I gasp in pain as I gently prod at one of my many injuries. Blood is smeared across my rather pale skin, making it seem as if I just murdered someone... or got jumped – either one works. Running my hand along my scalp, I find the opening and begin the painful process of stitching it closed again. The process is slow and tedious, even for someone who has done this plenty of times. I bite my lip hard, feeling the wound close as pain continues to make my head pound. Finished, I cut the extra thread and set the sutures down, looking at my bloody hands. I look back up at my bruised and bloodied face and groan, noting the blood covering my face and hair. Stripping, I step into the shower and turn on the water, feeling the ice cold liquid splash all over me. I shiver for a second before shrugging it off and carefully wash my scalp and injuries. I turn off the shower and dry myself off before dressing myself in a pair of basketball shorts and a plain white t-shirt that is one or two sizes too big for me; my normal sleepwear. I stare into the mirror again.
I wasn't the tallest person, with a height of 5'8". Son of two werewolves, I inherited the height from my mom, along with my black hair and dark brown eyes. My wolf is a Tibetan wolf - also something from my mother. She was born in Beijing, China, the daughter of two Tibetan wolves. On the other hand, my square-jawed facial structure came from my dad, a Grey wolf born in Portland, Oregon. I adopted the size of his grey wolf, making my wolf larger than the average Tibetan wolf. I'm extremely skinny due to malnutrition, courtesy of my "pack".
Stepping into my room, I take the five steps to my bed and drop onto it, feeling the rather soft material against my aching arms and legs. I turn onto my side, back to the door and my gaze out the window. Stars blanket the night sky while the moon is nowhere in sight. My hand finds its way to my neck, where I gently touch the scar there. I close my eyes, feeling sorrow seep deep into my chest, causing a small prick of pain.
"Mom... Dad..." My whisper reverberates in the silent room. "Why'd you guys leave? Why?"
My eyes snap open. I'm sitting up, sweat dripping down my brow and I'm breathing hard, my chest heaving with each massive breath and my heart beating away with no restraints, greatly increasing the pain I'm feeling. I weakly reach out for the bedside table, only to end up falling out of the bed with a loud thud. I lay there, paralyzed with pain for a few minutes when my door opens slowly, making my gaze drift over to it. A small head with a tuft of black hair, dark brown eyes, and a concerned look appears around it. Theo.
"Mattie?" His quiet voice makes me wince.
"I'm fine Theo."
His eyebrows furrow. "Why are you on the floor Mattie?"
"I fell out of bed." I give him a weak smile and untangle myself from the blanket. "Go to bed. You have school tomorrow."
He nods and closes my door, the sound of his soft footsteps fading away. I close my eyes, feeling drained and quite comfortable on the carpet floor. I sigh, pulling the rest of the blanket off the bed and over me, curling up into a ball, drifting off to sleep.
Four Months Later
The kick to my stomach makes me slam into the lockers behind me. I groan in pain, as another kick sends my head smashing into them again, making me black out for a second as my brain quickly recovers. I can feel blood flowing freely from my nose, making me gasp for air. Roland, the soon-to-be-Beta, laughs cruelly and the others follow.
"You like that huh fag?" Derrick, the soon-to-be-Alpha and Theo's brother, growls and sends another kick at me, this time straight to the groin. I whimper as the pain spreads like a flame, and I curl up, clutching myself.
"You think you can embarrass me and get away with it?"
Tears escape from my eyes as I prepare to answer. I haven't done anything...
"N-no." My whimper is answered with another kick to the head that sends me reeling, but this time it was Roland who kicks me.
"It was fucking rhetorical," Roland snarls. I blink rapidly, trying to crawl my way back to consciousness, but with no success. I can feel my scalp bleeding again, but I'm unable to move. Pain is all I can feel.
"G-guys, I think we should lay of-"
"Shut the fuck up Frank! You growing soft now?" Derrick snaps, turning around. Suddenly, I find myself out of control and a loud snarl escapes my lips. Before I know it, I'm lunging at Roland, who grabs me by the throat and slams me against the locker with a loud bang that echoes through the silent hallway.
"Who the fuck do you think you are?" Roland asks in a dangerous tone, his face no more than two inches from my face with hot breath fanning over my face. I don't answer, instead panting as anger floods my body. His grip around my throat tightens and my struggle ends as I fall into the darkness that has been beckoning to me, my blood still streaming in large quantities.
My head is throbbing. Sweet 19. I look outside. It's raining hard, the water hitting the window in big droplets with very audible thumps. It's my birthday. The day is gloomy and cold, as it should be. There is nothing great about my birth. It's just a big pain in the ass for everyone. I lay my head against the cold pane of glass and tears escape my eyes. I should just end it.
My gaze drifts to my door. My heart aches as I think of who'd I'd be leaving behind if I did. I can hear the excited bustle of the house as the Alphas prepare a surprise party for Roland. The cliché of sharing the same birthday as my mate/bully – though I am older than him by a year – is funny because it applies to me. The odds of this happening are very unlikely, realistically speaking. I doubt anyone remembers it's my birthday. When we were younger, Roland had complained that it wasn't special if he shared a birthday party with someone, namely me. As a result, the Luna, bless her soul, tried her best to kindly break it to me that my birthday would not be celebrated.
My door opens and Theo's head appears with a shy smile on his face. "Mattie?"
I smile and carefully get out of bed, joints complaining as Theo races over, demanding that I pick him up. I ignore my pain and pick him up, feeling a protective nature spark deep within me as I cradle him closer to me, his face buried in my neck, tiny arms wrapped around me. I'm never going to leave him. And that's a promise...
"Descending through five hundred." I nod and head back into the main compartment of the four-engine C-130, where my squad is, flight deck door closing behind me.
"Alright men, saddle up for landing!" I shout over the roar of the propellers, giving them a crooked grin. "It might be a rough one."
The wind is battering the aircraft, rocking it in all directions as we near the air base we're stationed at. I take a seat next to my dark-brown haired second in command, Staff Sargent Kaden Nadeau, an Ontario-born Canadian. The aircraft jolts, making Kaden clench his gloved hands a bit, his dark eyes jumping around. Marie, the squad medic and who is sitting across from us, chuckles at his fear of flying.
"Calm down K," she said. "You'll live."
He snorts and speaks sarcastically, "And Matt here, won't be seeing Theo again."
"Bitch please, I'll crawl my way through hell if it means seeing Theo again," I said, rolling my eyes.
Suddenly, something punches through the bulkhead between us and the flight deck, light begin to stream into the compartment. A few more holes appear on the bulkhead and something lands on the floor in front of me with a clink. My gloved hand closes around it and I lift it to my face. It's a brass bullet, compressed by the impact with the aircraft's fuselage. Blood is covering it, meaning that it has just hit someone. It dawns on me and I jump up from my seat. Forcing my way into the cockpit, I see the co-pilot grasping his throat, dark blood streaming down the front of his flight suit.
"Get him into the back!" the other pilot orders, struggling to control the aircraft and watch the instruments. I do as he says, ripping the seatbelt off of the co-pilot and hauling his body from the cramped flight deck into the cargo hold. Laying him on the floor, I unzip his flight suit a bit and tear the shirt that he's wearing beneath to expose the wound a little more. Pulling out a handkerchief, I press it against his throat while Marie scrambles to get her medical bag. The man blinks, his eyes hooded as if he's ready to fall asleep. Blood escapes his mouth as Marie finally sets her medical bag next to me and removes his flight helmet. Another squad member starts helping us tend to the pilot as the aircraft thumps down, wheels making contact with the asphalt runway of the airbase. He's losing blood quickly, too quickly for our taste. Light floods the hold, telling me that the cargo door is opening, most likely operated by the others. Sirens and the sound of screeching tires greets my ears.
"Stay with us," I growl, slapping the man lightly as his eyes close. They snap open, but I can see the life draining rather quickly from the unfocused storm-grey eyes staring at the ceiling. There's shouting and everyone steps back as the paramedics arrive and start to finish our work. God, I hope he survives.
I look at my gloved hands, only to find that they are thickly coated with blood. His blood. I quick rip off my gloves when an explosion rocks the ground, throwing some of us to the floor of the aircraft. An air siren goes off and my instincts kick in. I scramble for my sniper's carrying case while ordering my squad to take defensive position around the plane. The smell of gunpowder, flesh, blood, and death invade my senses, my werewolf genes making it worse. Another explosion rocks the ground. Gunshots fill the air and I can hear bullets striking the metal fuselage of the aircraft and bouncing off, some of them punching right through the material.
The airfield is thrown into confusion and chaos, but quickly settles as the others on base begin to return fire. I open my case and haul out the sniper rifle it held. The C14 Timberwolf: Canadian-made and the standard sniper rifle for the Canadian Armed Forces. Kaden crouches next to me and grabs the binoculars that are hanging around his neck, looking for the enemy.
"There's a whole lot of them Cap'," he murmured. I hum in agreement as I rest the rifle on top my knee and look through the scope. "Alright, straight ahead, man who has a slight limp. Should be about 300 meters."
Aiming so my reticle is resting just above my target's head, I take a deep breath and pull the trigger. The rifle goes off with a bang and a roar of flames erupts from the barrel, rifle butt striking back into my right shoulder. My hand pulls the bolt, the shell flinging itself from the chamber just as the bullet drives itself into the man's face, right below the left eye with a puff of red for my efforts.
"There's another one to the le- fuck!" Kaden curses as a mortar slams into the ground and explodes, no more than a few hundred feet away from us, knocking us to the floor with a powerful shockwave. He taps my shoulder and we start moving a little further back into the aircraft, where there are a few wooden crates for us to take cover behind. The bullets seem to chase us into the aircraft, sparking off of the body. I take aim and fire, killing another. And another. More and more attackers appear on the edges of the airfield, a few trucks with a machine gun mounted on the back slamming through the perimeter fence. More bullets hit the aircraft, forcing Kaden and I to duck behind the crates.
"We're going to get overrun at this point." I mumble. I lean out, take aim, and pull the trigger again, the Timberwolf letting out another roar of anger. A roar promising death to anything its bullet touched. Something sparks against the wall of the aircraft and my cheek suddenly feels like a bee stung it. I ignore it, focusing on another target. A roar of jet engines breaks my concentration, just as two or three American Fairchild Republic A-10s roared overhead, their gatling cannons spooling up and letting loose. Trucks are riddled with bullets, only to explode a few minutes later. Air support is finally here...
Helicopters hover in, the AH-64 Apaches firing rockets and bullets at the enemy. Within a few minutes, the attack is over, the enemy either dead or fleeing. A deep sigh of relief escapes my lips.
"Is-is the attack over?" Kaden pants, a hint of pain in his voice. My eyes whip over to him and my concern flares.
"God damn it Kaden," I growl, ripping off his body armor and taking out my K-Bar knife, cutting a hole in his shirt where the bullet wound is. He groans in pain.
I ignore him, focusing on treating the wound just below his rib. "You are so fucking lucky I'm not going to punch you right now."
After bandaging up the wound I haul him up to his feet. He grimaces as he bumps into the box. "After this tour is over, I'm not signing up for a new one."
"You are pretty damn clumsy." I snort. "Remember that time you fell down the stairs during training?"
He blushes, punching my shoulder. "I tripped!"
"Yea... and brought down at least two people with you."
He shoves me lightly as I laugh, the stress finally bleeding off, adrenaline no longer being injected into my blood stream. The stinging feeling returns, my cheek feeling as it's on fire.
"Hey, you got hit..."
I look down to find blood dripping onto the floor. Pulling my glove off, I gently caress my cheek and wince as I feel blood and an open wound. "Well, shit."
I swat Marie's hand away from me. "Marie, I'm fine."
Her eyes narrow. "Well, I'm not the idiot who got shot and didn't even know it."
"Well, that's hurtful," Kaden and I both said, rolling of our eyes.
"But seriously, we're in a hospital. You don't need to treat our injuries." Kaden chuckles.
I look at the man lying unconscious on the bed to our left. The pilot who was shot. "Is he going to make it?"
"Uhm..." Marie scratches her cheek, a sign of nervousness. "The docs say that he has a twenty four percent chance of making it through this night. He's pretty luck to survive such an injury as it is."
Heavy silence fills the room.
"Well, I should get going now." I said, nodding and standing up from my seat on the edge of Kaden's bed and walk over to the man, inspecting his patient information sheet. Benjamin Faust.
I wince as my eyes move on to the notes. Might leave scarring, possible brain damage...
And then his scent finally hits me. A fellow werewolf huh? What is he doing here?
Setting my hand on his shoulder, I whisper, "Hang in there buddy. You're mate's out there... waiting for you."
With those words, I leave the infirmary, a heavy weight on my chest.
"Thank you for flying Kanos Airlines and we hope you'll enjoy your time here in Edinburgh, our home base. Before leaving the aircraft, please ensure you have all your belongings. When we reach the gate, the captain will turn off the seatbelt sign. We ask that you remain seated until the disabled and elderly disembark the aircraft first."
The Boeing 737-800 jerks to a stop and the seatbelt sign turns off with the customary chime. The engine noise dies off and the door is finally open, allowing the disabled and elderly to leave the aircraft first, though the aircraft is mostly empty – it's a late night flight. I nudge Kaden awake, who looks at me through tired eyes. I stand up from my seat and grab my duffle bag, slinging it over my head as I make my way towards the front of the aircraft, Kaden, Benjamin, and Eric right behind me. Eric is from my old squad and decided to leave the military with us, claiming that he has "had enough of fighting". As for Benjamin... the wound he sustained had damaged his cerebellum and Higher Up decided he was no longer fit for duty. They're moving in with Kaden and I, not that we minded.
As we step into the terminal, I glance at the aircraft and snort at the name slapped on the side of the nose. Pft. Australian Dingo. You aren't going to see one around here anytime soon.
We grab our bags and head through to the pick-up zone, where I find Theo waiting for me. He has bags under his eyes and I make a mental note to ask him about it later.
"Mattie!" The 16 year old boy jumps into my arms, making me chuckle as he buries his face into my neck.
"Hey there T." A small smile graces my lips. The sound of someone clearing their throat makes me turn around.
"Aren't you going to introduce us Cap'?" Eric asks with a crooked grin. I roll my eyes, but set Theo down.
"Theo, these are my friends from the military. You already know Kaden. Those two are Benjamin and Eric." As I spoke, I pointed at each person respectively. Theo nods, but shies away from them, partially hidden behind me. Kaden's eyes drift from him over to mine, questioning me silently. I shrug and gesture to the car. Theo silently slips back to the driver's seat – why he drove over here by himself, I have no clue. We drop our bags into the trunk and we all get in the car, the others cramming their massive frames into the back of the car. I settle myself into the forward passenger seat and drop my backpack into the space under the dashboard.
Theo laughs at the sight before he pulls away from the curb, navigating his way to the highway for our trip to Brairwood. The radio is on and Theo is softly humming to tune of, judging off of what's being displayed on the screen, Savior by Rise Against. He's grown so much during the time I spent overseas – numerous tours spent. He no longer looks like the eight year old I had taken with me to Canada, instead, starting to look like a mature man... who illegally drove here.
"Theo, tu as quel âge?" Eric asks, breaking the silence. Theo, how old are you?
"Um... Je suis seize ans." Theo's soft reply had a tad bit of hesitation. Um... I am sixteen years old.
"Oh?" Eric laughs. "Tu est âge!" You are old!
Theo blushes. "Non, je ne suis pas âge." No, I am not old.
"Oui, mais tu est âge!"Yes, but you are old!
Eric scoffs at that while Kaden and I start laughing.
"Alright, cut it out guys," Kaden interrupts, ending his laughter.
"Well you don't need to be a party pooper," Eric retorts. The two start bickering and I roll my eyes. Benjamin is sleeping, a slightly disturbed look on his face. Man, I hope he doesn't have a nightmare.
He's always been like that. Ever since he was discharged after the attack on the base five and a half years ago, he's always had nightmares. Well, at least to my knowledge. Dark bags have formed under his eyes and his face seems gaunter, though his body seems to remain fit, probably because he continues to go to the gym. He's hiding something...
I'm forced out of my thoughts as the car is jolted. I blink, realizing that we've pulled up into the driveway of our house. The house wasn't anything special – it was a typical suburban house made of brick and wood. Getting out of the car, I stretch before grabbing my backpack and make my way inside, the others following me while Theo runs ahead. I laugh at his child-like behavior. Man, I miss this feeling.