In the months that Fate took to recover, I was doing a little healing of my own. After spending nearly a week chasing away my thoughts with alcohol, I finally did admit that I had a problem; I’d just never thought of it like that before. I’d never had someone to point it out until Line came along and told me over and over until it finally sunk in.
I came up with cover stories that were close enough to the truth that I could maybe get myself back together. I’d be locked away if I told them I’d been alive for three centuries, drinking myself into oblivion. Next, I joined a local AA group, and joined Fate at the therapist’s.
I had a few slip ups.
Okay, I had a lot of slip ups. Most people at AA had only been drinking a few years, a few decades at most. My habit was going to be the hardest to break.
Line was a fucking star through everything that Fate and I had to throw at him. I realised that trying to get my head back together at the same time as Fate wasn’t going to be easy on him. I felt kind of bad for him. But then it would’ve only been worse if I’d still been a mess for the whole thing. He looked after Fate and made sure I went to therapy and the AA meetings. I couldn’t have gotten as far as I have without him. He deserves a medal.
When I couldn’t talk about what was in my head, I wrote in a journal, or tried to busy myself with something therapeutic like my music. I gave myself reasons not to drink: Gabriel would be mad, Line’s having a bad day already so I won’t add to his problems, Line doesn’t deserve this sort of shit from me, Annie would be upset if she could see how much like dad I was these days. If I was on a walk whose route involved going to a bar, I’d end up seeing one of them in my mind’s eye, telling me there were better ways of dealing with what was inside of my head. They would re-plan my walk and take me away from the bar.
After what happened with Theo, I avoided going to the forest alone. I didn’t think he was stupid enough to try something like that again, but honestly, the guy was kinda scary these days. Maybe he was always threatening and I just didn’t notice before. Either way, the forest and getting anywhere near him were no go areas, as far as I was concerned.
If anyone noticed my sudden aversion to both Theo and the forest, no one really said much. Line asked if I was okay, pushing it when he figured I was lying. I just told him the whole alcohol withdrawal thing was making me edgy.
A couple months after Fate left, Lucky decided it was time for him to go too. He thanked me and Line for letting him stay so long, but according to him, it was time to leave the two of us to our own devices. He had gotten himself this normal, human job, working in a factory somewhere out of town and mostly used that as his reason for moving. I think it probably had quite a lot to do with the loud gay sex coming from across the landing that swung the final decision. Line seemed to accept that he had to move on, even if he did look a little upset.
With no one around to distract Line and I from each other, not that much actually changed, at least not outwardly. We were maybe a little more affectionate around each other without having to worry about whether our pet homophobe was around. But that was about it. Inside my head, it was a little different, though. When it was a full moon, I found all these bonding instincts surfacing; I couldn’t bring myself to leave his side, if we moved I had to be touching him in some way, we would groom each other more than usual. There had been a few more incidences where we’d had to spend a full moon away from the pack, where I felt even more need to be close to him. It was like we were building up to a mating season, the way we behaved in our wolf forms. My guess is that if I was a girl, I’d have a few pups running around by now.
All my antics seemed to do was amuse Line and give him fuel for teasing me. He’d make comments like ‘how're the pups?’, ‘do you need a foot rub?’, ‘how's mommy today?’. I’d pout and playfully hit him, and that would be about it.
We still only referred to our relationship the way a human would, as us being just boyfriends. It took a few more months for me to be brave enough to bring up the subject of mating. I’d wanted to bring it up sooner than I had, but after being burned the way I had before, I felt almost reckless by bringing it up so quickly. Especially over dinner one night. Just like it was casual conversation, no big deal or anything. I still hadn’t quite gotten over the evil feeling in the back of my mind that the moment we’d mated Line would tuck his tail between his legs and run for the hills, or someone that was better for him than I was. In my head, it wasn’t an irrational thought at all. I still wasn’t sober. I wasn’t drinking every day, or even every week, but I fell off the wagon more than I’d expected someone that was nearly a year into Alcoholics Anonymous and therapy for all my many, many demons would.
Line just gave me this amused face: “I wondered when you’d bring it up.”
“You did?” I asked, surprised the thought had even crossed his mind. Maybe it was all the wolf bonding stuff I’d been forcing upon him lately. He nodded and I nibbled on my dinner, my appetite vanishing in the wake of my anticipation as I asked him what he thought of it.
"I'd be honoured to be your mate,” he smiled.
"Really?" I was genuinely surprised, because y’know, I still wasn’t convinced I was worth his effort, even after all this time. He nodded and my face probably lit up like a kid that’s just discovered Easter, their birthday and Christmas have all arrived at once. I thanked him with a kiss, abandoning my dinner in favour of fucking his brains out, right there in the kitchen. Not having Lucky around certainly had its advantages.