One: The Season
Damon was dreading the coming month. Why? Because the Season was coming. Preparations were needed.
Did he have enough food in the house to last a month and a half? How about toiletries like toothpaste and shampoo? Were the doors and windows properly fortified? These were all concerns bouncing around in Damon's black-haired head like ping pong balls, almost more dizzying than the fact that he desperately needed to eat some lunch.
What was the Season, you ask? Why is it something you have to prepare for like you're a bear getting ready to hibernate? The Season is simply the mating season for the werewolves of Ganymede pack. From the end of April to the beginning of June, pheromones flew around like physical weapons – and if you were hit, bad news for you, buddy. Except...
Well, Ganymede is a bit different from the other packs out there. Damon was taught all about this particular difference in the lessons taught by the pack teacher, in addition to regular high school classes. A long, long time ago, someone from Ganymede pack royally pissed off a witch.
So of course, the pack was then cursed. Personally, Damon thought their curse was a bit...lame? Kind of tame in comparison to what they could have done? Really, all the witch did was take the heats - normally the burden of the omegas in the pack – and assigned them to the alphas. Only members of the Ganymede pack were affected by this curse, and if you left the pack for any reason, the curse would no longer affect you. Likewise, joining would give you the curse.
The pack could have disbanded, then, and let the curse die with the idiot who caused the mess in the first place, but it didn't. This was because of some strange loyalty thing – the guy who was cursed was the leader at the time, so maybe he forcefully kept people from leaving. However, the pack has since realized the error of its ways. Everyone in Ganymede pack grew up with a healthy respect for witches, and over the centuries the pack had managed to repair its relations with the local witches. There were even trade deals and friendly visits for tea between the respective leaders.
So...why not ask the witches to remove the curse? If the pack has learned its lesson, why not plead for leniency and turn things back to the way they were?
Actually, things are better this way.
Yeah. Crazy talk. But just listen –
Putting alphas in the omega's place for a couple decades changed a hell of a lot. Having a lack of agency over their own bodies for a month and a half had caused some great shifts in gender roles and biases.
The alphas, shortly after the curse was instated, learned to appreciate what omega wolves had to go through during breeding season. This subsequently led to a lot more understanding and honestly, a lot more order, especially because the control of the pack had to be given to the leader's wife or the next highest female or omega member of the pack during the Season. Control of the pack became a lot more egalitarian.
Courting rituals – which were previously pretty rapey and scary for the omegas in heat – were regulated better. Alphas, during their heats, could not just go around and fuck any omega they saw. They had to make arrangements prior to the Season to spend it with someone, and if they couldn't find anyone, or the person they wanted wasn't available, they could attempt to lure the desired person by hanging around them, letting them smell their pre-heat pheromones, and offering gifts or other things to please their desired mate. However, they were absolutely not allowed to force the other person in any way, or else they would be promptly locked away.
That comes back to the reason Damon was preparing to spend a month and a half locked in his house. There were, of course, lucid moments during a heat. Provided they were responsible, if the alphas weren't able to successfully lure their partner during pre-heat, they were allowed to continue the courting through the duration of their heat. It would just be harder to resist them because of the concentration of pheromones, and Damon really didn't want to be wantonly hopping on any dick that happened to come by.
Of course, there was a more specific reason for Damon to be locking himself away so tightly. He had a suitor. An annoyingly persistent one, at that.
Ever since Damon came back from college, he's had Jun Harper as his shadow.
The day he moved back into the pack village, a meeting had been called in the town square.
Damon, flustered and cranky from the stress of moving and unpacking, had not wanted to go, but his friend, Mark, had assured him that he needed to go. Damon had noted how freaked out and insistent he had been about it and thought it might be like a welcome back from the pack leader? Damon's family had been pretty friendly with the current leader, so maybe that was it?
It was not a welcome back.
Damon got to the town square and felt a few pairs of eyes on him immediately and assumed he had been correct about the pack leader welcoming him back. The majority of the crowd was just as confused as he was though. After a few minutes, Mark came up next to him, silent and pale. Damon made a note to ask him if he was feeling okay after the meeting.
Suddenly, the crowd hushed as someone got on the small wooden stage in the center of the square. The man was probably close to Damon's age, maybe a bit younger than his twenty-six, with black hair and eyes and a body that made even Damon – who had a notoriously low libido – gulp, running his gaze over him a few times. Damon didn't recognize him, but somehow, his eyes pierced straight through the crowd and into his own. Damon had shuddered at the time, more than a little freaked out. But it only got worse from there.
"Hello everyone," the man said, somehow projecting his voice easily across the crowd. His voice was soothingly deep and silky. It was the kind of voice that was made for audiobooks.
"For those who don't know, I'm Jun Harper. I joined the pack six years ago, and today I'd like to make a declaration."
Everyone collectively held their breaths. This young man was clearly an alpha. Was he planning to challenge their current leader for his position? No one wanted to have to deal with that kind of conflict, not now and not ever. If that's what this guy wanted, he was about to be extremely hated.
However, the young man once again sought Damon's eyes through the crowd, and suddenly he had a very, very bad feeling.
"I, Jun Harper, am in love with Damon Blackwell. I'm formally issuing a courting claim. Thank you."
And then he just – left. No fanfare. No waiting for claps or questions. He hopped off the stage and disappeared into the crowd, leaving total silence in his wake. In unison, the majority of the crowd turned to look at Damon, who had since frozen.
Even weirder than that whole show? This Jun Harper didn't even bother to seek Damon out after declaring that he was in love with him in front of the entire pack. He just walked away.
And...a courting claim, too. A courting claim was exactly what it sounded like. It made Damon off limits to all others seeking him as a mate for a solid six-month period. Only after the six months passed would Damon be able to legally reject him and break the courting claim. Unluckily for him, the Season happened to fall within that six-month period, so Damon was preparing himself for the worst. He wasn't afraid of Jun trying to take advantage of him of course. At the very least, over the past two months, he had demonstrated quite clearly that he was nothing if not respectful of his physical boundaries. Then again, every alpha in the Ganymede pack was raised to be that way, so it wasn't exactly impressive either.
The thing Damon had still, to this day, been unable to figure out was why the hell Jun suddenly decided he was in love with him.
He had never talked to him – never even seen him – before that day in the town square.
So...what the fuck? It wasn't like there was a shortage of available omegas to court in the pack – nor was there a shortage of them who were hot for Jun in particular. The man was attractive, Damon would admit, and there were women – alphas, betas, omegas – and many men, waiting eagerly for the six-month period to pass so they could get a piece of him.
Damon had asked Jun, of course. He never received an answer, and because Jun was Jun, rather than lie or try to deflect the question like anyone else would if they really didn't want to answer, he simply zipped his lips and didn't say a single word until Damon changed the subject.
But now, with the Season on its way, Damon was preparing to be bombarded with Jun's presence night and day, waving his pre-heat pheromones around like a girl jiggling her boobs in front of a guy's face.
Damon typically had pretty great willpower – he was confident he could withstand a courting claim without giving in, even if it was technically the first courting claim he'd ever experienced. He especially didn't want to give into a guy in heat. There was nothing quite as unromantic as starting a relationship with someone by being their cocksleeve.
The problem this time was that Jun was – and he hated to admit this – but he was exactly Damon's type. And that was really quite impressive, because Damon's type was annoyingly specific.
Nice body – check.
Soft hair – check.
Good voice – check.
Calm temperament – check.
Not too talkative, not too quiet – check.
And the final requirement... to be fucking adorable. Not physically, but personality-wise. It was hard to explain. Mark called him 'moro-sexual.' Or...attracted exclusively to morons.
But that wasn't the case! Well, not completely. Jun was quite intelligent, but... perhaps an example would help.
Once, Jun had made him some cupcakes, either to demonstrate his domestic skills, or just because he'd heard he was grumpy that day and needed copious amounts of sugar. He had put a candle in each little cake and lit it for Damon too, which was a bit odd.
"Why the candles?" Damon had asked. "It's not my birthday."
Jun slowly lowered his head to look at the candles, an unexpectedly struck expression on his face. "Cupcakes don't...don't usually have candles?"
Damon was embarrassed to admit that that had been the first time he seriously considered Jun's courting. Why? Because he...he was too fucking adorable. It wasn't that he was stupid, he just...didn't understand some things. And his confused expression was too cute for someone that hot.
So with the Season coming, it was less that Damon didn't trust Jun, but that he didn't trust himself. If he did anything even remotely cute, while smelling like pure sex, Damon wasn't sure he could handle it. So he very conscientiously shut himself away.
But whether or not it would actually work...remained to be seen.