Orphan Ch. 09byVjax©
Alexander watched as Brad, three other men and two women sparred in a clearing not too far from the Alpha's house.
He had woken before Jenabel. Fighting the desire to stay ensconced in the warm bed with her, he had risen quietly and dressed in a pair of sweat pants and a T-shirt. The sun was just beginning to break the horizon as he walked up the steps to the Bentons' home.
"Good morning Alexander." Sophie's quiet good morning came as a shock. Once again he had been taken by surprise.
"Does being exceedingly quiet go with being Were? I've been startled more in the last few weeks than the rest of my life put together."
Sophie grinned at his playfully spoken lament.
"We do tend to be light of foot and can sit very still." She rose from the rocking chair at the edge of the large patio. Walking to him she gave him a quick hug before moving past him.
"Hungry? Breakfast is just about ready. Brad should be here any time. He can take you over to the sparring field."
"Breakfast sounds great. What time does Jenabel usually wake up?"
Alexander's question had Sophie laughing. "Normally whenever she damn well feels like it. But that's not strange among our kind. We can be quite enamored with the night and that tends to lead to either late or very grumpy mornings."
Sophie was just putting out platters of eggs, bacon and hash browns as Brad came into the kitchen.
"Morning Mom, morning Alexander. Let me guess Jenabel's still asleep?" His tone was light as he gave his mother a quick hug before grabbing a plate and sitting down.
Alexander watched as Brad and Sophie interacted so easily. It was a glimpse of something he never had, a strong emotional bond with someone who simply accepted him for who and now what he was. He was envious of Brad for a moment, but the feeling quickly shifted to hope that he too would perhaps have the chance of having such for himself someday.
Finishing up, Brad stood and kissed his Mother lightly on the cheek. "Thanks for breakfast." Turning to Alexander he smiled. "Come on, let's introduce you to our version of training." Alexander noted the gleam in Brad's eye as he said this.
"I'm looking forward to it." Alexander's response was cool and garnered a small laugh from Sophie as the two men headed for the sparring area.
Alexander had been watching now for about ten minutes. It was obvious the four men and two women had done this for years. Their moves were practiced, well timed almost choreographed.
They went through basic fighting stances, punches, kicks and throws. To watch them move was impressive. All of them were obviously incredibly fit. As he watched he felt his wolf stir.
This was not the first time he had felt the restless, primal energy course through his body. While in the Army it always happened before an operation. He had always just assumed it was nerves and adrenaline; his body preparing itself for the violence his mind knew was to come.
But now, having the barest understanding of what he was, Alexander understood that it was more than just nerves. He felt his body flex involuntarily, had to fight down the urge to stand up and pace. It was his wolf anticipating a coming battle, knowing that it would be needed he was asserting himself in small ways, readying himself to lend Alexander his strength.
Brad looked over to Alexander. He noted the serene look on his face, the way his eyes were closed, face turned to the rising sun. His body language belied the look on his face, Brad could see Alexander's big body tensing and relaxing, muscles shifting under his tight t-shirt.
'And he didn't know he was a Were?' Brad joked with himself. He had come quickly to like Alexander. Now that it was proven he was a Were he didn't know how he could have missed it. 'I'll have to listen to Willow more often.' He thought with a private laugh.
"Alexander, care to give it a go?"
Brad was interested to see how Alexander would do in a fight. While this was a very controlled setting, it would at least give him something to gauge Alexander by and hopefully provide a course of action where his training should focus.
Alexander didn't answer. Merely stood and stripped off his T-shirt and walked to the middle of the clearing.
Brad took a moment to briefly introduce the others.
"Everyone, this is Alexander, Jenabel's mate and soon to be pack member."
As Betas, they had been informed of Alexander, his unique situation and that he was to be joined to Jenabel. While they accepted their Alpha's word, it did not mean that all of them would be blindly accepting. Being Betas, it was their job to protect the pack. All of them understood that Alexander Dane, through circumstance more than desire, had increased the need to keep the pack safe. Each would have to make his or her own determination about the newcomer.
"Alexander, these five are the Betas entrusted with the packs' security here at the compound." Making small gestures as he named them Alexander took each in as Brad introduced them.
"You have Lisa." A tall blond with crisp angular features that reminded him of Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2.
"These three are Jonathon, Damon and Reg."
'They could be brothers.' Alexander mussed. All had strong builds, were well muscled and had light brown hair.
Alexander's eyes shifted to the last of the group as Brad introduced her.
"And Sara rounds out the Betas that are tasked with directly protecting the compound." Sara was the odd one of the group. Shorter at barely five foot five inches she had red hair and hazel eyes that glimmered each time the sun hit them correctly. She had been the one Alexander focused on as he had watched the six spar. Sara was well toned and moved a bit more fluidly that the others. Her size belied her strength and speed. He had the impression the others didn't quite appreciate all that she was capable of.
"Thank you for allowing me to join you, I have a lot to learn and I really appreciate the help." They could all sense the sincerity in his words and it helped to dampen down their wariness.
"Sara, why don't pair up with Alexander and show him what you've got."
Sara nodded but Alexander interrupted.
"If you wouldn't mind, I would prefer to spar with Damon or Reg first." He turned to Sara. "Please don't take offense, it's just that I think I'll have a much easier time with one of them than with you."
Sara wanted to be angry, both at Brad for picking her first and then for Alexander for requesting another partner. But when she looked in his eyes as he explained, she saw and heard nothing but honesty in his explanation.
'Maybe he's got some brains to go along with his brawn.' Sara thought as she gave a small nod and smiled.
It hadn't taken Alexander long while watching the six to place the Betas in order of ability. He had chosen to start at the bottom and work his way up. From the looks on Damon and Reg's faces he didn't think they appreciated being asked to be first.
"Fair enough; Damon why don't you start?"
Alexander had gotten a good feel for all of them while he had watched their earlier sparring. The four men were very good if predictable. They were all fast, had good balance and their training seemed well rounded. He saw aspects of several martial arts, kick boxing and street fighting all enhanced by their Were heritage.
Damon walked in a slow circle around Alexander. He was taller than all of them, even Brad, and had a long reach. 'I'll need to get inside quickly.' Damon's thoughts crystallized to action as he moved fast, looking to wrap Alexander up and grapple with him, using his own strengths to counter Alexander's.
Alexander saw the movement telegraphed long before the motion started. Damon's body flexed, his center of gravity adjusted lower. Alexander sensed more than saw Damon's wolf come closer to the surface.
He had seen it in all of them. It was a serious tell they would have to work on. The only one who hid the tell was Sara, which was why she was last on his list.
Damon's quick and aggressive motion ended an instant after it began with him lying on the ground behind a once again still Alexander.
"Dammit!" Damon had been sure his strength and speed would have been enough to catch the other man off guard.
The scene was repeated three times before Brad stepped in.
"Okay Damon, let's give Reg a chance."
Damon moved to the edge of the clearing, unsure whether to be upset or impressed with Alexander's ability.
Reg had watched the bouts with Damon intently.
'He's all about balance and control, have to stay away from him, surprise him from different angles. He'll have a bit harder time with me than he did Damon.' Reg was confident, now that he had seen Alexander in action, that he could take him.
Alexander watched Reg walk to the center of the clearing. He was leaner than Damon and much much faster. Alexander noted the glimmer in his eye, understood that Reg thought he had Alexander figured out.
Once again Alexander watched as Reg's wolf came to the fore an instant before he launched into a whirling kick intended to catch Alexander across the chin.
An instant later Reg was looking up at Alexander standing over him, his ankle firmly in the other man's grasp.
"I didn't even see you move." Reg's comment earned him a slight grin and shrug from Alexander.
It continued that way as every one of the Betas found themselves on their backs or stomachs or sides looking over or up at Alexander's calm face. Even Brad, the last aside from Sara was not immune. After finding himself on his back after Alexander threw him about three feet he finally laughed and gave in.
"Damn Alexander, I think we all thought...well...it seems we all have a few things to learn. We were expecting to teach you a few things but I doubt that will be necessary. Hell quite the opposite."
Alexander smiled and offered Brad a hand.
"It won't actually take much. All of you have the strength and reflexes to be absolutely deadly. I think the biggest issue is complacency. I'm sure you all have been sparring together for years. You know each other too well and are too comfortable with your own strengths and the others weaknesses. It won't take long for you to get those habits under control. It's a simple shift of attention more than any required skills."
"A lot of this was your preconceived notions. You didn't see me as a threat and that was your biggest mistake. You never know who you may be facing in a fight. What you and your parents and Jenabel are trying to teach me is balance with my wolf. You rely a great deal on your wolves and there is no reason you shouldn't. However, it does give you tunnel vision, stops you from seeing all the options."
Alexander turned to Sara.
She was shocked by what she had seen. Alexander had read each and every one of them perfectly. There was no doubt he was a superior fighter to all of them. She didn't think there was much point.
"Oh, I think I learned enough for one day Alexander." She tried to blow him off. The steely stare that Alexander shot Sara let her know immediately that her answer was not what he expected or wanted to hear.
"I think, we should dance anyway."
Alexander's tone was dry but held a subtle undercurrent of respect that surprised her.
She walked to the center of the clearing and faced him.
Sara hadn't been the most aggressive of the six as he had watched earlier. The others played on their own strengths, telegraphed their intentions and knew their opponents weaknesses too well. All except Sara. While the others had taken their lumps during all the different combinations, Sara was the only one who didn't take one hit. The really surprising part was that none of the others seemed to notice.
Alexander had seen fighters like her before. They were the quiet ones, the unassuming ones. The ones you never saw coming until you were staring up at them from the ground or you felt their knife slip between your ribs.
Sara and Alexander circled each other in the center of the clearing.
Alexander noted Sara's easy almost lazy stance. She didn't move in on him, didn't press the attack while all the others had. She waited for him and he was pleased by this. So often when you pressed the attack it left you at a disadvantage.
Alexander came in low and fast, his leg flashing out to sweep her legs out from under her. Sara was having none of it. In a move so fast Alexander barely had time to register it she jumped up and over his outstretched leg and landed a punch on his exposed right shoulder. He was expecting it, had wanted to see if she could be drawn in by his supposed vulnerability. Continuing the spin he was crouched right in front of Sara as his hand shot forward and up, his fingertips touching her sternum just enough so that the contact registered.
Sara's calm exterior broke at the touch.
"Don't you dare pull your punches! If you can hit me then you better damn well do it because I sure as hell will hit you!" Sara's verbal slap down echoed through the forest.
To prove her point Sara's left foot was suddenly making harsh contact with Alexander's chin.
Alexander could feel his wolf surge forward, coming closer to the surface with each passing second. As he rose to face Sara once again she looked into his eyes. The brilliant blue was still there but now golden flecks seemed to swirl within their depths.
Alexander breathed deeply. He calmed the surging force within him, contained it and allowed the power to come to him in a measured way that kept his balance intact.
Sara moved first this time. With a feint to her left, she pivoted and dashed around behind him to the right. Her fists made contact with his lower back. 'That should get his attention.' Her thoughts were focused. She had watched him take apart the other five, even besting Brad who rarely had trouble sparring with any of the pack members. Alexander's style was so different that she knew if she had any chance at all it would be necessary to take him by surprise.
Sara had hesitated a moment after the strike to his back, her expectation was that he would go to his knees at least and then she would strike his neck. Her hesitation cost her as instead of falling, Alexander's big body twisted with the lithe and subtle strength of a dancer as he planted both fists squarely to her abdomen sending her falling to the ground four feet away.
She was up in an instant and running fast at her adversary. It had been years since anyone put her on her back. Alexander saw her coming, acknowledged the wild look in her eye. He had succeeded in doing what he wanted, pushing her over the edge so her wolf tipped the balance.
Sara's leap was perfectly timed. Alexander just stood there watching her as she flew toward him, a curled fist behind her back waiting for just the right moment to transfer the energy of her forward motion to the punch she intended for his jaw.
In a flash of understanding she watched him drop to the ground below her, she knew he had her.
Alexander bent at the knees, dropping instantly to a crouch. As Sara's body flew over him he rose up just as fast, arms wrapping around her waist. With a quick pivot he used her momentum against her and brought her to the ground hard.
Sara had the breath knocked out of her as her back made painful contact with the ground, her lungs contracted as she fought to refill them. She looked up into Alexander's eyes which had returned to their pristine blue, she noted the small curl of his lip.
"Very, very good Sara. You're the best of them all." His voice was just above a whisper as the praise was for her ears alone.
He stood then offering her his hand. She took it, finally starting to get some oxygen back into her system. He turned, showing her his back as he walked toward the others closer to the edge of the clearing.
'I am the best of them all, now I'll prove it.' Sara had appreciated his praise but her wolf would not let the fury at being bested go so easily.
Her body coiled, tensing for her next attack. 'Never turn your back on an enemy.' She smirked to herself.
As she moved forward, her wolf coming almost to the fore she reveled in the power that suffused her body, enhancing her, making her capable of taking Alexander down.
Alexander noted the small changes in Brad and the others as he walked toward them, the five of them tensing almost at the same moment. The way their eyes focused behind him. He reached out with his senses and felt the building energy behind him and understood that Sara had not learned her lesson. He spun almost too quickly, his reflexes enhanced by his wolf surging forward to meet the threat.
One moment Sara was almost upon him, a look of shock just beginning to glimmer in her eye as she realized that once again Alexander had read her intention. In the next an ebony blur of snarling fury was streaking between the two of them, sights set on Sara.
Jenabel stretched languidly under the warm sheets, her body uncurling from slumber. Her hands slid over the sheet to her sides, searching for the warm hard body of her Mate. They were met with only cool sheets.
Squinting her eyes against the sun streaming into the window, Jenabel looked around the room only to find it empty.
"Damn early risers." She said to herself as she closed her eyes and pulled a pillow over her head.
Sleep had not come quickly last night as she lay next to Alexander. Jenabel had curled her body around his as he slept, enjoying the feel of his heat and hard muscles against her naked skin. She never realized, never dreamed that finding her Mate, being so close to him would elicit such strong feelings. All of the pack's young were taught what it was to find their mates. That it would be the most overwhelming, all-encompassing experience of their lives. But the deep truth of it was nothing like the explanations. She breathed easier, felt lighter, understood belonging now in a way that is unfathomable without the experience of it.
She had drifted to sleep clutching Alexander tightly, a small part of her still afraid that he was merely a specter that could vanish at any moment.
Waking up with him gone caused a gentle ache in her heart.
"We'll need to discuss this whole I'm up at the crack of dawn business." Jenabel laughed to herself as she pulled herself from the warm confines of the bed to search for Alexander.
After a quick shower Jenabel was walking across the compound toward her parent's house when she felt her mother in her mind.
'He's not here. Try the sparring grounds, he and Brad left about a half hour ago.' Sophie's voice was light in Jenabel's head.
'I'm going to have to talk to that man about the proper time to leave my bed.' Jenabel's tone was not quite as jovial as her mothers.
'It won't help I'm afraid, I tried to have that discussion with your father and it did no good. Trust me Jenabel, you'll get used to waking up before your Mate, the rewards can be most...pleasurable.'
Jenabel blushed at her mothers' innuendo. Even so, the images that it evoked caused Jenabel to quicken her steps, the need to find Alexander becoming more intense with each passing moment.
She came to the edge of the clearing just as Alexander pitched Brad over his shoulder, Jenabel's brother hitting the ground about three feet away from him. She stopped at the border of the clearing. Still hidden in the trees she watched and listened.
"Damn Alexander, I think we all thought...well...it seems we all have a few things to learn. We were expecting to teach you a few things but I doubt that will be necessary. Hell quite the opposite."
Brads voice was playful. While he was destined to be Alpha he had a much gentler nature than her father. Jenabel smiled as Alexander offered Brad his hand and pulled him to his feet.
Jenabel followed the conversation between Brad and Alexander but she was only slightly interested. As was always the case now Jenabel focused on Alexander. His stance was easy and relaxed, he felt comfortable in their company, was in his element really. Her eyes roamed over his muscular form, he was magnificent. Alexander had stripped off his shirt to spar with the Betas. His body was covered with a light sheen of sweat, tendrils of steam were rising off his body as his own heat battled the cool morning air. Her eyes followed the angular planes of his muscles as she noted with a twinge of sorrow the deep scars that crisscrossed his chest and back. She was about to go to him when Alexander turned and addressed Sara.