Cut scene #5 - This was the original scene in which Ray tells Josh he’s pregnant. For obvious reasons it didn’t make it anywhere into the real storyline, but I thought you might be interested in the scene. Comes right after the events of Alpha For the Pack.
Chapter 1 – Baby for the Pack
Later, Ray wouldn’t even know why he’d said it, but he had said it, and Josh had answered.
“If you are okay with every alpha liking me…”
“Not really, every alpha wants to sleep with you, but that’s about it. Nicholas, for one, couldn’t have liked you that much, if he…” Josh paused, maybe hearing how fast Ray’s heart was beating despite his efforts to keep his breathing even. “Ray…? What’s wrong?”
Ray’s throat had closed up. Nicholas’ scent was suddenly all over him again, he could feel his weight holding him down and… Josh’s fingers were digging into his arms and finally his voice penetrated the fog in Ray’s brain. “Ray, please.”
He was panting, he realized, and sweating too, and so cold he leaned into Josh and trembled against him. Josh held him, rubbing soothing circles against his back. “It’s okay,” he said, again and again. But Ray could tell the longer Ray was silent, the less he believed it.
“I’m sorry,” Josh said after a while, hands firmly locked around Ray. “I should have asked you about it before.”
“I’d have lied,” Ray rasped out, face almost completely buried in Josh’s shoulder.
“Lied?” Josh repeated.
Ray nodded. “I can do it, if it’s not an order to tell the truth specifically,” he explained. He wasn’t sure he would have told any of the others, but this was Josh. And he was hoping…
Josh went very still, but he didn’t let go of him and that had to mean something, right? If he knew already… Ray curled his fingers tighter around the belt loops of Josh’s jeans.
“Ray, do you want me to order you to tell me the truth?”
Ray swallowed, eyes squeezed shut tight enough to see stars, then he nodded against Josh’s shoulder. His friend exhaled shakily against his cheek. He never wanted to let go, but things could never be same after this… Josh stiffened right before he did it, as if he needed to brace himself to manage the right tone. “Tell me truth, Ray. Tell me what happened.”
The compulsion made him gasp, mind racing for the words it needed to give his alpha what he wanted. It hurt, but it helped too because it took away all doubt. The wolf didn’t have room for doubt when its alpha demanded something of it, and so neither did Ray. “He… I couldn’t stop him. I wasn’t strong enough. I didn’t stop him fast enough.”
Josh didn’t move or speak. He didn’t push away and Ray could have almost cried if he hadn’t known the relief was short-lived, the product of shock rather than acceptance.
“Fast enough for what?” Josh finally asked.
“He…” Ray’s voice hitched, the magic inducing him to speak was strong but not stronger than the emotion welling up in his throat. “He didn’t knot me,” he offered weakly, as much procrastination as he could manage, “but… it was the full moon, and he was inside me…”
“Fuck,” Josh swore, pain laced through his voice like acid. “No.”
Ray only realised he was crying when he tasted the tears as he opened his mouth to plead. “I’m sorry,” he said again, “I’m sorry, please, I… please.”
“Calm down,” Josh said, but his voice was too choked up to form a real order.
Ray let his alpha hold him, and did his best to obey. But it was hopeless: he couldn’t really calm down, not when he’d finally spoken of it, when it was finally true. Now he couldn’t pretend he was imagining things any more, he couldn’t pretend it wasn’t happening.
And that meant he didn’t know what would happen to him: he’d never heard of an omega in his situation before. What did an alpha do when his omega was carrying another alpha’s child?
[end cut scene 5]
Note: "Baby for the Pack" was the name of the original third book of the series when it was a trilogy, that's it, before Alec ate my brain with "Midnight Encounters" and I decided to write "Protectors of the Pack" and so obviously the last book also needed an 'of' title.
Cut scene #6 – Sleeping Arrangements
So because I’m the queen of angst, I actually wrote this scene in the LAST CHAPTER OF THE LAST BOOK. For reals, I decided I needed to introduce a new conflict right when all the conflicts were meant to be solved. It is not that some version of this doesn’t happen but it takes Ray a lot of soul-searching and talking to Alec and his mom to realise that a) it’s not healthy for him and Josh if Josh is always the one getting him pregnant b) it makes him ignore the very real attraction he and his other alphas feel towards one another, which is pointless and tense and why the fuck should he cheat them all of a little pleasure when they have been through so much? c) It’s not that healthy for a pack to have so little genetic diversity anyway.
Josh is also a lot better at control than he thinks—as he’s proven again and again. Boy needs a little ego-boost, what can I say.
Anyway, here you go, this is just undiluted angst.
"I want... I need you to know: I'm not going to be angry if you decided to have sex with them. It's... Well, they are already on your exceptions list," Josh offered with a valiant smile.
Ray stared at him. "And what about yours?"
"Well, Scarlett Johansson is filming in L.A. and Chris Evans too, but as soon as they get back..."
Ray rolled his eyes at him. "I don't think I have time to have five full time lovers as well as raise five children and run a pack."
Josh swallowed. Ray didn't get why he was trying so hard when he was so clearly uncomfortable with both the conversation and its consequences. "It doesn’t have to be five. Just—You said it was your choice and it is, just because you... if you wanted to do stuff with one of them; it doesn't mean you have to do stuff with all of them. Even Gabriel said that was cool."
Gabriel had said it was Ray's choice and they would all respect it. Ray wasn't completely certain of how it would make Gabriel feel, though. He was still a little angry, but he didn't want to mess with his cousin's head—much less with the pack dynamics.
"Yeah, don't think Alec is interested, for one."
Josh stared at him. "I'm sorry, Alec isn't interested? They are all interested, you can't have missed that."
Ray shrugged. "Alec doesn't like topping," he explained and regretted it at once. "Fuck, I shouldn't have--"
"It's okay," Josh said at once. "It was pretty obvious what was going on with him and Gabriel. And anyway, you like topping."
Ray couldn't help it, he flinched.
"What—What did I say?" Josh asked in a small voice.
"I—" He glanced down, trying to slow down his thoughts enough to put them into words. "I don't want to top with anyone else."
"Oh," Josh said softly. Ray risked a peek and saw he was repressing a smile. "Okay, then."
He was so transparently pleased that Ray wanted their own relationship to be special. Unique. And yet... "Why are you telling me all this?"
Josh rubbed his face hard enough to leave his eyebrows in disarray but he kept his eyes on the floorboards at his feet. He'd sat on the chair, not the bed where Ray was lying looking at an art book. "I don't want you to— I— Can you promise to let me finish explaining before you say anything?"
"Okay," Ray said, and rolled onto his side, already biting his lower lip to forestall temptation.
"I like this, the way things are now. Without... without the instincts all in our faces. It feels like when we were— Before you presented, before everything got so—" He waved a hand around as if to express the mess their lives had devolved into. He stopped for long seconds after that. Ray waited him out. "If we— If we have another child together... It will make my wolf go all... possessive. It will..." He swallowed thickly and got to his feet, facing Ray's desk. "It will be hard, that's all."
Ray knew he had promised, but it was too much to bear for long. "You don't want to do it?" he asked and his voice crumbled like cheap plastic between them. It felt like his heart wasn't far behind. It was crazy, he didn't even want to...
"No!" Josh twirled around at once, eyes wide. "I'm not— Let me finish," he insisted. He was breathing heavily, like he was in the middle of a fight, not a conversation. "I want to. I... I love Mickey more than life itself, you know that. And I love you. But I don’t want it to be hard all the time. I don't think you... I don't think we can make it work if it's hard all the time, Ray," he admitted at last and something in his voice made Ray look up.
He was crying, openly and unashamedly, just watching Ray with plain terror written on his face.
Ray wanted to go to him, hold him close, promise him everything was going to be okay. But Josh had just brought up the one thing that Ray had been doing his very best not to ever think about: the fact that Alec's solution would make things better, but it wouldn't really fix them.
It would not stop the heats and their consequences. Ray didn't really have a choice about it.
"I... I'm not angry," he said, surprised to discover he was on his feet. "But I would like to be alone right now."
ALEC COMES IN AND TELLS RAY THERE MIGHT BE OTHER WAYS AND HE WILL NOT STOP LOOKING FOR THEM. If there's ways to prevent pregnancy in humans and animals, why should werewolves be any different? Josh can already stop himself from knotting him during heat, for one, and that might be all that's necessary.
Or you can imagine your own ending :p
[end cut scene 6]
Cut scene #7 – All or Nothing
What did it matter that Ray had a crush on when Josh had manoeuvred him into sleeping with him? More than that, into a bond they couldn’t break that would mean Ray would be forced to continue sleeping with Josh no matter what he actually wanted?
If Ray had ever felt what Josh did for him… Josh would have taken half of it, really. Hell, he’d have taken anything. And he had.
After years of being afraid that asking Ray for more would mean they’d end up with nothing, he’d realised Ray was about to vanish in front of his eyes and he’d gone for it. He’d spoken to Ray’s uncle, first in hopes of being Ray’s alpha on his own and then he’d persisted when it’d been made clear that Ray would be starting a new pack and a single alpha wasn’t an option.
He’d taken everything because nothing wasn’t an option.
But Ray hadn’t had any options at all. Not real ones. An omega needed a mate and Josh had been too stupid to mention that it didn’t need to be more than one just because Ray was male. He’d introduced Ray to his prospective mates and warned him that there were worse candidates… And Ray had taken his word for it. Because Josh was meant to be his best friend. His protector.
And instead he was a selfish bastard, too stupid to see what he was damning them both to, too desperate not to lose Ray to care that Ray not lose himself.
Of course Ray wouldn’t… date him. It didn’t matter if the other alphas didn’t mind; Ray would have been an idiot to even consider it.
He had known it, and he’d known Ray was right. He hadn't meant to hope, or to hold onto the feelings their mating had made impossible to hide from any longer. But now, with Ray shifting uncomfortably in front of him in a café in town, he realised he had. Part of Josh had believed that despite everything that had happened, despite how badly he'd failed as an alpha, a parent, and a mate... Everything could go back to normal.
Ray couldn't even look at him anymore.
And it didn't matter, because Josh couldn't fail his pack again. He wasn’t going to say a word until Ray did and he’d listen to each hitch of Ray’s breath—anything that might tell him what Ray really felt—and even if he had no useful advice, he’d stay right there and hold Ray’s hand. Or just his gaze—if Ray managed to look at him—or just let Ray hear him breathe. Let him know he wasn’t alone.
“I thought… You said we were going to talk about what happened.”
"I don't want to talk about it," Ray said, low and angry. "How is talking going to help?"
"I... I need to know you are okay. To... to do something like that..." he trailed off, uncomfortable. He couldn't deny that he'd thought about it: to become a first omega's mate meant to form a mutual bond with them so that not only could they feel what you felt but you could feel them in turn. And through them, the whole pack and territory. He'd wanted that: it was the stuff of fairy tales, knowing your mate like you knew yourself, a connection that was not simply intense but really magical. But he'd never imagined Ray asking him looking like he'd lost a battle he couldn't afford.
“If I tell you... will you agree to being first alpha?” Ray gritted out.
“Because I don’t see the point of you putting me through this otherwise. You know what happened. You know I couldn't...” He choked.
But Josh didn't know, and he needed to. “Couldn’t what?” he asked.
“Stop... it.” Ray's fists were clenched so hard on the table, Josh was pretty sure he smelled blood but it was Ray's expression—not simply distraught but... guilty that made it hard to breathe.
"Stop it?" He echoed. "Why... it was the full moon and he... you trusted him. Your wolf was probably all turned around. It's not... I didn't, none of us expected you to stop him. I'm the one who was supposed to look after you, and I...”
“I'm not a child!” Ray snapped, suddenly so furious the whole room seemed to get hotter.
Josh bit back his instinctive answer. Ray had always had a bit of a temper and... And then he realised what he was doing. “I didn’t say you were a child,” he said curtly in response, not raising his voice but not trying to hide his irritation either. “I said it was my job to protect you when you were vulnerable. I'm your mate, aren't I?” he asked. He didn't mean for it to sound so bitter, but...
Strangely, his anger seemed to calm Ray down. He blinked at Josh from across the table, looking surprised. Then a terrible thought occurred to him. “You are not... I’m not... making you...” He waved between their bodies.
Ray frowned. “What? No, you are not making me do anything. I just... You haven't shouted at me since...” He looked down, dark lashes fanning across the pale skin of his cheeks—he really needed to get out of the house more—and Josh watched him like he could ready his mind on the shape of his eyelids. “Since you became my mate,” Ray finished. He said it very softly.
“Are you... Do you regret it?” Josh asked. The words hurt like razors leaving his throat, but he couldn't hold them back, stabbing him from the inside instead.
Ray's head snapped up. “No!” he sounded more shocked than annoyed. “Why... Of course not. I...” He stopped himself and when spoke again he sounded calmer, more reasonable. “You always take care of me.”
“Yes, you do. We... It was my mistake, and you couldn't fix it. That doesn’t make it your fault.”
“I should have stopped you,” Josh said.
Ray's shoulders tensed. “You gave me a choice,” he said very slowly.
“Yes, no, I— I don't mean it as your alpha. I mean I should have made you understand you were making a mistake, as... As your friend,” he finished lamely. It was all he could lay claim to, really.
Ray gave a short nod, accepting the argument and dismissing it at once. “It’s done,” he said. “All we can do now is to stop it from happening again.”
“It can't,” Josh said at once. “You aren't considering...”
Ray flinched so violently his water cup overturned. It was empty and made of paper, so it just spilled a little dribble of water across the table.
But for Josh, it could have been blood. His mind rushed with thoughts, trying to divine what he had said wrong. “I’m sorry,” he said, buying time, and then the rest just spilled out, no filters or extra care. Ray didn't need kid gloves, he needed honesty and respect. “Of course you aren't. I didn't...” And then his own words caught up with him. “Oh, goddess, I didn't mean... You know I didn't mean that... that it was because you asked him to join the pack. That's not... that's crazy. I mean, that didn't make him go crazy and... He'd probably have done it anyway...”
“No, he wouldn't have,” Ray said in a voice like ice. “I don't need you to lie to me. I know what I did.”
“What you did was make a hasty decision, what he did was react to you changing your mind like an insane...” He cut himself off. He didn’t think he could say the word to Ray, even if Ray could bear to hear it.
“But it still wouldn’t have happened if I—”
“Sure, and it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been too caught up in being your alpha to be your friend.”
“I should have made... Insisted you talk to your mum. She wouldn’t have let you do it.”
Ray's lips trembled, very slightly. Josh didn’t think he would have noticed without supernaturally enhanced vision. “I don’t want to talk about it anymore,” he said very softly.
“Okay,” Josh said at once. He’d promised Martha he wouldn’t let Ray keep it all inside but you couldn’t fix trauma with a blunt object. This was enough, a good start...
But Ray wasn't one to let things go. “If you became first alpha, it would be safe. You would be able to find me. Find anyone in the pack. If I fuck up again...”
“You won’t,” Josh insisted.
He only realised he’d confirmed Ray’s suspicions when his friend gave him a bitter smile. “No, I’m not denying you made a mistake,” he almost snapped. “But you know that now, and anyway, none of us will let you decide on your own. Put all that pressure on you on top of everything else.”
“So you will do it.”
“What?” Josh asked.
“First alpha,” Ray clarified.
Ray had thought being ready would make it easier, somehow. He'd known to expect it. It wasn't fair to ask an alpha not to be upset when his omega had allowed a strange alpha to mount him. Still, he'd hoped, even as Gabriel had taken over Josh's rightful duty comforting Ray when the nightmares kept him up at night. Even when Josh hadn't tried to get him to talk about it, or even tried to be with him.
Josh had needed time, and so had Ray. Not just because of what had happened—there would never be enough time to forgive himself, even if the memories faded—but to mourn what could have been. He'd told himself he wasn't going to be with Josh in any way more than the way he was with all his alphas. But deep down, he'd known he could change his mind. Just the knowledge of what Josh felt, just the safety of knowing he could say yes when he was ready... He hadn't meant to hope, or to hold onto the feelings their mating had made impossible to hide from any longer. But now, with Josh shifting uncomfortably in front of him in a café in town, he realised he had. Part of Ray had believed that despite everything that had happened, despite how badly he'd failed as an omega, a parent, and a mate... Everything could go back to normal.
Josh couldn't even look at him anymore.
Have you read Iesu's cameo in "Runt of the Litter"?