Chapter 17


Ira watched his father, Kim and Nick pacing, arguing, annoyed and all around frustrated. Antonio was holding Clary, her arm in a bright pink cast, by the living room door. Ira was watching it all with covered ears growing more and concerned when they didn't resolve it, when Nick pointed at Ira and said "he is out of control" and when Reese took a step forward like he would hit Nick but Kim stopped him.

The fight between Clary and him was growing more noticeable every day, before he had left, and they seemed to be picking up where they had left off now, even the adults had stepped in a few times to stop them after a few days. It had started with little spats and escalated when Clary had switched the sugar for salt ruining his breakfast but he couldn't say a word or he'd alert the adults so he toughed his way through it. He retaliated by adding vinegar to her toothpaste. Nick surmised it had just gone bad and got her more but Ira didn't miss the look Clary gave her as he brushed his own teeth on the other side of the room. Little things like stealing Ira's books and hiding them and him taking her favorite stuffed animals and throwing them into the sooty fire place escalated to her throwing his books in a tub full of water, he had to lie about that when they asked. Next her antique doll caught fire when it was 'accidently' too close to the fire.

After the book incident he found one of the tires on his bike deflated, he had started experimenting with it a bit when no one was looking. He carefully felt around the tire and found a puncture hole. When Reese felt the tire and changed out the wheel he assumed Ira had run over something that had punched a hole in it. Ira knew better but said nothing. He took a little bit of time to think up his revenge but what he finally settled on was worth the wait and had Clary screaming. Ira grinned when he heard her even out in the driveway where he was riding his bike, to the gate and back, under the watchful eye of Nick who was working on one of the balconies.

After Clary screamed Nick had disappeared inside and Ira could hear both of them from where he was, with the windows wide open, trying to console her and get to the bottom of what happened. Ira walked in setting his bike helmet aside to a scene of seven year old chaos. Antonio held Dom who was sucking on his fingers while Antonio was holding him watching. Nick held Clary's blue Princess Disney dress, Cinderella Ira thought, and looked at the hole in the fabric. Vanessa held her other dress, Ira had no idea what princess it was, some purple one though, and they compared it to the blue dress.

Clary, with angry and tear filled eyes turned to Ira and glared. She looked like she was about to say something but she clamped her mouth shut. Ira smiled slightly but lost his snide grin before any of the adults could see. He had thought he was the cleverest person ever. He had been playing in the backyard, near the tree house when he found a family of mice. He took two of them and had been hiding them in his room. He then cut the fabric on Clary's dresses, being careful to do it when they were out of her room so his scent would not be too prevalent; he had made sure it looked like mice bites.

As this was going on Kim and Reese came back from a walk. "What could have done this?" Kim asked. She was looking at the fabric now. Ira stuck his hand in his pocket and petted the little mouse inside waiting for the perfect opportunity. He been able to tame it pretty well and the mouse was never far from him now.

"Looks like an animal almost," his father said. Ira sucked in a breath and took the mouse from his pocket showing it to them on the palm of his hand. They all looked at him and then at the mouse he was keeping in his palm as it was running around.

"I found him outside and I wanted a friend. I'm sorry," Ira said lowering his voice a little and biting is lip. He knew how to get sympathy and he knew how to make people feel badly for him. He looked at them and then down at the baby mouse again hopefully.

"That's ok buddy, but no more animals in the house, ok?" Reese asked. Ira nodded and smiled a little until Nick objected and pointed out what the mouse had done and how upset Clary was. Reese set a hand on Ira's shoulder carefully only touching him lightly.

"Reese, you know there is a no pet policy here. He brought the mouse in and let it lose in the house. That's not ok, especially when it ruins things," Nick scolded. Ira felt his dad stiffen and he looked up at him with imploring eyes. He made sure to conjure up some water as well. He understood his dad would be reluctant to go against the man who was his mentor and one of his best friends but Ira had to make him somehow. Reese looked down at him, over to Kim and then at Nick.

"Nick, he didn't mean to. He's been having a hard time adjusting. He didn't mean any harm but, I am sure he won't do it again," Reese said looking at Ira who nodded and looked at Clary now.

"I'm really sorry, Clary. I really am. You can have one of the mice," he implored. Clary looked at him annoyed and then at her own parents expecting them to do something, they looked at one another and then at Ira's father and Kim again. Heads were spinning.

"He should at least get a consequence," Clary pouted. Ira made a face and looked up at Reese begging him not to. His father looked torn and Ira saw them both conferring.

"No, he didn't mean to do this so he won't be punished for it," Reese announced. It was the first time Ira had heard his father make a pronouncement like this involving him and against the others wishes. Ira could feel it caused some tension and he felt badly about this but he couldn't back out now.

"It's not fair. He gets away with everything!" Clary growled bursting into tears and clutching her dress tightly. Vanessa picked her up immediately, shot a look at Nick and took her from the room. Nick and Reese faced off for a moment before Antonio told them both to cool down. This last incident had been a few days before he disappeared and Clary was still annoyed with him, probably more than annoyed.

He hadn't meant to push her so hard or get so angry. It was like a storm started inside of him and took his body to control, like an animal inside was forcing him to do things he didn't really want to do. Things just happened. Ira had been in the woods again studying animals and if he was being truthful with himself, running like in his dreams to see if anything happened but nothing did. He'd continue to experiment.

He broke the woods again holding his notebook and studying the carefully placed notes. They were at Stonehaven again celebrating Clay's birthday now, really just an excuse to have cake, and the difference between the two places required two different notebooks. The trees, amount of animals and sheer size of the two properties made major differences and he wanted to be precise. He needed to be precise after all that happened. Life needed to be normal and quiet again and this was as normal as it got for him.

Immediately he crossed the yard and sat beside Nita on the bottom of the slide handing her his notebook. She took it with a grin and exchanged half her cookie for it which he accepted. Ira did the research and wrote the notes but Nita did the drawings that he carefully described to her. In the background Clary spoke but they both ignored her. Ira was too concentrated on Nita's face, her lips that he wanted to kiss but too afraid to try. Every time she caught him staring she blushed and looked away and Ira smiled and bit his lip.

He was getting up the courage finally, after what felt like forever, when Clary called that she was coming down the slide. She rammed into both of their backs sending them all off the slide tumbling to the ground and breaking the most important moment Ira felt he ever had. Ira stood, helped Nita up and turned to Clary angrily.

The next moments were in fragments of time without sounds. Clary kept screaming but he didn't hear her anymore, Nita shouted something incoherent and her eyes were such a huge blue that Ira almost lost himself in them, his dad, Nick, Elena and Clay were first on the scene and immediately Nick and Elena bowed over Clary to figure out what was wrong. He felt a heavy hand on his shoulder and he jerked his head to look up at his dad's shocked face. When sound finally came flooding in he heard Clary crying and Nita trying to explain it all.

"Ira, what did you do?" Reese finally asked. What had he done? Ira opened his mouth but couldn't speak. Suddenly he father spun him around and grabbed both shoulders tightly. "What did you do Ira?" he asked. He had a scary look in his eyes, a wild look like he couldn't believe what had happened and like he was hoping so badly, so badly that Ira didn't do anything and that there was a logical explanation.

"I…," Ira stammered and looked back at Clary who was in Nicks arms now. His father said his name again taking his jaw in his hand and turning it towards him. "I didn't mean…she just…I didn't think I was that strong, dad," Ira protested. He had pushed her; he remembered he had pushed her now. Elena swallowed and told Nick to take her to the doctor before turning to them both. He looked down at Ira and then at Reese. He could tell she was disappointed.

"I told you I would separate him if this got out of control, Reese and I meant it," she said looking right at him. Ira went wide eyed and his father found his hand and gripped it tightly. Ira squeezed back a bit scared now of what would happen.

"I know," he answered. Ira felt the man's eyes on his again and he flushed as they started towards the house and Kim who was standing there looking very sad. He dreaded that look but not because it meant he was in trouble, he dreaded it because that was the same look that his mum had in her eyes before this all started. Ira looked at his father again and then back at Elena and Clay who were talking in low voices and watching him wearily.

When they entered the house the first thing he heard was an argument. He stiffened upon hearing his name and stopped taking off his gloves. His father went ahead of them and he heard his voice mixed in with the others. "I don't want him around Dominic, Antonio please just keep him away while we're gone," Vanessa asked sounding harassed and ignoring Reese's protests. Ira looked into the kitchen, seeing his dad leave in a hurry, and Vanessa hastily putting on her coat while Nick called out to her from the room beyond to hurry.

Antonio looked as if he wanted to argue but he only nodded and tried to settle the squirming toddler who was reaching out to his mother as she left and crying "mam" over and over. Ira watched and then took the rest of his clothes off. He was dangerous. Josef made him dangerous. He shouldn't be around any of them.

When he looked up again Kim was looking after her annoyed. Ira stiffened but got up from the floor where he took off his boots and took her hand when she offered. They circled around Antonio who was trying to shush Dom. "Don't worry, I won't let him get too close," she growled. Antonio looked up surprised and torn. The tension in the house was affecting them all and Ira knew it was his fault. He hated himself for that. He was ruining this family like he ruined the last one.

"Kimmy," Antonio tried to say as Dom started hitting him and screaming at the top of his lungs.

They walked from the room and upstairs in silence but Ira veered at the top reaching for the doorknob to the kid's room. "No, sweetie, you're sleeping with daddy and me tonight," she informed. Ira felt hot all over but he nodded stiffly and started undressing putting his pyjamas on, the ones that Kim laid out for him every night. Behind him his father, suddenly coming into the room none too happy, and Kim undressed as well. Soon Ira was gripping the covers at the end of the bed tightly wringing them in his hands. It was a bit too early for bed but probably a good way to keep him from everyone else.

"We need to talk Ira, what happened out there? Why did you push Clary?" Reese asked finally releasing the question Ira knew burned inside of him. Ira licked his lips and concentrated on tearing the blanket to shreds. After a few moments Reese pulled Ira's face over so he was looking at him.

"Where are we going?" Ira asked evading the question. He knew they could not stay here and his cousins lived at Sorrentino Estate so that was out too.

"Answer the question."

Ira growled lowly and crossed his arms annoyed. He stayed silent for a few moments not just because he was annoyed but because he was terrified. The strength had come out of nowhere and it had awoken something inside him that was huge and scary and something he wasn't sure he could control. Finally the story came tumbling from him like a sun shower that appeared for a few minutes and then left shortly after having done its job and annoyed or amazed a sufficient amount of people.

"Ok, I believe you, buddy. It was probably the drugs in your system and not fully you. We need to teach you to control it," his father said and looked at Kim who nodded from her position on the end of the bed. She reached out and grasped his hand lightly.

"We'll start teaching you as if you were about to change, how does that sound?" she asked and Ira nodded. She had her hands on her stomach rubbing gently. Reese sat down heavily on the bed and moved towards her setting a hand on her stomach and smiling.

Ira stood still at the end of the bed pulling himself onto it and sitting on his knees. He repeated the question of where they were going again. "New York," Kim said absently watching her stomach as the baby kicked. He studied Kim's shirt moving and then the stomach of her flesh when his dad pulled the shirt up. He crept closer unaware of his own actions until he was in front of her.

Reese took his hand gently and placed it on Kim's stomach so he could feel. It took a moment but suddenly he felt the kicking. "Their practicing to fight," Reese grinned and Kim rolled his eyes at this.

"There are two?" Ira asked and both of them nodded before worry clouded his mind again and he lost himself in his thoughts once more. When his dad saw he was losing focus he patted the spot beside him and then pulled him onto his stomach so his legs were on either side of his dad's waist and he was facing the man. "What's wrong, buddy?" he asked and looked up at Kim concerned.

"They don't like me anymore," Ira whispered looking at his dad's stomach and absently tracing the scars on his abs all from fighting. He grabbed the hem of his shirt next and stretched it again but his dad quickly put an end to this by taking his hands gently and telling him that he'd be doing the laundry if he kept at it.

"Well, I like you," Reese said jokingly. Suddenly he had his hands on Ira's stomach tickling gently. Ira was always sensitive but he loved it when his mum tickled him. He went wild and bucked and laughed trying to pull away but the man held him tightly. They ended up with Ira's back on the bed and Reese over him blowing on his stomach until Ira tried to kick him away as the man caught his feet. It was most TV family moment he had ever had and the closest he had let them get to him, the closest he ever felt.

"Does that hurt?" Kim asked looking at Ira's stomach. His dad let his feet go and Ira pulled up his pyjama shirt a bit and lifted his head to see the small red marks where his dad's hands trailed and a bigger one where his lips had been. Ira shrugged.

"Yeah, but I can get used to it if I like the person."

"Good, because I am not stopping," Reese grinned and began again until Elena knocked on the door and reminded them the kids were trying to sleep and everyone had a stressful day. She said they should be talking to Ira and not playing with him. She eyed him for a moment and then his parents before leaving again. He didn't think the Alpha liked him anymore either. He was an outsider and a threat to the real pack kids. Maybe they would leave and make a new pack or maybe Elena would ask them to leave Ira somewhere. For some reason that thought terrified him the most.

He hovered in the doorway watching everyone have breakfast laughing and talking. No one was in his room when he woke up so he came downstairs. Kate and Logan were both dressed for school and their back packs were against the hallway wall. Kate teased Logan about a girl in school and he teased her right back throwing a piece of egg at her. Quickly Elena put a stop to it before it turned into a food war. He wondered if he was allowed to be down here but no one had come to get him or give him food so he wandered down hoping he would not be in trouble.

Jeremy smiled at them at the head of the table; Elena sat on the other side with Clay beside her. When Jeremy saw him hovering he looked at Elena and cleared his throat a little. "Ira, come and eat," he said. Ira nodded not sure if he would be allowed and took a place across from the twins. They both glared at him and then ignored him. Ira deflated and crossed his arms looking at the wood grain and his pyjama pants.

"Ira, eat." Ira looked over at Elena and sat up a little straighter grabbing some bacon and toast and then some eggs. He looked at his food resolving to look at no one and hopefully escape to his room to stare at the wall. He listened to them talk and ate slowly hoping they would all leave soon. He didn't see his father or anyone else yet but maybe it was a good delay.

"You did a crummy thing," Kate finally blurted out as Morgan walked into the kitchen and called a good morning. Ira blushed and looked up just as Elena asked her to stop talking about it but Ira was angry, so angry.

"It was an accident."

"Yeah, right," Logan growled.

"Guys," Elena warned followed by Clay.

"He's bigger than her and who knows what bad stuff they taught him in Australia. The Australian pack is ruthless. He's probably a little killing machine and we are just letting him waltz in around venerable little kids," Kate growled sending such a look Ira's way he almost wilted.

"I am not!" Ira said in a very low and dangerous voice sitting on his knees now and putting both hands on the table seething. The Alpha in his voice made everyone stop for just a moment surprised but no one commented. Sometimes, if there a very strong side to a child, it would show when he was young. An Alpha personality might show in the way a child spoke or commanded the others his age, an enforcer would show in their protective nature, especially for a few choice pack members or an omega would show in a more quiet or unobtrusive nature. These children were not always quiet but would always let the other take the lead and be content to follow them anywhere.

Ira did not seem like an Alpha personality at first, Elena and Reese had discussed this to better get to know him and where to start pushing him, but he was turning into more a quiet and contemplative Alpha type much like Jeremy. Of course children always grew and learned or sometimes these behaviours were spot on from birth. Like a real wolf pack it helped determine their path earlier in life and helped the pack guide them down it. Ira was taking a lot longer to figure out then some children.

Ira bit his lip and looked at his food not hungry anymore. "Kathrine Natalya and Logan Nicholas, neither of you will say another word about this. We are dealing with it and it does not involve either of you. Now, please go and get ready." Ira sat and then there was silence. He heard both of their chairs scrap across the floor and they both left the kitchen, Kate with a huff and Logan in silence. Clay announced he would drive them and then the kitchen was silent again.

Ira pushed food around on his plate, listening to the adults talk quietly, and then set one elbow on the table munching a little when Jeremy told him to eat again. "I didn't hurt her on purpose," Ira said lowly looking at his bacon. None of them said anything as he finished a few more bites and then declared he was full. He was allowed to go after eating a bit more. Elena mentioned that the other pack members had gone on a run and were still out there. Elena, Clay and Jeremy had too but had come in early to help the kids get ready.

When the back door opened the voices and conversation got louder. Ira wanted to sink into the chair and disappear but he couldn't. He wanted the power of invisibility but had never been able to obtain it. He never would. He listened to his dad's voice and Kim's and even heard Nita and Dom who must have been playing outside when the pack came in. He waited for someone to say something but no one did, not pertaining to him anyway.

He only looked up from his untouched food sharply when he heard Nick's voice talking to Clary quietly. Nick stepped into the kitchen carrying Clary who looked a bit pale and in pain. Ira looked away from them both guiltily and pushed away his plate. The kitchen was suddenly focusing all his attention on Clary asking how she felt and if they could sign her temporary cast which made her happy.

He felt his dad's gaze on him but he didn't dare look up. He knew he went too far and was in trouble but she had no right to say those words. Maybe she was physically hurt but he was emotionally hurt and no one seemed to care about that. Reluctantly, when the feeling of eyes on him was too much, he stood and walked to the doorway before halting. Any second now his dad would say his name so he turned and faced them instead.

"I'm sorry," he said lowly and then repeated himself until they had quieted down. "I'm sorry I hurt you Clarissa. I didn't mean to and I'm sorry. I'll give you my allowance or do your chores, whatever you want," he said without prompting. Reese looked surprised and then folded his arms looking at Nick and waiting. Nick said nothing and Ira could tell he was angry. Ira grabbed the bottom of his pyjama shirt again and wrenched it in his hands before he turned and rushed from the room like a coward. Gavin always said to never run from your problem and that was exactly what he was doing.

In the room he had slept in with Kim and Reese Ira sat on the bed and crossed his legs staring moodily at the door. The other pack kids really did hate him. He had made a really bad impression here, so much so it was like being back home again. The kids there thought he was weird and didn't like him much either. Ira was never the friend type anyway, he was always a loner but he preferred it this way. His getting along with the kids here and forming a bond seemed crucial though so he tried, he really did. It blew up in his face like normal. He wished they knew how hard he was trying and had tried though.

It didn't take long for his dad and Kim to follow him up the stairs but neither of them said a word. Instead they started packing their bags. Ira was suddenly gripped with an intense fear of being left behind. Maybe this was where they gave up on him altogether and just left or where they decided he was too much trouble and would send him away. He felt heat creep into his stomach and sweat beginning to form but he sat quietly waiting with hands folded in front of him squeezing tightly.

When his dad finally looked at him, really looked at him he frowned and immediately walked over and picked him up. "We're leaving, buddy. Kim, me and you, ok?" he asked poking Ira in the chest and Ira nodded feeling a rush of relief all at once. "Family means no one gets left behind. We'd never leave you, Ira." Ira nodded again and watched him pick up all the bags in his other hand. They turned to leave the room with Kim following.

At the bottom of the steps he started dressing in his winter wear tugging his boots on and tying them and adjusting his scarf just so. At the end of the hallway Nita watched clinging to the doorway. He tried to smile but only managed a grimace; she smiled regardless with tears forming in her eyes. Ira bit his lip and looked away heading towards the door when his dad said it was time to go. With fumbling fingers he walked and buttoned the last of his coat up but froze when he got to the door.

"Where are you going?" Ira turned watching Nick walk into the hallway. His arms were crossed and he looked relaxed but Ira could immediately tell he was tense and in a bad temper.

"Where do you think?" Reese asked. Once again he picked Ira up, an unnecessary action but one his dad was fond of and if Ira was being truthful he sort of liked it too. "You wanted my son separated from the other children Nick. That means I go too, mate," Reese answered with a chill in his voice. Nick frowned and looked annoyed opening his mouth to speak but nothing came out.

"Ira go upstairs," Kim asked. Ira nodded as Reese let him slip to the floor and he quickly thumped upstairs. He stopped on the top step listening to them talk or disagree more like. When Antonio came to the doorway holding Clary and the argument started to devolve Ira crept down the stairs, sat and watched.

"This isn't his fault." That was his dad.

"He got angry and pushed her, what would you call that?" Nick this time.

"This is enough, Ira come on." Kim now. Ira stood and refused to meet Nick, Antonio's or Clary's eyes. When he got to the bottom and stepped onto the tile His dad reached for him again and settled him on his hip. Ira slung an arm around the back of his dad's neck feeling the burn but it was worth it. He could tell his dad needed to feel close to him, needed to pick him up and hold him right then.

"Kimmy," Nick finally said when they had all turned towards the door again, "be careful…the babies…" he said without really saying anything. His father stiffened and growled lowly.

"I can take care of them, Nicholas. Stop pretending this is my choice." Kim set a hand on his arm then to calm him a bit and Reese nodded. They headed out and his dad slammed the door hard before Nick could say anything else. Once he was bundled in the car with his dad and Kim whispering furiously upfront he looked back. Nita stood at the window with her hands pressed to it. He put a hand to his own window to mimic her. As he waved a goodbye Karl appeared and led her away ignoring them all. He hoped it wasn't a permanent goodbye.

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