Chapter 28: Aftermath

We waited quietly for word about Titus. I sat between Rose and Storm, trying to stay awake. My body wanted to sleep, but I wouldn't let it. Not until I knew if Titus was okay.

Voices sounded down the hallway. Half asleep, I clambered to my feet and nearly fell as I ran to the doorway. Ruben and Darius carried the black werewolf into the middle of the room.

Rose quickly threw out a hide. "Lay him here. I'll get the supplies."

I covered my mouth, breathing heavily. His fur couldn't conceal the blood.

"Hey," Darius lifted his brother's head. "Hey, Titus."

He groaned and peered up at the red werewolf.

"You need to shift alright, so we can treat your wounds."

His head fell back, and he whined in pain. My chest tightened. I did this to him, because of me, Jet tried to kill him. The fur started to pull back as his body transformed. Before I could see the extent of his injury, a hand covered my eyes.

"You need to rest, Aden," said the alpha. He turned me around.

"I want to help."

"There's nothing you can do. His healing enzyme is stronger than yours. You're going to have to let us take care of him."

"But I-"

"No," he said firmly.

Bowing my head, I nodded.

"You can sleep in my room." He patted my shoulder. "As soon as we treat his injuries, you can be with him."

Swallowing hard, I continued to nod.

"Alright, come on." He put his arm around my shoulders and led me to his private quarters, making sure to block Titus's from my view. He lifted the deer hide and ushered me through.

"Xavier," called Rose. She hurried to her mate's side. "Help Darius. I'll take care of him."

She took me to the bed and placed a blanket over it. I laid down, trying to remain calm. After tucking another quilt around me, Rose turned off the lantern and left me in the dark. I could hear Titus moving around mixed with soft cries. I did that to him. I did all of this to him.

***

I woke, and by the lack of light coming in through the doorway, it was still night. Sitting up, I felt a little better, but still mentally drained. I climbed to my feet and tiptoes to the door. Pulling the flap to the side, I saw everyone strung out across the room. Titus was sleeping in the middle with bandages covering his chest and arms. I crept over and slipped under the blanket draped over him. Pressing into his side, I put my arm over his chest.

"Titus," I whispered.

His head rolled towards me, and he smiled. "Hey, beautiful."

I felt like crying and hid my face from him.

"Don't be like that." He moved his arm, so it was wrapped around me. "I'd do anything for you, Aden." He squeezed me to him. "You're mom would kill me if I didn't."

"Stop it," I said close to tears.

"Too soon," he breathed. "Too soon."

"It's always too soon. Every time you get hurt, you make a joke about it, and it's always my fault. I love you," I stated. "And I wish I could have done something to help."

"You did. You ran all the way here with Jet chasing you and got help. You were really brave," he stated. "But I'll wait awhile before making any more jokes. I just wanted to see you smile, that's all."

I shook my head. "You're not helping me feel better."

His eyes started to close. "I'm fine. You're fine." He kissed my forehead. "And that's all that matters."

"If I had been stronger, it never would have happened." I wiped my face. "You should've chosen someone stronger than me. Someone who could fight with you or, at least, understand how the hell this world works."

"They wouldn't be you."

"That's not a good enough reason," I muttered.

He shifted slightly and cringed.

"Titus?"

"I'm fine." He adjusted the pillow under his head. "When I was a teenager, you were right about me being far from innocent. When my grandma came to visit, I'd always tell her how none of the boys I met made me feel anything, and she told me that when I met the right one, I'd know. I might try to talk myself out of it, or make of up shit to convince myself that it could never be that simple, but I'd know it when I felt it." He clasped my cheek. "I felt it with you. That depressed garbage boy who hated dogs."

"I still do," I sucked in my cheek. "There's just a couple exceptions."

He smiled. "Everyone said that human mates were too much trouble, because they'd never understand our world."

I exhaled slowly, running my fingertips across the bandages.

"My grandparents visited a couple weeks after we met, and I told my grandma about you. She said she felt the same way about my grandpa. And even though, her parents and the alpha said it would never work, he'd never understand our world, she took that chance."

Our eyes met.

"You're more to me than just a mate or a husband. Those come and go and can be replaced. But not you." Titus rested his head against mine. "I love you, Aden, and I wanted to take that chance with you."

I placed a gentle kiss on his lips. "I'm glad you did. It's been hard to learn everything, but I'd do it again. I just wish being a werewolf was more like the movies. It would be so much easier."

"Really?" he chuckled. "You want some over the top, romance drama?"

I smiled. "Maybe not."

He ran his thumb across my lips. "There it is." Titus closed his eyes, letting out a deep breath. "That's all I need to feel better."

***

"How are you doing this morning?" asked Xavier.

"Sore," Titus replied. "But I'll live. I'd say I went through worse, but damn that was hell." He laughed a little too hard and clutched his ribs.

I tightened my hold on his other hand and felt the alpha's eyes land on me.

"It seems something has been going on between you and Jet that you've been keeping from me." The alpha turned to Darius.

The red werewolf scratched his arm. "Titus was still in a bad place. I didn't think he could handle it without it ending in a fight."

"What?" Titus tried to move and regretted it. "What did that bastard do?" he groaned.

"Aden?" said the alpha.

I covered my face. "He threatened to hurt you. Jet was saying stuff about you not being a good mate because you couldn't control your hormones, so I told him off. He threatened to kill you," I peered down at my mate. "He told me werewolves can't get divorced but widows..." The tears broke through. "I didn't think he'd go this far. I should have told you, but I didn't want to cause more problems. I'm sorry."

Titus reached for me, and I fell into his arms.

"I'm sorry," I wept.

"It's fine." He rubbed my back. "Everything is fine."

"You saw this?" Xavier asked his eldest son.

Darius nodded. "He had Aden backed into a corner. I told him to knock it off, and he did. I thought it would end there. If I had known he'd try something, I would have done something." He let out a heated breath through his nose. "I should've beat the shit out of him then." He rubbed his muzzle. "I'm sorry." He shrugged. "I messed up."

Xavier pinched his brow with his eyes closed. "Get ahold of Oscar. I need to have a word with him." The alpha stood and went to his room.

Darius left with Storm to do as Xavier asked.

"Would you like something to drink?" asked Rose. "Are you hungry?"

"A little bit," said Titus.

She smiled. "Of course, you are." Rose kissed my mate's forehead. "I'll bring you both something to eat." She left the room as well.

We sat in silence for awhile. I couldn't look at him. I should've said something.

"Aden, don't blame yourself for this. Alright?"

"It happened again," I said softly. "First Chris and now Jet. You always end up hurt because of me."

"Hey." He muscled himself up into the sitting position and held me in front of him. "Enough. We talked about this last night. It's not your fault. I'd never blame you for this."

With a sigh, I nodded.

Titus tried to pull me onto his lap.

"Stop, I'm going to hurt you." I braced my arms against his shoulders.

"You weigh like five pounds. Fighting me is going to hurt more than anything else." He leaned against a stack of furs and held me in his arms.

It felt nice just to be with him and to know he was going to be okay. My eyes closed as he played with my hair. My mate was safe. Xavier would take care of Jet. We were going to make it through, and I honestly prayed my mother never found out.

***

I sat with Titus in the alpha's living room as a doctor from Midfield set up his equipment. Trevor was talking with Darius in quiet voices in the corner. The two looked odd with Darius in werewolf form and Trevor dressed in a professional suit. But word about the fight had spread quickly through the surrounding packs, and Midfield's future alpha was here to smoothing things over before it got any worse.

Xavier appeared from his room, shaking his head.

"No luck?" asked Darius.

"He won't talk to me." The black and red werewolf sat down on a pile of furs. "His beta said the story Jet told his father puts the blame on Titus. They met at the hot pools, Aden mouthed off."

I flinched.

"Titus and Jet got into a fight. Oscar wants a formal apology and compensation before he'll even speak to me."

Trevor rubbed his face. "A lot of packs are taking Bloodhound's side. After the confrontation at Midfields between the two, Jet's story seems more likely."

Bowing my head, I wrung my hands together.

"We're do you stand?" Xavier asked Trevor.

The dark haired man shrugged. "I'm not the alpha yet, but I do believe Jet is the one at fault. The hot pools were too far out of his way for his story to make sense. There are plenty of roads he could've taken that don't cross into Northern Ridge's territory, but he did it anyways. I think he planned it. Midfield, though" he sighed, running a hand down his face. "Oscar raised that sub for David. I don't think you'll be getting any help from them."

"This is bullshit," muttered Darius, shaking his head.

The doctor started unwrapping the bandages. I watched carefully as Titus's skin was revealed little by little. It was red with thick scars. The guilt came flooding back.

"Aden." Titus gave my hand a squeeze.

"Sorry." I forced a smile.

"They'll fade. I'll be good as new before you know it." He kissed me.

"Rupert's scar hasn't faded," I muttered.

He laughed. "Well hopefully, they weren't as deep."

Darius and Trevor join the alpha and started trying to decide what to do. The doctor took out a cream and gently rubbed it onto my mate's back and chest. He clutched my hand, breathing heavily.

"How bad is it?"

"Like a sunburn," he breathed. "A bad one."

"I didn't think werewolves burned."

"As kids we did before the healing enzyme is really strong. It goes away in a few hours, but it still hurts like hell."

The man finished, and Titus sighed in relief. He held up his arms as the doctor wrapped his wounds.

"We'll never be able to hide this from your mom," chuckled Titus, examining his chest.

"Oh god." I rubbed my forehead. "They're going to take me away again. I just know it."

Titus frowned. "That's not fair. I kept up my end of the deal."

"They'll probably lock you up in their house too," I stated firmly, examining his bruised face. "So don't be so upset."

He shrugged. "We'd be together."

"Do you want to live as a human?" I arched a brow.

"I think I'm going to reconsider wearing shirts more often around your parents."

I flopped back on the furs. "Maybe if I claim you, they'll go away."

Titus jerked back, looking rather offended.

"Stay still, please," said the doctor as he secured the end.

I grinned at my mate. "Something wrong with you having my mark?"

"This conversation ends here, because nothing I say won't come across as me being an asshole."

"And that's different how?"

"Aden," he growled, falling on top of me.

I laid flat so nothing would rub against his chest. "I could do it." I slipped my hand up and touched his shoulder. "Right here."

"I don't think you have it in you."

Narrowing my eyes at him, I had to withhold the urge to hit him.

He noticed and flashed me his usual cheesy grin. "Perk of being the dominant partner." Titus kissed my forehead. "So deal with it."

"Just know," I patted his cheek, "if my mother sees them, I'm going to tell her about how if I claimed you, they could all disappear, just like that." I tapped my finger down his chest. "So I'd be careful, or you just might become the submissive partner for a night."