Becoming One Of Them
The next morning when I woke up Ahote as nowhere in sight. I stared up at the ceiling, wondering where he had gone when I realized what he had to do this morning. I sat up, feeling the sound of my heart pounding in my ears.
“Has he—?” My voice cut off when the sound of the bedroom door creaking open filled the room.
Ahote slipped through the small space with a tray in his hand. He smiled a bit at me when he noticed that I was awake.
“Hey,” he muttered, dropping the tray on top of the drawer. “The elders are asking for you. Don’t worry, it’s good news,” Ahote mumbled, grabbing the cup from the tray before sniffing it and frowning. I wondered if it was what I thought it was — the mix for getting rid of his pregnancy. I opened my mouth to say something, but I paused, looking away. It would be over in seconds. I just had to hold in every nerve in my body that was screaming to protest until Ahote was done drinking the mix.
“You’re so quiet, aren’t you going to see them?” Ahote asked, making me blink and look back at him. The cup wasn’t in his hands now, but I could see the steam coming out of it. He didn’t drink it? I wondered, watching as Ahote seemed to shave down a bark with a small knife before putting the dust in his drink.
“I will. I will,” I muttered, answering his question about the elders. My mind wasn’t really on that now. I was more concerned with what was going on in front of me.
“Are you okay?” Ahote asked after a while of us staring at each other in silence.
“Please d-don’t.” My voice was small and shaky. Ahote seemed confused at first, but a small ‘oh’ left his lips when he noticed that my eyes were fixated on his cup. “I know it’s not my place to ask. I’m not going to be the one carrying a baby for nine months or pushing out a seven-pound baby, but please don’t drink that,” I continued, watching as Ahote dropped the knife in his hand before walking over to me.
“But yesterday, you said—”
“I was worried about you. I didn’t think a baby’s what you really needed at this time,” I rambled as Ahote stepped in front of me and ran his hand through my hair. I found my breathing calm as I rested my head on his stomach. I knew there wasn’t really anything there yet, and that it’ll take a while for the little one growing in Ahote to receive their wolf, but I couldn’t help myself from sniffing just in case. My heart was pounding against my chest. “I know I’m being selfish. It’s your choice. You don’t have to listen to me,” I muttered when Ahote didn’t say anything for a while. l pulled away from him, holding on to his waist as I stared up at his eyes. He was nibbling on his lower lip, taking deep breaths as he stared down at me. I could feel my heart breaking.
“You don’t have to say y-yes...” I trailed. My voice was cracked — shaking. You could tell that I didn’t want to say that, but it was the right thing to do. Every fiber in my body wanted Ahote to say yes, but I was prepared for him to refuse.
“I know.” Ahote’s voice was firm. He looked spaced out as he nodded and sniffed, taking a deep breath before looking from me to the cup that was still sitting on the tray at the drawer. “I’ll keep it,” he mumbled, nodding his head like he was trying to convince himself that it was a good idea.
“Are you sure?” I asked, moving from hold Ahote’s waist to holding on to his hands. He was visibly shaking, and it worried me.
“Yes,” he muttered when I pulled him close. “I’m fine.”
“I’m just nervous,” he admitted.
“Nervous?” I asked, pulling away from him again to look at his face. He shrugged his shoulders, muttering something inaudible. “Come on. Please tell me,” I begged, pulling him on my lap.
“The last time I was pregnant Honon left and I already thought I was going to die. I was alone... and I didn’t even know I was pregnant for a few months. Everything was scary...” Ahote muttered, staring down at his feet. He seemed to be having a hard time putting things together, and I didn’t blame him. He’s talked to me about this before, and he seemed to have some selective memory loss of some sort.
“I’ll be here. You know that, right?” I muttered, wrapping my arms around him as I kissed his neck. “I’ll be here every step of the way,” I whispered, making Ahote close his eyes and take in deep sighs. We sat like that in silence for a while, but I couldn’t help myself and found my hand wondering under his shirt to feel his stomach. Ahote opened his eyes, laughing at me, but he didn’t take my hand away. Instead, he clamped his hand over my, humming as we stared out into the room.
“There’s nothing there yet,” he said with a small laugh.
“I know, but there will be,” I replied, still not letting go.
After taking a shower I had to meet up with the pack elders. Since the day I had been allowed to stay in the pack for the time being I haven’t really seen them. They stayed on the second level of the packhouse building, and only ever came down for meetings late at night when most wolves had retired for the day.
“It’ll be fine,” Ahote muttered, giving me a small kiss. We were standing by the doors leading to the meeting room. Aside from meeting with the elders, I was also going to meet with the Alpha and Luna of the park. I was nervous. The last time I saw them face to face I had made a fool of myself
“We can smell you.” The voice from the other side of the door made Ahote and eyes go wide. He smiled at me one last time, running a hand through my hair before leaving me in the hallway alone. I stood by the door for a few more seconds before stepping into the meeting room.
The room had a center table with woven seats arced around it like a circle. The curtains made from light fabric changed the color of the yellow light coming through the window to different hues of red and green. I stared at the greying wolves sitting around staring at me. I bent my head, lowering my gaze.
“Alek.” A feminine voice said, making me look over to one of the two women in the room. “Have a seat,” she muttered, gripping her walking stick before looking at the younger woman seated beside her. I assumed she was the Luna because the only other young person I saw was Halian who I recognized as the pack alpha.
I took the seat offered to me, taking my time to look around the room. Six people in total. Three old men, the old woman, and the Alpha and his Luna.
“The last time we talked face to face we agreed that you would leave once the construction up north was paused or finished,” the Alpha started, and my shoulders went stiff. “It’s spanned two seasons and you’ve made yourself a respectable hunter, you’ve claimed an Omega, and made yourself a father to his son,” the alpha went on, making me look at his expressionless gaze. Like most people in the pack, he had high cheekbones and a defined jaw.
“Ahote tells me you wish to be bound,” the Luna cut in, making me look over at her. She had a long friendly face. Her long-braided dark hair fell around her sides like a curtain. The warm smile she was giving me calmed me down a bit and I nodded, watching as she mirrored my action before turning back to her mate.
“I hope you know that means this is your home now,” one of the elder’s butt in, making me turn to them. “You can’t decide to leave anymore. Did you think over this?” they asked
“Yes.” I nodded. “Yes, I know,” I repeated, watching as the person hummed. He seemed content with my answer.
“Alright then,” another person muttered. “We’ll set a seal date for the summer when the weather is more predictable.”
“For now, we’ll ask Lapu to show you things you might not yet know,” another elder added, and I just nodded.
“You can leave now,” the old lady that had asked me to seat said. I thanked them, lowering my head as I found my way out of the room. Once I closed the door behind me it felt like my heart would leap out of my chest. I let out a long sigh, running my hand through my hair and looking up for the first time since I stepped into the hallway. I blinked in surprise when I spotted Kaya by the door.
“I’m covering my scent,” she answered before I could finish asking my question. “That was a lot easier than I had thought it would be,” she said, and I realized she was referring to the elders agreeing to bound me to Ahote.
“I guess it was,” I agreed, making to walk past her but she reached out to hold my hand. I turned to look at her face. Her short hair bobbed at the length of her cheeks as she bit her bottom lip.
“I’m thinking of doing the same thing with Zeke,” she said. I stared at her in confusion for a bit, but my eyes went wide when I noticed she was talking about her mate.
“He gave me some information about the government pipeline project, and it’s helped a lot with the elders making deals with the local council,” she went on. “Sure, he hasn’t been on ground like you to gain trust, but I know he can—”
“Are you asking me if it’s a good idea?” I asked, cutting her rambling off.
She laughed, letting out a sigh before nodding her head.
“Then go for it,” I said. She looked skeptical but she nodded, letting go of my hand before folding her hands over her chest.
“Yeah, I should,” she muttered, nodding. I smiled at her, leaving her at the door of the meeting room to head over to tell Ahote the good news. When approaching the kitchen, I heard some arguing. It seemed Aponi and Ahote were having a row again. I sighed, deciding to keep the good news for later.