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It's Been Lonley

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Ryan Graves is a wolf. He has been a wolf since the day he was born. He was a wolf in juniors, he was a wolf in New York and he is a wolf in Colorado. He knows this, he has always known this. However despite being a wolf for years and finally getting a permanent spot on the Avs roaster, he still hasn’t been invited to join the official team pack.


At first it didn't bother him, when he first came to Colorado he assumed that the locker room was the same as it had been in New York, if you're supernatural you don't tell anyone, keep it to yourself.


But in Colorado he started noticing things, he saw how sometimes Sam would do some magic to lessen the pain of some injures, Burky would literally glow sometimes without any reason, EJ would tell stories from the conversations he had with his horses, it wasn't weird it was just a normal thing.


While a good amount for supernatural beings existed on the team, the most prevalent were the wolves. Headed by the one and only Gabriel Landeskog, the avs wolf pack was the biggest he’s seen. They invite everyone, people who just joined, people on the eagles, even some traded members still drop in during the off season.


Or at least that's what he’s been told, because even after being on the eagles and avs for a few years, Gabe still hasn’t asked him to join, no else has either but the point is that if you want to be a full member of the pack the leader has to invite you.


Ryan didn't want to put too much thought into it because he knew that if he started it would just spiral into thinking about how bad he is, how he's not good enough for the team let alone the pack. So he tried not to pay attention to it. It took all his power to ignore how excluded he felt. How alone he’s been since becoming a hockey player, how much he missed his old pack back home, how much he missed the closeness of everyone during the full moon. He missed the connection one feels when fully integrated into the pack.


So he kept his head down, played his hardest, made sure to always be there if he needed to be. He wanted to prove to Gabe that he deserved to be in the pack that he was good enough to be in the pack.


It all came to a head the day that Cale Makar joined the team.


Cale was a fresh faced guy straight out of the college program when he joined the team. But despite that his skill on the ice stunned everyone including Ryan. He was in awe about how easily Cale meshed into the team, he was joking around and acting like he’s been a part of the team for years.


“Hey everyone! Pack night at my house tonight, it’s Cale's big night everyone needs to be there!” Gabe yelled to the team.


There were cheers and laughter coming from all around but Ryan could barely hear it, the sounds were being drowned out by his heart beating in his ears. 


He couldn't believe it, Cale had only been with the team for a few days, the last guy they invited to the pack was Kammy and even then it had taken at least a month for it to happen. Ryan was upset, sure Cale was good but how did the team know how well he’d do in the pack, if he’d be a good fit? It was impossible to know unless he was evaluated for a few weeks.


Cale sat down in his stall, smiling wide and bright, he was laughing along with everyone once again. Not even noticing that Ryan was upset about the events.


He turned to Ryan and held out his fist, “This is awesome man, I can’t believe it”


“Hey congrats” Ryan said through gritted teeth.


He returned the first bump, but when their hands connected all Ryan felt were sparks. His eyes widened and he felt heat rush through his body. His eyes widened and he felt himself smile for the first time that day.


He made eye contact with Cale, his mate, the one person who was destined for him. And a bit selfishly he thought, the one thing that could get him into Gabes pack.


Except when looking at Cale all he saw was horror. His cheeks lost their natural red and he looked paler than normal.


“I… I can't… is this for real?” Cale asked, still looking frightened.


“It looks so buddy, this is amazing, I'm so happy” Ryan said, still confused about how Cale was feeling.


“Aren’t you happy?”


“I… I just… I wasn't expecting this”


“But, you are happy right? Like, I know this was sudden but it could be good I think, like we don't have to jump into anything we can start as friends and stuff.”


“Ryan.. um..I.. I’m sorry.. I just… I'm sorry” Cale said, he stood up and ran into the showers.

Leaving Ryan in his stall, sat in shock. He knew that Gabe didn’t think he was a good wolf but for his mate to think that too?


Something must be wrong with him, there was no other explanation, he must be cursed because he heard the stories, hell even his parents told him that when he meets his mate nothing else mattered. There was always one person he’d be able to talk to and it would all be alright.


But as it seemed, everything that he’d been told was wrong, not only did his mate not want to even be friends with him, he has been without a pack for years. He must be the worst wolf in the world.


He couldn't take it anymore, this was the final straw, he was sick of being overlooked and ignored, he was going to do something about it.


When he got home later he texted Sam, he asked him to come over the next day for something, something important. Sam agreed to come by later, Ryan is ready, he's going to fix this once and for all.


The next day Ryan woke up to Sam knocking on his door. Throwing on some clothes he went to let him in.


“Hey thanks for coming”


“No problem whats up?” Sam asked, his arms were full of different plants and herbs, he was prepared for anything.


“I think I’m cursed.”


Sam dropped everything and stared at him with wide eyes.


“What?! how ? what happened? Are you okay?”


“Yes yes, i'm fine, or I think I am, but trust me I might be cursed. I just need you to check and make sure.”


“Do you feel okay? Has anything been different lately?” Sam asked, finally out of his trance and setting up shop with his plants.


“Yes I feel fine but I think something happened before I came here and I need to be sure of it… so can you help me?”


“Yes I can, sit down and well get started.”


Ryan obeyed and crossed his legs. Sam started to mess around with his stuff and handed him some crushed herbs, he started grinding others with his mortar and pestle and sprinkled that in his hair. He then grabbed some sort of salve and spread it on his forehead and chin. He then grabbed his hands and stared at Ryan.


His eyes unfocused and Ryan swore he saw them turn white but he couldn't tell. His mind was getting a bit fuzzy and he felt dizzy. He knew it was just a part of Sam's magic but it was still nerve racking.


After a minute or two of Sam staring at him, his eyes refocused, he blinked a few times looking confused.


He looked at Ryan and asked, “When was the last time you ate?”


“This morning… why”


“No no no, like… ate”


“This morning, I had some eggs and toast, like always” Ryan said, now he was getting confused.


“No! Ryan when was the last time you… you know?” he raised his hands to his mouth, a finger on each side pointing down.


“Um… I.. I don't know what you're asking.” Ryan responded


“Dammit Ryan!” He was getting upset, “When was the last time you drank!”


“I told you I had breakfast this morning, I had a few drinks the other night after the game if that's what you're asking.”


Sam stood up then and ran to his kitchen, “Ryan where is it? Tell me right now!”


Also standing, “dude I don't know what youre talking about, sam calm down”


Turning at him with fire in his eyes, “I won't calm down! You need to feed dammit! You have nothing here! Where do you keep it!”


“Keep what?!”


“Your fucking blood!”


Ryan froze, “my what?”


“You're blood, you know the stuff that you HAVE to eat in order to survive!”


“Sam I don't drink blood.”


Sam ran a hand down his face, he looked more upset than he'd ever seen him. 

“Ryan how long have you gone without blood, you're putting yourself and all of us in danger.”


“Why would I drink blood? I've never drank blood, I don't need to do that.”


“Ryan, every vampire needs to drink blood, did anyone teach you that? Are you that dumb? You're starved and you're going to end up going into a frenzy if you don't get some soon.”


Ryan was in shock, a vampire? Nothing about this made sense, why did Sam think he was a vampire? 


“Sam, why do you think I'm a vampire?”


“Um… Because you are a vampire?” responded sam.


Ryan shook his head in disbelief, Sam thought he was a vampire, he thought he and Sam were close, he thought they knew a lot about each other, but he guessed wrong apparently. He walked back to the sofa and sat down, he felt Sam do the same a few seconds later.


“Sam, sammy, I swear to you that I'm not going to go into a frenzy, I wouldn't do that to you or anyone else on the team I swear.” Ryan felt tears start to well up, “I won't do that because I’m not a vampire, I swear, I'm not I promise.”


Ryan felt Sam pull him into a hug, “I'm sorry, gravy, I'm sorry I didn't mean to upset you, you say you're not a vampire, but are you sure? Did you ever wake up one day feeling a bit different? I've heard of people not noticing, maybe that could've happened to you?”


Standing up quickly Ryan responded, “I. am. Not. a. Vampire. I’ll prove it!” 


He took a deep breath and felt himself sink, he felt his bones shift into a new place, it had been awhile since he shifted, mainly because he felt so much more shifted, and he couldn't trust himself to not run to Gabes house and sneak into a pack meeting.


Sam gasped, he stood up and reached out a hand slowly.


“Oh Ryan, i'm so sorry, I just assumed.” Now sam was looking like he was going to cry, Ryan couldn't have that. Even if he wasn't in Gabes official pack, he considered sam to be apart of his. He pushed himself into Sam's arms and tried to comfort him the best he could when he was shifted.


Sam curled his hands into his fur, holding on tightly and blabbering in french. He was apologizing for ignoring the signs, for assuming that he was a vampire, for not paying attention to him.


A little bit later Sam had calmed down and let go of Ryan, he whined a little bit, which he will deny, it had been so long since someone touched him while shifted. He knew that they had to talk so he reluctantly shifted back.


They looked at each other before Sam started to apologize again. But Ryan cut him off, he knew that Sam didn't mean to hurt him.


Ryan started to explain to Sam what happened, he told him about how new york didn't have a pack and frowned on supernatural beings. He tells him how excited he was to come to the avs, to finally be a part of something. About how disappointed he was when no one asked him to join the pack, how he was sick of making excuses as to why. He told him about how he saw so many wolves join and get invited to the pack and how each time he was overlooked how much it really hurt. And finally he told him about Cale.


He told him how excited he was and how quickly Cales face turned to disgust, how he ran away like he couldn't get away fast enough. He told him his theory of being cursed because there was no other reason for his misfortune unless he was just that unliked in the team. How if it didn't get better he might have to ask for a trade because he couldn't handle being on the same team with his mate and act like everything was fine.


It was a lot and by the end he and Sam were once again crying. Sam held his hand and promised him that he wasn’t cursed, he was starved though. He couldn't tell how, just that he was starved, that's why he was so afraid, he didn't want him to go into a frenzy and be kicked out of the NHL all together.


Ryan knew that Sam was coming from a place of good will but he still couldn't get his head wrapped around the fact that Sam had thought he was a vampire. Sure he was a bit pale but that was really the only thing about him that could point to that, if anything he sometimes thought that he didn't look like anything at all, just a normal person.


It was getting late so Sam gathered his things and promised him that he was going to figure out what was starving him, he warned him to be careful, that if his emotions got the better of him it could be dangerous to not only others but to himself as well. He gave him a hug and he was on his way.


A few days later at practice, Ryan came in to see everyone surrounding Cale, while that wasn’t anything new, he did notice that his stall was across the room, opposite of Ryans, not where it was before.


He knew that Cale didn't want to be mates but did he have to make it so obvious?


Ryan watched as Gabe walked over to Cale, he gave him a slap on the back before declaring to the room that Cale was the newest member of the pack. Also that the full moon scheduled for tomorrow night was going to be celebrated at his house and every wolf had to go.

Fed up with how his life was going, Ryan gathered all his courage and approached gabe after practice. He asked if they could talk, he agreed and they headed somewhere more private.


Taking a breath he looked at gabe and asked, “Can I come to the celebration tomorrow?”


Gabe just laughed, and it hurt. Why would his captain laugh at him for wanting to be with other wolves during the full moon?


He felt his confidence dip further down when Gabe asked, “Now why would you want to be around a bunch of dogs during a full moon? You'll just be left out.”


“I know but..”


“No Ryan I won't put you through that, it'll be tourture trust me.”


“I promise I’ll be okay, I swear.”


“Gravy listen, it just won't be fun for you, and I don't want to make any of the guys uncomfortable, some are sensitive about this stuff.” Gabe replied, he was beginning to sound a bit fed up with the conversation.


“But..I… alright, thanks for talking.” Ryan could feel tears welling up again, but he wasn't going to cry, not in front of his captain. Even if this was the most obvious rejection in his life. Gabe just patted him on the shoulder before heading out. Ryan went back to his car and froze. Cale was standing awkwardly by the car, waiting for him.


He started to feel a bit better, maybe there was still hope that Cale did want some kind of relationship. He'd be happy with anything at this point, just to know that he was wanted even a little bit.


However when Cale started talking all that hope went out the window.


“Ryan I'm sorry for the other day, I just wasn't prepared for that you know? Anyways… I gotta tell you that I'm sorry but we can't, it's just not… you know? My parents don't like that kind of stuff… they say it's not okay and they're so important to me and I don't want to lose them.” Cales' face was turning redder by the second as he kept talking.


“I’m not saying we can't be friends but I think it'll be easier for the both of us if we just… sweep it under the rug. I, I just can’t risk anything right now, again I’m so sorry but please don't tell anyone about this, please? Just keep it between us, please?”


Shocked Ryan barely got the words out, “Um.. okay, it's fine, yeah, I understand, just friends, got it. And yeah, I… I won't tell anyone, I promise, um...yeah.”


Cale just muttered a thanks and left Ryan standing there in the parking lot. 


He just couldn't get his head around the conversations he just had. Both with gabe and Cale. Gabe said he would be left out at the pack house and Cale said that his parents didn't like something. It didn't make any sense, but for some reason he kept getting rejected.


His head was reeling, with everything going on. Sam thought he was a vampire, Gabe and Cale rejecting him. So openly too, it was like they didn't take his own feelings into account when they spoke. The more he thought about it he began to feel less sad but more angry,


He never did anything wrong, he was a good teammate, a dedicated player. He has done everything he could to get on Gabes good side and what does he have to show for that? Nothing, not one thing.


He had enough, he was done being the nice guy, done being walked on like a doormat. He was done being overlooked. He was just as good of a wolf as everyone else on the team. He could feel his anger deep in his bones. He was shaking with emotion, he could feel his fur start to prickle underneath his skin. He parked his car and breathed. He knew if he got too angry it would cause a partial shift. When that happens his senses get confused, he can't tell where the wolf and man separate and he wouldn't be able to control himself.


It was a known fact that having a partial shift was dangerous, only during times of high emotions and anger does that happen. Yes Ryan was angry but he could control it, he can walk into the rink tomorrow, play the game, and be as unbothered as he normally is.


As he got ready for bed Ryan decided that when he goes into the rink tomorrow, he was going to be alone, he had no one on his side anymore. Maybe Sam but he couldn't trust him as much anymore after their whole thing the other day. For the first time since being an Av, he knew deep in his heart that he was truly alone.


Walking into the rink the next day, Ryan felt like a different person. He could still feel his anger simmering under the surface but it was contained. He held his head up and walked through the hallways confidently. He passed by Colin who just looked at him with a raised eyebrow, but he didn't care, he knew that he was good and that the pack wasn't worth it anymore.


He sat in his stall and started to get ready, he saw everyone focused on the game ahead. Although the wolves in the room were more antsy, with the moon tonight they were all ready to shift, but they had a game to play first.


The game was against the Rangers, it wasn't the first time Ryan had played against his old team. He may not have been there long but he knew how they worked. He knew that this game wasn't going to be easy. However what he wasn't expecting was for Lemieux to start playing dirty, dirtier than normal.


The Avs were doing okay. The game had no score by the time the second period rolled around. However they kept taking penalties, stupid ones too. It was all because of Lemieux, he kept spewing insults at the team, calling them freaks saying that Belly and Sam were cheating somehow with their magic. He could see some of the guys start to get mad, himself included, he could already feel his canines start to grow. But he couldn't let it happen, if he was caught shifting on the ice, he’d get kicked out of the game and possibly suspended.


Then as the minutes were winding down, Ryan was sent over the boards, he was on the ice when JT scored. As he skated over to celebrate he felt someone grab him, it was Lemieux again. He started shaking him, calling him a freak, that no one wanted him on the ice, he kept talking and Ryan snapped.


He dropped his gloves and they started fighting each other, he couldn't tell what was going on around him, just that his opponent needed to be defeated. He felt someone grab him from behind but he shook them off. Lemieux got some hits but Ryan had the advantage, he knocked them down onto the ice, this time however the person from before pulled them apart. The refs were pushing them towards the penalty boxes when he broke free.


He didn't know what was happening, it was like he was looking at his body move without him. He was mad, all he could feel was his anger, he lunged for Lemieux again but this time EJ and Nate caught him, they pushed him onto the bench and down the hall.


He sat in his stall, breathing heavy, all he could see was red, he could hear growling but it didn't sound like his own, it was deeper, more rough. He could see EJ in front of him, his mouth was moving but he couldn't hear him.


All he could focus on was the feeling of hitting someone, how good it felt to just let his anger move him. 


He was thinking about the fight, he let his canines fall this time, he wanted to go back out there and finish what was started but was blocked in.


He was so focused that he didn't see Eriks had. But he felt it. Stunned he snapped out of whatever trance he was in and looked up.


Erik stood in front of him, seething, he never saw him so mad before.


Erik started to yell, he demanded to know what he was thinking. Why did he go after lemieux after they were pulled apart. Why was Ryan out there when he knew he shouldn't be? He wanted to know what was going through his head because he was going to get suspended for playing when going through a frenzy.


That got his attention, a frenzy? That's what Sam said when he thought Ryan was a vampire. He was about to ask what erik was talking about when a medical staffer came in, pulling a cart with him.


He opened the cart and began to pull out bags. They were about the size of a juice pouch with little labels on them. Ryan had seen them before, seen them for a few guys in New York, he knew they were blood bags.


He was confused, why did they need those, Erik wasn't a vampire, one didn't lose too much blood on the ice. He was going to ask when it dawned on him. The blood was for him, Erik and the staffer thought he was a vampire, that he went into a frenzy because he didn't drink enough before playing.


He couldn't believe it, for years he thought that the guys and staff knew he was a wolf but this was another intense where they were wrong.


The rest of the team started to file in, they were quiet, no one wanting to upset Ryan and risk being attacked. The staffer held out one of the pouches, he just stared at it.


“I don't need that.” he said


The staffer rolled his eyes, “Ryan, we all saw that, you need to drink it before you're allowed to leave.”


Shaking his head, “No, I don't need that, I've never needed that.”


“Ryan, please for us, please drink it.” that was gabe, he was being much quieter than normal.


“No, I’m telling you guys I don't need it, I’m sorry for losing it out there but I don't need blood.” he stood up and shoved through the guys.


“Sam, please tell them.” Sam looked up, startled.


“Gravy, I know what we talked about, but they don't, you don't understand,” he said, he was looking around the room like he was afraid.


“What?” he demanded, “What don't I understand!”


“They… they all think what I thought.” Sam trailed off.


Stunned, Ryan slowly looked around the room, “Excuse me, you guys all think… I can't believe this.”


“I thought we were friends, I thought we knew this stuff, why didn't any of you ask me?” 

“Gravy, bud,” Gabe again, “we are friends, we're teammates, just sit down, drink some, and explain.”


Fed up Ryan took a deep breath, he turned to Gabe, looked him dead in the eyes and said “I Ryan Graves, challenge you.”


The room fell silent once more.


“Excuse me?” Gabe said, shocked about what was happening.


Ryan only felt more angry, “I challenge you to a fight, I win, you let me in the pack, you win, I’ll request a trade and you never have to see me again.”


“Ryan, that isn't fair, that's not how it works.”


“I KNOW HOW IT WORKS! Are you going to accept or not?” Ryan knew he’d accept. A pack leader refusing a challenge was seen as weak, he could be removed as leader if he refused and he knew that.


“Okay, if that's what you want. Then tonight, my house, behind it is a field, meet me there.”


“Deal” he turned around and walked out of the locker room, deep down he knew that he made a mistake, but he had to do this. It was the only way to convince them he was a wolf, the only way he’d be able to get the guys to listen.


As he was walking he heard his name being called, it was Cale again.


“Ryan, you can't do this.”


“I have to, it's the only way.”


“It's not though, you can talk it out, please.”


“It’s too late Cale, I challenged him, I can't back down.”


“It won't be fair Ryan, a wolf versus a vampire, you'll get hurt, or worse.” Cale was desperate for Ryan to listen, but all his pleading just made him more determined.


“You all are worried for the wrong reason, there won't be a fight between a wolf and vampire, it'll be between wolves.”


“Ryan you're not making any sense, please stop this.”


“I have too Cale, I have to so everyone they were wrong.” he started walking again but was stopped by Cale. He had tears in his eyes.


“I know what I said but please, I care about you, where mates remember, please if not for yourself, for me? Please put a stop to this.”


“I can't Cale, it was bound to happen, and the time is now.” With that he pulled himself free of Cales grip and walked down. He could hear Cale yelling for him, begging him to stop but he couldn't, this is what he had to do.


Sometime later he found himself at Gabe's house. He could see inside there was a den filled with couches and blankets, a huge TV and more, it was the perfect place for a wolf pack, he may not be seeing it for a good reason, one he wanted. But he saw it nonetheless.


They stood in the field facing each other, Gabe and the pack behind him, some were already shifted and some were not, just in case they needed to call someone. Looking behind him he saw Same, the only person on the team who was on his side still.


He knew what this looked like to his teammates. A rouge player trying to fight his way to power. He knew he looked crazy and selfish but it was the only way.


“Are you sure you want to do this? Back down now and there won't be any repercussions I promise.” Gabe said, Cale was standing behind him, looking like he was ready to jump in.


Ryan narrowed his eyes, “I'm sure,” Then they shifted.


Gabe stood tall in his wolf form, a pale blonde wolf who was all muscle. Compared to Ryans wolf he had a much better chance at winning.


When Ryan shifted he knew all eyes were on him. Gabe stepped back, his eyes wide. Ryan stepped forward, his mouth turned down and growled. He was ready to pounce and start when a slightly smaller wolf jumped in front of gabe.


The wolf was a soft white, smaller but just as stocky. Without saying anything Ryan knew that this wolf was Cale. He knew that he couldn't bring harm to his mate so he stood up on all fours, watching and waiting for what was going to happen next.


Cale slid down to his stomach and slowly crawled towards him. He was whimpering a little, trying to appeal to Ryans softer side. When Cale reached him, he lowered his head and let Cale nuzzle his neck.


He heard movement from his front and snapped his head up. He saw Gabe had shifted back into human form. His eyes still wide, he lifted a hand to his mouth in disbelief. He mentioned for the others to go inside. He walked towards them, just before he got there Ryan growled, he didn't want Gabe anywhere near him and his mate.


At this point his wolf had completely taken over, he just wanted to protect Cale.


Gabe raised his hands in surrender and said, “Ryan, I… I didn't know, I'm sorry. Can you please shift back so we can talk, please.”


He really didn't want to, he wanted to stay a wolf and protect Cale, because as a wolf Cale wanted him, but as a human Cale didn't. Gabe asked again, and Ryan reluctantly shifted back into human form.


“I am so sorry Ryan, I didn't know”


“You never asked, I thought you didn't want me.” He admitted, looking down at the wolf still at his feet.


“I spent years thinking I did something wrong, that you didn't want me. Why didn't you ask?”


“We all thought… we had no right to assume, but”


Ryan cut him off, “Correct, you had NO right, but you still did.”


“I know, and I can't take that back, please come inside we'll talk more.”


He felt Cale move, he looked down as he shifted back, Cale looked upset again. He grabbed his hand and brought the other to his face.


“Ryan, I'm so sorry, I was awful to you without any reason, i'm sorry”


Ryan wiped away his tears and stood up, he pulled Cale up with him.


He turned to Gabe, “We can talk, but that doesn't make anything okay.”


“I know, but it's a start right?”


Ryan looked at Cale then back to the house where everyone was looking out at them. He knew that it was going to take time for things to settle. It was going to take time for him to forgive the team and pack.


But, looking at Gabe and his sorry expression he knew that it could happen.


Taking Cale's hand, he nodded, Gabe smiled and started walking back to the house.


Ryan followed, pulling Cale with him, he looked down and smiled. 

He had finally found his pack.