The drive back to MistFang wasn’t incredibly long. It took only a day to drive from GrassTail to MistFang, without stops of course. I didn’t want to stop and risk being caught between borders. I still felt like someone was watching me, despite leaving GrassTail.
The excitement of going home after a few months negated the feeling of how exhausted I really was. The familiar territory of MistFang was only encouraging my excitement.
By the time I pulled up to the pack house, it was already in the late afternoon, the sun barely hanging in the sky. As I was closing the car door, the front door opened and out spilled the twins I was raised with.
Wide grins spread across their faces. I took a step back. “Shorty is back!” One of them called, and practically lunged at me.
“No- no, don’t you dare-” I tried but it was too late. The twins scooped me up into a big hug and began to squeeze me a bit too hard. “You better stop, I really have to pee!”
My attempts were to no avail. I was practically engulfed by these two males, suffocating me with how tight I was being held. It was a few minutes before my feet were finally allowed back on the ground.
“Alright alright.” I pushed at them to give me space. Huffing, I fixed my hair. “You don’t have to do that every time I come back home.”
“But we’ve missed you.” One of the Crossfield brothers says. Probably Liam.
I shook my head at them and moved around to the back of the car, taking the bags out of my trunk. “Make yourselves useful?” I handed my bags to them.
Liam and Elijah groan but take my bags away from me and head back into the pack house. I took the last bag out of the car and closed the trunk. Stopping, I took a deep lungful inhale, taking in the scent of home. My wolf was happy to be back.
A sort-of giddiness took over me when I entered the open door of the pack house. It was bustling with pack members, making preparations for dinner tonight and general upkeep.
My room was upstairs in the same corridor as the Alpha’s. It was kind of him to have taken me in as basically his daughter from such a young age. I trailed up the stairs and made my way to my room. The pack house was much larger than GrassTail’s was; but I could still remember where everything was like it was the back of my hand.
My room was just how I left it. My black sheets thrown about and spilling onto the floor, dresser opened with clothes thrown askew, and the blinds still open for any to look through. Maybe not the brightest thing to do, but I had no time between when I was assigned to GrassTail and when I had to be there.
The twins had left my bags at the foot of my bed, and I placed my last one next to them. I would have time to unpack them later tonight. For now, I wanted to go back downstairs and relax with the rest of MistFang.
I heard the thudding of someone running down the hallway towards my room. I turned around to see a flustered female. She squealed and threw herself at me. “You’re back!” She screamed.
I grinned and hugged her tightly. I rubbed my cheek on hers, greeting our wolves. “Rosalin.” I laughed. “Did you miss me?”
She squeezed me tighter for a split second before releasing me and stepping back. “I don’t know, did I miss you Crossfield?” She shook her head at me, but she couldn’t fix how happy she looked.
“Aw, look at you. You grew while I was gone.” I said to her. Despite being eighteen, she had still grown taller in my absence. She easily towered over me.
“And you didn’t.” She ruffled my hair. I stuck my tongue out at her and moved past her to the door.
“Come on,” I called to her. I still wanted to go down and greet the pack.
As we walked down the stairs to the pack, Rosalin filled me in on the pack gossip I had missed while I was at GrassTail. Most of it was things I could’ve guessed, like Dumel having her third pup in the three months I was gone. She had already been pregnant when I left. I stopped Rosalin when she mentioned that Liam had chosen a mate.
“Hold on, hold on.” I stopped us, only a few steps to the bottom. “Liam chose his mate?”
Rosalin’s face lit up with excitement, holding back a big grin. “Yes! Him and that boy. .” She trailed off and looked up at the ceiling, trying to recall his name. “The Spinney boy.” She bounced on her heels.
Happiness washed over me. I felt so happy for Liam. He had been willing to give up the Alpha title to his brother, in exchange for being zeta. His sacrifice was already paying off. An alpha-to-be couldn’t choose a mate until he was alpha.
We continued down the stairs and mingled with the rest of the pack.
Rosalin refused to leave my side, which was fine. I was happy to be back with my old friends and catching up with what I had missed. We all touched cheek to cheek, welcoming me easily back into the pack. My returns were always like this, but it never failed to warm me.
Again I felt the unease that I was being watched. It was just a feeling; trickling down my spine like a cold chill. My eyes wandered over the faces of MistFang but I could find none that gave me that feeling.
My happy mood dissipated but I continued to keep a smile on my face. The pack began to shift outside where the food was; a barbecue.
A perfect night to come home.
The alpha and those who ate at his table were not here of course; it wasn’t a special occasion. My wolf was slightly offended that he hadn’t come to see me and welcome me back, but I pushed her out of my mind.
Rosalin and I headed to the line of wolves waiting to get food. We filed in behind them and grabbed our own plates. Rosalin chattered on but my focus was elsewhere. “Hey, are you listening to me?” Rosalin waved a hand in front of my face.
“I’m sorry, I zoned out.” No point in lying. She would ask what she said and I wouldn’t be able to repeat it to her.
She sighed and filled her plate with meats. “I was saying that NightBlood has taken the second rank.”
I froze slightly. NightBlood? Last I remember, they were bottom of the top packs. Not weak, just not dominant.
“What do you mean they’ve taken second? How?” I unfroze and began filling my plate.
“I don’t know. I just know that they’re second, and kind of a threat to us now. Alpha Crossfield tried an alliance but their Alpha rejected it. We don’t even know who it is.” Rosalin’s voice shook like she was actually frightened by this.
It didn’t sound like too much of a big deal to me; this happened all the time. Ranks shifted and it was within an alpha’s right to reject an alliance. So what?
“Crossfield.” Rosalin whispered to me. I leaned closer to her, letting her know she had my ear. ”Goyo has been gone for a month. He usually returns very quickly. . .”
The Goyo male was the only other spy MistFang had. His methods were very different from mine. Whereas I establish myself in the pack and learn through false trust, Goyo preferred to watch and wait. If he was gone for a month, things weren’t good.
“I’m sure he’ll be back soon. There’s no reason to be afraid of this NightBlood. They were bottom not too long ago; they can’t be that threatening. We will all be fine.” My wolf snorted in my mind, her fur bristling at the threat being shown to her pack.
Rosalin quieted, seemingly comforted by my words. I did have some bits of alpha blood in me. It was natural for me to want to protect everyone.
We sat together at a small table full with others around our age. They didn’t seem conflicted at all, perhaps unknowing of NightBlood.
I ate in silence, my mind on NightBlood. MistFang had an alliance with them in the past. MistFang liked to ally ourselves with lower ranks due to how often the ranks shifted. You never knew when it would shift again and you suddenly have a stronger ally. If NightBlood now refused an alliance it could possibly mean that there was a new alpha.
The dinner went by slowly and once again I found myself not wanting to eat. Rosalin was distracted by other friends, and I took that chance to wander to the alpha’s quarters.
I knocked on his office door.
I heard a muffled “come in” from behind the door. I opened the door and was happy to see that he was alone. “Hi uncle.” I greeted.
Alpha Crossfield looked up from a stack of papers on his desk and smiled at me. It didn’t meet his eyes. “Welcome home.”
I shut the door behind me and came closer until I was a foot away from his desk.
“Sit.” He half-commanded.
Sitting down, I held my hands in my lap. Alpha Crossfield only looked at me and I took that as a sign that he wanted my report. “Alpha, it was just as you suspected. The new GrassTail Alpha, Alpha Herek, is planning to attack MistFang with the help of Alpha Javenson. The SteelPaw Alpha, that is. GrassTail is not doing well with their new Alpha. He has a weak Beta, and had a weak Gamma. While I was there I witnessed BlueRock attack GrassTail. Only one pack came to help GrassTail and they were not appreciated by the Zeta or anyone. BlueRock was defeated. Soon after the battle, the Gamma of blood was challenged and lost, and a new Gamma has taken the spot.” I finished my report, giving smaller details in addition to what I said.
Alpha Crossfield didn’t look pleased, and rightfully so. GrassTail had been an ally of MistFang for many years. He removed his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose, sighing. I shrunk a little in my seat. It wasn’t anything I did, but it was a natural reaction.
“Well fuck.” He leaned back in his seat. He shook his head, his mess of gray and brown hairs shaking with him. “So GrassTail and now NightBlood.”
My ears perked at NightBlood. “NightBlood?”
“Ah that’s right, you haven’t been here to hear the gossip.” He paused. “NightBlood has a new Alpha. Alpha Blackford.” The name is spat out. “He’s refused my attempts at alliance. He’s gaining ranks through smaller packs. He thinks he’s some mighty stud. He’s just a pup, really.”
“Alpha?” My voice shook. “How does one take a pack? I thought it was all about consent and whatnot.”
“Blackford is taking them, though. He’s just taking them. And nobody is willing to fight him to have them back. He’s chewing like the pup he is at everyone’s territory.” Alpha Crossfield muttered. He had risen from his seat and was staring out of the pack window.
“Alpha, there’s one more thing.” I began. He didn’t turn to look at me. “I uh, I feel like I’m being watched. I’m worried now.” I saw his shoulders slump.
A long silence followed what I said. His head hung slightly. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat.
“I want you to go to NightBlood. Find out anything you can. Who he is allied with. What his stupid ambitions are. Anything. Everything.”
“Wait what?” I stood up, my chair scraping on the floor behind me. My rage was bubbling underneath the surface. “I just got home! You can’t just send me out immediately. Where’s Goyo?” I almost growled at my alpha.
Alpha Crossfield whipped around, snarling at me. “Goyo will also be at NightBlood. I don’t care that you just got home. I am your Alpha and I am giving you an order. Now is not a time to throw a fucking tantrum!”
I couldn’t help my wolf. She snarled back at him, probably showing through my eyes. We both wanted to be home and certainly not wasting time with this lowlife NightBlood. They weren’t worth our time. Alpha Crossfield leaned over his desk and I did the same, our snarls not ending.
I saw his wolf rising behind his eyes. My challenge was not appreciated, and he wanted that known. “Fine.” I growled out. It was another minute before we both retreated. I was no match for an alpha and it was better I held onto my dignity.
“You leave tonight.”
Restraining from growling out again, I simply nodded my head.
“Crossfield?” He called me by our last name when I was almost out of his office. I paused and glared at him. “Thank you.”
I almost slammed his door shut but didn’t. I headed back to my room, holding in the rage that wanted to spill out. I was going to have to leave without notifying anyone. It would upset the pack, but I understood that Alpha Crossfield was desperate. He didn’t like feeling like he could be bested.
My mood was beyond sour as I entered my room. I suppose the only good to come out of this was that I hadn’t unpacked. Everything was ready to go. Before I left, I turned around and shut my blinds.