Summary: When Alpha in training Blaine Anderson finds a wounded Lycan in the woods all of his training is put to the test.
Rating: PG-13 (implied child abuse)
A/N: This was my Nano entry this year. I’m a proud winner again and I hope you guys like it. It starts out kind of slow. I feel like everything I do does but I had a good flow with this one. I got the original idea around the same time as Savage World so you might see some common things.
Spanning nearly the entire Midwest of America was a major werewolf territory. There were Lycans and Were’s, alphas, betas, omegas, and everything in between. America was quick to acclimate to the “outing” of Lycans it their society. In Europe, other supernatural forces were hard at work suppressing Lycan rights. And in response, they fled to America. Fearing retribution, American officials did everything in their power to pave the way for Lycans to feel at home on their soil. It was their hope that come a time of war, the Lycans would rise to the occasion and repay the kindness they’d received. The fact that the human government also knew nothing about killing and/or taming Lycans always weighed heavily in their decision. The Anderson pack had been quick to capitalize on it.
Their pack was a blend of Lycans and Weres from Ireland and Canada. Their original groups had been small, unorganized, and terrified. Within a year Clarence Anderson proved himself a charismatic and intelligent leader. He united the listless Lycans and Weres underneath his rule and they began the dominate pack in North America. What started as dozens of small floundering, sometimes vicious packs comprised of only a handful of people, grew into a unified pack under the rule of the Anderson family. Where Lycans and Weres could form their own smaller packs and families so long as they behaved in accordance to the Anderson family laws and swore their loyalty to them. Once the social structure was set in place, the American government sighed a breath of relief and left them to it.
The Anderson pack was currently headed by Robert Anderson. He was considered short for a man but his strength and cunning left no doubt that he was capable of running the pack. He had five children and a wife so shrewd and fast no one dared cross her. Of his children, his youngest Blaine, was the one whom Robert was grooming to become the next Alpha Major. For one reason or another his other children didn’t want the responsibility or felt they couldn’t do it justice. But Blaine was no disappointment. He took to it like a fish to water and far surpassed his father’s expectations. Blaine didn’t have to command respect from his peers or elders in the pack, it was just given. His charisma and genuine concern for each and every member of the pack resonated with everyone he came into contact with. There was no doubt in Robert’s mind that Blaine would make a great Alpha.
At the moment Blaine was acting less like an alpha in training, and more like a careless teenager. He was running through the woods, darting over wild undergrowth and skirting around trees at top speed. Behind him he could hear his friends goading him and trying to keep up. It was a fruitless effort. If nothing else, speed was something he got from his mother. The only reason they were this close was because of the location. While Blaine was free to roam the entirety of Ohio, this particular patch of woods was of little interest to him. The trees here were too dense to really run through, but not thick enough to effectively hide behind. The only thing nearby of any interest was a dilapidated old house. It was abandoned when Blaine’s grandfather started hunting near it way back in the day. The owners decided it wasn’t worth the scenery to stick around.
Blaine knew it was just up ahead. The trees started clumping closer together, so tight that the canopies practically blacked out the sun. The trail up to the front of the house, though still free from trees, was dark and overgrown with grass higher than Blaine’s knees. He use to lie in it as a child and pretend he was Simba. With a grin Blaine leapt over a moss covered rock and landed just short of a tree. The wind swept in, moving hard and fast through the funnel of trees over his face.
He straightened up, smile gone from his face. He tuned out the sounds of his friends, still laughing and rushing to catch up from behind. Blaine closed his eyes and tilted his face into the wind. Inhaling deep, he tried to catch the scent again, the foreign smell on the wind. Lycans and Weres were free to travel as they pleased but they rarely did so alone. What’s more, no one had come to see their pack home. The smell was faint, covered almost entirely by pollen and the molded smell of the rotting house nearby. It was coming from the house. It had to be. Blaine turned to the right, just so, trying to catch the scent a little better. It was equally possible that the Lycan inside was harmless as it was that he or she was feral and violent. He’d have to be careful in his approach.
Still laughing, and unaware of the possible violent interloper, Blaine’s friends ran full tilt into Blaine. They hoped their combined weight would send him into the tree but instead he dug his feet into the earth and stood tall. His stance sobered them immediately. Wes straightened up and stood next to him. Taking ques from Blaine’s face he sniffed at the air. He could smell it too, the faint scent of a Lycan on the wind. When Blaine stepped past the tree into the grassy path Wes held up his hand to still David and Thad. It was very important how Blaine handled this. As his subordinates it was their responsibility to back him up and stay out of the way. Blaine shook his head to clear his mind.
“Follow me, stay quiet. Stay alert. We’re going to assume the Lycan is peaceful.” Blaine started forward slowly, knowing that his friends would fall in line without further prompting. They moved quietly through the grass, eyes fixed on the two story stone building. The door was propped into the frame rather then being screwed on. Half the windows were broken and the roof was caved in in several areas. The closer they got the more wary they grew. They could smell more than just a Lycan now. There was a very faint smell of human. Blaine waved back and Wes in warning. He went in first, quietly moving the door aside and making his way into the living room. The smell of a human, mixed with mildew and Lycan was apparent. It was faint, almost as if the human had been gone for a while. Maybe a week or two. Since the last full moon most likely.
It was becoming more and more likely that this was going to be a violent situation. Every now and then a Lycan or Were would lure an unsuspecting human out into the middle of nowhere for a good hunt. The boys swept the room, looking for signs of life. There were two duffel bags and a laptop. Blaine cautioned them not to open anything in case it aggravated whoever was squatting here. They listened carefully, trying to pinpoint where the Lycan was hiding. Thad heard it first, a metal tinkling noise coming from the basement. Blaine motioned for him to move aside and stood close to the door. His nose was practically pressed into the wood. He took a deep breath and smelt Lycan, thick and fresh.
Blaine took a deep breath and looked back at his friends. They were scattered around the remains of the living room, no longer digging through the strangers things. “Me first, then Wes. David, stay here at the door and keep an ear out for me. Thad, look through the rest of the house. It smells like the human hasn’t been here for a while but some of his things might be upstairs. Be careful, this place is falling apart.” They nod and take their positions. Thad is already up the rickety stairs by the time Blaine is taking his first step down to the basement. It smelled wrong. Beneath the smell of Lycan there was the smell of human waste and rot. And somewhere in all of that there was a powerful floral smell that Blaine couldn’t quite place, but didn’t like. He fought the instinct to cover his nose and kept going down.
It was dark but Blaine could see the crumbling cobble stone foundation. In some places it was slick with water and algae. In others it was bone dry and dusted with cobwebs. Blaine’s eyes swept across the area closest to him and noticed the thick absences of dust and dirt. Someone had slid aside the piles of junk that had been there before. A click of metal sounded, catching Blaine’s attention immediately. He spun to it and heard Wes doing the same. It was the Lycan. And it wasn’t anything like they were expecting.
Instead of a vicious, human baiting rouge there was a thin, quivering boy. He was matted with dirt and blood but under that his skin was almost sickly pale. His eyes were wild, frightened, and his fingers were clawing franticly at the thick metal chain tight around his throat. The human hadn’t been lured here, the Lycan had. Blaine moved forward slowly, hands up in surrender and face soft. It was hard to tell how old the Lycan was. But he looked young. He was skinny and delicate looking underneath the wild fear and panic. He was hunched in on himself, clawing at the chain around his neck and trying to get farther into the corner he was sitting in.
Wes stayed back, watching closely as Blaine crept forward and made cooing and shushing noises. He’d seen things like this before, humans chaining Weres and Lycans up to hunt and harvest. He’d seen parents resort to this too, when they were at their wits end and afraid to lose their child to a big scary pack. He’d never seen a Were abandoned though, put through the hell of possible cures yes, but never left to starve in a dank basement. The boy was a mess. He could smell the blood, body odor, and urine clinging to him. But there was something else, something he could barely smell over the mass of things lingering in the basement. He tried to place the smell while keeping his eyes fixed on Blaine. He was mere inches from the boy, crouched down and still making soothing noises. The boy was as far back against the wall as he would go and his chest was heaving. When Blaine reached out and touched the him, the boy howled. It was loud and desperate, the warbling cry of an injured animal. Wes hadn’t heard anything like it from a Were or Lycan still in their skin.
And he kept going. It was like the floodgates were opened. He howled and howled, tossing his head around, getting his hair caught in the chain and digging deeper into the welts across his neck. Blaine stopped trying to placate the boy and grabbed him around his middle, clamping his arms to his sides, and pulled him into a tight embrace.
“Wes! Have Thad grab everything. Tell David to get his car. We have to get him help.” Blaine was grimacing as he spoke, trying to turn away from the boy while keeping him close. The smell, the odd smell they couldn’t place before. It was monkshood. It was growing in small clumps all along the wall where the boy was chained. He’d been lying in it, grinding into his wounds and inhaling it’s pollen. Wes took off up the stairs. The car was at the edge of the woods but it’d be the best way to transport the boy. They needed to be quick.
With Wes gone Blaine focused back on the boy. He scrunched his nose at the foul smell of Monkshood and tried to catalog what else was wrong with him. There were angry and bloody welts around his neck and up by his ears, from tugging on the chain. His nails were shredded and bloody as well from trying to free himself. Blaine tried to wrestle him still to get a better look at his body. It was a mass of bruises and scratches. Weres and Lycans in captivity turned to gnawing on themselves to get free and it was abundantly clear that this boy had tried that. There was Monkshood and dirt ground into every wound and green smears around his dirty face. Blaine scanned the wall, spotting a damp patch where water must have trickled in during the rain. They boy had probably licked up as much as he could.
It made Blaine wonder how long he’d really been down here, and how long he’d been without proper food and water. The human had been gone for about two weeks, around the time of the last full moon. He could have left food down here, or he could have chained this boy up and left him for dead well before the moon. The boy was still howling, but now it was a series of sad, hoarse warbles that made Blaine’s heart clench. This boy was sick out of his mind and even if they got him to a doctor today it wouldn’t be a guarantee that he’d survive. Monkshood poisoning was serious. If the boy had eaten too much of it, any of it, he might never recover. The boy thrashed in his arms, almost pulling himself free and Blaine held tighter. He tucked the boys head under his chin and started to rock. He hummed to the boy, too distraught to sing properly. He rocked slowly, pulling the boy across his lap like a child. His howls didn’t stop but his body started to relax, bit by bit.
Finally the boy relaxed completely. His eyes were wide and his head was lolling back and forth, sometimes staring at Blaine, sometimes at the wall or ceiling. But he rarely blinked, and he was still making those wounded sounds. Blaine felt a hand on his shoulder, Wes, and he was holding a key. “It was hanging next to the stairs.” He was holding a threadbare flannel blanket as well. Blaine took it and covered the boys naked body, swaddling him in it as best as possible. Then he unlocked the chain around his neck. Blaine slipped the chain free gently, minding the welts. For the first time he really looked at the state of the chain. It was covered in scratches and gouges, like it had been used for this purpose more than once. Stuck in its links were tufts of snowy white fur and splatters of blood and fingernail.
Setting the chain aside, Blaine stood, scooping the boy up in his arms as gently as possible. He jerked his head back as a signal for Wes to collect it. At the top of the stairs Thad was waiting for him, his arms full of the strangers things. With any luck they’d be able to get some identification off of the computer. Still howling, Blaine took the boy outside, striding past the dismal remains of the living room out into the open air. He thought that it would offer some sort of relief but the boy didn’t seem to notice. He kept on, just as delirious as before. In the sunlight his condition seemed even worse. He was so thin. And Blaine knows just by looking that they’re going to have to cut chunks out of his hair. It’s just too mangled to save in some places.
Blaine takes a deep breath and wades through the grass, making his way down the path to where the sun isn’t filtering through tree tops. His friends are somewhere behind him, except for David, who had better be speeding up with the car soon. The whole situation has Blaine on edge. Never in his life had he come across a Were so abused and neglected. It happened. Kids got abused Lycan or not. He’d just never seen it. Being the Alpha’s son afforded him a certain amount of responsibility. He got to see things and handle things that his friends didn’t but he’d never been prepared for something like this. Abuse was one of the topics his parents felt were too sensitive for him to handle.
The boy in his arms jerked wildly, almost falling from Blaine’s arms. He tightened his hold and curled the boy closer to himself. The boy’s wet face fell into the crook of his neck. Blaine knew why his parents kept these things from him. He wasn’t ready for this. Despite the unease rolling in the pit of his stomach Blaine tried to exude calm. Even if this boy had never been a part of a pack before his body would respond to an alpha’s calming presence. The fresh air and gentle breeze helped Blaine center himself and swaddled the boy. His body relaxed, sagging into Blaine’s arms. His whimpers continued, far between and still just as pitiful, just as animalistic.
As David’s car pulled up Wes was quick to open the door and help Blaine in. Everyone settled in quietly, faces serious and drawn. They made it only half way before the boy’s smell became too much. The monkshood was still ground into his skin, burning their noses and making them fidgety. “Roll down the windows.”
“Someone could smell him.”
“Let them. This is my territory. This boy is under my protection.” Blaine closed his eyes and shifted the boy’s face closer to the window. David rolled them down and a burst of fresh air flowed through the car sweeping out the toxic smell. The boy howled again, tipping his nose up, trying to get closer to the new feeling. Blaine let the boy squirm towards the window. He was afraid that holding him too tightly would distress him. And the air was good for him. Who knows how long the boy had been locked away. The last time anyone from Blaine’s pack had gone to that house was months ago. And only in passing. If a professional had locked this boy away they could have masked the smell. So Blaine let him enjoy the air.
Between the boy’s scent and the noises he made Blaine’s whole pack was aware they’d found someone in the woods. Before they could even turn off the car Blaine’s father was opening the door and leaning in close to get a good smell. Robert’s nose curled and he reared back. The smell of body odor and fluid was an after thought, it was the monkshood. He pulled the boy from his son’s lap, paying no mind to the protests and laid him out on the grass.
“Dad stop you’re scaring him.”
Robert threw out his arm, blocking Blaine from coming any closer. The boy was squirming in the grass, kicking his legs weakly and lolling his head from side to side. He was howling again and panting. “You’ll make yourself sick. All of you need to shower. Scrub yourselves until you can’t smell it anymore. Then go eat.”
Robert snapped his head back to his son and bared his teeth. “I am not asking Blaine. Go now. All of you.” Blaine’s friends went into the house with their heads down and mouths shut. They didn’t need to be told twice to obey a direct order. Blaine however was defiant. He’d found the boy. He wanted to follow him all the way to safety. He wasn’t some pup that needed to be cuffed behind the ears. He was an alpha in training and he deserved the right to be included. He stepped forward, not far, barely an inch. But it was enough to make Robert growl. The wolf inside Blaine recoiled. It was a dropping sensation, like being on an elevator. It was what all subordinates felt when an alpha was angry with them. Blaine didn’t push his luck any farther and marched into the house like a scolded child.
The people scattered around the lawn watching parted for him. They were too interested in the wounded cub to find amusement in Blaine’s reprimand. “Someone set up a room for him. Have someone make soup.” A few people headed inside at Robert’s request. The rest dispersed only when his wife joined him. Malaya Anderson was the pack doctor. She could take care of anything from a stuffed now to a herniated abdomen. As kindhearted as she was, only a fool would interfere with her while she was with a patient. Only a few who were closest to her dared linger on the porch in case she needed help. Everyone else went back to their day knowing that come night fall everyone would know all there was to know about the new boy and his condition.
Malaya paid no mind to her husbands agitated mood, or the smell wafting off of the boy. She knelt in the grass, all business, and checked his pulse. It was fast, fluttering under her fingertips like a jackrabbits. She clucked her tongue and started checking the boy for broken bones and internal bleeding. The constant prodding and palpitating sent the boy into a fit. His warbling noises and frenzied howls set the pack members on edge. Robert could see the few left of the porch were tense and anxious. He couldn’t lie, he felt the same. To have something like this happen on his own land, it was devastating. He took a great deal of pride in the way he handled his affairs. Under his rule abuse was at an all time low. He had no tolerance for those who attacked his pack members, pursuing justice to the full extent of the law. He treated each case of violence to his kind as a great personal offense. His reputation for such had kept even the most outspoken radicals from stepping foot in his territory.
Problems with family were handled with the same care and swift action. The Anderson compound was a safe house for weres or Lycans that had nowhere else to go. And beyond that more than half of his pack were registered foster parents should the need arise. No child under his watch suffered unjustly. Seeing this boy whine, delirious from sickness, it tugged at his heart. And sent a rage boiling in his gut like he’d rarely experienced. If he had in fact been abused by his parents they would pay. This boy did not deserve to rot and wither away because of his condition. But his captors, they did. They would suffer for this boy.
“Robert we need to wash him. I won’t be able to do anything else until I scrub the pollen out of his wounds.” She made to lift the boy but Robert grabbed her wrist firmly. She cocked her eyebrow and gave him a pinched look. “Robert.”
“Malaya. Let me.” She looked her husband in the eye, saw his pain, and relented. She was more than capable of carrying the boy inside. They both knew it. It wasn’t about Robert needing to seem stronger. It was about him needing to care for this boy. Malaya knew her son got his heart from his father. Robert would surely not sleep a full night peacefully until the boy was coherent and well on the mend. So she bowed to his command and let him take point. Robert scooped the slight boy into his arms and carried him inside with a great deal of care.