I do not own these characters, but anyone who doesn't ship them isn't watching closely enough.
So Red had somehow managed to find a boyfriend. One who lived in the woods and didn't ask where she disappeared to. That was a good thing, right? He was human, and around her age. Much better for her than an old wolf. Not that he wanted her or anything like that. They were just friends. Team-mates. Co-workers. It wasn't as if she'd grown into a beautiful young lady while he was busy with his beards or anything like that. The human boy, Jack, had a positive influence on her. He would find things to make her laugh in ways that Wolf never could. Not that he wanted to be on the receiving side of them. He absolutely did not try extra hard when she was around, hoping to get just one and instead receiving a hard glare.
Granny, Twtchy, Nicky Flippers, even Kirk approved of Jack, but Wolf didn't trust him. Not with Red. He found that strange. He had no real reason to dislike the guy. He was nice and funny and he had great taste in movies and music. He was able to defend himself. He worked for the candlestick maker. He was well read, he was out spoken, he was even planning on going to college. There wasn't a thing wrong with him. He even smelled friendly. So what was that anger building up inside of him whenever he saw them together?
"You're jealous." Granny had told him.
"Of what?" He'd replied.
"You mean of who, Wolf."
He wasn't jealous. Of anyone or anything. He was fine. He just didn't like this new guy swooping in and stealing the girl he might have been sort of thinking about making a move on. Not that she was that girl for him, but it was okay to dislike that guy, right.?
He should be happy. He should be just as happy for her as everyone else. He should be jokingly asking her for details on all her dates and he should give her dating advice, as an older friend with more experience. He shouldn't be so happy to be consoling her at 3 A.M. because Jack is out of town and she can't sleep. He shouldn't be delighted and count that as a strike against Mister Perfect. So he pretends. He asks about her date, and he listens to her gush about how wonderful it was like the obedient puppy he is. He gives her insightful advice, even though every part of him is screaming for him to break them up. He does his best not to growl when Jack takes her out of the woods to meet his family. He tries to pretend that he isn't overjoyed when she gets called back for a mission. And so what if he's pretending? It's just another mask. Disguises are something he's good at. One of the only things he's good at, and that doesn't depress him one bit. So what if he hates having to pretend for his friends? It's not like he was close to her anyway. It's not like she was special to him.
He hates Jack.
He knows that he hates Jack when Red happily announces that she thinks he's going to propose. He feels sick. He feels like Jack has stolen something important from him. Like there's a rift tearing. He feels like a broken toy. And there's no reason for him to be so sad, so broken, because the people around him are cheering and happy, and shouldn't he be too? He should share his friend's joy. So he leaves to share in said delight at home.
And if at some point during the night, he ends up clutching a bottle of liquor and crying himself to sleep – with manly tears, mind you – that's his business. It's not like she – er, anyone cares, right? He's grown. He can do what he wants. It doesn't matter.
And maybe she does come through the door, long after he's stopped wishing that he'd never seen alcohol before. And maybe he is a little bit happy that she's crying, because that means that Jack is losing again. Except when she opens her mouth to tell him why, it turns out that Jack wasn't losing. Jack quit. Jack quit and left and ran off with some random blonde from Ohio. And instead of the pure delight he thought he would feel, he just wants to wrap his arms around her and console her. So he does. Friends do this, right? Friends hold each other when they cry.
So what if she's still talking about Jack for weeks. He was important to her, as much as it hurt to admit. But she was young, and young love only lasted for so long. He resolves to wait until she's older to stop pretending, even if he isn't sure what will happen.
A week later, he manages to realize he's in love and confess in the same day. And yes, Red does kiss him back. His tail was not wagging.
Hooray for things attacking my mind, being longer than they were supposed to be, and being chucked at the web for their trouble! Let's see what I've won!
Aaaand it's Reviews from the nice readers.