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Aug 08, 2020 8:06 AM
an unusual recruitment (Starr Twins and the Alpha Pack in Nemeton)
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Deucalion steps aside. Through their bond, he conveys his pride in Alexei.

He steps inside to tend to Jamie. He, like any alpha worth his salt, can do more than take away pain: he can heal.

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He watches Deucalion approach, tired and more than a little hostile. He- can't keep it up, though. Literally, without Alex's support he sinks back down to the bed, shaking a little from the effort of holding himself up for so long, his eyes going half-lidded and the anger draining out. Alex has more than enough for both of them right now, a burning inferno on the other end of the bond.

"...This is what you wanted, isn't it?"

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"I would have accepted it if it went the other way. He would have learned, eventually, how dangerous compassion and idealism can be. I am sorry it happened this way- his recovery will be slow, but he will heal."

If he's lying, James can't rely on his scent or heartbeat to find out. He'll just have to trust his instincts.

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"I knew it was dangerous, letting him have that. That's Alex, though. Caring about people, wanting the world to be better- Davin took so much from us, I didn't want to let him take that, too. I thought, as long as he had me, I could do what he couldn't. That's the point of me."

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"He needed to learn this lesson. I can promise you that he'll thank us for it in the long run. You know your brother, but I know what it feels like to have that worldview shattered- and I know how he can climb out of this pit of despair. I've done it myself."

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"Don't want thanks," he mumbles, "Want him to be safe and strong and - free..." he trails off. He's so tired...

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"Just rest now, Mr. Starr. You have a new pack now, and we plan to take much better care of you than your last one did."

He can probably pick him up, unless he resists. He moves slowly, giving James plenty of time to insist on walking if he'd rather cling to false pride.

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If Jamie ever had any sort of 'pride', it's long left him by now. He doesn't make any attempt to walk, though he does tense more than a bit, watching Deucalion warily through slitted, bleary eyes. 

Not that there's anything he could do if he decided to hurt him, but...

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He carries him. The remaining betas may try to attack, if they wish. He wouldn't advise it, but they won't be asking for his opinion.

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The tenseness continues for a few moments... and then he relaxes, curling into Deucalion's arms and pressing his face against his shoulder. 

He rests. 

 

As he does, he dreams. 

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He works his way through the - his? - betas in something of a fugue. His anger is so powerful he's passed fury to a state that has more in common with serenity than ire. He doesn't, actually, start with Archer - the man who sold them out to Davin. He runs into other betas while tracking him down, and, well, they're all fair game. 

He gets to him eventually, though. He, or one of the other two alphas working with him, get to all of them, eventually. 

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Eventually, someone goes down, and he can't hear any other targets. He stands over the body, vibrating with energy, craning his ears and sniffing the air for any sign of anyone else. There's no one.

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It's then that Ennis approaches. He smells different- but clearly like pack.

"Time to go, Starr."

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-the betas smelled like pack, too. Sort of. There is something different about this one, though. He sniffs at the air again, making a low noise of confusion, and steps towards him. If Ennis lets him he's going to get right up in his space, actually. 

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Pack- but not- pack means an alpha and betas, that's familiar. This is- something else. Still pack, but- not. Pack, but more. There's not the trust bound up in giving yourself over to control- that's what pack means- they're both alphas. The only trust here comes from this. The choice. The delicate balance of power, the familiarity with each other- knowing that they are traitors to their instincts, to their nature- Ennis smells wrong to him in the same way Deucalion and Kali do.

That's not a werewolf; that's something else. Something like him.

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Like him. Oh. 

He looks around them, taking in the carnage, slowly coming back to himself. Oh. 

 

Oh god.

"I-" he stops. His eyes catch on a nearby body- Lyle Eaton, he remembers him beckoning them into his house, several times last year, before he was caught and the kindness stopped- he remembers killing him, remembers the way his flesh gave way to his claws when he teared into his chest with strength greater than even an alpha has right to-

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He looks down at himself - he's covered in blood, hands and chest and throat, remains of his clothes splattered and soaked with it. His face feels sticky with it, and he's sure it's in his hair as well, and now that he's noticed it he can't smell anything but, he can taste it in his mouth-

He lets out a choked, horrified sound, staggering back from Ennis. He trips, losing his footing, and falls next to another body - he doesn't want to look but he can't stop himself, he doesn't know this one's name but he remembers her too, she never looked at them but she never hurt them, either, and he killed her- she was trying to run-

-here, a former Esche who couldn't bear to look at what had become of Lyra's sons, his throat torn open by Alex's teeth- 

-there, one of the betas who hunted Alex when Davin had Jamie, Alex hated him so much, thought he deserved death, but who is he to decide who deserves anything when he's killed so many who didn't-

-she gave Jamie a sketchpad once, in the early days, before she went a step too far out of line and Davin took her. She came out different, vicious, loyal to the one who broke and remade her, she'd gone for his throat when she saw the red in his eyes, so he'd returned the favour- Jamie still has that sketchpad, the drawing of Emilie's smiling face on the first page-

 

-he thinks of Jamie, thinks was it worth it?! Was it?! But how can he ask that, when the other choice was their lives, how could he even think that it would have been worth it to trade his brother's life for all of these- Jamie would never have hesitated, Jamie didn't hesitate when the choice was put before him, and he loves his brother just as much as his brother loves him, he knows, he has the bond as evidence, how could he have done anything less?

 

He's become a monster to save his brother, but it was worth it, right? It was. 

It has to have been. 

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His pack is here for him.

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He... appreciates it. 

"...Where's my brother," he asks distantly, voice quiet. 

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"With Deucalion. Come. It's time to go."

He crouches on all fours, prepared to run. They have places to be.

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...Alex follows. 

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They regroup. It's not hard to find an elderly person living alone. They acquire the house.

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Deucalion brings Jamie most of the way there himself, although he stops running as soon as he senses Ennis.

"Walk the rest of the way. You have not fully healed, so Kali will respect that. You want to court her respect rather than the alternative."

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The change in Deucalion's movements had woken him, and he blinks around, disoriented, taking a long moment to process his words. Wasn't he just- was that a dream? Did he just dream Alex' memories? That's never happened before. And the contents - he'd known, intellectually, what he was doing, riling Alex up and sending him off like that, but actually seeing it- feeling what he'd felt- 

Jamie has a lot of practice at forcing himself to do things while in emotional turmoil and physical pain. Despite his whirling thoughts, the rising guilt, and his injuries, he slips out of Deucalion's arms and manages to stand fairly steadily. 

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-Ennis and Alex arrive, at about this time. They're just a bit slower than Deucalion.

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