Title: Stay. Part 5/6
Artist: michira_70 Thank you dear, for this wonderful art! You’re so loved.
Wordcount: 16.930 This chapter: 3943
Pairing: Tommy Ratliff/OMC Trent
Type: AU, werewolf. Friendship with a twist.
Disclaimer: it’s a werewolf fic so I’m not even gonna bother. Trent is however mine ;)
Warnings: Minor character death. Angst.
Beta: My wonderful friend thrace_adams who makes my writing so much better. Love you, you wonderful woman! All remaining mistakes are mine.
A/N: This story is a timestamp to my werewolf fic A Primal Right which can be found here on LJ and here on AO3. It takes place before A Primal Right and if you’re the happily ever after kinda person I recommend you read or re-read it after reading this fic ;)
Summary: When Trent receives a phone call from his alpha Dia, asking him to come home to accept and welcome the mate Tommy imprinted with, he’s forced to face the painful truth that Tommy is never going to love him back the way he wants him to. Before going home he reflects back on his history with Tommy and the events that led to this point.
Maybe the idea to ask the council for an audience was born from spending too much time alone or maybe it was the fact that I missed Tommy so much I ached when he wasn’t near. Anyway I started to think about things, like, if given his freedom maybe Tommy really could fall in love with me. Like if this huge weight weren’t on his shoulders then he might open his eyes to new possibilities. I stubbornly locked on to his words about the council and packs and ignored the straight part and as the weeks went by an idea rooted in my mind and it grew on me until the point where I just had to act on it.
So I asked permission to see the council. I went into that intimidating room with clammy hands and a tremor in my voice I had no way of controlling, to meet them.
Darren, the head of the council, was the only one there and he opened with a question and a slight frown upon his face. “You had a question for me Trent?”
While drying my palms on the denim on my thighs, I tried to swallow past the dry spot in my throat. I looked up and curious but reserved eyes met mine. “Yes sir.”
“Well, what’s on your mind?”
I had this whole rehearsed speech I was going to deliver but my words escaped me in that moment and my tongue felt like it was glued against my palate. “I… I was wondering… if…” I blushed feverishly and at that point I just wanted the earth to crack open and swallow me whole.
“Just ask, I’m not about to bite your head off.”
Darren smiled encouragingly and I decided that my pride could just fuck off. I was there for a reason. “If you’re supposed to mate with someone because an old pact says so but you fall in love with someone else… what happens then?”
He tilted his head and looked at me for the longest time before answering. “Depends, I suppose. I’m guessing you’re talking about Tommy Ratliff and Mia Tyler.”
“Yeah.” I admitted and tried my best not to drop my gaze to my feet. I failed.
“Have any of them fallen in love with someone else?” There was something odd in the way Darren asked and it made me snap my head up and meet his gaze.
“No. I mean that’s not why I ask.”
I kept my head held high. “I wanted to know the council’s opinion on breaking a pact made to unite two packs if one of the alphas fell in love with someone else before mating.”
“Again I ask, has that happened?”
“Then why worry over such matters? Unless you…” he paused for about a second before a wolfish grin appeared on his face. “Oh that’s it; you’re the one in love.”
“Yeah.” My wolf wanted to growl and defend his feelings, offended by the slightly mocking tone in Darren’s voice but I pushed the urge down and I squared my shoulders and looked Darren right in the eyes.
“I’m assuming it’s Tommy then,” Darren said and judging by the look on his face, his mind took him places he didn’t share with me. The cold, calculating expression on his face made my stomach twist with something dark and worry crept up on me. Deep inside I could feel my wolf panicking and pushing at me to fight his case. He too, was as scared of that look on Darren’s face as I was.
Then Darren snapped out of it and he looked at me with something that resembled fondness, though I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I was on the receiving end of a look like that. “I hate to be the one to say this but that mating has been planned from the day Tommy was born. Your pack and the Tyler pack aren’t the largest ones but united it will be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, and wolves find comfort in numbers. Two strong wolves will not be pleased to see their plans fail. This is Ron and Steven’s dream but their wrath will have nothing on Mia’s if she really wants Tommy as her mate, they strike me as being very close. And she’s the alpha in that pack now. Are you sure you know what you’re getting into?”
I focused on covering up my scent and fighting back all my anxiety and confusion and nodded my head slowly and thoughtful. “I know this and they are not in love. I wanted to know the council's opinion. Ultimately, we all have to submit to your ruling, even strong-headed alphas.”
Once again he tilted his head and looked at me, his eyes cold and unwavering. “You’ve got it bad, don’t you Trent? Does Tommy know you’re here?”
“No. he doesn’t.”
“Does he know your feelings?”
“Yes but…” I didn’t know how to continue, how to express what Tommy had said to me. And honestly I didn’t feel like it would be safe to even do so. I couldn’t even say why.
“So, your hope is to return with our blessing so you can pursue him, make him fall in love too?”
“Yes sir.” I admitted quietly. There was no use lying, it was clear that Darren already knew.
Darren smiled a little but my wolf was still uneasy, it wasn't buying the friendly smile. “The council urges, within reason, all weres to follow their nature which means we won’t deny two wolves to mate if they imprint or simply fall in love with each other. As for the alphas, then no matter how displeased they might be, they’ll not be allowed to fight against your love for each other too hard, assuming he falls in love with you. However, they will be grumpy for a long time.”
His words made relief zing through me and there was no way I could disguise it in the tone of my voice. “So, I can have him if he falls in love with me?”
“Have him?” Darren huffed in a condescending way and shook his head lightly as if talking to a dumb kid. “It’ll be the other way around but never mind that and you might want to ease him into it because all his life he’s been told to mate with Mia. Being alpha born he’s stubborn and proud, traits he can’t control and he’ll have a hard time letting go of the expectations he and everybody else have been holding on to.”
When I was about to open my mouth to answer him he made an impatient gesture and I kept quiet while he went on. “But before you go I have to make sure you know what kind of future you’re looking at though. We mate for life even when we don’t imprint. That means you’re always going to love him now that you’ve fallen for him. That bond is as almost as strong as imprinting and once mated it’s just as unbreakable. Your wolf has made his choice and you’re now stuck with Tommy.”
He made it sound like loving Tommy was a hardship and even when I was desperate enough to ask to see the council neither me nor my wolf saw it that way. My wolf wanted to growl at the insult against what he thought of as his mate and I had to fight to keep him down. “What do you mean ‘stuck with’?” I asked and I’m sure my wolf’s feelings shone through despite my effort to hide them because Darren shot me a pitiful look.
“I hope your boy will love you back because if he can’t, you’ll spend your life yearning for something you can’t have. If it's even possible at all, it’ll take everything you’ve got in you to move on because your wolf will be desperate for any kind of affection from him. That’s unless you’re lucky enough to imprint on another wolf of course, which really isn’t possible as long as he isn’t mated with someone else.”
I didn’t know that and had I been at a different state of mind I’m sure I would have bitched about why the elderly wolves in our pack hadn’t talked about such things. It was kinda important stuff. What came out of my mouth instead was, “I don’t want to imprint on someone else. I want Tommy.”
A sardonic smile curved Darren’s lips. “Well, imprinting is off the table anyway as long as he isn’t mated to someone else. Your wolf will never accept the thought of another mate before he’s created that bond with another wolf and even then it’ll try to hold on. But I do hope you’ll get what you want.”
He still had this cold restrained look on his face but he sounded sincere and even my wolf believed him.
“Thank you, sir.”
Hope and happiness bubbled through me as I left the council and stayed with me all the way home.
I came home from the council thinking about how to approach Tommy, thoughts about how to tell him and how to woo him. After spending a couple of weeks trying to look at it from every possible angle, I even thought of telling him how it would affect my wolf if he didn't love me back the way it wanted him to. Not my finest moment but in my defense, I realized the emotional blackmail it would have been before telling him. I’m not a saint and maybe I would have done that eventually if Tommy’s life hadn’t taken a rough turn very shortly after my audience with the council.
Because of the heat that day and the fact that not even the tiniest hint of breeze wanted to grace us with its presence, I had taken to hiding indoors. And since it was a day before a full moon that meant most of us were already gathered at our alpha’s home. I was hiding from the heat in Tommy’s room even though he wasn’t there. Apparently he'd spent the night with Mia’s pack because Dia had told me he’d come home with her later.
The knock on the door surprised me but not as much as Tommy asking permission to enter his own room. “Hey. Can I stay here?”
I wanted to say something ambiguous and suggestive but saw the look on his face. Something was off. “Sure.” I made room for him on the bed and he immediately flopped down next to me but didn’t snuggle like usual. I shot him a puzzled look before I continued my quest of finding something worth watching on his TV, but his constant squirming and impatient sighs made it impossible to focus on anything. It didn’t take him more than ten minutes tops before he hopped off the bed to walk up to his window.
Something was definitely wrong, his wolf wasn’t happy, that’s for sure. We all get an itch so close to a full moon but Tommy was normally very good at keeping his wolf happy and he was never like this, even with the full moon coming.
At first he didn’t turn around to face me, I think he was checking the edge of the wood for anything that could explain why his wolf was acting weird. “I don’t know. My wolf is restless, on edge. I tried all my usual stress relief tactics but he won’t settle. Been like this all fucking day.” He practically growled at me and I couldn’t fight the desire to poke the wolf.
“It's been a while hasn’t it?”
It’s no fun teasing the wolf when it doesn’t bite back so I changed tactics and decided to ask him directly even though I really didn’t want to know. “When was the last time you had sex?”
He frowned and shrugged dismissively. “Don’t really remember. I’m not horny if that’s what you think. Worried is more like it. I feel like there’s something I need to be aware off. My wolf is… alert and scared, disconnected.”
“Scared?” I might have asked that in a high pitched voice. If there’s one thing Tommy is not it’s a scaredy-cat.
“Yeah, and I don’t get scared. I’m a fucking warrior. I’m born to watch out for this pack so why is he so fucking anxious?”
The nervousness in his voice combined with the way he paced the floor, looking out the window every other second was making my wolf uneasy too. “I don’t know. Have you felt like this before?” The second the question was out I regretted it, of course he hadn’t felt like this before, he would have told me.
Tommy stopped pacing the floor and looked in my direction but his gaze was unfocused. “No, never.”
“What are you not telling me?”
“Nothing,” he shook his head and focused on me.
“Naw, just a feeling I can’t explain. I’ll tell you when I can.”
He sent me a sort lived smile and went back to pacing the floor.
I couldn't take it, not seeing him so restless and anxious. “Oh my God, you're acting like a caged animal. Maybe we should go for a run in the woods.”
“No, bad idea.”
He didn’t say why but his tone didn’t leave much room for debate. When he turned around to look out the window again, an idea popped into my head. “Okay let’s try something else. Lose the clothes and c’mere.”
Though I had said that in a stern and humorless way, Tommy apparently found it worthy of a laugh. “This isn’t the time for groping. Just saying.”
His laughter was infectious even if his words stung a little. “Is it ever? 'Cuz then you forgot to tell me and I’ll be very disappointed in you then. I want you to shift.”
“I do, but I’m not letting my wolf out when he’s acting like this, I’m not sure I can control him.” His words were quietly spoken and I knew it hurt him to admit it.
“Then we’ll do it in this form.” I pulled my t-shirt off. When Tommy didn’t move, I explained my idea.
“Maybe being close will help. Make him feel connected again. It worked when we were kids. Remember when we were five and I fell down from the tree. I broke my arm and my wolf hurt so much it made it impossible for Mom to help me. Your wolf was just as upset and your dad took us both by the scruff of our necks and demanded we behave. We did, right until Mom thought she could look at my arm and then we both started acting up again. Remember he told Mom to let you, your wolf, calm mine?”
Tommy nodded thoughtfully. “Yeah that it probably wouldn’t work without the physical connection. You were calm when I cuddled you.”
“Enough for Mom to get a look at my arm and later she took you with us when we went to the doctor. Just to be on the safe side.”
“I held your hand yeah.” A fond smile graced his lips and he hauled off his shirt. The mattress dipped and he pushed his bare back against my chest and stomach. “Cuddle me, bitch.” he snickered.
I wrapped an arm around him and pulled him closer until we were flushed against each other and laughed. “Says the little spoon.”
Two minutes later we were both melting. “Too hot for this.” I whined unwilling to admit how badly I enjoyed it too.
Tommy was not stupid though and tightened his grip on my arm and wiggled his ass. “Obviously, but it’s working so shut up and enjoy, perv.”
He made me blush and possibly love him even more because he wasn’t pretending not to know he affected me, and still it didn’t make a damn difference to him. He still wanted me to be close.
We stayed like that for half an hour before Dia popped her head in. “Tommy Joe have you seen your Dad today?”
It was if something painful went through him. I felt his body tremble and he pushed into my touch. I could feel his wolf’s fight in him. “No? Why?”
“I just wanted to know.” Dia said with a shrug and turned around to leave.
“Hey Mom? You think maybe he’s wandering in the forest? Letting his wolf take over.”
She nodded. “Yeah, but on a wolf day?”
After she left us Tommy was back to being squirmy. He moved every other second and kept trying to get closer, which was impossible. “Okay, this isn’t working anymore.” he sighed and jumped off the bed.
“You think?!” I got off the bed too and put on my t-shirt. “Maybe we should go for a walk too?”
He looked at me with a pointed stare.
“Like this.” I waved my hand between us. “I won’t leave you and I can handle your wolf if he becomes too much.”
He gave it a chance and soon after we started our way across the lawn, heading for the forest. Mia stopped us to talk, wanting to know if he felt better. All she got out of that was a growled no in the passing. I sent her an apologizing grimace and got a ‘not your fault’ look back.
It actually got worse when we got into the woods. At some point Tommy actually shouted at me in frustration that he didn’t understand what his wolf wanted. I tried everything I could think of to connect with his wolf but nothing worked.
But then we found him. Ron.
I think what Tommy’s wolf wanted to tell him was that something was terribly wrong. I don’t know how. I don’t know why but I do believe that was the case that day. And if that is so I hope to never feel Tommy struggle like that again. It was heartbreaking.
Tommy saw him first. I didn’t notice anything before Tommy froze and a broken whisper slipped from his mouth. “No. Please.” And then he ran. I spun around to see what he was running for. And there he was. An impressive grey wolf lay on its side, in a comfortable position but way too still. Tommy crouched down, hands roaming his father’s body, shaking him as if that would make him move. “No, no, no, no. Dad!”
How he controlled his wolf enough not to take over is beyond me! I couldn’t. My heart broke and I shifted right there and a howl of sorrow ripped its way out my throat. It alerted the other pack members who all came running as fast as possible.
Silent tears ran down Tommy’s face as he kept stroking the fur of his dad’s body. Whispering something so quiet even my wolf couldn’t hear the words. When I tried to get near him he tensed in a clear ‘fuck off’ way that kept me walking around them in circles keeping the others away from their leader and Tommy.
He stayed like that until Dia came and sank to her knees at his side. They clung to each other and Ron for a long time, crying together. I think hours might have passed before they looked at each other in that certain way that made it clear they were having a private and silent conversation. Dia wiped a tear from Tommy’s eye and if on cue they both pushed their hands under Ron’s body and lifted him up. They carried him home together with the rest of the pack, some as wolves and some not, following close behind.
We buried Ron before the moon rose. At the edge of the forest and in his favorite spot, right where the meadow ends.
Dia led the wolves that night. Tommy. Well, he spent his night right next to his father’s grave growling deep in his throat and raising his hackles every time anyone tried to get near. I spent mine as close as he allowed me, watching him grieve and feeling every little bit of his heartbreak.
When the morning came, the dew sparkling in the grass made the morning prettier than it felt and it made me angry. He sensed that and misunderstood. With a nuzzle and a lick he curled up next to me. I’m sorry. I just- I couldn’t.
Don’t be. I understand. Takes more to get me to leave. I’ll be here for you.
I know. Thank you.
Shssss. Sleep. You need it.
Two weeks later I sat down next to him. He had an empty look in his eyes and the clearing in all its beauty was clearly wasted on him in that moment. I leaned in and kissed his cheek. He didn’t move to do the same. “How are you feeling?”
“Alright, I guess.” He shrugged.
“I wasn’t asking out of politeness but because I wanted to know.” I said and grabbed his face with a hand, forcing him to look at me.
“Okay! I feel like hell.” He snarled. “I miss Dad, most of the time I can’t wrap my head around the fact he’s gone but then it hits me and I’m not supposed to show it when I get overwhelmed with sorrow. I have to be strong for the pack so they feel safe and I don’t want to take over his place as alpha right now. I want to grieve and find a way to adjust to a life without him but- It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It’s fucked up!”
“I know.” I said and let go of his chin.
“Dad was meant to get old, to see me step up to my responsibilities and be there. I never wanted to be the alpha and now I have to, two and a half years before I was supposed to. This sucks in so many levels I can’t even.”
I didn’t know what to say to make it better so I settled for putting an arm around his shoulder and a hand in his hair, guiding his head down to my shoulder.
“I yelled at Mom today and I feel like crap for even putting all my anger on her. She lost her mate for Christ's sake. None of this is her fault. How big a jerk can I be, really.”
“I’m sure she understands.”
“Doesn’t make it better. I apologized but…”
“I bet you’re harder on yourself than she is. And I know it doesn’t mean much but at least she’s dealing with the alpha shit until the council gives you their seal of approval.”
“I think after today she’s going to ask for their permission to let me wait. To stick to the original plan, she didn’t say so but… she doesn’t want me to feel trapped. I suck for letting her do that.”
“No. Like you said, you never wanted this.”
He lifted his head off my shoulder and put it in his hands. “I wanted to make Dad proud and I do want things to change. I do want to make a difference! But I’m selfish too because I want my last two and a half years of freedom, too.”
I ran a hand along his back. Trying to soothe him. “Yeah. I can see why. I’m sure the entire pack can too.”
Tommy just looked at me, his face blank and I got nothing from trying to sniff his feelings.