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Vegas; Full Moon

“You good Kent?” Scraps asked, twirling his phone in his hands and meeting his eyes in the rearview mirror.

 Kent nodded, fighting a smile. “Yeah Scraps, I’m fine. I’ll be back later, don’t worry.”

“I always worry,” he grumbled, opening his phone. “You never know what kinda fucked up shit can happen in a creepy forest forty minutes after midnight.”

“What, like werewolves?” Kent chirped, opening the car door.

“At least it’s past witching hour,” Swoops said, winking at Kent. “Have fun bro, see you in a few hours.”

“You fucker, witching hour’s not real!” Scraps squawked.

Kent laughed, slamming the car door shut and taking off at a steady run into the tree line away from the car. He was a little late tonight, as he usually was now that Scraps and Swoops tagged along. He could feel his wolf and his anticipation at finally being free after a long month. The full moon would reach its peak in a few minutes and he still needed to find a place to ditch his clothes.

He stopped in his usual clearing and pulled his shirt off. He made a pleased sound. No matter how soft they claimed to be, his clothes always scratched so bad near a full moon. He placed his clothes under a bush and then walked to the middle of the clearing, tipping his face up to the full moon and closing his eyes. He took a deep breath, letting the smell of the forest - rich dirt, the faint floral fragrance of flowers, rainwater, pine and oak trees - wash over him. He knelt slowly.

It was quiet, almost uncomfortably so, and just like every full moon, Kent felt the missing energy. Swoops and Scraps were amazing to have on full moons, and he didn’t regret telling them at all, but full moons were a time for pack celebration and this quiet ritual of his was the farthest thing from that. Kent sighed, pushing that thought away. He had made his peace with being alone every full moon. It was better than being in a pack that didn’t want him.

The moon climbed in the sky and Kent felt his skin begin to tingle. He felt his hair shift against his neck, felt his muscles tense. It was almost time. His wolf shifted in anticipation, wanting to be free.

He took a deep breath, a tingling sensation running over his skin. A growl built in his throat and as the moon reached its peak he pitched forward, a powerful shudder running through his body as he shifted from man to wolf, just as naturally as the first time he phased. Down on four paws, golden coat aglow in the moonlight, he threw his head back and let out a howl that pierced the night’s quiet calm. His wolf was in control.

Hunt. Kill. Run. Free.

His wolf wanted to satisfy himself, and Kent sure as hell wasn’t going to say no.

He heard two human howls and his wolf answered their call, letting his howl pour out of him. He heard birds cry and fly out of a tree to his left, three rabbits rush into the undergrowth farther into the forest, a deer take off into a sprint. His ears flickered.

Hunt.

He caught the scent of a rabbit and shuddered with pleasure, turning to follow the trail. He broke out into a sprint and disappeared into the undergrowth.

A few hours later Kent caught the faint scent of Scraps and Swoops. He paused and looked up at the sky. It was lighter, dawn must be approaching. His wolf growled in disappointment, but after a night of full speed hunting and freedom, he was tired.

“How long do you think it’ll take him to get back?”

“Dunno, but you know Kent, he’ll find us. He always does.”

“I bet he’ll take five minutes.”

“Nah Scraps, it’ll be less. More like three.”

“Damn, I’ll take that bet. Whoever loses buys lunch tomorrow.”

“Alright you’re on.”

Kent snorted, forgetting about the latest rabbit he was stalking. He stretched, digging his paws into the damp earth, before launching himself forward. His wolf let out a howl full of joy. He was going to enjoy the last few minutes of his wolf, before locking him away for another month.

He ran full sprint towards his boys, relishing in the wind running through his fur. He slowed, their scent becoming overpowering as he broke through a clearing and saw them in the dark. They were sitting on the car’s hood, two flashlights on as they played cards.

They looked up as he approached and Swoops checked his watch.

“Fuck.”

“I win.” Scraps leared. He turned to Kent. “Hey Cap, glad to have you back.”

Play. Family. Pack.

Kent rumbled low in his chest before prancing around the clearing. His boys laughed and Scraps nudged Swoops. Swoops grinned at him and they dropped to the ground. Kent bounded over and landed on top of them.

“Jesus Cap!” Scraps laughed, his hands coming up to thread through his coat.

Swoops scratched behind his ears, exactly where Kent liked it and his wolf practically purred with joy.

“Kent,” Swoops whispered. His ears perked up. “You’re purring! Are you sure you’re not a huge version Kit?”

“You’re basically a giant cat!” Scraps agreed, his voice loud and giggly.

Kent growled and shoved at them with his head gently, as they laughed.

Pack .

Yeah, these boys were his pack.

Montreal; One Week Later

Kent leaned his head on his stick and looked out onto the ice. They were tied 1-1 at the beginning of overtime, and he knew he wasn’t playing well. His wolf was unsettled being back in Montreal, so close to so many who he had left.

Tims and Hershey were battling for the puck in the corner, before they dished it out to Kicks by the Montreal bench, and then he was sprinting hard down the ice with it. Kent nodded, happy with the play, and glanced at the Montreal bench. Johnson, a recent call-up, was glaring at him, eyes glowing a dull blue.

Kent stiffened, but held his gaze, refusing to look away first and show weakness. He didn’t recognize this wolf, but he was young and obviously played in Montreal, which meant he was Pack and therefore trouble. His wolf growled at the blatant challenge and disrespect he was showing him. Finally, Johnson looked away but turned his back at the same time. Kent’s wolf snarled with rage and Kent had to bite back his low growl.

“Parson, Troy, Miller.” Coach barked from the bench.

Kent turned to the ice and vaulted over the boards to take the face off. He could feel Johnson’s eyes burning a hole in his sweater. He lined up across from his opponent: Jason Smith, second line center, favors right side, 6’2, played for two years, 12 points so far this season. Kent sneered, feeling agitated. Who was this new Montreal call up?

“I’ve seen better hands in mites, Parson. Somethin’ broken tonight?” Smith leared.

His wolf snarled at the insult, and Kent grit his teeth, shooting back. “Fuck, didn’t know you even knew what a goal was, huh Smith? Your record is utter shit .”

Smith glared and opened his mouth, but the ref cut him off. “Settle down boys!” The ref barked, “Set up!”

He glared across the dot, pulse speeding up. He needed to win the face off. He bent over the dot and focused on the ref, letting out a slow breath to try and calm himself. His wolf growled, simmering under his skin and Kent willed him to settle. Not be calm, because there was nothing calm about hockey, but he needed him settled.

Win. Win. Kill.

The ref dropped the puck and Kent slapped it, sending it flying towards Mills. He gave in and slammed into Smith as he skated forward, hearing a short string of curses before he was too far ahead, and grinned. Mills dodged Crevitch before firing a pass up to Swoops and Kent curled behind him. Swoops crossed over into the offensive zone before passing to Kent just before he was checked hard into the boards by Zvenoic.

The crowd roared again, and Kent stick handled down the ice, avoiding the defense as he stuck close to the boards and curled around the net. He fed a cross-crease pass to Mills, who shot but the puck was gloved by Petters.

“Damn, good shot Mills,” Kent told his winger, skating past to line up for the face off. He sized up his opponent, Ryan Taggert, a veteran who had been on Montreal for seven years and was solid on and off the ice. Kent bent over, ready for the drop.

The ref dropped the puck and Kent won again, sending it backwards to Twigs who whipped it at his defense partner Rey, who shot a one timer at the net. Kent moved to go for the rebound, but was checked by Crevitch. He slammed into the boards and bit back a snarl, blood pumping, before pushing off and sprinting after the puck. Taggert passed to Smith, who fumbled and missed. The puck hit the end boards and the ref blew it down. Icing. The crowd booed.

Coach yelled for a line change and Kent started skating for the bench, but was blocked suddenly by Johnson.

“Move,” Kent snapped.

“Traitor,” Johnson growled, shoving him backwards. “Fucking traitor.”

“Fuck you,” Kent hissed, “Do yourself a favour and shut the hell up. You don’t know shit.”

“I know enough, Parson.” Johnson bristled, his eyes glowing as he snarled. Kent snarled right back and shoved him backwards, before skating to his bench. His wolf howled with rage. The crowd screamed, itching for a fight but Kent wasn’t going to give it to them.

Lies. Fight. Win. His wolf snarled.

Kent shook his head, banging through the gate. He threw himself down into the bench and glared at the ice. He knew his eyes were glowing.

“You good?” Swoops asked, sitting beside him.

“Johnson’s just giving me lip,” Kent muttered lowly.

Swoops leaned into him and threw an arm around his shoulders. Kent sighed, leaning into the touch. His wolf quieted slightly, more content so near Swoops than before, but still angry.

“I can get Hershey to rough him up a little,” Swoops joked.

Kent smirked, tracking the puck. “Nah, he’s not worth it.”

“Johnson is ugly dickhead. Bad at hockey. Bad at life.” Kicks agreed, leaning against the bench in front of Kent.

Swoops laughed and Kent glanced at the Montreal bench again. “Yeah, can’t say I disagree.”

A few minutes later, Coach called for a line change. Kent stood up, ready for the opportunity and saw Patty dump it down the ice and then hustle for the bench. Kent jumped the boards to trade out with him. He hit the ice skating and pivoted to watch the puck. Johnson was stick handling it up the ice, but telegraphed his pass and Kent moved to intercept it. He caught the tip of the puck, but it redirected to Zvenoic. He swore, changing directions to try and cut him off. He was pretty sure he could make it. Behind him, he heard Scraps yell a warning but it was too late. Kent felt someone hit him from behind into the boards, and he braced for the crash.

The crowd was deafening at he pushed away from the boards, whipping around with a snarl to see Crevitch already skating away and he sprinted forward to follow. Zvenoic still had the puck and was in their zone. Swoops, Mills, Scraps and Henney were set up in defensive positions. Zvenoic fired a pass to Taggart and Kent skidded to a stop at the top of the zone. Swoops and Twigs pinched, but it was too high and Kent saw the play a split second before it happened.

The crowd drowned out Kent’s shout as Taggart passed down low to Crevitch, who shot a perfect one timer at the upper left hand corner on the net. Hitch didn’t even have a change. The goal horn sounded and smoke blowers blasted from behind the glass.

Kent’s wolf snarled, his clothing rubbing harshly against his sensitive skin as he fought to keep control. Smith crowed loud in front of Kent at he skated past to get to his team and Kent had to stop himself from going after him, going after the whole fucking Montreal team. He took a few deep breaths before skating over to Hitch and his boys, fighting the phase. He knew his eyes were glowing and hoped that his sweaty hair and face shield covered it enough that the press and fans didn’t notice. His boys knew not to say anything.

Fuck, he hated losing to Montreal. Fuck .

Fight. Fight. Fight. His wolf howled.

Kent glared at the ice, ignoring his angry wolf. Swoops didn’t comment, but threw an arm around his shoulders once he reached them. He leaned into his side, his wolf calming slightly at the touch.

“What a shit show,” Mills muttered. Kent couldn’t agree more.

Swoops tapped helmets with Hitch, and then Kent did. “Good game, Hitch,” Kent said quietly.

Hitch nodded, eyes serious. “Thanks Cap.”

He noticed the eyes, Kent thought.

Kent blinked a few times and looked across the ice at Montreal, before back to his team. “It was a hard fought game, boys. We lost in overtime after a good battle. Let Coach tear it apart so that we know what we can work at. But let’s get out of here, I don’t wanna just sit here all night.”

“Ugly fuckheads.” Monty moaned.

“There there, we can drown sorrows in alcohol. Play Providence in two days.” Ivy smirked, patting the rookie on the head.

The team muttered agreements and filed off the ice down to the dressing room. Kent exhaled.

“You okay?” Scraps asked, gently nudging Kent from his other side.

Kent shrugged. He could feel Johnson’s eyes on him as he stepped off the ice. “Montreal is always complicated.” He left the rest unsaid, they knew his history.

Swoops curled a hand around the back of Kent’s neck as they walked down the tunnel. “I’ll see you tonight then?”

Kent hesitated. Swoops shot him a look and he deflated. “Yeah man, yeah. Thanks.”

“Got your back. You know that.”

----

Kent paused outside Swoop’s hotel room door and bit his lip. He ran a hand through his hair and then knocked quickly, stepping back. Swoops opened the door and smiled when he saw Kent.

“Hey Swoops. It still okay?”

Swoops nodded. “Yeah Parse, of course. C’mon in.” He walked into the room, leaving the door open and Kent followed. The door closed with a quiet click and Kent felt a heavy weight fall off of him. He fell onto the bed and took a deep breath, letting Swoop’s familiar scent wash over him until that was all he could smell. His wolf settled for the first time that night. Swoops always did that to him.

“Are you smelling my blankets again?” Swoops asked from the bathroom, laughing.

Kent turned his head and glared playfully at him. “You smell horrible.”

His mouth twitched up, but he didn’t say anything else about it. “You wanna watch something or just go to bed?”

Kent shrugged, getting under the covers. “Don’t care.”

Swoops nodded, before doing the same and pulling him close. Kent burrowed down and wrapped his arms around Swoops. He heard the click of the TV as it turned on, and the low murmur of voices, but he couldn’t make himself pay attention. Sometimes he thought he was touch starved - wolves tended to need more touch than humans - and without a regular pack situation, he understood that he might be.

Sometimes he missed the casual touches that came with Pack life. The lingering hugs, the constant arms around waists and shoulders, the group huddles or ‘dog piles’ and wolves constantly being in his space. Kent didn’t have a lifemate, but the pairs he had seen in Pack had never seemed to not be touching. He longed for that closeness with someone.

Swoops was amazing and understood when he just needed comfortable touch, and he was basically Pack even though he was human, but it still wasn’t quite the same. But his team, his boys, were all Kent had.

His wolf purred.

Safe. Warm. Home.

Providence; Four Days Later

Kent stepped out onto the Providence ice and inhaled. Sharp coldness rushed into his lungs, the scent of rubber, of beer and hot dogs, of sweat and anticipation, of people, of other wolves. Eight, just like last year. Wait, he inhaled again, no. Nine.

His wolf sniffed, curious.

He strided forward, looking across the ice to try and spot the mystery wolf. The usual eight met his eyes for a split second, before looking away out of respect. His wolf preened with happiness. He nodded to each, acknowledging them, before finally seeing the last wolf standing on the Falc’s bench, talking to his coach. Kent stiffened slightly.

Alexei Mashkov was a recent pick up for the Falcs from the KHL. He played defence, was 6’4, shot left, and apparently, also an Alpha. Mashkov met his eyes and Kent almost missed a stride. His eyes were so deep brown they looked almost black, but Kent could see the warmth in them. He probably laughed a lot. He probably was kind. But he was still an Alpha, so Kent looked away quickly, his wolf recognizing Mashkov’s dominance.

Alpha. 

Alpha indeed. Shit.

“This is going to be interesting,” Kent muttered. Swoops slid into his back.

“What’s interesting?”

“Oh, just Pack stuff.”

Swoops looked across the ice. “Mashkov? The new rookie from Russia? He’s like, 25 max. What could he do?”

A lot, Kent thought.

“He’s an Alpha, Swoops. And he’s playing with his Pack. Does he want people to be killed?” Kent hissed, trying to pitch his voice so it didn’t carry across the ice.

“What?”

“Ugh,” Kent groaned. “I don’t have time to explain, but let's just say if he does down, blood will follow.”

Swoop’s eyes widened. “Oooh shit.”

Kent shrugged. “Alphas don’t normally play hockey. Their Pack is too protective. Bob-” He cut off. Swoops nudged him a little. He continued after a second, voice even lower. “Bob stopped playing the year before he took Alpha. This one is young…”

Swoops hummed. “Young and stupid. Don’t worry too much though Cap, he’s a tree. It’ll take a force to bring him down. But… I’ll warn Ivy and Hershey to be careful with him.”

Kent grinned and changed the subject. “See, this is why you would make a great alternate.”

Swoops snorted. “Oh yeah, my interest in werewolf politics.”

Kent winked. “That’s how you get in my good graces. Gotta start somewhere.”

“Parson! Troy! This isn’t Sunday free skate! Move your asses!” Coach barked.

“Ay ay Captain!” Swoops yelled, and then pushed Kent forward. “C’mon Cap! Move it or we’ll get benched and never face Mr. Alpha!”

Kent laughed, but sprinted forward.

---

Vegas goal by Parson, assisted by Miller.

Providence goal by St. Martin, assisted by Mashkov.

Vegas goal by Ivanov, assisted by Troy.

Fight! Parson vs Mashkov.

---

Kent stood in between Kicks and Mashkov, his hand out towards the raging Alpha. “Back off. He didn’t do anything.”

Mashkov snarled, and Kent spoke harshly. “Back the fuck off Mashkov. No harm to yours. Nothing happened.”

Mashkov glared at Kent and Kicks, but turned and stormed back to the bench. Mathewman, the smaller wolf who Kicks had checked hard, but not that illegally, followed his Alpha.

Kent grimaced, looking at Kicks. Kicks raised an eyebrow. “The fuck Cap?”

Kent sighed, and threw his hands up in the air. “I don’t know okay. Just- just ignore it.”

Kicks shrugged after a minute before turning to skate to the bench. “Whatever. Mashkov weird as shit.”

Kent laughed with relief, shaking his head. God, that was close.

---

After the game, Kent exited the dressing room with a few guys and saw Mashkov leaning against the wall a few feet from the door. He looked up when they exited and raised a hand. “Parson. We talk please?”

Swoops stiffened, but Kent pushed him ahead. “I’ll meet you guys out front.”

Scraps coughed, furrowing his eyebrows at Kent, no doubt remembering the almost fight that happened on the ice.

“Go,” Kent said sternly. He understood their concern, but it wasn’t needed. He would be fine.

His team finally left and he turned to Alexei. He motioned down the hall a little, behind a corner and Kent followed. When they were in a quieter, more private area Mashkov spoke.

“Am sorry. Did not mean to cause, um, shit. Still new at Alpha.”

Kent nodded. “It’s a big responsibility.”

His wolf snorted, but was happy that an Alpha was apologizing to them.

A funny look crossed Mashkov’s face. “You walk like you know what is like. Are you Alpha?”

Kent stiffened. “No.”

No, he never was and he never will be. Never. He didn’t want Alpha. He never had.

Mashkov’s brow furrowed. “Do you have Pack?”

Kent blew out a breath and scowled. “What is this? 20 Questions?”

Mashkov stared at him and Kent quickly looked away. No way in hell was he having this conversation right now. No fucking way.

“Am sorry, Parson. Did not mean to offend.”

Kent nodded sharply.

Mashkov blew out a long breath. “Keep messing up. I am sorry, Parson. You good person. You care about teammates. Good wolf. Not want grudges…” He paused, motioning with his hand. “Being held. Unnecessary.”

“There’re no grudges, don’t worry Mashkov. We’re fine.” Kent tried a small smile, but he was sure it looked like a grimace. He really just wanted this weird conversation to end.

“Okay, I believe if you drink with me. True Russian style, yes?” Mashkov replied. “Bar is very close. Alcohol is very strong. Wolf almost feel it.”

Kent raised an eyebrow, surprised. “Oh yeah? That’s rare.” Wolves had extremely strong alcohol tolerance. Most drinks never affected him at all.

Mashkov smiled. “Yes! Promise very good alcohol.”

Kent ran a hand through his hair and looked away. “Well, okay. But I expect good drinks.”

Mashkov nodded, motioning to Kent to follow him. “Yes, I promise very good.”

About twenty minutes later they sat at the bar, Mashkov nursing a gin and tonic and Kent swirling a dry martini in its glass, uncertain. The bar was dark and loud, with nothing particularly special about it. Kent was skeptical.

“Really? This place has good drinks?” He stared very hard at the bar counter top, the dark wood dull and scratched. It had definitely seen better days. “Like, Vegas might have just made me posh but this place seems pretty…” He trailed off and wrinkled his nose.

Mashkov chuckled, taking a sip. “Drink Parson. Stop stalling.”

Kent made a face, but took his first sip. His eyes brows rose in surprise. “Wow, fuck, it’s actually not bad.”

“Yes, I said.” Mashkov smiled again.

Kent rolled his eyes. “You guys come here lots then?”

Mashkov nodded, “Yes, very often with Pack. Do not care if we are loud. Casual. Is nice. And drinks are strong.”

Kent hummed, taking another sip. It really was a good dry martini. “Yeah, it’s always nice to have a go to bar.” He fidgeted with his napkin, glancing around the bar again. It was a sports bar, TVs turned to another hockey game on the west coast, with two bartenders bouncing back and forth among patrons and a couple of foosball and pool tables tucked away in the back corner. Kent glanced at Mashkov. They had fallen into a strange and slightly awkward silence.

Kent cleared his throat. This was so weird. “So you guys are a fairly new Pack?”

Mashkov nodded, meeting his eyes. “Yes, only few years old. Thirdy used to be Alpha, but not dominant enough. Wolf was weak and others pushed Pack around. Then I came."

Kent winced, thinking of a few names. “Yeah, I get that. Some wolves are assholes. And with your Pack being mainly hockey based you need a strong Alpha.”

Mashkov grinned. “Yes, like me. But have few others but mainly hockey. Like your Pack.”

“Hockey does tend to attract wolves,” Kent replied, tensing. He asked the first question that came to him. He definitely didn’t want to talk about his ‘Pack’. “Were you Alpha in Russia?”

Mashkov shook his head. “No, older sister. But I always wanted to come to America to play hockey, so never wanted Alpha.”

Kent raised an eyebrow. “Really? You never wanted to be Alpha?”

Mashkov shrugged. “Always knew Nikita would be Alpha. Why fight it? But am Alpha now. Not choose different.”

Kent took another sip. “Yeah, I suppose.”

“You could be Alpha too, Parson. Never wanted?” Mashkov asked.

His wolf growled. Kent jerked, coughing a little. Fuck him, what gave him the right to bring that up, and twice at that. Fuck.

“No,” he spit out. “No, I never wanted Alpha.”

Mashkov looked at him, face surprised. “Of course. Not everyone want Alpha. Is normal.”

Kent glared at the wall and crossed his arms over his chest, heart pounding. Every wolf he had ever met knew what happened with him and the Montreal Pack, with him and Jack. Mashkov had to know and was just being insensitive, or looking to bring up old wounds.

Mashkov cleared his throat, glancing at Kent.

They sat in awkward silence for a few minutes. Kent took a long drink.

“Am sorry,” Mashkov said, breaking the silence. “Keep bringing up bad memories. Don’t… don’t know American wolf history.”

Kent looked at him. “What?”

“New to America, so don’t know history. Russia very… isolated.” Mashkov shrugged.

“Oh. Everyone around here knows what happened so I just get- get defensive whenever it gets brought up. It’s complicated,” Kent rambled, rubbing the back of his neck. Shit, he really must not know anything.

“Is it why you not have Pack?” Mashkov asked quietly.

Kent laughed loudly. “ Fuck , you really keep asking the hard hitting questions, don’t you Mashkov.”

“Just trying to… to figure you out, Kent Parson.”

Kent necked his drink. “Well stop. No one asked you to ‘figure me out’.”

Mashkov shook his head. “Only try to help. You don’t have Pack, lone wolf, not natural or good. Team likes you, thinks you are good wolf. Maybe you should join Pack. Would you like to join Pack?”

Kent frowned. “What the fuck? What kind of pity case do you take me for? Being a werewolf in the NHL is about as common as the dirt outside!”

“You have no wolves on your team. Full moon not lonely? Strange? Join Pack, let me take care.”

Kent bristled. “I have a Pack, a family . It’s just not full of wolves.”

“Does not mean it is bad, Kent. But is different, you need Pack. You need a pack with wolves. I know is not… not ideal , but can help. Feel, feel obligated. Duty to help. As Alpha.” Mashkov argued.

“So what? I’m just some shitty charity case? Yeah, fuck no, I’m good.” Kent pushed his barstool back, ready to storm off. His wolf huffed, hot with anger.

Nichevo sebe , stop! Not what I am meaning!” Mashkov grabbed his arm, touching him skin to skin for the first time that night, and suddenly the world seemed to explode. Kent gasped, sparks shooting through his body. His skin burned where Mashkov touched him, and Kent looked at him, eyes wide. His wolf howled, turning frantic.

Lifemate. Mine.

“Oh my god. You’re my lifemate,” Kent whispered.

Lifemate. He couldn’t believe Mashkov was his lifemate .

Mashkov stared at him with wonder and gently cupped Kent’s face in his hand, speaking softly in Russian, “ Moya lyubov, ya zhdala etovo dnya.

Kent let out a soft sigh, his wolf practically purring with pleasure. He reached up slowly, looping an arm around his neck, his other hand settling on the bar, loosely holding onto Mashkov’s jacket. Their gazes never wavered as Kent threaded his fingers through the shorter strands of hair by his neck. He let out a low whine and Kent smirked. His eyes flickered down to Mashkov’s lips. Mashkov’s thumb stroked his cheek, eyes following. Kent’s wolf purred. Kent leaned in.

The room around them erupted in cheers and they stumbled back from one another, shocked awake. Kent’s wolf growled with disappointment and he looked around, startled, eyes wide and heart racing. The bar patrons were cheering at the hockey game on screen, celebrating a goal. Kent ran a shaky hand through his hair and looked at Mashkov, who looked just as surprised. He smiled sheepishly at Kent and Kent looked away, smile working its way into his face as he blew out a breath. His hands itched to hold him again.

“Apartment is very close, yes?” Mahkov asked, leaning forward slightly.

Kent looked back, grin growing. “You read my mind, babe.”

His face lit up and he turned, flagging down a bartender to settle the bill. Kent smiled. They left the bar quickly, and Kent shoved his hands in his pocket so he didn’t do anything stupid like hold Mashkov’s hand. His wolf whined, missing the contact.

Mashkov unlocked his car and Kent slipped into the passenger’s seat, immediately sitting on his hands. “Okay, let’s drive.”

“In hurry, Parson?” He teased, but pulled out of his parking spot.

“Dunno, I just found my fucking hot lifemate and I really wanna kiss him senseless. I guess you could say I’m kinda excited,” Kent threw back, but reached out and took Mashkov’s hand in his.

Mashkov pressed a kiss to Kent’s hand and Kent shivered at the sparks that ran through him. He felt like he was on cloud nine, and it definitely wasn’t the alcohol.

“Home soon.”

A few agonizing minutes later, Mashkov pulled into an undergound parking lot.

“Fucking finally,” Kent breathed.

Mashkov chuckled, pulling into his parking spot. “Eager.”

“C’mere Mashkov, I’ll show you what you’ve been missing,” Kent teased, getting out of the car.

Mashkov got out as well, falling into step beside him, pressed side to side. “Call me Alexei.”

Kent turned to look at him and smiled. “Okay.”

“Okay Kent.”

Kent’s smile grew.

They stepped into the elevator and Alexei draped an arm around Kent’s shoulder, pressing number seven. Kent snuggled into his side and they watched the numbers creep up together.

The elevator opened and they stepped out still holding onto one another.

“Is number seventy three,” Alexei murmured into Kent’s ear and he shivered, slowing down when he saw it. Alexei unlocked the door, pulling Kent inside and then closing the door with a light shove.

Kent looked out into the apartment without really seeing it, heart racing. He could hear Alexei behind him, clothing rustling as he took off his jacket. He turned around. “Hey.”

Alexei smiled. “Hi.”

Kent stepped into his space, toe to toe. He wanted Alexei closer, had been itching to hold him since the bar, had been itching to kiss him since the bar. He gazed into Alexei’s warm brown eyes. He wanted to fall in. Alexei licked his lips and Kent followed the motion. He wanted .

“Kiss me. Kiss me ,” Kent commanded, looping his arms around his neck.

Alexei growled and then they were kissing. Alexei kissed like he was drowning, pushing against Kent and yet somehow pulling him even closer. Kent moaned and clung to him. Kent pushed him backwards until Alexei was up against the door and they were pressed together, no space between their bodies. He needed to get closer, but their clothes were in the way. He ran his hands down Alexei’s chest and started undoing the buttons.

Alexei pulled away, sliding a hand into Kent’s hair and changing the angle before slotting their lips together again. Kent finally got Alexei’s shirt off and pushed it off him, hands running up his chest, down his back, exploring. His wolf itched to get even closer.

They seperated and came back together, touching, tasting, exploring. They couldn’t get enough of each other.

Finally, they seperated long enough for Kent to say something.

“Bed,” Kent gasped, “Bed.”

Alexei nodded. “Closer. Closer to me.”

They stumbled down the hall, never letting go, until they made it into the bedroom.

Alexei pushed the door open and they half tumbled in, moving to the bed. Kent pushed Alexei on and climbed on top of him. He ran a hand up Kent’s back and into his hair, the other one cupping his ass. “What do you want?”

“You,” Kent moaned, “I want you.”

Alexei kissed him hard, tugging lightly at Kent’s hair. “Yes, but how far tonight? I want you very much, but don’t have to rush.”

Kent smirked. “I’ve been waiting for you a long time baby. How we test out some of that werewolf stamina, hmm?”

Alexei grinned. “Yes, I like very much.”

Providence; The Next Day

“Kent,” Alexei murmured, pressing a gentle kiss to his temple. “Kenny. Wake up.”

“Mmhm.” Kent rolled over, almost on top of Alexei, and stuck his face in the crook of his neck, breathing in. He smelled so good. One of Alexei’s hands carded through his hair and the other ran up and down his side, light and teasing. Kent shivered and Alexei pressed a kiss to the top of his head. “You smell good.”

“So do you, solnishko .”

Kent pushed himself up on his elbows, bracketing Alexei’s head so he could see the other man’s eyes. He brushed a thumb over his cheek and lips. They kissed again, needy.

“We should talk,” Kent murmured in between kisses.

“Later.”

Kent smiled. “Yes, later.”

Later, Alexei threw his sheets into the wash and Kent wandered into the living room to call and change his flight. They were flying home to Vegas midday today, but didn’t play until late the day after tomorrow. And it was against the Wild, so he would be fine to be a little tired. Then he called Swoops.

Scraps, not Swoops, picked up on the first ring. “The fuck Kent, where have you been? Where are you? Are you okay? Swoops is actually having a breakdown, good God you idiot .”

He heard concerned voices in the background. Scraps told them to “shut the hell up, it’s Kent.”

Kent winced, his wolf whining at the panic and anger in Scraps’ voice.

“Scraps, tell him I’m okay please? I’m sorry I worried you guys. I’m still with Alexei. We’re… well, I’m okay and that’s all that matters. I’m flying out late tomorrow, so I’ll still make the Wild game, but I’m not flying out mid day with the rest of the team.”

“What? Kent, why? What the fuck?”

“Scraps, it’s Pack stuff.”

“Oh.”

The line was quiet.

“You’re-you’re sure you’re okay?”

Kent smiled. He could hear the hesitation in Scraps’ voice. “Yeah Scraps, I’m good. I promise. I’ll see you guys in two days, okay?”

“Mmm, okay Cap, sure. But be prepared for a call from Swoops! I made him leave his phone with me and finally get some sleep.”

Kent winced, running a hand through his hair. “I’m really sorry I worried you guys.”

“It’s okay Cap, just shoot us a text or something next time you go out and do Pack stuff all night.”

“Yeah, Scraps. There won’t be a next time.”

Scraps snorted. “Okay, Cap. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Bye Scraps.”

“Bye.”

Kent hung up, staring down at the phone in his hand. He wolf whined, not liking what they had put their boys through. He scratched his neck, scrolling through some of his notifications and winced when he saw his boys develop into panic mode. He sent a quick text reassuring them he was okay and that he would see them later. He exited out of their chat group and paused.

“Team is okay, yes?” Alexei asked, draping himself over Kent’s shoulder.

Kent startled, but turned and smiled, sliding his hands around Alexei’s neck and playing with the ends of his hair. “Yeah, they just got worried when I didn’t call them last night.”

Alexei dropped a kiss to his shoulder, smirking. “Not sorry.”

Kent grinned. “Oh yeah?”

He turned serious. “Is truth. Not sorry I found you. And not sorry for what happened last night.”

Kent kissed him again. “Same here, I promise.”

They broke away after a couple of minutes, before Alexei pulled Kent onto the couch. They curled up together, snuggling close, before Alexei asked quietly, “Kenny. Why you not have Pack?”

Kent stilled. He obviously hadn’t wanted to have this conversation last night with a random Alpha, but now Alexei was his lifemate. He would play Montreal often, and if he was going to find out about what happened somehow, Kent wanted it to be from him. He took a deep breath. “I left my old Pack in Montreal. Bob’s Pack. It wasn’t… it wasn’t a good situation. They almost, uh, threw me out.”

Alexei frowned. “What? They throw you out of Pack?”

Kent swallowed and looked away, fidgeting. “It’s complicated. They thought I was trying to become Alpha. They thought I was going to steal it from… from Jack. I’m dominant enough to be Alpha, but they didn’t understand that I was content to let him have it. I didn’t want to be Alpha, but they didn’t believe me. So I left. Waited the few days before the draft in New York with my parents and then I moved out here. There weren’t any wolves on the Aces then and there still aren’t now.”

Alexei tightened his arms around Kent and kissed his hair. Kent continued.

“It was too hard being there. Half of them believed me not wanting to be Alpha and the other half didn’t. It was dividing the Pack. Wolves were starting to get… angry. I didn’t-” He paused. “I didn’t feel wanted, or safe. And then Jack overdosed and seemed to lose both hockey and Alpha and it just became too much. Some blamed me, saying that the extra competition I brought was what broke Jack… And at the end of the day, one wolf isn’t worth Pack turmoil or chaos so Bob, well, organized for me to leave. I-I didn’t technically get thrown out, but well, I basically was.”

“Kenny, I’m so sorry.”

Kent shook his head. “It happened so long ago… I get some shit from the Pack still, but most of them just leave me alone and play hockey. I know that it wasn’t my fault Jack overdosed and I know I’m not a traitor. Most of them do too, but not all.” He took a breath. “And you should also know that any alliance you have with the Montreal Pack will probably be over because of me, at least until Jack becomes Alpha. I doubt they’ll be aggressive, but they won’t be friendly either. And they will talk shit about me, so please just don't listen. Promise me you won’t listen.”

Alexei nodded, kissing Kent lightly. “Yes, promise. And you are part of Pack now. My Pack. Our Pack.”

Kent sighed, running a hand through Alexei’s hair. “Babe, I’m across the country. How am I supposed to be part of your Pack?”

Alexei grunted. “Just will.”

Kent smiled sadly. “I can’t make the full moon celebrations or the gatherings or the runs. I can’t be part of your Pack. Not yet anyway. I’d have to be traded.”

Kent froze. Alexei stilled.

“I mean.” Kent sat up, panicking. “I love my boys. I don’t know- I mean. I couldn’t just leave them.”

Alexei smiled. “It is okay, Kenny. Do not have to leave family for me.”

Kent searched his face, looking for the lie. “Yeah?”

Alexei nodded. “Promise. Will not ask that. Never.”

Kent smiled softly, gently kissing Alexei. “Thank you.”

“Of course, solnishko .”

Providence; The Next Day

They stood at the side of the Providence airport, wrapped in each other’s arms, hidden from view mostly by a very large sign promoting KFC chicken.

“Will miss you,” Alexei murmured in Kent’s ear. He pulled him closer. “Only just found, but will miss very much.”

Kent nuzzled into his shoulder. “I’ll call you when I land.”

“Please, solnishko .”

His wolf shifted in sadness, knowing that they would soon part from their mate. Kent felt like his soul was tearing in half. He didn’t expect this parting to hurt so much.

“What does solnishko mean?” He asked.

Alexei blushed. “Means my sun, my sunshine.”

Kent laughed, surprised. “Your sunshine? But we’re wolves.”

He ran a hand through Kent’s hair. “No, you like sunshine, not moon.”

Kent laughed and stretched up to kiss him quick.

The airport intercom came on. “Flight number 167 to Las Vegas, Nevada, is boarding.”

“Fuck,” Kent gasped, pulling away slightly. “I still have to get through security.”

Alexei sighed, nodding. “Okay, Kenny.”

They kissed and Kent pulled away, pressing another quick kiss to Alexei’s lips. “I’ll call you when I land.”

They kissed again, lingering.

“Go, I need to go.”

Alexei nuzzled his hair. “Yes, yes.”

Kent laughed. “At this rate I’m going to miss my flight and you’re going to miss practice.”

“Ah, you found plan,” Alexei joked.

Kent smiled. “Babe.”

“Will miss you,” Alexei whispered.

“I’ll miss you too. But I’ll call. I promise.” Kent cupped his face, brushing his thumb over his cheek soothingly.

Alexei leaned into his touch. Kent’s wolf purred.

“I have to go.” Kent pressed a lingering kiss to his lips. “I’ll call you.”

“Goodbye, solnishko .”

Kent pulled away, pulling a baseball cap on. “Bye Alexei.”

Alexei waved and called out, “Goodbye.”

Kent lifted a hand, stilling looking over his shoulder as he walked away. He wanted to memorize every inch of him.

His wolf whimpered in sadness and Kent blinked quickly, hating that he had to leave Alexei when he had only just found him. He was leaving a piece of himself here, but he knew that he’d be back soon. Summer would come soon enough.

Vegas; Eight Hours Later

Kent dug his phone out of his pocket as soon as they stopped the plane. He pressed Alexei’s contact.

“Hello?”

Kent smiled, letting out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. His wolf rumbled, at ease again.

“Hey babe.”