He glared at Derek across the room picturing the things he could be doing to the mutt in his mind including finding a wood chipper and putting him in feet first and trying out the new soundproof cage in the Sorrentino's basement. Instead he was standing there ordered not to kill the man, ordered to stay where he was and not engage. How was he supposed to that exactly? Not engage with the man who had a part in kidnapping his son.
The tension was thick that fog could have formed and it would have had a hard time competing. They were in a room at the Sean's headquarters, a boardroom with a long table, multiple chairs, a white board and a long window for the wall that looked out at the city. It was beautiful sight ruined by the mutt in the room. The Navy Pier with the giant Ferris wheel Reese was sure Ira would look at with distain and ignore, the planetarium he was sure Ira would love and the Aquarium were all within his view. Too bad he would never be willing to take his son to see any of it, not near a cabal headquarter even if it was controlled by Sean.
"Reese, go check Sean's progress." Reese turned sharply his expensive work boots, best used for missions, squeaked on the equally expensive Venetian floors. He almost told Elena where to go but he didn't. He stopped short and took a deep breath. Kim nodded and took his hand starting to pull him across the room but Derek's voice froze him right before he got to the doorway. It swung open automatically on their approach sensing their weight. Kim sighed and tugged on his hand trying to force him to move to no avail.
He had learned long ago it was not a good idea to disobey Elena, ever, but this was too much for him to ignore. "Your boy ran away from you, not us. We found him at the same time as, I can only imagine, a vagrant or a criminal did. I saved him from a man who would have raped and murdered him. Your son ran away from you and not me. He stayed with us. When he did run away from us it was to go to the cabal, it was to walk right up to them and demand to speak to the man in charge. It was to walk up to Josef and offer himself up like a willing sacrifice. Remember that." Reese stiffened and glowered at the man sitting there and smirking as if he had won the werewolf of the day contest. If there such a contest Derek Souza would not be a contender.
"Oh, Ira, poor baby," Kim sighed. She reached out and grasped Reese's other hand quickly knowing how much this would bother him but he pulled away feeling the short ends of two of his fingers slip through hers rather easily. That meant she let him go. He knew that instinctively.
"Reese," she hissed. He ignored her again. Not wise. Not with Kim anyway.
"My son would not have done that," Reese growled with a sinking heart. The problem was Ira probably would. He didn't know the boy well enough. He didn't understand his wishes and inclinations or his motivations yet and that hurt. Maybe most children would be simple to figure out after a few months but Ira was different. While most children might be like ice cream easily melted and understood, Ira was like an onion. He had so many layers and those were layers were like steel traps to get into and would snap back into place often seconds after you got them open.
"He did, Reese," Chloe said quietly. Her hand moved to her stomach and she looked down at it with determination. Slowly Derek reached a hand over, sitting beside him, and covered hers but never took his eyes off of Reese. His gaze told Reese he was a horrible parents and a horrible person. He felt this to the core of his being and it hurt. It hurt so much. He didn't want to believe he was a bad father but Ira was proving that to him every day. How could he hope to raise a baby if the child he already had hated him, ran from him and didn't listen to him?
"The question, really, is who was he running from?" Derek said lowly in an accusatory tone. "It certainly wasn't us." Kim sucked in a breath beside him and made a noise deep in her throat. When Derek insulted Reese he insulted her too, as his mate.
All his anger and rage culminated in a single second and before he even realized it he was on top of Derek. He knocked the half raised werewolf over and threw a punch to his jaw. Derek's head whipped to the side and he spit blood, and a tooth, out while grabbing Reese's shirt right above the shoulder. He pulled him further down into a hold to gain leverage. Nick had taught them both that move so Reese easily countered it and pushed Derek into the floor with an arm pressing into his throat.
Behind them Reese heard a deep sound of annoyance and he could picture Elena's face. "Reese, I trust you've gotten some of that out of your system?" Elena asked. Reese was frozen pressing his arm into Derek's throat and watching the mutt's eyes grow angrier and his movements more panicked. Finally he managed to grunt an answer. She ordered him off Derek a second later and he reluctantly obeyed. As soon as he backed off Chloe moved forward. He had heard her distress at the small fight and saw how upset she was as she crouched beside him. Derek had remained frozen waiting to be told to get up. He had lived near the Alpha before and he knew how this worked.
"How dare you use my child as a pawn, my son, a pack son? When this is over you better get out of the country Derek. If I see you ever again you won't have a full quid anymore," Reese snarled reverting to Aussie speak in his anger. His accent thickened and he forgot he was in the states. The decade he had spent here ground down the rough edges of his native tones and he sounded a bit more American. The pack had gotten use to this but he could tell that Derek was confused. He did understand the tone of voice though.
"Out!" Elena ordered before anymore could be accomplished. Kim was quick to grab his arm and tug hard getting him into the hallway and slamming the door. She pulled him down the corridor a ways and then let go turning to him with crossed arms and a hard expression, ice crystalized in that look. He backed off immediately looking away from her gaze, acquiescing to her. In their relationship she was not above him and he was not above her. He gave into her easily like he could not give into anyone else except the Alpha. He clenched his fists tightly containing the volcanic feelings inside.
"I know your pissed Reese, I am too. I am scared to death for that little boy and what the cabals will do. Your little pissing contest with Derek isn't helping with anything though. You need to think of Ira, your son," she hissed. Reese, feeling thoroughly chastised nodded looking at the floor. He felt her gaze on him and he felt it ignite the fire of anger inside of him like no one else could.
"I'm trying," Reese said softly daring to look up now. Her deep chocolate brown eyes softened and she sighed. He didn't dare move forward. He knew her temperament. The best way to handle this was to let her make the first move. He waited on tenterhooks keeping her gaze until she moved forward and hugged him around the waist.
"I want to send Derek to the meat grinder too but…,"
"Ira, I know." Kim nodded and reached up on tiptoes to find his lips. He made her reach for a second before he bent his head and kissed her. It was like the sun touching an ice cold earth every time.
His arm throbbed with pain even though he had plenty of pain pills in his system. His left arm was in a full arm cast and had been bent so it could be put into a sling. He kept looking at it thinking it was as unreal as everything else. He had never had a broken bone before and he'd never been seriously hurt before and this hurt. After they casted his arm and after Josef had killed the guard Ira had passed out again. The lack of food, the pain and the stress were too much. He woke up in his room again in pain and terrified after a few sleepy seconds of confusion.
He'd had more blood taken, had more pictures taken and been hooked up to more machines that beeped and told them indecipherably things. The worst was when he had been made to stand naked in front of them for an hour while they measured everything from his feet to his belly button and the most embarrassing parts of his body. They were establishing a baseline for where he was compared to other kids his age. They figured a werewolf child would be stronger, smarter and faster than a human child but they were disappointed when they saw he was mostly normal.
He wouldn't start performing like superman until he started puberty and it would happen over years of changing both physically and mentally. Still, they would do their tests and Ira would become a lab rat spending half his time down here and other half with Josef who was eager to announce Ira to the cabal, like he had won a prize. This was was the moment he knew he wasn't anything close to the adult he pretended to be either. He was playing a dangerous game which he only realized when he was so deep in it there was almost no way out. One fight that Josef was not winning was making him eat. Ira saw the necessity and he wanted to but it was almost more a protest now than a behavioral barrier.
He plucked at his new button down shirt feeling the rough textures fabric that Josef called classy and rolling the edged with his good hand only stopping at look from Josef. He was cleaner than he had been in days and even if his new pants itched and his new shoes pinched Josef said he looked less like a little mutt. Ira let the insult slide off of him because he had to. They would always call him a mutt or a mongrel and he had no choice but to ignore them. He thought of them similarly anyway.
Josef had complained that his casted arm was getting in the way of a good appearance and even contemplated taking it off but the doctor advised against it. The plan was to make him wear a bigger shirt that not so much made him look bulkier but like he was wearing his dad's clothes and playing dress up. Josef grumbled at the effect but couldn't do anything about it unless he wanted to wait to show Ira to the world. He didn't. Couldn't was more like it Ira thought.
They were walking towards the elevator for the big reveal when Josef grabbed Ira's upper arm hard. The burning hurt but not as much as the things he had gone through. The sorcerer steered him down the hallway until they got to a room with a large window facing into the bright white sterile hallway. He heard the thumps and grunts first and when he glanced at Josef the man gestured for him to look. He stood on his tiptoes with his head and eyes barely clearing the sill and just caught a glimpse of the inside of the room.
Josef snapped his fingers and a guard came forward and picked him up lifting him to see. He laid his hand on the window. On the other side Ira saw a man strapped to a chair. Two other men spoke to him and then hit him speaking again. Ira paid close attention to the men, the situation and the other man in the chair. The man in the chair scowled, he even looked like he growled until one of the men looked back at the window, getting a node from Josef; he took the man's head and snapped his neck. Ira kept watching, he did not look away as the light left the man's eyes and his head tipped forward. His muscles went slack and he was gone. One of the men who had been interrogating him shook his head.
The man holding Ira lowered him and Ira looked up at Josef waiting. His sides burned and he noticed the man who was holding him, one of Josef's guards who never left him was rubbing his hands on his pants like Ira was diseased. He was realizing that people who were not werewolves thought he was sick and thought that he could pass on some kind of germs. Maybe he would make them believe that. Have a little fun while he was here. When the guard saw him looking Ira smirked at him.
"What did you learn?" Josef asked gruffly pulling Ira's attention back to him. This was the only time Josef had gotten down to his level by crouching, which surprised Ira into silence for a moment, but the man still refused to touch him. Good.
Ira looked back at the window and at the cold and indifferent man. His eyes gleamed as he waited for Ira to answer like cold steel traps. He had to tread carefully. "You're in control." Josef frowned and nodded and then grabbed Ira by the front of the shirt and pulled him towards him hard. Ira froze staying as still as possible not even daring to breath.
"I can and will kill you when I want or when you are no longer valuable. You are a possession, you are nothing. Remember that. You do what I say. You eat." Ira didn't even breathe until the man let him go. He looked at his feet. He wasn't sure how he felt. No one had ever told him he was nothing, he wasn't important. Simply being a werewolf made him important didn't it? Maybe not here. He didn't believe Josef, not yet. Maybe if he heard this day after day, maybe if he if was impressionable but he wasn't. He was never one to just take what someone said and believe it. He had his own thoughts; he did his own research and came to his own conclusions. He never trusted anyone's word besides his mum's and that no longer applied.
Ira had been woken up early this morning thrown into a shower, with an ugly plastic bag for his arm and presented with new clothes. The guards had taken his old ones gingerly in his hand making a face and muttering about burning them. His hair had been slicked back as they walked towards the elevator, he had so much gel in it he felt like he was wearing a helmet, and he'd been dropped off with Josef a few floors above his prison. Josef hadn't said a word but to look him over, sigh and mutter about how "it would have to do" and snap an order for him to follow.
Ira had ceased to wonder where they were going anymore and instead concentrated on their surroundings. Everything looked the same in these buildings, all bright and white with paintings of men with blonde hair and bright blue eyes that all looked alike, or the same sterile hallways with a clinical look and feel. These were Josef's family members because Ira had deduced that the cabals were family run businesses and so the sons would take over for the fathers. In a way it was like a pack with exclusive membership, inherited powers and little trust in anyone but your family.
When they walked off the elevator Josef strode briskly to a room that looked to Ira, like all the other rooms in the building, besides personal offices, with large tables, big black chairs, projectors and big windows. Ira tried to glance out at the view, maybe see some of the buildings and identify where he was, but Josef grabbed the back of his shirt hard and yanked ordering him to keep his gaze forward. Ira nodded coughing as he chocked a bit but he continued forward as prodded getting his breath under control and reminding himself to keep in line.
When Josef walked in the other men sitting around the table, many of them blonde haired sorcerers, stood and greeting him, they eyed Ira but said nothing. He could be Josef's son if they were just considering looks. Ira looked very much like the Nast family but his eyes were a giveaway. Josef and his family members all had bright crystal blue eyes that shone with a calculated coldness. Ira's eyes were a brighter blue, a cerulean, but had none of the Nast's iciness. His were innocent and bright, curious and assured, but scared as well. Something he couldn't hide 24/7.
Josef walked to a seat at the head of the table and Ira followed. They had left the guards at the door. When Josef sat everyone else did too. Ira looked around seeing no chair but he didn't think he was meant to sit. He was not a member here but a tool to be used and probably discarded someday. He knew that even at such a young age. He was hypersensitive about the world around him always watching and paying attention to the adults. Children's games had no interest or fascination for him but the world of adults and the games they played were captivating.
He kept standing looking around the table at the other men and studying their expensive suits and hard eyes until Josef ordered him to look at the floor. He wasn't to speak to them or look at them until ordered. Much like when he was scolded in Oz, which didn't happen often especially proportionate to the amount of times he should have been, he stood ramrod straight with his hands behind his back and his gaze firmly set on the marble at his feet.
It looked like grey smoke spiralling in and out of a dirty white back ground and it was so clean it gleamed letting Ira see his own reflection. He studied his foggy face not making out features but seeing his eyes gleam back at him, his head tipped down and submissive and his fidgeting. He couldn't seem to stay still until Josef snarled for him to. He froze in the position he was in listening to them speak, mostly Josef did the talking. He cramped up after some time but he was too stubborn to disobey, not when the consequences were so high. The game and the world of adults had harsher punishments and more complicated rules.
Josef started talking about normal business and finances which Ira tuned out uninterested. He understood math and finances but he didn't like it. His mum once said to think of it as the universal language of the world but it hadn't helped. The figures piled up annoying him and boring him until his mum had to give him work that was far above his level, then it was just complicated and frustrating. When Josef finally said his name he looked up at the table and around at all the hard almost identical men. Josef explained Ira, how valuable he was and what position he would play. It surprised Ira that Josef was talking about the position he would play now and not one he would play in the future.
The men regarded Ira with two emotions, contempt and annoyance. Ira swallowed and glanced at Josef again who was waiting for their reaction and becoming quite annoyed. Finally, a man to the right of them spoke. "We have had grown mongrels before, sir. I am not sure having a child will make much difference." He kept the tone of what he said light but he was tense as if Josef would smite him down with one wrong word. Ira did not doubt he would. Just in case he moved slightly to the left getting away.
"Perhaps I am not making myself clear, Irvine," he said coolly. Ira stiffened as Josef stood and set his fingertips so lightly on the table he barely touched it. A quiet settled on the room that was so tense no one seemed to be able to breath including Ira.
"This is the only living son of pack enforcer Reese Williams, a man who is wanted by the Australian pack on countless infractions including betrayal, treason and rape. Not only did I acquire a werewolf child where no other cabal has, this one came willingly to me. He is young enough to be molded, to be trained and made loyal to me. In a few years he will be my bodyguard and no one will think of threatening me or my cabal. In the meantime we will use his blood, study him and watch how the change works in him. With this understanding, the understanding of their weaknesses, it will not be long before we acquire more and destroy the pack. The possibilities are infinite especially if we take more children or create them, an army of them." Ira looked at him wide eyed not sure what to focus on first.
His father was wanted for rape? He knew what rape was and he'd seen it before. It was part of the Oz pack. A part he had to ignore like all the others did. He knew about the other infractions but what did Josef mean? Was that why his parents hated one another so much? He would have to think of exactly what Josef meant when he announced his plans for him? He had promised Ira, promised, that he would leave the pack alone. Ira couldn't help but shake a little and he wanted to confront Josef about it but he was already learning it was a better idea not to. Instead he tried to stop shaking, he tried to pay attention but it was a lost cause. Ira's feet were getting sore. He wasn't sure how long he stood there when the guards opened the doors. Waiters in ties walked in with golden plates and good smelling food.
Ira tuned back into the conversation briefly. "When I call my dim witted nephew I am sure he will understand the situation he is in." Ira looked at the man and swallowed. Josef glanced at him and snapped an order to the guards, Ira had no idea what it was, his mind was still whirling and the waves were crashing down on him. He was led from the room, down the hallway and up several flights in an elevator. He ended up in a nice office, Josef's office, sitting on his knees at a coffee table with a plate of food in front of him. He didn't touch it. The guards had left the room and he was staring and quickly cooling food. He felt like he would float away again. What he should be doing was taking advantage of the opportunity to be alone.
He shook himself, pushing off the dizziness, and then stood looking around. It was like a room from the classic books his mum used to read to him. All dark wood and antique looking large desks, chairs and book shelves with clawed feet and faces carved into them. The books were all about finances and business and Ira dismissed them as unimportant immediately because his wolf did. His wolf that was waking up but it was far too soon.
He walked to the large window, stained glass on all the edges depicting angles and demons, at the south side of the room, and looked out at the surrounding city. They were at least fifty floors from the ground so going out the window, not that it had any latches or openings, was not an option. He saw buildings and a harbour but he didn't recognize the city. When he crossed the room again and went to the door to try the handle it was locked.
Ira sighed and walked back to the coffee table. He sat on his knees again and set his elbow on the table looking at the cold vegetables in front of him. Why was he surprised Josef had lied? He was not in a friendly world and he should not be surprised about any kind of deception. How did he warn the pack about the cabal? Dom and the others, Nita, were in danger and it was his fault. He knew his father would never forgive him now but maybe it was Ira who had to forgive his father. He wasn't a little kid, he knew what rape was. That was probably why he was here. That was probably why his father didn't want him. It stung and it burned inside.
He was jarred from his thoughts when the office door opened very quietly. He looked over expecting Josef and froze. A man stood there looking at him with a smile. He was tall and muscular, like Antonio, the muscles bulged from the dress shirt he wore. He was young, maybe younger than Noah and his skin was tanned, his brown hair was a bit tussled and down to his ears. What really caught Ira were the man's eyes. They were like an ocean, blue and green blending together and completely mesmerizing.
"Ira right?" he asked. Ira nodded woodenly and stood taking a few steps back. The man held out a hand and looked at the door like he only had seconds. If he was in Josef's office when he wasn't supposed to be then he did have to hurry. "I'm a friend. I know the pack, not well but we know one another. I won't hurt you." Ira didn't say anything trying to decide what was best, to listen or to scream. He had always been cautious person but he could use all the help he could get. He stayed silent and decided to listen instead.
"My name is Hall and I'm a werewolf too," he said walking towards him. Ira backed up until he bumped into the desk and Hall crouched down ten feet from him and smiled again. It was a smile Ira thought he might be able to trust if the man was in the pack but here, here he trusted no one. "I'm trying to get a hold of them for you. In the meantime I'm working on trying to get you out of here, would you like that?" Ira nodded immediately and so fiercely that Hall chuckled and winked.
He took a second to look back at the food and then at the boy again with a frown. "Are you sure you're a werewolf? You don't like to eat like one," Ira smirked at this feeling proud he was so stubborn and strong even if it was wearing on him. Hall kept his gaze for a long moment and Ira stopped short completely taken in.
"You need to eat and you will, ok?" he asked. Ira found himself nodded absently but then shook his head resisting even though his muscles wanted to move and his brain screamed for him to obey. He gritted his teeth almost biting his tongue. Hall patiently repeated his words and Ira took a step forward still trying to resist but by the time he said it a third time Ira was across the room and sitting at the table doing just that.
Hall sat in the chair across from him watching. He had no idea why he was doing this but to say he was compelled by this man, a werewolf who seemed like a true Alpha. "I think you're a smart boy Ira, smart enough to know that allegiances can be changed and that if you want to get through this you need to listen to everything, pay attention at every moment and use everything you have to your advantage," he said nodding to the food Ira was eating so fast he was surprised he didn't choke. When the plate was cleaned Hall produced two energy bars and handed them over unwrapping them. Ira ate those as well licking his chocolate covered fingers when he was done.
"I don't like that," Ira whispered defiantly even though he felt better than he had in a long time. Hall nodded absently like he heard those words a lot. To Ira he seemed powerful and like he would be a pack asset so he had to wonder why he was here. Instead he took the man's words into consideration and cocked his head watching, he was always watching. His name meant watcher but he knew the name Hall meant cover and conceal. Ira put a lot of stalk into people's name knowing they always meant something even if your parents named you absently. He always looked up people's names to see if he could understand them better. His mum's name, Daniella, mean God has judged which made sense because she was always looking over shoulder and always worrying how she would be judged. His father's name meant passionate or fiery which his father was. He had even researched Kim's name, bold family, which meant she was bold and courageous. It all meant something.
"Can you prove you're a werewolf?" Ira suddenly asked. He had never seen anyone compel like Hall and it unnerved him. Plus, it was not very werewolf like. Hall raised an eyebrow to this and thought for a moment. He moved forward a bit and sniffed Ira who pulled back sharply and then smiled telling him he was Reese William's son. "Everyone has heard that so it doesn't prove anything," Ira frowned. Hall nodded looking surprised.
"Ok then, watch this." He looked at his hand and concentrated for a moment before Ira started to see it pulsing and moving like there were black worms under the surface. Slowly Hall's hand grew course with thick hairs and his fingers shortened with the nails growing long. The whole palm and wrist shortened and narrowed and eventually it was a wolf paw. Ira looked at Hall to see the rest of him had stayed human. He swallowed not sure if he was disgusted or amazed.
"My dad is Reese Williams," Ira confirmed, "and you need to call him," he said quietly and Hall nodded. He concentrated on his hand again turning it back to human and telling Ira he was acquainted with his father. When he knew him and the pack Jeremy was the Alpha. Ira bit his lip and kept quiet as the man explained that he was like a spy in the cabal so he couldn't mention Hall. Ira nodded to this. If the man was going to help him then he would keep his mouth shut.
Hall gazed at his broken arm and shook his head. "You need to be careful Ira. Listen to them so they don't hurt you again. You can't afford to be broken again, ok?" Ira nodded looking at his arm with a frown.
"It wasn't my fault." Hall said nothing to this and tension mounted until he smiled and broke it again.
"In the meantime, I thought you might be bored." Ira watched as Hall took a paperback novel from his pocket and handed it to him. "It was a favorite of mine at your age." Ira took it but didn't look at the title as the man stood and winked again before taking off. When he got to the door he put a finger to his lips and then slipped out. It was the strangest exchange Ira had ever had and if it wasn't for the book in his hands, 1984, which Ira suspected was not a mistake on the man's part; he would not have believed any of it had happened.
As soon as he left Ira stood and hurried to the door trying to open it but it was locked again. With a frown he looked at the book and then the room. He was just turning to go back and look at the view when the door knob turned and he heard Josef's annoyed voice. Ira backed up looking around for a place to hide like he shouldn't be there but Josef had ordered him here. Instead he immovable as Josef walked in followed by the man named Irvine and a younger man as well. They all had to be related.
"This is a mistake," Irvine said glaring at Ira who took a step back and clenched his one good fist. He held the book tight under his arm in case he wasn't supposed to have it. He didn't want to lose Hall's gift. It meant something, he knew it. "He's a little psychopath with no brains to speak of, how will you control him?" he asked still levelling a cool gaze at Ira. Ira flushed but refused to look away until he remembered Hall's words, "be careful".
Josef smirked and turned to Ira asking him the answer to a complicated math question on the spot. Ira rattled it off almost instantly feeling proud of himself, even if he hated math. Irvine looked skeptical even when Josef walked to his desk, grabbed a file and threw it at the man. "His I.Q. is off the charts for a child his age he should be around 100 and its 125. He is smart and will have immense strength in a few years. I can make him loyal to me and only me and the cabal. I am making this decision and no one, least of all you Irvine, will question that," Josef snapped.
Irvine glanced at the file before dropping it on the coffee table and scattering the pages. Ira hadn't been privy to his information so while Josef was distracted he reached over and opened the cover gingerly. He saw the first half of the page, all the information about his weight, height, age and the photograph, the clinical one, the naked one he hated, before it was closed on him again. "Not for your eyes," Josef warned. Ira swallowed and nodded as the man took the file back to his desk.
The man behind Irvine had taken a seat now and was just watching the exchange with grim amusement. Irvine took Ira by surprise and walked forward towards him, Ira backed up hitting the couch with the back of his knees and falling down onto the cushion. He never took his eyes off the man. "Strength? He's a skittish little…," Irvine started but Josef cut him off.
"Of course he is now, he's a child and you are twice his size and intimidating him." Josef sounded exasperated by the whole affair but Irvine looked pissed. Ira would watch out for him. Finally he dropped the matter and left with the other Nast. Josef only glanced at Ira before dismissing him and muttering that he was doing work. Ira sat silently while he did this surprised that Josef was not sending him away but the man seemed to want him close as long as he was silent and still. He was.