The pack never bothered me, Adrian made sure of it. He was my therapist and defacto pack leader of the packless wolves in the city. The number of packless amounted to the about the same number that were under Dominick Olmos – the true pack leader of the Manhattan pack. But New York was too big for him alone to police and Adrian was an Alpha in his own right. They worked together as well as any two alpha’s could. They had their own territories, the lower end of the island was pack territory, Hell’s Kitchen was Adrian’s lone wolf territory, the Vamps had Harlem and everything North of Central Park, everything else was Venatori territory. Not that the Venatori actually claimed it, but the supernatural creatures didn’t do business in Venatori territory, it was a dividing line between species.
Sage lived with his foster parents. Like myself Sage had a rough beginning. He didn’t like to talk about it much, he didn’t like to talk to much of anyone except computers. Which is one reason I have a laptop and a cell phone so Sage and I can speak in his comfort zone. I remembered the first time I saw Sage sitting in my spot on the couch in Margo’s office. He’d been there since his appointment. His parents were running late and he was curled up in my spot and I had gone to speak to him, but Megan called my name, “Nox.”
I walked over to her and she gave me a smile. “His parents are late, can you just let him sit there?”
I nodded and went to sit down next to him. I didn’t sit too close. I leaned back against the back of the couch and curled up like he did pulling my knees to my chest and gave him a weak smile. He returned it so I leaned my head back and I closed my eyes and started counting to divert my anxiety for not following my normal routine.
I hadn’t thought I was saying them out loud, but he asked, “Why are you counting?”
I shrugged. “Because you are sitting in my spot.”
He hopped up out of the chair and move to the other side of the couch and curled up into his little ball again. I moved over and sat down and took a deep breath and sprawled along the couch. “Thank you.”
He smiled at me. “No problem. Why you here?” He asked.
I shrugged, “Because they tell me to be.” Which I knew then to be true, but in reality it was because I was too afraid to stop coming. Sage and I met in a hard part of my life. I’d tried to kill myself twice shortly before. The first time I sliced my wrists open, what good that does when you superheal. And the second I chickened out. I jumped from the AU building like I’d done a million times before and decided half way down I didn’t want to die like that. So I slowed, and I only broke a wrist in the process. Was my right wrist so I was down two hobbies for a while.
The next week his foster parents were late again. They were having just as hard of a time as he was adjusting to them as they were to him. But he’d forgotten he was in my spot and was sitting there again. So I sat down next to him and just tried to relax, but my anxiety caught up to me again and I was rocking back and forth trying to calm myself down while chanting to myself. “I can do this.”
His hand was warm against mine as he entwined his fingers in mine and there was just calm. Not because he was empathic, but because he was touching me. I didn’t know at the time what a big deal that little touch was. But he knew what I had needed and he had helped me all the while sending him into his own panic attack. But when I looked at him he smiled but I saw the fear inside of him as he held my hand. I squeezed his and gave him my lopsided grin. “You can do this too.”
I don’t know why I said it but he nodded and squeezed my hand tighter. At the age of 10 Sage was my only friend, and we only saw each other on Monday’s when his parents came late.
We met Mia shortly after that and she talked us into sneaking out at a late hour one Friday night and until I graduated that’s what the three of us did.
It was years later that I learned Sage’s foster family was part of Adrian’s werewolf pack and essentially he and I were all part of the same pack even though we weren’t exactly wolf or even therian. But humans were welcomed by the pack, that’s how babies were born after all. And sticking side pack for mates could be frowned upon but not in Adrian’s pack since they came and went as they pleased.
Sage’s family lived in the heart of werewolf territory. Walking to his house was easy. And since I wasn’t marked Venatori I was just a kid out for a stroll. No one bothered me. I felt their power, but they often didn’t feel mine until it was too late to do anything about it.
But I wasn’t new around the neighborhood. I’d been coming here for the better part of 8 years now. Sage was my only real friend. And it was an odd sort of friendship.