Above an Alpha Ch. 04byPlainJane12©
Elise had stayed on the stairs just before the basement door, listening to Greg's little speech. At first, she thought she had missed something. She hadn't heard anything particular about the alpha's mate being afraid of wolves – though that fact wouldn't surprise her if it was true; humans were notorious cowards. But she also hadn't heard anything about Mark forcing a mating. –Though this alone wouldn't surprise her either; Mark was sort of a douche...
-Okay, she would be a little surprised to find out Mark was a rapist douche, but then again, alphas took what they wanted.
–Not a big deal for unmated lady wolves, as any of them would be ecstatic just to be with an alpha... even if he was a douche, but for humans... well, she could see the problem.
It was a bad idea in any case though – setting the tone of a mating by starting it with a rape? Elise was getting more and more perturbed by the situation, when she finally realized what Greg was doing.
He wasn't merely there to upset the little omega. –He wanted the omega to commit suicide by alpha! Luna, Greg is probably lying, she said to herself. She wondered why the guards hadn't kicked his ass back upstairs, but realized that they were probably as confused as she was, and probably had the same thought she did - that Mark was in fact a douche.
That's when she heard Trent give Greg notice of his challenge. She growled to herself; Greg was manipulating the wolves around here like puppets on a string, and one of those puppets was going to be the alpha? What an ass! She crept back up the stairs hoping Greg wouldn't notice her. She was totally going to spoil his plan-
-Only, it occurred to her, manipulation or no – Trent had issued a challenge to the alpha, and Greg wasn't the only one to hear it. The guards and the prisoners all knew.
And Trent – that poor stupid omega, he really did believe the strange human was his mate. –This much wasn't Greg's doing.
"Shit," she said to herself, reaching the main floor and eyeing the alpha's office. "Greg's plan is going to work."
Kate just stood there, in the relative darkness of the library, for entire minutes. The old wolf had forgotten how many books the pack had. She was staring at two dozen rows of bookshelves, all taller than she was, and long as a football field. At first daunted, a smile slowly crept over her face as she began to smell the lingering scents of old readers – wolves she had known long ago who devoured books like meat. Her second mate in fact, had been the type to fall asleep drooling in all his books, and she could scent that, among the dusty pages and smell of other booklovers.
Kate took a steadying breath and set to work. She had an idea what this Leah was, but she wasn't entirely sure. There were many things in the world other than werewolves and humans. –Many, many things.
-At least there had been.
Kate couldn't remember much from her earliest years living, but she still maintained patches of memory – her first mating, her first hunt. She could remember her mother making her a dress. She could remember salt in big barrels and meeting another wolf pack for the first time. And she sort of remembered the talk from back then.
She remembered old talk, old talk about disappearances. Her father couldn't tell who had disappeared because they had become extinct, and who had simply wanted to disappear. They had tried to make a list, her father and the others, to keep track of things. But it was still mostly guessing.
Fairies, for one thing, were a mystery.
Elves, probably gone.
The small gods – they had been banished.
Trolls, killed. Hopefully.
Fallen angels had retreated to hell, with a few exceptions.
Angels all had been called back to heaven, with a few exceptions.
Griffins and gargoyles saw what happened to the dragons and got the hell out of dodge.
Sea nymphs, mermaids, sirens, sprites, who knew?
The soulless had died out.
Gorgons and furies, orcs and ogres, they were probably dead...
Heroes, the old-timey kind, they had all died in a suicide pact.
Wooly Mammoths – those damned telekinetic monsters - had been crushed under the weight of their own minds.
And then there were things that couldn't leave if they tried. Ghosts, of course... but also...
Kate held onto the memory as well as she could, knowing it might take some time to find the book she needed.
"Are you a witch?" Mark asked, a strange thrill of fear tingling up his back. He watched the thick girl in purple pajamas pants walk back to the bed and sit, wondering if this perhaps wasn't the mating pull, if this was a spell or... No – no it had to be the mating pull; he had never felt anything like this before. She was the answer to his problems – putting children in her would ensure such a line.
"No," she replied, swiping a hand through her hair, before twisting it up into a makeshift bun.
"What then?" he asked, wondering if she was another kind of were, a new kind of were. Holy shit, he thought, what if she's a government experiment like in the freaking movies? What if his mate was the million dollar woman?!?
"Mark Mark Masters, geez. You wouldn't believe my story if I told you, and we don't have time for it. You need to release those women."
This was a bucket of water on his musings.
It would have been one thing, if there was any practical way that he could release the women.
It would have been another thing, if she had simply asked him once and let it be once she had been given his answer.
But this continual harassment on a moot point – he began to think it wouldn't matter if there was a practical way, that it didn't matter that she wanted it. Mark was the alpha. It was his decision.
"No," he growled. "And I hope you realize that there's plenty of time for you to tell me this story – because they're not the only ones not leaving."
"Bluh," Leah replied. "Two 'nots' in one sentence. There's rules against that, aren't there? But besides that, I hope you know that I have a faculty meeting coming up – you know, the semester's starting any day now, so... I can't be here forever."
"You'll stay here and be my mate forever," Mark replied.
"Mark Mark Masters, I'm needed. -By the masses. I teach cartooning. They need me out there. You think the Sunday funnies draw and write themselves? You think anyone can just make a picture and a caption and be the next Family Circus? Of course they can! But who would want that, Mark Mark? Who wants MORE Family Circus? I don't. I really don't! But if we don't shape those young people out there to be... interesting, and... and funny, Mark Mark Masters, we may just end up with more Family Circus... more cartoon children just... stating the obvious. –And their cartoon parents just standing there under speech balloons filled with nothing but puns. Puns, Mark Mark Masters. Puns."
Mark looked at her. She seemed genuinely concerned about all this. "I don't really read the paper," Mark admitted.
"I never imagined you did," she replied, "I only read the entertainment section and advice columns and cartoons."
"I do sometimes look at the cartoons," Mark said, "I've noticed that Dilbert is pretty funny. There's always a paper on my desk for some reason. I think Earlene puts it there."
"I think Earlene has your best interests at heart," Leah said.
"I do too," Mark said. Luna, his wolf was confused. Leah pissed him off to a degree he had never before felt. –And he wanted her in his corner, in his bed, so badly. And, suddenly, he also realized that he liked talking to her. –When she wasn't driving him crazy. "You could, could keep cartooning," he offered. "You could do a paper just for the wolves. Wolf News!"
Leah raised a bemused eyebrow at this. Impossible, of course, though it was sweet that he was trying.
"Best of both worlds," Mark continued. "You stay here, and become the star cartoonist of the pack. Oh! Oh – if it's the teaching you like, you can teach the pack. I'll MAKE them come to your class."
Leah began to laugh.
Mark got to his knees. "Come on, Leah. Trust me. I'm your mate. Tell me what you are. Submit to me. Give me yourself and I'll give you the world in return."
She glanced around significantly. "Small world," she said.
His eyes sparkled in the light. "Compared to Man, our world may seem small – but our lives are long and full. I would," Mark began to say that he would fuck her every day for the next thousand years, but managed instead to say, "make you happy every day for the next thousand years."
"Sounds like heaven," Leah said.
"It would be," Mark replied, getting to his feet, his jeans getting tighter at the thought of Leah finally giving in. Luna! A whole freaking day of having to woo his mate! –This was frustrating stuff.
"Mark Mark Masters, haven't you ever wondered, you know, if heaven gets boring?"
He didn't even hear her; he was just staring at the press of her breasts against the borrowed shirt, and feeling the snap and zip of his jeans as he pulled them open.
She was already almost imperceptibly shaking her head no.
And then someone was pounding at the door.
"Alpha! You're needed," Earlene said through the door.
"Saved by the bitch," Leah said.
"It'll have to wait," Mark replied, eyes on Leah. He pulled off his shirt now, revealing very, very amazing pectorals. Leah's eyes went wide, and her hand automatically went to the corner of her mouth to keep from drooling. She crossed her legs and tried to look away.
"Er, you better go check and see what it is," she said, voice a tad high.
Earlene pounded on the door again. "Seriously, Mark – we've got a problem."
Mark reached out and felt Leah's breast through the shirt. Her nipples were up and ready for action. He slipped his jeans down his legs. –Just his boxers now. "Lie down," he said.
"Maybe we could just make out for a while." Leah held up her thumb and forefinger an inch apart. "Just for a little while."
Mark gently pushed her down on the bed. He nodded. "I'll kiss you," he said. "For a while." He caressed himself through his boxers.
She began to sit up again, "Aren't you curious what I am?"
He shrugged, "It can wait." He pushed her back down.
"Mark Masters! You have a beta down here who's orchestrated a challenge against your rule as Alpha! Can you hear me in there?!"
He paused, just a moment, to look at the door. "What?"
Suddenly Leah was off the bed, at the door, about to open it. "You might want to get your pants on," she offered, just seconds before she pulled it open.
He was still standing there, wondering how she got to the door so quickly, pants around his ankles, when Earlene walked in.
Earlene looked pretty mad... until she got a look at Mark – harboring a pretty serious erection in nothing but boxer shorts, hovering over a bare bed like there had been someone there.
Granted, weres aren't strangers to nudity.
-Still, rarely did one find another simply poking out of a pair of boxers while appearing to make lewd advances on an empty bed.
Would that be mattress porn or simply coverlet kink?
Both Earlene and Mark turned nine shades of red, before Earlene turned away and Mark almost destroyed his jeans trying to rip them back up his legs. "What?!" Mark demanded, embarrassed to look at her.
"It's been reported to me that one of the betas, Greg, has fooled the omega, Trent, into issuing a challenge."
"What do you mean?" Mark replied, finally turning to her. There was too much to process here. If Trent really still believed Leah was his mate, Mark wasn't surprised by the challenge. But what did Greg have to do with any of it?
"Elise overheard Greg purposely goading Trent into a challenge. He suggested to Trent that you planned on raping Leah, and now Trent has issued a challenge for the right to mate her himself. I went down to the cells and tried to explain to him that Greg had been out of line, but," Earlene began.
"But he still challenged me!" Mark said. "The alpha! An omega of all wolves, challenging me?" He began to pace with anger.
"I know; it's unheard of," Earlene replied, "But he was tricked, Mark."
"Tricked? He knows that Leah is my mate, and if I want her I'll take her and it's my right."
"Mark, don't fan the flames. You don't want any more talk of rape getting into this."
"Why? It shouldn't matter. I'm the alpha."
"Luna, Mark. Have some tact. You're the alpha, yes – that means that you have to have some basic understanding of the wolves below you. You have to make them feel safe. I heard that Trent was sad, but looked like he'd have given Leah up if she had chosen you. You know how much trouble that would have solved? If he thought the girl was safe with you? Instead he thinks you're a rapist and now you've been challenged."
Mark rolled his eyes. "By an omega. Big deal."
"Yes, Mark. It's a big deal. Sure – you can beat him. He's an omega. But that's not like sparring with a beta or a theta. It's not even like being challenged by a beta or a theta."
"Er, yeah," Mark replied. "It'll be easier. Duh."
"Yes, Mark. It will be easy to kill Trent. –That's why it won't be like the other fights. It will be murder, plain and simple."
Mark paused, the truth of it sinking into him slowly.
Earlene continued, "The entire pack will be there. When someone challenges the alpha like this, the entire pack has to be there. Everyone. –Including Sarah. You'll go into the circle. Trent will go into the circle. Everyone will know that you're the alpha and he's the omega. Everyone will know that you both want the same girl. Trent will be the brave one for wanting her badly enough to die. You..."
"I will be the villain," Mark replied.
Earlene shook her head. "It's too soon, Mark. Every alpha at some point or another has to be the bad guy. He has to make the hard choice. But you've been at this for too short a time and you've..."
"I haven't been a very good alpha otherwise, anyway," Mark said.
"The fact you've said it out loud... it makes me think you might be a great alpha someday, Mark. You're your father's son. You can rise to the occasion. –It's just... this is a mess."
"Why'd Greg do it?" Mark asked.
"He's about as obsessed with her as the rest of you. Trent's claim was driving him... insane."
Mark turned to look at Leah, realizing – no, this couldn't wait, they needed to know what she was.
Only she wasn't there.
-Just the door, open, as it had been when she opened it.
"Did she..." Mark looked at Earlene and pointed to the door. "Did she just run away again?"
"So, Sunday, then. ...Cool. ...Love you. And don't tell Adria. ...Of course she'll find out; that doesn't mean she needs to know now, does it...? Oh God, just because she's the oldest... And that. ...You know what? Whatever. Tell her or don't. I don't care." Leah pushed the end-call button on the phone she had nicked from the teenaged theta she had practically danced with during her earlier escape, and slipped it back into the back of the granny panties she was wearing beneath her pajamas bottoms. She continued walking through the woods toward civilization; it was important for the wolves to believe that she had a particular route to freedom, so she was making a point of blazing it.
Trent couldn't believe what he had done. After Greg left, he sat in his bunk, unable to think, unable to hear anything except the roaring silence in his ears.
Trent had issued a challenge to the alpha.
In other words, Trent had asked to be killed.
Inside his wolf growled – stop thinking that way!
But it was easy to think that way.
Though, Trent was surprised to find that his fears were not at all in line with what he would have assumed they would be under the circumstances.
Last week, had someone presented him with the scenario of challenging the alpha for a mate, he would have thought that being ripped open and cannibalized would be at the forefront of his worries. His secondary concerns would be that he would die having never known the love of a mate, and having never once been to Hawaii, and having never won a trophy for anything. In addition to these things, he would also be a little sad that he would be leaving his work for the pack unfinished and that the things in his room would likely just be thrown away. He was also very curious about what would happen next spring on Masterpiece Mystery, and would be very put out by dying before spring came.
Now though, the reality was that he wasn't merely worried about being ripped open and cannibalized by the alpha in a horrible duel to the death. He was worried he couldn't protect his mate, AND that he was going to be ripped open and cannibalized by the alpha in a horrible duel to the death.
He found he didn't really give a damn about Hawaii – although part of him really wished he was there now, with Leah, on the beach, naked, eating kiwi fruits and drinking mai tais, reading erotic poetry, dancing the hula, rubbing suntan oil into each other's skin, kissing under the sunset, over-tipping the valet, building erotic sandcastles and laughing at the ocean waves that knocked the sandcastles over.
He wanted to hold her down the sand, Leah fat with cubs, and kiss her everywhere, and make her smile.
He suddenly remembered the way she smiled at him when she waved goodbye from her cell.
Oh Luna, he needed to live. Just to see that smile again.
Mark immediately ran out to the hallway, and realizing that Leah was really, really not there – he changed into his wolf form and bound downstairs. But before he could exit the building, he found his sister Sarah coming inside, carrying a limp wolf in her arms.
"Mark! It's Lucy! I found her by the tradition ring!"
Sarah put Lucy on the floor. Mark was torn. He didn't even know where Leah was by now, but Sarah looked really upset.
...Also there was a potentially dead wolf on the floor.
Earlene strode over and nudged the unconscious wolf with her foot. "What's wrong with her?"
"I don't know!" Sarah said.
Mark looked between the door and his sister. Finally, he trotted over, licked her hand, and then headed for the door.
"Really? We didn't just have a talk about being the bad guy too soon... or too often?" Earlene drawled.
Mark the wolf stopped and banged his head against the door three times, before turning around and turning back into his human form.
He walked over, naked, and crouched by Lucy.
He grabbed her wolfy jaw and shook her head back and forth a little. "Hey. Hey you."
"Her name is Lucy," Sarah pointed out.
"Lucy!" Mark shook her head in his hand. "...Lucy!" Mark shook her head in his hand. "...Lucy!" Mark said, still shaking her head back and forth. Mark looked at his sister. "Well, I did my best."
Suddenly, Lucy began to awaken. Her eyes blinked and she started to roll over. Then, she smelled the alpha.
Her eyes shot completely open; she saw the alpha – crouched over her – totally naked. She barked in surprise and leapt into the air, turning into her human form accidentally, and crashing painfully into the stair banisters.
"Lucy!" screamed Sarah.
"Wow," said Earlene and Mark.
"Owowowow," cried Lucy.
"So she's okay," said Mark. Sarah glared at him before going over to lend Lucy a hand.
"I found you unconscious by the tradition ring; what happened?" Sarah asked.
Mark looked at Earlene; Earlene just nodded, she had this. He turned, about to shift and go looking for Leah again.