(…Gideon is writing his mother a letter…)
Gideon promised his mother pictures later. Then went back to the meat of the letter.
‘You remember that small pack I told you about when I was in Texas? I know I’ve been talking about a lot of packs and places. They helped get me out of cultural differences type of trouble.’
Gideon grimaced. He didn’t want to go over that again with his mother. It was hard enough to write about the first time. He’d glossed over quite a bit too. Now to get to the information he hadn’t mentioned.
‘It turns out that they’re an offshoot of a bigger pack. They weren’t looking to add any new members, but they did tell me about their main pack here in Colorado. I’ve come up here to look into it. It’s not one of the ones Dad and I yelled about.’
His father didn’t know that many packs anyways. Gideon had stumbled across more small family style packs than his father had fingers and toes in his travels. He looked at the duck. “I’m looking.” He said. “No harm right?” He looked back at his letter.
‘They make their home in a city named Jasper.’
The duck poked him with his bill again.
Gideon sighed. “Just looking, I’m not hurting anybody by looking. I can’t–” He reached over, grabbed a handful of kernels and plopped them in front of the duck, who pounced on them before the others ducks could see and take them. “I’m curious.” He finished and decided not to finish the rest of his previous sentence, no matter how much it would be true if he said it aloud.
It hurt too much to say aloud. Saying it aloud meant he would have to actually acknowledge it. He couldn’t go home. There was no place for him there. Farming had never felt right to him. He wasn’t great at it and there were too many boys in one house to make staying at home peaceful, especially now that he had training in how to use his temper in what the military considered a constructive fashion. His father had made it clear if he walked out of the house and left home, that he would not be welcome back. He shifted the lollipop again and sucked on it, hoping the sweet would clear the bitterness of his memories.
He missed the military. Gideon reached up and touched his dog tags under his t-shirt. He missed the camaraderie and the brotherhood. He missed always having someone to hang out with. And he couldn’t go back there either because of that blasted IED trying to take out his knee.
As far as he could tell, the knee was as good as new due to werewolf healing. But now, it was in his medical record and it wasn’t going to leave and the military had funny requirements. They’d refuse without looking at it again. It wasn’t like another country’s military would take him either, something about conflicting loyalties.
He hadn’t planned on being injured. He hadn’t planned on coming home from the military on a medical but honorable discharge. And he certainly hadn’t planned to have a fight with his father that would end up with them screaming at each other.
He’d seen, or at least he hoped he’d seen, that type of camaraderie that he’d loved in the military in that pack in Texas. There had been a sense of ‘we are all brothers and sisters together for one cause.’ They were something of a family pack, close and jovial. But he knew that not everyone had been related. And in a way, it had hurt to be able to see that closeness and not be able to join them, but there was the hope too that this pack, their main pack, would be the same way. They had gotten the attitude from somewhere.
He hoped he’d be able to belong here, like he had in the military and that he no longer did at home. He wanted the brotherhood back. He wanted it back so bad it hurt. And he would never be able to say it aloud and if he tried to explain it to his mother, he had a feeling she would never understand. She had never been part of something like that, the reliance of one’s peers, knowing that someone always had your back.