This is the last chapter for this particular story, it's kinda long, but I didn't think there was a good place to break it in two, so enjoy! Since this got such an enthusiastic response, I am busy working on the sequel.
Once again I need to thank my Betas, Maddsgirl75, ReeseisLAVAhot and SassyJ for all their help and their excellent suggestions. They really helped me improve this story! A shout out to kspretenderfan for listening to me whine. And thanks to all the folks who left me reviews and corresponded with me. I've made some good friends on this site!
About a week later, after Taylor had gone to bed, John sat Joss down for the talk he had been putting off. He had been dreading this talk. Talking wasn't his strength, but he knew he had put it off long enough. It was almost a full moon, Joss would be experiencing her first change soon, and it was time to find out if she wanted to run with him.
Joss had waited patiently for John to broach the topic. She had a feeling that forcing him to talk before he was ready would be a disaster; they both needed some time to sort through their feelings. This discussion would be too important to their future to rush. Joss was ready, now it seemed John was too.
"Joss, it's nearly a full moon, we need to talk."
Joss nodded, "I think I'm feeling the full moon. I feel, I dunno, strong, eager."
John nodded. "That's the Wolf starting to come out. You'll feel like that every time the full moon approaches. But we have other things we need to discuss."
"Like, do you want to be a member of my pack? Do you want to run with me?"
"John, of course I do. I never considered any other alternative."
John held her face in his hands. "I didn't turn you to obligate you, I turned you to save your life. You do not have to run with my pack, there are other packs, and you don't have to run with any pack at all. You can choose to not change at all during the full moon."
"John, I know all this. I want to be with you."
Joss heard John's sharp intake of breath. "Really? You want to run with my pack?"
"I want to be with YOU." Joss repeated, looking him straight in the eye. And then she waited for John to absorb the implications of that statement
John stared into her eyes, afraid to believe what he had just heard. "Joss…" he could not speak.
Joss smiled up at him, letting her love for him shine in her eyes. "John, I love you. These past few weeks, having you around, having you care for me while I was hurt, seeing how you are with Taylor, have opened my eyes. I've been fighting my feelings for you for so long, and I'm done. I want you; I want you in my life, in my home, in my bed. Forever." She paused and looked down, afraid to see his reaction. "I can only hope you want me the same way."
John placed a finger under her chin and forced her to look up at him. "Joss, are you sure? You know what I am, what awful things I've done."
"I also know that you've saved my life several times, saved Taylor's life, and saved the lives of so many people since I've known you. I know you have a good heart, even if you lost your way for a while. I know you, and I love you."
John pressed his forehead to hers, overwhelmed for a minute. He had wanted Joss almost from the minute he saw her that first time in the precinct, but he had never dared think she would someday return his feelings. She was a good person, and he was the kind of person good people should run screaming from.
"Joss, do you remember the night you first found out that I was Wolf? Do you remember how you asked me if I had a mate?"
Joss nodded and looked a bit embarrassed. "The question just popped out."
"I should have asked you then. Joss, will you be my mate?"
"Yes, John, I will. Nothing would make me happier."
John scooped her up in his arms and carried her into the bedroom, nuzzling her neck and murmuring, "My mate, my mate". This had a surprising affect on Joss, every nerve ending was on fire, and her head dropped back and she moaned.
He laid her gently on the bed. "Do you feel it?" He asked in that same gentle tone.
"Oh God, yes. But I don't understand what's happening," Joss gasped.
"We're imprinting as mates on each other," John purred as he crawled onto the bed next to her. "Follow my lead, my love." He paused. "Last chance to turn back. If you don't want to do this, we can stop right now."
For her answer, Joss rolled over to him and nuzzled him the same way he had just done to her, keeping her voice low and gentle she repeated, "My mate, my mate." just as John had said to her. She was rewarded with his moan. "That's it, that's right. My Joss."
They began exploring each other, touching, tasting, feeling. Joss swore John's fingers left burn marks on her hyper-sensitive skin everywhere he touched her. She was panting like a dog, almost gasping for air. It was almost too much for her. She was beginning to think she was going to pass out from the sheer pleasure of it all.
Wolves are very sensuous and tactile creatures. All the touching and talking was creating a strong bond between them, and Joss could almost physically feel that bond forming in her heart and she wanted more. She wanted John so bonded to her that he would never even think of leaving her or touching another.
John wanted this, he wanted her. He wanted to be in her, to be surrounded by her, to possess her and be possessed by her. Letting go of control was hard for John, when he did people tended to die, but tonight he found it easy. He was actually eager to surrender himself completely. To his joy, he found Joss every bit as eager to surrender herself to him.
The outside world ceased to exist. There was no Finch, no numbers, even Taylor went away briefly and for a while two people, who had closed off their hearts after they had each loved and lost, finally let go of the hurt and let themselves love and be loved again.
Neither one remembered taking their clothes off. Neither one really remembered the details of that night. They only remember how they felt. John did remember how it felt to finally bury himself in her, and Joss remembered how it felt to welcome him in. To them both, it just felt right.
John began thrusting into her wildly, claiming her as his own. Joss cried his name, and he called hers. He leaned down and bit her shoulder until he tasted blood, Joss following his lead, and bit him on his shoulder at the same time. He kept thrusting until they climaxed together.
He lay on top of her for a minute and then rolled off, pulling her over to his side. She snuggled up to him, placing her head on his chest like she had for the last several weeks. He gently touched the bite mark on her shoulder. "You're marked now. You're mine."
She touched the corresponding mark on his shoulder. "And, if I understand you correctly, this means that you're mine."
John smiled at her. "Yes, that's what it means." He stroked her hair. "We are a bonded pair now. The bond is tough to break, not impossible, but very, very hard."
"In other words, you're stuck with me." She smiled up at him
"Joss," John said, his voice rough, "I have dreamed of this. There is no one else I would rather be stuck with."
John and Joss were awakened by John's ringing phone the next morning.
He gave her a quick kiss and then picked up his phone. "Yes Finch. …I'll be there in an hour…Yes, I'll tell her." He sighed, "There's a new number, and Finch says he's sorry to interrupt."
"You had better get going then, and tell him that I understand," Joss said, trying not to pout.
John kissed her again. "I'll be back tonight, it's the first night of a full moon and you have morphing practice."
Throughout the day, Joss constantly felt John's presence, even though he was not there with her physically. She knew to the minute when he wrapped up the case because she felt that wave of satisfaction that washed over him when he knee-capped the hit man who had been hired to kill the number, and when the number was safely in the car on his way to the airport to catch a flight home. It was like his ghost was there with her constantly, giving new meaning to his words; "You are not alone."
She wondered if he felt her excitement when she realized he was on his way home to her. Judging by the enthusiastic greeting he gave her; he did feel it.
"Did you feel it today? The bond?" John asked her.
She nodded. "I felt you. I knew roughly where you were, what you were doing."
"I felt it too. I like having you with me."
He held her close for a few minutes. Then he stepped back and smiled at her. "Ready for morphing practice? I'm presenting you as my mate, as the Alpha Female, tomorrow night. You need to know how to morph and you will need to run with the pack."
"OK, what do I do?" Joss said eagerly.
"First take off your clothes. You can morph with them on, but then the Wolf has to get out of them, and that often means you have to destroy them."
John and Joss took their clothes off. John morphed back and forth a few times while Joss watched so she would have a visual reference to focus on for her own change. John's change was fast, but if Joss looked closely she could see his body change shape smoothly into the Wolf.
"You won't be that fast, not at first." John explained. "You feel the air moving around you and you will feel a tingle as your body physically shifts. It doesn't hurt, but it will feel a bit odd. Just focus on what you saw me do. Close your eyes if it helps you concentrate."
Joss nodded and closed her eyes, concentrating on changing. She felt a breeze on her face and her body tingled like a small shock of electricity ran through it. It was not an unpleasant feeling, but it did feel weird to her. A few minutes later she heard John say; "That's good!" Slowly she opened her eyes, looked down, and she saw the front legs and paws of a black Wolf.
She looked up at John as he kneeled in front of her and reached out to scratch her behind her ears. She sighed and leaned into his hand, that felt so good! She resolved to scratch Bear's ears more often. John was smiling with obvious pride at his mate. "You're every bit as beautiful as a Wolf as you are a woman," he said softly. "Come, let me show you."
He led her into the bedroom where the full length mirror leaned against one wall. Joss moved tentatively for the first few steps since she was not used to walking on all fours, but she caught on quickly.
She reached the mirror and looked at herself as a Wolf for the first time. She was covered in thick glossy black fur with bright, deep brown eyes. She moved around so she could view herself from several different angles in the mirror while John watched her with pride and some amusement. He morphed into Wolf form and gently nuzzled her, then ran his tongue down her muzzle. It felt incredibly sensuous to Joss and she nuzzled him back.
John morphed back to human form. "Now do the process in reverse, focus on returning to your human form." Joss closed her eyes and felt the breeze against her face again and the tingle in her body. A couple of minutes later she opened her eyes to see that she was back to being human.
John leaned over and kissed her. "Good, now get your clothes on, we are going over to the park and you can practice running around as a Wolf. I can't have the Alpha Female doing a face plant during a pack run!" He teased her gently.
They walked to the park around the corner and ducked into a thick stand of bushes well off the path. They put their clothes into the bag they had brought with them and both morphed into Wolf form. Joss started off walking, then moved up to a trot when she felt more comfortable. Finally, she started running. It felt amazing to feel the power of the Wolf as she ran; she felt totally wild and totally free!
But her elation was short lived as her four feet got tangled up together and she went down hard with a little yelp of surprise. Her mate was instantly at her side, checking her for injuries. Shame faced, she shook it off, the only damage was to her pride and she swore John smirked at her. She got up, stretched, and started running again. This time she was incident free and after a few minutes, she cheerfully pounced on her mate. John smiled, his tongue lolling out of his mouth in a wolfly laugh as he rolled with her on the grass.
Joss felt so alive, it was bit intoxicating. She raced around joyfully and even chased a squirrel up a tree while John watched indulgently. He finally herded her back to the bushes where they had left their clothes.
"I take it you enjoyed that?" John said with a chuckle as he morphed back to human.
Joss threw her arms around her mate. "You never told me it was so fun to be a Wolf!"
John pulled her over for a long sweet kiss. "Let's get back to the apartment for some more fun." He said in a husky voice.
The next night, Joss and Taylor stood between Dr. Cho and Fusco as the pack gathered in a semicircle around their Alpha. Joss looked around, besides Lionel and Dr. Mike, she recognized Lassen and a few other staff members from the clinic where she had recuperated from her wounds. She also noticed a security camera swiveling around to focus on them, and smiled briefly up into the camera to let Finch know she was happy he was there too.
There was anticipation in the air since the entire pack understood that a big announcement was on the agenda, and quite a few of them had figured out what it was. Several women were glaring openly at Joss, but Lionel had prepared her for the fact that there were a few female pack members who were not going to be happy about Alpha's new mate and she was able to ignore them.
It helped with her confidence that Joss was dressed to kill tonight. Apparently the presentation of a new Alpha was a very big deal in Wolf culture and John made sure his mate was properly attired. She was wearing a deep red tank dress that hugged every curve without being too tight. It also showed the bonding scar from John's bite on her shoulder. Her hair and make-up were perfect and she wore a lovely gold necklace and earring set that John had given her in honor of the occasion. Stilettos showed off her gorgeous legs. When Lionel and Taylor had seen her, their jaws literally dropped.
"Damn, Carter, I had no idea you were hiding all that under those pant suits," Fusco had chuckled.
But it was currently John that was the center of attention. He stood quietly in the center of the semi-circle, wearing the dark blue suit that Joss had picked out, projecting an air of quiet authority, watching his pack assemble. Joss saw his eyes linger on the women who were glaring at her and his lip twitched in the smallest of snarls, and then he controlled his expression again. Joss caught his eye and gave him a smile. He returned it, his amazing eyes letting her know how happy he was to be announcing their mating.
"I have an announcement to make, as many of you already know," John started, as the pack quieted down. "I have taken a mate!" John paused and held out his hand to Joss. Joss, aware that every eye was on her, held her head high, walked regally over to John, and took his hand. John lifted her hand to his mouth and kissed it lovingly with his eyes locked onto her face. A murmur of approval ran through the pack. John pulled Joss close and slipped an arm around her, holding her close to his side. "This is my mate, Jocelyn. We have already formed the pair bond. Treat her with the same respect you would treat me. I will consider any disrespect shown her to be disrespect to me as well." Reese threw a meaningful glance at the women who had been glaring at Joss earlier and they looked sheepish. No one wanted to be on the bad side of the Alpha.
"And this is my cub, my son, Taylor." John paused while Taylor walked over and stood next to John. "He is part of the pack now, too." A couple of the teenaged girls in the pack giggled and Taylor threw them a wink. John repressed a laugh. "I think he will fit in just fine."
Then the pack pressed forward, and everyone had their turn congratulating John and Joss. Taylor was snagged by the younger set and they went off to one side to get acquainted. Joss spent the next hour meeting her new pack, learning names and generally socializing.
After everyone in the pack had a chance to meet the new Alpha Female, Dr. Mike called out, "I think it's time for a run, Alpha!" John smiled and nodded. "Let's do it." The non-Wolf members of the pack left to go to a nearby diner to continue their socializing while the Wolves melted into the brush to change out of their clothes and morph into their Wolf forms.
Joss sent Taylor off with the rest of the non-Wolf pack members, but not before Taylor got one final dig in at John. "You know it would be a lot cooler if I could run with the rest of the pack." John cocked an eyebrow at his son and smiled. "When you're eighteen, buddy, eighteen". Taylor grumbled but went off with the other teens.
John took Joss's hand and led her into the bushes. They removed their clothing and placed them into a duffle bag they hid under a pile of leaves. John grabbed his mate and held her tightly for a minute then kissed her. "Are you ready for this, my mate? Your first Pack Run?" Joss giggled and nipped his bottom lip. "Just try to keep up, Alphaman".
A few minutes later a large salt and pepper wolf exploded out of bushes at a run with a smaller black wolf at his side.