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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Spirit Wolves - 6. Chapter 6

Things get a little interesting in Ben's new world.

Silas was waiting for Ben when he entered the kitchen the following morning. Ben shook his head and chuckled.

“So, how much do you know, Silas?”

Silas’ eyes were clear as he looked at Ben and told him, “Enough.”

That made Ben laugh out loud. He had a sneaking suspicion that the old shifter knew a hell of a lot more than anyone else.

Silas chuckled too, his eyes returning to their clouded state. “I know that you have a rare gift. I also know you have an important role to fill in the future of this pack. So why don’t you fill in the details while we eat.”

Ben noticed there were a few containers of food on the counter. Sandi must have sent them over this morning. She packed her famous scrambled egg casserole which she knew was Ben’s favorite. There were even some biscuits with sausage gravy.

Ben fixed two plates and warmed them up in the microwave, mouth watering with anticipation. He poured them both some coffee and then told Silas of what transpired last night and his role in it. Silas was quiet, just listening as Ben talked. When Ben finished explaining everything Silas looked at him intently for a moment before he spoke. What he asked took Ben by surprise.

“Is Ben short for Benjamin?” Silas inquired.

Surprised by the question, Ben shook his head. “No, my given name is Ruben.”

“I thought so,” replied Silas.

He smiled as he saw Ben’s puzzled look. “If you look up the meaning of your name, most sites will define it as ‘behold, a son’. However, there is a deeper meaning that comes from the Chassidic belief that connects the name with ‘sight”. Granted, they relate it with the supposed ability to see their god. Shifters are a little more straightforward. We translate the name into ‘ability of sight’.

Once again Ben shook his head, this time in disbelief. Apparently he was aptly named. One of the few things that his parents did right it seemed.

“I guess it should surprise me, but it doesn’t. What about my last name?

Marrock? Does it have a hidden meaning as well?

Silas had an amused look on his face as he replied, “According to the old legends, Marrok was a knight who was believed to be a werewolf.”

Ben sighed. “Great, just great. Nothing like setting the bar high now, is there Silas? How is that even supposed to work? Do I have to let somebody bite me at the apex of the full moon on the first Tuesday after Venus is in retrograde with Jupiter, but only on an odd numbered day?

Silas barked out a laugh and almost choked on the sip of coffee he had just taken. When he once again was in control he replied, “I don’t think it’s that complicated. The only way for a human to become a shifter is to be turned by their fated mate. Since you don’t have a shifter mate I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”

“Well, I think those chances are pretty slim seeing how I’m gay. I can’t imagine there are many gay shifters. Are there?” Ben said.

Grinning, Silas replied, “There’s a few.”

Ben decided to change the subject and told Silas that they were invited to dinner at Caleb’s house. Silas perked up at the news. Ben knew that the old shifter missed the day to day activities that took place within a pack. He had revealed that he was six-hundred and eighty-nine, which was the equivalent of a human in their late eighties or early nineties. His wolf’s ability to heal had diminished somewhat so he often felt some of the aches and pains that come with advanced age. It mostly flared up in the winter when it was so cold.

Ben spent the day helping Silas with household chores. He dusted, swept the floors, then mopped the kitchen and hallway before vacuuming the living room and bedrooms. The bathroom was scrubbed and he changed the sheets on the bed in Silas’ room, throwing them in the laundry. He added his clothes to the pile of laundry as well. Neither of them were very hungry at lunch so Ben just cut up some cheddar cheese, pulled out a box of crackers and they munched on that while doing their chores. Silas folded the laundry when it was done and before they knew it, it was time to head over to Caleb’s house.

Caleb lived in what could only be described as a giant log cabin. The house was too large to be an actual cabin, it was more accurately a giant log McMansion. Ben later found out that most of the pack enforcers lived there along with Caleb’s nephew Zev. Sandi and Wayne had their own, smaller cabin on the property that gave them their privacy. As Ben learned more about the dynamics of the pack, the size of the house made more sense.

Ben parked his little car near the door like Caleb had instructed him to. It was a shorter walk for Silas. Ben looked at the huge foyer in awe. He had grown up in a large house, but this place made his childhood home look like a hovel.

They made their way through the vast common area and found Caleb in the kitchen. He, Sandi and Wayne were busy with dinner preparations. All three sets of eyes turned to Ben as he entered the huge kitchen. He was greeted with smiles and looks of respect. Apparently saving the life of the pack Alpha elevated one’s standing within the pack dynamics.

Silas was greeted warmly well. He had long ago earned the respect of the pack.

Caleb gestured for them. “Come on in and make yourselves at home. Drinks are in the cooler. There’s beer, soda and water.”

Silas took a seat at the long, solid oak table surrounded by twelve chairs. It was huge, yet there was room for two more leaves. Ben guessed twenty people could easily fill the table if needed, maybe more.

Ben got himself and Silas each a beer and a bottle of water. Caleb grabbed a beer for himself and sat down at the head of the table. Silas was to the left of the Alpha, and Ben took the seat next to Silas.

Sandi was tending to several pots and pans and crock pots, all filled to the brim with delectable edible goodness. Wayne returned to the deck where he was now manning several grills.

As Ben was taking all of this in, commotion ensued from the front hall, young voices raised in bickering, and a moment later three youngsters came filing into the kitchen. Sure enough, they were having a rather heated discussion. Two boys who looked to be about eleven and twelve, were teasing a little girl who couldn’t have been any more than seven.

The little girl held her own. She had long, shiny black hair and bright violet eyes. Her brows were drawn together and her face held the look of determination. Her little fists were balled up by her sides as she told the two older boys off.

“You don’t know anything Brad! My wolf is going to be the prettiest wolf ever! You just wait. You’re just jealous cuz your wolf is just a plain ordinary brown. Boring!!” The little girl finished off her tirade by sticking her tongue out at the older boy.

Just then she caught sight of Ben and her eyes widened. She had a look of star-struck awe on her face as she skipped over to stand in front of him.

Caleb cleared his throat slightly and the little girl suddenly looked contrite. “Sorry Alpha Caleb. But Brad and Jimmy were being mean. He told me that when I shifted my wolf was going to be ugly and scruffy looking.”

Brad and the other young boy, Jimmy, paled. They knew better than to pick on the younger kids.

Caleb looked their way and in a stern voice demanded, “Is this true?”

They both nodded, heads down in deference to their Alpha.

Caleb took a moment to let them sweat it out before reprimanding them. “You both should be ashamed of your behavior. In this pack the older wolves look out for the younger ones. It is our responsibility to guide them along the right path. Making fun of, or berating a younger wolf will not be tolerated. You will apologize to Lila.”

The two young boys turned to Lila and told her they were sorry. Ben figured they were going through the motions so as not to get into any more trouble with the Alpha. Receiving a scolding from the Alpha was not high on anyone's list.

Caleb turned to Lila, “Lila, you were out of turn as well. The boys should not have teased you, but you could have handled that differently.”

Lila nodded.

“They deserve an apology as well.”

The young girl looked contrite as she apologized to the boys, and then just as quickly she turned, effectively dismissing them as only an indignant seven year old girl could. Her curiosity was evident as she looked up at Ben and asked, “Is it true? Can you really see our wolves?”

Ben smiled at the child. “Yes, I can.”

Lila looked hopeful as she whispered “Is my wolf pretty?”

“Come here,” he said and bent down so he could whisper into her ear. “Your wolf is going to be very pretty. But just remember, your wolf can only be as pretty on the outside as you are on the inside. So you have to promise me that you’ll be a good person OK?”

Lila giggled and then nodded. Her smile was bright as she skipped back toward where the other two children were now playing.

Caleb watched Lila’s retreating back fondly. “Lila is a precocious little girl. She and her brothers belong to Sandi’s brother. He had to go help out his in-laws in Texas for a few days. Their mom died in a car accident when Lila was two. She’s too smart for her own good and she has a heart of gold. I just hope she can hold onto her innocence for as long as she can, especially with all that has happened.”

“Can you explain to me what happened? Ben asked.

Caleb looked saddened. “Four months ago one of our pups was walking home from school. He took a path through the woods behind the school and he disappeared. We looked high and low for him. The only thing we found was his backpack. When we notified our Council and they sent an investigator. She told us that there had been several disappearances among packs throughout the entire West. They had heard through a few different sources that it was possible the kids were being trafficked. All of the pups that were taken had either just had their first shift or were an age close to having a first shift. The Council had also heard rumors that the pups were somehow manipulated so that they were stuck mid-shift and then sold to sexual predators. Not one single pup has been found, neither alive nor dead.”

Ben struggled to wrap his mind around such an atrocious offense. How could anyone exploit young children like that?

Caleb continued, “Zev and the twins, Logan and Cooper, left a few weeks ago to try to see what they could discover. They’ve hit mostly dead ends. I spoke with Zev last night. They were in Idaho and flew into Great Falls on a charter flight earlier today. Cooper texted me a short while ago and they should be here soon. Zev thought he may have some kind of lead and told me we would discuss it when they got back. I really hope they have some sort of good news. Vann is only eleven years old, a soft spoken kid who hated even the thought of getting in trouble. His foster parents are devastated. I haven’t told them about everything that we’ve learned. They don’t need to hear that kind of news right now.”

Ben sighed. “I agree. I just can’t understand what would make someone do something like that.”

“Money and greed,” replied Caleb.

“I suppose.”

“Ben, I think I’d like you to come to our pack meeting tomorrow. Answer questions about how you can see our wolves and identify hunters. Everyone here already knows and most of the outlying pack members will find out shortly, if they don’t already know. Word spreads quickly, especially once some of the more gossipy individuals in the pack get a hold of information.”

Silas who’d been listening quietly said, “A hundred years ago, way before all this interweb stuff and instant information we said there were only three forms of communication; telegraph, telephone and tell-a-mom.”

Ben and Caleb both smiled at the play on words. Caleb stood up and announced, “On that note, I’m going to help Wayne out with the grilling. The boys should be here any minute and then we can get down to business after we eat.”

Ben asked Sandi if she needed any help. She instructed him to set out a stack of plates and silverware on the long buffet table where they would lay out all the food when it was done.

Ben had just finished putting everything out when all of a sudden there was a high pitched squeal that came from the front of the house. Before any of them could react, Lila's piercing lungs yelled out, "Zevvie!! ZEVVIE'S HOME!"

Ben heard a rich, deep voice answer the little girl, "Hey there Buttercup! Did you miss me?"

The little girl's answer was drowned out by a deep laugh.

The next moment proved to be pivotal for Ben. He looked toward the front and saw what he could only describe as the most gorgeous guy he had ever seen. He took in the tall, muscular form. Zev was about 6'2", which gave him an advantage of a couple of inches over Ben. His hair was the same dirty blond as Ben's, cut short and had a sort of messy, spiky style to it. That was where the similarities ended. Zev had light brown eyes that reminded Ben of an acorn shell. His features blended together in perfect symmetry. The thing that stood out the most, however, was not anything that could be seen. As soon as Zev crossed the threshold of the kitchen Ben was enveloped in the most amazing scent of oranges, cloves and a hint of eucalyptus. In the next moment Ben became acutely aware that the man’s wolf looked just like one of the blond wolves in Silas’s painting.

The moment Zev stepped into the Alpha's kitchen Ben was aware of him on more than one level. Later, Zev would tell him that as soon as their eyes locked onto one another, his wolf jumped to the forefront of his mind and growled out "Mate!" and he became overwhelmed with the most delicious scent of cedar and something spicy, a little like patchouli, but not quite as strong, with an underlying sweetness, similar to peppermint, that teased his olfactory receptors.

Zev had been holding Lila in his arms. Without quite realizing what he was doing he let her slide down gently to the floor. Silas looked on in amusement. It had been quite some time since he had actually seen a mate pair connect for the first time.

Ben's heart raced. He could hear the blood rushing through his system. He was instantly attracted to the man who now stared at him intently, almost as if he were staring down his prey. It confused him as much as it excited him.

Time hung suspended for a moment as the two stared at each other. Then, in the blink of an eye, the world started spinning again. Zev kept his eyes locked onto Ben's as he strode across the kitchen purposefully.

Zev stopped merely inches away from him. "Who are you?"

"Ben.” He knew that Zev was aware that he was human, but didn’t know about his ability to detect shifters.

Silas chuckled at the standoff that the two created for themselves.

Just then Caleb and Wayne came in from outside and one sniff was all they needed to know what was going on. The testosterone and pheromones now floating around the room were a dead giveaway.

Caleb placed the large platter of grilled steaks on the counter and Wayne followed suit with the massive plate of chicken that he held. An amused Sandi took over from there.

Caleb looked at Zev and Ben, then turned to Silas. "Well, Hell," he declared.

Silas laughed.

Ben looked puzzled. He felt as though the shifters had some sort of inside joke and he was the focus of it. It made him a little uncomfortable.

Zev picked up on it and Ben could have sworn he heard a low growl rumble through the gorgeous man’s chest.

Caleb pinned him in his gaze. “Settle,” he commanded.

Once Zev relaxed, Caleb looked at Ben. "Do you realize what's happening?"

"Ugh, I’m not sure," Ben replied, his brain still trying to make heads or tails out of what was happening.

Zev looked at Caleb inquisitively, "Would you care to elaborate for me Alpha?"

Caleb's mouth twitched upward on one side in a half ass grin. “Ben here can identify shifters and other supernatural beings. He not only saved my life, but Sandi’s and most likely many others."

Zev looked a little perplexed. "What do you mean by he can identify us? How is that possible?"

Ben, wanting to engage with the handsome wolf, was quick to answer, "Your wolf is a beautiful sandy blond color. He has an unusual blend of colors along the sides of his neck, starting below his ears and meeting in the middle of his chest. Black, white, silver and mahogany. He's fucking gorgeous."

Zev's eyes widened. He looked incredulous. "How?" was all he managed to say.

Ben smiled at him and gave him the short version of what he could see and how he came to their town. When he finished he gave the astonished shifter a sheepish grin.

Zev looked at Ben in admiration. “You’ve lived among wolves for several weeks and you weren’t freaked out?”

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve known about shifters. Honestly, I’ve always kept my distance. When I was little it freaked out my nannies and my parents so I just kept it to myself.”

Silas interjected at this point, “So you really don’t know much about our social structure and customs then do you?”

Ben shook his head.

Caleb looked at Wayne and sighed before addressing Ben. “Ben, do you have any idea what just happened when you met Zev?”

Ben’s brows drew together and he answered, “All I know is that I was immediately attracted to him and that he smells absolutely amazing.”

Zev couldn’t help smiling as he listened. Ben glanced over and smiled back.

“This may take a while, so let’s eat while everything is still hot,” suggested Caleb.

Ben really didn’t want to wait, but he realized that Caleb was right. It was now looking like it was going to be a long evening and even as the thought crossed his mind, his stomach grumbled, making known its need for food. The light snack that he and Silas had munched their way through at lunchtime seemed like a lifetime ago. He had a lot of questions. It was impossible not to. He felt as though he had been standing outside looking in a window and now someone had opened the door and invited him in. He was curious about this world that he had only seen from afar, up until a few weeks ago. The rest of the evening was going to be interesting for sure.

Sandi laid out the food on the buffet table and everyone helped themselves. The kids were allowed to take their plates to the game room where a large TV would keep them occupied. It wasn’t something that the Alpha usually allowed, but the adults needed to discuss things that they didn’t need to hear. They were just thrilled to be allowed to watch a movie while they ate.

The adults sat at the large table with Caleb at the head, Wayne to his right. Zev made sure Ben was next to him. Everyone else took the closest available seat.

Occasionally Zev’s leg brushed up against Ben, sending a jolt through his body each time. He tried to focus on the delicious meal that had been prepared. In addition to the steak and chicken that had been grilled perfectly, there was an amazing casserole that layered sliced potatoes with mashed potatoes, cheese and sour cream. Ben had seconds of that. It was by far his favorite. There was also rice, macaroni and cheese, salad, green beans, and a medley of roasted broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.

During the meal Caleb kept the conversation focused on Ben, asking him about himself. Ben told the small group about his upbringing, the lack of parenting skills his mother and father displayed, how he was primarily raised by nannies and in boarding school. He told them about his life on the road for the past several years.

It was at this point that Sandi asked him, “Don’t you get lonely?”

Ben smiled. “Not really. I’ve had to function on my own for so long, it’s just normal to me. Besides, it’s not like I shun humanity. Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve met some really interesting people. I keep up with a lot of them on social media. My best friend from high school met me in San Francisco this past summer and we went camping and hiking in Yosemite for a couple of weeks. I have friends, it’s just my family life that’s lacking, and I do try to touch base with my parents occasionally with a text or phone call. They’re more like acquaintances that you have to keep up with for appearance’s sake. I didn’t leave home so that I could avoid life, I did it so that I could experience it.”

Ben let the group mull over that bit of information about himself.

When everyone finished eating and the table was cleared, Silas was the one who brought the elephant in the room to the forefront.“So tell us young traveller, what have you learned about shifters?”

Ben blushed and admitted, “Not much, really. I know that shifters transform themselves from human to animal form. Most of the shifters I’ve come across have been wolves. I’ve also seen an occasional bear and a few cougars. From the time that I’ve been here I’ve discovered that you live a lot longer than humans. You have your own hierarchy, but I haven’t figured out who’s who and where everyone fits in, other than Caleb is your Alpha. I’ve heard you mention ‘mates’, and I assume that’s the equivalent of being married. That’s really all, I guess.”

“You’re mostly correct,” answered Caleb. “But there’s a lot more to it. I guess it’s time to give you the extended Cliff Notes version of ‘Shifter 101’. Since everyone is done eating, why don’t we go into the common room so we can be comfortable. The clean up can wait.”

Caleb led the group into the large common area. Several comfy chairs and sofas were arranged in an area that made it easy to hold a conversation for a large group. The young kids could be seen in the adjacent TV area that was separated by a set of French doors which were closed. Sandi brought them some fruit to snack on for dessert.

Zev looked at Ben hopefully as he took a seat in the center of one of the couches. Ben wasn’t sure if he would be able to focus if he was so close to the beautiful man, not to mention that tantalizing aroma that surrounded him. Instead of the couch, Ben sat in an overstuffed chair directly across from Zev. He hoped that Zev could read the apologetic look that he gave him, he certainly didn’t miss the look of disappointment on Zev’s face.

Once everyone was settled, Caleb addressed Ben. “There’s a lot to try to explain to you and please don’t hesitate to ask questions if you have any. Here goes. Wolf shifters go back at least ten thousand years. No one is really sure how they came about, there are many theories that over the years have become part of our stories that have been told from generation to generation. Fairy tales, so to speak.”

“Contrary to popular belief, we don’t believe in a “moon god or goddess”. We don’t believe in any god actually, rather we believe that there is a flow of energy that influences all life,” Caleb said.

“Like the Force in Star Wars?” Ben guyinterjected.

Caleb chuckled. “Yeah, sort of like that but without the midichlorians. There’s no light side or dark side, merely energy that provides life, although it can be positive or negative. You know how it feels when you’re at a big stadium for a concert and in the last thirty seconds before the band comes out there’s a hum in the air? That’s positive energy. Just like you can feel negative energy when you walk into a room when other people are arguing or just plain mad. We’re not limited to the full moon in order to shift, we feel the pull of energy more during the full moon phase, but so do humans and other creatures. We’re able to channel energy to change between human and wolf. We live longer, as you already know. We can heal faster and even as humans our senses are heightened. Are you with me so far?”

Ben nodded. He hadn’t heard anything yet that would make him go running for the hills.

Caleb continued, “There is definitely a more structured environment within a pack than there is within human society. Humans far outnumber shifters and if we didn’t have our own laws and rules then we wouldn’t survive as a species. You were correct when you said I was an Alpha, pack law dictates that there must be someone to ensure order. It’s just as complex as humans are with their interactions with each other. As you spend more time getting to know us you’ll figure things out. If you accidently breach our customs or etiquette, someone will let you know, not to punish you, but to teach you. Now, relationships, this is where the line gets blurry. Throughout society, most groups believe in some sort of concept of fated mates. Humans call them soul mates. I’ve heard the terms twin flames’, ‘kindred spirits’, ’true love, you get the picture. We believe that fated mates are two souls whose energy is in harmony with each other, tuned to the same channel you might say. What we know for sure is that when one finds their fated mate they are better together, in all aspects, than they are apart.”

Ben looked pensive as he absorbed this information. He glanced over at Zev who looked worried. Ben was sure that he was wondering what was going through his mind. Ben’s mind happened to be spinning rapidly. What Caleb had told him so far was interesting.

He needed more information so he asked. “So what exactly is going to happen to me? It’s obvious that everyone here believes Zev and I are fated mates. What do I have to do? Silas told me that a human could only be changed into a shifter if they were mates. Does this mean I have to go all furry and like ‘grrrrrrrrrr’?”

Zev snickered at Ben’s attempt at growling. Silas raised an eyebrow and the twins rolled their eyes.

Caleb smiled at Ben and assured him, “What happens to you will be your decision. You don’t have to accept Zev, however, if you reject him, or he rejects you, the flow of energy will be disrupted and you’ll both be prone to depression, anxiety and other health ailments. Your relationship, if you decide to have one, will be of your choosing. If you choose to remain human, then no one will force Zev to change you. Shifter/human pairings are rare, but not unheard of. You just need to figure out what you want to do.”

Zev stood and walked over to Ben. He knelt down next to Ben’s chair and told him, “Finding out that you have a fated mate is the dream of most shifters. I’ll admit that you being human scares me a little. As a whole, we’ve sort of isolated ourselves. Most packs live in rural areas and because of this we tend to stick with our own kind. I never dreamed that I would have a human mate. But at the same time, I’m not sure I’m ready to be mated. Something like this is life-changing. On one hand, I can’t ask you to disrupt your entire way of life for me. On the other hand, my wolf wants nothing more than to claim you and mark you as ours. Tell me what you want Ben and I’ll abide by your wishes.”

Ben was torn as well. His heart was telling him to throw caution to the wind and jump the beautiful man’s bones. His head, the one on top of his shoulders, was telling him to slow down and think this through.

Common sense won the battle and Ben looked at Zev. “I have no clue what we should do. I suggest maybe we get to know each other better before jumping into anything. I’m not opposed to being on board with the belief that some ribbon of energy is going to push us together for the rest of our lives, but I can’t commit the rest of my life to someone I don’t know.”

Zev looked relieved.

Ben stared into those gorgeous acorn colored eyes and asked, “Now what?”

Yup, there you have it...Ben and Zev.
Now all I have to do is connect everyone else!
For those who celebrate it... have a Merry Christmas, stay safe and don't forget to splash some Fireball in the egg nog!
Comments and recommendations are always appreciated!
Copyright © 2021 kbois; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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