He'd always been the quiet one. Growing up with six sisters (three of whom inexplicably hated him) and five brothers (again, three really hated his guts) he'd had more than his fair share of noise and bickering. Since he was the only one that would listen, his parent explained about their Hybrid status. Six of the kids took after their dad in that they were a lot like vampire in their habits and demeanour. The others were a lot like wolves, Pack ranking and everything. They even took to calling their parents Alpha (William resisted this). It explained why the house constantly rang with arguments between someone. Whenever his siblings started World War Lost Count By Now, he always retreated to the library and read. Legends, myths, history, anything like that. He loved the library since it was the only room in the house that didn't look like a bomb had hit.
His siblings mocked him at first, then retreated into a wary respect as he grew into a fiercely intelligent silverback wolf. Their mother said that it was a blessing in her Pack to be born silver. That it was a sign of the Moon's blessing and future greatness. William, or GreyWolf and he later became known, didn't really care for the glory of Alpha, unlike Jackson or Daniel (both of whom acted like they were already Alphas). He liked the idea of just telling stories to pups around the fire or quiet study of the history of the War, maybe to find the origins (now buried in time) or a way to stop them even. His father encouraged him in his studies, saying that it was nice that at least one of his sons didn't take after their warrior mother quite so much.
When his time came, he left the mountain home that he had grown to love and made his way out into the world. He travelled everywhere he could think of, frequently just picking up an atlas and stabbing a finger at the index. He never once drifted out of touch with his siblings though and when, after nearly a hundred years of travel (they were in what equated to their early twenties by then) the siblings reunited.
Predictably, Daniel was already with a wolf mate, who had given birth to a large litter of pups. He was glowing with pride over his little pack, boasting that one of the pups was the spit of Father. Lyra had settled with a vampire mate and looked as though she would soon be starting her own pack. She was a little frosty (as was her way) but it seemed as though her mate had been a good influence on her, as she was far more tolerant than before. However, it was Clara, with her own wolfmate and the sibling that William had been closest to, that brought the biggest news with her.
Jackson had been conspicuously absent as they had reunited, got to know mates and generally talked. The years had served to reduce their flaming wars to little more than amusing anecdotes and sheathed claws but when Clara, who had called the gathering, entered, they all quietened down. She looked pale and drawn and her mate had a sombre look about him.
William rose from where he had been getting to know Lyra's mate and went to her.
"Clara, what is it?"
She looked up at him, sea blue eyes that were a perfect mid-point in colour to their parents'.
"Jackson has been murdered."
Her voice was so quiet, but it cut through everything like a scream. The silence was the most profound that William had ever experienced in his life-something that stayed with him to the end of his days.
Disbelief, shock and a hundred questions flashed between us, as we shared the Pack telepathy of the werewolves. The wolf mates flinched a little at the onslaught whereas the vampires looked even paler than usual, as though bleached.
William stood on a chair and whistled loudly. He quickly jumped down when everyone looked at him, still adverse to a lot of attention.
"Maybe we should let Clara explain." His voice held a calm kind of authority that spoke to wisdom far beyond his years, even to the Hybrids. Unconciously, the wolves dipped their heads-a sign of respect to an Alpha.
Clara looked to him in gratitude and explained.
"He got involved in the War. He tried to bring two packs together but instead caused them both to hate him and one of the vampires killed him. His mate had to run to warn their pups and they've gone into hiding. The two packs are hunting her now."
This caused almost as much of a furore as her first announcement (William never forgot this either... though he rarely forgot anything) and the room suddenly divided. The room filled with growling and snarling from both sides. For the second time in his life, William stood on a chair and whistled to draw attention to himself.
"Fighting between ourselves won't bring Jackson back. We need to find his mate and the rest of his Pack before the War does. They're as much family as anyone else and we're not going to abandon them."
Again, there was a scattering of dipped heads and nodding as they listened to him.
"I don't care what you say, Wil, I'm going to rip the motherfuckers to pieces." Daniel snarled.
His sentiments were echoed across the room, with even Clara showing a glimmer of bloodlust.
"We need to make Jackson's Pack the priority. Also, chances are, they now know about us. Hybrids. They might hunt us too, to stop doing exactly what Daniel is talking about."
That silenced some and caused a babble from others.
"I won't put my pups in danger." Lyra declared stridently from the back of the room. She flung her hair back defiantly. "I'm not abandoning my pack."
Others voice similar sentiments, some mates even joining in when Clara piped up. "Wil isn't asking that. No one expects you to leave your pups or families. But Damon, Jay, Rose, you're all still lone. We won't ask you to abandon Packs or mates but we need you."
"You can count me in." Daniel growled. "Amber is fierce enough to protect our young 'uns and I'll call Jaden in to help her." Jaden was his first born son, strong and warrior-like, just like Daniel.
A couple of others nodded their assent, forming a group of maybe five or six. The others threw in support in other areas, for once united to avenge their brother. Along with the lones and Daniel, Lyra's mate, Owen joined William in the group. No one questioned Lyra when she said that she could handle herself, even when she was with pups.
They moved in human form mostly, out of respect for Craig's lack of shifting ability, but soon, William and Rose (inclined towards her wolfish nature, curiously very much a hippie-albeit one that enjoyed a good fight and steak) took position as scouts, running ahead in wolf form in an attempt to gather yet more information.
When eventually they managed to track down Jackson's Pack, they learnt the whereabouts of the single member that had killed Jackson.
"Daniel, we're all well aware of your desire to kill everyone, but seriously, just saying 'kill the motherfuckers' over and over is not helping." Jay, impatient enough at the best of times, looked about ready to rip Daniel in half. Long periods of travel, the stress of losing Jackson and having to spend a lot of time together had put a strain on the relationships within the group. William had been silent for the past couple of days and so turned to Anya, Jackson's mate.
"We're going to leave a couple of us with you for protection. I'll go in with Daniel and Jay and we'll sort this guy out. Rose will act as go between for all of us-including the others who couldn't be here. We'll try and find out as much as we know."
She nodded. "There's one more thing. When she found out what happened to Jackson, the Alpha's daughter couldn't handle what had happened."
She hesitated long enough for a cold lead weight to settle in the pit of everyone's stomach.
"She found us here and I took her in."
Daniel exploded into a tirade about irresponsibility and endangerment when Rose suddenly cut him off by nodding. "Jackson would have approved. Where is she?"
"Here." A willowy blonde stepped into the room. Her eyes were a fantastic amber colour that captured William's attention immediately. "I'm Phoenix."
"William." He stood up quickly, offering her his seat. With an amused smile, she took it as he proceeded to introduce the others. She offered them all a nod or a smile in acknowledgement yet turned back to William.
"I want in." She said, deadpan, all traces of smile gone. Her eyes burned fire which just made her appear all the more alluring to William. "What they did to Jackson was so wrong and I want to help you make it right."
"Phoenix, we can't ask you to go against your Pack." Craig spoke up finally, but she brushed off his words.
"You're not asking me, I want in. My Pack wronged you. Please, let me help you. I can guide you in ways that wouldn't attract attention. I can tell you the best times.. everything. Just, take me with you."
She directed the last few words at William and he found himself giving in to her. He sighed. "Jay, stay here as an extra guard. Daniel can watch my back well enough and if she's on the level- no offence to you Anya or Phoenix, but we're not entirely happy with this- she's right, having someone who knows the Pack and their camp would be a huge help."
"This is bullshit, you've just got a crush on her." Daniel snarled. "I'm not going in with one of them."
"Fine. I'll go alone. It'll work better then. Less people, less complications." William said, authority ringing through his voice. "Phoenix, would a sneak attack work?"
She nodded warily, one eye on Daniel, who had jumped to his feet yet again.
"Then its settled. Daniel, you stay with the others here. Watch the pups. I don't need to tell you how important they are. Damon, you head up the path and patrol the hills round here with Craig. Keep watch and eliminate any problems." Damon merely popped his fangs in response, whilst Daniel held William's gaze furiously for a few moments, before breaking eye contact with a snort.
"Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but who's watching your back William?" Rose said, with a hint of apology in her eye as a smug look crossed Daniel's face.
"Jay can come with me and cover me until we're in sight of the camp. He'll come back, guard everyone from inside whilst I go in with Phoenix. If anything happens, you'll know."
Daniel growled softly under his breath but no one else made any sign of objecting. They proceeded according to plan, each fulfilling their roles as though ordered by an Alpha. Once Jay had left them alone, William turned to Phoenix, pinning her against a nearby tree.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?!" She hissed, attempting to pull away. William held her in an iron grip, not hurting her at all, but not letting her leave either.
"Look at me." He spoke softly but there was no room for argument in his tone. After a second, she obeyed. "I need to know now if you really mean this, to turn on your Pack like this. You won't ever be able to return, you'll have to go lone, or find a Pack that will take you. And if you betray me, my family will hunt you down. They won't rest until you lie in pieces on the wind."
She met his eyes, moonlight catching her face, highlighting it in a way that was breathtaking. "I swear by the Moon and everything that is worth swearing by, I will not betray you. And I will not look back to a Pack that would destroy our one hope of saving ourselves." She spoke with a diamond-hard resolution that was enough for William to drop his arms. He dipped his head, only to be met by hers as she captured his lips for a kiss. He returned it for a moment before pulling away. She was looking at him intently, then a rueful smile broke out on her face.
"I've been wanting to do that all evening."
William gaped at her a second, causing both of them to have to smother a laugh.
"Let's go." He said, sobering. "Just don't surprise me like that again until later."
She chuckled softly but followed him regardless, guiding him to the place he needed, sticking to him like a shadow. Moments later, the deed was done and they slipped out the way that they had come, narrowly avoiding detection.
Once out of range of the camp, Phoenix shifted into her wolf form, her coat the shade of amber in sunlight. William grinned, letting Rose know that everything was okay before shifting himself-her playful mood infecting him also. When the sun started to rise, it found them lying side by side in an open grassy meadow, her head resting on his shoulder.
"Will you be my mate?"
She sat up, checked his face to see that he wasn't joking before allowing a huge smile to break over her face.
"It would be my pleasure."
It didn't take very long for them to start their own Pack.