Twenty Nine | Hakota
I was still quivering over the puddle of my own vomit, Sitka sitting back on his heels staring at me in shock when Cleo decided to make her appearance. It was mortifying that she saw me in this state but I knew that moving would give me an instant head rush and the only thing that could be more embarrassing was if I fell over.
"What the hell's wrong with him?" She barked, nudging my ribs with her boot.
I groaned and my right arm buckled as I lost my balance.
"For Lune's sake," she muttered and dropped to her knees in front of me. She threaded her fingers through my hair and wrenched my head back, pulling it at a painful angle. She whipped my head from side to side. "Why are his eyes doing that?" She demanded, turning over her shoulder to Sitka.
Sitka shuffled closer and looked at whatever she was seeing. All I knew was that the light was really hurting my eyes and was causing me to rapidly flutter them in an attempt to squint.
"I don't know," Sitka murmured.
Cleo let out an annoyed sigh and released her tight grip. My head fell forward, bowing low between my arms.
"You and I need a word," I heard Cleo say lowly. I assumed she was speaking to Sitka because I heard them stand and watched their feet walk away.
I was grateful I was near the edge of the camp, but I was still concerned that anyone could walk by and see me in such a pitiful state.
I wasn't alone long though.
A few moments later a single pair of footsteps came towards me. My mate's scent flooded over me but I did not feel relief in her presance.
The female roughly pulled me up, not caring about my pained groan as the blood rushed from my head. "I don't have time for this Hakota," Cleo snipped irritatidly. She smacked something soft against my chest and I instinctively latched onto it when she let go. I looked down to see a full traveling pack in my hands. It was not my own but it was already prepared for departure.
"What?" I managed to get out.
Cleo was already walking away, a pack of her own hiked around her shoulder. "I packed it before I came to find you," her answer was clipped and cold.
"We're leaving now?" I asked incredulously. I had only just found out about her plan and now I wasn't even sure that her plan was necessary considering I'd just demoted myself from being the alpha.
"Yes, Hakota. That's why I am walking out of the camp." Her answer was slow and deliberate as if explaining to a stupid child.
Her quick steps had her moving at a fast clip and even though my strides were longer, I was struggling to keep up. "Cleo wait," I called after her, struggling to form the words circling my brain. I was attempting to tell her that there was no point in me going with her now but then I realized it didn't matter if I was the alpha or not. My pack was still my family and I would at least see them, let them pass their judgment on me before I walked away from them. If they still wanted me as a pack member good. If not, I would find a way to survive. Being a loner wouldn't be too hard, would it?
Who was I kidding?
Wolves were pack animals.
I'd go crazy without companionship. Well, crazier than I had been these last two years.
As we exited the camp, a certain werewolf in which I held much contempt was waiting for us. Cleo didn't even glance his way, making a self satisfied feeling of smugness warm my blood. However, my blood soon turned to ice in my veins as he fell in step beside Cleo, a pack also slung across his back.
I waited for Cleo to tell him off but she did no such thing, only continued to trudge ahead.
We passed the first checkpoints, the the second, and then the third. I waited for him to split off but he continued along with us.
Oh hell no.
This was not happening.
Was Lune really so cruel as to force me to suffer a journey with my mate and her lover?
I stopped walking. There was no way in hell I was going to put myself through that.
Cleo didn't miss a beat and halted as well, spinning around to see what the problem was. "What are you doing Hakota?" She demanded.
"I will wait for Innoko and Terrin. I will head to the Old Kingdom with them and the troops. You and the werewolf can go yourselves. I will not--"
"You will," Cleo easily intervened.
I ground my teeth together and squared off with her. "No, Cleo," I said, "I won't."
The small hunter glared at me. Her chest rising and falling in a sudden breath before she dropped her pack on the ground by her feet and stomped her way over to me. "Move your ass, Hakota."
I glared down at her, "I will go to the Old Kingdom, you have my word, but I will not travel alongside that werewolf."
"Get over it," Cleo hissed, "and you won't be heading back with Innoko because we are not going to the Old Kingdom."
I frowned. Not going to the Old Kingdom? Then where were we going? Frayah and the others were there, and Sitka said that she wanted us to all be in one place again. "But Sitka said--"
"I lied to him obviously," she snapped, huffing out in annoyance.
I frowned, "Why would you--"
"Really Hakota? I don't recall you being so slow."
I bristled at her tone and rudeness, "Don't insult me. You have no reason to lie to Sitka he--"
"No reason?" She drawled, her degrading tone only making me more defensive. I was trying to be nice and she was making it hard to continue to be so. "You think that if I told Sitka I planned to take you and Sebastian with me to take out the Lunars from the inside, he was just going to agree and stand down?"
"No. He wouldn't," she continued in her nasty tone that made me feel inferior. "So shut your mouth and keep walking if you want the Lunars to stop being a thorn in the side."
To say I was embarrassed was an understatement. Not only was she being so cold and condescending, but she made me feel like an idiot. She made it seem like she knew my own pack better than I and she treated me like an incompetent child in front of her werewolf lover.
I was absolutely humiliated and the worst part was I couldn't even get angry over it because I had shut off my alpha side.
"I don't care about the Lunars anymore. Sitka made it clear that the others don't really care if I conquer the Lunar Kingdom or not, so why waste the time and effort?" I hated the way Cleo was acting towards me. Even if I deserved it, it made me feel horrible.
"Oh yes, your most recent selfish decision," she snarked, grabbing her pack and slipping her arms through the straps and pulling it over her back. "Sitka told me what you did. You are a great many things, Hakota, but I never took you for a coward."
"I am not a coward," I murmured under my breath. "They didn't want me as their alpha anymore so I stopped. I gave them what they wanted."
"You ran," Cleo snapped, her hands clenching the straps of her pack. "Things got hard so you tucked tail and ran." She shook her head at me and turned back to the road, continuing her path to the Lunar Kingdom. "You finally realized you messed up but instead of fixing it you just gave up and left."
"That's not what happened," I grumbled, following after her on impulse. I hated when people walked away from me.
She whirled around so fast I lurched backwards so that I did not smack into her. "You want to know what this is?" She gestured around us, at the empty road we were traveling on with her lover a healthy distance away to give us some space although I know he could still hear every word we were saying. "This is you throwing a tantrum."
I opened my mouth to deny it but she lightly smacked me, causing my jaw to snap shut. "Shut up, Hakota. I don't want to hear it. You're worse than Terrin quite honestly." She stabbed my chest with a finger. "I can deal with Terrin's moaning and groaning and his pity parties but I will not deal with you."
"I don't whine," I defended myself.
"No," Cleo agreed surprising me, "you're worse," she added, bursting my bubble. "Your tantrums always have heavy consequences."
"I don't have tantrums," I vehemently denied.
"Alright," she crossed her arms, "how about I name some instances for you then?" She didn't even give me a chance to accept her proposal and started ticking them off on her fingers. "How about your first tantrum at the bonfire when that alpha marked me? You decapitated him as a result."
I was about to remind her that she was partially at fault for that too. She had gotten me riled up and she knew what would happen.
"A second tantrum was when you learned about the Red Zone and the alphas who didn't respect your rule. Three more people died."
Again I was ready to deny it. I did not see that as a tantrum. They were traitors and I executed them. There was a difference.
"Or how about the next instance when I was simply saying goodbye to Pine? I was choosing you for Lune's sake and you killed him as part of your tantrum!" She rapidly moved to her next example, "Or how about the time you thought I betrayed you? You ripped out my goddamn throat even though I killed my own father for you! And now that Sitka tells you that you haven't been a good alpha you throw another tantrum by stepping down as alpha and leaving the pack wide open and vulnerable?" She was shouting at me now and I didn't miss the way the werewolf cringed. "You're petty and impulsive! Sometimes I wonder how you can live through what you have and still act like a damn child."
She was breathing heavily as she finished her rant, her eyes glowing with the burning fire within her.
I kept my mouth firmly shut this time because I had nothing to say. I had no defense.
With the alpha in me cut off, I couldn't even force myself to believe my own reasoning behind my actions.
When I was the alpha, I had to give myself those reasons. I had to believe I'd made the right choice because once I started doubting myself, I'd stop making decisions. And an alpha who didn't make decisions could not be a leader.
Cleo seemed satisfied that I had no reply and turned on her heel, her boots scuffing on the dirt path as she walked.
I could only follow after her.
She was the alpha my pack had chosen, and after demoting myself that meant that now I wasn't. I didn't give the orders anymore, I had to follow them now no matter how much it irked me.
Cleo had told me what to do so I could only hitch the pack strap higher over my shoulder and follow after her.