Thirty-Four

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As embers slowly cooled and smoke billowed from piles of charred remains, the sun rose into the brillant blue sky. It was a perfect looking day, the breeze would be alive and the birds would be chirping. If only Death and Destruction themselves hadn't visited Beck's pack the night before. If only Scarlett hadn't been stolen from her own skin. If only Beck's pack hadn't already been destroyed once before.

So many if onlys, such a nice day. A shame really that no one would enjoy something so comparatively insignificant in a time like this.

It was Evelyn who seemed to wake first in the new dawn, most wolves had gone into hiding in terror. A great deal of them having temporarily lost their minds to their primitivity. They would find their way back, maybe. If it was worth it. Otherwise they would disperse to other areas.

One thing was for certain. There would be no rebuilding this time. Not here. There was no sanctity to Sapher anymore.

Evelyn called in the rubbled streets of her home, worrying at her hands, worrying at her heart. She was stained with black soot and blood. Her shoulder was burned but healing. It seemed as if the pained grimace on her face might never fade.

She found Carter first, with a band of red flesh across his chest, a severe burn that had also started to heal. It was the worst of his injuries. She shook him awake, his eyes rolled and blinked as he came to. The older woman cried out in relief and hugged him to her chest.

"Where are the others?" He rasped.

"I haven't found them yet, we need Kale. He will know what to do." Her voice conveyed all her worry and grief with no bounds.

The two of them scoured the area, but their Alpha and his mate were no where to be found. Eventually, they turned to finding and tending to those in the rubble. Evelyn made her way from wolf to wolf. Eventually Kristen joined the duo and took Carter's hand. He was greatful.

"Still no sign of them? It has been a few hours now." Carter frowned, taking another meaningless glance around. It almost seemed like his side of the mindlink was empty. Either he was unconcious or blocking him out.

"I don't think they're around here." Kristen said solemnly. "I think they skipped out."

Evelyn looked towards the Northern forest and nodded. "If anyone deserves it, those two do."

They couldn't help but agree.

- - -

Deep in the forest, not many miles north of Sapher lake, Kale Beck laid in his wolf form, curled around the body of his mate. She would freeze if he didn't through the bitter nights, and he would be damned if he didn't want to.

Scarlett hadn't spoken, not yet anyways. He believed his mate was shell-shocked. She simply clutched his fur and stared off, unquestioning of her current position or what the hell had happened. It was okay, Kale couldn't talk either. Not in his wolf form, not when his broken leg was still healing.

It had been a day, only one, since the fire. Beck couldn't find the will to take her back yet. It was selfish, his pack was in shambles. But he had no strength left to spare, he had failed his pack, failed his mate, his parents, his life. He had so much to think about, to plan, to protect. For just a moment, he wanted to shut it out.

He was weak in his body, head and soul. 

It was early afternoon and the sun peered through the clouds, casting down upon the pair through the tree canopy in a golden filter. Kale realized he must've dozed off, because when his eyes opened, he saw Scarlett sitting with her back to him. Her dulled blonde hair was clutched between thin fingers. 

Kale forgot she was human again; frail. She was kidnapped; terrified. She wasn't speaking; withdrawn. 

The shift back was agonizing, his leg bone creaking and breaking in a new way before remending again. His femur although misshapen, was still weak and unfused. Little weight could be put on the limb, it ached badly. 

He didn't know how to approach his female, he didn't know how to make things better. His arms reached out before he thought better, but when he put his palms on her... The warmth spread instantly, the connection thrived. His heart thumped and skipped erratically. 

"Scar," He rasped, and just like that, she fell into his embrace. His girl was melted butter seeping into his pores, running over his skin. Soothing. It was different, she was here, she was breathing. This moment was like waking up after a long nightmare, happy that everything had been confined to the bleak hours of rest. 

It was real though, but for the second, they couldn't quite remember that. 

"Say something. Please."

There was a pause after his plea, seeming to stretch for years. He looked into her face but her eyes were closed, her expression blank as if she was sleeping. 

And then... Her eyes open. The blue was more blue, but clouded with the fear and stress she had harboured for so long. And then she saw her love, and the clouds parted. In their place was clear sky and pain. She had missed him so much. 

"Dammit." 

It was his favorite phrase.

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