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Benton Fraser is my packmate.
We run together, play together, hunt together.
We are a good pack. Yet Ben is lonely. I understand that. I may be wolf, but in his heart, so is he.
Wolves mate for life when they meet their chosen one. Ben has not yet met his chosen one. He may never. I have not yet. But maybe someday I shall, and he shall, and we will sing to the heavens, praising each other's mate. This is how it should be.
After all, we are pack.
I watch as yet another human comes to sniff around my packmate. I know he is not as oblivious as he seems he has told me as much. He is shy, and I know that. They humans do not. They view him as 'pretty' and would mate with him. They talk when he is not in the same room, disregarding me as no threat. Silly humans.
Sometimes one hears what one does not wish to hear, however. When they degrade my packmate, it bothers me. He is a good man, a good packmate, someone I can count on. And he can count on me. It is as it should be.
"Constable? Would you like to go to tonight's dance?"
I snort in disgust. This one is so scented, she would not stand a chance against a predator. Ben looks down at me, and I see the smile in his eyes.
"No, thank you, Constable. I appreciate the offer, however. Thank you kindly."
As she stalks away, I sneeze. Ben grins down at me and ruffles my fur, and I butt his leg.
Yes, we are pack.
A Year Later
Another human has killed my packmate's father. I long to tear out the human's throat, long to cause the human to suffer as my packmate is suffering.
I stare up at the night sky, Ben near me, and I begin to sing a dirge for him, for his father. He sobs what do wolves know of tears? This wolf knows Ben's tears of loneliness all too well. He comes to me, dropping to his knees in the wet snow, holds me tight as I sing, and his tears wet my coat. I sing on, into the night sky, to send the spirit of his father on his way.
You are not alone, Ben, I tell him. And he understands.
We are pack. We are all each other has, and it has to be enough for now.
We are heading to a place in the States called Chicago, on the trail of the killers of Ben's father. Chicago, what a strange word. I hope there are good things to eat there.
Ben says goodbye to me, and they wheel my cage into an airplane. The idiots jostle my cage, and I stare at them, which makes the humans nervous. I submit to this indignity because it's what Ben wants.
In Chicago Illinois
Ben meets the police officer in charge of the investigation of the killing of his father. He is not too impressed with the police officer, he tells me, but is willing to give him a chance.
Humans. Complicated beings.
I think I'll go visit the blonde on the corner. She is in season.
The human, Ray, comes to our aid when we're told to return home. After a reasonably exciting chase and I am shot, they leave the human who killed Ben's father behind to take care of me.
As it should be.
I am pack.
Ben says we must return to Chicago, that the RCMP does not want him to stay in Canada because he is to be punished for bringing the miscreant to justice. This is wrong. This is not right. But it is what it is, and he gives me the choice to go with him, or stay and be free.
We are pack. We do not desert one another.
Our last night in Canada, we sing to the heavens together.
Ben sings well.
We have a home now, and Ben is friends with Ray. Ray is all right. He smells good, like food, but he is not pack. I like him well enough, but he is not what either of us need. He is a child of the city, of this Chicago, and would not hunt well with our pack. Nonetheless, he is all right, and I tolerate him for my packmate's sake.
Ben goes to Ray's house often, and always brings me back something good to eat.
However, we've both discovered that Lasagne, while tasting wonderful, causes an unfortunate side effect.
Life goes on, much as it always has, and Ben is often propositioned by other humans males, and females, and one in particular takes his eye. She is a pretty female, all long dark hair I prefer blondes myself and talks sweet to him, mates with him, makes him believe in her.
She then hurts him. And hurts me.
And for that for the hurt she caused to my packmate, I will tear her heart out when I find her. Ray tells me that he will do the hurting. He is wrong. Ben is my packmate. And she will know pack justice.
When Ben finally comes home from the hospital, I butt his leg and he touches me gently, and I tell him it's not his fault. But the hurt is in his eyes; the pain of love known and gone is there, as well as the pain of betrayal.
And our lives go on, the seasons come and go, and I sometimes wonder if that pain will ever leave his eyes.
She will not live if I have my way about it.
Then something happens that changes our pack, our lives forever.
We go on holiday, back home to Canada, and when we return, Ray is gone. In his place is a new Ray. And Ben is immediately besotted. He tries to tell me different, but I can smell just fine, thank you kindly.
This Ray is nervous, energetic, blond. This Ray's ears taste good.
As we speed down the road to the Gone-Away-Ray's house, I wonder if this Ray is the chosen one for Ben. We will see. If he hurts Ben, I will have his heart just like I will have the bitch's heart.
Later that night, after we have a wonderful dinner at Millie's Diner, and Ben's in his cot, and I'm on the floor next to him, he reaches down and touches me. I look up and he smiles at me. "Dief, he's very, ah, nice, isn't he?"
I give him my assent, and he grins again and lies back down.
I smile as I go to sleep. I am pack, and Ben cannot fool me.
Sometimes being the smart one in the pack has its advantages.
The new Ray likes Ben. I can tell. When they're together, his scent changes, and he even makes my mouth water. When I tell Ben that, Ben looks pleased. "He does?"
Yes, I tell him, he is definitely interested in mating. Ben looks thoughtful.
The new Ray likes me, too. He shares his pizza and his snacks, and talks to me all the time. I like him too. He's good and kind to Ben, and would be a good packmate. Now to just convince Ben of that.
More seasons pass, and they dance an elaborate mating dance. I smile and wait I can, despite Ben's statements to the contrary, be patient. But when Ben does not take Ray as his, I finally ask Ben why. He looks out across the city and says quietly, his hand in my coat, "Someday we will go home, Dief. And Ray will be here in the city. He is not bred to our way of life."
I roll my eyes. Sometimes my packmate is all too human. Wait and see, Ben. Wait and see.
A Year Later
We are back home, back in Canada where we belong. Life has changed again, just like the seasons. It is a good life.
We are here in Inuvik to stay, it seems. The new Ray is staying with us for a while. He longs to be with Ben so badly. He wants to be Ben's chosen one.
I question him at length about his intentions one day as Ben is working.
He stares out at the horizon and touches my fur carefully. "I love him, Dief. But I guess it's not enough for him. Never is for most people."
I lick his fingers, encouraging him and he continues to talk. "I've done everything I can to show him I'm interested, but he just he really isn't that oblivious, is he?"
No, I state firmly.
"Yeah, I didn't think so." Ray sighs and then scuffles his boots in the snow. "I really like it here. I'm gonna miss you and Ben. I know I'm not pack but it was nice pretending that I was for a while."
I growl at him. You are pack, I insist. Ben will see that soon enough, Ray.
"Yeah, well. Thanks, but I don't think so, Dief. I think I think Fraser's been alone without a mate for so long maybe he just doesn't want one any more." He shrugs, looking sad.
I scoff at that idea. Ray, if you only knew how his heart sings with loneliness.
"But you, you've got your eye on Sascha, don't you?" He tries to distract me with thoughts of the beautiful female that lives with Ben's littermate.
Yes, but that doesn't solve the problem between you and Ben, I tell him gently. Ben and I are pack. We've only had each other for so long, and bad things have happened to him. It is hard for him to trust. Hard for him to pick up and try again. Perhaps if you made the first move, I suggest.
"No! I can't. If he said no what if it ruined our friendship?" Ray chokes out. "Can't tell him I love him. Not when he doesn't feel the same. It'd hurt too bad when he didn't want to be my friend anymore."
I lick his ear and he hugs me. If I were human, I tell him, and he grins. "Yeah, well, if I were wolf "
The sadness in Ray's eyes is hard to deal with, especially when Ben and Ray tell each other goodbye at the airport. The love Ray feels for Ben shines in his eyes, but Ben doesn't see it. I want to bite Ben. I may. I stare at him, disgusted. Before we left for the airport, he refused to listen to what I tried to tell him about Ray loving him, telling me I didn't understand, and now this! His mate is leaving in an airplane, going back to Chicago. I growl deep in my throat as Ben turns back to me.
"Let's be on our way, Diefenbaker."
I growl again and follow him.
"Why are you so peeved?" Ben asks. "I know you like Ray, but "
He is pack, you idiot! He's your chosen one and you're letting him fly away!
Ben stops and looks down at me for a moment then takes a deep breath. "We'll talk about it in the jeep."
So we climb into the vehicle and I stare at him, my eyes narrowed as he fiddles with the controls of the vehicle. Then he speaks. "Dief, you don't understand. Ray and I are both males."
No, really? I ask, sarcastically.
"Dief," Ben says in a pained voice. "We're both males."
And? I ask. So?
Ben rubs his face and then says quietly, "Mating is out of the question. Ray loves women. He "
He loves you, Ben, and wanted to stay here. He wanted to be pack. He wanted you to love him. He showed you in so many ways that he loved you, and you ignored every single overture. He made sure the den was clean. He cooked for you. He fixed the vehicle and the snowmachine. He learned how to hunt, how to clean game, and how to chop wood. He learned how to live in our home, so that you would love him. And you let him leave.
Ben stares at me, his eyes wide like a pup that has been scolded. "But he's he's "
He's gone, you dimwit, I growl. I tried to tell you he loved you. And you scoffed at me. I turn my back to him, unable to face him for a moment.
"He really loves me?" Ben's voice is quiet and I look back at him.
Yes. He really loves you, I say, rubbing his face with mine. He is lonely, he would be a good mate for you.
"And you, you approve?" Ben asks, hugging me so tightly I can barely breathe. His voice is shaky.
I refrain from telling him I've been sure for many seasons, and merely say yes.
"Brother," Ben pulls away from me, looking me in the eye, "may I bring a mate into the pack?"
Yes, Brother, I tell him, smiling.
"Thank you Dief," Ben hugs me again and I lick his face. "I'll call him, ask him to come back, to come home."
Sascha sits by the fire next to me, her nose pressed into my side. She is my chosen one. I nuzzle her ears and she licks me, the fire making her sleepy. Her belly is distended with our pups.
I pretend not to watch what my two packmates are doing on their bed.
It's fascinating, however.
Ben uses his tongue all over his mate, and Ray seems most appreciative, judging by the noise he's making. And when Ray touches Ben, Ben shakes and holds Ray close, kissing him.
After what seems like forever, Ben finally mounts Ray, facing him, their limbs tangled together, the sounds of their mating loud in the cabin.
When they're done with their loving, Ray spoons up behind Ben and holds him tight, and Ben looks at me, sleepy and happy.
Ray completes Ben in ways no one else ever has.
Ray is a good packmate, a good mate for Ben. The loneliness and despair are gone out of Ben's eyes and I smile at him. He smiles back and we lift our voice in song.
We have our chosen ones at last.
We are pack.