Fandom(s): Alpha & Omega (Patricia Briggs), Mercy Thompson (Patricia Briggs), True Blood
Character(s): Adam Hauptman (Mercy Thompson), Anna Cornick (Alpha & Omega), Bran Cornick (Alpha & Omega), Charles Cornick (Alpha & Omega), Lacy Mickens (True Blood OC), Mercy Thompson (Mercy Thompson)
Relationship(s): Adam & Mercy, Anna & Charles, Bran & Lacy
Rating: PG-13
Backstory: Basically, we have one huge island where all our characters end up. There is a powerful player pulling them all there for an unknown (to them) reason. These are the stories of them being there and any romantic relationships they have or form there. The threads stop at different points in our storylines and then pick up right after or a bit later, continuing the story.
Disclaimer: This is a PSL (private storyline) role play between needtakehave and sarah_jones on InsaneJournal. This is not meant to be normal fanfiction. It's a log of our posts in the PSL RP. Not everything we write is canon - a lot of it is altered for our RP or used with AU (Alternate Reality) characters. Please don't post nasty comments because it doesn't read like normal fanfiction or isn't completely canon.

Adam pulled up in front of his house, feeling tired due to the long trip, and especially his distance from Mercy. She had almost died defeating that river monster. His heart still ached at the thought. Then she had been stitched up and needed to recover. All he wanted to do was be there for her and help her in any way he could. But of course his damn job had to interfere... a highly classified matter that needed his immediate attention. He really hated his job at the moment. At least it was done now and he had the next days off. Besides that, he knew that the pack had been taking care of Mercy, even though she had been stubborn as hell and sent them off for a while at first. Typically her. He slightly smirked at the thought. Mercy never ceased to amuse him, even when he was as restless as he was right now.

As soon as the car was parked he jumped out of it, needing to see Mercy as quickly as possible. He could get his luggage later. Shutting the car door he turned around then froze. He was no longer outside his house. Instead he was in a forest. He frowned and spun around. The car was no longer behind him either. What kind of trick was this? A fae illusion? What kind of fae would be stupid enough to mess with the Alpha of the Columbia Basin Pack?

Adam inhaled, knowing that Mercy usually could tell when Fae glamour was in place by smelling what really was there. He wasn't as good at it as Mercy, but it wouldn't hurt to try. He smelled trees, nature, the ocean... The ocean? What the hell was going on? He turned around slowly, his eyes taking in every detail of his surroundings while trying to keep his wolf in check. He already had been restless and a little agitated because of his separation from Mercy. And that was before he suddenly found himself in a different place. This really did not help his control at all. Whoever was responsible for this better watch out.

Mercy had felt uneasy all day as if something bad was coming. It wasn't usual for her to have "feelings" like some kind of physic or something. Sure, she had a knack for being able to asses a situation but that was during the given situation not beforehand. That being said, all day she'd felt "off". She'd tried calling Adam since he was suppose to be on his way home but had gotten no answer. That alone gave her pause. Then she'd heard a phone ringing and went outside to see if she could find where it was coming from. Maybe Adam was home and that was why he hadn't picked up. She could feel him along their bond. He felt ... off, like her. That made her even more tense. Quickening her pace, she flung open the door and almost fell right into a ditch.

"Crap!" she said scrambling to spring over it before she twisted her ankle in the damn thing.

Glancing up, her eyes widened as she took in the scenery around her which was... different. It was not the rural area but instead a kind of jungle climate.

Something weird, and perhaps magical, had definitely happened.

"Adam?" she called out.

Adam growled when he didn't get a reception on his mobile. This really didn't feel good. He sighed, tried to control his wolf and then felt for the pack and mating bonds. Both were still in place. They seemed a little... off, like from a distance, but they were still there. With any luck Mercy would know through their bond what happened to him. Then she and the pack could come and get him. He growled once more at the thought. He didn't like to depend on others to come to his rescue. It was not in his nature as an Alpha. He would figure out what was going on himself. And if he couldn't... well, then he would trust in Mercy to find him. She was the only one he wouldn't mind too much to be rescued from. She was his mate and she was... Mercy. She was good at accomplishing whatever was thrown at her. The thought of her made him smile, but at the same time his heart ached for her. They had been separated far too long already. And now this! Anger surged through him again, making it more difficult to control his wolf. His wolf missed his mate as well and was more than just angry at being denied to be with her. He craved bloodshed.

Adam was just starting to wonder if should shift - he would be faster as a wolf - when he heard someone call his name. No, it wasn't just someone, it was Mercy, his Mercy. She was here. He could feel her more clearly through the mate and pack bonds now, too.

"Mercy," he called back and ran in the direction her voice had come from.

He didn't stop when he saw her, but instead rushed to her and swept her off her feet, spinning around with her in his arms. All the anger and frustration in him ebbed down to a manageable amount. Whatever was going on, it wasn't that bad, not if Mercy was with him.

"Ooof!" she said as Adam came towards her and swept her up against him.

Then just as instantly she naturally melted against him.

Her arms went around his neck, pulling his head towards hers so that her lips brushed his.

"I could feel you but I called and you didn't pick up. I was worried. I have no idea what happened or where we are but I'm just glad we're together," she said, looking up into his eyes.

As her lips met his Adam relaxed further, so did his wolf. With her this close anger was the last thing on his mind. His body obviously had other things in mind, too, but for the moment he ignored that. Something strange was going on, so this was not the time for making out or more... He quickly pushed away the thought and instead concentrated on what Mercy was saying.

"I have no idea what happened either. I just pulled up in front of the house and got out of the car when I suddenly appeared here, wherever here is. Then I heard you." He smiled at her. "I'm glad we're together, too," he admitted. He had a feeling that as long as they were together they could get through anything. The past certainly was a testament to that.

"How did you find me?" he then asked, assuming that even though she said she didn't know what was going on she had found a way to get to him.

Mercy gave me a 'are you kidding me' look.

"Adam, Adam... Haven't you figured it out yet? I'll always find you... Didn't you tell me something to that effect once? Well, the same goes for you... Always," she said, her hands going to his cheek.

"Seriously though, I didn't really do much. I was going outside to see if you were out there, almost fell into a ditch, and got up and called your name and then there you were..."

Adam chuckled slightly at the look she gave him. Then a wide smile appeared on his face at her words. Yes, always, they'd always find each other. He nodded, and then set her down. As much as he wanted to keep her in his arms, he knew it was safer for both of them if he didn't. They were in an unknown situation and he needed to be ready in case there was an attack. His wolf approved of his caution, even though he hated to let go of their mate as well.

"So, whatever happened brought us both here," he stated.

"Any theories about what is going on? Could this be fae magic?" He glanced around uneasily, before turning back to look at Mercy.

"How are you feeling by the way?" Her stitches had been taken out and she looked well enough, but he had to make sure.

Mercy laughed, touched at Adam's constant concern, "I'm fine, Adam," she said, not for the first time, and probably not for the last time.

"As for the rest..." she began, looking around with a sigh.

She dropped her arms to her sides.

"I don't really know. It's possible. With the fae's, who can tell? They are always up to something but putting in a whole new place? In the middle of nowhere? Not really their style. I mean, if they wanted us out of the way - they'd have it easier just killing us. Putting us someplace else - they chance us getting back home and taking revenge, right? Doesn't seem smart, does it?"

Adam listened to Mercy's assessment of the situation and nodded. He had come to the same conclusion, but wanted to know her opinion, she knew a lot about the fae after all.

"No, it doesn't. They'd have to deal with us plus the whole pack." You didn't mess with a werewolf without having to face the whole pack, especially if you messed with the Alpha.

"A fae powerful enough to pull this off would probably have enough brain cells to know that killing us would be the easier way... unless they need us to do something for them... again," he mused.

"I hope there are no more river devils they want us to take care of," he muttered. He really hated the last one. Mercy almost died killing it.

"Any chance your cell works? Mine doesn't."

"Nope, when I tried calling you, I got nothing, which kinda scared the crap out of me till I could feel you along our mating bond," she said.

Mercy frowned, thinking, "No, I don't think the Fae would try again with any river devils. They wouldn't send us to a jungle for something like that anyway. I just don't get it. None of this really is like them. It just doesn't feel like them. But it has to be powerful. To bring us both here, you know?" she said, worried.

Charles walked through the unfamiliar forest he had woken up in, his eyes glowing golden as he fought his anger and need to change. He had no idea how he got here. He should have been at home, with Anna. But he was here - wherever here was - and she was not. He hated to be away from her even more than he hated to wake up in a strange location with no memory of how he ended up there. Brother wolf was in a frenzy, craving bloodshed like a junkie. Whoever kidnapped and brought him here would regret this. Once Charles found him - or her - he might just let Brother Wolf do whatever he pleased.

As his eyes roamed the forest, looking for signs of danger Charles tried not to imagine all the horrible scenarios of what could have happened to Anna. He should be with her, protect her and make her feel safe. She needed him! He took a deep breath and tried to remind himself that his Anna was tough. She had survived her old pack, taken down Isabella, and killed a witch, a vampire and a Grey Lord. She was hardly helpless. Still, the need to keep her safe was overwhelming. Being away from her was always hard, but being away from her without knowing why or how was even worse.

He quickly checked the mating bond. It was still intact, but felt oddly distant. A threatening growl escaped him at the discovery. The pack bonds felt distant as well, all but one. The bond to his Alpha and father was as strong as ever, pulsating with familiar power.

Pulling out his mobile Charles called Anna first, but didn't get through. There was only static noise. Growling he tried his father, with the same result. Right now he really wished he had his father's ability to speak mind to mind. Walking through the strange forest he decided to try something else. Checking the pack bonds again he mentally poked his father's. Since it was the strongest link he had left his attempt to contact his father might work. Besides, messing with pack bonds only annoyed people. It didn't tell them anything, not even who did it, unless they were paying attention at that precise moment. With his father's uncanny ability to sense things he however might know that Charles was trying to contact him. Maybe he even knew that something was wrong. With any luck he would figure things out and keep Anna safe.

Anna had been at home with Charles, in the bathroom, trying to decide what to wear for their night out, about to step out with a smile on her face, when suddenly she was blinded by a light and then she saw blackness.

When she woke up, she was in the middle of a forest or a jungle or something like it. Confused, she looked around but saw nothing she knew.

"Charles?" she called out but got no answer.

Anxious, she checked their mating bond, and felt it was still strong though distant. It should have made her feel better that it was still there, but it didn't - not exactly.

Telling herself to be calm, trying to ignore the uneasiness of her wolf, she got up and started walking. The more she walked, she realized the stronger she could feel her mating bond become.

"Maybe I'm getting closer to him?" she thought to herself out loud.

After what felt like hours of walking, she stopped suddenly. Her wolf was crying out to her. She could feel the animal inside her screaming. But why?

Then she realized why.

Her face burst into a smile and in an instant the anxiety vanished and whatever problems they were in - however they had gotten wherever they were, didn't matter.

"Charles!" she yelled, looking around.

She knew he was here. She knew it! Or, at least, her wolf did. Her mating bond told her so too.

Charles didn't have to wait long to get a response from his father. Bran had figured it out, just as Charles had known he would. He listened as his father's voice sounded in his head:

Charles, are you alright? Charles raised an eyebrow at that. As if he could answer. I don't have cell reception, Charles. Something strange is going on. No kidding, Charles thought. There was a pause before his father 'spoke' to him again. Charles, I suddenly appeared somewhere else, at the edge of a forest. I believe you are here, too. If you can, try and find me. So his father was here, too. It made sense, since he could feel him so much stronger than the rest of the pack. But that meant that Bran was not with Anna either. A growl escaped his lips while he listened to his father’s descriptions of where he was. Now all he had to do was find him. Asil's ability to find his pack mates would be really handy right now, but Charles was confident that between his father's descriptions and his own magic he would find Bran.

Charles was sniffing the air, trying to figure out which way the mountain his father mentioned was, when he realized that the mating bond felt much stronger again. Then he heard her voice.

"Charles!"

He spun around, and then rushed in the direction her voice came from. In a matter of seconds he saw her. Relief flooded through him, washing away his anger, frustration and fear for her. Brother Wolf settled down, now that he was satisfied that his mate was safe.

Charles stopped a few inches away from Anna, grabbed her and spun her around, his arms wrapped around her, as a wide smile appeared on his face.

"You're here. You're safe," he said.

"Oh Charles! I was scared I was wrong! Well, that the wolf was wrong! I swear she kept telling me you were here... Then, the more I walked, the closer I felt, with our bond... until it felt so strong. I could feel her yelling, telling me you were close by," Anna said, rambling all in a rush, just grateful she had found him, her hands locked around his neck, her nose in his hair.

"I was so worried I wouldn't be able to find you..."

Charles breathed in her scent as he held her and listened to her ramblings.

"Of course you found me. And if you hadn't I would have found you," he told her. "I'll always find you." He would go to the end of the world for her if he had to.

He shifted her slightly in his arms until he could look into her face. Then he leaned forward and kissed her.

Charles, be careful. There is a dinosaur nearby.

Charles pulled away from Anna startled, ending their kiss.

"A dinosaur?" he muttered in disbelief, but his father couldn't hear him of course. The connection was one-way.

Anna kissed him back, her lips pressing against his. Just touching him, as simply as this, made her feel better - comforted her.

"A dinosaur?"

Anna frowned, pulling back to look at him.

"What do you mean, 'a dinosaur'? Charles, what's going on?" she asked, confused suddenly and a little scared. Sure, she wasn't scared of much lately, not since she knew what she was now, but still, a dinosaur? Yeah, like that wasn't weird!

Charles sat her down and looked around carefully.

"Da is here, too. He told me to find him. And now he just warned me that there is a dinosaur nearby. Of course he didn't elaborate." That would be too much to ask.

"I think he meant that one," he then added spotting a dinosaur in the distance. It was heading their way. He didn't know much about dinosaurs, except that there were carnivores and herbivores. This one did not look like a herbivore! He could smell blood on it.

"Run! Find my Da. Don't look back!" That said he changed into his wolf form and charged the dinosaur. He didn't think they could outrun it, not with Anna still in human form and she wouldn't be able to change fast enough. His only chance was to either kill the dinosaur or keep it busy long enough for Anna to escape.

"Charles!" she yelled, as he changed and charged towards it.

Terror filled her followed by anger and outrage.

Damn him!

Hadn't he learned by now that she wasn't some little werewolf to be pushed aside and protected?

"Damn you!" she yelled and started to change.

Once she had finished her change, she shook her body. Then, before the dinosaur had a change to realize she was there, she leapt on its back, hoping to startle it and give Charles enough time to do something. She snarled and sunk her teeth into its back. The dinosaur let out a roar of pain. If she could, she'd have grinned.

Adam nodded at Mercy's words. Then he heard a roaring noise.

"What was that?" he muttered, feeling torn between wanting to check it out and wanting to get Mercy as far away from whatever could make a noise like that. Then a wolf's howl followed, and not just a wolf's, a werewolf's. That settled things. If a werewolf was in danger Adam couldn't stay away.

Pulling off his shirt he handed it to Mercy.

"I need to check this out. Stay here, if you need to, run." He continued to strip, not bothering to try and really convince Mercy. He knew it wouldn't help. She did whatever she wanted, and like he would never leave her side when she was in danger, he knew she'd never leave his. He couldn't help trying to tell her to stay away though. He wished she would.

As soon as he was naked he started the change.

Charles heard Anna calling after him. He knew she would be pissed, knew that it was highly likely that she wouldn't listen to him. She was an Omega and didn't have to obey. She probably already started to change. He needed to kill that dinosaur as quickly as possible.

The dinosaur rushed at him, Charles rushed at it, but just before they would have collided he feigned to turn right, and then turned left instead. The dinosaur was too big to change directions quickly. Charles rounded in on it, jumped and sank his teeth into its neck. The dinosaur roared and shook itself, trying to get rid of Charles. Even though he tried to hold on, the dinosaur sent him crashing into a tree. Charles howled in pain and anger, and then charged again.

Charles didn't know how long he fought the dinosaur already when it suddenly howled in pain. Knowing that he hadn't cause the pain Charles glanced up and saw Anna on the dinosaurs back. Of course she hadn't stayed away. He growled and attacked again. At the same time the dinosaur spun around, trying to throw Anna off and hit Charles with its tail, sending him crashing into another tree.

Panting Charles pushed himself up. He felt tired and his body ached, but he couldn't rest yet. He was just about to charge again when he saw another wolf jump onto the dinosaur, sinking its teeth into its neck and deepening the wound Charles had caused earlier.

Charles would have grinned if he was in human form; instead he rushed to join the fight.

Anna inwardly winced as she watched Charles be thrown into the trees over and over again. Her wolf howled in fury and she tore into the dinosaur taking a chunk out of it, and for a moment, causing it to stop going after Charles.

Then, when it seemed to turn her way again, another wolf jumped into the fray.

Where had the other wolf come from she wondered.

Mercy raced after Adam, dumping his clothes on the ground, and changing into her coyote form just as she saw Adam fling himself, fully in his wolf form, onto the neck of ... good lord, a freaking DINOSAUR of all things.

Shaking her head, she watched as Adam sunk his teeth into its neck, tearing flesh off. Another wolf, much smaller in size nearby clung desperately to its back angrily. That was one pissed off little wolf, however it was. Then a second or third wolf actually, was near against a tree looking a little worse for wear. Even from here, she could feel the power radiating off him.

Truth be told, she was still in a little bit of pain from fighting the River monster. Sure, she was healing but it was taking time. This wasn't exactly the best time for a fight and with a damn pre-historic creature of all things. Adam would never forgive her if she got hurt. She'd never forgive herself if he got hurt because she didn't try to help.

Thinking fast, she started running in circles around them all. Faster and faster she went until she caught the dinosaur's attention. It noticed her and kept watching her, around and around she went. Faster and faster. It started to move with her, trying to move as she moved but she was faster, faster than it could be. Eventually, it missed a step, and went over, tripping over its own feet.

She howled, as if to give a warning to the wolves, to get out of the way.

Charles had just jumped onto the dinosaur again and helped the other wolf tear into the dinosaur’s neck, when the dinosaur started to move in circles, following... a coyote. Of course, Charles thought, as his eyes went to the black and silver wolf. Adam Hauptman. He would have recognized him sooner, if he hadn't been too focused on the dinosaur.

While the dinosaur was busy chasing Mercy Charles and Adam continued to claw and bite at its neck. Blood oozed down the dinosaur’s body, making it harder to stay on top of it. Then the dinosaur stumbled and fell.

Mercy's howl rang in Charles ear as he pushed himself off the dinosaur. Landing on the ground he turned around and saw the dinosaur crashing down, a piercing scream coming out of its muzzle. Charles didn't waste time, the dinosaur wasn't dead yet. Jumping back onto it he sank his teeth into it again and again, until it no longer moved.

Satisfied that the dinosaur was dead Charles jumped off it, his eyes looking around until they met Anna's blue ones. Relief washed through him as he went over to her, and then started to examine her properly for injuries.

Once they had killed the dinosaur Adam followed Charles example and went over to his mate. He grinned proudly at Mercy, flashing his wolf teeth. If he was human he would have told her that she was brilliant, but maybe their bond would let her know what he thought anyway. He then looked around carefully and sniffed the air, trying to make sure that there was no other threat nearby before starting to change back.

Anna watched in almost fascination as a coyote came on to the scene and started racing around the dinosaur. She had been trying to bite the thing to pieces without having much luck. Then she heard the coyote's howl and slide down the back to the ground and cleared out of the way before it crashed to the ground as the two male wolves finished it off.

When it was over, Charles came charging over. She nuzzled his mane as he checked her over for injuries. She didn't feel hurt. A little bruised maybe from being jostled around on its back but nothing that a little time wouldn't cure since they healed so fast.

Then licking his face, she stepped back to give him room to change back before she changed back herself.

Nearby, Mercy dizzily flopped over on her side, seeing stars. Wow, you know, she thought it was only on those stupid loony toons cartoons where people saw stars and birdies when you got dizzy or you ran into stuff or whatever but apparently not as she was seeing double. Squinting, she lifted her head and looked around urgently for Adam, worried he wasn't okay.

While Adam was looking at their surroundings he heard a small thudding noise. His head turned back to Mercy and he saw that she had fallen over. Panic rushed through him as he closed the distance between them and nuzzled her muzzle with his, then whined slightly.

Satisfied that Anna was okay Charles started to look around, making sure that there were no more dinosaurs or other dangers nearby. Then he heard Adam's whine and spun around. Mercy was on the ground. Worried he quickly changed to human, clothing himself. It took a little longer than usual, but not much. Most of his injuries were minor and had already healed.

Walking over to Mercy Charles stopped when Adam growled at him.

"Stop that," he said, but waited for the other wolf to settle down. If it had been Anna on the ground he would have growled at anyone coming closer, too.

"I'm just going to check if she is okay," he told the other wolf.

Adam's eyes were fixed on Charles, as he crouched nearby, talking to him. He knew that Charles wouldn't hurt Mercy. She was almost like a sister to him. Still his wolf worried and didn't want to let another wolf, especially one as dominant as Charles, closer to his mate. Finally the rational human half of him won over the wolf and he stopped growling, to let the man who could check Mercy better in his human form, come closer. As Charles knelt by their side Adam briefly flashed his teeth, not being able to suppress the urge.

Charles rolled his eyes at Adam, but smirked, then focused his attention on the coyote.

"Mercy, are you hurt?" he asked as his eyes checked her body. women would stop worrying. She wasn't in pain - just a little dizzy. It had really knocked the wind out of her.

Finally, closing her eyes, she managed enough strength to start to change.

Finishing her changing, Anna stood up, looking over at where Charles was.

"Do you need help?" she asked him, concerned as she watched the coyote change into a woman. She was afraid that maybe the woman had been hurt in the blur of running around. Maybe in all that running and speed, somehow the dinosaur had managed to swipe her with a claw or something and they hadn't seen.

Adam's eyes were fixed on Mercy as she changed, checking her body for any sign of injury.

"I'm not sure, Anna," Charles said, and then glanced back at Mercy, keeping his eyes fixed on her face for now.

"Mercy," Charles said. "Are you okay?" he added voicing what Adam no doubt wanted to know.

Adam whined slightly, waiting for Mercy to speak.

Mercy swallowed, her eyes opening. She blinked once, twice and finally a third time before being able to focus.

Finally, she was able to focus on a concerned Charles staring down at her. Beside her, she turned her head slowly and saw, even in wolf form, a very worried Adam.

Giving them both a smile, she started to get up slowly, her hand going to his head to rub behind his ears.

"I'm fine, Adam... I promise," she said, offering him a smile, before putting her other hand on the ground to brace herself to stand.

"Seriously, Charles," she said, seeing his worried look, "I'm okay. Just dizzy. I was running faster than I could see. I was worried that damn thing was never going to fall down," she said with a chuckle.

Anna smiled, and came up behind Charles, wrapping her hands around his waist from behind.

"I'm glad you're okay, Mercy."

Adam tilted his head slightly at Mercy's words, not sure if he should believe her, but then she promised and he relaxed.

Hearing her words Charles chuckled slightly. Running faster than she could see? That was so Mercy. He had forgotten how funny she was, or maybe he just never appreciated it before. He had been a little grumpy before Anna, hadn't he?

Charles hands settled over Anna's and he relaxed into her embrace, enjoying the peace his Omega brought him and especially Brother Wolf.

"Me, too," he said, and then glanced around. "Where did you leave your clothes, Mercy? Want me to get them for you?"

Being convinced that Mercy was fine and feeling more and more relaxed, which was probably due to the close proximity to an Omega Wolf, Adam decided that it was time to change back to human. He didn't smell or hear any threats anymore anyway.

Mercy looked around, biting her lower lip, "Errr... I think I dropped them over there," she said, pointing towards the area from where they'd come running from, "When we came in... Adam gave me his clothes but I dropped them too. Was too worried to put them down someplace safe. Hopefully they didn't get up getting trampled. I really don't want to have to walk around this jungle with nothing on," she muttered, standing up and stretching.

Anna nodded, totally understanding that, "That, I can totally sympathize with. The guys just don't understand modesty like women do, do they?"

Mercy shook her head, "No, that they do not. Understand it or appreciate it," she said, chuckling, turning to watch Adam, watching him intently for bruises or cuts or any other signs of injuries.

Charles rolled his eyes at the two women. "Of course I understand. Why do you think I clothe myself when changing?" he asked. "I'll get your clothes," he added and started to walk in the direction Mercy had indicated.

He made it back with the clothes just as Adam finished his change and handed them both their clothes.

"Thank you," Adam said still sounding a little hoarse from the change. Then he stretched slightly as the last pain ebbed away.

"So, you ran faster than you could see? I guess we're lucky you didn't accidentally run into the dinosaur," he said teasingly to Mercy while starting to get dressed.

Charles hid an amused smirk and took Anna's hand in his.

"I don't suppose you two know how you ended up here?" Charles then asked. He had a feeling that they didn't, but hoped he was wrong.

Mercy playfully punched him in the arm, "Very funny. That's a scary thought. You okay? You didn't get hurt, did you?" she asked him worriedly.

Anna smiled, watching the banter between the two happily married couple. She slid her hand into Charles’s and smiled up at him.

Mercy shook her head, turning to look at Charles, "No. I think we were hoping you did. I know I was. Adam was on his way home and I was waiting for him and couldn't get a hold of him. I went outside to see if he was there, and ended up here. Not much more than that. Not too long after that we found the two of you." *********

Bran glared at Leah, trying to control his temper. They were having an argument again. It felt like they were hardly doing anything else anymore. She was constantly jealous of Charles, Anna, or anyone else he spent time with. And she let everyone feel it. Her behavior had always been annoying, but lately it bothered him more and more. Maybe it was because he now saw Charles and Anna and how happy they were. They reminded him of how it was to be happily mated, how it used to be with him and Blue Jay Woman. Part of him longed for a connection like that, but he knew he couldn't have it. It was too dangerous. If he ever felt like that again and lost his mate he might not be able to hold it together. The monster inside of him that he barely managed to control, especially recently, since that witch had set it free briefly, was too dangerous. He could not risk setting it free. It was why he put up with Leah, why she was the perfect mate for him. She helped keep the monster in him at bay without any risk of him losing it if anything ever happened to her. She was a safe mate for him. Knowing that was why he managed to stand being with her. Today however it felt harder than usual.

Keeping a tight leash on his anger Bran turned around. Leaving now would be the best thing for both of them. He made a step forward, and then froze his eyes wide. He was no longer in his home, but in a forest. He spun around frowning.

"What is this?" Leah asked her eyes wide.

Still taking in their surroundings Bran glanced at her. But before he could say anything something jumped on Leah, sinking its huge teeth into her. Leah screamed in terror and pain, which Bran could feel through their mating bond.

Moving as fast as he could Bran grabbed the creature attacking Leah and pried it off her. Startled by his attack the creature let go of Leah and turned on him. Bran barely had time to wonder if what he was seeing could actually be a dinosaur, when it attacked.

Lacy had been waiting for Sam to get done his shift to go running in the woods with her. She needed to blow off some steam. It disgusted her how many men came into Merlotte's and thought they could put their hands on her. They were just lucky Sam had her exercise self control. Otherwise, she'd have killed them by now. She was, after all, a shifter.

She could shift into pretty much anything. She'd left the bar and stepped outside, expecting to see Sookie on her way in for her shift but instead was putting her hands up to avoid the glaring light. Then, blinking, she heard a sound so loud, she clamped her hands over her eyes and dove to the side of the ground out of the way of what looked like a ... dinosaur?

"What the hell?" she said, as she watched the creature attack a woman.

Just then, a man came from the forest next to them and pulled the dinosaur off the woman with his bare hands before he was attacked himself.

Her eyes widened.

No way was she getting involved; she'd be eaten whole for sure.

Swallowing, she thought she'd give a warning at least, "Eh, you better run!" she said, getting up and starting to shift so she'd be able to run herself if needed. She was much faster shifted. While shifting, she got an idea and shifted into an eagle. It was a little hard as she'd only ever shifted into once and that was when she'd first started shifting.

Once she had, she flew up above the man, leaving the female one as it looked like it was dead already and she wasn't going to be able to get two, and dove down and picked him up by the shoulder quickly in her beak. Hopefully, she'd only dislocate it and not pull him apart or anything but she wasn't sure what else she could hold on top of him without literally pulling it off him, body part wise and time was of the essence.

Squeaking, she pulled up as hard as possible and swung into the air trying to stay above the dino, having a little trouble since she was unused to this form and the man she was carrying was freaking heavy!

As the dinosaur attacked Bran heard a woman's voice, but couldn't make out what she said. He was too busy jumping out of the way of the dinosaurs sharp teeth and trying to shut out the pain he could feel through the mating bond. He closed the bond as far as possible, only allowing enough awareness to seep though that he would be able to tell if Leah was still alive.

The dinosaur rushed past him, then stopped and turned around, fixing its eyes on Bran. He was trying to come up with a plan to kill the dinosaur when the pain seeping through the mating bond suddenly disappeared, taking the mating bond with it. Just as quickly as the pain coming from Leah had disappeared another pain rushed through him, a different kind of pain, and the pain of losing a mate. He had seen powerful werewolves pass out from the intensity of losing their mate. He didn't, but it still left him weak. He might not have loved Leah, but his wolf had sort of loved hers.

While Bran tried to pull himself together and focus on the advancing dinosaur something hit his shoulder, sending another wave of pain through his body. Then he was pulled upwards into the air, flying away from the dinosaur.

Lacy pulled, trying to push and pull them both out of the path of the dino. The dino chased after them but she saw something like a cave or brush in front of them. Flapping her wings faster, she flew towards it. As they neared it, she released the man into the brush, letting him fall into the hole in the ground that was much too small for the dino to get into. Circling, she zoomed in after him, almost flying right into him but missing him by an inch.

Lying on the ground next to him, still shifted, Lacy flapped her wings slower and slower until they stopped. She was so tired. She wasn't even sure she had the energy to shift back.

Closing her eyes, she was sure she was about to fall asleep. She listened to her breathing and concentrated on shifting back. Slowly, Lacy shifted back into human form, naked and scrunched up as if she had just been born.

Bran tilted his head slightly to look up at what was carrying him, but the motion sent another shot of pain through him, so he decided not to try again for now. He had an odd feeling that whatever had grabbed him was trying to get him away from the dinosaur, which was a good thing anyway. Not that he would have left Leah's body willingly if he had had a choice, but he supposed there was nothing he could do for her anymore anyway. He had failed her already.

After only a brief flight whatever held him up let go of him and he fell into some kind of cave that was too narrow for the big dinosaur. He landed hard on the floor of the cave, his shoulder protesting in pain, but Bran ignored it. The pain of his body was nothing against the pain he felt inside. His wolf was mourning his mate and lusting for bloodshed at the same time. That combined with the loss of Leah's help in keeping the monster inside of him at bay made him struggle for control. He could not lose it. He didn't know what was going on, where he was. There could be people nearby. Or could there? There was a dinosaur out there! Maybe letting out the beast in him would not be such a big problem. Even if he went crazy and went on a killing spree, that dinosaur might take him down before he could even touch an innocent. Maybe he should just let go. He was so tired of fighting for control.

Before Bran could make a decision about whether to keep fighting his eyes fixed on something next to him. What was that? It looked like an eagle... no, not really. It was changing, like werewolves did.

"A shape shifter," he muttered silently, his eyes fixed on the figure. The part of him that was a predator and craved for bloodshed wanted to kill the shifting thing, but Bran pushed that feeling away. The shifter must have been the one who grabbed him and thus might have saved his life. He would not hurt... her. It was a woman.

His eyes fixed on the woman Bran waited for her to finish her change. He knew that he probably should look away, since she was naked. It would be the polite thing to do, and usually he would. But keeping his eyes fixed on her gave him a purpose, something to concentrate on, and it helped. In some weird way simply looking at her helped him keep his control. Maybe it was because she was so utterly defenseless in her current state. If he lost it now he would kill her, and he could not let that happen. So he watched her every move, crouched on his feet, eyes blazing gold, with his need to change barely suppressed.

Lacy's eyes slowly opened, and she stretched, temporarily forgetting there was a man, a strange man beside her. Then her eyes locked with his. Her eyes locked with his almost glowing, fierce eyes.

Her eyes widened and she swallowed hard. She forced herself not to flinch and to tense up. She forced herself not to scurry away in fear - not that there was much room for her to scurry but still.

If anything, she had learned you never show fear in front of a predator, it was the surest way to end up dead. Sure, she could be one when she wanted to be, but she tended to not be. It just wasn't in her nature so much - unless you pissed her off that is - then, she was a super nova of danger.

"Easy. I saved your life," she reminded the man in a low, calm and she hoped, soothing voice.

Bran stared at her as their eyes met. No one had looked him in the eyes like that in... he couldn't even remember how long, centuries at the very least. People who knew him feared him too much, and even those who didn't know him dropped their eyes quickly, sometimes even stumbling backwards in the process, and that was when he was in human form and in complete control of himself. He was NOT in complete control right now, not even close.

This woman, the shifter, did not flinch away from him or scurry away. She was afraid of him, he could smell it, but that only proved that she wasn't stupid.

Bran tilted his head slightly, in a wolf-like way, still looking at her. She still didn't try to get away or cower in a submissive way. Her behavior should have sent his wolf over the edge. He was the most dominant wolf alive, and to make sure he stayed alive he had to make sure no one dared challenge him. That, added to his wolf's aggressiveness, did not allow it, that anyone dared to look at him directly. After Leah's death his control was minimal, barely existing at all. He should have snapped, ripped her throat out, but instead he just looked at her, and then realized that all of a sudden he didn't even feel the need for violence anymore.

He blinked, and then kept staring at her for an entirely different reason. She wasn't an Omega like Anna. She didn't have calmness pouring out of her. But still, she had managed to calm him down anyway, and that by looking at him! Then she spoke and a small smile appeared on his lips. He didn't know where it came from, or why her words had caused it. He didn't really understand a lot about his current situation. But it didn't matter right now. His body relaxed and the beast inside him calmed down to a manageable point.

"Yes, you did," he said, the smile still on his lips. "Thank you for that."

Pulling his eyes away from her Bran then pulled off his shirt and handed it to her. It wasn't much, but better than being naked.

Lacy's eyes went to the shirt he'd literally taken off his own back and had outstretched to her.

She swallowed again, but this time, not from fear.

Swallowing what could have been arousal if she'd taken the time to analyze the emotions; she snagged the shirt from him and put it on.

"Thanks," she said, her eyes unwillingly trailing down his chest.

Shaking her head, she made her eyes go back to his face.

"Is your shoulder okay? I tried not to pull too hard but that was the only place I could think of that I might not actually pull you apart with if I clamped onto it with my beak and I don't have a lot of practice as an eagle. Or out-flying dinosaurs..." she said, the last shaking her head harder at the absurdity of the statement.

Bran felt another tug at his lips as the last bit of her fear that had lingered in the cave changed to something entirely different: arousal. But since she ignored it so did he. He had other things to think about anyway, like why he was suddenly feeling the urge to smile, when just a few minutes ago his mate had died, followed by him almost losing control. Then his eyes widened slightly, as he finally understood what had happened. His wolf hadn't just miraculously settled down and decided not to care about asserting its dominance. It had noticed the loss of his mate as a big problem, probably because his human half saw it that way, and had decided to get rid of that problem immediately. There might be other factors as well, his wolf seemed to have enjoyed that the woman in front of him dared to look him in the eyes, for example. However, no matter what the main reason was, what happened was that his wolf had decided to replace his lost mate right now. Maybe the shifter was a convenient choice because she was the only one here, maybe the wolf actually liked her or maybe it didn't want to wait for Bran to find a suitable mate, which had taken him years the last time. Whatever the reason, Bran was stunned. It wasn't that he cared enough about Leah to not even want to consider being with someone else. It wasn't that he didn't like the woman in front of him either. She was pretty, she had saved his life, and she was tough enough not to cringe away from him when he was about to lose control. He actually did like her. What did stun him was that his wolf moved on from Leah that quickly. His wolf and Leah's wolf had been close. They got along way better than their human halves. And he had felt the pain his wolf felt at losing his mate. Yet here they ware, only a few minutes later and his wolf had moved on already. It seemed wrong. Maybe he had overestimated his wolfs attachment to Leah. Or he was missing something about the woman in front of him that would let him make sense of all of this.

When the shifter spoke Bran was pulled out of his thoughts. Looking at her he briefly flexed his shoulder. It was almost healed completely.

"My shoulder is fine," he said sitting down and letting himself relax against the cave wall. Then a roaring sound erupted from outside the cave. The dinosaur, he thought. His eyes went to the entrance of the cave, then back to the young woman.

"Why did we have to out fly a dinosaur?" he wondered out loud. It just didn't make any sense. Not that anything else made sense right now, but his wolf's strange behavior was definitely outranked by a dinosaur.

Lacy frowned hard at the man.

She was glad his shoulder was fine though it was a little surprising.

"Are you... mental or something? Cause I don't know about you but *I* personally am no match for a dinosaur and hey, I thought maybe you needed the help, seeing as it easily killed that female with you and all. Stupid me! I guess I should have just let it eat you or kill you whatever. Well, I'll know for next time," she said, almost spitting the last part out, getting riled out, not even thinking about the consequences or the fact just a second ago the man looked like he might eat her.

Bran looked at her, surprised by her outburst. Not a lot of people talked to him like that. Maybe Charles or Samuel, no, not even them. Leah had never dared it either. Instead of getting angry or losing control he however did kind of enjoy himself. Her behavior was... refreshing.

"That is not what I meant," he said. Yes, he was the most powerful werewolf in existence and he might have been able to kill the dinosaur. He had an intelligent mind after all and was not an animal driven purely by instinct. That made up for a lot of things, even size. Big predators tended to underestimate him all the time anyway. The dinosaur surely would have been no different. But the shock of losing his mate had weakened him. He did not regret having left. His dominant wolf fought not to flee, but Bran was not ruled by his wolf. Getting killed because you were too stupid to realize when it was better to leave and come back fighting another day was not in his nature.

"What I did mean was why there is a dinosaur in the first place. I don't know about you, but I don't usually meet dinosaurs." The last was said with a hint of humor in it, but which probably no one but his sons would be able to detect. Only they knew him well enough and were able to look past the fear people usually felt for him.

Lacy waited, tense, for some male half-assed retort, ready to make a comeback.

Men always seemed to think she was stupid. Stupid, small, and a hick. Course, she was small, and was becoming less and less a hick as time went on she hoped but one thing she had never been - was stupid.

"What I did mean was why there is a dinosaur in the first place. I don't know about you, but I don't usually meet dinosaurs."

Her eyes widened at that and her face softened into a smile.

"Right. You have a point," she said with a laugh.

"I don't usually meet dinosaurs either. Now, supernatural creatures, sure but pre-human creatures? Not so much. Yeah, it was weird. One minute, I was walking outside of a bar and the next, I was here, watching that woman get eaten or whatever. It was almost surreal. I think we were both just lucky we weren't next."

When she smiled Bran couldn't help but smile back. It was strange. No one had had an effect like this on him in a very long time. The last one was Charles mother. He froze. No, this could not be happening! He knew this woman less than an hour and she already affected him like this. He could not have a mate that affected him this way! He had searched for someone like Leah for precisely that reason. He needed a mate that he didn't like, someone he couldn't fall in love with. Falling in love was too dangerous. Falling in love meant that if he lost his mate he would be devastated and might not be able to hold back the monster in him. This woman could NOT become his mate! Bran frowned as he felt his wolf's smugness, and then realized what happened. He had chosen the last mate for them and had not loved her. His wolf seemed not to have liked that, which Bran had never even realized. So, this time the wolf had chosen the mate while his human half had been too busy and distracted to do anything about it. Now it was too late. Unless this woman rejected him Bran could not chose another mate. He had to make her reject him. But that would be hard, since all he seemed to want to do instinctively was to make her like him.

Her voice pulled him out of his thoughts once more. She had suddenly appeared here as well. Interesting.

At the mention of Leah getting eaten he flinched slightly. He usually was better at keeping his emotions private, but losing a mate rattled anyone, and even though his wolf had moved on so quickly he still mourned his mate. He blinked, pulled himself together and placed a blank look on his face. He was the Marrock; he didn't let others see what he was feeling.

"Yes, I suppose we were. And we might be lucky again," he said as he stood up and moved closer to the entrance of the cave. The noises coming from the dinosaur had faded. It might have moved on to easier targets.

"I think the dinosaur left."

"I hope so. I really don't have it in me to shift into an eagle again. Or really into anything. I mean, I could but... I'm better with animals that have four legs and I don't think any of them will outrun a dino. You wouldn't happen to know how we ended up in the stone age, would you? Cause I sure don't... I mean, if I was Sookie, sure - maybe, because she's a fairy but I'm just a shifter... I'm a nobody."

Bran glanced at her again when she talked about shifting. She could shift into more than one animal? That was unusual and very interesting.

He slightly shook his head at her question. He had no idea how they got here. He hadn't felt any magic being used, and didn't know who would dare do this to him, or why. Another question was if they ended up in the age of dinosaurs, or if the dinosaur had ended up wherever they were the same way they had.

Before Bran could say anything she went on.

"I'm a nobody."

He froze and stared at her as anger rushed through him. His wolf did NOT like to hear her say that at all. His eyes flashed golden before he managed to control his wolf.

"Why do you say that?" he asked his voice anything but calm. Then he took a breath and relaxed his posture. His control really was awful, but it could be worse, he decided. He had lost his mate after all and was in an unknown situation where a dinosaur had been involved. That he had any control left at all was miraculous.

She noticed he looked a little tense after her speech but she inwardly shrug. She hadn't said anything but the truth.

Then she outwardly shrugged, "I don't know. Probably because it's the truth. I'm a shifter in a world of... vampires, werewolves, fairies, humans that like to kill anything that isn't human. There aren't many shifters out there. I'm kinda low of the food chain. Besides, I'm female. Females aren't exactly what you'd call respected. Unless maybe you were Sookie, but even then she's just mostly feared, not so much respected. I just try to stay out the way. Guess it doesn't matter now huh? I'm in the land of dino's... Like that's not crazy," she said with a laugh.

Bran frowned at her words and the casual tone she used. Did she really think so little of herself? He just met her and he already knew that she was worth more than that. It wasn't just that his wolf had claimed her as his mate. She had risked her own life to safe a stranger. Anyone who did something like that was worth a lot to him, and not just because it had been his life she saved. Besides that females should be respected and protected.

"It does matter," he said growling slightly. As soon as he noticed what he was doing the growling stopped.

He was about to tell her that she deserved respect and why, but then stopped himself, remembering that he needed her not to accept him as her mate. He shouldn't do anything that might make her like him. Turning away he fought to control the furious rage of his wolf, who didn't like what he was doing at all.

"Let's have a look at this place," he muttered and climbed out of the cave with swift moves that no human would have managed.

"And find a way back home." The sooner he could leave her the better.

Lacy was confused by his sudden mood swings. He seemed to go from happy, or something like it to all cranky within seconds. It was enough to give her a headache but she just let it go. Whatever, like a moody male was so unusual - not.

Sighing, she followed behind him, climbing out.

"Hey, slow down! Some of us don't have the foot pace of three people you know. I'm in human form and I have the build of a small female so I take tiny steps. Jeez," she muttered.

Looking around, she took in the view, "I wonder if they have a store around here," she said joking, thinking of how she'd like to get some pants and sneakers. The shirt she'd keep. Though she hated to admit it, it smelled of him and that made her... what? She shook her head, not sure she wanted to linger on those thoughts. He was a cranky stranger. She didn't even know his name. Soon, they'd be on their separate ways and he'd forget her.

Hearing her words Bran was about to hold out a hand to help her out, but forced himself not to. He could not afford to be a gentleman.

At her joking words a smile threatened to creep onto his face, but he forced it back.

"Probably not," he said silently then looked around. They were at the edge of a mountain, a forest spreading out in all directions at the bottom of it. They could either enter the forest or head up the mountain, which was a bad idea. The forest it was.

Bran took in a deep breath. He could faintly smell the dinosaur. It wasn't that far away.

"That way," he said pointing to their right, away from the dinosaur.

As he started to walk he glanced at her, and then had to suppress the overwhelming urge to hold out his arm for her to take. His refusal to do so sent his wolf into frenzy and made him fight for control once more. He sighed. Maybe this was not his best strategy. Constantly having to fight with his wolf made it harder to control the madness inside of him, the beast that he so desperately needed to keep from overwhelming him.

"Fine," he muttered silently to his wolf. He would treat her nicer.

"Where were you before you appeared here?" he asked, deciding that polite conversation might be a good start. Maybe it would even help him figure out what was going on. And it was better than walking closer to her to help her if she needed it, which he really wanted to do.

Lacy glanced his way when she heard something that sounded like a "Fine". Oookay. Hopefully he wasn't really mental or anything.

At his question, she started, kinda surprised by it since she had expected him to be the silent broody type.

"I was just ending my shift at Merlotte's, which is bar my brother owns, in Bon Temps. Was going to go for a run in the woods, let off some steam after having to tolerate hick town men who think they are god's gift to women and have the right to put their hands anywhere," she ground out, rolling her eyes.

"I swear, Sam is just lucky I hadn't killed one of his customers. I really don't think I'm cut out for customer service. Men are pigs," she said, ending her rant in a rush of breath, blushing when she realized she'd blurted all that out and to a man of all people.

At her words Bran stopped dead, his eyes blazing gold with the urge to change. He fought it back even though he was as enraged as his wolf. But the men she spoke of, who had dared to touch her against her will, weren't here. Changing into a wolf would accomplish nothing, apart from maybe frightening her.

When she went on he slightly calmed down, realizing that she was tough, and if she wanted to she could have killed the men herself. He still wanted to kill them, but knowing that she would be able to protect herself, if she needed to, helped to calm him and his wolf down.

"Your Sam is lucky I wasn't there," he growled before he managed to stop himself.

Lacy chuckled, "Sam tries to do the right thing but it's hard to find a balance between 'big brother' and 'owner'. He can't alienate the customers. It's a small town and there are other places to go, not that far out of the way. I hold my own. It just grates of my nerves and mostly they are harmless. Creeps really. There are only a few that you only really have to watch out for... human wise. Now, vampires," she said, laughing, "Well, you always watch out for them. And anything else supernatural that walks in," she said, her eyes finally going to him.

The more she was around him; the more she got the feeling he wasn't exactly what you'd call "normal". Maybe she had more reason to be worried than she first thought. She couldn't afford another incident. The last one ended with Sam getting rid of a body.

Bran blinked, surprised at her reaction. Not a lot of people would chuckle when he spoke in that tone of voice. It was more likely that they'd flee, even if he meant them no harm.

"I am glad to know that you can hold your own," he said truthfully, once he had calmed down enough to speak without growling.

"Yes, you have to watch out for vampires. Never trust a vampire," he agreed. Then he caught the look she was giving him. It seemed uneasy. Had he scared her after all? She didn't really smell of fear.

"What?" he asked looking at her. For some reason he really wanted to know what she thought right now.

Lacy shook her head.

"You're not a vampire. I'd know. But you're not human either. You're eyes were glowing earlier. Human eyes don't do that. You're not a shifter, are you?" she asked in an almost hopeful tone. It would be nice to meet another shifter. Sure, Sam, her brother was one, but Sam was her brother - it wasn't the same. Besides him, and their asshole of a father, she didn't know any other shifters - ever.

For some reason, she didn't fear him - which was probably very stupid of her but she didn't. That didn't mean she wasn't being stupid though - wouldn't be the first time she'd misjudged a man - especially a good looking one. And boy was he good looking.

Even though he didn't want to, a smile appeared on his face at her words.

"Not a vampire," he agreed, pleased to know that she seemed to be able to tell who was a vampire. That would certainly be useful. It might save her life some day.

"Not human either or at least I haven't been in a very long time," he sounded a little tired at his last words, as if his age was weighing heavily on him.

"And not a shifter like you. I am a werewolf," he said, then decided that it was time to introduce himself.

"I am Bran Cornick... the Marrok," he said, expecting her to know who he was. Every supernatural being did. For a moment he had hesitated and wondered, if he should leave out his title. Not everyone knew his name. Maybe she might not have. If she didn't know he was the Marrok she might not fear him as much, which would be nice. Or she might like him just for his title. He wanted her to like him for who he was as a person, not what he represented, which was what Leah had liked about him. But that urge that made him want her to like him was dangerous, and the plan was to make her reject him anyway. If she feared him she might reject him. And if she did only like him for his title she was not who he thought she was, and his problem would be solved. She would be an acceptable mate in that case. So he told her.

"A werewolf huh? Most of the wolves I know are all about dominance. I don't know what "the Marrok" means. It's nice to meet you, Bran Cornick. I'm Lacy, Lacy Mickens. Not that my name is going to mean anything to you... I'm not well known or anything. Heck, Sam Merlotte, my brother, is better known. If you've ever been to Bon Temps, I'm sure you've met him. It's strange though, I've never seen a werewolves eyes turn flash gold before," she said, her hand going to brush the side of his face near one of his eyes before she realized what she had done and snatched it back.

"Sorry..."

An amused smirk appeared on Bran's face.

"Oh yes, they are," he muttered silently. She really had no idea that she was face to face with the most dominant of them all. But why would she? He hadn't exactly persisted on his dominance with her. He had kept most of his dominance nicely bottled up within him, even when he almost lost it a couple of times. The most he had let her see of his true self was when she first saw him, and she had been changing then. Her attention had been focused elsewhere.

When she went on he looked at her startled. She did know werewolves, but hadn't heard of the Marrok? Strange. Maybe she didn't know many werewolves and wasn't involved in the supernatural world much? It was possible. She could live among humans. Shifters were not out to the public. There weren't enough of them to be forced to reveal themselves out of necessity.

"I don't think I know your brother," he said truthfully. "And it is nice to meet you, too, Lacy." Way too nice, he added in thoughts. Since she didn't seem to know who he was she couldn't like him for being the Marrok, so it was not safe to give in to his impulses to be with her.

"Werewolves have different eye colors. When we are close to a change it is visible in our eyes first," he told her. His wolf's eyes were golden, like Charles. Anna for example had blue eyes as a wolf.

When her finger brushed his skin a shiver went down his back. He hadn't felt anything like this since Charles mother died. He gulped, torn between wanting her to touch him again and wanting to run as far away from her as possible. She was dangerous to him.

Just before she had snatched her hand back, she felt him shiver.

What a strange man he was.

"Still, gold is very unusual, isn't it? It's so... alluring. Shifters don't really have any tells when we shift - we just shift. Sam said some can't do it fluidly but I'm pretty good at it, I can do it pretty much in one motion - you know, like water, the fluidness of it?" she said, babbling, before she realized she was telling a virtual stranger about her shifting.

It was really strange how comfortable she felt with him.

Her eyes dropped to his muscled chest again and she sighed. Then her gaze caught on his ring finger and her eyes narrowed. No ring. So he was married. That made her happier than it should. It brought a secret smile to her face.

She should not be happy. He was nothing to her and she was nothing to him. So why was she so happy?

Alluring? He liked that word, and the way she said it.

"I don't know," he admitted. The color of wolves’ eyes had never been that interesting to him. Maybe if he thought about it properly he would know how many wolves had which eye colors, but right now the eye color of wolves’ eyes was the last thing that seemed important to him. His eyes were fixed on her, watching her every move as she spoke. She was babbling, he knew it, and he liked it. He made her nervous, which he did like as well, even though he knew he shouldn't. But with her this close he couldn't seem to remember why.

As her eyes dropped to his chest a sigh escaped her lips, making him feel warm inside. He really loved the reaction he had caused in her. Then her eyes went down to his hand. As if her gaze held power over him his hand moved, finding hers. His thumb gently caressed her palm before his fingers intertwined with hers. Then he lifted his eyes to her face. Her lips seemed to invite him, and without another thought he leaned forward until his lips met hers.

Her lips parted as his hand touched hers, his thumb caressing her palm. She blinked rapidly, her lips still parted, trying to force her brain to work - to remember why this was all a bad idea when suddenly his lips were touching hers.

She gasped against his mouth, her lips parting even further, almost on their own.

AS if her body had a mind of its own, her tongue darted into his mouth for a split second and then back into her own. She gasped with surprise at the action, shocked that she had done that. Her eyes flew to his; worried she had shocked or even offended him. What was wrong with her? She was acting like a slut! Her body suddenly felt as if it was on fire, just being near him and the blood felt like it was rushing to her head and she could barely hear over the pounding in her ears.

Her lips were soft and inviting as he kissed her. Then her tongue explored his mouth for a moment before retreating. Bran groaned slightly, frustrated, at the loss of it, before his tongue decided to make up for the loss of contact and explore her mouth instead. At the same time his hands moved to her hips, pulling her closer, the need to feel her body against his almost overwhelming him. It was as if his body had a mind of its own, reacting by itself and giving way to desires he hadn't felt in centuries.

Lacy melted against him, against her common sense.

If her tongue exploring his mouth surprised her, his dipping into hers seriously shocked her. Her eyes widened before they fluttered close. Her arms went to rest around his neck and her body melted against the length of his when his hands moved to her hips, pulling her towards him. What surprised her more was that she let him.

If this had happened at Merlotte's, there would have been blood and broken bones. Almost against her will, she could feel herself growing aroused and hot. It was intense and a little bit scary to her. She never felt such swift passion or arousal for any man; supernatural or otherwise - ever.

Desperately, though it pained her to do so, she pulled away from him, drawing in a long, drawn out breath.

"Who are you, really?" she asked, though he had told her, that wasn't what she meant.

He had to be someone. Someone special. No one had made her feel like that. No one had made her feel out of control.

The sweet smell of her arousal mixed with his own as Bran continued to kiss her. Then, all of a sudden she pulled away. The loss of her lips on his almost made him growl, but then his mind suddenly started to work again, making his eyes widen slightly. So much for making her reject him as a mate... great job, Bran, he chided himself mentally.

"Who are you, really?"

Her words surprised him. He thought about her question for a moment, trying to figure out what she meant. An idiot, a voice in him seemed to say. Yeah, that fit. He was doing exactly what he didn't want to and really, really shouldn't do. But still, he didn't manage to pull away. To lose the touch of her body seemed like something unbearable. He kind of felt like he was finally alive again, after over two centuries of slumbering. When Charles mother died it felt like part of him had died with her. Now he wasn't so sure about that anymore. Maybe that part of him had just been asleep and was waking up now. As much as he knew that it was a really bad idea to be with Lacy, he felt reluctant to lose that part of him again. It felt good to be 'awake', to finally feel something again. But was it really good? Did he deserve it? Leah's face suddenly popped up in his mind. No, he certainly didn't deserve any of this, for so many different reasons. And he really shouldn't be kissing anyone, let alone enjoying it as much as he did, after his last mate just died. His wolf might think it was okay to move on so quickly, but the human half didn't deem it appropriate.

"Sorry," he finally said and forced himself to pull away from her. "I should not have done that. I apologize."

Lacy turned away from Bran, so he couldn't see the hurt pass over her face.

Sure, she had been the one to pull away first - that was true. Still though, the rejection from him shouldn't have hurt, indeed she should have been happy about it, but she wasn't. No, instead it felt like he had punched her in the stomach. She had a large lump in her throat.

"Don't worry about it. I shouldn't have responded," she said in a hoarse voice.

Bran's eyes narrowed as she turned away from him. His nose told him that she wasn't happy about his words. Then she spoke.

"Don't worry about it." A lie. If she knew him better she'd know not to try lying to him. It was hard to lie to a werewolf, it was almost impossible to lie to him.

"I shouldn't have responded." She sort of meant that.

"I know you didn't ..." He didn't get to finish the sentence as he felt a sort of tug through the pack bonds. Surprised he focused on them for the first time. They had still been there, so he hadn't worried about them before and hadn't really had time to examine them more closely. Now that he did he noticed that they were oddly distant, but not all of them. One wasn't.

"Charles," he muttered. The bond to his son was still as present as ever. In addition to that he had a feeling that he was the one who sort of poked him.

Charles, are you alright?, he mentally asked, then frowned at his own stupidity. He could send messages mind to mind, but couldn't receive any back. He really was off his game or he wouldn't have asked a mental question. Wait a second, son. He pulled out his cell, but there was no reception. He frowned. I don't have cell reception, Charles. Something strange is going on.

Lacy turned back towards Bran, frowning.

Why was he calling a man's name?

"Who are you talking to" she asked, wondering again, not for the first or even second time, if the man was mentally stable.

Lacy's question reminded him that she was there, and that she had no idea what he was doing or who Charles was.

"Sorry," Bran said looking at her. "Charles... my son, he tried to contact me through our pack bonds. I think he might be here, too." Yes, Charles was here. The rest of the pack felt distant, probably because he was far away from them since showing up here, wherever here was. But his pack bond with Charles was as strong as ever, which had to mean that he was close. At least that was what he thought was going on, and he was usually right.

"I can talk to him mind to mind," he went on, then hesitated. Lacy was looking at him in a strange kind of way. Maybe she didn't believe him and thought he was crazy. He was used to people just taking his word and accepting it as truth. Being doubted felt... odd.

"I am not crazy," he stated sounding slightly amused. But then the amused smile faded. It wasn't that far off after all. There was madness inside of him, and he fought hard to control it and keep it locked away every single moment of every day.

"Give me a second," he said to Lacy, and then concentrated on his son. Charles, I suddenly appeared somewhere else, at the edge of a forest. I believe you are here, too. If you can, try and find me. Then he described as best he could where he was now. Hopefully that would help his son to find him.

Done talking to Charles Bran focused his attention back on Lacy, wondering what she thought about him now.

She stared at him, considering.

He said, he wasn't crazy and yet he was talking to himself. He said he was talking to his son though "pack bonds". Maybe the other werewolves had such things - she would have no way of knowing not being a werewolf. Sam and she had no such "bonds" beyond being brother and sister but that didn't mean other species didn't have things like that. Who was she to say otherwise?

"Maybe he will find us?" she said, hopefully, finally, without judgment.

Bran watched her as she thought things over. In the end she seemed to believe him, which made him feel far happier than it should.

"I am confident that he will." Charles werewolf nose combined with the magic he inherited from his mother would make sure of it. But in case he wouldn't Bran could always draw upon the moon's power and summon his son. As his Alpha he had the power to do it. He just preferred not to control his son or any other pack members unless he had to.

"I merely hope that the dinosaur won't find him first." Not that Charles couldn't take care of himself, far from it actually. Charles was his enforcer after all. But this was a dinosaur.

Charles, be careful. There is a dinosaur nearby, he quickly told his son.

"How about we find a nice place to rest while we wait for Charles?" he then asked Lacy. "I think there is a stream nearby." Something to drink would be good.

"A stream? Are you sure?" she asked, frowning, looking around.

"I don't see anything- can you smell it or something? I think since I can shift into many things, unless I'm in a shifted form, I don't have their senses in human form. When I'm shifted into a cougar or something, or even a wolf, as I've shifted into that before - my senses are completely what that would be but all of fades away as soon as I shift back. I guess it's different for you, huh? You're wolf is a part of you always. I can become basically anything so it's not a part of me unless I was always shifted into it... It's strange," she said, rambling again, trying to fill the silence and the weirdness. She didn't know what to say. She wasn't sure if he was crazy but she was going on that he wasn't. She couldn't afford to believe otherwise.

"Sorry, I ramble when I get nervous. Not that you make me nervous!" she said, hastily, before following it with, almost reluctantly and with a frown, and almost as an afterthought to herself, "Though you do actually. You make me feel so many things..." she said in a low voice.

Bran nodded at her question. He could smell it.

That made sense. She couldn't possibly have every animal’s senses while in human form.

A smirk appeared on his lips when she lied to him again. He did make her nervous, and she admitted it after all.

"You make me feel many things as well," he said. Many good things that was entirely bad for him, and everyone else. He could not give into those feelings. Since that witch made him lose control everything had gotten harder. If he allowed himself to be with Lacy things would get easier while they were together. But if she died... when she died he didn't think he would be able to hold the madness back any longer. And they all died. Even Blue Jay Woman did, and she was a werewolf. Shifters weren't even immortal, were they? He looked at Lacy.

"There are a lot of differences between werewolves and shifters. Like you said, you are completely human while in human form. Werewolves are not. Our senses are better than humans, but not as good as when we are in wolf form." He tilted his head slightly while his eyes were fixed on her, wondering how to best ask what he wanted to know. "Werewolves are also immortal." He left it at that, hoping to get a reaction from her that would tell him what he needed to know.

"So you live forever? That's really cool. I don't think we live forever. Well, not as far as I know, anyway. Who wants to live forever anyway?" she asked, jokingly.

"I mean, don't you get bored sometimes? The times change, people change, and they come and go. I don't know... maybe one day I will wish I was immortal too, who knows but... Can't worry about such things. You have to just deal with what is. If you always worried about what isn't or what might be or whatever, you spend your life worrying and miserable and what kind of life is that, you know?" she said.

"I don't know," she said, shrugging, "I spent a lot of time worrying about everything, stuff that might happen, that has happened, etcetera, but it only made me unhappy. Didn't fix anything so why bother... So I stopped and I've been better off."

"Not necessarily forever," he said. "We can die, just not as easily as humans and not of old age," he told her.

Her next words confirmed his fears. She was just as mortal as humans. A human life might seem long to humans, but to Bran it felt like barely more than the blink of an eye. Mortals died so quickly and easily.

He barely heard what she said after that. In his mind he already saw himself standing over her grave, like he had done so many times. He had buried friends, mates, and children. It never did get any easier, in fact; it did get harder every time.

"Who wants to live forever," he said silently, repeating her words. He didn't. He hadn't wanted to become a werewolf, hadn't wanted to survive everyone he knew. Old werewolves usually ended their own lives long before they turned as old as he was. He just never wanted to abandon the people depending on him. He didn't take the easy way out. Maybe it was time to consider it. He didn't have to live with the loss of another mate. He could give in to his feelings now, spend one last lifetime with Lacy and be happy. After that he could end his life, make sure that he didn't lose control to the madness and become a danger to everyone around him. It was a tempting thought. As soon as he was back home he could start to make arrangements, find the next Marrok. Maybe Charles or Adam, or even Samuel. Since Samuel had found Ariana he was stable again. There were options. One of them would take care of his people. Once everything was arranged her could start living like Lacy, without worrying about everything. It sounded like a great way to live.

"You are a smart girl," he finally said as the sadness he felt left him and a small smile appeared on his face. His hand reached out and pushed a strand of her hair behind her ear.

"Maybe I should stop, too."

Lacy was more confused than ever by his words.

He seemed so... sad. Yes, that was it - sad. She felt so bad for him. She almost leaned forward and put her hand out when as if he had read her mind, he smiled and put his hand out. Not only that, but he brushed a strange of hair away from her face and behind her ear.

"Maybe I should stop, too."

She swallowed, her eyes wide and glued to his, "Maybe you should," she said in an almost whisper husky voice.

Hearing her words and the tone she used sealed his decision. He was too tired to fight his attraction to her and his wolf any longer anyway. One last happy lifetime... that sounded heavenly, he decided looking at Lacy. Then he leaned in and gently kissed her. It wasn't as passionate as before, he didn't let it get that far. Charles could show up any moment, or something else, something dangerous, like that dinosaur. He couldn't afford to lose himself in Lacy and risk being too distracted to notice his surroundings. It was just a short kiss, a silent promise of what would come, once he knew they were safe.

Pulling away he smiled. "Let's get to that stream, you must be thirsty." He was.

Bran made a step away and held out his arm in an old-fashioned gentlemanly way.

She sighed when his lips touched hers and she sighed again when he pulled away just as quickly. Just a short but sweet kiss, like a promise. Weird, she was losing it.

"Let's get to that stream, you must be thirsty."

He put his arm out, as if for her to put her arm in it, like she had seen men do in those old classic movies on TV.

It made her giggle like she was fifteen or something. Lacy blushed, "Sorry, you're just funny. Do you do that to all the girls? Put your arm out like that?" she asked, awkwardly putting hers into the crook of his arm. It felt strange, and yet, at the same time, it felt right and that, itself, felt stranger still.

Bran raised an eyebrow when she started to giggle, but he had to admit to himself that he liked the sound.

Funny? He hadn't intended to be funny. Luckily she explained what she thought was funny, as he wouldn't have had a clue otherwise.

"Oh," he said silently, and then grinned at her. "Yes, as a matter of fact I do," he told her. "Old habit, I'm afraid."

Since she took his arm he guessed that she didn't mind too much and started to lead her to the stream, which they arrived at after only a few minutes of walking.

Crouching down Bran sniffed the water. It smelled clean and good. Then he drank from it.

Taking her hands and cupping them, she brought some water to her mouth and sipped some of it.

"At least it's clean and cold. A lot of steams have muddy of dirty water and smell bad," Lacy commented, wrinkling her nose at the thought.

Looking around she asked, "Do you really think your son is going to find us, which by the way is really strange thinking about. You look way too long to have a grown son," she said with a grin.

"Not in Montana," Bran told her. Montana still had a lot of nature, which was why he liked it there. He didn't dislike the modern world, but he preferred to live in a place that had lots of nature. Hopefully Lacy wouldn't mind living in a place like that. Before he could ask she spoke again, which probably was a good thing. They only just met; asking her to move to Aspen Creek with him already probably would be a bad idea.

At her statement he smiled slightly.

"I am older than I look," he told her. "And yes, I am sure Charles will find us." Unless the dinosaur had found him. Bran quickly dismissed the thought. He would have felt it if Charles was badly wounded or worse. He decided to check the pack bonds anyway, and then smiled.

"Anna is here, too. My son's wife and mate," he said, and then noticed that two more bonds were stronger than all the others. They weren't directly from his pack, but he was the Marrok, and thus connected to every pack.

"And Mercy and Adam as well. They are friends."

Lacy gave him a small frown, "I don't understand what you mean by "mate"? I mean, I know in the wild, wolves mate, usually for life or something like that. I think I saw that on the Discovery channel once or something but... The werewolves where I come from... I don't recall them ever having "mates" really. I mean, they have wives. They have alphas, packmasters, that kinda stuff, and wives but not 'mates'... I guess it's like a wife, since you said 'wife and mate'? Could there be two types of werewolves or something? You don't seem like the werewolves I've been around in Bon Temps at all," she said, with a smile.

"Trust me, that's a good thing - they are - were - all assholes."

Bran looked at Lacy as she spoke and sat down on a bigger stone near the stream.

"There is only one type of werewolves," he stated. "They probably just don't share much werewolf specific details with outsiders." He usually didn't either. But Lacy was special; his wolf had already chosen her as mate.

"A mate is similar to a wife, yes, but a mate is more than that. Mating is for life, it also brings with it a special bond between the mated pair. The bond varies from pair to pair, but it always allows a better insight into the mate. It is similar to pack bonds, but stronger." He wasn't sure how to explain it any better to someone who had never experienced pack bonds.

"Those werewolves...," he then said, narrowing his eyes slightly. "What exactly did they do to make them assholes? Which pack are they from?" If they bothered Lacy he might have to have a word with them.

Lacy shrugged, as if it was nothing.

"They were being werewolves. Really, it's nothing. All werewolves are like that. I think I've only met maybe two or three that actually had any common decency. I guess it's the same for all species though. Humans are judgmental and don't like any other species but their own. Werewolves are all about arrogance and dominance and trying to beat others down, especially if their smaller than you... Vampires, well, their vampires... They do what they want, kill who they want and if you're smart, you stay out of their way. Well, the pack closest to me, I'm not sure what it's considered..." she said, frowning, thinking about it.

"Maybe it's considered the Shreveport pack? Shreveport in Louisiana, I mean... Anyway... don't worry about it. It's not a big deal. I usually keep to myself. Course, everything weird and unusual happens in Bon Temps. I used to think the town was cursed but lately I think it has to do with Sookie. She is a supernatural magnet," Lacy muttered.

Bran listened to her description of werewolves. He didn't really like it. It wasn't just that he personally disliked the behavior she spoke of, which he did; it was also dangerous for all werewolves if a pack behaved like that. He had tried very hard to make the werewolves seem heroic and friendly in the public eye. They could not afford to lose that.

Shreveport... he would have to talk to the Shreveport Alpha. So far they hadn't had any problems with him, but things could change. Better to take care of it right away.

"It is a big deal," he told her. "The Shreveport pack should at the very least be concerned about how they represent werewolves in public, if nothing else. And I have to worry about it. I made the decision to go public, plus, I am the Marrok. I am responsible for every werewolf."

Cursed? He smirked slightly at that. In his experience witches didn't bother cursing towns. They preferred to get more personal.

"Who is this Sookie?" he asked, remembering that Lacy had mentioned her before.

Lacy looked around, trying to find any signs of life and to make sure they didn't miss the 'son' if he did indeed show up.

Then she realized he had asked her something.

"Sookie? Oh, Sookie Stackhouse is her full name. She's a fairy or half-fairy, I'm not exactly sure. Sam, my brother, probably knows better - they've known each other like forever I think... I swear, sometimes I think if she'd have him, he'd marry her. Anyway, she attracts supernatural danger like a bee to honey. I mean, she's dated at least two vampires that I know of... two or three werewolves, I think... I'm not sure if she ever officially dated my brother but if not, it's a close call and mostly only because she said no, because I'm sure he wants to. She'd been almost killed by a whole bunch of stuff. I heard even some form of God or something tried to kill her but I don't know if that's true... There was a war between the fairies not too long ago and though she denies it, I've heard it talked about in whispers that it was over her... Like I said, long story short - she's trouble with a capital T... and she can read people's minds, well hear their thoughts. Don’t get me wrong though - she is a great person, and nice and stuff but... she... she can be judgmental and I don't know... my brother always gets hurt so I'm biased, what can I say?" she said with a smile and a half shrug, finally shutting up.

"Wow, a fairy war? And she dated vampires? I guess she can be lucky to be alive," Bran stated.

He wondered briefly what Lacy meant by God. Maybe a Grey Lord? Not a lot of people survived being attacked by a Grey Lord. Charles had been lucky... lucky that he had an Omega who seemed to casually take down more powerful creatures than her. He smiled at the thought. Anna really was something. Charles couldn't have found a better mate.

"So, this Sookie, she can read minds because she is part fae? Or is she a witch?" That woman seemed to have been in a lot of deadly trouble and survived. If she was a witch that would make sense. And if she was a witch Bran wanted to know as much about her as possible. Witches were dangerous. He really, really hated witches.

"Oh no, Sookie isn't a witch. God, no... actually, I think some witches tried to kill her once too. After they took the memories away of a vampire who wanted her and she fell in love with and crap happened and they ended up trying to kill her or something. No, she can read minds cause she's part fairy. At least that's what I've heard. Though I don't think her being part fae is well known to anyone outside the supernatural community," Lacy said, wondering if she had said too much. Sookie really wasn't a bad person and she didn't want to give Bran the wrong impression. She wasn't evil or anything. Hey... I thought I heard something up there," she said suddenly, pointing.

Expecting him to follow him, she started walking in the general direction of the sounds she heard. It kinda sounded like voices but she wasn't sure. As she walked further in the direction, the louder the noises became and the more she was sure they were voices.

Bran felt relieved at her words. One less witch to worry about. That left their current problem of how they ended up here, but he intended to address that once Charles, Anna, Mercy and Adam were with them, which would me any second now, if he wasn't mistaken.

"It's my son, Anna, Mercy and Adam," Bran told her, having quietly moved to her side.

"I'm fine, Mercy," Adam said. "Though that might change if you keep hitting me," he added jokingly. Now that he was sure that Mercy was alright, he was in a good mood, and he really had missed her.

Charles nodded at Mercy's words. He had expected as much. Something very strange was going on and it would have been too easy if Mercy and Adam knew what it was.

Charles smirked at Anna's walking motions. Sometimes she was too cute.

"It's my Da," he then said as Adam's head shot around, scanning the area for threats.

"He is here, too?" Adam asked.

"Yes, I am," Bran said appearing from between two trees.

Charles turned to look at his father, and then raised an eyebrow. "What happened to your shirt?"

Lacy had stopped and let Bran go in front of her once he said it was his son and friends.

She could hear him talking but couldn't see the others past his massive body.

"What happened to your shirt?"

Swallowing the fear that suddenly wanted to strangle her, she took a deep breath and stepped out from behind him, clad in nothing but his shirt, "That would be me. I kinda needed it," she said in an almost whisper before clearing her throat. Her eyes widened.

Sure, he'd said he was looking for his son, his mate, and someone else and that guy's mate which would be a total of four people but she hadn't really thought about it. The two men looked... fierce - yes, that was the word. The one woman looked like she could probably kick her ass easy and the other - well, she was harder to read but actually she was the less threatening, at least to look at. Still, she didn't want to offend or piss anyone off so she moved back to Bran's side, almost if by instinct. Somehow, even if she didn't know it herself, deep down, she knew he wouldn't let anyone or anything hurt her.

Mercy watched a young girl step out from behind Bran in nothing but his shirt. Now that was an interesting picture. She leaned over to Adam, "I'd give anything to be able to read his mind right now," she said with a smile before winking at Bran, knowing damn well he'd be able to hear her.

Anna watched the by-play between Mercy and Adam and then the girl stepping out and looking them all over. She looked terrified, poor thing. When the girl's gaze stopped on Anna, Anna tried to show as much calmness as possible to hopefully set her at ease. She hoped maybe, though it was more of a wolf thing, she might be able to put her at ease like she did the wolves but probably not since she was human.

Anna wondered how Bran had found a strange girl in the middle of wherever they were and what had happened that she'd ended up with no clothes.

Charles raised an eyebrow at his father when a young woman appeared in his shirt. If he didn't know better he'd think there was something going on between the two.

"Don't let Leah see you like that," he said sounding slightly amused. Not that he would mind if she did see them. Leah was annoying as hell and very jealous. He would actually love to see her tantrum at seeing someone else in Bran's shirt.

Bran was giving Mercy an amused smile when he heard Charles words.

"Leah is dead," he stated, keeping his face blank. Then, as if nothing happened, he went on: "Lacy is a shifter and needed something to wear after changing back to human." He didn't want anyone to get the wrong impression. It was important to him that they treated Lacy with respect.

"Lacy, this is my son, Charles, his mate Anna, my foster daughter, Mercy, and her mate Adam," he introduced them, gesturing at each of them in turn.

Charles stared at his father, his mouth almost dropping open. Leah was dead? And he just mentioned that casually before moving on to introductions? He never liked Leah, but that left him speechless. Didn't Bran care at all? Or was it more that he didn't want to show any weakness with Adam around? Adam was sort of the next in line for the title of Marrok after all. No matter what was the reason for Bran's behavior, Charles decided to stay silent. He could talk to his father in private later.

Lacy looked from one man to the other, watching the undercurrent. She'd only just met Bran, but somehow, she could see how tense he was. This was hard for him - but why and who was Leah?

"Oh, Leah was the woman the dinosaur ate. I'm sorry about that, Bran - I wouldn't have been able to save her. It had already gotten to her by the time I got there and... I... I hate to say it but... I wouldn't have been able to carry you both. I was barely able to carry you," she said finally, hoping he wouldn't be upset but it was the truth.

Mercy's eyes had widened and she'd felt shocked at the news. Leah was dead? Wow... that's wow... Truth be told, the bitch had hated Mercy and had made her life hell there but dead? And Bran... he had stayed with her all that time because of his wolf - why wasn't he a wreck? It made no sense.

Anna watched everyone around her absorb the news. Mercy seemed in shock. Charles seemed ... in shock and suspicious. The girl, Lacy rather, looked guilty. Leah had never been kind to her. Actually, she thought back to their first meeting - it had been horrible and would have been worse if not for Skye. But she was sorry she was dead.

"I'm sorry, Bran. You must be in terrible pain," she said.

Then, to Lacy, she stepped forward and put out her hand, "Hello, I'm Anna, and this is Charles," she said, smacking him on the back and giving him a look that said 'Be Nice!'.

Bran took a deep breath when Lacy spoke about Leah. He was torn between not wanting to talk about Leah because it caused him, or better his wolf, pain, and wanting to reassure Lacy that everything was fine.

"Its okay, Lacy. I know you couldn't have saved her. I was there and I couldn't save her either." If it was anyone's fault it was his, he had failed her.

Bran was pulled out of his thoughts when Anna spoke. Sweet little Anna, always seemed to know what to say. But it weren't really her words that made him feel better, it was her presence. She really was a gift. He gave her a thankful smile, and then watched as she talked to Lacy.

Charles glanced at Anna when she smacked him on the back. She had a tendency to tell him how to behave, and she usually was right.

"Hello," he said and held out his hand to Lacy. "It sounds like you saved my father's life. Thank you."

Lacy blushed, "Not really, I mean, I guess... I mean," she said stammering. "I shifted into an eagle and picked him up and flew away - it wasn't really a big deal or anything," she said, when she noticed everyone staring at her.

Then she took Anna's hand and shook it with a smile. She, at least, didn't scare Lacy.

When Charles put his hand out, that was another matter. Not wanting to look like a coward though, she pasted on a fake smile and shook his hand too, trying to fear him.

He didn't know her. He wasn't going to hurt her. It wasn't his fault he was so big and intimidating. That's what she felt chanting in her head at least.

"You're welcome though but really, it wasn't a big deal. Besides, he did the more important thing. He gave me his shirt... and didn't eat me! Which is always nice," she said with a shaky laugh, hoping to break the ice.

Charles smirked slightly at Lacy's stammering. It made her seem more endearing and distracted from her obvious fear. It made it easier to ignore Brother Wolf as well, who pronounced her as prey.

At her last words Charles had to make an effort not to chuckle. He was starting to like this shifter already, which was something he couldn't afford. He was still his father's hit man, and if the Marrok told him to kill Lacy tomorrow he would do it. Better not get attached... He did like her though.

Bran looked at Lacy when she mentioned that he didn't eat her. It was meant to be a joke, but in reality it hadn't been. Luckily Lacy didn't know how close she had been to being eaten. If his wolf had gotten his way before deciding that she made a good mate he would have eaten her.

Adam put an arm around Mercy while watching the others. The Marrok's mate was dead. He couldn't tell how Bran felt about it, and he wasn't sure how he felt about it himself. Someone dying was always bad of course, but he never liked Leah, and he always thought the Marrok deserved someone better. Bran was the most powerful werewolf, power tended to corrupt people, and yet, Bran cared about others and helped whenever he could. He was a good person, strict when it came to his rules, but good through and through. Leah might not have been evil, but she was selfish and arrogant. She certainly let power corrupt her. As sad as her death was, he wouldn't miss her, so he decided to stay quiet.

Once they had moved on to introductions Adam watched the shifter closely. He had a feeling that she liked Bran. Hopefully that was genuine. He didn't want Bran to end up with another selfish woman who only wanted him for his power... if he liked her, too, which he seemed to. The way Bran was watching the little shifter certainly showed interest at the very least.

"He gave me his shirt... and didn't eat me!"

At those words Adam chuckled slightly. "Lucky you," he said, then offered a hand. "Adam Hauptman, Alpha of the Columbia Basin Pack."

Lacy smiled at the other man who finally offered his hand.

She shook it back, "Wow, there are a lot of Alphas around. I thought they were rare but I guess not," she said, thinking about the pack that lived close to her.

Looking around, she took a step back, "So, does anyone have any idea where we are or how we got here? I mean, something must have brought us here right? It just couldn't have magically happened on its own. I don't think even magic works like that, does it?" she asked, looking around.

"They usually are," Adam said, then looked at the other men again before checking his pack ponds. He could feel Mercy clearly, and the Marrok. The rest of his pack felt still distant. That probably meant that his pack wasn't here.

"I agree," Charles said. "Magic doesn't happen on its own. Someone is responsible for this."

"And whoever did this brought 3 of the most dominant wolves here," Adam stated, voicing the suspicion that had started to form in his mind.

"Bran, is Samuel here, too?"

Bran turned to Adam, realizing what he indicated. "No, I don't believe he is," he answered after checking his pack bonds again. His bond to his son was still oddly distant.

"Hm, if he was here, too I would have presumed that someone was after the title of Marrok without wanting to risk fighting any of us. But with Samuel not here, he would become the Marrok if we didn't manage to return, wouldn't he?" Adam asked.

Bran looked at Adam, thinking for a moment. He wasn't sure if Samuel had any interest in being Marrok, but if Bran, Charles and Adam suddenly disappeared without a trace, he was sure that Samuel would be suspicious and would at least decide to temporarily step in as Marrok while trying to find them. Knowing that Samuel would take care of his wolves made Bran feel better, especially now that Samuel was stable and happy again.

"Yes, Samuel would become the Marrok if we didn't return. Either whoever brought us here thinks he can beat Samuel easier than either of us, or Samuel managed to prevent being sent here. Still we have to consider that this is a plot to gain control of all the wolves."

Charles frowned, not liking this. "But why send our mates here, too? And what about Lacy?" Since she asked if anyone had any idea why they were here she probably wasn't a local either, unless she was playing them.

"I am not sure," Bran admitted. "Maybe this has nothing to do with the title of Marrok."

Lacy frowned, "I guess it really depends if there are more people are here and who they are, you know? I mean, if there are more people and they aren't supernaturally inclined or even if they are but have no connection to the wolves, then we'll know it has doing to do with your being Marrock. Personally though, I'm not sure that's it. Before meeting you, I had no idea what a 'Marrock' was. So unless I was brought here by mistake..." she said, leaving the thought unfinished.

Mercy frowned, "Do you think Samuel will be able to do it? Take over as Marrok? Not that he can't but... I think there might be a lot of uproar. Don't get me wrong, if it was Charles, people would ..." she said, stopping and sighing.

"I'm saying this badly. Look, people fear Charles but they know him more as your second. They don't see that in Samuel. Won't a lot of the wolves, packs and even the alphas balk, even revolt? It's not that he can't do it, or isn't dominate enough but he's never really had the same presence in the community as Charles..." she said worriedly, hoping she hadn't totally made a fool of herself. Bran glanced at Lacy. She had a point. His wolf was pleased that she was smart, and Bran felt the same way.

"You are right. We need to gather more information, see if there are other people here," he said, then glanced at Mercy. She had a point, too.

"I know, but I am confident that Samuel will manage. He might face some... challenges, but he will be fine. He has the support of my pack and I am sure yours, Adam." With Samuel living in the Tri-Cities he had gotten to know the Columbia Basin Pack pretty well. "Add Ariana to that and he should be able to stop any revolts pretty quickly, if there are any." Ariana was a powerful fae; she would intimidate a lot of wolves, even though they intimidated her just as much. She would stand with Samuel, no matter her fears, he was sure of it. They had loved each other for centuries.

"Maybe it is even thanks to her that Samuel isn't here. If magic brought us here, she might have been able to prevent it from affecting Samuel."

Charles nodded at his father's words. He saw where Mercy was coming from, but he had complete faith in Samuel. He would not let his father's legacy get destroyed in his absence.

"Samuel will be fine, Mercy. Don't worry about him. He is tough, tougher than he let on these past years."

"I agree, Samuel will manage. And maybe he won't have to for long. Let's find a way back home," Adam said. He needed to get back to Jesse.

Mercy moved forward, wrapping her arms around Adam and putting her head against his back. She knew he was worried - about the pack but mostly about Jesse. All the times she had been with her mother and he'd had to go and get her because the bitch had basically just forgotten or left her. Or the time she'd been kidnapped. She was worried too but she couldn't show it. It would only make him worry more.

"We'll find her," she said, not that Jesse needed to be found because surely she hadn't been brought here too.

To the other she said, "I'm not worried that he isn't strong enough, or tough enough. I'm worried about the fact that he isn't you, Bran, no matter how much you'd like him to be - he isn't invincible. He could get hurt - besides Ariana, he has no one else there with him at his side since we're all here. Will she be enough is all I'm saying," she said, frustrated she wasn't making herself clear and probably sounding like a worried wife or something which that wasn't it at all.

She loved Samuel, in her own way, but not even remotely like she loved Adam. It was the kind of love you had for a brother. She worried for him as if he were her brother. She didn't want to get back home and find him dead.

She could be wrong, probably was, but what if she wasn't?

Feeling Mercy's touch Adam relaxed and placed his hands over hers. Just the feeling of her made him less anxious. They would get back and he would see Jesse again. There was nothing he and Mercy hadn't managed together; they would get through this as well. And they weren't alone.

"I know," he answered silently.

Bran looked at Mercy. She was worried about Samuel, as was he, but he knew his son, and he knew Ariana. They would be fine.

"Don't worry, Mercy. Samuel will be fine. And we will find a way back to him soon. Let's go find it." He glanced around.

"That way," Charles said gesturing to his right. He had a feeling that it was the direction they should walk in.

Bran glanced at his son and nodded. If Charles felt like they should walk that way it would be best and safest for everyone involved to do it.