ALPHA

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Chapter 11: Hot & Cold


9:00 AM MST

The alarm on my watch goes off and I stir from a drunken sleep that is somehow incredibly heavy. It’s hard to open my eyes, so I blindly feel for my wrist and navigate the buttons until I hit the right one and it quiets.

Unfinished thoughts stir in my dead brain; I can’t recall the exact time I went to bed, and snapshots of the night before are blurry and lacking detail. A sharp headache makes it so I don’t try too hard to bring them into focus.

The heavy feeling of my drunken sleep is still suffocating me and takes my complete attention as I realize I’m not just imagining it – I’m literally being weighed down. After struggling to open my eyes I take note of the way I’m pressed into the mattress; my back is almost entirely covered by Wyatt’s body. If his plan was to squish me to death, then it’s working pretty well for him.

Though, somehow, it’s also really comfortable. Who needs to breathe normally when you have a rather nice body heater?

But then seeing his arm wrapped around me brings a sharp reminder of the night before to the surface; an incredibly detailed image comes up suddenly. Wyatt underneath me – using his hands to rock me against his dick…

It takes less than five seconds for my whole body to overheat at the blurry memories now coming in so quickly I can barely process them. There’s no mistaking it. I ended up offering him my ass… ended up sloppily jerking off into my underwear…

With one deep breath I swear I can still smell cum in the air. That bleach-like scent makes my nose crinkle, but I can’t even say I’m disgusted. No, that’s one thing I’m not really picking up in the swirling mass now taking over my brain and making it race a mile a minute. There’s confusion, regret, shame, and a terrible mortification at my behavior. It’s all because of me. I can’t blame Wyatt even if I tried. Wasn’t I the one who went crazy with power and teased a lonely man over the edge? I was the one who lost it – encouraged him – told him it felt good to be his bitch…

My internal self lets out a long scream of horror and I bury my face into the pillow.

It’s all so crazy.

Crazy because even though I was totally out of line, when I remember little details like the way Wyatt’s beard tickled me… the way his blue eyes lit when he looked at me; my heart squeezes tightly and ghostly shivers speed down my body and makes things ten times worse.

I have to get myself together. For some reason I’m forgetting that Wyatt is a dude – with a dick – and all of this is very, very gay.

And I don’t really want to deal with that word right now.

9:23 AM MST

Wyatt stirs against me and I hold my breath.

I’ve been laying underneath him in complete silence, wide-eyed, trying not to think too much about the events from the night before. All it takes is one small movement from him and my heart is pounding wildly.

He’s going to wake up.

He’s going to take one look at me and if he doesn’t immediately throw up, then he’ll throw me out of his cabin and tell me to walk my gay ass home.

9:24 AM MST

It must have been a false alarm because Wyatt is still sleeping and I haven’t been able to stop myself from bracing for the worst.

I know he took part in what happened… but at least for him it’s understandable.

9:34 AM MST

Canuck trots over and gives my face a curious sniff before trailing it to Wyatt’s arm that has me hooked and locked into position as his teddy bear. The wolf’s wet nose nudges at him, and a fear of waking Wyatt up takes hold. Without any working limbs, I start blowing at Canuck’s face to try to get him away, but for some reason he becomes interested and starts licking at my mouth.

“St-stop!” I hiss, twisting my face in the opposite direction. I can still feel the snout on the back of my head.

Wyatt shifts again and this anxious, knotted dread reaches a whole new level. I can’t deal with it. I start panicking completely as outrageous scenarios fill my head. I’m planning half-assed ways to survive out in the wild by myself when Wyatt finally lifts off me and wakes up.

I keep my face buried in his pillow.

There’s absolutely no way I can even look him in the eye. I’d rather gouge them out with his rusted spoons than have to deal with the way he looks at me. I can already see those brows pulling towards the bridge of his nose…

“Calix?” he prompts, giving my shoulder a shake. “You awake?”

Playing dead seems to be the most reasonable option so I stay completely still and it seems to work because I can hear Wyatt get up off the mattress and stumble through the cabin. Then I can barely hear the sound of the cupboards opening and closing what with the way my heart is pounding in my ears.

Wyatt shuffles back over and presses something cold against my back. “Wake up and drink some water.”

I give in to the promise of quenching an overwhelming thirst.

Turning over, I avoid Wyatt’s eyes and take the cup from him, struggling to sit up. My leg feels numb and I must have been laying on it the wrong way because the muscle starts prickling in that terrible way of having it fall asleep.

When I finish, Wyatt takes the cup from me and doesn’t say anything else.

9:47 AM MST

On top of the trauma from my injury, losing my brother and becoming stuck on a mountain, I have to deal with the stress of facing Wyatt after a paralyzing, gay experience.

So far he hasn’t let it show that he remembers much; then again he’s been busy tidying up and holstering a knife. Finally he stoops to the floor to pick up my backpack and hands it to me.

“So what’s in here?”

My voice won’t work so I open the top and start pulling out my belongings as Wyatt takes inventory. There are spare clothes, including Dax’s, as well as some toiletries, such as my toothbrush and deodorant. There’s a bottle of hand lotion - because climbing lime-scaled rock really does a number on you - and my useless phone that has no battery. At the very bottom of the bag are some snacks, carabineers, and climbing gear.

“Why do you have so many clothes?” Wyatt asks, addressing the issue that is multiple pairs of pants and shirts in two distinctly different sizes.

“Some of them are Dax’s,” I reply quietly.

“So he lets you carry his clothes, but not the shit that matters huh?” he comments.

His tone indicates he’s in a pissed off mood but I’ve come to learn that Wyatt doesn’t like talking about Dax. I’m not exactly sure why – he doesn’t even know him like I do – but that’s beside the point, which is that Wyatt either grumpily dismisses everything to do with him or goes into a complete rage. If I want to be on his good side for longer than an hour, I need to stop talking about my brother.

I don’t bother arguing the fact that Dax and I had a deal after the incident two Summers ago when I lost about a thousand dollars’ worth of his gear. I thought he’d never forgive me, but somehow he did, and isn’t it understandable he’d be in charge of things ever since? At least, that was the way I looked at it…

My defeated look stops Wyatt from continuing his criticism. He rummages through the clothes and stuffs some, including the toiletries, into the backpack. He takes my backpack to the supply closet and packs some more things inside before closing the top.

“Get up,” he says, coming around the side of the bed to help me to my feet.

“Why?”

“Just do it,” he snaps – still pissed. Either about Daxton, or about yesterday, I’m still not sure but I don’t want to figure it out. I stand up slowly and he reaches under my armpit to help carry me to the door. When he stops at the firearm rack to grab his rifle, I know this isn’t just a bathroom break.

“Where are we going?” I ask, using a lot of effort to make my voice less shaky. Thoughts of him taking me out like Old Yeller and shooting me are hard to get past. I’m expecting him to snap again like he did my other question but instead he answers in his usual gruff voice.

“You wanted to see the hot spring, right?”

10:06 AM MST

I’m strapped to Wyatt’s back and he’s carrying me up a large hill with his rifle in one hand and the backpack in the other. Canuck follows along behind us, stopping occasionally to sniff around and pee.

Both of them seem totally oblivious to the nervous anxiety taking hold of me.

I have no choice but to cling as tightly as I can to Wyatt, but every few steps another reminder of last night pops up uninvited and makes me want to let go and curl up in the woods to die.

I’m just in the middle of hoping that Wyatt won’t say anything about the game gone wrong when he opens his mouth.

“So about last night,” he begins casually, making my heart burst with the built up anxiety.

My breathing immediately becomes ragged and uneven; head spinning. This is the part where he just drops me in the middle of the woods and tells me to fuck off forever…

“I don’t really know what happened, but I’m sorry, Calix. I took things way too far.”

I manage not to completely choke to death in my need for oxygen. There’s no way I can let Wyatt take the blame for any of this madness when it was clearly my fault.

“B-but I –”

He interrupts. “Fact is, I shouldn’t have done that. I wasn’t thinking.”

“Wyatt I –”

“I don’t want to make it any weirder than it already is,” he finishes with a sigh. “Let’s just drop it and move on, alright? Forget it happened.”

That fucking blunt way of his… I want to say more. I want to clarify that I played a big part in last night, too. But I absolutely do not want him to be mad at me, so I give in.

“Okay.”

10:28 AM MST

After a silent, uneventful trek up a large hill, we make it to the entrance of a cave. Canuck circles a spot outside and lays to rest as if he’s used to this area and he’s settling down to guard.

It looks dark and ominous inside when Wyatt sets me on my feet and starts steering me through the opening. In contrast to the bright sunshine outside, I can barely see where I’m going and nearly slip on some wet rock.

“Careful,” Wyatt says, although I don’t know what he’s expecting of me when I am being herded like a sheep with very little foot control and I’m basically blind.

“Is this really the hot spring?” I ask, but the unmistakeable humidity of the place suddenly hits me like a punch to the face. There’s a distinct, mineral type of smell exuding from what I can only assume are the geothermal bodies of water in the cave.

“Sure is,” Wyatt answers anyway.

He pulls me along until my eyes have adjusted and I can see steaming water to our left. Somehow it’s very exciting. “The only hot spring I’ve been to is the one in Banff,” I say, referring to one of the National Parks. “This looks way different.”

Wyatt doesn’t respond. He’s already setting down the backpack and removing his shirt, to my jaw-dropping horror. There’s enough awkwardness between us thanks to last night that I turn away compulsively to save face. Usually I wouldn’t bother being embarrassed about openly staring at his body… but that was before that very same body humped me like a maniac.

“Clothes off,” Wyatt instructs to me over his shoulder before laughing. “We’re going skinny dipping.”

His voice is a little strange – but that might be the echoing nature of the cave we’re in. However, I really think it’s that Wyatt’s feeling just as awkward as I am, and making it into a joke is his way of dealing with it.

In any case, I don’t need that much coaxing to strip down and peel off the underwear caked in my own dried cum. This is definitely why Wyatt brought me here. I’d like to think as awkward as it is, it’s also necessary.

“Wyatt, what about the bandages?” I ask, referring to the rags wrapped around my injury.

“Yeah, get those off. The hot water will be good for your leg.”

So I peel them back one by one; a weird kind of smell coming from the wound. I can’t see very well but I’m sure it’s full of pus and other gross pre-scabbing fluids.

“You done?”

“Almost…”

“Okay, be careful when you get in. It’s not deep but you can still slip and hurt yourself…”

As soon as I’m completely naked, there’s a rush to get into the water. My feet make contact with the hot rock underneath the spring and it’s actually kind of painful. The water is only waist-deep so I crouch a little and lean against the rocks, making sure to look away as Wyatt follows me in.

Actually, we don’t talk or look at each other at all.

As my leg adjusts to the water it feels itchy at first but then after a while, I think the sensation is soothing. It’s like all the muscles in my leg suddenly relax and the natural buoyancy of the water makes it easier to move around. By the time I’ve crouched down enough to cover my upper body, Wyatt reaches for the bag on top of the rock and pulls out some soap and our toothbrushes.

“Clean up, and don’t use the soap on your leg.”

We stay in the water for what seems like hours, maintaining more than a reasonable distance from each other.

The hot spring is so nice; peaceful and quiet – relaxing – which is totally unlike anything I’ve experienced. Normally there would be a million impulses to start a conversation, or if Dax were here we’d be playing Marco Polo or jumping from the rocks. But I have nothing I want to say to Wyatt just yet. I’m still trying my best to avoid the regular reminders of the way I used him to get off.

There’s a cycle.

First, a wave of guilt. Then, a wave of heat. Finally, a wave of anxious confusion before I determinedly stuff it all away.

I distract myself by drawing circles in the water and watching the ripples disappear out of my line of vision. My eyes have adjusted a little bit more to the dim cave, but Wyatt is so far away that it’s hard to make out his outline.

When I’ve washed my hair, brushed my teeth, lathered up my body and my fingers have pruned, Wyatt finally makes a move to get out.

I wait until he’s put on underwear before attempting to climb out after him, then I stand dripping wet and suddenly freezing cold behind him as he searches for a new set of clothes for me.

He tosses everything over his shoulder in my direction and waits until I’ve climbed into my own underwear before turning. When I attempt to put my feet through a new pair of jeans, he stops me. “Wait. We need to cut it first.”

“But this is my favourite pair,” I object even as I helplessly hand them over and watch him grab his folding knife. He makes no comment to this and instead starts hacking away. He prepares to hand them back but I sigh. “You might as well make them even,” I suggest, defeated and tired of looking like an idiot with lopsided pants.

Wyatt shrugs and hacks away at the other side, gathering the fallen denim and stuffing it into the backpack while I slide on a pair of shorts that suddenly seem a bit too short…

But I don’t have time to worry about it. Wyatt is already finished dressing and is beckoning me to hurry. I throw a t-shirt on my wet back, only to realize its Dax’s, before tying my shoes and strapping on my watch.

11:15 AM MST

Out in the sunlight, Wyatt bends to his knees and inspects the gash on my leg. It looks wrinkled, pinched, and still bruised but otherwise better than ever and I grow excited at the fact it’s healing.

He pulls the extra denim from the backpack and rips it with his bare hands before wrapping it carefully around the most serious part of the gash. I don’t even realize I’m holding my breath until he’s finished and offers me his back.

11:28 AM MST

Our rather uneventful journey back to the cabin suddenly takes an unexpected turn when Canuck growls and Wyatt stops in his tracks.

Before I can ask what’s happening, he’s lowering me off his back and dropping the backpack to the ground. He grips the rifle in his hand and takes the safety off before taking a few tentative steps forward.

“Wh-what’s going on?” I whisper, hobbling to keep close. If there’s a fucking bear, or anything else that tries to eat me for that matter, I’m going to freak out.

“Look over there,” he replies, voice very low as he jerks his chin forward. I can hardly see it until he tells me where to look and it’s unmistakeable – an antlered deer is grazing and munching on leaves a few meters away. He lifts his rifle and presses the stock into the shoulder before I clue in.

“You’re going to… kill it…”

Wyatt takes aim, looking through a scope that’s mounted on his rifle, and rests his finger on the trigger.

“Yeah, Calix, do I need to baby you with a lesson in ethics? It’s simple – I gotta eat. We gotta eat. Same thing our ancestors did and the same thing that happens in nature every day. There’s a food chain, you know. If I don’t take this deer, something else might.”

I don’t want to argue, but I’m still not sure. Something doesn’t feel right about it. I have the distinct feeling that it’s just murderdisguised as survival – but Wyatt has some strong opinions.

“Besides, this buck is what, five, maybe six years old judging by that rack? It’s lived a long, healthy life freely grazing and producing offspring. Isn’t that better than eating the meat from the grocery store? Calves raised for slaughter, pumped with hormones, and kept in confinement. That tastes better to you?”

“I-I guess not…”

“So I’m going to do this in one shot, right to the heart, and make it quick – okay?”

I don’t know why he’s attempting to pacify me but I end up appreciating it. He has a way of explaining things and for me, listening and watching is the best way to learn. “You can do it in one shot?” I say, amazed.

“He’s in range; we’re downwind. Unless I miss this, he’s basically supper.”

I clamp my hands over my ears in anticipation and Wyatt interprets it as permission to take the shot. I watch him inhale a deep breath – chest rising slightly in his plaid jacket – and he goes completely still before pulling his finger back.

The gunshot rings out loud and I’m too busy wincing to see if he hit the deer. When I open my eyes, however, Wyatt’s done what he promised and the animal is on the ground.

“Now’s the hard part,” he says while un-holstering a deadly looking survival knife from his hip. The serrated blade glints ominously as he removes the sheath and I have some sneaking suspicions what’s going to happen next.

“Wyatt you can’t be serious,” I manage weakly as he begins to make his way over to the deer. He makes no attempt to help move me and I get the message loud and clear to give him room to do his thing. ”Now?”

“I have to gut it,” he says over his shoulder to me. “Then I’ll hang it to dry a bit, take you back, and do the rest later. If the meat gets spoiled, it’s all for nothing.”

As he positions the deer on its back, I give Canuck an uneasy look. The wolf, however, has yellow eyes trained on Wyatt – practically salivating over the juicy animal he’ll soon be feasting on.

11:25 AM MST

Wyatt gives detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to field-dress a deer (white-tail, I’ve learned) but I’m not sure if I want to pay any more attention as I helplessly watch him castrate the male deer like it’s nothing. I’m still staring in wide-eyed shock as he makes an incision from the mutilated genitals all the way up to its throat, effectively cutting it open.

When he peels back the flesh and reveals the organs inside, I gag and turn away.

No matter how hard I rub my eyes, I can’t get the image out of my mind.

“You have to get it all out,” Wyatt continues explaining. “Or else the meat will get tainted, eh? You gotta be extra careful with the intestines. We’re fucked if it’s punctured.”

“I’m going to be sick,” I say out loud, feeling warm and nauseous.

“You cut the windpipe – the anus and –”

A wet noise fills the air. I can only assume Wyatt’s ripped out all the innards in one go. My stomach turns uneasily and it doesn’t help anything.

“You weren’t even watching?” Wyatt asks to my turned back. “How are you supposed to do the next one?”

"WHAT?!" I screech, spinning around to him. “I-I’m not going to –!”

“Relax,” Wyatt says with a roguish smile to let me know he’s joking. “I’m kidding.”

I can’t help the glare I give him but he doesn’t spend another second looking my way. He starts emptying the cavity of the deer and it’s extremely messy, not to mention disturbing, how casually he handles internal organs. Then he stands, grabs the deer by its horns and starts dragging it up a slight slope to set against a tree. He uses the antlers to lock the animal between two branches and lets it hang at an awkward angle.

“What’s that for?” I can’t help asking as Wyatt starts making his way back to me – making sure to step over the pile of gore.

“To drain it. I’ll come back in a bit – but let’s get you home first.”

Wyatt holsters his knife and bends down on his knee so I can climb onto his back. Once locked in I press my cheek to his shoulder and repeat one of his words in my mind.

Home.

11:43 AM MST

Wyatt barely sets me on the mattress before turning on his heel to head back for the deer.

12:11 PM MST

I’m suddenly very cold.

There’s no fire going in the cabin and compared to the heat of the hot spring, or Wyatt’s back for that matter, I’m freezing.

12:46 PM MST

Wyatt returns with the deer dragging behind him. He’s out of breath, sweating, and his hands are noticeably dirty despite the fact he just spent an hour bathing with me.

After dropping the deer at the door, he sets up his hoist in the middle of the room and I know what I’m in for is another few hours of him focused on butchering.

But my stomach growls – having skipped breakfast – and I find I’d even eat Clover Soup if he offered it.

1:12 PM MST

Canuck visits me as Wyatt skins the dead carcass of the large deer.

I offer him my hand and he sniffs it curiously before giving it a lick. It effectively lifts my spirits and instead of stressing about Wyatt’s dick rubbing on me last night, I welcome the distraction of my new companion.

I reach out for the top of his head and Canuck bows slightly to let me massage right at the top of his scalp - behind his ears - like Wyatt. He doesn’t like this as much as he does when I scratch right along his chin, though, because his tail starts wagging like mad and he lifts his paws to the mattress.

The closeness makes me a little nervous but the wolf enjoys the way I scratch him. He licks at my face before pressing his large, fluffy head into mine, almost like he’s head-butting me, and for some reason it makes me smile. I must be completely losing my mind because before I know it, I’m laughing.

This only makes Canuck head-butt harder and when he almost knocks me back, I decide it’s some kind of game. I wrap both arms around Canuck’s thick, furry neck and head-butt him back, giving another laugh that somehow draws Wyatt’s attention.

“Hey! Stop that!”

His booming voice makes Canuck drop and scurry away but I’m left completely confused – and on top of it, kind of pissed that as soon as I’m feeling even the slightest bit happy Wyatt has to go and ruin it.

“What’s your problem?” I ask. “We were just playing.”

“Yeah, and you’re not allowed.” Wyatt sets down his knife and wipes his hands on a rag at the completely scathing look I give him.

“Why not?”

“I said so.” He leaves absolutely no room for argument – as always. I let him grind against me with his stupidly big alpha dick and I’m still expected to obey all of his crazy rules without any explanation. Yes he’s feeding me… and taking care of me… and helping me in every way I need, but it’s still so frustrating. “And don’t give me that look.”

This last part sets me off and I end up giving him the middle finger before I realize what I’m doing.

Wyatt looks absolutely deadly as he moves towards me. Before I recognize there’s nowhere to run I’m scrambling off the mattress and heading for a corner of the cabin.

“Calm down!” I screech as he closes the distance between us way too fast.

“Got something to say to me?” he asks menacingly, reaching for my wrist and shaking the hand I used to flip him off.

It’s an absolute nightmare.

“Hey I’m talking to you. If you have something to say, then say it to my face.” Except his face looks extremely intimidating and my fear mixes terribly with flaring anger.

“Leave me alone!” I shout, successfully twisting my wrist out of his hold and dramatically rubbing it.

“Do we need to do this every day, because it’s getting pretty old, Calix,” he seethes.

“No,” I refuse, speaking in the heat of the moment because it’s too unfair not to protest. “Your stupid alpha thing is getting old! I’m not doing anything wrong and you’re always snapping at me so – so,” I hesitate on the next words before one look at Wyatt’s challenging eyes makes my resentment boil over, ”I hate you.”

Blue eyes narrow in a way I’ve never seen them and for a heart-stopping moment I feel like he’s going to slit my neck and hang me up beside the deer.

Then he surprises me by speaking in a low, quiet voice that makes all of the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

“You want to be left alone? Fine. Guaranteed you’ll be singing a different tune in a few hours.”

He turns away and I sink to the cabin floor, pulling my bad leg up to my chin and fighting a suddenly overwhelming sadness at the sight of Wyatt’s back.

1:23 PM MST

After I’ve had a chance to let the anger run its course, I’m left with the feeling that I’m being punished. I might as well be Canuck what with the way I’m sitting on the cabin floor and being ignored by this stupid, bearded guy that’s way too high on his horse.

Once again I’m alone, even in the presence of the pack I’m supposedly involved with.

I can’t even feel too sorry for myself because I made it really clear that I was fed up with Wyatt’s bullshit to the point I didn’t even want to deal with him. So this is what I want… right?

2:01 PM MST

I’m hungry, thirsty, in pain, and the floor is cold and hard against my bare legs.

2:45 PM MST

But I can’t give in.

3:01 PM MST

I won’t give in.

3:35 PM MST

Wyatt gets closer since I’m seated next to the fireplace.

I stubbornly turn my back to him as he bends over to get it started.

4:06 PM MST

At least there is a bit of warmth now, but the smell of frying meat on an empty stomach is very upsetting.

4:13 PM MST

I want to cry.

4:14 PM MST

I’m crying.

4:23 PM MST

This is some kind of mental torment. I’m sure of it. Wyatt is a master at stripping someone’s will away from them and forcing them to bend to every rule he sets.

4:58 PM MST

He doesn’t feed me, or offer me any water, and I turn from stubbornly vindictive and spiteful to hurt and betrayed. Wyatt should have cooled down by now, but he’s ignoring me so easily… like I don’t matter…

He should care about me more than this!

5:29 PM MST

I’ve cried myself out of tears and still, nothing.

I wish he’d just apologize. I wish he’d notice how starving I am. I wish he’d set another log on the fire to keep me warm because I’m getting colder and colder on the cabin floor.

6:46 PM MST

I can hear Wyatt’s footsteps behind me, but he doesn’t speak or reach out to touch me. I hold my breath until he turns away and then let it out in a choked kind of sob.

Maybe I took it too far…

7:25 PM MST

I’m shivering head to toe now and the only way to stop my teeth from rattling together is to press my jaw into my knees and try to think warm thoughts.

7:26 PM MST

Who am I kidding. I have no jacket, no real pants, no fire and no blankets... I’ll freeze to death for sure.

8:02 PM MST

I hear Wyatt rustling the blankets on the mattress and I feel close to breaking.

It always comes back to this, my extreme dependence… my need to have him treat me kindly. They outweigh any desire to keep fighting him and even though it’s so completely mind-boggling, I have no choice…

Besides, I can barely remember what I’m so mad about in the first place.

8:24 PM MST

I just hope he’ll forgive me.

I said I hated him.

8:32 PM MST

There’s no way I’m going to be able to live with myself if I go crawling back and he keeps giving me the cold shoulder. Even if I deserve it.

A tightness in my chest takes hold; it’s an awful kind of pain only Wyatt puts me through.

9:02 PM MST

I’m exhausted and totally starving as I turn around and risk a glance at the mattress. Wyatt is under the covers and his eyes connect with mine in the dark cabin as if he’s been staring a hole at the back of my head this whole time.

“Get over here,” he says finally.

I completely break at the sound of his voice and start sobbing. He simply lifts the blanket up, gesturing me to get under and I scramble across the hard floor immediately.

I don’t have to say anything as I crawl in beside him and stick to his body like glue. It’s so incredibly warm under the covers - right next to him - that the temperature difference forces goosebumps to explode all over my skin. Wyatt hugs me tight to help warm me up and I struggle to get a hold of myself.

“Damnit Calix… I don’t like being hard on you. I really don’t, okay? Don’t do this anymore. Just listen when I say something and stop testing me. It’s not worth it.”

“Y-you hate me,” I accuse through sharp, deep breaths against his chest. I’m a total hypocrite.

“No I don’t,” he assures, emphasizing this with a tight squeeze. “Of course I don’t. It absolutely kills me to make you cry and I don’t want to do it. Geeze. You’d think you would learn by now to stop pushing me…”

It makes no sense. If he doesn’t like making me cry, why does he do it so easily without any thought of how I feel? If he doesn’t hate me, why else would he punish me so hard for something so small…? I hiccup and gasp in an effort to get myself together; vibrating next to him as he runs his rough hand up and down my arm to warm me. It’s not until he stretches his neck and blows hot air directly into my ear that I start to feel heat spreading. Suddenly, it’s incredible how warm I feel on the inside, even though my skin is still ice cold.

The warm breath also helps settle me down somehow. It’s like he’s blowing more than just air… he’s basically clearing the fog from my brain – immediately making things better.

“I’m hungry.”

“I know.”

“And thirsty…”

“I bet.”

“You were so… so mean to me…”

“Shit… Calix… what’d you expect? I’m the King of being stubborn and you’re in my castle. You aren’t ever going to win so stop fucking with me.” His tone implies he’s trying to lighten the mood but his words are still heavy and I know there’s truth to them.

“You said you’d go easy on me,” I whine. “I’m – going through so much already… I hate when on top of everything you treat me like I don’t exist. Like I don’t matter…”

“I didn’t do anything like that,” he denies. ”You’re the one who said “leave me alone!” and sat in a fucking corner all day.” I don’t like how he’s already twisting it around on me but I feel guilty and curl into him anyway – trying to finally get warm. He takes a deep breath to calm himself and exhales in my ear again. A fresh wave of heat makes me shiver. “But you’re right. You’re not a wild wolf… you’ve been through so much and I shouldn’t be making it worse.”

There’s a beautiful relief at his words and I nod agreeably; nose sliding up and down the fabric of his t-shirt. “Y-yeah! I’m not a wolf…” A bit of emotion cracks my voice and I have to gulp hard to clear it.

“You okay?” he asks quietly.

“Yeah…”

Everything is okay now.

Wyatt squeezes me against him so hard I feel like I’ll be crushed – but the heat is too good to resist I don’t mind snuggling impossibly closer. Somehow, in his embrace I’ve forgotten about food, water, and the pain in my leg. I start feeling a bit stupid for being so stubborn. I should have just let it go way earlier. Wyatt’s right. He never really threatened me, or told me I couldn’t move or anything like that. I just assumed punishment mode and tortured myself with it.

As much as I may want to avoid it, there’s a need to clear the air. I won’t feel better until things are off my chest. “Wyatt… when I said I hate you… I didn’t mean it.”

“Pfft, I know.”

This confidence is confusing. I want to read his face, so I pull my ear away from his mouth, look him in the eye, and continue; making sure he understands I’m sincere.

“And… I didn’t mean to flip you off and get upset about Canuck,” I admit. “I don’t know why, but if it makes you happy, I won’t play with him again.”

“When you put it like that…” he trails off.

Locking eyes with Wyatt once more is nice. It feels like the last time we did we were both under the influence…

I continue – compelled by a deeply rooted need I don’t really understand. “And last night, too.” I feel him tense against me; I know we’re not supposed to talk about it. “Some of that was my fault.” His expression is throwing me off, but it feels so good to confess. “You told me to forget it, but I’ve been thinking about it all day…” The hand warming me up slides down my back and remains motionless while he gives me a warning look. It doesn’t matter; I feel so completely warm again I’m melting. “Something’s wrong with me Wyatt…”

I’m getting hard. Really hard. Remembering him sucking my neck; touching my body…

“Simmer down,” he says.

He definitely noticed; he’s so grossed out. I need to just – get it together and not overheat…

“You’re not the only one. There’s this part I can’t get out of my mind…” he reveals. Then he gets strict. “But I’m trying, alright? It’s a mistake. A confusing mistake, but still – I can’t believe… I don’t want to believe…”

I’m stuck on the part where he said I’m not the only one, and the rest of it from there is basically gibberish.

I watch his mouth move, I hear the words, but I just don’t retain any of it as I lose focus and kiss him.

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