The nightmare started off the same way it always had. It was always the same damn dream, never changing, never ending, and forever a reminder that haunted him. He was running through the forest as a wolf. His coat, long and midnight black, shimmered and glistened in the moonlight as bright amber eyes scanned the darkness ahead of him. Paws, large and strong, carried him quickly and gracefully over the thin smattering of snow that covered the northern forest ground. In the dream, the wolf knew something was wrong, something terrible was up ahead and he had to run faster to get there to prevent it from happening. But sleeping Quinlan knew he would never make it in time, he never did.

The black wolf broke through the cover of the trees and before him lay his parents and Selene, dead. The pack of rebels and rogues surrounded them in wolf form, their faces all curled in terrible, fang filled grins. Wolf-Quin could only howl in grief as the pack of rogues surrounded and began their game of killing him as well.

It didn’t matter that he had dreamed this numerous times. Quin awoke in his bed, a fine sheen of sweat covering his muscle body. Flipping the sheets off of him, the male swung his feet over the side of his bed and rested his head in his hands, his chest rising and falling with deep breaths as he tried to steady himself. He could never escape his past, no matter what he did. All he wanted to do was attempt to live and lead a somewhat normal life, to escape the pain that constantly haunted him. Running a hand through his blonde locks, Quin rose to his feet, his 6-foot plus frame, seeming to fill the small space of his room.

He went to the washroom, running cool water over his face. It didn’t do anything to calm the anxiety and restlessness that the dream had awoken inside of him. He was strong, fearless, and honest. In his younger days he had been adventurous carefree. All that was left of him was a shell of his former self, one who had been destined to lead the great northern back. Remembering his responsibility, he let out a sigh. He knew he should have long ago, introduced himself to the local alpha. His arrival and presence here wouldn’t have gone unnoticed and he was sure that not notifying the leader would not rub them the right way, especially because they would be able to tell of Quinlan’s rank.

Alpha’s not leading wasn’t unheard of. In fact, it was common for them to run off on their own as loners. But whenever an alpha ranked loner rolled into town, the local alpha would notice and it was something that could easily be taken as a threat. A male come to steal the pack away from the other leader. But, of course, that was not why Quin was here. He let out a great groan as his thoughts led him circles as they so often did. He knew he needed to get on it while he was thinking about it. Slipping on some jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, and a jacket, Quin headed out the door of his cabin. It was small, but not too small, and on the outskirts of Evermore, clear of all the territories but the Therian land was close enough. Quin needed to work off the steam of his nightmare and set off at a steady job through the trees.

It wasn’t long before he was in Therian territory, made obvious by the various scent markers.  They were easily renewed weekly, if not daily. A strong reminder to any that entered the territory that if their intentions were not good ones, that this was a strong pack. With scents being renewed that often, the blonde male knew it wouldn’t be long before someone or another was along and would find him. He would wait for them. Finding a seat under a massive oak tree, Quin settled himself there, tucking his arms behind his head as he looked up at the stars…

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Orion’s body had healed from his near disastrous fight with Elijah but his mind was still fractured in a way he wasn’t ready or willing to admit. An alpha after all had no weakness, they were pillars of strength and would fight too the death for any and all of their pack members. Killing someone however, no matter how terrible of a person they had been would always stay with a person. Orion would never regret his actions or mourn Elijah’s lose because it was better for humanity as a whole but deep in the recesses of his own mind it bothered him and weighted on him. ‘Every life is valued, even the ones we’re forced to take.’ That was something his father used to say until he was killed and he had been right, ever life was worth something but Elijah’s life wasn’t worth the rest of the pack, it wasn’t worth Tansy’s life either and that’s what helped him to sleep at night.

It was well before dawn and as was his routine he sat on the back porch with a cup of coffee and just looked at the woods which were stretched out behind his property. He never really thought of it as his land or his territory, Alphas much like Ambassadors could change and though that was his current position he knew that may not always be so. Alpha, beta, omega, the three categories of Therians, at anytime you could rise to one or fall to another and the top of the food chain was the most dangerous place to be.

Finishing his steaming mug of coffee he returned to the house and placed the mug in the sink before stretching. Sweatpants, a grey v-neck, jogging shoes and a hoodie were not his usual attire but it was when he went running needing and wanting the ease of movement. His leg was still stiff which meant as he stretched he focused mostly on his healed leg. Due to lack of normal use on it he was going to have to work through the stiff movements until they were natural and fluid and what better way than a run? Though he was sure Sariah was disagree with that being the best way to handle it, they were doing really well at disagreeing lately so hopefully something would give.

Heading out to the backyard he closed the door behind him not bothering to lock it since breaking into a Therian’s house, especially the Ambassador’s house was not a wise action plan. Unlatching the back gate he pushed it open before closing it behind him. Giving himself a slow start he power walked into a jog his leg protesting a bit but beginning to loosen up, his pace increased as he listened to the sounds of the woods, the few birds which still remained, a deer eating in the distance and his own footfall on the earth beneath him, the crunch of leaves and twigs as they were crushed under his shoes and the scent it stirred up around him. Soon his jogging pace turned into a full on run his leg easily acclimating which was what he had wanted all along.

As the wind changed directions a new scent filled his nose, it wasn’t that of any of the packs and no one in the species whom he had met. The scent was of an omega but it was what was mixed into the scent that caused Orion to come to a stop. Everything he knew and had encountered told him that this omega could be dangerous, by nature all omegas could be dangerous but this one had recently fallen to the position of Omega the scent was still almost in transition from Alpha. The last thing Orion or any of the Alpha’s needed right now was another one here looking for a pack to take over.

Changing his course he started heading towards the scent knowing it was risky to face an Omega alone but there was only one scent that was off in this area so there wasn’t fear of an ambush though he would keep that idea in mind. His pace slowed the closer he approached until he was standing just outside of the grove of tree the new comer was in. With the change of the wind, pounding of his heart from his run and the sound of feet against the ground he had no doubt that the Omega knew he was here. “I’m not very keen on those who come into my territory without a word. Seems a bit…stealthy and sneaky and though as a Kitsune I’m all for those things but I’ve already had a long last few weeks and my level for pleasantries is currently lacking. I’d apologize but I’m sure you know how it feels to have someone come into your territory unannounced.” To say he was a bit on guard and leery of strangers at the moment would be an understatement.

Sometimes his human form almost felt itchy to Quin. There were times where he simply couldn’t handle being human and shifted to his wolf form simply to get away. He was uncomfortable. This had always been a thing for him, it wasn’t a new habit that he developed after the death of his entire pack and lover. Even as a younger child and then young adult, there were times he was more comfortable in his fur than in his own skin. That might have been one of the things that had drawn him to Selene so much, he felt that she often felt the same, even if it was something that she never vocalized. They had both been free spirits, more free than his parents wanted him to be but he had already promised his life to them, that he would lead their pack someday. That didn’t stop him and Selene from dreaming about running away together, getting far away from any other pack, traveling, adventuring, and exploring.

They had both known they were just day dreams, not something that either would really ever do. They were both happy where they were, they lived in beautiful country and governed their own lives. It was bliss. Quin wondered if he would ever find that state of happiness again or if he could ever let himself. He knew he was his own worst enemy, that he was the one now preventing himself from moving on. But he also didn’t care.

Time passed and a light breeze kicked up, bring scents from all over the forest past Quinlan. He shifted his seat, wiggling a little against the tree, his deep blue gaze drifting to search the trees around him before turning back to the sky above. He had barely started registering the scent on the breeze, strong, brave, sure, and a sense of authority, when the winds changed and suddenly it was all the scents around him getting carried off. Good, the loner thought to himself hoping his scent would reach the person he had smelled before they came charging into the clearing and the surprise got the better of them.

Quin wanted no issues here. He wanted to make himself known to the Alpha or Ambassador, as leaders were in this city, and ensure that he meant no ill-will and then figure out his next steps. He had no purpose anymore so he was struggling to find that. He wasn’t sure what his next step would be. He finally heard the approach of someone moving at a steady pace, not making any effort to silence their footfalls. The wind changed yet again, and Quin found the scent the same of the male he had scented earlier. As the newcomer entered the clearing, he rose to his feet and faced the man.

A wry smile crossed Quin’s features as the man spoke and he nodded, his hands tucking into the pockets of his jeans as he took a casual, none threatening stance. “For that I’m sorry. I’m not too big on the crowds of folks that seem to haunt the faction houses so I thought this the easiest way. My intentions were never to by sneaky but I do accept the compliment about stealth,” he said, his voice deep and quiet. “I know I haven’t done any of this properly but I just wanted to finally get on it before it just got even worse. I’m not here for your pack, to challenge your leadership, or anything of the sort,” he said before falling silent.

Orion had to stretched out his leg as he pressed his palm against the rough bark of a nearby tree. To most they believed he was healed because that was the air he gave but in reality he was just working towards being in good health. His leg which had been stiff at the start of the run ached slightly now as he watched the other male carefully before releasing his own leg. Omegas had the tendency to be dangerous and former Alphas weren’t always the most stable of people due to the simple fact that as an Alpha when your pack was hurting it wounded you and losing a pack member was like having a limb cut off. To be an Alpha and to lose your entire pack was something that mentally splinted most and not all could return for the damage.

Having lost his parents, his brothers, his sister-in-laws and countless cousins Orion understood the pain losing pack left with you. When most of Orion’s family had been killed he had only been a beta so he had only suffered a handful of losses while in the position of Alpha, his wife’s being the most devastating. Not only had he watched as the vampire ripped her left away from him but he felt it in his very soul like an icy hand reaching in and digging out a portion of his heart with dulled claws. Every pack member was important and meaningful to an Alpha but when it was someone you had loved for the greater part of your life that was what could damage a person beyond repair.

Listening as the other male spoke Orion’s brow rose his steely hues locked on the man who was now standing before him. “The easiest of ways seemed to be for me to stumble upon you in the woods? Seems a good way to find yourself on the wrong end of a set of tails.” He could tell the male was a Lycan so not technically under him but under Harper, Orion however was still the Ambassador for the species as a whole regardless of what the Lycan Alpha wanted. “My species as a whole isn’t having the best of times with Lycan’s from another pack so you showing up here was not a wise idea since many are taking the offense instead of the defense in these matters.”

The Ambassador had be listening to the other man’s heartrate along with the change of pitch in his voice which remained even with no signs of lying. The micro expressions which moved across his features weren’t giving much away either which caused Orion curiosity. The Lycan was either a very skilled lair or he was telling the truth. “Attempting to take a pack in this city would be an unwise for any. Our strength comes from three packs that are willing to face any threat and my leadership has been challenged enough as of late. My tolerance for such matters being at an all time low.” Though his tolerance for most things was close to nonexistent as of right now.

“Instead of giving me reasoning and excuses for waiting out in the woods it seems more fitting you explain to me who are you. Most are keenly aware of their Ambassador but if you aren’t, I’m Orion Valkyrie.” He stated simply as he waited for more of and explanation from the man before his eyes before he decided to consider trusting his words. Truthful or not, all the man had given him so far was useless words and Orion needed more before he could come to any decision about this mildly confusing Lycan.

Quin’s eyes watched the other male as he stretched what seemed to be a sore or possibly previously injured leg. His face remained politely uninterested as the older Alpha worked out whatever stiffness or ache was in his leg. Quin knew that other males like him tended to usually be a problem or a thorn in the side of leading alphas and he knew that a million different scenarios probably ran through Orion’s mind as he watched Quin carefully. Were he in the Kitsune’s place, he would absolutely be reacting the same way Orion was, if not worse. Quin had always been calm to an extent where it was replaced with his hot-headedness.

Orion would know what the blonde male was…or rather had been before. Now he was nothing more than a lone Lycan but many would wonder why he was where he was in life, why he wasn’t leading the pack he had been born into. Quin knew this was one of many questions probably running through the Ambassadors mind. Working out the words to answer Orion’s unasked questions drew the Lycan’s mind back to his past. There was reason he had lived in his wolf form for years. His mind had been so shattered with his grief and rage that he had been unable to function as a human. In wolf form it was easier to focus on the simple things like survival rather than emotions. But he had finally made his way back to being a man and here he was.

 Quin had no issue meeting Orion’s gaze as he spoke despite that those lower rank were not mean to hold the gaze of those above them he didn’t look away. It wasn’t out of disrespect, it was to show his honesty in what he was saying despite the odd way he had gone about it. Quin listened with interest as Orion spoke and small smile curled his lips again as he shrugged. “I should correct myself, easiest for me, sorry,” he answered wryly. “Perhaps my choice might had led to a small scrap but I wouldn’t have harmed anyone. I would have defended and then left. Luckily for me it was you,” he said. It hadn’t really been luck.

Quin let out a quiet chuckle. “I knew from the moment I stepped paw in this place that any act of aggression from a lone male would be suicide, again not that that was intention,” he said quickly. His eyes widened just slightly in a show of surprise at Orion’s confession. Most leaders would keep power challenges a secret from a stranger but he was openly admitting he and his people had been challenged of late. Quin was curious but not so curious as to pry at that moment. Either Orion was an idiot, which he doubted, or he was strong enough within his position as well as comfortable that he didn’t need to worry about telling one loner about his issues even if it wasn’t in great detail. Quin was certain it wasn’t the first option.

Quin nodded, running a hand through his fair blonde locks. “Right, I’m not great at this interaction crap,” he said quietly. “I’m Quinlan Reight,” he said. “Your name is well-known throughout the city so it wasn’t hard for me to learn who you were,” he answered at Orion’s introduction.

Soon enough his leg would be back to normal but until then he needed to refrain from pushing it which he had never been very good at. Part of the reason for even bothering with his leg at the moment wasn’t the stiffness or pain but to see the reaction it would receive. Most who sought a position of power would take any advantage they could get and the idea of a wounded or lesser than one hundred percent alpha would be too tempting to hide their intentions. The former alpha before him seemed uninterested in his potential injuries but that wasn’t enough to curb Orion’s distrust of the outsider. Neither had openly attacked one another nor seemed to be seeking out weaknesses.

The smell of wolf was still overwhelmingly strong even though the male was in his human form. If Orion were to close his eyes he would believe it was a wolf in his presence and not a man which was disconcerting. There were only a handful of times he had come across something like this, a Therian more animal than human but this man wasn’t rabid or vicious as others had been. If you remained in animal form for too long it could completely drive you mad and cause you for forget the human heart you held. It was rare anyone went through such a thing and was able to maintain and return to their humanity. The elder kitsune’s interest truly began to grow over the younger former Alpha before him.

That scene of interest and curiosity grew as the man easily met his gaze which not everyone could do. Even Alpha’s didn’t like to look one another directly in the eyes lest it be taken as a challenge they didn’t intend. In the back of his mind he kept waiting for this male to bring some sort of challenge since strangers hadn’t been a positive thing recently. Within Orion’s mind this whole apparently planned out meeting made very little sense but if the other male was just coming back into himself that made sense. Wolves were only social animals with their pack, to be a solitary wolf took the social aspect away especially if you were a literal wolf. “Perhaps a small scrap and the safety and well being of another mean little to you but they both mean quite a bit to me. I’d rather not see any of my faction harmed over something so unnecessary.” It was really far from lucky that it was Orion, the lucky part was he wasn’t in a bad mood. Sure he could be diplomatic at times but others that was not the path he took.

The omega had no idea how right he was since most of the Therians were still dealing with Elijah’s rebellious pack remnants and could easily mistake this man for being one. “This is very much a time of using fangs and claws before asking questions. At this point saying the wrong thing would be suicide.” The Ambassador was well aware of how dangerous and insane it was to speak of challenges and weakness but it was still all part of a much larger game of trust and truth. There was no aggressive reaction to his words from the other male, only the usual surprised that he would expect. Only fools handed their own weaknesses over to a stranger on a silver platter or those running a very familiar con in an area they were comfortable. If this man were to currently attack, Orion knew that age would come into a play a bit but so would experience and speed, both of which would likely fall in his favor. It was a somewhat over confident approach but he also knew these woods like the back of his hand which would give him the advantage in an escape path.

Orion bite back the comment he wished to make since that wouldn’t be the diplomatic approach to things. It was obvious social interaction was not Quinlan’s strong suit and a skill which seemed to have diminished over time, time likely spend in his animal form. “I assume you have some sort of story to tell Quinlan, everyone does when they come to this city. Though I can surmise you’re is going to be far different from any who have come before you.” Quinlan’s scent alone told a rather unique story but a scent wasn’t facts, it was just small pieces to a larger factual recollection.  

Quin’s sharp eyes watched the Alpha before him, watching for any reaction or tells the other male might let slip but he was much like Quinlan in that way, an unreadable expression, showing no emotion other than what he wanted to show. In this instance, Quin wasn’t trying to hide anything. He wanted Orion to be able to read him, to understand he truly was not a threat and had no ill intentions. He knew he hadn’t approached meeting this new faction and its packs the best way but it was what it was now.  Seeing how well the Ambassador and Alpha held himself and his emotions together despite the surprise that was Quin, was very impressive to the blonde male. He knew older more practiced leaders that had lost their minds at the mere sight of him around their territory and had chased him away.

It was no secret to Quin that he came across as different to others of their kind. To escape the pain that had become his life after the loss of his pack, he had shifted to his wolf form and lived that way for a number of years, his transitions back to his human form becoming less and less until they had stopped altogether. It was some time before something reminded him of his humanity and he slowly reclaimed himself and returned to his human state. It still wasn’t easy for him; the feeling had rushed back as if still new and he had had to learn to deal with them. The fact that he had never truly dealt with the pain was something Quin was very much aware of. He was living in a state of numbness, refusing to feel and work through what had happened. Something about this place, about this faction, had drawn him here and he subconsciously hoped this place might be the answer for him.

A dry smirk crossed Quin’s lips as Orion spoke. “Like I said, I’m not here to fight. Had someone taken a more aggressive approach, I would have left. I have no interest in quarrels,” he said simply, his voice light but his eyes hard. The blonde listened as Orion explained the state of things within the faction at that time. Had he been a wolf, his ears would have perked with interest, but as a human his face remained the same. It wasn’t so much the Alpha’s revealing of trouble among the packs here, trouble happened, it was that he was revealing such a thing to a complete stranger he had already expressed distrust in. Rather than linger or dig for more information Quin allowed his eyes to drop and shook his head. “I’m sorry to hear the packs here are on edge. I hope for a resolution and peace for you all soon,” he growled, his words filled with honesty.

He was sure it was different from what had happened up north, but he hated the thought of any packs going through anything similar to what his had. The younger male saw Orion bite back some sort of response. To what, he wasn’t sure, but the Alpha moved on. Quin’s smile grew and he chuckled coldly, nodding his head. “I can only imagine the kind of stories others have come to you with. Yes I have a story,” he said, his stormy blue hues finding Orion’s again. He really had no desire to tell his tale to anyone ever again, let alone this male. But Quin also knew that if he wanted to stay here, telling Orion might be the only way. He also knew his story might be the final nail in his coffin for the other Alpha, giving the older male the last bit of information he would need to force Quinlan away. He did not hide his reservations or hesitancy from Orion but, with a large sigh, he ran his hand through his tousled lock and chuckled dryly. “Where do I even start,” he growled, more to himself than anyone else….

Orion could understand Quin’s response since the older Kitsune had come to Evermore to get away from conflict and collect himself before piecing his life back together. That had been years ago and now he was reminded that conflict and violence never really ended, sometimes you were given a reprieve but there was no perfect peaceful place. Even in a city with a peace treaty violence and aggression still occurred. “It seemed unlikely you were looking for an altercation since it wouldn’t be hard to find one if that were your purpose. I myself have no interest in quarrels or the fights of others but I will always do what’s necessary for my own.” Since he had already lost a lot in life and he didn’t want anyone else to have to go through such a thing. It was another he was rather fond of Evermore City, despite the occasional upset and uproar there weren’t a high amount of loss of life. “Peace is what we make of it and sometimes holding that peace causes a different sort of conflict, but a resolution will be found. The packs here may bend but they don’t break.” The Therianthropes had been through a lot even before Orion had come to the city and they never bowed down or gave up, it wasn’t in their DNA.

Something already told Orion getting the information he wanted from Quin was going to be much like pulling teeth. The Kitsune hadn’t been very open about his past or himself when he came to the city but Ivory, the Kitsune alpha at the time, had been a friend and no explanation was necessary. She knew his heartache and his pain from losing his brother’s one by one and then his wife being cruelly murdered in front of him. Some stories weren’t always ones you wanted to share but there was something that set Quin apart from nearly every other Therian Orion had ever met and that caused him to worry. “I’m not sure imagining could do them justice but we have a very…diverse population of Therians in the city who come from all walks of life. Some born, some bitten and turned but all on equal footing with one another.” Orion wasn’t sure if the pure blood Therians or the half bloods had a harder time but he knew that when you’d been one thing all your life having that taken from you was hard for many to make peace with.

“I tend to find it best to start at the most relevant point of the start of things and go from there. In your case I would assume that would be whenever your life went wrong.” There was a familiar aura of loss around the man and most didn’t make it to Evermore without some sort of pain and heartache in their past, a save place called to them for a reason and drew them in like a beacon. “You have no need to tell me everything, no one ever does but you were an Alpha and smell more like animal than man which in itself is rare.” Therianthropes may be human and animal but the humanity almost always had the forefront and when it didn’t those Therianthropes often became too much like animals to return to their human state and if they did they often kept their animal mentality keeping to the primal needs which made them dangerous.

Quinlan watched Orion as he spoke, nodding as the alpha male spoke. He knew very little about Orion but he felt like him and the other man had more in common than he knew. A small smile curled his lips in a sad way as Orion spoke of the packs of Evermore. Quin wished his pack had been strong but they had been completely caught by surprise, unaware that they were being stalked until it was too late.  Perhaps if they had not grown so complacent, the fate that had befallen them would have been different. Shaking that thought from his mind, the blonde let out a sigh.

Mild surprise was clear on the ex-alphas face as Orion described his people. Up north, Quins pack had been comprised of purebloods and halfbloods. Very few people that far north were bitten. To see so many people of such different upbringings together was a surprise and different to Quin. His gaze dropped to the forest floor, unsure of what to say to Orion at this point.

When the Ambassador continued, Quilan winced a little at Orion’s bluntness but knew the man was right. He needed to tell him everything. Even the parts that he barely remembered because, in all honesty, there was a chance that the rogue wolves might come looking for the alpha they failed to kill or there was a chance that Quins animal instincts would win and he might go wolf again.

With a sigh, he ran his hands through his blonde locks before meeting Orion’s strong gaze. “I’m going to need alcohol,” he said quietly before nodding his head and starting to walk in the direction of the small house he had bought on the outskirts of Evermore. “My family had led a pack for generations in the far north. Things were peaceful, quiet, and blissful. That was my parents first mistake, we let things slide. Our patrols got sloppy because, why not? It had been 50 years since we had any issues,” Quin tucked his hands into his pockets before he continued as he walked.

“For me, it was a girl. I fell in love, brought her into the pack, and got distracted,” he growled darkly, his blue optics growing cold at the memories of everything he had lost. “A pack of rogues attacked one night. It was a complete surprise, they got us all. They killed my parents and when the pack was panicking several of us worked to collect the pups and make our escape. My mate ended up shot in the back,” he let out a quiet growl before continuing. “Several of us got away but it wasn’t long before they couldn’t be around me in my….state. I shifted and steadily my time as a wolf grew more and more until I didn’t bother shifting back one day.”

Orion had to get used to the fact that not everyone was used to his bluntness since he didn’t beat around the bush when it came to his faction or this city. Quinlan might be harmless but Orion was never one to take that chance especially when it came to such fragile peace after such a hard fought battle to maintain control. In all actuality many things were spinning out of his control she he had no issue with taking the reigns in situations that he knew he was able to. Besides he wasn’t one to lose face to a new comer and his curiosity was piqued to say the least on the matter.

As Quinlan spoke of needing alcohol Orion’s brow cocked slightly in response knowing that the other male was probably in need of drowning whatever haunting memories were about to be dredged up since was something Orion could relate to. Though with two kids and being the only family his nephews had left there had been no time to crawl into the bottle which possibly was what kept him sane. The thing about memories such as the one of losing his wife was that no matter what they were instances in time that will never be forgotten. So to accommodate the other male Orion followed as he seemed to decide to start his tale.

It was a story that Orion was rather familiar with except without the peace, quiet and bliss. However where the Valkyrie family evolved with the times, Quinlan’s pack had not and grew complacent with the lives they lead. “Just because the enemy isn’t seen doesn’t mean they’re not there.” He said more to himself than anything else since that was what his family had lived by, though they had never been granted 50 years of peace to find out if they could have made the same mistake. The story of course continued to the tale of life and the natural step of love beginning to bloom which was what caused most to let their guard down. To Orion when Destiny had finally agreed to be with him that had given him more to protect and more of a reason to fight but Quinlan had been in peace time opposed to war. “For most love tends to be what clouds our judgement more than anything else in the world, it’s an age old tale.”

As most stories of the sort do, this one took a dark turn. Being a Valkyrie, Orion had never had to worry about rogue packs or really any packs since those in Nevada tends to respect the war the Valkyrie pack had been fighting and stayed out of the way not wanting to be involved. So they’d only ever had to fight a war on one front instead of two which was something to be grateful for. Instead of losing everything in a night, Orion had slowly and brutally had his family ripped away from him one member at a time until he had almost grown numb to loss of it all. Quinlan had suffered multiple losses at once which was never an easy thing for anyone to handle let alone a Therian who was already a bit split when it came to their mentality part animal and part human. The human obviously winning out for Quinlan, “I’ve read about such events and I’ve seen people who would rather live their lives as animals opposed to men but most never revert, once they animal takes over they can’t because their human side barely exists if at all.” While looking over the old texts in the library for Ryker and himself he had read a lot of interesting things yet so far nothing that he was actually looking for. “Seems you’re a much rarer breed than expected Quilan.” Though if he could be trusted still remained to be seen.  

Quinlan wasn’t bothered by Orion’s bluntness in the slightest. If anything, it made the conversation easier for the rough around the edges male. There were similarities between Orion and Quin that almost relaxed the blonde male when it came to talking to the alpha as they walked. He hated his story, the sadness and anger of it all, but mostly he hated the pity that people looked on him with when they heard it or found out. He knew Orion wouldn’t do that to him though.

Quin started off, running a hand through his hair and pushing it back from his finely featured face before settling his hands in his pockets. He would definitely need a drink after the repeat of his story, not that he always turned to alcohol, but he did usually enjoy a drink or two before he fell asleep for the night. He gave Orion all the information the other male would need and would want to know. What his pack was like before it was destroyed, their strength, but also their cluelessness. The stupidity of his parents had become more and more clear the longer Quin lived a secluded life. If they had been more aware of what was going on and been more serious about their safety, the results would not have been the same.

A quiet growl escaped Quin’s lips as he sighed at Orion’s words but he didn’t answer. He couldn’t begrudge the alpha what he said because it was true. Quin had been too love-struck to notice anything and his parents had been too over confident. His hands clenched in his pockets as Orion appeared to read his mind and mention how love was blinding. It could be, but Quin should have been better than that. He should have used his strong love and been the protector that they needed, not a love struck pup. Leaves, long dead crunched underfoot as the two men walked in silence for a little bit, Quins story now done. He didn’t know what else to say, he had told the alpha what he wanted to know but he didn’t know what else to say and silence was his preferred state lately anyways.

Orion finally broke the silence and Quin looked at him as he spoke. The loner didn’t bother to hide the surprise Orion’s words caused. He chuckled dryly and looked towards the ground as they walked. “Yeah, it’s something else, that’s for sure. You hide from the pain and emotions that you feel as a human in your wolf form. You allow the animal instincts to completely take over so that you don’t feel what you feel as a human. It’s ignorant bliss,” he said, his voice hard and his expression dark and haunted. While he wouldn’t take back his time that he had chosen to leave his humanity behind, it was something he had needed, he wouldn’t do it again simply because of how it had affected his humanity now. “The longer I stayed a wolf, my humanity already shut off, the less and less human I became until I was nothing but wolf. It was a struggle to return to this form but I knew I needed to stop hiding,” he said finally as the cabin came into view.

Quin barked out a laugh as he climbed the back porch up to the deck and back door of the cabin. “Rare breed eh? I’m not sure that’s a good thing,” he said before entering the small, but modern and clean cabin. He poured himself a whisky before grabbing a second glass and bringing the bottle outside to the deck where there were chairs. He offered the drink to Orion before sitting and taking a sip. His stormy blue eyes closed as he let the liquid melted over his tongue before he looked at the alpha again. “I don’t know what I want in life anymore and I haven’t come up with a plan yet but I do know I don’t hate this place entirely and, right now I want to stay,” he swirled the amber liquid in its glass and watched it a moment before looking at Orion again, his gaze unblinking. “I don’t want to push anything on you but, I think it’s time I try to be useful in some form again,” Leaning back his eyes turned up and his lips pursed in a hard line. “Work is good for the body and mind and all that bullshit, right? If you need something, or can think of anything let me know. I think having a purpose again would be a start,” Quin said, his voice growing quiet before he finished his drink in one gulp.

Despite the pain and heartache along with numerous loses in his life Orion had never given up his humanity, he had never wanted to. The pain reminded him he was human but it also reminded him that it was something he could overcome. Granted his parents had always taught him that nothing could push you too far unless you allowed it and that there was nothing he couldn’t overcome not matter the time that it took to mentally get to that place. “I’ve never tried to hide from the way one of my forms thinks in the form of the other. Though my fox and I have always been on equal ground and have had an understanding for as long as I can remember. It’s a part of me but it’s not all I am nor all I ever want to be.” Fox were also surprisingly emotional creatures which was why they had a wide variety of noises since that was their speech. They also weren’t solitary creatures so being along would be hard on both parts of him. “Fox and wolves differ in many way though and no fox wants to live in solitude. A skulk or the equivalent to a wolf pack is much preferred.”

Orion had never lost family at a time when he could fall back into himself either, he always had others counting on him. After his wife’s death it had been his kids and his nephew and now it was an entire faction. “I’ve never been without anyone and fully alone though, just watched as my family was slowly killed off in a war there was no way of winning.” Most of those in the Therian faction were well aware of what had brought Orion to Evermore and what his family had done previously. Which was why they were rightly concerned when he took the position of Ambassador since he still had a deep dislike and distrust for vampires. To his credit he always remained civil when necessary since he knew it wasn’t the actions or fault of the vampires in the city that had lead to his family’s demise.

The Kitsune nodded as Quinlan spoke of becoming less and less human. “Animals tend to be detached from things like emotions and concerns living on instinct alone. The problem is that living in such a way doesn’t diminish your demons or your loss when you return to being human. It’s like a medically induced coma to deal with pain, when you wake all that pain that’s been blocked is now rushing back at once. It might be less than the initial pain but after not feeling it for so long it almost feels worse.” He might not know about sticking to his kitsune form until his humanity was almost gone but he did know about medically induced comas for pain since he’d been in a few during his life time from bad wounds or poisons.

The bark of laughter of the other man caught him off guard as they approached Quinlan’s home his scent clinging to the area warning others of it being his territory. “You’ve yet to prove to me that it’s a bad thing so for the moment it’s best to just take it as is.” Orion wasn’t sure if it was a good or bad thing but the fact that Quinlan had survived instead of turning into a murderous beast was rather impressive. Never one to enter the home of another without expressed permission he stood on the large porch which he was sure was nice during spring and fall evenings. Maybe even summer nights since it didn’t get too stifling hot in Evermore, not compared to the dry and heated deserts of home anyway.

The younger wolf returned handing him a glass which he graciously accepted with a nod of gratitude as the other man began to speak once more. Raising the glass to his lips he took a slow sip savoring it as he listened. Before silently contemplating what Quinlan was saying since most of it made perfect sense and it was hard to feel useful and find yourself again while being hold up in a cabin by yourself. “I’d say you’re one of many who don’t know what they want from life but your way of coming to that conclusion is much different than that of others.” He reached up and rubbing his chin in thought, “I have no reason not to allow you into the faction thought I hope you have no issue answering to a woman since the Lycan alpha is just that.” And if there was tension and conflict in the Lycan species Orion wouldn’t even have to step in since Harper disliked alpha males and most males in general with a passion especially when questioned. “As far as work I don’t currently have any to give but I can keep my ear to the ground and see what comes up.” 

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