I was swarmed when I got back. Females were throwing themselves at me, some yelling very odd things.
I called for Lyra to avoid confusion, but they got more excited, saying things about experience.
Chris was able to, eventually, calm them down. I got a few compliments from males in the pack, but none were insane, which was a welcome change.
"Well." Chris said when everyone had calmed down, "Looks like you're a celebrity now. I may just have to keep you around too. Although I must admit, challenging the Alpha directly was not the best possible strategy."
I smiled. "But it was the quickest."
"Probably was." He agreed.
After the fight, I was exhausted. It wasn't so much the fight as it was dragging Lucem around. I couldn't tell if it was his naivety, especially at his age, or his actions that really got me. Either way, I was too tired to worry about it. Chris offered me his den.
I crawled in, and fell asleep shortly after lying down, Lyra walking in as I left the conscious realm.
I woke up to a very distinct smell of sex. I saw Lyra lying next to me, but I couldn't remember having done anything the night before. I sniffed again and remembered the previous day's events as I realized it was not our scent.
Wondering if Chris had been so indecent as to have done the deed last night with Lyra and I inside his den, I climbed out of the den and into the brisk morning, stretching briefly before jogging out for a hunt. I had not eaten in a few days, and I figured Lyra would also appreciate food.
It was early enough into the season that rabbits had not yet shed their brown fur for snow white winter fur.
As I skulked around in the brush, I saw a small group of rabbits, hopping about in search of food.
They did not notice me until I had jumped out of the bush catching one of them completely by surprise and snapping its neck while its friends and family around it screamed, "TOM, NO!" while they ran off.
Having been friends with foxes, It was not only the life of only a fellow wolf that I had come to appreciate. I did not like killing things and having relatives of these things crying out in anguish, but I did have to eat.
I managed to gather up three rabbits before deciding I was done, and began heading back to Chris's den.
On the way back, I noticed Lucem, standing on the edge of the living area of the pack.
I growled lightly.
"Why are you here?" I spat.
"I wish to apologize." He said. I nearly dropped my food.
"I do not believe you." I said, more to test his truthfulness than anything else.
He lied on his back in a submissive position, exposing his stomach and neck. "Then you may kill me for returning."
"I already told you I'm not going to kill you."
"Then what are you going to do?" I didn't know what to think. Punish him for returning to the scene of his crimes, or try to trust him, and give him a second chance?
"I guess I'm going to watch you closely while you're here. Make any moves and I'll make sure you never fight again."
I couldn't believe it. He was accepting me as his Alpha.
His sudden change in behavior was more than a little unnerving.
I brought the rabbits into Chris's den where a newly woken Lyra accepted one gratefully, and Chris another.
"You took advantage of your ability to hunt here rather quickly."
"We haven't eaten in days. I was hungry."
"I can't really blame you. I am impressed that you managed to find three rabbits in one trip. Most of my hunters can only find enough food for themselves."
"I had to hunt for my pack while we were exiled. It was important for me to learn how to hunt."
We ate in relative silence after that. Lyra fell asleep shortly after eating and Chris left to manage his pack. That left me time to talk to Lucem.
He was still sitting in the same spot. As I got closer, he began to lightly wag his tail.
"You know, you don't have to sit here all day." I said, sitting next to him. He was quite a bit taller than I was.
"I don't know what they'll do if I try to walk in. Would they kill me?"
"I'm not sure they would do anything. They very well might kill you. But what is life without a little risk? You seemed more than happy to steal everything yesterday."
"That was, different, I don't know. I feel guilty. I haven't felt guilty in years."
Lucem was clearly confused. He was a different person since joining my pack, which made sense. I was his Alpha; he probably knew what I wanted him to do. The pull of an Alpha is a little more than difficult to fight. It can be impossible.
"Yeah, well, I'm sure you'll do what's right." I wasn't lying.
He hung his head, deep in thought. I had my doubts about him; he could be faking it for a chance at more food. Rogues were known for deceit. Those doubts however, were faint. While I wouldn't trust him with my life yet, I did trust him not to revert back to his thieving ways.
"Thank you for trusting me, urm…"
"Call me Ren. And stop thanking me."
"Of course." I sighed. It was going to be hard to get him to stop doing that.
He walked through the bushes, and into the pack area. I followed shortly after.
Most of the lower ranking wolves began to growl, both at me and Lucem. Lucem took a stance in front of me, defending me in case of conflict.
The higher ranked wolves looked to Chris for advice on what to do, and a knowing look from Chris told me he knew what was going on. He ushered everyone back to work.
"Well that was easier than expected." Lucem commented, standing back up to full height.
"Chris trusts me. And I trust you. So Chris trusts you. It's that simple. Good wolves will help other good wolves."
"I've never been in a real pack before, so I wouldn't know." He noted solemnly.
"You still aren't. This pack is only three members strong. Hardly worth calling a pack."
"Heh, with your leadership? I give it a few weeks. You'll have twenty wolves begging to follow you." He smiled broadly.
I chuckled, a bit flattered, and slightly doubtful. Though he had brought my hopes up, I hardly believed I could live up to those expectations. Still, it was a nice sentiment.
Lucem got up and I was left with my thoughts.
I knew we would have to leave this pack soon. I could not bring myself to impose on them anymore. I felt better leaving with Lucem, knowing he could help us fight if it came to that anywhere along the road.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized it would be better to leave then. It was early, and we could travel far before we would have to stop.
I got up to find Chris. It was easy, as he was still in his den.
"Ah, Ren. What brings you here?"
"I am planning on leaving soon. Most likely today."
"I cannot say I'm not disappointed to see you go. You have brought great happiness to my pack, you know. Feel free to return any time."
"Of course. Thank you Chris."
"You are very welcome." He smiled, broad and genuine. I returned the favor.
Lyra was standing just outside the den, looking at me questioningly.
"Why is that wolf from yesterday following me around? He's scaring me a bit." She said.
"Lucem? You're his leader now. He joined our pack earlier."
"I thought he was a rogue." She said, still suspicious of his and my intentions.
"He was just… misguided. He's never been in a pack before, and he seems to like me a lot, I'm sure you two will be fine once you get over the fact that he was rogue."
"I don't trust him."
"I was technically rogue, you trust me." I stated.
"I've been with you longer."
"Well, be with him longer. Then you'll be fine."
She was silent after that. Lucem joined us to leave shortly after, saying goodbye and apologizing to a good majority of the wolves in the pack.
They seemed disappointed to watch me go, but I had to continue on my journey. Where we were going, we still didn't know, but we had one more body going there. I considered that a worthwhile stop.