gone home (GH pt 1)

there’s actually a playlist for this here.

cw for trauma/flashbacks, mild drug use, sexual content

“Tate,” Reuben says, voice gruff.

He looks up from the spot on the table he’d been staring at, not quite meeting his alpha’s eyes. “Sir?”

“My office. Now.”


“‘Pollo it’s fine,” he mumbles, already pushing away from the dinner table.

He almost hadn’t gone, but Astrid had shown up at his front door and literally dragged him. You can’t just miss family Friday, she’d said, throwing jeans and a shirt at him then stealing a beer from his fridge.

Shawn looks at Astrid, a questioning look on his face. Not because he hasn’t heard the nickname – that had been around since he was barely a toddler, after the first time Astrid knocked someone out on the ice and everyone (he’d) started calling her Apollo Creed – but because their dad had actually pushed Astrid out of something. That never really happened. It was one of those alpha things. Since she’d shifted for the first time, Reuben had always made sure she was there for things.

But this wasn’t an alpha thing. Not exactly.

He makes it a point not to fold in on himself as he puts his plate in the sink and walks into Reuben’s office, shutting the door behind him. His ears pop, and he watches Reuben make a face as he forces his own to adjust to the seal of the soundproofing.

“Have a seat,” he says, gesturing at the other armchair. Not across the desk, as he’d done sometimes when they were kids, or even now when it was formal pack business.

Tate swallows and sits.

“Do you want to tell me or should I start guessin’?”

And oh, how Tate wants to play stupid. Wants to lie. But it doesn’t matter what he’d do – it wouldn’t work. Every single thing would give him away.

“There’s a job back ho- in Calhoun. A farmer who just bought another few hundred acres off some family who couldn’t afford to keep it, and I guess his old ranch manager is retiring or whatever and um.”

“I see. And did he contact you or did you contact him?”

Tate sighs. Closes his eyes and wills his heart rate to steady so he can hear himself think.

“He a friend of your parents?”

“Something like that. More just… small town, y’know? But he knew them. Knew me as a kid I guess, and I happened to see it on Facebook one day-“

Reuben makes a little ah sound and sits back in his chair. He twists and picks up a bottle of bourbon from the shelf beside him and pours some into a glass; he takes a sip, then says, “So you applied.”

Swallowing around the knot in his throat, Tate nods. “He wants me to come out. Take a look. Talk.”

“Talk,” Reuben echoes softly. Evenly.

It makes Tate’s stomach drop and his blood run cold. He squeezes his eyes shut, reminding himself that he’s not a kid, and that even if he was, Reuben has never done anything like hurting him. Certainly never on purpose. He wasn’t that kind of man. That kind of alpha.

“And when were you going to talk to my daughter about this? Because I’m going to assume she has no idea.”

“No sir,” he whispers. “I was- soon. I leave next week.”

Reuben drains his glass and sets it down on the table between them, the heavy crystal thudding solidly on the wood.

“How long will you be gone?”

“I don’t know,” he admits. “I just can’t-” It feels like the air has been knocked from his lungs every time he thinks about it, which is more often than he should. “I can’t be here right now.”

Shifting to look at Tate directly, Reuben cocks his head and says, “And what if they both choose this? If they choose each other? What then?”

And this is the part he hates the most. “I won’t come between it. I won’t compromise the pack. Astrid will still have Kyah. She’ll- they’ll all be ok. She’ll be a good alpha. If I stay, I’ll only get in the way of that.”

Reuben turns away, reaching for the bottle once more. He pours himself another thick finger, then grabs a second glass and matches it before sliding it across the table to Tate.


He watches, dumbfounded, as Reuben empties the glass again and stands. “Alcohol is for adults, Tate. I may not agree with your decision, but you’re at least making one like an adult instead of thinking with your cock. So finish that, and then you get to deal with telling my daughter.”

And then he walks out of the room, leaving Tate alone with his thoughts and the tumbler of bourbon.

Astrid doesn’t take it well. She refuses his resignation, so to speak, then crowds him against the wall and tells him to take it back. To say he’ll come back. Snarls in his face, even, but she doesn’t order.

Tate still says ok.

It might be the first time he lies to Astrid and he’s sure his heartbeat betrays him, but she doesn’t call him out. She just wraps her arms around him, her chin on his shoulder. He pulls her into his chest and lets his forehead drop to her shoulder.

“Don’t… don’t tell anyone. Please. I don’t want to make this a thing.”

“People are gonna notice you’re gone, dumbass. You’re huge. You’re kinda hard to miss,” she replies wetly.

He laughs, and it feels like another little piece of him cracks. “You know what I mean. They won’t question it if you don’t make it some big deal.”

“It is a big deal, Tate. And I know you’re gonna say I’m wrong, but you’re making a mistake.”

“It’s not like I really have a choice. You’ve seen how he-“

“I know,” Astrid says. “But it’s-” she sighs and lets go of him, dabbing at her eyes. “Fucking bullshit.”

“Which part, the crying or that my own-” mate, he thinks, but can’t say. “That he hates me?”

“Both. He doesn’t know you, and this is all… a lot. D’you remember what it was like the first time we turned? Hell, even the months leading up to it?”

Tate closes his eyes, the memories hitting him in a tidal wave that he’s sure is assisted by Astrid. The violent, overpowering surge of everything. And he’d known, had been able to prepare and had people he loved and trusted to help him through it.

Ari had- me, he could’ve had me.

“This isn’t how it’s supposed to go,” Astrid says, the corners of her eyes still wet.

“Welcome to the real world, jackass,” he says with a weak laugh.

“Tate Hansen I will throw you on the fucking ground if you don’t-” She cuts herself off and turns around. Takes a step away and pauses before she faces him again. “Just… make sure you actually think this through. Please. I’m not saying don’t take some time or whatever because I, well, I don’t get it. I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but don’t forget that you’re not going through it alone. Don’t make it so you don’t have a pack to come back to.”

He pushes away from the wall and drags her into a hug before she can protest, or yell at him for trying to distract her.

“And you’re going to pick up the phone when I call. I’m your alpha and I need to know you’re ok.”

“I’ll be fine,” he says quietly. Another lie.

He isn’t. And if anything, he’s even less ok with each passing mile, but he has to go. He has to do this.

Even if he does go back one day, he needs this.

He couldn’t live with himself if he stayed – can’t be that kind of man. So he turns the radio up and tells himself that eventually the gaping hole in his chest will feel a little less awful.

Eventually he has to stop for gas and to piss, which means he has to interact with people. Astrid had tried to make him take her Subaru. Because it was better on gas, she’d said, but he knows it’s because she thinks it’ll make him come back. He’d said no, but for the first time, he regrets it.

Flipping down the visor of his truck, he slides open the mirror to make sure he looks passably human. He looks like shit. Whatever. He’s in the middle of bumfuck nowhere. Not like anyone here knows him or is going to see him again.

Tate tries to smile when the girl working the cash register very unsubtly tries to flirt with him. God, he just wants to leave. Just wants to not feel like this. Maybe- No.

“Thanks, you too,” he says, already backing toward the door.

The last thing he needs is a human. Not like that. But a distraction could do him some good. Astrid had said as much before he’d left, even though he knows this isn’t at all what she meant.

He shrugs and sends the text. Not like anyone can complain about who he fucks on his own time, although he’s sure Kyah would try. The thought makes him smile – just a little, and it doesn’t last, but for a second the ache eases up.

Welcome to Illinois, reads the sign in the distance. Tate snaps a picture as he passes and sends it to Astrid. There, he fulfilled his friend promise, he thinks.

Oh alpha my alpha > K saw your name and wants to know why I’m hiding texts from you.

Oh alpha my alpha > She hasn’t said it yet but she’s gonna think we’re hooking up again and get mad. I’m gonna tell her you knocked me up and are running away from your fatherly duties.

He laughs and it hurts – enough that he can’t even respond, so he just drops his phone back into the cupholder and keeps driving.

The house looks the same. Tate isn’t sure if it would be better or worse if it looked different. It’s older. But then, so is he. Smaller, but he’s grown.

Flipping through his keys, he finds the right one. It still fits in the lock; the only struggle to open the door is in him.

When Tate had turned eighteen, Reuben had called him into his office. He’d poured two glasses of bourbon, although back then Tate hadn’t gotten anything near a full pour. It was just something to do with his hands; practice, Reuben had said.

And then he’d set the deed to the house on his desk, facing Tate. Said that it was his – all of it, the land and barns too – which meant he had to make a decision. Not alone.

He remembers meeting Reuben’s eyes over what felt like an endless stretch of solid oak and understanding that he was not, even in the slightest, an adult yet.

The next summer, they’d come out to see it. After a lengthy discussion, Reuben had begun making plans to have the interior of the house redone. Not changed, but repaired. Made whole.

Tate rests his hand on the back of his neck, the key still in the lock. It isn’t the same. Doesn’t have the same weight that Reuben’s did, back then.

Nothing is the same.

As if to dispute his silent claim, the cicadas grow louder. The wind rustles through the trees, and somewhere in the distance, a dog barks.

Sighing, Tate pushes the door open.

He can hear his mom in the kitchen, dishes clinking softly in the sink. His dad is reading something out loud, to get her input. He can’t remember what – some adult thing that he hadn’t been grown up enough to understand, for all he thought he knew back then.

“Tate! Tate! Tate!” She’d tacked him before he’d even closed the front door behind him, giggling so loudly-

The sounds of her laughter and shouts blend together with the panicked cries of the horses as memories that don’t belong together bleed over each other. Tate’s fingernails bite into the door frame, tipped in claws even though the full moon is still weeks away.

His phone buzzes loudly from his pocket and he sucks in a harsh breath. The floors are spotless – the wooden boards that couldn’t be cleaned had been replaced and stained to match. Same with the walls, which had been patched and repainted like it had never happened.

Tate pulls his phone out of his pocket, almost dropping it in his desperation for something, anything, that isn’t a memory of this house.

C Sorenson > Sorry love, but I’m on a job right now. Not sure when I might make it back stateside.

> No worries dude, just got some time away. Maybe next time.

He shoves his phone back into his pocket and makes himself take a step into the house. The lights flip on immediately; he hasn’t been back since that summer, but he knows Reuben has kept an eye on the place. Either sent someone to check on it or did it himself.

It’s warm, but he checks the propane tank outside anyways for something to do. The drone of the cicadas is easier than silence. Safer than the roar of his thoughts. Then he checks the pump house and the water softener.

There’s nothing in the kitchen, but he isn’t hungry. He probably couldn’t eat right now even if he was. He does fill a glass with water and drink it, though. Then he fills it again and walks back to the entryway to get his abandoned duffel bag.

He didn’t go upstairs last time. Hasn’t been upstairs since-

It’s been almost two decades. He can do this. Tate makes himself take each step at a reasonable, controlled pace. Up here, there are fewer signs of repair. A couple of pictures that were rehung, but their positions swapped. A rug that’s slightly the wrong color.

That makes it easier, somehow. Turning right, Tate walks the few feet down the hall and pauses. His hand hovers over the knob to her room for a second before he lets it drop. Not tonight. He can’t tonight – he’s too tired.

His own room isn’t much easier. He opens the door and he’s suddenly ten again, surrounded by wolves and dinosaurs and horses and tractors.

Sighing, he lets his bag drop to the floor. After some digging, he finds his toothbrush and toothpaste, then walks back down the hall to the bathroom. He brushes his teeth in the dark, not wanting to see whatever his face might look like.

When he’s done, he drops his toothbrush in the old coffee cup that’s lived by the sink for as long as he can remember. For a brief moment, he considers a shower, but that can wait too. He pulls his shirt off as he walks down the hall and steps out of his jeans and his shoes on his way to the bed. That’s smaller, too. But it doesn’t matter; he curls into a ball around his pillow and falls asleep sometime after the silent sobs that he can’t seem to stop finally trail off.

Oh alpha my alpha > Hey how’d the interview thing go?

Oh alpha my alpha > Tate pick up the phone

Kyah > Astrid’s mad at you. I’m mad at you. Where are you? It’s one thing to go be emo and another one to shirk your duties on a full moon and you know it.

He drives back for the full moon. Doesn’t even set up a tent or speak to anyone, although Astrid finds him once everyone has shifted and gone off. They don’t speak. She’ll barely even look at him, which is fair.

He sees Kyah from a distance, but she just glares at him and takes off in the opposite direction. That’s fair, too. He’d understand if she never spoke to him again, especially when she has-

Astrid grabs him by the scruff and throws him into the dirt. When he looks up, she looks sad; he wonders if she’ll ever forgive him.

He already knows he won’t forgive himself. But then, he was always on borrowed time.

He goes out, because it’s a weekend and he’s out of things to do around the house.

He’s not out of things to do around Dirk’s farm, but Dirk tells him to get out before he fires him. Tate huffs and says yes sir and gets in his truck. Dirk doesn’t go inside until Tate’s all the way down the driveway, which is extremely inconvenient for the breakdown he can feel building in his chest.

Somehow, he manages to keep it together until he gets back to the house – he can’t call it home – but as soon as the door closes, it feels like a vice grip on his chest.

“Tater come play!”

He sniffs and drags the back of his hand under his nose, even though the tears are in the past.

“Tater?” She’d looked up at him, her eyes going far too serious for a kid. “Why are you sad?”

“It’s nothing,” he replied, because she was his little sister. “Let’s go play. You wanna be the knight again?”

“Sorry, Hashbrown,” he whispers. “Don’t think you’d be too happy if you saw me now.”

With shaking hands, he lights the bowl that had been sitting, unfinished, on the kitchen table for over a week now. His parents probably wouldn’t be happy about that, but they were dead. By the time he finishes it, he almost feels like he’s not going to die. Close enough that he can change into something more presentable – not that he’d brought much – and pack another without making a mess.

The numbness he feels as he parks outside of a bar in the nearest city is almost pleasant. At the very least, the distance between Tate and his feelings is enough that he can probably manage this at least for a little bit. Maybe get himself entirely out of his head for an hour or two.

It’s busy. All humans, because he didn’t go looking for anything else. Right now, he just doesn’t want to be alone. And it’s the right kind of place for that. He hasn’t been inside for more than ten minutes, not even long enough to get his drink, before he has the other bartender smiling like she knows exactly what he’s looking for and would be more than happy to provide it.

Less than fifteen minutes and three shots later, there’s a guy who looks like he may well be a professional football player working his way between Tate’s knees, one hand on his beer and the other on Tate’s thigh.

“So you really grew up just over the river, huh?”

“Yep. Until I was ten.” He takes a sip of his own beer. Some craft shit; tight end prom king had bought it.

“You spend much time in the city?”

“Not this city,” Tate replies.

“You wanna see a couple blocks of it? My place isn’t far.”

He drains his beer, buying himself time. “Yeah,” he says. “Ok.”

The guy grins, his perfect teeth all the more white against his skin.

Time blurs, Tate’s brain going thoroughly hazy as the alcohol mixes into his bloodstream. He skirts closer to consciousness as the door closes behind them and the guy backs him against it, his mouth hot on Tate’s and his thigh shoved between Tate’s.

“Mm, you like that?” he asks in response to Tate’s breathless groan.

He groans again when the guy relocates his mouth to Tate’s throat, this one even more involuntary than the last. “It’s- ha- it’s been a while. I uh. Work a lot.”

“Oh yeah? We need to get you to unwind a little?” His perfect teeth scrape over the pulse in Tate’s throat and Tate has to fight a whine.

“That’s the goal,” he manages. His jeans are too tight. This is a mistake, a tiny voice in the back of his mind says. It is, and he knows it, but he needs-

“You vers?”

“Hm? Yeah.” He doesn’t bother asking the same – he knows how guys like this work, at least in theory. That was the only reason he was here at all. He can’t risk fucking humans. Not with- But a guy like this. A guy like this would fuck him into the mattress and leave it to Tate to handle himself.

The guy tugs at Tate’s earlobe with his teeth, the hand that isn’t on Tate’s waist dropping to palm at his cock through his jeans. Yeah. Definitely a mistake.

When Tate’s phone starts to vibrate, he almost yells. He pulls it out, intending to silence it and shove it back in his pants but his eyes catch on the name. Kyah.

“Girlfriend?” the guy asks, one black eyebrow raised.

Tate chokes on a laugh. “Nah, she’d cut my dick off if I ever even thought about it. Just- someone I grew up with.”

He turns his phone off and shoves it back into his pocket. “Now where were we?”

The guy grins at him again, movie star bright.

It only gets worse, after that. He doesn’t go back for the next full moon. It’s the first one he’s spent alone, and to make matters worse, he lies to Astrid again.

> Won’t be back. Truck is having issues.

Oh alpha my alpha > Need me to come get you?

He leaves her on read for a few hours. Long enough that she won’t have time to get to Illinois and back.

> Don’t worry about it. I’ll be ok. Sorry Apollo.

Oh alpha my alpha > I don’t want an apology from you.

Oh alpha my alpha > Well I do, but come say it to my face

Oh alpha my alpha > bitch

He showers and brushes his teeth, ignoring the bags under his eyes when he glances in the mirror. When he gets back to his room, he has another text.

Oh alpha my alpha > Shawn’s birthday is next month. If you’re not back for that I think you might actually get disowned. And he’ll probably cry. It’s like he thinks you’re family or something. Probably because you’ve always been there.

Tate swallows hard and puts his phone on the nightstand.

When the sun goes down the following night, he walks out to the barn and strips. He debates running around on the property only briefly. There’s room, sure, but even thinking about it makes Tate feel empty.

So instead, he lays down on the barn floor and stares up at the sky. He doesn’t even bother to shift back at the end of the night. Part of him hopes that he’ll get stuck like that and not have to deal with any of it anymore, but when he wakes up in the morning, he’s human again.

The week after passes in a monotonous blur. Then another. Dirk’s ranch manager still comes in every day, and Tate is about ready to snap on the guy. He’s everything Tate hates in a man – Larry – lazy, condescending, ignorantly conservative.

It’s the reason that Tate is lying in bed, awake far too early for a Saturday.

His phone vibrates, and he strongly debates ignoring it. There’s a chance that it’s Dirk. Or old king asshole himself. Or worse, Astrid.

The number isn’t saved in his phone, but he doesn’t need it to be. He knows who it is.

Ari > Hey can we talk? Like in person?

He sighs and lets the phone drop onto his chest, squeezing his eyes shut.

Their last conversation plays through his head, layered over with the feeling of Ari’s nose pressed to his shoulder the first time he’d shifted. The way he’d smelled when they talked after; he was angry, sure. Or scared. Both, Tate thinks. But under it-

A quiet whine slips out of his throat and before he can judge himself, he types out a response. He drops his phone before he hits send and debates the merits of jerking off before he replies. Just to make sure he’s not doing something stupid.

But it won’t make a difference. He pulls up Google maps and checks the time. He’s an hour ahead, but if he’s out the door in the next fifteen minutes he should be there by dinner time…

> What time?

Ari > 5:00?

Fuck. If he’s out the door in five, speeds heavily, and only stops once for gas-

> ok

Leave a Comment

error: Content on this site is copyrighted and protected against theft or misuse.
Scroll to Top