I’m not sure how much time passed. Enough for me to drink the cabinets downstairs dry, but it wasn’t enough. It was dark when I had had enough of this stupid human form. I didn’t care how much it hurt to change, I just needed to stop being human for a while. I put a collar loosely around my neck and undressed, forcing my wolf out. The collar was just so people wouldn’t bother me in the streets when I went out for a walk.
I picked up a pair of jeans and took a route of back alleys and side streets to get to the pack house. I wanted to talk to Line, but I wanted to stay in my wolf form and curl up somewhere away from everyone. I settled for jumping over their garden fence and curling up in the corner somewhere until I was noticed.
I heard someone come out of the house, their footsteps padding softly in the grass until they reached me where I was.
“Lazarus?” I heard Line’s voice above me, sounding a little confused. I just stared at the fence. “What's wrong?" I just sort of looked up at him, not sure I ever wanted to leave my wolf form again. His face was concerned, but I just let my head fall back down on my paws. I felt his hand stroking my head, noticing he’d sat down with me. "What is it?"
It took a while, but eventually, I convinced myself to change back. “Fate's left me," I muttered, curling back up.
"What?" he sounded shocked. "Why?"
"I don't really know. He said it was something Brody said to him, but it doesn't make any sense."
"Brody?" Line frowned a little, "I thought he was history."
"He will be if I ever see him again," I promised.
"With Brody. He left me for Brody, Line.” I was offered a hug, which I took gratefully, feeling his arms tighten around me a little when he didn’t know what else to say. I didn’t mind, I just put my head on his shoulder, feeling very lost and unsure of myself. He took me inside and sat me down with a warm drink and a blanket in the kitchen, bringing the jeans I’d forgotten about. I just sort of looked at them when he put them down on the table in front of me and he planted a kiss on my forehead. I put my head down on the table, using the jeans as a pillow.
"Try and get some sleep," Line suggested.
"I don't want to sleep," I mumbled into the denim.
"I know, but it'll do you good."
"It won't." He fell silent after that, apparently not knowing what else to suggest. "I don't sleep well without him,” I tried to explain. Without him here, my nights would be filled with falling again. That in itself was almost as painful as losing him to my friend. It had taken me three hundred years to find someone else capable of stopping that dream and now he was gone.
He ran a hand through my hair. "Just try anyway. I need to speak to Gen."
“I think you know why.”
“I want to come.” I already knew what she was going to say, but it was better than sitting on my own trying not to fall asleep. He didn’t look like he thought it was a good idea, but he let me anyway. I pulled the jeans on, mostly for Gen’s sake than anyone else’s and followed him to the baby’s room where Gen was sat feeding him. Line knocked on the door and opened it when she told us to come in. Gen smiled up at us, one hand cradling her baby, the other holding a bottle for him. I only half listened as Line informed Gen that he had ‘interesting news about Fate’ before repeating to her what I’d told him. I looked away from her baby when I noticed she was wearing a displeased face.
I watched her as she sighed a little. "He knows the punishment." Line nodded and Gen looked over at me. "I'm sorry, Lazarus. I'd thought he was better than that."
"I'm more bothered that he left me for someone I considered a friend,” I told her, trying to hide that my voice was totally void of any emotion. Gen put the baby in the crib and his bottle on the side before offering me a hug. It was all motherly and warm and certainly a lot better than a blanket.
"He's an idiot for leaving you," she told me.
"Yeah, well I don't have fangs, so I guess I should've seen it coming,” that time, the tiniest hint of bitterness coloured my voice. She planted a motherly kiss on my head.
"You're better off without him."
"Harsh words for a member of your family," I muttered.
"He isn't family anymore."
I closed my eyes for a long moment. "He was long enough, though."
She nodded. "Which is what makes it worse."
I sighed a little. “He made a mistake and he'll pay the price for it, but don't be cruel about him.” She sort of nodded as I shuffled back over to where Line was stood, holding the blanket tightly around me like a sort of shield or cocoon
"You're welcome to stay here," she offered.
"Thank you. I might take you up on that for a while at least.” She nodded and I was quietly grateful. She asked me if I wanted to hold the baby and I nodded. I could at least babysit for them if I was useful for nothing else for the next few days. She picked him up and handed him over to me. It was like riding a bike – my paternal instinct had never left me, apparently. I remembered how to hold him properly, supporting his little head while I cradled him with both arms. Gen watched me with a smile that grew wider when I mumbled a compliment about him.
"I could babysit for you, if you wanted,” I said quietly. It’d give me something to do, someone to look after.
"Sure. Not that we ever go out much, but thanks,” she laughed.
I shrugged, "I'm good with kids. I've had enough of my own to know how to look after one," I smiled a little.
"You have kids?"
I nodded. "The sex was always an accident but I made sure I stuck around to look after them." Accidental sex was the only sex I’d ever had with women. I definitely prefer men. Another smile lifted her lips. "My youngest two live in the next town over with my old pack."
"How old are they?”
"Mid twenties, I suppose. They were about fifteen when I was kicked out of the pack."
"That's older than I was expecting,” she let out a chuckle.
"Really?" I questioned. "How old were you expecting them to be?"
"Maybe like eight or something."
I shook my head, "I was on my own for a couple of years before I found Brody as a newborn, and then I was him with ten or eleven years before he met Fate,” I mumbled, earning a sort of nod. "I wouldn't mind having kids again, but it takes a lot to get me in bed with a woman," I let out a tiny noise that could almost pass for a laugh, and Gen managed proper laughter of her own.
"You could always try artificial insemination?"
"I could,” I flashed her a tiny smile that she returned with a full one.
"Maybe when I have someone else to help out. I'm not sure single parenthood is for me," another one of those tiny laughing noises escaped me. I wasn’t sure what to make of them.
"That's understandable,” she smiled. I looked down at the baby, handing him back over after a moment.
“Here, take him back before I get too attached.” It made her laugh, but she underestimated how much I like having someone around to look after. I kind of wondered how she could keep smiling even though Fate had left us all for a vampire. I know I was his mate, but they all knew him a lot longer than I did. I pulled the blanket back around myself, excusing myself to go sit outside and smoke.