Chapter 1: Nature Calls
The hypnotic call of the crickets was slowly swept away as the sweet song of the early bird began to fill the air of the park in the company of Spring's sun, which signaled to all of its creatures that the time had come to start the giorno anew.
Light crept slowly across the land, beating back the shadows of the night and forcing them to retreat into the deepest holes where they would hide until their nightly master freed them once più from the tyranny of the sun, and as the light spread, the song of the early bird was joined da a vast chorus of chirps and calls which let all who could hear know that it was a great giorno to be alive.
But Kate wouldn't believe it even if she could understand what they were saying, as that morning she was suddenly blasted da an excruciating pain in her stomach, one which was so intense that it caused her to wake with a start.
"Oh!" she cried as she jerked herself free from her mate's grasp and held her stomach.
The sudden motion and outcry caused Humphrey's eyes to flash open.
"Kate," he detto worriedly as he quickly turned over onto his stomach, "Kate, are te alright?"
Kate grimaced as she clutched her abdomen then panted as her pain subsided, but in its wake was left a horrible queasiness which churned her guts and sent her sprinting to the mouth of the den.
Humphrey followed and arrived behind her just as she paused outside and hurled into the grass.
"Kate," he called, pausing behind her, "Kate, what's the matter?"
Kate, once she finished vomiting, spat, wiped her mouth with the side of her paw and lifted her head.
"I don't know," she replied, blinking the tears out of her eyes, "it just kinda crept up on me all of a sudden."
Humphrey moved up to her side.
"Are te alright?" he asked, "what's wrong?"
"I don't know," Kate replied, "my stomach just started hurting and I got really sick, but I feel much better now."
"Do te need to go see the healer?" Humphrey asked, ready to cater to her every need.
"No, I probably just ate some bad caribou," she detto assuringly, "I'll be alright."
Humphrey was not convinced.
"Are te sure?" he asked, "I don't want te going to work if you're sick."
Kate's smile softened and she stepped closer.
"Oh, don't worry about me," she said, nuzzling him.
Humphrey smiled despite himself.
"I still will," he admitted playfully, "I hate it when my alpha is not feeling good."
Kate chuckled and pulled away.
"I'm fine," she persisted, "I promise."
"Alright," he detto in defeat, as he knew that his words could not prevent her from going to work, "just promise me that you'll take it easy."
"I will," she assured, beaming.
"Good," Humphrey replied, digressing, "now get out of here. te don't want to be late."
"I Amore te so much," she said, stepping inoltrare, avanti and embracing him in a nuzzle.
"I Amore te too," Humphrey replied, returning his affection.
This embrace lasted only a brief moment before Kate pulled away.
"Alright," she detto quickly, "I'll be back tonight, same time as usual."
"Alright, baby," he replied, "I'll see te then."
Kate nodded in reply then turned and took her leave.
Humphrey watched her go until she was no longer in view, then laughed and shook his head.
"If we had pups, they'd be the most stubborn Lupi in all of Alberta," he mused with a smile, then turned and went back into the den.
Normally he would go back to sleep after saying his morning goodbyes, as he was anything but a morning wolf, but the commotion this morning rendered him wide awake, so he decided that he should just go ahead and get the giorno started.
The only problem with that was, he did not know what to do.
As an omega, he had no responsibilities to the pack, even now with his future position as its head, so he had no reason to be up before dawn. Therefore, his mornings were usually wasted away until about two hours after sunup, when he would finally drag himself out of letto and go find something to do until his mate came home. The only problem with that was, most of his daily activities revolved around goofing off with his friends, and he knew there was no way they would be up this early, so what was an omega to do?
He sighed and flattened his ears.
"I guess now is as good a time as any to get a bath," he mused, turning and walking back out into the coming morning.
He took a deep breath through the nose, finding that he rather enjoyed the taste of the morning air, and released it between his lips as he ran his eyes over the land, which was bathed in a soft, silver light as the sun worked to thrust its fingers over the horizon, then embarked on his short journey to the lake.
He arrived at its edge and watched as frogs and turtles darted through the thin mantello of fog which hovered a few inches above the lake in seek of refuge beneath its surface and followed, though he inserted himself slowly, as the water was quite cool in the morning, as he discovered.
Finally, after a great deal of self-motivation, Humphrey submerged his entire body then began to bathe himself. This experience, however, was anything but pleasant, as it was mere moments after he had completely entered the lake that his body began to tremble violently and his teeth began to chatter, and it was not long before he decided that he would cut his bath short.
He washed only what was vital, and did so quickly, taking only the time to scrub himself for about thirty secondi before turning and making haste for the shore.
Once he finally freed himself from the frigid water, he shook his pelliccia dry of whatever moisture he could and took a sede, sedile so he may bask in the morning air once more, grateful that the earth was finally starting to warm up once più in the wake of the waning winter. He allowed his eyes to drift off toward the east, where he knew Kate was probably just arriving for her daily assignments, and found himself recalling the events which transpired about fifteen minuti ago. He really felt as though he should have tried harder to make her stay, because in her condition, she was in no shape to go to work, and in the back of his mind, he could not escape the feeling that calamity was imminent. What if something were to happen to her because he allowed her to go to work when she was not at the superiore, in alto of her game? What if she got hurt, o worse, killed? After all, hunting was a daunting task as it was, based off of what she told him; he could only imagine how difficult it would be to hunt without all of her strength.
Then again, though, she detto that she was fine, so perhaps he was worrying about her too much. It was just hard for him not to worry after everything that had happened in Alpha School a few months ago, and if he Lost her now after everything they had gone through together, he was not sure if he would be strong enough to continue living.
He quickly pulled himself out of the recessions of his mind, as he did not wish to dwell on such thoughts, and allowed his eyes to slowly migrate back in the direction of their den, but found that he did not wish to go home, because there he would only think of her, and the vicious cycle of worry and fret would only continue to exacerbate. So, with no real destination in mind, he rose to his paws and set out on a walk through the territory, but always found that his thoughts would drift back to her. Then again, what else was new?
Kate could definitely sense that there was something different about her body that morning as she arrived in the valley for her briefing, but she could not quite pin down what it was. She just hoped and prayed that whatever it was that was happening, she hadn't caught worms. Such a disgusting thought caused her to shudder, so she quickly banished it from her mind and fell in successivo to her father's Beta, Hutch, so they may brief their group on the morning's hunt.
"Okay," he began as he ran his eyes over the two who stood before him, "we are going to be deviating a bit from standard procedure today. The scouts segnala that the caribou have begun rutting, so the bulls will be highly aggressive," he explained, "trying to approach them head on would be nearly suicidal, so we are going to have to get a little bit crafty. Alpha, Kate, since te will be leading the hunt, te will decide what we do."
Kate nodded and took a moment to ponder the situation.
"Okay, unfortunately the way this is going to have to work, is two of us will have to act as bait to draw the bulls away from the herd," she began, "then the other two will sneak in during the confusion and take down one of the cows."
"Since this will be a high-risk operation, Hutch and I will act as the decoys," she continued, "you two hang back until we give te the signal, then advance."
The two young Lupi nodded.
"Now, Jake, Austyn, I know this is your first hunt and te two want to prove yourselves, but I want te to put your safety above your pride," Kate stressed, "Watch each other's backs, and don't take a single unnecessary risk in order to make a kill."
"Yes ma'am," Jake replied.
"Understood, alpha," Austyn voiced.
"Good," Kate replied with a nod, "everybody is clear on their assignments?"
All present nodded.
"Then let's do this," she detto and began to lead them to the hunting grounds.
Humphrey was tired of trying to entertain himself, so he finally decided to go bang on his friends' dens and drag their butts out of bed, but as he was making his way toward Salty's den, he heard a rush of paws and a voice yell his name.
Startled, Humphrey turned and saw Lilly slide to a stop before him.
"Lilly, where's the fire?" Humphrey asked with a chuckle, "y-"
"Humphrey, it's Kate," she interrupted quickly, "there was an accident, and she's been hurt."
Humphrey's eyes widened.
"What happened?" he asked frantically.
"I don't know," Lilly replied, "I came looking for te as soon as I heard the news."
"Where is she?" Humphrey demanded.
"In Amina's den," she replied.
Humphrey didn't wait to hear another word before he took off in a dead sprint toward the den, with Lilly in his company.
"Why didn't te listen to me?" he thought as he ran, "why couldn't te have just stayed home?"
Two minuti later, the pair bolted into the tana, den and stopped in its center, but before Humphrey could even ask where his mate was, the healer ushered him out.
"Let go of me," Humphrey resisted, "I need to see her."
"Humphrey, Kate is fine," she assured as the two exited, "she just broke her leg during the hunt."
"Then why won't te let me see her?" he demanded angrily.
"Because there's something else," she replied.
"What is it?" Humphrey asked, "what's wrong?"
Amina placed a paw on his shoulder.
"Nothing is wrong," she replied, "I just thought that you'd like to hear the news together."
"News?" Humphrey asked confused, "what news?"
"Follow me and you'll find out," she detto as she turned and walked back into the den.
Humphrey's face twisted into a look of befuddlement as he followed her inside, but that melted as he saw his mate lying on a low tavolo made from flat stone.
"Hey, Humphie," she greeted half-heartedly.
Humphrey's lips tightened into a small smile as he approached.
"What happened to you?" he asked her, relieved as he gently nuzzled her face.
Kate chuckled, then pulled away.
"Something stupid," she replied.
Despite himself, Humphrey allowed a chuckle to tickle the base of his throat.
"How are te feeling?" he questioned.
"Okay, I guess," she answered, "the leg hurts like hell, but at least it'll take my mind off of the stomachache for a while."
"Yeah, about that," Amina chimed, causing all present to turn to her. She then turned to Kate. "When I was looking te over earlier, I discovered something pretty interesting."
Kate lowered her eyes.
"Please don't tell me I have worms," she whimpered.
Amina laughed softly.
"No, far from it," she replied, then paused to build suspense, "but did te know that te are about three weeks pregnant?"
All eyes around the room widened, and all jaws dropped.
"She- she's what?" Humphrey stammered, not entirely sure that he had heard correctly.
Amina smiled and placed a paw on his shoulder.
"Congratulations, son," she commended, "you're gonna be a father."