9 years ago, Northern Washington Wilderness…
He stands tall and proud with his two children on either side of him. One sweet, gentle, and human; the other strong, protective, werewolf. He crouches and sits on his heels, putting an arm around his sweet girl and strong boy. “Look at this, David,” he says to the older one. “See how the wolves froth and rage?”
The boy looks scared, but he’ll learn, there’s no doubt. “Yes,” the six-year-old whispers. “Daddy, why are they like that?”
“Those are called rogues, David. Rogue means they have no pack.”
David gasps and turns to his father with wide eyes. Even at six, he knows how important pack bonds are. “No pack? How do they...how…?”
The poor boy can’t even comprehend what that would do to a person. “Well, this is what happens to them. They turn into monsters who can’t think anymore. They’re not human anymore, Davie. That’s why we can do this with them. Well, the new ones. The older ones are too far gone.”
He squeezes his children close to him as the three of them watch men wrangling three rogue werewolves. One of the men holds a clicker that’s wired up to the collars on each of the wolves. When he clicks the button, the wolves howl with the mild electric shock. When his children flinch and Evelyn starts to cry, he rushes to explain, “It’s only mild, I promise. They’re crying because they’re surprised, sweetie, not because it hurts.”
Four-year-old Evie looks up at him with wide, glassy blue eyes--he could look into those eyes forever, sweet and innocent as they are. “Promise?” she asks in a wobbly voice.
He squeezes her around the middle and winks back at her. “Promise.” He turns them back to the wolves. “Now look, look at what the shock does.”
As the three of them watch, the rogues begin the slow, painful process of shifting back to humans. He was told these ones have only been exiled eight months or so, so they’re young enough to remember the shift, otherwise even electricity wouldn’t have worked. He’s learned that it’s best if you don’t let them shift all the way or they’ll start getting too smart for their own good. If they’re on two feet, with claws and fangs, and still slightly hunched over like they’d just as easily go back down to all fours as they would to two feet, they’re the most easily...influenced.
Everything goes smoothly until one of the wolves gets close enough to one of his men to knick his leg, drawing blood. That’s when all three rogues go wild with rage and bloodlust. When the rogues are still a little wolf, the way they like them, they get more confused and the bloodlust is stronger. Fortunately, the chains they’ve hooked the rogues up to are holding--unfortunately, they haven’t figured out how to manage the bloodlust, so there’s nothing to be done for these ones.
He sighs. He didn’t really want his children to be around for this, but it’s part of life. Better that they get used to the violence now than get too soft. He hates how it will make his little girl cry though.
He stands and takes Evelyn in his arms. He calls out to the men, “Alright, put them down. Nothing more can be done.”
The men grumble, but pull out their weapons anyway. Most of them are werewolves with claws and fangs available for dispatching the beasts, but it’s always better to put them down with a long range weapon than risk a close range slash with claws.
He’s just putting his hands over Evie’s ears to prepare for the gunshots when a blue glow lights up the forest maybe half a mile away. Quickly he puts Evelyn on the floor and pushes her and David back to the tents, “Go, now! David, take her away, now!”
To his men, he shouts, “Take out the threats before they see anything, go, go, go!
Present Day, Atwood Territory...
The days continued like that, with Gray’s presence becoming increasingly more frequent. It was always at Sara’s house, and Sara was always there. Most of the time, some combination of her family was there as well, but occasionally it was just her. Gray had gotten to know the Alpha better--he called himself Brett, but Gray had it too ingrained in her to treat wolves in power with the utmost respect. He was slowly chipping away at what she thought were fundamental truths about Alphas. She had yet to venture outside the Atwood family, which concept she wasn’t even entertaining yet.
Sara’s symptoms seemed to be worsening, even in the short three weeks Gray had been coming around. This meant that the pain stuck with Gray a little longer before it healed, but it was still nothing too significant. Gray is pretty certain now that what had been going wrong for Sara before was that her body was trying to heal her disorder and the pregnancy symptoms at the same time and doing a bad job at both. Now that her body is learning to only focus on keeping the baby healthy, it seems that the difficulty of pregnancy that she most likely inherited from her mom is coming in full force. She’s a few days shy of being through with her first trimester.
Things are going well enough that Gray has a wardrobe of her own, hanging in the closet of Sara’s guest bedroom. It’s small, and Sara would have bought her three times the amount of articles of clothing as it stood currently, but Gray already barely tolerates the fact that Sara had bought her a couple pairs of pants and a few more shirts. What she is entirely grateful for are the clean pairs of bras and underwear.
She’d even slept one night in that very room, two nights ago. She’d spooked herself in the morning when she found herself startled at just how comfortable she was becoming with stealing someone else’s money for clothes and food, and space in their home. This ended up with her returning to her den in the woods the next night--last night--but she came back in the morning to open arms, which made her feel a little sheepish. She’s far from planning a permanent residency in the Kelleys’ home and still spends plenty of time in the forest--she doesn’t freeload off of Sara for every waking moment of the day--and that’s still where she feels most comfortable. Gray thinks it will always feel like that, and it makes her happy. That she hasn’t lost her love for the four legged form in the process of rediscovering the two legged one. On occasion, one or two members of the family will even accompany her on a run.
All in all, Gray is starting to feel like a werewolf again. She’s relearning what it means to be a child of the Moon. There is no “wolf presence” inside her, and the human brain does not preside over the animal brain like many seem to think, because there are not two brains. Maybe once upon a time being a werewolf meant having the spirit of a man and the spirit of a wolf in the same vessel, but no more. Gray realizes how incredibly lucky she is that the Moon preserved her mind and that she didn’t fade into animalian blood lust with how much she disregarded the two legged body as a part of her life.
Maybe one day, Gray’s mind torments her with an increasingly common thought, I can have a place here.