Early the next morning, I woke up to the sounds of breathing. Heavy breathing. Rolling onto my back, I stared up at the ceiling and started going over everything that happened yesterday. Ryan was being weirder than usual but that could be fixed by just ignoring him until whatever he was going through was over. Jasper being here was a curveball but there was nothing I wanted from him so I doubted we’d cross paths. And lastly, the threatening notes. Depending on what they said, I was either going to tighten up security or tighten up security and increase training.
Satisfied that I had a simple solution for everything, I sat up and pushed the white comforter aside. The heavy breathing had evened out while I was thinking everything over, so I still had a few minutes before I needed to meet Theo outside. Standing up, I made my way to the back of the bedroom and into the bathroom. Walking past the sink, I shoved the shower curtain aside and turned the water to lukewarm. Stripping out of my boxer shorts and t-shirt, I quickly got in to wash up.
Scrubbing the last of the 2 in 1 shampoo and condition from my hair, I leaned over and turned the shower off. Grabbing the light blue towel hanging over the top of the shower, I wrapped it around my body and stepped out onto the tiled floor. Taking the few steps to the mirror and stopping before it. I tucked a corner of the towel into the other side to keep it in place while reaching for my toothbrush on the sink. Brushing my teeth quickly, I shifted them half way through to brush my fangs. There was nothing worse than trying to threaten someone with a pair of yellow fangs. Something about flashing a pair of pearly whites tended to scare the prey better.
Finished, I put the toothbrush back and headed into the bedroom to get dressed. Moving past the bed, I started pulling clothes from the dresser and tossing them backwards onto the bed. Shutting the drawer, I unwrapped the towel from around my body and used it to dry my hair as I turned around. Since I’d only be doing, what I considered to be, light training and maybe a meeting or two. Dressing more comfortable than battle ready seemed appropriate.
Pulling on a mix-match pair of black underwear and a white sports bra, I yanked a white cotton long sleeve over my head. Before slipping into the uber soft black sweatpants I had laid out and grabbed a pair of socks as I left the room. On the way to the kitchen, I glanced out the window to find Theo standing outside staring right back at me through the glass. The first few times he did this, it put me on edge but then I realized he was doing it on purpose to freak me out. I don’t know what it was but the male shifters in this pack were all... odd.
Ignoring him, I opened the cabinets and searched for a quick breakfast snack for the both of us. Spotting a granola box in the back, I pulled it forward and opened it up. Only to find it semi-empty with one lonely granola bar inside. Taking it, I pushed the empty box aside and headed to the front door. Pausing by it, I pulled on my socks and sneakers before unlocking the door to step out onto the porch.
“Well, it’s about time! I’ve been up since four thirty and you’re barely waking up? Talk about lazy.” Theo called out as he stretched on the snow-covered lawn.
Scoffing, I shut the door behind me, “That’s because you run two laps around the territory and it takes you thirty minutes. Why would I wait around for thirty minutes until you showed up?”
“It was just a joke, babe.”
Babe? “Don’t call me babe, Gremlin. What’s your lap time?”
He gave me a smug smile, “Twenty five minutes.”
“Twenty five minutes faster than a third of the pack and only seventeen minutes slower than me. Almost there.” I said, tossing the granola bar at him.
Shaking his head at me, he ripped open the packet and ate the bar in two bites.
Jogging down off the porch and into the snow, I paused to breath in the mountain air. I never planned on leaving again, Arizona had smelt of body odor and smoke. Going into towns and cities was always overwhelming. Here snow coated everything and always gave the air a fresh scent, which reminded me...
“I appreciate you clearing the snow off my porch and pathway while I was away.”
Theo’s shoes crunched over the snow as he approached, “Oh Moon, no. That wasn’t me, too much effort. So, what are we doing today?”
Shrugging it off, I looked him over to decide what the lesson would be today. Since he was in a pair of basketball shorts and sneakers, combat would be best. Dropping into a crouch, I swept a leg out to knock him onto his back. Unfortunately, he managed to keep his balance after I connected with his ankles and jumped backwards.
“I guess it’s human style combat today then?”
“Let’s see if you’ve been practicing.”
Theo grinned before lunging at me with a left hook and high right kick. Dodging his punch, I used my forearm to block his leg and grab his throat. Before I could get a good grip on him though, the little shit twisted out of my grasp. Theo’s breathing picked up as we circled each other both looking for a weak spot. He had two that I knew of but he’s gotten a lot better at hiding them.
Normally, I wouldn’t use my full speed because it wouldn’t be a fair fight but he needed to get faster in his reaction time. Making the first move, I came at him with a flurry of punches. At lighting speed, I hit him twice in the ribs before jabbing him in the inner thigh and finishing up with an elbow to the back of the neck. The kid fell to his knees like a bag of bricks clutching his thigh and ribs. Grabbing him by the hair, I yanked his head back and placed my claws at his throat.
“You’re slow and you forgot to protect your neck.”
Theo’s growl vibrated against my claws. Probably feeling embarrassed that I’d beaten him so quickly. As soon as I released my grip, he jumped up and spun around to face me with eyes swirling black. Younger shifter’s always had a hard time separating their feelings from their wolves but it was still no excuse to bring the wolf out everytime they got upset.
“You can be mad all you want, Theo. But take it from me, you have a chance of healing a ripped out jugular. If you’re too slow you’ll never heal from a severed head.” I scolded him, watching as his eyes slowly melted back to hazel.
He swallowed before hesitantly asking, “You never told the pack what happened to your throat. Is that what happened to you? Someone ripped out your throat? It is, isn’t it. That’s why you have those claw marks and why your voice is so gravelly.”
Theo sounded so horrified by the end of his sentence, that it almost made me want to lie. Almost. “Yes. When I was younger than you are now, I trusted someone I shouldn’t have. Because of my naive mentality my throat was torn out. I should have died but instead I spent a year in agony as it slowly grew back.”
A hushed silence fell over us as he took in the story behind the scars covering my throat. I cocked my head as I watched a tsunami of emotions dance over his face. Granted it wasn’t the whole story of what happened but this was the most anyone besides Otis knew. Otis was the only one in the pack who knew the full detailed story, everyone else I left in the dark about my scars.
So, I was interested in seeing how Theo would react to it. Would he say it was my own fault? If he did, I could only agree with him. What happened to me was completely my own fault, there was no one else I could blame. Or would he spit at me for being so stupid as to have gotten my throat ripped out? Deep down in a place I didn’t look at too closely, a part of me whispered it’s agreement with that statement as well.
So wrapped up in my own unusually tormented thoughts, I almost missed his reaction to my little share of old personal history.
Theo’s brows were furrowed and his body was tense as he spoke, “How..How could someone do that to you? Who would do that to a kid? Where were your parents? Why didn’t someone protect you?"
My face twisted into confusion as I listened to him. He was...blaming others for my mistake? That didn’t make any sense. I was the one who wasn’t strong enough to keep myself from getting hurt but I learned my lesson. I would never go against my instincts again.
“Our world is a cruel one, Theo. You must be faster and stronger than those around you. To protect yourself and to protect the pack. My past mistakes don’t matter anymore.”
“How can you say that?” He demanded, his voice thick with emotion. “You almost died Kaiya! That’s not something that just doesn’t matter anymore.”
He was frustrating me with his lack of understanding. Giving him a hard look I respond, “Theo. It. Doesn’t. Matter.”
“How can you-”
I interrupted him by grabbed his shoulders tightly, “Your not getting it. It doesn’t matter anymore because it was a lesson learned. I’m trying to teach you the same lesson in a much less violent way.”
His hazel eyes searched my red ones, “And what lesson is that, Kai?”
“To fight, Theo. To fight with every sense and every skill you possess. Because one day you might be the only thing that’ll save your life and the lives of your packmates.” He needed to understand that in case he ever decided to become the next Omicron.
In the span of a sentence he went from a teenager to a scared child, “But we have you. Nothing’ll happen to us with you here.”
I released his shoulders, he was still young with an immortal mentality of those around him. I didn’t need to scare him with the possibility of me dying on him like his parents did, to do so would be cruel. And whether I liked children or not, I would never be cruel to them.
I cuffed his chin lightly with my knuckles, “Of course not, but on the extreme off chance I can’t get to you kids in time? You need to be able to protect yourself and others.”
Theo’s face lit up with a cheeky grin, “I’m not a kid. I’m a seventeen year old male shifter, baby. Old enough to hunt and old enough to fuc-”
This time when I swept his legs out from under him, he fell flat on his back in the snow. As he groaned, I stepped up next to him and leaned over to see his face clearly. His eyes were squeezed closed as he took in large gulps of air.
“But not old enough to shut up.” I mocked.
He gave me a playful snarl as he rolled up onto his shoulders and then sprung to his feet.
“Prove to me you aren’t a waste of my time.” I said, punctuating my words with a snap of my fangs.
He lunged at me with a snap of his own.
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