Ira woke with a start groggy, unaware. He had the sense he had slept a really long time and the bright light of the midday sun outside confirmed this. He sat up in bed so quickly he had to take a deep breath. Fear was the first thing he felt like he had felt every morning for the last week or so. Next he was confused. He wasn't in his room at the cabal, where was he? Home, he remembered now he was home. He breathed a sigh of relief and looked at the window in his room, or the room he was in at Stonehaven at least. He never thought he would be so thankful for a window.
He walked to the bright spot of light in the room and opened it as quietly as possible breathing in clean air for the first time in so long. There was no blood, no bad body odour and no fear tinging the air. He closed his eyes picturing the forest and the world around him and no one in it but him. He could run for miles, walk anywhere and do anything and no one would stop him. He had free reign.
Behind him a light snore emanated pulling him from the day dream. He turned so fast he was dizzy. His father was asleep in the rocking chair on the far side of the room. He stared at the man for a few moments still amazed he had come for him, that he wanted him. Slowly Ira walked forward and stood in front of him. Watching him. Why had his father come? Was he afraid of what Ira could or would say? Did he actually care? Hadn't he proved that already?
Ira reached a hand out to touch his dad's cheek. He understood things when he touched them and maybe he was hoping he could understand his dad. Why did he do what he did? Why did he want Ira if he had raped his mum? He watched the big man for a few more seconds before his eyes snapped open. He looked on alert for a moment. Ira tried to snatch his hand away but his dad took his wrist gently, lighting fast. To Ira's surprise the man smiled and kissed his fingers like he did with Kim. Ira stared.
"You don't know how much I love you, do you?" he asked. Ira didn't answer. He had too many questions. The man had come for him but he had also done horrible things, hadn't he? Ira finally pulled away and moved a foot back. His father looked disappointed and sighed but quickly covered it up rubbing a hand across his jaw speckled with a few days of beard growth.
He cocked his head and scratched his jaw before speaking again sensing Ira was unwilling. "Josef told you a lot of things, huh?" Ira nodded to this. "A lot of those, pretty much all of those things, aren't true. Do you know that?" Ira shrugged now and looked away uncertain. "I talked to Benicio and some of the others and I think I have the jist of what he told you. I'm most concerned right now with one thing though." Reese took a deep breath before continuing. "He told you I raped your mother. Do you know what that means?" Ira nodded and took a deep breath, dismissing the word jist because he had no idea what it meant; American slang was weird, and found the words that he had mesmerized when he read the dictionary a long time ago.
"The unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse," Ira announced blushing. Sex and intercourse and feelings in general were embarrassing. His father rubbed a hand over his face erasing the annoyed look and reached forward pulling Ira to him. Ira let him this time enjoying the contact but not admitting it.
"Is that what you think I did to you mum and Kim?" he asked and Ira nodded again but he felt puzzled. His eyes clouded with confusion. It didn't seem ok to him, not ok at all.
"If you did it once…," Ira started and then stopped flushing again at his angry look.
"No, Ira," Kim suddenly said appearing in the doorway like a werewolf ninja. Ira glanced over at her as she walked in. She looked even more pregnant now and Ira wondered how many babies were in there. "Your father is a kind and gentle man. He would never, ever force anyone to do anything like that and before you say it mutts are different," she said and walked in. She set a hand on his father's shoulder and Reese covered it with his own larger one. "These babies are here because of love, rape means hurt and hate, understood?" she asked. Ira shrugged and then nodded because he did get it. He wasn't sure it was true though.
Ira bit his lip thinking a full minute passed before he asked his next question. "Why did Josef say it then? Why does the Aussie pack do it if it's wrong?"
Reese and Kim glanced at one another looking frustrated but he could tell it wasn't with him. Whenever he asked anyone questions about the differences between the two packs they seemed frustrated no matter who it was. He had even made Jeremy's eyes twitch once with his question. He slightly enjoyed it though.
"Come here," Reese said and picked Ira up easily commenting on how much lighter he was now. Ira shrugged. He knew he had lost weight. His clothes didn't fit him right anymore. He got the pyjamas he was wearing, a black pair with the periodic table of elements signs running up and down the material, right before he left and they were looser now and almost falling down. Not eating for a while did that he guessed until his body went into full starvation mode that was.
His father settled Ira on his lap, an action which he was finding was ok now. While he was weary of his father and the allegations against him and the pack he also knew Josef was a liar. His father had come for him and that meant he could trust him a bit more. His father came for him when he didn't need to, when he had another kid on the way. He didn't need Ira and the man still came. It was something he was still puzzling out. Every time he thought about it he came to the conclusion that Reese did not need to save him and his trust started to grow little bit by little bit.
"Can you trust me, Ira? Even a little bit?" Reese asked. Ira contemplated this and nodded after a few moments.
"You came for me…dad, so I think I can," Ira said and held up both hands about a foot span apart to show how much he thought he could trust his dad now. His dad's face split into a large grin and he pulled Ira forward and hugged him tightly. It didn't seem like a big amount but trust was earned and it took a long time to fully earn his trust with anyone.
"So I'm dad now?" Reese asked. Ira shrugged embarrassed by the question. His father had earned it so he was dad he guessed. Ira knew a parent didn't become a parent by just having a kid. They had to earn it. His dad had and maybe, just maybe someday Kim would too. That one would be a harder sell though.
"It's a start," Kim said and his dad nodded while Ira wondered what the big deal was. Adults were always making big deals out of small things. He'd never understand them.
He watched the boy swing lightly on the swing set outside sitting beside Noah talking in hushed voices. The other kids watched a movie with the twins. Ira had heard horrible things about them and about his hero, Noah, as well but hopefully he was smart enough not to listen. Noah's criminal record would not help his cause or his need to tell Ira the complete truth. There was no point in omitting the harsh parts. Ira had lived them all and he hated to be coddled. Noah told him everything even including how Reese lost his fingers.
"How do you think he's handling it?" Kim asked behind him. Reese felt her belly touch his back first. He reached back and pulled her forward until she was in front of him and he had his arms around her. The babies kicked under his touch and he smiled. They were having boys as far as the ultrasound could tell. Their son's would have a perfect example to learn from in Ira. He was a smart, caring and tenacious child who would teach his brothers everything about being pack children.
"He'll be ok."
"I know," Kim answered and smiled. It was the middle of November and their plan for Ira was keeping it quiet for a few months. He would spend his first Thanksgiving with the pack in a few days and his first Christmas. Ira hadn't been thrilled with their plan that he go to the same private academy Clary went to after the holidays. He accepted it with resignation as he did with almost everything else though.
Suddenly Ira jumped up from the swing, his hands were encased in black leather gloves and his winter pea coat and hat, both black as well, a favoured coloured, stood out starkly against the light powder of snow on the ground. His scarf moved in the slight wind. Ira's eyes blazed as he headed away from Noah who looked defeated. Reese could hear the boy's boots crunching walking across the semi frozen grass going to the tree line but no further. He knew they would come after him if he went into the woods like he was apt to do. They were still too worried to let him out of their sight. Josef was not the only monster out there interested in the boy.
Ira was a very prim and proper child which was the best way to describe him. He would have done well in the Victorian age with all their stiff rules and rigidity. He only wore polo or collared shirts with khakis or clean jeans. He took hours to pick out simple clothing always wanting to look good and stylish. He took twice as long as any of the other kids in the bathroom combing his hair, everything in place. Reese could only figure it was a trait picked up from his mother who was very picky as well.
Noah looked frustrated and rubbed his jaw glancing at the window. "I should go out. They both need a talking to," Reese sighed. Kim chuckled and turned standing on her tiptoes to kiss him. Her belly bumped into his groin and he groaned. Kim had been very excited about their time together ever since she had become pregnant. The babies were growing twice as fast as human children did and would be born in six months rather than nine. They were due in the early spring unless they came sooner which was entirely possible as well since Kim was growing very large very quickly.
Kim finally broke the kiss off telling him she was going to check on the kids trailing a hand down his chest and stomach as she said this. She smiled walking away slowly. He growled wondering if he could convince someone to babysit soon so they could have some alone time. Shaking his head at the thought he headed to the backdoor grabbing his cold weather gear and joining Noah outside. He still wasn't used to cold weather and he still didn't like it even after ten years. His son liked it even less. He was not much of a complainer but he did protest about the cold.
Noah was standing next to the swing watching Ira kick at the icy rocks on the ground and then crouch to study something he saw there. Reese studied the boy in turn and then glanced at Noah who had his eyes scrunched up worried. The green was clouded with a darker colour which meant his mind was going a million miles a minute. If Reese knew his brother he was thinking about what he could do to make it up to Ira or what he could buy him. Reese sighed setting a hand on Noah's shoulder and squeezing lightly.
"Don't worry, mate. Ira will get over it. He can't always think your superman," Reese chuckled. Noah nodded. His eyes unclouded a bit but Reese could tell he was still concerned. Noah had a thing about being able to please everyone no matter what.
"Maybe I want to be superman, ever think of that?" Noah asked raising an eyebrow. He hit Reese lightly in the arm with a grin. Reese raised an eyebrow as well and suddenly tackled Noah to the ground. Noah slipped with a yelp into the snow fighting back and making Ira look up. He watched them carefully punch and kick with one getting the upper advantage and then the other. It ended with Reese on top of Noah bearing down with a grin holding his hands above his head.
Ira had moved closer without realizing it until he was standing ten feet away from them. Reese laughed and let go of one of his hand ruffling his hair before letting him up. Noah growled softly and sat up brushing a hand through his hair and taking slush and snow out. "You dad's a jerk," Noah laughed.
Ira stared at them confused and not quite sure what to make of it all afraid to agree or disagree. "Want me to show you some moves, buddy?" Ira hesitated and then nodded slightly. Reese beckoned him forward and together they taught him a proper punch and how to fall so he wouldn't hurt himself. When they were done Ira was breathing hard and his face was flushed. Reese took his shoulders and steered him to the slide bottom to sit while the two werewolves crouched in front of him.
Ira sensed this would be serious and dropped his rare half smile looking from one to the other biting his lip. He took the bottom of his coat and started fidgeting until Reese set a hand on his own. "What do you think you would have done if you suddenly didn't have a mum or dad? If you lived with strangers and your only friends were people who steered you in the wrong direction?" Reese asked. Ira looked worried at first until he understood they were talking about Noah. He glanced at the man and understanding lit his eyes.
"It would be hard to do the right thing with no one to help you," Ira admitted. Noah nodded to this and swiped at his eyes looking away, when he looked back at them his green eyes glowed jewel bright with wetness. Noah had spent countless years making up for the bad he had done with being a cop and helping as many people as he could. When Reese pointed this out Ira thought it was a fair point and that Noah should be absolved. Ira quickly started looking at Noah the way that he used to like he was a superhero and someone to look up to and admire. Reese felt a twang of jealousy but quickly pushed it aside. Every kid needed a hero and it was better for Ira to believe in Noah, an upstanding pack member, than for him to believe in a comic book hero or someone unreal.
Ira was content to spend the rest of the day with Noah and Jeremy away from the other kids learning how to shoot, a bow and arrow, and how to tie proper knots. Seemingly simple things a child would enjoy but things that would have practical uses for a pack member someday. The other pack children had long ago learned these things and grew bored with them but Ira was like a sponge soaking up information and fascinated by everything he heard. He spent hours practicing the bow and arrow alone until it got too dark to see and then hours more tying and retying knots until Clay pronounced they were perfect. Ira was nothing if not determined but it was through these moments that Reese learned the most about his son.
Long after they had finally convinced Ira he was tired Reese started to head upstairs to join Ira, asleep in their shared room, and Join Kim, taking a long shower, when Morgan called out for him. Reese sighed but walked back to the living room not bothering to do up the buttons on his shirt he had been quickly undoing. He stood with crossed arms leaning against the door edge looking at the papers scattered all over the desks and coffee table. The research they had taken from the cabal to be read and then destroyed.
The information on electronic devices was officially being eradicated by Sean, Paige and Lucas and they were working with Benicio to figure out whether the information had gone further than the Nast Cabal. Clay was sitting at the desk scanning one document while Morgan was at the coffee table. They had decided to go from most recent history backwards to take care of any present threats. "I found something…it's not good," Morgan sighed. His accent was more pronounced after hours of research and mental exhaustion.
"We figured out Hall was experimented on, he was the newest victim, which is why he went crazy after being shot, Josef was working on necromancers controlling dead werewolves and other supernaturals, but we also found something else," Clay said. Morgan stood and held out a thin file to Reese. He walked forward with trepidation taking the thin cardboard and opening it. His heart almost stopped when he saw his son's name and his anger rose to the surface in second when he saw the pictures. He quickly sat and spread it over his knees scanning quickly.
The experiment dated half a week before was entitled Project Padfoot. Clay answered his question before he could ask. "Padfoot is a monstrous dog from England that is a death omen, can shape shift and can become invisible. Presumably Josef sees Ira as a shape shifter and once he was grown would use him as an omen of death going before him as a sort of messenger. If he could turn the kid to his side," Clay said. Reese clenched his hand in annoyance. Not his son. He'd kill anyone who tired. He already had. Their faces swan in his mind because he would never forget killing and the reason for it. His son. Ira was worth it all.
Reese turned to the papers again learning about the food which was the way they administered the drug. He could believe that Ira had a stubborn resolve to not eat when he got there and also that Hall convinced him that he could be trusted. He really did not like Hall but he had met an acceptable fate in Reese's mind. The drugs were supposed to accelerate his growth and make him into a superhuman or extra supernatural werewolf within a year if it was continually administered. They had been monitoring Ira with a chip they had inserted into him while he slept. They had continually known his temperature, his weight, fluctuating brain waves and on and on. His son was a science experiment and he still had the drugs in his system, drugs that had already caused changes in him.
If Josef had not already been killed Reese would be leaving tonight to finish the job regardless of what kind of war it might start. "Reese? What wrong?" Reese looked up to see Kim standing in the doorway, wet hair cascaded down her shoulders, her back and a red kimono was pulled tightly around her body displaying her growing stomach clearly. She came fully into the room, sat beside him and read the same information he had.
"We need to get it out of him."
"Already taken care of." They both looked up to see Jeremy standing in the doorway carrying a sleeping Ira with his head cradled against the man's chest. Jeremy and Elena had already been informed. In the time it took for Reese and Kim to process what was happening to their son the Alpha had informed Jeremy he would be operating. The chip was in Ira's shoulder just above his back and was not buried deep. It took half an hour to lay the boy out, make sure he stayed asleep and take the chip from his shoulder. He would never know the difference especially with how careful Jeremy had been.
"We'll need to watch him closely for any signs of change," Elena instructed not liking the idea of a pack child being drugged any more than they had. Reese nodded looking down at the peaceful boy lying in his arms as he smoothed his growing hair gently. "The files say it could be as slight as increased healing and strength. The fact that he had broken his arm just a week ago and now it is barely bothering him is one big sign that the drug is working much too fast."
Ira moved a bit groaning and slung his arm up hitting his dad's chest before he settled again mumbling. Reese stood with him in his arms letting Kim gently readjust his arm still bandaged but clearly usable. "Reese, if I need to separate him from the other children I will," Elena warned. Reese felt the growl building in his chest. He took a calming breath and nodded knowing this. If he needed to take his son some place safe he would.
Ira munched on his granola cereal scratching the spot behind his shoulder absently concentrating on the magazine in front of him and ignoring the chaos of Dom screaming, Clary reading the paper out loud, the twins arguing and Nita pleading with her father about something. He had been good at ignoring general chaos since he figured out he preferred peace and quiet thank you very much.
"Morning buddy," Reese called amidst the noise. Ira felt his father kiss him on the head. He kept eating but nodded before scratching his shoulder again irritated and convinced he had a bite. He turned slightly and pulled his shirt down to look just as his dad asked him what was wrong.
"I think I have a bite. You know we swallow a few spiders every year in our sleep. Maybe one bit me," Ira answered, with Nita and Clary making retching noises in the background, and twisted to look again until his dad said he would do it. He reached Ira in a few strides, fresh coffee in hand, and pulled down his shirt collar agreeing with him. A few others looked at it too and Jeremy produced some cream to put on it. Ira raised his eyebrows at the attention and glanced at Nita who shrugged and shook her head. The adults seemed tense but it was the pack so that wasn't odd.
Soon enough the other pack kids were herded outside to play and the twins were send away with Clay and Elena to train. Ira got up to follow Nita when she gestured, they were going to find the rabbits on the edge of the woods, but his dad stopped him and send the others on. Ira smelt the crisp fall air as the door banged shut and he yearned to be outside. He didn't care about playing he wanted to study things. He had started a notebook and writing down everything he thought was interesting while Nita drew it. They only had a day or two before they all separated again, after Thanksgiving.
"I didn't do anything, dad," Ira protested making his father and some of the others chuckle.
"I know, I had a question though," he smiled leaving it hanging in the air for a moment. Ira raised an eyebrow folding his arms. "Do you want to go and visit your mum?" he asked. Ira went wide eyed and looked at Kim to make sure neither of them was playing a trick. She nodded and Ira's sat back thinking. It took him a long time to come to a decision. He hemmed and hawed unsure while he dressed meticulously tucking his blue polo shirt into tan khakis and brushing his long hair until it was perfect. He pulled on his leather belt fitting in into the holes. Finally he walked back to the kitchen and stood in front of Kim and Reese who looked amused.
"Ok, I'll see mum if she's better," he said wisely. Reese nodded and told Ira he would not have even suggested it with Daniella wasn't doing well. Ira nodded and told them he was ready to go before marching to the foyer to dress and wait for them silently sitting on the lower steps and studying the oak doorway.
Ira walked down the white hallway past people in white doctor's coats, people in wheel chairs and too loud nurses. He clutched Reese's hand tightly hating strangers and hating crowds. They stopped abruptly in front of a room marked B113 Wright, Daniella. Ira took a breath and looked up at Reese who gave him a reassuring grin. He nodded and Ira nodded back. He was ready.
Reese knocked on the door and Ira heard his mum's voice for the first time in what seemed like so long. He couldn't help the water that gathered in his eyes as the door swung open. His mum was sitting on the bed with her legs crossed; she was freshly showered and had nice clean clothes on. She was thinner than when she had dropped Ira off to live with his dad. Her eyes were more sunken and she looked a lot less confident but she was his mum, here, in this world, and not a zombie or on the brink of death.
"Ira," she said holding out her arms. Ira looked at his father again who let go of his hand and made a gesture for him to go. Ira was in his mum's arms in seconds hugging her tightly, crying like he was five again and she was rubbing his back and whispering gentle words to him like he had a nightmare as a kid once again. He sometimes let himself unravel and he found this time was acceptable.
"I missed you my little curious monkey."
"Me too," Ira said settling on her lap, wiping his eyes and telling her all about life with his father. Reese had taken a seat on the other side of the room crossing his legs and arms but refusing to leave. Ira had been coached all the way to the hospital, a three hour drive, on what he was allowed to tell his mum and what he had to leave out. He told her about the good parts like his birthday and learning to ride a bike, he described his room and the new books he had been reading. His mum in turn asked questions that were two fold like what he was watching on TV, how much exercise he was getting and what he was eating. Even Ira understood this was also for his dad's benefit though Reese kept quiet in the corner with his head leaned back against the wall pretending to sleep.
Kim had come with them along with Hope but they had gone baby shopping. Kim figured this was best since it would do no good to waltz in and show off both being Reese's current mate and the babies. It might turn the conversation ugly very quickly and this visit was for Ira. No conflict needed.
After talking for a while Ira forgot about his father finding it was much more like the old times when he and his mum would sit, talk and daydream. He felt more alive than he had in a long time and his mum seemed so happy, finally. She hadn't been like this since a few weeks before they left Australia. After that the travel, the running and the constant fight to find a place to sleep, sometimes in parks or on the street, and food took its toll. It had been a hard journey since they could not let Keith know where they were going. They used countless methods of travel and probably trekked across half of America before they came to New York State. His dad didn't know anything of this so he guessed both parents had secrets he was bound to keep.
All too soon Reese cleared his throat and announced it was time to go. Ira reluctantly nodded and started to get up but his mum took his shoulder and stopped him. "I've barely seen him for an hour, Reese. Leave him with me for a while and go do whatever it is you need to do," she suggested. Ira nodded to this and looked pleadingly at his father's whose expression did not change.
"You know and agreed to the deal Daniella. Ira, let's go," Reese said a bit more forcefully holding out his hand. Ira looked between his parents wondering who to listen to now. "One, Ira," his father warned. Immediately Ira stood and walked to his father taking his hand and heeding the warning. His mum couldn't really punish him anymore but his dad could and he didn't like that.
"I'll see you again soon, monkey," Daniella smiled after scowling at his father. Ira was allowed to give one last hug and kiss before they left. He did not miss the look his parents passed between one another, icy and hateful. Ira said nothing as they walked absorbing what had happened and the new scenery around him. His father stopped at the front desk and let go of Ira telling him to stay put and getting out a cheque book as he talked to the receptionist. He watched carefully as the nurse citing an amount, a very large amount, and Reese wrote a cheque for the amount and signed it. His dad was paying for his mum's care so he must feel something for her. Maybe he just wanted her out of the way though. Ira's thoughts spun on this as they left wondering.
For the first time Ira could remember time seemed to pass very fast for Ira. The fall that he turned ten and that his life changed forever he spent his first holidays with the pack and his father; he learned to skate on the ice pond out back and play ice hockey, to throw snowballs and make snow men and even make snow angels on the ground. He learned to like snow a bit but still hated the cold. His favorite activity was sledding in the Catskill Mountains. It was exhilarating and threw him from his rigid personality and turned him into a kid again.
Ira's was allowed to visit his mother once a week, always with supervision. If his father was not available Noah, Nick or Antonio would come. Kim never came through which was for the best. Ira had intended to never mention the babies but one day his mum caught him off guard. They were playing chess, a game Ira excelled at, when Daniella asked him how Kim was doing. She did it to be polite but Ira could tell that his mum hated Kim. Ira replied absently thinking about his next move but when he looked up he realized his mistake. His mum's scowl said it all but she turned the expression back into a neutral one and nodded before Antonio across the room could see. His father said it was inevitable and not to worry.
Lying in bed that night looking at the shadows on his ceiling he thought about all the things he hadn't told his dad. The dreams at night were becoming more vivid. He was always running towards or away from someone, always scared of someone or happy to be going towards someone. At school he had noticed that in gym he was stronger and faster than the other kids and he had to be careful and when he went to his locker to get his lunch he shut it harder then he thought and bent the metal a bit. These things should not have been happening until he was older. The symptoms terrified him. What if he changed at ten years old? Why was one dose of the drugs so strong?
He turned over facing the door to watch the shadows walking by his room and obscuring the light. His eyes blurred as he contemplated these problems. He could usually ignore his worries about this during his busy days but at night they crept up hounding him like a neglected puppy. He considered telling his dad or Kim about it but they were so busy with the babies coming that he didn't dare another stress. He thought about telling his mum but she would just it as cannon fodder for the war against his father and the pack. He'd figure out a solution himself.