Uncle urged him to go. He flew down the stairs and through the tiled tunnels with Boyd at his side, forced to shout out for "Lanistae Lahey" and being pointed in the direction of the gladiator holding cells at the other end of the arena, because the arena was so full of different scents that Derek couldn't separate the damaged pups from the rest of the suffering dirty exhausted fighters.
Isaac lay sprawled unable to move on the filthy floor of the dark holding cell, where he had been thrown by the guards on the orders of his father, instead of taken to the arena's medic to deal with his wounds as he should have been. They hadn't stopped bleeding, he was being drained of his life's blood and he honestly didn't care. He had fought hard to survive just on the promise in that kind Alpha's voice, but he knew he was going to die today, either from his wounds or his father would finish him off. The other gladiators swords must have been laced with wolfs bane so that they wouldn't heal. Oddly enough the only two rules in the games was that gladiators had to fight as men, and that the wolf poison was not allowed. It didn't matter what else you did to survive, if wolfs bane was discovered then you were put to death anyway. Isaac wondered indifferently what his father had promised the gladiators to get them to do such a thing but it was only a fleeting thought, used to distract himself from the sight of his father pacing the cell and glaring at him. He knew the older wolf would kill him soon, and he finally listened to his hate filled raging.
"You should have been the one to die, you killed your mother and you killed your brother you evil spawn of hell, you should have been the one to die" and he watched his father pick up the sword Isaac had fought with and advanced towards him "That fucking Alpha is not going to free you from your punishment, I wanted you to suffer for years yet but I will kill you before he takes you away from my vengeance" the words were spat at him, and finally Isaac had enough, if he was going to die he didn't need to listen to this shit anymore. "For fuck's sake you pathetic old bastard give it a rest, my mother died because you were too drunk to call the midwife when she needed it birthing me, and my brother died because he tried to save your sorry worthless fur when you had started another drunken brawl because you were caught cheating while gambling. You killed Mama and you killed Cam, and you fucking know it." Isaac's disdainful voice stopped the older wolf dead, the pup had never spoken back to him before, he had always whimpered and pleaded when Lahey had taken his rage and guilt out on him, which made it even easier to despise and hate him.
Isaac's contemptuous eyes drilled into the stunned ones of his father, and it was as if time had stopped as he watched his father's eyes fill with insanity, heard the roar as he charged towards him brandishing the sword. Isaac simply closed his eyes in exhaustion and relief, it would be over soon, he could rest.
The clatter of the sword hitting the ground, and the familiar gurgle of a death rattle opened his eyes, and they widened with confusion as he saw his father come to a halt, his hands empty as he reached behind him, then he fell forward to land unmoving, face down not a foot away from Isaac's prone form. Isaac lifted wondering eyes from the dagger protruding from the middle of his father's back to the huge form of the enraged Alpha from the Emperor's box who had fed him at the banquet standing in the entrance to the cell. The red eyes swung to meet Isaac's and he stated simply in "You are dying. Will you accept my bite?"Isaac barely had the strength to lift his head but he managed to nod and offer the Alpha a small smile before he could feel the darkness take hold. There was a warmth in his chest he hadn't felt since his brother was alive, someone cared for him again, he wasn't going to die alone and unloved as his father had.
He felt strong gentle hands lift him, and his dirty tunic was ripped from his chest, he heard the Alpha murmur as if to himself "It will have to be near his heart, it will take too long elsewhere and he's nearly gone. I am sorry Pup, this will hurt", then fire seared through his chest, excruciating pain at the point of fangs buried in the muscle over his heart, the burning shot out from his heart through the blood in his body, cleansing, sealing and healing. It was agony and Isaac screamed and screamed and screamed until blessed oblivion hit and he was dropped into blissful pain free darkness.
Derek sat there with the unconscious Pup in his arms, the bite had taken, the wounds had sealed themselves from the inside, expelling the poison, he would be very weak and would require his physician Scott's attention for some time but the Pup would live. He stroked the sweat dampened fair curls gently, as he regarded the body of the Lanistae coldly.
"Boyd, I want to be sure the bastard does not survive my knife, take his head and then throw both his body and the head to the Lions to be fed. He will not receive an honourable burial, may he be forever condemned to wander the halls of hell unforgiven"
His ever calm man mountain of a pack mate smiled with savage satisfaction "It will be my pleasure Derek" he murmured as he slung the body over his shoulder. "Do you want me to come back and help with the little one?"
Derek rose to his feet in one smooth motion tenderly holding the unconscious young wolf close to his chest.
"No, I will take him back to Hale House, Scott can look after our new pack brother there"
Warmth, comfort and safety. Isaac was confused, perhaps he was still asleep, dreaming before he had to wake to the reality of his life, of blows, of hunger, of shame and always anger, such bitter vengeful anger from the Wolf who had sired him and should have at least protected him as pack if he couldn't love him as a son.
As he woke up properly, his habitual self-protection of paranoid vigilance came to the fore, he knew he was surrounded by bodies, hard muscular bodies holding him down, pinning him in place. He had to get up, get away, he had to run before…"Calm down Pup, it's too early to get up yet" the deep voice was familiar, and amused and rumbled through the large bare chest he was lying against. Isaac raised his head in disbelief as he saw the three other wolves laying close to the Alpha and therefore him. A variety of sleepy eyes blinked at him and grumbled good naturedly, the dark haired wolf, lying at the bottom of the Alpha's legs opened his eyes wider and smiled happily at him "glad you are feeling better Isaac, now go back to sleep, you need your rest" . The blonde extremely handsome wolf with his nose pressed against Isaac's shoulder blades and one arm flung over his waist, growled grumpily "Shut up McCall you can doctor him later" and then the man mountain Isaac vaguely remembered standing behind the Alpha from his gladiatorial cell in the arena as he was about to die, murmured "Welcome to your true pack little one, you are safe don't fret, you belong with Derek and us now, and we will keep you safe" low rumbles of approval met his words from the other sleepy wolves. It was only days later that Isaac realised how unusual it was for Boyd to speak so much in one sentence. To Isaac's amazement he felt his body relax at the proximity of the other wolves and his head sank back down on to his Alpha's chest, where a big hand began to stroke through his curls until Isaac felt his eyes began to close and his brain tried to process the astounding unbelievable fact was that he was in a pack pile with a group of wolves.
Tears filled his eyes, but he refused to let them drop, he didn't want to cry in front of the wolves, he hadn't cried when he had learnt to fight, he hadn't cried when his father took his anger and spite out of him, he hadn't cried when he was so hungry he would steal scraps from the waste heaps, so why did he want to cry now. The Wolves seemed to move closer to offer him silent comfort, hands scent marking him, brushing his feet, his arms, making sure he knew he was pack. Then he understood, he had always been alone, even with his father, it had never been pack.
Now he had a pack, he was part of a pack, for the first time in his life he belonged to a pack. He was theirs and they were his. His pack was worth his tears.
He was pack.
AN: This is a one shot in the universe of my story "The Sacrifice". The image of Isaac as an enslaved and abused gladiator rescued by Derek from that story wouldn't leave my poor little brain alone. No infringements intended.
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