Title: She knows
Universe: Neither Heaven nor Hell
Warnings: This takes place just after the Curse is cast.
Diclaimer: I do not own either the Magnificent Seven television series. Nor do I own the Two Blood AU. That belongs to Joe Lawson. The Magnificent Seven belong to those lucky enough to own the copyright. That's not me folks.
'She knows!' the thought echoed over and over again through Buck Wilmington's mind. The big Two Blood raced through the wilderness near his home of Four Corners on all four paws of his wolf form. The feelings this single piece of information caused shot through him in such a muddle so mixed up that he couldn't do anything but try and outrun it. He wasn't stupid enough to think that he actually could out run his own thoughts and feelings but he couldn't stay still either. The one woman in all the world that he might have seriously considered courting knew he was a Two Blood. And she didn't care.
He wanted to leap with joy. He wanted to cower in terror. The lovely Inez, manager (never bar maid, thank you very much!) of the Standish Saloon had caught him and his Pack brother, Ezra Standish wrestling in Ezra's bed this morning. Ezra had a room above the saloon he co-owned with Inez and Buck had been sent by their Alpha, Chris Larabee, to wake Ezra for his turn at patrolling the town. The seven males of the Four Corners Pack were also the seven regulators that had been hired by the local circuit court judge to protect the town.
When Buck had seen Ezra sound asleep in his feather bed, he hadn't been able to resist the temptation. He had stripped, changed and launched himself on the sleeping gambler. Waking Ezra in wolf form was the safest way to go about it when the man slept alone. A man coming into his room would be met with one of the three guns the man carried at all times. Ezra was deadly with all of them and, if sleeping alone, often kept his derringer under his pillow. Of course, even sound asleep Ezra knew his Pack brothers but Buck had ignored that fact.
But while Ezra hadn't objected to Buck's method of waking him, at least not any more than usual, neither of them had expected Inez to walk in on their early morning wrestling match. Nor could they have said if it was worse for her to catch two naked men in bed together or one naked man with a huge timber wolf. Buck and Ezra had simply frozen. Inez paid no attention to either of them as she placed a breakfast tray on Ezra's dresser. Then she had turned to them and said, "Senior Standish the supply wagon is supposed to arrive today. We must take inventory as soon as you return from your patrol. Senior Wilmington if you get fleas in my bedding you will be washing the laundry for the saloon for the next month!" Then she had scratched Buck behind his ears and simply left.
Buck threw himself on the ground, exhausted. Now he knew why Inez had never let him get anywhere with his flirting. She knew his heritage and probably knew how his people courted too! And Inez would never settle for anything less than a proper courtship and marriage. She was a fiercely independent woman and did many things that were considered barely respectable, such as working in and owning half of the saloon. But she did not go around giving herself to any man who asked. He knew that for a fact. He had never smelled any man's scent on her.
He laid his head on his paws and settled down for a serious bout of heavy thinking. There could be no halfway measures now. Now that he knew Inez knew his secret, how he acted towards her when they next met would determine their relationship for the rest of their lives. He had to decide how he really felt and proceed accordingly, as Ezra would say. First and most important; did he love her?
As he lay pondering her image he decided that yes, without a doubt he loved her. But was she his mate? Could he give up sleeping with his brothers and his Alpha and spend the rest of his nights with her? Could he give up his Pack for her? He whined, twisting and writhing from the sheer agony of the thought. He had spent his entire life searching for a Pack of his own, one that would accept all of him. He had even fought his murdering sire in a challenge fight to win the right to live with his Pack. The thought of giving them up was torture. But it was something he had to face. If Inez didn't want to be part of his Pack, then he had to know that he was willing to give them up for her.
He wrestled with the questions for hours. Finally near sunset, he had his answers. Every single answer to every question he had asked himself over the course of the day was yes. If Inez wanted him to do it; then yes he could and would. She was his mate. He got up on shaky legs, shook his fur and trotted off back to town. He had to ask Chris and Miz Nettie for permission to court Inez. And then he had a mate to woo into becoming a member of his Pack.