Chapter 15: Aftermath
Seconds after Knox and my’s short conversation, I fell dead asleep. When I awoke again, it was pitch black outside, indicating that I had slept for quite a long time seeing as it was only late afternoon when we’d finished consummating our bond. My entire body was still radiating with warmth and I felt safe and secure - which meant Knox was close by. I heard the bedroom door creak open and saw the outline of his body come closer in the dark.
“Did I wake you?” He asked while extending a cold glass of water my way. I hadn’t realized how much I’d needed it until it was presented to me. I gulped the entire thing down in seconds. Once done, he reached back out and took the empty glass from me. I thanked him as he took a seat next to me on the bed, pressing his cheek to my forehead. It was then that I became aware of how sweaty my entire body was, my hair sticking to my forehead he was now pressed against.
“What are you doing?” I asked, my voice raspy with sleep. I leaned my weight into him as a wave of dizziness washed over my body.
“You’re still running a fever. You have been for a few hours now. Come, I ran you a cold bath. I need to make sure it doesn’t get any higher,” he murmured before sliding his hands under my body and pulling me off the bed and against his chest. The subtle jostling made the contents in my stomach churn, causing me to gnaw at the inside of my cheek in order to keep from throwing up.
When we reached the bathroom, the nauseous feeling became too much and I patted incessantly against Knox’s chest. He took me straight to the toilet where I knelt down and proceeded to purge everything I had left in me, which wasn’t much considering I hadn’t had dinner. The longer I was awake, the worse I began to feel. I hadn’t felt this horrible since I’d shifted for the first time and boosted my natural immune system.
“Knox,” I croaked out miserably, wiping my mouth with a piece of toilet paper and flushing the contents. I leaned back against his legs and blindly reached out my hand for his own, needing his reassurance just then. Now that he was officially my mate, and I was sick with whatever the heck this was, I wanted nothing more than his arms wrapped around me. I felt him move just the slightest, unsure of what he was doing until he pressed the small cap to some mouthwash to my lips. I accepted it thankfully and swished the burning liquid around in my mouth until I could no longer taste bile. I whined once again, unable to put into words what I was feeling.
“I know, Flower,” he mumbled sympathetically before hoisting me up and helping me into the ice-cold tub, not needing to strip as I was still naked - something that was highly convenient in my half-coherent state. He stepped in right after me, settling his bulky frame behind me. He began cupping the water with his hand and bringing it up to the top of my head, letting it coat my scalp before rushing down the rest of my body. I sighed with relief as I molded my body to his own, curling up into a small ball in his lap. He continued to bring the water up and over my body, the sound morphing into something so rhythmic and soothing. His strong fingers tangled in my long, wet tresses as he began massaging at my pounding scalp. His hands constantly touching me in some way had done wonders to soothe the uneasy feeling in my stomach, forcing away any last niggling of nausea I had remaining.
“Why?” I questioned childishly, knowing he would understand that I was speaking of how horrible I was currently feeling. I was smart enough to know that it had something to do with our mating, but that was truly the extent of my knowledge.
“Because I’m a Lycan and our DNA combined during our mating. Your own wolf’s DNA is changing to partially match my own. The reason you’re feeling so sick and weak is because your wolf is going through its development almost all over again, just as it did before you reached puberty, so your immune system has reverted back to that of when you only had your skin side. It will only last for a few days at the most,” He murmured as if it were the most casual thing in the world.
If I wasn’t completely drained and had even an ounce of energy, I would’ve been freaking out. He basically just told me I was going to be part fucking Lycan now.
So much for blending in…
The second time I awoke, there was bright light streaming in through the window, illuminating the medium sized bedroom I was in. I looked around, taking in all the details - which were far and few between - and came to the conclusion that this wasn’t anyone in particulars house. I sat upright, instantly regretting the decision as I still wasn’t feeling great.
“Knox?” I called out, my voice nothing but a hoarse rasp. When I’d lost it, I wasn’t sure, but it was gone for the time being. I closed my eyes and felt around our bond, relieved when I sensed him near. I slumped back down on the bed, feeling incredibly fatigued as I massaged my temples and willed the headache that made an appearance to go away. Seconds later, my mouth watered as the smell of food wafted into my nose. I heard the bedroom door creek open and peered over my shoulder just in time to see Knox enter with a tray filled comically full of all different kinds of food balanced on one hand with four different pillows shoved under his other arm.
I gave him the biggest smile I could muster in response to his worried expression. He set the tray down on top of the dresser in the corner and made his way to me, gently helping me sit up against the headboard. He took the extra pillows he brought with him and expertly placed them behind me to keep me comfortable while I was propped up. I weakly grabbed the front of his shirt and ushered him down to my level and rubbed my cheek against his own. The intimate action portrayed all that I wanted to say but didn’t have the voice or energy to; my gratitude for him taking care of me and my growing love for him as my mate. A purr-like noise of satisfaction rumbled from his chest as he nuzzled me back. We stayed that way for a few seconds until he pulled back and pressed a chaste kiss to my cheek then forehead. My hands released him and fell back into my lap as he turned away to grab the food, giving me a moment to survey him.
I noticed a few small things about him that were different than before. For one, he was much more affectionate. Not that he wasn’t before, but it wasn’t portrayed in his actions. I could only see it in the way he looked at me. Now it wasn’t just his intentions that were affectionate, everything he did mirrored his intent now; almost as if he was more comfortable and confident in displaying his affection for me. I had a feeling it had to do with my wolf fully accepting his bond to us. Secondly, his entire stature seemed much more relaxed than he’d ever been before. He still had a serious look about him when his eyes weren’t trained on me, but he just seemed to be more...at peace in a way.
Knox set the tray across my lap and climbed back into the bed next to me. I watched him fidget around for a few seconds, trying to get as close to me as possible until he huffed in irritation. Getting back up, he moved the tray once more, causing me to shoot him a confused look. He pulled the pillows he had just placed out from behind me and threw them on the floor and slid his body in place instead. I giggled quietly at his antics while fully resting against his hard, yet somehow comfortable, chest. The tray was placed on my lap once again and I glanced at all the sick-day food; a heaping bowl of chicken noodle soup, a couple pieces of plain toast, a sleeve of saltine crackers, a large glass of ginger ale, and a couple oranges.
I picked up the spoon, my hand shaking and causing most of the liquid to spill over as I slowly brought it to my lips. I sighed in annoyance at my own inability, too tired to even eat. I rested my head back against Knox’s chest as a few stray tears slid down my cheeks out of frustration and exhaustion.
“Shh, Flower, it’s alright,” Knox murmured soothingly. He took the spoon from my fingers and brought it to my lips. I opened my mouth and gratefully accepted the spoonful, the perfectly warm liquid running down my throat and filling my empty stomach that finally ceased its rumbling.
“Where did you get all this?” I asked with a shaky voice, wondering if this was actually someone’s house and we were possibly trespassing.
“I mind-linked Grace and informed her that you were sick and I needed some things for you. She brought them over as soon as I asked,” he explained before bringing another spoonful to my lips. I nodded and continued eating, feeling a smidgen of my energy coming back as my stomach began to fill. Once I’d eaten the entire bowl of soup, half the crackers, and all the toast I couldn’t take another bite.
“Knox?” I asked, figuring I would get the most honest answers out of him in my vulnerable state.
“Yes, Flower?” he responded while moving the tray away so he could fully envelope me in his arms.
“How come you’re in this pack? Why aren’t you ruling your own?” I asked, knowing that from the pack history I had to study that there’s never been a Lycan who wasn’t a leader. People were naturally drawn to them, looking for guidance and rule simply due to the power they emit. His body stiffened as he took a deep breath and held it.
“I don’t want power at all,” he hissed out harshly. “I’ve experienced first hand what it does to people and how it can hurt people,” he finished cryptically.
“What do you mean?” I asked while slowly, shifting so I was somewhat sideways and running my hands up and down his chest to soothe him. I wanted to know all about his past - it was something we hadn’t ever brought up and now I could see that he avoided it for some reason I intended to learn. He glanced down at my innocent and curious face, a swarm of emotions flittering across his own before he squeezed his eyes shut and let his head lull back to rest against the headboard.
“When I was four-years-old, my parents had given birth to my first sibling. There were some complications during delivery which made my mother unable to become pregnant again. When my father’s older brother - my uncle - came to see my sister for the first time in the pack hospital, my father broke down and confided in my uncle about what had happened. What none of us knew was that my uncle was still deeply resentful about my grandfather picking my father over him for the Alpha title.
“A few months later, my uncle snuck into our home and took me and my sister from our parents. I was so young, and I trusted him with my life, that I let him take us blindly. It wasn’t until we drove out of my pack’s boundary lines that I realized something wasn’t right. I don’t remember much except for being handed off to a stranger as my uncle left with my baby sister. I never saw her again. The next eight years I spent within the confines of a cell wall, in a compound, in the middle of nowhere. I was only allowed out on the night of my first shift when I turned twelve. I had so much pent up anger and hatred that when my first shift was said and done, I killed everyone and everything in sight. My wolf had completely taken over. I wasn’t sure how many days I ran wild as my skin side had blacked out.
“I was determined after finally getting away. I’ve spent the past ten years looking for my family. I have traveled just about every inch of unclaimed territory because I was unable to step foot into pack land for fear of my uncle discovering that I’m still alive,” he finished with an audible swallow of emotion. I hadn’t realized I was bawling until his hand came up to wipe the tears away from my cheek.
“Why would your uncle do that? All to get back at your father for a decision he didn’t even make!” I blubbered.
“Do you not get it, Flower? With my sister and I gone, and my parents’ inability to have another child, it meant that they couldn’t produce another heir to the pack, thus forcing them to hand the position of power down to my uncle and his mate who could,” He explained slowly as my muddled brain finally caught up and realized how disgustingly devious and horribly smart his uncle was. My hand flew up to cover my mouth as I sobbed into it, crying for the little boy who was taken from his parents and had his childhood robbed from him. Crying for my mate and the injustice he’d been put through.
“I snuck into my old pack once I’d found my way back a few years into my search, knowing if my uncle caught me I would be killed instantly. I discovered that he’d banished them under the pretense that they’d become crazy with my sister and I’s loss. He said they would bring destruction to the pack and needed to be dealt with,” he sneered. I knew what that meant. It meant he’d made sure every other pack had labeled them as rogues - putting a target right on their backs. Not that anyone would ever dare try to take them on. His parents were pure blooded Lycan’s for crying out loud!
“Though, there is one good thing that’s come from this entire fucked up situation, Flower,” he murmured, effectively ceasing my tears.
“W-what’s that?” I hiccuped out.
“You,” he said with a barely there smile as he pecked my lips. “If it wasn’t for me running into Alpha Aaron a year ago after stumbling into his land hunting a deer, I wouldn’t have you,” he mumbled.
“How come you are here? I thought you said your uncle would find out you’re alive?” I asked, worried that he could be in danger.
“When I met him, he discovered what I was right away. When I told him why I was there and what I was doing, I threatened to kill him if he told anyone anything. Obviously, he quickly realized that having me in their pack would bring him extreme security in case he were to ever need to go to war - so he offered me a deal. I would join their pack and help train his warriors and in turn he would help me try and find my family. He’s been doing a shit job holding up his end of the deal, though,” he scoffed, annoyance dripping from his tone.
“What happened to your parents? Do you think they’re both still alive? And your sister?” I asked quietly, wanting to know the answer but also not wanting to upset him at the same time. He huffed in frustration.
“I know they all are. When I finally went to the council last year and revealed that I was still alive, they were beside themselves. When I told them of what happened, they looked at me like I was crazy - just as my parents had been labeled - but I know they’re still here. I can feel their bond to me still to this day. I don’t know how much longer it will survive. I need to find them before it completely fades after our mating,” he stated with determination and sadness. I swallowed deeply before mulling over what he’d just told me. I knew the council wouldn’t do anything about this - they hated getting their hands dirty with things they would have little to no power over.
“Then maybe we need to stop caring about what other pack’s and The Council thinks and just start entering territory unannounced. You said yourself you’ve searched all unclaimed territory, but if your parents are anything like you then I know they’re smart and can stay hidden in order to survive. They could be hiding from your Uncle in another pack just like you are!” I insisted. His brow furrowed together at my words.
“We?” He asked.
“Of course we. I’m your mate, Knox. I refuse to stand back and wait in safety while you go out pillaging land looking for your parents. We’re stronger together now - well, we will be when my body decides to eventually heal fully,” I muttered in annoyance. He chuckled softly before beginning to rub my arms up and down, soothing the both of us.
“Okay,” he murmured with a single nod of his head. “But first we have to speak with Alpha Aaron. I’ve signed a legally binding contract with him over this and he’s at least on my side. Maybe he can help us get into other territories without causing such an uproar. It will help us keep things quiet so my uncle isn’t made aware,” he said smartly. I agreed just as I felt another wave of exhaustion flood my body. He must have felt it, because he scooted down so I was lying comfortably against his chest.
“Sleep, my Flower,” he whispered into my ear before darkness dragged me under once again.