Eating dinner with them had been quite an event. She found that all wolves, especially the males, had an abundant appetite. She, herself, ate four of the hamburgers that Reid and Nate had grilled.
Elizabeth was in the front seat of the van again, only this time she was human and not as suspicious of the wolves behind her as she had been the night before.
At dinner she had come to know a lot more about the pack wolves separate personalities. She noticed Ben and the way he doted on Marcy - though he didn't talk much but she assumed him to be kind. Marcy, as she knew her, was playful and light. Marcy was always chipper and able to put the usual brooding males out of their slumps. Nate was very laid-back and wasn't afraid to give his opinions on anything. She sensed an undying loyalty to his Alpha and wondered at the strength of it. But her wolf sensed that he was also being flirtatious to her,so she promptly ignored him. Lex was playful and had a good sense of humor, but a short temper. Devlyn was often the one to initiate his short temper by teasing him, but more than often he stayed quietly reproachful and protective of the pack.
Surprisingly to her, Reid didn't talk too much to his pack - he let them converse amongst each other, and occasionally dropped in a comment. She had always figured that as the Alpha, he would be the most conversational and friendly with his pack. She wondered why he wasn't.
He tilted his head towards her and patted her knee with his hand. She didn't really know what the gesture meant but turned to look out the window, watching the night fly past the windows.
"Start changing - we'll be there soon." Reid murmured, and she knew it was an order for the wolves in the back.
Elizabeth turned back towards the pack with curiosity, and flushed when she saw clothes being carelessly taken off. She snapped her head to the front and kept it there, her face hot with embarrassment.
Reid pulled the van back to the park trail that she had sniffed around the night before - but he drove further than the trail, leading the van into the forest so everyone was hitting their heads on the roof and windows of the van trying to stay seated.
"Don't go too far," Reid announced as he stopped the van and cut the engine.
"Want us to take a sweep around?" Nate asked from the back, moving over other bodies to the sliding door and pulling it open.
Reid turned to look at him, keeping his hand on her to still her from moving.
"Just a sweep," Reid agreed, opening his door. Elizabeth watched him go in front of the van to her door, and he opened it for her. She hopped out, looking awkward. He wrapped an arm around her shoulder and motioned to the pack.
They filed out of the van, one at a time - in order of rank, she noticed. Nate jumped out, flexing and readying for the change. She averted her eyes to his face, so they wouldn't wander any lower. Then came Ben, followed by Marcy, Devlyn and Lex.
Marcy was half hiding her nakedness behind Ben, who was appropriately shielding her from male eyes until she could change.
"Go on ahead - I'll find you." Reid commanded, in a lighter tone than usual towards Nate. Nate nodded and led the pack forward into the woods.
"Don't go too far!" Reid called after them and Nate waved at him.
"We're staying behind?" Elizabeth questioned as Reid shut all the van doors with the pack's absence.
"I'm going to help you change. It'll be easier for you if you don't have an audience, but I don't want them too far away from me."
Elizabeth smiled. "You mean because you're possessive and territorial."
Reid chuckled. "There's that, and they are better protected when they're closer to me. But they'll be fine for a little while."
Elizabeth reached for his hand without thinking, and was surprised by her own easy reaction to him. He didn't seem to be.
"You're my wolf mate. It's expected for you to feel comfortable with me. The bond of a wolf mate goes past insecurity, and defensiveness. Your wolf knows that, and so does mine." he held her against him for a moment, resting his lips on her neck.
They heard howls distantly and Reid dropped his arms from her.
"Time to change," he added, stripping off his shirt.
Her wolf didn't have the audacity to look away so when her eyes met his, she was the one embarrassed and flushing.
"Don't be - my body is just as much mine as it is yours," he could soothe her so easily but her wolf understood his comment more than she did.
She stood there a little awkwardly as he stripped, and set his clothes in the passenger seat of the van. Her eyes trailed down the length of the body when he had turned away from her, but as soon as he looked like he might face her direction - her eyes went to her feet.
"You didn't seem to be so modest when we first met. Why is that?" he asked coming up to her and rubbing Elizabeth's shoulders with his hands.
She shrugged her shoulders, at a loss. She was enjoying his touch too much for her human liking. And it still felt strange to her, to be so calm and attracted to a man she didn't even know. How fair was it for him, then, that she knew nothing of herself? She wasn't ready for the human world... she was barely part of the wolf one - she shouldn't be up for a mate yet.
He rested his chin on her shoulder and kissed her there. "No, I'm exactly what you need."
Her wolf agreed wholeheartedly and just purred in response, leaning against him.
"Ready?" he asked huskily,running his arms down to the hem of her shirt.
She stiffened in surprise at his boldness, and he chuckled softly. "I'm taking your clothes off so you can change shape." he revealed, trying not to offend her.
She raised her arms up slowly, and drew on her wolf's persona so she wouldn't feel so meek. He took off her first shirt layer, and let the other one follow it. Her human skin burst with goose bumps from the chill and now she was whisking her clothes off herself, so she could hurry and change to get warm.
Her impatience made him laugh as he picked up the clothes she threw to the ground and shook the dirt off of them.
"You're stripping when you don't know how to change?" he teased.
She froze and looked at him dumbly for a moment before seeing his jest. "You going to let me freeze to death?" she asked, playfully.
He frowned and approached her, putting his arms around her and rubbing them against her for friction.
"You need to gain some weight... it's why you're chilling so easily." he murmured, in firm disapproval.
She smiled to herself. Marcy was right, Elizabeth could make him act like such a mother hen.
"If I'm going to be poultry - I'd like to be a rooster, please." he added calmly, fitting his arms on her waist.
She snorted in response.
"Ready?" he whispered, flexing his fingers as a distraction.
She nodded and her hair hit him in the face, she smiled. "Ready," she chirped nervously.
It was instantaneous then. Her body shifting from human to wolf. She could only think that it was similar to ice melting. The warm glowing sensation flowed from her head throughout her body until her back hunched over, and her body enclosed in fur. Then, her hands and feet became paws - her nose elongated and her features changed to those of a wolf.
She stood there for a moment, waiting for her body to stop tingling - before realization struck. Elizabeth turned suddenly, looking for Reid - and he was there. A massive form, who was shaking the sensation out of him like a dog would water. This had only been the second time she had seen him, but he still left her in awe.
Even her human self had to appreciate his wolf's beauty. He had pure white fur - that was rare in the America's. His eyes were an exaggeration of his human green. In wolf form, they were bright and jeweled like a lime green color. He was one of the biggest wolves she had ever seen. Part of that, she knew, had to due with musculature. And the other part had to have been his thick coat of fur. She wondered if he came from the North, due to his coloring.
He was hers... was all her wolf could think of in conclusion.
He snorted at her in approval, trotting up to her and circling her.
Her instincts should have kicked in, making sure her back wasn't exposed to him - but she didn't mind. It was Reid, so she let him.
He nipped playfully at her ear, tugging gently. It was more instinctual then, to nuzzle her face against his and lick his cheek. Wolves could show affection just as easily as humans - and in her case, being a wolf was easier than being human. Her wolf didn't have issues with insecurity or embarrassment, like Reid had said. It was her,the human, that always proved the hindrance.
He was getting more serious with her, sniffing and digging into her fur with his nose. Even her wolf wasn't ready for such intimacy. She pulled away, bouncing on her paws - ready to play.
When he noticed her light mood, he lowered in stance, tensing for her attack.
She didn't, but quickly turned and sprinted into the trees, knowing the terrain too well and where exactly she could hide.
Her paw flexed reflexively in soft ground, ears cocked and listening for his approach. She wagged her tail with excitement, and her muscles tensed at his loud approach. She lowered herself to the ground, smug with the notion that he was chasing after her.
But he was too anxious. An Alpha never hunted his prey so clumsily.
She waited, barely breathing in the cold air for him to come closer. His paws slapping against earth signaled his arrival and she sprung quickly at him.
With any other wolf, she would have worried about the surprise and instant retaliation another wolf would give her. But not him, ever.
So she was met with bemusement and playfulness instead of anger. She had managed to topple him, but his wolf wouldn't like being submissive to her for long. And she was right, he had squirmed away from her, and mock attacked her; proving who the real winner was.
She didn't concede so easily, and jumped backwards, dipping her head.
He cocked his head to the side in a curious gesture and wagged his tail. He was still going to let her have fun. So she darted into the forest and only stopped to affirm that he was indeed following her.
He easily met her stride and teased by biting her hindquarters and pulling on her tail. She managed to turn to him in mid-run and bite on his muzzle, which showed how easily he let his guard down for her.
Reid had finally managed to corner her though and she let him put his nose in the fur of her neck so he could smell her, giving his wolf assurances that she was uninjured by their game.
She grabbed a hold of his tail when he tried turning away from her, giving her a signal to head back. She was glad that he didn't seem angry by her refusal to leave just yet. How long would she be able to stay out here as wolf, without changing back to her human form?
He whined, close-mouthed at her and approached her again.
She wouldn't answer him, embarrassed at her cowardice. He snorted and bumped his shoulder with hers, pushing her. She laid down in easy surrender and once he deemed the forest safe, he relaxed next to her.
Reid's weight rolled onto her, and she didn't mind in the slightest - as she let him comfort her with his peace and warmth, and the sound of the forest to coax her to relaxation.
Laying there for several minutes, and after his Alpha calmness settled within her - she became very aware of the forest. Of everything. The lack of sounds only made her ears strain to hear minute things. His heart, which she had just noticed was beating rhythmically and strong. She could hear his breath, steady and deep. The wind rustled and she heard, rather than felt his fur brush against hers.
Elizabeth thought she might have fallen asleep because quite suddenly, Reid had burst to his feet without her able to discern his movements. So it was slowly, and reluctantly that she got to her feet as well, not quiet about her discomfort.
Until she realized why Reid had gotten to his feet.
A male wolf stood before them, his coloring and scent unrecognizable to her. So she stood a bit behind Reid, as her wolf suggested.
The male's posture was aggressive towards Reid, who was an Alpha... so either this wolf was an Alpha too...or very, very foolish. She surmised he had to have been a bit of both, even if he was an Alpha. Who would try and sneak up on Reid?
Reid was lowering his stance, but in preparation for a fight, not submission. His defensiveness had her resting on her back legs as well, she'd be much faster to react this way. Her eyes were darting around the forest behind the loner, looking for a pack he might have brought with him.
She saw nothing..but that didn't mean they weren't there. So, while Reid watched the lone wolf she would watch the forest.
The male took a bold step forward and Reid's snarls were instantaneous. She shook at the sound of violence from him, thankful to be on his side and not against him.
A howl called to them, from not very far away. Another wolf she didn't recognize. Oh, why couldn't she have paid attention when they had been in wolf form before? She needed to know if this approaching wolf was friendly or hostile - and what Reid wanted her to do.
As if hearing her thoughts, but of course he could, Reid gave her the slightest glance but looked away - increasing his volume to the loner.
That was all her wolf needed to know.
Something was wrong...and since she wasn't fully part of Reid's pack, he couldn't tell her what.
But it must've been bad because the wolf that came upon them wasn't one she knew. And Reid's body was shaking uncontrollably with anger. She took a hesitant step toward him, keeping her body lower than his and brushing against him.
Her wolf seemed to know what to do, so Elizabeth let her.
A whine escaped her, signaling the other two wolves to her. But she couldn't blame them for ignoring her presence... Reid was quite a sight to behold.
Her appearance took them by surprise. The newest wolf seemed scared and backed closer to the his companion wolf. The other, darker in color nearly black, cocked his head to the side and watched her. His eyes were bright, wolf gold. And to her, he reeked of blood. Her human half felt comforted in the fact that she couldn't see any. But her wolf told her it was there. Or had been many times before. And she pressed herself against Reid, unsure.
She wondered if Reid and the dark brown wolf could communicate. Or if they really were just staring, unblinkingly at each other. She hoped for the latter, so this could be over with. Her wolf was shaking in anticipation for something. And she was tired of not being able to know what was going on.
The dark brown wolf turned his head back and titled it upwards at the newcomer wolf. The newcomer backed away, and started to change.
She couldn't help her fascination, it was always so strange to see. Reid bumped her shoulder and she tried to focus on the real enemy, the brown wolf who was still watching her as if she were something fascinating.
The man stepped forward but knelt on the ground behind the other wolf. That was the only way for her to tell that the brown wolf was indeed an Alpha. Or leader...
"You sleep in our territory, Wynn. We have claimed this as our own." the man spoke, keeping his head down and averted to the two wolves. Reid's snarls increased tenfold and she ducked her head into his fur to pacify him.
"Neutral territory is meaningless when our pack doesn't have territory. We have claimed this as ours - and it is your greed alone that continues this foolishness."
She balked at the dark brown wolf for letting the human speak such things. Especially of Reid..who had only ever shown her kindness. She let her thoughts wander at a scent in the wind, one she knew. She turned her head to welcome a very nude, human Nate who burst through the trees and skidded to a stop when he met Reid's back. He knelt behind his Alpha, too.
Again she wished she were already pack so she could hear the telepathic conversation that only pack members seemed party to. Nate had touched Reid's back fur and was grasping tightly, out of breath, but otherwise seemed winded...not hurt.
Elizabeth half expected the rest of the pack to come join them, but perhaps that was another rule? Only the second's could join in? Her wolf told her no, that something was wrong... something was keeping them. And Nate had rushed ahead, to tell his Alpha.
She watched Reid for any reactions he might give. But was disappointed to see his growls continue, unchanging from it's ferocity.
Nate raised his head slightly, looking in the eyes of the dark brown wolf who growled at his defiance. "For this, I will kill you. And if my pack isn't returned, I will take them back. And yours will pay the price."
Her lungs froze in horror. Something had definitely gone wrong.
The male wolf growled in response, civility erased from him. And Elizabeth, surprisingly, felt a wash of violence go through her and pointed herself in the male's general direction.
"Your pack trespassed," the submissive wolf answered for his leader, his head still bowed.
"Farris territory is neutral ground. Return my pack to me, child, and you will not die when I kill him!" Reid's words spoke through Nate fiercely. And the submissive flinched at being directly spoken to by Reid, he only sunk to his stomach on the ground.
The other male wolf had sunk lower to the ground in readiness, as did Reid. She didn't see either move wolf until they were already upon each other. Nate had returned to her and was sticking behind her, but keeping his hand firmly in her fur. She wondered if he was as nervous as she. She watched the lone submissive closely, just to make sure he wouldn't join his Alpha in the fight.
"Don't worry about him, he doesn't want any part of this." Nate whispered, watching her rather than the fight and the submissive. She spared him a curious glance before switching focus again.
Her wolf felt like bursting out of her skin to try and help. But the human in her knew how foolish that would be. The two were snarling and biting at air and each other rather ferociously, she would be lucky enough to escape with her limbs still attached.
A wolf stopped growling, which meant only one thing to her wolf. One wolf was still merely intent on fighting, while the other was aiming to kill. She grew nervous on both accounts.
Then she heard another peculiar sound.
A short, clicking sound and the rustle of dead leaves. Her ears turned slightly to try and catch the sound again, but it was gone.
Neither wolves noticed the disturbance and she flattened herself against Nate in anxiety.
Then came the deafening blow that had succeeded the cocking of the gun she had heard moments before.
She was jostled immediately and completely stunned as Nate's wolf literally burst from his skin and flung himself in the woods. It took her more than a moment to realize that the fighting had more or less stopped with the Alpha hovering over Reid - and Reid, unmoving.
Her wolf took over, much as Nate's had, and closed the distance between them. Her human self didn't mind in the slightest when her teeth crunched into his neck.
The other wolf was trying futilely to get her off him, bucking and kicking. But her wolf knew what to do - lower your stance, tense your muscles and stand firm.
But it wasn't the dark wolf that had lost his ground - she had. When a great weight knocked her on her side, painfully. She twisted and rolled over to get to her feet to meet her attacker, when she saw Reid.
Her eyes immediately found his wound, profusely bleeding and the smell was making her human nose nauseous. Her wolf told her to jump back into the fight and assist, as Reid's mate.
She stood rooted in her spot, dancing on her paws with anxiety.
But Reid had controlled the situation much better than she had. Instead of waiting for the dark wolf to submit like she would have - Reid merely bit down hard, on the other wolf's muzzle. The wolf started to lose consciousness within a few minutes.
And then he was out and she still felt anxious, waiting.
Reid was breathing harshly through his nose, he should have stayed on the ground. Her wolf made her go up to him and help support his weight by allowing him to lean on her. He was heavy, but she had a feeling he was purposefully not leaning fully against her.
She turned when she noticed Reid's eyes flicker to the forest where Nate had disappeared. Nate reappeared as a human again and was carrying the gun that Reid had been shot with.
"His second... or whatever you'd call the second in an unofficial pack" Nate propped the shotgun on the ground and he used it like a cane. He tilted his head as if listening to the forest - but she guessed right.
"He's been taken care of," Nate answered Reid's telepathic questions.
Reid nodded his head then went down on his paws, and finally rolled onto his side. Nate was already there, taking up space on his other side while her wolf took over. She was sniffing his wound and he was growling in pain and embarrassment. Her wolf wanted to lick at the blood to clean him, but her human half knew that wouldn't help. So she looked desperately to Nate who was human, and frowning at her for taking up his place. Technically, it was her place now...as Reid's mate... but she made her reluctant wolf move aside towards Reid's head.
There she pacified her wolf, by rubbing her muzzle against his and licking his forehead. He finally stopped growling, and he stretched himself out so Nate could get a good look at him.
"It's not through and through...we need to get you back and call Derek." Nate grunted as he felt around the wound.
She whined with worry and Nate finally noticed her.
"You need to change back...can you?" he asked looking at her, then lowering his gaze.
Truthfully, she didn't know if she could change. But in reality, she'd be more help in her human form.
She tried to mimic the way Reid made her feel when he helped her, but it didn't work and she looked up at Nate in frustration.
He shook his head. "I can't help..." he tilted his head, listening. "You shouldn't be using your powers - it won't help if you black out on us,"
She took the hint that he was now talking to Reid and she gave voice to her agreement with Nate. Reid ignored her, as he always did.
"Let him touch you," Nate sighed in exasperation.
She wanted to growl the same, but lowered herself to her belly and put her muzzle against Reid's. He rubbed his with hers for a moment before she finally felt the change.
Her human voice finally gave way and groaned in discomfort at the soreness that came with her change. And she realized, belatedly, she was nude as well. She tried futilely to cover herself up and used her hair and hands to block herself from Nate's eyes. Though his were directed somewhere above and to the right of her head, presently.
"Can you help me lift him?" he questioned, putting his hands underneath Reid's hindquarters.
She nodded and tried carefully to pick up Reid's head and shoulders. Her muscles strained, but as a werewolf, it was just a perk to have strength that surpassed a normal humans.
It wasn't a struggle now, to carry Reid. Especially with Nate's help, Reid was nothing more than a load of laundry to carry. She stumbled a bit, but that was mainly due to the fact that she couldn't see the uneven ground.
"What happened?" was the first thing she asked, when Nate wouldn't say anything. Then again, as pack, he could continue to talk to Reid as a wolf without her ever knowing.
But Nate answered her instantly, "The nomads decided to attack for territory."
She scoffed, "What happened to everyone else? Where are they?" Elizabeth asked a little more sternly, with a actual hint of fear for the others.
Nate paused. "Shot"
"Shot?" was the only word she could come up with in her panic.
Nate sighed, "Some sort of sedative... I think they were aiming for Lex and Marcy with that. And they were using bullets hoping to put down Devlyn, Ben, and I."
"How did you get out?" Elizabeth asked, now suspicious.
He gave her a firm look as if he could read her thoughts. "Things weren't looking good. Devlyn was already out and Lex was going numb. We agreed that one of us needed to go back to Reid - and I did."
"But what about the others?" she questioned softly, imagining only gentle and playful Marcy.
"Right now, we'll worry about Reid.. when he wakes up - we'll ask what to do." he answered calmly. She looked down in surprise and sure enough, Reid was asleep.
She had never had the opportunity to feel so useless- but she suspected, that now, was probably one of the times when she could. And she did.
Nate was bustling busily around the safe house. Derek - the pack doctor - was Ben's very human brother, which confounded her into following the human around. He was a lot like his younger brother, she thought, other than Derek talked a lot more. She trailed after him asking question after question about Reid's condition, then his family history. It was such an oddity to her, Ben born into a family of humans.
He didn't seem to mind her questions, and actually seemed good-naturally amused by it all. It was during another of her interviews, by Reid's bedside where Derek was working diligently that she chose to corner him with questions again.
"He doesn't feel it?" she whispered, still not aware of how sedated Derek had Reid.
Derek nodded professionally. "Trust me, he's out of it. Any less than this and he'd be awake and yelling,"
Elizabeth sucked in air. "He...doesn't like you?" she tried to be discreet.
It caused Derek to let out a breath in a snort. "He's an Alpha...he doesn't have to like humans. But at least he tolerates me, and pays good."
It was her turn to snort. She was suddenly disgusted by the way that Reid treated people. She had a hunch of that when she first met him. He was careless to others - that he wasn't intent on. Completely careless and oblivious to their feelings. Elizabeth had a feeling that submissive Ben and human Derek were both victims of Reid's carelessness.
That would have to be remedied, if she had anything to say about it.
But it still only made Derek laugh out loud at her snort. "Glad you're an Alpha - in your own way, at least. He needs that to put him in place,"
She straightened her back with pride and surprise at his words. He hadn't been the first one to say that Reid needed her. But it also surprised her to know how very dominant Derek was... in his human way.
He noticed her scrutiny and amended, misunderstanding. "You're his soul mate...or just mate, isn't it?" He waved his confusion aside, " Point is, he's used to getting his way all the time. And Alpha's apparently don't care how they get their way, as long as they do. So you - you'd be a refreshing change of pace for him. Yell at him, it'll do him good."
"I can hear you," Reid replied scathingly from his bed, where a weary green eye was blearily watching them.
Derek turned back to his papers, and was pretending to read what he had just written on them. Meanwhile, she moved her attention back to Reid.
"How are you feeling?" she asked firmly, her eyes going back over his very tightly bandaged wound.
He frowned at her for some reason but answered anyways, "Fine enough." He sat up abruptly, without warning her to help him and it angered her.
"You've just been shot - you need to lay back down," she suggested, irritated.
"I am fine. Where's - " he added gruffly, just as Nate came in the doorway.
Nate ducked his head in obedience and came to Reid's other side.
"Where is he?" he questioned softly.
Nate seemed to know what he meant. "In the basement - alive... or close enough to it to answer questions."
She gasped quietly, unaware that Reid was intent on her rather than Nate.
Reid swallowed roughly. "The pack?"
"He's been quiet about it. But I feel them still... Devlyn... I feel him slipping. The others are more - "
Reid sighed finally, "I feel them."
Relief washed through her then. It meant that the pack was still alive and well.
"Why do they have the pack?" she finally asked, quietly while watching Reid for his answer.
"That's what we're going to find out," Reid answered simply, getting up slowly from the bed.
Derek and her both balked. "You shouldn't be moving yet," she reprimanded.
"Not so quickly, at least. I just pulled that bullet out and managed to close you up." Derek added, more gently than she would have.
Reid paused for a moment then turned to the human. "I will go slow," he answered, silently pleasing Elizabeth for his patience with the human doctor and baffling Derek into silence.
She followed after Reid with a quick nod to Derek and a smile.
Nate shuffled after them and down the stairs.
A/N: As always, hope you enjoyed the read! Please Review! Let me know what you think!