Chapter 5 - Malakai
To say that he was excited about the night’s pack meeting was an understatement. It had been too long since everyone had been together for a gathering and it was all he could do to keep his happiness contained. Even his friend Jasper was barely keeping his own excitement down as the evening wore on, both sitting on the couch in the basement family room of Malakai’s house.
The downstairs was a family game room, or more like Malakai’s personal living room for the most part, complete with a wall mounted flat screen, at least two of the latest consoles with a surround sound system that would make your eardrums vibrate with an open entertainment center. The hardwood floors are a lightly stained pine that matches the beige painted walls. Scattered across the wall behind the couch are various photos of the Sunrunner family with the boys at various ages. The high windows that looked out across the yard were covered with short but heavy curtains to filter out light for when it was movie night.
His room was just down the hall with a bathroom between his room and the laundry room. He could still smell the lingering scents of the laundry that had been done earlier that day, mingling with the still enticing smell of the dinner his mom had made just a few hours before. He was half tempted to bound back up the stairs and head into the kitchen to raid the fridge, but eating right now would just wake him up and he needed to just chill so he turned his attention back to his game with Jasper.
While they were both very competitive, they had chosen a game that they could do together without too much arguing. Mostly something that was more collaborative than competitive so that they wouldn’t get too overstimulated. That and he knew that his mom would bring down the wrath of the Great Spirit if they misbehaved and started throwing stuff.
Yeah, they were not going to tempt fate, especially on this night. That and if they had both gotten too wound up they wouldn’t have been able to fall asleep and would miss the whole thing entirely. Tonight’s meeting was mandatory, as they usually were, unless you had a really damn good reason for not being there...which he didn’t. In fact, he had been the one that had pushed to have this happen. It had just taken a lot of careful planning to make sure that the majority of the adults had the night off. The stars just happened to be in alignment tonight and he was incredibly thankful for it.
Malakai looks at the clock behind the couch, the big hand wrench at almost 12 and the small hand socket wrench at 9. His friend had already started to nod off so he figured that maybe he should head off to bed too. It was getting close to that time anyway. They both turn off the game and get things put away before Jasper lays down on the overstuffed, buckskin colored couch and Malakai goes to his own room and falls onto the bed.
With a bit of a groan he stood back up and stripped down to his khaki shorts. At least in the dreamworld he wouldn’t be naked and scare people. Not that the pack and the other members were hung up on modesty, but there would be kids there and he didn’t want things just…hanging out. If the little kids did it, that’s one thing, especially when they were still being toilet trained. But full grown adults? Eh, not so much with pups and cubs about. He did have a vague memory of one of the adult males, not entirely sure what shifter he was, having his testicles used as a small cat’s batty toy. Claws on the nuggets? Nah, he’d rather keep them covered thank you.
That and he was one of the few that was able to keep his clothing intact when he shifted between the half and full wolf forms. As far as he knew, only he and his father were able to and it was one of the things that his brothers were always asking him to teach them how to do. Many failed, embarrassing and quite hilarious efforts later they just gave him a bit of grief and let it go. His father said that each one of his boys were blessed with their own Alpha gift.
His brother, Akela, had the same command that their father had. Considering that he was firstborn it was only natural that he would. Nocona, the middle brother, could smell anything from several miles away and had eyes sharper than an eagle. His smaller frame could also get into spaces most other wolves couldn’t.
And as for Malakai, well he didn’t lose his shorts. Awesome power there shifter gods. They’d obviously had a bit too much time in the sweat lodge at his expense.
With a sigh, he settles down and lays back on his bed, one arm across his eyes and the other draped across his abdomen and his eyes close, his breathing calming enough to let sleep take over.
-- -- -- -- --
Malakai felt like he was enveloped in the warmest, softest blanket ever made. He knew it was the way each pack member felt as their shaman got them all ready to join in the dreamscape. They would all be wrapped up in it until she had everything ready to bring them in. Her ability to do the dreamwalking thing was amazing to him and every time he experienced it just made him awestruck.
One thing that she had told everyone early on when they started doing this was that anyone who was a member of the pack, or immediate family to her, was welcome and invited to join. It was a rare occurrence if someone was not allowed in, or had been forced out. He’d heard of it happening a few times, but it had been a long time ago and no one had cared to elaborate about it. He hadn’t bothered pushing the issue either.
He wasn’t sure about Nakeema’s family though. She had always been by herself for as long as he’d known her, which was when he emerged into the world during the night of his birth. So for the last twenty two years he has never known anyone to come see her either for a visit or anything of that nature. At least no one other than his fathers pack that she was a part of, or even other shifters from neighboring packs, or even prides, that needed her help. They all considered each other family.
His thoughts are interrupted as he feels the familiar pull, letting himself transfer into the dream along the wave of warmth and comfort that always came with the dream walk with Nakeema. If you’d had a bad day, or you were out of sorts, it would get washed away with the welcoming feeling once you joined up with everyone else. He relished this and had missed it a lot more than he would ever admit out loud. It was like everything that had been stressing you out, driving you nuts, or just otherwise making your life a living hell would just wash away the moment you came in. It was like the whole pack took in what was wrong and those who had enough calm to give shared it with everyone else. It was a sense of family that was really hard for him to explain to those who didn’t have it, or didn’t understand it.
As soon as Malakai opened up his eyes he stood and stretched lazily, looking around at the deep green of the forest surroundings that resembled the large forest behind the community walls. The soft breeze that seemed to constantly stream through the pine trees wove its way through the thick fur of his back while he stood there, his eyes catching his two brothers running through with yips and barks. The deep black and smaller form of Nocona and the much larger, dark grey form of Akela blended in with the shadows as they ran and he took off after them with his tongue lolling out of the side of his muzzle.
Soon there was more movement that was joined with the sounds of howls, yips and yowls as the rest of the members began to enter. Smaller sounds belonging to the young ones were heard too as they played in the lower brush and under logs. As he shifted down into his complete wolf form he let out a long howl, letting anyone else know around him that he was there.
Just as he was about to take off, a heavy body fell onto his back causing him to trip and fall unceremoniously into a heap of fur and legs. The sharp teeth at his ear makes him let out a sharp yelp, followed by a subsequent growl. The lithe, but solid, body trying to pin him down to the soft forest floor chuckled in his ear, the sound more like an interrupted purr than anything else.
The tawny fur of the mountain lion was short and bristly, but the sharp teeth he felt made him a little more lenient to react harshly. Malakai turns to his side and flings the large cat off of him, only to have another similar body land on him and then they both go rolling into a nearby bush. Malakai uses his own mind-speak with his friend as they go tumbling out of the underbrush.
It’s a good thing we’re friends or I might just have to kick your ass, Jasper.
The large cat looks at him and gives a snort that sounds more like a sneeze.
For a wolf, Malakai, your nose fails you alot. The tawny furred lion that was sitting on his guts regards him with vivid green eyes and sticks its tongue out at him. The other that he had flung off earlier is giving a rumbling sound that definitely resembled laughter. Jasper bit you. Not me. At least, not this time.
The female mountain lion shifter, Rihanna, gives Malakai’s nose a lick with her rough tongue and uses his soft underside as a springboard to launch herself off of him and takes off at a graceful run with her brother close behind. He huffs loudly when she vaults off and then manages to somewhat ungracefully roll over and gives chase after them, pouncing towards the one in front of him. The large feline jumps gracefully up into a tree and smirks at him.
Seriously? How in the hell do those two manage to actually smirk while in their animal form? It’s got to be a cat thing.
He’d tried it one time and all he’d managed to do was look like he caught the buzz of an electric fence on his face which makes Malakai shudder at the memory. It was one of those, ‘I dare you’ moments in his and Jasper’s childhood where his friend had dared him to touch his wet nose to an electric fence. The whole side of his face had been numb for an hour and his tongue wouldn’t cooperate and lolled stupidly out the corner of his muzzle. Jasper still made it a point to make fun of how all stupid and facially lopsided he’d looked because of it.
His memories were interrupted by the long and low howl from his father calling everyone to the meeting. Stragglers were still coming in, but as he was one of the Alpha’s sons he needed to be up there also when everything was called to order. It doesn’t take long to jog to the clearing, heading up the slight slope to sit off to the left beside his middle brother, Nocona. His father and mother were of course at the head of them with Nakeema to his mothers left.
Both of his parents were jet black, their thick fur so dark you could easily lose them on a moonless night. Both of their eyes were glowing a soft golden color as they watched more come in and sit below them. His older brother Akela was a dark grey that would change shades during the seasons to be lighter in the spring and darker in the winter. Nocona looked just like his parents, a deep black that often reflected his mood.
Nakeema, off to his mother’s left, was a snow white that was so luminescent that she seemed to almost glow in the moonlight. She was the only one that was pure white so it was easy to tell her apart from the others. Even with her smaller stature she was still a bit larger than some of the betas and even omegas in the pack. Her eyes, a soft grey flecked with blue, looked out over everyone before she sat down on her haunches.
He can feel his father send out his Alpha power over everyone, a silent calm following swiftly afterwards as everyone turns their attention to him. His voice is strong in their minds, gentle but commanding, as he begins.
I want to thank you all for coming tonight. I know it has been too long since we have gathered to share our thoughts and commune with your pack mates, but rest assured that we hope to be more consistent with our meetings. Malakai can feel more than see the smirk aimed in his direction. As my youngest son Malakai has suggested, he thought that perhaps we could make this a once every two or three months event so that everyone has a chance to prepare and get those nights free.
A murmur of assent is heard through the rest at the bottom of the hill, along with a sense of warmth and thanks. Malakai fought hard to contain his happiness, trying his best not to smile in a way that showed too many teeth. It was an honor to be recognized by name, even though he was the third son it still made his heart skip a beat. His brother Nocona tilts his head to the side before looking behind him at the light grey tail that was steadily beating him against his lower back. He made a soft whine in apology and stopped wagging his tail so hard, instead settling on waving it back and forth through the soft grass behind him.
His father continues on with the more mundane things such as pack politics and announcements, usually his interest was held but tonight his mind was wandering. He wasn’t even sure why as he looked out over everyone, seeing his friend with his sister and mother Connie sitting at the very edge of the group near the treeline. He didn’t have his brother Nocona’s keen eye but he could swear that he saw something bright moving among the trees. Shaking his head, he blinks a few times and looks over again and this time he can’t mistake seeing movement. He was about to ask Nocona about it when he saw Nakeema stand up and look in the same direction he did. Apparently, this caught the interest of his father as he looked over at the white furred healer.
Is there something amiss, Nakeema? What do you see?
There is a muffled sound of soft whines from some of the pack as she makes her way down the hill, her gaze where Malakai’s had been. He could hear her soft voice echo through his thoughts.
-Hello child, don’t be afraid. Come and join us.-
Malakai narrows his eyes as Nakeema makes her way down the hill, but just before she reaches the first row of pack members the one she spoke to behind the tree turns and runs into the forest. His heart lurches in his chest as he barrels down the hill after them, not even thinking of why he felt the need to give chase. He just felt that he had to catch whoever it was. He could hear his father and the healer both tell him to stop but he crashes into the woods behind the moving form, almost knocking Jasper and Rihanna over as he goes in hot pursuit.
Whoever it was, they were fast. Really fast. He was actually having a hard time keeping up and decided to try and go to the side and see if perhaps he could catch them if they got caught by a tree branch or in a bush. He was able to see the one running through the forest, the white fur mixed with...silver? That’s new. He could feel his friend catching up with him and he burst forward with a slight growl. He wanted to be the first to catch this one and it made something deep down push him even harder.
~No one touches her but me.~
Malakai’s wolf had never talked to him before. Ever. What the hell had made him start now? And who was her? That thing was a girl? It didn’t even look like a wolf, much less smell like one. His thoughts were interrupted when he saw what he now knew was a female, dart towards him to slide under a tree. With a sharp turn and push off with his back legs he tries to catch her tail in his teeth and barely misses, landing on the opposite side with a hard thud and a grunt, sliding to a stop amidst a pile of dirt, leaves and pine needles. He wasn’t going to be able to catch her in this form, he needed his hands.
He began his chase again, shifting in mid run to his more human form so he could catch the escaping shifter with his hands. He ignored whoever it was beside him that was telling him to stop. Was it Jasper? He didn’t know and right now his wolf was in charge, not him. It was like he was watching from the backseat of a car that was heading for a cliff at full speed with no brakes. But when the female made a dive to go underneath another tree he was ready for her and the only thing he was able to grasp was her tail. Right at the base where it almost met her spine.
He holds her up and just stares at her, wondering just what he was looking at. She didn’t look like any kind of shifter he had ever seen. Solid white fur that had rivers of silver running through it. A thick tail that looked like it belonged on a wolf yet a body that resembled a feline. Her ears at the top of her head were definitely wolf but her face was more like a cat. It was so...weird. Weird but actually really...pretty.
He tilts his head to the side and his eyes wander over her as she looks back at him. She was still wearing clothes, which could mean she had the same ability to shift and keep her clothes on like he did. He leans forward and snuffs at the bare midsection and is rewarded with a sound that sounded more feline than canine. But her smell...it was so odd. He could smell wolf and he could smell something else. She wasn’t a mountain lion for sure, he knew what their scent was like.
Hey Malakai, you ok? Whoa, what are you doing? What the heck kind of shifter is that?
He could hear Jasper talking to him, but he was too involved with the girl hanging in front of him to even answer. Without even thinking he let his nose travel upward until he was at her crotch and his wolf inhaled deeply. It was like everything in his head just decided to rewire itself and then short circuit. There was someone else speaking to him now but nothing registered except for the one he held in midair and her delicious scent that just assaulted every nerve ending in his body. His wolf wanted nothing more than to taste her right at that very moment and he had to fight to keep him from doing it.
He felt a tiny poke in his side but he still held on, his wolf not willing to let go. He was losing the fight against his raging hormones and he really didn’t know how to stop it. Hell, the wolf part of him didn’t want to stop and Malakai was slipping towards the losing side of the argument. He was about to actually stick his tongue out and taste when it felt like someone stabbed him in the guts with ten white hot pokers. He can’t contain the howl of pain and drops the girl, his blood turning into molten metal in his veins.
-- -- -- -- -- --
Malakai wakes up in his bed in the worst pain he has ever felt in his life. He sits up and immediately regrets it, his arms wrapping around his abdomen as he rolls to his side and falls off of his bed onto the floor. He felt like his body was on fire and burning from the inside out, the blood rushing in his veins igniting everything it touched like a river of fire. He tried as hard as he could not to make a sound but gave up, his voice forming a strangled mix of a scream and a howl.
Not even a few seconds later his door opens and the lights are turned on as Jasper bursts into his room. The sharp intake of air from his friend goes unnoticed as he tries to just curl up into a ball on his bedroom floor. Jasper leaves his room in a rush, his panicked voice yelling for the Alpha as his footsteps stomp up the stairs to go to their room. He doesn’t get too far as he was met at the top of the stairs and he moves aside for the two Alpha’s to go into Malakai’s room.
He can feel the hands of his father on his arm trying to turn him over as his mother tries to help him unfold from the fetal position. He could hear her soothing voice talking to him as she pulled his arms away from his burning guts.
“Son, I need to see what happened. Come on, Malakai, roll over and let us look.”
“It burns mom…God it burns so bad…” He really hated the fact that it sounded like he was whining, but damn, this hurt. “Make it stop...please...make it stop. I didn’t mean to be rude...Honest...” He could feel the tears fall out of the corner of his eyes and every breath made his skin stretch and it made him grit his teeth.
“Danielle, why is he bleeding? It was a dream. He shouldn’t be injured.” His fathers deep voice was beside him but he kept his eyes tightly closed as he tried to keep the pain from overwhelming him.
“I don’t know. I’m used to dealing with things that are explainable, not dreams that injure people.” Her soft hands cup his face and her thumbs stroke his cheeks. “Open your eyes son and look at me.” Malakai does and although he can see the concern etched in her face, he can see that stubborn determination in her golden eyes too. “The only way I can see you healing faster is if you shift. Can you do that for me?”
He gives her a slight nod and closes his eyes, concentrating on calling for his wolf so he can try to heal whatever that girl did to him. Instead of feeling the change of his wolf coming out, he is greeted with searing pain that makes his back arch as he screams in agony. His wolf snarls at him and backs farther away from him into a recess in his mind, clouding it over and disappearing from sight. All he is left with is the debilitating pain of his body being on fire.
“I can’t...I can’t shift.” His wolf had gone into hiding and left him to deal with this on his own and he didn’t know why. Malakai leans his sweat covered forehead against his fathers arm and closes his eyes, missing the look of alarm that passes between his mother and father. Had he done something wrong that made his wolf leave? None of this made any sense and he hurt so bad that he wasn’t sure he even wanted to breathe anymore.
“I’m glad that Jasper came to get me.” A slight shuffle of feet is followed by a soft hand on his forehead and behind his ear as Nakeema bends over him to feel his body heat. She clucks a bit and he can feel her tap on his mouth.
“I need you to keep this in your mouth. Open up. That’s a good pup.” When he opens his mouth she puts an object like a tea bag in his mouth and then holds his mouth closed. It tasted awful and he wanted nothing more than to spit it out. “Kaga hold his mouth closed, please.”
The strong hand at his lower jaw kept him from opening his mouth and he tried not to gag as his mouth filled with spit and then mixed with whatever was in the bag. After a few seconds though it was like everything in his mouth ceased to hurt, followed by his face. Malakai’s eyes flutter a bit as whatever was in that bag works a miracle through his body and he fades into a dreamless sleep as the pain ebbs and he passes out in his father’s arms.