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Alice nearly paced her room waiting for his answer. When the soft ding finally signalled his text she questioned whether she should answer right away or not. Answering immediately probably made her look like she was waiting, but not answering made her look worse. Sighing, she decided to take a quick shower before answering. She could always lie to him and tell him she was finishing her homework. Alice’s homework was slightly harder than she expected it to be. In California everything was done on computers and her teachers didn’t really care if it was right or not; as long as it was done. The kids that really put their hearts into it and made sure they did the extra credit made it to honors. For a moment she wondered if it was like that here. Quickly she resolved that it didn’t matter, that she was going to be an honor student anyway regardless of how the teachers wanted to grade it or that quality of the work.
Climbing out of the shower, she returns his apologetic text, mentioning that she was busy herself. She couldn’t be expected to hang around and wait for him all day. Plus, waiting for him, obsessing wasn’t healthy. She needed to network and make actual friends. Emma seemed decent, quiet and nice though Alice was sure she hurt her feelings at least a little when she focused her attention on him. Making a mental note, she promised herself that she would try to hang out with Emma and get her number. At least for a little while until she could get more friends. Setting her phone down, she resists the urge to question him to see if he was going to the party that was mentioned. Even though she shouldn’t obsess over him, he could be her key to the party and going to a party was a great way to make new friends. Or to learn who to stay away from. The last thing she wanted to accidentally befriend the drama queen or the irresponsible party animal. Being friends with a party animal wouldn’t be the worst thing ever, though she should avoid the irresponsible one.
[i We should get going] Minhyuk said, turning to Changkhyun. Changkhyun turned to Minhyuk and then at Kihyun who nodded. He then nodded and after a minute's hesitation they headed home. Once there they got in through the doggy door and went to change, putting on some new clothes before going to sit in the livingroom.
"Ah, I think we got a message while we were gone," said Minhyuk as he came over with his phone. Changkhyun went to go looking for his, finding it in the kitchen where he left his homework before coming back into the livingroom. "I think it's the new girl," said Minhyuk. "I'm sure it's her, and Jake and Cole asked me to go to the party," said Changkhyun as he sat down again, looking at the text.
"Should go," said Minhyuk. "Maybe you'll see your mate there or something," he said. "Well, it is possible," hummed Changkhyun as he answered Jake, telling him he'd be going to the party. "Aren't you one of those kids who like to get black out drunk?" Asked Kihyun. "It almost happens, but I always leave before I do," said Changkhyun as he stared at the new number.
"Who knew running would sober you quickly [i and] leave you with no hangover in the morning?" Kihyun asked, chuckling some. Changkhyun chuckled before deciding to finally answer, saying he didn't have his phone on him as he was busy with things.
Alice’s hand started cramping halfway through her history notes. She sits with her laptop open in front of her, and her window open. The wolves howling sent a chill down her spine, but somehow it made her feel protected. As though the wolves were circling the property protecting anything and everyone inside of it. Chewing the inside of her lip, she fights the urge to go to the window and see them. Carefully she stretches her fingers and tries to get back to her homework. Standing she decides to take a break. James greets her downstairs, he’s placed himself in his usual chair. In his hand he holds a plate of hotpockets and a soda. She smiles as she opens the refrigerator only to close it uselessly. She knew she was bored, that she really wasn’t hungry, but she couldn’t help herself. James glanced at her as she wanders into the living room to peek at what he was watching.
“Anything good?” she questioned, he merely shook his head. There wasn’t much that would hold his attention beside fake judge shows and cops. Sighing, she moves away to go back upstairs. The normalcy of her life didn’t bother her. In fact she welcomed it. Alice knew that things were going to be changing soon. She could feel it just as she felt the wolves’ howls. Checking her phone, she wonders why Changhyun hadn’t answered her.
Changkhyun and Minhyuk were doing homework when Kihyun, Jooheon and Wonho showed up, Wonho yelling that they were home. "We're in the kitchen," called Changkhyun. Minhyuk shook his head and chuckled some. "Welcome back guys," he said when Kihyun, Jooheon and Wonho walked into the kitchen.
"What, no welcome party?" Asked Kihyun. "We're busy with homework it seems," said Changkhyun. "I see that," said Kihyun. "How's school going?" He asked. "Fine, fine," said Changkhyun. "My power activated," he said. "Really?" Asked Kihyun. "That's shocking, are you okay?" He asked. "Yeah," said Changkhyun.
"What'd you get as a power?" Asked Wonho. "Some sort of dark energy that vaporizes my targets," said Changkhyun. "Warn me to never piss you off," said Wonho. "Noted," Changkhyun said with a snicker. "If my alpha aura didn't affect you first then my power would," he said. Wonho scratched the back of his head.
"Let's go for a run," Kihyun said suddenly. Changkhyun blinked, looking up at Kihyun. "Miss the weather already?" He asked, grinning. Kihyun laughs softly as he scratched the back of his head. "We can go if you want," said Changkhyun. "Let me finish this math," he said. Minhyuk sighed. "I hate your school you know that?" He asked. Changkhyun chuckled some as he worked on the problem.
After finishing homework everyone left out the back door to go running, Kihyun's light brown wolf form running with Jooheon's dark brown wolf form ran with Changkhyun while Wonho's silver with a brown patch on his back's wolf form ran with Minhyuk. Minhyuk kept up the communication if they needed it but otherwise they all ran in silence.
After a bit Changkhyun let out a howl, the others soon joining him with their own howls. They were all standing by the cliff by that point, in view of her bedroom window. As far as they were aware no one was home but they didn't care if there was.
The pair probably thought she was the most boring creature on the planet. Alice swears softly to herself grasping their numbers between her fingers and watching them go. The rest of the school day drags. She watches them from a distance laugh with their friends as she packs her things away in her locker. Shoving her bag onto her shoulder heavy with homework she wonders if she’ll ever have a group of friends like that. Friends that would clog the hallway just to talk to her. Changkhyun’s and Minhyuk’s numbers were tucked away safely in the front pocket of her jeans. Push a stray strand of hair behind her ear, she starts toward the student parking lot. Thankfully it wasn’t raining, though the clouds promised that it would. Rain was something she expected. Sunshine would surprise her, though Emma said that sun did eventually come out. It was a wonder that they didn’t shut the school down on those days. That thought made her smile as she climbed into the driver seat of her car. The drive home was short.
The empty house envelopes her easily. Shadows and imaginary sounds threaten to unnerve her. She couldn’t let an empty house scare her. Rolling her shoulders, she hunts for something to snack on before changing to go for a run. She refused to let the wolves she’d seen scare her away from her dream either. Maybe she would keep closer to the house this time? As she chews an apple slowly, she sends out a text to Changkhyun’s phone. Her slumped backpack taunts her as she walks by and upstairs. Tossing the apple core in her bedroom trash can.
A light breeze pulls at her yellow shorts and her t-shirt. The weather was cool, almost cold. Gripping her phone in one hand, shoving her headphones into her ears with the other, she readies herself. There was so much she should be doing, but her own mind wouldn’t let her. There was still a lot she had to figure out, had to plan if everything was going to go right. First was the voice, she still wasn’t sure where it came from or why it would be Minhyuk’s voice she heard. How could she even hear his voice before she met him? How could she be so sure? The idea that the wolf was Minhyuk was impossible, but completely undeniable. Alice was a hundred percent sure it was him. Then there was the party. What should she wear? Was it going to be casual? Formal? She couldn’t even begin to have a clue and she didn’t want to ask. Asking meant she would look stupid in front of possible new friends. For a moment she wished that she hadn’t decided to do this. That she was content with being the quiet bookish girl. That girl that people ignored. Lastly there was the project. She wanted to do well, really well, but she didn’t want to monopolize the entire thing. Taking over the project would make her look like a know-it-all. Changkhyun and Minhyuk would think she thought they were stupid and couldn’t handle it. Even though she knew they probably could, at least to do well, she didn’t trust them.
Stopping beside a white oak, she catches her breath. Sweat dripping from her jaw and cheeks she felt like her thoughts were escaping through her pores. A painful stitch had started in her side forcing her to walk the rest of the way home. She found peace in her breathlessness. Inside once again she trudges upstairs to rinse off and do her homework. She’s surprised by how heavy her backpack is when she lifts it.
Changkhyun blinked. "Oh really?" Asked Minhyuk. "Never been to a party huh?" He asked. "Well," said Changkhyun as he wrote his and Minhyuk's numbers down before handing the paper to her. "I'm pretty sure your father wouldn't like me going over due to my reputation but," he said, chuckling some. "My adopted father's reputation is better but he's on a business trip right now," he said, shrugging.
[i I swear to god if I get dragged to this party] thought Changkhyun, earning a small snicker from Minhyuk as he scratched the back of his head. "We'll see you around then," said Minhyuk as he grabbed his things, dragging Changkhyun out of the classroom and down the hall after Changkhyun grabbed the rest of his things.
"The party might be good for you, you know," said Minhyuk. "You know the reason why I don't want to go," said Changkhyun as he combed his hands through his hair. "Well, we're going to have to figure out something," said Minhyuk. "I'll be there with you, how about that," he said. "Sure, whatever," said Changkhyun. "We'll figure it out," said Minhyuk as he offered a reassuring smile.
They decided to skip the last class, going straight home after getting food. Their packmates were waiting after all, and Changkhyun did miss his betas. He also had school to worry about but that would come later. After he got to relax around the familiar faces and scents that were of his pack.
Alice stands as the bell signals the end of class. Having the pair over sounded odd to her; considering that she wasn’t a hundred percent sure on if her father was going to be there or not. Changkhyun and Minhyuk would be the first “friends” she would have over. Changkhyun had a reputation for being a partier and Minhyuk was still a mystery to be unraveled. Though rumors said that he was a little bit of a troublemaker. Either way her father wouldn’t be pleased with either. Together they nearly warranted parental supervision. The thought made her smile. Alice’s spotless reputation and her new reckless agenda would eventually run into each other. Eventually she would lose her father’s trust and she was prepared for that, but it was too early in the game for that to happen. She could easily tell her father that they were harmlessly working on a project together. The project being the perfect excuse for her to go to the mentioned party, but it didn’t sound like either one was going; even though they were expected. If they weren’t going there wasn’t a reason as to why she would be there. Shoving her things in her folder and tucking everything neatly against her side, she chews over her options. She could quiz Emma to see if she was going, though she didn’t seem like the time. She could also wait and see if Changkhyun or Minhyuk was going, if they were there was a possibility that they would invite her just to be polite. Chewing the inside of her lip, her interjects: “I’ve never been to an actual party before.”
The words left her suddenly, as though there was a secret part of her that was made to be popular and part of the crowd. That part of her was locked away in a closet back in Cali, now that she was in Maine the key had been found and the door unlocked. The idea of a hidden part of her excited her. It was like having another personality trait that she never even considered existed.
“Anyway, either house is fine with me. My dad works at the courthouse so there is a good chance it would be just us if you came over to my place. We have fast internet and a huge kitchen table we could work at. It’s whatever you guys want though. Do you wanna exchange numbers so we can text each other?” She questioned, watching their faces carefully and shifting her weight from one foot to the other. She didn’t want to be rude and just leave, but she didn’t want to risk being late for her next class. Even though she wanted to rebrand herself and be apart of the ‘in’ crowd, she didn’t want to damage her chances of getting into the college of her dreams. The idea of building a great future and going to college had been hammered in her head since she could read. Failing any of her classes scared her like a monster under her bed. Not that she still believed that monster lived under her bed, just the creepy-crawly feeling that there was someone or something there.
Changkhyun glanced at Minhyuk as Alice agreed with the topic while Minhyuk got a read on her mind. [i Is she figuring it out?] He thought, his head tilting slightly. Minhyuk nodded once. Sometimes being a mind reader had its disadvantages, and him being able to project his thoughts was now going to be a problem. They couldn't communicate like before, so now it was going to be one sided thought conversations with yes or no answers in the form of short nods.
"So erm," said Minhyuk as they realized there was an awkward silence between the three of them. "We can meet at your place or our place after school?" He asked. "We're going to be slightly busy the next couple days because of family coming over and whatnot," he said.
"It'd be nice to have people over again, when there isn't a party going on," said Changkhyun as he chuckled slightly. Minhyuk laughs. "Heard there was going to be another party over the weekend from some people, you going to go this time?" He asked. "...Probably not," said Changkhyun. [i I don't want an accident happening], he added in his thoughts, which caused Minhyuk to widen his eyes slightly in response before nodding. "Funny, they were talking like they were expecting you," said Minhyuk as he gasped. Changkhyun shook his head in amusement.
Alice shrugged his question away. She didn’t know anything about wolves let along werewolves. In fact everything she knew about them came from stories she read as a child or hollywood movies. Both of which had questionable sources. She allows for a thin smile to pull at her lips. The voice from the woods and how close it was to Minhyuk’s kept eating away her mind, completely distracting her from his words. Even in her distracted state she managed to catch the tail end of what he was saying.
“Either way it sounds like a really interesting topic. I’m kinda excited.” She admitted, staring a hole into her notebook. Alice remains pale as she listens closely to Minhyuk’s voice. Carefully she notes the similarities between it and the voice she heard. With confidence she gave the voice a name and it was Minhyuk. But it didn’t make any sense. Why would she hear Minkhyuk’s voice in the woods staring at two wolves? Maybe she was losing her mind, that seemed like a more likely option than meeting a talking wolf.
"Oh come on," Changkhyun said, almost exasperatedly as he sighed. "Okay, wolf attacks in Europe it is then," he said, earning a triumphant grin from Minhyuk. "We could do all of Europe," said Minhyuk. "I think if we can dig up some old legends and stuff about it we could pull this off greatly," he said.
[i Yeah, and you just want an excuse to scare her], thought Changkhyun, earning a small chuckle from Minhyuk. "Some say that those wolf attacks weren't caused by regular wolves," said Minhyuk. "Like the beast of Gevaudan for example," he said. "People speculated that werewolves were the cause of it," he said. "But alas, werewolves aren't real," he said, earning a snort from Changkhyun.
Keeping up appearances was easy for Changkhyun, he wasn't alive for as long as everyone else. Hell, Shownu was around since the early 1800's when he was still human then was turned. He was their youngest, having still aging and being in high school. After a certain age though, he knew he would stop aging, at least from what Minhyuk and Hyungwon had said.
"It's still odd though," said Minhyuk, bringing Changkhyun out of his thoughts. "Especially since most of the time, wolves don't go near humans unless they are desperately searching for food," he said. "What would cause these attacks?" He asked.
Alice glances up as she hears about the week long project. She couldn’t help the smile that pulled at her lips as she hears her name coupled with Changkhyun and Minhyuk. She picks up her notebook and textbook and goes to their table, following the rest of the class. As she gets closer she hears the pair talking about the history of wolf attacks in Europe. For some reason the idea of wolves sent a shiver down her spine. As they talk she notices how close Minhyuk’s voice was to the voice she heard in the woods. She could feel the color drain from her face as she pauses, staring at them for a moment. Pursing her lips together tightly, she fights the wave of nausea climbing her throat. Swallowing thickly, she pulls a chair up to the edge of the table and joins them. Catching something about Minhyuk being the youngest.
“Hi guys,” she smiles, returning Minhyuk’s smile from earlier. She opens her notebook to an empty page and starts taking notes of what would be required of them. The teacher was looking for information gathering skills rather than anything specific. They were supposed to be learning how to work with a group, write about historical events, and how to cite sources properly. The fact they could pick the topic, as long as it was approved, themselves was a blessing.
“Are we going to focus on a specific part of Europe or just Europe in general?” She asks them, trying to get a conversation going between them and hopefully break the ice a little. Before she would have never been the first one to speak. It was hard being in a group when two of the members already knew each other. She half-heartedly expected to be third-wheeled the entire time. Something told her that the pair would share the work equally, they didn’t seem like the type that would make her do all of it. As she waits for them to decide she notes how many sources they would need and how long the essay was supposed to be.
Changkhyun rushed to his 4th period with Minhyuk in tow. They had stopped to get Minhyuk a few extra things from the office and managed to make it to class just behind the teacher.
Changkhyun went to sit at his usual table with Minhyuk getting assigned another seat on the other end of the room near Alice. Minhyuk gave her a friendly smile before sitting down and facing the teacher, getting a read on everyone's thoughts. He immediately figured out that they'd be assigned a group project and used his power, pretending to write something down in his notebook and changed the lineup for the groups slightly, putting himself in a group with Changkhyun and Alice.
"We'll be having everyone in groups for a week long project, here's the groups," said the teacher as he named off the groups. Changkhyun raised an eyebrow and turned his head to look over at Minhyuk with a "really?" look when he heard who's group he'd be in. Minhyuk chuckled some as he looked at his notebook.
"This should be interesting," said Minhyuk as Changkhyun went to switch seats with the person sitting beside Minhyuk. "God damn it Minhyuk," Changkhyun said with a sigh. "Causing trouble on your first day of school too," he said with a shake of his head. Minhyuk could only snicker in response as he shook his head.
"Well, since we'll be seeing each other for a while for the next week or so what should we do the project on?" Asked Changkhyun. "Oh! Oh I know!" Said Minhyuk. "How about the history of wolf attacks throughout Europe," he said. "This is history, not science," said Changkhyun as he deadpanned. "It's [i in] history though," said Minhyuk. Changkhyun sighed. "And I'm supposed to be the youngest in the family?" He asked. Minhyuk just grinned.
Alice snaps her attention back to Emma. She nods simply before taking a small bite of pizza. She uses a napkin to mop up the grease left behind. Alice’s old school let the students have a choice between several different lunches. The lunches themselves were healthy and local. There were also several different vegan and vegetarian options. Here you had a choice of a hot lunch or a salad in a plastic container. Looking down at her mushy broccoli made her miss the other lunches.
“It seems like partying is the only thing to do around here.” she whines, pushing a sad excuse for cheesy-bread around her tray. Chewing the inside of her lip, she decides she’s had enough and that she would start to pack a lunch from now on. Feeling slightly betrayed by the school system, she takes care of her tray and returns to Emma. Just as she was going to ask Emma more questions about Changkhyun, the bell signalling the end of lunch sounds and the cafeteria starts to clear out. Gathering her things, Alice waits for Emma, walking with her as far as she can before splitting to head to her next class. The crowded halls threaten to bounce her small frame around like a ping-pong ball. Thankfully her fourth hour isn’t too far from the cafeteria. Quickly finding her seat, Alice pulls out her notebook and starts to doodle on the cover. As her pencil traces lazy circles, she wonders how Changkhyun is able to party like that. If the stories were true he should spend most of his day in the boy’s bathroom praying to the porcelain throne. Alice watches the door to see who would wander in. A few students cling to the hallway, telling a few more jokes before rushing off to their next class. A couple swap spit before brushing each other one more time. The boy jogging to his next class as she saunters in, flipping her hair over shoulder. The usual high school drama unfolds as the girl of the pair walks in and another glares at her. Clearly someone took someone’s boyfriend, or someone took someone’s crush.
That kind of pettiness never interested Alice before. She never cared about what she looked like or what people thought. Now it seemed like everything that didn’t matter before was now of the utmost importance. Who she hung around and who she talked to was everything. The fact that Addison was a small town didn’t help matters either. Everyone knew everyone. Worse than that was that people’s reputations didn’t just go away. People’s mistakes soaked into their skin and hair, hung around them like a bad smell. All of a sudden everything Alice did had to be carefully planned and executed.
Lunch wasn't that eventful, though Minhyuk was overwhelmed by everyone's thoughts about him. He was new and all but he was trying to keep to himself, something he wasn't known for doing but since his power had been activated he kept to himself, gauging people's thoughts before getting to know them.
Changkhyun's friends were welcoming to him, and didn't ask many questions, something that Changkhyun was proud for. He mostly kept away from the other humans, but after knowing Jake and Cole for three years he learned to trust them with everything concerning the human side of his life, when he wasn't out partying every other weekend anyway. Those two could give his two betas, Jooheon and Kihyun, a run for their money in terms of their... Beta like tendencies.
Emma studied Alice with a small tilt of her head as she ate her lunch. "I see you've been studying the school's resident party-goer," she said. "Changkhyun's known for getting almost black out drunk and then going to school the next day with no issue," she said. "He's friendly enough though, he's known around town for never breaking the law and things," she said.
"I've never seen the new kid around though, rumor has it that he was sent to live here because he got into a lot of trouble," she said. "If it were anyone else he'd've been sent to military school," she said. "Changkhyun's adopted father is very understanding though," she said.
It was during this conversation that Changkhyun caught her eye, his head tilting to the side slightly before returning to the conversation and laughing about something Cole had said. Minhyuk was laughing slightly at Emma's little rant though he pretended to laugh along to whatever Cole had said.
A text had been sent to Changkhyun's phone and he looked at it briefly before shaking his head in amusement. His betas were due to come home today with another pack member of theirs, Wonho, and they expected a welcoming party. They were also expected to go greet the neighbors but Changkhyun figured that since they already did, sort of, it could work for now.
For Alice, the night dragged on. Her mind raced like a runaway train. Endless questions berated her over and over. A few stray tears dripped down her cheeks as she considered her situation and the weight of it laid on her. Gradually she found sleep in her tear soaked pillow. That morning she wakes, showers, and then dresses. Downstairs her father stands with a gallon of milk in his hand. She makes her way around him and pop bread into the toaster and fetch peanut butter from the cabinet. James makes small talk as she makes her breakfast. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t force herself to pay attention to him. James prattled on about what his plans were, and his last case. What she hoped was thoughtfully, she chewed her toast and peanut butter and made sure to nod in all of the right places. It wasn’t long before it was time to leave, the goodbyes are short. As he watches her leave, James wonders how she’d grown so fast.
Outside she pulled the door open to her Honda and froze. There, sitting lopsided in her cup holder was her phone. Doubt filled her immediately. Had her trip into the woods even happened? She was sure she lost her phone out there. No, she remembered the soft fur of the wolf with surprising clarity. Even now she could feel the fur between her fingers, smell the earth, and feel the rain on her skin. Alice slides in her car and picks up her phone. Pressing the home buttons she quickly discovers that it’s dead. If it would have been completely charged she might have lost her mind. Plugging in her car charger, she starts toward the school. Questioning the events of yesterday constantly.
Alice drifted through her day, barely noticing those around her or hearing her teachers’ drone. She takes notes automatically, her mind repeating the voice she’d heard. Around lunch she finally pulls herself out of her dull slump. Picking a seat next to a mousy looking girl. Alice found herself drawn to the girl because she carried Ernest Hemingway’s East of Eden in her hands, a well worn bookmark stuck somewhere in the middle. Sliding her tray into the spot across from the girl, she questions if the seat was taken. Timidly the girl shakes her head, introduces herself as Emma, and tucks a long strand of hair behind her ear. Emma had large green eyes and hair the color of Georgia mud. Alice quickly glanced over her and her fandom t-shirt. Emma fills the silence between them with idle chatter and Alice is thankful for it. Something about Emma pulled her in, making her instantly like the girl. It was probably the book she was reading or the way she used a large vocabulary perfectly. Laughter from a corner table makes Alice glance in that direction. Changkhyun sat with a boy she didn’t recognize. Not that she recognized many, but she could tell a fellow “new kid” when she saw one. There was a certain nervous energy at the table. Nervous in the way that the other two established members of the friend group effortlessly joked with each other, but tiptoed around the other. Changkhyun was different too, he appeared to be more comfortable with the new member than the other two. Maybe he knew the new one before he knew the other two. As she watched them, an unsettling sense of the familiar fills her. The same sense that pumped through her veins when she looked that wolves. The feeling was completely impossible. She talked to Changkhyun briefly and once. The other person she’d never seen before. Why would she feel like she knew them, and on a personal level. Looking at them felt like watching a movie she’d seen a hundred times. Ice runs down her spine and she shivers, snapping her attention back to Emma. A frown pulls at her lips, but she forces herself to remain neutral. She didn’t want to hurt the girl’s feelings.
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