Hunter of the Shadows Book 3

Enemy at the Door.

Chapter 26

And epilogue.

Continued from previous chapter…

Then…

We didn't stay long at the Special Place which, after many years of arguing and debating, Sam had now decided to dub Le Salle Meadows. Not exactly imaginative, but it sure sounded better than 'Special Place'.

While Sam's arm continued with its painful regeneration, we drove around aimlessly, seeing the sights, just relaxing, and not taking on any jobs.

Spent some time on the west coast, caught some rays and stayed in a luxury beach house, which Tobius revealed was actually owned by Castiel.

The Canadian Pack Beta was full of surprises.

Turns out, he's an avid surfer with a garage full of surf and scuba diving equipment and, to my utter delight and curiosity, a large selection of harpoon guns.

No idea why he kept those, but they sure were cool.

On a more worrying note, we also discovered Des O'Connor figured prominently among his CD collection, along with some old Irish guy in a cardigan that crooned easy listening music for grandparents, usually from a rocking chair.

What was his name again?

Oh yeah, someone by the name of Val Doonican.

Not so cool.

I made a mental note of it. That kind of blackmail material is priceless.

Cas wasn't getting off lightly with this one.

Tobius grinned and shook his head when I pointed this stuff out to him.

"Well, well, well," he said, gazing in amused wonder at the massive oak CD case. "You think you know someone, eh? Never realised just how much of a square he is!"

Sam liked it at Cas' beach house, with the exception of the music, of course. While his arm was sore most of the time, and downright agonising at others, he enjoyed long walks along the beach, digging his toes into the warm sand, and breathing in the fresh sea air.

His pale, sickly looking skin soon caught the sun and turned a deep brown which made his eyes seem to glow all the brighter. He insisted on coming down to the water's edge at each day break to laugh at me bounding around stupidly, leaping in and out of the water, trying to catch some fish. Wasn't easy. Sea fishing is a whole lot different to fresh water fishing. For one thing, all that fucking salt makes you thirstier. I downed about a gallon of water after every fishing expedition.

Sam's appetite began to improve as the limb regeneration neared completion, and the pain began to ease off. He was able to take part in the morning's fishing to a certain extent, though with one arm slightly shorter than the other it wasn't easy on him.

But he was really in his element when he discovered a couple buckets and spades in the garage, and somehow managed to talk us into a sand castle competition.

To be fair, we were kind of drunk at the time and none of us can remember who won, but I occasionally have flashbacks of sandy turrets in the shape of large penises, so who knows?

Piece of advice: Tequila, bourbon and an ancient brew of illegal absinthe (found at the back of Castiel's drinks cabinet) really don't mix.

Such drunken occasions sometimes, though not always, led onto discussions about the battle, the Canadian Pack, John Winchester and, of course, the inevitable…

We didn't talk much about Crowley otherwise, because there wasn't much left to say that already hadn't been said. The Canadian Pack was keeping real quiet on the subject of the wayward Type One, and we suspected Marcus was still torn up over what to do with the guy. Crowley had been his brother for hundreds of years, so I guess it wasn't that easy a decision to make.

Personally, I'd leave him to rot in some dank, rat infested cell but that ain't my call.

Castiel sent us an email here and there, just catching up, in that weird and stilted way of his. What the hell. It showed he cared.

Missouri kept up with Sam using their psychic force, or whatever it's called, but we hardly ever heard directly from Marcus. Poor guy was probably busy with further Pack reforms. Rather him than me.

But we did hear from Lucas. We'd travelled east and stopped off at Sire's luxury hotel for the first time in ages, and Tobius checked his mail box. He revealed a stiff, brown, A4 envelope filled with some official looking papers.

"Uh," I said, eyebrows raised. "That looks a little scary."

Sam grinned. "IRS finally catch up with you after eight hundred years?"

Tobius didn't look up from studying the envelope, just reached out and gently swatted Sam round the back of the head, lips twitching into a smile.

"Hardly. I'm extremely meticulous when it comes to tax issues. There's no way the US government has any quarrel with me," he smirked, then added "the French on the other hand..." but then he did look up, face serious. "However, these are for you two."

He held out some of the papers, and Sam grabbed them, frowning deeply.

"Oh Jeez!" he exclaimed, softly, eyes widening. "Are these, like, adoption certificates or something?"

"What?" I yelped, and leaned over for a look.

"And there's a letter," Sam added, blinking in shock. "It's from Lucas…"

And indeed it was, in neat, flourishing, old English curly writing that was virtually impossible to read.

"I can't make this out," I complained, but Sam just rolled his eyes and read it aloud.

Dear Sam and Dean,

I trust this letter finds you well and recovering nicely from your exploits in Canada.

I won't mess around. Best to just get straight to the point.

As you can imagine, the Home Pack has not been quite the same since we lost our Beta. Matthew and Logan in particular have become withdrawn and barely speak these days. This has given us cause for concern, especially since their health suffers and they have lost too much weight. Much as I love the wee runts, I can only do what's best for them and, as it turns out, what Cornelius wanted.

The following pack adoption certificates were originally drawn up by Cornelius some months ago, as part of his last will and testament, and have since been signed and approved by myself, Vicky, Tobius and Marcus, with Castiel, Dave and Missouri as witnesses.

I gather this will come as a shock to you both, but the pups had already formed a bond with you boys the night you first met them. Cornelius felt it only right and fair that the brothers come to you in the event of his demise.

Sadly, and unexpectedly, that time has come.

I, personally, feel that there are no two non-lunars better qualified to handle the mischievous little sods, and I'm sure Tobius will be more than happy to help out.

Try not to panic. It'll all work out for the best.

Looking forward to seeing you all again next week.

With love, and fond regards,

Lucas, Lord Alpha of the Northern Territories Home Pack,

& Victoria, Lady Alpha of the Northern Territories Home Pack.

Sam and I exchanged shocked glances.

"Holy shit…" I whispered.

Silence fell over us like a blanket as we both slowly sank down onto the soft living room sofa. Sammy stared at the fireplace, unseeing, while my gaze flitted round the room.

In my shocked state I was once again assaulted by so many memories of Sam, from when I fully realised what I had done to him by making him my son. Bringing him here for the first time, unconscious in my arms. Waiting impatiently for him to wake up, to see if he would survive the werewolf transformation. Watching his eyes well up with tears when he realised what he'd become. Sitting here, in front of the blazing fire with Sire talking to us quietly about bygone years. Sam impatiently awaiting his first change. All the way up to the night we brought him back here after Archy stabbed him in the gut with a silver knife.

It hit me all at once. The love, the sadness, the fear, the doubts… all that came with werewolf parenthood. And I was about to embark on it once again.

Tobius watched us both with a small smile while we came to terms with the news.

"Before you ask, Cornelius wasn't psychic," he told us. "He just wanted the young brothers to have some sense of stability in their lives should anything happen to him."

He added, rather sadly. "Which it did. Obviously."

More silence befell us while we contemplated our future as parents.

Sam frowned.

"So does that make us both their fathers?" he asked, worriedly and glanced at me with a sudden sly gleam in his eye. "No offence, dude, but I don't think we're ready to come out as a gay couple with adopted kids."

He received another swat over the head for that, just on principle, but this time from me.

Tobius burst out laughing and nearly fell off his chair. Choking back his mirth, he shook his head.

"Werewolf adoption doesn't quite work like that. If not related by blood then the selected werewolves become 'Protectors'."

Apparently, this is actually a very old fashioned term, and most Protectors are just referred to as 'brother' or 'sister', although that doesn't fully cover the relationship type either.

"You will be their parental guides until their prime and beyond that if they choose, but at the same time you aren't exactly their parents," Tobius explained, still coming down from his mirth. "I believe the term en loco parentis is often used these days."

My turn to frown. "Jeez! Complicated much?"

Tobius raised an eyebrow. "Really? Need we go over our own rather unusual relationships within this Pack?"

"Fair comment," I answered after a pause for thought, then asked a question of my own. "En loco what?"

"Parentis," said Sam with a grin. "It more or less means 'acting parent'."

Hmm. Personally, I thought 'protector' was cooler, but whatever!

"I think he prefers 'Protector'," Sam murmured sotto voce to Tobius, mischievously. "Probably thinks its cooler."

Sonofa…

Kid knows me too damn well, which is probably a good thing if we're gonna be protecting two pups for the next couple decades or so.

Just one tiny little detail to work out.

"How we gonna make room for them in the car?" My eyes widened with horror as something sunk in. "No way. Nuhuh. We are not getting an RV, or worse a people carrier like some damn Soccer Mom!"

I was already panicking before Tobius was able to speak, and the room started to spin.

I'm not getting rid of Baby... I can't...

My breathing went out of control, I couldn't stop hyperventilating, my heart was pounding and my sight dimmed…

Easy my son, I heard Tobius through the fog of panic, and felt a hand on my back.

Someone tilted me forward in my seat with the instructions to breathe with me, C'mon Dean, just copy what I'm doing, ok?

It was Sammy, coaching me through it and talking me down.

When I eventually came back to my senses, Tobius removed his hand from my back and patted my shoulder.

"I had no intention of buying such a heap of rubbish," he said. "So take that idea out of your head right this instant."

I stared at him, wonderingly. "Ok…"

"You're retiring," said Sam, bluntly. "Aren't you."

It wasn't a question, not really.

"You've been talking about this for a while," he added, "and I guess we just forgot with everything that went on up in Canada. Right?"

Sam watched his grandfather anxiously, but there was a look of understanding in that puppy dog gaze.

Tobius pursed his mouth and nodded, slowly.

"It was something I was going to discuss with you both on the way to the cabin," he smiled slightly. "Lucas has organised a bit of a social gathering up there. We felt that perhaps a little light fun and joviality would do everyone the world of good, especially now."

"So?" I folded my arms across my chest and eyed him warily. "Are you gonna discuss it now instead? 'Cos I'm not sure I can wait 'til next week to hear about the future of our pack."

Tobius sat down beside us. "I intend to get my affairs in order, gather some paperwork, etc. then," he glanced first at Sam, then me, "I'll be moving out of the cabin. Permanently."

"What?" I demanded at the same time as Sam exclaimed.

"You can't!"

Tobius held up a hand.

"Calm down, boys. We discussed this once before, remember? When we talked about," he cast Sam a fondly amused smile "Le Salle Meadows. I had always planned on retiring there and keeping watch over the land, protecting and guarding it against 'progress' and 'development', as I once promised the Native American tribes who lived and died there. You've known this for some time, now."

"B-but…" I stuttered, thoroughly shocked and kind of disappointed.

He was right, though. We'd known this day was coming, but hadn't thought it would happen this soon.

"So that means…" Sam began, dolefully, but couldn't finish the sentence.

Tobius turned to his grandson and wrapped a gentle hand around the nape of his neck.

"That means, I will no longer be travelling or hunting with you," he said, softly. "But that doesn't mean I won't be around should the four of you need me. A new cabin is being built, as we speak, by Lucas and his Pack. There'll always be a home for you and the pups. And, of course," he added with a laugh, "You'll surely be staying with me for the first couple of years to train and school the little rascals, yes?"

He regarded us with a hopeful smile.

"Damn straight!" Sam blurted out in sudden panic. "We're gonna need all the help we can get with those two!"

I was still having a hard time with it. We were Pack. Family. We weren't supposed to split up, not just yet anyhow. How could this be happening?

"Wha…" I choked a little on the words. "What about the other cabin? Our cabin? The one Sam practically grew up in?" I glared at him in sudden anger when a thought occurred to me. "You're not! You can't tear it down…"

"No, no, no! Of course not," said Tobius, hurriedly, and looked a little horrified himself at the very thought. "Look. This was something else I was going to wait and present you with next week, but, well. Why not? Here…"

He held out a set of familiar looking keys.

"That cabin is the family seat of our Pack," he said, then grabbed my hand, placed the keys in my palm, and gently closed my fingers over it. "And the keys belong to its Alpha."

Distantly, I heard Sam gasp and my heart started pounding furiously.

"Dean," Sam murmured, gently nudging me with his good elbow. "You ok? You wanna try breathing? Don't start doing that again!"

I turned to Sammy, my eyes wide with shock.

"Bu-But… uh," I gulped, not entirely sure what to say. Too fast, too fast, too fast..."I c-can't… m'not ready…"

Sam was gazing at me with a soft, proud smile and that look of hero worship I'd treasured for so long.

"Dude," he said, softy. Then his expression turned wise and suddenly, just for a second there, he looked so much older than his twenty one years. "You so are. You've been ready for a long time now."

We sat in silence, the three of us just staring at each other, before Tobius calmly pulled us both into a group hug.

"My boys," he whispered. "My brave, beautiful boys. Being on the hunt with you both… well, it's been an honour and a privilege fighting beside you. But it's time to pass the torch on."

We held on for a while, keeping each other close, until Sire gently broke it up.

Now, he added, lifting the mood slightly. Get your glad rags on, and let's go down to the restaurant for a nice steak dinner. We have a Rolling Stones tribute band playing in the main hall, and a guest Michelin Star chef visiting tonight.

Who? I asked curiously, trying to swallow back my tears and join in the fun.

You'll have to wait and see, Tobius pulled back from the hug and grinned, waggling his eyebrows. But he does enjoy using the 'F' word rather a lot…

No way! Sam's deep belly laugh had me smiling again.

We headed down to the Hotel's restaurant fifteen minutes later, where we were seated at the best table in the room, and presented with the most expensive champagne on the menu.

"To the future," said Tobius, his glowing green eyes sparkling with pride and pleasure, just like the champagne flute he held up to the light. "And all the wonders it holds for our Pack."

Brown Sugar, one of my personal Stones favourites, started up from the band, and we all relaxed a little further. It was spot on. The lead singer even looked like Mick Jagger, let alone sounded like him.

Some animated yells of frustration came from the kitchen occasionally, but I'm pretty sure even a non-lunar wouldn't bother heading on back to sort it out.

Not with the 'F' guy in there, though I'd pay a shit load of money to see him go up against Missouri.

I glanced around the table at my Pack... my Pack, seeing them for the first time through the eyes of an Alpha.

We'd all grown up together, even Tobius to a certain extent. We'd suffered so much pain and loss, forged a bond between us that no one, be it human or wolf, could break, and now it felt like this was the end of the line.

It's not the end, Dean, Tobius said, suddenly. It's just the beginning.

Yeah. I knew things would change, but this was too much too soon and, champagne aside, my head was spinning a little. Tobius had effectively stepped down as Alpha, and would take on a more sedate role as the first of our respected Pack elders. Sammy was now the Pack Beta and body guard, and that was hard to fathom. In my mind, he was still just a kid, a pup, but I had no doubts that he would be superb for the job. He'd already proven himself time and time again, after all.

Ya see, we're still a relatively new and young Pack, with a lot to learn.

And I found it daunting. There was just so much to do, to plan, in such a short space of time.

Even the gradual transition from hunting with Sire, to hunting with Matthew and Logan just seemed so fast. A couple of years? It would soon go, and during that time Sammy and I would still be called away to fight ghosts, demons, strays, Type Ones that no doubt survived the battle and escaped, then return home to the pups and Tobius.

But that's the way our Pack was evolving.

It's what we do: Saving people, hunting things.

The family business.

Now…

Dean's sitting next to the now dead fire pit, elbows on knees.

"Sammy's just taking a shower," he tells the camera. "Then he's gonna lock up the cabin and we can be on our way."

He scratches the back of his neck.

"So that's pretty much it," says Dean. "Our journey in full, right from the night I was turned by Tobius." He smiles wistfully. "Ya know, it's been a real blast sharing all this with you. And it's helped Sammy and me come to terms with things, as in all the hard stuff, like the battles, the fear, the disappointments… and losing Cornelius. We've been through some life changing shit, year after year. Just when we think we've seen it all, something new comes along and changes the rules. But we've survived it all, and now we have a family of our own. "

He leans forward, conspiratorially. "Just so ya know, Matthew and Logan don't know about the adoption yet, so keep it to yourselves for now, huh? I wanna see their little faces when we tell 'em."

Dean looks up and grins. "You ready, Sammy?" then he explains to the camera. "As we told you during the last journal entry, the others went ahead to the Special Place…" there's a soft woof of disapproval from out of shot, and Dean corrects himself with a roll of the eyes. "Le Salle Meadows, I mean. We're now heading down to meet up with them. Apparently they got something special planned, and Marcus wants a word with us." He frowns and shudders. "Sure hope it's not some kind of arranged marriage between our Packs. Don't think I could handle his taste in women after what he told us about Tobius' fortieth birthday. Remember? Big Bertha with the huge thighs…"

The large red wolf trots into view and shoves his snout into Dean's neck. Nuzzling gently, the big softy grunts and snuffles, then takes a step back.

"Heya Sammy, just gimme a moment to change," Dean tells him.

Sam looks at the camera, pads quietly over, and sits back on his haunches. His head tilts to one side, tongue hanging out in a big wide grin.

Don't worry, he seems to tell the digital audience. I haven't forgotten about you…

His head dips forward and the last thing seen is his huge tongue descending on the lens.

"See ya later, alligators…" Dean is heard saying before the camera is shut off.

EPILOGUE

The screen flashes white, then Dean appears. He seems content and happy, his shoulders relaxed as though a huge weight had been lifted.

"Ok, so we're not quite finished. You wanna know what Marcus had to say, huh? I wouldn't leave you guys in the lurch like that.…"

One week later…

Sam and I were in for a surprise. It had just been the two of us travelling together after the huge drunken wolf party. The others had gone on ahead, while we finished off the journal. But it seemed there was more to report…

As we arrived at Le Salle Meadows, we were greeted by a guard of honour. Each wolf was in human form and wearing some kind of dark blue military dress uniform, decorated with a silver-type thread on the lapels and shoulders.

Even more bazaar, Sammy and I were given similar uniforms but in black and gold instead.

Surrounded by Lucas, Vicky, Castiel, Missouri and Dave, we were treated to hugs and backslaps, then Lucas grinned knowingly.

"Welcome to your Prime celebrations, Dean," he said with a small bow and laughed when he saw my face. I must have looked a little shell shocked. "Surely you didn't think you were going to get away with it? Come on. Everyone's waiting for you."

"I'll help you put these on," said Missouri with a gentle smile, and gestured to our uniforms. "You boys are gonna look so handsome…"

The uniform chafed, and the high collar felt a little too tight. Honestly? This wasn't really what I'd had in mind for my Prime celebrations. Had kind of hoped for another evening of drunken merriment, but I didn't have the heart to say anything.

Feeling dazed and confused, we were escorted alongside the lake, until we saw Tobius and Marcus in the distance. But they weren't alone.

For a start, Andy, Gerald, Josey and Janaya-Maria were present in bear form.

Andy waved a huge paw at us and briefly danced a little jig. Hey guys. Took you long enough to get here!

Enough with the dancing bear routine, you troublemaker! Josey told her son mock-sternly. This is supposed to be a solemn occasion.

For now, Gerald added, with a mischievous grin, and received a dig in the gut from a sharp, furry elbow. Ow!

Serves you right! His wife told him, fighting her own smile.

Andy puffed through his snout. Parents huh? Sooo embarrassing!

Janaya-Maria gave out a little noise of agreement and climbed up into her brother's arms. Poor little thing was probably bored shitless already, and we hadn't even got started with the Prime ceremony…

And it was indeed going to be a solemn and serious affair, because several hundred members of the Canadian Pack were present in the blue and silver uniforms. They were all gathered around a kind of altar or dais made from wood, probably cut from the local trees, and each wolf wore the black Canadian Pack motif over their hearts.

I noticed that Marcus wore the same blue and silver as the rest of his Pack, but Tobius was the only wolf wearing black and gold apart from us.

The Home Pack, of course, had their own uniform. Nothing. Not a stitch on them, but hey! Each to their own. To be honest I was kind of shocked that any non-lunars wore dress uniforms for such occasions. Gotta be that British devotion to pomp and ceremony.

Dean, these must be our pack colours, said Sam, sounding a little stunned and overawed.

Yuhuh, I answered, helplessly, not at all sure what else to say.

Even Tobius, a tall and commanding presence in his black and gold uniform, nevertheless appeared a little unnerved by it all.

There was some nervous chattering and whispering going on among the packs, but this soon died out as we approached the dais. Everyone watched us in absolute silence.

"Castiel, if you would be so kind as to pass me my sword," said Marcus, tonelessly and without preamble.

"Indeed brother," Castiel bowed his head, respectfully, marched to the dais, drew a large and hefty solid bronze broadsword off the top, and handed it over to his Alpha.

Ok. Now I was worried. They had us trussed up in these military style uniforms, with what I now recognised as the insignia of Her Majesty's commission on our shoulders. Our boots were spit and polished, shiny enough to see our faces in, and with matching peak caps, which we now held smartly under our arms... El Weirdo, or what?

We didn't know what was going on, but Sammy and I knelt when asked to, and bowed our heads respectfully.

Then I distantly felt the tap of the blade on each shoulder.

"With the power vested in me by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, I dub thee Lord of Anjou, named in honour of your Sire's birthplace, and expressed in honour of the service you and your brotherson have performed for the good of mankind."

I blinked in shock. What?

"Manners, Dean," Tobius murmured, quietly, eyes dancing with pride and amusement when I glanced up at him.

"Sorry," I replied, absently then watched as the same thing was done to Sam.

Sam's eyes were almost bugging out of his head, his mouth a big 'O' when the Alpha proclaimed him Lord of Rouen, in honour of his Grandfather's Duchy of Normandy.

These were honorary titles, only for use within the Pack walls or in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen, but we were still feeling blown away by it all.

I mean, wouldn't you?

But it became even more poignant when Marcus bade us to stand by announcing:

"Arise, Sir Dean and Sir Sam."

I thought Sammy was gonna faint.

To be honest, I wasn't far off either.

"You have also unselfishly served the hidden realm of non-lunars," Marcus continued and smiled softly. "You placed your own lives in absolute danger, even when expressly forbidden to. And for that, we cannot thank you enough."

Marcus leaned over, and whispered out the corner of his mouth. "Though I can't promise Tobius won't kick your arse." He shrugged, apologetically. "Tried my best for you though."

Sammy and I just grinned and shrugged, then Sam told him: Dude, already been there, done that and bought the damn tee-shirt.

I saw Castiel and Tobius both trying to smother their laughs, but quietened down when some important looking parchments were brought out by Lucas and Vicky, and I recognised them as the adoption certificates.

Two sad and forlorn pups trailed along behind Lucas, glancing around fearfully and generally looking lost and miserable.

Matthew and Logan.

They missed Cornelius like a parent, a brother, a limb. Poor kids.

But, when they saw us, the pups raced over, whimpering softly. As soon as Sam and I bent down, the youngsters jumped up at us, burying their snouts in our tunics. We gently ruffled their fur until they both sat back on their furry butts

Can we go home with you? Logan asked, forlornly, pawing at Sam's arm, tears in his puppy eyes, then realised where he was and tried to speak a little more politely. Only, someone said we can go home with you...

Matthew bumped against him. Dude, too obvious... chillax, ok?

Screw you, turd-face, I'm just asking...

I swear Tobius was on the verge of pissing himself with laughter. He turned away for a moment, but his shoulders were shaking with mirth.

Sam didn't hesitate. He gladly gathered the two little furballs into his arms and nuzzled them gently with his nose, allowing the two pups to lick his face briefly.

"You're coming home with us, for good," he confirmed when he pulled back and let them loose. "But we need you to be quiet right now, ok?

The pups sat obediently at our feet, watching and waiting, their little furry bodies quivering with happiness and excitement. They sure made an adorable team. The news that we were gonna take care of them from now on had lifted that veil of sadness a little, though we could tell they still missed Cornelius like crazy. But they were young, just babies really. They would come to live with it, in time.

"Right!" proclaimed Lucas with a secretive grin. "I have another surprise for you! I'd like to welcome a new member to the Home Pack, but as an honorific only. The man prefers his independence, after all, and he does have a business to run. Though, I think, his true loyalties will lie with the semi-nomads amongst us."

To our shock, Bobby Singer stepped forward, smiling faintly, as though worried about our response. It was easy to see the signs, though. Gruff and sleep deprived he might have been, probably anxious over whether or not we'd fully accept him, but it was obvious Bobby was now one of us.

Bobby Singer; non-lunar werewolf. Never thought I'd see the day, but somehow it actually made a lot of sense.

He looked younger, freer, tougher... like we'd never seen him before, yet he was still our Uncle Bobby.

The older hunter let his grin widen when he saw our astonished faces.

Sam raced over to the guy, enveloped him in a huge hug, and buried his nose in the man's neck.

Really? Sam snuffled. You're really with us now?

'Course I am, Bobby looked over at me. How could you think otherwise? Someone's gotta keep an eye on you idgits!

I just grinned right back at him, in full approval.

Sam later asked Pastor Jim if he intended the same, but he merely hugged us both tightly and said "That's not God's will for me. Mortality was the path he presented, and that's the one I shall take."

Gotta say: guy's braver than me. And one day, we shall have to bear his loss.

The ceremony wasn't finished, however. There was a little more to come...

Marcus, with a proud Tobius and Castiel watching, pinned a small black iron medal to each of our chests.

There was an additional metal tag them, with some kind of military service number engraved:

230873 Lilibet Windsor.

Hmm. Who the hell's this Lilibet?

When I turned it over, I found this:

Honi soit qui mal y pense

Sammy? What does this crap mean?

Sam leaned over my shoulder and gasped loudly.

Dude...

"'Spurned be the one who evil thinks'", Tobius murmured, sounding awestruck. "That's... well..." he gazed at me, eyes filled with pride, and whispered: "That's derived from the Order of the Garter."

No idea what the fuck that meant, so Sammy had to explain a few things.

"It's a personal message from the Queen," he whispered, trying to keep quiet and save my dignity. "That service number? 230873? That was Elizabeth II, during World War Two, dude. She trained and worked as a mechanic..."

I hadn't known that, but I probably shouldn't have been so surprised.

After all, look what her distant cousin turned into.

I shook myself and got ready for the rest of the ceremony, trying my hardest not to feel overwhelmed.

Huh. No offence, but these wolves sure do like their parade bullshit. Again, probably their English roots at work here. I mean, have you ever watched, say, the Trouping of the Colour? Queen's birthday? Royal weddings? Talk about a mind melt...

"You are family," the Canadian Pack Alpha announced. "And honorary members of this Pack. You'll always be welcome in Canada. Come what may."

And so it went on for, like, another two hours, until Lucas declared it over by announcing:

"Right! Are we done now?" He glanced at Marcus for confirmation, received a fondly look of exasperation in return and added: "Good. Let's all go get pisshed!"

And the drunken merriment I had hoped for began in earnest.

Christ! What a day!

Sammy and I are now fucking Lords! How cool is that, exactly?

I glanced down at the medal pinned to my chest. It perfectly matched the one Sire was wearing on his tunic.

Sam nudged me. Down at our feet sat the two pups, Matthew and Logan, looking far happier than they had been when we first arrived.

Maybe one day we'll have our own Pack emblem, but right now?

We were happy with what we had.

Tobius stood at his brothers' side, and we took a long hard look at the original emblem on Sire's chest.

Finally, we understood its purpose. It wasn't referring to individual wolves.

It referred to group effort,

Teamwork, Family, Pack.

Love, Honour, Protection.

Three wolves; still howling at the moon.

The End…

Or is it...?

The security camera pans out slightly, showing the digital audience that not only is this a maximum security electronic cell, but the sigils and various devils traps embedded in the walls mean business.

Crowley glares at something on his mobile phone.

"So this is Dean's Prime?" he snarls. "Nice. He gets a free Mickey Mouse title, along with his bastard son, and they make him Alpha? All given to him on a silver plate?"

He quickly types out a text message to the sender of the video.

'keep an i on them til I can get out of here'

There's a bleep.

'when will that b?'

Crowley eyes the response angrily.

"I don't bloody know, but soon!" He yells in a rage, throws the mobile across his cell, and paces up and down like a caged… well, wolf.

Nostrils flaring wider than the Impala's wheel arches, Crowley stalks to the bars of his dingy cell and peers through, huffing and snorting louder than an angry bull.

"Soon," he whispers to himself, cherry red eyes glowing bright with madness. "Oh so very fucking soon..."


That's it guys. It's finally over and you can sigh in relief.

Also, just for your interest and reference, you can actually Google that service number and find that it does indeed belong to HRH Queen Elizabeth II, under her service name during WWII.

Many thanks for your wonderful and, at times, protective support for this story.

I do hope to visit this 'verse again, but I can't make any promises as to when.

In the mean time Hunter of the Shadows Book One is being published by Media West fanzine, and I have been informed that it will be nominated for the Fan Q Awards for Best Supernatural Story.

I'm so excited about that, so come on everyone! Let's see our favourite werewolves win this!

Love and big Sammy, Dean, and Tobius hugs,

from ST XXX.