More Than Just a Fairy Tale Ch. 13byJaisen©
Luc woke in the middle of the night stiff and achy. "What the hell?" he wondered. As he tried to stretch, he remembered. Duke, the attach, Meg and the family meeting. "Damn, what a day," he thought. Luc went to roll over, but Meg was snuggled up tight to his right side. Luc scooted back, stretched a bit more and then curled up around her. He was back asleep in a moment.
Meg woke up wondering who had turned up the heat. She tried to roll over and realized that Luc had shifted in the night and had pinned her under the covers. "Oh great. I need to go to the bathroom," she thought. Meg tried to wiggle out of the covers, but it didn't work.
"Luc, wake up Luc," she said to the wolf curled around her. She started to shake his neck, but realized that even in wolf form, he was missing fur where he'd been injured. The other thing she noticed was that the chain she'd given him fit without being too tight. She smiled.
"Come on Luc, roll over, play dead, do something, but let me up," she said as she shook his back near his hips.
The wolf raised his head and looked at his mate. "Soft One?" She was yapping at him. He yawned, and then sniffed. "Soft One needs up?" he thought. Soft one not safe," the wolf thought as he sniffed the air again. "Two others in house," he smelled. The wolf stood up and let his mate out of the bed and followed her into the little space. He sat in the doorway and watched.
Meg was glad when Luc got up off of the bed. She wasn't too thrilled by the fact that he followed her to the bathroom. She could tell he was on guard by the way he kept sniffing the air. "Wonder if he smells Peter and Kevin in the guest room?"she thought.
"Come on, move out of the way," she said as she tried to go back to the bedroom. Meg went to grab her clothes, and Luc blocked her way. He was herding her back to the bed. Looking over at the clock, she saw that it was 8:05 am. "Well, I guess I can go back to bed for a little bit," she said to herself. Once she got back in bed, Luc wrapped around her and put his head on his tail. There was nothing to do but go back to sleep.
Meg woke much later to the sounds of clattering noises coming from the kitchen. Luc was still shifted, but she figured she could get off the bed without waking him. Meg was half way off when he woke, looked at her and jumped off the bed.
"Okay, I get an escort," she said to herself as they walked out of the bedroom. The wolf preceded her just enough that he could see ahead. He sniffed and headed towards the kitchen and the noises.
Peter was trying to find a coffee filter when he felt the wolf enter the kitchen. He went very still, because while not loud, the growl was there. The wolf sniffed him and then bumped his hand. Peter relaxed. Then he noticed Meg standing in the doorway.
"Do you have any clue to what his problem is?" she asked pointing to the wolf who was sniffing every corner of the room.
"Not exactly, but I can guess. This is the first time he's shifted since the surgery, and now he's checking his territory. Way too many unusual smells and he probably remembers the attach yesterday. So, he's guarding you too. Knowing Luc, he was damn frustrated yesterday about not being able to keep you safe. Plus, he probably feels guilty about Duke losing his mind. So, we have 'the big bad wolf' checking out the world and planning to keep it safe," said Peter.
"Great. Is Kevin still asleep?" she asked working her way to the cupboard where the filters were kept. She handed one to Peter who finished working on the coffee.
"Yeah. He's shifted too. Hope you don't mind fur all over the covers," said Peter.
Meg laughed. "Right, like I'd have a choice?" she said pointing to Luc sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor.
Peter realized just what he had said and laughed.
The wolf looked from the man who smelled like a wolf to his mate. "Soft One is safe with him," he thought. Standing up, he nosed past his mate and headed towards the other scent in the house. There had been lots of two legged wolves in the house. He reached the place where the other scent was strong, but he couldn't get into the space. He stuck his nose next to the floor where there was a gap and sniffed. "Wolf asleep. Hurt. Safe for Soft One," he thought. Walking back to the kitchen, he sat watching his mate and the man. After a minute, he headed for the back door. Pawing the handle, he let himself out. More scents. He covered the yard in a few strides.
Meg watched Luc check out the back yard. She giggled when he stopped, sniffed and then peed on a few spots.
"What are you laughing at?" asked Peter.
"Oh, just himself checking the peemail," she said.
"Peemail?" he replied. Then he thought about it and started to giggle too. "Guess we do check things out just a bit differently on four legs."
"Yeah. That nose in the crotch thing is right disturbing when it is just a dog. However, when you know that it's a shifter, it takes on a whole different perspective," said Meg.
Peter nodded. His girlfriends over the years had made a list of things that you really should remember when around humans. Crotch sniffing was a real no-no.
"Anymore of that coffee?"Kevin said as he walked slowly into the kitchen.
"Sure, let me get you a cup," said Meg. She reached around Peter, grabbed a mug and poured Kevin a cup. "What do you want in it?" she asked.
"Just black coffee," he said holding out his hand for the cup.
Meg smiled. She understood that whole 'gotta have coffee before I'm made to think' look that Kevin had.
"I see that Luc shifted again," said Kevin. He was watching Luc checking out the back yard.
"Yeah, maybe things will get back to normal now," said Peter.
"Nah, Ginny would still find things to yell at us for," said Kevin.
"That's why I work in the warehouse," replied Peter.
Meg smiled. She was getting to know her fellow co-workers better and it helped her understanding of them as people and shifters. The idea of a pecking order had a whole different meaning when people had two natures. Now she wanted Luc to shift back so she could talk to him about everything that went on yesterday. She looked out the window and saw that he was headed back into the house.
The wolf came inside and found Soft One and the other two in the kitchen. He hurt and went to lay down on the big soft spot that smelled like Soft One.
"Well, I guess Luc may not be joining us for breakfast," said Peter as he watched the wolf head back to the bedroom.
"Or, maybe he's going off to shift privately?" suggested Meg.
"Could be, but from what I see, it looks like he is getting back into bed," said Kevin peering around the corner.
"Oh," said Meg. She wondered if she should follow, and decided to drink her coffee first.
The wolf jumped up on the bed and then smelled something. Cubs had been here. He sniffed around the room, and found a bag. The crumbs in the bag were good, as he licked the last of them up. Then he sniffed again. Walking over to the side of the room, he smelled the cubs scent on a small furry thing. He sniffed it. It didn't smell like food, but it looked like food. He took it gently in his teeth and grabbed it to bring it down to his feet. As his jaws squeezed it, it began to make a noise.
"baaa, Beeeh, baaaaa, Beeeeh," squeaked the toy sheep.
The wolf dropped it in surprise. It continued to make noise, and he hit at it trying to kill the noise. It didn't work. It just continued to make noise. He hit at it again and it didn't stop.
Meg and the two men heard the toy sheep go off, and headed for the bedroom. They stopped in the doorway and laughed. There on the bed was Luc, the huge wolf with a toy sheep going 'baaa, Beeeh, baaaa, Beeeh' under his paws. Every time it made noise, the wolf slapped at it with his paws as if that would kill it and make it stop.
"Oh, my god!" laughed Meg. She was laughing so hard, that her sides were hurting.
"I wish I had my camera," laughed Peter.
All Kevin could do was laugh. He'd never seen such a ludicrous sight in his entire life. Better yet, it was Luc/Wolf that was the focus for the laughter.
The wolf looked at Soft One and the two-legged wolves who were making as much noise as the thing he had grabbed. He gave up trying to hit it and shoved it off to the floor and put his head down on his paws.
"I do believe that he's embarrassed," said Meg, trying to stop the laughter.
"I agree," said Kevin. "I can't wait to tease him about this."
That statement sent Peter and Meg into another round of giggles. The thought of teasing Luc about the sheep was just so perfect. Meg looked back at the wolf and realized that he was beginning to shift back into human form.
"Guys, would you give me a few minutes. He's shifting," she said.
"Sure, I think I'll see what I can cook for breakfast," said Kevin.
"Me too," said Peter. "Maybe make another pot of coffee."
"Okay, thanks guys," said Meg smiling as they literally ran for the kitchen. She moved into the bedroom and closed the door. She knew that Luc wasn't body conscious, but still didn't think he wanted an audience. She sat on the bed and waited for him to finish shifting.
Luc opened his eyes and stretched. His vision still wasn't perfect, but he could see Meg sitting on the edge of the bed with a smile on her face.
"Hello," she said. "How are you feeling?"
"Um, a little sore and confused," he said trying to get everything settled and into place.
"Did you enjoy your walk and the sheep?" she asked.
"Walk? Sheep?" he asked. Then he began to connect the feelings his wolfish side had been projecting with the look on her face. "Oh no, he didn't," Luc said looking around. There on the floor was a rather soggy chewed on stuffed sheep.
"Yeah, you did," said Meg with a smile on her face. "In fact, you squeaked it a number of times and Peter, Kevin and I just couldn't stop laughing."
Luc blushed. It was especially prominent in the areas with fresh scars. He just rolled onto his stomach and buried his face in his hands. "Oh gods," came the muffled statement from the bedding.
"It's alright. We didn't video it or anything. Hell, we didn't even get pictures," said Meg. She couldn't resist teasing him.
"Well thank goodness for small favors," said Luc in a 'trying to be peeved' voice. He was still so embarrassed. He got up off of the bed, picked up the sheep and dried it off. Then he stuck it up on a high shelf with some philosophy books.
"I think it will be safe up there," said Meg with a smile.
"Yeah. Nietzsche on sheep. An interesting thought. I'm going to find my sleep pants and then I want some coffee," Luc said as he looked under the covers for his sleep pants. He found them at the bottom of the bed. When he held them up, Luc realized that they were shredded. "Damn, I shifted in them," he said.
"Well, grab a pair out of the dresser," said Meg.
"But these were my favorite pair," Luc moaned as he wadded up the flannel sheep print sleep pants.
Meg started to laugh. "Is that because you could dream of eating sheep at night?" she teased.
"Oh you brat!" Luc said tossing the shredded pants at her. He pulled another set with moose on them out of the drawer and slipped them on.
"By the way, who bought you the sleep pants?" Meg asked noticing a theme.
"Umm... Ginny. She has this weird sense of humor," said Luc. He was blushing again as he pulled a teeshirt over his head.
"I rather like her sense of humor," said Meg as they walked to the kitchen.
Peter handed Luc a cup of coffee and made room for him at the table. Kevin was cooking bacon and eggs on the stove. The smells were beginning to permeate the kitchen.
"Meg, where is the garlic powder?" Kevin asked.
"Um... I think it is to the right of the stove in that little cupboard," she said. "I still have trouble remembering where everything is."
Kevin smiled as he found the garlic in a glass container. No wonder he hadn't been able to smell it. He added some to the eggs along with pepper and a bit of salt. "Meg, if you'd get some plates out, I have breakfast ready," he said.
Meg smiled as she moved to get the plates. She loved the fact that the male shifters she knew all cooked. She understood that it was more of a defense against starvation than domesticity, but it was still cool. She handed the plates to Kevin who quickly piled eggs, bacon and toast out of the oven onto the plates. Everyone sat down at the table and dug in.
"Are there seconds?" asked Luc.
"No, but give me a minute and I'll make more eggs," said Kevin. "Oh, and you'll need to go shopping. Between last night and this morning, we stripped the fridge."
"Not surprised. I remember food being brought in, but there were a lot of people here last night," said Luc.
"Yes, there were, which brings me to a lot of questions," said Meg.
"Good luck," said Peter looking at Luc. From the look on his face, he figured that this was going to be an unpleasant discussion.
Kevin was cooking eggs and didn't say a word. Luc got up and poured coffee for everyone before sitting back down to address Meg's questions.
"So, where do you want me to begin?" Luc asked.
"Let's go with the easy one. Duke. Where is he? And what was that bit about a place up in the mountains for him?" she asked.
"First off, we have our own rules. Family rules, pack rules," Luc started.
"I figured that out when Bitty's thing went wrong and when I took you to a shifter hospital and not the local ER. Quit stalling," said Meg. She wasn't pissed or angry, but she didn't need the obvious pointed out either.
"When one of us screws up badly, there are usually two options. First off, you get yourself killed or are killed in a fight. Second one, is you get sent to the equivalent of jail. Duke got sent to jail. No parole, no shortening of sentence, no death sentence either. Jeff runs the facility up in the mountains," said Luc.
"Okay, so how is it that no one notices a prison for werewolves up in the mountains?" Meg asked.
"Well, you wouldn't, because it is right in the middle of a wolf sanctuary," said Peter.
"What?" asked Meg.
"You know the wolf sanctuary up next to the national forest?" asked Kevin who loaded Luc's plate up with scrambled eggs and toast.
"Yes, I've been up there a few times with friends," said Meg. Then it dawned on her. "They aren't all shifters are they?" she asked.
"No, in fact, most of the ones the public interact with are real wolves or wolf hybrids. However, did you notice how there were fenced off areas farther back?" asked Luc.
"I sorta remember thinking that there was a lot of pens and fenced off areas that we couldn't get to..." her voice trailed off as she thought about the layout of the wolf sanctuary. "Oh! I get it. Most of the shifters live in fenced off areas away from the public."
"Exactly," said Luc. "Most are so far gone that they never shift to human form. The ones that do have a cabin with basic necessities. However, they are behind fences and the biggest deterrent isn't the other shifters at the sanctuary, but the ranchers around the area."
"Okay, why? What am I missing?" asked Meg.
"Simple. Most of the ranchers would shoot a wolf on sight and the nearest bit of civilization is over an hours drive away. So, if they did escape, they'd need to either steal a car and clothes, or go out on four legs. If they were seen crossing a ranch, they'd be shot," explained Peter.
"Oh geeze," said Meg. "So that's where Duke is?"
"Yes, Jeff left with him yesterday and he will be in the innermost areas for a long time. Jeff has been known to tranquilize some of them until they adjust. Others seem to come to an understanding that they screwed up and others, well..." said Luc as he made a hand gesture of shooting something off in the distance.
"You know, in some ways, that seems really barbaric. Then again, at least they are outside instead of in a 6 x 6 foot cage," said Meg. "Are there many of them up there at the moment?"
"No, only one or two besides Duke. A few try to starve themselves, but that really never works. For the most part, we shifters are rather law abiding," said Kevin.
"Oh?" said Meg rather sarcastically. "You mean to tell me that you guys are saints?"
"No, but our penalties for screwing up when caught are a bit more severe," said Luc. "No one wants to go to a human jail, so people tend to be a bit more honest. Those that screw up face family or pack judgment. Rape and murder have one penalty. Death. What we are on the whole is fast justice. Often brutal, but no one languishes in jail for years on end."
Meg thought about it. "Then how do you deal with humans that hurt pack members?" she asked.
"Often the same way we do with shifters. Or, they get turned over to the human court system, and get locked up as insane. 'I killed a werewolf. Of course it was my wife, but...' gets you sent to the loony bin by a judge," said Peter.
"I can see that. Goes back to the whole 'my uncle is a wolf' business. No one would believe the guy, and justice would be served, because a nut case like that would be locked up forever," said Meg.
"For the most part. The ones that don't,... well... usually get killed or they kill themselves," said Luc.
"Alright, I think I get Duke and his punishment. Now, for the family and pack thing," said Meg. "Am I right in thinking that you are the boss or leader of the pack?" she asked wishing there was some other way she could have said that right as it came out of her mouth.
All three of the men snickered. Peter rolled his eyes and Kevin stared at the ceiling. Luc cleared his throat. "Um..." he started.
"Well, are you or aren't you. Rather simple question," she said. Meg had had a bit of time to think about things and some bits only added up one way. Now all she really needed was Luc's side of the story.
"You aren't making this easy," he said.
"No, but then again, I never expected to end up as part of a werewolf trial either. Quit stalling," she said with a smile in her voice.
"Okay, I'm the head of my family. And,... my um, my branch of the family is the biggest in the area," he said. He grabbed his cup of coffee and drained it. "Why in the hell is it so hard to explain to her?" he wondered. "It isn't like I'm some kind of royalty, but damn... Oh hell."
"That makes sense of a lot of things I've been wondering about," she said.
"Like what?" Luc asked.
"Oh, how a fairly young guy has such a good business, or how everyone turns to you when something happens. And it really explains yesterday," Meg said.
"No, not really. Whenever the pack or a family member is wronged, they are the ones in the hot seat. They 'rule' over the procedure. This time it just happened to me and I happen to be the head of the family," he explained.
"So, how is it that you have older siblings that aren't in charge, but you are?" Meg asked. She was thinking of Sandy when she asked this.
"Well, some are dead or shifted or didn't want the job. It isn't so much by birth order, but by ability and some days I swear by who didn't say no fast enough," Luc said. He got up and got more coffee.
"So Sandy didn't want the job?" Meg asked.
"Sandy had the job right up until Jesse's mom died," said Luc.
"Oh," said Meg.
"And before you asked, she got hit by a car," said Luc. "Some idiot in a Land Rover was busting around the farm they lived on and thought he hit a wolf or German Shepard. At least the idiot had the brains to come to the door and admit they'd been trespassing. Luckily, they left the body and Sandy was able to pick her up," finished Luc.
"Oh damn," said Meg.
"You see, if we die, we tend to shift back to human form most times. The last thing Sandy wanted was to have his wife's broken body on display," said Kevin.