The drive across town was long. My feet were starting to ache from being cramped, and there was a special motion sickness that came from just watching trees move by for minutes on end. Aponi and Kaya were up front with the pack’s Xi — resource manager — Chaska. Chaska was a sturdy build man with a serious face and a deep baritone voice. He scared me sometimes, but he was a sweetheart. I was in the back with Alek and Len. It was a tight fit, but mostly because Len and Alek kept their distance even though they were sitting next to each other, leaving me squashed up by the window.
Len was asleep now. He had his head on my shoulder and a little frown on his face as he held onto my arm.
My gaze moved from Len’s cold face to Alek’s tired one. He was resting his head on the window glass, and his eyes were half-closed. His blue eyes suddenly went wide open, and I watched as Alek raised his head before turning his gaze to me. We stared at each other for a while, holding each other’s gaze with no purpose exactly. I was the first person to look away. I heard him let out a sigh as I wiggled my leg a bit, trying to make sure it didn’t go to sleep. I let out a hum to drown out the repetitive sound of the truck’s tires crushing the sand as we drove on the dirt roads.
“We’re here,” Chaska said as we started to drive past little buildings that dotted the landscape. The place where our pack sold our meat and got a hold of household supplies wasn’t too far away. I could remember the place clearly. I shook Len by the shoulder, making him wake up and let go of my arm as he raised his head and rubbed his eyes with a hand he had balled into a fist. Alek was looking out the window still, nibbling on his lips as we continued to drive through the roads.
The town became denser and more populated as we drove into the heart of it. We soon got to our destination, and the Xi packed the truck before unlocking the doors and climbing down.
“Aponi, Len and I will sort out the trade,” he said as everyone got down. Everyone was squinting under the sun as they stretched their legs and looked around. It was a warm day. Winter had finally given way to spring. “You two can sort of the shopping list,” he said, looking at Kaya and me. We were standing next to each other now, taking instructions from our resource manager.
“You’ll go with them, you can find the things you need at the convenience store,” the Xi said, looking over at Alek. The foreigner gave him a curt nod before staring down at his feet. Unlike us, Alek’s clothes were bright. The sky-blue jacket and red trousers he had on made him stand out more than he already did. Some people in the parking lot were looking over to us. It was known that our pack — our pack drove down to town from time to time, so I was sure their curiosity was fixated more on Alek because he was clearly not part of our reserve.
Chaska frowned a bit, playing with his earring as he sniffed the air. Aponi did the same, and then Kaya. We stood in silence for a while, probably all coming to the same conclusion. “If you see anyone from the Weberville pack, ignore them,” The Xi said, breaking the silence and making Kaya groan. Len and I chuckled a little, and Alek just watched us in confusion. Kaya had some bad blood with one of Webberville’s pack members. The pack had been none existent five or so years ago, but the growing congregation of werewolves moving down from places like Ontario, Montreal, and Calgary to come down to the more rural areas for safety stipulated an informal one.
“We’ll be off now. We’ll meet up at seven,” the man said as Len made to open the Truck’s trunk. The smell of deer blood hit my nostrils and I looked away. I could never be more pleased with having been born an Omega. I don’t really think I could be anything else. Hunter, Watcher, Manager? None of those roles suited me. Automatically filed into care/housekeeping worked best for me.
“Come on,” Kaya said, making a gesture towards the grocery/convenience store we often visited. Alek and I walked on either side of her. Kaya’s short hair flapped around in the wind, and Alek and I had our hair in buns. When we got into the store Kaya immediately pulled out a shopping list, and I got us a basket as Alek wandered to another end to grab the things he needed.
I walked around with Kaya, mostly hanging around the food section as we got cereal and spices.
“Where’s Alek?” Kaya asked me in a low tone, looking up from the tin of corned beef in her hand. I blinked, looking away from her to stare into the aisle across. Alek was looking at toys. I frowned in confusion, wondering what he was doing.
“Huh, I wonder when he’s leaving,” Kaya muttered, making me turn to her again. She had red eyeliner, and her lips were painted black. “I’m guessing when the construction up the road is finished or when he runs out of money and has to absolutely leave,” Kaya continued saying, dropping the can of corned beef back on the shelf before grabbing another one from a different brand.
“When are you going to fuck him?”
“He’ll be leaving sooner or later, it’s better to do it than regret it. Wouldn’t you prefer doing it with a stranger? It’s not like things will become uncomfortable and you’ll have to see him forever like you would if you messed around with someone in our pack. He’s pretty handsome too,” she said, and I licked my lips, looking down at my shoes as the words left me. I didn’t have anything to say to that. She had a point. I was desperate for physical contact, and Alek was there — perfect and willing.
“Spirits help me,” I cursed under my breath as my face warmed up. Kaya laughed at me, watching as I nibbled on my bottom lip and darted my eyes over to Alek from time to time. Was I really going to sleep with him just because I felt lonely?
I walked past Kaya, leaving her with the basket of groceries before walking over to Alek who was now at the corner where they sold batteries. I stood beside him for a while, and he looked up after a handful of seconds, his eyes wide in surprise and his brow arched in question.
“What are you getting?” I asked in a low tone, looking down at his basket. There was a little toy soldier mixed in with the supplies in it.
“Things,” Alek muttered, looking back at the shelf. “Batteries, tape — things I could use on the road, you know?” he said, making me shrug as I looked down at our feet. My heart was beating fast, and my head felt clogged with thoughts. I always felt this way when I was close to Alek, and I guess he felt the same way too. There was no denying the chemistry between us, and maybe it would be a good thing to stop ignoring it like it didn’t exist.
“The toy’s for Elan if that’s okay,” Alek spoke up after a period of silence. I nodded, looking down at the basket he had in his grip again.
“It’s fine, but Elan likes teddies,” I said, watching as Alek swiftly took the toy soldier out of the basket before heading to switch it out for a bear.
I laughed, sighing and shaking my head as he walked back to me. “You didn’t have to do that,” I sighed, watching as the foreigner shrugged his shoulders.
“I’m trying to get on his good side, I have to be accurate,” he said, making a shiver run through me as I spotted the double meaning. Was he trying to get Elan to like him because of me? I sucked in my bottom lip, letting the questions that had been swimming in my head for a while pop out.
“When do you think you’re leaving?” I asked, watching as the blond-haired man shrugged.
“Whenever they’re done with the construction uphill, or when I absolutely have to leave,” he said, brushing past me. I blinked, following behind him and wandering to the aisle where they kept lighters and the like.
“What do you do? I mean, since you left your pack what do you do for work?” I asked, leaning on the shelves as Alek squat by the shelves to look at something. He smiled, shrugging a bit as he looked through the types of polish they had.
“You know, things. Odd jobs here and there,” he explained, and I just nodded.
“Do you think you’ll ever settle down somewhere—?”
“I feel like I’m being interviewed,” Alek said, cutting me off. I blinked, realizing how invasive I was being. I apologized, looking down at the tiles as I scolded myself in my head.
It’s just—” I paused, holding his gaze with his. “I’m trying to make a decision.”
“Hmm,” Alek hummed, getting up before looking down at the tub of polish in his hand. “And what kind of decision might that be?”
“You know.” I shrugged. “I’ve been thinking — about you,” I started, watching Alek look at me with a small frown. “What if we—” my words got stuck in my throat. “You know.” I shrugged. My face was burning now, and I wondered why I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth even though I was a grown adult.
“Are you sure?” Alek asked when he got the hint. I was bad at flirting. I think most wolves were. You just grew up and had it easy because your lifelong partner was already assigned to you. It wasn’t supposed to be this roundabout to get laid.
“Yeah,” I answered, nodding as I looked straight at Alek again. “I think it’s time I stopped being a spoilsport about my mate leaving me, right?” A sad smile made its way to my face, and an equally uncomfortable smile crept onto Alek’s lips too.
“I wouldn’t know what that feels like, I don’t have one,” Alek said after some time. “But I think you can still grieve about things while enjoying yourself,” he mumbled, rolling the tub of polish between his fingers.
“I think I’ll get this one,” he said, breaking the silence that had fallen upon us when I didn’t say anything.
“Definitely, good choice...” I trailed, watching him drop it in the basket before picking it up again.
“Hey,” I called when Alek wanted to make for the direction of the cashier. Kaya seemed to have already paid and left. She was nowhere in sight and was probably standing outside by the truck waiting for Len and Chaska. “Maybe you should get—” I stuttered, my last words not coming out. With a sigh, I pushed back strands of my hair that had come loose from my bun as I tried to arrange my words.
Why couldn’t I just say it? Not using protection was why I had Elan in the first place.
“I could get pregnant, so—”
“Oh,” Alek said, relieving me from the pains of having to explain further.
“Yeah...” I trailed, and he gave me a small smile before handing the basket to me.
“I’ll be back,” he said, before wandering away.
We only exchanged knowing looks when he got back before paying for everything and the cashier and heading out to the big central space that hosted the parking lot and drive-through. As expected, Kaya was by the truck, but she was talking to someone that wasn’t part of our group. The scent in the air told me it was a wolf, and since the scent was familiar but still strange, I tagged its owner as being part of the pack that lived in his town. The closer we got to the two, the more obvious it was that they were arguing.
“Just fuck off.” Were the last words we heard before the stranger shook his head and walked away. Kaya looked like she was shaking, so I reached out to give her a side hug, burying her head in my shoulder as her frown softened as her lips continued to tremble.
“What’s going on?” I asked, rubbing her shoulder as I stared out into the parking lot.
“A Webberville wolf?” I asked, and she nodded.
“He says there are plans to relocate our reserve,” she said. “I don’t think the construction uphill is the end, but the beginning,” she said in a low tone. My arms went limp, and I wasn’t sure what I could say that would make any of that sound better. We had this issue occasionally. The pack elders would fight it out, and we’d get to keep our reserve without a headache for a while until the government suggested its plans again. It didn’t help that we were sitting right at the center of an oil rig area.
“Do you think we’ll have to move eventually?” Kaya let out. She was more asking herself the question than me. I stayed quiet, only turning to my side when I heard Alek walk up to stand beside us.
I sighed as he reached out to squeeze my shoulder.
It was a nice gesture, but it wasn’t enough to wade away the worry in my mind.