I SMELL FEAR

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ALEXEYEV BROTHERS YOUTH

It doesn’t matter where you are from, it can be royalty served everything on a golden platter or growing up on the streets fighting over a half-eaten hot dog, in a trash can with a fellow beggar. The point is sometimes the one envies the other, the rich and trapped may envy the poor for their freedom in life choices, while the poor may envy the rich for the food and warm bed, somewhere to call home.

Some childhoods are made on dreams and happiness, others on discipline and a rule book, while some skip a childhood all together working to support life, any life, and then there are a few shunned, unwanted, and pushed into the shadows to hopefully be forgotten.

Delacourte wasn’t sure which category he fell into, as brothers their bond had been inseparable, it had been the only thing that had held him sane growing up differently with their mother.

As a royal bloodline, there was no initiation period for when the wolf gene kicked in, the rumors of having your first kill to trigger the wolf in you, was mostly a lie, many sick minded humans had put the theory to the test to see if they were something special, it had been monitored though, and those desperate enough to want to be a werewolf were approached by a wolf clan and turned if suitable.

As the saying goes; if you look for trouble you will find it. All it takes is one blood-drawing bite from a werewolf and the saliva left behind triggers the fever.

Most werewolf’s genes though, for those born with it only kicked in when growing pains begin aged eight to twelve, it was a painful process and some kids didn’t make the change. If a werewolf child was too weak and unable to complete his first transformation staying conscious through all the pain and trauma, the human DNA would win replacing the wolf deeming it a virus, and the kid would wake up being told any believable lie by their parents and go on to live normal protected human lives.

If they were strong enough though, the proud parents would be there every step of the way teaching them the ways of their world behind closed doors, welcoming them into a protected clan.

But purebloods like the Alexeyev family started much younger, the moment a baby could crawl and its mind had developed enough to know it can now go places, that sense of adventure kicks in.

A baby transformation into a wolf cub is one of the cutest and fluffiest transitions ever, it doesn’t hurt a baby they just give a few little howls, wobbles on unstable legs then become exhausted from the transformation and sleep.

It’s also highly unpredictable though as babies don’t have the know-how yet, so for royals to show their heirs to the world and the press was avoided, literally, anything could trigger the change and they would be exposed, so most royals are kept from the spotlight till thirteen years of age when the growing pains in both forms stop, and they understand the seriousness of who and what they are.

The Alexeyev brothers had triggered at the same time in their crib yelping and wrestling playfully, their father had been so proud of his two strong pups, but their mother had been disappointed.

Queen Zasha had believed only one should rule, the eldest by twenty minutes Vinchenzo and the younger should be put into the political side of the family business, them triggering the wolf gene together had snapped something cold in her, she had secretly hoped only Vinchenzo would turn and Delacourte would somehow fail. It was inevitable though, as both babies were strong and healthy pure-blooded twins.

Their father and king, Klaus had been overjoyed with two sons but had unfortunately not been around much in their younger years having had to stay true to his duty and calls to government. Their mother Zasha who had been a fashion icon owning just over three hundred fashion chains worldwide had to pull back from the spotlight to raise the boys.

Zasha and Klaus had been an arraignment marriage their families had insisted on to keep both bloodlines pure. Zasha was from an Alaskan werewolf tribe and with Russia’s frigid temperatures it hasn’t been that big of a change for her or her designs wanting to expand to Russia had been her dream anyway so she had agreed. Klaus had been accepting of it hoping for a love his parents had shared, but Zasha had sadly been all about appearance and her duty as a wife and mother, there had been no love between them.

There had been no love to the sons either being raised on duty and perpetrations for when they came of age. As their mother the brothers had obeyed in being split up, having separate rooms on either side of the mansion, Vinchenzo’s was closest to his mother’s having years of one-on-one training and grooming from her and private tutors grooming him to be the next king, not letting him be a child, not allowing a foot out of line. Delacourte had been locked in his room for days on end with nothing but books on history, languages, war, and maths to learn from, when she had come to him on the rare occasion it had always been with distaste, he could never do anything right in her eyes, no matter how hard he studied and knew the books back to front, he was a failure to her.

No matter how hard Delacourte pushed to learn, no matter how hard he tried to please his mother, he always came up short in her eyes.

As a child he had cried for her to love him, cried for her to hold him, cried for her to let him see his brother, dying for attention, but the cries had fallen on a shut door to never be answered.

When their father would return home from his trips Zasha had let them both out to play and socialize as a family together, having known no different or how the other was treated, the brother’s excitement to play and run and be free was overwhelming, it was what kept them sane through the split every time father left, the hope to see him soon again to be free together like that kept them going.

Every time father had to leave again Vinchenzo would nudge his distraught brother gently telling him it would be ok, they would make it through the distance, the gentle nudge had helped Delacourte feel loved, feel ok as he watched his mother lead Vinchenzo back to his studies while servants were left to lock him back up in his room.

The nudge had stuck with them, it had been their everything-is-ok code.

When Vinchenzo was ten years of age, he had figured out how to climb out his fourth story bedroom window and sneak across the drains, walls, and pipes to his brother’s rooms, with their combined strength they had snapped off one of the bars and he had snuck into Delacourte room. There they had reconnected, played games, made up spooky stories, and had snuck out together to play in the woods, transform, and ran along the mountains.

Each day they would get through their duties done as fast as they could, waiting patiently for night to come so Vinchenzo could sneak over and they could go out. It was there out in the wilderness they learned more than any book and tutor could give them, it was there they had spoken about everything, coming to the realization that they were treated very differently by their mother, it hadn’t driven them apart as she had hoped, it had just made them more protective over each other.

Those nights out were some of the best memories, it had also been where they had made friends with the Balakin as kids.

When the brothers had turned thirteen, Delacourte had given up trying to impress his mother, it was clear he wasn’t wanted and in turn, he had learned he hadn’t wanted her affection back anymore, the more he could stay out her way the better, it seemed to suit them both perfectly.

One night Vinchenzo had come to call him from outside the window, they had both climbed down the wall and were about to head off for a night run when their mother had caught them.

Blasting through the side door she had been furious, Delacourte recalled it now after all these years as clear as day.

“What is going on here?!” Their mother had stormed up towards them fire blazing in her eyes. The brothers had both backs stepped holding the other close unsure what to say, they had been so careful for so many years how had they been caught out.

“We were…” Delacourte looked at his brother with big eyes trying to form an excuse, Vinchenzo couldn’t think of one either. “We thought we could go for a small walk around the house.” Delacourte lied falling short on any logical excuse.

“A walk at this hour?” She snapped “How did you two get outside?” looking up to Delacourte’s bathroom window, she noticed the one bar was missing and the other was bent in just enough to fit them through. “Delacourte!” She hissed turning to face him murder in her eyes, “You disappoint me again, and corrupting your brother like this is unacceptable!”

Delacorte pulled up his lip in a snarl, puffing out his chest he would no longer take her belittlement.

“Maybe you’re a disappointment to me.” He snapped matching her livid tone.

Vinchenzo standing next to his brother snorted a laugh in surprise then covered his mouth quickly as their mothers’ eyes flicked to his trying to hide the laugh.

“What, did you, just say?” She asked quietly, taking a step closer to them, Delacourte didn’t care ignoring the warnings he carried on, this constant bullying was too much, he would finally make a stand against the woman that had birthed him, beat him, hated him, he would no longer be afraid, he took a step forward as a newfound braveness ran through him, Vinchenzo reached out to pull him back but he shook it off looking up at Zarah, whatever punishment fell on him now let it, he was beyond caring anymore.

“I said, maybe you’re a disappointment to me.” He stood his ground looking up at her, “I am so sick and tired of being treated like your biggest mistake, if you didn’t want me then why didn’t you get rid of me.” He shouted the end bit as his voice cracked, a kid should not have to fight for his right to be accepted he thought.

“Oh, I tried, but your father wanted you.” She smiled down at him; it was the most chilling smile he had ever seen.

“Mother you don’t mean that,” Vinchenzo whispered stepping up alongside his trembling brother.

“Get back inside now.” She hissed not breaking eye contact with Delacourte

The brothers didn’t move, she moved her gaze over to her sons holding each other’s arms a new kind of fury built up inside her.

“You disrespect my rules, which means you disrespect your father, which in turn shows your disrespect to the Alexeyev name, have you no shame? I am trying to groom your brother to be the best king this world has ever seen. Yet you constantly challenge that, it’s like you want your brother to fail so you can have the crown.” She sneered ripping him away from Vincenzo “You selfish pup, he is your older brother you have no right to…”

“No, stop! You making up lies again.” Delacourte shouted pulling out her arms, “I am not an evil bitch like you.”

A slap across his face sent him stumbling back onto the ground, he held his red hand-printed cheek as a drop of blood leaked from his lip, he turned to his brother tears in his eyes, but Vinchenzo did not see.

Before either could react Vinchenzo had shifted into a wolf and launched into the air at his mother’s face.

Delacourte couldn’t comprehend the situation, his mother and Vinchenzo were both in wolf form, Zarah was a full-grown powerful werewolf, and his brother and he were only half that size, nowhere near able to take on such power.

It didn’t stop him shifting too to defend his brother.

* * * * *

“Hey, you awake?” Vinchenzo asked steering the jeep up a rocky gravel path, Delacourte rubbed his sleepy eyes focusing on his surroundings.

“Where are we?”

“Short cut back to the lodge, I couldn’t get through to see if the guests were ok.”

“Why not what happened?” He asked sitting up straight in the passenger seat trying to separate the memories from the current situation.

“There is a guided tour out that hasn’t returned yet with guests on it, I couldn’t get through to the tour guide’s phone for some reason, I have a feeling it’s all related though. What you think?” He asked looking at his brother then back at the road. “You, ok? You seem to have lost a bit of color.” He smiled guiding the Jeep over another dip filled with sliding ice and rocks.

“Yeah, I’m good, and um, yeah good idea then to go check,” Delacourte said looking out the window but focused on nothing.

“What did you dream?”

He turned to face his brother, there was no need to lie, their bond was strong. They could always sense when the other was making up a story, it was downright impossible to hide something from the other, not that they hadn’t tried.

“Do you remember Zarah?”

“You mean the one we both used to call mother?” Vinchenzo said dryly.

“I just dreamt of that night she left.” He nodded slightly bewildered

“What would trigger that memory?”

“I’m not sure…”

“Ah, the coat in the wolf’s mouth from earlier?”

“I think perhaps that mixed with what da said the other night could be related?”

“Maybe but let’s not well on that, what do you recall of the night Zarah left?”

“Everything.” Delacourte sighed looking ahead.

They had stood up against their mother despite thier small size, she had gunned for them both nipping and ripping at them until they had fled for their lives through the forest to the main highway. But she had been too quick catching Vinchenzo by the neck pinning him down, Delacourte had turned back smacking into his mother with all his might to free his screaming brother till she had released him.

They had been dragged back home and locked up in their rooms, someone had to have called their father as he was home within a few hours. Vinchenzo had limped along the wall to his brother’s rooms both attending to the others’ wounds best they could till Zarah had burst through Delacourte’s bedroom door their father hot on her heels.

She had pulled up short shocked to see them again together, expecting to find Delacourte alone.

“He attacked his brother out of jealousy I tried to stop it.” She sobbed putting on the best show of a concerned mother, their father Klaus had pushed past her grabbing them both into his loving arms for a hug then pulled back checking their faces, neck, chest, and arms examining all the cuts and bites with swift efficacy looking for any signs of serious injury, but they seemed to have faired well.

They stared up to their father not saying a word pleading with their eyes for him to hear their hearts.

“Stop your crying woman.” Klaus had snapped looking at her over his shoulder, “it is clear they did not attack each other.”

“They did, Delac…”

“Stop!” He snapped standing up between his sons and wife “If Delacourte attacked his brother out of jealousy why would Vinchenzo be here and not Delacourte in his brother’s room? And on that note, why are their adult bite marks on both my sons?”

Zarah hesitated to look past him to them then back at her husband.

“Perhaps another was involved, those Balakin kids are no good I tell you I could,”

“Enough Zarah! Stop with the lies.”

Their father had pushed her out the room telling his sons to stay put. They had obeyed sneaking to the door listening to the argument downstairs.

After it had become a full-blown screaming match both brothers had raced downstairs to protect their father and their right to be heard.

“I have heard the rumors from my staff, I have ignored them keeping you in the highest light, but this proof you have left on my son’s skin confirms all.” Klaus sneered holding his sons close.

“I was trying to protect them from each other.” She repeated her lie.

“Do you want me to ask them for the truth?”

“You would believe your sons over your wife?”

“I already know what is true, your dismissal of them giving a testimony confirms that fact that their answers would be very different to yours.”

“That is not,”

“Get out, I do not wish to see your face anymore.” Klaus hissed cutting her off.

“I will not leave my kids behind.” Zarah countered reaching for Vinchenzo.

“Get out you heard father,” Vinchenzo shouted pulling his arm back staring at his mother with daggers in his eyes.

It had been the first time Klaus had seen her snap from sane to something primal, he had been startled by the sudden change not reacting in time as she grabbed both kids who shoved and kicked at her deadly grip on their bruised and cut arms.

Coming to his senses he had whistled for his guards stationed at the front door who had grabbed her forcing her grip to loosen on the boys, after a few death threats Klaus had thrown her fur coat at her demanding the guards remove her.

* * * * *

“Father never talked about her again, he only ever assured us she was gone for good,” Delacourte said breaking the silence.

“Yeah, and our teen years were the best.” Vinchenzo smiled. “I bet if we transformed now in front of her, she would be no bigger than a poodle.” He chuckled rubbing the scar on his neck.

“Yeah” Delacourte chuckled envisioning it, “Well, now after da’s news we might actually have to see her after all these years.”

“Not yet, we will keep that as the very last option.”

“I would prefer if it wasn’t an option at all.”

They nodded pulling up into the cul-de-sac of the lodge.

As they jumped out of the Jeep Delacourte’s phone rang.

“Talk,” he answered recognizing the number.

“We caught the new wolf,” an out-of-breath voice answered, “The coat, it was holding onto doesn’t, belong to the wolf, and, there is blood in it.”

“Do any of you recognize it?”

“No, it’s defiantly a new turn, and on its own.”

“Ok, take it back to the warehouse, we will be there later tonight,” Delacourte replied ending the call looking at his brother, there was no need to explain his brother had heard both ends.

“Well, let’s just hope we find the victim soon.”

Walking up the entrance they spotted the tour guide vehicle pulled up at the side and took the stairs two at a time entering the lobby to find a rather confusing scene.

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