"They're already so big. How long before they can walk?"
"Not too long, I think. Maybe a few months, considering their growth patterns."
"And what about-"
"I don't think he should visit you just yet. At least, not for a while. Not until they've grown a little more. Maybe when they've learned to walk, and when you're feeling well enough to protect them."
"Are you saying I can't protect them now?"
"I'm saying that you've just had your stomach cut open and have been under a lot of strain for the past day. I don't doubt you'll defend them with your life, but that might not be enough against a raiding party. Until then, I'm ordering you to stay in the shack. I'll come by to bring food and medicine."
"He won't be pleased."
"It's for the best. I've hopefully drummed that into his thick skull by now."
The wait was unbearable.
Kyungsoo continued to dash away under the cloak of night, food and water in his pack, begging the rest of the pack to try and intercept Yifan so he would not follow him to the whelping den. In the end, it was for the greater good. At least until the cubs were big enough to run away from danger. Everyone knew that it was for the best...everyone expect Yifan himself.
More than once he had tried to follow, and more than once he had failed. Chanyeol tempted him away with false rumours of Casanovas on the southern border, while Luhan and Minseok conjured up tales of humans encroaching into Yifan's territory. They worked hard to keep him busy, and Kyungsoo would thank them with rare morsels of salted elk meat from his private foodstock. The salt seemed to taste richer after a hard night's work, and many of the pack flooded the delta's den, eager for the next scrap.
But Yifan was getting wiser, and started to ignore the troubles. He turned a blind eye to the 'loners' on the periphery, or he would send Yixing and Joonmyun to deal with the supposed 'humans' on his turf. He was becoming obsessed with seeing Zitao again; the ties that bound him were starting to tug on his heart especially hard now.
So it came as little wonder when one day, he had enough.
He had been sitting quietly, peacefully almost, surrounded by his pack as they scuffled for the salt and fat of the hind in the woods.They snapped and pushed, knives reaching to stab at the cooked slices of meat, pouring oil and salt into the browned meat and shovelling it into their mouths. The air was cool for the summer, the flames of the fire wafting the scent of burning as the fat of the venison sizzled on the makeshift grill. round him, they yipped and barked like happy little yearlings, full bellies and oil dripping from their faces and onto their hands.
From the corner of his eye, he saw one figure slink away. Excusing himself, he tailed after the silhouette, finally catching the stranger by the scruff of the neck and throwing him against the nearest tree trunk.
"Ow!" Kyungsoo wailed, flinching when Yifan snarled in his ear. "What was that for?!"
"For keeping me away from Zitao." he hissed, pulling tighter on the back of Kyungsoo's shirt so he was barely standing on his tiptoes. "I'm coming with you. And you can't stop me this time."
But the delta wasn't going to relent so easily. "It's for your own good!" He bit Yifan on the forearm and scuttled away, shouldering his backpack and disappearing off into the trees. A flash of fury ran through Yifan as he followed the scent trail. "Please, just go back to the den!" The anger inside him bubbled away as he clawed through the trees, nails sharpening as his shoulders hunched over to force him onto all fours. He howled after the delta, jaws snapping as the smell of panic filled the delta's scent.
"You can't keep him from me!" he ground out, paws kicking up clumps of leaf litter as he saw the figure of Kyungsoo only a few yards ahead. Kyungsoo's eyes widened, before he started to crouch lower, whining as Yifan continued to pursue him. From the shrubs came a ruddish-coloured wolf, skittering over the rocks with the tapping of claws behind it. "Stop running!" Yifan barked, bounding up the stones after him, watching Kyungsoo's paws slip on the stone as he went faster.
After a while of what seemed like running in circles, Yifan finally pounced. Kyungsoo squealed when the alpha's fangs sank into his scruf, shaking him back and forth and forcing him into the dirt. He flattened his ears and rolled onto his belly after a while, licking his lips in submission and making small mewling sounds. Yifan towered over him, teeth still in the loose skin on his neck, not drawing blood but enough to make him hurt.
"Take me to him. Now." he snarled through the mouthful of fur, letting go to have Kyungsoo roll back. The delta stayed hunched over for a short while, before finally stretching back onto all fours and disappearing into the bushes. He returned with his backpack on one arm, in his scuffled human form. He glared at Yifan's wolf form for a while, but made no move to question him, instead letting the great brown wolf walk alongside him.
"I've been moving him around a lot since the cubs could walk." he huffed after a while, noting how Yifan's ear tweaked when they were walking in a different direction to the shack where Tao had whelped. "It's purely precaution, but it saved us when a loner tried to take shelter in the shack."
Yifan curled his lip to reveal his fangs. "And you didn't think to tell me?"
"Zitao drove him off just fine on his own. He limped away over to the east...I don't think he'll return for a while." Kyungsoo grinned, ruffling Yifan's shoulder fur playfully. "Your mate is almost a good a fighter as you are. Maybe better."
"Don't toy with me, Kyungsoo. Just take me to him."
The walk was long and tiring, and Yifan's paws were beginning to ache. He thought about shifting back into human form, but cut himself off; if there was an attack, it was better to be a wolf in a fight than to be a human. He scented the air, catching the faintest hint of his mate. Inside his chest, his heart suddenly skipped a beat. Kyungsoo held him down though, raising an eyebrow in his direction. "You'll startle the cubs if you go there too fast. Walk slowly, and don't make any noise."
Yifan bowed his head and padded ahead, pressing his nose low to the ground to follow the scent. It led him through the trees to an abandoned ranger hut, and he barked back to Kyungsoo to confirm. But he pricked his ear and turned back around, for there was a soft sound that made his fur prickle and his nose twitch.
A soft squeaking. The squeal of playing cubs.
He trotted forward to the wooden door, scratching his claws against it and whining like a yearling. Kyungsoo chuckled and leaned up to pull at the handle, only to end up yelping when two dark shapes burst out from behind the door, falling into the grass in a series of growls and playful yips. A rush of ruddy-brown fur and the other was on its back, black fur all messed up and fluffy. Yifan watched the two tiny wolves play-fight in the grass, and suddenly felt very cold.
"You two! Come back this instant!" A voice echoed from inside the hut, and a figure stormed out, right past Yifan and towards the two cubs. He grabbed each one of the cubs and pulled them back, breaking their fight up. "Honestly, you two. I told you to stay inside where I could keep an eye! Or do you not want Kyungsoo to bring you any venison jerky this time? Because I'll eat it all if you can't behave!"
The red cub pulled away with a whimper, letting the black one sit up and lick his fur. The expression of the newcomer softened, and he scooped each cub up into his arms and turned for the door. Only to freeze as he saw the great brown wolf stood beside the door, Kyungsoo just behind. He hushed the cubs with a finger, ushering them into the house.
But they did not appear to listen. The bigger red cub trotted over to Yifan's paws, batting them softly and squealing when he bent his head to sniff. "This wolf is so big!" she chirruped, gesturing for her brother to approach. The black cub was much more hesitant, leaning forward to smell at Yifan's tail tip, squeaking in shock when he flicked his tail back over the little pup's head. The red cub bounced around him, yipping and barking. "Who are you, big wolf? Why are you so big?"
"I'm..." He caught himself soon after, nudging the two cubs into the hut with his muzzle. "Go inside. I need to have a word with-"
"Because I just need to-"
"Why do we have to go? Can we not play with you?" They had clearly inherited Zitao's questioning nature.
"Go inside, now." the redhead ordered, to which the two little cubs whined and headed indoors, their tails tucked between their legs. Kyungsoo beamed and followed after them, mentioning something about feeding them and giving them injections. But it was all lost to Yifan. He swayed on his paws a little, watching Zitao come closer and reach out his hand. His ear was scratched by gentle hands, and he rumbled throughout his chest, rising up onto two legs and holding his mate between his arms.
"I've missed you." he mumbled, burrowing his face into the crook of the younger's neck. Oh, it had been so long. And he missed that scent so much, it was almost hurting to breathe it in again. "Oh...I've missed you so much."
Zitao leaned into him and smiled. "I know...I missed you too." When he finally came to kiss him, it was like everything seemed to move in slow motion. He never wanted to let go, he never wanted to lose that taste, those sounds, that scent, these sights. Yifan held him close, tightening his arms around him and brushing his soft red ears and running down his back to tangle his fingers in the ruddish fur of his tail. When he did finally pull back, they were both panting for air, their lips red and bruised, but smiles on their faces regardless.
"The cubs." he started, licking his lips as he tried to find the words. "Are...are they-"
"Yes, they're healthy." Zitao finished for him, stroking his cheek with the back of his hand. "They're beautiful, they're wonderful, they've got appetites like bears. And they're yours." He leaned into Yifan's shoulder and let the elder run his hands down the length of his back. "I don't know about names, though. I was waiting for you to come and help me choose...but I guess that Kyungsoo kept up his promise of stopping anyone coming to see me, huh."
"Don't I know it..."
Zitao chuckled, pressing their foreheads together and staring into the elder's eyes. Until a loud squeal alerted him from inside the hut. "We should go inside. They'll be hungry, and they get antsy if I'm not around."
Yifan tensed. "Can...can I come?"
He was dragged into the hut and towards the kitchens, where Kyungsoo was busy enticing the cubs into eating a mixture of formula milk and ground up jerky. The little black cub was eagerly lapping it up from the bowl, while his sister was a little more feisty. She kick the bottle away and rana round the kitchen, until Kyungsoo tugged her tail and pulled her back towards her food bowl. As soon as Zitao walked into the room -still with a slight limp after carrying for so long- they stopped what they were doing, careering into his legs and fighting to climb up his legs.
"Mom! You're back, you're back!" they squealed, to which Zitao picked them up and kissed their little furry foreheads. Yifan watched with a smile as they were put back down on the floor, and Zitao stepped back against him. The cubs cocked their heads to the side. "Who's this? He smells like the big wolf, but he doesn't look like the big wolf."
"He is the big wolf. Stand up straight now, I've got something important to tell you." The cubs sat back, each one stretching back into their human forms. The little boy was slim but small, while his twin was much bigger, and bolder by the looks of it. They had already grown so fast; after only a few months, they looked very much like toddlers. The wolf blood meant they could grow and learn much faster than normal, he guessed.
"He's still super tall." the little boy cooed, sucking his thumb with one hand and playing with his denim dungarees with the other. The little girl nodded, her tiny fists holding handfuls of her little pink dress. "Who is he?"
Zitao kneeled down, beckoning the children closer. "You know how I told that one day, you would be able to see your daddy? When you grew up?" They nodded together, quiet now that they sensed the serious tone in his voice. "Well...here he is." It was such an awkward start, and Yifan wasn't sure quite what to say to them. He kneeled down in front of them, smiling as best as he could while they just stared vacantly at him. The little boy leaned forward first, still sucking on his thumb as he came closer.
"Are you our daddy?"he asked, a little lisp at the end when he sucked his thumb too hard. When Yifan nodded, he tottered over, leaning into him for a wide-armed hug and squashing his face right into Yifan's stomach with a loud huff. "Hmf...dad." Yifan sat stock-still for a second, watching the little black tail wag back and forth in happiness. He curled around the boy -his son- and petted his hair, kissing each of his ears and finally the top of his head. When his sister followed, squeaking happily as he kissed her head as well, he felt his heart swell in sheer happiness.
"First time I've ever seen our dear Alpha cry." Kyungsoo snickered from the kitchen, while Zitao offered his mate a tissue. Yifan took it and sobbed quite openly, cuddling his children tighter to his chest, even grabbing Zitao and pulling him into the embrace as well. They were okay. They were safe, they were strong, they were his.
He curled tighter and tighter around them, closing his eyes as he took in everything about them. Their hair, their eyes, their faces, their scent. He wanted to remember, and never ever forget them.
*crawls around sadly*
Wolf cubs are my weakness. I cry.
I don't know about sequels...maybe? I'd need to think of names and I'm horrid with names...