Dream Walker

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Chapter 2 - Malakai


“Hey, Akela, I think I found it!”

Malakai pushes out from underneath his brother’s Impala and wipes his grease-covered hands on the rag hanging out of his front pants pocket. He sits up and wipes a strand of his hair from his face, leaving a small swath of black grease across his forehead. A Native American man that looks similar in appearance to him comes around from the front of the car where the hood is open and looks down at him. He flips his long, black braid behind him as he looks down at Malakai.

“What did you find?”

“I think this is your problem. If not, then we will have to do more digging.” He tosses a small canister up to his brother. “There is a crack in your fuel filter. It would explain why you keep leaking fuel and it smells like it all the time. I’m actually surprised we didn’t find this sooner.”

Akela makes a rude noise as he runs his fingers over the side of the broken part, the smell of fuel permeating the air a bit as he does. “This is the fourth time I have had to replace this damn thing. I think we need to find a new parts supplier if I am going to continually get shitty parts. That and if you and Jas wanna keep building up that racer you are going to need better quality stuff.”

Malakai stands up and pushes the mechanic’s creeper under the car. As much as he loved helping his brother with his Impala he really hated to get underneath it. Engines were one thing - transmissions,fuel lines and all the undercarriage stuff was another. That was more up his other brother’s alley. Besides, Nocona fit under the car better with his smaller frame anyway. Malakai didn’t mind doing stuff with the engine but he preferred to do body work and fabrication.

“When is our next pack meeting, Akela? I know we are due for one and it’s been a while.”

The older brother pulls up the bottom of his dark grey A-shirt and wipes off his face with the bottom of it, letting it fall loosely in front instead of tucking it back in. “I’m not sure brother. There has been a lot going on with dad lately. Mom has been pulling extra shifts at the ER since they lost a couple of the nurses there so she hasn’t been home either. If they both can’t be there we can’t have a pack meeting. That and dad really hasn’t gone over how to do it or I would be able to do it in his place with Lyssa.”

Malakai grumbles a bit and pulls the rag out of his pocket, wiping it across his forehead and making a face when it comes back with a grease stain on it. He might like to work on cars but he really didn’t like getting dirty. Walking over to a small bin while trying to remove the rest of the grease, he throws the rag in it after a few more wipes and walks back over to Akela, watching him close the hood to the Impala. They would come back and work on it another day since his older brother had to go back to work.

“Do you want me to look into a new car parts supplier for you while you’re at work tomorrow?” Malakai offers as he walks past and picks up the tools from around the car and starts to put them away. Akela tips his head in agreement as he puts away other tools around where he had been.

“Absolutely. I know I’ve always been an asshole on how much I don’t want to spend but I think that is another reason why I keep getting stuck with this bullshit. Find me a decent parts store, even if you have to go out of town. I would like to keep it local if possible but I get it if you can’t.” Akela tosses the ruined part into a nearby oil barrel that had become a trash can.

Malakai nods as he closes the drawer to the tall, not-so-white-anymore tool box and pushes it back into place under a nearby counter that has a few nuts and bolts on it. He picks them up and drops them into a nearby can whose label had long since worn off. He grabs a broom and nods at Akela.

“I’ll finish cleaning up so you can go ahead and get home. I am sure my sister-in-law is getting upset at you spending more time with your lady Impala than her.” He flashes his brother a wide grin and is given one in return.

“I appreciate it.” He tosses a set of keys that Malakai catches with ease. “Don’t forget to lock up. Just leave the keys at mom and dad’s house if you don’t mind.” The older brother reaches out and Malakai wraps his hand around the forearm of Akela who does the same.

“Not a problem, brother. Now get going before she bites a chunk out of your ass.” He stuffs the keys in his pocket and starts to sweep the floor, taking his time to make sure that he got everywhere swept that he needed to. Akela’s footsteps are heavy and echo through the garage as he leaves, whistling a slight tune as he exits and closes the door behind him.

-- -- -- -- --

It didn’t take Malakai long to get the floor done, especially since most of the work had been around the Impala and it was just him and his brother. It was when you had a whole bunch of guys in there working on several different projects that the floors got really ugly, along with all the tools being strewn all over the place without being put back. A smirk crosses his face as he pulls the rubber band out of his long, black hair, his deft hands redoing the ponytail at the base of his neck. His brother, Akela, had totally lost his shit when he came in that next morning and found tools just laying around all over the place. Oh yeah, the Alpha waves coming from his big brother that day were impossible to ignore and he was glad that he wasn’t one of the ones that got the brunt of it. He always made sure to put things back where he got them from and not just in the garage either but at home too.

Akela wasn’t the only one to get irritated when things were out of place. His mother, Danielle, was a force of nature that made a tornado look like a spring breeze. He remembered when she flipped her shit after finding all of her kitchen stuff in the wrong place. She apologized to Malakai later for it as he had only meant to surprise her by helping do the dishes and putting them away so she wouldn’t have to. But you know, there are some things that you never forget. A really pissed off Alpha mom, standing in the dining room in her scrubs after a rough 18 hour long shift in the ER, the golden glow of her eyes so bright they looked like they would catch you on fire mixed with a look like she wanted to literally eat her own son is not something that easily disappears out of your head. Ever. Even with a heartfelt apology and a crap ton of homemade chocolate chip cookies.

His dark brown eyes made a quick look around the garage and Malakai was sure that everything was where it should be and cleaned up. With a satisfied nod he returns the broom to its wall hook and flicks off the light before closing the door and locking it, checking the doorknob again to make sure it was latched and shoves the keys into his front jeans pocket. Closing his eyes he takes in a deep breath of the crisp night air, taking in the lingering smell of the oil and gas from the garage but also the earth and pine smell of the surrounding forest. With his wolf hovering near the surface of his thoughts the scents were more crisp and clean than with his own human nose. After a few more intakes of the clean night air he opens his eyes and begins his trek back down into the housing part of the community through the woods.

Malakai was born here in the Spirit Hills Gated Community. He was one of the first ones after his father, Kaga the Alpha wolf, had founded the pack and settled here. His older brothers, Akela and Nocona, had already been born before moving here so their transition had been a little rough, but by the time he was born the pack itself had grown fairly large and had also included several feline members from the surrounding area that didn’t have a pride. Some of the felines had also been born shortly after he had so they had grown up together and that had made things a little easier for him also.

Jasper, his best friend and a mountain lion shifter, is also one of the guys that spends the majority of their time in the garage. He’d had an aspiring idea to make a car to start in a race in the future so he knew Jasper had to be right in the middle of it. Malakai swore up and down that the guy huffed exhaust and drank liquids meant for an engine instead of ingesting actual food. As he walked down the winding dirt road from the garage, his thoughts went to the day that his friend actually did drink some motor oil. Malakai remembered how livid his mom, their healer Nakeema and Jasper’s own mom had been when they brought him to the Nakeema’s house, puking so hard he could hardly breathe. When asked what they had done they both just shrugged and made car sounds. Wrong answer. They were five at the time so it got them off the hook…barely. It was the longest summer ever as they weren’t allowed to do anything unsupervised.

His thoughts were all over the place as he walked, remembering the stupid things they had done as kids and the equally stupid stuff they had done when they got older. Yeah, real happy some of those things hadn’t been noticed, he thinks to himself with a smirk. His dad would kick his ass from here to the Colorado border and back if he knew some of the things he and Jasper had done. But damn, it had been fun. Jasper’s twin sister Rihanna wasn’t a complete angel either as some of those plans were instigated by her. While Jasper was his pride brother, Jasper’s twin sister Rihanna was his one and only pride sister. If she ever got a boyfriend, or girlfriend, he was fairly certain that the individual would have to go through a lot of people before they could date her. Her wolf brother and her twin being the first ones in line.

He smiles brightly as he walks up the sidewalk towards their house on the quiet street, their wide open front door sharing the sounds to the entire neighborhood of Jasper shrieking something, the returning high pitched squeal from his sister rudely remarking that he was full of shit over the sounds of car crash noises and revving engines. They only argue like that when they play Gran Tourismo, Malakai thinks as he walks up to the doorway and leans against it, noting to himself that they were far more competitive than he was and he was pretty insistent that he won most of the time. It was probably a good thing that he wasn’t playing either or the arguing would have been a lot louder.

“Oh come on, Jasper! That’s not fair! You know I hate driving the Ferrari!”

“But it’s a faster car than mine, Ree. You just can’t handle that much muscle in your hands!” Jasper looks at his sister with a wicked smile.

“Ugh!! You filthy, disgusting little furrball! I’m gonna kick your ass!” The girl tosses the controller over an arm of the soft couch and pounces on her brother, causing him to crash his car up against a wall. The car stays there idling on the screen as he growls at her before they both go rolling out of the living room and into the hallway, the game now completely forgotten.

Malakai chuckles and shakes his head as he watches them go out of sight. “Yep, it’s going to be a few before they settle down,” he mumbles to himself as he walks over to the controller that Jasper had been using, pressing a few buttons to restart the race and then pausing it before setting the controller on the shelf below the television. He almost kicks the one that had been thrown on the floor by the couch and picks it up as well and puts it on a side table. One thing he had learned early on… don’t get in the middle of Rihanna and her brother when they got into it. She had sharp teeth and wasn’t afraid to use them.

“Thank you, Malakai. Been a while since you have come to visit hasn’t it?”

He turns to see a slender woman with tawny blond hair that was pulled up in a messy bun, her golden eyes sparkling with mirth as well as a bit of weariness as she comes around the corner from the adjacent kitchen.

“Hey kitty mom, how’s it going Connie? Anything I can help with?” Malakai gives the shorter woman a soft hug before looking over her shoulder to see a kitchen table overflowing with groceries. “Why aren’t they helping you out? Jeez.” He steps past her and starts to unpack one of the multitude of paper bags on the table.

“Oh honey, you don’t have to help.” She sighs as the sound of something crashing and breaking happens somewhere down the hall accompanied by the sounds of growling and angry, catlike screeching. “Ok, maybe this time. And don’t be upset with them for not helping. They did ask.” She pulls out a few gallons of milk and puts them in the fridge.

“Attention span of a squirrel today?” He pulls out a few canned items and sets them on the counter by the sink.

“Oh, I think the squirrel would win.” She chuckles as she closes the fridge door. “Those go in the cupboard below. Third door from the left.”

“Ouch. How come they’re so wound up?” He puts the cans in the cupboard she pointed out to him, flinching a bit as he hears a loud thud from upstairs and the sound of something else breaking. “When did they get upstairs?”

“They climb the walls outside and come in through the windows. During the summer I make sure to leave them open unless it rains.” She empties out another bag and folds it neatly, placing it into another empty paper bag. The way she stated what they did with calmness still surprised him. Connie had to be the most quiet, patient person in the world. So how in the hell did she end up with not just one, but two, kids that had the attention span of a squirrel that ate too much candy swimming in energy drinks?

“Seriously? When did they start doing that?” He folds up the bag he had been working on and puts it with the other ones. He stands there for a moment and thinks. How long had it been since he had come to visit?

“I know that look. And yes, it has been a while since you have been by.” She comes around and pats him on the cheek, her hand soft and warm but slightly callused. “The two of you are basically inseparable. I told Jasper that you need to spend time with your own family too and he wasn’t very happy about it.”

Malakai narrows his eyes and scowls. “So he’s being a jerk because you made him stay home. Do I need to go kick his butt for you?”

She laughs softly and shakes her head. “No, no need for that. But maybe you can stop by tomorrow and take him to the garage. That might help his mood some.”

“Now that I can do. I might even take Ree too so you can have a bit of time to yourself, yeah?” He offers her a warm smile.

Connie smiles brightly, some of the weariness in her eyes leaving as she looks up at him. “I would love that. You are such a good boy, Malakai. You will make some girl very happy someday.” She pats his cheek again and walks back over to the table. “Come on, they will do this for another hour or so before they both wear each other out and pass out somewhere in the house or outside. I’ll make sure they clean up whatever they broke when they wake up.”

“Yes ma’am.” Malakai smiles and helps his best friend’s mom put away the rest of her groceries to the sounds of Jasper and his sister cursing, screeching and crashing around, loud enough that he was fairly sure the entire community could hear.

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