It took forever for the sun to fall, but when it did I felt my heart thump a painful beat that made me want to twirl in a happy circle. I took my time washing in the stream, even going as far as finding the sweetest smelling flowers to roll in. Although after rolling around in the bushes I was starting to second guess my decision. I smelt so strongly of flowers that it was almost unbearable. I chose to ignore how strongly I smelled, it was better to smell really good instead of really bad. At least that was my take on the subject. After all my ablutions were taken care of and my black fur had a wonderful shine that would catch the moonlight I figured I was ready for the nightly gathering. How would Zora be able to overlook me now that I was a huge package of smell-good-shiny-fluff? That was what I was asking myself over and over again as I made my way into the crowded clearing outside the dens. Tonight everyone stood in their four form, watching our alpha as he walked to the front and gazed out over all the faces. I kept to the back of the gathering trying to seem less obvious by kneeling down.
I couldn’t help my eyes following the silver coat of the pack leader as he paced in front of the group nipping and growling in soft tones rallying the crowd of the upcoming run. I was nervous as I watched the females of the pack fidget not far from me, all of them filled with nervous anticipation. I could understand their anxiety, but I also wished that I only had to worry about their simple fears. Taking a deep breath I steeled my resolve. I was aiming for the biggest prize and I would need to keep my head up like my dama had always told me.
Zora made his way to the front of the pack looking over all of us with his strong gaze, commanding authority. A shiver of anticipation rolled down my spine. What would it be like to stand beside the alpha? What would it be like for him to look at me like with that strong gaze and see no one but me?
“This moon I will determine a mate, this is not a fight for alpha bitch. The female that wins my eye tonight will be my life mate and only mine.” His voice called out over the clearing with a loud clarity.
“Those who wish to be considered come forward now.” With that said the unmated females of the pack began to move forward sitting in the front before the alpha lining up side by side. Watching each and everyone of them go forward I was losing my resolve, a quivering starting in my belly. What if he was insulted? What if he completely ignored my existence? He’d said females, what if he thought I was insane because I was male? Not that that wasn’t my only big issue.
A nudge to my side broke me from my silent panic. A familiar large black wolf stood beside me nose pushed into my upper shoulder from where I knelt. Alloy. I smiled at him and he bared his teeth in a similar gesture. I didn’t know how he knew, but somehow he understood how I felt about the alpha and he was helping me. “Thank you.” I said before standing to my full height. At first no one realize since I was in the back, but as I moved towards the front of the gathering, eyes started to fall on me. Most importantly Zora’s eyes fell on me, looking at me with open curiosity. I held his gaze all the way to the front where I knelt in line with the other females.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing!” Naga snarled as she moved from the line formed in the front. My eyes broke away from the alpha, almost shocked to see the alpha bitch lined up with the other wolves. Why should I be surprised? She wanted to be as close to him as I did, even being alpha bitch wasn’t enough. In that moment I realized how jealous she was of everyone who got the alpha’s affections, that he hadn’t already considered her as his mate. I opened my mouth to say something in retort to the bitch but was stopped by the alpha’s deep voice.
“You speak out of line, Naga. You may be alpha bitch but you are subservient to me. If you do not remember this I will make you understand.” He growled as he approached her teeth bared and hair raised between his shoulder blades. He dwarfed her as he stood in front of her, and in that moment I saw the female cower under his anger, her ears flattening against her skull and her tail tucked between her legs.
He moved away from her to come towards me and stood before me, eye to eye with me as I knelt. I only held his gaze for a moment before I dropped them in respect. The panic was back and I felt unsure of how to proceed, but I kept my mouth shut and waited for him.
“Any female may compete to be my life mate,” He said and I cringed already feeling the pain pierce my heart. How could I have been so stupid! Nodding slowly I made to stand but was caught off guard when he growled. “and omega.” He finished. My eyes shot up to look into his with open shock. Omega? He saw me as an omega? A whoosh of air escaped me and I forgot to breath. How could this even be possible?
I heard the others whispering and gawking is apparent surprise at the alpha’s words. How could the 7ft monster be considered the most gentle and nurturing of our kind? How could I be considered one of the most valuable members of a pack? Without thinking I threw my arms around his neck and buried my face in his neck so happy and relieved I could taste the emotions. I could smell the pine in his fur and had to hold back the sounds of excitement bubbling in my throat. The alpha did not pull back, he did not growl at my extravagance or misdeed. Instead a humming sound of approval escaped him. As quickly as I had latched onto him I pulled back looking away embarrassed. The alpha just snorted in amusement before stepping back.
“I will ask each of you three questions and your answers will depend on weather you will stay. If I excuse you I expect you to return to the group without another word.” We all nodded in understanding. I clenched my talons into my upper thigh trying to keep myself from vibrating out of my skin. The fact I hadn’t been turned away was more than I had hoped for. I really had a chance!
I watched as Zora approached the first female at the other end of the line. He spoke to her softly, too softly for many to hear. It only took a few minutes before he shook his head and she got up with a dejected look and walked back into the pack. Would I soon be walking back with my head hung in shame. I took a deep gulp of air as he repeated the process six more times only two of the six females staying in the line. He finally stood before Naga and a hush took over the crowd as we all tried to hear what questions he would ask her.
To no avail I could not hear what he asked her. Out of all of the females I was curious what he would ask her, and even more curious if she would have the right answers. She would know him best and that was scary in its own right. After a tense few minutes he nodded and moved on, the alpha bitch staying in line. My heart fell in a steep plummet. How could I compete with her? Two more females were excused, through it all I sat there panicking slightly over what was to come. Did I have the right answers? What could he possibly ask me? By the time my alpha stood before me I was a nervous wreck, my talons digging into my thighs with force. He stopped in front of me for the second time that night, his nose at the same level as my own in this position. I wanted to lean into him, press my face under his chin like I had seen so many pack members do openly. It was something so common among the wolves that I envied their ability to be able to do that, being so high up I would have to practically lay on my belly to do something like that.
Zora broke my line of thought with his first question. “What makes a good pack member?” I stared at him for a second, openly confused by the question. Pack member? This was not what I had been expecting. Was it a trick question? I gulped and fidgeted slightly. It took me a second to gather my thoughts but when I did I felt like I had to best answer. I hoped it was the best answer, to him at least. “Loyalty makes a good pack member.”
Without pause he moved to the next question. “What makes a good wolf?”
I floundered. Wasn’t that the same as the first question? Wasn’t pack and wolf the same? Wasn’t one and the other so deeply intertwined there was no difference? Could one be without the other? What if…? What if what makes a good wolf was different from what made a good pack member? My ears twitched back, lying flat on my skull in concentration.
“Empathy makes a good wolf.” I finally responded feeling my heart flutter in my chest. Had I answered right so far?
“What makes a good alpha mate? He asked, again not giving much pause after my answer.
My tail thumped the ground unconsciously as I envisioned being his alpha mate. I had never wanted something as much as I wanted that. The question was whether I’d be a good alpha mate, or would a wolf like Naga be better? Who would be better for our alpha?
“Love is what makes the best alpha mate.” I finished already feeling the heat ride in my body as my embarrassment escalated. I had practically laid my soul out for him to see and his verdict would tell me what he thought of it.
“Very good, Ira.” He said softly and nodded once.
My eyes bounced up to meet his and I had to clamp my maw shut to keep from roaring with happiness. I had done well, but more than that my alpha accepted how I felt about him. He nodded and moved back looking over the remaining four wolves to be alpha mate. The pack members murmured among each other when they saw that I was still a contender. I felt myself want to hide from their comments, but I would have to be strong if I wanted him to love me - and I did want Zora to love me, all 7ft plus furry goodness.
“Tonight I want you to hunt for the largest kill. The one who brings back the smallest prey will no longer be in the running. You have till morning light.” He nodded to us and the three females got up heading towards the woods, Naga passed me with a low growl white teeth gleaming in the moon's bright light. I shuddered at her aggressive display. What was it with females and teeth? I sat there on my haunches for a second letting everything sink in. It took awhile for the play of events to really absorb, but when it did I knew I wasn’t going to come out of this without some major embarrassment. Catch the largest kill? I couldn’t catch a field mouse. My size did have its downfalls and lurking wasn’t my strongest skill. I’d gotten really close to catching a moose once, but it looked at me with those big brown eyes and I’d hesitated….before getting kicked in the head. Don’t get me wrong I eat meat just like the others, but I’d never been good at tracking anything before, I’d always had my pack to help find the animals.
“Ira?” The alpha’s questioning bark broke me from my thoughts and I could see everyone was staring at me with curiosity. Right, go into the woods and kill something. Standing quickly I loomed over all the others staring down at them from my seven foot perch. I wiped the dirt from my fur and proceeded to walk towards the dark trees. I would go out there and catch something big and be the best! No way would I lose my chance at being alpha mate.
I’m a complete failure.
No, even worse I’m a failure who’s also a freak of nature. Four hours and I hadn’t even seen something to stalk! I’d caught the scent of a doe, the berries she ate clinging to her fur, and I’d been so excited I’d followed the trail as far as it went. Four hours later and I still couldn’t find her. Who was I kidding? The moment I’d saw her I’d probably trip right behind her.
“They’re laughing at me. I can feel the deer snickering at me.” I said out loud with the most dejected sigh I could muster up. At this point it looked like I was going back with nothing, does that even count as the smallest kill? The thought of seeing disappointment in my alpha’s eyes really made my stomach hurt.
The sound of a twig snapping made me look up from my pity party. For a second I couldn’t see anything, the moon’s light was shrouded by the trees. When I saw her I almost didn’t believe it. Her eyes were big and brown, round with shock and fear, the doe looked just like I had expected she would. Although I never would have thought she’d just walk up on me.
“I FOUND YOU!” My excitement overwhelmed me as I jumped up from my crouched position, shouting excitedly. The doe let out a horrified cry, her whole body shook before she dropped like dead weight to the forest floor.
Confused I stood there looking at the doe for a few seconds. What had just happened? Seconds ticked by as I stared at the deers unmoving body and nothing happened. “What just happened?” I repeated. Taking a tentative step towards the creature I got close enough to touch her. Leaning down I poked her shoulder to see if she’d move, but nothing happened. I did it again, and again, but still she didn’t budge.
No way. Did I...Did I just scare a deer to death?
I touched her side trying to feel for a heartbeat. Nothing, dead as a fallen tree squirrel after hitting the ground. I had officially scared a deer to death. I sat down hard beside her and skipped all my emotional stages and jumped right to stage four, depression. I just killed a deer with my face, my frightening face. How could I ever be the alpha mate if I couldn’t even approach him without giving him chills? I mean of course I wouldn’t scare him to death, he was an alpha, but I must at least disgust him.
A growl broke through the clearing and I paused a new panic setting in. Could it be another wolf? Was it Naga? A shiver of upset was starting to work it’s way into my body and I completely forgot to use all my senses. The hint of black fur started to appear until a large wolf body came into view and the familiar eyes made my heart skip in my chest.
“I killed it with my face!” I said, my voice sounding pathetic even with my usual growl.
Alloy looked down at the deer with a curious expression before he bared his white teeth in a smile. A snorting sound emitted from him as he laughed at the sight in front of him.
“It’s not funny.” I grumbled.
“I would put an injury on it. So there is no doubt you killed it and did not find it dead.” Alloy advised.
I was still thinking about how I’d killed the animal by scaring it to death. Maybe it was old a feeble and it had a weak heart—
“This one is young, it’s a very good kill.” Alloy admitted. “This will be enough to present.”
Great it was young, not even an old already dying deer. No I’d killed a youthful deer with my looks alone. Alloy was right I needed to put a wound on the deer somewhere, otherwise they’d find out about I’d actually killed her. “What are you doing out here?” I asked.
“The alpha told me to stay near you.” Alloy said.
Why would he do that? My heart started to race as an array of emotions - mainly excitement - began to blur my common sense. Did the alpha care about me? He’d sent his beta to watch out for me, that had to mean something? “Why would he do that?” I said in a wistful tone.
Alloy snorts again in a sad wolf laugh. “Because you’re incapable of not crashing into things.”
I had to agree that he was correct, but it still made my stomach knot knowing the alpha didn’t think I could complete a simple task like hunting without supervision. Shaking my head I chased away the bitter thought. I needed to get my kill - I really hated referring to it as that - back to the dens. I scooped up the large deer and began walking back towards the dens, Alloy following not far behind.
Thankfully I walked up on the clearing the same time the sun began to filter through the trees. I was still upset that I’d killed the deer the way I had, but I wasn’t going to look a gifted doe in the mouth either. As I approached the other wolves I noticed the other females were already waiting in the same line as when we left, each of them had their kill in front of them like an offering to mother nature herself. Swallowing hard I speed up and knelt down at the end of the line placing my deer in front of my like the others had. I looked over and saw Naga holding her head high with not one but two huge stages at her feet. I was so fucked, if the other tasks were on brute strength or hunting skills I would never beat the alpha bitch. My attention was drawn away when the alpha emerged from the tree line, his fur mussed from running in the woods all night. I felt my heart jump in my chest at the sight of him in his four body, confidently walking towards us and scanning over our kills as he went.
“You have all done well.” He acknowledged. “Ora you’re kill is the smallest as a fawn.” He said to the black she wolf with a very young deer at her feet. The she wolf growled dejectedly before leaving her kill and walking back to the other wolves. There was only three of us left, my heart beat faster as I began to think I might be able to win. If I won I would be mated to the alpha. My heart ratched up again and I almost lost my breath.
He walked up to Naga, her two deer heaped in front of her as she bared her teeth in a broad confident smile. Of course she was confident, she already slept beside the alpha as the alpha bitch, but alpha mate would dethrone her at least when it came to the alpha’s affection. Zora spoke softly to her, again to softly for me to hear what he said to her. What I’d do to be a fly on his ear right now, I thought anxiously. Naga said something in return before running her nose along the alphas jaw in a familiar manner that made that horrendous taste come rushing back up into my mouth. Zora nodded and went to the other she wolf who had a deer very similar to mine. He spoke to her in the same hushed tone, and I wanted to fidget with the anxiety flip flopping in my gut. She also said something before running her nose along the alphas jaw the same way Naga had. Wait, was that something all of us would do? Excitement shadowed my anxiety as he walked over to me and stopped right in front of where I knelt, his dark eyes studying me with his usual calm intensity. “Ira, you’ve done well.” He looked over the clean deer. My heart started to pump furiously. I’d forgotten to mark it like Alloy said, now everyone would know I’d killed it with my face! My ugly, hideous, wretched—
“Not many can kill a deer so cleanly. Such an amazing omega my pack has.” He said interrupting my thoughts completely. Amazing omega— I barely hold back the happy sound threatening to break free, my tail thumped the ground behind me as I held it all in. “Thank you for this kill.” He said and tilted his head to the side baring his thick fur covered throat to me.
My belly heated and I felt my groin stir as he invited me to scent mark him. I didn’t think it through before I shoved my face into his fur along his jawline. His scent coated my throat like a warm ambrosa that made an unconscious noise rumbled out of my gut. Could this really be happening, was the alpha letting me rub my head along his. I’d seen the gesture done so many times in my life, but I’d vary rarely been able to do it myself, only my siblings and mother had ever allow me so close to them. The very idea of having to stop made my chest thrum painfully, I didn’t ever want to stop feeling this way. Zora stepped back, breaking away from my extravagant scent exchange. I noticed the other females looking at us with open disdain, but none more than Naga whose teeth were bared in a growl instead of her usual cocky smile.
“Sorry alpha.” I said lamely my ears flattening to my skull as I tried to duck my head. I’d definitely gone overboard with my show of affection just now. A deep deep deep little bitty part of me had hope that the alpha enjoyed it as much as I had.
“You do not have to apologize for your affections.” He studied me with his strong dark gaze. “I would like to see more of them.” A surge of adrenaline rushed through my body. My alpha wanted me to show him my affections, and I would be more than willing to show him how much I wanted to be his mate.
“Tongith we will have the final test. A hunt to find me. The first one to track me down will win.” He nodded his head dismissing the pack.
Many of the pack murmured as they walked to their dens in their two form. I was rooted to the spot utterly excited and terrified. Tracking was my worst quality, but if there was any scent I would be able to track it would be the alpha’s. Movement caught my attention and I watched Naga walk to Zora dipping her head and rubbing her body under his jaw. It was excessively territorial, but worse was when she looked over at me with knowing yellow eyes. I really was starting to hate someone for the first time in my life. Dama had always said it was wrong to hate anything, but Naga was making it really really easy and I wasn’t sure I wanted to fight it.
Without notice Zora nipped her sharply on her side sending the alpha bitch scurrying to the side away from the alphas teeth. “Enough Naga. Your games are childish. Sleep else where today.” He growled trotting away towards the alpha den, not giving her a chance to respond.
Shocked I watched him trot off and when he shifted outside the den to reveal his other beautiful form. Naga growled low in her throat from where she’d scattered, her eyes pinned on me. “You think you can win but no alpha would want a mutant like you.” She seethed as she got off the ground slinking off to one of the other dens.
I’d never felt so excited in my life. The alpha bitch was afraid I could win. I could become Zora’s mate.