"Congratulations, Mesa." Grandma Minnie smiled at him, clapping him on the shoulder. The other elders gathered around, offering happy noises and claps on the back. They were all very tickled for him, happy as pigs in shit.
At least as happy as they could be, with Ben disappearing one afternoon a month ago with Susan, David slitting his wrists a week later, unable to do anything but cry their names. It had been Mesa who had found the two bodies, desiccated and still, their throats torn out. Ben had been a good Alpha, strong. Mesa couldn't imagine what could do that sort of damage.
Couldn't imagine how to defend his Clan from it, either.
"Such serious thoughts." Granny winked at him, but her eyes were worried, too. Knowing.
"Mesa! You did it!" One of the pack females--Alicia, he thought her name was--leapt at him. He tried to catch her, but after the last few days of visions and fur and fang, he didn't have it in him, and she ended up slumped against his body. "You did it! We're so proud, all of us. You can choose a woman now, move into the big house. You must be so excited!"
She certainly was, eager and aroused, rubbing against him.
"I guess." Mesa didn't particularly care. He was exhausted, his muscles shaking. He wanted a nap, a beer and a shower, and not in that order. Hell, he just wanted to go off and lick his wounds, which were pretty extensive, considering he'd just passed his Alpha trials. The trials were designed to test all of his abilities, physical and mental, and he was wiped out. He'd passed, though.
One of the youngest tribe members to do it, too.
"You're a full Alpha now, son." Grandma Minnie hugged on him, her teeth dull and round from years of use. "I'm so proud."
"Thanks, Granny." He loved the old lady. He really did. Too bad, she was squashing a six-inch gash on his shoulder. He was going to have to tell Canyon off for that one. The cut above his eye was his own fault. He'd fallen down like a cub at the end of the final run.
"Well, boy, what are you going to do now?" Grandpa Moses asked, coming to peer into his face with those bluish cataract-filled eyes. The old man had never been his biggest supporter, but had cheered him on like a champ today.
Even after all of Mesa's trials, and all his bitching about wanting a bath, his thoughts went to Kody, just as he'd known they would, and Mesa squared his shoulders. He was sick to death of missing his best friend, and now that he had the resources of the entire pack behind him, he was ready to get his life back where he wanted it.
"I'm going to clean up. Go tell Juniper I passed and tell Canyon I need to see him." He grinned, making Grandma Minnie hoot when she saw his expression.
"Then I'm going to go get my mate back."