Author-Konishi_zen (aka Velocity Girl)
Rating/Warnings-PG and there is just a bit of angst and introspection. Forced separation of a couple, Mpreg. Hard conversations between friends. Hopeful ending.
Characters/Pairings:Established Linus Omark/Braden Holtby. Unrequited Magnus Paajaarvi/Linus Omark, Established Sidney Crosby/Henrik Lundqvist. Joel Lundqvist. Jordan Eberle. Taylor Hall.
Summary- Henke and the rest of the wolves succeed in dealing with the Saami. Linus and Magnus are making strides, while Sidney is struggling to get Braden to him. But Linus has to ask hard questions, even if it means hurting Magnus.
Disclaimer-Don't own, not mine. Only the words. As far as I know, the NHL doesn't employ werewolves as hockey players. Song title is grabbed from "Perfect Day", song quoted is by Atmosphere's "Modern Man's Hustle"
Notes: This is a side story that isn't a direct sequel to "I Will Love You Through The Simple and the Struggle" but it does mention possible future events. It's more a story that focuses on what is going on in the Swedish territory and on the bb loups. Dedicated to mishey22 , who asked for Braden/Linus in the Loup! Verse.
( Cuz we're waiting for that perfect day )
( I'll make you smile so I can sit and look at it )
“I will show you all you need to know
You must hold on to anyone that wants you
And I will love you through simple and the struggle.” Atmosphere
“Any progress on getting Braden over here?” Sidney asked Taylor as he looked out the window and frowned. The snow was pretty thick and deep and the wind had turned bitterly cold. It was going to be a hard couple of months in Sweden, especially in the north, and it was very likely they could be stranded out there. He normally wouldn't care if Henke was the one he was stranded with, but the idea of being stranded with a varg who was pregnant was alarming. Especially since he wasn't sure that he knew what the hell he was doing and cause Linus and his baby more harm than good.
That was the last thing he would ever want, so he needed some sort of plan to deal with the situation.
Not to mention the fact that despite his Council being capable and well organized, he really didn't want to be out of his territory for too long. Even if they had a peace treaty cemented in place, and the Western and Pacific Alphas were backing it with their larger and more dominant packs. He was a born leader, on and off the ice, and he wasn't about to start skiving off his duties.
“Yeah, he's going to be off probation next week. He's already paid the fine and issued an apology. We're working on getting his passport back, which should take maybe two weeks more.” Taylor answered, his voice slightly tinny from the bad connection.
“I'm guessing that's the fastest we can get that done, eh?” Sidney asked heavily as he sat down at his desk.
“Yeah. I tried, Crosby.” Taylor reminded him. There was a pause, and Taylor cleared his throat before he spoke again.
“How's Linus doing? Is he still as bad as when you sent us the pictures and told us to look for Braden?”
Sidney bit his lip, and his gaze went to the direction of Linus' half open bedroom door. Magnus was in there with Linus, as had become the norm the past couple of weeks since the young varg had shown up with his conditional pardon from the Ulfric. He hadn't done anything to stop the visits, since Linus was doing much better. He didn't look like he was going to keel over at any minute and had started to fill out more, since he wasn't so upset or lonely any longer.
Although Sid had been friendly and done his best to help Linus, he had to admit that the new varg hadn't thrived with him as he had with Magnus. And even though there was occasional tension between them, they were happy to see each other and apart from a few false starts, they were on their way to being very close.
And it was true that all four of them had been friends since before Linus had been turned. He wasn't sure how things stood between them now, since Linus had run to Braden and Paajaarvi had fled to Sweden, both being long gone when the news had broken out. So Sid took a few more moments and chose his words carefully to see where his heir and the Western heir would stand once they heard the news.
“He's really good now. Ever since Paajaarvi showed up, he's much better. Not as sick or tired as before. I'll send you a picture. The doctor thinks he's going to make it to the full-term now, with the turn around he's made.” Sid replied carefully.
“Mags is there?” Taylor asked after a few moments of digesting the news.
“Yeah. He is. He's been coming ever since he got released by the Ulfric, who gave him a limited pardon.”
“How did that happen?” Taylor asked, genuinely curious.
“Don't know. He just showed up here about two weeks ago with the letter and has been tight-lipped about the circumstances. Henke and the Ulfric are up in the Saami lands brokering some kind of deal, so I'm guessing he did something there. He won't speak of it to even Linus,and the rest of the wolves won't even think of going against the Ulfric, so I'm at a loss here.”
“Do you still think we should bring Braden over there then? It's not perfect, but if Linus is getting better and is more alive than he has been in ages...is there any point in stressing him out again?”
Sid bit his lip as he thought about the possibility of simply letting Magnus and Linus be. The young varg had been nothing but courteous to Linus and had provided him with what Sid simply wasn't capable of. He could also see that Magnus was quickly falling for Linus. How the other varg felt, he couldn't even begin to guess.
But he had noticed that Linus had stopped having nightmares and had started to sleep through the night, and not once had he sat in front of the window since Magnus had gotten there. If he thought about Braden, he kept it to himself. So Taylor was right. Would it be fair to bring him to Linus and cause him grief again?
“Then we put it off unless he asks for Braden to come. We have to wait at any rate. He'll be closer to having the pup then, if anything was to go wrong. And if he and Magnus have grown closer at that time, then we don't bring him here. That's all there is to it.”
“What if Braden wants to see him? Can you bring him into Sweden if the Ulfric isn't there?”
“Good question.” Sid thought as he acknowledged that particular thrust of Taylor's.
“I'm an Alpha,and he is my guest. Not to mention I am mated to his brother. It wouldn't be an insult if he came with you, my heir and Jordan. Provided that Sheldon and Jose agree to let him go.”
“They probably will, since Jordan already explained the situation to them already. That was the only reason why he came with me to get Braden sobered up and thinking straight.”
“How is Braden doing now?”
“Almost back to normal. He was...he didn't take Linus leaving well.”
“That's an understatement, wouldn't you say?” Sid commented dryly, making Taylor snort.
“Yeah...that is true. So...we stay as is?”
“For now. If Linus gives any indication of wanting him near, you all come, clear?”
“Even if he doesn't say anything about wanting Braden there...can we show up either way? He is our friend, even if it doesn't seem like it at the present time.”
“You should. It's not fair that he's stuck out here. The whole situation isn't. But we haven't any power over that. Not until the Saami situation gets resolved, and he can get a final ruling on what's going to happen. I can't interfere. Not my territory and not my loups. My hands are tied here.”
“Fair enough. We'll come. Don't worry about it. We'll come.”
“Good to know. Take it easy with that beauty, allright?”
“Do we have an answer to our proposal?” Joel asked his brother as he pawed the snow that was hard packed on the ground as they waited for the Sami vargs to give any indication that they found the Swedish Varg's proposal acceptable.
“I don't know. They're still conferring with the Inari vargs. We will get some more information soon.” Niklas Backstrom, the Fennoswede varg replied as he sat on the snow and curled his tail around his paws.
“Do you think it will work?” Henrik asked the other pitch black varg beside them.
“It should. Better to do this now than to have a war like in the New World.”Tuukka replied as he rolled around on his back a few times, the wait having made him impatient.
“I don't think that the Saami would go to that extent though. None of their packs have ever been violent, according to the Archives.” Nicky Lars added as he came in from the far end of the forest where he had been sent out to scout out any possible food sources. If they didn't get an answer soon, they would have to leave the mission and go hunting. They had been too long without food. Too long in their varg skins and the urge to hunt was getting too strong to deny.
“We haven't ever had a problem with them. Ever. But it's better to have the agreement in place than risk having territorial wars. We aren't as numerous...although that might change.” Forsberg growled out from his corner of the encampment. He hadn't spoken since he had been summoned and had more or less gone ahead of them, preferring his own company to theirs. They let him be, because he was the oldest and also the most powerful seer, and when he had asked to be part of this expedition, Joel and Henke hadn't any reason to refuse him. They figured that if a strong clairvoyant wanted to be part of a treaty expedition, it was a good sign.
“Good to know. Did it say anything about how long it took them to make up their minds?” Tuukka growled out, making Henrik laugh.
Forsberg snorted and muttered something about idiot children, which made Tuukka growl and Henke snap at him, while the Fenno-swede Backstrom simply sat there and watched them with an expression of amused tolerance.
Nicky Lars was about to reply when the vargs came out of their caribou hide tent and moved in a circle around them. This prompted them to back together into a smaller circle, with all of them facing outwards just in case this was an ambush and they were forced to fight. Although Nicky Lars had assured them that the Saami were peaceful, the law of the vargs always included violence and domination.
“We have decided, all of the clans of the Sami, to accept your proposals. We shall keep to our rules as long as you keep to yours. If they are broken, we will come after you and your kind. Agreed?”
The varg that had spoken moved forward, his grey eyes fixed on the group.
“Agreed.” Joel replied as he too moved forward. Both wolves bared their necks to each other and waited for the other to attack. The rest watched with wary anticipation, and no one relaxed until the sky turned dark and the snow began to fall.
“We hunt now, as one pack! It is done!” The Inari varg called out,and they all rushed to follow his command, both the Ulfric and the Sami Varg leading the hunt for the Caribou that ran in plentiful packs in the Saamiland.
“Did you know this was going to happen?” Henke asked Forsberg as they fell behind to let the others go forward into the hunt, as custom decreed it.
Forsberg snorted as he turned those eerie eyes on Henke. Eyes that never changed no matter what his form.
“Do you actually think that if I knew it, I'd tell? I'm bound to be neutral, and drop hints. But to not influence anything by giving direct prophecies.”
Henke laughed softly and wondered if Kaner would get the same way with age as Forsberg had.
“Can you tell me anything useful then?”
Forsberg laughed again. “It will happen. It will be hell while it does, but it will happen. That's all”
Henke growled. He had asked. No sense in getting pissed off at the answer.
“Good to have you here...but I think I should come back-” Sid was cut off by Max laughing at him before he clapped his friend, Alpha and Captain on the shoulder.
“Sid, don't fucking worry, bro. You're okay. It's all okay. Baby-sit Omark and Magnus for a bit longer. Roy, Flower, Hallsy and Letang are taking care of everything. Don't worry about it.”
Sid raised an eyebrow at that. “Is that why you and Adam decided to take a little vacation? Because everyone else is doing your job for you?”
“Hahaha. Fuck you. No. We're here to check up on you and to get the kid some medical help.” Max admitted. Sid's other eyebrow raised at that, making Max cough and look away.
“Okay, fine. Adam was the one that thought about getting a doctor over here. I just wanted to visit and make sure that you weren't overdoing the mothering routine.” Max added ruefully. Sid laughed.
“I'm not. I'm fine. Really. And it's nice of you guys to come, considering how young Luc-Maxime is.”
At the mention of his step-son, Max's face lit up, and Sid felt a small pang of sorrow hit him. He had accepted that he wouldn't have children the normal way, once he had given his heart completely to Henke. He understood that he and Henke could get married outside of their bond if they so chose, but it wasn't in Sidney's temperament to do so. And if Henke chose to do that...he figured that he would accept any children that came in that way.
But after finding out the possibility that loups could have pups...it had brought the old sadness back. Even though he tried to be happy for his friend, it still touched an old hurt.
“Nah, he's maybe three months, but he's doing very well. You wouldn't know he was born early. He's a cute little thing. Favours Adam.” Max told Sid proudly.
“Will you have more, you think?” Sid asked, careful to keep his voice level.
Max shrugged. “We haven't really talked about it, to be honest. I would carry the other one, give Adam a break, but we've been busy with Luc-Maxime...so it's not been a front-line issue at the moment.”
Sid nodded, and Max wrapped his arm around him. “You know...if you and Henke ever want one...I could carry it for you. I know you like kids...so if you're thinking about it, the offer's there.”
Sid laughed tersely,and looked away from his friend. He had to admit that he was touched by the offer, and that did a lot to temper the annoyance that rose in him over Max sensing what he was feeling. Despite doing his best to tamp down his emotions, Max was always right on the money at sussing them out.
“Fucking Empaths.” He whispered finally, but without heat.
“Seriously. You did a lot for me and then Adam. It's the least we could do for you.”
Sid nodded again and looked at Max.
“We'll see. But thank you, Max. It is really appreciated.”
Max was about to respond when the door of Sid's office opened to reveal a travel worn group consisting of his mate, the Ulfric, the Western and Eastern heirs and a red-eyed and blotchy faced Braden Holtby.
“Well...this is unexpected.” Max drawled out as he watched Sid and Henke embrace passionately while Joel stood around looking sort of uncomfortable and awkward. The Heirs looked exhausted, but were standing on either side of Braden, their hands clamped on each of his arms to prevent him from doing something. Probably something stupid, Max thought as he took in the mulish expression on Holtby's face again.
“I want to see him.” Holtby ground out, breaking the silence between all of them.
“Why is he here?” Sid asked once he was done greeting his mate. Joel sighed and rubbed his forehead. He looked at Henke and spat out a string of rapid Swedish, which his brother listened to without batting an eye.
“He didn't know that Linus was breeding. Nor that it was Holtby's. The Heirs contacted him once Holtby had gotten clearance to travel, since they couldn't get a hold of you. He is the Ulfric, so he gave Holtby permission.”
Sid frowned and checked his phone, swearing when he saw he had let his phone die.
“Can you come back tomorrow? It's not a good day today.” Sid returned as he looked at Holtby, who was glaring at him with gold eyes.
“I haven't seen my mate in almost seven months! I want to see him now! I know he's not doing well and I just...I need to see him. Please.” Holtby's voice cracked on the last word and that made Joel speak again, and Henke's mouth twitched as he gave his brother a soft reply.
“He didn't know about the pup. If he had known, he wouldn't have kept you and Linus apart. He saw what I had gone through with Sid. He wouldn't ever knowingly cause someone that much pain. And he apologizes.”
Holtby inclined his head in acceptance of the apology before he looked at Sid.
“Why can't I see him today?” Holtby pressed on as he struggled against the Heirs, who did their best to keep him under control.
“It's just not a good day. Go sleep. I know you're all tired and jet-lagged. A day won't hurt.” Sid tried again, but Holtby shook his head and managed to get himself loose. He opened his mouth to protest, but the appearance of Adam holding Luc-Maxime who was sleepily snuggled against his chest stopped the protest dead in his throat.
“Hey! What's going on here?” Adam asked, clearly surprised at the sheer amount of people in Sid's office. “Braden! When Linus wakes up, he's going to be glad to see you finally here!” Adam exclaimed, making Braden stop and actually focus on what Adam was carrying in his arms. It was a newly born pup, swaddled in a light blue flannel blanket and oblivious to the world outside of his father's arms. Seeing the pup made him stop his demands. Yes, he wanted to see Linus, but considering how Linus had looked in the last picture...he wasn't going to do the mate that he professed to love and his son any favours if he pressed on and caused trouble. Especially not when he was trying to show that he was done being an immature asshole and set a good example for his unborn child.
“Is he yours?” Braden asked as he moved towards Adam and Luc-Maxime, who looked up with sleepy blue-green eyes and gave Braden a small smile before closing his eyes and peacefully settling back against Adam.
“Yeah. Mine and Max's. Yours is coming in a couple of months, if all goes well. But maybe you should get some sleep so you can see Linus and how big he's gotten. Besides, you've flown nearly fourteen hours? Just get some rest. Linus will still be here.” Adam suggested gently as he started rocking side to side in order to get Luc-Maxime to fall asleep. Braden watched him do that for a few moments and finally nodded.
“Yeah. It's a good idea. So where are we going to crash then?”
“Sorry, it's going to be a bit unpleasant, but it has to be done. Take a deep breath, okay?”
The loup doctor told Linus as he disappeared behind the sheet that was covering Linus' lower body and spread legs. He understood it was necessary, since he was at seven and a half months and was in danger of giving birth prematurely. But it still didn't stop the procedure from being awful, even if it assured the health of his baby. And his, since he had to give birth someway and even though it was fully explained to him that it would be well in the end...It still made him a bit green to think about the changes his body would undergo.
“Okay.” Linus agreed as he looked up at the ceiling and took a deep breath as he was directed.
It still didn't prepare him for the examination, and it was all he could do to not scoot away from the doctor once he started the examination. The only thing stopping him from doing such a thing was Magnus and Adam holding onto his hands.
“I'm here, Limpan. It's okay.” Magnus murmured in Swedish as he stroked Linus' hair away from his forehead.
“It's easier if you relax. Trust me on this, kid.” Adam assured him, tightening his grip on his hand as he spoke.
“Yeaaahhh. I guess.” Linus managed to get out before he bit his lip and tried to ignore the discomfort going on in his lower body.
After what felt like an eternity, the doctor stood up and told Linus he could lower his legs and sit up.
“Easy for you to say.” He muttered in Swedish as he did as he was bid with Adam and Magnus' help. The doctor waited until he was settled before he started telling him of his findings.
“The baby's healthy. If you're lucky, you should be able to make it full term. You also look fine, but you need to rest and take it easy. Nothing strenuous or stressful needs to be added to your life until the baby's been delivered. And even then, take it easy. But everything looks good.”
Linus let out a breath he didn't even realize he had been holding after he had been told the news. After the first few months of his pregnancy, he had been expecting dire news. Hearing that his baby was fine was a great weight lifted off his mind. It also went a long way in easing the dull guilt of not being able to see Braden as well. Despite Sid, Magnus, Adam and Max being there...he still missed Braden. Still yearned for him, even though he had become resigned to the fact that it simply wasn't meant to be. He counted himself lucky though, that at least he wasn't miserable and alone with Braden's baby and that maybe someday...
“You want to take a bath?” Magnus' question pulled him out of his increasingly morbid thoughts, and he had to smile at the younger varg gratefully at the suggestion. He didn't really need a bath per say, but a nice long soak would be very welcome to his sore back muscles.
“Are we done here then?” Adam asked the doctor, who nodded and dismissed Linus and Magnus with more instructions before they went to the bathroom.
“Are they mated?” The doctor asked as Adam went over to the bassinet that contained his own pup, who was wide awake, blinking bright aqua eyes and gnawing on a tiny paw while the wolf ears on his head twitched.
“No. They're good friends. Linus' mate and the father of his pup is on his way. He just needed to take care of a few things.” Adam replied as he picked up Luc-Maxime and brought him over to the now clean examination table.
“I see. I honestly thought that he was Linus' mate. That young varg is really good for him and his pup.” He commented before he shrugged and turned his attention to the little furball in Adam's arms.
“Now let's see how this little one is doing, hmmm?”
“This is nice.” Linus commented as he and Magnus sat on his bed after his bath, drinking cider and watching a movie that they had stopped paying attention to quite awhile ago in favour of languid conversation. Magnus had his arm wrapped loosely around Linus' shoulder and Linus himself was leaning into Magnus, enjoying the warmth emanating from the younger varg and the safety that his embrace provided.
Although they had grown extremely close, Magnus hadn't, despite that first kiss, really pushed for anything further. Magnus was tactile, but he was tactile in the way that all vargs and loups seemed to be. He embraced Sid without any hesitation and Linus had also seen him in wolf form, curling up around Max. Adam couldn't shift just yet, since he was taking care of Luc-Maxime and who was too little to be left alone. So he didn't think that the closeness and the embraces signified anything deeper than affection that all vargs and loups showed by touch.
Linus had to admit to himself that without Magnus touching him and holding him, he'd probably go nuts from the loneliness. He ached to be near someone that loved and cared for him. Magnus offered that unconditionally, and it had helped him very much. Without that, he'd probably be sunk into such a deep depression that nothing would have shaken him out of it. He felt warm and safe and relaxed and there was the added bonus of the baby agreeing with him, since he was moving, but not enough to make him queasy or hurt him. Or make him want to use the bathroom.
The problem was that Linus knew he had to say something about where they stood. He missed Braden, and he didn't know if he was going to see him before the baby was born. And even though he appreciated Magnus being around, he didn't want to lead his friend on and again wreck their friendship and have it be permanently ruptured because of miscommunication as it had been in the past.
These were the thoughts that were going through his head when Magnus finally replied.
“Yeah. It is.” Magnus agreed as he turned and buried his nose in Linus' hair. He closed his eyes as he inhaled the scent of the herbal shampoo he always used. As he inhaled the mingled scents of shampoo and Linus's own scent, it hit him how much he had missed that scent. How much he had missed Linus himself.
A scent that he knew he would file away and remember for the rest of his life, because he knew that no matter how much he wanted to wake up and curl into that scent...it wasn't to be.
He had been getting hints of the restlessness before, and he knew what was coming. But he wasn't going to push the issue. He was going to let Linus be the one to start the conversation.
“Mags?” Linus' voice brought him out of his mood.
“Yeah?” He asked as he turned his head to look at his friend.
Linus swallowed hard and set his cup down on the nightside table before he spoke.
“How do you feel about me now? Do you still want friendship, or do you want something more from me?”
Magnus didn't reply for several moments, his gaze having moved down to the blanket he had bought Linus two weeks after they had started to talk again. He was picking at it, and Linus hoped that their newly re-built friendship would be able to withstand the brutally honest answers this conversation was going to bring forth.
“I would like it to be more than just friendship, Limpan. I'd be lying if I said otherwise. But I know that despite how much I mean to you...I'm not him. You miss Braden. I can feel your longing for him, despite how happy you are with me. Your pup also misses him. I can feel that, like a faint thread over-lapping your emotions. No matter how hard I can try, I'm not Braden. I will only make you happy for a little while, and that would eventually make us hate each other. No.”
Magnus shook his head and looked up at Linus, who was blinking back the tears at Magnus' words.
“How...I mean...I'm sorry.” Linus whispered brokenly. Magnus smiled sadly and wiped the tears away gently.
“Empath. I never did tell you what else I could do. It hurts. I won't lie about it. But I won't force something that just can't be for my own selfish reasons. I care about you a hell of a lot, Limpan. I know you love me. But I'm not the one you're in love with. I've known it for awhile now. It just took longer to accept.”
Magnus laughed shortly and shook his head. “Don't be sorry. If anything, I should be, for trying to take his place, despite knowing it was a futile effort.”
Linus nodded and leaned back against Magnus. “For what it's worth, I'm sorry it couldn't be different. We click in different ways. Just not that way.”
Magnus kissed Linus' head.
“It's okay. Not now. Maybe not for awhile, but it's going to be okay.”
“It still sucks. You shouldn't have to give up the person you love.”
Magnus laughed softly at that.
“If it's a choice between losing my best friend again and having a broken heart, I'll take the broken heart. I maybe younger than you, but I'm not a child in that regard.”
Linus burrowed deeper into the embrace and sighed. “Thank you.”