Deck turned to Yeller. “I’ve been informed that you’re the heavy hitter of the bunch, Cashia. Are you mated too?”
Yeller was thrown back to the darkness of his mind as his wolf pushed forward, responding automatically, his voice dropping an octave, “Yes sir, Tereza. She is paired in my genetic code currently. When a suitable mate to this boy appears, I will be able to release her and be with her as a mate should once again, same as Sven. Anything else you require, sir?” Cashia bowed as best he could on the broken love seat.
Deck gaped before closing his dropped jaw. A smile tugged at his lips as he tried not to laugh. “You picked quite the carrier if you wish to have your mate.” Deck tried to keep his smirk to a minimum. He watched the wolf’s gaze turn inward.
“Go hifreann leat1! I can’t believe you said that,” Yeller hissed at Deck. “I can’t believe you knew.” He sank into himself, burying his head in his hands.
Deck recoiled. He hadn’t expected Yeller’s reaction. He watched the blond hide behind his hands in embarrassment. Not entirely sure where to go next with his blathering, he patted his friend on the shoulder reassuringly. “What is it that Nat always tells you? Tag bag ay?”
Yeller looked up at him beseechingly. “Tóg go bog é2? And you, you’re not…you know…mad or disgusted or anything?” he whispered.
“Hell no. I don’t swing that way, but your wolf friend might have a few foul words about the mix-up.” Deck nodded to him.
“Does everyone else know?” Yeller whispered, mortified. Zola and Sun Hee shrugged.
“It didn’t take much to figure out your type, Yeller. Though, it might take a bit longer to find him in this wasteland. I don’t think Nat swings that way, do you, wolfman?” Zola poked at her friend.
Nat looked up when the wolf released its stranglehold, not having paid attention to the conversation. “Huh?” He blinked, startled to be back in the front, his eyes changing to his regular colour. They had been talking to him.
“Want to take on a second lover?” Sun Hee flicked a thumb in Yeller’s direction, Deck falling in the crosshairs of that motion. Nat stared at her, stunned, then to Deck.
“She wasn’t offering.” Deck pointed at Yeller.
Heat burned at the tips of Nat’s ears as he dodged his focus around the corners of the rooms before settling to a spot in front of his feet. “Oh, um, well…uh.” He swallowed back a flutter in his stomach.
You’re joking, right? Sven snickered at him.
Nat wanted to cower under the taunt, wanted to climb into a hole. He knew, though, he couldn’t lie to himself about this if he wanted to reign in this beast. No, actually, I’m not, and you should probably get that through your thick head if you’re gonna be occupying mine. Nat bit back, trying to fight down his feelings. He had been raised against this line of thought. He had been taught to fight it and to only follow his desires in a mainstream fashion. To not have to deny his tangled feelings; that would be ideal. How the hell was he supposed to know what to do about it?
The group watched a series of emotions wash over Nat’s face. They waited as he spoke with the wolf. Hiding his mouth behind a shaking hand, he glanced back at Yeller.
“Really?” Benj sat forward, surprised. “No wonder you’ve been off the wall the past few weeks.”
“Are we all discovering our sexuality this week or something? Is it bring your feelings to class day?” Nat snipped back.
“Hey.” Deck waved him down. “There is nothing shameful about how you feel about a person or different people.” He looked pointedly between Yeller and Hana.
“Bloody hell, it’s not!” Nat spat back. “I wasn’t raised like this. My dad would kill me if he found out.” He hid his face behind his hands.
“No, you weren’t. Your folks were staunch Catholics. Heard your dad over dinner say that all the gays needed to rounded up. I remember that. No wonder you’re in a deep pit of denial. Kid, you’re bi or pan or something in that label department if I was ever a betting man,” Benj replied.
“I would have called that bet and said he was demi.” Sun Hee volunteered.
“I thought he was ace. Never seemed interested in any of that kind of chat. The wolf has blatant tastes, though.” Zola leaned back.
Nat fought the shake in his shoulders. Sven. How do I murder you and keep breathing? Tightness wound around his lungs. He was cornered; a thin veneer of civility was all that kept him from lashing out or running away. “You all are taking this rather well.”
You don’t. The wolf paced.
“Knowing Yeller is gay and finding out you’re interested in more than one gender or whatever is the least weird thing to happen to us all week, Nat,” Zola reassured him.
I am not sharing space in here with Tereza. That is not happening, Nat. Sven growled at him, the shadow twisting around the wolf.
I wasn’t asking you to, Sven. I’d rather have you out altogether. Just let me figure out what is going on, ‘K? Nat wanted to slink away.
I can tell you what’s going on. In the animal world, it’s not foreign to us, dijete. It’s nothing to be ashamed about. Have fun with who you want, but there’s only room for one in this cubby-hole of a brain you’ve got. Sven growled.
Yeah, me. I could do with you being out of here. Nat griped back. The tightness in his lower gut had come undone, leaving him cold and naked, exposed to humiliation and shame.
Nat continued his argument with Sven while Deck moved to his next information source, sensing it to be a wise idea to leave him to cool off for a few minutes before trying to bring out Sven. The leader was slowly getting a feel for the emotional output of each wolf. It helped that Dietrich was supplying memories of the wolves and their antics to help him feel closer. Heinrich was hyper and willing to be out there. Cashia didn’t appreciate being called out, and neither did Anastasia. Sibor was faithful and calm, a strange combination to Sun Hee’s dynamic attitude.
With darkness seeping into the room and Polaris rising large on the horizon, Deck stood up and paced the length of the room, all the while weighing his odds with Nat. What he was planning on doing could potentially be a rather deadly situation if he didn’t draw an ace on the first pass. He strode determinedly toward Nat, and jerked him up. Yeller came to his feet to pull them apart before hesitating as all eyes fell on him.
“Sven.” Deck’s teeth gleamed, sharp and white in the moonlight. “Get your butt out here. We have a few words to mash.”
“Is that you, Dietrich, or is it the human talking?” Nat’s voice had dropped an octave, raising hackles on the group’s necks.
Deck tried to suck in his gasp and not lose his composure. The room fell into a dead silence. All eyes settled on Nat, keenly aware of the creature parading in their friend’s body. “This is Deck, leader of the humans with Dietrich at his side, speaking to someone that Dietrich referred to in good faith as being his ‘most trusted.’ I would very much like to get some things straightened out. ”
Sven, disengaging Deck’s hands from his shirt collar, eased his way out of the man’s grasp. The creature settled to his armchair once more, his eyes never wandering from Hana for more than a few seconds at a time. “What is it that you would like to speak with me about, Deck? Are you here to make this body more uncomfortable? You seem to have done an effective job at that. His hormones are all ablaze in here. It’s hard enough to think,” Sven hissed back maliciously.
It was too strange to see Nat and hear a completely different voice coming from him. There was a familiarity, though. They had heard it before but never realised it had been Sven speaking; the accent had thickened with the pitch drop. The voice had not registered as much authority or terror before. Now though… Deck mustered enough courage to sit on the arm of Nat’s armchair. The creature, shifted away from Deck. They looked down at the barely conscious Hana.
“How is Sylvi getting along?” Deck asked.
The creature’s entire body tensed and a growl issued from deep within. Nat, buried in the recesses of his mind, watched the shadow that persisted in twining itself around her mate.
Deck’s hackles raised in response. He rolled his eyes and whacked Nat on the back of the head. “Cut it out and answer the question, punk. If I know how she’s holding up, I may be able to figure out a way for the process to run more smoothly. Don’t question Deck; he has a good head on his shoulders.” Dietrich nipped at his second in command.
“I am sorry, Dietrich, I didn’t like being asked directly about my affairs by a ljudski.” Sven returned Deck’s smile tooth for sharp tooth.
“Get a grip, or else Sylvi may die, and we won’t live much longer. I need you as my second. You’ve always known. You’ve always protected us. So, can it and answer the boy’s questions,” and like that, Dietrich left Deck back in control.
“All right, bright boy, watcha want with me?” Sven turned acid green eyes on the man.
“I need for you to contact Sylvi and ask her, if you can make contact, what we need to do for her to get better.” Deck crossed his arms.
“Well, I can tell you the quickest way is to quit torturing both of them. They have to figure out where they stand with each other as humans before we can have any chance at survival.” Sven flicked his glance between Yeller and Hana.
Deck frowned, chewing at the inside of his lip. The two men levelled an accusatory glare at each other. Sven bowed out of the contest. Deck watched as the creature slunk from his chair to kneel next to Hana’s paralysed body. Tears rolled from the corner of her glazed eyes, staining her pale skin.
Nat brushed her cheek and placed his forehead on hers, closing his eyes. He breathed out, with Hana breathing in, and the process continued for a few minutes. Deck heard the clack of teeth as something frustrated Sven. More tears streamed freely from Hana.
Sven turned to look at Deck squarely, his eyes green ice chips, flashing with malice. “You realise that I only heed Dietrich. Don’t force me to do things I don’t want to do too often, or you may lose your place in this pack.”
The creature gently cradled Hana’s head. “Sylvi says the combining with the avian DNA is causing her to – as she said: ‘experience pain worse than that of death.’ She’s not sure what it is that is causing it, but it has something to deal with the number of genes. Somehow the wolf gene is ripping apart the avian DNA. If it continues, either the wolf DNA will take over completely, and the pain will finally stop, or else she’ll die from the stress of it all. The DNA so far is not creating malignant tumours, but it is causing tears and holes in the cells of her wings, causing her immense pain when she uses them. When she comes in contact with more strains of the wolf DNA, even slight traces, it causes the wear to occur at an accelerated rate for a time. If Hana had been singularly human, the genetic take over would have been fast and harmless. Because there’s this deviation, the dose isn’t working like it did with us.
“I wish I’d have waited. This is cruel. Her left wing has been eaten away at the nerves joining the joint to the shoulder. That’s what’s causing the pain right now that you are feeling.” Sven breathed out and rubbed at the back of his neck. The cat clock Benj had been mucking about with started ticking, causing him to shiver as the eyes danced back and forth.
“Sorry.” Benj grabbed for the contraption and ripped the leaking battery out of it.
Sven watched Deck. Concern and calculation swam across the man’s face. He saw Dietrich in the man, not the wolf, but the actions the man took, the calculating mind that rested behind the man’s eyes. A small level of respect grew for the humans’ leader, but Sven was not willing to admit him as the alpha yet. It was beginning to make sense, though, as to why Dietrich had chosen Deck as his host.
“So, is there a ‘best’ solution to this?” Deck broke the silence coating the living room.
“If there is no problem with the wait, the transformation should be done in relatively little time, another month or so.” Sven shrugged, working to mask his fear with nonchalance.
“And all this time, she’ll continue through those levels of pain that I know I barely scratched the surface of.” Deck pointed back, rubbing at his abdomen where Hana’s mark lay.
Nat studied the woman and sat back to listen to Sven twist around for reassurances to quench his terror. There were no real options outside of waiting; anything else, any more contact with the wolf strain would accelerate the process and potentially kill Hana. What were the other options? Deck stared at Nat for a while in contemplation. Benj eased over to Deck and whispered something in his ear. “No! Absolutely not!” The snapped reply caused Nat to flinch.
Nat flicked his fingers to distill the build-up of prickling electricity in his digits that came with loud noises and difficult conversations. “What?”
Deck, startled to hear his friend’s voice, looked back at Nat. “Don’t think anything about it, Nat; it’s okay. Just need your wolf to behave himself.”
Sven threw Nat into the background “Benj?” he growled.
Benj looked hesitantly at Deck.
“No, you may not!” he yelled at Benj.
“Dietrich.” Sven’s teeth snapped.
“What is it that is being hidden from me that could not possibly help in the attainment of my mate’s wellbeing?” A thin veneer of righteousness failed to contain his anger.
“Heinrich brought up a point. It may not just be blood born. Might just be bodily fluids in general. Common enough for many communicable methods. What are your objections to pursuing a relationship with a human to transfer the rest of Sylvi and accelerate the change?” Dietrich asked Sven.
Sven pondered this, wishing he were able to speak with his mate. Nat pushed for front. “That’s her decision if she is willing to find out. You wolves took away her choice when you willingly infected her. She gets to choose how fast this happens.” The next thing that Nat knew, he had two wolves at his throat, hot saliva dripping on his skin. He had never known fear quite like potential death at the end of a wolf’s jaws.
“This is not a matter of your will, boy; this is a matter of life and death for one of our pack,” Heinrich growled. Anastasia joined with the expression.
“Heinrich!” Dietrich snapped.
Sven growled back, “Brat3 is quite adamant about this, Commander. Don’t push him on this yet. I’ve had a time trying to convince him to let me be close to her in the last few weeks.”
Dietrich snapped and bared his fangs. “Get a hold of your human. Make up your mind, Sven. What is it that you want out of this!”
“For my mate to live.” Sven pushed Heinrich’s muzzle off him.
“Then override this child. His desires are only secondary in this matter. We will not lose Sylvi. And yes, Sven, if it comes down to it, you will be sharing space with Tereza. It didn’t take you long to realise that both you and Sylvi couldn’t share the same body. Cashia is probably having issues the longer he keeps Tereza with him.” Dietrich backed up, wiping at his mouth in an effort to return his teeth to a more human appearance.
“No, Dietrich. There is not enough space in here for me and this boy, let alone Tereza too.” Sven leaned forward into Dietrich and Heinrich’s space.
“You will not overrule me on this, Sven. It’s final,” Dietrich cut him off.
Sven ducked his head to his leader in difference. “And alpha isn’t permanent, I might remind you.”
Nat grabbed Sven’s consciousness and tore it back into the blackness. He gasped, finding himself finally in control. “You might have accepted this, you fucked up werewolf thing. This isn’t right and it isn’t your place to tell her or me what to do with our bodies or our brains. We didn’t ask for you to be in us, and you haven’t looked for our consent on jack shit. Deck, rationalise with your wolf. You were the one who told me Hana was under your protection. Protect her, damn it!”
“Shut up, human,” growled Cashia.
“How do you not have a problem with this?” Nat directed the question at the drummer. “Yeller, éisteacht liom4.”
“Tereza, whether occupying a male or a female body, is who I love and who I must have. We cannot share the same body as we are now and be able to communicate. Nat, Sven and Tereza sharing the same body will not be able to communicate together either. Sven, if this male you occupy, however, can take her, then I will have no problem with my host’s orientations,” Cashia answered. Nat stared at him, stunned. “For now, though, I can wait to be reunited with my Tess. You must help Sven’s mate live through the change, for I believe, if she were to die, you would be ripped from the inside out by a devastated creature more fearsome than Dietrich and I combined,” Cashia warned.
“What now then?” Sven turned from the group to kneel next to Hana, confused. He brushed a feather of her wing.
Nat? Deck reached for his best friend through their link.
It was bizarre for Nat to feel his body taken over by another entity, to feel his voice box producing sounds not from himself. Sven continued to speak to Dietrich as Nat reached for Deck through their own path to speak.
Deck, help me out here, man. What am I supposed to do here? Nat begged for help.
Dietrich is absolutely brutal. He’s nothing to trifle with, any more than Sven probably. You will have to do something about this. Deck told him cautiously.
Nat tensed as Hana settled a hand on his arm. He looked down, bypassing a startled Sven. “Hana?” He grasped her hand.
“Cashia?” She drew Yeller’s glance.
“Yes, ma’am?” He knelt next to her.
“Sylvi needs to talk to Tereza. Can you back out for a bit?” Hana asked the blond.
“As you wish.” Yeller bowed, touching his forehead to hers. They began the same process that Nat had endured earlier with Sven, the rhythmic breathing throwing them into a trance-like state. About five minutes in, Yeller straightened up. “Nat, mind coming with me for a second, más é do thoil é5?” Yeller motioned toward the kitchen.
 Go to hell.
 I am sorry
 Listen to me
Chapel Orahamm (C) 2022-2023. All Rights Reserved.
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