Disclaimer: I do not own either Young Justice or its related characters. Such are the property of DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment and Cartoon Network. I'm just borrowing them for some non-profit entertainment.
Chapter One: A Chance Encounter
Wolf did not mind water.
It was baths he took issue with.
More specifically the soap. The evil, foamy, itchy soap.
The large cobra-venom enhanced predator growled hostilely when he realized his Alpha was leading him into shower room designated for the male members of the Pack. It was a horrible place of smooth cold stone squares called 'tile' that felt slippery under the pads of his paws. Each wall was lined with a row of vile metal heads that made it rain hot and fill the room with steam, which obscured his vision, played tricks on his nose and made the stone squares all the more slippery to walk on.
But all that was not what bothered Wolf. No. What bothered him was the bottled his Alpha held in his hand. A thick transparent poison called 'doggie shampoo'. It was this thing, this vile, repugnant thing that made the Wolf loath the shower room.
"C'mon, boy, its not that bad." His Alpha called from beneath the water's stream. His crystal-blue eyes fixed on Wolf's own golden orbs and the predator knew he was going to give in. To submit to the Alpha was the only feasible option. But not yet. This was not the first time his Alpha had tried to give him a 'bath' and it would not be the last. Wolf's reluctance and Alpha's cajoling had become a sort of ritual between them. "Look, I'll do it and then you'll that there's nothing to be afraid of."
Wolf watched as Alpha squeezed a bit of 'doggie shampoo' from the bottle into his hand and then proceeded to lather it into the patch of ebony fur upon his head. True, the vile soap did not bother Alpha, but then, very little short of a building falling on him bothered Alpha. Still, it was amusing to watch and Wolf's lips curled upwards, displaying his sharp teeth in his closest approximation of the expression the two-legged members of the Pack called 'a smile'. His 'smile' didn't seem to have the same effect as the two-legged smiles, however, as everyone always seemed to think he was about to attack something when he did it.
Upon seeing the Wolf's teeth bared at him, Alpha planted his feet, rested one reprimanding fist on his hip and stared down at the cobra-venom enhanced predator. It was then that Wolf gave in and offered his submission. Lowering his eyes from Alpha's stern gaze he slunk into the shower room and, stopping just outside the stream of warm rain from the metal head, he laid on his back, exposing his belly to Alpha. It was supposed to be the posture of submission, rendering yourself completely vulnerable and trusting the other male not to gut you with his fangs of claws. But the two-leggers always seemed to think that it meant he wanted pets and scratchies on his belly. (Not that Wolf was complaining about this misconception or anything.)
Alpha seemed to be no exception to this. He bent down and scratched the Wolf's belly, hitting a very nice spot that sent one of his hind legs into spasms. "That's a good boy."
After the pets were over Wolf sat obediently and allowed Alpha to work the hateful soap into his fur, working it into his back, down all four of his legs on his head (careful not to get the abhorrent stuff in his eyes). Finally, after Wolf was completely covered in the stuff, Alpha began to rinse it all out again. He tried to help by shaking furiously, spraying soap, fur, and whatever else the soap was taking off of him to the four corners of the shower room. It left discolored specks on the otherwise clean white squares but Wolf didn't care. The important thing was to get the abhorrent soap off of him. That was what mattered.
Finally, after he was completely rinsed and soap free, Wolf trotted out of the shower room without waiting for Alpha's approval. In the past when he had tried to escape from these 'baths' before all the soap was gone Alpha would come after his, stalking through the Den's corridors without his fake fur the two-leggers called 'clothing'. He would grab Wolf and hoist him up over his shoulders and carry him back to the 'bath' like a disobedient pup. Now Wolf understood that if he waited a few extra minuets and endured it rather than trying to run the ordeal was over much quicker and he did not have to go through it for another month (or until he returned to the Den dirty again, he however, had a much different opinion of what 'dirty' was than Alpha or the rest of the Pack seemed to have).
He shook off again in the locker rooms, spattering the lockers with yet more droplets of water before Alpha appeared beside him and dropped a clean white towel over his back. After being worked over with the towel, Wolf shook again and Alpha seemed to give-up, retreating back into the shower room to rinse off the thin layer of white wolf fur that now covered his naked flesh.
Wolf trotted out of the locker rooms.
He sneezed at the air in the corridor, which seemed so much cooler and dryer after being in the shower room. But the thought quickly left his mind when he registered the scent of Alpha's mate prepared a kill in the kitchen. Wolf did not generally approve of applying heat to meat, but the two-legged members of the Pack seemed to insist that it was a necessity and who was he to argue? But, if Alpha-female was still dressing the kill she might give him some of the fat or skin she pulled off. It would be a wonderful treat after the ordeal he just had to endure.
The Pack was assembled in the Den's common room. They lounged on the couch or in chairs, their eyes transfixed by the box that made lights and sounds. Wolf did not understand the two-leggers' fascination with the thing. Alpha's mate was just opening the oven door to check the kill she was heating in it, standing back and using her telekinetic abilities rather than her paws. The Alpha's mate could not abide extreme heat.
Wolf paused and waited just outside of the kitchen, Alpha-female did not approve of him being in the kitchen. He was big and he was bulky and the kitchen was full of knives and fire and other such dangerous things. So, he sat patiently and waited to be noticed.
It was not Alpha's mate whom noticed him first, but rather the newest member of the Pack, the raven-furred female called Zatanna. She turned around at the clack of his paws on the linoleum floor and smiled at him from over the back of the couch. "Wolf, did you escape from your bath?"
At that simple query everyone else suddenly snapped to attention. The red-furred speedster, Wally, raised his head and called down the corridor, "Supey, you know what we like to see when you come tromping after Wolf: pants! We like to see you in pants!"
"What!" Zatanna blinked in alarm. She was still new to the Pack and to the Den, and had not been present in the early days when Alpha would hunt him down without putting on his fake-fur.
"He hasn't done that in a while. Either of them." Alpha-female assured her. She turned her attention to Wolf and gave him an affectionate pat on the head. "Would you like a treat?"
Wolf gave a very dog-like yip of affirmative, his jaws parting slightly and his tongue lolling out expectantly. Meat. Wonderful, glorious, meat. Fresh, juicy, tender, sweet, meat. Meat that he didn't have to hunt, chase down, corner and kill himself. Meat that was just handed to him. Truly, it was a wonderful thing to be a member of this Pack.
"Here ya go." She smiled and held out something that was decidedly not meat. He sniffed the thing and detected rice, corn starch, food dye and then just a few hints of lamb and chicken. He didn't know what this thing was, be it was not meat and he did not want it. Wolf gave a snort of disapproval. "Don't you want a biscuit?"
No, he did not want a biscuit. Whatever the hell that was. He wanted the bits that she usually pulled off the meat she served to Alpha and the rest of the Pack. The fats and the skins, sometimes the gizzards and other such innards. He wanted meat, not this cake of corn starch and rice that wasn't even shaped like a real bone!
It was then that Alpha entered, pulling his fake-fur with its bright red symbol over his still damp head. Alpha would fix this.
"Were you talking to me a second ago?" He asked the red-furred speedster. But before Wally had a chance to respond Wolf grabbed his attention, taking the offending 'biscuit' from Alpha-female's hand and trotting over to drop corn starch cake at Alpha's commando-booted paws. He looked down at the thing and, seeing what it was, patted Wolf on the head, saying, "No thanks, boy, that's yours."
Wolf was not pleased at Alpha's lack of comprehension that he did not want the thing. He left it where it had dropped and trotted back to wait just outside of the kitchen. Maybe if he was lucky, Alpha-female would drop something more meat-like on the floor.
"Do you know anyone else who answers to the name 'Supey' and likes to walk around wet, soapy and naked?" Wally shot back, seeming not to noticed Wolf at all.
Alpha made a face of disapproval and growled, "I don't like to do that, it just sort of happened. Besides, I haven't done that in months."
"A fact we are all very thankful for." Nodded the two-legged fish.
Wolf wasn't really listening to them; he was just paying enough attention to know if anyone mentioned him. Aside from that, his attention was fixed upon the kitchen.
"I didn't mind so much." Alpha-female floated out of the kitchen to wrap her arms around Alpha and the two shared a two-legger mating ritual called a 'kiss'. When their lips parted again she continued, "But it was highly inappropriate. Especially now that Zatanna's living here too."
With Alpha-female now out of the kitchen, Wolf took this as his opportunity. There was nothing of interest on the open counters, just some cut vegetables all mixed together in something the two-leggers called a 'salad', toasted bread that had been dressed with butter and garlic (evil garlic!) and a selection of dressings for the salad. Not much of interest there. The good food –the meat- was still trapped in the oven where he could not get to it. Drat!
But wait! What was that he smelled?
Wolf followed his nose to the kitchen garbage and there, yes, there was where he found what he had originally come looking for. Skin! Chicken skin, fat, gizzards! And a few bones, too. It was all there resting in the plastic bin amid a bed of styrofoam and other such non-recyclable materials. Happily, the Wolf pawed at the trashcan until it tipped over, spilling its wonderful bounty all over the kitchen floor.
Of course, the crash drew the attention of the whole Pack. The Alpha-pair rushed forward, Alpha grabbed him by the snout, working the fingers of his paw between the Wolf's teeth to force his jaw open.
"Did he get any bones?" Asked Alpha-female.
"No." Alpha answered her, relieved. He turned Wolf's head to face him. "Bad!" He said, voice vibrating with authority. "Bad, Wolf."
The cobra-venom enhanced wolf lowered his head in submission. He didn't understand what he'd done wrong, but it seemed to have upset both Alpha and his mate.
"Go outside." Alpha ordered and Wolf complied, slinking out of the common room in shame.
Krypto did not like water.
That wasn't quite accurate. He liked to drink water, he did not like to get wet.
But getting wet was exactly what his immediate future seemed to hold for him. The Superdog whined pleadingly, gazing up at his Master with his big bright crystal-blue eyes. But Master seemed not to noticed his desperately pleading puppy-dog eyes as he unbuckled Krypto's bright yellow collar and removed his short red cape. Master set these beside the basin of lukewarm water he had prepared for the Superdog's bath.
"C'mon, boy." Master tapped the side of the basin, expecting him to hop right in. Honestly, had the last few years taught him nothing? Two-leggers could be so dense sometimes. Krypto was not going to get in that tub of water of his own volition. That was that. "Alright then, have it your way."
With a sigh, Master grabbed Krypto by the scruff of the neck with one hand and then the skin of his rump with the other hand and hefted the Superdog into the basin of water.
"There now." Master cooed. "Was that so bad?"
Master began trickling water over Krypto's not-quite-white-at-the-moment fur, working the moister all the way down to his skin with the long toes of his paws the two-leggers called 'fingers'.
Krypto shook violently the moment Master's hands left his body, spraying drops of water in all directions, covering the pure white walls of the Fortress' bathroom with tiny brown speckles. Master sighed again.
"How about some soap?" He reached for a bottle of doggie-shampoo.
No! Not soap! If there was anything worse than water it was water mixed with soap! Krypto gave an "Arff!" of disapproval and jumped out of the basin, sending a small cascade of water over the immaculate white floor as he did so.
"Woah there!" Master tried to grab at him to force the Superdog back into the basin but he avoided the Superman. He hated disobeying his Master, but Krypto hated being wet and covered in soap even more. He was usually a very obedient dog, but in this one respect he felt he had the right to misbehave.
Krypto made a super-speed B-line for the bathroom door and, pressing the door-release with his nose, flew out into the corridor before it had even opened all the way. Master chased after him, of course. But Krypto was smaller than him and he wasn't wearing his cape, Master was. Krypto had less wind-resistance and less drag at the moment and he quickly put some distance between himself and his Master in the narrow hallways of the Fortress of Solitude.
Of course, he couldn't stay in the Fortress. If he planned to evade his Master and escape the dreaded bath then he could not stay in these close quarters. He needed to get out and away.
Krypto took the long way out of the Fortress, through the back entrance where Bat-person liked to park his flying machine when he visited. The exit was big and wide but hidden by a sheet of thick blue ice that hung over it for several feet. It was this that the Superdog escaped through, turning south away from the Arctic.
Usually, when he left the Fortress, he went to Ma and Pa's farm in Kansas. The idea of rolling in that rich brown mid-western dirt was very appealing to the Superdog. But Ma and Pa would probably just call Master and snitch on him if he did. That was what happened the last time he escaped from a bath. Maybe he could go to Gotham and play with Ace? But no… Bat-person was scary; to spite the fact that he had no powers. And besides, Krypto had the Bat-person didn't like him very much.
So, the Superdog continued to speed southward over the Eastern Seaboard, trying to put as much distance between himself and his Master (but more importantly, the bath his Master was trying to give him) as he possibly could.
Wolf stalked the slopes of Mt. Justice.
Well, fine then!
If they weren't going to let him have the bits of meat that they had clearly discarded that was just fine!
He could get his own meat. That was what he used to do before anyway. Before he had been caught by the Brain and given his heightened intelligence and strength, before he and his pack had been so easily dominated by Alpha, before he had joined Alpha's pack… he used to hunt all the time! Sure, it had been a while since he'd actually done it. Living with Alpha he just hadn't had the need. But he could still do it.
Krypto landed on a bit of coast that seemed slightly familiar.
He had only been here once, maybe twice, but the Superdog had a near perfect memory and he was sure that this had once been the territory of Master's friends. They hadn't used it in a long time, though, so Master probably wouldn't look for him here. The Superdog put his nose to the ground, searching for something he'd like to roll in. After all, what was the point of escaping a bath if he didn't get to roll in anything afterwards?
However, all thoughts of happily rolling in dirt, or grass, or pine-needles quickly vanished when he caught another scent. Something that could never have occurred naturally. Something that did not belong in a territory belonging to Master's friends.
It smelled like Venom, that stuff that made Bat-person's enemy, Bane, so powerful. But there was something else mixed in with it too, something Krypto hadn't ever smelled before and underneath it all was the scent of a wolf –a predator.
The Superdog's hackles rose in preparation for the inevitable fight.
Wolf heard something land not far from where he'd been lurking and he raised his nose to sniff their air. A completely new scent drifted to greet him, carried by a light evening breeze. It smelled vaguely of house-dog, but also carried currents of power, ice, arctic air, and… doggie shampoo! That most hated substance!
Wolf's hackles rose at the recognition of the abhorrent scent. Doggie shampoo had no place here on his mountain. Inside the Den, fine. But not out here. Out here in nature was sacred!
Dog and Wolf came face to face within a small clearing not far from the entrance to the Den.
The two glared at each other.
Wolf, with his ears drawn back, laying flat against his head. Teeth bared in a frothy growling snarl that usually frightened most creatures, two-legged and four-legged alike.
Krypto's teeth were also bared in a snarl, his tail up, back arched and fur standing on end.
Neither seemed willing to back down to the other. Both seemed ready and willing to let the battle be joined. All they needed was a spark.
They didn't get one, however.
At that moment, the tense atmosphere was cut (like a knife) by a human (or at least human-like) voice calling, "Wolf? You can come back in now. We're all sitting down to dinner and I cut some chicken for you."
Meat! Alpha had intended to give him meat after all. The Wolf was cheered.
Krypto recognized that voice. That was Master's voice, only… it sounded younger. Like what Master had sounded like when he was still a puppy. Maybe Master had been de-aged in the time since he escaped his bath? Or maybe Master from the past had accidentally come to the future? It wouldn't be the first time (stupid League of Superheroes and their stupid rings).
But the creature that entered their small clearing was not Master. He looked like Master and he sounded like Master, but his scent was different. It was a mix between Master's scent and the scent of… Lex Luthor! Krypto was struck dumb at the recognition of that second element to this puppy's scent. It was a perfectly even blend, and smelled so natural, almost as if… almost as if Master and Luthor had had a puppy together and this was that puppy. Mater had never said anything to indicate that he had a puppy. What a pleasant surprise. If Krypto had known sooner he would have been happy to play with the puppy for Master.
The Superdog gave a happy yip and dashed to the Master-Luthor puppy, hopping around him in a circle and barking excitedly.
"Okay…?" Alpha looked at the dog that was hopping around him like an idiot, making more noise in less than a minuet than Wolf had ever made in his entire life.
How undignified. Wolf would never be so obnoxious. He glared at the new dog. Alpha was going to take him back to the Den with them wasn't he. Alpha had a propensity for collecting strays and trying to integrate them into the Pack. He had been a stray. Sphere had been a stray. …and now this jumping, barking idiot.
Then Alpha's eyes turned to Wolf, commanding his attention. "Who's your friend, boy?" Alpha caught the hopping idiot, placing a calming hand on his head to still him. He knelt down to examine the new dog, noting that he wore no collar or tags. "Well, it doesn't look like you belong to anyone, but you look to well fed to be homeless. How'd you get all the way up here?"
"Arf!" Krypto decided that while this puppy might be half Luthor he was just as friendly and nice as Master. Krypto had a sixth sense about people and he instantly liked Master's puppy very much and he showed him as much by licking his face enthusiastically.
"Well, you seem to like me well enough." Said the puppy. "How about I take you in for tonight and tomorrow we'll find your family. How does that sound?"
"Arf!" Krypto panted happily.
Wolf did not seem quite as enthused.
Alpha lead them both to the Den where the new dog was introduced to the rest of the Pack. "Hey guys, look what Wolf found."
The Robin was the first member of the Pack to react. He paused upon seeing the white furred house-dog and asked, "Is that…?" But his question trailed off without being finished and no one else seemed to notice.
"Great." The red-furred speedster scoffed. "Now your strays are bringing home strays."