Zane Le Blank was a strong and ambitious Alpha, well-known in the surrounding areas of LA. He and his pack resided North West from LA, in Oxnard, but their territory included Santa Barbara and parts of the Los Padres National Forest too. Zane has been trying to expand towards LA for years. In the past, when the Burbank pack was still in its prime, they had to fight him back too. It was obvious that news travelled fast on the supernatural channels about the attacks on the LA pack. Among the possible challengers Zane was the most powerful and dangerous one and the whole pack felt uneasy about the news of his challenge.
Adam called together the inner-circle for an emergency meeting to tell them about Zane’s arrival later that day. The house was buzzing with restless energy while everyone was preparing and doing whatever task Adam and Tommy assigned them to do.
“I don’t like this,” Tommy told Adam while peeking outside the window. He was watching the guards move around in the back garden then his brown eyes drifted up on the hill where the clearing lay behind the lush trees.
“Me neither, but you know that I have to answer his invitation,” Adam stopped behind him with a sigh and ran his hands up and down on Tommy’s tattooed arms a couple of times.
“You mean his challenge,” the blonde corrected him with a snort then turned around to face his Mate.
“Yes,” Adam said grimly and with an uneasy expression. He let only Tommy see and feel his vulnerability, which the blonde appreciated. It pained him to see Adam like this, but they both knew that there was no way around this.
“Ashley called while you were having your shower.”
“What did she say?” Adam met Tommy’s eyes and rested a hand on the side of the blond man’s neck. It seemed as if he was drinking in Tommy’s features, committing them to memory. That made the back of the Beta’s neck prickle, because he hated even the possibility that Adam might be doing that in preparation for tonight.
“That so far she only found out that some of her lower-ranking vampires have disappeared. She is trying to track them down with her best men and that maybe they were indeed tortured to get information out of them about the vamps and us.”
“But that still doesn’t explain how they knew about the safe house and some things that only pack members know,” Adam frowned, sliding his hand on the back of Tommy’s neck where his Claiming Bite was. Needless to say, caressing it made Tommy shiver and close his eyes for a moment. Being touched by his Mate there was always more than distracting and an instant turn on if he didn’t fight the feeling. He instinctively tipped his head upwards a bit to expose his throat, coaxing a soft approving sound from Adam.
“True,” Tommy murmured, letting Adam put his other arm around him to pull him flush against his body. There was the promise of sex in the situation, but they knew that they didn’t have time for that now. Still it felt nice and exciting to be this close to his Mate.
“Damn, I have the sudden urge to leave my scent all over you,” Adam admitted, nuzzling his nose under Tommy’s jaw and planting a soft and long kiss on his throat, his tongue flicking out to taste the lightly salty skin over the throbbing vein.
“Probably because another big bad wolf is coming into town,” Tommy snorted with still closed eyes, hands holding on to Adam’s arm and side.
“Yeah. I want everyone to know you are mine…” he murmured while rubbing his stubbly cheek against Tommy’s neck, one hand holding the blonde’s nape, the other sliding under his Marilyn Manson T-shirt by the back.
“Fuck…” Tommy breathed shakily, his body going pliant in Adam’s hold. The Beta’s wolf wasn’t better either, he was already belly up, offering himself to their Alpha. A throaty moan found its way out of Tommy’s mouth when Adam lightly scratched the Claiming Bite. “You’ll make me come into my pants if you keep that up,” he warned Adam, pressing his half-hard cock against the bigger man’s thigh when his small ass was squeezed by the Alpha.
“Tommy…” Adam growled low and licked along a sharp collarbone that peeked out from the loose neck of the old T-shirt. But then there was a knock on the door, that probably saved them and broke the trance they both had slipped in. “Yeah. Come in!” Adam barked towards the door, voice husky with lust, but eyes already sobering up as he straightened and turned, sliding his hand from Tommy’s ass up to his waist so they were standing close while facing Brad who entered the room, glimpsing from one to the other then back.
“Sorry for interrupting your sexy time, but we should go. It’s nearly time,” he said on his usual light tone, although both wolves saw the tension around the other Beta’s mouth.
“Alright,” Adam nodded and followed Brad out of the room.
Tommy reached after him and grabbed Adam’s wrist to make him stop for a moment. “Adam…” he started, meeting the questioning look as he stepped to the Alpha once more. “Just… be careful, okay? Don’t let him fuck with your mind…” he said and hated the fact that he couldn’t take the worry out of his voice.
The taller man smiled down at him and cupped his face in one big hand. “I promise… You do the same, ok? And I love you too,” he murmured and leaned in for a soft kiss, but Tommy wasn’t having any of that and he quickly put his arms around Adam’s neck, pulling him in for a proper, breathtaking kiss.
They were both slightly panting by the time it was over and just stared at each other for a long moment. Then Tommy nodded and left their room ahead of Adam.
For some reason I saw Tom Hardy as Zane :)
By the time they climbed the hill, Zane and his inner-pack was on the clearing, taking up one side of it. Adam and his pack lined up opposite them in a half-circle. The air was heavy with wolf magic, nearly sizzling from the swirling energies. Tommy zeroed in on the impressive Alpha standing ahead of his people in black pants and an open short-sleeved white shirt. His build was even broader than Adam’s, but Zane was shorter. He was wearing a couple of necklaces around his thick neck and they were lying on a heavily tattooed, hairy chest. The Alpha had sensual and full lips, slicked-back brown hair and handsome features underneath his beard, but there was a certain hardness in his dark eyes that could be felt in his presence too. He was strong, very strong and for a split second fear washed through the blond Beta. What if Adam wasn’t strong enough to win?
But when Adam let go of his Alpha power like Zane did, it filled their side of the clearing, expanding hotly towards the challenging pack. Tommy saw the moment they felt it. A flicker in some eyes, the uncomfortable twitch of a muscle or hand… The Alphas locked eyes and the tension in the air peaked for a long moment. The vibrating energies made the hairs on Tommy’s body stand on end, but no one moved a muscle. Finally Adam eased up somewhat, making Zane smile a bit.
“Greetings, Zane Le Blank, Alpha of the Oxnard pack,” the taller man said on a clear and confident voice.
“For a moment I thought you’d say ‘welcome’, which we both know would’ve been a lie…” Zane’s deep and slightly husky baritone rang and his smile widened as he stalked a little closer. “Greetings, Adam Mitchell Lambert, Alpha of the Los Angeles pack,” he finally decided to follow the formalities.
“Well, that’s true, because everyone knows why you and part of your pack are here.”
Zane only smirked wider and nodded, sizing up Adam first. It seemed he was weighing his chances of winning this fight and – despite the impressive power Adam was emitting – the dark circles under the freckled Alpha’s eyes and the tension in his body weren’t signs that would make Zane change his mind. Then the dark eyes jumped to Tommy’s smaller frame and that smirk became predatory, making Adam tense up even more next to his blonde Mate.
The other Alpha stalked even closer, his eyes feasting on Tommy’s delicate, androgynous features. “I’ve heard you scored a strong and pretty Beta as your Mate, but I had no idea he was this pretty,” he mused, licking his lips and sniffing the air towards Tommy. He could probably smell the thick scent of Adam and the pack on him.
“That’s close enough,” Adam growled low once Zane took yet another step closer to them, but careful to stay out of reach.
Tommy hated to feel like a damsel in distress or someone who needed to be spoken for, so he took a half step forward to be in line with Adam and snorted. “Cut the crap, Zane, that’s not why we are here.”
“Tommy Joe Ratliff… I remember you when you were just a cub. You grew up into a fine male. I and your father had some business in the past when the Burbank pack still existed. It’s a shame it doesn’t anymore. How does it feel like to be bound to and sleep with the man who killed your father?” he raised a brow, the smug smirk returning to his face.
Tommy snorted and shrugged, folding his arms in front of his chest. “I’m not so narrow-minded like you’d like me to be. We moved past that and the Burbank pack lives on in the LA pack. Cut the psychological crap and let’s move this meeting along,” he said with an indifferent expression.
“Feisty as ever. I like that…” Zane murmured under his nose loud enough that everyone could hear him, but his eyes darted back at Adam. He caught a sparkle of anger and possessiveness in them before the Alpha could hide it.
“My Mate is right. You are stalling. I believe you had enough time to size me – us – up to decide, so what will it be?”
Zane chuckled and circled back in front of his people, who looked like coming from a motorcycle band – both the males and females all leather and tattoos. Tommy could imagine that their bikes were parking somewhere nearby. But he pushed that thought out of his mind to be able to fully concentrate on the conversation. Zane’s next sentence would determine a lot of things in their future.
“Right…” Zane paused, clearly loving the attention on him, which only made Tommy mentally roll his eyes. Sometimes it still surprised the blond how different two Alphas could be. “Following the Wolf Laws acted upon us by the Werewolf Council, I’m here to challenge Adam Mitchell Lambert, the Alpha of the LA pack. According to the Laws, it’s a fight to the death. The Alpha who wins gets both packs and their territory,” he announced and the tension got palpable in the air.
For a moment Tommy thought he’d feel sick, because even the possibility of losing Adam was more than painful. He stopped himself from physically reaching out for Adam’s hand to squeeze it when he felt the tension peak in his Mate, then it was suddenly all about acceptance. As the Beta focused on their Mating Bond, he could feel his Alpha accepting the situation and calming down somewhat. They knew how strong Adam was, and Tommy trusted him 100% that he could take down Zane, but that didn’t mean that he wasn’t worried for his Mate whom he’d found just a few months ago.
A round of loud howls and yells went around the Oxnard pack hearing their Alpha’s challenge, while the LA pack fidgeted a bit nervously but otherwise stayed silent and tense. Tommy and Adam exchanged a long look, communicating through their bond.
‘The pack needs to feel you’re confident about this. They are fucking tense and worried,’ Tommy sent through their personal mind-link.
‘Yes, you’re right.’
‘You are confident about winning, right?’ Tommy frowned lightly.
‘I am. I just… I guess this was the goal of our attackers. Dividing my attention and power.’
‘I can do this,’ Adam said instead, but they both knew Tommy was right. This situation with the challenge and the attacks took a lot from Adam and the pack lately and Zane was only adding to their problems. A fight to the death was the last thing they needed, but it seemed that they couldn’t avoid that. If Adam said no, according to the Wolf Laws, he would have to hand over his pack without a fight and become a disgraced lone wolf, not worthy to the name of Alpha. The challenger would have to give him the Mark of Shame that would make it clear to anyone what kind of an outcast he was.
While back in the Burbank pack and when he had ran away, Tommy remembered seeing such wolves. They were chased away from pack territory – often hunted down and killed or captured on the spot in the old days. In our modern time, they were tolerated but not liked in wolf bars and neutral cities. Some Alphas didn’t chase them away from their cities, but more than not these lone wolves were looked down upon and always on the move, having no home or friends among the wolves. Sometimes they were captured today too to become punch bags – a much worse fate than the lowest ranking wolves (the Omegas) in some packs.
For an Alpha it was the biggest disgrace to chicken out of a fight like this, because it meant that he’d place him or herself in front of the well-being of their pack. And Alphas had to protect and lead their pack. Letting the pack down like that justified the Broken Full Moon symbol that would be etched onto the back of the Alpha’s neck with a silver knife so that it would scar and stay visible forever.
The placement itself had significance too, because Alpha’s were the ones who marked their Mates on the back of their neck. True Alphas never got marked there. Their Mate’s Second Bite – which sealed the Mating Ritual – went to the juncture where the neck met the shoulder. That was the sign when an Alpha was mated. But when an Alpha was marked on the back of their neck with the Broken Full Moon symbol, everyone knew that it was a fallen Alpha, a disgrace to their species.
But Tommy knew that would never happen to Adam, because he cared too much about him and his pack and he wasn’t a coward. The freckled man on his side would rather die than to let down the people he loved and cared about. He let them feel that through the bond Tommy and Adam shared towards their pack. The Beta could feel it when Adam opened that metaphysical channel towards their people, putting not just the mind of the pack members at ease, but Tommy’s too.
“So what is your answer, Alpha?” Zane urged, interrupting the non-verbal communication going on.
Adam turned to the challenger, squared his shoulders and tipped his head up – the pose of a proud and powerful Alpha – and opened his mouth. “I accept, but I am not happy about this challenge…” he started, but was cut off by Zane.
“I don’t care. What matters is that your pack will be mine soon. Just like your Mate – if he survives your death. I can’t wait to tame him!” he smirked, earning some warning growls from the LA pack.
Tommy suddenly felt Adam’s big hand on the middle of his chest, holding him back. The Beta didn’t even realize that his fangs and nails grew and he took a step towards the other Alpha.
“Calm down, Tommy,” he heard Adam’s soothing and confident voice. “Everything’s gonna be alright. I’ll handle Zane,” he exchanged a serious look with him and Tommy found himself believing Adam so he forced himself and his wolf to calm down. He loved in Adam that he could have such an effect on him without using his Alpha powers. The Beta knew that many others would use it in a situation like this to avoid unnecessary confrontation or breaking the Laws. It was just another sign that Adam trusted Tommy just as much.
The Beta didn’t say anything though, just nodded and relaxed, letting his teeth and nails return to normal. The second Adam’s hand left his chest, he already missed the physical contact, but he ignored that feeling for now. They had to be focused. They couldn’t afford to be distracted by Zane’s comments, although the future the dark-eyed male painted for Tommy wasn’t one that he’d like too much. The Beta knew from Zane’s predatory dark looks thrown into his direction that the Alpha meant his words about breaking Tommy in. But becoming the lapdog of this man was something he’d never let happen. He’d rather die. Besides, if Adam lost, there would be a high chance he died after him, because as Sutan had said before, their bond was unusually strong. Tommy doubted that if one of them were to die, the other would or rather would want to survive.
Despite his boiling emotions, Tommy tipped his chin up proudly too, but his mental voice was soft in Adam’s mind. ‘I’m proud of you. You’ll kick his sorry ass, I know.’
Adam had to concentrate hard not to snort or smile, hearing his Mate’s voice, but it was all the reassurance he needed at the moment. “Tomorrow. Same place and time,” he said aloud so everyone could hear.
“Fair enough. Can’t wait,” Zane nodded, his black eyes jumping from Adam to Tommy as he turned away then whistled to his pack to leave and go wherever they could find some cheap beer and entertainment for the night. The Law stated that until the fight the challenging pack was free to stay on the challenged Alpha’s land.
Adam and Tommy stood there, with their people behind them, watching the Oxnard pack leave. Tommy let his arm brush against Adam’s and slid his hand into the bigger one.
Once they were alone, Tommy listened to Adam dismiss the pack and hand out some more tasks – then it was finally just the two of them. The blond man looked up into his Mate’s eyes, the light of the nearby torches dancing in them. He reached up and pulled Adam down by the back of his neck. Tommy let his thumb caress along the smooth skin there as their lips were sealed by a sensual and maybe a bit desperate kiss. “Let’s go for a run…” he whispered afterwards and waited until Adam nodded.
They quickly got out of their clothes, eyes lingering on each other’s naked forms. In the next minute they were already running through the forest in their wolf forms. They knew how they would spend the night in the foods. Maybe for the last time.