The leaves under my back were uncomfortable and I let out a small whine, obviously I'd been pushed out of the nest in the middle of the night. I wiggled closer to where I'd expect to find a warm body, but there were just more leaves. Eyes cracking open, I let out a big yawn and sat up with a stretch. I wondered where Chelsea had gone, her usual snores were absent from the early morning sounds.
I let out a small yip and expected her to be my side almost immediately. Frowning when no one answered, I slowly opened my eyes all the way. Dragging my tongue over my snout, I shook out my fur as I woke up fully.
Peering around, I was surprised to find myself sitting in the middle of the forest. Confusion filled me as I swung my head around, unease suddenly chasing off the rest of any sleepy contentment I'd been feeling a moment before. I let out another small bark, fear filling me as I realized I was nowhere near the den.
There was only silence that followed my tentative cry. Heart pumping faster, I got up and started to pad around. Feeling scared and small, I looked around in hopes of finding something familiar. All the trees looked the same and nothing smelled right. The bad feeling in my tummy grew as I slowly made my way through the trees. I had never really liked being alone, but this was ten times worse. I had no idea where I was or why I was here.
I refused to think that they had just dumped me here, the pack covering their tracks and leaving me to wonder aimlessly. Chelsea wouldn't do that. We were family.
Repressing a whimper, I kept going. I knew that I'd eventually find someone, there had to be civilization somewhere. The world wasn't just woods.
I'd only been walking for about ten seconds when I froze, a twig snapping to the right. Before I could even think about running, a large black shape shot out from the bushes and slammed into me. I cried out, tumbling over onto my back. A large black wolf stood over me, pining me to the cold ground. Eyes wide, I stared upwards at them as a deep growl rumbled in their throat. Without realizing it, my body had begun to shake.
I knew I was small, it was impossible not to when I constantly had my sister by my side. She was older, bigger and stronger. Everyone in the pack was bigger, they all knew how to remind me of this daily. This wolf just made it glaringly obvious, their body looming over me as I cowered into the dirt. After a moment, they let out a huff and leaned down to drag their tongue over my forehead and between my ears. Even though was something you did to calm down pups, I relaxed a little and was able to recognize that this was a male warrior.
For a moment, he stared down at me as he contemplated something. Slowly, he nudged me over onto my stomach and lifted me up by the scruff of my neck. I let out a squeak of protests, but he didn't reply. Embarrassed and unsure what was happening, I went limp and let this stranger carry me. There was no way I could fight them off or ever outrun them.
In silence, we traveled through more unfamiliar land. I recognized nothing, my scruff prickling uncomfortably from being so far out of my element. I was scared, nervous and sweaty. I knew the other wolf could sense this, but thankfully he made no comment. Soon, they came to a stream and they leapt easily onto a rock in the center of the water flow. I let out a noise of complaint as some cool water splashed up as he landed, the stone just barely peeking out from under the surface.
"Quiet." he said, voice slightly muffled.
I complied, and we spent the rest of the journey without saying a word. I started to drift a little, the gentle rocking from the warrior's walking and the soft wind through my fur making me drowsy. The moment I spotted a den, I snapped back into reality as butterflies burst into life in my stomach.
Unable to do much else, I just kept my head down as we entered the dim cave. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust, but I didn't look up. I didn't want to see the scary guys in a new place or the questioning looks I'd get. I knew I was quiet, but I usually wasn't shy. Then again, I'd never met anyone new before, the nerves were most likely from the whole confusing scenario.
A hundred new scents assaulted my nose and I could hear voices all around me, but I couldn't bring myself to lift my head. I was ashamed of being carried around like some pup and I was tired from the emotional rollercoaster I'd been through. I had never been so far outside the den, I had never been attacked or comforted by someone I didn't know before. I could only absorb so much at one time, so when I was set on the ground I just laid there on my side and closed my eyes.
"Who's the pup?" I heard a gruff voice ask. I'd never met another alpha in my life, but I knew this guy had to be. He had the same aura that demanded respect that my alpha had.
"Not sure." The black wolf replied. "Found him by the border."
I felt a nose press into my flank and I squeezed my eyes shut tighter, wishing to be back by Chelsea's side. There was a soft snort and the touch disappeared.
"He's a little thing, isn't he?” I heard the alpha say. That hurt.
"Yeah. Whoever he belongs to, they left no trace, they left him there to die." Okay, now I was feeling sick. Left to die? Why would Chelsea do that? I was the only family she had left... "He's not even old enough to speak yet."
"Frank! Not in front of the kid." A new, distinctively feminine voice said, sounding appalled.
"Sorry." The wolf who had carried me, or Frank, grunted back.
"Hello, little one. Can you open those eyes for me?" she said in a kind voice. Slowly, I did as she asked. "Ah, there we are. You're a cutie, aren't you?" If I wasn't a wolf now, I would have turned bright red and sputtered out embarrassed non-sense. This she-wolf had blond fur and calm brown eyes, smiling warmly down at me. "Come along, I have someone I'd like you to meet."
I didn't want to move farther into this other pack's den, but it seemed I had no choice, so I hauled myself to my feet and trudged after her.
She was obviously the Luna, her presence grabbing the other's attention and softly nudged them into moving politely out of the way as she past. She wasn't forceful or commanding like an alpha, she simply got respect because everything about her seemed to naturally make you want to listen.
My attention was back on where she was escorting me the moment I heard the small squeaks. I stepped behind her hind legs, nervous and unsure exactly who to trust. The Luna tsked and reached back to nudge me unwillingly forwards. "This is Lola," she murmured. "She'll look after you." I could hear that she wanted to say something more but held it back. I took a deep breath and slowly padded forwards to the equally nice she-wolf. Her presence was warm and motherly, the soft sent of milk making me relax.
"Well hello there, little one." Her honeyed voice murmured, snout coming forwards to touch mine. "It's nice to meet you." I shied away, the action far more intimate than anything anyone's ever done to me before. She let out a soft chuckle. "No need to be shy. Come, I'd like you to meet my pups."
So, she drew me forwards, laying on her side so her stomach was exposed to the little wriggling bodies could burrow into the soft fur and suckle eagerly at her teats. Immediately, embarrassment prickled along my pelt. This she-wolf was feeding her pups and was inviting me closer. I had never been so flustered in my life, ears flat on my head as I quickly backed away. She frowned but smoothed out her features to coo comfortingly at me. I was on the verge of tears, frustration and pain from the abandonment mixing together into one big mess inside me. Closing my eyes briefly, I carefully came forwards under her promptings and joined the others. I pushed in close and considered one of the other pups drinking away before pressing my face into her fur and sat there under the illusion of feeding.
I wasn't going to sink as low as to feed from this stranger! I was nearly seventeen winters old, I shouldn't be here! I sniffled quietly but continued to pretend until the small bundles of energy detached from their mother and happily snuggled in close for a nap. I distanced myself from the rest and curled up alone outside the small bubble of the content family. I counted around five pups, a rather large litter, and I was the clear outsider. I was the same size as them, a sharp blow to my pride, but I didn't have any of the natural tawny and brown they all had. I was a dull gray and off-white, completely different from the others but not pretty like the other snow-pelted warriors in my pack.
I knew that I'd be here, in this pack of strangers, for a while. If it was true, if I had been abandoned...well I didn't want to dwell on that thought. They'd either come for me or they wouldn't, I couldn't go wondering alone in the woods. I'd been lucky to have been taken in by such nice people, I could have easily fallen prey to a feral pack of rogues.
I let out a long, shuddering breath. I knew I didn't belong, I barely belong in my last pack, but I couldn't help the big empty feeling in my chest. The feeling of the pack bond had been long severed and I knew that technically meant I was a rogue. This pack currently thought I was a pup, maybe no older than two winters, and that was a problem. I couldn't speak like everyone else, I never was able to master that. Not only did I struggle with something as easy as breathing to everyone else, I was unable to successfully shift freely. Sure, I could do it, but it wasn't smooth, and it couldn't be accomplished in one go.
I sleepily pawed at my eyes, a big yawn coming. I settled down more comfortably, content on trying to shift the first chance I got. I'd most likely end up spending my nights, writhing in the moonlight as I chased that burn and stretch of a true shift. Might as well get all the rest I could manage then.
With one final eye rub, I laid my head on top my paws and drifted into a dreamless sleep.
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