1 - The Human Way
Jason had broken the rules.
That was why Kieran was here — following him, on the prowl. Kieran had never been in the human world before, and he had not been aware that Jason had before now. But observing him, Jason knew his way around pretty well.
He was wearing black eyewear over his eyes, but Kieran knew it was to make sure that he was safe in the human world and to make sure that no one even suspected that he was different. That was why he was wearing them, to keep up his façade of being human while lurking in their world.
They were not the horrific monsters that people had been brought up on; they did not change at full moon - Kieran’s kind could change at will, they were more normal wolves with a human form and side. Not werewolves.
Kieran, however, stayed to the shadows. The good thing was, no one could see him unless they were looking, which, thankfully, they were not. Human’s disgusted him, the stories that he had heard over his short lifetime; it made his blood boil and skin crawl. But he was not disappointed in anyone more than Jason disappointed him at this time, their secret was sacred, and it had to be protected. No human could come out alive if they found out, Jason knew that.
Jason had disappeared from the pack a few weeks before, but still, his scent clouded the area – he stayed in one place, it seemed.
Jason was the polar opposite to Kieran, with his beautiful white hair and green eyes, he was an anomaly in the pack, and no one else had those features. Jason, however, had brown hair, and brown eyes, he was the epitome of what a wolf looked like in their pack, and everyone had those features.
Kieran was only here to make sure Jason was doing nothing stupid; his father had ordered him to go. He assured Kieran, that, if Jason indeed agreed to come back to the pack, then his punishment would be less severe – a night in the box, no meat and no sleep, and even that seemed severe enough. But Kieran knew his father more than anyone; he knew that was a lie. He also knew that if he returned empty-handed, he would, well, that was undesirable.
The box. Kieran shuddered. He remembered back to his youth, he had been placed in there before, for three nights, it had not been for something he had done, but it was to show Kieran’s resilience. His father being the alpha, and with Kieran being next in line – he had shown he was robust enough to deal with a few nights in the box.
It was not out of Jason’s personality to disappear for a while, but Jason had been going missing a lot more than usual recently. Kieran had assumed it was just because he was becoming older, more independent. But the others had become just as curious as he had been, and because he would not speak about where he was going – keeping it a secret – Kieran and the other’s had to become the leader of stealth and follow him on his daily, or rather nightly escapades.
Kieran watched from afar as Jason entered into a, well, he was not sure what it was.
A monster Kieran would call it, it was large, bricks fitted together and towering up into the sky like the trees were back at his pack. Jason opened the mouth of the monster and entered with no worries, disappearing as he shut the mouth once more.
The human world scared Kieran, he had almost begged father not to make him go – to send one of the more prominent and more brutish members of the pack after him, but he forbade anyone but Kieran to attend on the search and rescue party, although, by the way, that he was acting, this did not seem like any rescue Kieran had ever seen before.
Again, this was a test – to see if he was alpha material, if he could get Jason back to the pack, then it would be a confirmed triumph to show how capable that Kieran was at his future role in the pack.
Kieran knew that Jason would not come without a fight, he felt normal in the human world, or he would not have been there at the time. Many of the humans flocked towards the area he was in, there was light coming from towering poles illuminating the area which just made him want to cringe and hideaway. It hurt his head being here.
Too loud. Too busy. Kieran was not a city wolf.
Jason was not either. But as quick as he had disappeared into the monster, he emerged again, this time carrying something in his hand.
Bread. Fresh bread.
“Hello, Kieran,” Kieran had been spotted. “Did your father send you?”
Kieran tried to recede into the shadows so that Jason believed that he was was not there, but Jason knew him better than that. How he had noticed him through all the layers of shadow was anyone’s guess. Although, when Kieran thought clearly, Jason was part of his pack.
Jason had excellent eyesight; they all did. It did not help that the light from the poles illuminating everything was close to where he was standing, as well.
“Jason, please come with me; you do not belong here,” Kieran raised my voice a little. He did not need to – Jason could hear him loud and clear enough.
“You do not intimidate me if that if what you are trying to achieve, but I also know that you cannot leave empty-handed. I am not leaving; I love the human world; it offers so much more than a damp floor full of leaves that we call home. I want to stay here, why can’t anyone accept this?” Jason walked closer towards to where Kieran was.
Keeping his eyes transfixed on him, they did not have to be close to speak to each other. Their hearing was immense, so even if they were across the street from one another, they would be able to talk to each other like they were near enough to touch.
That was what Kieran liked, that meant he did not have to come out of the shadows.
Jason could get closer to him, and he could pounce, Kieran would take him back even if he did not want to. It was his father’s orders, after all. His alpha’s orders.
“Why? What is so special about humans?”
Jason smiled at him from far away. “Their ways excite me, I want to see it all, and you cannot stop me, even if you take me back, I’ll find a way to escape again,” He stopped in the light, illuminating his face, as he removed the eyewear from his eyes.
How could he suggest that I come out in the open? Kieran thought. There were human’s all over. He had never seen so many in one place, actually, come to think of it; he had never seen any at all.
Jason chuckled which could not be heard by anyone but Kieran and himself and looked him directly in the eyes.
“I want to show you that the human world is not as bad as we believe it to be,” He held out his hand for Kieran to take, he would have to walk quite far to get close to him. However, he did not know what was out there. “But first, you might want to stop flashing me your eyes; they could be a little terrifying to the humans,”
“No, because I am not coming out from here, I will go back alone, suffer the consequences for your crimes myself, you cannot show me that the human world is not bad, because I know it is, nothing could change that for me,”
Human’s were the enemy, he would not trust them - that was why he would not go out there.
Of course, some people have, and they integrated into their society. Entirely under the guise that they are human, and they live like that too. Disgusting, the thought made Kieran sick that someone of their kind and stature could do that and become almost like a pet. Living like humans, eating their food, living in their world like their secret does not matter to them at all.
Still, nobody knew their species exists. So maybe the secret did matter after all. If the world found out, then they would all be in danger, not just the wolves, but the human’s as well. They would come out of hiding and who knows what might happen if that occurred.
“Please, Kieran, just trust me with this,” Jason said as he stood, still in the same spot as he was with the loaf of bread in his hand. He knew Kieran was hungry, Jason could sense it. But Kieran would not bow down to pats on the head, Kieran would not taste their food. It was something he had promised he would never do under the sacred oath.
The spirits would not be happy, that Jason – who had made the same oath was making these mistakes.
Although here he was, standing there, looking as sheepish as ever, and he was safe, the spirits seemed unbothered.
Kieran could not believe he was considering going against everything he had ever known to fulfil something that Jason wanted; he knew nothing would change his mind.
Nothing could change Kieran’s views.
Until, regretfully, he tasted the bread.
It was just a little thing, but it showed Kieran that their food, the human diet, at least, was not that bad. The light illuminated his face; he had not even realised that his legs had practically carried him over to the area he was in at the moment - to where all the humans were.
All Kieran knew was that he did not feel threatened. He did not feel unsafe. It was strange; they did not want to kill him; maybe the stories that he had grown up with were not entirely true. They just walked by, unbothered, too wrapped up in their lives to care about two seemingly unordinary boys tasting sweet bread in the middle of the city.
And although it was busy, loud and overwhelming, and although Kieran knew he did not belong in the city and neither did Jason, he could now see how easy it was to hide in plain sight, no one would bat an eyelid as long as they hid who we were.
“See?” Jason spoke, breaking Kieran out of his trance.
“This world... isn’t too bad, right?”
“No,” Kieran found myself saying. “Yes, I don’t know... my head hurts, I cannot think straight,”
“I want to stay in the human world...” Jason said, holding his big, brown puppy dog eyes in front of him as leverage. “Please,”
“If you don’t come back, then you’re going to be banished, you will never be able to return, and your family will worry,” Kieran said, telling him everything he already knew. He knew the consequences and still decided to leave. “You’ve broken every known law that we hold in our version of this world, the others... the ones who live among humans, they do not care for these rules, would you risk losing everything?”
The statement earned a chuckle again from Jason, although this time, Kieran was not sure why. “You also broke your vow, never to eat human food? Remember? But you seem to be enjoying that bread, a little too much,”
“I have to go back,” Kieran replied to his quip. If he wanted to make him feel guilty, then Jason wouldn’t have to try at all, He already did. He couldn’t make Kieran feel any more guilty than he thought at that very moment.
“Are you going to accept the punishment for my crime willingly? You said you would, but are you sure you could face that?” His face twisted into one of slight guilt, but also worry for his friend, Kieran did not know why he was worried for him – if he did not come back, and then he should feel guilty. He was sentencing Kieran to that kind of punishment, even if he accepted that or not.
Kieran shuddered again but tried not to make Jason notice. Though he knew Jason did, Jason saw everything. The little movements, the change in the weather and people. He knew Kieran was indifferent about going back to face his father – and he would not be in the slightest bit wrong. “I do not wish to, no, but I must, if you are not willing to come back with me, then I will stay no longer, if you wish to live like and with the humans, then I will bid you farewell, and good luck, I just hope you know what you are doing, because you have no other option than this once you have decided, you know what the pack will do if you try to come back,”
Kieran then turned around to leave. Intent on not looking back, he knew what Jason had chosen, the life he would lead as a result of this choosing, the choice that was all things bad, and that the spirits would abandon them. But right now, even though Kieran’s views were his own and he kept to them, that life, just slightly, sounded better than the one that he would have for the next few days if he went back to his pack.
Almost as if Jason could read his mind, Jason spoke again. “Why do you have to go back now?” Jason asked, and as Kieran turned around, another classic look of worry shadowed his face for a mere second, before trying to hide that he had ever felt like that. “I mean, what is the rush? You could say to your family that it was a lot harder convincing me than you thought it would be? When you go back, that is?”
Anything to delay the punishment that he would be receiving when Kieran returned sounded pretty good at the moment, but it meant staying in the human world.
Was he willing to do this? To go against everything that he has ever known to escape punishment, something he should take with pride?
“Just give me a week, please, if we do not enjoy it, we can go back together,” Jason said, he was sincere. Kieran trusted him, but he wondered if it was a good thing to put his trust in someone who was so easy to betray everyone and everything he ever knew.
“Okay,” Kieran said, feeling slight regret as soon as he said this. He knew practically nothing about the human world - where would they go? They had no place to stay, no food, nothing. “I’ll stay a week,”
Jason smiled from ear to ear at my agreeance. “Follow me; I have some friends here, they have said I could stay with them... I am sure they won’t mind one more,”
Kieran closed his eyes; the darkness was always his happy place. He could imagine that he was anywhere. He needed complete clarity to think about his next steps. To keep himself safe.
Even though he genuinely believed that closing his eyes would keep him safe for those few moments, out of sight, out of mind. The belief did not matter to a wolf licking its lips when fully exposed to the elements, and his only body armour being closed eyes and nothing more than that.