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Howling For You [Part 2]: Waking Up

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Dean gasps as he feels the carriage come to a stop fast enough that he falls to the floor from his bench seat. One of Hunter's men pokes his head into the cart. "Are you alright? Sorry, there's a large tree that's fallen over the road. We'll be stuck here for a little bit."

Dean looks up at the man and smiles so wide his cheeks hurt. "That's ok. I'm fine. Take your time."

"Huh, it's strange. I could have sworn your eyes were gold. Now they're silver. Like those seers in the swamp. Were you part of Wyatt's pack before you were Shane's?" The guard asks casually. He's glad the Omega's bad mood seems to have faded with a nap.

~~~~~

Baron surveys the scene in the moments before their ambush begins. His scouts found this narrow ravine days ago, and preparations went smoothly. The road passes through a gorge with hills on both sides, and it was easy enough to block the exit by knocking over an old dying tree. The hours of waiting were the most agonizing part, but when the carriage trundled into view and came to a halt right where they wanted it, Baron had to grin.

Baron wasn't certain that the plan would work, but Ember had pulled him aside before they departed, looking into his eyes and murmuring blessings that he still couldn't understand. "This Omega is important." She'd said, eyes gleaming their eerie silver color, "Bring him home."

It was strange phrasing to refer to an Omega they only planned to capture and ransom, but it gave Baron confidence about the plan.

When the last guard leaves the carriage behind to work on moving the tree, Baron signals his small team to move. There are only four of them, but throwing the smoking balls of sap and woad rosette down ahead of them could turn the tables on a group twice this size. The net they have, interwoven with silver and infused with wolfsbane, could prevent the most powerful Alpha from shifting, so it should have no problems holding whatever tiny waifish Omega Hunter is claiming as his next trophy mate.

The ambush starts smoothly. The smoke bombs fill the ravine with thick blue smoke and disguise both the scent and sight of their approach from the confused guards. Baron tackles the driver down from his elevated seat at nearly the same time as he hears Rusev and Kevin make their move to attack the other guards who are working on clearing the tree. Baron makes sure Sami has taken out the other guard and is in place with the net on the far side of the carriage before he makes the next move. Baron tugs a bandana up over his face that's painted like the lower half of a skull and rips the door of the carriage open, planning to scare the little Omega out the other side and into the waiting net.

Dean knows Baron will be coming through the door of the cart but he's not at all prepared to actually see him again. Before he can say anything else Dean reaches out pulls Baron's mask down and is kissing him. "I knew I'd wake up. I knew I'd see you again." Dean is grinning and can’t seem to stop.

Baron is momentarily stunned by the kiss, pulling back and staring at the man in the carriage. He's tall and smoothly muscular, and if Baron's nose weren't telling him otherwise he'd think they'd been tricked. The man is definitely an Omega though, Baron knows it instinctively.

"What the hell? What are you doing?" Baron sputters, staring down in shock. "Sami!" He calls belatedly, hoping his Beta will bring the net before the Omega bolts.

"Sami, if you bring that damned net in here I will never forgive you!" Dean retorts, shouting it over his shoulder and stopping the confused redheaded Beta in his tracks. Dean searches for words as he turns his attention back to Baron. "We're umm... I'm- no... Thank you for saving me. I never wanted to go to Hunter.” Dean says finally.

Dean wants to tell Baron everything. Tell him how much he loves him and that they're mates but he can't. Ember told him in the vision. You have to let them discover it on their own. If he forces this on Baron he's no better than Roman. “We have to leave. He'll be sending men after us."

Baron frowns and considers the Omega for a moment, then shrugs. "Fine. Off we go then." If the man isn't going to fight, then Baron isn't going to stay and wait to get caught. Baron offers his hand to help the Omega from the carriage, whistling sharply to call Rusev and Kevin back. Rusev is naked and leading one of the guard's horses. He passes the reins to Sami before moving to cut free the two from the carriage as well.

"Everything ok?" Sami asks, studying the Omega as he carefully packs up the anti-shifting net. "You not gonna run from us or anything?" He asks cautiously, looking to Baron who just shrugs.

"Kid wants to get out of here." Baron says. "He can ride. You and Kev can have the other two horses and Rusev and I will run. Everyone ready to move out?"

"Wait, let me grab my pack!" Dean says as he pulls the small cloth-wrapped bundle of his belongings from the carriage. "We should burn it. They'll be able to track my scent if we leave it. That way he won't...." Dean stops himself and then just grabs the tinder box from his bag and lights the fabric on the doors on fire.

"And no Sami.” Dean says as he turns away from the growing blaze, lips quirking into a smile. “I'm not going to run from you. Let's go home." He leaps up on the extra horse and starts down the path out of the ravine.

The echo of Ember's words makes Baron pause, just watching this strange Omega for a moment before he strips. He ties his gear to Kevin's horse and directs his pack to ensure the the carriage burns. He shifts to wolf-form then, ranging along with the horses to watch Sami and the Omega until Rusev and Kevin catch up and they pick up speed, traveling swiftly away from the smoking carriage.

They travel hard, and are able to go further than Baron expected. The Omega rides surprisingly well for the kind of spoiled brat Baron expected him to be, and he can see Sami chatting with the man, but doesn't bother to get close enough to eavesdrop.

~~~~~

They stop to rest and water the horses in the afternoon, and Dean finds himself down by the water with Sami. "By the way," Dean starts, still trying to remember that Sami doesn't know him anymore. "I'm Dean. I'm sorry I yelled at you. I was... it's been a stressful… time. I don't really know how to describe it." Dean adds as he soaks a rag in the cold water of the creek and then cools his neck.

Sami tries to stay quiet, knowing that bonding with this Omega isn't exactly their plan, but he's never been good with silence. He smiles at the Omega and flushes slightly when the man - Dean - speaks first. "It's ok... I- how did you know? About the net? I know Baron said my name but..."

"Ummm," Dean shrugs and shakes his head, "Have you ever felt like you're living a dream? Or you’ve woken up but the dream happens to you again? It's like that sort of. One of Hunter's men asked if I was a seer." He adds. Maybe if he hints at things Sami will be able to put two and two together for him. He looks over to where the other wolves are gathering to drink from the creek and curses under his breath. "Your Alpha is..." Dean bites his lip to cut himself off.

Sami frowns, studying Dean. "Are you?" He asks, glancing nervously downstream at the Alphas. “A seer, I mean.” Kevin and Baron would both tell him to keep quiet, but Sami doesn’t feel like Dean is just fishing for information.

"There's a seer in our pack... a shaman. She's the one who told us to look for you..." Sami pauses, guilt making his stomach clench. "You should know... we're not really saving you. They're planning to ransom you back to Hunter. To secure some supplies and hunting grounds for the pack. I'm sorry." He tenses a little, ready to pounce if Dean tries to bolt.

Dean nods and exhales to stop himself from trying to explain, "I know. And I... I also know that Hunter won't work with kidnappers. He'll just send people to kill you. But I also know there's no way to make you believe me. Why would you?" He stands up and scent marks Sami out of habit or memory. "You're all in danger and it's my fault. I'm going to protect you. I'm going to fight to save our... I mean your pack."

Sami returns the gesture out of habit, leaning slightly into Dean's hand and curling his fingers gently around Dean’s neck. It's strange how easily Dean has come along with them, but if he really is a seer like Ember, it's not unbelievable that maybe he knows something they don't know.

"If that's true, then I guess we'll know soon enough. We should travel fast though... try to get you to camp. Baron... isn't a bad person. He'd do anything for the pack. Maybe they'll let you stay." He bites his lip and moves downstream to talk to Kevin. They'll trade for the rest of the afternoon, but the Alphas need to know what Dean claims to be.

"So you two seem rather... close for just having met." Kevin comments as he pulls his mate in to cover Dean's scent with his own. "He seems fucking nuts to me." He adds with a smirk and chuckle. "Hmmm, can't want to get you home and celebrate an easy fucking mission though." Kevin continues, dropping his voice lower just for Sami's ears, "The spring equinox is soon. I'm gonna do it this time, I promise."

Sami laughs, leaning in to nuzzle into Kevin's cheek and let himself be held and marked. "Nuts maybe, but I think he's special. Like Ember or Corey." He shrugs helplessly. "At least he's not fighting and crying. This could have been so much worse. No blood, no injuries. We've had worse hunts just bringing down a stag or a boar." His mate's declaration makes him flush. They've been trying for two seasons to have pups of their own, but just having Kevin is worth it to Sami even if they never succeed. He kisses Kevin lightly before looking to Rusev and Baron. "Do either of you want to ride? I could do with some time to think."

Baron looks up, running wet fingers through his long black hair to keep it back from his face. "I'll ride if you don't mind." He says with a shrug.

"Don't let him get to you, Sami.” Kevin warns, “Alexa will already have sent the ransom demand by the time we get back to camp. Hunter will take him back, and we'll have to send him.”

“It’s true,” Baron agrees. “No matter what sad story he tells." Baron pulls some dried meat from his pack and changes the topic. "We're making good time. We should decide if we want to stop and hunt, or just push on to camp. It'd be midnight by the time we made it, but sleeping in my own tent sounds better to me than sleeping in a cave with trackers on our heels."

Sami nods and hums thoughtfully, passing his clothes to Kevin as he starts to strip. "Please be nice to him Baron. I understand that we shouldn't get attached, but he seems... it's like he's already one of us." Sami warns, brows drawing into a slight frown. "And I can't wait to get home either. I vote we push on." He adds before shifting to wolf form.

From his place on top of his horse Dean smiles and chuckles happily as he watches Sami and Kevin chase each other around the cleaning in wolf form. He gets distracted as Baron approaches the other horse and starts to pull his clothing back on. Dean never got enough time to appreciate Baron’s tattoos in daylight in the dream, so he lets himself look now. "Are you going to be on Omega guard duty now? I'm guessing we're riding through the night then." Dean comments when he realizes he’s just been staring.

Baron narrows his eyes at the Omega. "Yeah, that's me." He says roughly, "Sami said your name's Dean? I'm Baron. And yeah, we're riding hard tonight. Just try to keep up and let me know if you need to stop to piss or anything." Baron checks on the rest of the pack before he signals them to move out, kicking his horse into motion and leading them down the narrow forest paths. Rusev has taken the other horse and falls in behind Dean in an escort formation.

Dean does his best to start a conversation with Baron a few times but everytime Baron ignores him or answers his question with a one word answer.

"Gah! Why does he have to be so difficult? He was nicer to me after I kicked him in the balls!" Dean growls when Rusev comes up to him to ask how he's fairing. "Was he always like this?"

Rusev looks confused. He's a large man, probably the heaviest of the three Alphas, though a bit shorter than Baron. "Kicked him? Your horse?" When Dean just glares forward at Baron, Rusev tries to answer that part of the question at least. "He is a good leader. He does not use too many words."

"I have no doubt he is a great leader. I just don't understand why he's being so difficult. I'm trying to be nice to him. But he's being so... standoffish." Dean growls in frustration. The sun is setting now and they split small dinner rations, but they didn't stop for long.

Dean had been tempted to try and share some of his food with Baron, but his stomach had protested. There would be time for that later. "Rusev, how did you win over La- I mean your mate? I bet she is very beautiful."

Rusev grins broadly, "Sami is right, you are very wise!" Stories always make a journey go faster, so Rusev launches into a story of wooing his mate, Lana. How they met when she was bathing, and how her hair shone like wheat fields under sunshine. He describes in detail the labors and feats he went through to woo her, first to win her attention, and then to prove that he could support her after her pack Alpha tried to arrange a mating to another. They fled together, struggling through a spring and summer without a pack of their own before they encountered Baron's strange group. "We were a smaller pack then." Rusev says, "But to gain an Alpha-Omega pair, they were kind to us." He beams as he describes the joy of realizing that they had found a pack that would accept them.

Rusev turns his stories into tales from his own childhood pack. He comes from a settlement much further north, and many of his family died in a harsh Winter just after he came of age. Rusev’s voice turns low and almost reverent as he pivots seamlessly into describing their traditions and those which he has brought to this pack. Stories of his mother turn back to stories of Lana, and eventually describing the challenges of her pregnancy.

"It should be soon that the pups are born." Rusev says to Dean, voice booming although he clearly things he is being secretive. "They are so large and strong that it was almost too much for my delicate flower. But she has a strong spirit. Without this, she would have been in much more danger." It is clearly something he was told, and something he has repeated many times over the months of her pregnancy.

Dean sees flashes of Lana's pregnancy from his vision and smiles all throughout Rusev's tellings. "She sounds like an amazing woman. And she is lucky to have such a strong mate.” He says, just to see the broad smile on Rusev’s face.

“Maybe someday I will be lucky enough to have a strong mate too. Although, if I am to be sent back to Hunter that is a fate I will never be lucky enough to have. He does not mate his concubines." Dean explains to Rusev. He can see the sudden concern and disapproval on Rusev's face.

"Forgive me if I am wrong... but is there no danger in such matings?" Rusev frowns in the low light of the dusk. "I was always told for an unmated Omega, pregnancy can be quite difficult." He doesn't like the sound of sending Dean back to such a fate. It is not exactly his place in the pack, but he will speak with Alexa and Corey about it when they get back. Perhaps in a day or two.

Dean shrugs, "There is plenty of risk with all pregnancy but without a mate, an Omega can be at risk of... a lot." Another flash of Roman’s smug, dark-haired companion telling him he was with child flashes behind his eyes along with Baron's dead body. The memory still makes Dean want to retch. "I am glad your mate has a strong Alpha to care for her. May your pups be as numerous as the stars." He adds for sentiments sake.

Rusev smiles and nods. "Thank you. I pray so every day." He rides close and reaches over to clap Dean on the shoulder before nudging his horse up further to talk with Baron.

~~~~~

Baron is not at all pleased with how easily his packmates seem to be taking a liking to Dean. He's a hostage at best, and they shouldn't need to be getting attached or getting to know him. When Rusev offers to take the point position of trail-breaking, Baron drops back. "I don't know what you're playing at, but it isn't going to work. We're sending you back to Hunter in just a few days. A half-moon, at most. If you wanted freedom, your family already made the wrong choice."

Dean can't help but smile as Baron starts to talk to him although he quickly sobers to address his future-mate's concerns. "Don't you care if I have a choice too? What if I don't want to be a hostage? What if I don't want to be a slave? Shouldn't I have a say in this?" Dean challenges, looking in Baron's eyes as he stands up for himself makes his heart sing a little. He can't stop his body from reacting to Baron's closeness. His heat will be coming. He knows what it feels like this time. But it's still a few days off.

Baron looks over at Dean silently. The sun is set and it has slowed their progress a little, once the moon rises they'll be able to move faster again. It’s nearly three-quarters full already, with the equinox steadily approaching. In the darkness, what he sees is more like what his wolf would see, a combination of Dean's shape and scent and warmth all in one.

"You should have a choice." Baron offers finally, "If we could, we'd see everyone treated fairly. But to protect what we have, we need to barter with Hunter. Securing even a small victory will help us."

"Who thought up that idea?" Dean asks with a cynical laugh. "Hunter does not negotiate. He's a warlord and a thief. He takes what he wants and slaughters anyone who gets in his way. I am nothing more than a pawn and a slave to him. If I had a choice, do you believe I would ever want to be bred by that monster?" Dean declares. It's dark enough he can see the reflection of his now silver eyes gleaming in Baron's.

Baron bristles, glaring at Dean in the darkness. "Hunter has half a dozen Omegas from what we've heard. Keeps them in style and comfort. Lots of town-bred Omegas, that's what they want. Not working, not fighting to survive. There's plenty of people that would love to be kept like that." He knows his tone is defensive. It's an argument that he and Alexa made to the other pack leaders already. They all assumed that most people going to Hunter would see it as a privilege. That's certainly how the stories from Hunter's people go. "If that's not what you wanted, why did your family send you away?"

"Because I'm a broken Omega, with inconsistent heats, no family other than the Alpha who took me in, and my Alpha was under Hunter's thumb! I don't have a real family. Shane took me in and I've been forced my entire life to try and be this ideal Omega that I'll never be. So fuck you for assuming what I would ever want without knowing me." Dean is on a roll now. He can't stop. The anxiety of his situation is once again starting to crash down on him. All he wants to do is crawl into Baron's arms and make him remember but he can't. "Fuck you, Baron! Send me away and regret it your entire life. I don't care. My torture and death will be on your head."

Baron rolls his eyes, he'll be damned if he's going to let this sheltered city Omega make him feel guilty. "Everybody's had a hard life. Sorry that yours will have to end sleeping on a feather bed and riding Hunter's knot once a month. If that keeps my pack and it's pups from starving to death for a winter or two, I won't be shedding any tears for you."

"Oh yeah, because being kept in a harem where you're forcibly bred and then separated from your pups is counterbalanced by a feather bed." Dean sneers. Seth had sent him letters after he had gone to Hunter's pack. Seth’s words were always clever, but Dean knows what kind of prison he was being sent to.

"Don't you dare take a moral high road with me when you've already thought about how much my body is worth to you! How much am I worth Baron? A hundred pieces of gold, ten sacks of grain, furs? Tell me Baron! How much would you charge a man to put his dick in me without my consent?" Dean asks, suddenly furious in ways he never was before. He understands now the workings of their pack. Things are bigger now than just his safety.

If they weren't riding, Baron would slap this man. Instead, he just growls. The phrasing of it makes his stomach turn. If that's true, no one should be subjected to it. "Who the hell do you think you are, to take that kind of tone with me?" He spits back at Dean, as much in anger at the idea as at the Omega putting it in his mind.

"You were supposed to be Hunter's happy new bride. Going to do your duty for your pack and your family. We're just a little detour on your way." He meets Dean's eyes and would swear they glint silver in the rising moonlight. It makes Baron suspicious, remembering what Sami said.

"Where did you hear this about Hunter's harem anyway?" Baron demands. Rumors in towns and out to the field are always unreliable. The stories aren't all good, but most families who send Omegas to Hunter seem to be at least content that they will be cared for.

Dean sees the flash of red in Baron's eyes and knows he's pushing the boundaries. He growls and stops his horse in a small clearing so he can get off and stretch, do anything not to just lay into Baron, into his mate, to make him understand something that he never can. "Tell me I'm worth more than a bushel of dead rabbits to you first?!" Dean yells at Baron. It's a low blow to no one but himself as a flash of the claiming gesture made by Baron in the vision flashes in Dean's head. "Tell me what I'm worth to you before I tell you my secrets!"

Baron wheels his horse around and whistles to warn the reset of the pack that he's stopping, but stays mounted as he stares down at Dean. That flash of silver in the moonlight is unmistakable. Baron has only seen it one place before. Baron forces his face into a near snarl. "We don't know you! What was one of Hunter's precious Omega brides worth?" He debates even telling Dean, but can't seem to stop himself spitting out the answers.

"Land." Baron spits out, sliding down from his horse and gripping the reins tight in his hand to keep from taking a swing at Dean. "Guaranteed hunting grounds without encroachment from Hunter's army." He continues. It’s hard to read Dean's expression in the shadows of the trees, but he keeps talking. "Plus supplies. Extra food to feed the pack through the next winter and seeds and tools to start planting on that land in the meantime. We wanted to build a few permanent shelters, places to stay when people are sick or can't travel. The kind of things I assume you would take for granted."

Baron shakes his head, trying to calm himself and knowing Dean can't understand any of this. Baron sighs in frustration. "We hear stories of how highly Hunter cherishes his Omegas. We heard you were strong or special in some way, so we hoped maybe he'd offer us at least half what we asked. It may not sound like a lot to you, but it would change everything for us."

Dean understands that to Baron and the pack he wasn't a person. He was a piece in their struggle for power and stability. But it doesn't change the fact that he is a person and he won't be sold. He has to make Baron see him as a person before he can work on the rest of it. He was never good at calming people like the other Omegas but maybe he can try something else. "Baron, I understand that I'm nothing to you but you're so much more to me. Forgive me for this but I can't keep looking at you and see nothing behind your eyes." Dean declares as he reaches out with both hands to grasp Baron's face as he concentrates on them, together.

Dean appears to calm down for a moment, and Baron relaxes slightly, maybe he can understand a little what this trade would mean. It's not like Baron to let someone get so deep under his skin or into his space, but something about Dean forces him to react. He's not sure what's happening when Dean steps into his space and then he's disoriented, seeing disconnected flashes of things that have never happened.

Dean's eyes flare silver white like the moon as he sees memories of Baron pressing into him as they share deep heated kisses and whispered words of love. It's too soon for this, so he focuses on something else. He focuses on their night in the field, on promises made under star light and their fingers tangled together. Nothing sexual or deep but a spark of what could be.

One image finally solidifies for Baron. It's shocking to see himself through someone else's eyes, smiling, and leaning in for kisses. He can feel the overwhelming emotion behind it, but before he can grasp it, it's gone.

The force of the vision practically knocks Dean off his feet and after only a moment he collapses against Baron. "I'm sorry. But I had to show you what the real price you're paying for land was." He whispers before he succumbs to darkness.

"What-" Baron gasps, and the word feels like a first breath after surfacing from underwater, but Dean is already gone, collapsed against him. If that was real... even an echo of it, then he's been more wrong than he'd thought possible. "Fuck." He breathes out, supporting Dean's weight as he sinks to the ground. Sami and Kevin pad up to him, obviously concerned, but Baron can't possibly explain what just happened.

When Baron still hasn't moved after a minute or two and Rusev has circled back to the small clearing, Sami and Kevin both shift back. Together they get Dean back onto the horse, but when Sami offers to ride double with the unconscious Omega, Baron refuses. Sami dresses and takes the solo horse instead, and they tie the third horse to a lead so that Kevin and Rusev can be their scouts. It's hours into the evening, and it still takes them a while longer to reach the camp. Dean stays out cold the entire ride, and Baron is left alone with his confused thoughts.

Chapter Text

The camp is quiet when Baron and his raiding party reach it, the guards recognizing them and not waking anyone for the moment. Baron leaves Kevin to make his explanations and takes Dean straight to his tent. The Omega is still unconscious after whatever vision he tried to press on Baron in the forest. They planned to leave Dean with Breeze, but the frivolous Omega is likely dead asleep and after talking to Dean, Baron is fairly sure they won't get along. He spreads out the bedding in his small tent to accommodate two and lays Dean down carefully before stripping and laying down beside him.

~~~~~

When Dean wakes up he is warm, relaxed, and wrapped in a bundle of furs as well as Baron's arms. He smiles happily, not waking the other man right away. He has to be patient. He has to use what his vision showed him to make this work. Another flash of Baron's dead body and the burning camp flashes in his head and he buries his head against Baron's chest to hide from it. "I won't let them take you." He whispers softly as if he was running from a bad dream.

Baron didn't go to sleep with Dean draped over him. They weren't even touching, in fact. But he wakes up with the Omega nestled into his side and half on top of him. It should be more worrying that this stranger got so close into his space while he slept. As he wakes up fully, he realizes he was woken by Dean's distress. All the Omega’s pheromones say something is wrong.

"What happened?" Baron says roughly, Alpha instincts flaring defensively despite being barely awake. "Are you alright?"

Dean shakes his head softly, "It’s fine. Just bad memories.”

They're both silent for a little while and Dean smiles when he realizes that neither of them are moving away from each other. It's easy and natural in an unexpected way. "I'm sorry I yelled at you last night. I was... frustrated. Sometimes it feels like there are so many things in my head that are all trying to get out at once that I might just burst." Dean comments after a little while.

Baron sighs, "I'm sorry you're in this situation that we can't change now..." He hesitates, not wanting to set Dean off again and still not sure why he's so comfortable with this Omega so nearby.

"For the other things..." Baron adds, slow and thoughtful, "I think you should talk to our Shaman. She may be able to help you sort through... Whatever's in your head." He doesn't say that Dean will only be here for a few days, there's no use in treating the Omega like a prisoner when he's clearly not planning to run.

"Yeah, I should should go see her. Ummm, I should also tell you now...." Dean replies as he moves to sit up a little. He looks down at Baron, laying in bed with the warm morning light shining down on him through the top of his tent. He's so beautiful. The stirrings of his oncoming heat happen again. "I'm going to go into heat soon. Tomorrow, maybe even tonight. I won't ask you to try and help me, although I wouldn't mind your company. But I think Sami should help me. It will help him and Kevin with their pup situation."

Baron frowns up at Dean. "Me? Not generally the person people want as a surrogate Alpha." He says with a shrug, "Usually one of the Omegas would stay with you. Sometimes Ember has alternative remedies." He frowns suspiciously at the mention of Sami, "I don't even know how you know about Sami and Kevin trying for pups but... I can ask him. Kev doesn't like sharing Sami with others most of the time.”

"He doesn't need to...." Dean stops and blushes a little. "He doesn't need to do anything. Ember... I mean your Shaman... she can drug me, keep me sedated. But my scent will... it will send Kevin into Rut and it will make Sami receptive. Sami told me they were... struggling." Dean admits although he doesn't remember if that was this time or in the vision. He doesn't even know if the vision was actually real or not. He needs to talk to Ember. "And you're the only Alpha I've met that's not mated. And you're... attractive. Why wouldn't I want you?"

Baron raises a skeptical eyebrow at Dean and shrugs. "Could work for Sami and Kevin I guess. If they're up for it." He sighs and hauls them both up to sitting. "Courting me isn't going to stop us sending you back to Hunter, you know. We won't move you while you're in heat of course, but what I told you yesterday stays true. If we make a deal with Hunter, we can't just keep you without endangering everyone here."

"I know. I'm in limbo, but it's better you're prepared. I don't want to cause too much trouble." Dean says although it makes him laugh a little. "Although that thought alone is a little strange. Some days I'd swear trouble is my middle name." He doesn't reply to the courting comment. He'll bide his time.

Baron rolls his eyes, "So far, I'd say that seems accurate. First day out and you've already picked a fight with your kidnapper, worked yourself to collapse with some kind of vision, and then woken up in bed with an unmated Alpha."

Baron yawns and streches out his neck and shoulders. "You're lucky I didn't hit you for crawling in close to me like that. I don't..." He doesn't know how to explain his usual aversion to close contact. Most days, Baron has to force himself into the kind of easy closeness that most members of the pack enjoy.

"If you hit me I may have hit you back, so beware." Dean teases. "And honestly, I'm pretty sure you're the one who took me to bed not the other way around. But I could make crawling into your bed a habit of your prefer." Dean can't help himself. Flirting with Baron is just too easy. Especially when they're still halfway in bed and so close to each other.

Baron shakes his head. "I'm seeing what you mean about trouble." He nudges Dean off of him and stands, moving to locate the pack that Dean had grabbed from the carriage. "You want to bathe before we go ask Ember what to do with you?" Baron tosses the small pack at Dean and then pulls on some clothes of his own. He itches to be clean after such a long day of riding, but understanding what the hell Dean is and verifying if he's right about his heat is more important.

"A bath would be great. I can help haul water, too. For the tubs." Dean offers before he remembers he shouldn't know they have a bathing tent, let alone how it works. It's getting harder to remember what was in his vision and what he's been told this time. Baron hasn't undressed him in the night so he pulls on his pack and his boots, ready to go.

Baron shakes his head at Dean, "It's downright creepy how you... know things." Baron says, giving Dean a look as he holds the flap of his tent open for Dean to exit. "Ember was like that when she came to us. Only she was panicked, running. I'll let her explain, I guess."

It's later into the day than they probably should have been allowed to sleep and Baron will have to speak to someone about that. "Anyway, the stream is over this way. There's a well in this area too, but for bathing river water is fine." Baron awkwardly narrates the areas of camp they pass through, not sure what Dean will know or not.

Dean does his best to try and remember where the river is in comparison to the main feasting tent after grabbing a few large leather buckets. Breeze is there with Dango. They're weaving baskets. Dean raises his hand to waves at them but then has to run it through his hair to cover when they give him a confused look. "Thank you for not abandoning me last night after I... Umm touched your mind? Gave you my vision? Memories?"

Baron shrugs. "Wouldn't have been much point in dumping you in the forest after all of that." He says, though he knows that doesn't explain it. "I don't think I got as much of it as you wanted me to but... I could feel the emotion of it?" Baron refuses to look at Dean as he says it, filling the largest buckets and starting to walk back toward the tents. "If you really saw all of that, felt that way about me... I couldn't just leave you with someone else."

Dean quickly follows suit with his own set of buckets as follows Baron back towards the camp. "You're taking this all much... better than I anticipated. What did you see? I'm only asking because it was my first time trying to show someone what I saw... or maybe lived? It felt so real." Dean asks as they pour their water into a small tub that is just large enough to two or three people. Luckily no one else is in the tent yet.

After starting the fires to heat the water they sit down and strip while washing off most of their bodies with water in the trough. This time Dean pulls a bar of honey soap from home out of his pack. He had missed it so much the first time. It leaves his skin scented lightly with lavender and honey comb and brings a smile to his face.

Baron takes his time answering. Dean doesn't seem to mind when silence falls between them, and Baron is grateful for that. "I saw flashes... of myself from the outside. Of..." He clears his throat, not about to try to explain the moments of obviously intimate mating that he'd seen in the beginning. "Like I said, it was the feeling that was overwhelming. Love and desperation..." It's the way Baron feels about the pack sometimes, but it coming from outside of him was bizarre.

Baron smiles bemusedly as Dean moves easily around the tent, knowing without asking where to stash his things and pulling his own soap from his pack. "How long ago was this vision again? Did you pack to be kidnapped?"

"No, I was packing to go to Hunter. My vision... it happened while I was sleeping in the carriage." Dean replies as he steals sidelong glazes at Baron's naked body. "I was with you... part of the pack for a while. Through the equinox." Dean explains even though he knows it won't make much sense. "Our initial meeting was much different. I punched you in the face."

Baron frowns but lets Dean talk. He's gotten used to listening to things that are probably crazy and then figuring out what to do about it afterward. "You punched me? That sounds... unwise. I assume I kicked the shit out of you for it later?" He shouldn't make Dean talk through this now, Ember will make him go over it all again later, but Baron is curious and they're still mostly alone in the early afternoon heat of the tent.

Dean chuckles as they both move into the heated tub and Dean brings a rag and his soap. "You certainly tried, but I kicked you in the balls and your wolves had to stop you from ripping my throat out." Dean replies with a chuckle as if the moment has been a cherished memory. "Do you want me to wash your hair?"

Baron shakes his head and scoffs at the description, imagining the faces Sami would have made in disapproval at his abuse of their prisoner. He's already pulling his hair up into a loose knot at the back of his neck. "No, that's... ok." He says it automatically, like he would to every member of the pack. "Did I... let you do that? Before?" He asks curiously. There aren't a lot of people he's let into his space, and oddly Dean is already miles ahead of most others despite the fact that they've only just met.

"Ummm..." Dean blushes and bites his lower lip as he shakes his head. "No, not really. I mean not exactly that.... we bathed together but ummm we kind of... we bathed a couple times together. Other things happened." He replies before dunking himself under the water completely. He's not a shy person but Baron's curiosity is shocking.

Baron watches Dean's pale skin flush with a sort of delighted fascination. 'Other things happened' indeed. He lets himself lean back against the side of the tub, eyes drifting half closed. "Whatever you say. I don't... I'm not big on people touching me. I know that's weird. It's so important to pack bonding." Baron spent a lot of years as a loner, but it's not something he talks about if he can help it.

Dean slowly rises from the water and practically crawls up Baron's body to slide between his legs. "You didn't have a problem touching me last night." Dean offers as a retort. He lifts a hand and scent marks Baron's throat slow and soft.

Baron tenses, nostrils flaring instinctively to catch Dean's scent as his hands slide to rest on Dean's hips. "Yeah, well you had been unconscious for hours. I didn't think you'd be crawling into my space. I was more worried about making sure you didn't die in your sleep." He licks his lips nervously, not sure what's happening here but curious. He raises a hand to match Dean's touch. "I think maybe I'm supposed to know more about those 'other things' that you remember happening."

Dean closes his eyes and let's himself bask in this moment. "There are lots of other things I've seen. You're going to have to be more specific." Dean counters with a playful smirk. He chokes back a moan when Baron's hands tighten on his hips. "Do you really want to know? I think I should probably keep some of it as a surprise."

"You think we were mated." Baron says knowingly, his voice low. "I saw the flashes of it. You riding me..." He swallows hard. "Was I that selfish in your vision? That I decided to keep you for myself despite all the danger it would bring?” There was a time when Baron would have been that selfish, and he can almost imagine it, though he’d like to believe he's grown into a stronger leader than that. "Was that your heat?"

"No. That was.... after. A long time after. You were incredibly strong. You still are." Dean replies. "I won't force myself on you. I won't tell you that we belong together. You have a choice. But... if things change... if you can't send me to Hunter. I will plan to make a declaration to run for you at the equinox." The words are heavy and Dean doesn't think he can stay here and not kiss Baron. So he slides back into the water and starts to get out of the tub.

Baron catches Dean's wrist before he can think about it, sighing. "Stay. Please. I'm not trying to tease you." He holds up both hands, releasing Dean’s wrist. "You deserve a chance to relax and be clean after yesterday." He doesn't pull Dean back close to him, letting the man settle on the far side of the tub. "This is a lot, just.... give me time."

Baron tells himself that the pull he feels to Dean is probably the pre-heat pheromones. Thousands of years of biology trying to draw potential mates close to maximize the chance of producing strong offspring during the heat. Baron blows out a deep breath and needs to focus, he doesn't even know where to begin addressing Dean's declaration.

Baron splashes some water on his face and then steps from the tub. "Take your time. I'll just be outside." He nods to the little side entrance and moves away, picking up a cloth to dry off with while he sits in the afternoon sun.

Dean nods and decides to relax a little to try and clear his mind a little. Experiencing it now, he can partly understand why Roman acted the way he did. The desire to be with his mate is consuming. He lets Baron leave.

Baron lets himself soak in the sun for longer than he should. The air is still cool and the only two person who arrives to share his space is Cass. After basic greetings, they settle into easy silence.

~~~~~

A few others move around the tent while Dean soaks, but Corey is the only one who approaches. "You must be Dean." He says, tattoos on full display across his shoulders as he leans against the outside of the tub. "I'm Corey. I hear that we should probably talk."

Dean smiles wide and bright at Corey as the man slides into the tub. "Hello. Yeah, I'm Dean. Your tattoos are... impressive. So many stories. I feel like I should get mine. It's a strange one."

"Thank you." Corey considers Dean with a slight frown. "Kevin was right, you're... not what we expected. Sami said you might have the gift of foresight as well?" Corey can't hide his slight sadness at the mention of tattoos. "It sounds like you've been told our plans for you. But you believe the trade won't work?"

"Your shaman, Ember. She would call it true sight." Dean comments as they move a little closer together. "I know the plan won't work. Hunter won't negotiate and he won't be blackmailed. I don't mean anything to him. He will just send people to kill you all." Dean replies. "But it's alright. I understand. Ember just told you I was important. She didn't tell you why. She's better that this than I am."

Corey has to laugh, glad that he came alone instead of sending Alexa to talk with this strange new Omega. This kind of cross-talk would drive Alexa mad.

"I appreciate the warning." Corey says casually, "You'll have to forgive me if I don't entirely believe you have all these details based on your gift. You have had a chance to speak with several members of our pack at length already." Sami in particular is known to run his mouth, and Rusev as well. If this Omega's pretty blue eyes disarmed them, Corey isn't planning to be taken in as easily.

"That's alright." Dean concedes with a shrug. "I don't really expect anyone to believe me. I mean, I wouldn't believe me." Dean adds with a smirk. "Baron and Cass are out there in the cold pool. I think Baron's having some kind of breakdown. You and your mate should probably talk with him. He... he needs some support."

Corey smiles and shrugs. "Alexa is already planning to. She'll be along." He shakes his head slightly at Dean. "I should ask how the hell you knew that, but I'd rather ask about that tattoo you wanted. I don't mind the idea of sending Hunter an Omega marked by my inks."

Dean smiles impishly and nods, Yeah actually. I want-” He frowns, trying to remember. “Umm... there's a rune that looks like two ghosts swirling together. My mother had it on a present. It means 'we will meet again'." Dean describes but chuckles at his own description. "I can draw it out for you in the dirt."

"I know the one, I think." Corey says thoughtfully. His eyes are narrowed as they roam Dean's skin, seeing him now as a canvas and considering positioning. "Would you want it.... I call them focal points. A place where you start a tattoo to begin a larger story. Baron started his back piece from the center, for example... Or else it could go somewhere where you will see it... like your wrist. Which might be better if it ends up being the only one you get."

Dean hums while he thinks about that. "Could you put it over my heart?" Dean asks a little shyly. It's not like he cares too much. He'll be happy wherever Corey sees fit to place it, but he knows whom he was most excited to meet again and who he's pursuing.

Corey pauses to contemplate Dean. "That's a gutsy start... good area to work on though. I would have time tomorrow, if you're serious. You all made it back so quickly, I doubt that we'll have directions back from Hunter's people any sooner than that."

Dean nods with excitement. "I would like that very much. Thank you, Corey." Dean replies before reaching over and scent marking the other man with his hand. It's so strange, the first time he was scent marked in the vision was here, into his very tent. He misses Carmella suddenly.

"Corey, where do you and Alexa want me to stay tonight? I mean, there are other Omegas or maybe Sami and Kevin? Or Rusev and Lana. Or Carmella and Cass. They're all good people."

Corey frowns again suddenly, not liking the amount of information that Dean seems to already have on their pack. "Baron is taking you to Ember today, right? Find me after and I'll see who has some extra furs."

A smile breaks across Corey's face as Alexa joins them, "There's my goddess." He murmurs to her before a soft kiss. "Alexa, this is Dean. Our... hostage." He shrugs apologetically at Dean.

"Not you too." Alexa says with a sigh, sliding uninvited into the tub and settling on Corey's lap. She fixes Dean with a glare. "I get that you want to stay. We're pretty great. But the plan is the plan. You're going to have to get over it."

Dean chuckles and leans back against the tub to watch them cuddle. "I do want to stay but I understand that, as you said, a plan is a plan. I'm just going to sit back and let my imprisonment here be as easy as possible on you." Dean decides. He knows what Hunter will say. He just needs to be patient and let them make the decisions. There's no point in fighting it. However, that doesn't mean he's above a little but of guilt tripping.

"I'm sure that when Hunter locks me in a tower somewhere with a chastity belt on and no way to escape, I'll look back at my time here fondly."

"We appreciate the cooperation." Corey offers with a soft smile.

Alexa rolls her eyes at Dean's dramatics. "Oh, now I see why Baron likes you. You’re both ridiculous." She gestures at him with a shooing motion. "Go cool off and make him take you... somewhere else."

Dean laughs and agrees as he gets up and hops out of the tub. "Have fun you two. It was nice meeting you Alexa. See you tomorrow, Corey!" Dean says as he grabs a rag to dry off before grabbing his bag and heading out to the cold pool. "Hey, how's it going?" Dean asks as he takes a seat next to the pool while he gets dressed.

~~~~~

Baron has been trying to sort himself out since Alexa appeared.

"Anyone else." Alexa said to Baron the moment she walked out of the bathing tent and settled beside him in the afternoon sun. Her voice was firm and brooked no dissent. "For fuck's sake, Baron, we all know you need a mate. I want you to find a mate, but please pick anyone else."

She had proceeded to tell him all the ways in which taking Dean to his tent had been unacceptable, and by the time she'd let him speak, he'd nearly forgotten to even tell her about Dean's warning about his heat.

"Of course." Alexa had said with a groan. "Then you stay the hell away from him after today. He can stay with Ember if she'll take him. Or with Breeze and Bo. Sami maybe if he wants to get involved in that mess." She leaned into Baron's space and right up into his face, "But not you. You want to pick a mate finally, great. But not. This. One."

Baron's protests had been brushed away easily and Cass just feigned sleep in the face of her tirade. She was right of course. But that didn't stop Baron from spending the next twenty minutes at least just trying to sort through this strange draw he felt for the first time in his life.

Baron blinks in surprise when Dean appears, breaking his recollection. "Hey. Fine. I'm fine. You have a good soak?"

"Yep." Dean says with a nod. "You feeling any better or are you just as confused as I am still?" Dean asks with a small smile. "Alexa says you need you take me anywhere but here? Which is cool, I just want you to know I suck at basket weaving and Breeze is nice but he never shuts up."

Baron smiles, purposefully averting his eyes when he realizes he's staring a little too much at the curve of Dean's thighs and chest. Dean's words finally shake him from his contemplative haze. "I- that's- yeah, fine. Let me get dressed. We need to go to see Ember. This is... Just strange."

Dean laughs and ruffles Baron's hair a little. He ignores the raised eyebrow Cass gives them for the most part but does nod in greeting to the giant man. "You look tired." Dean mentions to Cass as Baron slowly gets out of the tub.

"Cass, this is Dean." Baron introduces belatedly. "He's..." Baron shrugs.

Cass already heard everything that Dean might be while Alexa told Baron not to think of him as a mate, so he just waves at Dean. "Nice to meet you finally. And yeah, young pups will do that to you. I'm ok though." He studies Dean quietly, his eyes shifting to Baron as well. He doesn't say anything, but the potential is obvious. Baron doesn't let newcomers touch him like that

Dean waits patiently while Baron dresses and then grabs his hand and pulls the large man out of tent with their fingers interlaced. "I actually have no idea where Ember's tent is at this camp. I only saw her tent after we moved." Dean explains to Baron even as he's leading him towards the center of camp.

Baron chats with Cass about the health of baby Enzo as he dresses, and then tries his best to walk more sedately while Dean rushes around him. "OK, ok. How about you let me lead then? What is wrong with you?" Dean's words finally sink in and Baron comes to an abrupt stop.

"What do you mean moved camp? That's.... a week away at least." Baron frowns at Dean, he has been trying not to believe Dean's claims about danger coming for them, but the camp moving... Dean knowing that it was coming up. It's all too disturbing.

Dean almost falls from the force of Baron stopping in his tracks. "What? Oh, well with me going into heat and then the messenger coming back with the sorry-out-of-luck message from Hunter... we moved. I don't know where, exactly. Mountains. I was kind of out of it. Heat will do that to you. Especially me since I haven't had one in like nine or ten months." Dean admits casually although everything he just said is sure to make Baron's head spin. "Hasn't Ember told you any of this?

Baron hesitates, "Ember... isn't like that. She may know things, but she doesn't just share it all like you..." He starts slowly moving toward Ember's tent again. "I've never even heard of someone like you. You have so much detail from the vision... it's very unusual."

"Well, I mean, I'm not really good at anything else. I'm a shit Omega. I'm not pretty or delicate. I'm too big and I don’t have regular heats." Dean counters. Baron hasn't let go of his hand yet which is something but he can feel Baron's resistance to the pull they have. "Maybe this is just the thing I'm good at."

Baron shrugs. "That's one way to look at it, I guess." He doesn't understand what Dean means about not being pretty or good at this when Dean's done nothing but charm everyone he's met in the pack. The last thing he needs is Alexa getting wind of him telling Dean he's pretty out in the middle of the camp, so Baron stays quiet.

"Here we are." Baron says, dropping Dean's hand to guide him inside Ember's strange smokey tent. It is composed of three smaller tents. The main one, which constantly has a low fire burning, as well as separate spaces for Ember to sleep and a third she uses for examinations when healing is needed. The tents are set up near the well, but outside of the center of camp, allowing her to get water easily and watch the camp.

Ember enters the main tent shortly after they do, and Dean instantly feels at home when he sees her. He walks over to her confidently and scent marks her. "Please tell me you remember me. I don't know what I would do if the craziest person I know wasn't crazy with me." He whispers to her with a hopeful smile.

Ember smiles, slightly surprised but easily pulling Dean into a gentle hug and marking him as well. She rests her forehead against Dean's for a moment before pulling back to study him. "Remember may be the wrong word. But I know you. I've seen you. And I am relieved you are here."

Baron opens his mouth in shock at the familiar greeting, but can't get a word out before Ember's silver eyes flash at him. "Sit down, lonely Alpha. We have so much to discuss."

"Be nice Ember, he's... important." Dean retorts with a playful smirk. He takes a seat himself near Baron but far enough away to not be imposing. "I don't even know where to start. I kind of feel like you're the only one who's gonna get what I'm living through."

Baron looks confused, but settles to the ground beside the fire. "I didn't think you could seem more crazy." He says to Dean, "But you're managing. What-" He cuts himself off when Ember raises a hand to stop him.

"I haven't seen or heard everything, but I think I understand." Ember says to Dean, her voice is calm and her eyes are fixed on Dean. "It seems you have been born into your gift. It is not so very unusual at your age. You had a vision, one with details clear as spring water. They will not always be so... but you are right to cherish what you have."

"What do you mean born into my powers? I'm 17 summers old. Why would I be ‘born’ now?" Dean asks confused. "Did you get your powers like this? I mean I spent half a month with this pack. I got to know them and I saw… I have to stop that from happening." Dean declares although he's not even half as confident as he wishes he was.

Ember hums thoughtfully, "Our bodies awaken to their nature as Alpha or Omega as we mature, now your mind has awakened to its true nature as well." He stirs the coals of the fire. No visions are yet required, but she lays a twig of dried lavender into the flames, letting the soothing scent fill the tent. "Visions come at times of stress, times of change. They can grant us clarity to make the choices we must make."

"The urgency of the vision can feel overwhelming,” Ember says gently, laying a hand on Dean’s shoulder. “But know that even a single butterfly can change what flowers will bloom in the fields…”

Dean furrows his brow and hums, "So, I shouldn’t share what I know with them? Because it could mess things up even more? Right? I mean, is that what you're saying?" Dean asks. He wants to ask Baron for advice but the Alpha looks just as confused.

Ember chuckles and shakes her head. "In this case I think you've used your visions very well although a bit heavily. Rusev came to me for advice this morning about you. He is very conflicted. He does not think we should send you to be kept as breeding stock. He thinks you should stay here." Ember turns to look at Baron, tilting her head in question. "What do you think we should do Lonely Alpha?"

Baron sighs, "I... feel the same way. But the sacrifice may need to be made for the greater good. When will-" he cuts himself off as he turns to Dean, "You said that Hunter will refuse. Will attack us. How soon do you think we would know that?"

Dean looks at Ember before answering. She nods and Dean turns to Baron, "Umm not tonight but the next. At least I think so. That's when you moved the camp. I don't really know for sure. My heat started before...." Dean admits with a blush. "It was after you left me in your tent. Kevin and Sami were there."

"You were in my tent? In heat?" Baron asks, feeling tense and confused at the idea and at the surge of foolish possessiveness that runs through him. "Kevin was near you during a heat?"

"Don't get jealous Baron. He didn't touch me other than to put me in a carriage with Sami." Dean counters when he sees the flash of red in Baron's eyes. "And yes, I was in my vision. I... went there on instinct and you were incredibly strong. You still are." Dean adds carefully. According to Ember he's already given away too much.

Ember watches the two interact with a fond smile on her face. "Some patterns will repeat, and some may vary. Since we know of your heat, you will stay here when it hits." She gestures to one side to a secluded area where two or three people could comfortably sit. "Though Sami seems to enjoy your company, and the stability of a Beta can be soothing if you wish him to stay with you."

Baron muffles the low growl that threatens to escape him. "You keep saying that. That I'm strong. You don’t mean it like most people do. What do you want from me?" He doesn't mean it to sound bitter, but he's never enjoyed confusion and Dean presents nothing but. "I can't save you from going back to Hunter. I can't..." He shakes his head, Alexa's words ringing in his mind. 'You can't do this. Pick anyone else.'

"I can't tell you what happened. I don't want to force you to.... pick me. I mean. Fuck, I'm doing this all wrong." Dean says with a growl. "I don't know what I'm doing OK?" Dean spits out in frustration. "If you don't want to be here just leave. I'll figure it out. I'll be... ok is a relative term but if you don't want me then... just go." Dean offers. He will mourn the loss of Baron as his mate but if this vision is different - if saving the pack means he ends up alone - then he's alright with that. Them all being alive is worth more than the memory of their bond.

Ember moves fluidly around the fire to settle behind Dean, one hand firm on the center of his back between his shoulders. "I think you may have the right idea. If for the wrong reasons." She says softly, sliding her arms around Dean's shoulders comfortingly when he doesn't move away. "You should take some time to process what is true for this world and what you remember from the vision."

Dean shudders in Ember’s arms. It hurts too much, suddenly, for Baron not to trust him. He’s right back in that cave from the vision, wanting to kick Baron in the balls. Baron is still looking at him like a dangerous wild animal. Dean looks away from his mate, staring into the fire again.

Something in Baron flares as Ember wraps herself around Dean and speaks softly to him. He stifles a low growl, but still gets jerkily to his feet. "If you say that we'll need to move, then we should start preparations now. That much doesn't sound like a bad idea. The rest...." He reaches for Dean and stops his hand halfway, knowing he can't do that. "I can't know the future like you do. But I want to understand." He pulls his hand back with a low growl to himself and turns to leave the tent.

Chapter Text

Roman leaves Hunter's fortress as quickly as he can. The Beta who had come with news of the attack is in no shape to travel, so the longest delay is in finding someone who can travel with him. Roman prefers to travel light and finding someone willing to pick up and do the same on no notice proves challenging.

"This mission seems dangerous." Tom comments as he saddles up his horse. "Tracking a barbarian raiding party isn't going to be easy. They're good at covering their tracks." He points out to Roman without much purpose. As a scribe, Tom is mostly responsible for chronicling 'the great deeds of the Alpha King,' but Hunter has has less and less use for Tom, and as a former assassin the Beta is quite thrilled to be escaping the fortress even for a few days.

Roman shrugs, "Barbarians." He says, attaching his pack to the second horse. He plans to do most of the tracking in wolf form, using his heightened senses, but the horses will be the best way to get to the site of the attack, and Tom can lead the spare mount the rest of the time. "Likely means they're disorganized." Roman explains. "They may not even have meant to capture anyone, and were just looking for supplies. But most people won't kill an Omega, especially people from the tribes." He's still not sure what to think about his companion, but the man at least seems fairly competent.

Tom just shrugs. He had been from a nomadic tribe himself before Hunter had overtaken them. He knew that settled packs often underestimated the forethought it took to command a roaming city. But Roman was practically royalty in comparison to him. The great noble cousin to the Alpha of the Anoai Pack, gifted to Hunter years ago as a guard and soldier to appease Hunter’s greed. "I'm sure this will be a very interesting learning experience for us both. Shall we?"

Roman nods firmly, mounting the horse and leading the way out of Hunter's fortress. "We'll ride hard to the site of the attack." He says, a bit apologetic. "I don't want to lose track of the scent trail, and it smells like we may see rain in the next day."

Tom just nods, so Roman kicks his horse into a canter down the road, kicking up dust in the early spring morning. They'll rest the horses while Roman investigates, so he pushes them hard while the road stays smooth and clear.

There are already storm clouds gathering by the time they locate the sabotaged carriage and the road blockage that has already been moved off to one side. Apart from one recognizable wheel and the location, Roman would barely recognize the collapsed pile of ash as Hunter's carriage that left the keep two days before.

"Didn't expect them to have burned it.” Roman says thoughtfully as he circles the area cautiously, scanning for any lingering footprints. “You'd think it might be more valuable if they kept it."

Tom contemplates the scene before he drops down from his horse. "They clearly wanted to cover their tracks." He comments as he scents the air and then wanders over to a small pile of ash. "Interesting. They were very organized. They knew we would try to track them. They used smoke bombs made with..." He runs his fingers in the ash and smelling it, "...woad? How strange... It only grows far to the east. Interesting indeed." Tom muses.

Roman is impressed with Tom, making mental note of the details the Beta provides. Roman takes a moment to range off, checking around the perimeter for tracks, especially back towards the woods where they might have fled east. On the road, there are too many tracks, of feet, carts, and wolves, but once it hits the forest line, tracking what seems to be three horses and two wolves gets instantly more challenging.

"Tracking through the woods will be damn near impossible." Roman tells Tom when he returns and finds the Beta crouched over the low mound beside the road that some local farmer must have raised over the dead horse and rider. “That smoke makes even the Alpha scent fade like it was nothing.”

Roman circles wide around the attack site noting where they must have come down from the ridge. "They moved fast, and there's no sign of a struggling prisoner. They must have subdued the Omega quickly."

"That's very odd. It's as if there was an inside man.” Tom comments as he walks around the blackened wreckage of the carriage one more time. “They clearly knew more about this transport than they should have. But why go through so much trouble for a single Omega? He's nothing special even if he is going to be one of Hunters kept boys." Tom looks skeptically at the tracks circling the destroyed carriage, "The blaze was clearly intentional and set after the Omega was pulled out. Are they keeping him for ransom perhaps?"

Roman shrugs. “That won’t work out well for them. We’ll be sent out with a raiding party long before Hunter lays out a ransom to get back one of Shane’s strays.” He doesn’t agree with their Alpha’s attitude, but he knows he’s right.

Tom pauses and looks up at the sky. "With rain coming in, I suggest we return to the keep and inform Hunter he has either been denied his bride by very clever and skilled barbarian - who are the only ones I know of who use woad - and the Omega is already dead or we are simply waiting for a ransom to identify the culprits. Thoughts?"

Roman shrugs, he knows why Dean was special, Seth told him that much. Beautiful and clever, with the size and strength of an Alpha. He sounds like exactly Hunter's type. "Tracking will be miserable in the rain. And we'll lose what little scent we get from the raiders. Seems like mostly Alphas... though I scented one Beta as well, I think. The Omega is likely dead if they're not planning some kind of demand." Roman sighs deeply, already feeling sorry for Seth at losing his friend in such an awful way.

"I can smell your regret. I'm sorry we couldn't save him but we're not gods. It's not as if we can work miracles because Hunter wants things to be a certain way." Tom comments as he collects a few samples of ash as the fuses from the smoke bombs for study and then gets back on his horse. "Maybe Hunter will let us go after these men from the East. I'll see if I can figure out who they are from my records."

Roman casts a regretful look over the remains of the carriage. "Of course. At least you know where they came from. And the direction of their tracks seems to match that. They traveled fast and light though."

"Come on, Big Man. If we hurry back we may make it back before the rain storm catches us." Tom says encouragingly. Roman is far too caring for his own good.

Roman shrugs and nods, mounting his horse and turning back toward Hunter's keep. If he's very lucky, they'll get free after reporting to Hunter fast enough that he can get word to Seth and be the one to break the news. He wouldn't trust the gossip mongers in the palace not to use the kidnapping as leverage.

-------------------------

Dusk is starting to fall when Baron finally makes his way to Alexa’s tent to discuss what he's learned about their hostage. There are rain clouds gathering on the western horizon and he thanks all the gods watch over his pack that it will make tracking a misery for anyone coming behind. He’s barely opened his mouth to speak before Alexa is in his face, and Baron steps back involuntarily.

"I swear to every god in the heavens that if you mention ignoring the plan - the one that you came up with, may I remind you - I will tie you to a pole in the middle of camp by your pretty long hair and I will- let every damn wolf in the pack come and kiss on you!!!" Alexa screams, flailing in her annoyance.

Baron holds up both hands. "Not needed. There's been enough campaigning on that front. I was just with Ember." He sighs, not sure how to explain the interaction he just had. "I think we should prepare to move the camp early."

Alexa opens her mouth to shout again and Baron talks over her quickly. "We expect the reply from Hunter soon, right? Either way, there's risk of that message being tracked back to us. That means for better or worse, Hunter knows where we are. I'd rather be ready to move. To prevent them trying a reverse kidnapping or any kind of retaliation." He keeps his tone as rational as he can. He's half hoping that Dean is wrong about Hunter's reaction and that he'll get this frustrating, confusing Omega out of his camp and stop having to worry about any of this.

Alexa groans and wants to slap something so she smacks Corey on the ass hard enough that the man jumps a little and then flushes all the way down his bare chest. "Fine! But only because you're being sensible for the first time since you got back. Have the weaker wolves, the children, and half the fighters start up the mountain. We'll go to the summer camp near the hot spring. It's easier to defend and has more permanent structures." Alexa concedes. "And to be clear,” She continues, stepping into Baron’s space and jabbing a finger into his chest, “You are to stay away from the prisoner until we hear back from Hunter. He's already seduced two of our best men. I don't need him making you his bitch too."

Baron glares and bares his teeth slightly at Alexa to make it clear that he's not particularly pleased with her tone. "I wasn't planning to go anywhere near him, thanks. He's probably insane. Plus, he thinks he has a heat starting and Ember was planning to keep him with her. I think they were going to ask Sami to help him through it."

Alexa rolls her eyes and throws her hands up in the air. "You know what? Fine! He can stay with Ember in her creepy tent getting high with Sami and tomorrow Corey can mark him up like he's been begging to for the last hour, but you will spend the next two days hunting or scouting or whatever you want to do that's not near him. Outside of that, I don't care.”

Alexa flops back onto her elaborate bed platform with a huff. "You know, I really thought this was going to be simple. Just an easy, simple, kidnapping." She sighs as she turns around and grabs Corey's hand. "Baron, I honestly don't give a fuck what you do when it comes to that boy. But understand that when we have to send him away and your heart breaks because you had it set on mating him, you only have yourself to blame. Now get out..." She adds with a seductive look at Corey before she shift in a single smooth motion and pushes her mate down on their furs. "I'm frustrated and want to ride my mate's cock."

Baron growls and rolls his eyes. "You're letting your own libido go to your head. There's nothing between me and Dean." Regardless, Baron flees the tent, leaving Alexa and Corey to... whatever it is they get up to.

He spends much of the rest of the night spreading the word about the move and assigning duties. Some of the slower-moving wolves and the few carts they own can get started moving in the morning. The whole camp can move in hours if needed, but they've gotten used to settling a little in each place and the extra time to plan will keep things from being forgotten.

Sami is questioning about being asked to assist with a heat, but agrees and goes along to see Ember and Dean. Baron stays clear of that side of the camp.

~~~~~

Dean spends the rest of his night telling Ember the story of his vision. They take a few breaks for food and for Ember to make tea from dried flowers and fruit. It's vaguely sweet and makes it easier for Dean to get through the end of the vision. "I don't know how I knew to jump off the cliff I just... I knew a world like that, with Baron and the pack dead... I didn't want it to be real. I knew I'd wake up. I had to. But waking up-" Dean stops and shakes his head. "Seeing Baron for the first time was like lightning! I couldn't hold myself back. And now, he doesn't even want me. Everything I do pushes him away. I want him so badly, don't know how to handle it. What do I do?"

Ember sighs and pours Dean more tea. "Do not lose hope. A bond such as you saw, one such as you feel now... It will always resonate." She thinks quietly for a moment, obviously choosing her words, "Visions can be influenced by your own desires. In the world, the true world, the agency of others can be harder to combat than you imagine. Unless you have the faith of others, it can be best to... guide their decisions more gently. Is the passion of our Alpha the thing you most desire to achieve?"

Dean stays silent for a long time thinking about that question. He wants Baron. He wants to know what their pups would look like and what their future together would be. But being with Baron also means being with the pack. It means there will always be obligation to the pack’s safety first and Dean knows he wouldn't love Baron as much as he does if the Alpha didn't feel the same way. "I think what I want most is to protect our pack. I want to be part of it and I want to help by being at Baron's side.”

 

Ember nods and smiles at Dean, "That is the vision I have seen. I am glad to hear you say it." She takes Dean's hand in hers, stroking his palm in a gentle, soothing motion. "I cannot say why he resists. Perhaps we will both be wrong, but our lonely Alpha has long needed a mate to help guide and lead. The pack led by the two of you has great potential."

"So I'm not crazy about him and me right?" Dean ask with a mischievous smirk. "Because if vision sex with him was as good as it was, I can not fucking wait to have it in real life. I mean I don't think I could lay myself out like a plate of food for him during the run, but I would probably end up with my ass in the air begging for it if he caught me."

Ember chuckles, reminding herself how very young Dean is, and how different his early life has been than her own. "He will not be yours for this heat at least, I'm afraid. But we can ensure your comfort. Have you used a false knot before?" If Dean is going to focus of sex, she can at least address those issues.

"Ummm no. I mean the other Omegas helped the few other times I've had a heat and in the vision Baron ummm put his fi- fingers inside of me..." Dean replies with a blush. "I mean, what do you mean by a false knot?"

Ember's eyebrows raise substantially, but her tone remains smooth. "Smooth wood or stone, warmed and slicked... To settle inside you. It cannot swell or move like an Alpha's knot, but many Omegas find it... Comforting, to be filled with something as they endure the heat "

"Others prefer the comfort of their own kind, if course. Or of a surrogate Alpha who is sworn not not to take advantage of their state for a true mating against the Omega’s will."

"I guess I'll umm think about that." Dean replies with a small smile. "I don't think Alexa will let me have a surrogate. She's pretty sure I'm a succubus or something." Dean jokes as Ember pours him more tea. The more he drinks the heavier his limbs feel.

"Mmm, you've had quite an effect on those you've spoken to. Perhaps our pack finds it too easy to trust..." Ember settles in beside Dean rather than circling back around the fire. "Alexa can not warn me away from you... If you wish for an Alpha's touch and scent." She smiles ever so slightly, "It is a service I have provided before."

Dean practically purrs as he lets Ember pull him into a close embrace. This close to her, Dean can easily see the way the fire plays beautifully in her silvery eyes and across her smooth dark skin. "Is it a service you're providing now?" Dean asks with half drunken smile. "What is in that tea? It's fucking great!"

Ember leans in close, her lips ghosting over Dean's cheek. "Where I grew up, we called it 'Peace'... It calms fears... To bring visions, I can also add a certain honey..." She keeps her voice low and smooth, not wanting to break his half-trance. "It can lessen the need of the heat, but only an Alpha's knot can speed it’s completion."

Dean relaxes and leans into Embers touch. "You're going to have to teach me how to make this tea. And I, uhh… I guess you could say I prefer the human touch to having a false knot. Want to feel something alive inside me." Dean moans as he turns his head to kiss Ember. It's different than kissing Baron. It's soft and sweet like honey.

"I will teach you many things, future Alpha-Mate." Ember breathes out after a slow, seeking kiss. "You are our pack, whether they believe it or not." She shifts to settle on Dean's lap, straddling his hips and pressing him back against the cushions that litter the floor.

Sami backs cautiously out of the tent, certain he was not meant to see whatever he just walked in on. He'll check in tomorrow. Baron said Dean wanted Sami's help during his heat, but from the scent, it clearly hasn't begun just yet.

Chapter Text

Dean wakes up early and refreshed the next day. He doesn’t feel delirious or weird, and Ember just marks his pulse points with something and says he’s fine to go out as long as he’s back by sundown. Dean thanks her and heads out after they share a simple breakfast. It takes Dean a moment to remember where Corey and Alexa’s tent was, but no one finds it strange that he has to ask.

"Hey Corey!" Dean says as he wanders up to the Beta's work tent. "How goes the wait for my ransom?" Dean asks with a playful smile.

Corey looks up from mixing inks and smiles, "Nothing yet, sorry to say. But that's hopefully a good sign. It could mean it's being considered." He gestures to the pillows beside him. "You still serious about that tattoo? We can work on a design."

"I am." Dean replies with a smile. Ember had lent him a smooth piece of leather and charcoal so he could draw out the design he wants. "It means 'We will meet again.'" Dean explains as he shows it to Corey. Ember had spoken the words to him in the vision and he had repeated them to Baron. This was what he needed to say with the first piece in his story.

Corey smiles and nods studying the design and practicing the curls of the design on his own to get Dean's approval before they begin. "Ember says it was a true vision, then?" He asks hesitantly. "I know sometimes she says things are confusing... And you seem very clear."

"Well, true is subjective. It was true but only as much as I could understand then." Dean replies as he takes seat in front of Corey. "I've already changed the course of things by reacting to what could have been, so the vision is now false. Which hopefully means my goals have been achieved." Dean adds.

Corey shrugs, "That sounds like all of life, I guess. You plan and you try to know what will happen, but everything fades in the moment. People react with their hearts." Corey looks at Dean quizzically, resting his hand on Dean's chest, over where he wanted the tattoo. "So this is for Baron? To remind you what was?"

Dean shakes his head. "Maybe originally. But it's more than that." He explains. "I met all of you again and you're all... so different." Dean's not sure how to explain it. He saw these people and knew them but at the same time it's like those people were less vibrant. They were shallow versions of the ones he's meeting now. "I didn't have context for you all in the vision, so it’s like... Everyone in the pack is so much more… real this time?"

Corey smiles, "It's hard to think we're being measured against something you saw in a dream. It must be even stranger to feel you're meeting people for the second time. That may be what unnerves some people." Corey arranges his tools and then looks up at Dean. "Shirt off, if we are doing this. Wouldn't want to wait until after your heat breaks. You said you think it will begin tonight?"

Dean does as he's asked and moves to lay down on the mat like he had seen Rusev do in the vision. "I'll let you know I think I like you all more this time around. Although I'm pretty amazed to find Breeze is even flowerier than he was." Dean comments. He had run into the Omega at morning meal and the two, despite Dean's best efforts, had still ended up hugging and scent marking one another while Breeze waxed poetically about how he knew Dean must have remembered him as he was unforgettable.

Corey chuckles, "He is fairly unbelievable." Corey moves easily to settle beside Dean, rubbing a softly scented oil over the skin of Dean's pectoral. It feels cool as the air shifts over it. "How large are you thinking?" He asks thoughtfully, fingers tracing the curving lines to plot out how it will flow over the skin of Dean's chest.

"How large would you suggest for an Alpha?" Dean asks when he remembers what Corey had said once about how the Alphas of the pack carried their tattoos as badges of honor and often bragged about enduring the pain. "You're the expert here. I'll leave it to your suggestion."

Corey smirks, "Depends on the Alpha. How are you with pain?" He pulls his darkest black ink and his tools toward him along with the small brazier he uses to heat and sterilize the needles. For a sigil that simple, I wouldn't go larger than the size of your hand or so..."

"I trust you. If I pass out... just finish it." Dean replies as he exhales slowly to make himself relax.

They don't talk much after that. The first initial stabs of the needles are the worst though and after Dean's endorphins and healing kick in he rides the wave between pain and pleasure for several hours. Corey stops here and there to offer him water while he adds more ink but it's nearly sun set before Corey sets his tools down and burns his needles. "Fuck..." Dean hisses as he sits up slowly.

Corey nods and smiles proudly. "You did well for your first time. Maybe even enjoyed it a little?" Corey teases, he can smell the growing scent of Dean's heat and he's glad they did this now. He reaches for the makeshift mirror he keeps with his tools and hands it to Dean. It's smooth metal, not the fancy glass ones they have in proper villages and keeps, but it reflects. "What do you think?"

Dean's eyes go wide as he sees the dark ink marking his skin for the first time. It stings when he goes to touch it. Even with his healing the flesh is new and over sensitive. "It’s perfect." Dean sighs as he goes to stand on wobbly legs. "I'll catch some rabbits or something for you in return." He offers with a smile from ear to ear.

Corey waves him away. "Consider it my act of rebellion when we have to send you back to Hunter. And if you're right, and he threatens us... Consider it a thank you for the warning."

Corey clears away his tools and takes Dean's hand, scent-marking his wrist slightly. "You should probably head to Ember's. I'll send Sami with food... If you haven't started feeling your heat yet, you will. I can smell it."

Dean nods and returns the scent mark. "It's hitting me pretty hard. I can already feel the slick. The pain kept it... manageable." Dean says with a smirk.

Dean heads back towards Ember tent quickly and manages to run into only one Alpha on his way. He's never met him before or even seen the man in his visions but than again he wasn't paying much attention. The strapping blonde Alpha stops dead in his tracks the second Dean's scent hits him and he turns to look at the boy immediately.

Dolph - he's been telling everyone in the pack to call him Ziggler for months now - takes a moment to recognize the scent of the lovely, shirtless young man before him, and then smiles wickedly. "Hi there beautiful... Looking for something I can help with?"

"Ummm, no?" Dean says with a confused look. "Who are you and umm wh-what problems would that be?" Dean asks as he tries to play it cool by leaning against a nearby cart.

"Oh, pretty boy," Dolph purrs, stepping in closer, "This can't be your first heat, I can smell it all over you." He can see the Omega's eyes darkening at the proximity of an Alpha and his dick is already hard with the fascinatingly sweet scent of this new Omega. "You'll need a strong Alpha to get you through the next few days... You'll be pleading for a knot. I can do that for you."

"I... uhhmmm, I'm sort of spoken for..... kind of." Dean stammers. His slick has kicked into overdrive and he can feel it beginning to slide down his thighs. "It's a complicated situation but ummm ummm thanks for the offer. You're really hot." He blurts out as his head starts to get fuzzy. His face and and chest are starting to flush.

"Don't see your Alpha here, do we?" Dolph teases, pressing in against the man and sliding his hands confidently up to circle the Omega's slim waist and then cup his ass. "I'm Ziggler. And you're new here... But I can take care of you."

"Ziggler? What kind of name is that?" Dean asks, very puzzled by the odd sounding name. "I'm Dean... I didn't tell you earlier. Did I? And umm wow." Dean rambles as his rapidly hardening cock presses against Ziggler's. "Ummm, I'm staying at Ember's. And... Baron... ummm... " He bites his lip, closes his eyes as his head falls back against the cart in pleasure as Ziggler rolls his hips against his.

"Neither one is here and neither one has marked you." Dolph says, leaning in to scent Dean. "You don't have to lie to me, it's obvious what you want." He rolls hips forward again just to hear the Omega moan with it.

"Dean?" Sami shouts, he'd first averted his eyes from the amorous couple here between the tents and carts away from the firelight, but as he hurried past he'd recognized that Omega scent. He recognizes the Alpha's scent too. "Dolph, you back off right now!"

Dolph growls at Sami in rage at the interruption. "Don't see why I should. He wants to go with me, don't you beautiful?"

"No... Wait, who's Dolph? You said your name was Ziggler." Dean asks as Sami pulls him away from the Alpha. "Sami. You made it.” Dean smiles big, leaning into the Beta. Are you going to join us at Ember's? Ziggler here also wants to join but I don't think a curtain big bad lonely wolf would like it. Am I right Sami?" Dean asks, half delirious with the start of his heat. The pleasure always comes before the need. "I told him I was sort of called for. He didn't get it."

Dolph frowns. "It is Ziggler. And I swear Sami, why you have to stick your nose in-"

"You don't know what you're playing with, 'Ziggler'!" Sami spits back. "If you lay your hands on him again it'll be Baron or Alexa that has your ass. And if they don't follow through, then Kevin or I will!" He bares his teeth at Dolph, the other man may be an Alpha, but he's not near Sami's status in the pack, and isn't nearly as well liked. The threat is real.

"Go take a bath Dolph. Cool off." Sami offers as he pulls Dean away, at the moment, he seems more drunk than anything else, but the scent of heat is strong on him and Sami knows the delirium will only get worse.

"Hey Dean," Sami coos softly, "You're gonna be ok. Did he hurt you at all?" The fresh tattoo across Dean's chest makes him smile. Even if they have to send him away in a few days, at least he'll have a memory of them.

------------------------

"What do you mean he might be dead?" Seth hisses, his eyes glassy with tears. He had heard that Dean's carriage had been attacked but he hadn't known any of the details. "Why hasn't Hunter sent more men after him. Dean wouldn't have gone down without a fight."

Roman catches Seth's hand, stroking his wrist comfortingly and risking someone noticing the scent later. "There was no sign of struggle. So either they incapacitated him quickly or... worse." He squeezes Seth's fingers gently. "If they are demanding ransom, then he is likely safe, but if they only meant to cause chaos..."

"But why, how would they know about Dean?" Seth asks in confusion. "Did someone tell them? Was it one of Hunter's men? Did they sell us out?" He asks, automatically suspicious. Ever since he came here, Seth has learned you can not trust anyone except yourself. It had taken a long time for him to truly believe Roman was a good man.

Roman sighs, "That's the question. We don't know yet. Tom... the Beta that helped me investigate, thinks he may be able to learn something from the techniques they used. Some kind of smoke bomb." He aches to hug or comfort Seth, but they have to be so careful about even this amount of communication. "We will do everything we can to find him, I swear. Once we know where they are, Hunter will send a force out after them. I've asked to go along."

"You have to take me with you!" Seth commands in a hushed whisper, grabbing Roman’s wrist and refusing to let go. The other Omegas and their handlers will be looking for him soon. "I'm pregnant, Roman. I thought it would be a good thing. But while you were gone Stephanie and Hunter called me to their chambers…” He swallows hard, still tense and frightened at the memory.

“They beat me. It's fine now, I'll be fine.” He says hurriedly, watching the worry and rage build on Roman’s face. “But I can’t risk my child or myself any longer. You have to take me with you before they or anyone else finds out about the baby."

Roman growls involuntarily, noticing now the dark circles under Seth’s eyes and the dark bruises lingering around his wrists just inside the edge of this sleeve. Roman shakes with the contained urge to hold Seth to him and holds both of Seth's hands instead. "I can't promise that. Not yet, but if it can be done safely..." He swallows hard. "I'll see what I can do. I won't put you in danger. Not more than this anyway. But if we can..." He squeezes Seth's fingers again. "I swore to keep you safe, months ago. That goes double for your pup."

"I fucking need to get out. Ask this Tom guy for help. I've heard about him. He's an assassin when Hunter doesn't have him writing or telling stories." Seth adds as he chances a hug with Roman before heading down the hall. "See you at dinner. Hunter wants the whole fortress there."

Roman nods and inhales Seth's scent deeply in the brief moment they have. It's times like this that he misses his cousins and the easy closeness of his home pack. He straightens as he turns to go, lingering to keep a lookout. Himself being caught here is infinitely preferable to Seth being caught away from the harem.

Seth quickly slides back behind the large tapestry that covers the small door that leads to a connecting door in the closet of his room. He's not sure if Hunter knows about it since Hunter seized this fortress from the pack before but the staff certainly don't and it's been Seth's saving grace over the last year. The hidden passageways ran all throughout the castle but none of them seem to connect outside the high walls. "I'll get us out of here little bean." Seth whispers to his stomach as he slides into his bed only moments before he hears a soft knock and the guard puts his head in to check on him. "We'll be safe."

~~~~~

"Well, well, now we know the reason behind your regret."

Roman hasn't made it more than two steps since Seth slipped away and he nearly jumps as the voice interrupts him, startled by the sound. He whirls to find Tom leaning against a wall, much too close.

"Oh, don't panic. I'm not going to rat out your little love affair." Tom says with a bored smile. "I know so little about you. I was curious."

Tom chuckles low and dark as he circles Roman like a vulture. "You know, I was so dreadfully scared this mission was just going to be a boring side note but now I see the true picture. This is all positively thrilling. Are you going to ask me for help Roman? The Omega thinks it's a good idea." Tom half teases.

Roman frowns, glaring at Tom as though it will allow him to see the man's true motivations.

"We need a way, if it's safe, to get S- him... to get him away from the keep." Roman says finally. "It could be with whatever party Hunter sends out after the other Omega, or it could be something safer." He still can't decide how smart trusting Tom actually is.

"I swear," Roman adds finally, "If you betray us, I will stop at nothing to see you dead."

"Why would I betray you Roman? That's not interesting." Tom replies with a smirk. "Do you know why I hang around Hunter, writing little notes about his conquest?" Tom asks as he leads Roman down the hallways towards the ramparts. "It’s because he is at the center of the story of this world. He is the one making the big moves. He's a diversion from the dull life we all lead.” Tom shrugs and turns a corner, leading them into a part of the castle Roman has rarely visited.

“But here,” Tom continues, eyes sparkling, “Here with you and that pretty Omega, the plot thickens and we get real character growth with people who have challenges put on them and that my large and imposing friend is what good storytelling is all about. It would be sacrilege to my own beliefs to try and end this story so soon by telling Hunter what you’re planning."

Roman honestly loses track of Tom's speech halfway through, but apparently it means that this strange, fickle Beta is his ally now. "Will you help us then? Or are you just along to... Watch the story unfold?"

"Of course I'm going to help." Tom replies with a chuckle as he sits on the wall overlooking the rest of the town. "We could fake his death. I was always particularly good at staging a death scene. But depending on who Hunter recruits to kill the kidnappers, I could arrange for safe passage as well."

"Fake his..." Roman realizes the value even before he finishes the question. "So he wouldn't be pursued. That's smart. But wouldn't Hunter hunt the killer as well then?"

Roman's mind is racing now, trying to arrange a plan. It will be days before the hired mercenaries arrive. And that's only if Hunter has a target for his rage. "Did we get a ransom demand for Dean? For the kidnapped Omega, I mean? Without that, there's no guarantee a party will be sent out anytime soon."

"That just gives us some time to plan. And we should hear from our would be kidnappers soon enough." Tom says, calm and collected. "Tell me Roman, you were a guard in the tower for all Hunter’s little pets. Does Seth's room have a window in it?"

Roman thinks back and nods. "I think so. I was only inside a couple of times. Escorting other visitors." His eyes become unfocused as he tries to remember the room rather than just Seth's face or the sounds he made when Roman had to guard the door during Hunter's visits.

"It was small, but he had to hang a blanket over it to keep the room warm, so it must have been open to the air."

"Could we get a pig through it?" Tom asks off handedly. He's going through the ways he could make it look like suicide. "I mean there are poisons that can present the symptoms of death but those are so tricky. I've seen girls be burned alive when they try to feign death to get out arranged marriages. It's rather gruesome." Tom adds with a smirk. "So tragic."

Roman tries to keep up with Tom's meandering thoughts, "Yeah, a pig might fit. A small one." Roman's stomach turns slightly at the thought of what Tom might mean to do with it. The mention of poisons make him fear a moment for Seth's pup. "Yeah, poison wouldn't... be safe. Anyway, would that even work to look like a... person?"

Tom shrugs, "We will have to use some of Seth's clothing, you know really sweaty stuff. Hmmm it's a 50 good drop straight onto flag stone. Should be some effective destruction of the body." Tom describes. Watching Roman, sweet dependable giant Alpha, wrap his head around faking a death is delicious enough that he starts to get hard.

Tom moves so he's facing Roman and tugging him in close so their bodies are pressed close together. "Are you in love with that Omega?"

Roman's eyes widen as he's pulled into Tom's space and the Beta practically grinds up against him. He half growls at the question, reminded of Hunter's rage and accusations. "That. Is none of your fucking business. He wants out. I'll do what I have to do to make that happen."

Tom laughs and slides his arms up around Roman’s neck, pulling himself up to wrap his legs around Roman’s hips to keep the Alpha close. "You might as well have said yes. But..." Tom leans in and whispers in Roman's ear. "For the sake of appearances, and since we are now being watched why don't you kiss me like you want to kiss him and then take me back to my room. I'll even let you fuck me doggy style." Tom offers with a flash of crystal blue in his eyes.

"Fuck," Roman growls, hands gripping with bruising force to keep Tom balanced and burying his face against the pale skin of Tom's throat. "You're going to have to tell me where to go... Never been to your room."

Despite himself, the protective urges Roman has always feels toward Seth combined with Tom's forceful assault has him half-hard. He nips sharply at Tom's throat, but resists the urge to kiss him properly. This is all an act.

Tom arches up into Roman's touch and holds on as the bigger man picks him up and starts heading into the fortress. "Just one floor down, take a left... second door on your right." Tom guides as he grinds against Roman's hips and sucks tiny biting kisses along Roman's throat.

Roman's hands settle on Tom's ass to support him, trying to make their messy descent to Tom's room look like a natural fit of passion. When the heavy door slams shut behind them Roman tries to let Tom down, but the Beta keeps his legs tight around Roman's hips.

"You don't let me go," Roman pants, pressing Tom back against the wood of the door, "And you'll really get that fucking that I know you didn't actually want."

Tom chuckles, "You wound me Roman. I never tease and who said anything about me not wanting you to fuck me?" He demonstrates his willingness by sliding down Roman's body and onto the floor so he can rub his face against the bulge of Roman's half-hard cock. "Don't you want to fuck me?" He purrs.

The friction punches a rough moan out of Roman's lungs and his hand slides instinctively into Tom's hair. It's been months since he's bothered seeking anything more than the relief of his hand and Tom's offer suddenly sounds very tempting. "Shit... Why would you- nn!" Tom's hands join the teasing and Roman decides he doesn't care.

"Yeah," Roman grits out, one hand tightening in Tom's short hair, "Yeah, I want you."

Tom moans and easily unlaces Roman's breeches as he tongues at the sensitive skin round the Alpha's hip bone. "Take your shirt off... I wanna see all those glorious tattoos... and this body." He purrs before grabbing Roman's cock and suckling the head skillfully.

Roman groans and complies, tugging off the ties of his tunic and pulling it over his head. The best aspect of constant training among Hunter's guards is the corded muscle and smooth definition across his chest and shoulders, more than he ever had from running and swimming at home. Revealed, he knows the dark ink of tattoos on his skin makes his right arm look threatening and almost monstrous.

Tom's tongue drags another moan from him and Roman thrusts forward into his mouth. "I want more than your mouth..." Roman says hungrily, tugging Tom's mouth away from his cock, nearly throwing the smaller man as he follows him down onto the bed.

Tom quickly pulls off his own shirt as soon as he's thrown onto the bed with Roman's help between biting and angry kisses as they both strip off their clothing. "There's some plant oil on the bedside table. I don't slick like an Omega.... want me to open myself up for you?"

Roman catches both Tom's hands and pins them, rutting his cock against Tom's hip. "Could just take you rough, since you want it so bad." Roman teases, but flips Tom over to his stomach and reaches for the oil, preparing the man roughly with his fingers.

Hours later, when they’re both exhausted and fucked out, Roman can’t exactly remember why he decided to take out his unrequited passions on this unassuming Beta, but it’s easier to fall asleep where he is than to question it.

Chapter Text

Dean has been with the pack for two days now and his heat has begun. Normally, Kevin wouldn't give a shit about a young Omega's cycle but since his own mate, Sami, has been requested to help the pup through the heat, Kevin has heard way more than he wishes about it.

It also brings up all sorts of questions regarding Baron and his decision making. "Here," Kevin says while handing Baron a bottle of fermented wine, "I assume you need this more than I do."

Baron looks up at Kevin in confusion, they've paused in their hunt for the day. With the majority of the pack's supplies headed up to the summer camp, they've refocused on daily hunting and gathering what they can to keep them supplied until a reply comes from Hunter. He takes a drink of the wine and passes it back. "What is that supposed to mean?"

Kevin takes a seat next to Baron and shrugs, "Well I mean, you fight for fucking everything. You fought me to get me when I threatened to leave. You fought Rusev to convince him you weren't going to steal Lana. I'm not even sure how that worked but it did. Hell, you fight pretty much anything you think you have a reason to fight for. It's just strange you're not fighting for a potential mate is all." Kevin explains as he steals the wine back to take a drink of his own. "I mean, I never would have let Sami into a tent with Ember if he ever went into heat."

Baron frowns as Kevin talks, he's not wrong but Baron doesn't get the point until the end. "For the last fucking time, Dean is not my 'mate'... it's not even a potential at this point. Just because he says we have something doesn't mean I'm going to fuck up our whole plan and the safety of our pack over one pretty Omega." He's had this argument with Alexa three more times in the past day, and stayed away from Dean entirely. "What do you mean about Ember? She's great with the Omegas. Bo stayed with her during his last two heats. He said it was the easiest he's weathered them in years."

Kevin chuckles because clearly his Alpha is a fool. "You're a goddamn idiot man. Tell me this, how did it feel to wake up with him in your arms the other morning? Did you freak out when he got too close or did it feel like your tent was finally a home not just a tent? That's how Sami makes me feel." Kevin explains. He passes the bottle back to Baron. "Also, you might not remember, but Ember is an Alpha too. Now, yeah, she's got the control of a fucking god, but she's still an Alpha and leaving even a potential mate to have sex with another Alpha? Man, that's a choice."

Baron tenses as Kevin talks, something in his instincts finally realizing that Kevin is right. "I just figured... he said he was about ready to start a heat. I figured it was those instincts that made him feel... good." He rips into his small dry chunk of bread with more vehemence than necessary. "The hell do you mean, Ember’s having sex with Dean? That's not... what she does, is it?" Though come to think of it, that might be what Bo was implying too. Shit.

Kevin can see the truth dawning behind Baron's eyes. "I mean, Sami went to go talk to Dean about his heat yesterday and he said Ember and your boy were getting pretty cozy. I'm not saying she fucked the shit out of him but... If you had a willing and eager Omega begging for your knot and writhing in your lap what would you do?" Kevin says with a smirk. There's a vein in Baron's forehead that looks like it may burst.

"She won't mate him." Baron says with a growl that sounds more like he might be trying to convince himself. Or like he's picturing Dean naked and pleading for a knot. The brief flashes he got from Dean in the first vision he shared are suddenly brought back to his mind.

"And we can't keep him anyway." Baron grabs the wine and drains the skin, throwing it back at Kevin. "We should get back to hunting. I don't want to be too late getting back to camp." Baron says, his tone trying to strongly imply that the topic is closed.

Kevin has the gaul to actually laugh at him, but lets the subject drop and Baron is left stewing in his own thoughts for the remainder of the afternoon. When he gets back to camp, he settles silently a ways back from the fire, cleaning the results of their hunt and passing the meat to Aiden and the others who are better at preparing things to cook or dry than he himself is. It's the simple sharing of work that makes a pack so beneficial.

Each of Baron's pack-mates touches or scent-marks him in gratitude for the meat as they pass, and Baron feels a surge of gratitude. He could have gone his whole life without this fondness, alone and fighting for every scrap he got. Until this week, he thought that might be true of finding a mate as well. And now... now he's met someone and is about to send him away. After his heat. The thought turns Baron's stomach but he still can't make a decision on how to fix it.

~~~~~

"What do you mean I can't see him!?" Baron growls outside Ember's tent.

"I said you can't have him." Ember replies, calm and confidently with her arms across her chest. She barely comes up to Baron's shoulders but she's not going to budge. Baron had arrived minutes ago spouting on about how Dean had been right and the reply from Hunter had informed them all that Hunter would not meet their demands.

In a strange turn of events he was now demanding that he be allowed to take Dean back to 'their' tent so he can satisfy his mate.

Ember squares her posture and faces down the larger Alpha. "It was only yesterday morning that you told him you didn't want him by leaving this very tent and now you come crawling back to demand him. I don't think so. Not when he can't tell the difference between up and down. You can see him when his heat has broken."

"Everyone - including Dean - has spent the last two days telling me that he's my mate. That there's some bond there I was missing." Baron roars, "Now I'm here. And you'd rather he suffer than let me claim him properly?"

"A mating without consent is far worse than a few days of hardship!" Ember declares. "This is for your protection as well, Baron. Now, if you don't mind. I now have to begin the process of packing my tent while also assisting your future-mate through his cycle."

"You can't have him Ember. I'll fight you for him is I have to.” Baron growls and stalks away. He knows from Dean's rambling that he was with Dean through his heat before, but also that they moved camp around this time.

"Damn it." Baron grumbles and puts himself to work stripping and packing the camp. Given that they sent half the camp ahead, it's simpler than coordinating the full camp would have been.

Kevin works alongside him through the night and then goes to help get Ember’s things and Dean safely moved on to a cart. They leave at first light, with the fires snuffed and most signs of the camp swept away.

~~~~~

Roman wears his best uniform to meet the mercenary pack that Hunter has hired to go after the kidnappers. He needs to look impressive. He needs to get to know these men to see if they might be willing to help. Rather than housing them in the keep proper, they've been given all the rooms above one of the carriage houses. Apparently their leader prefers not to have any staff around his pack, but Roman doesn't know whether to read that positively or negatively.

Now standing outside the door of their makeshift quarters with Tom standing beside him, Roman feels unaccountably nervous. Too much is riding on this first meeting.

Tom rolls his eyes at Roman but can't stop himself from bumping his shoulder against the other man's. "Hey, relax. They're just sell-swords who have no home. I've heard they are very noble. Although they are exceptionally good at slaughtering whole villages, so let's take this slow." He whispers right before the door opens and a short man with thick chestnut colored hair is standing there looking at them skeptically. "We'll don't you two look nice? Would you two gentlemen like to come in?"

Slaughtering a whole village seems ok to Roman between the terseness of the ransom note and his own rage at Hunter's refusal to even considering paying to get Dean back safely. Instead it really is time to get out, the purpose of it feels like a fire inside him.

The man that answers the door is shorter than Roman by inches but he must weigh nearly as much in muscle mass alone. Every movement shows corded, battle-trained, muscle as he steps back and ushers Roman and Tom into the room. "We would, thank you." Roman says a hint awkwardly, trying to size up an Alpha as strong himself who is likely leader of this pack.

"You must be Finn." Tom says as formally as he can, but a laugh from the corner of the room interrupts him before it's hushed silent.

Roman looks around the room, squinting as the late afternoon sun glints in his eyes, making it hard to pick out the individuals. He catches a flash of a wicked smile from a petite woman lounging on the bed. She scents as Alpha, but before Roman can say anything, an oddly accented voice speaks up from the back corner.

"Nah, Finn would be me." A man steps forward into the light, slim and beautiful with piercing blue eyes. He is wearing only a tailored coat that looks to be polished black leather, over pants of the same material. At the side of his neck, as if crawling over his back to wrap around his arm, dark curls of a tattoo stand out against his pale skin.

"I hear you two will be ridin' with us tomarra'." Finn continues as he takes a seat on a cushioned chaise lounge. "Well? I'm all ears to hear what you gotta say."

Tom shares a look with Roman before replying. "My name is Tom, this is Roman. And yes, we will be riding alongside you all tomorrow morning. But we would also like to... make a business arrangement with you as well. I assure you it will be very lucrative and requires very little effort on your part."

"Been here two hours, and already the double-cross? I knew there was a reason we didn't work for Hunter." The words come from a large bald man, stepping in to stand just behind Finn.

Roman is so shocked by scenting the leader as an Omega that he takes a moment to respond to the situation. "I don't think you'll mind this one, it's simple. Likely Hunter will never even know. Is that the sort of offer you'd be open to?"

Finn hums as he considers this. He looks around at his men and then gives both the men before him a good once over. "We might be. What's the pay and what's the job?" He asks. The men will need new saddles soon and Hunter is paying much less than be would normally agree to.

Tom throws a small satchel of rough gemstones and a necklace at the Omega. "We will need you to add one more man to your team when we leave the keep tomorrow. We've already forged his name in Hunter's manifest but when we leave the guards will stop us if we do not have the same number of riders you say we have as that you sign out." Tom explains with completely neutral deadpan face.

Finn kneels to pick up the bag, his eyebrows rising in surprise before he tosses it to the silent woman on the bed. "That's a high price for something so 'simple'..." Finn says as he considers them. The tense focus from the imposing Roman makes him smile and after a quick glance around, he decides this might just be amusing enough to be worth it. "Agreed. Send your fugitive over to us before dawn. We'll get him prepared."

Roman tenses, worried at this easy acceptance and the thought of sending Seth alone. "That may be difficult... but we'll see it done." Relaxing slightly, he pivots the conversation into the actual reason they are meant to be here. "Are there any other... supplies we ought to bring. We were asked to check if there was anything left off of your requisition list.

"Nothing for now." Finn says. "The barbarians we track are from the Eastern plains. We anticipate there will be resistance and they will be quite strong of its the pack he think it is. So rest up and don't be hungover tomorrow. The demon's watching." Finn adds and with a wave of his hands. The short man from before comes back over and motions for them to turn around to leave. "See you all on the morning boys."

Roman nods, "I should at least know your names, since we're to be traveling together." He asks before they can be forced from the room.

"I'm AJ." The brown haired man says with a bored roll of his eyes. "Two big guys over there are Luke and Karl. If none of the four of us are around, then you just behave yourselves and wait, because something big is happening."

The man's tone raises Roman's hackles, but he can't exactly get sharp with them given the favor he's asked. "Right. Thanks." He says roughly, letting Tom pull him from the room.

"Before dawn." Roman says to Tom in a hushed voice, "That means we need to act fast. And get word to Seth to prepare."

~~~~~

The first night of Dean's heat passes more easily than Ember had feared. When he said he routinely went the majority of a year without a heat, she had prepared slightly stronger herbs for him, to soothe the onset. He's stumbled in, half lost to the heat by the time he and Sami arrived. She provided Sami with cool water and clean clothes and made sure he understood how to help Dean. She stayed up most of that first night with them. And when an exhausted Sami was asleep beside him, she let them sleep.

Sami left briefly around dawn in the morning, to change clothes and bathe. Ember encouraged him gently to go see his mate first, and Sami flushed but agreed. She's already heard Dean climax half a dozen times at least, but he's young and for all the irregularity of his heats, the symptoms seem to be fairly usual. He is a little more lucid the next time he wakes, asking for water and Ember brings it to him.

"'M sorry for this." Dean says breathily, unable to hide his flush as Ember deftly helps to wipe clean his thighs and belly. Ember has made him eat a tiny mouthful of cooked meat and a piece or two of fruit, and then let him drink more tea so he can sink back into the warm glow of its effects. Dean whimpers as Ember moves him enough to remove the slick-stained blankets and replace them with clean ones. She'll clean them when Sami returns to watch.

"Your body is one that craves an Alpha." Ember says apologetically, they talked a little about his when they kissed before his heat set in. "Sami is helping, and I know your scent will help him, but... I could do more."

"You said-" Dean moans, his fists clenching as he rolls to one side to rut his hips into the cushions of the bed. "Said I might not need it... some don't." He's clearly challenged with connecting words right now, trying to repeat what she explained to him. "You said you'd help if I did... Ember please..." He trails off into a frustrated moan, hand sliding under the blanket to fist himself in eager desperation.

"Shhh," Ember hums, "We have some time. I promised and I will..." She tugs shut the dividing curtain, plunging them into mostly darkness and letting Dean's sweet scent intensify in the dim alcove. Ember turns Dean to his back, her arms pinning his above his head among the pillows as he eyes flash Alpha red for a moment instead of her usual silver.

Dean whimpers and writhes instinctively as he is pinned, trying to grind his hips up or down for friction.

"Breathe." Ember commands, leaning in to scent mark him. She may not be an ideal mate for him, but Omega biology can recognise an Alpha's scent and dominance.

Dean stills slightly, but his need doesn't lessen. Ember shifts her skirts aside, taking pity on him and straddling his hips. She can't help grinning at the helpless noise he makes as she slides down onto his cock.

Dean shudders as he's surrounded by Ember's heat and her Alpha scent. He nearly cums right there, but it won't be enough. He still feels empty enough to make him ache and cry. "Please," he begs, "please, I need..."

Dean's hips shift and drive up into Ember's welcoming body, and her soft answering moan, the knowledge that an Alpha is taking pleasure in him, sends a rush of satisfaction through him.

"I know, little one." Ember purrs, voice dark and honey-smooth. Her eyes flutter as she reaches for a spell she hasn't used in a long time. Proper magic that she learned from her first tribe. She has to release Dean's hands to do it, cupping his face with one hand as if to share a vision.

The connection is easy, sharing in the moment the sense of filling and being filled in a loop of sensation that draws ragged moans from both of them. The second part, pressing into Dean with her own will and magic spun into solid form, that takes focus.

Ember groans as she can feel the intrusion through their link, feels Dean's body tightening and pressing around it. "There you are, little one," she purrs encouragingly. "Take me in... I can knot you like this." She moves her hips over Dean's cock as she ripples the force of the intrusion inside him, shifting it to tease him, to make it larger, alive, pulsing.

Dean nearly screams at the relief of something large enough finally inside him. It's infinitely deeper and smoother and stronger than his own fingers and he cums helplessly inside the heat of Ember's body. It feels like he can feel the cock inside him cum too, warm and slick, but not enough.

"One more," Ember pants, "Just a little longer." The heat keeps Dean hard and wanting and she rides him harder, matching the movements with her phantom cock inside him until she's teetering on the edge herself, breaths hitched and shuddering with their shared need.

Ember swells the cock inside of Dean, creating the bulge of a knot that will hold Dean still as he's filled. She presses a smooth stone knot inside of him as well, in case her spell should slip, to give the Omega's body something to bear down on.

"Cum for me Dean." She purrs, still riding him as waves of her own orgasm wash through her. "Cum on my knot, little one. You are mine and I'll protect you."

Dean's moan is helpless and almost pained as he cums again. His body clenching and pulling around the knot inside him. The drive of the heat shifting from getting fucked to the desire to be filled and bred. After so many hours without proper rest, the slow steady motion of Ember's body and the promise, laced with Alpha pheromones, lets him fall into sleep.

Dean spends the next day in haze, half from the tea and half from the heat. He vaguely remembers Baron showing up and Ember fighting with him. He's not sure what that's about but after that time spirals in and out of focus. It’s magical in ways he could never have imagined. It left him feeling vibrant and alive, live he had been touched by the gods.

~~~~~

Baron is grateful for the distraction of setting up the summer camp over the next few days. He makes a point of ensuring that Ember's tent, meaning her, Dean, and Sami at this point is well-supplied with food and fresh water, but can't do much else for Dean.

On the third day, once Kevin has been dispatched on a hunting mission with two of the newer pack members, Baron finally takes a moment to settle himself. Scrubbing his skin clean and settling into one of the smaller, warmer pools of the hotsprings feels like heaven and Baron lets himself drift and relax into it.

By the time his heat breaks, Dean's whole body feels sticky and uncomfortable but sated. After managing to finally get out of the covered cart he's had been moved to yesterday morning he quickly grabs his pack and less quickly makes his way to the hot springs to bath. He's pleasantly surprised to find it mostly empty except for Baron. "Hi." He says as he strips and slides into the water next to the Alpha.

Baron blinks up in the darkness, smiling before he can think of it. "Hey," He says, recognizing Dean's scent and resisting the urge to touch him. It's pretty fucking obvious now that he's not busy denying the pull he feels to Dean. Knowing it's there just makes him unaccountably awkward. "You got through the heat ok?"

"Yeah, it was ok. I'm tired but better." Dean replies with a groan. Dean dunks his whole body under the water to clean himself off before returning to the surface to sit next to Baron. They sit in silence for a while with their shoulders touching.

"You were right." Baron states, uncomfortable in the darkness and the silence. "About Hunter. We're maybe a little safer here, but kidnapping you put us all in danger." He shrugs, "At least now you have a place in the pack. If you want to stay."

"I would like to stay here. If you'll have me that is..." Dean replies before he blushes a little and adds, "You know if the pack will have me. I like it here. It feels like home."

Baron nods, "The pack loves you... Most people anyway. Sami said something about Ziggler making a move while you were in heat, so he's maybe not your biggest fan." Baron doesn't mention that he nearly beat the living shit out of the other Alpha over that, he'll let Dean assume.

"Ember wouldn't let me see you. During the heat." Baron says softly, not sure if he should apologize or ask permission. "She wanted to make sure you had a choice."

Dean smirks at the hazy memory of the blond Alpha. "Ziggler was definitely handsy. But..." Dean moves to face Baron. "Ember was protecting the pack. You might not have liked it and I really didn't like it but the pack expects things of you as the Alpha. You set the traditions... and maybe... someday soon... so will I?" He adds as he slowly laces his fingers with Baron's.

Baron pulls their joined hands out of the water to press a kiss to the back of Dean's hands. "I was kind of an asshole in the beginning. But you're the first Omega, the first person maybe, that I've ever... wanted close to me like this." He sighs.

"You're going to make me do the whole wooing you with gifts thing, aren't you?" Baron asks suspiciously, not looking upset about it, but not sure how Dean will react.

"Well, I have clothing of my own this time so I'll definitely be stealing less of yours, and you won't have to catch as many rabbits to make me things, but I could go for a few gifts." Dean half teases. He moves into Baron's space even further and nuzzles his jaw along Baron's throat. "I'm sure I can make it worth your effort."

Baron hums, low in his chest, and tilts his head to encourage Dean's teasing. "I caught you rabbits?" He asks thoughtfully, before thinking of a better question. "Did it feel... confusing like this? To you in the vision, I mean?" He huffs annoyance and splashes water on his own face. "Maybe this is normal, but the way I feel about you... we barely know each other.

"It was... scarier. Not knowing anything." Dean admits as he slides his legs around Baron's waist to support himself. "But at the same time, that version was so much simpler. Now is so much better. You're all more real. You're less of an asshole in this version." He teases with a chuckle against Baron's throat.

Baron laughs, laking Dean's invasion of his personal space as permission and tugging the Omega over to sit on his lap.

"What went wrong then?" Baron asks, stroking Dean's hips lightly, keeping his tone even. "I know you talked over some of it... and you gave me some of it... but..." He sighs, because there's one thing that's been haunting him. "You said we were mates... but I don't remember seeing you with a claim mark or seeing me bite you."

Dean exhales a slow and heavy breath. His arms tighten around Baron and he buries his face against Baron's throat. "There was another Alpha who wanted me, he was in rut, and he had help from a Beta... they killed you during the mating run." Dean explains as stoically as he can. His eyes still get glassy with tears.

Baron inhales sharply, yeah, that would probably cover the desperation that he felt in that first vision from Dean. "It won't happen that way." He promises, though he knows there's no way to guarantee it. "You've already given us more time to get ahead of them... we can fight." He tips Dean's face up and kisses his cheeks, scent-making him affectionately. "The pack will still want us to wait for the run, but... can I kiss you?" He can vaguely remember Dean showing him flashes of them together in a field.

Dean nods up at Baron and nods, "Yeah, you can. I’d like that." Dean replies as he leans in himself to kiss Baron. It's slow and deep and it sends tingles down Dean's spine. "God, I thought I’d never get to have this again." He moans against Baron's lips.

Baron catches Dean's lips again without replying, cradling the back of Dean's head to keep him close until they're both slightly breathless. "Hell of a first kiss." He says with a soft, amused smile. "Or is it the second? I seem to remember some crazy Omega kissing a complete stranger who had come to kidnap and terrify him." Baron teases.

Dean chuckles, "I was very excited to see you. Also I figured you would prefer a kiss to a punch in the face. I broke your nose in the vision." He closes his eyes and hums happily at the tiny kisses and nips Baron's starts to scatter across his jaw line. "And kidnap says I didn't want to be taken. You were facilitating my escape."

Baron chuckles, "Rewriting history already. Yeah, I'll take a kiss over a punch most days." He nuzzles into Dean's throat, enjoying the scent of him, clean and safe and unafraid. "We should teach you to fight though." Baron says thoroughly, "You're big enough to help with hunting if you wanted to... and I haven't even seen your wolf."

"That's right. You haven't this time. How strange. If we weren't naked and pressed against each other in a bath right now I’d show you but I kind if like this better." Dean responds with a smirk. His hands roam the tattooed skin across Baron's shoulders and chest in lazy pleasure. Seeing them reminds them of his own. "Do you like my tattoo?"

In the dim light, Baron has been distracted by Dean's slick skin and his lips. He looks down now, eyes widening at the dark curling lines. "This is Corey's work... it suits you." Baron's fingers trace it hesitantly. "What does it mean?"

"We will meet again." Dean whispers and it sounds more like a vow when he says it to Baron. "I could never have imagined how true those words would be."

Baron smiles. "You're impossibly romantic, you know that? I didn't know that was a thing that I liked." He kisses Dean again, soft and easy.

Baron hesitates, knowing the next question it dangerous, but he decides to push on. "I'm making assumptions here... If you and Ember..." He can't hide his possessive anger at the thought. But it's Dean's choice, not his.

Dean smiles and can't stop a breathy laugh when he smells Baron's jealousy. "Ember and I will always share a bond. With the true sight she will be my teacher and companion. But she is not my mate." Dean replies as he rolls his hips against Baron's. He's been restraining himself until now, but with Baron questioning their bond once more perhaps a more physical act is needed.

Baron moans, he's been trying to ignore his own desire, but Dean's action makes him feel like even the attempt was foolish. Baron tugs Dean closer so he can wrap his hand around both of their cocks. "Days of heat and you can still get hard? Impressive."

"I've only seen 17 summers. A strong wind gets be hard." Dean retorts before leaning in to nip at Baron's lips on a playful kiss. "Why did you come to Ember's tent while I was in heat? Were you going to mate me?"

"The note came from Hunter..." Baron tries to explain, "And I'd heard Sami say something about you and Ember... Plus I'd heard about Ziggler getting handsy with you...." He keeps his hand moving, slow and steady. "I guess I finally understood what ever one else had been seeing since you arrived. That I wanted you." He sighs, hips flexing up and the water sloshing around them as he strokes faster, curious to see Dean cum.

"She was right to send me away... As much as I hated it. I doubt I could have resisted claiming you if I'd been near you in heat." Baron leans in to nip at Dean's neck, "I can still almost smell it on you... So good."

"We'll have more heats together. Don't worry. There may not be as many as most Omega's but we will have more." Dean comments between bitten off moans. He whispers and whines with need as he fucks up into Baron's hand. "How would you have claimed me?"

"If she'd let me in? Fuck..." Baron groans, trying to imagine. "Thrown them all out and filled you up, then teased you for hours just to listened to you whine and beg until I knotted you." He murmurs against Dean's skin, "Then let you ride my knot the second time, watch you move above me like this... Watch you squirm and come apart while I put my pups inside that pretty flat belly of yours."

It's just dirty talk at this point, but Baron gets impossibly harder as he pictures it. "I was the only one in the pack who didn't think I'd already chosen you... Claiming a mate during heat might have been forgiven." He drops his mouth to kiss Dean's tattoo, keeping his teeth far from the temptation of Dean's throat.

Dean arches up into Baron's wandering mouth. "To be fair, I'm pretty sure I chose you first." Dean moans as he feels himself start to chase the edge before falling into orgasm. "So fucking close... Baron."

Baron smiles and focuses his stroking on Dean, curling two fingers around Dean's ass to stroke across Dean's entrance, feeling his slick even under the water. "Fuck... Can't wait to get inside you... Want to see you cum for me."

Dean nods repeatedly as he feels the pull of his Alpha's command and falls over the edge, cumming across Baron's hand in the water. "Holy fuck!" Dean gasps as he shakes and then goes pilant in Baron's arms.

Dean shuddering through an orgasm in his arms is possibly the most beautiful thing Baron's ever seen. "Damn..." He says fondly, holding Dean against him. "Definitely would have had a hard time not taking you if I'd seen you in heat." He says fondly. "So beautiful." He moves his hand to his own dick, leaning in to inhale Dean's scent as he jerks himself.

Dean moans happily and starts to kiss up and down Baron's throat, "Hmmm I can't wait to feel you inside me. Wanna feel your claiming bite." He whispers in Baron's ear, low and needy. "Know you'll make me feel so good."

Baron makes an embarrassingly needy sound as Dean teases him. He fist tightens on his cock and moves faster. "Fuck, gonna..." Baron's eyes flash red and he moves them both, pressing Dean into the side of the pool and standing so that his seed can splash across Dean's chest. He groans as he comes, then bends to kiss Dean as he rubs it into Dean's skin.

Dean's eyes flash metallic and silver as Baron covers him with cum. "Fuck, yeah, mark me up, cover me in your scent. Want to be yours.' He gasps between hungry, biting kisses.

Baron breathes hard as he struggle to get control of himself. "Fuck. Couldn't help it. Want everyone to know you're mine." He gasps between kisses, pulling Dean up against him.

"I knew you wouldn't like other Alphas touching me." Dean comments with a smirk when they pause for a moment, wrapped in each other's arms. "Knew you'd come around."

Baron chuckles, between kisses. "Ah, so you planned all these rumors and to go into heat two days after we.... Helped you escape Hunter?"

"The heat was not planned. Although I knew what it felt like this time so I could plan around it. But also, I'm not great at planning. " Dean admits, "I'm pretty go with the flow. Until I want something and then I fight tooth and nail for it."

"Mm, we're gonna be a complete mess as pack leaders." Baron says, "I'm the same. Alexa's always pissed that I'd rather react than plan ahead." It's too easy to keep Dean close and on his lap, kissing him feels damn near addictive, and Baron thinks he can finally understand why Kevin glares down anyone who gets too close with Sami. "You really gonna make /me/ run from /you/ at the equinox?"

"You got a problem with that?" Dean asks with an arched eyebrow. "It's not traditional but neither are we." He adds. Dean can't help but lean in and nip at Baron's throat in a mock claiming bite.

Baron growls and reciprocates the teasing nip. If they weren't in a pool he'd pounce Dean, but settles for splashing him instead. "I'll run from you.... think that means you have to do the courting then. I expect gifts suitable to my position." He leans back and spreads his arms along the low rock walls of the pool as if it were a throne.

Dean smiles and straddles Baron's lap properly so he can dust kisses along his future mate's throat. "I can do that. Do you prefer material goods or acts of service?" Dean asks in curiosity.

Baron is shocked for a moment, genuinely not expecting Dean to agree so easily. He licks his lips as he pulls Dean in to encourage his kisses. "I'm certainly interested in your.... services. But there should probably be some exchange of gifts that can be public without offending anyone."

Dean laughs and kisses back eagerly. He's amazing how easy it is to just be with Baron. "I'm sure I can think of a few things... some surprises for you." He replies. "The real question now is am I allowed to stay with you in our tent or are you going to insist that I stay with Carmella and Cass or Lana and Rusev?" Dean asks pointedly. He's already eager to start making their home a proper den and boy was that a feeling Dean thought he would never have.

Baron narrows his eyes at Dean. "Still creepy. How you know them so well." He says, but the tone is fond. "Cass and Carmella were the plan for you actually." He kisses Dean again gently. "She could use some help with the baby, but.... you'd really want to stay with me. Trust me not to threaten your virtue?"

"Oh I'm sure there will be many of night where my virtue is far from safe but I don't care. You're my future mate." Dean replies, feeling reckless and carefree. "Honestly, you're the one who should be worried about your virtue. You're the big shot Alpha. You're the important one. I'm just a kid who wants in your pants."

Baron grins, "I guess I should make sure you don't drive me crazy before I agree to mate you, huh?" He teases, kissing Dean again. "I don't seem to mind you in my space at all so far."

"That's probably a really good idea. I'm a bit weird." Dean agrees with a smirk. "And if I drive you crazy I could always go stay at Ember's or I'm sure Ziggler wouldn't mind be bumming around." Dean teases with a nip to Baron's lower lip.

Baron growls, and nips at Dean's lip in return, turning it into a hungry possessive kiss. "Don't make me kick that man's ass again. I will."

"Oh, you beat him up for me?" Dean asks with stars in his eyes. "That's so sweet. You didn't kill him did you? I mean I'm not saying you should have because pheromones and all. My biology was waging war of his brain." Dean explains.

Baron scoffs, "No, he's not dead. A little pissed off maybe. He'll be fine." Baron's eyes narrow, "Next time we'll have a plan, and it won't be Sami fighting off any other Alpha who gets seduced by your biology."

"How about I just seduce you with my biology?” Dean offers as he pulls away slowly from the Alpha. "Fill our den, our tent, with my scent so you'll come and fill me with our pups." He goes on, sliding out of Baron's reach, playfully teasing at a chase.

Three times already Baron has resisted the urge to pounce Dean and tackle him under the water. Once Dean is actively teasing him, he sees no reason to resist. His first attempt, his foot slips on the bottom of the pool, but as Dean laughs at him, Baron catches him around the waist tugging him under the water and holding him down for just a moment before letting Dean up to sputter for air.

Baron crosses his arms and looks smug. "I could get used to that, I guess. Didn't figure you'd be one for nesting... But the instinct is there in all Omegas, I guess."

Dean splashes Baron in the face with water and then gets up out of the pool, showing off his full naked body as he dries off and starts to get dressed. "You should be at the fire tonight. I have to go get ready for your first wooing."

Baron takes his time fully appreciating Dean's body. "I'll be there. Take care of yourself." He can't help feeling silly as soon as he says it. Dean knows the camp well, knows half the pack. Baron just doesn't like having him out of his sight.

Chapter Text

Seth slinks across the courtyard in the darkest part of the morning. The moon is down, but the sun hasn't yet begun to lighten the sky or hide the stars. Roman wanted to come with him, but the slimy Beta that's helping them insisted he needed Roman's help.

Seth is alone, and can't help pulling his thick black cloak around himself as a night patrol wanderers past, not paying much attention to the still courtyard and stables. When he knocks on the door of the mercenaries' quarters, the sound seems impossibly loud and Seth barely breathes until the door cracks open and he's whisked inside.

"Aww aren't you as cute as a peach?" The short man who greeted Roman and Tom before says. His accent is thick and it's clear from his tanned skin and chestnut hair that he's from somewhere warmer than here. "What's a peach?" Seth asks.

The short Alpha just sighs and shakes his head. "It's a fruit. Just like you I'm guessin'. Come on, Finn's waitin' for ya. Hope yer up for some cuddlin'."

Seth tenses, arms curling around his middle in the defensive way he's been trying to avoid since Tom made fun of him for it. "Oh, uh... Yeah, I was supposed to ask for Finn. You're AJ, right?" He tries to remember Roman's descriptions. "What do you need me to do?"

"Just come over here, little one." Croons a softly accented voice from the bed. "Your big strong Alpha wanted us to claim ya as one of ours. That means making sure it's believable."

The Omega that's speaking is lounging on the bed, with what looks to be at least three or four wolves curled around him. The space next to him indicates AJ was probably in this pile as well until recently.

AJ leads Seth into the main room where Finn is standing, shirtless and imposing. His entire back and most of his arms are covered in a huge tattoo that looks like a demon wrapped around the man. Seth is curtain the markings continue down the man's legs as well but they are hidden by his pants. "Welcome little one. We hear you are in need of our assistance."

Seth bites his lip. The room is warm, lit by a fire in the fireplace that radiates heat and warmth. "Yeah, I... Roman said I can trust you? That you'll help get me out."

Seth jumps when a tall slim man slides up behind him. Caressing his neck in a blatant scent-marking. "You will be one of us." He murmurs, each word chosen carefully as if he is used to speaking another language entirely. Most of the wolves in this pack seems to be from far away, across the sea.

"Shinsuke is correct. For us to help you, you must leave Hunter's pack and join ours." Finn adds as he turns around and walks over to Seth. Without ceremony he removes Seth's cloak and teases his fingers along the hem of his fine linen skirt. "Are you ready to join the club?"

Seth shivers, he's afraid but there's no other choice. They'll see the bruises from Hunter's last beating if he strips. He needs to get out before Hunter finds out about his pregnancy.

"What does that mean?" Seth asks roughly. "I'll do whatever I have to do."

Shinsuke steps back to watch, letting Finn handle the new Omega. The boy smells terrified, but people usually do when they are surrounded by their pack.

Finn humms a slow sweet song from his childhood to Seth and watches as it and his calming pheromones help the other Omega relax. "I know this place is not what you desired." Finn's eyes flash silver as he removes Seth's shirt and sees the welts and yellowing bruises. "We will save you from this monster."

Seth can feel Finn's presence having its effect on him. Usually, in the keep, he only feels that pull when someone is trying to manipulate him, but this is different. He lets Finn strip him, forcing himself to stand tall and straight as they look over the evidence of Hunter's abuse.

"He will not have me again." Seth says, for the sake of hearing himself say it. "He won't have my child." They're likely to find out anyway. Roman is terrible at hiding his protective instincts.

Seth can feel the tension in the room. The whole pack waiting for some direction or permission from their Omega leader. Finn's power makes Seth wonder if he's been wrong his whole life about his place in the world.

"For welts to last this long...." Asuka, one of the only women in the pack, starts and Finn nods.

"They suspended you with Silver chains didn't they? Have they done that before?" Finn asks as he caresses his fingers over the darkest of the marks. His eyes flares once more when he touches Seth's abs. "Did they knew you were pregnant?"

Seth nods, self-consciously touching the black wrappings that are still tied around his wrists to hide the most abused skin. "Only twice. I think...." He swallows hard. "I think that's what they meant to use Dean for. My friend, who was taken... he's bigger than me, and stronger. Once Hunter knew he was gone..." Seth shudders, forcing his shoulders straight again. "They don't know I was pregnant. They never will. I'd never get away if they knew I was carrying his pups."

At a soft nod from Finn, Asuka steps forward. She's the smallest of them, a several inches shorter than Seth despite being an Alpha. She looks Seth in the eyes. "You are strong." She says to him, cupping his face and smiling sadly at how easily he leans into the touch. "Now you will share our strength."

 

Seth nods uncertainly at the petite Alpha woman. Despite her size, she emanates the strength and confidence of an Alpha. He wonders idly if she and Finn are mated, but doesn't dare ask.

Finn flicks his hands towards the darker corners of the rooms and the candle light dims on its own as the rest Finn's pack circles in around Seth. Slowly they all migrate to the furs covering the floor. Although there were only six others in the room just a moment before, Seth can feel seven mouths and pairs of hands groping, scent marking, and kissing his bare, bruised body.

Seth shudders and stifles a helpless moan, his knees feeling like jelly under him. He can feel Finn murmuring something against the back of his neck, and when his legs give out, the whole pack pulls him down to the furs with them. It's like nothing he's ever felt, being marked and cared for by this group of people. It feels like a family, but when Seth whimpers softly and tries to ignore the ache in his dick and the slick gathering between his thighs, a rough hand closes around him and he hears a low masculine laugh echo in his ear.

"Let go, little one." Whispers a soft, low voice that might be Finn or might be someone else. "We will keep you safe." The hand on his cock is replaced with a mouth, and Seth cries out, only to have the sound muffled by a soft kiss.

 

"Shhh," Someone purrs against his lips. "We will not hurt you. Relax." The words come with the subtle command of an Alpha presence, and Seth thinks blurrily that it might be Shinsuke, the tall, thin Alpha from before. He closes his eyes and lets himself relax. He's lost either way, and they wouldn't take him like this only to hurt him.

~~~~~

Dean is already regretting his decision to ask Breeze for advice on seducing an Alpha the minute Breeze sees him again and pulls into into the perfumed haze of his tent. "I need some ideas on gifts for Baron. I'm going to declare my intention to run for him tonight at dinner but I'm shit at coming up with ideas."

"Ooh!" Breeze says thoughtfully. "Baron would be a hard one..." He licks his lips briefly, focusing. "I've given Dango flowers, and oils that I like... Little things like that." Breeze tugs Dean down to sit beside him. "You already smell like him though." He says as if it's a secret, "Haven't you given him enough.... gifts that he knows you want him?"

Dean laughs and nods, "We've messed around a bit, but he's the Alpha of the whole pack. We have to follow some traditions. And I want to prove that I'm his equal to you all. I'm not just.... some Omega. Especially if it'll take a long time for us to have pups. My heats are super messed up." Dean explains. "You and Dango have it lucky. At least you know you'll have beautiful babies."

Breeze flushes and looks pleased, flopping back onto his nest of furs and sighing dramatically. "If Dango ever decides to figure out that we /should/ be making pups. You've only been here a little bit, and I don't know what's weird with your heats, but at least Baron knows you want him." He sits up, grinning at Dean. "Is there something special from your home pack? That you know how to make or whatever? That could be a good mating gift!"

"Ummm my adoptive mother used to make soap from honey and beeswax with flowers. I hate to say it but I prefer it to the lard soap. She taught me how to make it." Dean offers bit isn't sure. "I don't know? What does Baron like?" He asks Breeze. "What would Dango like to get?"

Breeze blinks and stares at Dean excited. "Soap with flowers? Does it smell nice? Would you teach me? I mean... I don't want to ruin your gift but that's exactly the kind of thing that Dango would love. You could put different flowers in yours. If you could get some, you could even try the flower - I think it's woad? The flowers are yellowy-green when they pick them. I know the Alphas use the ash to hide their scent when they hunt... maybe in a soap it would be less messy?" Breeze rambles, fingers going back to weaving a delicate small basket from river grasses that has enough small wildflowers woven into it that it looks more like a tiny ornate bush.

"I guess we wouldn't have the right stuff anyway though." Breeze finally says, looking defeated, "Honey is hard enough to come by... we don't carry any of that with us that we could use for making things like that."

Dean hums, "We could build some beehives like the ones my mother tended. This would be a great location with the meadow down the hill and lots of wild flowers. The hard part will be finding a hive to move into the hive. And as soon as we find a hive we can make some Breeze." Dean replies as he thinks over to suggestion for Woad. "And you know what Breeze, that woad idea is great. I'll work on it. For now... can you help me make a basket? I have an idea."

Breeze nods, looking hesitantly hopeful. "Sure, I mean... I'm pretty good at it. It's just what I do when I'm bored now." He gestures to a little pile of supplies in the corner of his small tent. "Should it be heavier stuff, or more like the reeds?"

“Oh, um… stiffer ones, I guess?” Dean frowns, trying to remember. “I remember there’s a way to make fishing traps.”

“That sounds useful! Although Baron is a horrible fisher.” Breeze says with a chuckle. “He’s much too impatient. He’s snapped like three bamboo poles in frustration.”

Dean laughs too. It’s easy to see Baron losing his cool and making a scene. Despite hating attention he’s a bit of a drama queen.

"You should run for Dango.You should declare your intentions to run for him as well." Dean suggests to Breeze while they're arranging supplies and Dean is trying to sketch a trap design from memory on the little scrap of hide Ember leant him.

Breeze laughs first, "Yeah right. That's not how..." Breeze frowns, as if considering now that his brain has caught up to his mouth. "Wait, is that what you meant you're doing? With Baron? He's going to run and hide from you... and you're going to track him and everything?"

"Yeah!" Dean replies. "Why can't we run to try and catch the ones we love? We aren't their slaves or their property. We are their partners. We stand equal as important parts of this pack!"

Breeze smiles and laughs. "Also they're too dumb to understand that we want them? It doesn't sound so silly when you say it that way.” He shrugs and starts to show Dean different ways to secure the reeds into flat sheets or rounded baskets.

"This isn’t gonna work.” Dean says, setting the basket aside in frustration after half an hour of idle chatter and Breeze’s carefully woven reeds slipping from Dean’s fingers. He assumes he’s as bad at weaving baskets as Baron is at fishing. “Forget it, let’s like go out a catch a deer or something... or a boar! You know something really fucking crazy!" Dean suggests with a fire in his eyes. "Let’s go round up Bo and let's take down a bear!"

Breeze's eyes widen and he stares at Dean? "A bear? Are you crazy?" Then again, maybe the Alphas would come save them. He grins and nods at Dean, "I mean, maybe. Bo is super smart, we'll outsmart a thing."

"Its early in the spring too. We might be able to find on that's still weak from sleeping through the winter." Dean adds as he pulls Breeze out of the tent towards Bo's small hovel. "We can do this!"

~~~~~

Baron forces himself to sit down for the shared meal with the pack later in the evening. There's been a slow worry building since nightfall when Breeze, Bo, and Dean all appeared to be out of the camp. No one seemed to know where they were. No one in the pack had seen any of them since early afternoon. If was only Alexa that said to allow through the evening meal for them to return. Baron is already tense and worried, ready to go out searching for them as soon as the meal is done.

Dean was fairly certain that Bo had only agreed to come along on the hunt to make sure Breeze didn't get killed. And that was probably the right assumption since the sandy blond wolf had done a brilliant job of running around the den where they had found a groggy but still very dangerous and very large brown bear to distract the beast. Bo and Dean did the hard work of planting pikes in a small pit outside the lair earlier so all they had to do was snap and claw at the best until it fell to its our death. Luckily Bo, who was fantastic with an axe, had made them bring a horse to help with bringing the giant beast back to camp. They walked into camp well after dark with most of the pack gathered around the fire, including Baron.

The commotion starts from the back of the gathered pack, and moving closer to the fire. Baron is standing and ready to fight by the time he understands who is approaching. Dean, Bo, and Breeze look like they've see a war, and they're leading one of the horses they stole from Hunter.

It takes a long moment for Baron to realize that the horse is dragging something enormous. He's still looking in perplexed confusion between the dark furry form and the disheveled, but radiantly beaming Omegas. He's still unsure of what to do when Alexa speaks. "Where the hell have you three been all day?"

"We were out hunting." Dean says with a pointed smirk down at Alexa. "And it was for a very particular purpose." Dean turns towards Baron and walks over to the standing Alpha. With a deep breath he bends down to one knee and takes one of Baron's hands into his own. "Alpha, I came here with nothing and with very little choice of my own. But I have worked hard to help bring down this bear with others like me as a so that you may allow me to pursue you as a mate." He pauses to try and make his pounding heart slow down and so he can remember Baron's words.

"If you'll have me, I wish that my body will become your fertile field so that our pack may grow as prosperous as the stars." He continues with a chuckle for only himself. "And may my strength be yours to guard our pack like stone walls."

Baron is in shock, staring at Dean as he recites nearly exactly the traditional words of their pack. Bo must have told him, but it's still shocking.

"A bear?" Dango interrupts, having emerged from the crowd to hover worriedly near Breeze. He's less worried about Dean's display, obviously trying to convince himself that the Breeze is ok. "It's huge. You must have been so scared."

Baron smiles, squeezing Dean's hand and feeling foolish about it. "Whatever fate brought you to us, whatever our future may hold, I am honored by this gift." The words are awkward, he had no idea Dean would do this and no time to prepare.

Baron focuses on Dean's eyes, sky blue flickering almost to that ghostly silver in the angled firelight. "I accept you, and welcome the chance to add your strength to mine. I pray we both prove ourselves beneath the fullness of mother moon."

Dean stands up, sliding his hand up to Baron's face so he can pull his-future mate into a deep and passionate kiss.

Not to be out done Breeze grabs Dango and kisses him too. "We are doing the mating run. I'm running to catch you. I want you to be my Alpha." Breeze announces as they pull apart.

Baron keeps Dean close, arms circling his waste and tasting the grime and blood of the day and holding him even closer.

The pack breaks out into a round of cheers and howls, eventually dying down as a few people looking curiously at Bo, who shrugs and ducks his head. "I just didn't want them to get killed." He finally offers, getting a low laugh from the pack.

"May not be the most romantic," Baron murmurs against Dean's ear. "But we should make sure that skin gets taken care of. I think you'll look beautiful laying on a bear skin while I fuck you."

"I hope you're impressed?" Dean whispers against Baron's lips with a smile. "I have a few more ideas but they required a lot more planning." He admits before stealing another kiss, which brings up another round of howls and cheers from the pack. "And I can't wait for you to fuck me on that fur!"

Baron grins, keeping one arm around Dean as he glances out at the rest of his pack. "Let's get these hunters fed!" He calls out to the group, "And let everyone know that even our Omegas are warriors!" He throws his head back on a low celebratory howl, and the whole pack picks it up along with him. As things settle down, Baron gives up his seat by the fire to Dean and moves himself to go gather some of the remaining food for his future mate, ducking his head in playful submission as he offers it to Dean.

Dean laughs at the display and kisses Baron's forehead. "I could get used to this." He teases as Baron carefully feeds him and he's about to insist he can't handle another bite when they are interrupted by none other than Ziggler. "Congratulations Dean on catching yourself an animal... and on killing the bear. "

Baron's eyes narrow at Ziggler, but lets Dean handle the talking. He stays close though, staring down the other Alpha. Most anyone else in the pack would know to back off when Baron looked this upset, but of course, Ziggler isn't just anyone.

"You know what? Thank you so much for the kind words. It really means a lot." Dean replies with levels of sarcasm little seen on this earth. "I appreciate your concern as well, but honestly, I'm gonna offer you up some advise. No, means no, and go fuck yourself." He adds with a blinding smile.

Baron grins and laughs in surprise at Dean's reaction and muffles the sound against Dean's neck, nuzzling him fondly. "Well, that's a strong answer. Sorry Ziggler, I'm sure there will be someone out there for you."

"Don't think because you've saddled up with the Alpha that you're safe Dean. You never know what's hiding in the dark." He spits before Ziggler storms off.

"Damn, I didn't think he'd be so angry about being told he was a dick." Dean replies and the other man's warning leaves a bad taste in his mouth. "Hey, tonight. I just want to celebrate. But tomorrow... we need to talk about the other stuff I saw. We need to make a plan."

Baron nods, letting Dean lean back into him as they relax by the fire. "We can do that. Things from the vision? You think there's still more coming?"

"Yes," Dean says with a nod. He leans back and whispers in Baron's ear, "How about we head back to our den and really celebrate?" Dean offers with a nip to Baron's ear lobe.

"Mmm, I like your ideas." Baron can't help from smiling at Dean referring to it as 'ours', helping the Omega to stand and drawing him away from the fire gently. They make it to his tent quickly, shushing each other as they nearly get stopped by Alexa along the way. "A bear." Baron says again, impossibly pleased and proud as he pulls Dean inside and kisses him again. "That's a hell of a statement."

Dean smiles as he pulls Baron into the warm darkness of the tent. He pulls away to light a few of the lamps and incense burner. "I was pretty pleased it worked out. The visions helped because I saw where the cave was and where to place the stakes."

"Never ever let me underestimate you." Baron says thoughtfully, pulling off his own shirt then stepping up behind Dean to work on the ties of his shirt and trousers until he realizes Dean still has a lit match and he can't get Dean's shirt off safely. Baron settles for sliding his hands over Dean's stomach and sides under his shirt. "Do you still see them a lot? The visions?"

Dean shrugs as he throws the kindling stick on the small fire near the center of the tent. He leans back against Baron and lets the man disrobe him before he replies. "It's not like before. It's not one continuous vision. Now it's just flashes of things. For instance, with the bear, I saw him sleeping and I saw the cave and the cliff outside and when I focused I could see things around the cave too."

Dean smirks as he crawls across Baron's furs and looks back over his shoulder at the man. "But I was searching for those things. I had no idea if we would be successful. It was just clues."

Baron hums, his eyes drawn inexorably to Dean's pale skin, golden in the firelight. "Still incredible." He says approvingly. Stripping off the remainder of his own clothes and following Dean to the bed. "You have any clues in how tonight will go?" He teases, letting his hands wander Dean's body.

"I don't need visions to tell me that it will be amazing." Dean whispers as he turns to lay on his back and pull Baron down on top of him. "Not when I have you here in my arms. Fuck, you're so fucking hot."

Baron chuckles, pressing in to kiss Dean again. It shouldn't be possible for it to feel better than their first kiss of the day in the springs, but it does. "You sure there's not some magical vision version of me I have to live up to?" Baron teases, trailing his kisses down Dean's neck to his chest, nipping at Dean's nipple with his teeth to test his reaction. "Gods, I'm glad we decided to keep you with me. Don't think I'd have liked letting you go to curl up with Breeze or Carmella when I could have you."

Dean cries out as Baron nips at his sensitive chest, "No, you're perfect, you're better. You're real. And you're alive. I'm not giving up a single day or night when I could be by your side." Dean rambles as he lets Baron explore his body freely. "There was never anywhere else I wanted to be."

Baron grins, "Really? Running around as a pup, you weren't dreaming of some tall dark Alpha who would spirit you away to his den by the sea? Or in a jungle?" He can't resist teasing as Dean squirms under his hands and mouth.

"Perhaps I did." Dean admits and a flash of Roman standing tall and beautiful but covered in blood appears behind Dean's eyes and he has to close them to shake the thought away. "I wanted a great many things growing up. But I have never wanted to give myself to someone as much as I want to with you. Am I the soft and sweet Omega you dreamed of?"

Baron chuckles, nipping at one of Dean's nipples and flicking the other with his fingers. He can feel Dean's cock hard between them and it makes his own body ache in response. "Soft and sweet was never my taste. I didn't know what I wanted... in the stories Omegas are always wanton and helpless, I know that's wrong, but lots of people play that up. Not like you."

Dean arches off the furs in pleasure as Baron plays with him. "I was never a good Omega. I didn't even have my first heat until I was 14 summers. I didnt... I never wanted this.... didn't think I could have pups... until... fuck... want you so fucking bad. So wet for you." He moans.

Feeling Dean arch and squirm for him, Baron thinks he might finally understand the pull that other Alphas feel for their mates. "I never thought I wanted any of this, but with you? Fuck..." He slides down Dean's body, pulling one of Dean's legs over his shoulder so he can take Dean's cock into his mouth. "With you, I want everything." He teases, tracing his fingers over Dean's slick entrance, teasing around it.

Dean nods in agreement to pretty much everything as he lifts his hips and offers his leaking cock to Baron as well as exposing his slick hole to Baron's fingers further. "Gods, fuck yes, please... want you to fill me up. Want you to fuck me...."

"Shouldn't," Baron says, voice rough and slightly breathless from working Dean's cock. "Shouldn't fuck you, not tonight... Wouldn't be able to resist knotting you." He teases two fingers into Dean anyway. "There's other ways I can make you feel full though."

Sean whines when Baron denies his immediate needs. "But it's like six days until the run." He complains as writhes on Baron's fingers. "I don't want to wait."

Baron curls and strokes his fingers inside of Dean. "I don't know your pack's traditions.... Have you had an Alpha before? I know some use surrogates or don't worry about it as long as a bond isn't formed." He kisses along the curve of Dean's hip as he talks, enjoying the feel of Dean's body clenching and working around his fingers.

Dean shakes his head. "No, I've never been with anyone much less an Alpha. Just Ember’s magic. The other Omegas taught us how to use our hands to help through heats. But chastity... was always a main concern. Fuck..." Dean is fairly aware that his heat only broke last night and he fought a bear today. Adrenaline and the last of his heat hormones are still on his system. All his nerves are on overdrive. "But I don't fucking care about that. I just... I need you."

Baron feels almost guilty, if Dean's never been with anyone, that's a lot of expectation on him. He’s not going to think about Ember and whatever magic she used to help Dean. "You'll have me, beautiful. I promise. But I.... lose control sometimes." He bites a dark mark on Dean's hip to demonstrate. He slides his fingers out of Dean and wraps his hand around Dean's cock instead, the Omega's own slick easing the way. "I don't want to hurt you just because you're eager."

"I... I know you're nervous. This is... fuck it's new for me too." Dean whimpers as his fingers slide into Baron's hair so he can tug and pull to his liking. The bond between them is already building and Dean can almost see the glowing warm cord connecting their hearts. "But I want to be with you..."

"You will be." Baron says, his voice a possessive growl. Dean doesn't seem to be giving up, so Baron shifts them back up to be lying back to front. His cock is hard against Dean's ass and he can't resist rolling his hips for a little friction. "I can already tell I'm not going to be able to let you go." He growls against the side of Dean's neck.

Baron's hand returns to Dean's cock, stroking as Baron grinds against him. "What if I claim you now and you can't catch me in the run?"

Dean whines again but can't help but thrust up into Baron's hand on his cock. "Fuck you. Want you so much though... took down a fucking bear for you. I'll find you. I'll claim you."

Baron chuckles, "Oh, I don't doubt that." He says, continuing to stroke Dean, hard and fast. "And then I'll take you right there, hard and fast. Breed you so full I'll have to carry you home."

It's not lack of faith in Dean or even respect for tradition that is stopping Baron now. Most of the pack won't care if he and Dean are mated before the run. Hell, they’ll probably assume they are even if nothing happens. The run is a ceremony to demonstrate a choice from two parties and let everyone have an equal shot at a desirable mate. But Baron will be running, and no one has been interested in him until now, it's not likely that that will change.

Half the joy of denying Dean now is the pleasure they'll both get when it happens. The other half is the delicious whining noises Dean makes every time the hot line of Baron's cock drags against his slick entrance and doesn't push into him.

"We're supposed to be celebrating tonight though." Dean replies with a sinful roll of his hips. The furs beneath him must be soaked on his slick and scent by now. "Gonna cummm.. fuck... just need... please.."

Baron shifts his hips lower, sliding his cock between Dean's slick thighs and starting to thrust. "Cum for me, my mate." Baron commands, breath hot against Dean's neck. "Let me feel that beautiful body again." The pace of his hand on Dean's cock is relentless.

Dean arches his back and shakes apart in Baron's hands. "Ohhh fuck!" He cries out. His whole body tenses with pleasure as he cums which tightens his thighs around Baron's cock. "Mark me up Alpha... Wanna smell like I belong to you."

Baron growls involuntarily, hips rocking forward into the slick heat. He has to bite his lip hard to avoid knotting as he cums, it would just make a mess at this point. His seed still coats Dean's thighs and Baron lazily brings his sticky fingers coated in Dean's slick and both of their cum up to smear across Dean's chest.

"Knew it would be too much temptation if I was inside you." Baron murmurs, holding Dean against him. "Fuck... The run can't come soon enough."

They lay there in silence for awhile as they both come down from their orgasm. Baron's hand keeps lazily stroking over Dean's tattoo. "It will be interesting to be on the other side of things this time.” Dean says with a smile. “But I'm excited to have at least two Alpha's running from their mates. You and Dango should hang out and go over your strategies."

Baron sputtered a laugh. "Wouldn't want Breeze or Dango to wear themselves out. They're both a bit more about... Staying close to camp normally." He doesn't want to speak ill of either, they both work well with people and keep the atmosphere of the camp positive. "Though I guess if you're teaching Breeze to track properly, I can help Dango evade him." They're both a sticky mess, but Baron can't bring himself to move and clean them up.

Dean turns around to face Baron and kiss him slow and heated. "Hmmm, I have your cum all over me. I smell like you..." Dean purrs between teasing kisses just to see Baron's eyes flare red with possessive pleasure.

Baron knows when he's being played, but he doesn't care right now. "Mmm, you do." He whispers back, scent-marking Dean's neck and kissing him again. "You're gonna be mine... I want everyone to know."

Dean moans happily and crawls in closer to Baron still. "When did you decide you wanted me?" Dean asks. Despite seeing visions he doesn't know everything.

Baron laughs, rolling to his back and pulling Dean to lay over him like a blanket. "Feels like I never decided. Everyone was so sure I was sweet on you, that I was just busy telling them that no I wasn't. No, we would go through with the plan and send you to Hunter." Baron arms tighten around Dean instinctively, "Which is never fucking happening, by the way. Not if he sends all the packs of the damned underworld against us." He says firmly.

"Anyway, I was keeping the pack first, and then..." He smiles sheepishly. "Kevin told me some crazy story... Said that Sami thought Ember might claim you in your heat because I wasn't fighting for you." He shakes his head. "And that shouldn't have mattered... But it's a lot harder to lie to yourself about what you want when your wolf is clawing at the walls wanting to run off and fight for something like that." It's a messy explanation, but it's the best he has.

Dean chuckles slowly and shakes his head. "You got jealous? Good to know. But you didn't have anything to worry about. Ember knew, just like I knew that you were the one for me. She helped me through the head but she was a surrogate, not a mate." Dean explains. "She and I will work together to help guide the pack and I have a lot to learn about my powers from her."

Baron still growls discontentedly. "I'm not sorry we waited." He says, "I don't like that you went through the heat alone, but I'm happier having the chance to know you. And it will be good to have another seer to learn and stand beside Ember. Sometimes we worry that she's too alone." Baron admits, stroking Dean's back gently. The tent is warm and dimly lit by the lamps. "You two seem to understand each other."

Dean nods and makes a contented noise. The fire is dimming a little but he's warm and comfortable and the stress of the last couple days is finally setting in. "Someday, when the gods and our hard work pays off and we have pups, you're going to have watch the kids while Ember and I drink special tea." He mumbles sleepily.

Baron scoffs and flicks one of the furs over Dean's back to keep him from freezing overnight. "Seems like a fair trade. You'll be the one who's spent months carrying them." Even the thought makes him feel a possessive rush and the desire to claim rolls through him like a wave. "Go to sleep." He says roughly, as though he could convince himself. "Plenty of time later for making pups."

"You, Cas, Rusev and Kevin can carry them around together like a little group while us moms go pamper each other at the hot springs and shit... like splash around all naked and rubbing oil all over each other while you guys all.. talk about being dads..." Dean adds in a desperate attempt to stay awake. His fear that if he falls asleep this will all be a vision or dream keeps him from giving in.

Baron laughs at the image, low and content. "Sami and Kevin don't even have pups yet. And you said it would be hard for you. How can you possibly know any of that?" With a grunt of effort, he shifts Dean over to the side so that Baron can wrap around him and drape himself defensively over the Omega. "Now hush." He says, words muffled against Dean's skin.

“As you wish, my mate.” Dean whispers before succumbing to sleep.

Chapter Text

For the first day that he can remember, Seth wakes up warm and feeling almost safe. It's still too early and he mumbles unhappily.

"Time to get up, princess." Replies an amused, accented voice close to his ear.

No one calls Seth that, well not since he lived with Dean. Seth cracks an eye open curiously, taking a moment to focus on Finn's face and slowly remembering the night before.

Finn smiles down at the younger Omega. "If you want to look like one of the pack, that means doing the work too. Let's get up up and properly dressed."

Seth realizes belatedly that he's naked, and remembers with a flush the marking ceremony the night before.

"We are all equals here." Asuka says as she sets down a pile of clothes next to Seth and gives him a playful smile. "But you and Finn are special." She nods.

"But not right now." AJ adds, standing by the window and watching for something in the courtyard. "For now, you hide, little one."

Seth nods numbly and starts to pull on the clothes. The room is still warm, be he can feel the danger of what they're about to do pulling on them all.

During the night two others had arrived, a small girl and stocky man from the same far away place as Shinsuke and Asuka. Kairi, one of the smaller wolves, comes up to him and ruffles his hair. She rambles off something in another language to the others and most of them laugh.

Finn's pack moves with a fascinating ease. They obviously know each other so well that too much talk isn't needed anymore. They take it in turn to explain things to Seth, scent-marking him at any opportunity.

It's strange but delightful, and Seth gets used to the smooth flow of the other language as well. Finn and AJ seem to speak some as well, but translate for Seth. For the first time in the year since he left his home for Hunter's keep, Seth can believe that there's another path for him.

~~~~~

Roman barely sleeps after he and Tom arrange the gruesome suicide scene, edgy and worried but with no way to go check on Seth or even know of he made it safely out of the keep.

Tom does his best to calm Roman down and tell him not to worry but of course the larger man spends half the night tossing and turning before Tom makes him sleep with magic. He normally prefers natural and inventive ways to get around problems but even he gets tired sometimes and Roman tossing and turning in bed doesn't help him sleep.

By the time the fake Seth is discovered no one will know what they have done and Tom writers block will be gone.

Even Tom pulling him down into bed and trying to distract him doesn't still Roman's mind, but eventually Tom gives him some tea that puts him into a fitful sleep. He wakes only a little blearily when Tom nudges him awake and they make their morning preparations by the light of a single candle. They are meant to leave at dawn, and Roman gathers his things when it's finally reasonable to cross the dark courtyard and saddle his horse, half hoping that he'll meet Finn's people there.

The mercenary pack has already vacated their temporary quarters of course, and Roman and Tom have to rush slightly to gear up their horses and head for the front gate. A quick headcount tells him that there are at least three more people than he noted two days before, but he almost doesn't recognize Seth. Everyone in the pack is smeared with some dark ash. Seth has stained his cheeks and chin, almost mimicking a beard. One of the women has a line that runs straight across her face, making her eyes stand out.

Roman shakes himself. The whole point was to hide Seth, staring at him won't help matters any. He rides forward to speak with the guards on duty, handing them the list of men and supplies that are being taken and getting the go-ahead to ride out. The guard questions the size of the mercenary pack at first, until Finn produces a document showing that his advance scouts arrived last night and the man is satisfied, calling for the massive gate to be opened and wishing them good hunting.

Tom chuckles as he watches Roman fret silently. He'll have to find a way to ease his noble hero's mind later. He had been less than receptive last night.

Regardless they have nothing to worry about. Tom had managed to arrange a beautiful little death scene high in Seth's tower. Using the body of one of Hunters men, a bottle of cheap wine, some alchemists element, and a pair of Seth's most soiled under clothes and a candle he had set the scene for a slow fire to start and after the room was consumed slowly it would release the charred corpse with Seth's clothing from the window to look like he lept to escape the flames.

These thoughts preoccupy Tom's mind as they ride out of the fortress without much trouble.

Seth tries his best not to look at Roman as they wait to depart the keep, instead chatting softly with Shinsuke and trying to look like a part of the pack while Finn waits for Roman and Tom to deal with the guards. He's already learned the words for 'Alpha,' 'Omega,' and 'Pack' in their lilting foreign language, though they laugh at him good-naturedly when he tries to pronounce them.

The wolves stick close around him as they ride out, Roman and Tom staying near the front with Finn. Seth hangs back, letting AJ and Asuka flank him. Once they pass the gates and reach the open road, Seth is glad that he learned to ride back home. He hasn't had much chance to use the skill with Hunter, but he makes a fair showing of keeping up with the pack as they set a steady travelling pace. His small pack of personal possessions is buried at the bottom of the worn traveling pack they gave him.

They run the horses for a few hours, getting as much distance between Hunter's land and themselves before they slow down and AJ is able to ride up beside Seth holding a chunk of bread and a water jug. "Here, take this. It's no good for a mother to go hungry." He offers with his drawl pulling the world's out slow and sincere.

Seth ducks his head thankfully. "I'm not far along yet. But thank you." He takes the bread and water anyway, giving AJ a grateful smile. Roman has tried to ride near him a few times, but the pack seems protective, keeping him to the inside. Seth doesn't mind really, he's not in the mood to talk about Roman's worries when he has his own.

The smallest Beta, Kairi, seems to love riding near Seth once things are slower. She's a little more excitable and less careful with her speech than Asuka or Shinsuke are, but Seth enjoys the company anyway. His pregnancy is especially fascinating to her, and she tries to explain something about Omegas back home that he can't entirely follow.

"They're sacred." AJ comments by way of explanation once Kairi has moved to join Finn near the front, explaining something about the tracking to him. "Omegas. Where she grew up at least, and I think Shin said something similar... they treat Omegas almost like priests or... artists. They're cared for because of the gifts they bring to a pack or a village." He shrugs. "Asuka knows more, but she doesn't like explaining things."

"We've never had a pregnant pack member." AJ continues. "Finn's.... wolf doesn't allow it. It's not our mission right now. But I love kids. Always wanted to have a big family. Specially a little girl."

The rest of the Alphas have talked about the lack of pups in their pack before. It's a point of contention at times but they understand that without a place to live and the kind of lives they have it would be hard to raise a pack that way.

Seth nods and listens to AJ, of all of them he seems to be the least like what Seth has always imagined for a pack like this. "I'm glad he's allowed me to be here then." Seth says, glancing down as though he could see the child growing within him. He finishes the bread and passes the water back to AJ. "How did you end up here instead of somewhere more... Settled? Raising a family on the road would be so hard."

AJ smiles a bit sadly and shrugs. "Hard to explain. Finn... he's our heart. He brought us together and it's because of him that we're all still here. He built a pack out of nothing. Out of people who would have fought each other. This was just one more job, until you got mixed in. Now it's something else. But where he leads, we follow."

"Finn has something inside him that.. you don't fight it. He’s ten steps ahead of anything you've thought of." Gallows says as he rides up along Seth's other side. "He saved us all at one point or another. In this pack it's not the strongest or the smartest or the bravest who rules, it's the one willing to make the hard choices."

Seth nods, even on horseback Gallows towers over him and AJ, but the respect he shows them both says something about the structure of the pack that fascinates Seth. "Yeah it's... not like any other pack I've seen." He looks forward, seeing how confidently Finn interacts with Roman and with the pack Alphas. From the looks of it, the slimy little Beta Tom doesn't seem to like Finn much either, which pleases Seth a little.

"I never thought an Omega could lead like he does. Alongside an Alpha, sure, but...." He trails off. "I probably sound like some sheltered child to you."

AJ and Gallows both laugh, which draws Roman's attention. "Not a child but young, and you are a bit of a damsel in distress at the moment. " AJ explains with a bright smile. "And that's alright. The gods brought you to us for a reason. We wouldn't have it any other way."

Seth ducks his head, a little ashamed by it honestly, but AJ reaches out to pat his hand. "That Alpha of Hunter's is watching you again." AJ says softly, like it's a secret. "Do you want to see him, or should we keep fending him off?"

Seth looks up at Roman, unsure how he even feels about the situation. Roman's been a good friend, even getting him here but he doesn't know what Roman expects from him now. "He can ride by me for a while. It won't hurt anything."

Gallows raises an eyebrow at him, but peels away, leaving room for Roman to drop back beside Seth.

"Allright pup," AJ says fondly, waving to Seth before he drops back as well.

Roman sees the mercenaries leave room near Seth and wheels his horse around to fill in the space. "You're... pretty friendly with these guys then." He says by way of greeting. "I'm glad you made it out ok."

"They have made me feel very welcome in their ranks." Seth replies as he looks around at them. Already he can feel the bonds of pack growing among them. "It has been amazing to get to know them, even the little that I have. I noticed you and umm Tom have been spending a lot of time together." He comments to try and change the subject.

"Yeah, I can see that." Roman says stiffly. He can smell it too, the claim on Seth is already strong and some small part of him want to fight it. Roman looks away at the mention of Tom, shrugging slightly. "He's been a big help, in getting you out and in the tracking before. He's smart."

"He seems off... like not normal. It's like the air around him is... sticky and heavy." Seth tries to explain as he scrunched up his nose. "But I'm grateful. I'd be stuck in that tower hating everything right now if it wasn't for you two. And for the pack."

Roman nods. "He's strange, but you get used to it, I guess." He admits. Tom didn't sit well with him at first, but sometimes Roman just wants someone with purpose to help him know what to do. Tom always seems to have a plan.

"I didn't realize how much... claim they'd put on you." Roman says, still not used to seeing Seth in this strange setting and looking so different. "You're ok though? They didn't... hurt you or anything?"

Seth chuckles and shakes his head. He can tell that the others are all listening to their conversation even if they don't look like it. He learned to see the signs living in Hunter's harem. There was a hierarchy within the Omegas and at the top was Stephanie, despite being an Alpha. If you wanted time with Hunter you had to bring information or something useful to Stephanie. Seth learned to be very careful with what he said and who he said it to. If you didn't play the game well it could lead to your death, or worse.

"Don't worry Roman. The pack has been... amazing. It was... totally different than any claiming I could have imagined. It was like they were baptizing me... like submerging me in something deeper and heavier than the rest of the world." Seth tries to explain with a smile. for the first time in a long time Seth is starting to feel like he's not just an Omega. Like he could do more than raise pups.

Roman nods, though he doesn't completely understand what Seth means. "We'll keep you safe. You and your pup." He offers Seth a little smile. “We'll get Dean back from these kidnappers and then find another place." He hasn't told Tom much about this part of his plan, but he thinks he can get the two Omegas back to his own home. It seems like the safest way to keep them far from Hunter.

There's a faint growl that stings the air all around them and Seth laughs to try and diffuse the situation. Roman is large and powerful and in a fight he's the most loyal soldier and defender you could ask for but he's never been good at the game. "Is that your plan? Have you told anyone else the plan, because there might be some objections. Mostly, if you run off too wouldn't your pack be the first place Hunter will come looking? It could put your family in danger."

Roman tenses slightly at the reaction around them. "Doesn't have to be my pack." He says defensively. "Just somewhere to hide." Roman's not entirely pleased with how possessive the pack seems to be of Seth already. He didn't realize by asking their help getting him out, that he'd be handing Seth over to them like this.

"Dean's never been one for hiding." Seth comments almost off-handedly. "He's even worse at following rules than I am. He hated when Shane made us go train with the elder Omegas. He always found a way to get out of it and usually we both got in trouble for it. He won't like laying low." Seth's not really talking about Dean anymore. He's also talking about himself. "Would Tom be coming with us on the run?"

Roman frowns, feeling out of place and on the back foot. "Tom will do what he wants. I just thought..." He looks away. "You want to stay with this pack then?" He says, swallowing hard. "Raise your pup on the move?" Roman hates the idea, but knows he has no excuse for that.

 

"It's better than in a cage. Even if it's a gilded one." Seth half spits at Roman. Somewhere behind him he can hear AJ chuckle under his breath. "I know it's not ideal Roman, but look around you. Finn is an Omega and leads a pack of Alphas and Betas who respect him. You respect him,you wouldn't have brought me to him if you didn't. And it proves that Omegas aren't just breeders. We can do more. I want to do more. I want to help build something. And I want my pup to be part of that. It's a fast decision but it's the right one. You could be part of it too if you wanted."

Roman blinks, blindsided. He didn't think of Seth that way, not like Hunter did as one more Omega to breed him strong pups, but he also still felt it was his duty to protect Seth. And Dean too, when they find him.

"I..." He glances back forward at Finn. He hadn't thought of Finn like an Omega. Maybe because of how everyone else taught him. "I didn't know you felt that way." Roman says hesitantly.

Roman isn't sure he likes whatever the pack has done to Seth, though maybe it's just that being trapped with Hunter made him this way.

Seth rolls his eyes and drops his hood to run a hand through his hair. "You know what Roman. I appreciate what you did for me. I do. I will always be grateful but you're not my mate and I can't be selfish anymore. I have to decide what's best for the pup, not for me." Seth declares before kicking his horse and riding ahead to talk with Finn.

Roman stares after Seth in shock, trying to ignore the little pool of rage that builds in him as the other Alphas around him raise pointed eyebrows or outright laugh.

~~~~~

Baron wakes up sticky and a little sore, with Dean wrapped around him like an extra blanket. He tries to lay still, but he can hear more of the camp awake and moving than should be if he's still in bed. He must have slept late. He'd normally be annoyed, but can't seem to raise his voice at Dean.

"Hey pretty boy," Baron murmurs softly, stroking Dean's back to rouse him. "Morning time, gotta get up."

Dean moans and tries to bury his face in the furs to hide from the sunlight. "Do I have to? I killed a bear yesterday? Doesn't that get me some slack?" Dean whines into the fun. He isn't totally opposed to being awake. He needs a bath and his bones ache a little.

"Not as much slack as you want." Baron chuckles, giving Dean's ass a playful light smack before he rolls out from under Dean's weight to clean up with the small basin of water he keeps in his tent. "But we can get you fed like a hero and make sure you get time to get clean. How's that sound?"

"Don't tease." Dean groans after the spanking but he does manage to get up and pull himself out of the bed. "How did you sleep future-mate?" Dean asks. He emphasizes the late words to tease Baron in turn. A tiny thrill shoots down his spine each time he sees the flash of reaction in Baron's stoic face. Baron is surprisingly expressive underneath the surface; especially when faced with a naked Omega that smells like him.

"Surprisingly well for having an unmated Omega in my tent who refuses to keep his hands to himself." Baron replies, tossing a wet cloth at Dean. He can't stop himself from enjoying the image Dean presents, disheveled and naked. "If you don't want me to tease, what /should/ I do with you?"

Dean chuckles and wipes himself down. "Well, you could take what you want." Dean offers as he exposes his neck while washing himself. He walks over to the basin to re-wet the rag. "Although it would piss off Alexa and Corey. We're already breaking the rules by sleeping in the same den."

The casual move of submission makes Baron's mouth go dry with want. He has to look away, drawing in a deep breath to keep the wolf at bay. "You're not wrong. Though it's not like anyone else is going to say they want to run for me." He gives Dean a slight smile, stepping away to pull on his clothes. "We should make sure you know the camp as well as possible today. Guess I don't have to worry about teaching you to hunt."

 

Dean gets dressed and comes back over to Baron, bumping their shoulders together. "You can still teach me stuff if you want. But I'm sure you have all sorts of very important Alpha things to do. I can check in with Lana, re-introduce myself to her so to speak. It'll be my job to help deliver her pups after all." Dean comments as he looks up at Baron a tad wantonly for at least a kiss before Baron runs away from him.

Baron shakes his head fondly at Dean. "You still know more than you should." He huffs out a laugh and slides and arm around Dean's waist as he leans in for a kiss. "Most of my 'Alpha Duties' are the hunting and fighting and training. I can stay with you long enough to get something to eat at least."

"Get used to it at least for a few more days." Dean replies as he wraps his arms around Baron's neck to kiss him again. "As your mate I should be feeding you but I would appreciate a little bit more role reversal."

Baron chuckles, "You're the one who killed a bear yesterday." He purrs against Dean's cheek. "Which I should go make sure got skinned properly." He kisses Dean again, "Might see if we can make you a robe of some kind. Something fitting for a seer."

As if on cue, Baron's stomach growls. "Breakfast first. Though it may be nearly lunch at this point."

"How about a blanket for our bed?" Dean suggests as they head out of the tent and towards the food tent.

"Any fur could do that..." Baron says, thoughtful. "Not every day you kill a bear. It's something to remember." He'll have to see if it's possible either way.

~~~~~

It's late enough that not too many people are around the kitchen tent, but there are still food options. Carmella and Cass are seated in one corner also eating and feeding baby Enzo.

"Hey Cass." Dean says with a waves since he's technically the only one he's met so far. He takes a seat near them but not at the same low table as he waits for Baron to bring them food. "You guys off to a late start too?"

"Yeah." Cass says, wiping his mouth. "Guess you're gonna want to meet everyone now, yeah? Since you want to mate the Alpha?" He grins at Carmella. "This is my mate. And our little pup." He glances back up to Dean. "'Mella, you remember the crazy Omega that dropped a bear at the Alpha's feet last night?"

Carmella laughs. "Hard to forget." She leans over to touch Dean's neck, casually marking him. "Nice to meet you, Dean. Welcome to the family."

Baron gathers some bits of cooked meat and the last of the berries they brought with them. The fresh hunting grounds have meant better and easier food for the pack even in these first few days. Baron makes a mental note to be sure they're not driving out any of the wildlife. This is a good area, not one he wants to lose. He settles down beside Dean, offering him the wooden plate.

He watches the introductions with interest, glad Dean hasn't scared them off by being weird yet.

Dean is unsurprised when Carmella dumps Enzo in his lap half way through the meal. "Such a troublemaker. Bet you drive your mama up the wall." He growls playfully at the toddler as he tickles the baby's tummy. "I was just as bad I'm sure." Dean comments as he looks up at Baron. "Be prepared."

Baron rolls his eyes. "I'd expect no less." He smiles at Enzo. "Menace or not, it's a blessing to the pack." He says, meeting Cass and Carmella’s eyes. "As our pups will be."

"You two are doing ok?" Baron asks quietly while Dean and Enzo coo at each other. "You have enough help?"

Cass bristles a little but Carmella smacks him lightly. "We're ok, Alpha. The worst of it is past and it's spring again." She glances to Dean for a moment. "Just worrying about keeping Lana and Rusev fed and comfortable now. It should be her time any day now, right?"

"I can help." Dean chimes in. "I mean with Enzo and with Lana's pups. Kids are cooler than adults anyway." Dean adds with a shrug. Kids liked to run and jump and go on adventures. Those were all things Dean was good at. "The pack doesn't have a lot of pups yet but we will and someone will have to teach them to hunt and gather and fight. I can do all that. And Breeze is good at the touchy feely stuff."

Baron opens his mouth to say something, but he can see Dean leading a pack of younger wolves all too easily and the thought makes him smile. "Be careful volunteering for that, you'll be on the hook for watching all the pack's pups."

"It'll be a growing enterprise but it's something we need and I'd be happy to do it. I guess as long as the pack is ok with it." Dean admits with a look over at Cass and Carmella who have been making out while Enzo is being distracted by Dean.

Carmella bites her lip as she turns back to Dean. "Hey, I'm not saying no. Any time you want to take care of babies, you just let me know." She shrugs. "It's been a long time. I could do with a day out in the woods. Letting the wolf run, you know?"

"How about you two go spend a few hours being you know, together, or whatever and I'll hang out with Enzo for a little bit." Dean offers while Enzo tries to chew on his fingers. "I'm just going to go see Lana. And I guess if that ok with you guys."

Baron leans back, smiling at Dean. "Looks like you found a job for yourself." He smiles at Carmella and Cass. "He'll be back at my tent if he's not with Lana. I'll make sure nothing happens to Enzo. Go have fun."

Carmella looks at Dean like he's a saint. "Don't have to tell me twice. C'mon Cass, we're going." She pauses to kneel by Dean to mark him and her pup briefly. "Thank you. Really. Tell Lana I love her too."

Dean scent marks Carmella and takes the sling for Enzo she gives him. "I know it's not as important as being a seer, and I'll probably still be doing that stuff sometime but this seems important too.." Dean says to Baron after they're alone.

Baron smiles. "Seems like you have more experience with little ones than most of us." He admits. "Our pack is young and many of us weren't raised in proper packs where there were pups underfoot."

Baron strokes Dean's cheek and neck gently. "I don't know what crazy trick of the world led us to you, but I think we needed you." He ruffles baby Enzo's hair and then pulls himself up to his knees. "You had enough to eat, future-mate? I can walk you to Rusev and Lana's place before I go see Alexa and Corey."

"That sounds great! Help me with the sling." Dean says as he slowly gets up to his feet. "And I have eaten what you've brought me future-mate." Dean says with a coy smile. The old phrases always make Baron's scent flare.

For a moment, Baron just stares at Dean. "You know I am aware when I'm being manipulated." He says, voice a low growl as he leans in to kiss Dean again. "I have more self-control than you think. Just a fews days 'til I can mark you as mine. We'll live, for the good of the pack."

~~~~~

Baron hasn't tied a baby sling before, but they figure it out. Enzo is always a loud baby, but he doesn't panic on them. "I like seeing you with a pup. I didn't expect that." He says.

Dean kisses Baron back slow and deep. "A lot can happen in a few days days but I'll do my best to only manipulate you when absolutely necessary." Dean replies.

He never thought this would be his life. Wanting pups and to make a den with an Alpha was never his plan, but here he is and he wouldn't trade it for the world.

A sudden flash of the black wolf, Roman, leading the swarm of demon wolves comes to him. The white wolf, Seth, isn't leading them this time. He's at their center, like the sun, with the rest bubbling up around him. "Tonight, we need to talk about what might happen in the coming days. We have to prepare." Dean says cautiously as they walk hand and hand towards Rusev's tent.

"You keep saying that." Baron says, not teasing, just curious. "You still think things will end up the same way?" He makes a mental note to get Ember, Alexa, and Corey together, better they all hear it straight from Dean.

"I keep seeing visions of it." Dean answers, "They're different now. Things have changed. Before it was like the threats came from different side, now they're together, one threat. They are much more deadly but we may be able to... avoid their attack if it's not coming from different directions now.”

Baron nods, his hand tightening a little on Dean's fingers. "You said it's the night of the run that they'll come for us? We'll find a way to be ready." When they reach Rusev's tent, Baron pokes his head inside and speaks briefly with Lana before brining Dean in and introducing him properly. "This is Dean. He's new to the pack and thinking about offering some care for the pups from time to time. Thought you should get to know him now."

"And he is to be your mate." Lana says slyly. She's hugely pregnant, but seated comfortably near one side of the tent, with flaps open to let the air flow. "Come sit with me Dean, I always like to see little Enzo."

Dean leans up and kisses Baron once more. "See you tonight in our den." He whispers before sliding deeper into the warm and comfortable tent.

Baron can't resist pressing a final kiss against Dean's hair. "See you tonight." He clasps hands briefly with Lana before he leaves.

"How are you feeling? It can't be fun having one set of claws inside you so much as two." Dean asks as he sits down.

Lana looks up at Dean with a soft smile. "Rusev said you knew things. A seer like Ember, yes?" She pats his hand. "I will be alright. The little ones are still restless, but it won't be much longer. And I am stronger than they think." She says, as if it's a secret.

"Oh I have no doubt that you are very strong. You're pups will be strong too. They will be coming soon. Should be only a day or two more." Dean admits as he begins to rock Enzo again. The baby’s giant blue eyes are falling shut and he burbles little yawns on Dean's arms.

Lana's eyebrows raise, "So soon?" She sighs, setting aside the delicate weaving she is doing and resting her hands across her stomach. "Will you walk with me outside? Rusev worries, but of course the Omega who hunted a bear would have no trouble handling one tired mother."

Dean promptly sets Enzo back into the sling before helping Lana to her feet. It's a slow process but they make it to the door and out onto the small shaded path outside the tent without too much trouble. "I could tell you what I remember from my vision but I think it would be best if it is a surprise. Also I don't want to get it wrong. Rusev would come after me."

Lana laughs, bright and clear in the forest. "No no, the surprise is better." She wraps her arm around Dean's as they walk. "Rusev likes you. He said he told you all about us. About his family and where we came from. We have been happy here. I hope the same will be true for you." She looks around the quiet outskirts of the camp as they walk slowly along the path. Enzo drools against Dean's shirt.

"I'm sure he told you I am super weird and /spooky/." Dean replies in Rusev's accent with a chuckle. "He is a good man. I'm glad you guys are happy together. I hope Baron and I can be as blessed as you two some day. Not that I think we won't be but I never really pictured myself doing this stuff. I didn't think I would ever want to settle down."

Lana watches Dean, "I was the same. My mother said I would never find a mate. Too..." She gestures helplessly, searching for a word. "Wild. Too dangerous." She sees Dean nod and continues her explanation.

"I worked hard to appear as a proper Omega." Lana sighs, hand caressing her stomach idly. "Then I found Rusev and he saw those hidden parts of me. Wanted them. My family hated it. Hated the wildness that he brought out in me again."

"You bring out kindness in Baron. This is hard for him. He..." Lana shakes her head, it's not her place to describe Baron's history or the flaws that he fights to keep hidden. "You will fight, I think. It will not be easy always, but you will be stronger together."

"I heard that leaving your pack was rather eventful." Dean comments with a smirk as he helps Lana sit down next to the cliff wall. "And one of my favorite hobbies already is finding ways to annoy Baron. I'm sure we will have a very vocal relationship." Dean adds with a chuckle.

"In my visions I fell in love with this pack. But waking up and meeting you all again is totally different. You're all more real. I thought I loved you all before, now I don't know if I could even leave." He admits softly as Dean strokes Enzo's baby soft hair

Lana tips her head and smiles, looking out at the view of the camp and the woods even from this slight elevation. "I think this pack is special. We are loud and we fight, but this is how it should be." She looks fondly at Dean and down at Enzo, reaching out to scent mark Dean with more hesitance than Carmella or Sami has ever shown. "We will all be growing up together."

Dean returns the slow scent mark with one of his own and smiles, "It's strange for a pack to not have elders and for our traditions to be a mash up of so many different cultures but I guess that's what makes it work. We've all put in pieces of ourselves."

Lana nods, "Rusev misses his family. His grandmother." She doesn't miss the structure of her own pack as much, but the lack of tradition and rules scared her at first. "We will be the elders one day. Make rules for our little ones to follow." She smiles wickedly, "Or maybe just rules to break. Like you and me, yes?"

"I guess you're right. It will be strang when we have to figure out how to move camp with elder ones." Dean replies. He's only ever seen these two camps. "Where's the next camp? Is it further in the mountains or on the other side of them? I've heard there's all.sorts of crazy people on the other side of the mountains."

Lana nods, "Across the mountains, after the snow melts. It is a safe place. We can trade with the tribes of the... water?" Her nose wrinkles up as she tries to remember what the area is called. "They are in one place all year... near water. Far from our camp. There are others who move as well. Like we do."

"Do you think Baron would ever want to settle the pack? Like have one settlement?" Dean asks. He doesn't actually think it's a good idea. Other than the bees which he would love to have. He loves how fluid and flexible the pack is already. He can't imagine not being able to explore and roam.

Lana shrugs, "I have not heard too much... I know that with you, they wanted to gather supplies. In trade with the Alpha King." She shakes her head sadly. "Rusev said maybe a place for times like this." She gestures to her belly. "But I don't like the pack to be apart. It is better to have you here." She says firmly, squeezing his hand. "No one should be traded that way... even if it is like a precious jewel."

Dean smiles at Lana and scent marks her again because he can. "Come on let's get you back to the tent before Rusev catches us. I have to change Enzo anyway. He smells like a stable suddenly.

Lana smiles and lets Dean help her up just as Enzo starts to whimper himself awake, squirming and coughing a little. "Yes yes, back home." They walk slowly, with Dean bouncing Enzo sightly to calm him. "I have clean cloths for that."

Chapter Text

Dean takes Enzo to the bath after he gets Lana back to bed. The toddler babbles happily in the shallow warm pool near the entrance and Dean manages to get them both clean. It's not too much longer before he gets hungry though so he takes him back to Cass and Carmella's tent before he heads back to Baron's.

Carmella looks flushed and delighted after her few hours of freedom, and the pair coos over their returning pup. "Thank you." Cass says, catching Dean before he can run. "Really. She's needed the time but doesn't want anyone thinking she doesn't care. Thank you." He scent-marks Dean before he leaves. "You ever need anything, we'll be there. Gotta rely on each other in the pack after all."

~~~~~

Dean returns to Baron's tent with no idea what to do really. He sits down on the bed furs and looks around. It's a large tent and there's a wagon against the back wall that holds empty storage baskets and drawers for heirlooms that Baron doesn't seem to have. Dean doesn't find anything at least we he starts to snoop. He does find the light leather and charcoal pieces that has seen Baron drawing on, but he leaves them be. Those seem too private for Dean to mess with.

There's a pile of soiled clothing in the corner though. He ends up going and getting a large tub of water from the hot spring and sitting outside the tent washing his and Baron's clothing with his bar of honey soap. The bar is slowly starting to shrink and Dean wishes he had brought more.

Dean is just hanging the last of the wet clothing on a line outside in the afternoon when he sees Baron heading back towards the den.

It takes Baron a moment to recognize Dean and his own laundry, out in the sunshine looking relaxed and unworried. Some part of him sparks with delight at the sight of his mate and his own den, and he's never understood the instinct to claim and protect quite like he does now. "Hey," Baron says, stepping into Dean's space to caress his cheek. "For someone who spent our first day together telling me he didn't want to be anyone's kept Omega, you're awfully domestic."

Dean rolls his eyes before wrapping his arms around Baron's neck to kiss him. "I didn't have anything to do and I don't like sitting still. I figured it was better this than causing trouble." Dean replies after he pulls away. "How was your busy day of being Alpha?"

Baron shrugs, "Got yelled at. Told Alexa to mind her own business. Ran two of the new hunters through some extra training before sending them out." He looks around at the drying clothes. "How was seeing Lana and taking care of the baby? Still feel like you want to help out with the pups?"

"It was good. Relaxing. She is a good person." Dean replies as they head into the tent. "And yeah, Enzo was good and slept most of the time. Was Corey tied up while you were getting yelled at this time or is that only for special occasions?"

Baron looks at Dean sharply, but then shakes his head. "You know too much. But no, Corey was out gathering supplies to make new inks. They'd like to be there when we talk about what's coming." He wanders, organizing his few possessions. "I thought Ember could be there too, compare what you've seen. Would you be ok with that?"

Dean shrugs, "Sure. Why not. As long as you don't mind her being there." Dean and Baron haven't really talked about what happened during his heat and he doesn't want it to stand between them.

"Why would I mind? I think it's for the best to get it all out in the open before we're fending off an attack." Baron settles down to stoke a small fire so the tent doesn't get too cold as the evening falls.

"Umm well, because we had sex technically, Ember and I." Dean replies as he sits down on the bedding. "During my heat. She sat on top and helped me." He tries to explain. "And it's not a big deal I just... you didn't want me."

Baron takes a moment to process that, trying to keep himself under control. His wolf is howling, reliving all the images that tormented him and drove him to Ember's tent during the heat. "She..." Baron swallows hard, tense and not looking at Dean.

Dean reaches out and grabs Baron's hand to pull him to the bed as well. "Don't be mad. I mean, I get that there's no way to say that and for it not to be true. And you can take me out back and we can fight it out if you want."

Baron clenches his fist, forcing himself to release his grip before he can break Dean's hand. "It's not you I'm mad at." He grits out. "You were in heat and you thought I'd rejected you. But she sent me away when I came for you." Baron allows Dean to draw him toward the bed, wrapping possessive arms around Dean's waist. "She could have claimed you. I might have had to kill her for that."

"She didn't." Dean retorts. "I told her I wanted you. I may have been in a heat but I would have killed her myself if she had tried." Dean slides around and straddles Baron's lap. Baron's eyes glow crimson with anger and Dean hopes his flash their new silver reflective tone back. "You're mine."

Baron growls and leans in to inhale Dean's scent. It should be calming, but something in him still aches to claim Dean, to mark him and finish this. "Tell me." He says roughly, after a long pause. "Tell me what she did."

"I could show you..." Dean offers as his hands slide under Baron's shirt and pulls it off so he can run his hands over Baron's tattoos. "I was naked..." He strips off his own shirt and tosses it to the floor as well. "The heat was getting heavier. You had been to the tent. Your scent made me so wet and needy... Just from sensing you close by." Dean whispers in Baron's ear as he slowly starts to rock his hips against Baron's.

Dean's scent is light and sweet, like sunshine and the soap that he uses. Baron groans as Dean grinds against him. "Mmm, I wish I'd been there." Baron says, his hands sliding into Dean's loose trousers to cup his ass. "To hold you down..." He's supposed to be letting Dean talk, but he's not really sure he wants to hear it all.

Dean smirks and slowly unlaces Baron's trousers. He slides his hand in and pull Baron's cock out. He wraps his hands around the shaft and starts to stroke slowly. He can already feel his cock getting wet. "I wanted that. Felt it once before... in the vision. But this isn't about that. This is about this time. When it was real." Dean gasps out. "Ember straddled me... and she used her powers to share the sensation of being filled so I would feel full." Dean does his best to explain while stroking Baron's cock. With his free hand he reaches up to Baron's head.

Dean tries to tap into the visions like he had the first night with Baron. He wishes now he had had some of Ember's tea to help share the magic. It eased the connection like slick during sex. "Let me show you my pleasure." He focuses on the memories of the experience with Ember. On the tight full pleasure. All his pleasure centers firing as Ember rode him.

Baron's vision blurs into the memories and he gasps, stunned by phantom sensation of need, of taking and being taken. "Gods! Dean..." His hips flex up into Dean's touch, leaning his forehead in against Dean's as if he could get closer to the memory.

Dean lets himself slide further into the memories as well but they shift and change to the ones from his vision. The ones of their first time during Dean's heat, when Baron gave him a false knot with his fist. "Oh fuck!!" Dean gasps as the sensations of their first joining hit him and Baron both.

Baron moans as the vision shifts, feeling the surge of Dean's remembered pleasure. The feeling is different than with the memories of Ember and Baron can imagine this is what Dean means when he says the vision felt less real. "I was with you." Dean says, voice more growl than speech. Baron surges up and forward, pressing Dean down into the furs of the bed. "I helped you through the heat... did I mark you?" He grinds his hips down against Dean's, his hand still cupping Dean's head to keep the connection.

Dean shakes his head, "No, we couldn't... too much..." He does his best to focus on their actual mating like he had shown Baron on the first night in the woods. The night that Baron had knotted and claimed him. The forging of their bond but not the completion. Dean's pants are soaked with slick, his body reacting to the false sensation of being knotted. "Fuck, I love you." He hisses as he cums untouched.

Entangled as they are with Dean's memories and emotions running through him, Baron cums at the same moment, nearly knotting with the sudden intensity of it. "Fuck...." He kisses Dean, hard and biting, gasping for air as his body tries to grind against Dean's hips, instinctively chasing more sensation.

Dean can't hold the vision after his orgasm. It slips through his grasp like water and fades from his body on a wave of euphoria. "Holy shit... I didn't know if I could do that again... did you feel it?" Dean asks, trembling in pleasure under Baron.

Baron is breathing heavily, nearly collapsed on top of Dean, but he manages to huff out a laugh. "Yeah I fucking felt it.... guess I was asking you about the wrong memories." He nuzzles into Dean's throat, teasing at a bite he can't place there yet. "Your visions were... very detailed."

"They were real enough at the time." Dean replies with a small chuckle of his own. "But everything is different this time. It's all more... I don't know.. just more. I can't wait for you to fuck me for real..." Dean rambles even as his own cum has started to make things uncomfortable in his pants.

Baron groans and smiles. "Can't wait to replace those visions with real memories." He kisses Dean again and then grimaces down between their bodies. "Maybe with less clothes though. It's a good thing you just washed everything. Alexa hates it when I show up naked." Baron groans as he forces himself away from Dean, moving to get get water to clean them up a little.

Dean slowly stands up and strips his cum and slick coated pants off. "Looks like I'll be doing more laundry. Do you do your own or did you have someone wash yours? For some reason I can't imagine you washing your clothes." Dean muses.

Baron chuckles, dropping to his knees in front of Dean to run a damp cloth up the inside of Dean's thighs to clean him. "It depends on the situation. I mostly take care of my own, unless someone offers in return for a hunt or something I've done for them. I'll have to find something to trade you for your assistance." Baron's voice turns teasing and his free hand strokes Dean's hip as he takes Dean softening cock into his mouth to clean him.

Dean's head falls back and his eyes close with pleasure. There's a hint of pain as well from the over stimulation, his body still sensitive from the orgasm. "I think we can work something out." Dean moans as his hands find their way into Baron's hair.

Baron hums softly. He was actually intending mostly to get more of Dean's flavor and to clean him up, so he pulls back slowly after a few slow langid strokes over the full length of Dean's cock and returns to wiping with the soft cloth. "Anything for you." Baron purrs, enjoying the feeling of Dean's hands in his hair and the needy noises he is pulling from the Omega.

"I'm going to run hard for you, so you better put up a good fight." Dean comments as he continues to stroke Baron's hair.

Baron presses a kiss to the curve of Dean's hip, sliding the cloth slowly down Dean's ass as well, to clean up the slick clinging to his skin. "You've never seen me fight." He says softly, "I won't hold back on you."

Dean chuckles and can't help by smirk. "You should wear woad. It will hide your scent and Roman... he won't be able to find you... That's it!" Dean's whole body lights up with excitement. "We need to harvest as much woad as we can! We can cover the warriors in it and ambush Hunter's men." Dean rambles even though he knows Baron will have no idea what he's talking about.

Baron blinks and stands, dropping the cloth and catching Dean's face in both of his hands. "Hey, hey, slow down. I like this plan, but you're going to have to walk me through it."

"You had me wear woad so Roman couldn't track me through normal measures. We got the idea because of how you ambushed me with the smoke bombs. It cancels our scent out." Dean tries to explain. "There's this wolf that.. that killed you in the vision. Killed you the night of the run. He could track you and his companion poisoned you. He... he was evil. But Hunter's men are also coming and Seth... Seth will be coming too. He helped them slaughter us all."

Baron almost pulls Dean to the bed, but decides to just settle them by the fire instead. "Ok, I'm getting some of this. We needed to talk anyway." He sighs settling Dean on his lap, but not holding him in case he wants to move. "I know we make our smoke bombs with woad. And Ember uses the ash for some rituals as well."

"This other wolf, Roman? He's the same black wolf that you told Ember about? He'll be running for you, you think?" Baron tries to keep his voice calm and soothing, Dean's agitation is too easy to reflect back.

"I don't know. I think so." Dean answers. "He was in rut last time, but so many things are different now. I can't be sure. But I know they are coming. I've seen it this time. But the visions are different this time."

Baron nods. "It makes sense that Hunter would send people after us. He knows we have you, and we tried to barter with him." Baron grimaces. "Turns out he doesn't like that." He strokes Dean's back gently. "So last time we tried to hide you from him, but he tracked me instead?" He remembers some of this from Dean's first time talking with Ember, but that had been much more about sorting through Dean's confusion and feelings. Baron hadn't been ready to think about it yet.

Dean shrugs, "They tracked me... or at least Roman and his partner did. He was obsessed with my scent." Dean tries to relax and just lean back into Baron's touch. "It felt horrible. When he touched me... there was a part of me that wanted to give in to his demands. But that was just biology. And I was pregnant. There weren't a lot of options."

It takes Baron a moment to put that sequence together, Dean makes jumps in logic that Baron has a hard time following without the context. "Wait... you saw yourself being pregnant? With..." He can't even make himself ask. He hopes it was with him, but Dean said they'd never been properly mated.

"It was yours. We kind of jumped the gun a little. Horse before carriage and all. I didn't know until the night of the run. Roman's partner told me while we watched the camp burn and after I watched Roman kill you..." Dean explains very matter of factly. He can't think about it like it's real. It's silly to mourn something that didn't happen. Especially when he's sitting in Baron's lap right now.

Baron swallows hard, arms tightening a little around Dean. "Sounds like this partner is the real problem... if he was manipulating an Alpha in rut to take you and to fight me." His eyes narrow, he knows already that he'd die for Dean, but it's hard to imagine the Alpha who could beat him.

"How did they burn the camp?" Baron asks, shying away from the topic, "Is there anything we can do to keep the pack safe? People like Lana and Carmella who may need help to move or defend themselves?"

"I'm not sure." Dean replies. "There was this thing, like a giant wolf that rampages through the camp while the other, I don't know how many there were but it wasn't an army; they burnt the camp."

Dean shakes his head and tries to remember details. "How far into the mountain do the hot springs go? Would it be safe for the Omegas and others in the caves? They could hide in the steam."

Baron frowns. "We haven't explored too far, but I know they get hotter deeper in. Maybe we can find a place though. I'll send a couple teams out exploring. It could be a good place to store some things during the Summer and Winter if there's a dry area hidden in the caves." He tries to sort through the rest of Dean's vision. A giant wolf could be anything. An actual shifter like them, or just how Dean's mind imagined what was happening.

"You said this all happened on the night of the run. The equinox. That means we have a few days at least." Baron catches Dean's hand, trying to anchor him. "We'll make sure it's different this time. Even if nothing comes, we'll have a plan."

Dean is silent for a long time after that, happy to just sit wrapped up in Baron's arms after the man reaches to grab a blanket to wrap around their naked bodies. Dean can feel their bond growing and almost radiating strength already. "Tell me about you. Who were you before me?"

Baron finds himself just breathing in deeply, inhaling their mixed scents and the sunlight-and-honey smell of Dean's soft blonde hair, even as he silently plans the teams he'll send out in the morning and how to explain all of this to the others. The whole pack will need to be willing to pitch in, and they've never had to defend a true attack before.

"Before?" Baron thinks back to only a week ago, planning the ambush to kidnap Dean and the circumstances that surrounded it. "I was what I am now... An Alpha trying to make a life for my new pack." He shrugs, "We knew Lana was pregnant. That moving around might be hard with more young pups like Enzo..."

Baron makes a face, knowing the next part will upset Dean. "Ember told us she'd seen an Omega being transferred to Hunter's keep... We thought we'd steal some land, maybe make a safe place to stay, not have to move so much. Instead we stole you. You know the rest by now."

Dean nods in understanding but there is still flair of anger at the idea that Omegas can be thought of as things to be bought and sold. "I know. But I mean before that. How did the pack happen? How did you become Alpha? The pack says you were a bit of a loner."

Baron looks away, "That's... It was kind of like magic. I never really had a pack, just my sire and a few places we never stayed. Then I met Corey." Baron touches the dark swirls of ink on Dean's chest. "He was also pretty alone, but wanted to be around people. Anyway, we traveled together for a while but he took off after a while. Found me again months later, now with a mating bite and being led around by Alexa. Braun was with them too."

Baron smiles at the memory and the embarrassment of all the things he'd seen them do to each other back before there was the privacy of a proper camp. "In the meantime before that, I'd found another camp... Tried to fit in. That's where Sami and Kevin were. They've probably told you about their Alpha, how they all had to fight to stay or to keep him entertained? I thought that would work for me too, but I guess I like being able to trust the people around me a little." Baron sighs. "When I left, Sami came with me." Baron rolls his eyes, "The first days were awkward, but Sami stuck around. And then Kevin hunted us down."

"Kevin meant to go back, I think, but then I saw how bad Sami wanted him to stay away from that place. So I... convinced Kevin to try being a small pack. Not to kill Sami at least. He couldn't kill me." Baron adds with a grin.

"Then Alexa and Corey found us, little collection of Alphas and Betas with nowhere else to go." Baron shrugs. "So we traveled where the hunting was good, made our little stashes where we could. And started gathering more and more wolves... Like they were all drifting downstream and we built a beaver dam."

"Was there ever...." Dean pauses because he doesn't know if he has any right to ask. "Did you ever have or was there ever anyone that you thought could be your mate?" He asks after squaring his shoulders.

Baron raises an eyebrow, Dean's controlled display of jealousy still as obvious as the nose on his face. "No actually. I mean maybe when I was a pup, when there were still kids around that were my best friends..." He shakes his head.

"Obviously in the pack, a lot of pairs came to us mated or close to it.... but..." He shrugs. "I'd met plenty of Omegas before. Betas too, other Alphas obviously. I never felt that... pull that mated pairs talk about. I thought it was horse shit. Until Kevin mentioned the chance of someone else claiming you."

Dean laces his fingers with Baron's and nods, "I kind of felt the same way. I mean, I think I kind of hoped maybe I'd meet someone but I'm kinda a pain in the the ass most of the time and a mild annoyance the rest so when the elders started talking about mates for me they didn't think it was a good idea. Then Hunter demanded me and Shane had not other choice. No one in the pack wanted me. So I was traded away."

Baron growls, the sound low and possessive in his chest at the thought. "I know it was our plan too... but It was a stupid fucking plan. For us and for Shane. I'm sorry."

"It wasn't stupid. I wouldn't be here if you hadn't come after me. And then where would we be? Apart? Me being Hunter's slave or exiled alone on the plains?" Dean counters with a shrug.

Baron is grateful for the forgiveness and nuzzles affectionately into Dean's neck. "Maybe Ember knew all of this. I'm just glad she saw you and we brought you home."

They spend some time working through their plans and then get dressed and have a light evening meal before they go to meet Corey, Alexa, and Ember to talk it all through again. It never seems to settle Dean completely, but Baron always feels better with a plan.

~~~~~

Dean goes before the council, Baron, Alexa, Corey, and Ember, later that night and they begin to formulate a plan of action to prevent the visions of the future Dean has seen. Ember verifies pieces of the story enough to make some sense of it all and as they all leave, each wolf walks away feeling prepared for whatever storm may be brewing.

In the morning, Baron gathers three of the younger hunting teams. He explains what they're looking for, a safe place somewhere hidden in the mountain, ideally dry, but even shallower pools might be ok. He sends the teams out to pick their own entry points. The springs come out of the mountain at a few points, but locating a part of the system like what they need will be a challenge.

Baron settles in to wait and listen for any alarms, he brought his tools out for treating and curing the hide from the bear, planning to get it stretched and ready to cure. They'll be at this camp long enough that setting up an area for the hunters to work away from the center of camp is probably a good idea.

It's half way through the morning when Curtis, a newer member of the pack casually joins Baron next to the mouth of a smaller cave. "Can I ask you something Alpha?" He asks a little reluctantly.

Baron blinks up at Curtis, he's not usually the one that people come to for talks, but he is the Alpha. "Of course. How are you, um... settling since we moved camp?"

"Ummm, great... you know. Everyone is great. Which is kind of what I wanted to talk to you about." Curtis replies. "I was wondering what I have to do to maybe run for an Omega? I mean, I don't really know if that's what I need yet but... how did you know you and Dean were like a thing?"

Baron frowns, thinking over the unmated Omegas and knowing that it must be Bo that Curtis' thinking of. "Those are two different questions. If you want to run for a certain Omega, then declare your intentions. They'll either accept you or not. If you just want to run... let instincts lead you... you could do that too." He doesn't particularly like the idea of anyone else deciding that they want to chase Dean, but that's all for the mother to decide really.

"The other thing... Dean's not normal. He told me that we were going to be mated." Baron shrugs. "I didn't believe him, but he was right. Plus, he's running for me, so there's that tradition up in smoke. Can I ask which Omega you're looking at?" Baron asks cautiously, "Because you could probably take Dango in a fight if you had to."

Curtis can see Baron's worry in the knitting of his brow and he shakes his head. "It's not Dean so don't worry about that. It's Bo. But I guess that's really the only options other than Breeze. Not that there aren't any perfectly nice Betas but Bo is nice and strong and... different like Dean I guess. I mean what Alpha wouldn't want a mate who helped take down a bear?"

Baron laughs and nods, "Well, I can't argue with that. You should talk to him... or go find something nice for a public declaration. It'd be a big year if all three of our unmated Omegas get bonded in the same run."

Curtis makes a pained noise, "What do you get an Omega like Bo though? I mean, you've known him longer than me. What does he like? And I don't even know if he has any idea who I am. What if he thinks it's creepy?" Curtis worries and his nervousness starts to translate to fidgeting with the tanning equipment.

"You could start by talking to him." Baron says, "Sit by him at dinner, see what he likes to eat, maybe?"

Curtis groans and nods, "I'm going to take your advice on this but if he punches me I'm blaming you."

Baron sighs sympathetically. "I don't think he will, but I know it's better to talk to him than just try to make a claim. And I bet he knows who you are. You do a lot around here, and you went on ahead to set up camp, didn't you? There were only a few of you up here."

Curtis shrugs, "Well, it can't hurt to try. Oh, and by the way, I think I found a place that might work for the non-fighters." Curtis leads the way into one of the smaller cave offshoots. The longer they walk down the narrow path the darker it becomes until it is pitch black. But then right as it becomes unnerving light appears at the end of the tunnel, a cool blue light that gets brighter and brighter. The narrow tunnel opens up as well into a giant cavern that is as bright as dawn light in the mountains.

There are several small pools of cool sweet water and even some large patches of soft green moss. High above them the roof of the cavern is covered in glowing worms and plant life that give the cave its light.

"If we put a door over the mouth to the cave anyone looking into the cave would just see darkness. But it's safe and the spring isn't hot or sulphur so there's no steam that could cause problems." Curtis explains

Baron nods, one of the hotter springs had sent it's team of young hunters running back out and coughing with the fumes. "This is perfect. It's deep enough in that most wouldn't keep hunting." He pats Curtis hard on the back. and gives him a knowing look. "Good job. I'll make sure to announce who found it tonight when we tell the pack about the plan."

"What? Really?" Curtis as in amazement. "That would be great. And I've got your back for sure. Just point me in a direction and I'll go."

Baron smiles. "I appreciate it. You just take good care of Bo if he accepts you." He bumps Curtis's shoulder lightly and looks happily around the cave. They take a moment to pace out the space and Baron makes a mental list of what they should get in here. The move will be slow, in case forward scouts are watching them, but they can make it comfortable enough for a few days at a time.

Chapter Text

The mercenaries stop to make camp in the woods that first night, and Roman hopes to have more time to talk with Seth, but it seems like someone is always nearby. Every member of their little pack seems to want to take a moment of Seth's time to offer him a gentle touch or a morsel of food. Even those that hover near Finn give Seth curious looks throughout the evening.

The whole situation puts Roman on edge and he stalks off to walk the perimeter of their camp rather than keep watching it.

When he senses someone walking behind him, Roman knows who it must be and his nostrils flare as he confirms Tom's scent. It's all too easy to spin and catch Tom's shoulders, pressing the Beta back into a nearby tree. "What did they do to him?" Roman hisses under his breath, glaring.

"They claimed him." Tom replies without hesitation. "He needed to become one of them to get away and he did. You seem concerned. Why is that?" Tom adds as he lets Roman crowd into his space.

"Of course I'm concerned! They were supposed to help us get him out and keep him safe, not..." Roman grits his teeth. He can't tell what exactly had changed about Seth, but he doesn't like it. "I didn't want this. I had a plan to keep him safe, and now he wants to stay with them. Or lead his own army. I don't understand."

"I'm concerned you had a rather narrow vision of how an Omega in his position was supposed to act." Tom says pointedly. "It is foolish to assume anything with creatures so controlled by their emotions." Roman has slid between Tom's thighs and he easily lifts himself up to wrap his legs around Roman's waist.

Roman growls slightly at the dismissal, but can't help his body reacting to the ease of Tom's presence even as his mind is still racing. "And what about you?" He asks, pressing Tom in harder against the tree. "Seth could see that we've been together... what do you plan to get out of all of this?" The curve of Tom's neck and the thump of his pulse is so close that Roman finds it distracting. Roman has always craved a mission, wanted a goal to be pointed toward, and if Seth doesn't want to be a part of that, then Roman will find something else.

"I need a hero.” Tom purrs against the smooth skin of Roman’s throat. “As cliche as that sounds, when you've lived as long as I have you realize the only stories worth experiencing are the ones full of tragedy, excitement, true selflessness, and exceptional villainy." Tom whispers as he leans in to kiss up along Roman's neck. "A hero that is devoted to a cause. I want to make you that hero... unless you would prefer to be the villain."

Roman frowns, he should ask how Tom can possibly have decided such a thing. He looks no older than Roman himself. "And what cause would I be devoted to?" Roman asks instead, "Each step I take seems to lead somewhere stranger. I don't even know which path I should take."

"There are so many things I could show you Roman." Tom purrs in Roman's ear. "So many lies that you've been told about how the world works. But I warn you, with each truth, the world does grow stranger and stranger. Be my champion..." Tom adds with a roll of his hips, "and I will lead you on adventures you have only dreamed of."

Roman shudders, feeling Tom's voice run through him like liquid fire. "I can do that." Roman murmurs, pressing his face into Tom's throat. "I'm already halfway down this rabbit hole, I'd rather have your torch to guide the way."

Roman has lost track of who is supposed to be chasing whom with Tom, but for all the confusion being feels easier than trying to understand the tenuous link between himself and Seth. Whatever that was seems to have snapped today.

Tom chuckles and lets his lips slide into a fiendish grin. "I will make you my weapon and I will point you towards greatness." Tom whispers as he opens his mind to Roman to show him is true nature. All of the eons of time since the creation of this world stretch out around them, all the way back to the dawn of the first people, the immortals who created the shifters. "I was proud of you, my Alphas. The perfect soldiers."

Roman's vision blurs as Tom speaks to him, and the Beta's- No- Tom is something else, his voice seems to echo and shift in his ears. It's the voice of Roman's father, his grandfather, every Alpha of every tribe that ever commanded his people. Roman shudders.

Tom smiles and kisses his way up to Roman's lips. "Do your people worship the old gods, Roman?" Tom asks softly against Roman's flesh. "Do you know their names?"

Roman nods, slow and confused. "We are chosen of Tilama and Sanet." He says automatically. It's not something that he's needed to explain to anyone in a long time. Those aren't truly the old gods, he knows. The oldest gods are those that are gods even in the stories, the fathers and grandfathers of the patron deities.

"Descended from Demi-Gods are you? No wonder you're so large." Tom purrs. He's silent for a moment as he leans back and examines Roman's face. "Take me to your tent Son of Sanet." He whispers. With Roman under his control, Tom will need to start planning. "I want to tell you a story."

Roman huffs out half a laugh, but nods. He'd pitched his small travel tent before realizing that the mercenary pack planned to sleep under the stars. One more petty embarrassment. He's grateful for it now as he leads Tom through the trees and they crawl into the dark quiet space.

"I'll have a watch." Roman says softly, almost apologetically. "If they trust me to guard them." He struggles for words for a moment. "What was that, what you showed me? What kind of power was that?"

Tom chuckles at the Alpha’s curiosity and opens his arms to Roman. “Come closer and I will show you the vastness of my power.”

Roman meant to only clear his head, perhaps to speak to Tom for a while before returning to the pack to plan their next steps, but with Tom nothing feels urgent and it's the early hours of the morning before he wakes with only faded warm memories of the night before.

~~~~~

Seth can see Roman's annoyance, but he still isn't ready to have whatever stupid meaningless argument they're likely to have again. Roman gave Seth to Finn and his pack and they claimed him. It's not for Roman to decide how Seth should behave now. When Roman stalks off into the woods and the Beta snake Tom follows him, Seth finds himself relaxing incrementally. The pack has been passing around a small earthenware jug filled with a sweet clear liquid that smells like alcohol, though they won't share it with him in more than tiny sips. Asuka murmured something about too much being bad and her gesture to Seth's belly made it clear what she meant. It's relaxing all their nerves though, and as the night falls and they all pull together around the small fire it's easy to let himself relax into their warmth and kindness.

"You told that pretty Alpha of yours that you wanted to stay with us." AJ murmurs as he settles down beside Seth, and he chuckles softly when Seth instinctively leans back against him. "You mean that, sweet thing?"

Seth shrugs and rolls his eyes affectionately at AJ. "I've never really belonged to anything by choice. I was just born into Shane's pack and then when Hunter and Stephanie came for me, I wanted to go but there wasn't really a choice about it. They were never going to take no for an answer. You guys are the first group of people I've ever met where you're all here by choice."

AJ humms thoughtfully, the idea of not being free to make his own choices is awful. "That's part of why we choose to be here. Finn doesn't control or demand the way leaders like Hunter do. He's earned his power." He strokes Seth's back gently. "But that means you get a choice too. Just because we like you doesn't mean you have to stay." He's asking because that choice affects all of them. Seth is obviously abused, hurting and needing comfort, but truly being a part of the pack means other things that the young Omega may not be ready for yet.

"I want to stay." Seth moans as AJ starts rubbing his back harder and working on the stiff spots. "Ever since last night... all I can think about is being connected with... with all of you. Even though I don't speak everyone's language, I'll learn. I'll be the best. I can be useful here."

AJ's laugh is a low rumble in response. "Last night was only the start of it. You play with Finn, let him properly into your heart... you won't be the same." It's as much tease as promise, but AJ is content to keep kneading the knots out of Seth's shoulders and feeling the Omega melt under his touch.

Finn has been listening from across the fire, watching Seth's tension and exhaustion leave him as the comfort of safety and pack settles in. AJ may be the only one making moves, but the whole pack is curious about Seth's place with them. Most of them saw his bruises and scars the previous night, and it triggered a protective impulse in all of his Alphas that amuses Finn.

"Is that what we're planning for the night's entertainment?" Finn teases, crossing the circle to crouch by Seth. "I think AJ's asking us to put on a show, little one. What do you think?"

Seth looks up at Finn with a mischievous grin. "I've never been with anyone else other than Hunter. I might be a little rusty at putting on the moves."

Finn laughs delightedly, settling onto a vacated cushion beside Seth and AJ. "That's nothing to be ashamed of." He says kindly, reaching out to catch Seth's hand and stroke the pulse point at his wrist. "Sit with me, little one. Either of us says stop and the show's over... until then, do what feels right."

Seth slides out of AJ's grasp and into Finn's lap without hesitation. He straddles the taller Omega's legs and rolls his hips as he leans in to kiss the man. "Should I have a word? Like a word to say if I need to stop?"

Finn smiles into the kiss, stroking Seth’s cheek. "Do you want a special word?" He kisses Seth again, moaning softly as the younger man grinds against him. "What if we count? You tell me to stop three times and I'll stop."

"No!" Seth retorts quickly, shaking his head as a shiver of fear runs down his spine. He swallows it down and pushes through. "I've tried to say stop before... I've said it over and over and they never stopped. I would never believe that you will. But if it's a word, a symbol, something I wouldn't normally say, you'll know I mean it." Seth explains as he raises his head defiantly. "It's shield. I wanna use shield."

Finn hums and stills their movement, stroking Seth's back. "Shhh," He could calm Seth's fear if he wanted, but manipulating the boy more won't help anyone. "Hush little one. You have your shield now, and I promise you that it will defend you from any of us." Seth's fear quietly feeds the demon inside of Finn, banking that power for later and Finn prays he won't need to use it.

"Tonight should be about your pleasure, not ours, precious one." Finn says delicately, hands moving to stroke Seth's sides and down to cup his cock through his light pants as well. "I can't promise we will always be gentle, but none of us will ever strike you without reason or request." Finn trails gentle kisses down Seth's neck. "Was any pleasure ever given to you in that place?"

"At times, when we traded for it. The Omegas in Hunter’s harem did not have gold or possessions of value so we traded secrets and information for gentle touches from Hunter and Stephanie." Seth whispers as he lets himself press into the soft and pleasing caresses. He rocks hips again like he was trained and he can feel his body start to produce slick in reaction to the Alphas' scents around him.

Finn nods, letting Seth keep control of his body and his actions for the moment. "We will show you the way then, as if it were a new world to you." Finn can already smell Seth's body reacting to them, and that's a good sign. Finn's hand slides into the front of Seth's pants to squeeze and stroke his cock, smaller than Finn's own, but hot and pulsing in his hand.

"No man or woman here will use your body unless you allow it. Not tonight or ever so long as you are with us. Understood?" It's a reminder to his pack as much as to Seth. Finn will not see an Omega used and discarded by his people, no matter how deliciously eager Seth may be for affection.

Seth sucks in a shuddered breath as Finn touches him. They were all naked and pressed against each other last night. He doesn't understand how this can feel so much more intimate. His own fingers dig into Finn’s shoulders as his hips rock up faster into Finn's hand. Without thinking he leans in and kisses Finn, slow and sweet with a hint of desperation. It’s the kind of kiss that would often win him a brief moment of kindness from Hunter.

The tiny, hungry, noises Seth keeps making start to affect the pack around them, especially AJ, who is stroking his own cock as he watches them. Finn closes his eyes and inhales slowly, the mingled scents of his pack's arousal and hunger feeding his own. "Feel how they want you, little one?" He murmurs against Seth's neck, still stroking him slow and steady.

Around them, the pack shifts and hums, some of them already pairing with each other. "I want to take you, Seth." Finn says, a low sweet promise. "But not until you're ready."

Seth groans and buries his face against Finn's shoulder for a moment to clear his head. "Fuck... with an Omega? I've never tried... Never thought we could...." Seth stammers as his orgasm grows steadily closer. "I'm gonna cum if you keep this up..."

Finn chuckles and leans back, releasing Seth's leaking erection for a moment. “Didn’t think we could? Oh, sweet princess, we have so much to show you.” The thought inspires Finn to change his course of thinking and he grins as he presses a kiss to Seth’s neck.

"The pack will want to witness that one day." Finn murmurs, sliding his hands inside Seth's shirt. "But something tells me you've spent too much time on display already huh?"

Seth has a flash of panic at the idea of being watched but he pushes it away. This isn't Hunter and the pack wants him. He wants to be with the pack. He can push through this. "It’s okay. I want to show them." Seth starts to squirm out of Finn’s lap, trailing kisses down Finn’s throat and slides his hands under Finn’s shirt to kiss the man’s chest. Seth begins to nuzzle Finn's cock before he pulls at the cording of the other Omegas pants to pull out Finn's cock. "I want to be part of this. I want you to be my Alpha." He whispers, low and needy, before he licks around the head of Finn's cock and takes him deep down his throat.

Finn humors Seth and pulls off his own shirt. In the firelight, the edges and whirls of his dark tattoo seem to writhe and shift on his pale skin. As tempting as it is to let Seth work, he can feel the agitation and fear coming off the younger Omega. It feeds another side of him that isn’t what he wants to focus on tonight. Finn groans in frustration, but tips Seth’s face back up to look at him. "Mmm, you won't lose us if you take your time, little one." Finn grins as he hears a soft laugh from the shadows around the fire. "We're very patient. Or we can be."

Seth frowns, swallowing hard as he looks at Finn, trying to figure out what the other Omega wants. “But I want to do this.” He rushes out. “If you don’t want me, then…” Seth bites his lip hard to stop himself talking. He knows there’s always another price to pay, it’s something Seth has always known about the world, but learned in the past year is as true for mating as it is in all exchanges with people.

Finn smiles and strokes Seth’s hair. “Oh, we all want you, pretty one. But tonight I have a different plan.” Finn scoots back slightly, just enough away that Seth will have to come to him. He pats the furs between his legs gently. “You’ve been taught things… different from those I would have taught you.”

Seth isn’t all that much smaller than Finn, but he settles hesitantly between Finn’s legs again, this time with his back against Finn's chest, and finds the other Omega’s body warm and comforting. The pack has moved closer to the fire as he and Finn have talked, and clothes and food have vanished. The spring evening is cool, but they lean into each other just as Seth is leaning into Finn. The scent of pack and arousal is like the scent of a sweet herb thrown into a fire, permeating the camp. Seth squirms and shifts his hips, reaching back to tease Finn's cock again, grateful for the attention.

Finn groans, letting the sound carry around the circle as he lets his head fall back and his fingers stroke Seth's hair. "Oh, my beautiful one..." He murmurs softly, catching Seth's hand and bringing it up to his own lips instead. "If you let us... we will consume you. But there's something I want you to see... to understand something about the world. About us." He kisses Seth's palms and then his fingertips gently. "Just sit with me, little one. There will be time to finish that later." Finn says, tucking his cock away with one hand as he strokes Seth's side soothingly. "Sit with me and choose one of the Alphas."

Seth settles back into Finn's lap. He's slightly confused but willing to take direction. He looks around the fire at the collective Alphas and does his best to remember names to faces. Their time together has mostly been a hazy memory of hot skin and passionate kisses. His eyes fall on AJ, still seated beside them, and remembers his strong gentle hands. "AJ. I choose AJ." He declares and the Alpha in question looks up on amusement. AJ's attention was diverted by kisses from one of the Betas, but Seth can't remember his name.

"Good choice." Finn purrs in Seth's ear, fingers stroking lightly at the other Omega's hip, but not teasing him yet. "You said you didn't know two Omegas could be together," Finn murmurs, "so I want you too see something else as well."

AJ grins and gives Seth a teasing wink as he finishes stripping off what was left of his clothes and kneels before Finn and Seth, closer to the fire where he'll be easily visible. "I want Karl." AJ says pointedly, meeting Finn's eyes like it's a challenge. AJ is small for an Alpha, not nearly as tall as Hunter or Roman, but he’s solidly muscled. Seth can't resist staring at his body as AJ presents himself to them, legs splayed and cock hard. AJ licks his lips and looks straight at Finn who just laughs at him.

"For that, you get Luke." Finn responds, obvious glee in his voice as the larger of the two Betas pulls away to settle behind AJ, giving the smaller Alpha a rough smack on the ass to move him to his hands and knees.

"Did you ever want to put your warrior king on his knees for you?" Finn murmurs to Seth, focusing his attention on the younger Omega and trusting that Luke knows what to do and that AJ already knows what's coming.

Seth watches AJ, the strong and capable Alpha, be touched and grabbed and manhadled by the larger Beta wolf with awe and rapture. "Yes," he hisses after a long moment, remembering to reply to Finn. "I wanted them both, Hunter and Stephanie, to have to crawl on their knees for me. I wanted them to regret ever touching me. He's an Alpha.... how can he? How does he submit to you like that? You're an Omega."

Finn smirks, "Omegas have our own power, sweet one. We have the power of life, more than any Alpha or Beta. Why shouldn't they honor us, obey our will?"

Finn's fingers tease lightly over Seth's trapped cock, stroking lightly as a jar of oil is passed to Luke and he presses one then two large fingers into AJ, making the Alpha whine and shudder. "Pleasure is pleasure... AJ will enjoy himself too."

"I've never..." Seth starts, but tries to explain. "Sex always hurts... well not always, but lately...." Seth whines as he lifts his hips towards Finn's teasing touch. He's still transfixed on the pair near the fire. AJ arches and whines just like a bitch in heat as Luke spreads him open and spits on his hole. "I never thought about Omegas being able to control Alphas that way. But you're right."

Finn smiles bitterly, possessive fury welling up inside him that anyone ever hurt this child. "No one will hurt you like that with us." He says firmly, letting his fingers stroke more purposefully as Luke, nearly seven feet tall and as muscular as any Alpha, slicks his straining cock and presses into AJ's body in a single hard thrust.

Finn doesn't try to draw Seth's attention away from the spectacle as AJ curses and moans, spreading his legs wider and pressing back into the intrusion. "You're under my protection," Finn murmurs, nipping gently at the skin of Seth's neck, nothing close to threatening a claiming bite or mark. He slides his fingers into Seth's loose pants to wrap around him and stroke more smoothly. "You don't have to serve anyone unless you want to."

Seth has to close his eyes to hold himself back. The sight of an Alpha being taken is overwhelming and added to the pleasure of Finn's hand he could almost come without any other stimulus. He bares his throat to Finn, an unconscious movement as he listens to the sounds of AJ being fucked into the dirt.

"Will you cum for me, sweet one?" Finn asks softly. The familiar dark voice inside him says to claim Seth now, but Finn has the control to know that Seth deserves a choice in this. "Not just yet, but in a moment." Finn says, fingers slowing to drag out Seth's arousal. "The scent of your pleasure will drive AJ wild, and I think he needs to wait just a bit longer." Finn teases.

A glance around the circle shows that most attention is rapt on the show by the fire, rather than on himself and Seth. Asuka is the exception of course, her breasts exposed as she toys with them and watches Seth shrewdly. Finn smiles softly at her, closing his eyes to inhale slowly and let the demon absorb the worship of his pack. Something inside him knows that his pack and his power will keep this boy safe, that Seth is special somehow.

Seth whimpers and the sound makes AJ grit his teeth. His eyes are already blood red and his own dick is hard and dripping between his legs as Luke slams into him. The smell of Seth, the pregnant Omega, is heavy on the air and it makes AJ's body crave release. "Please... Omega.... my king... Can I cum?" He grits out.

Seth can't comprehend that AJ is asking him, asking Finn, if he can cum. AJ is an Alpha. They take what they want, not ask. This goes against everything Seth was ever taught. The idea of it makes him moan and he arches up desperately into Finn's hand.

Finn chuckles, "See how he begs for us?" He murmurs against Seth's cheek. "How he begs for you?" When Seth only moans in agreement, Finn relents.

"Go on and touch him." Finn calls to his Alpha and Beta. He means it for Luke, but instead it's Karl who moves, smirking as he joins the show and lays down beside AJ. His eyes glow the rare protective blue of a Beta as his hand wraps around AJ's cock and his lips move close to AJ's ear.

"Cum for me, precious." Finn croons to Seth. His clever, slick fingers stroke Seth's cock with focus and intent. "Smell how he wants you... It's your release that will set him off."

Seth is practically laying in Finn's arms as he cums, his scent filling the air with a potent ambrosia of pleasure and need. Like the smell of dust after it rains it heightens the senses of all the Alphas and Betas nearby and even outside the ring of firelight, Roman's thrusts into Tom pick up speed as he chases the scent. AJ howls up at the moon as he cums across Karl's hand and Luke joins in as he fills the small muscular Alpha. The others around the fire have also grouped off and the whole scene has turned into an orgy of sorts. "Fuck..." Seth gasps, barely coming back to himself in the haze of pheromones and pack.

"Power." Finn whispers, and it's the Demon's voice hiding within his lilting accent. "Power to control the beast. Or command it." Finn inhales Seth's scent deeply as well, he's not cumming himself, but feeling his ties to the pack wash through him, the rush of pleasure is nearly as intense.

As Seth's breathing slows, Finn's hand releases his cock and instead traces small soothing circles on Seth's stomach. "You've taken your power back, sweet one. Now what will you do with it?"

After catching his breath from cumming, Seth moans and slides around in Finn's arms to push the slim man backwards into the soft grass. He's wet between between his legs and when he pushes down his trousers his thighs glisten with slick and cum. "I need more. I want more. Give me more." Seth growls with a smile. He straddles Finn's thighs and unlaces his pants so he can free Finn's cock once more. "I'm strong enough to take what I need. And I want you." He moans as he rearranges himself and slides down easily on Finn's hard dick.

Finn can't hide a wide grin as Seth pushes him back, easily letting the other Omega ride him. Seth looks radiant and confident in the firelight as he rocks his hips down against Finn's. "Ah- sweet gods... I'll hold on as long as I can but... When the time comes... Can I fill you up, sweet one? Can I mark you that way?" The request is entirely selfish, wanting to mark Seth as his and part of the pack. It's already straining Finn's willpower to hold back with Seth's slick heat surrounding him.

Seth just nods. His whole being consumed with the need for harder, faster, deeper. "Yeah, fuck... want you to fill me up. Want you to erase him. Want this pup to be yours... ours... the pack's." He moans after several long moments. The sounds of skin on skin slapping against each other is intoxicating and adds to the whole pack's fervor as they all strive for the climax. Karl has decided to climb on top of AJ's knot mid-orgasm, aided by oil and cum. He's no different than the rest of the wolves who are varying states of fucked out disarray at the moment.

The idea sends a little jolt of pleasure through Finn, and he can hear those closest to him moan aloud, whether by coincidence or in approval. "Yes." Finn chants, over and over again, gripping Seth's hips and thrusting up into him. His eyes flare golden yellow. And his claws half extend, pricking at Seth's sides as Finn arches nearly off the grass with the force of his sudden orgasm.

Seth has watched others cum. Stephanie was fond of pimping the omegas out to guards or other nobles when they displeased her. But watching Finn find pleasure was frighteningly beautiful and intense. It was strange really. For although he was certain Finn was one man, it felt as though two sets of hands were wandering his body and two sets of eyes started back up at him in ecstasy.

Finn's release echoes through the clearing as the added Omega pheromones and the strength of their pack bond rings with it. The next few minutes are a hazy blur as Finn murmurs soft approval to Seth, continuing to rut up into him lazily until his flagging erection won't support it. "Thank you." Finn says, stroking his fingers over the curve of Seth's cheek. He smiles lazily when AJ approaches them. The Alpha is still non-verbal as he kneels beside Finn, scent-marking his Omega leader and nuzzling into his neck but hesitating before touching Seth.

"Will you let AJ touch you, precious?" Finn asks Seth, stroking away the pin drops of blood at his hips. "He's very good with his mouth."

Seth is overcome by the power of the group climaxing together as it washes over him like golden waves. He can almost see it shimmering through the air. Its keeps him enthralled until AJ's ruby gaze falls on him. He turns to look at AJ and nods, "You may touch me Alpha. I need more." He moans, still unsatisfied.

Finn nods and AJ shifts to nuzzle Seth's throat in gratitude. He slides his hands reverently over Seth's skin, kissing down Seth's chest and licking eagerly at the traces of Seth's earlier release as he works his way down to Seth's cock, licking delicately across the head. His eyes are still glowing red, but his actions are as more worship than claiming.

"He's taken other Alphas too." Finn croons, stroking AJ's hair as he works. "When he and Shinsuke face off, the results are fascinating." Finn says, teasing fingers down Seth's back to tease at his entrance.

Seth whimpers as Finn's fingers slide into the sticky mess inside him and AJ's mouth slides down on him. "Oh fuck." His hands slide into AJ's hair. Most of Seth's sexual experience has been with multiple people, but never has it been this worshiping or blissful. Nothing hurts.

AJ takes his time, savoring the flavor and scent of this delectable new Omega and the mixed scent of Seth and Finn together. The knowledge that Seth is pregnant, that new life is growing within him, however slowly, washes through AJ as surely as Finn's command and praise.

"Tell us what you need, little one. Take your pleasure." Finn purrs, letting Seth ride two fingers, enough to bear down on without too much stretch or pain. He can feel the demon writhe beneath his skin, tendrils of power trying to reach for and encircle Seth.

Seth isn't sure how, if by some form of magic too ancient of have a name or not, but in the low fire light surrounding them Seth can almost see the powerful entity that gives Finn his power and Seth opens himself to it. He feels the whirlwind of something other fill him and change him. He imagines he can feel a change in the pup growing inside him as well. The power begins to well up in him until he feels like he can not hold on any longer and he cums once more upon AJ's lips.

Finn does his best to keep his demon under control, but Seth's whole being calls for it and every member of his strange little pack has been touched in one way or another. When Seth comes again, his cries echoing in the night, the demon is temporarily sated as well, leaving a hazy connection between them that makes Finn wonder just what he's invited into his bed this time. When AJ pulls back and Seth leans down to kiss him, Finn can see a shifting swirl of dark runes trailing down Seth's spine that certainly weren't there before.

A few blankets and furs are brought over to them, and there are low discussions of watches and shifts, but Finn keeps Seth with him as long as the other Omega will allow, letting AJ and few of the others settle in closer to them as the fire is banked and the whole pack gravitates toward shared heat and bond. Seth is theirs now, the rest of the fight will come another day.

Chapter Text

The next morning passes quickly, and in the rush of helping the pack sort through belongings and starting to ferry food and supplies into the newly discovered cave, Baron doesn't even think about the mating run until Alexa appears at his side, hand on his arm like a vice grip.

"Can I just say, you make some stupid-ass decisions." Alexa hisses at Baron, pulling him aside from the center of camp where dried meats, extra bedrolls, and other preserved winter supplies are being laid out.

Baron just frowns down at her. Her height is always a little startling when they're close together, but her face says she's not in any move to be teased right now. "You and Corey both agreed to this plan. Ember thinks it's a good idea to have a place like this too..." Baron shrugs, not sure what set Alexa off this time.

"I'm not angry about the plan." Alexa hisses and punctuates her anger with a slap to Baron bicep. "I'm angry because I had to listen to Dolph whine all morning." She slaps Baron's other bicep. "And all because you couldn't wait to mate the new Omega." She throws another slap and the first bicep.

Baron winces slightly at the slaps, but stands his ground. "I didn't fucking mate Dean. He's staying in my tent. Because he wanted to." Baron says defensively, leaning down a little to get in Alexa's face. "And if Dolph wants to fight me, he knows how that's going to end." Baron says with a dismissive snarl. "I don't see him trying to help organize the pack. He just wants to bitch about it."

As if from the shadows, Alexa's giant twin brother Braun is suddenly next to them and lifting his little sister off the ground before she attacks Baron. "Braun! Let me down. I can take him. He's just an idiot!" She yells, eyes burning red. Braun shakes his head and flashes his Beta blue at her. "No Alexa. Baron is doing nothing wrong. He is an idiot but a strong idiot and our Alpha. You can't beat him up in front of the pack."

Baron tenses and glances around him, seeing the tell-tale flurry of activity that means people were just staring. Baron does tip his neck slightly to Alexa, acknowledging her concerns.

"I'll talk to Dolph. If he wants a fight he can say it to my face. Or Dean's." Baron adds the last with a little smirk, somehow knowing Dean would probably relish fighting an Alpha for his own rights.

Braun lowers Alexa carefully to the grounds and pats her head. Alexa huffs and gives both men a pointed look. "Work this out before the equinox or I'll have both your heads on a pike." She threatens before storming off with Braun following behind protectively.

Baron has to smile, watching Alexa bristle. She will find a way to murder him if he doesn't keep the peace though, so he straightens himself and goes to look for Dean. Dean plans to run for him, but that means that if Dolph thinks he has a claim, they need to settle that before the equinox.

Baron finds Dean near Ember's tent, sketching a design of some kind in the dirt and talking about types of wood and some kind of tree sap. "Hey, can I borrow you?"

"Yeah, what's up?" Dean asks, his brow furrowing at the pinched look on Baron's face. He gets up and instinctively presses into along Baron's side. "You seem... on edge."

Baron didn't even realize how tense he was until Dean slides into his space and he turns his head to inhale the Omega's scent. "Yeah, just talked to Alexa..." Baron glances around to see who's nearby. "I think I might have a challenge for you." He says finally. "Before the run, I'd guess. Since he can't just run for you...." He sighs, arm resting firmly around Dean's waist. "We don't have those challenges in our pack much."

Dean instantly thinks of Roman and it sends a shiver down his spine. "Who is it? Are they from the pack or are they an outsider?" He asks hesitantly after they say goodbye to Ember and head down the path away from camp.

Baron shakes his head, stroking Dean's back as they walk, reacting instinctively to the flare of fear from Dean. "No, just Ziggler being a punk. Apparently he's spent all day talking about... who the fuck knows. Me taking advantage of you or something." Baron probably should have asked Alexa for more details, but he's not actually sure he cares.

"Oh, him. He tried to take advantage of me. I was surprised you didn't murder him the first time he started shit." Dean says with a relieved chuckle. "He seems... shifty. Where did you pick him up?"

"I'd get pissed off at any of our Alphas that tried to take advantage of an Omega in heat. That's why we have Ember and the other surrogates." Baron shrugs. "I barely talked to him then. It was Rusev that wanted to kill him." Baron tries to remember which of the small groups of stragglers Dolph actually arrived with. "He came in after Alexa and Corey, I think he was tagging along with a few other unmated Alphas and Betas. None of them stuck around. They didn't like that we ask everyone to do work. Pack up, hunt, move camp, all of that."

Baron walks them away from camp, turning to climb up into the quieter parts of the woods and the hillside. "Dolph just stuck around, did just enough to get by. He can work his ass off when someone's watching, catch the fastest stag on a hunt, pluck fish out of the river with his bare hands... but he doesn't want to be responsible for anyone else, just thinks everyone should agree that he's great."

"He sounds like every Alpha I grew up with. They always made sure to show off when Shane was around but always demanding the Betas and Omegas do most of the work the rest of the time. It's the divine Alpha right." Dean complains with a low growl. Seth and he were always getting into fights with the Alphas when they were little. Seth got pretty enough that the Alphas started to suck up to him. Dean didn't.

"Same kind of assholes Alexa grew up around." He says dismissively. "Talking big when it makes them look good and then slinking around spreading rumors when they can't." Baron huffs out a frustrated growl. "And Alexa thinks I did this by letting you stay with me."

They wanders further and further away from the pack, only running into a few of the women and men gathering berries and seeds, before they end in the clearing that Baron had first kissed Dean in the vision. "So what should we do about Ziggler?" Dean asks.

Baron groans. "I don't know. He hasn't said or done anything overt except for whine at Alexa." Baron stalks away from Dean a few steps in the clearing. "In a normal run, he could make an offer to you too. We'd both run for you... Then he'd have a reason to be pissed that we'd marked each other. It is an unfair advantage." Baron growls in frustration. " There's no point to this creeping and crawling around. It's ridiculous."

Dean groans and decides to lay down in the tall grass and watch the clouds move while Baron paces. "Well, I mean, I could fight him. It's not super traditional for an Omega to fight but I'm hardly normal. In my old pack most matings were arrangement by your parents. It was all about land and power, not just about feelings and stuff."

Baron finally stops and sits down next to Dean on the grass. "Huh. I thought you'd say that." He says fondly. "I don't know what Dolph wants, honestly. I'll try to catch him at dinner, since it's really me he's whining about. If he wants a fair chance with you, I guess we could set you up with Carmella and Cas or one of the others so that we're not... Imprinting or whatever." Just suggesting it makes Baron feel slightly ill. "I wish I thought just punching him would be enough to shut his mouth."

"Ziggler has a very punchable face." Dean admits. "It's weird because he wasn't in my vision at all. I guess maybe because I couldn't comprehend two Alpha's actually wanting me let alone three. Ziggler is way less scary than Roman though. Roman is... intimidating." Dean comments as he tries to change the subject from having to sleep somewhere else. The idea makes him angry.

Baron laughs and leans back on his hands. "God, he really does." Baron stays silent for a moment, thinking about Dean's vision. Dean is frustrating, sure but Baron can't imagine not wanting him. He's alluring. "You said that... About Roman coming here. The black wolf, right?" Baron asks finally. "Ziggler is one thing. He'll back down if he's called out, but the other wolf you talked about... Do you think we'll still be facing him as well?"

Dean closes his eyes and tries to focus on Roman and the black wolf. Much like when he looked for the bear he can see flashes of things around the man. He can feel and see the panting of horses, more than a dozen of them, running hard across the plains with men and women shrouded in black on their backs. He focuses more on just Roman and is shocked when everytime he nears Roman the man his facing away from him as if his focus is no longer on Dean. He's not pursuing Dean. He's reaching for something else. "That's weird. It's like... he seems distracted. I don't think he's chasing me. He's following something else."

Baron watches Dean, uneasy as he usually is when he knows Dean is using his powers, looking somewhere else far from them.

"Really? Can you- did you see who?" It seems too lucky to be true, that the threat might not be coming for them. "Did moving the camp throw them off?"

Dean opens his eyes, still two churning orbs of silver, and looks up at Baron. "They are almost to the first camp. They will find us and they have a mission to kill us." Dean confirms with a shrug. His head hurts suddenly and he curl up closer to Baron. "It's hard to see them. There's something hiding them. It won’t let me look at them."

Baron swallows hard, letting Dean curl into his side and stroking Dean's hair as if that could actually take away his pain. "That sounds ominous." Baron says, feeling dumb as his momentary hope crashes into deeper worry. "Maybe Ember could see more. Your powers are still new, right?" He offers in an attempt to be comforting.

"Yeah, I mean, time is all fucked up in my head. It feels like it's been months but it's only been a few days." Dean describes. "Maybe Ember knows but she’s so good at not changing or fucking with the future too much. She may not tell us what we need to know."

Baron humms thoughtfully. "You've been telling us things, and it seems to have worked out, weird as you are." He says it fondly, still stroking Dean's hair. "Would she really hide something like that from us? Something that important?"

Dean looks up at Baron with a soft smile. "Maybe. Ember isn't... it's like she's older than she looks. Like she's some ancient entity that's from before."

Baron smiles, ducking his head to press a kiss to Dean's forehead. "I can't understand Ember all the time, but she led us to you... She said you were important and she was right. Maybe now it's up to us to figure the rest out."

Dean smiles broader at the kiss and proceeds to pull Baron down on top of him. He wraps his legs around the man's wait to keep him close as he kisses Baron slow and sweet. "If Alexa wouldn't murder us for doing it, I would say screw it and we could just fuck like rabbits in this field. I always kinda wanted to elope."

Baron groans, leaning in to kiss Dean over and over. "Mmm, you want that then catch me on the Equinox." He murmurs teasingly. "I wish it didn't matter, but it does... I don't wanna leave the pack." It took him a long time to realize that, but he's not letting go of the m now.

"You're gonna make it rough on me aren't you?" Dean asks with a knowing smirk. "You better watch out though. I have a few tricks up my sleeve. " He playfully warns even as he's beginning to think about how to get woad and other supplies he'll need to make him stealthy.

Baron will be able to scent the herb but he won't be expecting to. It should also keep any other wolves, like Roman and Ziggler off his trail.

Baron chuckles, rolling his hips down lazily against Dean's. "You wouldn't want me to make things too easy on you." Baron teases, "How would you know you'd properly earned your mate?"

Dean rolls his eyes but is quickly distracted by Baron's movements. "Should I pin you down and ride you our first time or would you prefer to just fuck me into the dirt after I claim you?"

Baron draws in a sharp breath, eyes glazing briefly Alpha red. "Tradition says we rut in the dirt, and I knot you while I put my mating bite on you." Baron growls, catching Dean's wrists to pin them and nuzzling teasingly against the curve of Dean's throat. "But you're chasing me, so I guess you can choose what kind of claim you'd like to place." He can scent Dean's arousal as he grinds their hips together again, and it makes him want to ignore their responsibilities and take his time with his future mate right here on the grass among the rustling trees.

Dean sucks in a heated breath as Baron pins him and he bares his throat to Baron. "I don't need to be able to see the future to know that we're not leaving our tent for at least a week after our mating. Want you to put a pup in me." And fuck does that sound weird coming from Dean's lips. He never thought he would be the naturing type. He had never dreamed of having pups until he met Baron. "Fuck... we're gonna be in so much trouble if we keep this up.... Don't stop."

Baron grins and huffs out a laugh as Dean babbles. He's hard in his pants and ruts slowly against Dean's own erection. "I'm gonna have you every way we can imagine." He agrees. "And then some... Leave us both sore and aching." He can't even describe the surge of desire he feels when he thinks of Dean's slim body growing round and fat with his pups.

Dean does his best to see far enough into the future to see him heavy with pup but that far in time is hazy and uncertain with too many images for him to process. He'll have to talk to Ember about that some time but for now he lets it all fall away so he can focus on Baron. "We're going to be unstoppable. We will make our pack a force strong enough to challenge the gods, new and old."

Dean's eyes are still faintly silver, and Baron doesn't know what he looked forward to see, but the words still sound like a prophecy and Baron kisses Dean, hard and hungry. "No one will stand against us." He growls, letting himself get lost in Dean and the sensations of the bond growing between them.

"I mean, that depends." replies another voice from above them and Dean instantly recoils when he opens his eyes and sees Ziggler standing over them. "I can see that Alexa's reassurance that my right to declared my intentions for Dean where not conveyed properly. Perhaps I should tell the entire pack what an power hungry Alpha we have. You clearly don't respect your pack members. Or is Dean really just the power hungry whore making the best out his situations. What a scandal." Dolph spits.

Baron's head snaps up and he's growling low in his throat as his eyes fixate on the other Alpha, barely hearing his words. Baron releases Dean's hands, shifting into a defensive crouch still with Dean half beneath him. "You can declare whatever you want!" Baron snarls, "You'll lose."

Dean attempts to move out from under Baron but is held down by the Alpha. "Fuck off Ziggler! Baron, let me up so I can beat the fuck out of him." Dean threatens, angry that this moment with Baron has been interrupted.

Ziggler just laughs and rolls his eyes at the idea. "Really? An Omega, wanting to take on me? I'm the fastest, best, hardest-working, wolf in this whole goddamn pack. And I'm an Alpha. I was born to be on the top and fact that you think you can beat me is laughable at best."

Baron growls again, shifting to the side to let Dean up but still staying protectively between Dean and Ziggler. "Then you won't mind the pack witnessing the challenge properly." He hisses at the other Alpha, "Wouldn't want anything happening to you alone in the woods that you could complain about later."

Ziggler considers this while looking both Dean and Baron up and down. "Fine. It'll make sure you don't help the Omega cheat. In the off chance that Dean actually manages to beat me I will give up any intention of claiming him. But if I win, Baron, you will remove yourself as Pack alpha and give me the title. You will leave the pack and be the pitiful rouge wolf you really are."

Baron bares his teeth shifting to his full height and glaring down at Ziggler. "That's two challenges, runt. And I don't think you want to face us both in one night." Baron glances at Dean, easily seeing the tense lines of someone ready to fight and reminds himself to trust Dean in this. They're meant to be partners. "So when he beats you, you're the one who leaves. I won't have you in my pack spreading lies."

"Baron..." Dean hisses in warning. Baron shouldn't put so much on the line but he knows he can beat this man, Alpha or not.

"Seems like we have a deal then Alpha. I look forward to becoming Alpha and claiming the whore in front of you before you're dragged from camp." Ziggler interjects, shaking Baron's hand before Baron or Dean can back out. "Have fun with your whore while you still can." He adds as he walks back toward camp.

Baron grips Ziggler's hand hard before he can run. "Be careful what you wish for, Dolph. Your words won't save you in a challenge." He snarls at the other Alpha again, ensuring he's walking away before turning back to look at Dean.

Dean picks up a rock and chucks it at a tree inches from Ziggler's head. "Fuck you asshole!"

Baron grinning viciously when Ziggler picks up speed after Dean's hurled rock. "Be careful with him." Baron advises softly, "He says he doesn't want us to cheat, but you can be sure that weasel has something of his own planned."

"Fuck," Dean curses as he picks up another rock and throws it as well. "Fuck, he's such a fucking asshole. I can't fucking believe he could be so fucking... geh!" Dean is pissed and terrified that he is going to get Baron killed all for again. "I can't... fuck what if I lose?!"

Baron grins at Dean. "You won't. You made me bleed the first time we met, vision or not." He cups Dean's face, kissing him gently. "He won't be prepared for you... He hasn't fought a challenge in years and you just killed a bear." His voice rings with pride, though he's already trying to think over their other options.

"But what if I ruin it all for you? for us?" Dean whispers between kisses. "I can't lose you again. I've fought for hard for us." Dean gasps, his anxiety and nerves consuming him as he falls into Baron's arms.

Baron tries to laugh it off, but then Dean's stress and fear hits him like a stampeding horse. "Dean." He says urgently, then louder, "Dean! Listen to me. Please." They crumple back to be sitting on the ground and Baron pulls Dean into his lap. "Dean, please breathe. It'll be ok somehow. He's a coward. You'll be ok." Baron isn't even sure what he's saying, but Dean has tried to use his powers three or four times today and if he's not at full strength then they really might be in trouble.

"I've watched you die once. I won't do it again." Dean declares as he buries his face into Baron’s chest. "Fuck... he's probably talking shit already. Fuck, why is it so fucking crazy? I can't..." Dean starts to hyperventilate as he searches for how this fight may end and a thousand possibilities flood his mind.

"Dean, just breath." Baron says urgently when Dean just sucks in a shaky shallow breath. He's never seen someone like this who isn't wounded. "It’s going to be fine. Dean, please." he says, keeping his voice low and firm and stroking Dean's hair. "Just breathe for me, Dean, please. I'm not going to die. Neither of us is going to die. It's ok. Please breathe."

Dean gasps and claws at Barons shirt as he struggles to catch his breath. Flashbacks of Roman slaying Baron begin assaulting him and it feels like the ground his falling away, leaving him on the cliff once more. As he falls over the edge into the burning inferno darkness overtakes him and he passes out.

As terrifying as the experience is, it's almost a relief when Dean goes still in Baron's arms. Baron is shaking slightly as he stands, shifting Dean's weight into his arms to carry him back to camp. Dean was right about one thing and Ziggler will be spreading rumors. He needs to get back and make sure Dean has somewhere safe to rest before things get out of hand.

Chapter Text

Dean is still out cold when Baron reaches the bathing caves and Ember's tent on the outskirts of camp. He stumbles through an explanation, Ember looking angrier and angrier as he does. Ember finally promises to keep Dean safe and Baron heads for the center of camp, eyes out for Ziggler.

Before Baron can get very far he's pulled off the path and into a smaller tent by two sets of strong hands. There's only a moment of panic before Baron realizes that Braun and Corey were the ones that grabbed him and tossed him in front of Alexa.

"What part of deal with Ziggler made you think it was ok to challenge him?" Alexa asks, standing over him with a demanding stare.

Baron glares up at Alexa, too scared for Dean and frustrated to think clearly. "Lies! He challenged me! Dean actually. Fucking coward thinks he'll have an easy fight against an Omega."

Baron turns his head to look at Corey and Braun, hoping for understanding from the Betas. "Dean had... Some kind of attack. He's willing to fight but he's unconscious. Ember couldn't tell me what's wrong..." He stays on his knees, unsure if he should even try to stand against the fury on Alexa's face.

Alexa groans and begins to pace. "This is exactly the kind of day I assumed I would be having. I am calling a council meeting. Braun go get Ember and Dean. I want to know if this Omega is worth all of this."

Baron gets to his feet finally, trying to pull Alexa's attention back to him. "A council meeting is a good idea. Ziggler thinks he'll just take over the pack if Dean loses, but that's not how we are. We can't let him push that challenge through tonight." It's as much about defending the pack as it is himself or Dean.

"You agreed it would be tonight?" Alexa asks, and Baron nods. "Well I guess we better make sure Dean can function and beat the shit out of Ziggler. He will claim interference if it's not tonight." Alexa comments

Baron nods again, trying to gather himself to win over his packmates. All he wants right now is Dean well enough to fight and win, but they didn't see Dean crumpling in on himself unable to see a way out of whatever future they were headed for. "What has he been saying?" Baron asks finally. "I need to know what he claims I've done if I'm going to prove him wrong."

"Oh, that you challenged him and then said that he'd have to fight Dean instead because Dean was the one who made the claim." Corey says, looking displeased.

Baron's hackles rise at the blanent lie but he's interrupted before he can defend himself by Ember entering the tent followed by Braun carrying Dean. He's woken up since Baron left him in Ember's care but he's still a little out of it. Braun lays him down near the back of the tent on some spare blankets and Baron suddenly realizes that they are all standing in the storage tent.

Luckily with it being the beginnings of Summer no one should be in here looking for things and they won't be interrupted. "Ok, now that we are all here." Alexa begins, "Ember I need some incite on what Dean's powers are and how likely he is to win this match up tonight with Ziggler."

Ember frowns, standing near Dean, but not blocking him from the group. Dean deserves to be involved. This will be his council and his pack soon enough. "I understand only as much of his powers as I can of my own." She says hesitantly. "I've learned to focus it through meditation, but his visions are much more instinctual..." She glances back at Dean. "And he taxed himself this afternoon. I've never watched power like this in an Omega still affected by heats and before mating." Ember admits this last carefully. This discussion isn't about her past and she isn't about to let it go there. Predicting the outcome of this fight is too much, she only got glimpses of it the past few days and the echoes of it are to faint and varied to predict.

"Are we really going to let this happen?" Corey asks the group. "An Alpha mating challenge when Dean clearly doesn't want it?"

"I don't like that president for the pack. That the feelings of either person shouldn't be considered." Corey adds, frowning thoughtfully. They've been lucky to escape a conflict like this so far. If Dean were unsure it would be different, a display of ability to provide or a contest like the run to let instinct and strength build a mating bond is normal enough, but this is something else, a clear power play.

"I'll still fight him." Dean protests as he stumbles to his feet and over to Baron. "Hey, sorry to freak out." He apologizes, barring this throat to Baron in submission. Baron wraps his arms around Dean, holding him close, with his hands on Dean's hips. "Don't apologize. I should have known you were pushing yourself and had you slow down.”

Alexa rolls her eyes and interjects. "Ok, well now that you two have figured your stuff out we still have the question on if we should allow this fight. We basically have to since if we, as leaders of the pack, say no, Ziggler could say that its corruption and we are just protecting our place in power. It could cause desertion or worse. I won't stand for in fighting."

For a moment, all Baron wants to do is hold Dean close and inhale his scent, but Alexa's urgency is real, so he lets Dean lean into him for support while they focus on the problem at hand. "He's been spreading those rumors already. That I took advantage of my position to mark Dean or something." Baron sighs. "When everyone saw Dean propose to me." He looks over at Dean. "You sure you want to fight?"

"A fight will be required." Ember says softly. "The pack has heard enough rumors that it will be expected. We can only dictate its form."

"Form..." Corey says thoughtfully. "We can't just decide it's a race or a basket-weaving contest or whatever... He'll cause a riot."

"He'd probably win at basket weaving. I'm fucking horrible at it." Dean jokes although only Corey seems to crack a smile.

"But will you be able to fight?" Alexa demands. "Do you have any weapon training or anything?" Alexa demands. "Anything that will let you win against a practiced brawler?"

"I mean, I've fought most of the Alphas I grew up with. I'm scrappy and I'm willing to do whatever it takes. I want to fight for our pack, for my mate." Dean declares and Ember smiles as well.

"If you are so willing I may be able to give you the strength you need to fight Ziggler." Ember comments. "It may hurt but the pain will give you the strength of an Alpha and the collective knowledge of our ancestors."

Corey's eyes widen, "Won't Ziggler notice that Dean's been... Assisted?" Ember shared a drink with him once that set off something similar to this, but if Dean's already been working himself to collapse Corey can't see it as a good idea.

"I don't know that we have a choice." Alexa chimes in, contradicting her mate. "Ziggler's been a jackass like this before, losing him wouldn't harm the pack much, but losing Baron... Either of you really," she adds, unwilling to admit more the value of the place Dean is creating for himself, "That would be tough on morale, especially waiting on reprisal from Hunter." She shakes her head. "Whatever it takes to win. We'll stand behind you, but we can't interfere directly."

"Ziggler is a show off and a bully. He doesn't know I freaked out. He won't know if I'm at full strength or not." Dean says defiantly. "And I don't care if it hurts. If it means kicking that dickhead's ass than all the better."

"All right then." Alexa shrugs and cracks her knuckles dramatically. "I guess if Ziggler wins, I get to challenge for my pack back." She says with a little smirk. It never officially came to blows between her and Baron for leadership, but it could have.

Corey can't help but smile, scent-marking Alexa's throat gently before resting a hand on his mate's shoulder. "Always a back up plan." He says fondly. "I'll go with Ember and Dean. Help him get ready. I'm sure Ziggler wouldn't count a mere Beta as interference."

As proud as he is of Dean, the whole thing makes Baron uneasy. If Dean weren't still leaning into his side, he'd be pacing. "And I'm just supposed to watch?" He asks, teeth bared in a snarl. "I can't do anything to defend my pack? My mate?" It's the first time he's said it, and doesn't even realize it until the long silence that follows.

Dean looks up at Baron and smiles wide and bright. "Hey, listen to me." Dean says with a squeeze to Barons arm. "There are gonna be plenty of times where you are gonna have to fight for me because I'm a pain in the ass and that's not gonna change. But right now..." he pulls away from Baron and points at Barons chest, right above Barons heart. "I'm gonna fight for you. And for our pack."

Baron can't look away from Dean, and can't find words for a long moment. Luckily he doesn't have to because Braun clears his throat. "You'd better go, if you're gonna do that pup. Time for the rest of it later." Braun's voice is a bit rough, but he moves to hold open the flap so that Ember can lead.

Before Dean can be pulled away, Baron catches his wrist and squeeze it. "I... trust you. I'll fight for you the next time." Baron promises, leaning in to scent-mark Dean properly and then pulling him in for a kiss.

Dean whines as he's physically pulled out of the tent by Corey while Alexa makes a mock gagging noise at their display. "I'm gonna beat his ass for you baby!" Dean crows back much to Corey and Ember's amusement.

"I swear, the ridiculous romantic stories that will get told about you two." Alexa rolls her eyes again as she speaks, but she's smiling slightly. "Come on, idiot. Ziggler asked someone watch you to make sure you don't... whatever. Let's keep you out in public being useful."

~~~~~

"You'll get yourself into more trouble." Ember says under her breath, moving Dean along, though there is no actual discouragement in her tone.

"Have you met me? My middle name is trouble and I'm in love, which mean Ziggler can go jump in a lake." Dean replies back with a bit of much confidence than he actually feels. "So what exactly did I sign up for?" He asks as he's pushed into Amber's tent. He hasn't been here much since his heat but Dean still smiles at the sense of familiarity.

"You look like a pup coming home after their first day of real work." Corey comments with a chuckle as he begins to help Amber start a fire.

Ember smiles, watching Dean and passing a small cauldron to Corey to begin mixing some odd-smelling ingredients. "I have two choices for you." Ember says softly, "Both will help you fight..." She sighs, reaching for the words she once heard her father murmuring to an Alpha before a challenge. "One will dull pain and boost your strength, but it can slow your perception. The other heightens hearing and speeds action, but as it heightens all senses, most say it makes pain worse." Ember sighs, looking Dean over and fighting to stop herself from reaching for her other vision. So many choices revolve around Dean that catching a true thread of possibility is like reaching for spider silk. "Both were tradition with my people, both can be the difference between winning and losing."

Dean considers his options and thinks about what he knows about Ziggler. "He's gonna hit fast but not hard enough to knock me out right away." Dean comments. "My only advantage is if I can hit harder and faster. I don't mind some extra pain. I've taken beatings all my life." He decides.

Corey rolls his eyes and chuckles. "If you and Baron keep saying noble shit like that the pack is gonna think you're divine."

"The acts that prove divinity are often those with the most human motivations." Ember murmurs. It was said to her long ago, but she never expected to meet someone who it applied to again.
She finishes mixing the ingredients in the second bowl, keeping silent as it settles and the color of the liquid shifts to a translucent orange-gold. "We are living the days that may one day become legend." Ember adds finally, beckoning Dean forward to offer him a small wooden cup of the broth. "Be sure the story you tell will be the one you'd wish your children to know."

Dean takes the cup slowly and looks at the swirling golden liquid. He hesitantly lifts it to his lips and downs the small earthenware cup. Almost immediately he hid consumed with visions and he falls back into Corey's waiting arms.

Dean sees all of time past playing back before him. He sees the first shifters come to the continent on strange ships made of hammered metal. They are beautiful and terrifying, powerful and glowing like the stars. There are twelve of them. They spread out from the boat and wander out in different directions.

Some of the twelve wage wars, great a bloody. Others created music and pottery. They teach the primitive peoples of the land the love of the moon and gave them their wolves. But each one gave their people a different ability, making them stronger and special.

One of the wolves, a strong warrior woman walks towards Dean. With her armor and heavy fur cloak it's difficult for Dean to realize that she is pregnant. She carries a sword of iron in one hand and shield in the other.

"Hello child. If you hear my words I am sorry you are in need of strength. The life of an Omega is one of struggles. We have such power but it comes at a great price. And yours maybe greater than your brethren."

"You are not alone, child of light." The woman says, voice seeming to echo in Dean's mind like the ringing of a hammer on steel. "Your story is being watched, and this is not the end of your fight."

Dean falls at her feet and bows his head in submission. His mother had told him stories as pup about the goddess Revane, mother of Omegas and protection. "I need strength to protect my pack. A wolf has threatened my mate's position as Alpha. Please, I need your aid in this battle."

"It will be yours, my child." The goddess says. A soft hand rests on Dean's shoulder, stroking his cheek despite Revane's grip remaining firm on her sword and shield. "The spark of creation flares bright within you, but the vision granted to you is not without its cost. I cannot shield you from all that is to come."

A wave of warmth begins to flow through Dean's veins. It grows and spreads like wildfire, heating up and scalding him from the core until it feels like his whole body is in flames. Dean screams in pain, thrashing as lightning and fire consumes him. Noise thunders around him and it takes him a small eternity to realize he is making the sound that rings in his ears.

The noise grows and begins vibrating through him until his whole body shakes and convulses. A supernova of heat and light drips through him, crushing every bone in his body and rebuilding them from energy and iron. He flies through stars and worlds unlike any other, faster and faster until everything stops and he is sent plummeting back to earth and into watery darkness.

Dean wakes up, eyes lit from within with silvery light, to see Corey and Ember staring down at him with concerned faces. "You didn't tell me it was gonna hurt that bad." he croaks.

Ember frowns, stroking Dean's forehead with a cool cloth. Corey is sweating with the effort of trying to still Dean's thrashing.

"That was the most... intense reaction I've ever seen." Ember says carefully, clearly a bit shaken. "But I've never given it to someone with the gift. What did you see?"

"More important," Corey interrupts wearily, "How do you feel? Did we just poison you?" He continues to support Dean's shoulders and smoothing a soft, damp cloth over Dean's neck and shoulders.

"I'm pretty sure I died and traveled to the heavens because I saw Revane." Dean groans as he sits up. His body feels weightless but his torso still burns. He lifts up his shirt and sees a brand scalded into his pectoral opposite his tattoo. It is the rune for protector.

"Fuck. You really do know magic." Dean says as he touches the brand and hisses. It still aches and stings. His body is already reacting to the burn and healing the scorched flesh. It leaves a pearly scar in its wake. "How long was I out?"

Corey hisses in sympathy, reaching out instinctively to touch the new mark on Dean's chest opposite the one he placed there. His eyes are wide, because true magic is rare and not something he's seen happen before him like this. "Quite a while."

"We couldn't see what you saw, and you never stopped breathing." Ember adds. Dean didn't die, not the way he thinks. "The mother chose you and gave you a new purpose little one." She adds fondly, stroking Dean's hair. "You are more special than I knew."

"I don't need to be special. I just need to protect our pack." Dean says with a shrug as he forces himself to stand up. It makes him chuckle when Corey and Ember freak out a little.

"I'll be fine. Feels like I've got a whole new body, all my bones feel new." He describes with a smile.

Corey watches Dean stand with awe and a touch of fear. "We're trusting in you. Be safe." He says, pulling himself to his feet. "We'll be watching to ensure Ziggler doesn't try something to sabotage you."

"Thanks. Knowing what a snake in the grass he is, I don't doubt he won't try something. " Dean replies as he scent marks Corey and the Ember. "Well, who wants to punch an asshole?"

Ember scent marks Dean's throat gently. She grins at Dean and nods, letting Dean and Corey lead the way out of her tent. She can't risk words without taking time to reflect on what she's just seen.

Chapter Text

While Dean is off being prepared for his challenge, Alexa has Baron and Braun chopping wood and doing other "helpful things while in the public eye" so no one can believe he's too involved with Dean's fight. Baron is pissed about it because his title is on the line and Dean is his mate. He doesn't care what anyone thinks but he's learned that you can't run a pack by force and his people look to him for leadership. He has to present himself as a paragon. By the end of chopping firewood he's forgone using the stone axe and moved to just ripping the logs apart with his hands.

"The hell is going on?" Kevin asks when he finds Baron and Alexa in a clearing looking like prisoners headed for execution. "People are saying there's an Alpha challenge tonight? When did you let some fuckwit outsmart you enough to earn a challenge?"

Baron just growls at Kevin and so turns helplessly to Braun and Alexa. "What happened to him?"

Alexa rolls her eyes and explains while stomping up the hill towards her tent. "It's all fucking crazy. If I had known kidnapping him would be this much fucking trouble I would have said fuck it and never agreed to sending you all after him. But speaking of fuckery, I can see you've recovered from rut. How was your vacation from sanity?"

Kevin laughs and rolls his shoulders with a cocky grin. "Oh, Sami and I had a great time. I think it stuck this time too." Kevin proclaims happily. "Hell, if I had known having Sami hang around with an Omega in heat would send us both into a frenzy I would have made him watch over Breeze and Bo every season. He's still recovering but I really think we did it this time, especially this close to the equinox."

It's Braun that reacts first, patting Kevin's shoulder with one massive hand. "Good man. Pack needs more pups."

Baron offers Kevin a smile too. "Dean seemed pretty sure it would help... And you know either way Sami's with you for life." Baron says, trying to get out of his own head and be happy for Kevin. "Guess we'll know in a week or two when you can smell it on him, huh?"

Alexa groans and pushes past the two men, "Oh my god, soon everyone is going to be a parent except me and you're all gonna be like 'Oh Alexa, you should learn the joy of having pups.' 'Oh Alexa we're all so happy.'" She mimics before gagging dramatically. "I like having sex and I am not living like Carmella and Cass and making Dean babysit."

Baron laughs. "To be fair, I think I'm gonna be pretty bad with pups too. If Dean even does get pregnant. He said his heats are super irregular." Baron likes the idea of having more pups around in theory and Lana and Rusev will be thrilled, but it makes them more at risk for both outside attacks and illness if supplies go wrong. "You and Corey will get to tell them all stories about their foolish parents."

"None of that explains what the whole pack is all worked up about." Kevin points out. "And why you're out here punching trees."

"Ziggler challenged Dean for Baron's seat as Alpha." Alexa explains as they all take a seat towards the front of the food tent as usual. "That snake in the grass is starting rumors too. If I could I would kick his ass too."

"Well you probably should have after he tried to force himself on Dean during his heat. From what I hear, Baron just threatened him and Dean embarrassed him after Dean brought down a bunch of bears or something." Kevin reiterates.

"There was only one bear and Bo and Breeze helpled." Dean chimes in as he, Corey, and Ember walk into the tent as well. People are starting to gather for the evening meal. "You guys have a fun day being normal?"

Baron looks up as Dean walks in, and it's impossible to imagine that at one point he thought he didn't want this man. Not being able to touch him itches like a fever under his skin. "It was a very impressive declaration." Baron says fondly, flashing Kevin a grin as well. "But I know how you hate cleaning furs, so it was best that you were otherwise occupied."

"We didn't want to punish Ziggler for being influenced by an unmated Omega in heat..." Corey says, carrying two small bowls of food to the table for himself and Alexa. "Our instincts are a gift, and we don't want to punish anyone when no harm was done. This challenge on the other hand...." Corey drops his voice to their small group. "It's a political play with intent to spread mistrust. I still don't like it."

"Wait, can we go back to the bear thing?" Kevin interrupts. "You took BREEZE and Bo out and brought back a bear? And this stupid idiot wants to fight you?" Kevin shrugs. "His funeral, I guess."

"Hey, Breeze is super fast at wood working. You tell him him to make a spear or weave a net, he'll have it done in half the time of most wolves and it'll be prettier than any weapon you've ever seen." Dean retorts with the fondness of an older sibling towards the flamboyant wolf. "And Bo's just the best. He'll make a good match for Curtis if Curtis decides to make a move. It's worse than Dango and Breeze. I really hope we don't have to kill another bear so Bo can propose." Dean adds as he gestures over at the pair who are sitting together shyly.

Ember chuckles and ruffles Dean's hair, sitting beside him to ensure he stays appropriately away from Baron for the moment. "Will you have everyone mated up by the new year?"

"New pups, new bonds, and a calm spring." Braun says, raising a cup that looks tiny in his hands. "Should be enough to be grateful for." Several of the nearby members of the pack echo the sentiment, though there's clearly tension around the evening's challenge.

"We can hope." Baron says tightly. He passes his small plate across to Dean and then clenches his fingers and walks away to go help with distributing food. It's uncomfortable and awkward for him, but then at least everyone can see him, and the impulse to carry Dean out of the tent and run away is under control.

Dean shares a look with Baron when the Alpha gives him his plate and goes to get another one. He can't help but smirk a little at the domestic action since traditionally he should be the one getting his Alpha a meal. "I didn't think I would find a mate growing up. I mean, until you guys kidnapped me I never would have anyways. And Breeze will be pregnant before you can say baby clothes after the run so be prepared for more pups." Dean teases. He wants to keep the energy light and happy in the tent. But it's getting hard not to just climb into Baron’s lap and kiss him right now.

"More trouble than you were worth anyway." Alexa says grumpily, but then Corey takes her hand and she softens. "But you got Breeze to focus and settle down. And got Ember to eat with the pack." She shakes her head with a rueful smile, Dean clearly doesn't want to talk about the challenge so they make lighter conversation.

It's around this time that Ziggler and a few of his lackeys file into the tent and make a beeline for Dean's table. "How's it going future mate?" He says with a sneer to Dean and almost immediately several of the Alpha's at the table start to growl, low and threatening. Dean just starts laughing.

"You know what's so hilarious about this whole thing Ziggler?" Dean asks at he stands up. "It's the fact that you think even if you do win I would ever bare my throat to chicken shit asshole like you."

Corey smirks and bites his lip at Dean's retort, tensing when Ziggler's tall dark-haired friend Drew steps forward and gets in Dean's face, looming over the young Omega while Dean snarls at him.

"Remember that there won't be any interference from either side." Alexa says, the command in her voice ringing through the crowded tent. She stands to one side, not obviously backing Dean, but staring Ziggler down. Corey has never been so in love with her as when she’s commanding obedience.

"Our pack..." Ember adds, voice carrying as though the whole tent falls silent watching the altercation. "...shares our duties as well as our traditions and our victories. The council will observe your challenge, and as is tradition, the victor will get to claim his mate. But not until a true victor is proclaimed."

Dean turns to look directly at Baron and his eyes flash silver with lust. He doesn't give a fuck that everyone can smell it. "You just motivated me to kick Ziggler’s ass faster. See you at moon rise punk. I have to prepare to make you cry."

The assembled pack is a flurry of whispers and giggles, but Ziggler growls and grabs more food, baring his teeth at Baron.

"Your little fucktoy can prepare all he wants, but you'd better start packing. I don't want to see you again once he's mine." Ziggler spits out the challenge before stalking from the tent.

~~~~~

It is with much whining and snarling that Baron and Dean are separated from each other and moved from the tent after dinner. It had been impossible not to try and play footsie under the table and they were quickly caught. After that however, everything moves faster than Dean is prepared for and as the moon rises in her nightly vigil, the members of the pack gather around him and Ziggler to paint their chests with brightly colored powders and paint. When Baron's turn comes to mark Dean he presses his hand over Dean's heart and his tattoo before kissing Dean's forehead. "Destroy him." Baron whispers and it sounds like more of a plea than a command.

Ember presses her hands to each of the competitors, stroking a dark amber oil across Ziggler's brow and down Dean's cheeks. She squeezes Dean's shoulder and gives him a tiny secretive smile.

"The challenge is one on one!" Alexa announces, standing on top of a large rock as the pack slowly clears the broad round clearing. Several people put down extra straw on the ground. "The fight will continue until one fighter submits or neither can continue." She says clearly. "Are you both ready?"

"More than you are." Ziggler answers with a sneer at Dean, he's scuffing his feet on the ground and looks wild and angry with splashes of dark color staining his skin in the silvery light of the almost-full moon.

"I'd rather die than let you take this pack." Dean growls as The Council takes their seats on a small platform constructed from wood planks.

Dean spares a look up at Baron and smirks. He can do this. Not just for himself, not just for the chance to mate Baron tonight, but also for the pack. He can feel the energy of Revane's power welling up in him and making his nerves tingle. He knows that had the power not been guiding him, Ziggler's first blow would have slammed into his cheek. The golden light filling Dean moves his limbs, slowing time down around him as he weaves out of the way and manages to land three short quick jabs against Ziggler's ribs before darting out of the way of another massive blow.

All around them the pack is howling in excitement. The Council joins in as well, but not to the extent of the masses. Even among the great wave of noise however, Dean can hear Rusev bellow encouragement in his native tongue.

Ziggler snarls in frustration as his first blows don't land, backing off slightly to study the skinny Omega. "You're just a tool, little boy." He hisses at Dean, lashing out at him aiming to catch Dean's lower leg near the knee. Dean moves just enough to avoid any damage to the joint. "To me, to him. You're a status symbol, sweetheart. That's just the way things are. Don't expect it to be any different." Ziggler spits out venomously and his next hit does strike Dean's left arm, his half-extended claws drawing blood, but it leaves him close enough that Dean can bring a knee up into his stomach and Ziggler stumbles back a step.

Baron's eyes light up the instant he sees Dean bleeding and it takes Braun holding him in place to stop him from ending the fight. Dean hisses through the pain, the wounds seeping sluggishly as his healing starts to kick in.

"You're wrong." Dean declares as he strikes out with a punch to Ziggler's jaw. It lands but leaves him open to a hit from Ziggler that sends Dean stumbling back. He manages to get back to his feet but Ziggler has recovered and jumps up to smash his feet into Dean's face and knocking him to the ground again. The crowd surrounding them is cheering and howling with the ebb and flow of the fight. With each strike a swell of noise washes over them. Dean spits blood out onto the fresh straw as Ziggler spreads his arms and showboats for the pack who greets him with a mix of boos and cheers. He clearly has some supporters and Dean knows they may lose some of their finest warriors with Ziggler if he is banished. But the alternative can not happen and despite the pain, Dean manages to get to his feet and catch Ziggler off guard by throwing himself shoulder first into Ziggler's core.

The Alpha falls to the ground to the roar of the crowd and Dean manages to straddle the man. He delivers a few hard strikes to Ziggler's face before Dean is thrown off and sent sprawling in the hay. Ziggler pounces on Dean with a harrowing elbow to his chest. Dean gasps for air and his vision blurs from the lack of oxygen as Ziggler wraps an arm around Dean's throat and squeezes, cutting off his air even further.

"What do you think will be worse for your mate?" Ziggler hisses in Dean's ear, "When I take his place as the top Alpha of this miserable pack and exile him or when I publicly claim you and mate you in front of him and everyone here?" Dean gasps for air and struggles to break free from Ziggler's grasp. With each passing moment Dean can feel his strength fading. "I'm never... gonna.. let you take this pack." Dean growls in desperation. "I'm never going to let a you hurt my mate. I won't lose to an asshole like you." Ravane's mark flares on Dean's chest and a new rush of energy fills Dean. He howls and breaks away from Ziggler’s grasp by flipping him up over his shoulder.

Dean's eyes shine like stars as he lets Ravane's blessing guide his movements. Beaten and bloodied, Dean charges at Ziggler. He delivers a flurry of punches and kicks that send Ziggler flying. Dean fights relentlessly as he pushes Ziggler back and blocks blow after blow.

Baron never stops fighting Braun's grasp, jerking almost involuntarily with each blow as if he could help or protect Dean. The eyes of the pack aren't focused on him, instead riveted to the fight as it drags on.

"What are you?!" Dolph snarls. He lunges at Dean, managing to knock him down again only to have Dean reverse the hold and press his forearm to Dolph's throat. The Omega's eyes shine unnatural silver-white and for a moment Dolph feels a shudder of fear go through him.

Dolph bucks and rolls to kick Dean off and when he can't he claws at Dean's back instead. His free hand leaves a set of bloody gashes down Dean's back and the Omega yelps in pain, relinquishing just enough control to let Dolph slip free. He crouched on the ground, one knee up and watches Dean cautiously. "This is not your pack, little whore. Not your mate yet, and not your victory to claim." Ziggler spits out, straightening to circle and avoid the Omega's next attack.

"He thinks he's one of us!" Ziggler says, louder, though he doesn't turn his back of Dean again. "But all he's done is seduce one lonely Alpha. He's insane!"

Dean goes practically mad at the statement and lunges for Ziggler. "I have lived for and loved this pack longer than you can imagine. I will not let you take that away from me!" He screams as his fists beat into Ziggler's chest and skull with reckless rage. "I have been blessed by the gods to protect this pack and my mate and nothing will stop me from protecting them from you." He yells as his assault continues.

Ziggler is furious at the strength and speed that Dean, an Omega, is displaying. Dean backs him up against the edge of the ring and he bumps into one of the pack standing there. It only takes him a moment to realize it's McIntyre and a blade is being pressed into his hand. Ziggler swings out without hesitation and slashes Dean across the chest. Dean instantly screams as the edges of the wound turn black and ooze dark liquid.

"Dean!" Baron yells out as he sees his future-mate fall to the ground. The whole crowd falls silent as they realize Ziggler carries a silver blade in his palm. "Alexa, Corey, we have to stop the fight. Dean will die if he doesn't receive an antidote. Ziggler is cheating." He looks pleadingly over at Ember only to find her gone from her spot on the dais.

"We checked him for weapons before the match.” Alexa hisses. “It clearly came from Drew when Ziggler was pushed outside the ring but there is no rule about using the surroundings. He could claim interference if we stop this now. Dean will be forfeiting the fight and you will be exiled if not killed. You asked me to have faith in your mate, now you do the same."

Baron relents, hopeless and driven half mad in desperation as Dean writhes in pain in the ground. “Get up Dean, you can do it!” He screams even as his words are drowned out by the noise of the crowd.

Ziggler strides over to Dean with a smirk as he flips the knife in his hand. "Are you ready to submit Omega? To survive you'll have to either be given an antidote or take a claiming bite. If you relent, I would be happy to give you both." He informs Dean with a chuckle.

Dean can feel the poison from the silver sliding through his veins. Death by silver is much like being stabbed with thousands of shards of ice from within. He convulses on the ground and screams in pain. "Fuck off!" He grits out, spitting blood up into Ziggler's face. He fights through the agony, attempting to get up to his feet, but Ziggler kicks him again and sends him back to the dirt. Dean reaches into the future with his sight, trying to see some way out of this. "Fuck, no, not like this..." He can't let this end here. Ziggler is a fly on the back of the beast riding towards his pack. He can not let this selfish, entitled Alpha stop him from saving them.

The cold from the silver starts to fill his limbs and Dean begins to shiver. It clouds his mind and his vision starts to blur. He turns his head to look up at Baron and he howls out in pain and sorrow at coming so close and losing it right before he could have had it all. Ziggler parades around the ring, showing off and yelling at pack when they boo. The noise of the crowd thunders in Dean's ear and builds to the point of pain before it shatters. Before Dean can fall into unconsciousness Ravane appears in Dean's mind. "Do not give up hope my child. I am with you always." The goddess whispers and with a kiss to Dean's head she throws him back to earth.

Like being hit by lightning, Dean's lungs fill with air and the icy poison of the silver subsides to the background. Dean is filled with energy renewed. Before Ziggler can react Dean swings his legs around, knocking Ziggler off his feet and the air from the Alpha’s lungs. With unnatural speed, Dean straddles Ziggler, grabs a rock from beneath the hay and smashes the stone into Ziggler's hand repeatedly. Dean can hear the bones in Ziggler's hand break over and over again and the silver knife falls to the ground. Without hesitation, Dean grabs the knife and holds it to Ziggler's throat.

"Do you submit?!" Dean screams, crying in anger and exhaustion. "Tell me you submit or I cut your fucking head off!"

Ziggler struggles to fight Dean off as he's pushed back to the ground, confused and angry. He screams his fury as his hand is crushed but goes still and tense as the blade presses against his skin is sharp enough to begin burning. "Stop! Stop, I yield!" Dolph shouts, voice hoarse. He scrabbles at the ground with his feet and his good hand, trying to shove away from Dean.

All around them the pack explodes in howls and cheers of excitement. It's only a moment after Ziggler submits that Dean feels arms wrap around him and pick him up. When he looks up he sees that's its Baron and Dean can't help but smile even though he's quickly losing strength. "Hey, I won. You're mine now."

Things seem to slip into slow motion for Baron. He's struggling desperately to get to Dean, half in frenzy to protect his mate. There's no immediate realization that Ziggler had surrendered, but Braun releases him and Baron is stumbling forward, arms sliding around Dean to pull him back protectively. Dean's words echo through the roar of the gathered crowd and Baron's heart surges with fierce pride.

"You won." Baron growls against Dean's neck. Ziggler is being pulled away by his few supporters, away from the obvious danger of Dean and Baron. Baron's eyes are glinting Alpha red and there's nothing in his world but Dean. "No more waiting."

"You better bite me now before I pass out. Fuck, silver hurts." Dean coughs hoarsely in pain. "You better save me." He adds before baring his throat to Baron.

Baron almost didn't realize that he was waiting for permission until it's granted. The desire rushes through him again and he doesn't wait. Baron's teeth sink easily into the tight curve of Dean's neck, the flavor of Dean's blood floods his mouth and all Baron can think is 'mate mate mine mine mine mine.' He can feel Dean shudder against him as their bond weaves itself deeper into both of them. Baron pushes as much of himself into Dean as he can, making his own warmth and strength push out even the wicked chill of the silver wound.

Dean understands that a mating bite always jump starts a wolf’s healing to protect them against blood loss from the bite it’s but Dean feels like literal magic is flowing through him as his body pushes the poison from itself. He remembers his mother telling him about battle-bonds like this, matings that were spurred on by need on the battlefield when one or both of the wolves were on the verge of dying. Through the power of their biology and the gods Dean can feel his flesh mending itself back together as their souls meld. "Oh fuck!" He groans before turning his head and biting Barons throat as well, leaving his own mark.

Baron gasps at the sensation of it all and then Dean has twisted around, leaving a matching bite on his own neck. Baron tips his head back and howls with more instinct than logic as the bond solidifies. His mouth is stained red with the blood of his mate and the heat and weight of the connection makes his heart pound at the pace of a running stallion. Baron clings to Dean, gathering himself to move them somewhere he can keep his mate safe and warm and his.

No one in the pack stops them as Baron carries Dean away. There will be a time for the pack to give them their blessing but every wolf knows not to interrupt a mating. They do however stop Ziggler as he tries to scurry away with his followers. Braun stands in the group's way as Alexa and Corey come up from behind. "I believe it's time for us to have a conversation."

Chapter Text

Baron doesn't even know where he's going as he leaves the circle of the pack, but of course instinct leads him to their tent; their den. The one place in the world that smells like him and Dean together and safe. "Mate." Baron says simply, setting Dean down on his feet and kissing him deeply.

When they finally break for breath, Baron drops to his knees before his new mate, untying and pushing Dean's strained pants to the floor. "All mine." He purrs hungrily, biting a second smaller mark into the curve of Dean's hip. "Beautiful and strong and fast..." Baron's words are murmured into kisses against Dean's skin as his hands roam Dean's body. It's as if he's checking that there are no other wounds before his fingers tease at Dean's entrance.

Dean's body reacts to his mate's touch. He's wet and open inside when Baron runs his fingers overs his hole. "Fuck.. Baron... wanna feel you inside me. Don't wanna wait anymore. Need you." Dean whines as his cock hardens and his thighs begin to glisten with slick.

Baron's eyes glint red again. He teases his tongue over the head of Dean's cock before standing just enough to pick the smaller man up and set him down into the nest of his blankets and furs. "So beautiful with my bite at your throat." Baron says, stripping off his own few pieces of clothing quickly enough to hear something rip. "High and proud where no one can deny it." He continues, settling down over Dean's body and rolling his hips down as he nuzzles the quickly-healing bite, licking over the torn pink skin. His cock slides between them, rutting against Dean's, and he can smell Dean's need, hot and sweet and heavy in the air.

Baron doesn't waste time, shifting Dean's hips up so he can press into the Omega's waiting body. It's a long slow thrust into Dean's impossible heat, and Baron's eyes are glazed and wild by the time he's buried in Dean completely. His hand reaches down to rest over Dean's tattoo, over his heart. "Mine." He breathes out, hips jerking in a first experimental thrust.

The first push feels like an eternity as Baron fills him for the first time and Dean can't control the whiny, needy sounds he makes as he arches off the bed with the first thrust. "Oh fuck, yes, mine, yours, forever." Dean moans as he rocks his hips up to meet Baron's thrusts. "Don't stop. Need you."

Any ounce of modesty Dean once had is gone. He has earned this. He has earned his mate and nothing will stand in their way now. Not Roman, not the dark man who leads him, or the ancient evil that is coming for them. He moans and howls in pleasure as Baron takes him, driving them down into furs with frenzied need and heated kisses.

Baron's mind is nothing but lust, folding Dean nearly in half as he drives into him. It's nothing like the wild confusing need he remembers from Dean's vision.

The rhythm of the mating is consuming, pure pleasure between the pounding need of his body. "Going to knot you." He grits out, his intent finally forming words. "Fill you and mark you. Inside and out." Baron can feel his body close to the edge, climbing an endless mountain of sensation and desire, he fists a hand roughly around Dean's smaller cock, jerking quickly. "Want you to cum on my knot..." He licks his lips between panting breaths. "Make you cum, again and again..."

Dean shudders as Baron uses his body. "Fuck! Need you. Want you... wanna smell like you and carry your pups. I'm yours for fucking ever." Dean gasps as Barons hand drags him over the edge of his first orgasm and he cums messily across his abs. His whole body shudders and tights around the beginnings of Baron's knot. "Oh fuck! Come on, fill me up. Need it."

Baron shudders and tenses, a moan ripping from deep in his chest as his knot starts to swell and he slams deep into Dean's body. His mate already feels so slick and tight and perfect for him. "Fuck.... Dean..." Baron manages, shaking as waves of orgasm wash over him, continuing longer and more intense than any in his life. He's breathing heavily, but uses the last of his strength to pull Dean close and roll them over, keeping Dean on his knot as Baron shifts to his back. Even that movement makes him arch and moan again, looking up at Dean with eyes glazed over before pulling him down for another devouring kiss.

Dean closes his eyes and lets wave after wave of pleasure wash over him. It takes a moment for him to realize that he's feeling the residual of Baron's pleasure through their bond and he tightens his body around Baron's knot to try and feel the difference. "Oh fuck. You're so god damn big." He moans between happy languid kisses. "Fucking love you."

Dean flexes and shifts around him and the double feedback loop of claiming and being claimed makes Baron's eyes roll back in his head with the heady pleasure of it. "So beautiful." He pants, struggling to pull thoughts together as his body continues to pulse seed into Dean's waiting body. "Never thought.... love you more than I thought I even could. Gods..." Baron's hands wander the already-healing wound across Dean's chest, it looks more like a days-old scar now, but is still an angry reminder of how close they came to losing this.

Dean blushes at the compliment and nuzzles his jaw in under Barons. "Never thought I would find a mate. So I guess we both ended up surprised. Hmmm..." Dean's body contracts around Baron's knot involuntarily and it send a jolt of pleasure up Dean's spine. Biology is taking over and making sure Dean has the best chance of becoming properly bred. "We mated before the run in the vision too. Well not with claiming bites but we kinda jumped the gun."

Baron laughs softly, even that movement pulling a helpless moan from him. "Mmm... you earned it this time." He says, hands wandering Dean's chest and sides to rest at his slim hips. "No one will question your right to be here or your power." He rolls his hips up into Dean's heat with slow shallow thrusts. It will still be some time before his knot starts to recede, but he can finally speak a little. "Did I live up to your vision?" He teases, fingers teasingly stroking Dean's cock again. "Wouldn't want to leave you unsatisfied..."

Dean groans and whines as Baron strokes his half-hard cock. "It was better than I could have imagined." Dean purrs when Baron relents in his machinations. "The beat part is that it was real. I'm not going to wake up and lose you again. But..." Dean pauses to steal a slow sweet kiss as his body constrict again. "If I had to... I would fight for you every single time."

Baron gasps in another breath, shaking his head. "Not this time. Let me fight for you for once..." He says, keeping their rhythm slow and languid. "Now you have me every day... any time we want."

"Hmm we might not be just you and me for long." Dean teases to watch the flash of possessiveness in Baron's eyes. "Depends on how fast you give me a pup." He adds playfully with a kiss.

Baron slides his fingers up into Dean's hair as they kiss, deep instincts humming in pleasure at the idea of a pregnancy and of pups. "Mmmm... you did just finish a heat... might be a little while, but I'll do my best." There's an aura of safety around them, cementing and stability of a bond, and Baron can imagine being willing to die for this, just like Dean said he saw. Hopefully this time they can change things.

Baron's knot is still large and locked inside him and Dean is happy for the moment of peace. He closes his eye sans lets Baron trail soothing circles across his back as they bask in the ecstasy of their bond. Dean takes the moment to look forward with his powers. It's getting easier and easier the more he uses them but he know he shouldn't push himself. He can't quite see the peaceful happy future he desires, Baron and him raising pups in thier tent and moving across the land as their numbers grow. But he does see Seth and the ebony-cloaked pack. "They're almost to the first camp. The rain delayed them by flooding the river. They couldn't find a crossing. They will be here soon." He whispers in the dying light of their fire.

~~~~~

Roman wakes in the early pre-dawn, Tom curled comfortably against him in a warm messy nest of blankets. He leaves the tent quietly, surprised no one came to get him for a watch earlier in the night. He finds a small creek first and it burbles softly as he washes quickly and runs his wet hands into his hair to tame it. After last night, he feels different, The swirl of desperate emotion in his head has calmed. He's still torn about Seth, but he's not going to let himself worry about it now.

For the moment, they're both away from Hunter and Tom has made it sound like he can keep them that way. They'll find and kill these barbarians, get any good people out who've been captured, and then make a plan. Maybe Roman will lead a pack of his own, take them home and settle near his people. He splashes his face once more with the cool water and heads toward the fire pit, just bright enough to see through the trees in the grey of the morning.

The scene in the clearing is both more and less than Roman expected it to be. The pack slept under the stars, not even bothering to set up tents, and about half of them appear to have ended up to one side of the fire, huddled in close. The morning isn't particularly warm and there's a lot of exposed skin. Roman worries for a moment that Seth has been left alone and cold, but then he spots Seth's particular mop of dark hair right in the middle of the pile. Seth is curled around the Omega leader and has one of the other Alphas curled protectively against his back. There are furs over them, but the intimacy of the position is obvious and it turns Roman's stomach a little.

"Hope you and the rogue slept well." Karl says as he heads back into camp from his watch. He's still naked, having spent his watch in wolf form, and he strides up without a thought of concern for Roman's sensibilities. Roman has over a foot of height on him but he doesn't let that faze him either. "I hope we didn't keep you two lovebirds up."

Roman frowns, "We're not- No, it didn't upset us. Looks like you all kept yourselves plenty busy though." He crouches by the fire, watching it instead of the small bald-headed Beta. "How does that even work?" Roman asks, trying to sound casual. "So many of you and only the one Omega? You all pair up?" No one in the pack seemed to be particularly linked to one another that Roman could tell, but he doesn't like the idea of Seth letting himself be used or displayed just for their amusement.

Karl just chuckles and shakes his head as he begins to pull on his clothing. "You know, people didn't always pair up and mate for life. That was one of the so called blessings of the gods. Figured one of your pack would know that, being descended from one of them. We just subscribe to an older way of livin'. "

'Older' Roman thinks dismissively, where Omegas rule and others fight over them like animals. They are a gift, yes, with the ability to bring a pack together and the natural instincts to care for children and keep safe homes. "And nobody in your pack wants a home? A den? Somewhere safe?" Roman shakes his head, "I can't say that's easy to believe."

"The earth gave us dens and safety long before people settled into one form." Karl retorts as he pushes Luke over with his foot to wake the man up. Luke is the best at making breakfast and the others will be waking up soon. "Things would also be a lot safer if Alphas didn't have the biological need to wage war with each other or assert dominance and Omegas weren't forced by their bodies to try and make children, giving them great pain and agony."

Roman can't hide his reaction. How can this man say these things, like they aren't the way the world has been for a thousand years? He's saved from answering by the larger Beta at Karl's feet grumbling.

"Sounds like serious talk for first thing in the morning." Luke mumbles, pulling himself up to sitting. He did pull pants back on after his midnight watch, and rubs at his eyes as he sits. "I assume that means you brought me something to cook?" He asks, looking up at Karl with exasperated fondness and then climbing to his feet.

"Just trying to figure out how your pack works." Roman hedges, standing and stepping back a pace. "It's very different from my own."

“‘Course I did, brother.” Karl heads over to his pack and pulls out a bundle of five fat rabbits to present to Luke. "Here, I think Kairi found some root vegetables before it got dark too. Should be a good breakfast. Blessed be the bounty of the earth." Karl replies to Luke before looking at Roman, “Are you talking about Hunter’s pack or the one from your birth?”

Roman opens his mouth to retort but Luke interrupts him and takes the rabbits, marking Karl casually with a brush of fingers and wrist to neck. "Sounds good. And that means Kairi and Tajiri made it back? We should probably wake Finn."

Roman frowns again as the two men talk, he's not accustomed to being ignored or to not understanding what's going on. "You had another party out? Tracking ahead?" he asks, deciding to change the subject towards something less personal and confusing.

Luke nods, stirring the fire to new heat before he steps away from the center of camp to skin and clean the rabbits. "Our best trackers. If they're back, that likely means they've found something. Hopefully something to get us closer to these kidnappers."

Roman follows along silently, watching as Luke skins and guts the rabbits easily. He used to be good with fish and oysters, but never really had to learn with Hunter's pack, everything prepared for them by cooks at the keep or by soldiers of lower rank when out on patrol. Even watching the tall, muscular Beta work doesn't entirely distract Roman from seeing Karl kneel near the center of the sleeping nest of wolves and people, near Seth.

Karl speaks too quietly for Roman to hear, but Roman can see a hand that can only be Finn's reaching up to stoke Karl's neck and the Beta pressing a reverent kiss to Finn's palm. Something about the small dark-haired Omega confuses and discomforts Roman more than anything else here, and it's not just that he's so clearly seduced Seth away from reason and good sense.

"Don't worry about them." Luke says roughly. "Everyone will start stirring soon enough. The little one worked himself pretty hard last night."

Something about his tone catches Roman and he settles down on the smooth ground next to Luke. "You mean your Omega - Finn? Or someone else?"

Luke chuckles. "Not my story to tell, but I imagine you'll hear about it if you ask. Why don't you help me with these?"

Roman does his best to mimic Luke's actions as he skins the rabbits and sets the furs aside. He's fast with a knife himself but Luke prepares the rabbits with practiced ease. At least Roman can know that Seth will be fed with these strange wolves.

As the other wolves begin to stir, Tom wanders out of their tent and takes a seat next to Roman without saying much other than scent marking Roman's throat with his hand. Roman isn't really surprised when he feels a wave of closeness that makes him relax. Tom may be strange and more than he seems but at least he seems to make more sense than these wanders.

Luke looks up at the Beta stranger that Roman has decided to tie himself to. He's been charming enough, and it was him that handed little Seth over to them without any question, but there's something about Tom that distresses most of Luke's pack mates. They talked about it last night before the little show they put on for their new Omega. He smiles to himself and takes the meat that he can cook toward the fire, leaving the strangers to talk as the rest of his pack starts to stir.

The early risers are already bringing water and starting to pack up the bed rolls. Kairi grins and presents her bag full of early spring roots. Luke is unreasonably fond of the little female Beta and lets her help skewer the meat to cook. She licks the blood from her fingers when she finishes and settles back to sit by the fire and tell them about the results of their scouting.

Roman stays put when Luke moves away, turning his attention to Tom. "I still don't think I understand them." He says softly. "Are you sure it's safe to trust them?" He doesn't say 'with Seth,' and maybe that's not even what he means anymore.

Tom looks over at Finn and smirks. "Trying to understand people like this is like trying to understand why we have emotions and are not as savage as our true form would pretend to be. Finn and his pack are like the wind, ephemeral but hard to extinguish." He says the last words like a threat and Finn's eyes open with a flash of pitch black for only a moment.

Roman nods in agreement with Tom, watching the camp start to move around with practiced ease. He's seen packs like this before, in small villages or back at home, people that move easily together. With Finn's pack it feels dangerous rather than comforting. His suspicions are confirmed when Seth stands up among the stirring wolves. His back is to Roman, but there's a dark, swirling tattoo down his spine that was certainly never there when he was at the keep. "How did they put that mark on him?" Roman asks finally, "Some kind of magic? There's no time for it to have healed the usual way."

Tom chuckled and nods, "Old magic, older than mine. Finn is a powerful ally but a very dangerous enemy. Hunter is lucky he has the coin to appease such a foe. You should never worry about the Omega's safety now..." Tom points out. His own suspicions confirmed with the sighting of the tattoo. "Hunter will never be able to claim the boy again. Excuse me, my prince." Tom says as he stands, "I have to do something before we depart."

Finn stirs slowly, pleased to hear from Karl that Kairi and Tajiri have returned. It means they'll have a stronger direction to head. Seth has stayed beside him through the night and Finn smiles at him fondly. They'll have a few days of rebalancing to get used to caring for the young Omega, but Finn is already excited to watch him grow into his own power. Before Finn can get up, a shudder goes through him and he pulls in a shuddering gasp. It's not often that the demon inside him reacts to something in the world like this and Finn looks around, trying to identify the threat.

"What is it?" Seth asks sleepily, sitting up with Finn and touching his arm. Finn's eyes looked almost pure black for a moment and Seth rubs his eyes to clear them.

"Nothing to worry yourself about, little one." Finn says kindly, kissing Seth on both cheeks. "Just slept longer than I meant to. You feel alright?"

Seth knows when he's being told white lies, but nods anyway. "Yeah. You didn't hurt me... and I slept well." He ducks his head, nuzzling into Finn's touch. He feels like he hasn't slept this well since he used to be able to cuddle with the Omegas and young pups back home with Shane's pack.

"I'm glad." Finn says carefully, "Would you go with Karl and help arrange the rations for lunch? We have a clear path now, but we'll probably ride hard today." He strokes Seth's cheek, hating that he feels like he's putting him off, but a glance across the fire tells him exactly who he needs to talk to and it can't wait.

Seth nods with a little smile, already not excited about riding hard again, but there's nothing for it and it's far from the worst thing he's been through in the last few months. He stands and pulls on loose clothes, moving to find Karl and then letting himself be directed to AJ as he helps the pack consolidate supplies and plan for the day ahead. It's pretty obvious that he's being kept away from Roman and Tom, but Seth is fine with that.

Finn dresses quickly once he's sure Seth will be taken care of and strides across the clearing to Tom. Balor's power still prickles under his skin. "It seems we need to talk."

Tom smirks and motions for them to move further off away from the group. "Well, I wouldn't say I need to speak directly to you but I may need to speak to your… patron. It's been a long time since we've seen each other. I was fairly sure you were devoured and destroyed with the rest of your kind, Balor."

"Away from the camp." Finn says tightly. He holds his own against the demon's rage for a moment, until they've walked at least a short distance away. Then he turns back to Tom and shrugs. "You asked for it." He closes his eyes and when he opens them, they're pure black, deep and unblinking.

"I thought your kind were too busy ruling people and binding souls to be worried about what came before." The words come out of Finn's mouth, but they sound lower, more resonant. "But here we are, both wandering in the sunlit lands."

Tom raises his hands in a sign of peace. "I mean you no harm. And well, let's just say that after we met in battle, my people felt I was a bit too... radical. They bound me in this form and I have been trapped like this for centuries." Tom pauses to walk around Balor to look his human form up and down. "I'm surprised you survived. How did you do it?" Tom’s curiosity has no bounds and it feels good to admit who he really is without consequence.

The demon rolls his human head around in a wide, slow stretch. "I watched and I waited and I drifted, until a young powerful wolf felt that there must be another way from the path laid before him... and he welcomed me in." The lines of the tattoo shift and slide possessively over the pale skin of Finn's shoulders. "I show them the old ways."

"The old ways!" Tom laughs, "Uncivilized and wild. All those people, lost and rooting around like animals. We gave them control. The old ways are nothing but a fairy tale now." Tom sneers.

The rolling laugh that Balor lets out is anything but human. "Yet you needed my brood to help you... and you just handed me another follower." The demon says smugly. Seth is more than just a body though and his child will be everything, but there's no need to share too much with this creature wearing a human skin. "Keep weaving your pretty little lies, child of traitors. We'll see who has the power to remain as the centuries flow on."

Tom's eyes flare at the insult. "I needed to get rid of that filthy Omega. You were just a tool for me to use, snake." Tom hisses. "Now, Hunter has given us a mission and I know the only thing you love more than freedom and gold is slaughter. So I offer you a truce until after we sack the barbarian camp."

"As you wish." Balor offers with a shrug that is just slightly more fluid than Finn's body would naturally manage. One tendril of tattoos flows further down Finn's arm, serpentine. "Your warlord king has granted wealth to my... pack. Your truce stands until this threat is eliminated." Balor offers a hand to Tom, as if they were any two men making an agreement.

"You ooze your power..." The demon chides. "Through your skin, through your words. You would do well to learn some restraint." Balor has learned that to stay hidden is to stay free, and that expending power when needed is far more enjoyable than pouring it out in a river of ambition. It has been a lesson hard learned. Not that any of that would make sense to one of Tom's kind.

Tom clasps hands with the monster, "Coming from a creature like you, the suggestion of restraint is laughable but we are in agreement. After this mission, you will go one way with the Omega and its bastard child and I will take my prize with me in another." Tom reiterates before letting go. His human body is already reacting to being in the presence of an elder one and when he pulls away he subtly shakes away the influence of unbridled power from his hand.

"I must admit, I'm glad you didn't die.” Tom adds with a smirk. “Your.... siblings have always held out hope. Especially your sister - or was she your wife? It gets so confusing with beings older than time. Her host is almost as entertaining as yours." Tom mentions with casualness as he begins to walk towards camp.

"If you have met the others of my age while in this weakened form, I am surprised you have kept your mind." Balor says fondly, sounding amused. There is no need to take Tom's bait. He will keep his host and his safety, the world is wide enough.

"I'm the god of storytelling Balor. Of myths and legends." Tom declares without hesitation. "I was already a little mad to begin with. It makes things... exciting. Now let’s go massacre some uncivilized barbarians."

The demon's eyes narrow as Tom walks away. "Watch him." Is the last direction Balor gives before returning control to his host.

Finn isn't so much unaware when Balor's power takes him over, not in this form at least, but he doesn't have control. The lingering burn of power as Balor slinks back within him makes Finn shiver a little. He doesn't like at all that this... thing knows so much, but he's willing to trust him long enough to get through this mission. He'll fight the Alpha and worry about keeping his pack hidden from this monster later.

Chapter Text

The majority of the pack is gathered near the main entrance to camp as Ziggler and Drew are led by Braun and Rusev towards the woods. Both men, along with a Beta woman named AJ Lee who had attempted to burn down Baron and Dean's tent overnight to avenge Ziggler are being exiled from the pack.

"Settle down, settle down!" Alexa yells to keep the crowd from screaming and booing at the three people before them. "Ziggler, you challenged for the right to overthrow our Alpha and claim a place on our council. You have been beaten and as such you and your accomplices are fully exiled from the pack!" Alexa commands as Corey gives each a pack with a few dry rations, a blanket each and two casks of fresh water. "You're being given more than you deserve." She adds and the crowd erupts in cheers and howls once more.

Baron watches, cold and staunch. They've never had to do this before and he hates it, but they can't have the continued disruption and Ziggler wouldn't show submission or promise to respect the pack hierarchy.

"Go in peace." Baron hears Ember say softly, though her voice carries more venom that real well-wishing. "They will be trouble." She says softly as she returns to standing beside Baron and Dean. "His pride will consume him."

Dean stands with the council and does his best not to plaster himself against Baron. Their mating was less than a day ago and if it hadn't been for the fire they probably wouldn't be here. "Is it bad that I sorta wish he hadn't submitted and I could have killed him?" Dean whispers to Baron under his breath. The crowd is still booing and howling as the three are pushed out of camp.

Baron chuckles, low and dark. "Shh. He's gone now. We'll be cleaning up his mess for weeks." He has Dean's insatiable libido to thank for them both having noticed the fire before they could be injured. He'll have to build a new tent for them now, but in a way he likes the idea of making a new home that's for both of them. It's still early morning, giving the wolves being exiled a day to travel away from camp. It also gives the pack that remains a day to be sure the exiles aren't just lurking around nearby.

"He'd have been no kinder to me, if you’d lost. I think I'm glad we get to be the better people." Baron says, leaning over to kiss Dean's forehead. His arm is resting snugly around Dean's waist and it feels right to be standing here with his people and his mate. "You'd regret it if you'd killed him."

"I just can't believe he was sleeping with someone already when he was trying to claim me." Dean replies softly. "I mean, don't get me wrong, she was clearly a crazy person since she tried to burn down our tent for him and from what Lana and Carmella tell me she was kinda sleepin' around on him, but still. I guess they deserve each other."

It's not long before the crowd starts to disperse and they are allowed to go back to the still-smouldering remains of their tent. Luckily the blaze didn't take out the wagons that most of the winter furs and blankets were kept in but almost half of the actual poles and stakes are gone. "We could downsize until our first pup arrives? That would give us time to collect more hides and weave extra panels." Dean offers in dismay as they stand I front of the mess.

Baron makes an unsure noise. "Mmm. We'll need something temporary for a few days at least, but the summer will give us time to prepare. We won't need as much protection." He nuzzles into Dean's hair, voice teasing. "We could set up a little further from the center of camp, given how loud you like to get."

Dean blushes at the comment and can’t help but hip check Baron in response. "Hey, I'm only loud because you are so good at fucking me." He teases, trying to hide his pleased rush of embarrassment.

Baron groans and flushes, twisting to pull Dean's face up for a kiss. "I'm glad you think so, because you're stuck with me now." His mind races, trying to think of where else they could go with their own tent in ruins. "You think Alexa would kill me if I tried to throw her out of her tent so I could take you again?"

"I think the thrill of exiling someone is going to her head and she will need to release some of her own pent up energy." Dean say in playful rebuttal as he pulls Baron away from their tent and up the hill towards the hidden supply cave. "You said it was for emergencies. I say knotting your mate on the day after our mating is an emergency."

Baron chuckles, eyes darkening at the thought. The caves are close and dark, but they're unlikely to be disturbed there, and they can bathe afterward. "Mmm... I think so. Trust you to have such a clever plan."

Dean chuckles and leads the way along the dark path. They slip through the passage with ease and settle into the blue lit cavern on a bed of soft moss. All around them the lights from the plants and bugs here glitter on the clear spring water like stars. "We could camp out here for a few days." Dean whispers between soft sweet kisses as Baron settles between his spread thighs.

"Someone would worry eventually." Baron says, kissing his way down Dean's throat. "But they can spare us for a day... And you look so beautiful here." Baron slides his hands down Dean's bare chest, teasing over his nipples. "We'll need a safe place for your next heat... I still have to make a proper den for you."

Dean hisses as Baron tweaks his nipples. "Could be awhile before that but you can still try to get me pregnant. I'm not gonna stop you." Dean moans with a roll of his hips. Their clothes have already been discarded on the moss somewhere and the friction of Baron's bare cock against his is already good enough he might come.

"Mmm... So sensitive." Baron purrs, pleased and excited as his mouth follows his fingers. Aaron's lips and teeth tease Dean's nipples, lingering over the tattoo covering Dean's heart as well. "I won't stop teasing when you're full and round with our pups." Baron promises. Dean's scent is still seductive and distracting in the best way and his cock drips as he grinds against Dean's thigh. "I'll just take you from behind... Make it easier to keep my knot inside of you." His fingers wrap around Dean's cock as he talks, teasing and spreading Dean's precum around.

Dean arches up into Barons hand, moaning with abandon. "Well you better get started making me pregnant if you want to do that anytime soon. Fertility drops for a while right after a heat." Dean retorts, knowing Baron will rise to the challenge in his playful reminder. His hands wander over Baron's exposed chest and arms, caressing each and every tattoo. "I want you to get a mark for me." He murmurs against Baron's lips.

Baron's eyes darken at the challenge. He grips both their cocks in one large hand, winding them up as he nuzzles against the silvery mating bite at Dean's neck. "I've been thinking about that... the next chapter of my story with you..." He hasn't exactly taken the time to talk with Corey about it and how it would fit in with his existing tattoos.

Rutting against Dean is good, but Baron pulls back enough to nudge Dean over onto his front. "Want to get inside you..." He tugs Dean's hips up and teases his fingers through the slick at Dean’s entrance. "So easy and wet for me."

"Fucking always wet for you...." Dean groans, pressing back onto Baron's fingers and accepting them easily. "Fucking knew we'd work it out... knew we'd be together." Dean moans as Baron stretches his hole and leans down to lick inside him. "Shit... Baron." He gasps as Baron's tongue sends shivers down his spine. "Fuck.. Want more... need more."

The scent and taste of Dean's slick is intoxicating, and Baron can't resist teasing him a bit more before he finally relents. "Love the sounds you make... so pretty." Baron growls, finally lining up his cock to press inside. "Oh, fuck... so good Dean. Can't believe I ever thought I didn't want you... so fucking perfect for me." Baron starts a quick, hard rhythm just for the pure joy of hearing Dean moan and watching his mate's hands fist in the soft moss beneath them.

Dean gasps and moans, the sounds echoing off the walls of the cave in the filthiest ways. Dean is intoxicated by the feeling of being filled. He never thought of sex as anything other than a way to procreate but now, with Baron, he yearns for it. Every touch, kiss, bite, and press of skin against skin consumes him. Dean lowers his shoulder to the ground so he can reach back and spread himself more open for Baron. He needs Baron deeper and harder and he's not afraid to moan and beg like the deviant he knows he is. "Fuck... Oh god... want your knot... fucking need it... wanna be filled up by you, mate."

Baron growls, a low noise that's as much his wolf as himself. "You'll get it." Baron grits out. "Fill you up and lock you to me. Leave you marked all over so no one else dares challenge my claim." He leans down to drag his teeth along Dean's shoulder blade before he picks up his pace.

They move together easily, the cave echoing with moans and the slapping and shifting of flesh. "Want to put more marks on you... tattoos and scars... all the signs of my pack." Baron is driving hard now, fucking into Dean at his own selfish pace, but Dean is so wet for him he can't worry about harming him.

Dean lets his body go lax, held up by Baron's tight grip on his hips strong enough to leave bruises. Dean claws at the soft ground, gasping and crying out in pleasure as Baron fucks him. He can already feel the beginnings of Baron's knot and Dean does his best to relax and ride each wave of pleasure that rolls through him like the sea during a storm.

Baron growls and moans as his rutting into Dean drags him over the edge, his knot swelling and slowing his thrusts until he's barely rocking back and forth inside of Dean, cumming in the same impossible drawn-out wave of sensation he almost didn't believe the first time he knotted his mate. "Fuck… gods, Dean..."

The bond between them brings Dean over the edge as well and he cum across the moss. "Oh fuck." He groans as his body pulses and tightens around Baron’s knot.

Baron moans, shuddering as Dean's body milks his sensitive knot with his mate's release. He manages with his last vestige of strength to roll them to their sides. Even that much movement makes him moan in over sensitized pleasure, but it means that he can kiss and nip all along Dean's neck while he pumps his seed into his mate's womb. "So perfect... untouched and still taking your pleasure from me... my beautiful, strong mate." Baron's free hand rests low on Dean's belly, as if he could feel it beginning to grow.

Dean is fairly sure that even with the threat of fire around him once more he wouldn't be able to give this moment up. Baron's arms slide around him and Dean laces his finger's with his mate's to keep him as close as possible. Baron's constant compliments and pampering makes Dean blush constantly but he's getting used to it. He's never had this much attention before, never been wanted like this. "Fuck... can't imagine my life without you. Never want you to let me go."

Baron sighs, content as his heart finally starts to slow. "Not going to let you go. I watched Alexa fight three challenges for Corey... I'll do that for you. For our pups, for our pack." Baron fought his instincts against this, even when everyone saw the connection, and now he can barely imagine how he'd have waited another week to fall into this. "Love you."

"Love you too." Dean whispers. Around them the cave echos peacefully with the subtle dripping of water into the crystal pools and a soft chirping of cave birds and insects. It is a rare moment of peace and for this moment Dean can forget about the coming challenges.

~~~~~

Finn and his men find the remains of the barbarian camp with only a few hours riding. Kairi and Tajiri had scouted the area this morning but Finn still wants to stop and get a better estimate on how many people are with this pack as well as how they live. He pulls the horses to a stop and jumps down quickly to make sure he can help Seth down safely. "There you go dear. Nice and easy."

Seth accepts the help down, giving Finn a curious smile. "Are you courting me now?" He asks curiously. He's been more aware of his body today, even though it doesn't ache or hurt the way it usually did after a night with Hunter. The pack has been very attentive all morning, and now this. It's been a long time since Seth was truly cared for, and he doesn't know how to react to the attention.

Seth chuckles and leads Seth over to shady sitting spot nearby where he can rest. "Would it shock you if I said yes? You would get the same answer from anyone in the pack. We are all courting you now, precious." Finn replies without hesitation. "Do you need any water or food? It has been several hours since we had our morning meal."

Seth flushes and laughs. "That's... Surprising." He shakes his head slowly, and lifts the small waterskin that AJ handed him in the morning. "I'll rest if you will, but I'd like to know what you're seeing as you look around." Seth tries to sound as confident as he can. "I'm no further along than I was yesterday. I can still walk. I want to know if Dean was here." He takes Finn's hand rather than sitting down. "I'm not trained for this. Teach me what you see."

Finn squeezes Seth's hand as he considers this before he nods and pulls Seth in front of him so he can rest his head on Seth's shoulder from behind. "You know your friend Dean very well correct? You remember his scent?" Finn instructs. "Close your eyes. Close them tight and now look farther than you ever have... with your eyes closed. And look for your friend's scent."

Seth does as he's told. It's been nearly two years since he's seen Dean in person, but he's had letters from him. They gave only a hint of Dean's scent, but Seth thinks back, to dust and hay and the slight tang of blood or sweat that Dean always seemed to carry with him.

Without thinking, Seth breathes in slow and deep, stepping forward as if to chase something. Some scents are easy to detect: Finn beside him, the other members of the pack, Roman... Seth dismisses them to try to focus on the lingering scents from the barbarian camp.

Seth couldn't have described much more visually than a flat area of the plains near a stream, but by scent it's clear that it's more. The scents of wolves are everywhere, faint as they are, but distinguishing one from another is impossible. Seth opens his eyes and shakes his head sadly. Trying to sort out one scent from another is too hard, with days of rain and wind between them. Finn just looks at him and squeezes his hand and Seth closes his eyes to try again.

Seth takes a few careful steps forward, grateful that Finn sticks near him. A familiar almost floral scent catches him eventually, it's not Dean exactly but Seth's eyes pop open. "There's a scent of soap here. The soap that Shane's pack used to make! That means some of Dean's things made it this far at least!" Momentary excitement dies down as soon as Seth realizes that that doesn't mean anything about Dean himself, he deflates a little and tries to focus again.

Despite Seth's sigh of defeat Finn smiles and hugs the young man tightly from behind. "No, no, no. You did wonderful love. Dean uses a special kind of soap does he? That's good. It'll help us track these men. Never give up hope. Your friend may still be alive depending on what else we find here." Finn hates to keep Seth's hope's up but he hates seeing the boy grown more. "Besides your friend's soap, what do you smell?"

Seth gives Finn a sad smile, he was hoping the older Omega would tell him more, but of course he can't know how to look for Dean specifically. Closing his eyes again, Seth tries to sort through it all. "In this area, the scent is cleaner. Maybe it's an area where people bathed... it's hard to know for sure." Seth frowns, moving away from that area a little. There's a lot of scents... lots of different wolves. Well over a dozen. And it doesn't..." Seth bites his lip, feeling silly when he realizes what he was going to say.

Seth hesitates, looking over at Finn and decides to speak anyway. "It sounds stupid, but it doesn't smell like death or like fear... you weren't in Hunter's keep, and in the harem they air it out and burn incense to hide it, but you can smell fear and sadness. There's nowhere here that smells like a prison. Not like that." He shrugs. "I think they weren't keeping slaves or prisoners... at least not enough of them to mark their place that way. You can probably tell more than me. Or the trackers can. Seeing footprints or tracks or..." Seth realizes he's basically assuming that this all works the way it does in fairy tales or in the few stories that the guards would tell about hunting. It can't really be that simple.

Finn in genuinely shocked by Seth's aptitude and he and Balor both smile brightly at the deduction. "You're correct. It's very strange that you would know the scent of imprisonment. I am sorry that you seem to be very familiar with that scent and not one of a hearth or children. Although, those are mostly gone from here as well. There are very few children in this pack but they seem to be quite young. They have many strong wolves and very few elderly or disabled."

Seth shrugs, one arm around around himself. "I don't think many notice the smell, I only... When I was able to be with others, outside of the harem towers, I sometimes couldn't stand it when I got back." Seth pauses, because officially he was never outside. Only he knew about his secret passages and even a hundred miles away, it feels like this freedom could be taken from him at any time. "Wouldn't this pack have to have strong fighters? Not just because they took Dean, but if they decided to move against Hunter at all? Everyone knows what comes after that."

They walk around the camp area together, but other than areas with more and less Spring grasses growing, Seth can't picture much of what it would have looked like.

Finn leads Seth around the expanse of flattened earth and points out signs of habitation. “They have a well here which is interesting since it tells us that they may have an annual rotation of campsites where they stay. Habits like this mean that they have probably been an established pack for several years. But the lack of elderly or signs of children also tells us it hasn't been more than ten."

Finn points out a large patch of soft dry earth and that is silky to the touch but also packed tightly together near the well and closer to the stream. there is a cement fire pit in the center of the ring. "Hmm, they must have communal bathing tents. They must have pack members from the islands near where most of our pack is from. Bath houses are not common with the Northern wolves."

Seth nods, even in Shane's pack people mostly washed in the river or in their own homes with buckets and tubs. Hunter's keep has hot spring water in the lower levels, but those pools are held secure and people don't bathe together. "This is where I caught the scent of soap from too. Smells like they use other oils and things." Seth frowns, "Seems very civilized for wanderers. After ten years, I wonder why they don't have more children. No mated pairs?" Seth shuts his mouth abruptly when he realizes there are no children with Finn's pack either, and they wander just as much as this pack does. He ducks his head as he realizes how rude that might have been.

Finn chuckles at Seth's realization and he lifts the youth's chin to give him a quick kiss. "Pups are always a blessing from the gods. But the gods are not always kind and it can be very hard for even some mated pairs to bear fruit. In time you too will learn that the gods are as cruel as they are kind." Finn whispers in Seth's ear after he pulls the man into an embrace. His eyes meet Tom's over Seth's shoulder as he speaks.

Roman traces about half the perimeter of the Barbarian's camp site. He's a little surprised the trackers found it, it wasn't clear even from a short distance away. When Roman circles back around, he watches Seth and Finn talk and kiss and it still riles him up. "What do you think they did here?" Roman asks Tom softly, seeing that his eyes are fixed on Finn and wanting his attention back. "They cleaned up pretty well."

Tom looks over the remains of a fire pit and pokes around the ashes with his finger tips. "Do you want my opinion or what they were actually doing?" Tom inquires.

Roman shrugs and smiles, inspecting the ashes as Tom turns them over. "Animal bones, few bits of wood and leather. Whatever you think is no more fantasy than whatever Finn and Seth think they're discovering." Roman says with a shrug. "We should determine if they got the Omega this far... Shane's people will want the body back if he's dead."

They walk slowly around the other half of the camp as Tom offers explanations of the life of this pack. Roman can't know if any of it is true, but Tom spins stories like silver threads in the air.

There are fewer trees further from the river, but among them is another smooth patch of ground, and this one has a bit more debris than the center of camp where things were swept clean. Roman kneels to pick up and examine a few pieces of crushed herbs that don't look local. "Anything you make of these?" He asks Tom, handing them over.

Tom hums and looks over the twigs and flowers, crushing them between his fingertips.
"Certainly not local." Tom says thoughtfully. "Herbs used for teas or smoking, I think. Things that can modify your perception. Perhaps there is a shaman with this pack... though I have to wonder where his blood or power would come from. Likely just a charlatan." As Tom explains, Roman moves a few steps away, looking through the few discarded or abandoned bits of leather and cloth.

"Whoever lived here... there was an Omega. There's no knowing if it's the one who was taken though." Roman's nostrils flare wide, inhaling the scent to see if he can track it. "Could the herbs have been used to drug a prisoner? Keep him from running?"

"Possibly. Your Omega friend did say that this one was a fighter." Tom replies as he shifts more of the ash around and spies the edge of something larger. He reaches down and from the ash he pulls out a singed garment. From the looks of the remains they appear to be pants. Tom dusts the charred wood and debris away from the woven fabric and brings it to his nose. Instantly he recoils when the intense scent of Omega-in-heat hits him and he has to stop himself from gagging. "Likely if an Omega was here, they were drugged to ease a heat." He hands the fabric to Roman, interested in how the consummate soldier reacts to such a scent. "Perhaps the other Omega can tell us if it came from his friend."

Roman takes the piece of fabric, shaking off the ash as the sweet scent he noticed before gets stronger, obviously coming from the garment. "Mmm, we can ask." Roman licks his lips, trying to memorize the scent. Behind the scent of burned fur and cloth, the notes of the Omega scent are fascinating and complex, more so than any other he's ever been near. "Maybe someone was foolish enough to claim him and that's why they moved so quickly." There's a slight tone of possessiveness in his voice, and his fingers are curled into the fabric.

Tom watches in fascination as Roman's pupils dilate and a quick scent of attraction tints the air. It dawns on him that since coming of age Roman has most likely never been in the presence of an Omega in heat and that he would have no natural defense against the hormones flooding Roman's body. Although this reaction does seem particularly extreme.

"Perhaps. Would that bother you if they had merely claimed an unwilling boy, filling him with seed and breeding him while in the throes of his biological imperative?" Tom asks mischievously. This mission has lacked a sense of true drama other than the appearance of Balor and honestly he's been bored as of late. Seeing Roman slaughter a whole pack of wolves while in the thrall of rut would be gloriously entertaining.

Roman shakes his head, trying to clear his mind. He growls in response to Tom's description, hating the image. "They'd have to be monsters. It's not right." Hot rage runs through him at the thought. One more Omega taken and corrupted like Seth as been. "If they did, I'd be glad it's our job to see them killed."

Tom smirks and chuckles softly under his breath. Roman has been effected even faster than he anticipated. "Of course, there is always the chance that these civilized creatures are waiting for the spring equinox to run for the new Omega. Many wandering packs hold to the old ways and see mating as an honor befitting a challenge of skill. You could always run for this Omega if you wished. After all, you lost the one you thought was yours. Surely this one would replace the hole inside you that yearns for... satisfaction." Tom comments as he stands up and circles Roman slowly. He slides his hand across the larger man's chest and up his throat.

Roman hums thoughtfully. "They might not even accept such a challenge." Roman says with pride. "Better to just take him from the woods like they did." He tries to fight down his emotions, thinking forward. "If this is the right Omega, Seth wanted him safe. I can do that."

Roman strides back to the group, presenting the scrap to Seth. "I don't know your friend's scent, but we found signs that an Omega was drugged through a heat." Roman doesn't let go of the material as Seth traces the edges of it with his fingers.

Seth closes his eyes again, and there are tears in them when he looks back up, first at Roman then back to Finn. "It's him. He was here." Seth swallows hard. "If he was in heat, he's be miserable... He hates them. Never had them consistently...."

Seth looks back at Finn, eyes pleading. "If something happened... If they did something to him... We need to find him." At least he can be pretty sure Dean won't get pregnant, the older Omegas and the doctors back home had talked about that in hushed whispers. What a shame. Such a strong young man, with no hope of pups.

"We'll find him. He was alive and healthy if he was able to go through a heat." Finn says. His tone is reassuring, but he frowns, sensing more behind Seth's urgency than he can ask about now. There's something off about Roman too, an urgency in his eyes that Finn hasn't had to worry about in a long time. Finn's eyes flash to Tom, but the Beta is as unreadable as an eel.

Tom smirks devilishly as he stands up behind Roman like a sinister shadow in the large man's wake. "This group has a shaman and storyteller of flesh. They have many older traditions but they are young. From what I can tell they will be most likely celebrating the Spring equinox. This will be our ideal time to strike." Tom advises, knowing this will be the time that Roman will need to catch his Omega. His brain is already spinning ways for them to take the boy in the night without notice.

"Leave that rag. We can track the pack from here without it." Finn says firmly, guiding Seth away. Before they depart the camp, they refill their water from the well and Finn catches Karl and Asuka. If their damn fool of an Alpha 'escort' has decided to let his instincts take over, Finn isn't letting him anywhere near Seth.

Finn does not like the way Tom looms over Hunter's soldier and Balor seems to agree with him. He can already smell begins of rut on the large man and he would guess that this change in Roman is because of Tom. In the back of his mind he knows he needs to watch AJ now. As his strongest Alpha, AJ in a true rut could cause problems for the pack. They will make camp further up into the mountains. He does not want Tom to have any more opportunities to infect the group.

Chapter Text

Baron and Dean emerge from the cache cave to learn that they've slept and fucked the day away entirely. It’s nearly sunset. They go straight to the hot springs to get clean, though Baron doesn't let Dean far enough away from him to really wash away his scent.

Breeze finds them there, looking harried, and drags Dean off to help with the birth of Lana's pups. She went into labor early in the afternoon and it's been a few hours already.

Rusev catches them outside his tent, looking worried. He scent marks Dean's wrist casually, but holds onto his hand. "It's been so long already." He says in a rush. "Will she be alright?"

"She'll be ok but we will need some fresh hot water." Dean says as he's ushered into the tent. He hopes that giving Rusev a mission will calm him. Ember is already there, sitting at the head of the bed with Lana's head in her lap.

"Good, they found you.” Ember says urgently. “Hurry, the little girl was born just a moment ago but the other pup is not following. Its heartbeat is very faint." Ember instructs as Dean washes his hands and moves between Lana's legs. The bedding is soaked with blood and placenta. It reminds Dean of the birthing tents Shane's pack erected to keep birthings out of the homes for the sake of keeping dens clean. It never bothered him until now that babies born into Shanes pack would never know the scent of their den as their first scent. They would never be linked to their home through the memory.

Around them Carmella, Breeze, and Bo busy themselves with soothing Lana and helping her drink the calming tea Ember has made to ease Lana's pain. Dean works quickly to clean away the remains from the first pup so he can clearly see the pathway to the next baby. "The cord is caught around the pup's throat. We need to remove it."

Lana makes a frightened noise and Ember strokes her hair soothingly. "You'll have to cut it free." Ember says, producing a knife from the supplies laid out beside her and flipping it to present the hilt to Dean. "Be cautions Alpha-mate." She says gently before returning her attention to Lana. "Just a little longer... you've done so well... breathe, sweet one. We are here for you."

Dean makes himself take a deep breath before exhaling slowly. He closes his eyes and opens himself to the future in the same way he was able to with the bear's cave. He sucks in a breath as he looks into the immediate future. It's easier to see this close in time and his hands take over easily cleaning away the path for Dean. His head swirls with images of each possible outcome, each vision vanishing as he works slowly through making his way through freeing the pup. He gasps and his body tenses when it looks as if there may not be a way to have Lana or the pup survive. Darkness circles in around him and drives frozen dread through his veins. All hope seems lost until he feels several pairs of hands on his shoulders and a wave of relief and calm washes over him. A bright light appears in his vision, pushing out the darkness. He knows what he needs to do and when he opens his eyes he has a screaming baby boy in his arms.

Ember can't know exactly what Dean is doing, but when he hesitates, she snaps at Carmella to help him. When Dean's eyes flick open, she can see that they're still glowing silver, but the pup is flushed and healthy, drawing strong breaths to cry, and that's all she can ask. Lana is still gasping and weak, but Ember can soothe her better now, helping her through the last pains of the labor. Carmella helps Dean clean the pup with warm water, and Breeze does surprisingly well at removing the dirtied bed linens. Bo brings the little girl to Lana first, nestling her against Lana's chest.

Rusev arrives with a fresh pot of hot water and moves immediately to his mate, replacing Ember by her head once he realizes that the labor is over. He kisses Lana's forehead gently and beams at her as Dean passes the baby boy to her as well. Lana looks exhausted, but Rusev's presence puts a light in her eyes that had been missing before. Ember reminds Rusev to be calm and let Lana rest. They'll have assistance from the pack for as long as they need it, especially with two new pups. Each of the Omegas scent marks the new parents and the little pups as they move around, helping to put the tent back together as a place to live rather than a birthing room.

Ember takes a moment to center herself and thank the gods for their blessings and the safe delivery. She adds a mix of herbs to the brazier in the middle of the tent for safety and calm, then sends Bo out to get some easy food from the evening meal to keep them all fed. With that underway, Ember sets about making sure Rusev and Lana will have everything they need for the first night. It'll be only few hours before the pups should want to eat, but she'll have to come back with some nourishing broth for them if they aren't strong enough to feed from their mother yet.

Dean scent marks everyone in the now larger family before dismissing himself from the tent quickly. He had helped bring a new member into the pack and he used his powers to help. It fills him with pride and excitement that he finally has place. However, it has only been a day since his mating and his near death and the scar from the silver blade still tingles from the poison. Dean's head throbs from so much reliance on his power. He rubs his chest as he slowly makes his way towards the food tent hoping he will run into Baron along the way.

Bo made it to the food tent before Dean to share the happy news, and the whole pack is in celebration. Having pups is more work, but also proves that they are strong and healthy enough to support the growing families they've adopted.

Baron roars another cheer when he sees Dean enter the main campfire area, moving to his mate to kiss him and pull him close. "Bo said you saved her. That both a boy and a girl were born strong and healthy." Baron beams. "This is a good sign for the spring."

Baron is flushed with relief and celebration. The pack may have been into the drink a little, despite a portion of their supplies being held aside for Rusev and Lana to keep them fed and healthy as they care for their youngest pack members.

Dean can tell that Baron is a little drunk and he smiles at his mate. Despite the happy occasion Dean is still struggling to let go of the looming darkness that is coming from him. He does his best not to remember how Seth had stolen the twins and killed Lana in the vision. "They will grow up to be strong warriors."

"Matched only by our own." Baron agrees with a teasing smile. He pulls Dean in for a kiss, looking concerned when Dean doesn't react with the same enthusiasm. "You're still worried? What happened?"

Dean shakes his head and smiles softly. "It was very close to not having a happy ending. But don't let me worry you. You need to celebrate and rally the pack."

Baron strokes Dean's hair, and scent marks his neck in a soothing gesture. "Celebrate with me?" He asks, pulling Dean towards the fire. "Our new Alpha-mate, defender of the pack, deserves a drink."

Despite his reservations Dean relents and let's Baron drag him to the back of the rations cart where barrels of aged wolfsbane ale is being handed out plentifully by Kevin and Sami. "Hey, long time no see gingerwolf!" Dean crows as he and Sami embrace in a hug. "I hope it was as good for you as it was for me."

Sami smiles and returns Dean's embrace, marking him and checking him over visually. "Oh, I'd say it was pretty good." Sami beams, looking adoringly at Kevin as well. "Kevin kept me... Pretty busy. And I have a good feeling about it." Sami's hand rests low in his belly, the motion meaningful and paternal. "We can't know anything yet but..." Sami good down and drapes an affectionate arm over Dean's shoulder. "I hear you got very creative while I was indisposed. We'll just have to see if you and I will be raising pups together in the winter, huh?"

Dean laughs but cant help blushing at the implication, especially when Baron comes up behind him and nips at his claiming bite. "Stop it." He chides while pushing his mate away. "We'll see. If Baron has his way we will have to beat Rusev and Lana by having triplets."

Baron grins, settling in beside Dean and sliding an arm around his waist. "Mmm, gotta do my duty to my new mate." He teases, but lets Dean continue his conversation.

Sami beams at them anyway. "It's good to see you two together." He says fondly, handing Dean a small cup. "I'm sorry we missed so much, but it looks like you kept things together."

Dean takes the cup and offers it up in a small toast before taking a drink. "It was not as easy as it looks. You people are all crazy." He jokes before turning to Baron. "Speaking of crazy people, have we figured out where we’re sleeping tonight?"

Baron nods. "We have choices. What's left from our supplies will keep us warm for the night if we want to sleep under the stars... Or we could go back to the cave... or Ember's tent is the default place for anyone without a proper place to sleep." He doesn't love that plan, but it is an option. "We just need somewhere for the night and then we can start putting together a more permanent solution. A few people have been pulling together supplies to help us rebuild." Baron nuzzles into Dean's throat again. "It will be your den too... How would you like it to be?"

Dean can tell that Baron is uncomfortable and he leans in to kiss Baron on the cheek. "Relax. Our den is anywhere and anything we make it." Dean is a little surprised when he sees Baron's pupils dilate and some of the tension slip from his shoulders. Dean has seen Omegas back in Shane's village calm the warriors after battle, but he's never managed it himself. "Like you said before, tonight is a night a celebration. We are mated and there are new pups being born and on the way."

Sami watches his Alpha leader interact with his new mate and leans unconsciously closer to Kevin's warmth, snuggling into his side.

"All right, all right." Kevin says, fond but a little rough. "Here, take one more drink and get out of here. If you can't find anywhere else, you can stay with me and Sami or Corey and Alexa. We have enough room to have guests for a day or two." He trades out Baron's empty cup for a full one and hands a fresh one to Dean as well before shooing them off.

Baron takes the new drink and drains it with a more relaxed smile. He waves to Sami and Kevin as they walk away, his arm still tight around Dean's waist. "Tent or no tent, I will keep you safe." Baron promises. He finds them a place to sit by the fire and pulls Dean into his lap, so that Baron can nibble at his neck from behind.

Dean drinks from his cup and lets the wolfs-bane lull him into relaxing. At some point their cups are filled once more and Dean falls into a state of drunken contentment. Meanwhile, the more Baron drinks the more his hands start to wander Dean’s body and whatever modesty Dean once had is thrown to the wind. Baron's hand slides into Dean's breeches and starts to rub at his cock, stroking him to hardness. "Fuck, Baron..." he hisses.

All around the fire dancing and other physical displays of celebration are taking place. Ember arrives and begins to pass around a smoking pipe of sweet smelling leaves. The smoke burns the lungs but leaves the body warm and blissful. Some of the pack have transformed into wolf form and they howl at the moon, nearly full as the equinox grows closer.

Baron hasn't shifted, but tips his head up to answer his pack's howl anyway. He nuzzles into Dean's neck as he keeps stroking his mate's cock. "I'm right here Dean..." Baron says teasingly, "Something you want to ask me for?" He can feel Dean's cock starting to leak over his fingers and is sure Dean will be getting slick and wet as well. The edges of Baron's perception are soft and warm and his nostrils are filled with the soft sweet scent of his mate.

Dean looks around the pack. Most of them are caught up in their own bliss with some mid coitus already. In place of words, Dean reaches back and place his hand on Baron's head. He sucks in a deep breath and looks into the future to see Baron pressing him into the blankets around the fire and fucking him in front of the pack, showing them Baron's dominance. He focuses on the image and shares the vision with Baron. Even if it's hazy he hopes Baron will be equally inspired by the thought.

Baron doesn't realize what Dean is doing at first, but when he closes his eyes the vision gets clearer. Baron growls and ruts his cock up against Dean's ass. "That what you want? For the whole pack to see you ride my knot here in the firelight?" Baron's voice is a low moan in Dean's ear. Most of his pack is young and has enough mated pairs that there's not much shame around things like this, but he wasn't expecting it to be Dean's suggestion.

"Want you... fuck want you all the time. Need you. Please." Dean whines as he rolls his ass back against Baron's dick. "It's almost the full moon of Spring. If you want me pregnant by midsummer now is the best time and I want you so bad." Dean moans, leaning forward to get on his hands and knees, practically presenting himself to his mate and Alpha.

Baron should probably care what the rest of the pack thinks, but he can't take his eyes off of Dean. His Omega is kneeling now, with his head down and his ass back, the perfect picture of needy submission, and every fiber of Baron's body pulls him toward the man. Baron strips down Dean's pants easily and leans in to taste his entrance first, licking across his dripping opening while Baron's hand returns to Dean's cock. If no one has noticed them by now, someone will soon. Dean isn't exactly quiet. For a camp that now has three small children in it, they may have to change their habits, but that's a discussion for another time.

Dean yowls and moans into the blankets and pillows. When he turns his head he can see a few flashes of eyes in the fire light watching them but no one tells them to stop. In fact the onlookers howl and cry out in support. Ember even joins in the cheering as Baron licks Dean open without mercy. Dean feels raw and exposed but so alive he thinks he could fly right now. "Baron, mate, Alpha... Please I need you."

Baron only teases Dean a little, his own desire too strong to resist. He pulls Dean's hips back against him roughly as he rears up on his knees and thrusts into his mate. Baron matches the howls of his pack as he rolls his hips into Dean's welcoming heat. "Fucking perfect." He manages to groan out, leaning down to nip at Dean's silvery mating bite. "Want to fill you so deep and so full we'll still be locked together come morning."

Additional moans and howls echo throughout the camp, and Baron can all-too vividly imagine what it must sound like echoing off the mountains. The heat of the fire and of Dean's body around him adds further intoxication to the wolfsbane wine. Despite his pleading, Baron can see Dean wince and with his shirt riding up, the spidery dark lines of the poison still haven't faded from Dean's skin.

Baron falls back to his knees and pulls Dean up and back against him. "Should I be more careful with you, my sweet Omega? You've fought so hard already these past few days..."

Dean gasps as Baron presses into him deeper and he's manhandled to his knees. "No, need you... fuck the pain. You feel so fucking good." He groans with a sinful toll of his hips. The wine is hitting him hard and his limbs feel heavy and warm. He tightens his body to make Baron moan. "Come on. Fuck me like you own me."

Baron growls at the request and and thrusts forward, snaking an arm around Dean's waist to keep him steady as Baron's pace increases. "You are mine." Baron moans roughly, nipping at Dean's shoulders and the nape of his neck. "I took you. From your pack, from Hunter, from Ziggler. You chose me. My mate." He's not making much sense, but he doesn't care. Baron's instincts take over as he drives deeper into his mate.

"Never gonna leave you. You're mine forever." Dean gasps between bitten off moans. "Mate... fuck." He grits out.

Baron pushes Dean's shoulders back down into the pile of furs beneath them as he cums, knot swelling and nearly stopping his movement. He drops his hand to stroke Dean's cock fast and rough, shaking a little as he spills inside of Dean. "Fuck.... fuckin' cum for me, let me feel you ride my knot..."

Dean shakes as a flash of his mate's orgasm washes over him and paired with Baron's hand on him he's trembling and cumming across the furs. Around them the pack is equally caught up in their own pleasures and Dean can hardly feel the ground beneath him.

Baron howls in triumph and ecstasy, grinning at the answering sounds from the pack. He pulls Dean with him to lie on their sides in the furs. Baron's breaths come hard and fast against Dean's neck as basking in the feeling of his mate with him and his pack around him. "Mine." Baron reaffirms, shuddering and biting at Dean's neck, his only desire at the moment to claim and breed.

Dean hums in bliss as Baron gets them settled. The stretch of Baron's knot is intense but delicious and he lets himself float in Baron's continual orgasm. Dean is fresh off a heat. His body at its most infertile. But the moon is high and the pack is young and healthy. Perhaps the gods will cut him a break.

Chapter Text

Baron wakes early the next morning, rising as the first members of the pack start to stir around the low fire. The soft groans and hushed voices indicative of a night of celebration for all of them. Dean's body is stretched out beside him and Baron can feel Dean's pulse thrumming strong and steady as he kisses Dean's neck.

"Good morning, Alpha-mate." Baron says, almost teasingly. He never used to care about that position, thinking an Alpha should have authority on their own. Seeing Dean work with the pack, with himself, Baron gets that Dean fills a gap in this own strengths that he didn't realize was hurting him.

Dean groans and although he instinctively bares his throat to Baron he refuses to open his eyes. "It's too fucking early to be moving."

Baron chuckles softly, nipping at Dean's ear and the pulse point just below. "It's not so bad. Sun will be rising within the hour." Dean groans again and Baron relents. "You can sleep in if you like... You're still injured after all." He finds it hard to believe he nearly lost Dean a few days ago, that their mating is still so fresh.

Dean doesn't like to think about the silvery scar across his chest and chooses to ignore that for a little while longer. He remains flat but does allow for Baron to kiss and nip at his neck and jawline while covering his body with Baron's own. "Sometimes I swear you're the one who hasn't reached twenty summer's yet." He grumbles as Baron's hands wander Dean's body.

Baron humms thoughtfully. "Twenty four, best as I can remember." He says playfully, realizing they've never talked about it much outside of Dean's defending libido. "I think it's just you. I've never been like this before." Baron really isn't intending to start another coupling though, and he makes himself pull away. Leaving Dean with the furs and the fire. "Rest. You did your duty by me and the pack last night."

Dean kisses Baron back when his mate leaves, but falls easily back to sleep. The next thing he remembers is being picked up and placed in Baron's wagon where he won't be disturbed as the pack begins to go about their morning rituals. Dean knows he should get up. There are trees to cut for new tent poles and and leather to be stitched together for their new den but he's exhausted and warm surrounded by the remains of their furs and blankets. His wounds are still healing and with the scent of his mate around him, the gods themselves would have a battle coming their way trying to raise him at this point.

~~~~~

Baron goes about his day, content that Dean is safe. He gets some of the younger members of the pack back to tracking and hunting. It serves the double purpose of keeping them alert and active and setting out a guard to be sure Dolph, AJ, and Drew aren’t still skulking around.

With tasks assigned out, Baron takes his axe out to cut a tree or two for tent poles, borrowing Rusev to help him haul them back. Lana - and Carmella who is on shift sitting with her and the babies - both look grateful for the big brash Alpha being lured out of the den. It’s a relaxing few hours, and it’s good to be out doing physical work. Rusev seems happier for it too and delights in telling Baron every detail about the first few hours of life for his new pups.

Sami catches them before they even make it back to camp, looking worried. "Newcomers in camp." He says quickly, like he's reporting. "An Omega and a Beta. One of them says he knows Dean. Kevin is in with them and Alexa and Corey, but..." Sami sees Baron ready to sprint and catches him by the arm. "Listen. When Dean was in heat, and sometimes before, he talked about another Omega from back home. Dean saw him coming here, and he didn't trust him. I don't know anything for sure but... I don't feel right about this." Mostly Sami didn't like that Beta, but he can't place why.

Baron nods and leaves for the center of camp, Sami tagging along close beside him while Rusev heads back to Lana. The flaps of Corey and Alexa's tent are tied open. This is a public audience and Baron squares his shoulders before ducking inside.

The two newcomers are seated at the foot of Alexa's raised bed platform, while other members of the back are seated or standing around. At the moment, the long-haired one is talking. He has wide brown eyes and golden skin that looks like it would be healthier is he'd seen much sun in his life. Baron studies them as he slides over to stand between Kevin and Corey.

"Seth." Kevin says softly for Baron’s benefit, gesturing to the Omega. "Tom." He adds, pointing to the Beta. The group is hushed listening to Seth talk.

"...I knew I had to get away." Seth is saying, his hand curling protectively over his nearly-flat belly in a motion that is unmistakable, even if Baron missed the start of the story. "Tom helped me get away. I had nowhere to go, but I thought if Dean was still here... We grew up together. I- " Seth swallows hard, apparently losing his train of thought in his emotional state.

Tom observes the collective menagerie of wolves as the pack gathers into their leaders’ tent. They're somewhat interesting, the tattooed storyteller and the large Alpha that is newly mated and just walked in show potential but it is wasted on the other monstrosities leading this back. "Seth was so scared that something terrible might have happened to his friend. I know it would bring him relief to see this Omega safe and happy as you say he is."

"Maybe." Baron speaks up. He's a bit surprised Dean didn't stir to be here honestly, but it's his place to make that call right now. He lets Corey ask the other questions, he's only just arrived and missed half of their story.

"There could be a place for you here." Corey starts, diplomatically, "But that decision would be a long ways off. We have no desire to put either of you in danger, but if you really tracked us here, we need to know how."

"It sounds like it's bad for all of us if the bastard king follows you here." Kevin adds, tone suspicious.

Tom rises to his feet before he speaks. Kneeling before this collective of misfits is making his skin itch. He pulls on a practiced endearing smile and addresses the room. "Believe me, I understand your concern. Who are we to ask for your help when we are escaping such a monster as Hunter, the King of Kings, Master of the Game, the grand Manipulator? But aren't you the fierce and noble barbarians who rebel against his authority? Aren't you the mighty few who dared to steal a bride from his harem for your own gain? Wouldn't a powerful pack such as yours be eager to bare their teeth at such a monster?"

Baron growls at the insinuation and feels Kevin start forward at the same time, but it's Alexa that speaks and Corey's hand is on her shoulder holding her back. "We wanted only to be left alone. A place without interference from your monster king.” She hisses.

"We don't fear fighting for what is ours." Corey says, voice cold as ice. "But there will always be another day after the battle, and we need to know who stands at our back before that day comes."

There's a general murmur around the tent and Baron takes a moment to take stock. They won't send a pregnant Omega away. He can hear the whispers of discussion already, and too many in their pack were left out in the cold by other groups to be cruel to this lost lamb.

"He can stay with us for now." Carmella is the spice that breaks the silence. "Until the council makes a decision, Seth can stay with us." She glances up and back at Cas and gets a firm nod. "I've been cast out without a mate and with a pup on the way." Carmella explains. She bites her lip, leaning incrementally back toward her mate, but looks staunchly at Baron and Alexa as if daring them to tell her no.

Tom's smirk spreads from ear to ear. "A place, even one that is temporary is all we, humbly, ask for." He adds with a gratuitous bow.

"Then you'll be fine staying with us." Alexa says pointedly, looking almost as smug as Tom. Corey seems interested in the Beta and occasionally she can do nice things for her mate. Also, it means she can keep an eye on him. "Baron can show the Omega where his friend is and we'll talk more later tonight."

Baron casts a sidelong look at Alexa, but shrugs. "Works for me. I'll bring him back after they talk." He promises the last to Carmella. The newcomers don't seem to have many supplies with them, but Baron still stands back and waits for the other members of the back to voice opinions and discuss with each other.

Most people only came by to watch, happy to let the leaders worry about who is joining them. There's still no sign of Dean or Ember, and Baron reminds himself to check on their seer when he gets the chance. This seems like a strange thing to miss.

~~~~~

Dean wakes up from a deep sleep late in the morning feeling refreshed and with the urge to run under his skin. He strips and shifts forms, his tawny red wolf shaking its fur out and sniffing at the air excitedly before darting off into the woods.

Dean weaves in and out of the trees playfully chasing rabbits and other small creatures with excitement. He isn't expecting it when he gets nipped at by a chocolate colored wolf with silver eyes rimmed in orangey Alpha red. He immediately recognizes her as Ember.

Ember butts her head playfully against Dean's, tongue lolling out in a wolf smile. It's good to see Dean out in the world, strong and free. He's been too wrapped up in the human side of himself since his heat. Ember nips at him again and takes off, leading the younger wolf on a merry chase halfway around and up the mountain, just for the joy of it.

The pair race through the forest exploring new scents and chasing each other without much thought of where they were running expect where the wind and earth pulled them. When they come to cliff overlooking the foothills do they stop and know why they were brought here. Below them is the remains of a fire, just a spiral of wispy grey smoke hidden in the trees.

Ember growls softly at the obvious invasion of their territory. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Dean she can feel his tension as well. It could be Ziggler and his exiles of course, which is a safer option than some part of Dean's dream vision already coming true. Ember paces along the cliff, tracking if anyone else has been up to this overlook.

Ember's gift has always been less controlled in wolf form, more focused on the immediate than the myriad possibilities and choices of the world. She can trace a faint echo of someone being here, but the scent is faint and foreign, as if the interlopers barely touched the ground. One Alpha and one Beta, she would guess, but certainly not Ziggler's people whose scents she would recognize.

Ember squares her shoulders and shakes dust from her fur before shifting smoothly back to human form. She needs Dean's insight in this. Ember's dark skin gleams in the afternoon sunshine, and shifting amid a cloud of trail dust may be a little overly dramatic, but it serves her purposes.

Dean shifts as well after making sure they are far enough from the edge of the cliff not to be spotted. "That has to be Hunter's mercenaries. They're ahead of schedule from the vision. They didn't strike until the equinox and the run last time."

Ember wrinkles her nose, but can't help smiling up at Dean. For all their wolves are of a size, Dean is significantly taller than her and probably still growing. "The scent was very faint, but they've been up here. They know enough to hide their tracks and scent and have enough strategy to survey the surroundings." Embers eyes flutter closed as she tries to reach for the threads of the future. Without proper meditation, her gift is always limited, but the choices and paths that diverge before her are nearly overwhelming.

"So much chaos before us..." Ember says sadly, looking to Dean to see if he can make more sense of any of it. "Did you see them in your vision? Any of their faces or methods? Other than the fire."

Dean shakes his head, "No, not of the mercenaries or their demon wolf. But I do know what Roman and his companion look like." He pauses as he looks down at the spot where the camp is once more, "And I could tell you what Seth looks like, from his curly brown hair all way down to the freckle on his left ass cheek. They'll send him in first. He's pregnant. No one wants to throw away a pregnant Omega. We better get back to the pack. If he hasn't already shown up he will soon."

Ember frowns. "Even your power won't convince this pack to turn away a pregnant Omega. It's not a fight worth having. But we can watch him... What should we worry about from him?"

Dean slowly let the way back towards camp, instinct telling him where his mate and pack were. "Seth always believes that what he's doing is the absolute best option and will pursue it with righteous vigor. If he believes we are cannibals who eat children and killing us will save people he cares about, nothing will stop him from slaughtering us. It will be a matter of making him believe that we are the right thing to protect."

Ember listens quietly, following along on almost silent feet as they move back toward the camp. "I don't think I want to know why that's your first example. We took care of you, didn't we?"

Dean chuckled although the thought was less than pleasant. "In the vision, something happened and Seth was convinced we were cannibals and you had eaten Roman and his companion, I don't know his name. I just... it’s strange." Dean admits with a sigh, rubbing his temples. "I haven't seen the black wolf, Roman, in any of my dreams recently until last night."

Ember shrugs, shaking her head slowly, "As clear as your visions are, you can't expect everything to make sense." Nevertheless, Ember tries to think about what it could mean if the vision wasn't literally true. "In the visions, your friend came to camp on the day of the run? Perhaps we still have some time."

It's easy to feel Dean's unease and Ember catches his hand. "Go on. Run back and see what you can learn. I need to take more time on the paths you race through, Alpha-mate. Be safe." Ember strokes Dean's wrist gently before she steps away and shifts back to her wolf form. Ember's thick, deep brown fur makes her silvery eyes look even more vivid. The wolf buts her head affectionately against Dean's hip before she paces off into the forest. There are small ritual protections in place around the camp and she wants to check on them before returning to her tent to meditate on the upcoming days.

Dean shifts back to his wolf form and scent marks Ember before darting back into the forest towards camp. Despite the round-about way he takes, Dean can't shake the feeling that he's being watched. The feeling grows like an itch between his shoulder blades until it makes him look back at the tree line across a clearing from him.

Standing across the meadow from Dean is the large black wolf from his vision. Roman. Dean knows he should run, get to the camp and tell everyone to prepare for battle but he can't and he won't. If he can end it here he will. Dean shifts back to his human shape to walk towards the wolf who always chases him. He will show this man that he is mated and that he will never be Roman's. Maybe then he will leave them be.

Roman has spent all day trying to clear his head. He hates that they sent Seth into this camp as a decoy. Even though he trusts Tom, he knows Seth doesn't and it puts Roman on edge. Not only that, but the memory of that scent from the former pack campsite - Dean's scent - has been haunting him. With no one to distract him, Roman's been pacing the forest as close to the barbarian camp as he's allowed to get.

When he sees two of the barbarian pack wolves in the woods, Roman hides at first, but the wind shifts to send him a scent and he can't look away. He knows instinctively that this wolf is Dean and feels his attention instantly pulled to this Omega with everything he is. More than he has ever been drawn to anyone, even Seth. When Dean sees him and shifts, Roman's heart soars, even the wicked silvery scar across Dean's chest doesn't change how beautiful Dean looks.

Roman shifts as well, and it's not until he is standing taller than Dean that he sees the mating bite on the smooth, freckled skin of Dean's shoulder. It looks broad, jagged, like it happened hastily, and Roman is growling before he thinks to stop himself. "What have they done to you?"

Dean doesn't fully understand why he doesn't just attack the tall beautiful man that stands in front of him. His eyes wander the maze of tattoos that spiral across Roman’s arm in awe. It must have taken days worth of pain to receive such intricate marks. Just like everything from his first vision, the draw toward Roman is stronger in reality. The man is simultaneously darker and more beautiful.

"Nothing was done to me I did not ask for or earn." Dean replies as they stand impossibly close without actually touching. "I dream of you chasing me, but I thought you had given up. I hoped you had until last night." His words are cold and hold just as much malice as Roman's growl.

Roman smiles as Dean draws himself up with so much authority and confidence, so strong and so so beautiful. Roman's inner wolf writhes in desire to possess this man. "We've been chasing you. Trying to set you free, bring you home." Even without his wolf's senses, Roman can smell other Alpha's scents on Dean, not just his mate, and Roman's stomach turns to imagine what may have happened to him.

"I have freed myself!" Dean says in defiance. "I have fought and battled and bled for my mate. And the gods be damned, I will not let you take him away from me." Dean's blood is boiling. Images from his vision flash before him and he can hear Baron's dying words in his head. "Why do you chase me?!” Dean demands, glaring at Roman, shoving him in the chest with both hands. “I am nothing important. I didn't ask to be part of the gods' games."

Roman growls again, his heart aching for this beautiful creature. "I wish I had found you first..." He says lowly, hand reaching out to touch the slightly raised line of the mating scar. Their biology can make breaking a mating bond painful and dangerous, but not impossible. "We can't always choose who's games we are playing." Roman says softly, hearing Tom's words in his own voice. "You can come with me." Roman says with command underlying his words, "Your story doesn't have to end here."

Dean sucks in a deep breath as Roman touches him, caressing his throat in the most sensual scent marking he's ever experienced, even from Baron. "My story isn't ending, it's just beginning. Roman...." He realizes that in this version of reality Roman has never told Dean his name, he's never heard Seth say it before and he shouldn't know it now. "I can't deny that I'm drawn to you and I know there are forces bigger than us driving us towards each other. There are things that you or I can't control. Just like you can't control yourself right now while you're in rut. But I've made my choice and it's Baron and this pack of amazing people. I won't let you hurt them."

Roman strokes Dean's neck and cheek once more. Hearing his name in Dean's voice is intoxicating, but the rejection stings. Roman steps back, shaking his head slowly. "If you are one of them, I can't protect you." He hisses out, "We were sent to kill them." Every instinct Roman has says to grab Dean, take him now, but the word 'rut' has triggered a memory and Roman doesn't want to be that monster of lust and rage. He has just enough sense left to pull away from Dean. "I can't protect you." Roman says again, tone angry and fierce. Damn Seth and Tom both for driving him to this and then leaving him. Roman shifts back to wolf form befor his traitorous body can draw him back toward Dean. He turns away and darts back into the woods, not sure where he can go now.

Dean stands there and watches Roman run away and his heart breaks for the man. "You could at least fucking try!" He yells after the man even though he knows it won't change anything. "Fine! Be a fucking coward!" He had been terrified of the black wolf for so long, terrified of Dean's own feelings that seem like an alien thing thrust upon him that he can't get rid of. Now all he feels for Roman is disappointment and anger.

Dean exhales a frustrated breath, unsure of what to do about Roman but too busy to think about. He shift and heads back to the camp. He needs to find Baron and fuck, his mate is gonna be pissed that he let Roman touch him.

Chapter Text

Dean makes his way back to camp quickly once Roman leaves him. Baron will be able to smell Roman on him even after their brief meeting, so Dean plans to apologize and beg forgiveness for his weakness in not killing the invading Alpha. At least that is his plan until he sees Baron sitting with Seth, a pregnant unmated omega, in the cart that is all that remains of their den. Dean’s den. "What the fuck is he doing here?" Dean spits, shifting quick enough to catch them off guard.

Baron smiles in relief when Dean appears, he's spent the last hour trying to calm Seth down and convince him that no, they didn't kill or otherwise dismember or forcibly mate Dean during his heat, but really only Dean himself is going to fix this and no one has seen Baron’s mate since mid morning. It only takes Baron a moment to realize that Dean is not in any mood to be amenable.

Baron stands and moves instinctively toward Dean before the wave of pure rage through their bond stops him dead in his tracks. He holds up both hands defensively. "Waiting for you. He thought we killed you or..." Baron glances back nervously at Seth. The smaller Omega has been disbelieving of everything Baron said about Dean being happy here, and Dean's certainly not helping now.

"What?! Oh was this another one of Roman's fucking ideas to convince you I could never be happy here?" Dean ask Seth with a sneer over Baron's shoulder, "Way to go setting off his rut, by the way. Very smart. I guess that answers the question of why he was a fucking monster in the vision. Was Roman not good enough for you that you had to sidle up to my mate and make him want you too? Just like every other Alpha we grew up with." It's a low blow and probably a little uncalled for but Seth isn't innocent. He’s never been above using his pretty looks to get what he wants and Dean knows he's with Roman which means Seth is also with the mercenaries getting ready to slaughter them all.

Seth's heart actually jumps a little when Dean appears. He's silent for a second taking in Dean's strength and size. He still looks slim as he always did, but healthy, and Seth really did come here praying that Dean was ok. The explosion of vitriol hurled at him is shocking, and Seth is stunned into stillness. Dean should not know about Roman, let alone his heat, and all Seth can think of is to lash out in return.

"Just because you used to drive away any potential mate doesn't mean I'm trying to steal yours now!" Seth challenges. "They show me some half-burned den that smells like you and tell me that you're fine? What the hell was I supposed to think?" He ignores the other accusations. They don't make any sense and he doesn't know how Dean can know these things.

Baron puts a hand on Dean's upper arm, not stopping him or holding him, just trying to focus his attention. "Dean you're not making sense. What happened?" There's something about Dean's scent that sets Baron on edge, but it may just be stress and he's not focused on that right now.

Dean pushes Baron out of the way and pushes into Seth's space. "So I didn't want a mating until it was with the right person. I never wanted to be taken care of. I was never pretty like you and fuck Seth..." Dean's so fucking stressed that he's crying and suddenly he can't help just wrapping his arms around his childhood brother and holding him tight. "It's so fucking good to see you. It's been so fucking crazy. And you're hanging out with cold blooded killers while pregnant. I never thought my little princess was gonna grow up. Now you’re a fucking badass."

Seth flinches back, but then Dean is in his space and hugging him and it's not violent, it's just comforting. Seth clings to Dean in return, half-laughing as Dean babbles impossible nonsense. "Gods, I fucking missed you, you lunatic." Seth says softly, kissing Dean's cheek and burying his face against his friend's neck. He inhales Dean's scent deeply like he hasn't in over year since he was taken away from home. Dean still smells of sweet soap and sweat and sunshine under all the smells of this new pack and it's so good Seth starts crying all over again. He'd swear that there's an echo of Roman's scent mixed in there and he knows that lying about how he got here isn't going to be an option after all.

"Didn't have much chance but to grow up without you around to back me up." Seth says sadly. He can't let Dean go, scent marking him touching him for reassurance. "And you... all mated before me." Seth says with only a hint of wistful jealousy. "You're happy? He's good to you?"

Baron can't help rolling his eyes. This is exactly the kind of display he still doesn't know how to deal with. He pulls out a few extra furs from the nest Dean napped the morning away in and lays out one of Dean's tunics in case he decides to wear clothes. Baron makes himself busy nearby stripping bark off the smallest of the replacement tent pole trees that he brought in the day before. The new larger ones that Rusev helped with are still outside of camp and he's not leaving the Omegas alone right now to go get them.

"Oh my gods, yeah." Dean replies as he steps away and he pulls on the tunic and then pulls Seth back toward their cart to sit with him. "Baron may be a little rough around the edges, but he's one of a kind and he's great in the sack." Dean adds with a playful smirk at Baron.

"But fuck, I don't even know where to start.” Dean says as studies Seth. “You're probably wondering how I know all this shit. Umm... you remember how I always used to feel like I was repeating things, like I would remember things happening that hadn't happened yet?"

Seth nods slowly, hopping up onto the cart and settling into the little pile of furs near one side. His legs and hips are still sore from days of hard riding on horseback, and the pregnancy gives him an excuse to sit anyway. "Yeah. You used to talk about things happening that you'd dreamed about before. Like when Shane's youngest almost drowned in the river? You knew what was happening and were there to save him before anyone else even noticed he’d got in over his head."

Baron listens idly from his place on the ground. He’s curious about Dean's history. For all they've talked a lot more and come to an understanding of each other, they both tend to look forward, not back.

"Exactly," Dean confirms as he and Seth settle into easy closeness. "It's like that but more. I was in the cart on my way to Hunter's castle and then wam; I have this vision that's not just a vision it's fucking days and weeks of my life and it's so... fuck... it's wasn't great, Seth. It was fucking awful and we all made mistakes, you, Roman, that weird trickster he hangs out with, and the mercenaries. Even Baron and the pack."

It is incredibly freeing for Dean to tell someone who knew him from before all this about the last few weeks and everything that has happened. "I've lived this already and I know you agreed to help the mercenaries kill us but we're not cannibals and I'm happy here. I love these people and the freedom of moving camp and hunting. I killed a bear Seth!"

Seth blinks, trying to follow, Dean obviously thinks he knows a lot already but some of it makes no sense. "So you... know about Roman?" He asks carefully, knowing he didn't dare describe their friendship in his letters home lest Hunter make sure they never saw each other again. "Fuck Dean, he's gotten so weird. He used to be the only person I could trust and now...." He shudders a little. Seth is still drawn to Roman, but Roman's view seems so backward after all Seth has started to learn from Finn. The plan he thought Roman had turns out to be just wanting to put Seth in a cage all over again.

"I didn't...." Seth glances over toward Baron cautiously, "Dean, we said we came here alone... but there’s actually-" Seth finally processes the last thing Dean said and his mind pivots abruptly. "Wait, A BEAR? Dean, what the fuck? How are you alive?" Seth's arm instinctively cradles his own belly while his hand squeezes Dean's. "You're a lot of things, and your wolf was always big, but you're not a bear hunter!" Seth saw the nasty scar on Dean's chest, and that alone was scary enough.

"Oh, he is now." Baron puts in from off to the side, voice warm with adoration. "I'll take you to see the skin and everything if you want." He doesn't move, figuring they won't care to do that, but he hopes the pride and admiration in his voice carries through to Dean.

"It was part of the mating rituals to prove I was a worthy mate of the big bad Alpha." Dean narrates with a proud smile. "Traditionally Baron would have presented me with gifts and useless stuff, but he wasn't sure he liked me this time around." Dean winks at his mate. It's been half a day without them pairing up and he's a little frisky from the lack of contact.

"I would have run for him on the equinox if other things hadn’t interfered. Also not the norm, but you know me.” Dean shrugs and gives Seth a reckless grin. “After that, I got challenged by an asshole Alpha who thought he could claim me. I had to fight him, and then I got to mate Baron... Then the asshole’s sorta-girlfriend then tried to kill us by burning down our tent."

Seth just stares at Dean. For all that his own life has felt thrilling and dangerous the past few days, Dean's sounds like an epic campfire story. "Trust you to find every path that no one else ever thought to take." Seth says fondly, smiling as he shakes his head a little. "It seems like you know all my news. On the run. Baby on the way. Finally realized that I was no more special to Hunter than any of his other pets." It's hard to remember when he believed that he might be, too much pain and mistrust clouding his memories now. Seth doesn't know how to talk about the other things yet. Finn and Roman and the pack and his quiet hope that they'll keep him so he can learn to wield his own power like Finn does.

Dean frown at Seth's moment of despair, reaching out to stroke Seth’s hair the same way their adopted mother used to when Seth would start to fall into one of his moods. "Hey, stop that. So you made some choices and that led to a situation that wasn't ideal. You didn't know that Hunter was going to keep you as a prisoner. To be fair, he and his harpy of a wife were really into you when they came to visit Shane. They would have taken regardless of if you were willing or not. What matters now is what you do with your freedom. Are you gonna be part of the slaughter of innocent women and children be on your conscience?"

Seth frowns at him. "I don't know. That's why we're here. To see if you're all right and what should be done. They - Finn's pack, the mercenaries Hunter hired - that's still their job, but... They got me out, Dean. Right under Hunter's nose. They put their whole pack a risk for me."

"Well they clearly can’t be awful people if they helped rescue a pretty princess from a tower." Dean teases as he pokes Seth's arm, trying to get him to frown less.

Seth flushes at the princess comment and bats Dean's hand away, smiling. “They’re not. I promise.”

"Ok, look, in lieu of you killing my new pack and kidnapping their children, I would really rather that you didn't.” Dean says carefully. “I don't think that's too much to ask.”

"I'm not here to kill anyone." Seth says firmly, to set Dean's mind at ease. "Just to make sure you're ok and try... To make a plan, I guess." "How much have you seen?" Seth asks cautiously. "About that pack?" He needs to talk through this with Dean, how they've claimed him and how much he likes it.

"Well I've only really seen the demon wolf thing and watched them burn the camp down with everyone still inside. So don't worry precious flower, I haven't seen them touch you inappropriately if that's what you're worried about." Dean explains, still incapable of not razzing Seth. "And I know you don't feel that way right now but I need you to look me in the eyes and make me believe you don't have a secret plan to get out on top spinning in you pretty head."

Seth swallows hard, "Oh, I guess. Um... No, that's... The touching's not a problem. Right. Ok." Seth takes Dean's hand. "I swear, I came here to see if you were all right and yeah, if you'd been dead or injured or... Mated against your will, then there were plans, but this? You here and alive and happier than I've ever seen you? I need a new plan.” Seth sighs, leaning back into the furs, already exhausted by his day. “But at the moment I don't have any schemes that require hurting anyone, I swear."

Suddenly Seth's stomach sinks as he remembers again that Tom came here as well. He reaches out to grab Dean’s hand, keeping his voice urgent and hushed. "The Beta that came with me though... I don't like him, Dean. He helped me escape too, it was his plan, but he doesn't like me. He doesn't trust Finn, and he's turned Roman into... Well, you've seen it."

"The trickster? He came with you?" Dean is immediately on his feet and walking over to Baron. "Is the other man staying here in camp? He have to imprison him. He poisoned you last time and that's why Roman was able to kill you. He's a snake."

Baron's eyes wide and he gets to his feet, dusting himself off. "Yes. He's staying with Corey and Alexa. Braun was still with them when I left but... How did he do it? In the food or with a weapon?" He catches Dean's wrist and squeezes it, his eyes flicking to Seth’s confused expression. "It's happening, isn't it? The attack from your vision. Should we move people?" Baron keeps his voice low, he doesn't want to mention the caves specifically unless Dean thinks it's safe, they're in a terrible position now if they have spies in camp. "We can walk Seth back to Carmella and Cass's place... Make sure he's settled?"

"It will happen soon. If not tonight, then the next. They attacked on the equinox, when we weren't prepared last time but now... Roman ran off to who knows where and may have told them we know they're here. They could be preparing to attack now before we are ready for them." Dean responds in a rush. His gaze darts between Seth and Baron. He can't trust Seth. Not yet. But he can make sure he's safe and watched after. "Yeah we should let people know to move. And call Nia to the council tent for their protection."

Baron nods. "We'll stay until she arrives." He has questions about Dean knowing that Roman, his black wolf pursuer, is here as well, but he'll worry about reclaiming things later. "You all right to walk, little one?" He asks Seth. "Seems like we don't have as much time to rest as I thought."

Seth nods, watching as Dean changes entirely, leaping into focused action. "You won't be able to tie him up." Seth warns, hearing only half their conversation. "Tom survived at Hunter's court. He was favored. He's too good at this..."

"That's what I'm afraid of." Dean admits as he pulls on breeches and makes sure to scent mark Seth and Baron for reassurance. "I promise you mate, when this is all over we are not leaving our bed for a week."

"Mm." Baron says thoughtfully, catching Dean's wrist and pulling him in for a quick eager kiss. "I'll hold you to that." He gives Seth an unrepentant grin. "Let's get you settled and then go see what our goddess and her mate have done with your little friend."

Seth feels a pang of sadness as he watches them kiss. Trust Dean to have found the right path through all of this after all. "Carmella was fond of you." Seth tells Dean, he'd only spoken briefly to his would-be hostess, but she seemed kind and she'd volunteered her home to a stranger. "You've made quite the impression of this pack for only a week or two..."

Dean shrugs as he pulls away from Baron, "What can I say, I'm kind of a rebel. Now, what was that about inappropriate touching earlier? You do not get out of this without telling me the nasty details."

Seth smiles, quiet and secret and genuinely happy for all that he's still scared. "Oh they've just been... teaching me things. You'd like Finn." Seth adds, giving Dean a knowing look. "His pack is amazing. And it wasn't me that put Roman into rut, by the way." Seth adds offhandedly, "That was some scrap of your scent that he caught at the camp you left behind." He knows Dean will drag details out of him, but he can tease a little.

~~~~~

Roman runs hard, letting his instincts take him anywhere but back toward Dean. His mind runs in circles as hard as his body. Rejected. Refused. Mate taken. Lost. Again. As frustrated as he was with losing Seth's attention, this is worse. It took two days to reach this area from the previous camp and Roman has thought of nothing but Dean's scent for most of that time.

Spending nights only paces away from the soft moans and sweet scents of Seth and the mercenaries hasn't helped Roman to focus. If Roman could look to Tom, he would. But even before he volunteered to check out the barbarian camp, Tom had stopped returning Roman’s affections. That option has been taken from him. Yet again, Roman is the least important actor in his own life and he hates it.

As the sun starts to set, Roman catches a new scent. Wolves, but not the barbarian pack and not Finn's mercenaries, he follows it almost without thinking, leading him away from the mountain and into a thicker part of the forest.

---

Drew sits by the fire next to AJ's cooling and stiff body. Dolph hadn’t stopped him when he braided her dark hair away from her beautiful face and covered her with a blanket. There had been a time when Drew had imagined AJ being his mate and bride, but she had always dreamed of Ziggler. Eventually, he decided that it was better to be close to both of them than to lose his best friends. Now AJ lays dead on the damp forest floor and Drew’s trust in Ziggler died with her.

Dolph is pacing on the other side of the fire ranting on how it wasn't his fault that he had to kill AJ. That it was for the best since they are homeless and alone now. "I had to do it Drew. She would have died in pain and starvation if I hadn't taken mercy on her." Ziggler declares as Drew's blood boils silently. "This way we might survive with the extra food."

Drew stays silent, knife out and whittling a spear. He doesn’t need to hear Dolph’s excuses for his reckless selfishness anymore. The work gives him something to focus on and may serve him well in hunting if they do get somewhere to start a new camp. If not that, it will serve him well to end Dolph’s life.

---

Roman starts to think about hunting something for dinner when he heard voices in the woods. He heads toward them, feeling the heat of a fire and smelling cooking meat. The atmosphere is tense in the little clearing as Roman enters, holding to his wolf form as he tries to size up the group. Two men, one blonde and agitated, pacing and gesticulating while the other, dark haired, calm, sits beside the fire, working a long branch into what looks like a spear with a small knife.

Drew can sense the other wolf before he sees him and when Dolph's eyes go wide he's not shocked to see a large black wolf standing behind them but he is surprised that the wolf is in rut. The scent of power and need radiates off of him. Drew doesn't say anything, waiting for Dolph to over react. He doesn't have to wait long.

Dolph rips off his shirt and shifts without much thought and leaps towards the other Alpha. Drew sets down the stick and watches as the wolves circle each other slow and dangerous. Dolph has a cocky angle to his shoulders that telegraphs his overconfidence.

Roman falls back as the other Alpha shifts and attacks. He's only ever fought with other soldiers or against organized raiders and bandits. It's easy to fall into combat instincts, feinting and slashing with the wild abandon that's been pounding in his veins for days. The sandy-furred Alpha is smaller than Roman, and his fighting is messy. When Roman's first instinctive offer of a chance to submit is rewarded only with a violent slash of claws, Roman's instincts switch over into proper combat mode. It's not long until Roman's teeth sink into the other Alpha's neck, it's instinct to shake his head hard snapping the other man's neck in a single practiced motion.

Drew doesn't need to watch as Ziggler loses this fight and honestly he isn't sure he cares anymore. His loyalty to Ziggler died with AJ and he smiles when he hears Dolph yip in pain and then the crunch of the bones when the new wolf breaks Dolph's neck.

The end of the fight feels sudden and jarring to Roman. As the blood rush of combat dulls, Roman bares his teeth at the remaining wolf, making sure that he's not about to attack as well before Roman shifts back, holding both his hands out.

"I didn't..." Roman tries to explain, but he’s breathing hard and can't quite fight back the building pulse of heat and hunger inside. "He should have surrendered."

"He should have a done a lot of things." Drew replies in his low voice, tainted by the language of his original pack. "Come and get yourself some rabbit. It'll be charcoal if it stays in the fire much longer." He tosses Ziggler's blanket at him to cover himself. Dolph won't be needing it.

Roman nods, shocked. "Thank you." Roman manages awkwardly. His mind is still a hazy roil of hunger and bloodlust, but he studies the Beta beside the fire. "He wasn't a friend of yours then?"

Roman pulls the cooked rabbit from the fire carefully, but the only place to sit is beside the other man on a fallen log. Roman wraps the blanket tight around his hips and sits. He starts ripping pieces off the rabbit with his bare hands, offering the first one to his companion.

"I'm Roman. I didn't think there was anyone else out here."

Drew takes the piece of rabbit Roman offers him. "A few days ago I would have given up anything for him and her." Drew responds, not really answering the question but grateful that he wasn't re one to kill Ziggler despite planning to. "Why are you alone while in rut? Wouldn't a strapping Alpha like you have a mate to comfort you by now?”

"No... I'm just... Alone." Roman says cautiously, sharing the last bits of meat. "I'm a danger to people like this, obviously.” Roman glances back at the body of the blonde man he dispatched with hardly a thought. “I had nowhere to go. I can leave..."

Drew chuckles at the statement. He can practically feel the nervous energy under Roman's skin. "You're no more dangerous than an Omega in heat. Your body's tellin’ ya ya need to be with someone. I don't know what it feels like for you but I would venture it's been awhile since your last one from the way you're sweating." He still hasn't given Roman his name.

Roman shakes his head, almost ashamed. "Your friend might disagree. I've never... Had one before. They don't just happen like heats." Roman shudders, pulling away slightly and pulling the blanket tighter around himself. "You should probably leave me. In the morning at least. There are.... Other packs around here. They'll blame me for... All of this, surely." Roman gestures helplessly to the blonde man's body and the more gently arranged woman's form on the opposite side of the fire. "I don't know what happens next, but it's not like a heat. It's violent."

Drew laughs harder this time, amazed that someone so strong could sound so scared. When he was young all he had wanted was to be an Alpha. He had yearned for the violent protective instinct of Alphas like it was air. As Drew matured, he learned to be ok with the balance that comes with being a Beta. It helped that he was a good head taller than most Alphas as well. Probably the only real reason that Dolph the coward had kept him around.

"Nah, I'm not leavin'.” Drew says dismissively, “And don’t worry, no one would care if you killed them or me. I was exiled yesterday, everything I owned stripped from me and all because of them.” Drew says softly, voice flat as he can keep it. “I played my part but it was Ziggler’s plan to take over a seat of power in our pack.” Drew gestures dismissively at Dolph’s still body, not bothering to explain who they all were. “I loved her... believed if Ziggler mated Dean then AJ would give up on him and we would be together." Drew spares a look at her once more before covering her face with the blanket.

Roman's eyes go wide, now he knows the name of the man he killed. Knows that that man tried to mate Dean. Something deep in him feels justified. Maybe this man was always destined to die at Roman's hands.

"Come on.” Drew says practically, refusing to look at either of his former companions again. “There's a cave over there with a dirt floor. We can lay the blankets out and you can lay with me. I won't get pregnant and it'll suck without any slick more than spit but you won't feel like there’s something eatin' you up inside anymore." He stands up and offers his hand to Roman.

Roman can scent actual arousal from this man, and it's enough to make his whole body shiver with the need he's been trying to ignore for hours. "I can't..." Roman tries one last time, while he still has any control left. "I don't know what I'll do." Roman growls, but the Beta is standing now to lead him away from the fire. He's taller than Roman, built just as strong for all he's a little slimmer. Not the shape of a man easily overpowered. "Who are you?" Roman asks finally as the man offers his a hand to pull him toward the cave. Roman follows easily, his instincts reacting to the invitation even as his mind still knows he should pull away.

"Just call me Drew. No clan name, not anymore." Drew replies as he guides Roman through the trees. "And you don't have to do anything. I'm bigger than you."

Roman chuckles, low in his chest and a little spark of challenge grows with it. "You are. Should I try to show you that size isn't everything?" Roman jokes, trying to imagine being here with Tom or with Dean, trying to remember any charm through the hunger burning in his belly.

Drew pulls Roman closer when they are in the secluded cave. "I'm sure I would be amused by your efforts." Drew teases as their hands start to wander each other's bodies. It's easier to touch Roman, still naked from the shift. There's still the stain of blood on Roman's lips and jaw. Drew leans in and kisses away the stains.

Roman growls low in his throat at the challenge, sliding his hands over Drew's broad shoulders to push off the leather vest he wears and then slides his hands down to Drew's trim waist, to loosen the ties of his trousers. "You saw me take him apart." Roman murmurs as he tilts his head to allow the soft kisses.

When Drew pulls back, his lips are stained red and Roman doesn't hesitate before surging forward to kiss him, tasting the echoed flavor of his own kill. The renewed taste of blood breaks any resistance Roman still had and Roman's hand closes around Drew's cock, stroking as Roman ruts against the larger man's hip, no longer ignoring how hard he is. "I could put you down if I needed to." Roman growls dangerously.

"I'm sure you could." Drew replies between biting kisses that leave them both breathless and anxious for more. His dick is hard and hot in Roman's hand. "Hmmm, I'm not a little Omega. You won't break me."

"I know I won't." Roman says with a teasing little smile, but the permission actually gives him some relief and he lets go of the worry that's been trying to hold him back. Roman shoves Drew back against the wall of the cave, letting his mouth wander as his hand continues to stroke. He teases at each sensitive spot he finds, enjoying each little catch of breath that he drags out of Drew.

Drew doesn't hold back his moans as Roman touches and pulls a sensation from him. "Fuck, fuck, fuck. Come on. I know you want more. Fucking take it." He hisses.

Roman nips hard at Drew's nipple, just to draw another of those delicious moans from the controlled Beta. Then he pulls back just enough to toss their two blankets to the smooth dirt floor of the cave and pull Drew down with him. Roman crawls easily over the larger man, pressing him down as he grips their cocks together to stroke them, quick and rough. "I want a lot of things." Roman growls, and he presses two fingers to Drew's lips.

Drew sucks Roman's fingers in with filthy determination. His hips rise and fall to the pace of Roman's stroking and he cant help the moans that spill out around Roman's digits.

Roman groans hungrily, and fuck but he would love that eager mouth on his cock as well, but getting inside Drew's body is of the utmost importance. He pulls his dripping wet fingers back from Drew's mouth and urges the Beta up and onto his knees. Roman's own body aches at the loss of stimulation, but Roman returns his hand to Drew's erection, now hanging hot and heavy beneath him. Roman traces his slick wet fingers around Drew's entrance, leaning in to lick and tease with his own tongue as he presses one finger inside.

Drew is a little shocked at the care Roman is taking with him. An Alpha on his first rut can be clumsy and rushed. Roman is slow and methodical as he presses his fingers into Drew, licking inside him to ease the burn that won't go away without slick. Drew cant be asked to care.

The scent of Drew's arousal is maddening and Roman's instincts push him to take and claim now. The firm strength of Drew's thighs reminds Roman of dirty talk he heard around Hunter's barracks and he nudges Drew's legs tighter together so he can thrust his aching cock into the sweat-slick space between. "Oh gods... fuck..." Roman's instincts take over and his hips drive forward, forgetting to keep working Drew open as he grips the larger man's hip for leverage instead.

Drew presses back against Roman, tightening his thighs to bring them closer together to give Roman more friction as he thrusts his spit slick cock between Drew's thighs. "Come on, take your relief. Bet you’ve been fucking hard for days, half fucking mad with it."

Roman growls, the low rumble of Drew's voice and the sweet foreign lilt of his words combining with the increased friction to drag him over the edge of a powerful orgasm. Roman continues to thrust between Drew's slick thighs before shifting back and fisting his cock to cum across Drew's ass and lower back. "Gods..." Roman breathes out, he's still hard, even after that, but the ache is lower and hotter. "Can I knot you?" He asks, eager and hungry, teasing the thick ropes of cum with his fingers and pressing two back inside Drew with the added slick. "I want to put my seed inside of you..."

Drew groans as he feels Roman cum over his backside in thick wet spurts. "Fuck... are you gonna use spit and cum for lube? Shit... yeah... why the fuck not? Come on big boy split me open on that Alpha dick." Drew realizes that he may be slightly too ambitious here but it's been a long time since he's been with anyone and he wants it almost as much as Roman. He knows that half his need is the effect of being near Roman in his state, his pheromones influencing his body to submit and breed regardless of his Beta status.

Roman grins, broad and feels, gathering more of his cum to press a third finger inside of Drew's body. "I will... Wanna make you feel good too..."

Roman spits into his hand and strokes himself again, ensuring he's coated with the slick of his own first release before he presses inside with as much control as he can manage. "Oh fuck... You feel so good." Roman groans, leaning forward over the mess on Drew's back to kiss and nip at the back of his neck. "So fucking good for me." Roman purrs, instinct and fantasy blending as he rocks his hips slightly forward. Roman drops his hand back to wrap around Drew's cock, stroking again with slick fingers as Roman starts to move.

Drew hisses in pain at the first push of Roman's cock. He's bigger than anything Drew's ever experimented with and being a Beta doesn't give him nearly enough natural lubricant to make this as enjoyable as he's know it would be with some oil. Roman's hand around his dick helps ease the pain, making it less sharp and more of an unyielding pressure as each thrust pushes Roman deeper inside him. "Fuck., fuck, shit... You're so fucking big."

Roman moans, eyes nearly rolling back in his head the first time he's fully inside Drew's body. "You're so tight. So beautiful... Gods." Roman tries to take his time, letting both of them adjust with slow thrusts, until Drew's body seems relaxed enough to take more.

Roman mouths at the back of Drew's shoulder blades and kisses down his spine before he shifts for better leverage and lets his body take control of the rhythm. It's not long before Roman is too far gone to do more than continue stroking Drew's cock, quick and smooth as he slides in and out of the exquisite body beneath him.

Roman has imagined being able to have Seth like this so many times, and the curve if Drew's pale neck beneath dark hair bleeds that fantasy into reality. Despite the previous release his body already feels wound bowstring-tight, on the verge of a proper knot, and Roman drives for it.

Drew arches back the tingle of pleasure building at the base of his spin from Roman's hand and the mouth at teases over his neck where a mark could be placed. It's too soon to allow such a mark, one roll in the proverbial hay is not a mating promise but the idea adds another level to this that Drew was unprepared for. His body relaxes on it's own, still having some of the instincts to suit an Alpha in need. He moans and growls as he feels the beginnings of Roman's cock swell. "Shit, Already... fuck Roman... fill me up.. fucking breed me."

Roman vision nearly whites out at the needy command, his body and instincts all driving toward just that. His thrusts take more force as the knot starts to form. Roman can't contain his howl of pleasure and when he finally slams home, knot swelling and holding him deep inside Drew's body.

After the first endless wave of pleasure, Roman pulls Drew back against his body with one strong arm. His hand returning to stroke the Beta's cock while Roman cums in slow overwhelming waves inside him. "Come for me." Roman growls, half command half plea. "Take your pleasure from my knot while I breed you full and strong."

The pressure of the knot is white hot and consuming and Drew is unprepared for how full it leaves him feeling. His arms shake with the pressure and he collapses on the blanket as Roman moves in aborted unconscious thrusts within him. "Shit..." He manages to knock Roman's hand away and stroke himself hard and fast enough for him to cum, riding the edge between pleasure and pain.

Drew's body flutters and tightens around Roman's knot at he cums, dragging a deep moan from Roman. He rolls Drew to his side so that they can lay together as his knot continues to pulse. "Thank you." Roman breathes against the back of Drew's neck, barely remembering words between the seemingly endless waves of pleasure.

"You're welcome." Drew groans. His body is working hard to accommodate the knot. The power of a Beta is to be adaptable and quick. Already his healing is already kicking in and changing his body to make it better at serving it's new purpose. It's harder with Drew being a Male but equinoxes are the celebration of balance and of Betas. It will aid in his transition and after awhile Drew will be able to bare children for his Alpha. It's highly unlikely they will have to worry about this now. But the idea of it causes its own pleasure for them both.

Roman drifts in the haze of pleasure for a while, groaning softly as his cock softens and he can finally pull away to arrange them more comfortably. He scent-marks Drew shamelessly without even thinking about it. Roman plans to get up and hunt in the early morning, but falls quickly to sleep as the pressure of days of self control and broken sleep catch up to him.

Drew leans into the the touches and caresses. He sleeps in intermittent spurts but eventually gets up and cleans up with the remains of Ziggler's shirt before grabbing his blanket to cover them both. It's warmer to sleep next to each other with the last twinkling remains of winter hanging in the night air as Spring takes hold. Roman nuzzles against his throat even in sleep and Drew lets him cum between his legs again halfway through the night. Some part of Drew is comforted to be marked by an Alpha in this way, but he doesn’t let himself dwell on that.

Chapter Text

Once Baron steps away with Seth and the tent has mostly cleared, Corey allows himself to drift closer to Tom. He's always curious about new people and Tom's attitude and appearance seem to draw him in for all that he's not sure they can trust the man yet.

"I hope you don't mind being away from your young companion." Corey says smoothly. "I am so curious about your journey."

Tom's attention is instantly drawn to the man speaking to him and he's pleasantly surprised, allowing his attention to be diverted from the rest of this rag-tag pack. "Indeed, it is quite the tale and I can tell you are the type to love a good story. You have so many beautiful ones written into your flesh." Tom sidles up to Corey with the grace of a large cat stalking its prey. "May I touch them?" He asks politely while carefully stroking his long alluring fingers over Corey's arms. Alexa, sitting on her makeshift throne in front of the bed growls low and deep.

Corey smiles and nods, extending his bare arm for Tom's inspection before he hears Alexa's warning growl and shifts his eyes to her, baring the mating bite on his neck in instinctive reminder that he's here talking, not flirting. Mostly. "Thank you. Everyone carries their own stories of course, but I have the great honor of helping our pack remember their choices and victories this way."

"How stunning. You have lived such an interesting life. Where did you learn such an impressive skill?" Tom inquires, his fingertips softly stroking the delicate skin of Corey's wrist.

Corey turns his wrist easily to let Tom look at it. "I grew up in a larger pack... Apprenticed very young. That's where many of these came from." Corey offers his arm for the smaller Beta to examine, turning the conversation to his real interest. "You seem to be a storyteller as well. For the King? I'm certain your stories could create quite a canvas."

Tom chuckles and pulls Corey down onto some of the furs that the pack were sitting on. "Oh the stories you could write on my skin. I wouldn't even know where to start."

Across the room Alexa lets out a huff of air hot enough to melt iron as she watches this slimy Beta try to woo her mate. "Then why don't you start with how you found us so quickly?"

Corey lets Tom sit, but stays standing for a moment, moving around to let down some of the tent panels that were tied up, giving them a little more privacy. "That does seem like a good beginning." Corey says, pausing by Alexa to stroke her cheek and shoulder before joining Tom. "The Omega said it was just you who helped him escape? You must be very fond of him and very lucky."

"I don't know if you call my feelings for the Omega fondness but I will say he is certainly making life interesting." Tom replies. He's fascinated by Corey and his odd attraction for his undersized Alpha. She was clearly a mishap of nature’s plan. And yet somehow she had gained the attention of a strong and creative Beta. A Beta that exemplified how balanced and effective a Beta could be. "And to answer your unspoken question, it was really just fate you could say. We knew you were to the Southwest on the plains and from my work for The King I knew that you would migrate towards the mountains. We ran across the remains of your first camp without much trouble.

"Fate indeed." Corey says slowly. "If you were able to track us faster than whatever force the King sent to take his retribution." He looks at Tom with innocent curiosity, or his best approximation. "Do you think that force will track us as easily? I didn't think many knew about our movements in the cities, even those as educated as you."

Alexa smirks at her mate’s careful flirtation and maneuverings. She had watched him use his beauty and talent with words all their lives. In their former pack, as children, she had hated him - the charming, eloquent Beta almost three years her senior - for his grace and skill with people. She had been jealous of how easy it was for him to get whatever he wanted from the elders and from the other kids. Corey had left home to find his calling on his spirit journey more than a year before, and Alexa was shocked when after her coming of age ceremony Corey appeared. He had confessed his unbounding admiration for her beauty and that he thought of her strength and intelligence of that befitting a goddess. Alexa claimed him that night at fifteen summers of age and without the consent of the pack leaders. Her twin brother Braun was the only witness.

That night was a blessing in disguise as well, since Hunter's men had raided and burned their village that night while the three of the were in the forest. Corey still cried as he took her and Braun away, leading them across the woods and fields for days to meet the friend he’d been traveling with.

Alexa's attention is drawn back to Tom as Corey takes a seat next to him on the furs. "Hunter's men are exceptionally skilled, but I would doubt they know what signs to look for tracking you all. As he rushed to catch up with your pack we laid many false trails as well to confuse them. I would assume they are heading towards the coast line at this moment from the clues we left." Tom replies with a smirk of his own.

Corey nods, satisfied by the answer but not willing to let it lull them into complacency. Dean foresaw conflict, it's probably coming for them one way or another.

"That was very kind of you. To ensure you would not be traced to us." Corey says honestly. "Seth is lucky to have found so wise and loyal a companion. I hope you can both be happy and safe if you stay with us." He needs to draw Tom out a little to get more of the story. "Is it truly the king's child he carries? I would think tracking down his own blood would be of utmost importance."

Tom rolls his eyes and exhales, bored already with this talk of the Omega, "Oh yes, it is most definitely the King's spawn, but he is unaware that the boy is with child. Otherwise the Omega would have been locked up in a room without hope of orchestrating an escape. The king does not want to risk the loss of a child. If Hunter had known there is no possible way we would have gotten away. Lucky for us, I suppose." Tom does look forward to when this devil spawn growing inside Seth one day grows up and slays his father to take up his throne. It would be such a thrilling story. He'll have to find a way to be around to manipulate it into happening.

Corey shivers at the crude description. He remembers stone walls and heavy rooftops, it all feels like a prison in his memory. They didn't choose to leave their home, but Corey will never stop being grateful for the freedom that his life with Alexa granted him. "I would imagine that it is still for the best that your escape was concealed then, I doubt even the king has so many Omega brides that the loss of one will go unnoticed." Corey says seriously. "How did you come to serve him? Such a creative spirit would be challenged under such vicious control."

Tom hums to himself thinking of the events that led to him being in the service of a man like Hunter. "One could say that I like to be where the action is happening. The King was once a man of little mean, a soldier who wanted more, to be the best, to rule all of Gaia. His ambitions were larger than his ability to achieve them. I met him when he was just a barbarian warlord, burning villages and claiming land. I was working as a librarian for the man who used to sit on it and I saw his potential. When he kidnapped and wed the former King's daughter I had little to fear as long as I kept my head down. No one expects a scribe and storyteller to betray them. So I bided my time, and waited for the moment when it was most advantageous to leave."

Corey smiles and laughs. "I suppose that's true. Too often those less dramatic skills are unappreciated by those in power." He glances fondly at Alexa. She was never honored or respected as she should have been back home. Here, in this pack they've built with Baron, her skills and beauty have multiplied and grown. Corey has never regretted their mating, he's humbled by it every day.

Alexa sighs in mock boredom and stands up to walk over towards the entrance of the tent. Already she can see Sami and Kevin quickly organizing defenses and she almost cracks a smirk. Dean and Baron must have gotten Seth to talk. They will not be caught unprepared this time. "Tell me Tom, you're so smart and educated about the movement of tribes. Did you once come from a wandering pack yourself?" Alexa asks, the best way to keep someone as narcissistic as this one distracted is to get them to talk about themselves.

Tom chuckles and shrugs, "My people are from somewhere else, a different continent. We came here across the great sea looking for a new life. We traveled extensively when we arrived."

Corey listens to Tom's answer with rapt attention, but when Alexa moves to stand by them he doesn't miss a beat as he catches her hand and presses a kiss to her knuckles.

"You must have been quite young." Corey says, encouraging Tom to continue. "To have gathered all that knowledge and still been serving the old king."

"I was." Tom replies with a smile. "Very young and full of expectations of how new and interesting this new place could be. I craved newness like a babe craves milk. I felt as if I could live on adventure alone. This was a new land waiting for me to help shape it." Tom is alight with passion. It's rare that he permits himself to speak of his early days in a world full of opportunity, a world ripe for blundering great tales and breeding true heroes. But confessing his true nature to Roman, and then to Balor, has been liberating for Tom. He feels as if the shackles of his mortal frame are starting to peel away and his true self has a chance of shining through. "However, youth like the glimmer of newness soon faded and I was.... entrapped and betrayed by my brethren leading me to end my life of adventure in favor of collecting them through stories and words instead of experiencing them first hand."

Seeing Tom light up with joy at memories of his young life genuinely brings a smile to Corey's face. "I'm sorry to remind you of that sorrow. I hope your new freedom will return you to those more joyous days."

Despite not trusting Tom, Corey is fascinated by him. There's something truly passionate and inspiring about Tom's speech and stories. He could be a powerful leader if he wished to be.

Tom sighs, there is always the possibility of settling down and living a mortal life for awhile. Perhaps living with this group of misfits would be interesting. But Tom knows himself. Settling down would be the death sentence that his brethren intended trapping him to be. "Perhaps. My bones ache for a good story, an adventure. Tell me one, storyteller."

Corey smiles and looks upward as if seeking inspiration. "That's quite a challenge coming from you..." He considers Tom and the stories he's told today as he chooses something. It has the advantage of being a family story and one that Alexa enjoys as well.

"Around where I grew up and trained, there was a local lord. He began as a kind ruler, taking over from his father, but as he aged he grew emotional, irrational..." Corey starts, launching into an embellished version of the story of Lord Regal and how his reign was tormented by the trickster Mox. Mox was a strong young Alpha, wiry and sly, who refused to settle or mate but instead focused all his attention on driving the capricious lord deeper into madness.

Corey takes out some of the raunchiest bits, but leaves in enough to make Alexa laugh and embellishes a bit about Mox's clever Beta companion Sami, who helped to plan some of the more outrageous stunts. He watches Tom, trying to keep him focused and entertained.

Tom laughs, thrilled by the colorful story. "Ah, that is a wonderful story indeed!" Tom says, meaning it honestly. “Have you ever heard the tale of what happened next for Mox after he at last drove the lord mad?" Tom has always been particularly pleased to know the full tale, having lived through parts of it himself. "Mox cared only for himself for many years. He fought his way through giants, battling across a field of volcanic glass and thorns. But eventually he met another young Alpha by the name of Leakee. Together they slaughtered forces unimaginable."

Tom doesn't need to embellish the way the two wolves fell in love with the thrill of blood lust and carnage until they also fell in love with each other. "They were consumed entirely with each other. Unable to be separated from one another from the moment they met. But like all things, some battles can not be won. Because they were both Alphas the pair were unable to have children, despite how hard they tried. In anger and frustration the pair blamed the gods for this and took their fight to the very thrones of their deities."

"The battle could not last long or course, but as the two lay dying in each others’ arms - perhaps the two strongest Alphas alive - they promised each other that they would return and find one another in another life. They swore they would never stop their fight against the Gods and their machinations. Impressed by their strength and the devotion of their vow, the Gods granted them their wish. Mox and Leakee were granted the Gods’ blessing so that over and over, across the centuries, they will always find each and they would always seek the strength to challenge the Gods."

Corey chuckles, delighted as much by the thrilling and vivid descriptions of the story as by the way Alexa's eyes light up at the talk of strong Alphas challenging the gods. His beautiful goddess has always loved the stories of conflict and violence and Corey focuses on the images and flow of Tom's story so that he can recount it for Alexa again in the future.

"Well that explains why I never heard the continuation of the story." Corey says with bemused delight as Tom's story comes to a climax. "Where we grew up, they wouldn't have smiled on two Alphas mating. Let alone challenging the Gods to do it." He beams at Alexa, "Imagine the plans you might have had with ideas like that to dream about."

Alexa can’t resist a fond smile at her mate. He knows her so well. "Instead we settled for the journey of the sky goddess who took the sea for her bride. Remember how many extra tales you discovered or made up for me?"

Corey grins, remembering all the wild stories they created together for how the goddesses found and fought for love. "You always wanted more, and I always wanted your ears filled with my voice. My favorite was always the story of how they tricked the jealous sun god into chasing the moon so that they could be together." Corey says with a smile. They're old old stories, maybe from before there were Alphas and Omegas in the world.”

Tom chuckles, pleased that even the stories older than him still were told in some fashion. "You are very good at your craft. I have often found many people do not value the stories from before. When I came to this place I was hungry for the knowledge of what came before, hungry for stories. Tell me another one..."

~~~~~

Dean, Baron, and Seth are headed across the camp with haste, but Sami stops the three of them before they can get to Alexa and Corey's tent, looking calm and focused. "You don't need to do... whatever you're thinking." Sami says firmly, smiling as Kevin comes up to his side.

"They haven't budged in over an hour." Kevin says, "Didn't even notice last time I went by to check. Our storyteller knows how to keep a man entertained." He exchanges a grin with Baron.

“We know not to trust him.” Sami says, laying a hand on Dean’s shoulder and scent marking him lightly.

“Good. Whatever Tom is, if Corey and Alexa are keeping him under wraps, then we might want to... make some other preparations for the equinox." Baron says carefully, still mindful of Seth beside them.

"Oh! We already are. We're not the worst at planning even without you, Alpha." Sami shoots a suspicious look at Seth and keeps his terminology as obscure as possible when he tells them that he and Kevin decided to start helping people leave camp. "Based on what you told me the first day we rode together, Dean... we moved on with that plan you had with the... uh... hot springs. Figured it's probably best to be safe when we have new people in camp, right?"

Dean shares Sami's bright smile and nods. He glances at Baron, who looks deeply pleased with Sami and Kevin and pats them both on the shoulders.

"Should have known you'd have it under control. Keep it up." Baron says warmly and slides his arms around Dean's waist. "Seth... we should probably have a bit of a longer chat." Baron ducks his head to kiss Dean's neck and shivers a little as he finally realizes what's been off about his mate's scent. "And maybe Dean has some things to tell me too."

Dean tenses when Baron leans in and scents him. He had momentarily forgotten that Roman had touched him but now he remembers with stark intensity. "Seth, Baron and I need a moment or two before this gets crazy. Sami, can you hang out with Seth and make sure he gets something to eat. He's got a growing child to feed."

Sami tips his head and nods, holding a hand out to Seth. Seth must have earned some trust today, or Dean wouldn’t let the other Omega out of his sight. "Yeah, we've got some things starting to get ready for dinner. Little smaller than normal to save up for a feast tomorrow." It's half a lie, but he has to stay careful with this outsider.

Baron watches Sami escort Seth away and allows Dean to turn in his arms. "Who am I smelling on you? It's no one from the pack." Baron asks, urgent and a little worried. He hates that someone else got close enough to touch Dean without him there.

Dean grabs Baron's hand and pulls him back towards their wagon. He doesn't say anything until he's pushed Baron up into the makeshift bed they've made inside. It’s tight and they are pressed fairly close together but it's about and private as they can get. "Ok, so before I came back and saw you with Seth, I ran into Roman."

Baron growls, low and threatening, before he can even think. His hands are tight on Dean's hips and it's frustrating to know that they don't really have time for this. He fights down his instincts, he needs to be with Dean on this. "Ok.... so we're right. He came for you, and Seth's pack of mercenaries brought him." Baron isn’t sure what he's asking, but he doesn't like that the other Alpha was marking Dean. "What did he say?"

"He asked me to run away with him." Dean replies honestly as his hands come up to cup Baron's face. "And I told him no. He was in rut he was being irrational." He doesn't say that there had been a undeniable pull between them but Dean had fought for Baron no matter what he loved his mate.

"Poor bastard." Baron says softly, tipping his face up to kiss Dean gently. "Rut is bad enough, but to be rejected... to want you and not have you?" He swallows hard. "I'm surprised he let you go."

Dean moans happily into the kiss. "I was too. It was... strange. He was scared when I told him he was in rut. It was like he couldn't handle being out of control." Dean's hands begin to wander over his mate's body, reaffirming his choice.

Baron groans at Dean's curious touches. "Gods know I love you, but I don't have time to reclaim you, Dean. We need to..." Baron rocks his hips up into Dean's weight anyway, wishing he dared take the time to have Dean now. "-not safe if there's a fight coming." He says helplessly. Baron moves his mouth to Dean's neck where Roman's scent was strongest, nipping at the skin and replacing it with his own as much as he can.

Dean bares his throat to Baron's wandering mouth. "Maybe not time for a proper knotting but we can still... mess around." Dean flirts between moans.

"Insatiable." Baron says fondly, biting harder at Dean's throat. Surely Sami can handle Seth for a few minutes. He lays back to bring both his hands between then, working both their breeches open to get their cocks out and stroke them together. "Hate missing these chances to breed you." Baron says roughly, "Especially so close to the full moon."

"If we survive the night," Dean purrs, "you can fuck me all day and night tomorrow." He rolls his hips and groans at the contact. His cock his already leaking, giving them the slick to make Baron's strokes smooth and amazing.

"Mmm." Baron grunts, low and guttural, teasing more precum from Dean's cock and sliding his hand faster over their cocks. "That's a hell of a promise. Good thing we have a head start on them." There's a cold pit of fear in Baron’s belly as if he swallowed a stone. There is a chance that this could be the last time he gets to touch Dean like this and he brings Dean's hand up to his mouth to kiss the palm. The action also muffles his own moans as he gets closer to cumming.

Dean arches his back as the feedback of Baron's pleasure washes over him through their newly formed bond, overriding the fear he can still feel from his mate. "Fuck, Baron. We're gonna win this. I won’t fucking lose you. I'm yours. Roman will never take me."

Dean's certainty and determination is like a wave, soothing Baron's worry and multiplying the pleasure of having Dean here with him. "Mine." Baron confirms, "No matter who or what I have to fight." His hand is flying now and he lets himself cum in a hurried rush, continuing to stroke Dean to completion as well.

Dean's orgasm is ripped out of him by the intensity of Baron's and he's left panting and shaking straddling his mate's hips. "Oh shit... " he collapses on Baron's chest, burrowing his face in along Baron's throat. "Love you so much."

They're making a mess off their clothes and no one with any sense of smell will have any doubt what they've been up to. "Love you too." Baron nuzzles into Dean's hair, teasing his sticky slick fingers up Dean's spine just to spread more of his scent across his mate. "If I'm gonna square off against an alpha with the strength of a rut behind him, I'd rather smell like you." Baron says thoughtfully.

Dean chuckles as Baron smears cum across Dean's throat to cover Roman's scent mark. "I think we will just have to deal with the walk of shame. Although I will never be ashamed of my choice to be with you."

Baron grins, kissing Dean again, hard and quick. "Who's going to judge us? The unmated Omega?" Baron says with a raised eyebrow. He does wipe them clean with a corner of a blanket that only got slightly singed in the fire. It'll all need washing eventually. After all of this. "Time to go lead the pack." Baron says, shifting Dean with him as he sits up.

When they get back to the fire, Seth stands and moves over to them immediately. "Dean, you need to come with me." He says urgently. It didn't take long of walking around the camp and talking to Sami to realize this wasn't a pack that he could watch die, even if Dean would agree to leave. "We need to go talk to Finn. He needs to know what this pack is like before..." Seth swallows hard. "They're supposed to attack tomorrow during the run, but we'll talk them out of it. They're good people, they won't want to do this. Not with families here..." Seth glances nervously across the fire where Cas is bouncing little Enzo on his knee while Carmella tries to feed him some mashed vegetables.

Baron sticks close to Dean, letting Seth talk when he approaches. "You see anything about that the last time?" Baron asks, willing to go, but not wanting to walk into an ambush.

Dean shakes his head. "No, I mean they did attack last time and Seth was who let them into camp but we didn’t have time to negotiate. I think it might work. If we stop the demon wolf from attacking... we could survive this without losing the entire camp." Dean smiles hopefully and wraps an arm around Seth's shoulders to ruffle the other boy's hair. "I knew you’d see sense, princess."

Seth blinks at Dean, almost shivering as he leans into the scent of a happy mated pair and presses himself into Dean's side. "I never wanted you to die." Seth says, "I don't know what you saw, but..." Seth shrugs helplessly. If this pack had hurt Dean, or been some monsters killing for sport, he could imagine himself behaving differently, but he doesn't want to be complicit in hurting them now. "We shouldn't take Tom with us. He hates Finn, and he'd find some way to spin it all wrong."

Baron nods, meeting Sami's eyes across the fire. "With Kevin and Alexa here, Braun too... they can hold your wicked little Beta friend." Baron rolls his shoulders. "How's this pack feel about clothes? Should we ride or run?"

Seth chuckles and pulls away to give them both a look. "To be fair, they’re about as modest as the two of you. And I told them I'd be in wolf form so I wouldn't be detected, that’s how they’ll expect me back.” Seth gives Dean an apologetic look. “I also didn't know if the pack would have forced for me to sneak away, so they should be waiting for me..."

"Sounds like a plan. Let's head out. It's nearly sundown." Dean confirms with only a minor blush to his cheeks at the mention of modesty. There's no hiding a proverbial roll in the hay when you're surrounded by wolves. "I'm so excited to meet your new friends." Dean teases Seth.

Baron nods and takes a moment to check in with Kevin and Braun. They're quietly guiding the remaining members of the pack up into the supply caves and assure Baron that only a few of the strongest fighters will remain by the end of the night.

Seth rolls his shoulders and strips, leaving the borrowed clothes with Sami. He doesn’t give Dean time to ask about his new tattoos before he shifts. His snow white fur is now spiraled with the same tattoos that Finn’s power placed on him, accenting the sleek line of his back in the light of the setting sun. Seth paces off toward the treeline to wait for Baron and Dean to be ready.

Baron makes an awkward bundle that includes pants for him and Dean and ties it across his chest so that it will stay secure as he runs. The sense of urgency grows as they shift and he and Dean follow Seth's white-furred form into the woods.

Dean has always enjoyed the rush that comes with the shift. Where other pups usually had difficulty finding their wolf, he knew instinctively who his wolf was and he shifted without trying. As they darted between the trees, illuminated by the setting sun, Dean lets the freedom of night and the power the change wash over him. He dodges in and out of bushes, playfully nipping at Baron and Seth's heels.

Seth plays with Dean a bit at the start, but they're running hard and he settles into a smoother run. He hasn't spent much time in this form in over a year, wolf shape not being of much use inside Hunter’s keep. He was delighted but exhausted when Finn encouraged him to shift and they ran together in one of the days of travel up into the hills. Seth still tires faster than he'd like, especially after his long day, but pushes on beside them.

Baron races and plays with Dean more than he probably should. Baron realizes belatedly that he hasn't gotten to run with his mate like this. They've never spent proper time in wolf form together since they didn't mate on a run. The evening is clear and cool, and nothing much in the forest slows them down. Baron delights in how strong and quick Dean is, and Seth's slightly more sedate pace gives them a little leeway to play while still ranging around to be sure that the smaller Omega stays safe.

Dean realizes half way through the run that he's never been in wolf form around Baron and he does his best to preen and show off his sleek frame under the moonlight. There's something primal and natural about running with Seth and Baron, the companions of his past and future.

Baron senses the shift in Dean's gait and bumps his shoulder admiringly. He noses at curve of Dean's neck when they pause to drink from the stream. Baron directs as much admiration as he can at Dean through their bond. He presses his snout to the silvery scar of the mating bite, just visible beneath Dean's sandy fur, reminding himself and Dean that the mating bond is already complete, for all he doesn't mind Dean showing off.

Seth feels a little twinge of jealousy at the closeness between his friend and his new mate. It's bittersweet. Seth is delighted for Dean and can clearly scent what a happy and well-matched pair they are, but some part if him still aches for that companionship, knowing that he may never get it now. Not many would want to claim an Omega who's already bearing another Alpha's pup.

Chapter Text

Dean settles down once they reach down into the small glen that the mercenaries has set up camp in and he's sure Baron notices that it's just outside of the area they have scouts patrol. Seth pauses to let them shift and dress in the minimal clothes that Baron brought. Once dressed, Dean moves to be closer to his Alpha and mate as the white head of Seth's wolf nods and Seth starts to move to the light of their campfire. Baron hangs back just a little as they let Seth step forward first.

"Well well... the prodigal son returns." Says a bemused voice from the far side of the fire, and Seth it pretty sure he can recognize Karl's amusement in it. Seth pads over to Finn, who was looking over a couple of maps with Asuka and AJ, and accepts Finn's gentle stroking of his head.

"You brought friends." Finn says with only slight hesitation. "And no Tom. Guess you'd better explain yourself, sweetheart." His tone is still fond, but his eyes flick to the Alpha and Omega standing unarmed at the edge of the firelight.

Seth steps away to his pack, still neatly tucked where he left it this morning, and shifts back, feeling achy and exhausted as he drops a loose shift over his head. It's little more than a nightgown, but he doesn't care. It will keep AJ from staring at him like he might eat him up at least. "Finn... this is my friend Dean, who I wanted to keep safe. And his mate Baron... It's his pack we've been hunting."

Finn stands, pressing a quick kiss against Seth's temple and sliding an affectionate hand down Seth's back and the demon's marks there beneath the material to make sure the other Omega is settled and knows that he is safe. Probably. "I can see and smell that much." Finn says with amusement. "Come on forward then, we're not going to bite without reason."

Baron shifts first, pulling the awkward bundle from around his shoulders so that he can pull on pants quickly and then offer Dean the same. The walk forward together, Baron letting Dean take the position of negotiator, half a step ahead. "We came to plead our case." Baron says to the Omega that's obviously in charge, "Seth thought you might be sympathetic to a tribe that was trying to protect families with young pups."

Finn licks his lips and studies Dean and Baron, taking a moment to weigh that they're trying to tell him and what Seth's return to camp with them in tow probably means about his desires. Dean is the most fascinating part of the equation, standing tall and proud, something untamed and wild in him still despite the clear claiming bite on his neck. "What about you, little black sheep? Did our princess need to come save you?"

Dean smirks at the term of endearment he also uses for Seth. "No, we would have fought you back as best we could. But I won't watch my pack die at the hands of men I could have asked not to." Dean explains honestly. "I wouldn't let my pride keep me from trying."

Finn smiles slightly, hearing the soft hum of appreciation for the honesty from AJ at his back and quiet whispers among his pack. "Come sit then." Finn says carefully. "It's a fine night for negotiation.... let's see what you can offer that would outweigh a promise made to the king." Finn says it bluntly, letting them know that this isn't any simple favor. As much as he might like to just walk away, they have a reputation to uphold.

The pack gathers around closer as Baron and Dean settle in the dirt around their fire. "We never meant to hurt Dean." Baron admits. "We hoped to trade him back in exchange for some land and supplies. One of our Omegas was pregnant, having a rough time. When we planned it, we hoped it could be a simple exchange." It sounds foolish now, being so straightforward about it.

Dean chuckles at the admission and nods, "They were under the impression that Hunter could be reasoned with. I've only met him once and only for a moment but I know he's crazier than a fucking lunatic." Dean makes sure his arm is pressed against Baron's as they sit down for support. He flashes Seth a smile when Finn pulls him down into his lap. "And as far as your contract, I know we can not buy you out of it. We don't have wealth like he does. But I'm sure your princess would be rather upset if you murdered us." It's not so much a threat as a fact. Seth in a bad mood was not an easy burden.

Seth narrows his eyes at being used as a bargaining chip. His bond to the pack is still too new for that, but he should have expected Dean to use everything he has. "They're good people." Seth says softly, trying to distract from Dean's threat. Seth glances around the circle as he speaks, not just focusing on Finn. This will need to be a group decision. "They seem to harbor mated pairs that couldn't find a place in the cities, or loners that their clans and families wouldn't accept." Seth tries to explain all the things that Sami told them in their brief conversation. It helped make sense of what Baron had awkwardly tried to say earlier in the day. "All they really did was take an Omega that Hunter would have tormented anyway... maybe even killed." He swallows hard, looking at Dean. Seth hasn't had time to tell Dean about the beatings, the silver chains, the pain... he's still trying not to dwell on it.

"We still have a reputation." AJ puts in, as much as the newcomers want to focus on Finn - assuming a traditional pack structure - but Finn's not the only one with a say in this kind of decision. "I'm not that excited about killing kids, but the report has to go back to the asshole king or he'll be after all of us with twice the force."

Baron nods, looking up at the other Alpha who hasn't spoken until now. "What proof would you need to show that your contract was completed?" He asks cautiously.

"Hunter would prefer we bring back body parts as proof. The Alpha's hear was requested." Finn says lightly, just to see how stable Baron really is.

"And Hunter sent his lieutenant and his spy with us with us to verify that the job is done." AJ growls, irritated by the conversation already. His skin is starting to itch from being close to Roman in rut for a few days and now being around yet another unfamiliar Omega. AJ can feel his own rut coming on and he's ready for a fight.

Karl knocks his shoulder against AJ's in a warning when he sees a flash of silver in the other Omega's eyes. Wolves like that have powers that should not be treated lightly.

"Well since we aren't in the habit of keeping bodies around and I know for a fact Roman has gone rouge in rut I would say our options are quite limited." Dean growls back. He doesn't like Finn's Alpha at all. "So I'm open to suggestions."

Baron lays a hand on Dean's thigh. He's not any happier about their implications either, but the alternative is hiding or running, and this group seems too canny to let them escape for long.

"So you met Hunter's mad dog." Gallows chuckles. "He should be back tonight. Good for you if you fought him off though. Think it was your scent that set him off... unless there was another Omega in heat at your last camp."

"We have the other one... Tom? He’s safe." Baron says carefully, redirecting. "But Seth gave us the impression he couldn't be reasoned with. We'd have to convince him that you'd truly succeeded if we want to count on him as a witness."

"He'd be a hard one to fool." Seth puts in, "Being as he staged my suicide back at the keep... he knows reality from a story being spun for him." Seth thinks that's true anyway. Tom is strange and cruel and twisted Roman against him without seeming to try.

Dean refuses to feel guilty for whatever state Roman is now in. "Roman isn't a problem. What is a problem is that the fate of innocent families is not something that should be weighed in gold."

Finn chuckles and kisses Seth's temple when he feels the boy tense. "I understand the precariousness of this arrangement but I am bound by the honor of a contract to ensure that your camp is destroyed."

AJ shifts slightly, trying to think their way out of this. He won't stand against Finn and the pack if that's how the decision gets made, their honor is at the core of what they do after all, but he doesn't like it.

"The innocent could be... missing, when we attack?" Asuka offers carefully from the Finn's other side, glancing to her Omega to clarify her idea.

"The price would still be high for your pack." Karl explains, taking up the explanation when Finn frowns. "We'd have to smash up a lot. And probably hit Tom fairly hard to keep him confused. Roman..." Karl gives a dismissive shrug, "If he comes back, he's likely still in rut and at the peak of it. With any luck, he'll remember violence and destruction and not much else. We send them back with some burned and bloody cloth."

"You'd all pay the price for your crimes in having to rebuild, but you would have your lives." Finn offers.

"Could we just kill Tom and send Roman back alone?" Dean asks honestly much to Baron's amusement. He's not above killing one of Hunter's men if it means less damage to the camp. "The less we lose the better."

AJ grins and laughs, but Finn looks pensive. "That may prove harder than we'd like it to be... but if he is still in the camp and fights, I will do my best." Finn can feel Balor whispering in the back of his mind, delighted at the possible challenge. He was almost hoping not to let the demon out on this one, it's so dangerous for his pack and the risk grows with Seth so close. Both Finn and his dark benefactor understand the need to keep the other Omega close now and not to chase him away.

Before Baron or Dean can say more, a tiny woman drops from the nearest tree making even Finn and his pack jump slightly. The woman is tiny, maybe even smaller than Alexa, and significantly more wiry. She rattles off a quick string of words in a language that Dean can't follow, but the female Alpha by the fire translates urgently.

"Fire below the mountain. On the other side." Asuka says quickly, eyes wide and dark as she looks to Finn and mutters something else to him in her own language.

"That sure as hell wasn't the plan." AJ says, already standing to gather gear as he squints up at the moon, still barely rising.

It takes Baron a moment to process, but he responds to the urgency of those around him, turning to look at Dean. "Fire? Like from your vision... I thought we had a day..." He hates himself for hoping that his mate will give him a glimpse at the future or the present. It's already become to easy to lean on Dean's power for this. Dean turns to look at him with dark worried eyes and Baron throws planning to the wind, standing and preparing to run.

~~~~~

Tom waits until Corey and Alexa have retreated to bed before sliding out of the alcove that they have relegated him to. He doesn't bother trying to exit through the front and just slides out under the bottom of the tent without much noise. The camp is quiet. There is a sense of nervousness on the air; the breeze is sour with it. However as Tom carefully moves between the tents he realizes that the sounds of the pack, especially one with the number of wolves that showed up to Corey and Alexa's tent when he and Seth arrived. "Speaking of which..." he muses to himself. Tom carefully scents the air, trying to find a trail of where Seth may have wandered off to. The plan was to meet up and return to Balor's pack. He follows the scents of Omega, scrunching up his nose at the sickly sweet aroma.

After several minutes he realizes that Seth's scent has already left the camp and he was not alone. The large lead Alpha, Baron, and another Omega are with him. "Interesting." It is possible that Seth convinced his friend to abandon this pack but it seems unlikely with Baron by their side. "Oh Seth, you optimistic idiot." He had known the boy's intentions to rescue his friend but Tom also knew that Seth does not yet have the stomach for death on this scale.

"So the damsel betrays their savior. How quaint." Tom scowls as he snakes his way towards the center of camp. This narrative displeases him, it has no logic or focus. There is no structure, no theme to tie the lives of it's characters together. Roman had already turned out to be a disappointment, falling into rut over a pitiful Omega's scent alone. For all his strength and dark beauty, Roman hadn't become the beastly villain Tom had wished. Roman had been scared and frustrated. And this pack... "A bunch of unfortunates that deserves to be killed." Tom had come to this world with a plan, all his siblings had. They had dreamed of making a perfect society like the one they had come from before the cataclysm. This pack was just another example of how they had failed. His brethren would never understand. "They were short sighted. They lacked the will to do what needed to be done."

As Tom thinks of the wasted potential in Corey, entangled with the stunted and deformed Alpha he calls a mate, Tom’s anger grows. These people don't deserve the gifts of the gods. They are nothing but mongrels. They should have been slaughtered at birth. Tom pulls a small blazing log from the fire near the center of camp. Its brightly glowing husk burns the skin of his hand, making it sizzle in angry pain. Tom doesn't even feel it as he turns with his torch ablaze and begins to set the main tents, one by one, on fire. He watches as the framework of so many wasted worthless lives begins to go up in flames. "Blessed are those to look upon me and know I am the deliverer of your redemption. I will rid this paradise of your stain!" He screamed.

~~~~~

Nia takes over as guard outside of Alexa and Corey's tent when Braun finally has to go to sleep for the night. She listens idly to the low murmur of their stories being told from inside the tent and paces the circumference of the tent and the nearest areas. When they settle down for the night, Nia does as well, bringing out a knife and the leather that she's been working with to make a new bodice. She remembers her cousins having something tighter and more fitted at home, but not one in the pack has figured out the technique yet.

They'll have to train someone else to help with making and repairing tools, she realizes, as Drew was the one best at maintaining knives and all manner of metal tools. At least they still have his tools in camp, he couldn't carry the heavy metal when he and Ziggler were expelled. The camp is already unusually quiet when Alexa, Corey, and their guest fall silent within the tent. Most of the pack safely moved out into the caves earlier in the afternoon, and the lack of sound about the camp is unnerving. There are only a few of them left in the camp, rotating guard through the night until they hear back from Baron and Dean about their negotiations. When the light fades completely, Nia puts away her craft and studies the stars instead. Ember has taught her a few of the stories about the constellations and she amuses herself trying to pick them out and remember which are which.

Nia stirs from a reverie of her own thoughts, first hearing an ominous voice speaking somewhere behind her and then smelling the scent of smoke overlaid with charred flesh. She springs to her feet, heading toward the sound, knife gripped in her hand, ready now to fight instead of craft.

Tom, the strange Beta from Hunter's pack, is walking beside the tents of the camp with his hand half on fire, rambling nonsense that makes Nia's blood run cold. "Hey!" She shouts, not thinking before she charges for him, planning to barrel into his chest with her shoulder. When he twists out of the way, she's thrown off balance and nearly to her knees, but at least he's away from the nearest tent. Around them, Nia can see that several structures are already catching flame. It would take a concerted effort to put things out, and there aren't enough of them to lead Tom away and fight the small blazes.

Tom laughs and tosses the flaming log towards Corey and Alexa's tent as he prepares for another strike from the intimidating she-wolf. He can feel the edges of the magic keeping him in this form fraying from the trauma of his burn that heals almost instantly. "That's it! Embrace your death and know that you have been saved from a life of mediocrity!"

"Alarm!" Nia shouts, voice harsh and loud with fear. The moon still hasn't risen and the night is dark. "Fire! Everybody up! Fire!" Nia growls again and charges at Tom, this time trying to catch him with a wide-flung arm rather than trying to tackle him. Tom dodges again, driving a fist hard into Nia's stomach. As she tries to recover, she hears the pounding of feet and the growl of a wolf. Kevin appears by her side as Sami flies through the air, claws unsheathed as he catches Tom's upper arm with his teeth.

What's left of the camp starts to stir, but Nia can't focus on isolating the sounds of individuals. She watches in sick horror as Sami is pushed back to the ground. In the dim light, Tom looks almost inhuman. The skin of his hand seems to be healing already, and the blood which should be gushing from Sami's bite is sluggish.

Tom laughs. The noise is thunderous and it echoes off the walls of the cliff face above camp with unnatural volume. "You fools! Is this the best you can muster? I have slayed thousands."

Tom is prepared when Kevin lunges at him and he counters by kicking the Alpha in the face. Beneath his fingertips, Tom can feel pinpricks of his former powers welling up under the skin. It manifests as a cool grasp green light.

Something is not right, and Nia can feel it even before she sees the eerie green glow around him. She falls back just far enough to shift into her own wolf. Sami sees Kevin fall back and charges Tom again, eyes wild with rage in defense of his mate. With the distraction of Sami's attack, Nia's charge, now in full wolf form, does knock the intruder back into the tent behind him. It's Braun's, she thinks, slightly disoriented as he tries to pin him down and is thrown aside with more force that the small, bookish Beta should be able to muster.

Tom tosses the gigantic Beta off him with only a thought. All around him this pathetic pack's soldiers are gathering and Tom taps into his true powers for the first time in centuries. The features of his face sharpen as his skin begins to gain the sheen of perfection. As the pack members close in Tom raises his hands and flings his power out at the wolves. Each one of them staggers and falls and needle like structures puncture them and send a paralytic poison coursing through their systems. Braun and Nia stand once more despite the venom. "Oh, oh interesting. Not one but two oversized Betas. You'll both have to die for the sake of this world."

~~~~~

The shouting wakes Alexa just before the tent over her head starts to smolder. Alexa blinks blearily awake just soon enough to realize what she's seeing and smelling. She tackles Corey sloppily out of their bed before a chunk of charcoal burns its way entirely through the roof and drops onto them. "Shh." She hisses, hand covering Corey's mouth as his eyes go wide and startled, looking up at her sprawled across him on the ground. Outside she can hear the sounds of fighting and pulls herself back into a defensive crouch as she squints in the darkness.

It takes Alexa a moment to hear the sounds of combat growing outside and she braces herself, trying to picture the camp around them and all the chances she has to gain an advantage while Tom isn't thinking of her. "Go to Baron." She whispers to Corey. "And if you can't find him, circle back to the caves. I won't lose you." Alexa kisses Corey deeply, her honest affection for her mate showing through before she straightens up and puts on a more serious face. "Now."

"I love you." Corey says, scent marking Alexa's wrist and neck one last time before he straightens as well, grabbing only a narrow belt that will stay on him in wolf form as well and ensuring his small carving knife is tied into it before he slides out of the tent in the opposite direction of the fighting.

Alexa watches Corey nod and run, the opposite direction from the fire, slipping away into the darkness. She does the same a few moments later. Splashing the full basin of water by the bed over herself before she shifts. She'll be smaller and faster in wolf form and being wet will offer some slight protection from the fire. Alexa circles her camp quickly, checking quickly and checking that no one is left unawares in the camp. She darts back toward the fight when she hear howls of pain from too many of her pack mates at once.

Braun and Nia are staggering to their feet as Alexa pokes out from behind a tent and Alexa's brother meets her eyes for a bare second before roaring his rage at Tom. The strange alien-looking Beta laughs maniacally in return, but seems to stay focused on Braun and it leaves enough of an opening for Alexa to pounce, sinking her teeth into the skin of Tom's throat and choking as the blood that splashes into her mouth burns like fire.

Nia doesn't see Alexa until she's already attacked, but howls long and high in support of her friend and Alpha. Nia charges again, but her movements are slowed by the unexpected pain of each heartbeat. Whatever magic Tom used on them, the effects are lingering and Nia's tackle that should bear him to the ground barely staggers him before she's kicked back again.

Tom growls and clasps his neck in pain at the Alpha's bite. He barely manages to deflect the next attack from Braun and nearly falls over. "Damn you spiteful misshapen creatures." He hisses between the gaggles of blood. The wounds are closing already but slower now, more at the pace of a normal Beta. He hasn't regained his full powers yet and he has used much of what he has access to. Despite the weakness he still manages to summon a whip of thorns to strike out at the wretched little she wolf that bit his throat and strike her with poison. He can still win this.

Alexa dodges, fast as a thought, but Tom's whip still catches her right fore paw and she howls in pain and rage through a throat that's still burning from Tom's blood.

There is a tense moment of pause as the assortment of wolves and humans stare Tom down, and there's a faint echo of a howl from the mountain that Alexa could swear is Baron. She's probably dreaming. Sami and Kevin begin the next attack, both targeting Tom's knees to drag him down before the wound in his neck can heal fully and Braun charges for him delivering heavy clubbing blows with his fists.

Tom tenses as he hears the howl of reinforcements. He may be able to battle them at full strength but now it would be risky. He flings the wolves on top of him off with a surge of energy and flips up to his feet. He braces himself for the coming wave, gathering his dark powers at his fingertips.

Seth thought he was tired on the run out to meet Finn, but the adrenaline of the whole pack running and riding along with him drives that from his mind. Baron runs alongside them, having offered the horse Finn lent them to Dean. When they are close enough to the camp to hear the howls and grunts of a battle, the light from the fires is also filtering through the dark forest.

Dean leaps from the horse he was given and races through the tents. Only a few are truly on fire but if they aren't put out soon they could lose the whole camp. He's not prepared for when he finds the remains of their forces surrounding what can only be described as a monster. Tom, or what Dean assumes is Tom, has transforms into a massive silver wolf with glowing green eyes and claws. Green saliva drips down from his bared fangs and long black spines grow from the wolf's back. "Fuck..." He grabs onto Baron's arm and holds him back before his mate can run into the fray.

AJ arrives to the fray a step behind the Alpha and his mate, but his string of curse words is much more inventive. "Finn!" AJ shouts, trying to warn his leader away, but it's already too late. Finn is stalking forward and past them, eyes fixed on Tom.

"I warned you." Finn's voice booms unnaturally low, and the tattoos that cover his back are writhing, covering more and more of Finn's pale skin until he shifts.

AJ has only seen the shift twice before, Finn prefers to stay in control and feed the demon with other energies. Finn's wolf - Balor's wolf really - is pitch black, standing as tall as AJ at the shoulder. It's fur and tail flow seamlessly into undulating tentacles and it's teeth stand out vivid white against the dark of the night.

The low dangerous growl of Finn's wolf form is already echoing through the camp and AJ shudders. "Run." He growls at Dean and Baron, rolling his own shoulders in preparation for a shift. "Take your people and run. This is no place for you."

Tom's eyes hyper focus on the gigantic wolf heading towards him and he snarls defensively before leaping to clash with Balor midair. Dean, Baron, and the rest of Finn's men quickly move to pick up and carry as many of their fallen brethren away as quickly as possible. Corey rushes to Alexa's side and carries her away towards the caves.

Tom and Balor slash and bite at each other, tossing each other into the burning tents and wagons.

Baron pulls people away from the center of camp as best he can. He can't think about the destruction right now, just grateful that Finn, or whatever he is now, seems to be pushing Tom away to give them time to clear the area.

Sami and Kevin both look sick and pale, and it takes both Baron and Dean to get Nia into the edge of the woods. "We need Ember." Baron says roughly. "She'll know what he dosed them with."

"Finn needs help, please." Seth says urgently, tugging on Baron's arm as well as of Finn's Betas who's been silently helping them.

"I shouldn't try to convince you to stay here and be safe, should I?" Baron says with a grin at Dean, almost excited to see his mate fight again. If the vision was true and he's dying tonight, Baron wants Dean to be near him.

Dean chuckles, despite being scared out of his mind, "We have to make sure that Tom dies. He's the one that poisoned Raman. He's the one who is gonna kills us all."

Baron nods, catching Dean with a hand at the back of his neck and kissing him, quick and purposeful. "Let's go get him away from the camp then." Baron leads the way back toward the sounds of fighting. AJ is with Finn now, along with a couple of the other fighters from Finn's pack, they look to have the advantage over Tom, the mercenaries obviously trained in encircling a stronger enemy.

Tom is in cornered by the wolves of Finn's pack and Balor himself. He snaps at them as they each dart in, pushing him closer and closer towards the cliffs to pin him down. His energy is waning. He will need to retreat to survive. With most of his remaining power he sends out a massive wave of poisonous spins and energy. Finn's wolves almost immediately fall but Balor rears back in pain and disorientation. Tom makes his move and races off along the cliff towards the woods. If he can make it further up the mountain he may be able to outrun them.

Balor rears up onto his hind legs from the spike piercing his flesh. He falls back into the dirt, clawing at the spikes but he can already feel the venom seeping into his bloodstream and causing Finn's control to fall away from Balor completely. Balor's gigantic form thrashes through the remaining camp, ripping and clawing through the tents.

Baron is just a bit further back when Tom explodes - almost seeming to burst like a drop of water in hot oil - and Baron would be content to let him run, but Dean is growling and darting after him. 'We have to kill him.' Baron remembers belatedly and he races after Dean, pushing their luck and speed to keep up with the silvery monster as he runs for the woods, thankfully away from the direction taken by the rest of the pack.

Seeing that two wolves still chase him Tom turns quickly and flies up a steep and dangerous path up the cliff face. Dean doesn't hesitate to follow, leaping from boulder to boulder and avoiding the loose rocks that fall with each of his and Baron's movements. This creature is responsible for the destruction of their camp but not just that. Tom is responsible for Roman's desperation and abandonment. From what he has heard, Tom is probably responsible for years of death and destruction.

Baron isn't quite as nimble making it up the rough steep sides of the mountain, but he won't let Dean go alone. Tom looks hurt when they scramble up on to the overlook above the camp, but not as injured as he should be after that fight. Baron snarls and bites at the silver wolf's ankles, dodging around him. They may be at a disadvantage, but Baron knows how to fight.

Together Dean and Baron push Tom back towards the edge of the cliff. It's eerily similar to the last scene of the vision. In desperation, Tom swipes out and slashes at Dean. The Omega is too large for his status and Tom will not dignify him by dying at his hand. Baron is quick enough to push his mate out of the way of the attack but receives three massive wounds from Tom's claws. The edges of the slashes sting and burn with poison and prevent the wounds from being healed.

Dean watches in horror and Baron shifts back to human and falls to the dirt in a mirror image of when he fell in the vision. Dean is by his side in an instant, shifting back to cradle his mate's head. "Fuck... no, no, no. Baron." He gasps, stroking Baron's face and trying to heal him through touch.

Tom takes a moment to catch his breath but also to look over the mated pair. Seeing the Omega shift, Tom is a little shocked at how familiar the wolf's scent and aura is.

"How interesting." Tom observes as he shifts to human as well. Dean looks up at him with anger and tears brimming his eyes. "I was just telling a story about you earlier."

"What the fuck are you talking about?" Dean hisses vengefully up at Tom as he crouches in front of Baron defensively.

Baron hisses and bares his teeth, glaring up at Tom despite the burning ache in his chest. He can feel his body trying and failing to heal past the poison. "We're not a part of your story." Baron spits at him. Dean never showed him this final showdown, where Baron supposedly died. Baron catches Dean's wrist and presses a kiss to it. "You need to run... don't die here." Baron tries to pull himself back into a defensive crouch despite the pain. "We're not going to die for your amusement." He growls at Tom, wishing that he could tackle him again, but unable to get his feet under him properly.

Tom scowls at the staggering Alpha. "I wasn't talking to you. I was talking to him." He clarifies as he walks towards them. Dean moves to take a more aggressive stance.

Tom laughs that the gesture, "No wonder you're misshapen and broken. Imagine an Alpha's spirit stuck in an Omega body. Although it does seem strange you've aligned yourself this one, Mox. After all this time, shouldn't you still be searching for your true mate?"

Tom pauses, suddenly realizing why Roman was so affected by this Omega's scent and why Tom himself was drawn to the large Alpha’s aura. "Oh but he did find you didn't he? Tell me, how long did you consider running away with Roman and abandoning your mate before you decided against it? I'd imagine it was at least an hour or two... did you let him touch you?" Tom smirks when he sees the guilty look in Dean's eyes. "Did the fickle Omega emotions make it harder to leave him? Or easier?"

Baron growls at the implication. Dean came back to him, there's no chance of him leaving. "And where is your attack dog tonight?" Baron grits out, because they still haven't seen Roman and that's the biggest change from what Dean predicted. "Shouldn't he be here wreaking havoc?"

Dean can't help himself from standing up and getting in Tom's face. "You're the one who poisoned Roman's mind! I know it, I saw it happen. I saw the horror that you caused. And I refuse to be part of it any longer!"

Tom cackles, flexing his fingers and trying to draw his newly restored power around him. "Poisoned him? You ridiculous child... you and your kind did that years and years ago. It's what all of them do... pitiful Omegas, so tied to the emotions and the flesh." Tom paces away, ignoring Dean and looking down at the smoldering camp. "Even now, even not knowing what you are... You're trapped in this body and doing just what it was designed for; getting Alphas killed."

Tom begins to laugh at the fierceness in Dean's silvery eyes. "To think that Mox - a great and powerful Alpha, a legend in his own right - was reincarnated as you.” Tom sneers at Dean. He can feel himself losing strength the longer he stands here. He needs to find a way out of this before this abomination of an Omega masters his power and attacks him seriously.

“At least Leakee had to decency to chose Roman. The god-touched are always a waste to kill, even one as malformed as you." Tom narrates, not caring in the slightest that his audience isn’t listening.

"You two are proof that the world may not be so tiring as I'd feared. So in lieu of a fight to our deaths, I will leave you and your pitiful pack alone for now. Farewell Mox, until we meet again." Tom bows dramatically and simply walks backwards off the cliff.

Dean rushes to the edge, screaming in frustration, only to see a large black raven with silver-tipped wings fly away over the remains of the smoldering camp.

Chapter Text

Finn shifts back to human form as the first rays of morning sun break start to illuminate the top of the mountain. What's left of Baron's pack's camp is still in shadow, half burned and half crushed in the fight between Balor and Tom. Finn isn't surprised that Shinsuke is the first to come to him, the lanky Alpha has always understood the demon better than anyone. Finn is a little shocked when he realizes Seth is beside him as well. He can't hear what the other Omega is saying, but it sounds comforting, carefully trying to hide the fear that he must be feeling.

Together they stagger from the camp, beneath the protection of the trees, and Finn lets himself pass out on the makeshift bedroll that's laid out for him. It's little more than a shredded panel of tent canvas laid on the ground, but Seth strokes Finn's hair and traces the lines of his tattoos and with the demon sated and triumphant for a moment, Finn can rest.

Exhausted as he is, Seth can't sleep. There's too much to think about. His mind races with questions and ideas about Finn's power, and about the echoes of that same power that he can feel in himself. Seth's world narrows down to himself and Finn for what feels like hours.

Finn's clear blue eyes blink open and he can feel that he hasn't rested nearly enough. Finn is startled when Seth is still there with him. Stronger wolves have run after a first sight of the demon, even those with far more reason to be loyal. "Hello, sweet one." Finn says softly, finding words for the first time since his shift.

"Hey." Seth says, and sighs like he's been holding his breath for hours. "Welcome back. That was..." Seth bites his lip, unsure what to say. The pack hadn't ever talked about Finn's wolf form in the days Seth has been with them, and while they all worked together last night, the fear in several of them was obvious.

"Terrifying?" Finn offers. He knows what Balor is and has seen the destruction wrought first hand. Seth is too young and too hopeful to understand the choices Finn made that led him here.

"What?" Seth blinks owlishly down at Finn's pained expression. "No! It was... beautiful. Incredible really." Seth swallows hard, catching Finn's hand and squeezing it.

It's Finn's turn to be surprised, looking up at Seth and seeing the curiosity and wonder in his expression. "You should be frightened, little one." Finn says softly, letting himself be comforted by Seth's closeness. "How many did we kill last night?"

Seth grins at that, shaking his head slowly. "None, except maybe that bastard Tom." Seth says, glancing toward the remains of the camp. "Well, one of the horses actually." He looks down at Finn with a soft apologetic look. "Dean warned them and the pack had... most of them were hidden away. They still won't tell me where, but none of the kids were even in the camp last night after we left to go see you."

Always the trickster. Balor rumbles in the back of Finn's mind and Finn laughs aloud. "Really now... that would explain why the snake was so enraged... he'd have been feeding off the pain and death if his fires had been injuring so many." The encroaching pressure of Tom's proximity is gone from Finn's mind, but he's too drained to reach for those senses right now.

Seth shrugs. "Dean and Baron went after him, but they're not back yet... or they weren't." Seth glances at the sun, still slanting through the trees, but noticeably higher. "Rest... we'll take stock soon."

Finn shouldn't, but he lets himself relax. Seth's calming Omega presence is no small thing, a skill trained to protect himself against real violence, and Finn can give in to it if he doesn't fight. "Stay with us, beautiful. We'll talk later." Finn murmurs, pulling Seth's fingers to his lips before he lets his aching body pull him back into sleep.

~~~~~

Dean scrambles back over to his mate and pulls him in close. Baron is still breathing, but shallowly. "Fuck... Baron... We have to get you to Ember. Don't leave me now. I couldn't… I can’t... I chose you. Please." Dean whispers as he fights back tears.

Baron shifts, trying to comfort Dean. He can feel the closeness of his mate and the strength of the bond helping his body fight, but it isn’t enough. "I'm ok... I just... fuck... wish I knew what he used..." Baron shakes his head to try to clear it, but it just makes his vision swim. "Are you ok? He didn't hit you?"

Dean shakes his head and has to sniffle his nose and growl at the anger brimming up in him. "No, he fucking flew away. This is so fucked up and the camp is still half burnt and Finn..." Dean’s fingers reach out to briefly touch the blackened edge of Baron's wound. He pulls away as if he's been burned when Baron screams in pain. "Shit I'm sorry. I'll get you home. I'll get you out of here."

Baron shudders, gasping for breath. "Help me up. I think I can walk and we don't have anything to..." He stumbles as Dean starts to guide him toward the normal trail, not the rocky way they came up. "Fuck, I'm sorry..." Every tiny cut from Tom's attack feels like it's on fire, but Baron grits his teeth as they stumble down the mountain. "Caves are closer than camp." Baron mutters, between rough breaths.

"Stop apologizing, it's my fault you got hurt. You were protecting me." Dean retorts as they slowly head towards the caves. Behind them, they can still hear Finn's wolf form baying at the nearly full moon and thrashing through parts of the camp.

Baron nods, walking a little easier once they get to smoother ground. The cool water they have to wade through to get into the secret space stings, but dulls the pain slightly and Baron leans more heavily on Dean to keep from slipping. He can hear the soft echo of hushed voices as they approach and Dean calls for help. Baron fights to stay on his feet, as they reach the place where the caves open up, even deeper than where he and Dean made love only a day or two ago. A rush of relief hits Baron when he sees Corey and a few others coming toward him, and he sways on his feet, letting himself be guided to lay down. His wounds continue to pulse with pain, but the next time Baron's mind clears Ember and Dean are both smoothing a warm salve over them that seems to dull the pain. "I love you." Baron murmurs, letting his head fall back and letting go of everything except Dean's hand.

When Baron stirs again, he is alone and the echo of activity seems to be more outside the caves than within. He staggers outside himself to find a miniature infirmary set up by the stream. It's still early morning and he still aches, but whatever mixture Ember made has pulled some of the poison from him and he can move a little more easily.

~~~~~

Roman wakes in the early afternoon, head clearer and body aching in a pleasant way. They're both sticky, but warm and Drew smells divinely like a blend of Roman's own scent and his natural Beta pheromones. Roman slips away to try to bring back some water for them, but finds only a tiny pack with one waterskin. He carries it down to one of the small creeks that trickles down from the mountain. Roman fills the skin and then shifts, taking a moment to bathe in wolf form where the chill water isn't so much of a shock and he can shake himself dry. He carries the water delicately back to the cave to see if Drew is awake.

Drew is honestly surprised that Roman returns and even more so that he's brought more water. "Oh, hi. I didn't think..." Drew gives up on that sentence, and instead shrugs as he pulls on his coat.

Roman gives a wolfy shrug and shakes his fur dry again before he shifts back to human form. He's still slightly damp and shivers a bit. "You don't seem to have a lot of supplies." He says cautiously, settling down on the blanket beside Drew. "You said that the other pack exiled you all? They didn't give you much to start out with."

"I don't know if we deserved much more than he got. We tried to kill our Alpha and Alpha mate." Drew admits with a shrug. "I may not have wielded the knife but I forged it and I gave it to Ziggler during the fight."

Roman takes a moment to connect the story to the silvery line of wicked scarring he saw on Dean's chest in that one ill-fated meeting. Roman swallows down the fear and anger. It's easier than he expected. "I might have killed your Alpha - Baron? - myself in a different situation." Roman admits. "Where will you go now?" Roman left Finn's people yesterday because he couldn't take being around them anymore without the distraction of Tom or Seth. He has nowhere to be now, and no one has come looking for him, but he should probably check in on their 'plans' at some point.

Drew chuckles, "Good luck with that. Baron's a lot stronger than he looks and he got one hell of an Omega as a mate. Their pups are gonna be terrifying." Drew jokes. "But it's their job and right to protect the pack, even it's from me." He shrugs and bumps shoulders with Romans.

Roman sighs. "I've never met him... Only Dean. He made it clear that no propositions from me or any other Alphas would be welcome." Drew doesn’t reply to that, continuing to work the few embers from the night before back into a fire.

"Where will you go now?" Roman asks. He left Finn's people the day before because he couldn't take being around them anymore without the distraction of Tom or Seth. He has nowhere to be, and no one has come looking for him, but he should probably check in on their 'plans' at some point.

Drew shrugs noncommittally, letting the fire start to consume the small twigs he’s fed to it and turning back to gathering his meager possessions into a single pack.

With no answer from Drew about his plans, Roman falls silent for a long moment. "I have a few supplies of my own... back with the pack that brought me here." Roman offers finally. "Your pack... Baron's pack... they're not going to be safe for long. The retribution for taking the King's Omega will come sooner than you think."

"I know." Drew answers. There's still an itch under his skin, something spawned by being exposed to Roman's rut that leaves him unsatisfied. "Or at least they know. Dean has powers. He's a seer. Tried to tell them all everything if you believe in that kind of thing."

Roman's eyebrows shoot up at that. He's sure he looks shocked. "Really? Seth... his friend from back home that I knew. He never mentioned any gift like that. I'm surprised his family let him go in that case." It occurs to Roman to worry for a moment about Tom and Seth walking into that camp to try to lie to a pack with foreknowledge. He'll just have to trust in Tom to keep Seth safe. "Why are they still here then? Why not just flee?"

"Well, I mean, there's only so much trust we can have for a seer. Things have already changed from his vision. We already had another seer in the pack and she never predicted anything like this. Also this is where we camp during the equinox. There's still snow on the mountain pass and it's dangerous to travel further up." Drew explains. "But we didn't think you'd be here until the night of the equinox."

Roman shrugs, he never had much interaction with the wise women back home who could supposedly see the future, and Hunter doesn't tend to keep that sort of person around. "Makes sense I suppose. We could go talk to them... offer to tell them more about the attack in exchange for supplies..." He has no idea really, just that it's planned to take place on the equinox during the mating run, but maybe that's more than the pack knows. "You can't be planning to cross a mountain pass on your own with one pack of supplies and no pack for support." Roman's not sure he could do it himself, but maybe Drew is even stronger than he appears.

Drew rises to look up at the snow covered peaks, "Well, I don't have much choice unless I wanna go clean up with the King. But if I'm gonna starve I might as well do it while heading south. I'll be able to pick up a boat across the sea from there towards my home land."

Drew pauses for a moment, smelling the fresh crisp wind off the mountains and looks down at Roman, "What are you going to do? Go back to your band of mercenaries and kill everyone because the Alphamate won't be yours?"

Roman tenses, moving to stand by Drew. "That's what I'm supposed to do. See them all dead and then go back to the king to report. I... Had other plans, but now I don't know." He shivers in the wind, despite the blanket wrapped around his waist. "I should go back to get my horse and my pack at least."

"With a horse and a tent we could make it over the pass in less than a week." Drew offers. It's not much of an offer but between the two of them hunting will be easier. "Even if it's not forever it's another option."

"I guess they'd have to send do done else back to the king if I were just gone." Roman says thoughtfully. "Would you travel with me?" Roman asks. "I'm a good hunter and he's a strong horse. Maybe enough to carry us both without gear and armor. I doubt they'd give us a second one..."

Drew smirks, "Isn’t this how packs start? A couple outcast trying to survive." Drew heads to his pack, now filled with the remains of Ziggler's and AJ's gear. "We can go get your gear, or you can. I need to hunt for a large kill before we - or at least I - leave."

Roman nods slowly, giving Drew a sad little smile. "Maybe it is. I wouldn't know. The pack I grew up in didn't fragment like that. Will you still be here? Or should I meet you somewhere else?"

"Should we bury them?" Roman asks belatedly. "Or build a pyre? I don't know your traditions."

Drew laughs and shakes his head. "I'll take care of the bodies. Ziggler will make fantastic bait for mountain lions. We will need the pelts to stay warm in the mountains." He pauses when he looks at AJ, protected in the night from scavengers by the fire and the blanket where Dolph's body is already picked at. "I'll be here for a day or two at least, little Alpha. When the rut takes you again in a few hours, you know where to find me."

Roman smiles again, and it's more genuine this time. On impulse he leans up to kiss Drew quickly. "I'll be back then. With some supplies." He hands over the borrowed blanket and shifts smoothly, pressing his snout to Drew's thigh and letting the taller man stroke his ears before he darts off into the forest.

~~~~~

Seth doesn’t realize he’s finally fallen asleep until he stirs at a soft touch on his arm. Seth finds that he’s curled up against Finn, his own body curled protectively around the older Omega. It’s still his impulse to protect, even as he twists to look up at Asuka’s serious expression. Behind her, Seth can see two of Baron’s packmates hovering - Sami and a woman he doesn’t recognize.

“We should talk.” Asuka says carefully, “There is a safer place.”

“We have something to fight the poison.” says a dark-skinned Alpha who stands barely taller than Asuka. Her eyes flicker silver in the early morning light and something tells Seth that she’s the other seer Dean mentioned.

“I won’t need that.” Finn’s voice says, shifting in Seth’s arms to , still rough and tired. “Save it for the others.”

Finn makes a move to get up and Seth makes a protesting sound, causing the other Omega to smile and stroke his cheek gently.

“We should go, princess. We all need to talk about last night.”

Asuka and Seth help Finn to stand and Ember leads them into the woods. Seth is silently relieved to see so many people moving around. Seth realizes belatedly that the plan to get people out of camp must have started before he even arrived, and suddenly the quiet evening meal he took part in makes more sense. Whatever Dean saw, he must have managed to get people on his side by force of will alone.

Seth wants to stay with Finn, but the older Omega urges him to help with the wounded, so Seth goes with Sami to help get the injured fighters from both packs settled, fed, and treated while the sun creeps steadily higher.

~~~~~

Roman returns to the mercenary camp only to find it abandoned. He finds his pack and doesn't pause to steal a few extra blankets, water sacks, and the tent that belonged to him and Tom. He wouldn't be returning to Hunter or to join Seth in his desire to be free. He has never been to the far eastern side of their maps. Drew is not who he thought he would be traveling with but the attraction is there and Drew is also an outcast. He returns to their cave early in the morning too see that Drew has covered A.J.'s body with stones in a proper grave and has also caught a few rabbits for breakfast.

"You came back." Drew remarks and it sounds more like a question than a comment. "You're welcome to some breakfast, these ones will be less burnt I promise." He's busying himself with mashing together the insides of an aloe vera plant that grows near the hot springs of the area and the shaving of a white yam that grows in the forest to make a slick oil that they can use to ease any future couplings. He had learned the recipe from Kevin and Sami. In a strange way he missed them already.

Roman shrugs, tying up his horse and setting the packs on the ground. "I took Tom's horse too... So we can both ride. I'm sure one of that pack can lend him one." He settles by the fire and cuts a small chunk off one of the rabbits. "You're a good hunter." Roman says with admiration.

Drew chuckles. "I'm better with a hammer and anvil. I'll need to get my tools or buy new ones once we get to the other side so I can make coin for trade. But thank you, I do what I can." Seeing that Roman has brought them larger and better water husks he takes one of the empty small ones and fills it with the paste he's been making.

"Mixing medicine?" Roman asks, curiously as Drew scoops some viscous liquid into a small water skin. With a little food in his belly he feels better, though still a little wild and reckless after last night and raising Finn's camp.

"Making slick for when your rut triggers again in a few hours." Drew walks over to Roman and cup his face with his large hands. He carefully pulls down on Roman's cheek to look carefully in the other man's eyes. There's still a small ring of red around Roman's pupil. "It will be a few more days of rut."

Roman doesn't feel it until Drew is up in his face. "Oh." Roman says dumbly. He'd rather hoped that it would be over after last night. "Should we go... Get your tools first? Before it hits again?"

Drew smirks at Roman's reaction and he steals a kiss on Roman's cheek before pulling away and heading over to the horses. "We can see if they will give them up before we head out.

Roman nods, feeling restless and energized. "The horses have room in the packs. I left Tom's things at camp." He feels free for maybe the first time in years. They pack up most of Drew's meager supplies and Roman looks at Dolph's body. "Should we.... What should we do for him?"

Drew gets up and straddles the horse gingerly. If they're lucky they can find a camp near another hot spring because he's still as little stiff from last night. "Leave him. His body deserves to be good for crows."

Roman nods, the wildlife will get him sooner than later in these woods. Roman mounts the other horse and lets Drew lead the way. "Will they be relieved? Knowing that he's gone?" Roman is curious about this pack, but also about Drew.

Drew shrugs, "I'm not really sure. I mean probably since he was a crazy person. But they're pretty spiritual in general. They have two seers and now three shamans on counsel. They don't like to kill but they will of they have to. They don't rejoice a death even one for a man such as Ziggler."

Roman frowns, he's spent nearly all his life training to fight, all these seers and things seem non-nonsensical to him. Like something out of a legend. "I suppose we don't have to tell them then... just get your things and get out. They can't take your craft from you."

"No one can take a Beta from their craft." Drew retorts and he doesn't mean to sound at defensive at he does. Betas were created to be creative and innovative. They are craftsman and artists. They are the ones that document the rush of emotions and sights around them.

Roman nods. "Well we'll get your tools..." His head snaps up as he smells and hears too many people in the woods. They're still a ways from the camp, closer to where he met Dean yesterday. "Do you hear that?" Roman asks, pulling his horse to a slower pace and peering through the trees to see if he can see what they're coming up on.

~~~~~

Nia has been set to patrol the area near the caves. Walking still burns, but Ember says that she'll heal and that moving will actually help at this point. She scents horses approaching the camp and heads for them, not sure if it's some of their small herd wandering the woods or something else.

Drew is a distinctive looking man and Nia is already growling when she spots him. "You have some nerve coming back here..." When Drew's companion appears from behind him, Nia is dumbstruck. "Well that's certainly not who left camp with you... where did you wander in from?" The other man is riding his own horse and neither animal is one that Nia has seen before. He has the tanned skin and thick dark hair that Nia associates with her home pack and for a moment she wonders if somehow someone was sent after her after all these years.

Drew chuckles and shakes his head. Nia and he never really ran in the same circle in the town. But they're both betas and Betas tend to stick together. "Dolph's dead. AJ too. I just came to ask for my hammer and tools before we leave."

Roman frowns at this new woman. She's nearly as tall as Roman himself as looks at them both sadly.

"Okay." Nia says slowly. "I knew Ziggler was an idiot to not let you grab them. But you're gonna have a hard time finding 'em if they weren't pulled out before last night." She glances back toward the caves where she knows most of the pack is still bandaging wounds and trying to plan their next steps. "I'm sorry about AJ. I know you were close."

Roman listens and slides off his horse, holding the reins. "What do you mean about last night?"

Nia lets out a labored exhale. "Fucking Tom tries to burn down the fucking camp and nearly did before we caught him and then hom and Finn turned into monsters and trashed half the camp." Nia explains. She doesn’t one hundred percent trust these two but they could use two more men to help rebuild and Drew is a talented Smith.

Roman lets out a sigh, that's basically all the secrets he needed to worry about keeping. "You can um... tell Dean that I'm no threat to you... he'll know who I am. If he's... ok?" Roman hates that he sounds hesitant and worried. He's been thoroughly rejected and only met the Omega once, but the memory of his scent is still strong.

Nia raises an eyebrow at the other man. "You'd be Roman then? He's talked about you..." Saying the name finally triggers something in her mind. "Wait.... Roman... that's your real name? And you came from the service of the king?" She swallows hard. It's been years since she even thought about him, he was gone from her pack a few years before she was born. The exiled prince. The son of the chief before Nia's cousin took over.... Nia smiles and shakes her head. "It's good to meet you in person, cousin." She says offering him a hand.

Roman shares a look with Drew before getting off his horse and clasping hands with the tall woman. He's even more shocked when she grabs the back of his head and presses her forehead to his in a gesture he only vaguely remember, as if it was from a dream. "When you did not return to us after the death of your father we assumed you were dead Anoa'i." Nia explains when she sees the confused look on his face.

"My father?" Roman asks, confused by the admission, "He has passed. I was not told." A bead of hot anger begins to well up in Roman's gut. "What about my brother? Is he not Alpha of the tribe?" He can not imagine that Tapuni'u would take Roman's place as heir but he has not been home in almost ten summers.

Nia shakes her head and frown. "Your brother passed before your father from a sickness of the heart. We sent letter but I assume they did not reach you in the same way news of your father's resting did not."

Roman knows he must look stunned. "My brother too?" He knew it had been years since he'd made the time to travel home. He was often sent out on campaigns by Hunter, and with no word from his family for so many years it was easy to forget to reach out himself. Now Roman has to assume that Hunter's control was intentional. "It was never my intent to abandon the tribe... I assumed I was unwanted."

Nia nods, cradling Roman's neck in her hand. "I'm sorry cousin... you should not have to learn this way." She didn't leave the tribe on the best terms, but travel is tradition of their tribe. She might still be able to go back. Roman.... there's no knowing what the reaction would be if he tried to return home. "At least now you are free of the monster king."

Drew feels a little awkward for a moment and clears his throat. He hadn't planned for this reunion and he isn't sure if Roman will want to come with him if he's found a relative. Nia does pull away and smiles at Roman and up at Drew. "You may be able to appeal to the counsel after the attack last night. We could a few good men to rebuild."

Roman blinks at the woman, he hasn't met anyone from this pack besides her and Dean. "I don't even know your name. I'm sorry." He says, already worried about the rut starting to itch under his skin again now that he can recognize it. Roman can only hope that Drew will be the level-headed one if they have to go negotiate.

"Nia." Nia says, stroking Roman's cheek fondly. "And we better go. My patrol rounds are supposed to be pretty short, and you don't want our Omegas out after you with knives. They're dangerous." She smirks, knowing it will rankle Drew a little with the reminder his Alpha was beaten by an Omega they didn't respect.

The trio makes their way through the forest led my Nia away from where the camp is located and closer to the caves Drew remembered they were going to use in preparation for an attack.

Corey and Ember have worked hard to set up a makeshift field hospital out of the few remaining carts and parts of the destroyed tents. It would be impressive if so many of the bed rolls and furs didn't have have so many of their strongest on them.

Dean is doing his best to carry out planning and delegating for rebuilding their supplies when he smells the scent of salt water and wind on the air. He wishes he was shocked to see Roman with Nia and Drew walking up to their makeshift headquarters. "I knew you'd show up sooner or later but I wasn't expecting Drew or for Nia to not have slit your throats." He comments as he does his best to stand his ground and seem more in control than he is.

Roman feels a flare of desire at seeing Dean again that he hoped was sated last night. Dean looks exhausted and weary and still impossibly beautiful in the dappled sunlight at the forest's edge. "We just want Drew's tools. Then we can leave if you don't need the help." Roman snaps.

Nia glances sharply at Roman and then walks closer to Dean, holding out a hand. "Ziggler's dead." She says evenly. "AJ too. We can send them away if you want, but I won't kill my cousin and I'd like to at least talk to the council if they want to stay." Dean is one of her leaders now, for all that Nia doesn't know him well yet. He brought Baron back down the mountain alive and warned them of this attack. He's earned their respect.

Dean looks over at Roman and Drew once more and lets out a loud sigh. "Alexa and Baron aren't gonna like it but we need the help. Braun can barely wield an axe. Seth and Finn just got here as well so at least we'll all be in the same place."

Dean doesn't mention Ziggler or AJ. They both tried to kill him and his mate and he's glad they're dead. It's one less thing they'll have to worry about.

"I'm glad Seth is safe." Roman says hesitantly. "At least I didn't fail in everything I set out to do."

"I guess we go talk with the demons then." Drew mutters under his breath. He doesn't particularly want to be a leader himself, but the council of this pack has always been overwhelming when together.

Together they walk through what remains of Dean's pack, most of the people seemingly alive, though many look weak and sick.

Baron is sitting with Finn and Seth, Alexa and Corey by his side. He still feels like death just barely passed over him, but they'll need a plan sooner than later and he's slept enough. His eyes light up when he sees Dean approaching, but spotting Drew and a stranger behind him gets Baron's hackles up and he growls lowly.

Dean can't help smiling and falling in love with his mate all again. "Relax, Alexa is suppose to be the one throwing a fit."

Nia holds up both her hands, relieved to see Ember approaching from behind the other leaders. Likely she saw this and knew a gentle touch would be needed. "Don't get your fur all ruffled." Nia says preemptively with a fond look at Alexa. "They were in the woods alone. We'll need people to help rebuild and they weren't even involved in the fight last night.

Alexa rolls her eyes. "Of course you're going to be the bleeding heart that says we should let those snakes back in. Dolph nearly killed Dean AND Baron. Drew helped. Not-" Alexa stops abruptly as Corey's hand lands on her arm.

"Let them explain." Corey says softly. Alexa is still angry and in pain and itching for a fight, it's his job to look forward. "Come sit with us? Drew, I know we can trust you to be civil... who's your new companion?"

"Roman." Seth and Dean say at the same time, eyes flicking to one another is surprise.

"He traveled here with me." Seth explains. "From Hunter's court. But I think we were equally prisoners there." He gives Roman an apologetic look. Seth is seated close to Finn, who is still mostly reclining. For all his extra power, Finn took a larger dose of Tom's poison than anyone.

Baron just raises a hand to ask Dean to come closer, watching the others approach behind his mate. "You always have to keep things interesting, don't you?" He says fondly, just meant for Dean.

Dean chuckles and promptly sits down in Baron's lap so the large man can wrap his arms possessively around him. "You wouldn't like me if I didn't keep it interesting." Dean whispers back as Drew and Roman take their places in front of them. Dean's not surprised when he sees a few others, including Sami and Kevin, begin to circle around them to watch.

Baron pulls Dean in, nuzzling the mating mark instinctively. "Mmm... that's probably true. Something's wrong with me." Baron says it fondly, but he won't take his eyes off of Roman. The man smells of Drew and of rut just just Dean says. It's a precarious position to be in.

"We just came to get my tools back." Drew says curtly. "I'll leave with them if you prefer."

"We'll leave." Roman clarifies, drawing a surprised look from Drew. Roman shrugs slightly, he's not about to send Drew off alone if this pack would reject him.

"We'll move on." Drew corrects himself. "Nia said that maybe with Ziggler dead and the rebuilding needing hands, you might have room to overlook my past... errors." He still isn't truly regretful for aiding in the attack. It was a true challenge and Dean clearly had some aid as well, his speed and agility showed that.

"Roman's from my tribe back home." Nia clarifies. "Even if he doesn't know it. I don't like the idea of sending him away with no support. Not when we could use the help. Drew's skills will be of use to us. You know there's no one with the training to replace him." She keeps her gaze fixed on Alexa, who is the most likely to fight. Corey and Ember will hear her and be more reasonable. Baron is always a wild card.

"The offence is Dean and Baron's to forgive." Corey says carefully. "I assume Ziggler and AJ are lurking in the woods while you play nice?"

"They're dead." Drew says flatly. "Ziggler killed AJ and then Roman killed him." He swallows hard, trying to keep his tone neutral. "They paid for their crimes. We're only here for ourselves."

The circle is quiet for a time, processing that, and maybe it's only because he isn't injured that it's Seth who speaks up first. "This may sound callous, and I'm sorry for your loss... but this could be our solution." Seth ducks his head as Finn and Dean both look at him curiously. "/We/ need proof of your destruction to return to Hunter. Without it, we lose reputation and he'll come after you again." Seth swallows, trying to choose his words so they don't think he's a monster.

"Baron and Dean said you don't keep bodies on hand... but your friends here seem to have one. And one that no one is too fond of at that." Finn finishes, checking the reactions around him. Hearing Seth say 'we' for his pack is still surprising and sweet.

Dean begins to laugh at the look of hesitant excitement on Seth's face. He always knew his friend had a dark streak in him. "Seth makes good point."

Baron hums, low and heavy with the edge of a growl. He still hasn't looked away from Roman who hasn't released his gaze either. "If Drew and Hunter are telling the truth and bring Finn and his wolves to the body than we know they've come back with no ulterior motives. And if it is a trap I can guess that it won't go very well for any of them and Finn and his pack still have bodies to deliver." Baron suggests. He can't in good conscious send away a capable smith when they have nails to forge and wagons to rebuild.

"And as far as the offense of your aid to Ziggler." Baron adds, "We know that your loyalty was to AJ and not always to him. You can stay..."

"Roman too." Nia chimes in and Baron will admit that although Dean has told him about the man's actions in the vision; Roman hasn't done anything to deserve his mistrust as of yet.

Baron finally looks over at Alexa, Corey, and Ember as well and they all nod, "Roman too. We can't afford otherwise and I'd rather have you both where we can see you."

Roman inclines his head slightly, acknowledging Baron's authority over this situation. "We can take the pack there as soon as they're ready." He looks to Finn apologetically. "Your camp was untouched this morning, apart from my horses as supplies." The mention of the horses makes Roman wonder. "I assume that Tom's body isn't fit for your purposes then?" He has to assume the Beta is dead. No one but Nia has mentioned him.

The mention of Tom immediately makes a dark scowl to grow on their faces. "Tom is gone." Dean spits in a angry fury. "Fucking flew away as a raven after poisoning my pack and nearly killing my mate. He can rot in ever hell that's ever been imagined."

Roman takes a step back at Dean's vehemence. Some part of him will always ache that this man isn't his mate, that that passion will never be directed at him. "Understood." Roman says, both hands defensively raised. "Just means I was right to take his horse for Drew."

Baron smirks at Roman's reaction and kisses Dean's hair in response.

"Keep his horse." Finn adds as he raises to his feet and helps Seth to his. He turns to Seth and kisses his forehead. "You need to stay here while we return to Hunter. It's much too dangerous for you and our pup for you to come and report." He turns to look at Baron and Alexa. "I assume he will be welcome and safe here until we return." It's half way a question and half way a threat.

"Oh sure, the more the merrier." Alexa bites out. "I don't suppose you'd leave us anyone to help rebuild?" She doesn't much expect an answer, but Finn looks thoughtful. "I'll speak with my people. I can't order them one place or another."

Seth nods a bit sadly at Finn but shoots Alexa a glare. He can't go back to the keep and likely no one who's touched him should risk interacting with his pup's sire either. "I'll help here if I can. How long will it be?"

"A few days, a week at the most. We can ride hard now that we know where we are going. Don't worry precious one. Even if he wished to fight me he does not know the power he would face." Finn kisses Seth slow and sweet once before pulling away. "I will gather my men and meet you at the old camp after midday. Roman will know the way."

Roman nods. "We'll... bring the body." He can't hide the distaste in his tone, but even he can see the sense of keeping the body away from Dean or Seth in case they can be scented on it. "Will you help me?" Roman asks Drew, offering his hand. He has no right to ask this man for anything really, not after all he was given last night and with his emotional entanglements with both Seth and Dean so obviously on display.

Drew is taken aback by Roman's gesture and nods. "I will." He takes his hand and squeezes it for a moment. Heat and rut are burning under Roman's skin, hot enough to nearly burn.

"We may... need a moment." Roman says, only slightly embarrassed by his need and instinct overwhelming the things that need to be done. He's not sure how to feel about the rolled eyes and understanding looks that pass among the group. "Let's... take a walk." Roman pulls Drew away, not wanting to threaten this tentative peace.

"Well send a few people with you." Corey says softly to Roman. "To confirm what you say is true." He pulls himself up to his feet, regretting that so many of their strongest are still weakened and injured.

"Seth will be safe here." Baron promises Finn, feeling the unease of speaking to the man under his skin. "As safe as we ever can be at least."

The group disperses into smaller softer conversations, thoughts turning to planning how they will move forward from here.

Baron pulls Dean off towards the remains of camp, one arm settled easily around his mate’s slim waist. "So, what happens next? What do your visions show you?"

Dean laughs as he looks around at the forest. He has never seen this night and for now they have a plan to rebuild. He closes his eyes and begins to stare into the future before he stops himself. "You know for once, I'm gonna let it be a surprise."