Warning: knotting, angst(?), bit of violence, very minor char death
Summary: Kyungsoo is the runt of the pack, beaten and dragged down his entire life and finding a mate is his only escape.
Sharp teeth nip at Kyungsoo's bare ankle, threatening to break the skin as the young pup follows behind his steps. Kyungsoo smiles down at the ball of gray fur, chuckling as he hears a muffled growl before it makes another leap for him. The pup is only a few years old, still changing between human and wolf forms uncontrollably and biting everything within reach - which includes Kyungsoo's ankles. So he turns, making his way to the tree and settling down with his back against the bark. The thin fabric of his shirt doesn't keep the rough texture from digging in, but he doesn't mind.
It’s a beautiful day, the sunlight filtering through the leaves to dance on the ground. Kyungsoo lets out a soft sigh, body slumping and his eyes closing for a moment to simply enjoy. Times like this are far too rare for the older wolf and he soaks it in, lets it soothe over him like a balm over a burn.
The pup yips, bounding around on small, unsteady paws until he topples over. Kyungsoo giggles, a rare smile gracing his lips as he reaches out to aid the bundle of energy, plucking him from the leaves and placing him back on his paws. His tail wags and he whines and Kyungsoo picks out the leaves still stuck in his fur before he's stopped. A hand is wrapped around his wrist, squeezing tight enough to make him cry out.
"Don't touch my son," the woman seethes, eyes narrow and grip tightening. Kyungsoo is shoved to the side as she scoops the pup into her arms and dashes off.
Kyungsoo rights himself and fights the tears in his eyes. It's not an uncommon occurrence - the others of his pack wanting to keep their young as far from him as possible. He's the runt, the useless wolf who clings to the pack for lack of anywhere to go. There's never been a time when he doesn't remember it being this way. His mother died in childbirth and they've never told him about his father. He's never been trained to hunt or track, left alone to watch with greedy eyes as the other wolves his age are taken out before dawn.
The sting of loneliness is almost like a friend now, close to his heart and always there to point him in the right direction. He shouldn't have touched the pup.
The Alpha's favorite method of punishment comes in the form of a whip; each of the three leather strips are lined with rusted metal barbs tipped in wolfsbane. It prevents a wolf from being able to simply heal the cuts, keeping the wounds open long enough to teach them a lesson and leave behind the scars so they never forget. It also prevents them from changing to wolf form, leaving them vulnerable and unable to defend themselves. Kyungsoo already has scarred lashes across his back, criss-cross sections of flayed flesh that healed into raised lines. And as far as he knows, he's the only one the weapon has ever been used on.
He's on his knees, arms tied around the trunk of a wide tree and shirt discarded. Kyungsoo is breathing heavily through his nose, muscles tense and awaiting the first blow. The entire pack is out to bear witness, cheering from the sides and spitting insults from every direction. Kyungsoo tries his best to not let it get to him, hardened from a life of mistreatment yet it hurts all the same. All he wants is acceptance.
The first lash is easy enough to take, bottom lip in his teeth to keep in any noises. Weakness is something he can't afford to show even if everyone already sees him as such. It's the sixth drag of metal ripping through flesh that forces him to lose it, hot tears trailing down dirty cheeks and whimpers spilling through chapped lips. The cheers get louder and the lashes go deeper and Kyungsoo blacks out before the end.
He shouldn't have touched the pup.
There's a tree in the forest that was struck by lightning when Kyungsoo was a child. He used to sneak away to play in its branches, but now it's a husk of its former glory and the branches are too brittle. Nowadays, he huddles inside charred remains and revels in the smell of ash and decay. It's his personal sanctuary, a place to go during the day and each night when it's time to leave, it gets harder.
It would be so simple to curl up atop the death and decay in an attempt to join them. He could wait out the days with no food or water and only the wind rustling through the leaves as company. Kyungsoo could wither away, skin taut over sunken cheeks and eyes surrounded by a halo of bruising blues and purples. Would anyone bother to carry his body back if they found him gone, breath stolen in the night and limbs frozen protectively around his small frame?
But in the end, he always manages to peel himself away, stretch sore muscles and make the journey home. Each foot fall over crispy leaves makes it heart sink a little further until it dwells in the depths of his stomach to be eaten by acid. There’s nothing waiting for him at the camp, not one single soul who would grieve if he didn’t come home.
No one questions him when he makes it back just after sundown because no one ever looks for him. Kyungsoo gently lays on his side, the pallet of leaves underneath him not nearly soft enough yet it's all he has. He's regulated to sleeping on the fringes, cold biting into his flimsy clothing more often than not because he's furthest from the fire and there's no shelter of trees to keep the rain away. Kyungsoo thinks they're hoping sickness will weaken and kill him off so they don't have to get their hands dirty. It's bad business to murder a member of your own pack because an Alpha is supposed to maintain order and keep those under him safe at all costs. Kill one and it strips the pack of its stability.
The pain keeps him awake, along with the chill of night and Kyungsoo stays still even when he hears the hunting party return to camp. The smell of fresh meat filters into his nose and his stomach growls as saliva pools in his mouth, but he quells down the urge to jump up and take his fill. If he's lucky, they'll let him pick the bones clean in the morning. And if he's not, perhaps he can slip away to hunt for berries again, sneaking back with blue and red stained fingertips and frail body still hungering for the nourishment that comes from the meat he's denied. His fingers dig into the dirt and he wills himself to sleep, the sounds of the rest of his pack muted in the distance.
Tonight is the Blood Moon. It signifies the annual gathering of wolves from every pack around the country and even outside its borders. In order to maintain their species - to find one's true mate - the packs put aside differences and congregate to better the odds. When the moon is at its peak, the bonding call is highest and the instinct to mate nigh irresistible. All unmated mature wolves are mandated to attend, yet Kyungsoo has never been. Multiple gatherings have passed since his maturity and the Alpha has expressly forbidden him to go. He's seen as unworthy of a mate and he would be a hindrance on their trek to the fields. It's a solid day's journey to make it by sundown; everyone is required to make the pilgrimage in their human form.
Kyungsoo's pack, while rather low on the totem pole in their district, is still close enough to the location of the gathering to not have to travel days or weeks like so many others. It's because they're under the jurisdiction of the pack, of Exo and their leader - the Alpha of Alphas - Yifan. Kyungsoo's heard they reside in the city, maintaining an iron grip on the other wolves, blending in with humanity to live normal, functioning lives. He hears tales of them staying in actual houses and working human jobs and every wolf in his pack hopes to be the mate of the few unmated left in Exo. Kyungsoo tries to imagine what it would be like except he doesn't know what humans do, has no knowledge of what a house is or a car or a city. His life has been spent in the camp and along its borders as far as he dares go.
The Alpha digs fingers roughly into Kyungsoo's arm, dragging him from the ground forcefully. He lets out a small yelp of surprise and looks up at the intimidating man with wide eyes. "You're coming with us, but only because I'm hoping some other wolf will mate with you. You've been a problem for too long." Kyungsoo is thrown in line with the others, keeping his distance when the closest of his pack members growl at him. There isn't much time for him to get his bearings before they're moving, the Alpha in the front and Kyungsoo trailing behind. He tosses one last look over his shoulder and hopes to never lay eyes on this place again even if the odds aren't in his favor. Who wants a worthless runt for a mate?
The journey is long and the others are full of energy, sharing hopes for a life in a pack higher in the ranks. Kyungsoo keeps falling behind, tripping over branches and plodding through the leaves like a dumb beast because they never taught him any different. The wounds on his back pull with each step, skin too tight and itching. His stomach roils, but it's not from hunger. This time, it's the knowledge that the two females in front of him are deciding the best way to throw themselves at EXO's Alpha if he doesn't find his true mate tonight. It sickens Kyungsoo and he chokes down the bile climbing in his throat. No one should be seen as a piece of meat, as a thing to be used to gain power yet it seems to be all his pack can do. Perhaps it's a good thing he wasn't raised with the others because he'd be just as greedy.
Sweat runs down Kyungsoo's neck and back, stinging over open skin that's still trying to heal. Kyungsoo hadn't been given the chance to make it to the river and wash away the wolfsbane so they'd heal faster. The pace is brutal and he thinks they're purposely speeding every time he manages to catch up. He's panting and his feet ache from stepping on too many stones and broken sticks and there's a stitch forming in his side. For a moment he ponders if they'd notice him slipping away. He could simply slow, let them rush ahead as he fades into the forest and sets out on his own. Surely they wouldn't come back for him.
A pair of yellow eyes flash his direction, catching Kyungsoo's attention and he meets the stare of his Alpha.
They'd come for him. It would be the excuse needed to rend him limb from limb. No. Kyungsoo can't escape. His only hope now lies with the gathering. There must be someone out there even for one as meek and useless as him. And the idea keeps a small flame alive in his chest, burning just enough to force his body into moving. It's only past midday and they've a long way to go.
Kyungsoo smells them long before he hears the wolves who are already waiting. He's never been so inundated with scents before, his nose filling with each breath and it's overwhelming. His head is spinning, trying to push down the impulse to run because some are so strong, beckoning him to find their owner. Others are more repulsive and his nose crinkles, eyes watering when he gets a whiff of them through the others. He hears his pack laughing at him and none too kindly. They think it's a joke when it's their fault he's unprepared.
Everything comes into view when they march out of the trees and into the open field even though the sun dipped low in the sky hours ago. Kyungsoo's eyes widen in the darkness and he sucks in a sharp breath, uncaring of all the new tastes bursting on his tongue because he's never seen such a sight. The field is mostly grass as tall as his chest and easy to hide in. But much further out is a line of bodies all tightly packed together. Voices carry and Kyungsoo is drinking in everything with a newfound curiosity. There's a gap in the line and their pack fills it, Kyungsoo being pulled harshly by his arm to fall in at the end, a commanding growl from his Alpha bringing him back to his senses.
The line is actually a circle and it's mostly whole, the grass on the inside of the ring trimmed low so there's nothing to block the view. A brawl nearly breaks out near him and he watches with interest as two people have to pull away to hold back a third. The person beside him seems to note Kyungsoo's confusion and leans in, ignoring the way Kyungsoo flinches back. She's not from his pack, but that only makes him more wary. "They've found the scent of their mate," she informs him with a soft smile. "But we must wait for Yifan's command before beginning." Kyungsoo nods in understanding, unused to the kindness but it's very much welcome. "Although from the looks of it, even Yifan is having trouble waiting for the rest of the packs to arrive. He must have finally found his mate."
Kyungsoo's eyes sweep over the circle again and land on what seems to be where the Alpha pack is situated. There's a small platform that raises them above the rest, making them easy to spot, but Kyungsoo had been too distracted to notice before. He can't make out much more than broad shoulders clothed in white and a shock of blond hair. He's flanked on his right by a man now pressing his hand on the Alpha's shoulder. The man on his left is speaking in his ear and Kyungsoo pulls his gaze away.
He cares little for the affairs of others. What he wants is his own mate and an escape.
The wolves of his pack are sniffing obnoxiously, trying to test the air and see if they get a whiff of their mate. Several more people are dragged away to be subdued as they wait for the signal, howls ripping into the night air. Kyungsoo blinks around the circle and nearly loses his one last hope when it hits. The wind changes direction and a heady, thick scent invades, sending Kyungsoo's blood boiling under his skin. He gasps, nearly unable to breath as he doubles over, dizzy and trembling and fighting to keep his fingers from clawing through his chest. His heart is racing and his mind is buzzing and the aroma caresses over him like a lover, taking him whole and leaving nothing behind.
Kyungsoo has never craved for anything as much as this before.
He whimpers, clenching his teeth because there are protocols to follow even if he's being called to his mate. Tears well in his eyes, pain throbbing inside his head as he fights against his instincts to barrel forward. Blood rushes in his ears and the din of hundreds of wolves fades to static, leaving behind the primal urge to take what's his. Someone knocks against his side and he stumbles back with a small cry of pain. His wounds tear open and he feels warm blood running down his skin, but the outside pain is now nominal compared to his internal struggle.
A howl rips through the air and it zings straight through Kyungsoo, forcing him to stand and direct his attention to the wolf behind it. Everything is silent and no one dares move, awaiting the final command of the Alpha. Kyungsoo's throat closes and he watches with sharp eyes as Yifan bares his neck and howls one more time. The hand on the Alpha's shoulder drops along with the hold on his arm from the man on his other side and Yifan is darting into the field. Kyungsoo's body seizes when he locks eyes with Yifan, irises red and bright in the night.
Yifan is in front of him in a split second, one hand winding in his hair, forcing his head back with a snap. Kyungsoo doesn't even have time to gasp before Yifan is sinking teeth into the juncture of his neck and shoulder. The heat in his veins grows stronger, more demanding and he whimpers. Yifan has a tight grip on him, an arm around his waist to press their bodies close and Kyungsoo thinks his feet have left the ground. Instinct has him clutching at his mate's back, sharp nails shredding through cloth and into skin as he tries to find purchase.
It burns and it freezes and the desire to howl prickles at his throat until he complies, the sharp cry loud in his ears and he feels the appreciative rumble in Yifan's chest in response. From this close, the scent of his mate is nearly too much, forcing its way into his lungs and coating them, seeping through his skin in a mark nearly as permanent as the one that will be left behind by Yifan's teeth. Every molecule in his body yearns to submit, to give himself over completely and with no fight, so he obeys.
His feet really must be off the ground because they're moving, the scenery blurring passed in his vision and the howls and shrieks of the others fading into the distance. Kyungsoo feels the grass against his feet and strong hands still holding him up as he buries his head in his mate's neck to try and calm himself. Yifan's smell is toxic and addicting and instead of having the desired calming effect, Kyungsoo's head spins and his skin feels like it's on fire. He wants to touch him all over, be touched all over and another whimper escapes his lips.
Kyungsoo’s tongue darts out, licks up the side of Yifan’s throat just for a taste and he’s met with an overwhelming surge of lust, blood rushing as Yifan’s arms tighten around him. There’s a growl rumbling in Yifan’s chest, vibrating against Kyungsoo and he wriggles, tries to get closer even if it’s impossible. He’s shaking by the time they stop, Yifan dropping to his knees and laying Kyungsoo in the grass to stare down at him.
Piercing eyes tear Kyungsoo apart and he whimpers, whines because it’s so cold without Yifan pressed against him. His legs come up, resting on Yifan’s narrow hips in an attempt to drag him down. Everything is too hazy, his peripheral vision blurred as he focuses on the pink of Yifan’s lips, the sharp curve of his jaw and slant of his eyes. He tries to take his mind off the cloying heat searing through his body, the way his fingers keep twitching to touch, to scratch and cling as he surrenders to Yifan.
Kyungsoo is babbling; he feels his tongue moving and his lips parting to beg and plead even if he doesn’t know what he’s saying. It all cuts off with a pathetic, high-pitched whine when Yifan’s palm lands on the side of his face, a jolt sending his senses reeling. Yifan is all strength and Kyungsoo bares his neck again, the place where Yifan had bitten still stinging as the blood seeps out in tiny rivulets.
Fingers press near it and Kyungsoo howls, almost missing Yifan’s question. “Why isn’t it healing?” he mumbles and the deep timbre of his voice sets off a new wave of arousal. Kyungsoo is too far gone to answer.
Fumbling hands pulls at Yifan’s clothing, grasping for fabric to tear away so Kyungsoo can get at the skin underneath. Yifan only manages to get one of his arms pinned before Kyungsoo is lifting enough to attach his mouth to his chest, the pads of his fingers digging in the soft skin at the back of Yifan’s neck to bring him down. He’s out of control and he knows it, but instinct won’t let him stop. Too many Blood Moons have passed without him having someone there to help with the unbearable urge to mate and now that Yifan is here, large and dominating, Kyungsoo needs it all.
It seems he finally gets his point across when Yifan pushes him down forcefully, back hitting the ground hard enough for the pain of his lashes to seep through the desire. He cringes, breath stolen for a moment before Yifan is kissing him, sharp canines teasing the swell of his lower lip. Kyungsoo moans, body shuddering and limbs wrapping around Yifan as much as he can because close just isn’t enough.
He needs Yifan inside him.
This time, when he reaches for clothing, Yifan is doing the same, helping tear off swaths until they’re both bare and sliding together needily. The blades of grass under him are coarse and uncomfortable against his wounds. It pulls his attention from Yifan, hissing through his teeth when his body shifts.
“Am I hurting you?” Yifan breathes into Kyungsoo’s ear.
“Can I -” he starts, swallowing down a moan because Yifan’s cock is rubbing against his own and the friction feels so damn good. “Let me -.” His voice cuts off again and his hips roll up, mouth slack. “Top,” he finally gets out.
Yifan rolls them, hands on Kyungsoo’s sides to steady him. His vision spins and Kyungsoo sucks in a sharp breath as the cool night air sweeps over his naked body. Before his brain catches up, he’s hunching down, soaking in the heat radiating off Yifan’s body. As a man, he’s all sharp angles and a carved beauty that Kyungsoo knows he’ll never tire of. And he’s willing to bet those features transfer into his wolf form, broad shoulders and paws that can crush the skull of any enemy.
Kyungsoo keens, spine arching when he feels slick fingers trailing between his cheeks, one hand reaching down to hold them open. There’s an empty packet of lube discarded on the ground and Kyungsoo doesn’t have time to thank Yifan for being prepared before a long finger slides inside him.
Kyungsoo’s wolf feels like it wants to rip through his skin, take over until they’re joined, but the wolfsbane still in his system dulls it down. The human in him gasps, rolls his hips down to take in more. Kyungsoo knows it must take an amount of self control he doesn’t possess for Yifan to patiently stretch him open, work three fingers in one by one until Kyungsoo is pleading once again to be taken.
The moment Yifan’s hand pulls away, Kyungsoo is shifting back, fingers wrapped around the base of Yifan’s cock to hold it up before he sinks down on it. It stings, burns and he howls into the night with his head thrown back and nails digging into Yifan’s chest. He went too fast, but it still feels so right. His body is curving around Yifan like it was meant for him and only for him.
The heat of Yifan’s hands on his hips is startling and Kyungsoo jerks forward, eliciting a moan from Yifan that drives him to move. One small lift and drop has pleasure racing straight up Kyungsoo’s spine and down into his cock. It’s all the experimenting he gets because Yifan has claws in his hips, sharp nails digging into sensitive skin that pull him up and then force him down hard enough for Kyungsoo to feel his bones rattling.
There’s no reprieve from Yifan’s relentless thrusting, Kyungsoo merely a ragdoll atop his lean body as he’s fucked into oblivion. His body has never been strong, always the weakest and he thinks, for a moment, that Yifan may very well split him in half. And he loves it.
Kyungsoo drags in air through chapped lips, doesn’t try to suppress his raspy moans and nonsensical words. When Yifan sits up, his cock breaches further into Kyungsoo’s body and he bares his neck. Teeth sink into the skin, but not hard enough to draw blood. It’s a firm hold that keeps Kyungsoo propped on his knees as Yifan once again does all the work, pistons his hips up and down at an unnatural speed.
Yifan slips fingers into Kyungsoo’s sweat damp hair and scratches behind his ear with a gentleness that’s the opposite of how hard he’s still pounding into him. Kyungsoo clenches, muscles growing tight as his orgasm nears. Yifan growls, the hand in Kyungsoo’s hair fisting in the strands to pull. Kyungsoo gasps and Yifan stills, forcing him down and holding Kyungsoo there.
Kyungsoo feels the swelling and his eyes widen in momentary fear. He’s already so full, Yifan’s cock curved inside him perfectly, but his knot is now growing, spreading him wider. It starts to burn and Kyungsoo whimpers, trying to shift for a more comfortable angle, but he can’t. Yifan growls louder, but Kyungsoo doesn’t heed the warning, still trying to move as he’s forced further open by the knot. Teeth bite down cautiously in the tender skin under Kyungsoo’s jaw and he instantly stills, fingers clutched in Yifan’s hair as a whimper dies in his throat.
When Yifan releases him, he licks over the spot with several long drags of his tongue. “Be still,” he whispers.
Hands run up and down Kyungsoo’s sides gently, soothing over heated skin as Kyungsoo works to not fidget. Kyungsoo is panting, eyes squeezed shut and body tense. He doesn’t know how much more he can take and he cries out suddenly when Yifan clamps hands on his thighs and thrusts up. All the air is forced out of his lungs and he screams, throat raw and sore as the knot forces Kyungsoo’s orgasm to hit hard and out of nowhere. And then Yifan is joining him, howling with his long neck stretched back and stomach contracting through each wave that crashes.
He can feel everything, from the hot release spilling inside him to the slow shrinking of the knot with each pulse. Yifan holds him close, chests pressed together through it all, soft, comforting words mumbled against his skin that Kyungsoo can’t hear because his entire body is thrumming and everything is heightened and dulled all at once. Lights dance in his vision momentarily, almost forcing him to pass out from the energy expended. He’d been worn out and weary to begin with and now his body is feeling it full force.
“This can’t have been your first Blood Moon heat,” Yifan says in a low, rumbling voice that sends a shudder down Kyungsoo’s spine. The knot is still shrinking, but he doesn’t move for fear of pain, so he hums an affirmation, taking his bottom lip in his teeth nervously. Mandate is clear that all mature wolves come to the gathering and that safety net of finally finding a mate is swept out from underneath his feet. Yifan is the Alpha and if anyone has the authority to punish Kyungsoo now, it’s him. “Why did you wait so long to come?”
Kyungsoo whimpers, shrinking away from Yifan who grabs his arms forcefully and pulls him back. Pain shocks him into submission, eyes wide and fearful. Is this to be no different than the life he thought he was about to leave behind? “Answer me,” Yifan demands and Kyungsoo’s heart slams in his chest.
“I - I didn’t have a choice,” he croaks out pitifully, tears pooling in his eyes. He tries to hold them back in an effort to appear strong, but his spirit is so broken, so mauled beyond repair that he can’t. They track down his face in salty paths that startle Yifan.
Large palms cover Kyungsoo’s cheeks, thumbs brushing away the tears as the anger in Yifan’s face fades into something less threatening. A fondness Kyungsoo is unfamiliar with peers at him and he swallows down a sob, still instinctually trying to shift away. Yifan has to take hold of him again when he notices and this time, when he drags him forward, sharp pain flits up Kyungsoo’s back from his open lashes. A gasp followed by a small cry and he’s released almost instantly, but the damage is done.
Kyungsoo slumps into Yifan’s chest, letting his mate hold him up because he can’t anymore. The rush of adrenaline and hormones of the evening have waned, leaving behind a sore bottom and reopened wounds. Everything is sinking in with a clarity Kyungsoo wishes he didn’t possess. He’s the runt, a useless pup thrown to the side and Yifan is the one wolf most important in all the packs. He commands respect and fear, unforgiving yet just and Kyungsoo isn’t worthy of this.
Yifan’s chin hooks over his shoulder and Kyungsoo twists to avoid his back being seen, but it’s too late. He feels Yifan’s jaw clenching, hears the grit of his teeth and the air rushing out of his nose in angry puffs. “Who did this to you?”
Kyungsoo doesn’t answer. He’s too afraid. Instead, he buries his face in Yifan’s neck, clings to his sides in the hopes he’s not thrown away. Finally, the knot is gone and Yifan is soft inside him. Somehow, it makes Kyungsoo feel expendable, unneeded and he holds tighter. Yifan shifts under him and his head turns, lips skimming the shell of Kyungsoo’s ear. “What’s your name?”
“Kyungsoo,” he answers quietly.
“Kyungsoo,” Yifan repeats and Kyungsoo’s never heard his name being said with such tenderness. “I need to move you.”
The moment Yifan tries to pry Kyungsoo off, he digs nails in and whines. He doesn’t want to be rejected; not by his mate. Yifan immediately stops, one hand moving up to clutch the back of Kyungsoo’s neck. It makes him go lax on instinct. “I’m not going to hurt you,” Yifan explains, his voice still low and caring. “But I need to be able to see your back.”
This time, Kyungsoo allows it. Yifan lifts him up onto his knees and his face reddens when he feels come running down the insides of his thighs. And then he’s being maneuvered, turned around and sat back down on Yifan’s lap. Kyungsoo hears Yifan’s surprised gasp and his shoulders hunch, head hanging low. He’s expecting mockery, cruel laughter the same that his pack - former pack - aimed at him.
But that’s not what he gets.
The first soft press of Yifan’s tongue on the top lash makes him jerk, the pain slicing. Yifan’s arms wrap around his waist, pinning his arms to his sides. “Don’t,” Kyungsoo begs. Another lick and he shudders, eyes squeezing shut. “Wolfsbane,” he whimpers. “You can’t.”
“I’ll be fine,” Yifan answers. “Just let me . . . “
Kyungsoo can’t help the way he cringes away, whimpering with each swipe of Yifan’s tongue. He’s never been cleaned before, always left to do it himself in the river when he could slip away. And now there’s an alpha taking care of him, the pain receding to a dull throbbing as he feels his skin stitching itself back together. It itches. Yifan is drawing out the wolfsbane and he worries. Any wolf taking in the herb is weakened and Yifan must be at his strongest.
But he’s not in a position to protest, voice lodged in his throat when tingles spread over his back, lulling him into a state of contentment as his head drops forward to hang once more. There’s a new satisfaction that settles deep in his chest at being taken care of, pampered and held so close. He’s so unaccustomed to being handled so gently that he feels overwhelmed, too many new experiences overloading him.
When Yifan is done cleaning his back, his tongue moves to the bite that’s now healing easier without the hindrance of wolfsbane. Yifan’s fingertips brush over the scars already imprinted on his skin and Kyungsoo shudders but doesn’t pull away this time. He lets Yifan explore until he’s drawn back to rest against his strong chest. “What happened to you?” Yifan questions, stroking up and down the sides of Kyungsoo’s arms with calloused hands.
And under the night sky, with the howls of the other wolves in the distance and the faint chirping of crickets, Kyungsoo finally releases the flood gates. He doesn’t cry, but his eyes sting as he tells of hungry days and cold nights, being forced away from the rest of his pack and the punishment of being left behind because he wasn’t worthy. It feels nice to voice things, to hear the words that repeat in his head aloud, lips forming over vowels and consonants with someone to listen.
Yifan doesn’t interrupt once and even when Kyungsoo falls silent, nothing left to tell, the quiet is welcome for once. They sit together, watch the sun crest over the horizon with sleepy eyes admiring the hues of dawn.
“You may not believe you’re worth anything,” Yifan says when they finally stand. “But you’re worth everything to me.”
Kyungsoo startles and blushes at the sincerity, taking Yifan’s offered hand so they can make the trek back to the clearing. Their clothes remain behind in tattered shreds, walking bare and free with the scent of each other as protection. The closer they get, the tighter the knot in Kyungsoo’s stomach pulls and he slows his steps to hide behind Yifan’s larger frame.
The moment they step through into the clearing, the whispers and looks start. Kyungsoo feels exposed, on display because there are curious eyes roaming over him from all sides and he clings to Yifan’s hand. He supposes it’s only natural to wonder who is worthy of being a mate to a wolf as powerful as Yifan, but the scrutiny makes him feel inadequate. People are bowing their heads as they pass and Kyungsoo is taken aback, managing to only return a few.
There’s a devastatingly handsome man running up to them with a smile on his face and the moment he gets close, Kyungsoo feels a growl rumbling in his chest, lip curling up because suddenly he sees him as a threat. Yifan spins and looks down at him with wide eyes. “Did you just growl?” he asks with a smile, a thumb now tracing along the edge of Kyungsoo’s lower lip.
“Sorry,” he mumbles, fidgeting. Yifan laughs and grasps Kyungsoo’s chin to haul him up for a kiss.
“He’s part of our pack, so you have no need to worry.”
Our pack. Kyungsoo feels a little dizzy.
“Jongin, this is Kyungsoo,” Yifan introduces and Kyungsoo greets him with a small smile, still wary. Unlike most of the wolves around, Jongin is fully clothed.
Jongin’s grin widens. “It’s nice to finally meet you. Yifan’s needed someone to keep his feet on the ground for a while now.”
There’s a crowd around them, a rough circle made of inquisitive faces and Yifan draws Kyungsoo closer to his side. It doesn’t stop the near panic attack he goes into when he sees his former Alpha moving towards them, a smug look settled on his features. He looks positively high on power and Kyungsoo’s small whimper goes unheard by all save Yifan.
“It seems you’ve mated with one of mine.” He doesn’t bow his head, doesn’t adhere to protocol, but stands there with his chest puffed out like a prize rooster. Only Yifan doesn’t tolerate such things in his presence.
There’s a flash of skin, Yifan reaching out to grip the Alpha by the throat and force him to his knees. He hits the ground with a hiss of pain and Kyungsoo finds the sound satisfying, but not nearly satisfying enough.
“Would you care to explain why you took it upon yourself to break my law and not bring him to the gathering years ago?”
“Is that what he said?” he spits, tone mocking. “He’s lyi-” He’s cut off by Yifan’s fingers pressing deeper, nails threatening to pierce through and rip his throat out.
“I will not be lied to.” Yifan’s authoritative tone leaves no room for argument, the command direct and unable to be resisted. “Again, why was he not brought before? Why has he been abused and neglected?”
“He’s an abomination,” he chokes out, eyes cutting in Kyungsoo’s direction. “He took my mate from me when he ripped through her stomach with teeth and claws on the night he was born. I didn’t want him to live, but she made me promise, begged for me to spare her son.”
The Alpha doesn’t look happy, but he nods. “I vowed never to let him come into power, never to let my pack fall into the hands of that monster. I only brought him now because I thought I’d beaten the will to fight out of him.”
There are gasps and whispers all around, everyone now openly staring at Kyungsoo who is paralyzed with shock. The one responsible for every insult, every hit and kick and lash of the whip is his father. He feels sick, nausea roiling through his stomach and fingers itching to do something, anything to prove he isn’t what this man says. He’s not a monster.
“Kyungsoo?” Yifan asks, looking over at him as he keeps his hold on the Alpha. “What do you think we should do to him?”
Silence descends and Kyungsoo realizes this is it. Everyone is going to judge him by this one decision, action or inaction. He has to do this right, make sure no one sees him as weak. This is his way of showing he’s worthy of being at Yifan’s side.
When he speaks, his voice is surprisingly calm, steady. “For breaking a law as sacred as the gathering, one mandated to ensure the survival of the species, the punishment should be no less than death.”
Yifan smiles in approval and their eyes meet even as he squeezes the life out of the fallen Alpha. There’s a grunt of pain and then blood splashes to the ground as his jugular is pulled free from his throat. Yifan stands, hand red and dripping and Kyungsoo steps in, fits against his side. “Jongin, will you please handle the dispersal of his pack.”
Jongin, who doesn’t seem affected in the least, nods and gives Kyungsoo a two fingered salute that leaves him confused. “You’re gonna fit in great.” And then he’s gone, disappearing into the crowd.
Yifan steers Kyungsoo in a wide berth around the blood flowing over the ground, an arm across his shoulders and a smile on his face. “Let’s go home.”
Home. The word has never sounded so comforting.
- - -
omg there's so much room to play in this au.
there may be more later