New Life And New Beginnings
A scream rang through the packhouse, and I could feel the blond hairs on my arms stand up. My first thought was to get up, but the look the other wolves in the room were giving me told me I wouldn’t be able to make it through the door.
“It’ll be over soon,” Aponi said, grasping my hand, and pulling me back to the floor with here. “It’s been hours, but it will be over soon,” she insisted, giving me a warm smile before turning back to the shrine in front of us.
I was in the prayer room with other wolves. Most of them were Ahote’s omega friends, while some of them where attendants that had to help with the delivery. Lapu was in the room too. He was sitting at the far end, bowing down and his forehead pressed to the floor as he continued to recite prayers.
Every time Ahote would cry out from down the hall the humming in the prayer room would get louder. Someone was even playing a calming tune that resembled the trickling of water on a xylophone by the door. I wasn’t allowed to leave the room until it was over. We started at Dawn, and now the sun was about to set. I was losing my mind, and I wasn’t sure if everything was going well with Ahote.
Kaya has given birth two months earlier and it had taken longer, but I wasn’t being logical and was already thinking about the worst.
“He’ll be fine.” I heard Aponi whisper in a soft voice. I turned to her, and she gave me a tired smile before squeezing my shoulder.
I managed to contain myself for four more hours, and I was on the verge of losing my mind at the screams that came towards the end of my wait. The sobs died down, and the cries that filled the halls weren’t that of Ahote, but that if a baby.
There was a stirring in my chest, and I could only stare blankly into the hallway from the open doors as others in the room rushed towards the bedroom Ahote had stayed in all day.
“It’s over,” Aponi’s whisper tickled my ears. She got up, leaving me on the prayer room floor. Lapu walked past me too, only pausing at the door to smile at me before walking away. I remained in the prayer room, my heart thumping in my ears as I listened in for the occasional cry amidst the sounds of older wolves running from room to room to share the news.
“It’s about time you met them,” one of the omega caretakers, Kia said. I looked up at her, feeling a smile spread across my lips as I remembered the first day in the Peace River pack. Kia had been the one to show me my room and talk to me about Ahote.
I got up before following her through the crowded hallway. We reached the bedroom Ahote and our baby were staying in, and she opened the door before pulling me along with her.
Everyone in the room turned their gaze to me. Lapu was sitting on a stool by Ahote’s bed, while Kaya and Aponi were standing at the foot of the bed. The evening had passed hours ago, and the room was lit by orange fluorescence light. I looked over at the bed, my heart beating when my eyes met with Ahote’s. He was sitting up and cradling the baby in a blue blanket against his naked chest. His hair was a mess, draped around his face and shoulders like a curtain, and I noticed his eyes were tired, but they shone with pride and love.
I couldn’t find the words to express my feelings, so I just moved—walking over to kneel by the bed so that I could rest my head on Ahote’s lap after I’d been made to wash my hands by a caretaker. I closed my eyes, saying a silent thank you to the goddesses before opening them to have a look at the cub in Ahote’s hands.
“It’s a girl,” Ahote muttered, pulling aside the blanket about to expose the baby’s dark curls. The baby’s skin was darker than mine but lighter than Ahote. It was too early to tell who she looked like most, but I was sure she had brown eyes behind those tightly shut lids.
“A wolf mix too,” Aponi said, making me look over at her. “Not full grey wolf or Siberian mountain wolf,” she said, bending a bit so that she could touch the baby’s hair. “Off white fur.”
I couldn’t help the smile that broke across my lips. I had guessed as much, too bad I hadn’t been here to see the baby shift myself. When Aponi leaned away I scooted closer to Ahote, so that I could get a closer look at the baby. I was still hesitant about touching the baby, so when Ahote moved to hand the baby to me I freaked out, shaking my head. I could hear Kaya laugh in the background.
“Come on. It’s not like you’ll break her,” she said, as my cheeks grew warm. With some though I took the baby from Ahote who was giving me an encouraging smile. I held on to her awkwardly, balancing her wobbly head with my hand as I stared at her chubby cheeks and tiny mouth.
“Her name’s Catori,” I heard Ahote say. I could sense how tired he was from his voice, and I promised myself to take good care of him throughout the next few months. He deserved it. I had been losing my mind waiting for things to be over, and could never comprehend how painful it must have been for him.
“What does that mean?” I asked, looking up at Aponi who was now hovering over me.
“Spirit,” she said. “She was really the kicker in the womb, wasn’t she?” she added, making me laugh. I nodded, agreeing with her. It was a suiting name.
“How about a Russian name?” I turned towards Ahote’s voice.
I blinked, realizing that he wanted me to pick one out for her. I hadn’t thought about it too much, but a name buzzed in my head, and I couldn’t help but utter it. “Zoya,” I said, reaching out to hold her balled fist. “Life,” I translated, smiling at the little one.
“She’s very lively,” I said, grinning as I turned to look at him. He was covering his chest now, and the sweetest smile was plastered on his face and he nodded. His eyes were closed, and he looked drowsy, so I turned my focus to Aponi who was now giving me a condensed parenting lesson. I noticed that the crowd by the door had thinned out, and it was just me, Ahote, Kaya, Apoin and Lapu in the room.
Kaya left to breastfeed her own child after a while, and Lapu left too, giving his brother a side hug before leaving the room. It took a while for Aponi to leave, but she eventually did when she was sure we were fine on our own with the help of the nearest caretaker just a yell away.
“We’ve made a life together, Ahote,” I said in a small voice when we were alone. Ahote opened his eyes, before looking at me and then our baby.
“I know,” he said as he pulled a pillow to his chest.
“Not just her,” I laughed, tapping the baby’s cheeks. “Us. We’re building a life together,” I emphasized, scooting carefully so that the now sleeping baby didn’t wake up. When I was close enough to Ahote I leaned in and caught his lips with my mouth. Kissing his softly before pulling away to look into his deep brown eyes.
“Do you think we should wake up Elan to show him his sister?” Ahote asked, and I shook my head. It was around two in the morning. Elan could see his sister tomorrow.
“The baby isn’t going anywhere,” I said.
Ahote sighed. “I know, but sometimes things feel like they’re too good to be true, and I get anxious and want to do things quickly because I’m not if they’ll be the same tomorrow,” he said, covering his face.
“I wake up and the first thing I do is look for you,” Ahote said, taking his hands away from his face. His eyes were glossed with tears, and he kept blinking back to hold them in.
“Something in me hasn’t quite caught up with the fact that you’re real and have been here for over a year.” Ahote bit down on his bottom lip before letting out a short laugh. “Sometimes I feel like I’ve dreamt up all this, and you’re not actually real,” he said, looking away. He looked a bit embarrassed about it.
There was nothing to be embarrassed about. I felt the same way.
“I feel the same way sometimes,” I said. “I feel like I’ve dreamt this whole thing up.”
“No one’s going to take away our happiness, Ahote. I promise,” I said, watching as Ahote nodded.
I got up, before moving to put the baby in the carved out crib I had commissioned from a Delta wolf. I looked on at our child before returning to hold Ahote properly. I understood his anxiety wasn’t completely gone. I had meant what I had promised him earlier. I wasn’t going to let anyone take the life we’ve built together, and were still building together.
My new pack. My children. Ahote. All of it. Nothing was going to take them away from this Siberian wolf.
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