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Typical of a fall evening in the valley of a mountain the wind outside seemed to whistle and howl causing eerie noises to move through the lonesome house. Only one resident currently in but he gave the winds no mind as he sat on the couch in a pair of sweatpants and a simple white v-neck shirt with files spread across the coffee table along with a few legal documents for the security company. This was the usual nightly routine and that routine was beginning to draw to a close given the hour, it was edging towards ten-thirty at night and every morning he was up and at 'em by around five in order to run through the woods before heading to work.
Setting one of the files down there was a different noise, a soft pitter-patter as rain began to fall. It was a sound Orion still found soothing and often times he would sit and watch the rain for hours. Tonight though he needed as much rest as possible since he and Ember would be meeting with a local museum and placing a bid in for a security contract for one of their upcoming events. A good night's sleep made for a sharp mind which meant he wouldn't miss anything tomorrow and be able to give his full focus and attention to the meeting.
A strange but familiar scent seemed to tickle his nose and stimulated a vague memory of the past. It was just the weakest hint of a scent covered by that of rain and dampening earth. As if on auto pilot he stood from the couch and moved towards his front door, his brow creased together to form a serious expression as he turned the knob pulling the door towards him and showing him the dimly lite front porch. Reaching over with his right hand he flipped on the porch and flood lights a woman becoming visible in the middle of the yard rain socked and just staring at his home as if in a trance.
"Tansy?" He called out as the scent finally clicked and brought forth memories from many years ago. It felt more like a lifetime ago and from the looks of her it seemed like a lifetime ago as well.
Tansy had been a friend of his wife's, she and Destiny had been close and though he knew that Tansy had in no way believed him to be good enough for her friend she was always civil. No one is ever good enough for your best friend after all and as a teenage Destiny had far better offers than what he could give. However the last time he had seen Tansy she was moving to another part of Nevada and last he heard she was married to an alpha. Her scent didn't hold that of any other wolves though, no other pack members and that in itself was strange. Whatever had brought her here from Nevada couldn't be good.
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“What, in the hell, am I doing?”
Stepping free of the bus her dark, almond shaped eyes scanned over the crowd milling through the depot. Mothers were herding sleepy kids while trying to gather luggage as the workers threw bags haphazardly out onto the pavement. It was a relatively mundane scene and yet her eyes were constantly scanning, ears straining as she searched for the one person she prayed she wouldn’t see. Scenting the air she caught no hint of him, no sign that he was lurking in the crowd. Taking a steadying breath Tansy pulled her hood up over her head, hiding her face in the shadows as she shoved her hands into her pockets and headed for the exit.
She’d been super careful, methodical to the point of paranoia as she’d made her travel arrangements. Selling off the huge diamond ring at a pawn shop for a stack of cash under a false name, adding that to the money she’d been given from a private buyer who had scooped up her priceless family heirlooms for only three quarters of what they were worth she had a nice cash wad that couldn’t be traced. Dumping everything that had ever been given to her by him she’d taken only the clothes on her back and switched modes of transportation several times to throw him off her trail. Doubling back and even taking a trek up into Montana she’d covered her tracks and masked her scent as best she could. It was being so close to her destination that had her so jumpy, intellectually she knew this and yet it didn’t stop her eyes from searching every shadow or her nose working overtime.
Once out on the streets she oriented herself with the map in her head, turning in the direction of the woods. After 30 minutes of walking she hit the treeline, striped, stuffed her clothes together in her jacket, and shifted. Scooping up her bundle the wolf used her other senses to guide her, running full tilt through the forest around Evermore until she found the right house. Shifting back in the shadows she pulled her clothes back on, cursing darkly as the night sky decided that moment to let the rain begin to fall. Stepping free of the trees Tansy took a couple steps and halted, uncertainty and fear freezing her in place.
It had been so long since she’d even seen Orion, let along talked to him. Destiny had kept in touch but it wasn’t like her best friend and her husband had talked after Destiny had passed. That wasn’t even including the communication blackout that had been placed upon her by her ex, but that was a whole different issue. Would he even be willing or want to help her? She’d heard he was an Alpha now as well and she knew the problems and issues that Alphas faced when one butted into the affairs of another. The worst thing he could do was inform her husband that she was there in which case she’d disappear again. She’d rather live life as wolf than go back to that bastard.
Grimacing she was halfway to talking herself out of knocking when the door opened, a moment later light flooded the front yard pinning her in place as he said her name. Sighing the wolf took a few more steps forward, keeping her face within the shadow of the hood of her coat. There were a couple of ways she could handle this and yet only one was her style, only one would give her an answer sooner rather than later.
Moving to the bottom step of the porch Tansy Rathbone pulled her hood back and looked up at the Alpha, letting the light shine on her bruised and battered face. “I seek sanctuary. I’ve broken from my pack and left my husband, both of which I have no doubt are looking for me. I have no intention of going back to him.” She stated the last in a forceful voice, the lacerations from her last battle with the Alpha in Montana still pained her. He’d made the mistake of trying to secure her by force and they had both paid for it. He was still alive of course, but she’d left him some parting gifts.
Some might be weary or on edge with a Therian of another pack coming into their territory but Orion held no fear of Tansy for many reasons. Not since Destiny had married him anyway, before the wedding he'd been pretty sure the other lycan would talk Destiny out of marrying him but that hadn't been the case or his wife just hadn't listened. Since neither he nor Tansy were friends he knew she had a reason for being here and that was what set him on edge. Wolves were pack animals and one without a pack could be dangerous but she wasn't yet an omega he could sense her being a beta which lead to a whole array of potential issues. All of them were issues that he didn't need since the city was still on edge and the Therians were just beginning to find their own peace and balance between the Alphas.
The moment his steely eyes landed on her bruised and battered face a barely contained rage began to bubble beneath the surface. There were not many things which caused Orion to skip over logical thoughts but anyone raising a hand to a woman or child and an Alpha abusing their power were quick ways to make that happen. Orion's jaw was clenched so tight he expected his teeth to begin to crack, he had never been good at hiding his emotions especially in situations like this. The words which left Tansy's lips didn't help any matters either. Sanctuary was not his to give without discussing it with the rest of the Council and yet he didn't care, bit was better to ask for forgiveness than permission. "Sanctuary is yours." Orion's statement was more dangerous than Tansy's appearance.
"Come inside." He said motioning to the open door as he flipped off the flood lights. The problem with a Therian who broke with their pack was the simple fact that the pack wasn't necessarily done with them. If that pack wanted their member returned, all they had to do was ask the Alpha of the territory hosting them, unless that member had been allowed into another pack. "Sanctuary can be broken but they can't request you back if you're in another pack." The legality of pack law made it impossible for one Alpha to demand a pack member from another, they were required to challenge and that would mean Tansy's husband coming here which was unlikely.
Orion left the front door open as he moved back into the house grabbing his cell phone and texting one of the Therian members who owned a tattoo parlor. A pack tattoo was the most permanent of marks which showed who you were loyal to and those who would stand beside, behind and in front of you. The word of an Alpha was law to a pack and if a member was brought into the pack the rest would do what was necessary to protect them, it was a family which ran deep than blood and was bound together but powers beyond their understanding. As the Ambassador he knew he should make wiser choices but he knew the choice he was making now was necessary and the right one for his conscience and to honor his late wife's memory.
Thousands of thought raced through her mind as she studied Orion’s face, taking note the changes that time had wrought on the proud male. She had to admit he still looked just as handsome as the day she had met him, a little more grey around the ears and a lot more worldly in his eyes, but still the male that had captured the heart of her best friend. Thinking about Destiny made her heart ache, what would she say if she could see her now? Running and hiding from a man who had brutalized and beat her in front of the entire pack, something the two of them had said they would never do. At least she hadn’t stayed with him, stayed and made excuses for the bastard, THAT was something Destiny had never been able to stomach.
Tansy’s dark eyes zeroed in on the tick in his jaw as his silver hues took in the damage to her face, clouding over with something akin to fury though he contained it well. Fairly well anyway. He listened to her entreaty at least, keeping quiet until she’d spoken her peace and if she was honest with herself the Therian was expecting to be turned away. In fact her mind and her feet already had her backing away when three softly spoken words halted her, her mouth opening and closing several times before her brain got with the program and truly registered the situation.
Sanctuary. It was odd how meaningful that word could become when it was the only option for true safety one had. Blinking several times as the lights went out Tansy moved forward, mounting the steps slowly as if at any moment someone would pop out from behind the door or one of the porch chairs and drag her off while Orion laughed his ass off. Once inside the house the wolf breathed a sigh of relief, her eyes scanning over the furniture as she turned to face the Alpha that had just defied pack law in order to give her a safe place to go.
Quietly she watched him type rapidly into his phone, wondering what the male had up his sleeve. He’d given her sanctuary and nothing could negate it once extended, despite there being no witnesses. Under the laws of their kind they couldn’t lie when it came to things like that, even a kitsune was bound by the truth. Evenso she knew without a doubt that Orion wasn’t the type to go back on his word, no, he had something up his sleeve and always the observer she just needed to wait and see.
“Thank you.” The words rushed out of her unbidden, Tansy let out a shakey breath with a half smile that hurt her bruised cheeks to form. She had begun to despair that any place would be safe for her and now she could relax, at least for a little while.
It was amazing how time and environment could change a person from who they had been to who they were now. Tansy, much like his late wife had bowed to no one and was unapologetic about the choices she made. Destiny hadn’t been his wife she had been his partner, his equal in everything and yet it obvious Tansy had not been treated the same in her own marriage. When and how his change in Tansy came to pass was something he didn’t know but it was clear that she wanted to regain her own life and not live under the thumb of another who put her down physically form what he could tell.
Some Alpha’s mistakenly believed they gained power from dominating others, making them feel weak in order to keep them down. An Alpha could raise their pack up and want everyone to do their best and be their best, true power wasn’t about dominance by respect. Those who would die for you and those you would die for, that was the meaning of a pack, it had nothing to do with blood and everyone to do with acceptance.
Waiting inside, Tansy was slow to follow but she seemed to be in disbelief that he would so easily grant her what she sought. Both knew the full gravity of such a request and he knew the sort of hell that would reign down upon his head for granting her amnesty. They were rumors about the Alpha Tansy had married and most packs and Alpha’s feared him for good reasoning. No Alpha who had ever faced him survived and no beta who challenged was allowed to live. To Elijah Travis there was no conceding there was wining or there was death and those who did concede were murdered in cold blood. “You picked a dangerous man to marry Tansy and I have the feeling this is going to come back to bite me in the ass.” If Elijah wanted her though he would have to come to Evermore and the Alpha wasn’t known for challenging others when he wasn’t on his home turf. Rules and pack law could be broken when there was no one left alive to testify against who which was how the other Alpha had gotten away without any judgement or punishment.
“You’ll stay here until I can get you a place set up. One of my pack members will be by shortly in order to place the faction tattoo of this city on your skin, something that no one can dispute. There are two rooms to pick from.” Since neither Sera nor Arwyn lived here anymore, they knew he no longer needed their presence to make it through every day and they moved on with their life. “Some of Sera’s old clothes might fit you. I would offer you Destiny’s but…” His voice trailed off since he no longer had anything that once belonged to her. “There’s food in the fridge and I would suggest a shower before Maven gets here.”
Waving off her appreciation he moved to gather the files from the coffee table, closing them and restacking them. “You’re safe here and I doubt that he would come this far to try and find you.” Though they both seemed to know that was a lie. Elijah Travis wasn’t one to let anything go but Orion wasn’t one to allow innocents to suffer either.
Dropping her gaze Tansy felt a wash of shame mixed with sadness, Orion’s summation of the situation didn’t even cover the truth. It was hard to explain the slow fall her husband had been enduring, the changes that had taken place over the course of their relationship. There wasn’t a single event that had warped the man she had fallen in love with, it had taken place over the course of at least a decade. Little pieces of his humanity had either chipped away or fallen off, finally revealing the monster beneath in a single fight that had produced bruises on her face and given her the resolve to leave.
Running a hand through her long hair she shook her head, “He wasn’t always like this.” Her voice was steady though the sorrow was present in her tone that was all she was going to say on the matter. Some might have viewed her as damaged or beaten but nothing could have been farther from the truth. She’d been fully prepared to fight to survive, to keep running, to become an Omega in order to keep away from her husband. There were a lot of things she’d been willing to put up with but an abusive mate wasn’t one of them. Never.
Shaking out her jacket Tansy’s almond gaze glued to his face as he rattled off his plans, her eyebrows raising into her hairline. It was a smart move, placing the faction tattoo on her all but sealed her membership into the packs of Evermore and made it impossible for her to be taken by another without the full force of all the packs coming to heel. Therians were lots of things but above all loyalty ran high within their race, they would all rise to defend one of their own. The moment she’d chosen to leave her home pack the mark she’d had since birth had dissolved, albeit a little painfully leaving her free to be claimed by another. Granted she’d never expected another pack to take her in, let alone the pack of her late best friend’s husband.
The wolf wrinkled her nose at the possibility of wearing anything Destiny had worn or touched, that just seemed too weird. A shower and a fresh change of clothes did sound good though and in a faction house there was sure to be something somewhere that she could put on. Nodding her head she turned to head for the stairs, the promise of a hot shower too good to pass up. She took her time, washing off the last week of grime and grief and fear letting the realization that she was safe for the time being really sink in. It was amazing what clean clothes and a little soap did to a person, revitalizing bones and muscles as well as awakening the stomach.
Padding downstairs in a light pair of jogging pants and a tank top, her dark hair hanging in a damp sheet down her back she followed her nose to the kitchen, opening the fridge to look over the options. Pulling out some bacon and eggs she went a step further and grabbed pancake mix from the pantry, whipping up a breakfast fit for a Therian who hadn’t eaten properly in over 2 weeks.
There had been a time when Elijah hadn’t seem too bad, a little controlling and not the man for Destiny to be sure. It had led to a lot of discord and a falling out of friendship between Orion and Elijah but it was bound to happen anyway. It was easy to tell that Tansy was ashamed of her current state so Orion wouldn’t poke at it farther since that’s the last thing he wanted her to feel. None of the events which conspired were her fault, she just fell in love with an asshole for lack of a better word.
“I know he wasn’t Tansy, I used to know him too.” Deep down he almost felt a fault for the onset of Elijah’s insanity since it started after Orion bested him years and years ago. There had always been darkness inside of Elijah but he just continued to feed it become the monster he now was with no guilt or remorse over the actions he took of the pain and suffering he caused. Power had a way of corrupting and absolute power corrupted absolutely. Some people should never be allowed to be alphas but they were able to win the challenge and take what they believed to be their rightful place stepping on everyone in their way and burying them six feet under.
Everything Orion did came with a reason and with a cost but it was one he was willing to pay since Tansy had once been very close to his family. Whatever she needed he would give, not because he owed it to her but because it was the right thing to do. There was no true protection from Elijah but at least the pack mark would be a deterrent, it would make Elijah work for what he wanted and Orion would end this in whatever way he had to.
“I’ll let you know when Maven arrives.” He said allowing Tansy the time she wanted to get done what she wanted since he was sure she could use the longest, hottest shower and to just take her time surrounded in safety. He had never been one to push so when she headed for the stairs he sat back down on the couch and opened one of the files he had been looking over. No matter how hard he tried to concentrate on the words clearly typed on the page he just couldn’t tie them into sentences to get them to make sense. Reading the same line over and over again he gave up and closed the file with a heavy sigh. What was he doing? This wasn’t going to end well and Orion knew that, he was putting a whole faction at risk to save one person which wasn’t what any alpha in their right mind would do.
Running his left hand through his hair he grabbed the forgotten glass of whiskey from the coffee table and brought it to his lips quickly gulping down the amber liquid. Maybe he was allowing his past to affect his present and have him make decisions he wouldn’t normally make but someone had to protect those like Tansy and stand up to people like Elijah. Orion was lost in his own thoughts staring at the wall when the sound of the fridge being open snapped him out of it his head turning quickly to look towards the kitchen. Tansy had to be hungry so it made sense that was her first stop after showering, instead of going to check on her he laid back on the couch sure that she wanted sometime to herself. A lot had happened to her over the past few weeks and now that she was finally somewhere safe it was likely all beginning to set in.
The smell of bacon caused his eyes to slowly open before there was a knock at the door. Slowing moving to sit he pushed himself off of the couch and made his way to the door smelling Maven on the other side. Opening it he allowed the Ailuranthrope in before looking outside the house and then closing the door behind him. "She's in the kitchen but you might want to let her eat first." He said motioning Maven towards the kitchen and following suit, "Tansy, this is Maven, one of the tattoo artists in the pack. Maven, Tansy."