Yellow Pages sleepless

the night of the pack meeting

He was exhausted, wiped out, completely and utterly done. At home, his room was quiet and he was trying to convince himself that he remembered how to sleep.

But there was one person he needed to update, not wanting her to suffer the same restless fate.

Incoming Call
Of course she was up waiting. She was doing her best not to worry too much, but there was a fear she didn't feel was entirely unreasonable. There was no telling how well the others would take it. Did she think it would turn to violence? She didn't like to, but she knew that things were hard to anticipate.

She exhaled a breath of relief at the call from Dakila, denying herself the worry that maybe it was someone else calling from his phone. That wouldn't make sense.


She greeted gently.

Softly given, and it would be quickly clear he wasn't sure where to start. Yet. Had to try.

Well, I don't know if it's for the better, but I'm still Prince.
Goodness, Dakila. She could hear his exhaustion in his voice. She wished she could stop the world for a few days for him to relax.

The news was... she didn't know if it was a surprise. More a relief. But it didn't entirely feel like good news.

Well. At least you're not a rogue.

She said with a small attempt at a laugh. Just to soften the edge of her voice.

How... did it all go? What did they say?
At least he wasn't a rogue...

But then again, if he was, maybe it would have been easier on everyone. Then his decisions wouldn't affect every single last one of them no matter how hard he tried to protect him. He didn't know. But they had all--even while quite upset with him--insisted he was meant to stay.

Maybe that meant something, or maybe... he didn't know. And he was tired, right now, of not being sure about anything.

No one was happy. Obviously. Some more understanding than others. Julian left the pack. I'm considering Natalie for a new Second. Oryx, apparently, has told another STF friend of mine that she's a werewolf. And--

He was too tired to keep all the frustration out of his voice, but also too tired to let much in. Just a thread of it crept through.

Max saw fit to say he would challenge me the moment after I proposed that I'd be willing to step down if that was what they all wanted.
This felt a lot like... asking how many casualties there were, instead of asking if there were any at all. She knew there was bound to be damage done, but didn't know how much.

The report that came was not great. Some were angry, some understanding, but someone had left the pack. That news wrenched her gut. It couldn't have been easy for anyone involved there. The one that left, the ones he left behind, the one that was the cause of it. Dakila was sure to feel guilty, but that was a given.

Natalie was apparently being considered as Second, as opposed to the current one. That was interesting, something she wanted to question further, but she let the rest fall in first. Emily apparently had already shared what she was with an officer. Her jaw popped open there, stunned that she would do that, that she'd risk even that. How easy would it have been for that officer to find out who she spent time with, who they were connected to? Maybe Dakila wouldn't have even had time to take control of his exposure.

She prepared herself to speak to that, but. But Max. He'd challenged him? Vidya's face screwed up at that. What?

What, like? Challenge how?? You told them you'd step down, what was the point in...?
Yeah, he knew there was a lot here. But he'd ended it there on purpose, clearly.

I don't know, I barely understand it. I thought maybe he was... not trusting me when I said I'd back down? Unclear, he did run off right after to chase down Julian. Oryx seemed to believe, or maybe just needs to believe that he did it for good reasons, for the pack. Natalie declared she didn't want anyone else, so it's a moot point anyway. Max came back after things had calmed down and didn't raise the challenge again, so... I don't know, it's still very muddled. We tried to talk about it all but things were getting confused and on edge so we decided we all needed to rest.

Which brought him to now, with a whole trail of moments and questions in his wake.
Vidya worried the inside of her lip as he explained.

From what she could tell, it'd been mostly impulsive. Pointless, but he'd done it anyway. Why he'd rushed off after making such a bold statement was confusing, but so was this entire debacle. Just. A mess. Emily seemed to want to believe Max hadn't meant anything by it, and Natalie was against it to being with. So, it seemed no matter if Dakila did step down, Max wasn't the one that'd be stepping in to fill the role. At this point, it was unclear who would. And unclear if anyone would even need to. Any discussion about that had been effectively paused by sheer exhaustion.

Some things just couldn't be talked through in one sitting.

Vidya unleashed a breath she'd been holding, wishing she was there to hug him, but also thankful he seemed to be home and heading in the way of sleep. She didn't want to take up his time, make him feel like he had to entertain her.

That sounds wise. Gosh, this whole thing is so difficult. Was there anything useful that came out of it? Anything productive going forward? You said something about Natalie being Second?
He actually went so far as to just lay down. Maybe he wouldn't even change, he'd just close his eyes and try and pass out in twenty minutes or something.

She'd hear him sigh.

They want me to delegate more, so I'm not taking on so much myself. Which, okay, I admit I can be very... I guess it's stubbornness, not wanting them to have to deal with too much but also wanting to make sure it's done right. To that end, I've had Liza as second for a while, but Oryx said... well, I don't know. Seems they think she's too soft on me, has been going through a lot of her own things, so it's not been as helpful as the rest of them want it to be. So... Oryx isn't ready. Julian is gone and would never have done it anyway. I barely trust Max anymore, so... Natalie.

The briefest pause.

I don't know if she wants it. I don't know if she's prepared for it, but I don't know if any of us are.

Himself included.
Well, of all the things to come out if, she fully supported this one. Dakila had a bad habit of taking on too much and leaving no room for himself.

Liza, who she'd only ever heard about but never met, apparently didn't seem to be a good fit. Too... soft on him. Something she would choose not to think about. Maybe that meant she just didn't drive him to delegate enough like the others wished.

Emily was too new, Julian was gone, Max was... complicated. And so that left Natalie. Natalie, who'd been so kind to let Blair stay with her and Katya for some time. They hadn't talked at length, but she seemed good in a time of need. V didn't know much else about her, but she knew she had been in the pack before this one, and seemed to have known Dakila the longest. But that didn't mean she was ready to be Second. Second was a position you took when you were sure you would be ready to take on leadership at the drop of the hat. In the wolves' case, it seemed more important that the Second was willing and ready to do that, given that Dakila was at a tenuous point.

She echoed his sigh.

Well, at least you're all on the same page then. Nowhere to go but up. If Natalie isn't prepared for it... I don't know. What about Katya? I know she isn't in the pack now...

Really, she didn't know the story behind why. She seemed to get along with the other wolves just fine.
Honestly, I'd take Katya in a heartbeat. I just... I guess I'm not sure how to suggest it, when I've been mindful of letting her make her own calls when it came to the pack at all.

He always thought of her like she was part of the pack until it came to official things like this, then it never even crossed his mind. Good compartmentalizing.
It seemed like another complicated asset to this.

Probably worth talking to her about. I know that it seems like that's all there is you can do, but... Well, there's no option not to. There's no reality where you can all do nothing and let it all work itself out, and get everything you need from it at the same time.

She didn't doubt he knew this, but it felt good to say aloud.
Dakila couldn't really say what he would do about all that right now, but...

Yeah, probably... a good idea. Just don't want anyone feeling like they have to do anything they don't want to. Even if that means... not sticking around or not being here in the first place.
They're all adults, Dakila. If they don't want to stay around, if they didn't really care about the pack, and about you... I think they would have left at the first mention of all of this. You just... just make sure they know that you know they don't owe you. Its up to them, and what they're comfortable with, and what you all think is best for the group.

She... in some small ways, felt like she was talking to herself in the same breath. Hm.
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