The wind blew through my fur as I stuck my head outside of the wagon. I stared into the distance. Soon we would be home, Kate and I. As any other I'd normally be thrilled to get back, but everything was different now. Spending the past few days with her had me wonder whether I could even spend any more without her. In the pack we'd still be friends, right? Yea, friends, that's what it would be. If only I were an alpha. I sighed. A billboard passed me by, happily displaying our arrival at Jasper Park. We had to get out soon. I turned around and walked over to her. She was still sleeping, curled up as always. If only I could let her sleep and have us drive by Jasper, maybe then we'd be together. I knew better than that. I leaned forward and nudged her cheek.
"Kate..." I whispered, "…Kate, wake up."
"Hmm, Humphrey?" she mumbled sleepily and she stretched out, "Where are we?".
I hesitated, I could still… No.
"We're eh… We're in Jasper."
She smiled and walked over to the side of the wagon. She sat down near the edge and I followed her example. Trees shot by us and I recognized some distinct features of our home. Apparently, she did so too.
"We're home." she said.
"Yep, we're home." I said a little awkwardly.
I stared at the ground. I decided that now was probably my best chance to say what I wanted to say.
"There's something I…" we both stopped after speaking simultaneously.
"Please, you first." I said, evading her eyes.
"Humphrey, I just wanted to tell you that these past couple of days have been… kind of … fun."
My heart jumped for joy and my eyes crossed hers, making her look away this time.
"You've been, kind of… Fun." she continued.
"Really?" I let out.
"Well that's, that's great. I told you we'd make a pretty good team."
"We do." she chuckled cutely.
Her compliment had left me lost for words. At first I was confident that I was going to tell her how I felt. Now, all that courage seemed to have been nothing but a mirage. My paws tapped nervously on the wooden floor, although I couldn't manage to keep them still.
"No-no-no, don't tell me, you have to go to the bathroom again?"
"Why? Do you see a truck stop?" I laughed insecurely.
I gazed down her infinitely beautiful brown eyes and my heart raced precariously fast.
"I just wanted to tell you, I… I-eh."
She smiled to me as I drowned in my own words. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
"I… I love you Kate."
Did I just hear it right or was my mind playing tricks on me? Humphrey was my closest friend and the past couple of days there wouldn't have been anyone that I had rather travelled with than him, but this was a big shock for me. He was helpful, friendly and very funny. Especially during our adventure he had been my rock and had me feel safe. I knew that I could always rely on him, but did that mean I love him?
I realized I was staring at him and I quickly looked away. Was I falling for an omega? If so, how could I? Alphas and Omegas don't pair. Moreover he was my best friend. My dad would never allow it that much was certain and if we got home, how could we be together? Suddenly I caught sight of the two packs of wolves. They were about to fight each other over the valley.
"Kate?" he repeated.
"Oh my gosh. Humphrey, look!" I said, pointing at the imminent battle.
"We have to stop them!" I replied, glad I could postpone the discussion.
I jumped out of the train and ran towards the growling horde. I heard Humphrey follow me. He had never hesitated to follow me, he was always there for me. I shook my head, now was not the time. I had to stop this fight from happening.
"…but no, your daughter had to up and run away!" Tony spoke.
"I didn't run away!" I replied loudly.
All eyes turned to me as I ran down the cliff from where I had just called out. My family was the first to came over to greet me. My mom hugged me.
"We were so worried." she said.
"Where have you been?" my dad asked.
"Idaho." I said smiling, thinking back of Marcel's description.
"Idaho? What were you doing in Idaho?" dad asked surprised.
"We were taken by humans to another park."
Humphrey appeared next to me. I expected him to make a funny remark, however he stayed quiet, hence all still looked at me.
"It's a long story."
"Well, I'm glad you got home safely." my mom said.
"Yes, I came back-.."
"To marry Garth! Right?!" Tony interrupted me.
"What?" Humphrey let out.
Nobody paid attention to him. They waited for me to respond. I looked at Garth, then at Humphrey and finally at my dad. He nodded in the hope I would agree. I couldn't breathe. The decision I wanted to postpone had suddenly turned into a life or death situation. I could end this fight with a single word. It was my responsibility to end this fight. I couldn't walk away.
"Yes" I said, "and unite the packs!"
Everyone cheered. My dad smiled to me and looked proud. It was a good decision that would benefit both packs. But if it was, how came it felt like the wrong one? I looked at Humphrey.
"No, Kate. It's okay. It's your responsibility." he said joyless.
I had never heard him sound like that. He walked away slowly with his tail between his legs. All around me, wolves congratulated me and I acted cheerful. This was only a mask. Deep down, it felt as if I had just made the biggest mistake of my life.
Everything flashed by my eyes as I walked back to the den. The entire journey played again like a film, picturing all of our moments. At the time it seemed as if we were destined to be together, just the two of us. I had laid down my soul to her, confessed my feelings, hoping she'd return them. For a moment I was even so stupid as to believe she would. In the end all she had done was use me to get home. It was too good to be true. Real alpha-like, Kate, real alpha-like.
Even though I had walked rather slow, I was the first to get home. The rest was probably still celebrating the marriage. Thinking of it made me angry again. I punched the wall of my cave so hard it hurt my paw. I didn't care. Tears sprang in my eyes. I blamed them on the pain in my paw, yet I knew this wasn't true.
"I can't believe this marriage!" I yelled.
"Marriage?" A voice said.
It gave me a fright. I hadn't expected anyone to be here. In a fake scratching motion I wiped away my tears before turning around. It were Marcel and Paddy.
"Hey guys! What brings you here?" I exclaimed, truly happy to see their faces.
"Well we stepped by to see whether you had indeed gotten off the train." Paddy replied.
"So, marriage..." Marcel stated, moving his eyebrows up and down.
"What?" I asked surprised.
"Does this mean you and mademoiselle are finally an item?" he laughed naughtily.
"No, it means Kate used me to get home."
"What? You're not the groom?" Paddy demanded disappointed.
I shook my head and looked away so they wouldn't see my eyes watering again. I looked up at the sky and caught a glimpse of the moon. The same moon we once howled to. I almost forgot that my friends were with me and it wasn't until Paddy spoke that I broke free from my stare.
"Well, we'll give you some time alone."
The two birds flew away. It felt like I had forced them to leave, but I knew they wouldn't see it that way and I was glad they gave me some space. I looked around the rest of the den, eventually coming across Kate's cave. I tried to avoid looking at it, but then spotted the place where I first spoke with her. I suddenly realized how unbearable this place had become. Everything reminded me of her, not mention that soon I would have to watch her spend time with that Barth guy too. I knew that wasn't his real name, but it felt good to intendedly misspell his name.
I heard a noise and in the distance I saw the rest of the pack returning. They were joined by the other clan and happily conversed with each other. Apparently it took only a few words for everyone to become friends. Then again, it was my entire world that had collapsed under the weight of those same words. My eyes stung again and I went inside my cave. I had no desire to speak to anyone tonight.