Taking Little Steps
The atmosphere in the truck on our way back was tense. Kaya’s jaw was set tight, and the grip Chaska had on the steering wheel looked like it was minutes away from causing it to break.
I wondered what was going on in everyone’s mind. Len looked anxious, and Ahote just had his eyes on the road, the little moment we had shared in the convenience store long forgotten. I really couldn’t understand what was going on, but from the little, I understood I knew that it had something to do with quarreling over land. Back home by the Siberian mountains we just moved up the mountain or further north when humans started to appear in pockets, but here, the werewolves seemed to be integrated into human society. Humans were aware of where they lived — though not knowing that they were werewolves. Humans were sadly in charge of the greater government that controlled the area.
“We seem to be doing this every month now.” Kaya’s voice made Len and Ahote look up front. Chaska was also looking at her from the side of his eyes.
“Maybe we should move—”
“No,” Chaska’s voice was soft, but it held enough authority to make Kaya stop talking. She nibbled on her lip before moving to chew on her fingernail as she slumped back on the Truck’s front seat. She looked distressed—annoyed—whatever you would call her odd frown that made her full brows arch into downturned lines.
“Who told you about this?” Chaska asked.
“Zeke,” she said, and Chaska just nodded, before turning his concentration to the road again. I guessed that Zeke was the wolf that had been talking to Kaya when Ahote and I came up to the truck. From the way Chaska had spoken about the wolves after catching their scent in the air I had assumed that the two packs were rivals, but the softness on Kaya’s eyes when she said the wolf’s name made me waver in my thoughts.
“They’re mates,” Ahote said in a small voice that was too low for either Kaya or Len to hear. I turned to him, my eyes wide and he just gave me a small smile as he made to rest his head on my shoulder.
“They’re not going to do anything about it,” Ahote continued, taking a hold of my hand and giving it a squeeze. I could see Len’s eyes move to our now laced arms. He looked tense and rather angry. He looked away, and Ahote didn’t seem to take notice. Sometimes I wondered if he was aware that the teenager had an obvious crush on him.
The rest of the ride to the pack grounds was quiet. We got back late, maybe around two or three in the morning. Not many people were awake, but once Chaska talked to one of the betas the pack-house was lit up in orange light, and wolves—mostly high ranking filtered into the small meeting room.
After staying in my room for a bit, I admitted my defeat of being curious and wandered back to the pack meeting room. I was standing by the door and trying to figure out what the pack leaders were saying to themselves in a language I couldn’t pick up when I felt a soft hand grip my arm. The scent of the person made my heart race and my mouth water. It was undoubtedly Ahote. I turned my head, looking at the man who now had a forced smile on his face. I frowned a bit and returned the equally unsure smile. I wondered what was on his mind, and why he left tense.
He looked down, and I filled his gaze to the area where he had my arm in a tight lock. He let go, before holding my hand properly.
“We shouldn’t be here,” he whispered, and I nodded, letting him pull me into the hallway and in the direction of the bedrooms. I cocked my brow in confusion when I noticed we had passed the area where the room I was staying in was and were now venturing into a part of the pack-house I’ve never been to before. He stopped at a door before letting go of my hand, and I watched him take out keys before opening it. The scents I was picking up made me conclude that this was his place. He opened the door, and we both walked into the room. The first thing I saw was Elan sitting on the queen-sized bed with the stuffed bear in his hands. He grinned at me, and I smiled back, happy that he was enjoying the toy.
“So...” Ahote started, walking over to the drawer at the end of the room. “This is where I stay,” he said as I took a seat at the edge of his bed and took a look around the room. After a while, I focused my stare on his back, watching his tense shoulders as he looked through his drawers. He looked nervous. We were both in casual house clothes. The first thing we did when we got back aside from alerting the elders was to shower and eat.
“Elan stays here sometimes,” he continued, filling in the void of silence.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?” he asked, turning to lock eyes with me. He was holding on to a pair of little trousers that I supposed belonged to Elan. My lips parted, but nothing came out. I didn’t have anything to say. I just liked looking at him — listening to him.
“I don’t think so,” I admitted, and he sighed, running his lean fingers through his long dark hair. He had undone the braids, beads, and ribbons, and I realized this was one of the few times he just walked around with his hair loose and free of decorations.
“What do we—” Ahote paused, looking away from me. I followed his gaze to Elan who was staring at us with wide brown eyes. He was cuddling with his toy and Ahote seemed to be wondering what to do with him.
“You’re not supposed to be awake,” he said, walking over to the bed before picking up his son. “It’s too early,” he added before looking back at him, “Can I drop him off in your room?” Ahote asked me, making me blink in surprise, but I nodded. He smiled at me before leaving the room. When he was gone, I turned my eyes to the walls of the room, noticing the tapestry that hung from the wooden walls. I wondered if he made them himself, and I wondered why he chose the colors that he did — reds and greens making up floral designs. A sigh left my lips when I realized I still didn’t know too much about Ahote despite being drawn to him in such a personal and intimate way. I blinked when I noticed the pictures hanging at the far end by the drawer. I noticed a familiar face.
I wasn’t sure why shivers ran through my body just seeing his blank face staring right at me. Maybe a part of me felt guilty about making a move on his mate, or maybe a part of me was irrationally jealous that Ahote still kept a piece of him hanging up in his bedroom. I wouldn’t know.
The door to Ahote’s room creaked open and I looked behind me to find him walking with a little smile on his face. “Elan’s asleep now. He really likes the toy,” he said, looking over at me, and his smile faded, giving way for a blank look with furrowed brows.
“Is everything alright?” he asked, making me rub the frown I had on my face.
“Yeah,” I answered, taking my hand away to look at him. Ahote didn’t seem convinced, but he didn’t poke me further. He walked over to the bed, sitting beside me and sinking the bed with his weight. I noticed a lot of things in the pack were handmade. From the bed frames made with lumber to the pillows stuffed with feathers, and the mattresses that seemed to differ depending on stuffing.
“Do you understand what’s going on?” Ahote asked, making me turn to look at him. He was staring at his tapestry now. I assumed he was talking about the whole thing with the government trying to seize their land.
“No,” I answered. I knew very little about it.
“Well, every once in a while, there’s this incentive to build new pipelines,” Ahote tried to explain. I watched him rest his head back on the bed, and I was now looking down at him. At his lovely shaped face and big doe eyes. “Most reserves — protected lands for Canada’s indigenous peoples — is often a target for it. Our only claim to this land is that we’ve been living on it for thousands of years—”
“That’s all you need—”
“Yes, but that’s not how governments work. They’ll break treaties if they have to. This is Alberta. Oil’s money. They’ll try and make us move...” he trailed off as if noticing the conversation was too serious. “Anyway, I shouldn’t think about it too much, the elders will take care of it,” Ahote said after a few seconds on staying silent.
Though I didn’t know why they were dragging their right to their land with mere humans I kept quiet and tried to respect it. If they really wanted to stay here, they could scare the humans out of their wits. It wasn’t as If they were defenseless and at the mercy of them.
He let out a deep breath before nibbling on his bottom lip and giving me a thoughtful smile. “Are you staying over?” he asked. His voice was soft, and his eyes expectant. I felt my heart begin to beat faster. I wasn’t sure what he was implying. Did he want to do that — now? Not knowing how to answer I just looked away, turning my attention to my feet as I tried to control my breathing. I really wanted to be with him that way. I could feel my wolf clawing at my ribs, and I could hear every breath he made, and I could feel every twig of his muscle.
“Doesn’t it feel weird?” Ahote muttered, making me look back at him. He had curled up into a small ball, hugging his knees to his chest as he looked out into the room. I looked at him. Thinking about it for a while before deciding it was safe to lie down beside him. A smile broke on his face, and I mirrored it, feeling the edge of my eyes wrinkle up from the smile.
“I’m not sure if you know what I’m talking about, but it feels so similar...” he trailed, licking his lips. “The thing my wolf does in my chest—” he continued before pausing. He seemed hesitant, but he placed his hand over my chest, making me swallow my spit. “It’s similar to how I felt when I looked at Honon for the first time after my wolf became aware. It’s so close that I’m sort of scared if that makes sense,” he finished, trying not to look at me.
“Do you ever wonder what your mate would have been like?” he asked, seeming desperate to patch up the silence. Why was he asking about my mate now? They didn’t live — they probably never made it past the womb and into the world. Was he trying to make me put myself into his own shoes? Was he trying to make me wonder if I would give up on my mate and find something close with someone else? The question confused and frustrated me, not because I felt threatened, but more so because I could sense how unsure and hesitant, he was. I let out a small breath, inching forward before reaching out to take a hold of his face before making him stare up at him. I smiled at him, and he let out a small laugh before smiling back. We stared at each other under the orange light of the light bulb before inching in closer until our lips met.
It was as if something exploded inside of me. We broke the kiss, and Ahote let out a small gasp as I tried to even my breathing. He got up to turn off the lights before getting on the bed again and crawling up to me. After a while of just lying side by side, we made to connect our lips again, but this time we took it slow. Building up the moment until we let our lips park and our breaths fan each other’s face. I made to run my hand through his hair, and he did the same with mine. We just laid there, pressed up against each other with our legs tangled together as we felt each other’s faces as the sound of our hearts beating filled our ears.
“Maybe not all the way today?” Ahote suggested, and I nodded. The feeling of just holding each other was overwhelming. I wasn’t sure what having sex with him would feel like. Also, from time to time I would see some hesitation run through his eyes. I could understand why. This might be the final ax to the bond he shared with Honon.
“That’s fine,” I muttered, and Ahote smiled before burying his head in my chest. He went to sleep soon after, but my heart couldn’t stop beating, and I couldn’t stop reveling in the fact that I was so close to having everything I ever wanted. It might be a leap, but I was hoping that things with Ahote worked well. I wanted us to have a relationship, and I ready to give him the time he needed to let go of Honon.