Just To Be Me

by KT

Alternate Universe "Two Blood"

Disclaimer: Not mine, never were, never will be.

Note: Betaed by the wonderful Phyllis.

Feedback: Yes please.

“Yes indeed,” May agreed readily.

“I’ll ask one of the men to swing by and check on you tonight,” the sheriff offered.

“Oh no, don’t you worry, I’ve no livestock to protect; we’ll lock up tight, don’t you worry.”

Sheriff Bill Clancy regarded her. May Wilson, as he knew her, was a tall woman, slim but by no means skinny, some would even call her shapely. Indeed, he was one of them; Bill was one of her regular customers. May worked in the town's luxurious bordello, the Red House. It was situated at the end of a long and, discreetly winding, drive on the outskirts of town, but May, unlike all the other girls, didn't live there. She and her gangly eleven-year-old son, Buck, lived in a small cabin a good mile further back into the woods behind the Red House. The cabin had been built by a trapper, who had died some two years back and the place had been hardly habitable when May took it over. Plenty of men in town offered to help her work on it, but she turned them all down. Alone, she and Buck had worked to turn it from little more than a hovel into a real home. What made May different to all the other working girls, was that she only worked in the day, never in the busy and lucrative evenings and nights. It made her popular with the other girls, though nowhere near as wealthy as them, but it meant she could have some kind of normal family life with her son, Buck.

Dusk was falling as she walked home that day, only to find Ben Clancy, gun in hand, walking around her cabin. Someone had reported a wolf fighting with their dog. He'd been tracking it and had found what could be wolf tracks around her cabin. He'd warned her to be very careful.

"Are you really sure, May? I could come myself," he offered again.

"No, please don't worry about us, I have a gun and we both know how to use it."

"Very well, keep it handy. If I see that boy of yours, I'll warn him too." The sheriff smiled. Young Buck was forever getting into trouble of one kind or another, but there was no malice in the boy and it was hard not to like him. "He's a good boy, your Buck."

May returned the smile. "Yes he is, I'm very lucky." But he won’t be when I get my hands on him!

+ + + + + + +

Once she was sure the sheriff was gone, May went to the cabin's back door.

"Buck!" she shouted. "You get in here, boy! I know you're out here, so you get yourself in this house right now!"

It was so quick she almost didn't see it, a dark grey streak flashed passed her into the cabin.

"About time," she commented, as she closed the door.

Inside, there was no sign of her son. There was however a dark mass under the big dresser beside the kitchen range.

"Oh no you don't, no hiding, get yourself out here!" she commanded.

The wolf slunk out from under the dresser; he cringed before her, head down, ears flat, tail tucked between his legs.

"You may well cringe, my boy, and I don't doubt you're sorry, now go change so we can talk properly."

The wolf crept toward her, licked her hand once then with surprising agility climbed the steep ladder-like stairs to the loft where he slept. A few minutes later, Buck Wilmington, dressed in pants and flannel shirt, climbed back down.

"Sit down," May commanded.

Buck obediently sat down on the old rocker beside the fireplace; he looked miserable and afraid.

"I take it this wolf Ben's hunting is you?"

Buck nodded

"How could you? What possessed you? In daylight! Fighting? What if you'd been shot?"

"I'm sorry," Buck mumbled without looking up.

"I'm sure you are - now. But it's no good being sorry now, why did you do it at all?"

Buck shrugged.

"Why?" May pushed for an explanation.

"He attacked me, I would've run away but he surprised me."

"Well I didn't think you attacked him, what I want to know young man it want you were doing out like that in the daytime? And so far from home? We have rules, young man, remember them?"

Buck didn't respond.

"What are the rules, Buck?"

Buck sighed heavily. "I only go out changed at night or when we go out on a special trip, and only with your permission; I stay close to home," he recited obediently.

"Right, so what were you doing all the way over at the Clark place, in broad daylight?"

Buck sighed, his head hung down, his longish, unruly hair hiding his face. "I'm sorry," he mumbled again.

"I know you're sorry, you're always sorry after the event, what I still want to know is why?"

Buck shrugged. "I just wanted to," he offered.

May was beginning to seethe, her life wasn't easy, it never had been. Finding she was unmarried and pregnant was bad enough, then something happened that was totally beyond her comprehension. One morning, three weeks after a precious baby was born, she looked into the drawer that was serving as a crib to see wriggling wolf cub, though at the time she thought it was a puppy. She panicked, thinking her baby, her darling Buck had been kidnapped, then as she began to cry, the cub was gone and there was Buck, he'd lost his diaper somewhere, but it was him, happy and gurgly as ever. She hugged him and told herself it was just a bad dream; she was only just awake, after all. Two weeks later she'd almost convinced herself this was true, it really had been a dream, when it happened again. She'd fed him, bathed him and was trying to diaper the little tyke, who didn't like it one bit and had been fighting her, kicking and wriggling when suddenly the baby in her hands was gone there was the cub, warm, furry and licking her hand enthusiastically. Many people would have abandoned a 'cursed' baby like Buck, or even killed it, but not May, who was blessed or cursed with an exceptionally strong maternal instinct. Nothing and no one was going to take her boy from her, even if he was a wolf - sometimes - and that included his father who seemed intent on stealing him from her.

They had been forced to live in hiding and often on the run, not only because if anyone knew what Buck was, they'd most likely put him in a freak show or kill him, but to keep Buck out of the clutches of his father and his bloodthirsty pack. They had been settled in the prosperous town of Snyder’s Creek for more than six months now, life was reasonably good, the little cabin in the woods not only gave them a real home for once, but the privacy they so badly needed. Now, Buck had risked it all in a moment of stupidity. May knew it wasn't like her son. His special gift, as she saw it, had forced him to grow up fast and become more responsible than any eleven year old should have to be.

While all this had been running thought her mind, Buck had sat silently, head down. May was about to launch into a tirade against him, reminding about his responsibilities and what he had just risked, when she noticed that there were small damp patches appearing on the legs of Buck's light coloured pants. It took her a second or two to realise what was happening - Buck was crying. Buck Wilmington didn't cry easily. He was stoic when it came to sickness and injury, accepted the hardships and restrictions their life and his special gift placed on them without complaint. When he was naughty and incurred her wrath, he took his punishment like a man, admitted his wrong doing when challenged.

Being his mother was suddenly more important than discipline and she dropped to her knees in front of him.

"Hey, what's this?" she asked, wiping his tears away with her thumb.

"N'thing," he muttered, sniffing back tears.

"Come on, baby boy of mine, tell your Ma all about it."

He looked up a second, tear reddened, deep blue eyes locking onto his mother. "I just wanted to be me," he admitted.

May lifted her hand to gently push his hair back and stroke his temple. "But why now, why there?"

"I was coming home, it was the quickest way."

May knew there was more and she needed to know the real truth. "Come on darling, tell me the rest," she encouraged.

Buck just shrugged.

"If you were on your way home and passed by the Clark place, you must have been at the swimming hole - right?" Buck sniffed back a few more tears and shrugged. "So you were swimming with the other boys?" He nodded. "And something happened?" He shrugged. "What?"

"Don't matter."

"Yes it does."

"The boys were talking, they's all going to this big picnic and hay ride, there's gonna be games and stuff and I asked if anyone could come and they said yes, but not me."

"Oh darling."

"They said it was a church picnic and so I couldn't come 'cause I'm nothing, just a dirty bastard." He looked up, tears refilling his eyes. "But I'm not nothing! I'm a Two Blood, that's not nothing! They can't see in the dark and run all day and follow a scent and catch rabbit for their Ma - can they?"

May reached up and pulled her boy close. "No darling, no they can't. Of course, you're not nothing, you’re my boy and you're special. God chose you for a special gift. But even if he hadn't given you that gift, you’re my son and that makes you special."

Buck looked down, fresh tears fell on to his lap. "I didn't mean to get seen, stupid dog wouldn't back down. I really am sorry. I just wanted to be me and get home as fast as I could. I don’t want to go their dumb old picnic anyway."

"I know, how about we go for our own picnic on Sunday? I'll hire a couple of horses."

A spark of excitement came into his eyes. Riding was his great joy, but they couldn't afford a horse of their own, even hiring one was a luxury. "Really?"

"I promise, I'll talk to Mr Torrance tomorrow, maybe you can have that grey you rode on your birthday."

"He was great," Buck agreed.

May shook her head. "You always choose the grey ones."

"Greys have style, girls like them."

Only eleven and already he wants to impress girls, my life just keeps getting more complicated! "Just promise me to try and keep to the rules, don't scare me."

Buck reached out and wrapped his arms around his mother's neck. "I'm sorry, I'll try to be good. I love you Ma, you're the best Ma in the whole world."

"And you're the best son in the world."

The End