Title: Nine-Tenths
Series: SPS
Author: Vashti
Fandom: Mercy Thompson Series
Character(s): Bran Cornick, Charles Cornick
Rating: FR13/PG
Summary: "Charles, is this the one the Slayer's people contacted us about?" Bran asked. "Yes."
Length: ~490 words
Disclaimer: Only the words are mine, and that's probably up for philosophical debate.
Notes: written for the 2018 August FAD. Not at all related to the "Pack a Smile" series. This has been reviewed and edited for clarity, but it is largely unchanged from the original. If you notice any errors, please point them out in the comments.
Notes2: This takes place sometime before the start of the Mercy Thompson series, and in some AU future of Buffy where Oz comes back from Tibet and stays. (If by some strange chance you've ever read my B/O series Closet, it's that future. You don't need to read it, though.)

They found him bleeding out into the Montana snow.

There had been a snow squall, blown over now. Some of the younger people had gone out to see the fresh coating on the trees and to let the kids play safely among the deepening drifts.

That far away from town, in the heart of the mountainous woods, there were no cell phone signals. With no wolves among them, it had taken four to carry the heavy muscle- and fur-bound creature out of the woods. The adults sent some of the older children ahead. The others were herded together to go a different way before they could see something that might scare them. They knew that something was wrong, however. The adults who had been happy to meander and trail behind them were now hurried and brusque. The elder siblings and friends who had laughed and chased and helped them make snowballs suddenly had an air responsible seriousness. "Later…later…" was the only answer their questions received as they were led home.

They did not see how, somewhere along the way, the heavy muscle- and fur-bound creature had shed his wolf skin. By the time the party met Bran at his front door, only two were carrying the stranger between them, the wound that had been sluggish welling fresh blood.

The children who had gone ahead hung back from the man, from their parents and older brothers and sisters and neighbor-friends. Whatever excitement had flooded them on the flight from the mountain to the house had been stifled by Bran's presence as they relayed the adults' message. It still held them under sway.

As he had stepped down off his porch to meet the party, Bran said to the man who had followed him out of the house, "Charles, is this the one the Slayer's people contacted us about?"

"Yes, Da."

Charles was the younger of his two sons. Bran nodded at his. Flicking a glance at the two supporting the young stranger, he said, "Bring him in." To the others, he said, "Go home."

The children ran towards their guardians. The adults – snatching up hands and looping arms around shoulders – nodded to Bran as they passed him, all careful to avoid his eyes. No one spoke, and the children's efforts were quelled when they tried.

Bran stood placid against the cold though he was barefoot in jeans and a long-sleeved Henley, until the yard had cleared and every head had disappeared towards town.

Mercy was standing in the doorway of the guestroom when Bran went back inside his house. "Charles says that's the one the Slayers are looking for," she said as he walked down the hallway towards her.

"Looks that way."

She sucked a breath in between her teeth. "We are so screwed."

Inside, Bran could scent both his sons – including the doctor – and the strange new wolf. "Maybe not."

He was the Marrok, after all – the Alpha of every werewolf in North America.