Next evening the tension and aggression were palpable in the air. Both packs were watching as the two naked alphas walked into the circle that was cleared for their fight.
“Are you sure about this, Zane? We don’t have to fight,” Adam said calmly, not taking his glowing blue eyes off his opponent.
“Are you trying to back out?” the other male raised a brow and smirked while cracking his neck.
“No. I’m offering you a way out.”
“I don’t need a way out. We fight ‘till death as our Laws say.”
Adam sighed, slightly shaking his head then nodded. “Very well…”
The next moment a huge black wolf emerged gracefully yet threateningly where Adam stood just a moment ago. Opposite him Zane shifted into his smaller but wider brown beast with glowing yellow eyes. The other wolves tensed. They had to be there to witness the fight of the Alphas, but Tommy wanted to just turn away until it was over. His heart was filled with worry and was pounding like crazy. He had to fist both hands, letting the pointy tips of the nails dig into his palms to keep himself from interfering.
It wasn’t about not trusting Adam to be able to take care of Zane, Tommy knew that his Mate was more than capable of protecting the pack and himself. He was more worried about Zane and the injuries he might inflict upon Adam. Because the challenger didn’t seem like a wolf who would keep himself from using dirty tricks to win.
The beasts began to circle each other, trying to figure out the weaknesses of the other to use them to their advantage. Then getting tired of waiting, Zane leaped at Adam and the fighting began.
Tommy swallowed hard, not being able to shake the familiar images. They reminded him of that fateful night when Adam was fighting his dad for dominance. Worry gripped his throat, forming a lump in it from the thought that tonight Adam might be the one who ends up lying dead on the ground. Shaking his head, Tommy forced himself to take a deep breath, trying to block out all the aggression and dominance that made the fine hairs stand on end on his nape. His wolf was very close to the surface, pacing, wanting to join the fight to protect their Mate, but they both knew that this was between the Alphas. If he interfered, it would make Adam look weak and as a cheater. Something they couldn’t afford at the moment.
So instead, Tommy kept watching as the two wolves tore into each other, splattering blood on the dusty ground. It was getting darker and darker with each minute and Tommy wished the fight would end quickly.
His attention was drawn by a little commotion from behind and he tore his eyes off Adam, who just dodged Zane’s sharp claws.
“What’s going on?” he asked quietly once he took a few steps back, seeing Terrance gripping Janice’s tattooed forearm. Her eyes were glowing bright thanks to her wolf pushing close to the surface.
“Something’s up with her. She started walking towards the front without answering me,” Terrance murmured under his nose so only he and Tommy heard.
The blond took Janice’s hand, hoping that physical contact with her Beta (and ex-lover) would help calm her wolf which was so very close to the surface that Tommy could practically smell its musky scent as if she already shifted. “Janice… what’s going on?” Tommy asked softly, but the she-wolf’s eyes were glued to the fighters and she stayed silent, as if in a trance, or as if her wolf was focusing on something.
Tommy frowned and exchanged a look with Terrance. It wasn’t the place and time to deal with this. Not now when all the eyes of the rival pack were on them and the fighting Alphas. “Keep an eye on her. Don’t let her go. We’ll deal with this after Adam’s win,” he said quietly and he wanted to believe his words so badly.
Stepping back to his place Tommy folded his arms in front of his chest, tipping his chin up and trying to ooze encouragement and power not just towards Adam, but the whole shaken up and worried pack. He could feel them all clearly in his mind, because he wouldn’t shut them out at a time like this. They needed their first Beta’s support more than ever.
Adam and Zane were both strong Alphas so it wasn’t a surprise that their fight was dragging on for minutes. (Long torturing minutes especially for Tommy.) Both wolves were panting and bloody by the time they took a few moments long break, eyes never leaving the other as they caught their breath. Then they leaped at each other again, going for the other’s throat, sharp claws sinking into fur and flesh, violent growls and barking breaking the silence of the night.
The black wolf whined from the sudden pain that flared up in his side where Zane managed to bite him deep and hard, fresh blood splattering onto the ground as he pulled back, but Adam didn’t pause, he lashed out and his powerful jaws closed around the other Alpha’s right hind leg, biting until he heard the satisfactory crack of bones. Zane landed a clawed blow against Adam’s muzzle to let his injured leg go – which he did – and Zane dragged himself a bit further from him on his other three legs, the bitten one limp and useless behind him.
All of Tommy’s muscles tensed and he nearly shouted at Adam to finish Zane off, because this was his chance to end the fight for good. It seemed the black wolf knew that on his own and headed towards him to put an end on this for once and for all, but then suddenly there was a yell and from out of nowhere, a light brown wolf collided with Adam, knocking him over with such force that he rolled around on the ground a few times.
Snarling he jumped up on his paws, bloody drool dripping from his mouth, sharp canines on full display as he pulled his wolf-lips up, blue wolf-eyes glowing in the half-light as he faced the new attacker, ready to fight back. But the light-brown she-wolf wasn’t attacking. She stood in front of Zane’s injured body, shielding him from Adam. A warning growl could be heard from the wolf, but it was clear on her face that she was conflicted. She was running on pure instinct there, but she knew that interrupting the fight and defying her Alpha had consequences.
‘Janice!! What the hell are you doing?!’ Adam’s mental yell was so loud, that all the wolves – including Zane and his pack – could hear it clearly.
‘I can’t let you kill him!’ she slightly cowered on the ground seeing that Adam wasn’t coming closer yet. From her posture it was clear that she’d attack without hesitation, if needed.
‘What are you talking about?! This is a fight between Zane and me! Get out of the way and let me finish what I have to do or I swear you’ll be shunned from my pack!’ he threatened the disobedient wolf and took a warning step towards her and Zane, who was panting and watching the unfolding scene half-lying on the ground.
‘I have to take that risk, Adam!’ Janice stood tall again, ready to take Adam on, who felt and looked confused. Then his wolf – which was pissed off about the disobedience – took matters in its hands and leaped forward to show Janice her place.
She was prepared for the attack, but her words cut through the air sharper than any fangs or claws. ‘HE’S MY MATE!’ she screamed mentally and suddenly everything froze as Adam stopped right in front of them.
‘What?!’ the stunned Alpha barked at her.
Janice’s glowing yellow eyes searched her Alpha’s blue ones for a few moments then she decided to shift back to her human form, hoping that Adam wouldn’t tear her head off on the spot. Everyone was staring at the naked woman now, waiting for an explanation, because if it was true… well, that would change a few things.
Janice dropped to her knees, eyes downcast for a moment because of the dominance Adam was oozing even injured like he was. Zane seemed to be frozen behind Janice, looking as puzzled as a wolf could express with their limited animal features.
“I know that intervening was an unforgivable act and I’ll accept the consequences, but please… please don’t kill him. My wolf has been restless since yesterday and it took control when you were about to finish him off… I couldn’t stop it from wanting to protect its… out Mate. The second I shifted, I knew I was right. I just feel it. Look into me, Alpha. Please. I’m begging you. I’m not lying!” Janice bared her throat for Adam, who shifted back with ease, staring at the Delta she-wolf, thick black brows furrowed.
The freckled man shifted his gaze from Janice to Zane, who chose to return to his human form too, and then Adam waved the woman to him. Not caring about his injuries and the slowly oozing blood he slid a hand on Janice’s throat, not missing the way the other Alpha’s muscles tensed on instinct and a warning growl rumbled up from his chest. Then his focus was fully back on Janice.
Adam looked deep into her eyes and let his nails grow until the sharp pointy tips broke the soft skin of her throat. She didn’t resist and went pliant in his hold, letting him push into her mind. It was a practice Alphas could use to see memories and feel feelings of a wolf without interference. This way they could see and feel the other wolf’s thoughts and emotions as if they were their own. Lying or deceiving an Alpha while he was doing this would require a lot of practice and a very strong mind. According to werewolf history very few could do that.
But using this technique had its price too. That’s why Alphas tended to look into their wolves like this only when it was absolutely necessary. It took out a lot from both the Alpha and the other wolf and for a few days the Alpha’s emotions usually got a bit messed up.
Adam used this technique only three times before Janice, but he knew that it was very important to determine if she was truly honest about her feelings, because she interrupted the fight of two Alphas, which was a serious offense and usually followed by severe punishment – in some cases extruding the offender wolf from the pack. But there were a few exceptions to this werewolf law. One was when it happened in this case: one side of an unmated pair recognizing his or her other half for the first time in the Alpha that is in danger. Since werewolves had very strong instincts – especially in such a case – losing control over the beast and trying to protect the Mate in danger was a special case. The action could be accepted, but only if both the Alphas and everyone in their pack agreed.
The whole clearing was frozen, only the usual noises of the night forest and the soft wind could be heard. The tension was as palpable and heavy in the air as the scent of blood. All eyes were glued to the naked kneeling pair. Whatever Adam would conclude, it’d influence the future of both packs. They would either unite once one of the Alphas was dead, or the Alphas would have to come up with another solution. This was one of the only (rare) ways to avoid killing each other in a territory fight.
Adam and Janice weren’t moving for long minutes, driving Tommy absolutely crazy. He was so tense that he was afraid he’d simply snap in half if this went on for much longer. His nerves were fried, but he wanted it so badly to be true. Not just because it’d mean that both Alphas would have a chance to live – he didn’t really care if Zane died or not, but this would significantly better Adam’s chances to avoid death. And the other reason was that Tommy really wanted Janice to be happy on her Mate’s side, although the Beta would’ve liked it better if it wasn’t someone like Zane. But he’d learned since Adam stepped into his life that there were no coincidences. Mother Nature knew it better than anyone else.
Finally, Adam blinked and pulled his claws then hand back, taking a deep breath.
“Well?” Tommy heard himself ask impatiently.
Adam’s eyes stayed on Janice as he answered. “She’s telling the truth. Isn’t she?” he glimpsed at Zane, who meanwhile sat up, his broken leg stretched out while it was already healing.
“Yes. I could feel it too when we were both in wolf-form,” he confirmed, not taking his eyes off the naked back if the still kneeling woman.
“I offer my life to you to do with it as you wish, Adam. But I can’t stand the thought of letting you kill Zane. You saw and felt what I do.”
Adam sighed once again and exchanged a long look with Zane, who after a minute nodded barely visible. After that the freckled Alpha glimpsed back at his Delta. “I don’t wish to take your life. As a matter of fact, I don’t wish to take the life of Zane either. This changes things and once we both cleaned up and healed a bit, he and I will sit down to figure something out. But that can happen only if each of you accepts that we break off this fight. Zane?”
“I accept,” the other Alpha nodded. He looked more interested in Janice now than fighting Adam for his pack and territories.
Adam and Tommy could understand that – after all finding your mate (especially in such unique circumstances) didn’t happen every day. After Adam’s acceptance each and every member of the two packs were asked for the same. In the end, everyone gave their blessing and most of the tension bled out of the wolves.
Janice was still kneeling there, head bent and eyes downcast, not knowing what would happen next. “Janice,” Adam addressed her and she immediately tensed, waiting for the verdict – which didn’t come the way she prepared herself for. “Go, help Zane and try to figure things out between the two of you.”
“Are you sure?” her head snapped up and their eyes met for a few seconds.
“Yes. As a mated Alpha, I wouldn’t dream of keeping you two separate right now.”
“Thank you,” she whispered then looked over her shoulder a bit flushed when Zane put a hand on her shoulder. The previous cockiness was pushed into the background and he looked kinda reassuring at the confused and hopeful woman.
Zane looked Adam in the eye and lightly frowned. “Let’s sit down in the morning and figure this shit out.”
“Sounds good to me. Take your pack and Janice with you, if you want. But if you hurt her – mate or not mate – I’ll demand retaliation. She’s still one of my own.”
“Understood, man,” he nodded shortly then let Janice and one of his Betas help him up, his arms draped over their shoulders to keep his weight off his broken leg.
Adam stayed there kneeling in the dirt until the last of the biker wolves were out of sight and earshot. Tommy chose that moment to send the pack back into the house then he walked to Adam. He dropped to his knees in front of him and slid a hand on the bloody face under some healing claw marks. “You okay?”
“Y-yeah. I think so…” Adam mumbled, focusing his eyes on his Mate. His dirty hand reached up to lightly squeeze Tommy’s forearm as reassurance and to satisfy the need to be in physical contact with his other half.
“What are we going to do now?” Tommy asked, his mind already running a mile a minute.
“Now? Now I want a shower, some bandages and you holding me while we rest.”
For now the worry disappeared from Tommy’s face and his expression softened. “I think that can be arranged,” he whispered and leaned forward to press a soft kiss on the freckled lips. “Come on, big guy. We’ll figure things out a bit later,” he stood, helping Adam up too then – even if a bit slower – they walked back into the house hand in hand.
In case they managed to come up with something to solve this situation then they could avoid losing anyone. And perhaps if Janice could become a link between the two packs, a new alliance could be born. It was definitely an unexpected twist of fate that night, but one that might bring hope instead of more death.