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"Yea, I want an explanation, but I'm patient." She comments, glancing at the backseat in her review mirror. She couldn't help but think of him as a child in that moment, with his head resting against a shoulder. Black dirt clung to him, staining his pale skin. Naturally her teenaged brain wanted to soak in every part of him, but somehow she managed to resist. Anything could have happened to him, it was her job as a good friend to at least spare him some dignity. Staring straight ahead, she struggles internally with being a teenaged girl and a decent human. Somehow she manages to make to their driveway without peaking. Carefully she glances at Minhyuk, just to confirm that this was right place.
There was something about Minhyuk that made her certain that he could read minds. Chewing the inside of her lip, she opens the door and moves around her car to open the door for them. As patiently as she could she waits for an explanation, willing to follow them into the house to demand one if she needed to.
"Was he assaulted?" She questions, her voice soft in spite of her trying to add conviction to it. "Like, should we call someone?" she finishes, watching each face carefully. Alice could guarantee that justice would be served justly with her father serving as judge in this area. Twisting her fingers together, she waits for an answer.
Wonho went to put Changkhyun into the backseat, climbing in with him when Changkhyun clung to his arm. Minhyuk was hesitant, keeping an eye on a spot in the woods, where Kihyun and Jooheon were, and nodded some, a signal for them to head home before he got into the passenger seat and buckled in.
"I'm sure you're skeptical about our situation but," said Wonho as he looked out the window. "All will be explained in due time," he said. Changkhyun had relaxed a bit more now, falling asleep against Wonho's shoulder.
Alice nods and starts backing toward her car. The fact that he was naked hadn't crossed her mind. Somehow the entire situation felt Like she should have expected it. She knew What They told her was a lie, he didn't seem like the type of person to go out partying on a weekday and then pass out naked somewhere. Alice's gut screamed that there was something more going on. Opening the back door for them, he motions for them to lay him across the backseat.
"Yeah, we're neighbors." She confirms climbing into the driver's side before waiting for everyone else to pile in.
"Uh," said Wonho. Changkhyun stirred, lifting his head to look at Alice. "It's okay," he said. "I'm fine," he said. "I got lost on the way home and they found me," he said. Kihyun and Jooheon, who were still in wolf form, appeared nearby but out of Alice's view. They were still hidden by the trees, observing what was going on.
"He was gone for a few hours," said Minhyuk. "But uh, somehow he lost his clothes along the way," he said. "We're headed back home though, can you give us a ride?" He asked. Frankly he was expecting her to say no, but he could feel Changkhyun's power just receding in her presence. "I think we live next door to each other but," he said, shrugging.
A cluster of of figures count to the shoulder of the road. Slowing, Alice prepares to drift over to the other side of the road to avoid hitting then before her eyes land on a familiar slumped outline. Changing her mind, she flicks her hazards on and pulls over a few feet ahead of the group. Most of the guys were shirtless, one she didn't recognize was carrying Changkhuns listless body. Waving her father on, she jumps out of the car and jogged toward them. Her heart hammered against her chest.
"What happened?" She asked skidding to a halt. The gravel under her feet threats ed to trip her. Fear for his safety and health chuffed her stomach mercilessly. She wanted answers, wanted them faster then they could reply.
"Where are you taking him?" Balling her hands into fists she fights reaching out to him. Keeping her hands still also manages to steel her tongue against the multitude of questions wanting to spill out.
Changkhyun was eventually carried back by Wonho after they covered him with his and Minhyuk's shirts. Changkhyun's mental state wasn't doing too good, but no one could really do anything about that, except support him as much as possible. The only person who understood what Changkhyun was going through was Hyungwon, and he was still out of state.
"Remind me to message Hyungwon to see if he's able to come home early," said Minhyuk as they decided to walk along the road to get home. It was a dead part of the morning so they weren't expecting many cars to pass by and stop and ask questions. "I'm sure he's able to, he's the only other person to develop a mental power," said Wonho. "Besides me but," Minhyuk said with a shrug. "I mean something that can actually do damage," Wonho said with a shake of his head. "I know, I know," said Minhyuk.
Alice wasn't sure how long had passed, but she quickly gave up on going to school. The waiting room inside of the shop was covered in a layer of black elbow grease. Hugging herself, she attempted to remain as clean as possible. Steven, her oh-so-friendly tow truck driver left her with a heavy bill and a curt wave. Harvy, the town mechanic, promised that it would be a short wait. Sighing, she flicked through her empty inbox for the hundredth time since entering the shop. To say she was bored out of her mind.
After wasting most of her morning waiting for her tire to be fixed, Alice is finally freed to go home. With her father now in tow, she made her way slowly home.
A desperate sounding howl suddenly echoed through the forest, causing everyone to stop what they were doing. Minhyuk had to pull over into the nearest driveway in confusion, as Wonho stopped and looked in the direction of the howl.
Kihyun and Jooheon decided to forgo their clothes and change right then and there since they were far enough to not be seen by human eyes and bolt towards the sound once they were in wolf form. It had been a call by their alpha, but Changkhyun [i never] howled like that before. It sounded pained. Wonho soon bolted home to grab a first aid kit before bolting out the back door towards the howling in human form.
Minhyuk was torn between going after their youngest and going to school. "Screw it," he said, reversing out of the driveway and screeching back home. He was a tracker, and they needed him. Once home he jumped out of the jeep after putting it in park and turning off the ignition. He then focused his power to figure out where the others were and bolted towards the nearest person, who happened to be Wonho. Together they met up with Kihyun and Jooheon before Minhyuk and Wonho stripped and changed, Wonho grabbing the handle of the first aid kit in his mouth while Minhyuk grabbed their clothes and everyone followed Minhyuk to where he could sense Changkhyun at.
Changkhyun laid in the middle of a blackened circle of dirt around 10 feet in diameter in human form, shivering and whimpering when the others came up to him. Minhyuk was the first to change back and at least put some pants on before he ran to Changkhyun. "Pup?" Asked Minhyuk. "Puppy are you alright?" He asked, reaching out to put a hand on Changkhyun's shoulder.
"I-I'm sorry," Changkhyun mumbled repeatedly. "He's alright Wonho," said Minhyuk as Wonho walked over after changing back and also putting on pants. "Just a bit shaken up," he said. "How's his mental state?" Asked Wonho. "I'm not sure," mumbled Minhyuk as he sighed.
Alice spent the next half hour flicking through her phone uselessly. James promised that help was on the way, but with the nearest city a good forty minutes away, she didn't really expect to be rescued any time soon. James couldn't rush home to take care of it himself because he had to be in the courtroom. She didn't want to go back inside simply because she didn't want to. The early morning air was damp and cool on her warm skin. For a few minutes the sun had peaked out from behind thick clouds to sparkle across her hood and yard. For a moment she was in awe of the spectacle. Sharon had warned Alice that she would eventually forget what the sun looked like. She was partly right, though Alice would never forget the warmth it brought California.
Tires on gravel brought her attention to the real world. The truck was in need of repair. Rust ran through the door like an untreated disease. The passenger side was a faded pink color while the rest of the truck was a dirt covered white. The tow assembly on the back was liver spotted with holes and looked as though it could snap at any moment. Standing, Alice waved half heartedly a the boy driving. For a while she wasn't sure if her rescuer could even find her. Jumping awkwardly from the truck, the boy greets her. Quickly she learns that the boy's name is Steven and he can't fix her tire in the driveway. That he needed to tow it to a shop in town and it could be fixed for a cheap price. All she had to do was tell Harvy Steven sent her.
"How will I get to school?" She stupidly questioned him, he responded with a shrug and asking for her proof of insurance. Taking a moment she fetches everything asks for, running through a list of names in her head. She wanted to text Changkhyun and Minhyuk if she could catch a ride with them. If they hadn't left yet. Sighing in frustration, she hands over all of her paperwork and tries to wait patiently while Steven looks over everything and jots down a few numbers. Then he leans over her hood to check her vin number.
"Maybe if you ask around the shop someone can give you a lift." Steven finally offers, his ear length hair falling into his eyes for a moment. Alice wondered how long it had taken him to grow out his miniscule goatee. Once everything had been taken care of, she climbed into the passenger side of the tow truck while Steven hitched her car up. She was forced to watch from the side mirror.
Wonho ran up the road, calling for Changkhyun. He knew Changkhyun couldn't have gone far but for him to not return in the morning was something else. He just hoped that Changkhyun didn't change back suddenly and ended up in front of someone's yard naked.
Kihyun and Jooheon went the other way, just trying to find their youngest. It was rare for Changkhyun to suddenly disappear out of the blue but maybe the neighbors spotted him or something. The only awkward part was going up to a house and asking if they'd seen a wolf or a naked boy around. They went through the forest, hoping to spot him now at least. None of them were trackers, that was Minhyuk and Hyungwon's job but Minhyuk was at school and Hyungwon was out of state.
Alice could have sworn she heard a wolf howling that night. She wasn’t sure if she was asleep or awake when she heard it, but it was there nevertheless. That morning started off like normal. She woke up to an empty house and grey light drifting in through the windows. The sun struggles to break through the clouds as she munches her toast. Scrolling through her phone, she looks for his answer. Disappointment fills her mouth with a bitter taste as she sees her inbox empty. Tucking her phone in her pocket, she readies herself to leave. Dressing in a lighter jacket than she has been wearing, she wonders if it’s going to rain. Black and white converses crunch on the driveway as she makes her way to her car, keys in hand. Pausing, she catches a glimpse of her driver side tire. Her tire was mushrooming out, clearly losing air by the second. Sighing, she wonders if she should chance it and try to make it to the gas station. Swearing angrily she shoots James a text asking him what she should do. As she waits she pops her car door open and sits in the driver’s seat. Thankfully she wakes up early.
When Changkhyun got a reply back he wasn't sure of why he suddenly felt relieved to get a reply. He was in his room at this point, staring dumbly at his phone while he was unsure of what to do to reply back. He hummed, putting his phone on the nightstand and getting up, going to make sure he had everything ready for school tomorrow before deciding to go for a run, going alone.
The rest of the night Changkhyun let his wolf do the running, his human conscious going into a state of sleep so he wouldn't be tired in the morning. His wolf ran through the familiar route like routine, keeping away from the humans when there were some out that night. He let out a howl, throwing his head back as he did so before disappearing deeper into the forest.
The next morning Minhyuk was getting worried when Changkhyun hadn't returned. "He's gone," he yelled in the house, panicking everyone. "There has to be a reason," said Kihyun. "Go on to school, I'll try and find him," said Wonho. "Give some excuse to his human friends or something, you know them right?" He asked. Minhyuk nodded. "Go, and tell them Changkhyun won't make it to the party or something," said Wonho. Minhyuk nodded again and went to get ready, driving to school after getting his things. Wonho went to find Changkhyun.
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.
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