Fit For Fire

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Family Ties

Zach

My thoughts marched in time to the endless clacking of my keyboard. The last week has passed by slowly. After her appointment, Adeline did all she could to avoid me. I kept telling myself that she was probably just embarrassed after our emotional night together. No matter how many times I told myself that though, I was still afraid that she was retreating from our momentary closeness and that if I didn’t do something soon, I would lose all the ground I had gained with her.

I knew that our mating wouldn’t be a typical one. I knew that given this set of unique circumstances, I would have to approach this carefully. Our bond would not be enough for her to decide to be with me. She needed time, space. Everything that was happening to her was foreign and upsetting, but gods that didn’t make this easy. Would I have preferred an easier mating? A week ago I would have said yes, but after meeting Adeline, I didn’t want any other mating that didn’t involve her. Adeline was beautiful, well spoken, smart, and a formidable opponent, even if she didn’t realize it. She wasn’t easily swayed by her emotions and acted on what she believed was right. That made this situation all the more difficult, but ultimately it was something I greatly admired about her. It would make her a great luna one day.

Adeline’s file lay next to me on the desk, and looking from it to the screen, I continued to input the needed information on her rehabilitation recommendation form. Normally, someone else would do most of this and send me the rest, but I wanted to know everything I could about Ade, and it wasn’t like I wasn’t going to approve it. So I would save someone the trouble and just do her paperwork myself. That and although she wasn’t here, doing something that pertained to her made me feel like she was closer. I continued plugging in information, making a mental note here and there, until the sound of my office door opening pulled me from my work. Curious to see who had enough nerve to just barge into the Alpha’s office without knocking, I looked up and sighed. Of course.

My dad walked in, wearing relaxed jeans and a maroon sweater that was looking a little tighter than usual. My father had dark hair, a trait I had inherited from him. His eyes were an icy blue. Paired with his large form and the power of his position, the combination made him seem unapproachable. Members of our pack knew better though. My dad was a powerful leader, but he was also a fun loving guy. That didn’t mean you wanted him as your enemy though. I remember going to a summit meeting with him as a teen. As the next alpha, it was important that I make my appearance at such things. Other alphas needed to know that I was involved and informed. They couldn’t take my ascension to alpha as a vulnerable time in our pack. The other alphas were easily triggered and all about showing their dominance and power. My dad stayed calm and friendly. I could tell the other wolves didn’t take him seriously, but that didn’t seem to bug him. The alpha of one of our neighboring packs had fallen on hard times. Somehow he got the idea that if he obtained our pack, his financial situation would be solved. He challenged my father. Smiling, my father had accepted.

I remember feeling scared as my dad stepped into the impromptu arena; a well hidden clearing deep in the woods. I was holding his clothes on the sidelines, ready to watch the challenger intently as, if my father was defeated I would have to step in to defend our lands. The men behind me were exchanging bets, some excited to see the fight, others watching studiously. The man had shifted into the large form of his wolf. My father had opted to start the fight off in his human form. The wolf ran towards him, roaring wildly teeth bared. My father had jumped to the side and grabbed the wolf by his upper and lower jaws. His hands were bloody as he gripped the wolf, but he ignored it. Pulling in opposite directions my father had completely dislocated the wolf’s jaw. Then releasing his hold on his lower jaw he grabbed the scruff of his fur then threw him overhead into the ground.

The audience had fallen silent. The wolf struggled to get to his feet as my father shifted into his large black wolf. The power that emanated from my father scared his opponent but with his jaw and tongue dangling, he charged him. My father ran to meet him and clashing into each other they became a flash of teeth and hair. The challenger had tried to clamp down on my father’s throat, but he had no way of really clamping down on him with his injured jaw. My father had taken out his most fearsome weapon from the beginning. My father latched his mighty jaws onto the opposing wolf instead, ripping into him. The wolf sliced at my father with his claws, terrified and trying to break free but my father threw him down on the ground and then using his wolf’s strength had broken his back. The other alpha could no longer move. He laid there trying to move, growling furiously at my father.

My father, shifting back, stood before the members of the council who had attended. “I have no interest in this mans’ pack or his life. As he can no longer fight, I will end this match here, if he is willing to concede with me as the clear victor. Since I can’t take this threat to my pack lightly, I would like to propose a non-aggression agreement before the council. If he or any of his allies violate the agreement, I would enact the right to take his pack as my own. I understand this alpha had fallen under hard times and is trying to provide for his pack, but I can’t forgive the transgression he has made against mine without consequence and assurances.” The oldest council member stepped forward ” Alpha Williams, your proposal is just. If Alpha Meyers accepts we will draw up the contract and withhold it’s terms to the letter of our law. Alpha Meyers, will you accept Alpha Williams as the victor and agree to his terms?”

Alpha Meyers had shifted back. His jaw was already healing and he was attempting to pull himself towards my father. His eyes were crazed and in his anger, he was snarling and furling insults at my father. “I will not give up the rights of my pack to this half bred scoundrel!” He growled out, alluding to my fathers’ human mother. Mating with humans wasn’t usually looked down upon, with the exception of wolves with older and more pure blood lines. Without mating humans, werewolves would be a dying inbred breed. Besides that, we couldn’t change who luna paired us with. We trusted her choice for us. Some of the other alphas had gasped and started muttering amongst themselves. My father stayed calm.

“Alpha Meyers, your pack is yours as long as you hold up the terms of the agreement. Now will you concede?” The council member had asked again. “No!” Alpha Meyers had roared, standing up as his back had healed enough for him to move his lower limbs again. Slowly, he had tried to run at my father, turning my father waited for him to get close. Once he did, he out maneuvered Alpha Meyers slow and poorly constructed movements and swiftly broke his neck. The dead alpha fell to the ground and a hush fell over the crowd. My eyes went wide, and worried about what the council would say I whipped my head towards the council member that had stepped forward. “The challenge has ended. The killing of Alpha Meyers is considered fair and falls within the rules of the challenge. Alpha Williams, you may not have sought out this man’s life or pack, but today the goddesses will was her own. Will you accept the pack? Are there any others who would challenge this alpha for his newly gained lands?” Everyone remained silent. “I accept this pack as my own.” My father answered.

No one dared challenge my father again and we gained a lot of allies that day. From that moment I challenge myself to be an alpha like my father, just and strong. When I accepted the responsibility of the pack, my father had stepped down. He still held a respected position in my pack and my parents were still involved in a lot of the coordination of its activities. Retiring had been hard for Jonah Williams though. He checked in on me frequently and was quick to offer advice when he deemed it necessary, which was often. Seeing him in my office wasn’t uncommon. It just wasn’t the most welcome sight today.

Sitting down in the chair across from my desk he stretched before throwing me a lopsided grin. “Soooooooo, what are you working on?” He asked, drumming his fingers on my desk. “Rogue rehabilitation recommendations.” I breathed, scratching my head in annoyance. My dad’s eyebrows shot up. “Don’t you have people who do that? Has your gamma gone rogue or something?” He asked, referring to Jeremy. He liked Jeremy, but thought it unnecessary for me to appoint anyone to the gamma position. Jeremy had earned this position though, my father couldn’t deny that.

“No, I just felt like handling this one myself.” I answered as his eyes scanned my desk. Landing on Adelines file, his eyes rested on her photo and picking it up he gave a low whistle. “Unmated? I bet she is making some wolf here verrry happy.” The thought of Adeline with a wolf other than me popped into my head. Instantly my eyes narrowed, and an irritated growl escaped my lips. My dad’s eyes lit up and a mischievous smile graced his lips. “No! Wait . . . Nooooooooo. You’re registering your mate and future luna?! Has anyone ever told you you’re a bit overly involved?”

Before I had a chance to answer he took a breath before continuing. “Have you marked her yet? Or has this whole registry thing got you in the dog house? Oh! We need to have her over for dinner. Have you guys talked about pups yet? Tell me you have. Your mother is so bored at home lately. I think she’s trying to make me her new project. I think she thinks I’m getting fat. She keeps asking me when I’m going for a run. At this point I’m praying for a heat. Now there’s a project we can do togeth—” “DAD!” I broke in, not wanting him to continue. He stopped, mouth still open, and looked at my flustered expression and smiled. I swear he loved pushing my buttons.

“Dad, look, this whole thing is complicated. Okay?” I said raising my hands as if they could block his onslaught of words. ” Everything always seems more complicated than it is.” He responded with a small roll of his eyes. “No. Dad, it’s complicated. It really, really is.“Letting out an exasperated sigh he asked “What did you say? You always were bad at talking to women.”

Shooting him a dirty look I shook my head. Why did he automatically assume the problem was me? I mean, I was part of the problem but still. “At this point I think it is a combination between what I’ve said and done.” I explained, hoping he would butt out. Eyeing the registration papers he picked them up before dropping them off the desk. I should have known it wouldn’t happen that way. ” Son. Let the bond do the talking, and as for the registration? She’s your mate. Drop it.” I wish. The damage had already been done there. “It isn’t that easy. I have to register her.” I answered. “And why do you HAVE to register her?” He asked sarcastically. “Because she escaped our compound and by now the whole pack knows about it!” I half yelled back.

Then my dad did something unexpected. He laughed. He laughed so hard tears started running down his face. All I could do was sit there and remind my wolf that punching your father wasn’t a good way to maintain familial bonds. “This is the rogue everyone is talking about? She broke out of our compound? You need to beef up your security.``he said, pointing at her photo in disbelief. Adeline had said the exact same thing. “She’s smart,she was terrified, and pretty pissed off. I’m learning not to underestimate her.” I said, my pride for my mate shining through. Seeing it, my dad smiled before nodding. “Look, registration or not, rogue or not, she is still your mate and we would love to meet her.”

My dad had always been very accepting of others. The fact that Ade was a rogue didn’t bother him at all. He would love her like his own. ” You will meet her dad, I promise. Just give me a few weeks.” I urged. I thought my dad’s eyes were going to bug out of his head. “Weeks? Most couples would have marked and mated by now.” Not knowing how to tell him, I decided honesty was probably the best path to take here. ” Dad, she ugh, she doesn’t know we are mates yet.” I thought he was going to choke on his spit. “How does she NOT know? How do you mess up the mate bond?” He hissed. Again, why did he have to assume it was me? “Ouch, dad. I didn’t mess up the mate bond. She’s an orphan. She’s been in the system her whole life and she’s never come across other wolves. She has no idea how our world works. She didn’t even know wolves had mates. I think she feels the bond, but she doesn’t trust it. I’ve only felt her wolf once.”

My dad’s face grew somber. Picking up the registration papers he had thrown on the floor he began to skim over the information. “Hmmmm. Has the database pulled any info on her? It will be difficult without her father’s name, but there may be something.” Glancing back at my computer, I thought back to the email I had received this morning. ” Nothing. They are continuing to look into her, but her mother’s name and the other info we had didn’t pull up anything.” “There is a strong chance her mother was human then. Most wolves are entered into our database, although . . .” Picking up her form again he skimmed it until he found what he was looking for. “She was born during the wolf wars. There were a lot of smaller packs that were lost. Our system wasn’t exactly automated at that time and information from smaller packs would have been lost right along with them. They made attempts to recover paperwork from fallen packs to register wolves for events such as this. Wolves were even interviewed for any information they had on missing or dead wolves for the system, but a lot of information is still missing.”

Continuing to skim her paperwork, I was surprised by how suddenly my dad got serious. Somberly he put her paperwork down and stared at the wall behind me. “The war ended a long time ago, but the repercussions are still there. There are still so many people out there whose lives are still in turmoil. We are more organized than ever but that can’t hide the fact that as a people we are more divided than we have ever been. It’s no surprise that the rogue rebellion has gained so much ground.” All I could do was agree with him. I was too young to remember the war, but I still remember the people who, years later, still came to our pack as refugees. Now the rebellion was taking advantage of the residual turmoil the war had left us in, and was undermining the system wherever they could. It was a miracle Adeline hadn’t been taken in by the likes of them.“What do I do dad?” I asked, leaning back in my chair, eyes closed. ” I knew she was alone before I brought her here. I had some of her information from when we initially processed her. After seeing her and knowing she was my mate I couldn’t just leave her to her own life. I needed her with me. I thought I was giving her something, a family and a community. She just sees this as me robbing her of her freedoms.”

My dad covered his eyes with his hand, suddenly looking extremely put out. “You brought her here without her consent?″ “She was a rogue who had been caught trespassing on our grounds and had then escaped capture. Of course I went after her. I didn’t know she was my mate until I met her. What was I supposed to do then? If I let her go it would have made the pack look weak.” I explained excitedly. “Okay, calm down scooter.” My dad motioned me down as he scratched at the scruff on his chin.

“First, you need to focus on her connection with her wolf. She deserves that and it will be a lot harder for you to screw up when the mate bond is fully working. Also, don’t treat her like a prisoner. Let her be involved in the pack. Introduce her to our world. Let her see where her place could be. Show her the kind of life she can have. Luna paired you together for a reason. You need each other. No matter how hard things get, you need to remember that.” I smiled. My dad had a gift for un-complicating situations that I made harder by over thinking. “Don’t look so happy, you still have a lot of work to do. You need to get started on making babies. I’m not getting any younger you know. Your son will need someone to go to for advice on women as you’re useless.” My dad said, laughing as the smile died on my lips and was replaced with a scowl.

“Now, what are you working on today besides this?” My dad asked motioning to Ade’s papers. Shrugging I replied “Fix-it slips and permits.” Dad snorted. “Any of them really important?” “No, most of them are routine maintenance but the Hackets are trying to get permission to build a covered patio.” “A covered patio?” Dad asked. “Yep.” Getting up and stretching he said ” Son, leave the patio and the Hackets to me. Go spend time with your mate.” Normally I would decline his help, but he looked like he needed to be doing something and I desperately wanted to be with Adeline. “Thanks dad.” I said while logging out of my profile and grabbing my jacket. He just grunted in response, and sat down in my chair. Leaving the office I stopped, and turned back to my dad. “Hey, when are you going for that run?” I asked, smiling innocently. He responded by throwing my stapler at me. Perhaps punching my dad would help us bond more than I thought.

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