A/N: Okay, I know it's been a while since I've added to this story, but I am doing so now in honor of my lovely friend ForbiddenDusk and the Kurtoberfest prompt 'werewolves'. Also, you may notice a slight switch in writing styles with this chapter, but I feel that since the chapter is entirely devoted to the wolves, and the wolves are a different creature, that they would talk differently. ***Edit - also, I call these creatures werewolves because they glorify moonlight and need it to strengthen them, ground them, etc., but I would say they're a little more like shapeshifters since they can change forms at will.
After the boy relays his final message, after he disconnects all contact from Sebastian's mind and, in part, the mind of his wolf, Sebastian withdraws to give his wolf time alone with his mate, granting him privacy, but not exclusively for selfless reasons. Sebastian cannot bring himself to watch the two wolves bond. As happy as Sebastian is for his wolf, he feels jaded. After everything he's done, the money he's spent, the hoops he's jumped, the danger he's put himself in, he won't be receiving the same treatment as his wolf. No beautiful young creature will join him in his bed tonight, bending over backward to express his gratitude. The boy has made his choice. For now, Sebastian is nothing to him.
The kick in the gonads is that it's Sebastian's fault and his fault alone that the boy feels that way.
And Sebastian, even as he slithers to his dark corner to meditate and reflect, realizes that he's behaving like a douche expecting some show of gratitude. But as he can't indulge in any sort of physical vice, can't drown his bitterness in a bottle of Jack or bury his cock in the body of a nameless lover (and no, there will be no more nameless lovers for Sebastian for as long as he lives), he chooses to sulk like a brooding teenager, and be insulting, as long as no one but his wolf can hear.
Cloudwalker, in contrast, cannot deny his own happiness. He's ecstatic that after all this time he finally has a mate, a wolf that he can call his own – soft fur to nuzzle into, eyes to stare at, a body to sleep beside, flesh to sink his teeth into…someone who will claim him, someone that he can claim. No more cold comfort lays by his human to numb the urge, though, it never worked for Cloudwalker. Since they couldn't risk revealing Sebastian's wolf to anyone, Sebastian made certain to search out only non-werewolf sex partners. So Cloudwalker had been left frustrated and wanting for far too long.
But Cloudwalker didn't want one night. He wanted forever or nothing at all.
By rights, it was his turn.
But Cloudwalker's heart breaks for Sebastian. Sebastian may have made his own bed, but for all of his faults, Cloudwalker does not feel that he should have to sleep in it alone. Sebastian, as Cloudwalker knows him, is not all that he seems. He may be rude and crass at times, rough around the edges and all the other "bad boy" clichés, but he, like so many other conceited men with money and power, has a past - a long and complicated past. Cloudwalker does not doubt that his mate and his mate's boy have a painful past as well, and maybe that is where the two humans can connect - their bridge across. He only hopes that, in time, Kurt will give Sebastian the opportunity to share his story, see why Sebastian is the way he is. Maybe, through that, they can bond, help one another.
They can heal each other.
But that won't happen tonight. The boy has made himself clear, and Cloudwalker cannot intervene. He cannot try to convince the boy himself, nor ask his wolf to talk him into returning. It would not be right. Cloudwalker is an older male, and an alpha. It might be seen as coercing his mate and going back on his promise.
Cloudwalker has his mate to consider. The smaller, silver-white wolf is weak. He is thin. He requires medicine eventually, but for now, he needs food, water, and the power of the silver moon to fortify him.
Stay put, Cloudwalker commands, and trots into the kitchen. The silver-white wolf hears rustling, the click and slam of cabinets, and then glass bottles clinking together with the opening of a door. No more than a minute later, the large wolf returns with a cold, cooked chicken from the fridge clamped gently in his jaws. Cloudwalker puts it on the floor between the smaller wolf's paws and quickly retreats, leaving his mate alone with his meal. The silver-white wolf sniffs warily, waiting for word from his boy that it's okay to eat this food, to partake of this wolf's (and his human's) hospitality.
But his boy remains silent.
The wolf is hungry, which means the boy must be famished, and above all things, the wolf must take care of his boy. The chicken on the floor in front of him, inches below his nose, smells delicious. It's been so long since they've seen such a feast.
It would be a shame to let it spoil…
The wolf eats what Cloudwalker offers, knowing full well that by letting Cloudwalker nurse him back to health, they're starting the bonding process. He might as well start it here. No use waiting. He promised Cloudwalker he would accept him as his mate, and if he expects Cloudwalker to be trustworthy, then the wolf will have to show good faith.
And the silver-white wolf wants him. Cloudwalker wasn't wrong about that. It was embarrassing that Cloudwalker could sniff that out, but the smaller wolf couldn't hide it. He couldn't concentrate in that position, wedged into a corner by self-preservation and fear, but so close to Cloudwalker's body, he could feel the blood coursing through the larger wolf's veins.
The silver-white wolf starts in on his meal slowly, delicately, but by the time Cloudwalker returns, pushing a dish of water across the smooth floor with his nose, the silver-white wolf is tearing the picked clean carcass bone from bone with a growl in his throat. Cloudwalker stands back and stares at his ferocious mate in amazement until the silver-white wolf feels himself being watched. Then he drops what's left of the bird and backs away.
That's quite an amazing display. Cloudwalker laughs. I know now never to turn my back on you, little one.
The silver-white wolf is tempted to smile at his mate's teasing, but he keeps his smile to himself. You have nothing to fear from me, wolf, he says, sad when his boy doesn't chime in to his thoughts. I belong to you now. I will not harm you. And I will not try to run away.
But…you do not want this? Cloudwalker asks, certain of his wolf's answer. Even with the protection we can provide, the life we can give you and your boy, you are not happy.
I feel… the wolf starts, at odds with his feelings since, for the moment, they are his feelings alone, without the benefit of his boy's advice. It's only been a few minutes since his boy has gone silent, but they have never been disconnected from one another this way before. Not completely. The boy has cut himself off so thoroughly, the silver-white wolf almost cannot detect the boy there…and it frightens him. I feel that I have not being given adequate time to decide. I may be happier if I felt I had a choice, if I didn't feel that my life depended on our staying with you. The smaller wolf raises a scathing brow. If I didn't have my back against a wall…literally.
I am sorry, Cloudwalker says with honest regret. I truly am.
It's easy for you to say you're sorry, the silver-white wolf sniffs. You won. You and your human got your prize. And even had we not surrendered willingly, you have, as your human put it, a bill of sale. You could have us muzzled, caged, sedated, microchipped. As it is, we cannot leave your compound. It is not only that you have won, you have thoroughly abolished any hope of retaliation from us. It is easy to show compassion when you possess all the options… The silver-white wolf looks at his reflection in the still dish of water and sighs. When the die falls in your favor.
Cloudwalker approaches his mate, head bowed in shame. Perhaps, he says. But taking your options away was the only way we had of ensuring your safety. Had you and your boy been less strong, less capable, less cunning and clever, we wouldn't have had to go so far. But you left us no choice.
The smaller wolf ducks his head, blushing beneath his fur. He hates that those words flatter him, but they do. They make his heart and his stomach flutter. They make him feel warm and welcome and…what did Cloudwalker call him before? Precious? He hates that reaction, but most of all, he hates that his boy can't enjoy it, too.
There's always a choice, Moondancer says, and laps at the dish of water. But even as it replenishes his body, he feels unfilled. He's sated, he feels stronger, but chicken and water aren't what his body craves.
But he won't give in. He promised his boy. Not until he's ready.
So, are you ready?
The small wolf's head jerks up. Ready? he asks, his innate tendency to mistrust putting him on alert, making him afraid that Cloudwalker will go back on his word and claim him regardless now that he has strength enough to put up a fight. R-ready for what?
For the tour of your new home. Cloudwalker gestures with his head towards the door – the door the silver-white wolf and his boy thought for sure would lead to freedom, the small wolf thinks with a sour taste in his mouth. It fills the silver-white wolf with an urge to rebel, to tell Cloudwalker that this will never be his home, but there would be no use. Cloudwalker could too easily overwhelm him.
The silver-white wolf and his boy will not be leaving this compound of their own free will ever.
Yes. The wolf gives in. Yes, I would like to see it.
Cloudwalker leads his new mate outdoors to walk beneath the silver moon that's been calling to them, beckoning to have her children stroll the world underneath her light. She shines with an unmatched radiance when they appear, as if she has been waiting for the two of them to make her complete. Both wolves can feel her beneath their flesh and fur, and she brings with her a peace that recharges them, body and soul.
It's a strange new world for the silver-white wolf, these massive grounds behind stone walls. Once they leave the house, they enter a meadow covered in grass and trees, like a segment of the forest had been carved out and transported here. Other animals roam the grounds – pheasants, rabbits, and mule deer from what the silver-white wolf can sense, for Cloudwalker to hunt, he assumes – as well as other touches of nature here and there. A waterfall. A river, with fish swimming to and from a man-made lake. A sandy shore. A rocky hillside. The ideal environment for a wolf to run and hunt and play, to satisfy his instincts in complete safety. One thing is for sure, this place belongs to Cloudwalker and his human. Every inch of it is scented – the trees, the rocks, the shore. It's exhilarating…and it's frightening.
How long, the silver-white wolf wonders, before Cloudwalker marks him, too?
If there is one element in abundance here, however, it's silence. Aside from the chirping birds and the flowing river, the compound is quiet. Eerily quiet. Life is attenuated here. What should teem with the beat of a thousand hearts is barely moved by a hundred. There is no breeze here. No messages carried from afar. No sound of other wolves outside in the world. Living here, it would be easy to believe that he and Cloudwalker are the last two.
Because this compound is not the forest. It's not the real world. It's a preserve.
It's a prison, Sebastian's prison, one of his own design, and as much as the silver-white wolf hates prisons and cages, he understands why. In a world that barely tolerates their kind, the safest place to live is behind stone walls and iron bars.
It's not meant to keep the wolves in, but everyone else out.
Cloudwalker trots silently beside his mate until they've circled the grounds once, watching the silver-white wolf with interest as he takes in his new surroundings…and lust. It's simple biology; Cloudwalker can't help himself. But since mating beneath the moon is not a possibility this evening, he decides that talking is best…if he can get the smaller wolf to do it. Cloudwalker can recognize that this mate, who he's longed for through the passing of far too many silver moons, is a gift he's been given, and by one who had a lot to risk by the sacrifice, his entire life forfeited. Cloudwalker hopes that someday his human might recognize that, too. But Cloudwalker refuses to take that gift for granted. He needs to discover all there is to know about his mate, and find out how he can ensure his constant happiness.
What may I call you? Cloudwalker asks as they begin their second circuit.
The smaller wolf stops walking. He tilts his head, giving his mate's question time to sink in. He deliberates between who he was only a few days ago, when he and his boy were stuck in the pens, and who he is now. He has been two different wolves in that span of time. He needs a name that distinguishes him so.
You may call me Moondancer, the smaller wolf replies with resignation.
Would you not prefer your true name? Cloudwalker asks. The name you were given at birth?
Our new life starts here, Moondancer says with finality. We left our old life behind when we agreed to be yours. This new name you have given us…suits us.
Cloudwalker nods, both content with and burdened by that answer, but issues bigger than that of a name trouble the silver wolf. As they begin to walk again, he says, You and your boy are free to roam wherever you wish inside our walls. The house and the grounds, they are as much yours as they are ours.
Moondancer doesn't remark out loud, but inside his heart, he hopes that his boy will come to enjoy all of this. He pictures his boy running through the grass in the early mornings the way he used to jog in the neighborhood surrounding his father's house. He hopes to see his boy swimming in the lake and hunting down the deer. He wishes to wake in the mind of his boy as he sits on a rock, sketching the trees and the hills and the sky.
And dance. His boy loves to dance. How nice would it be to see his boy dance again? It's been too long.
Cloudwalker sees all of this, too, every image of the boy in Moondancer's thoughts, but he says nothing. And he doesn't let Sebastian see, doesn't clue him in. He feels like it would be a betrayal of Moondancer's trust. If Sebastian is to know all there is to know about this boy, he will need to get off his sorry ass and do it for himself.
Except…maybe there is one thing he can give him.
Thank you, Moondancer says as he banishes those thoughts of his boy from his mind, for everything you are giving us.
And…what of my human? Cloudwalker asks cautiously. He wasn't going to bring Sebastian up, but at this point in time, he feels he must.
What of him? Moondancer sneers, not entirely thrilled with his boy's "mate".
He is without a mate for the time being, Cloudwalker explains, and yet he has agreed to comply with your wishes. May he, at least, have a name?
Moondancer turns up his nose. I'm not sure that my-
Moondancer stops and tilts his head again, his ears perking up as if he's listening to something that his mate cannot hear. Cloudwalker tries, but the only sound he can hear is akin to the tinkling of a bell. Cloudwalker isn't even convinced that Moondancer is hearing anything; more like he's feeling it, his boy's response inside his body, non-verbal. And it brings a tear to the wolf's eye. He nods to himself, then meets Cloudwalker's questioning gaze.
Kurt, Moondancer says, shaking his head and banishing more tears away. His name is Kurt.
Kurt, Cloudwalker repeats, looking at his mate with a solemn expression. You love him.
Moondancer doesn't look up. He has no more energy left to feel offended by Cloudwalker's questions. Do you not love your human?
I do, Cloudwalker admits, only…I don't think it's the same.
Moondancer thinks over the evening, the way Sebastian has treated them in contrast to how his wolf has treated them, the way he has heard the two talk to each other. No, Moondancer decides. I don't think it is.
On their third walk of the grounds, as Cloudwalker considers asking his mate if he would like to stretch his legs and go for a run, Moondancer's knees wobble. He stumbles over his paws, almost sending him to the ground.
Moondancer, Cloudwalker says, prepared to catch his wolf if he falls, I think you've had enough excitement for tonight.
Yes – Moondancer yawns - I think I'm inclined to agree.
You may choose where you wish to sleep. Cloudwalker nudges the smaller wolf with his shoulder to keep him upright until he decides. On nights like this, I prefer to sleep outside under the moon, but there is a bed inside if you wish. I can carry you there. And if you'd like, you can lock yourself inside so that your boy can feel free to return…if he likes…
Moondancer's breath catches at the mention of his boy. No, it wouldn't matter if they were locked away. He knows his boy will not return. But he can't fault Cloudwalker for the behavior of his human. Humans and their wolf companions are separate entities occupying the same body – two different minds and two different souls. Maybe Cloudwalker should have spoken up, but in reality, there was nothing he could have done. He had his own motives, besides. Motives that Moondancer could hold against him…if he didn't need him so badly.
He can't imagine retreating to the bed inside and spending the night alone.
I think, I'll sleep out here with you, Moondancer says, cuddling up against the silver wolf still positioned by his shoulder, if you don't mind.
I…are you certain? Sleeping beside his reluctant mate is more than he could have hoped for, but he doesn't want Moondancer to regret that choice later.
You are my mate now, correct? Moondancer takes to the ground when his legs won't hold him up any longer. I should get used to sleeping beside you. Moondancer sighs. It's not an altogether satisfied sound. It's where I belong.
I don't want you to feel obligated. Cloudwalker watches with an irrepressible longing as his mate curls into a ball, preparing for sleep. I don't want to take any more choices away from you.
Moondancer looks up at Cloudwalker with half-lidded, drowsy eyes. He tries to smile, but he can't. Not yet. I choose to sleep out here with you, Cloudwalker. Is that alright?
Cloudwalker holds his breath. His name. His mate said his name, and not with a scowl, not in disgust or anger, but in a whisper, soothing and kind. Cloudwalker's fur bristles with delight. Of course, he says, lying down in the grass beside the silver-white wolf, leaving a respectable few inches between them. When Moondancer closes that gap, Cloudwalker's entire body begins to hum.
Goodnight, Cloudwalker, Moondancer says, clearing his mind for sleep. He's not looking forward to what waits for him in the dark, what his dreams will hold, so he doesn't plan on having any. And thank you…for everything.
You're welcome, little Moondancer, Cloudwalker whispers. Moondancer tucks his muzzle beneath the larger wolf's cheek, and immediately, the silver-white wolf falls asleep.