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Run With Me (IC)

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Every month Thomas went through this cycle. Every month there was a full moon, and every month a few days before it rose he would begin to feel it. The strange sensation of Wolf pulling at his consciousness. There were other times he could feel it as well, but only at the full moon did wolf know he would be let out. That knowledge made him more insistent, more powerful. In a few days, Thomas would be forced to give in to the animal within him. Then, for one night, Wolf would be totally free. But before that, he - they would have to deal with the pack.

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Finally, the day came. Work was terrible, insufferable. He was lucky he had gotten the day shift. Lord only knew what he would be like tonight.

At five PM, Thomas left Morley's tavern. Conveniently, the bar was located in the West End, the same section of the city as the pack house. That much was a welcome relief, as Thomas did not own a car and would be walking there.

The whole day he had felt standoff-ish, and prickly. He knew that feeling would only worsen. He knew the process well. Eventually he would slip into a short temper, and general unpleasantness. All because of Wolf. All of it would eventually end close to midnight, when he finally let Wolf run free.

Thomas could not wait.

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The air grew colder as Thomas made his way through the West End. He barely noticed the change as he walked into the orange of the setting sun, the growing furry feeling in his chest keeping him plenty warm. In an effort to relax himself as he walked, he turned his thoughts to things other than the moon and his inevitable change.

Thomas searched for something else to think about. Instantly, the image of Mia's face swam into his head.

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Thomas was no giant, but Mia was still shorter than he was. He could see the way her brown hair seemed to glow softly whenever it caught the light. He could see her unsettling, defiant, blue-eyed stare. If there was ever an appropriate application for the word infatuation, this was it.

Thomas had been a Lycanthrope for just over two years now. Mia Carlyle had been bitten shortly after he was, and had sported the condition for just under two years. By default, that would place Thomas just above her in the pack's pecking order. As neither of them had done terribly much to earn their way up the totem pole that is where they had stayed.

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Lycanthropy did strange things to a person's sex drive. The short explanation is that it supercharged it. Male or Female, Lycanthropes craved physical contact. The more intimate, the better. Especially on the night of the full moon.

Being one of the newer wolves in the pack for the last two years had essentially reduced him to the play-thing of the higher ranking female wolves. Everyone in the pack knew what the phrase, "Run with me," meant. It was a euphemism, essentially ordering the submissive pack member to mate with the individual for the night. It could have a slightly different meaning depending on the use of body language and tone, but it never failed to get the speaker's meaning across.

Pack society tended to be rather communal. Very few of the pack members actually picked mates. The rest simply traded, or stayed with different partners from month to month. As low man on the totem pole, Thomas was all but at the mercy of the "older" females, as the higher ranking wolves picked their mates first. But it was better than not getting a mate for the night. That was worse than being the last kid picked for kickball.

Truthfully, pack meetings weren't something to look forward to for Thomas, but they weren't the worst thing that could happen to him.

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Finally, Thomas stood before the pack's house. It belonged to the alphas, Jack and Arianna, and served as the meeting place for the whole pack on full moon nights. The pack would gather briefly here before filing into various cars, and retreating to their cabin in the forest where the night would truly begin. It was at this house that a lot of the pack squabbles and grand standing occurred. Thomas silently stood before the house, preparing himself to enter.

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Outside the house, the scent of Lycanthropes was strong. However it was nothing compared to the musk within. Thomas entered through the front door, and the smell hit him like a smack in the face. Though it was a welcoming smell, it did nothing to help him keep Wolf inside him.

The living room was bustling with people. It always amazed him how they could cram over thirty people into the same room. It reminded him of a crowded college frat party.

As Thomas took a seat on one of the couches, he remembered how much fun he'd had at those parties.

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Two brown couches lay at a right angle to each other in the center of the room. They surrounded a small coffee table in the center, and a TV in the corner of the room. At the end of one couch was a small waist high book shelf which held various decorations. At the end of the other couch was the front door.

Mia sat the other couch which lay at a right angle to Thomas' couch. She had a sour look on her face like she was somewhere she didn't want to be. As it happened, her face betrayed her thoughts almost word for word. She hated full moon nights, and she hated being a werewolf. Her facial expression continued to sour as a few of the older wolves paraded around the room doing their stupid little mating ritual.

For most Lycanthropes, the person and the animal were in tune with each others feelings. the animals represented some of the person's deepest desires. Even if they didn't want to admit it. Mia was no exception. At that moment, her wolf was just as unhappy as she was, squirming in that seat on the couch.

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She looks so sad, Thomas thought as he looked at her. But it didn't matter. According to him, she was downright good looking, even without a smile on her face. One of these days he'd have the chance to ask her to run with him. Maybe then she would smile.

That was another one of the differences between Thomas and the rest of his pack. Most of them thought of it as telling someone to run with them. He thought of it as asking.

Most of the higher ranked girls in the pack had picked, or been picked for the night. Thomas' wolf was getting edgy. Thomas couldn't help but agree. He had no intention of spending the night alone. Thomas was busy mustering up his courage, when the front door opened. A late arrival.

It was Steve.

Thomas hated Steve.

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Thomas had gotten used to a lot of the ways his pack worked, but he'd never gotten used to Steve. About a year and a half ago, Thomas had found out that Steve had been the one that had bitten him. Steve, being the asshole that he was, had had the gall to break Thomas the news while he was pulling rank. Needless to say, Thomas' blood still boiled whenever he saw Steve.

Thomas bit down hard on Wolf who was desperately trying to claw his way out. Wolf wanted a shot at Steve. Wolf wanted it bad.

Bite. Snap. Tear.

That wasn't the problem. Inter-pack squabbles was a lot of the way the pack determined the pecking order. But Steve was an older wolf. Much older. The problem was that Thomas wasn't sure he could win.

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Ignore him, Thomas decided. He's not worth it. That calmed wolf down a little. Then before Thomas knew it, he was on his feet. Thomas couldn't figure out why he was crossing the room. He couldn't figure out why he was now standing in front of Mia. Thomas cursed Wolf for putting him on the spot. But he couldn't deny, this was something he wanted.

"Mia," she looked up at him. Her expression was plain, and a little bit puzzled. She sat back on the couch looking up at him with her arms at her sides. A wolf on it's back was a sign of submission. She was putting herself at his mercy, and the puzzled look on her face begged him to ask it, to demand it.

"Run with me." he told her.

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For a second Mia actually gave a relieved smile. But it quickly faded. Even if she hadn't glanced over his shoulder, he'd have known something was there. The hairs on the back of Thomas' neck stood on end, like the hackles on a wolf. Deep down inside, Wolf wanted to give a quick turn and snap at whoever was there. Thomas forced himself to calm down and take a breath. He could smell him.

Steve.

Thomas hated Steve.

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"Forget this chump, Mia. Run with me instead." Steve gave her a look that had none of the respect Thomas' look had. Thomas had to respect her as an equal. Steve could order her around without worry or hesitation.

"@#$% you, Steve. You were late. You missed your chance." Thomas turned towards the man and puffed out his chest before he knew what he was doing. He stared into Steve's face, hating every part of it. Thomas hated his bright blue eyes and his bleached blond hair that should have been brown. Thomas hated everything about this privileged white boy, right down to his green American Eagle polo shirt.

"Thomas, I'm shocked." Steve feigned sounding hurt, "I think you're forgetting that I outrank you." His body language begged Thomas to try him.

In for a penny, in for a pound. Thomas thought. "@#$% off, Steve." There was the challenge. There was no going back now, "She's mine," Thomas growled.

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For a split second, everything seemed to slow down. He was suddenly acutely aware of everyone else in the room. They were watching him. Waiting to see what happened next.

When he turned his attention back to Steve, he only saw Steve's fist. The punch hit him hard and Thomas stumbled backward into the waist high bookshelf along the wall. The impact knocked some of the decorations askew. As Thomas' vision blurred he briefly hoped he hadn't broken anything. He could feel Wolf working his way out. It felt like he was climbing out through his throat. Seeing only in black and white, Thomas managed to hold himself together. He threw himself forward, straight at Steve.

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Something tugged at Thomas' arm and pulled him around in a circle. Thomas was thrown straight back into the bookshelf and the wall. He looked up to see what had thrown him. Certainly not Steve. He wasn't that fast. Or strong.

Thomas found himself staring straight into the eyes of the pack's Alpha Male, Jack. That was not a good thing.

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Jack's gaze was stern. And it was fixed straight on Thomas. More than any other wolf in the room, Jack was THE wolf not to be argued with. "You know the rules, Thomas. Not fighting until we reach the forest. It's so we can keep people safe. You of all people should want that."

Jack was one of the few people who knew about the secret life Thomas led at night. Thomas had to admit, Jack was right.

Thomas, Steve, and Mia would all be kept in separate parts of the house. In a few minutes, they would pile into separate cars, and drive to the pack's house in the woods.

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Thomas stood behind the small cabin in the woods. Ten feet away stood Steve. The rest of the pack including Mia had gathered on the small deck behind the house to watch the fight. "There's still time to back down, Thomas. Why don't you run away with your tail between your legs?" Steve asked.

"You would like that. But I think I will decline, thank you." Thomas pulled the white wife beater over his head. It was nearly time.

Run. Fight. Claw. Wolf was anxious. He wanted this, and Thomas was not about to stop him. Thomas had been waiting for a shot at Steve for a year and a half now. Though the actual bite he'd received on the leg had healed up fast, in many ways, the wound and bad blood had continued to fester. Thomas could already feel the fur growing on his back as he kicked off his boots.

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Steve, too, was stripping his clothes off. God forbid he ruin his designer clothes. Thomas thought, as he finally managed to extract himself from his jeans and was now on all fours. He felt his skin begin to change. Like it was sliding beneath the fur, almost like the earth's tectonic plates. Bones rearranged themselves. His hands became paws. His fingers became claws. Finally, after several agonizing moments, his change was finally complete and Wolf was finally free.

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Eyes that saw only black and white stared straight into the murky darkness of the forest. To his left, his pack was assembled, watching him. they remained as not-wolves, but Wolf knew their scent. They were family, and they were watching him change. Wolf was the first to change. It was an honor usually reserved for the Alphas, and it made wolf proud. Wolf's eyes peered through the darkness. In front of him, there was another. He knew that scent too. He didn't like that wolf. A low growl escaped Wolf's throat. The challenge was issued. It was finally time.

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Other Wolf hit him hard. Other Wolf was bigger. Other Wolf was older, more confident, and its bite was painful. Wolf shook the jaws off of its shoulder. Other Wolf retreated and circled slowly. Wolf ignored the wound, even as some of it began to knit back together. Wolf launched an attack of its own, but Other Wolf was fast, dashing out of the way of Wolf's leaping strike. Not seconds after wolf's paws touched ground, Other Wolf tackled him from the side. Now beneath Other Wolf, more base emotions began to set in and take over. Fear threatened to dominate, but anger worked its way forward. Other wolf was an enemy. Other Wolf had done bad things, insulting, hurting, and threatening Wolf. As Other Wolf went to close its fangs over Wolf's neck, Other Wolf got a large paw in the face. Claws raked across fur, leaving bloody lines, one scratch running right across an eye. Other Wolf darted away wincing. Wolf rolled to his paws and began stalking once more.

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[groove]21064225[/groove]

Wolf prowled to Other Wolf's now weak side. Wolf knew it had struck a powerful blow. Wolf knew to take advantage of it. Wolf leaped through the air. Other Wolf had to turn its head toward the sound before it could do anything else. By the time it saw Wolf coming it was already too late. Fur crashed together. Claws and teeth were everywhere Wolf had the element of surprise, but Other Wolf was still stronger.

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Wolf broke off the attack. He was in pain. Wolf smelled blood. It belong to both him and Other Wolf. Some of his blood still dripping on the ground from cuts, Wolf went to move. Wolf's right front paw would not obey. Something was wrong. Wolf could not hope to fight off Other Wolf while limping.

Wolf stared through the murky darkness at Other Wolf, unable to move. If Other Wolf attacked now, he would be finished, possibly even seriously injured. But Wolf was not about to back down.

Precious seconds passed. Then suddenly Other Wolf laid down. It was over. Other Wolf had submitted. Wolf had won.

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Normally the Alpha's Changed first. But when there was a fight over a mate, the combatants had this honor. Once the fight was decided, the mate would change and go to the winner.

One of the not wolves on the deck walked down the steps. It was the not wolf with brown hair and blue eyes. It was Wolf's mate. The not wolf removed its second skin and got down on all fours. The change came quickly. Skin slid into fur, bones and muscles rearranged. Seconds later, the change was complete. Mate approached wolf, who stared blankly, fighting off the pain. Wolf panted, tongue lolling out. Mate began licking Wolf's wounds. The touch felt good, like a mother's caress. Even as he stood panting, Wolf felt his body begin pulling the shoulder joint of his right front leg back into the socket. Bones ground against each other as the healing process commenced. Wolf licked Mate's snout. A kind gesture, a thank you. The touch told Mate, "I will be okay."

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One by one, the other not wolves began removing their second skins. After their changes, they encircled Wolf. He had fought and clawed his way to a higher rank in the pack. Tonight he was top dog. Tonight the honor of the hunt and the kill was his. Tonight the Alphas bowed to him.

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Wolf ran through the murky darkness of the forest. Mate and his pack were at his heels.

They chased a deer. It was fast. So was the Pack. It was quick. The Pack was many.

The deer burst into a small clearing. Several wolves followed it. The deer made a break for the other edge of the small clearing. It stopped short. A dozen glowing eyes stared at it from the treeline.

Wolf holed. Deer turned, half facing him. Wolf pounced, and was suddenly at Deer's neck.

The pack feasted. Wolf and Mate got first pick of the meat.

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