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JohnAR last won the day on May 21 2016

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  1. sexy man GIF

    1. Timothy M.

      Timothy M.

      Tillykke med fødselsdagen fra Danmark

  2. “Don’t bother trying, kid. I’ve been trapped here a week, I think. – With fucking numbers that don’t make sense!” “Alpha, everything okay?” a young man asked with a tray in his hands. “Fucking Wittgenstein is easier to understand,” he screamed again through the office, childishly throwing a book against the wall. He rubbed his temples in the desperate hope for enlightenment. But those numbers gave him a headache. And why the hell did those Europeans use ‘,’ as ‘.’ and sometimes ‘.’ instead of ‘,’? Did they want to screw with his sanity? “I have food …” “Thanks, Tadeiusz, but I don’t think a steak will help today …,” Seb complained, feeling nearly guilty at disappointing his newly appointed Beta – steak always helped in his world. The young wolf from the Cracow Pack shrugged. “I think I told you, you should have chosen an MBA graduate as Beta …” Seb swatted his hands as if dealing with a mosquito. “Fate has her ways to screw that up – Dad shouldn’t have …” He stopped himself. “’Her?’” Alexander interrupted. “What is this, an impromptu pack IC meeting?” Seb asked. “Just some sugar to kickstart your brain again.” His IC, who was nearly too big even for Seb’s sizable office, put a plate with a generously sized piece of his favorite cake on the table. Anyone who wasn’t a wolf would have gained several pounds just by looking at that cream-filled monstrosity. “Won’t help. These numbers don’t make sense!” he pointed at the computer screen. “How the fuck did my dad do this, or my granddad?” Alexander chuckled, the vibrations quaking the floor. “Well, our granddads got it up the ass as payment for a Meta dealing with that companies shit.” “Thanks!” Seb smiled at the irony, he didn’t get that for his ‘sacrifices.’ His heart reached out to the man sleeping upstairs after some months of deployment far away, as he remembered the day he first had figured out what terrible things that strange ‘Meta’ had done to his granddad and uncles. He remembered taking all of his courage and walking into Colt’s office to tell him off, as small as he was – after all Colt was also small even if a grown-up. The library was oddly dark, as if a vampire resided in this tomb to prepare for his next hunt. Colt sat, old, wrinkly and huffing, behind a big computer screen. He looked up when little Seb entered, visibly annoyed. “What’s up?” “I know what you do to granddad.” “What do I do to him?” “You do bad things …” “’Bad things?’” “Yes.” Colt got up, and Seb wanted to make a step back. But he was a courageous wolf and wouldn’t be intimidated. Not by a weak old human. “So, smart Seb, how would such a small frail creature like me be able to do anything your big strong granddad wouldn’t want?” Seb frowned. He hadn’t thought about that. Prime was so strong, despite not being Alpha anymore. And uncle Burt and Sam were even bigger. No way could Colt hurt them. How could he have thought that? “See,” Colt said as if reading Seb’s thoughts. “I …” “Anyway, I need to continue my work here, why don’t we bring you back to your parents?” Seb couldn’t resist taking Colt’s outstretched hand to be guided out of this intimidating library back into the house and out into the sun-filled garden. For a moment he expected Colt to disintegrate into dust like a vampire exposed to the daylight of a Californian summer, but it didn’t happen. He saw his dad at the grill, arguing with Prime who was the better steak cook. His brothers and sisters played catch with Sam, which always ended up with all of them trying to tie the big wolf down like Gulliver. His mother enjoyed her cocktail and not having to do anything kitchen-related for a change. Some of his other uncles sat in the pool splashing water at Sam, to make it easier for the kids to catch him … And in that very moment, a lemon-colored butterfly zoomed in to make love to some of the sunflowers separating their garden from the neighbors … He didn’t know back then, but today he understood this must have been one of those fleeting days in paradise, a hard-fought paradise paid by blood and suffering, but a well-deserved one. It was what a soldier wished for when looking for motivation deep inside during battle. He didn’t know back then, but today he knew. And at this moment cotton wool fell. The screams of his brother broke off. The splashes of water ceased. And Prime and Forest fell silent like in those old movies. The water stopped mid-air. The smoke from the grill froze. The kids were caught in standstill. What the hell? The world had stopped moving. Even the butterfly hung dead in the air like in the display of a nature collector. “What’s going …” he whispered. He could still move. And so could Colt. The old man let go of the boy’s hand to smile with a hint of coldness Seb had never felt. “Seb, nothing. I’m only showing you that I love this family. I would do everything to protect all of you. And I have done many things you would never believe to protect those I love. So never forget: Whoever will try to hurt your granduncles will regret it!” Seb didn’t understand back then. He only felt a freezing cold traveling through his body, all emanating from these lifeless gray eyes of Colt. He didn’t understand, but he knew that had been warning to him, what else could it have been? And with this the ossifying cotton was gone. His sister screamed when she caught Sam, who tried to ‘rescue’ himself by jumping into the pool creating the biggest deluge ever, making his mother complain about the water diluting her drink. His granddad put big steaks on even bigger plates, and the butterfly made love to the next sunflower as if nothing had happened. The cold was gone. And a small smile crept onto Colt’s face while he said: “I think the future Alpha of the White Wolf Pack is really hungry!” Docilely Seb went to his father to receive a generously-sized steak, while he tried to forget what had just happened. Colt had already disappeared to his crypt. “You okay?” the most loving voice asked. Seb jerked out of his childhood memories; his husband Casper in white boxer shorts and a T-shirt that said: ‘Air Force: Like the Marines, But for Smart People,’ rubbed the sleep out of his hazel eyes. “Yes, seems half of the pack wants to help me with my bookkeeping this afternoon …” And with this, three very grown men lifted their hands in surrender, several ‘no’s, ‘well’s and ‘actually’s being uttered. “Aren’t the Betas supposed to be the smart ones?” Casper asked naughtily, putting a hand above the ‘smart’ on his T-shirt, pretending nobody had noticed. “Absolutely,” Alexander agreed, when they were all interrupted by their watches peeping, indicating they had received a high-priority message. “What is this?” Tadeiusz asked puzzled. “Sender unknown. How did they break our firewall?” Alexander added. “And more numbers!” Seb sighed falling back into his chair. “Well, I can answer the last: Coordinates.” Casper pushed the wolves aside to get to Seb’s keyboard typing the numbers with a rarely seen before agility. He turned the screen around to show to everyone. “Seems to be up in the mountains, on your pack land.” “Our,” Alexander corrected. “Our,” Casper repeated with a gentle smile. “I guess we should find out who sent it before we …,” Tadeiusz cautioned. “No,” Seb decided. “I need to get out of here – for a run. We check it out. It’s pack land, we need to clear this anyway. Guys, get ready. Casper, please, coordinate from here.” “No,” Casper responded with the same decisiveness. “You won’t get there by car or by foot, we can run … and it’s safer …” “Fucking hell, I’m not a girl. I’ll take one of our exo-skeletons, I might be faster than you puppies …” Alexander huffed at the notion of ‘puppies,’ but grinned at the same time. “Fine. Then you take some clothes for us as well, and some water …” “Yes. Let’s see who gets there first. Winner gets fucked!” And before any of the wolves could comment, he was already out of the office. Tadeiusz giggled, joining Alexander’s amusement. “It seems he’s done with putting in all the work under sheets …” Seb growled but realized he wouldn’t be successful in pretending indignity at all. “Let’s find out what’s there.” It was 60 minutes to sunset when his wolf had reached the coordinates. High up in the mountains, a small creek ran down into the valley to deliver the crystal clear water to the lake that made Shadowlands so special. But while the lake was much too cold and soon to be frozen in early December, the water up here seemed to be hot, steam covering a little pond as if designed as natural hot tub. His Beta and his CE started to shift back in the moment a loud noise approached them. Three wolves, now in their naked human forms, smiled pitifully at the man undoing the snap locks from his skeletons. “I guess you will have to pleasure your Alpha all night,” Tadeiusz stated with glee. “There was a log blocking the road – can’t you guys maintain your infrastructure better?” Casper answered barely dismayed. “What’s that? Your wolf spa?” Seb shrugged. “I was here once with Burt – long time ago. Must have forgotten it.” “Nice. Hot water would be nice …” And with this Casper stepped out of his clothes. “So why are we here?” Alexander reminded everyone of the message while he stepped into the hot water, with the others uttering soft sounds of pleasure. “I guess it has something to do with that.” Casper pointed at three objects that clearly weren’t natural despite their brown paper wrapping. “Gifts!” Alexander screamed like a little boy – normally he was the guy bringing gifts to the kids, but he didn’t mind the other way round. “Careful, it could be …,” Tadeiusz warned. “I don’t smell danger,” Seb said. “No explosives, or poison …” And with this snow started to fall. Little flakes resting on the dead leaves on the forest ground. Only those around them melted in the hot steam before they could reach the earth. And while the valley slowly turned white like their innocent dreams, the little creek around them stayed brown thanks to the heat from the water. “My name is on it,” Alexander stated nearly screeching like a little boy – making it a disconcerting experience given the size of his hulk. “What is it?” Casper asked getting contaminated by the excitement. Alexander removed the brown paper to reveal a dark chestnut wooden box. He carefully opened it to reveal a colt. “Wow,” Casper whistled. His CE unwrapped the weapon to find something else under the velvet: handcuffs. “Yuck,” Alexander reacted instinctively. “What’s up?” Casper asked in confusion. Seb grinned. “Silver handcuffs, our big bear ain’t no virgin no more …” “Oh!” Alexander wrapped the velvet around his hand to lift the harmful implement. “It says: ‘CP.’” “What does that mean?” Tadeiusz asked. “’Colt Parker,’” Seb explained, not realizing what he really said. “But they were lost in the Big One?” Alexander asked puzzled. “Obviously not,” Casper stated matter-of-factly. “What about the other gifts there,” pointing at the two other objects. Alexander wrapped the handcuffs and put them with the colt back into the box before the closed the elegant box carefully to put it safely away from the water. “It says: ‘For Tadeiusz.’” “Me?” the young blond Beta from Poland asked puzzled. “I’ve heard about that so-called White Wolf, but …” Alexander handed the flat brown parcel to the cute Beta who carefully unwrapped it to find a thick folder filled with yellowed paper. “More reading,” Seb moaned. “These are notes.” “From whom?” “Colt. On the book of werevolves and vampires. All the theories he had, and he didn’t put into the book, things he felt he couldn’t publish … it’s …” “A lot,” Alexander stated. “It seems you guys were all wrong about the Big One,” Casper stated with a smirk amused about the gullibility of wolves. “And that’s for you, …” Alexander shut the air force major up by handing him a small parcel that bent in the air. “What is …” revealing a leather band. “Fuck ‘em,” Seb uttered ignoring Alexander’s smirk. “Is this?” Casper began. “Yes,” Seb answered. “So now I will know wherever you are, my big red wolf?” Casper asked with fake innocence. “Yes …” And with this cotton filled the air. The water stopped running. Alexander’s grin froze. And the steam hung as if paint on a screen. He looked around. Nothing moved. Everything was eerily silent. And he knew he had felt that before, a long time ago. And then he smiled. Warmth filled his heart. He closed his eyes and whispered with understanding: “Thank you, Fate.” “Are you okay?” Casper asked, again. “I was just joking!” His concerned hand was on his shoulder. “I’m fine, handsome.” “I promise, I didn’t want to suggest …” “It’s okay, Casper. Really.” “No present for you,” Alexander interrupted with disappointment. “I’ve gotten mine already …” Tadeiusz tilted his head. “All of this is from somebody more than the White Wolf …” Seb nodded. “Yes. Some hours ago I thought I was in despair because of some stupid and in the end unimportant numbers not working out – I think they’re cooked anyway. But this spot has reminded me I’m the luckiest wolf on this earth. Honorable ancestors before me, a capable pack with me, beautiful land around me, a strong wolf in me, and the best husband I could find next to me … Those are my gifts.” Casper hugged him, while both Alexander and Tadeusz fist-bumped. And with that he whispered again, for all of them to hear: “Thank you, Fate – I guess above me!”
  3. I think "in the brain" suggests creative license. We all know how those chemicals are delivered ...
  4. Does this mean I'm famous now?



    1. Ms. V

      Ms. V

      Famous or infamous, that is the question: Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take up arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?  LOL

  5. I appreciate your enthusiasm. ad 1) No twitter account. ad 2) Dystopian out-of-earth clone soldiers setting. Let hope by the end of this year.
  6. Be sure I will make lots of noise on GA whenever the first chapter gets published ...
  7. @athanos (Un)Fortunately, I'm not working on another Meta book. However, my new project Ten^One is progressing nicely.
  8. The thumping and dumping and 'rumping' made me jerk out of my sleep. Instinctively, I understood a Parisian garbage disposal truck wanted to let everyone in the 2nd arrondissement know that they were not on strike today and would be doing their duty according to the prescribed speed and appropriate noise level – i.e. very slowly and very loudly. As usual in those rare instances – well, once a month at least – I tried to mentally close my ears to the noise barely dampened by the excuse of glass called ‘windows’ to find some more sleep. The jetlag and slight cough caused by recent travels to Mexico and Tokyo had made sleep a precious commodity. Having pretty much fallen asleep at 0400 in the morning, being woken up by the ‘sweet song of the City of Love’ at 0530 had stopped even that elusive slumber. “Bump, bump,” it continued relentlessly. If they had tried to dig another tunnel for the Metro it couldn’t have been louder; in comparison, the military airplanes practicing for Bastille Day over the center of Paris displayed the quietness of wolves tracing their prey. “Thump.” This was a statement: ‘We’re here. And we will continue to empty stinking garbage containers at maximum volume until everyone is as wide awake as us doing that job – fraternité!” “Rump.” I felt the house shake. If I had been in the US, I would have suspected an earthquake, but Paris doesn’t get those – at least not the literal version. But when a last “TAMP” made all walls quiver, I realized I had been absolutely unfair and my usual Francophobic. That noise wasn’t the jingle of the Île-de-France commune, but somebody hitting against a door – my door. “Bloody hell, who would visit me at 0530 on a Saturday?” Not that anyone visited me at any reasonable time, either; but right now? I crawled out of my comfy bed, found some jeans and an oversized T-shirt and started to walk on my shaky legs. I wanted to shout “I’m coming,” but I doubt the wanna-be intruder would be able to hear me over the noise he was making; nor understand me as I could announce myself in several languages but not French. I succeeded not to stumble down the stairs to get to the entry hall. And as if somebody wanted to make sure I didn’t change my mind mid-movement and crawl back up and back into my bed – a thump seemed to lift the decrepit door out of its hinges, literally. Not his fault, but the landlord’s who knew that anything could be rented out in any condition in the center of Paris. Merci! I found the key without problems – I didn’t want to imagine how I would explain how a maniac completely destroyed a door to my flat; given my landlord was some anonymous subsidiary of a bank, and I’d have to do it in French. And then I opened the door to identify my untimely wake-up call. And even without thinking I whispered incredulously: “Al?” “Not really,” was the prompt response. I tried to process things – being jetlagged, cranky, and generally miserable (in both ways of its meaning). First, I saw an incredibly handsome man at my door. And that was a rare occurrence. He was taller than me, had crisp black hair, a strong, shaven chin, and the most amazingly mysterious green eyes. I guess most of the few readers who had masturbated to Meta would know I was a sucker for green eyes; after all, I had given two of the ten of my wolves green eyes, a probability that should only be possible in certain villages in Ireland. ‘Not really Al’ wore a reasonably tight shirt, showing off his good physique without trying too hard or being queer, rather newish jeans which barely contained those thighs, and sturdy work boots. ‘Not really Al’ looked exactly as I had imagined him to look when Colt had met him at the vending machine. Of course, in this scene I put him into flimsy Converse-like sneakers to illustrate that he didn’t need boots to hit a machine but could have done it barefoot with his pinky toe. Thirdly, ‘not really’ was not really a comment to a wrong name. The typical answer would be: “Who is Al?” not “not really.” After I had shaken my head to dispel the last clouds of my jetlag, I managed to ask: “Who the hell are you?” “I’m Enon.” I frowned, but choose to ask the next-important question: “And what do you want? At this time?” “You need to change the ending!” he answered as if that was the most logical thing to say. He pushed himself past me, his Adam’s apple getting too close to my nose; a perversely fresh scent that announced a male in his prime having taken a shower not too recently petrified me for a few seconds, so the next thing was him making himself comfortable on one of my sofas, spreading his mighty thighs demonstratively. While I closed my door, still a bit numb, I had to think that if there had been a visual illustration of the misandric concept of ‘manspreading,’ there it was in front of me. Delicious. “What ending?” I asked trotting slowly into the kitchen. I needed a coke. I don’t know why, but I returned with two cans offering one to Enon – also not a typical thing one did when encountering an unwelcome guest; well, unknown maybe, not unwelcome. Enon had changed position and stretched out his legs, crossing them at the ankles, leaning back, spreading out his arms along the rest of the sofa. It not only displayed his size impressively but also occupied the whole couch as if it had always been his. He took and opened his can without any thanks, but continued: “Come on. The ending of Meta.” “You’ve read it?” “Yes. I kind of liked it, until you killed me.” “I killed you?” “You killed Al. Why?” “Do you really think that’s something you discuss at 0600 on a Saturday? By intruding into a stranger’s house?” “You’re not a stranger to me. I’ve read all eight books – and those little stories which confused the hell out of me; so I know you,” the hunk disagreed with a baritone so full of timbre that I could feel it in my belly. “But I don’t know you … how did you find me anyway?” Al – no, Enon – grinned like a cat too sure of itself. “Well, I figured you live in one of the places you chose as settings in your books. So it was Texas, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, New York, Paris, Berlin, Shanghai, or somewhere in Poland.” I couldn’t help but nod. “Given you made Colt semi-American to excuse for your ‘unique’ English, I assumed that was a way to turn your disadvantage into a style element. The two places you hated most were Texas and Paris. So I started with Paris …” “Paris is big, I contradicted.” “Your style channels the typical business writing ‘inverted pyramid’ approach. You started your book with marketing cases. So I then looked at LinkedIn profiles for guys in marketing in big companies, based in Paris, but not French … and: voila!” “Still …” “Your reference to ancient culture suggests classical education only provided in limited parts of Europe, and a certain age …” “Wow,” I uttered against my will. “Thanks. Al might be a nose, but I’m a brain,” he said with little modesty. “Handsome and smart,” I stated. “Too good to be true.” “But here I am. So when are you going to rewrite Meta?” “Why should I?” “You killed Al!” he complained again, his voice getting a bit loud – not too different to noises usually coming from the streets during garbage collection time. “It’s just a character, and I had to kill some wolves in the battle … war is bloody.” “But why Al? He was the first wolf who loved Colt,” Enon pointed out quite rightly. “It’s a book. Nobody like Al would ever fall for somebody like Colt, so it isn’t an argument.” “Dumb. That’s the whole premise of the book. He deserved so much more time with the pack and Colt …” I wondered whether I heard whining through the voice, like a big machine with a failing fan belt. “He sacrificed himself by not pursuing him, and then by dying for him – alone. At least Leo got a good-bye.” “I’m sorry. I wouldn’t have thought a character’s death would impact you so much.” “I read through for four nights …” “I’ve been told that happens …” “So why did you really kill him off?” he insisted. “The ‘I created him out of hate’ explanation was contrived.” I refused to answer, I couldn’t destroy his enthusiasm. “And why are you talking about the ‘ending?’ – Meta has several endings. He’s alive in the Nanoverse,” I tried to redirect his thoughts. “The Nanoverse is crap. You just wanted to add a layer of confusion.” “If you say so. He should also be alive in the Weddingverse,” I insisted. “But we never read about him there,” he argued back. “What do you want? You wake me up in the middle of the night, dash into my house, and I start typing a cheesy happy ending on my little laptop?” “Yes,” he answered in all earnest. I took a deep sigh while thinking through how to call the French police and how to tell them what’s happening – in French. I mean, I wouldn’t believe it myself. “Maybe the books 5 to 8 are just more Colt’s visions in coma … so when he wakes up Al is there – so he can thank him for the Space Ship,” he started to rewrite Meta. “Like in ‘Dallas?’ Or ‘Roseanne?’ Making it all disappear after a shower?” My sarcastic snarl was forced. “You did it with your epilogue. Eight books nothing but …” Al, sorry, Enon’s, voice broke. “That’s different …” “You wrote somewhere you’ll add a book, MetAlternate …” His voice was hopeful. “Yes, but only if certain conditions are met …” “Like what?” “You’ve read Meta. You know …” “Oh.” He seemed to blush. I took a deep breath. He was just too cute with that embarrassed crimson on that clean white skin. He was so much younger, and yet his complexion was perfect. When I had a night of inadequate sleep – like today – I still got the spotty skin of a teenager, despite my age. I’ve always hated genetics. Like yesterday when I had transferred in Zurich and spotted a family with three adorable blond angles as kids … envy had eaten me alive. At least it was wise that I hadn’t created offspring, no chance for angels with my DNA. “Well, I’m not a marine,” he interrupted my thoughts. “I guess nobody’s perfect,” I tried to joke. “But I want Al alive and happy, hunting through Shadowlands with his Alpha. Getting fucked mad by his Meta. Growing old with his pack …” “Enon …” “So I guess I’ll have to take one for all the Metaddicts out there,” he announced while he glided off the sofa, so his knees landed with a ‘thud’ on the wooden floor, shaking the empty coke cans. I didn’t believe my eyes. If he were to do what I thought I hoped he’d do, I wouldn’t believe it myself. He slowly opened the zipper to my jeans, making much too much noise. His green eyes looked at me with an odd mix of amusement, determination, and devotion. And when his hot mouth with those healthy pink lips touched my knob … … the world seemed to collapse … … all the bottles of Paris seemed being dumped into a truck at this very second making my ears ring beyond repair … … the earth quaked like in the moment Colt used his new-found Fate powers to save his Alpha. And when my tool disappeared completely, an unbearable heat seemed to consume me … … and then I woke up, realizing that my travels had given me terrible fever, and indeed the Parisian garbage collection services were performed outside my windows as intended: loudly and slowly. And now the name ‘Enon’ made sense.
  9. “Eric, get the fuck moving!” Only a voice that knew how to scare boys who thought they were already men shitless, was trained by constantly barking across wide barrack drill squares, and had the authority of having survived more than one cluster fuck, could sound like this. A young man, barely 18, came running. His hair nearly black as the night, his eyes dark-brown, and healthy stubbles around his broad chin screamed as much wolf as any physiognomy could. “Sir, reporting as ordered!” Gavin growled, and the young man – Eric – knew he was in deep shit. But he hadn’t expected to be woken up at 06hundered30 on a Saturday without warning. So him not being shaved, his T-shirt not being tugged in correctly, and boots miserably laced were enough reason for one of those anal USMC captains to shake their heads in disbelief. “Just in time then,” Gavin mumbled, while a jeep approached them. Isaac was driving it ferociously and made an effort to stop just 10 cm next to his Second Beta with screeching tires. Prime sitting shotgun just couldn’t give a fuck and seemed to study his fingernails. “Hop in!” Gavin ordered Eric, while he got in behind Prime, without bothering to open the door, just jumping in. “Good morning, Sirs,” was Eric’s meekly greeting. At least he got a reply. But it wasn’t friendly enough to be encouraged to ask the question he wanted to ask: ‘Where are we going?’ Isaac speeded off and left the compound behind. Only more than an hour later Eric got his answer. Gavin pushed aside the papers he had signed yesterday. He now was officially a ‘poolee’ they had explained – pretty much assumed to be of the IQ of a pumpkin. Owned by the Corps but not yet in boot camp. Not that he had second thoughts, but he wondered whether him getting too drunk on beer with not enough turkey last month during the Christmas party and revealing how much he wanted to get into Colt’s pants was worth signing away his next four years of life. He hadn’t been able to sleep through most of the night. You only join the Corps once they had told him – and the weight of that decision wasn’t conducive to sleep. Neither were the indecent thoughts his wolf gave him about coming back to ShadowLands in MARPAT to drive a certain dog tag chaser crazy with lust nor the fact he couldn’t just rub one out. So he smelled when two IC wolves were approaching his little apartment they had been given as new outer circle wolf from the former Winter Fir Pack. He stood at attention as well as Isaac had taught him over the past month – even with him being naked in the snow in the forest – and waited for them to barge into his room (now that he was a ‘poolee’ any notion of privacy was gone). And indeed barely two minutes later, Isaac stomped in with his boots and paramilitary outfit, shouting as if the Third World War had started, for Gavin to getting fucking squared away and report downstairs. Gavin jumped into his boots, grabbed his ID and some money for whatever strange reason and ran down. He was ordered into an open jeep – it was fucking January for Fate’s sake! – and Isaac drove off as if they were on the run, with Prime sitting shotgun not giving a shit about anything around him seemingly bitching about some (European) football results – Gavin wondered whom he was chatting with. Only more than an hour later, Gavin learned why he had been ordered out of his comfy bed at 06hundred30 on a January Saturday. Gavin had expected them this time. It had been only a few months since he had joined the Corps. But graduating from boot camp had at least removed the stigma of ‘poolee’ from him. Of course, proving himself in the battle against the vampires at the side of Brian has also helped. He knew if the White Wolf hadn’t shown up he wouldn’t have made it, nor his Beta, but many of the other IC wolves would also have lost their lives – and two actually had. He didn’t want to be too proud given the loss of so many wolves, and the pain he felt because of what had happened to Colt, but he sensed he had grown as man and wolf. And being able to anticipate what was coming up was one of the consequences. In the distance, he saw the caterpillars digging out deep holes, even if they were idle at this ungodly hour. He knew the IC was building their new main house, Luke’s old being too small, too old and too non-Colt to be appropriate. He hadn’t seen the blueprints, but the size of the area being readied was impressive; and he had heard some wolves involved in the construction bitch that the planned building was a beautiful as a broken chair at best, and as a Meth-addicted prostitute without makeup at worst. He didn’t really know what that meant concerning architecture. As usual, Isaac came speeding as if he was taking an old lady with cardiac arrest to the local hospital. Gavin didn’t move an inch when the crazy marine wolf stopped just 7 cm before Gavin’s boots. The young blond just-boot-camp-graduate, hopped into the vehicle, allowing Isaac to continue his reckless driving. He thought he had seen a tiny smirk on his pre-boot camp drill instructor, while Prime just snorted through his nose as if they had picked up some navy shit with their boots. At least this time he knew where they would end up more than an hour later. Gavin had made a point in putting on the tightest muscle top he owned. Of course, official marine regulations – and as a freshly minted lieutenant he was expected to follow them to every comma – forbade that kind of attire, but he was here to put his boot down, and that was best done by showing off his status. Some months ago he was bonded to Colt, some weeks ago he got his commission. It was time to teach those old marines a lesson. So there he stood in quasi-military pants (those used by CE’s and Sam’s army of fighters), a black wife-beater and his tan boots. Of course, the wife-beater was there to show off what he wanted to show off: first his lock. When on the compound he wore it. He missed it so much when on duty, so he was all the more proud to wear it now. Sometimes he thought his chest would explode because he displayed it so proudly. But a T-shirt would have allowed him to do that as well – so there was another reason for the violation of regulations: A tank top showed his tattoo, the Colt IC tattoo he had worked for for years was finally decorating his right shoulder, biceps, triceps, and pec. It was out there, ostentatiously in your face. Take that, fuckers! The jeep came speeding, and Gavin enjoyed the slight surprise in Isaac and Prime’s scent when he stood there waiting as if the world belonged to him. As usual Isaac stopped much too late, but Gavin knew his enforcer – yes ‘his’ – by now and didn’t flinch for a second when the crazy wolf just stopped 4 cm before his boots; actually, he was surprised about something else going on in the jeep. “Morning, Prime,” Gavin wished cheerfully. “Ready for our weekly trip?” “Of course, Colt’s still sound asleep I assume?” “It’s fucking 06hundred30, princess is deep in dreams cuddled to death by CE and Sam,” Prime giggled. Gavin for second regretted not to be CE or Sam pushing aside the question what little Colt did with both big wolves in his bed at the same time risking to be squashed to the size of a book, but instead pointed out: “I see you guys are late.” Isaac growled with displeasure. “Sir, this vehicle wasn’t fully operational.” The blond lieutenant Beta couldn’t help smirking when he put himself in shotgun. For some reason, Prime had given up his privileged position in the riding party and put himself into the back. “Well, good that you fixed it.” He pointed at the little remnants of grease on Isaac’s hand. And Isaac understood. He could be chewed out for his lack of grooming right now. And Gavin just enjoyed not doing it for not being an ass but enjoying Isaac knowing that. The male power dynamics had changed. And once the wolves had integrated that into their actions, they could shape the new pack setup to best performance level possible. Colt didn’t deserve any less. And Gavin was too grateful to turn into an ass. But it was fun to pull Isaac’s metaphorical chains. “And off you go,” the Beta ordered graciously. Prime smiled in the back nearly like a well-fed cat. And Isaac pointed out: “You know, Beta, there is only one guy in the Inner Circle who really pulls all our chains …” “Literally,” Prime seconded lifting his chain as if knowing somebody was watching all of this. Gavin nodded in quiet acceptance. More than an hour later they arrived at their usual destination. When they returned to Shadowlands, they dropped off their latest poolee, Eric. Finally, at home, the ultimate chain-puller was coincidentally waiting in the garage. Prime, Gavin, and Isaac hopped out of the vehicle cheering. Within seconds they surrounded the Meta. “Nice,” Colt stated while appreciating the strong hair on Prime’s head. “Nothing beats a proper haircut,” Gavin added – with ‘proper’ meaning a tight ‘High ‘n’ Tight’ with wet-shaved walls, done by an expert certified by official USMC processes. “Oorah!” Isaac seconded. “Absolutely worth 90 minutes commute in either direction,” Colt stated with a smirk. “Absolutely,” Gavin agreed, not taking the bait or commenting that their record was 65 minutes and 12 seconds. “So you’re not going to introduce the new poolee to me?” Colt asked with feigned innocence. “He needs to work on getting boot camp ready,” Isaac stated very matter-of-factly. “And we need to keep him safe from certain pervs,” Prime pointed out with open mischief. “We’re not even going to ask how you know …” Colt smiled clemently. “Seems though Enrico screwed up your high ‘n’ tight this time, Gavin …” “Where?” was the screeching question. “Prime, what’s wrong with it …” “I don’t see …” “Isaac?” Gavin demanded like barking orders. “Sir, …” “Follow me!” Gavin ordered, and then both blond marines ran out of the garage up to Gavin’s bathroom to inspect the haircut like scared turkeys. “You’re mean!” Prime shoved Colt gently on their way out. “Maybe,” Colt whispered. He knew Prime knew that Colt hadn’t slept too well this night. In his dream, he had seen what would have happened if he had died at 13.
  10. I guess I need to hurry up with my next project then: clone space soldiers ...
  11. “I’m going to kill him,” Colt moaned, slowly gliding into the hot tub. “Depending on how you’ll do it, he might enjoy it,” Prime answered with slight amusement. He had massaged Colt’s calves for 15 minutes. Of course, that had resulted in massaging some other muscles for another 15 minutes and even more ‘pain’ for Colt. Poor Meta, so abused. “He drove me up every winding road on that hill as if I was a goat, why can’t we just run along the lake?” Colt continued to complain. “Or he can torture some fighter wolves chasing them up and down the mountains … I’m getting too old for that shit.” Prime stepped into the hot tub and leaned against the stone wall. The cold air of an early spring night on his wet face felt refreshing, as did the hot water feel calming. The scent of wine due to a recent ‘harvest’ still hung in the air like the scent of rain after stormy clouds had relieved themselves, tantalizing his tongue. He nearly felt it to be blasphemy to have a strong beer after sex like other men had a cigarette. But he comforted himself with the thought it was one of CE’s good beers, courtesy of the local microbrewery the new guy from the Feldberg Pack had opened. It seemed there would still be an enforcer in the next generation WWP who appreciated proper beer. Although, he couldn’t get into the beer and fruit combos. The syrup from Maple trees was supposed to go on pancakes and nowhere else. His – so very conventional – beer was heavy, malty, smooth, and contained a level of alcohol that was surely against the law. “He can’t stick his nose up sweaty gym pants when running with them,” Prime explained, visualizing Sam staring at Colt’s behind while chasing him up a hill. “It’s supposed to be the other way round: I should ogle his muscular behind, not he my scrawny one …” “I guess he begs to differ … and he has lots of weaponry to get his way.” “Sure, you wolves stick together,” Colt gently pulled at Prime’s sticky out ear, cold from the air, wet from the steam, sweetly scented like strawberries. “So do I get a drink as well?” Prime rolled his eyes dramatically, opened the Diet Coke can and handed it to his spoilt-rotten Meta. “It’s an amazing night.” Suddenly Colt’s voice had changed. Gone was the whiny little man, back was the Meta who would fearlessly lead his wolves into danger. “Shadowlands,” Prime whispered nearly like in prayer. Colt searched for the big red wolf’s hand under the water to squeeze it reassuringly. He knew, in a few months they would be gone. He had a plan how that would go, but his wolves didn’t know yet. For them, it meant they would move back to LA to get old and leave Shadowlands in the hands of the next generation. He didn’t know how they would react when they learned they would outlive not only Forest but many White Wolf Pack alphas to come. And that was only the best of all outcomes. “So who will join us first?” Prime suddenly asked, trying to change the mood again. So Alpha, never letting things get too gloomy; finding the bright spot literally in the middle of the night. “Mmmm, I’d say CE,” Colt ventured. “He’s home, and he’s CE.” Colt was surprised how much softness was in his voice. “Agreed. Last?” “Need to think …” At this moment, a deep baritone came through Colt’s living quarters, through the half-opened terrace door: “Guys, do you mind if I join you?” It basically meant: ‘Unless you’re fucking right now, I will hop into the hot tub and cause a major flood.’ “Big guy, get in. But carefully. And have some more beer with you!” Prime ordered, while high-fiving with Colt. “I think it’s going to be Brian,” he lowered his voice. “He’s writing my speech … and he thinks the later the guest, the more important he is …” Colt tilted his head to the right, to the left, and back to the right. “I’d venture it’s Gavin. Of course, a marine Colonel waits until his troops are assembled …” “The 10 minutes before 10 minutes before 10 minutes rule for us?” Prime joked. “What are you guys talking about?” “How fat your ass got,” Prime lied. “No more beer for my Alpha then, he’s abusive,” CE complained while holding up two special 12-packs of beer. “What are your plans? Getting me drunk?” Colt wondered. “One would have been enough then,” Prime teased. He chucked down his bottle so that CE could hand him a fresh one. “Is there a party going on?” Another very familiar, very welcome noise. “Yes! And there are noise complaints, so the police better inquire!” Prime shouted while he and Colt exchanged knowing looks. “Well, actually, I just wanted to bring the catering,” Warren responded, lifting the basket he was carrying in his hands. “What’s in there?” CE asked eagerly; somehow he had lost interest in his beers, not unlike a young dog who had found a new shiny ball. “Oh, just some vegan tofu and vegetable salad with seeds …” Prime and Colt burst into laughter when they saw how CE’s face fell into a thousand sad pieces. Colt even had to get up and wrestle himself into the big bear’s arms, as he said: “Warren, that is inhuman treatment of wolves!” Warren stepped out of his shorts while opening the mini-grill they had installed on Colt’s terrace. “Well, in one of them I have some cold cuts, a beef stew …” CE seemed to grow behind Colt’s back. “… and fresh steaks for your mini grill.” “Which you’re going to fire up.” “Of course,” Warren answered as if it was the most normal thing to stand naked in the middle of a cold night in front of a grill, throwing obscenely-sized pieces of meat on it. “I thought you could use a snack, Colt, I heard Sam chased you all over Shadowlands.” “Sure, that meat is for me …” “What’s in the other basket?” “Oh. I nearly forget. Just some new cakes based on recipes from our last year’s trip to Paris and Vienna.” “Chocolate?” “Two!” “I love you, enforcer!” CE grinned and gently lifted Colt off his lap to get to the second basket. “I see, chocolate before Meta,” Colt laughed. CE gave him those sad puppy eyes. “What’s going on here?” another voice bellowed through the air. “Stop your DI-voice, and jump in!” Colt bellowed back in the best DI-voice he could muster. “And Bradley as well.” It seemed the red-haired enforcer blushed realizing everyone knew he had kind of hidden behind the tattooed marine, but didn’t care when he picked up the smell of wine, beer, steak, and cake. He had worked all week on the finishing of their house in LA and deserved a relaxing break with his brothers on one of his last nights in Shadowlands. He couldn’t even imagine not being here; and for an hour he wouldn’t have to. While Bradley discarded his too tight jockstrap in a second, Isaac folded his USMC-green jacket with the proficiency of a recruit in the last week of boot camp. Of course, the next wolf, Sam, didn’t ask for permission, nor did he wear even the skimpiest clothes. He just stomped through, arriving at the hot tub in his naked glory. He put his hands to his sides and complained loudly: “Pool Party behind my back, not cool!” “All the water will be gone once you get in here!” Bradley complained. “Tell that to your ass, it causes more water displacement than a USN aircraft carrier …,” Sam retorted quickly. And everyone had to laugh, when Bradley stood up, bent around, checking out his lily-white backside nearly sheepishly. “Sit down, steaks are ready in a second,” Warren barked. He enjoyed manning the grill, as this was the only one Prime allowed him to work on, as it was only a ‘mini’ grill, hence not really worthy an Alpha – in contrast to the mega grills they had in the kitchen and on the ‘public’ patio downstairs. “Good,” CE acknowledged with satisfaction, barely after he had licked it his fingers clean. “And you back into the hot tub, finger Colt and not the cakes!” Warren ordered in his police officer attitude. CE saluted sloppily but behaved. “What’s going on here?” a hero tenor voice cut through the air. “An anti-beta mutiny?” a rough senior marine voice answered the very same second. And everyone stared at Colt and Prime who had burst into laughter, spitting beer and Coke through the air. They hugged and clapped each other’s back. “Care to elaborate what’s so funny?” Brian asked while dropping his too tight light-blue swim speedos. Prime shook his head, trying to regain some of his Alpha seriousness. “Nothing, Beta, nothing. I promise.” “Why do I have the feeling he’s lying?” Gavin answered, his silkies falling on top of Brian’s speedos, not appearing less skimpy in any comparison. “Meta and Alpha privilege,” Colt explained, knowing that pulling rank tended to work with his wolves. “As long as we get some of that steak and beer, I’m fine,” Gavin pointed towards the grill. “We might run out of beer though,” CE quickly did the math. “No worries,” Brian, who had barely put his toe into the warm water, jumped up, dashing back into Colt’s rooms, well aware everyone was watching his athletic performance. And Colt thought Brian wouldn’t need Fate’s skills, he still looked as deliciously Greek god-like as the day they had met for their first ‘date.’ When Brian returned with more beer, Warren handed out steaks on plastic plates, and Sam told with excitement about the latest delivery of drone-based silver arrow delivering mechanisms, leading to endless technical follow-up questions by all the wolves. Colt tried to unobtrusively observe each of his wolves in this moment of communal bliss. Warren was so proud the wolves devoured his steaks as if they hadn’t eaten in weeks, his full cheeks red from the heat of the grill and steam of the pool. Bradley elaborated with detail how their new house was featuring all the latest technical gimmicks including several drones permanently hovering around it as mobile lookout posts. Of course, he didn’t forget to mention that the acquisition of the two neighboring houses allowed them to put an outdoor gym into their garden. Isaac shared his exchange with the Feldberg Pack where he had jokingly complained about the lack of military training of the German enforcer who would be joining Forest’s Inner Circle. Of course, the Alpha, Max’ oldest son, told him to suck it up like the sissy marine his father had told him he was. Sam couldn’t stop talking about the aforementioned drones, stating one specification after another and announcing proudly, they would test them with the new IC in the next days. He sounded more like planning for a new toy railway set than testing deadly weaponry. CE had to confess that for the first time Forest had beaten him in a mock-fight within 10 minutes. Forest had been able to get the upper hand for more than five years now, Alpha and such, but never so quickly. CE’s sheer strength and experience were, after all, a good match for a young alpha, but Forest wasn’t ‘young’ anymore. Prime at Forest’s age had already taken over the much weaker pack, and successfully beaten an Alpha in a challenge. But instead of being sad about his waning power, CE was bursting with pride that his ersatz-son had become such a formidable fighter. Gavin proudly shared all the updates about the pack wolves currently serving in the Corps, interlaced with complaints that the Corps had turned completely soft, and during his time he would have restored order with an iron fist. He also made it clear the youngest wolf’s graduation was absolutely off limits for Colt if they wanted to avoid Camp Pendleton to disintegrate completely. It didn’t help the boy’s name was Leo and he had some cunning familiarity with the former Beta, which wasn’t a surprise given his Canadian heritage. Brian asked for a toast for himself as he had done the last WWP Holding Inc board meeting ever. As of now, it was up to Arthur to deal with that ‘PR bullshit’ as the blond Beta phrased it so sophistically. He couldn’t help stating, though, that Arthur split infinitives much too often for his taste, but supposedly that wasn’t a punishable offense anymore nowadays. Colt’s glances moved briefly back to CE, who was already dealing with his second steak, despite knowing there was a full basket of sweets waiting for him. He felt CE would suffer most from leaving Shadowlands – after all, he had lived through that once before. Prime finally shared the bet Colt and he had made about who would join them first and last. “A CE has to be where his Alpha and his Meta are,” CE justified his presence without any regret. Brian and Gavin exchanged some eye rolls as if complaining wordlessly about the brass, but were innocently proud of themselves. And once all the steaks and most of the sweats had been eaten, all the beers drunk, their skin had turned ugly-wrinkly, the night was at its deepest and darkest, Colt suggested – to make this moment the perfect memory for any world he lived in: “So what about you guys shifting and we sleep out here?” Prime’s eyes widened with a soft glow. Colt bathed in the view of the white mountains, majestic eagles, tall pine trees, virgin valleys, and crystal clear waterfalls. It was nearly as it would be again, in Idaho. If it hadn’t been for that sign in an odd language he knew too well.
  12. ‘Are we almost home?’ Seb wanted to smile when he remembered this very spot, and his words. He felt he had uttered them only yesterday, like every child who wanted to get back to his holo-games as quickly as possible. His father, Forest, had shaken his head with gentle disbelief, but wouldn’t change direction. For hours they hiked through snow-covered forests up the hills of ShadowLands. His smile – if he could have had a smile on his snout – froze in the very same second. He missed his father so much. It had only been 18 months ago that he had to cremate the White Wolf Pack Alpha; died too quickly for his age due to the insidious wolf cancer. He so hoped Forest would be one of the last victims of the plague. His mother was slowly recovering from the loss of her mate, but she was no help to run the pack. And his Inner Circle was mostly empty. His CE, Alexander, was running next to him, big, fearsome and loyal as had been his father, but particularly his grandfather. Burt had actually been Alexander’s grandfather’s brother, but for the big enforcer, Burt was his granddad. His real granddad and his betrayal were buried deep in the Pack’s archives. Another enforcer, the offspring of one of the last female survivors of the Winterfir pack, had joined them only weeks ago. Theo reminded him strangely of two of his uncles – the face of his Marine Colonel uncle with the body of the biggest wolf he had ever known next to Burt: Sam. The rest of the wolves hunting with him were fighters. His father had kept a substantial amount of fighters when he had taken over the pack from Prime, the founder of the White Wolf Pack, knowing that good times could quickly turn into bad times. And unfortunately, he had been right. Some odd blogs had appeared on the net some months ago listing the mysterious deaths and disappearances of young girls on the Western half of the North American continent, particularly in Idaho and Western Nevada. The police were hunting a serial killer, but Seb didn’t have to be the near-PhD in Western Philosophy to understand some serious vampire was feeding on girls. Based on how cunning the perpetrator was he had come to the conclusion an actual vampire queen was on the loose again. He had listened to Prime’s stories often enough to get a feel for them; he had learned from the fighters how to fight them best, but mostly he had studied ‘Of Vampires and Wolves’ by L. Colt Parker so intensely the conclusion had been obvious. And when several of his wolves had gotten itchy over the past days, and their alarm system had gone off for no apparent reasons three times, he had had to assume that very vampire queen was trying to get to them. Maybe for a revenge long due, though none of the wolves from the Big Battle Against the Vampires were alive anymore. But the statue celebrating their heroic fight and commemorating the sacrifices made was located in ShadowLands; the annual celebrations took place in ShadowLands; that made ShadowLands, and thereby his pack, the logical place for the vampire to sniff around. He had to stop that, even if his IC was almost empty. They ran. His CE to his right, his second enforcer, Theo, to his left. Two dozens of fighters spread out. But he knew he had more support than that. His father, and his mate, had made sure of that. The net got tighter. And then they spotted her. Tall and blond. She looked surprised, but not scared. Even from a distance, Seb could appreciate the porcelain white skin, the slender figure, and the cunning eyes. Every red-blooded alpha wolf would have been interested in such a female, Seb too if he hadn’t been Seb, and the female not a vicious vampire queen. Of course, she vanished, reappearing some 100 meters away, finding herself again surrounded by some of his wolves. She transported again. She was tough and capable it seemed, as a vampire queen should be. She quickly realized the gap the wolves had left and transported behind their backs, with a benevolent smile on her lips. Seb smiled as well. The moment she materialized, nodding to them like “Nice try, boys, see you later,” hundreds of arrows appeared from nowhere. The moon’s reflection created a piece of art of broken silver light, supported by a swoosh only a deadly weapon could make. The arrows were so dense, only tiny birds would have been able to escape. Most disappeared somewhere in the distance in the snow; many got stuck in the thick-trunked pine trees of the forest, but three hit the target perfectly. She was stunned. She stared at them in disbelief. When she had recovered from the surprise of having been outwitted by a dog, she started to pull the first arrow out of her left upper arm. Examined it, nearly admiring the dagger-like shape. Wondering where they had come from. When she tried to rid herself of the second arrow stuck in her thigh, the wolves had caught up with her. Theo shifted mid-jump and tackled her, stopping her from removing the last arrow in her abdomen. And Alexander’s paw sliced her chest open turning her delicate t-shirt red in an instant. A scream of unbelievable pain and unbelieving annoyance filled the forest. Another fighter joined Theo, immobilizing her completely. Alexander’s wolf growled his hot breath into her face, keeping his razor-sharp paws ready to stop her from healing, and thereby from escaping. They had caught a queen. Seb shifted. He didn’t care he was naked. He had long stopped being annoyed by cold snow and preferring his warm room with stuff to read and games to play. That had been before he had shifted for the first time; since then he was a real wolf, who loved winter, forest, snow and the hunt. It didn’t matter that his bachelor was in philosophy. When he had closed the gap to the queen, the moon highlighted her features. He nearly wanted to touch the skin, so oneiric it looked, stretched over perfect cheekbones. But her perplexed look stopped him mid-tracks. “Prime?” she asked. “Seb actually, Sebastian Prime Loope, Alpha of the White Wolf Pack,” he introduced himself politely. He didn’t know why. “You look like him.” “’Him?’” “Prime,” she repeated numbly. “Maybe. He is my grand uncle after all.” “And they called you Seb – like my …” She didn’t continue. “So who are you?” he asked, wondering why he made polite conversation like on a Sunday afternoon barbeque. “The vampire queen of the West.” Seb moved his hand to invite her to continue. “Emma.” And now it was Seb’s turn to be surprised. Emma. He remembered from Prime and Colt’s tales, from the documents of the pack. Emma, his grandmother. No wonder his grandfather had fallen for her. What a woman. She smiled taking in the surprise of Seb. “So they called you after my Seb.” He thought he heard pain and gentle love in the angelic words, but he also recalled his training. Never trust a vampire. “The Seb you had killed, if I recall correctly,” he challenged her. “It wasn’t me. It was that mutt fucker …” Seb laughed. “I didn’t believe Colt when he told me that was the vampires’ nickname for him … but obviously, he’s right. Which I should have never doubted in the first place.” He had separated himself from the impact of the woman’s beauty and closed in again. And in just that moment, Alexander’s paw ripped her open again. She had gotten too close to healing, and his CE wouldn’t let her escape after they had planned this elaborate trap. “So what do you want?” “Nothing,” she answered. Lying. “I see. Seeking revenge?” She didn’t say anything. “Or looking for something?” He didn’t know why but something in her had changed. “I noticed, you don’t have a full IC yet, you’re vulnerable …” she whispered. “Not really,” he challenged her. “And your father, my son, died of that horrific disease …” “You made your son an orphan,” Seb shouted. “But you know what it takes to keep wolves – your wolves – healthy.” Seb smiled as if interested. “The presence of vampires?” “See. We could come to an understanding …” “You had my grandfather killed, you made my father and my uncle orphans, you had one of Prime’s Beta’s killed …” She was puzzled. “Leo!” he shouted. A replicate of the glass column was reminding them daily of the White Wolf Pack IC’s sacrifices. She shrugged. “And at least 20 girls in this country … and you want me to forget all of that for avoiding the cancer?” She shrugged seductively. “Well, I have news for you, my dear vampire queen.” “You talk like him.” Her being puzzled made her look even more intriguing. “Who?” “Colt.” – And then she choked. Less because of her wounds, but because of the realization. “Fuck,” she lost her composure, “you’re like Prime and Colt in one.” “That would be biologically impossible, but I take it as a compliment. – However, I can inform you your help regarding the cancer is not needed.” He turned his back to her, sending signals of disinterest, and continued: “Thanks to a German nerd we now have a preventive vaccine. He seems to have found something in Colt’s blood. Now, we cannot heal anyone, because it has to be injected before a pup shifts for the first time. But most of my pack’s wolves are safe. – So your assistance is not required.” “But I could …” “Alexander – kill that bitch!” he instructed coldly, swirling around to face that abysmal creature one more time. And with two ferocious paw strikes she was gone. Her scream short and satisfying. Turning into dust, spoiling the white snow on the ground, before even the dirt disappeared as if there had never been evil in ShadowLands. Alexander shifted, barking orders immediately. “Theo, make sure the fighters collect all the silver dagger-arrows, we will need them again. Then lead them home for big steaks and our special MaxBeer!” “Yes, Sir! – Guys, you’ve heard the boss …” Seb slowly walked away from the commotion, his CE catching up with him quickly. “How do …” Seb shook his head. “I’m fine. She could have lied.” “But you believed her.” “Colt had always suspected the reason she did what she did and how she died was because she expected to come back as a queen …” “I was always a bit scared of him …” “We were small pups … they were big … well, not Colt, but something in his eyes told us he wasn’t just a weirdo.” “I know what you mean. – But what was she looking for?” Alexander lifted his face, so his button nose could take in the winter forest scents. The scruffy facial hair made him look as dangerous as he was to his enemies. “The feeling I had was she really hated Colt, so …” “But he’s dead, for nearly ten years …” “Maybe.” “What maybe?” Alexander asked. “Sir, I’m not a beta, but I feel you need to talk about something.” “Who was Colt?” “The White Wolf.” “Really? My father told me he could transport.” “Well, he also was a vampire …” “Those can only transport a couple of hundreds of meters max,” Seb challenged. “We saw that today again.” “But …” “They never found their bodies in the rift the Big One opened.” “Well, they were old … “Nor the columns …” “Glass breaks …” “No clothes, …” “Are you suggesting they escaped? They were old!” “Didn’t look old. – I have the feeling Colt hasn’t told us everything.” “So, you’re saying she was looking for Colt?” “Yes. Obviously, he isn’t here, but she was sneaking around for info …” “So where is he?” Seb giggled. “The better question would be: ‘Who is he?’” Alexander rolled his eyes. “Of course, Alpha.” “The where is easy,” Seb put his hand on the big guy's shoulder. Alexander was taller than him, bigger, hairier, dark brown, nearly black hair and big brown eyes. He reminded him of a scruffier Burt. “I miss them,” his CE suddenly whined. “Me, too.” “But we have a job to do.” “Yes, and you guys did well, Alexander.” “Good.” They stopped to look over the cliff, the valley of ShadowLands, lit by the moon’s light reflecting on the snow, presenting itself in its full glory. “This pack deserves it. This land needs it.” “They trained us well. We will prevail.” “Good, now let’s get home, our mates are already itchy.” Seb smiled gently. Alexander had met his mate only some months ago, one of Jett’s youngest daughters, with hair as black as a raven’s, and a smile as sweet as the cakes he loved to eat. His mate on the other side was a different story. “You’re right. Casper is so pissed he has to stay at home and man the drones.” “Well, you chose a drone-piloting air force officer,” Alexander challenged good-heartedly as if that was the last he could think of as a mate. “Came in handy today …” “Yep. Let’s hope we fill the IC soon so we can do it the traditional way,” Alexander suggested. “Don’t tell Casper; he hates to be the girl …” Seb elbowed the big guy. “Doesn’t hurt,” Alexander answered. And both laughed. “Let’s shift and run home,” Seb ordered. “Aye, aye, Sir.” And then Seb stopped, turned around to look down the valley again, and then zooming in on a certain spot, which featured a prominent rock ledge. He thought he had felt something, smelled something. But his wolf senses couldn’t spot anything, so he shifted and joined Alexander to run home. He needed steak, beer, and a rough military fuck. Colt took Prime’s trembling hand. He knew the pack could not see, hear, smell or notice them in any way, but Prime’s quivering lips suggested he was under stress. “They did well,” Colt repeated. Prime nodded. “Good strategy, good execution. – He needs a Beta though, quickly.” “He will find one, we made sure of that.” “I miss this place.” Colt nodded. “And Seb’s a dog tag chaser.” Prime shook his head, pretending to be disappointed, knowing Colt wasn’t innocent. Colt smiled. “Are we surprised? Quality prevails.” “You were right, Emma was looking for us.” The nerd nodded. “She always wanted revenge. Now it’s finally over for her.” “Good idea from Brian to write that blog.” Colt nodded. “Let’s go home, Prime. I also want a steak.” Prime nodded. He turned around to let his eyes skim over the valley once more before he nodded to Colt. He was ready for Fate to transport him home. He just felt Colt knew bad times were ahead of the young third generation of the White Wolf Pack.
  13. “When were you going to tell me?” Colt asked nearly benevolently grandfatherly. Prime took a deep breath, put the plate with a sandwich for his hardworking Meta on the nightstand – the desk was utterly cluttered – and sat down on Colt’s unmade bed. “I guess the numbers tell you now.” Colt’s pen pointed at the screen of his laptop. Several printouts, a pocket calculator, his phone and a tablet were placed around it, all screaming: ‘Beware. Dangerous accountant hard at work.’ “If I were mischievous I’d say I didn’t know the Corps paid so well …” “But you aren’t …” “Especially after your discharge,” Colt discontinued undisturbed. “And in clean multiples of 5000’s.” Prime winced. “And in irregular intervals.” Prime didn’t say anything. Colt just looked into those big green eyes showing him a beautiful, green Voralpen valley with the first mist of fall. He nearly forgot where he was going with this. The muscle shirt and gym shorts with a hint of pine sweat added to the distraction, as did some grease on his elbows he had missed after quickly washing up. Of course, the wolves did the annual ‘inspection’ of their manly pick-up truck by themselves. The vision of Prime, Brian, CE, and Sam doing a ‘grease lightning’ act was nearly too much to stay soft. But he forced himself down by reminding himself of the night he worked through to organize Prime’s finances. After they had received the brokerage accounts from Prime’s father, Colt had been set to the task to handle their money aspects in the future. What Colt had expected to be a rather mundane bookkeeping and banking task, had turned out to be a surprise worthy a novel. “So do I assume you did some ‘side jobs’ after your discharge?” he asked carefully. He tried to express ‘side jobs’ sleazily and dirty but failed. Even though some men might pay such handsome sums to get at Prime's ass. Prime nodded. “And I assume you don’t have any documents like salary statements. W-2’s or 1099’s?” Prime shook his head. “And your bank never asked where this money came from?” Prime shook his head again. “Well, they are used to the military, so maybe they don’t ask so many questions …” Prime didn’t respond. “So maybe I shouldn’t, either,” Colt concluded, noticing something was slightly off. Prime exhaled with relief. But then his chest lifted as if he wanted to say something. Colt waited patiently. “Once I had met CE, I knew I would form a pack eventually. But I had no land, no rights, and little money. I needed to do something …” “And who doesn’t need the services of a skilled marine alpha wolf …,” Colt added a bit snappy. “There are people who look for us to do some unpleasant jobs …,” Prime confirmed. Colt nodded. He got up and sat next to his Alpha. “I understand. I don’t disapprove.” “Thanks,” Prime exhaled again. “Please, don’t tell the pack.” “They don’t know?” Prime shook his head slowly. “I’m not sure how CE would take it.” Colt understood. CE was very black and white. “Or Brian.” Colt frowned. He would have thought their smart Beta would understand better until he made a connection in his head. “That’s why you were in Colorado when you found him in the woods.” “An alpha of dubious reputation founded kind of a cult pack … “… aren’t they all?” Colt challenged. Prime ignored the interjection and continued. “He was skilled in attracting wolves from wealthy packs … and even more skilled in squeezing money out of them …” “Wow.” “Some of those wolf families and packs got very concerned. They couldn’t really challenge the alpha as on the surface everything was very much according to our laws …” “… so they sent you. The fire brigade, police, and ambulance in one.” “Yes. I observed the guy for several weeks …” “Hesitant?” “A bit.” “And then?” “He approached a woman … she rejected him, but he wanted her anyway …” “So you played white knight and assassin in one,” Colt completed the thought with a sober voice. “Yes. The families were very grateful, and they showed their gratefulness,” Prime concluded. “Well, you made a little fortune.” Colt got up to show him a bank statement. “The pack ne…” Colt put his finger on Prime’s small strawberry-pink lips. “It’s okay. I’m fine with it. – I just need to arrange some stuff, in case certain people ask questions.” “Thanks.” Colt suddenly giggled. “What?” “And there I thought you are the guy who married me for money!” Prime frowned with amusement. “So it must be my looks,” Colt continued while shuffling the papers together. “Of course, handsome,” Prime whispered. “So, we do have an agreement though that your ninja times are over?” “Yes. They were over when we spotted you in San Francisco. Now we need to make money the traditional way …” Colt tilted his head. “I would assume we have different definitions of ‘traditional,’ but I agree. – However, that leads to another question.” “Oh no!” Prime complained in protest. Colt ignored it. “So, if you hadn’t had your ‘hit job’ in Boulder …” “How do you know …” Colt just pointed to the papers. He wasn’t a detective, but he could read ATM receipts. “… what I was saying, if you hadn’t been sent to Colorado for some bible-selling job,” Colt grinned, “you would have never met Brian.” Prime nodded. “You know that’s too much of a coincidence …” “Yep.” “You and CE. You and Brian. – Do you think Betsy is behind that as well?” “I don’t think L… - I don’t think my contact works with a vampire Shaman,” Prime expressed his doubt … though his face started to doubt his own doubt. “Great, we have a vampire-shaman-marine conspiracy here to form a pack. I mean what’s next? – Good, we’re going to Palm Springs for vacation … only old fat golf-playing men there …” Colt stated. Prime nodded very affirmatively. “I think I should get a shower now, I worked through all the night to clean up your mess,” Colt teased. “Thanks.” And Colt understood it was for more than cleaning the financial mess. But he also understood Prime had something up his sleeves for their trip to Palm Springs. That cunning ginger alpha ass. The only thing that didn’t make any sense in this was that the entity that had paid Prime’s moonlighting work had the same nine-digit zip code as the company he had sent the DNA samples to. Well, and the fact the wolf Prime had killed, had been a former USAF officer with the dashing looks of Liam Hemsworth and the open preference for men …
  14. “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” Colt whispered when he looked into the mirror. Slowly he put the blond wig on his ¼ inch cropped head, pushing the braids behind his ears. Nonetheless, the tips landed where the wearer of such braids should normally have tits. He sighed again. He might have killed Evil itself, two vampire queens, fuck over-sized wolf marines and nowadays having turned 40, impress even Isaac with his marksmanship, but after all, he always was the girl … and today showed it again. It was a stupid idea. No, he contradicted himself; it was a rather smart idea. For his pack to dress him up in embarrassing ways – as he did with camouflage, jockstraps, lederhosen, or cowboy hats – was just the cherry on the cake. He rolled his eyes in defeat and tried to rearrange his braids, but he gave up. He looked stupid in any case. He had successfully vetoed the skirt. They had compromised on a kilt. Not that made a lot of difference for the kids on the streets, but he felt he had protected a thin veneer of manhood. Nonetheless, even in a kilt his skinny calves and bony knees were barely of the Scottish hunkiness he had hoped for. He rearranged his unisex white shirt, replaced the braids again, but to no avail. He just looked horrendous. He guessed that was the purpose of that exercise in the first place. Slowly he put the red cap on. It wasn’t a baseball cap, nor a cover, or a woolly hat that CE loved to see so much on him when they took long walks through the woods – even if the wooly hat made him look like one of those gartenzwerge Andreas couldn’t stop pointing out … of course that lead Andreas to be puzzled as he had though Colt was Snowwhite and not one of her dwarfs – though his physique suggested more dwarf. Colt pushed the thought aside and rearranged the cap to sit straight without deranging his very blond braided wig, but he couldn’t help, and his braids landed wrong all over again. After several attempts, he had finished. He looked as moronic as the day required. “They will so pay for this,” he threatened, heading for the door. Before he could open it, he turned around and picked up the basket that had been prepared for him. An empty bottle and the poor excuse of old bread peeked out of the red-white-checkered cloth hiding the goodies in the basket otherwise. He picked it up, pushed it into the cradle of his elbow, took another deep breath and walked downstairs onto the dark street. He had never liked Halloween. He had seen too much real horror and drama to enjoy the celebration thereof, but today it seemed to be necessary. So he started to walk. And it took only 30 seconds until a creature, tall, dangerous, golden, bared its gigantic fangs. It seemed to ask with no pretense of any friendliness: “What are you doing out here, little girl?" "I'm on my way to a gay leather bar,” Colt snarled. “I need to shove this bottle up some innocent baby marine’s pussy … they squeal so nicely when stuffed.” The beast growled, its teeth shining in the moonlit night. It came closer. Colt could smell it. He pushed his hands into his hips and shouted: “Oh stop that nonsense, Prime. My knees are freezing, let’s get this done.” Prime’s wolf tilted his head in slight disappointment but lifted his head as if addressing the moon. A bone-shattering howl filled the LA Halloween night, and soon thereafter more wolves, some even bigger, some faster, but equally scary and beautiful at the same time filled the street, surround little red-hooded Colt. “You’re such a drama wolf,” Colt tsktsked and started to walk; but the wolves seemed to hesitate. “What?” he shouted with a hint of annoyance. A silver wolf’s snout came too close, trying to lift Colt’s kilt. Colt quickly grabbed the chain around the wolf’s neck and hissed: “Brian, you do that once more, and I rip your balls off here and now for everyone to see. Understood?” Brian’s silver wolf yelped and took some careful steps back, the head bowed in submission. “And I do wear underwear; I’m not Scottish!” Colt explained. “But, red-hooded girl,” another wolf seemed to approach him, nearly white, stating: “What cute long blond hair you have.” “So I can better strangle you.” An ocher one pushed his snout towards Colt’s boots: “and big army boots.” It seemed the wolf had taken offense. “So I can better step on your dicks.” When finally an enormous anthracite-colored wolf seemed to ask: “And why does such a cute girl have such a big …,” Colt hissed: “So I can fuck you bloody after a shift, and let’s fucking do this.” And with this ten wolves started to move; they’d giggle if their wolf snouts could. Colt was tense. Not because he was dressed like a Little Red Riding hood drag queen, not because it was Halloween on ‘their college,’ not because the Halloween costume was actual wolf shifters surrounding his pitiful drag act, but because he was surrounded by ten wolves; but not ‘his’ ten wolves. Eight were his: Prime, Brian, Gavin, CE, Sam, Isaac, Warren, and Bradley. But they were led by two other wolves, outer circle wolves of the White Wolf Pack, to conclude an open chapter that had been started well before their pack had been formed. To do this on Halloween, and in this ostentatious non-disguise was just a little trick they liked to play to get what they wanted. How else could ten oversized wolves roam the college without creating havoc? The two outer circle wolves led the pack; then Isaac and Warren; Colt, aka Little Drag Red Riding hood, was surrounded by Prime and Sam, with CE on their six. Brian and Gavin flanked them. It was indeed quite impressive how a nearly white and a silver wolf dashed around to check for threats. And they were needed once they reached the streets with people; most dressed up in their usual Halloween costumes: horror movie characters, monsters, (fake) vampires, and zombies. Everything stopped when the wolves showed up. Some girls screamed, looking for comfort in some strong boys’ arms. They seemed to calm them down that those wolves are just a projection, and there was no reason to be scared, but even Colt could smell the fear. It was one thing to say those monster wolves were projection, but another to believe it given the perfection they showed. Of course, nobody would think they were real wolves, except those frat boys who were young wolf shifters themselves. But those made five extra steps back as they immediately recognized at least three alphas, some vicious betas, and a collection of the most brutal enforcers they had ever witnessed. Once or twice an intoxicated, and therefore over-confident, young man, came too close, wanting to touch the ‘simulations’ with his hand, when he faced himself quickly with saliva-dripping fangs the size of half his face. The sound effects – the growls – did the rest. Of course, most could smell some distant dog scent to complete the whole performance, but Colt knew better. A sweet potpourri of strawberry, cherry, forest, plum, orange, apricot, apple, and malt filled his nose the longer he walked surrounded by furry wolf flesh. He didn’t even have to try, but cream and coco added themselves smoothly. And a smile crossed his lips. Nearly passively he grabbed the chains on around Prime and Sam’s necks when they approached the building they had targeted. As expected, a horde of onlookers had followed them and stopped right now with some safe distance. Some younger men exited the building to confront the wolves. Colt smelled courage, but lots of fear. And he saw torn jeans, scruffy faces, long hair, and disorganization. Time to straighten things out, one of the wolves seemed to think. Colt was surprised. It hadn’t been one of ‘his’ wolves, but maybe he just knew what he would think. Colt turned around facing the impressed onlookers. He reached into his goodie basket and aimed with a kind of gun with an oversized barrel. A thin black cloth shot into the air with a harmless boom. It unfolded and slowly descended, covering all of the wolves and him. And like with a David-Copperfield-act decades ago, the wolves were gone, and ten very attractive, very hunky and very sweaty men in gym shorts pushed themselves out of the cloth. The audience was oooh-ing and aaah-ing and breaking into a resounding applause. Colt bent as if communicating that the performance was over. And indeed when nothing more happened, most of the college crowd dissolved to continue with their own celebrations. And with this, a young man, tall, dark-haired, with a thin layer of fur on his chest and lean legs, took a step towards the young men ‘protecting’ the building. “Who is your alpha?” he barked. The alpha might not look as intimidating as the two others, the red-haired and the blond, but his self-confidence was the same. Nobody answered. “Who is your senior beta?” the alpha continued. One of the younger wolves had lost control over his bladder, and everyone could hear the stream hitting the pavement. Then a pudgy man stepped forward, collecting all his courage and spoke. “Alpha, I’m Elijah, the most senior enforcer present.” The alpha snarled and issued his orders: “I’m Iove. I hereby claim the alphaship of the Golden Chestnut Pack …” There were barely protests, only confused whispers. “This is Jackson, my chief enforcer. If you resist, he will fight you for my role. If you declare war, the White Wolf Pack will fight with me.” Elijah smiled. Indeed he smiled. “Iove, I’m not familiar with the customs of the Golden Chestnut Pack since we have lost our first better, General Stiller, years ago. But our pack has a special requirement for its alpha.” “Colt?” Iove’s voice turned oddly soft and respectful. Little Red Riding hood stepped forward and said: “If anyone of you snickers, I’ll ask Iove to have you all castrated!” The threat seemed to work, all the young wolves quickly bit their lips; their balls were too precious. “And here is a copy of Iove’s Ph.D. diploma from Yale. That should meet your criteria.” Elijah lowered his head. “Alpha, I will not challenge your claim, and ask humbly to continue to serve our pack.” Iove nodded gracefully, and then he and Jackson, the first son of Prime’s Gamma Jackson, joined the disheveled young men and entered the main building of the old Golden Chestnut Pack. Prime nodded with satisfaction. They had placed another alpha, to be allied with another of the most influential packs in North America. He was satisfied. Then he turned to Colt and said: “So tell me Big Red Riding hood, why do you have such a big mouth?” “That I can bark my orders loud and clear like a US drill instructor, you maggot,” Colt bellowed with a mischievous smile. When he noticed Prime’s grin, he added quickly: “Anyway, now that I look like a very bad drag version of Judy Garland, which made me endure any gay stereotype ever conceived, I should enjoy it more.” “How?” CE asked with a hint of worry in his voice. “Oh, I want my wolves on the way back … those scents make me horny …” And within seconds, eight men had ripped their gym shorts and turned into mean beasts again. And on their way back home he said as if talking to himself: “They say the lion and the tiger are stronger than the wolf; but the wolf doesn’t perform in a circus. I guess nobody has ever done this to a wolf.” And with this Colt loosened his boxer briefs under his kilt and stepped out of them to whirl them into the air like a makeshift whip. And eight lust- and pain-filled wolf howls filled the night air as it was expected on Halloween.
  15. He jerked out of his sleep as if hit by a bullet. No, because he had been hit by a bullet. In his dream. And years ago in Iraq. On his first tour as a marine as green as the uniform he had worn during boot camp. “It’s okay,” a deep voice trying to be comforting told him; not that his friend wasn’t trying hard enough. But it seemed his own anxiety had affected the man next to him. He pushed his head under the warm water to clear his mind. The naturally warm springs made for a fantastic spa up the hills of ShadowLands. They had to run as wolves to reach this spot, kept secret by his pal Burt. He felt the pain in his shoulder. That’s where he had actually been shot as a young marine. His wolf had never really wanted to heal him as if to punish him for something Prime didn’t know. “So Will will be taking over?” Prime asked, remembering where the conversation had stopped before he had fallen asleep in the warm water. The water on his too long hair, his scruffy beard, and on his quite hairy chest got cold quickly. “Yep. He already has pups, so …” Burt dropped his teddy bear head nearly in shame. Prime nodded. He knew the pain. He had returned to the West Montana Pack at his father’s cremation. But the betas and Zef had made it clear they wouldn’t accept him as alpha. Zef would rule until Seb was old enough to reinstall the Loope line. They were compassionate enough not to kick him out of the pack, but he couldn’t stay there. He had found some unclaimed land further north and lived his eremite life, only once in a while returning to civilization to meet old buddies like Burt. How the big guy could stay as outer circle wolf in the pack that he should be protecting as his alpha’s chief enforcer, he didn’t understand. But every man had to make his own decisions. It was not up to him to challenge anyone about his life choices. They had met some months ago in San Diego at an event with former marines running for a veterans’ charity, even though neither of them still had the tight marine bodies. As everyone else, they had exchanged their assignments history, companies, battle stories, and where they had gotten which tacky or not so tacky tattoo. When Prime shared with Burt how he had been arrested once for trashing Lucy’s, they realized they would have met if Burt hadn’t been off that day – otherwise, he would have arrested a drunken Prime. Prime remembered the next day very clearly. He got seriously NJP’d. And after his contract ended, the Corps hadn’t been interested in another stint, forcing Prime to become a civilian wolf again. “Do you think,” Prime suddenly asked, “that our lives could different – if we had just made a different decision in our past?” Burt looked up. It was obvious he thought that was an unusual, esoteric question from the red-haired wolf. “I guess so.” “So how do you know this is the real one?” Prime asked. “There is only one real life.” “But …” But Prime didn’t finish. He was hungry, but couldn’t motivate himself to shift and hunt. He found an apple in the bag he’d carried up the mountain in his snout. “What’s on your mind?” “It was just a dream …,” Prime pushed it aside and bit. “What happened? I mean Fate sometimes …” Prime angrily throw the half-eaten apple down the hill. “Fuck Fate. She shot me on my first day of the war. And my fucking wolf behaves as if I had married a cunt.” Burt lifted his head to expose his neck in submission. He had had enough fights in his life. He was tired. Empty. Empty like a flat tire. He didn’t want to fight with one of the few men he had still in his life. “Sorry. I dreamed of an alpha challenge. I was fighting an alpha …” Prime mumbled with embarrassment. “Those are rare nowadays,” Burt commented sadly. His beard had grown too long and looked scruffy half-wet with water and sweat. In some years, when he would have turned gray, he would be Santa – without any need for a wig or an artificial beard. “But what was worse, some brat shot me afterward …” “For winning?” “I guess so,” Prime mumbled. “Maybe it’s just my wolf playing with me … stupid bullet in Baghdad and so …” “Maybe.” Prime’s ears pricked up. There was something in Burt’s voice. He wasn’t good at that. He was supposed to be, he was an alpha son after all, but somehow his skills had atrophied when he had started to drink. Getting clean by going cold turkey hadn’t helped. “What do you think?” he tried to be inviting. Burt took a deep breath. “Sometimes I feel I’m in the wrong movie. I feel I should be down there in the Inner Circle’s house as the CE – with a powerful alpha …” “You mean not Rory.” Burt rolled his eyes. Rory, having taken over some months ago because of his father’s untimely death, hadn’t yet grown up. And it was only a matter of time until he would die rotting in a cell because of one of the too many felonies. He had no clue what would happen to the Mt. Patterson pack. He suspected one of the four surrounding packs would swallow them if they were lucky. “Somehow it’s all wrong. It feels like …” Burt rolled his upper body as if he wanted to get rid of something. “Like … like when you wear your sweater the wrong way. Like your sock’s rolling down your calves. Like walking through the empty corridors of your school on a Sunday.” Prime bit his lip. Burt had rarely been so perceptive. “Since when?” “Always. No,” Burt corrected. “Since my accident.” Prime didn’t need to ask ‘which accident.’ Burt had told him how a truck had crashed into his new car on his 16th birthday. While him being a wolf had helped him to recover physically, he also knew that mentally it had changed Burt’s friendly disposition forever. He always was a bit fearful; next to being gay this must have been one of the reasons Will, his younger brother, had aced him. “That sucks.” Burt just nodded. He had kept this to himself. He didn’t want to come across as crazy. But for the first time, he had sensed Prime felt the same way. Out of place. “So what do we do?” Burt shrugged. He stood up trying to take in the beauty of the valley in front of him, grabbing hold of a dead tree trunk. Suddenly, he realized how fat he had gotten. In the water, he didn’t notice, but now, it reaching only to his thighs, he realized and felt ashamed. He looked worse than Warren. He was a fat hairy sloth. Hanging around without direction, growing more wool on him every day. He was a bear as a man, and a poodle as a wolf. He was a failure. “I don’t know.” “We should have met in Lucy’s,” Prime complained. “Not my shift.” “I know.” “So Zef’s getting married?” Burt asked desperately trying to change the topic. For the worse. Prime huffed. “Yep, he’s the perfect hetero alpha now. Found himself some bimbo that will spit out pups like on a conveyer belt.” “Sorry.” “Sometimes I think he’s really forgotten what happened when we were young …” Prime’s voice was cold. “You were both pups … it didn’t mean …” “I know,” Prime barked cutting the conversation short. Maybe he should try to sleep again. Sleep normally made the pain go away. Even if not this time. “And Seb found a female as well.” “You told me.” “I guess I did,” Prime whispered. After a while, he asked with resignation: “What do we do?” “Did VA offer you a shrink?” Burt asked carefully. Prime sighed. “Yes.” “And?” “No,” Prime decided firmly. “Gotcha. - But maybe …” “No,” Prime shouted. “A shaman,” Burt added quickly to pacify the red-haired wolf’s rage. Prime opened his mouth to throw out the suggestion; but he stopped and thought about it. “Do you have someone in mind?” Burt sat down again, enjoying the comforting weightlessness the warm water generated. “Yes.” “Who?” “A girl I met once in San Diego.” “You fucked her?” Prime asked in surprise. “No. Well, she tried to …” But Burt stopped. “Anyway. She’s good. She knew everything about me just by reading my spirit …” “Wow.” Prime was not impressed. “What do you have to lose? We can hang around here until our skin falls off all shriveled. And down there they whisper behind our backs about what dirty stuff we did up here …” Prime growled. “Fine. What’s her name?” “Nikita.”
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