Ira was fascinated by the city. He had never seen something so big and expansive. The buildings were so tall he was sure he could look up and up and then fall backwards. Kim pointed out the places like the Empire State Building and told him when they were driving across the Brooklyn Bridge. Ira sat up straighter and looked at the water down below and all the boats. They reminded him of Melbourne and how he and his mum would go down to the docks and watch them come in and out. They even took a boat ride one time. Ira had leaned over and skimmed his fingers along the water. His mum had almost had a heart attack and pulled him back.
She pointed out, and he actually listened out of interest, when they drove past Central Park and his father promised they would go back later. He learned that the pack had a few apartments around the city and as safe houses but neither of them wanted to use them right now. They had both been whispering and talking the whole way and continued to do so hoping Ira would not catch on but he did, it wasn't that hard. They didn't want to use the packs or the councils, whoever they were, property if they were striking out on their own. Ira wasn't sure they were leaving the pack because they were not sure. His parents, he may as well start calling them both that now, were an important part of the pack so Ira doubted they could just leave.
Ira figured they would stop at a hotel but his dad pulled off the main road, towards downtown and headed into a more suburban area. "What is this?" Kim asked. Ira glanced at her and his dad who hesitated before telling her he had bought a house in the city a very long time ago in case anything happened in the pack. This was when he was paranoid and much younger and didn't trust anyone. When he did start trusting the pack he figured he would keep the house and he had been ever since. He paid people to keep it up and furnish it.
They pulled into a small one floor ranch style home while his dad explained that he had paid in cash for the place and there was no paper trail, they would be safe because no one knew about the property. Kim said they would talk about it later. Ira immediately got out of the car and looked around smelling the air and listening to the kid's biking down the street and shouting, a lawn mower a few lawns down and a family splashing in a pool nearby. Ira noticed one thing as soon as they stepped from the car, Reese and Kim were being hyper vigilant. One or the other of them always had a hand on him and they were keeping a very close eye.
Ira, deeply distracted, started walking towards the pool and noise, he wanted to feel the temperature of the water, but forgot about Kim's hand grasping his and he was halted. She looked down at him curiously and he pointed to the family. "Not right now," she said looking back at what his father was doing, grabbing their bags and hoisting them to the house. Ira opened his mouth to protest but suddenly he just didn't want to speak, there was not anything important enough to say. It was only when they were inside the home that Kim and his dad continued their conversation about safety and if they were doing enough.
Ira walked around the house exploring all the spaces and finding nothing interesting. He spent the rest of the afternoon people watching out the window. They really did underestimate how much he enjoyed that. He was on his second hour of watching when he saw a familiar face. The man was walking on the street across from them hands in his coat pockets in a hurry. Suddenly he stopped and looked over at the windows scanning until he saw the rooms he wanted and Ira. The man smiled when he saw Ira and waved and then he was gone before Ira could form a thought.
Ira snuck a glance back at his dad who was unwrapping food in the kitchen, ordered from the local Chinese restaurant, and then back at the street again. He had to have been seeing things because there was no possible way he saw what he thought he saw. "Supper, buddy," Reese called pouring a glass of water, which Kim put a lemon piece into, and setting a plate at the small table. He immediately went to wash his hands and then sit down setting an elbow on the table and wondering if he should say anything. In the end he didn't. He wasn't sure of what he saw and he didn't want to go again. His dad and Kim were now talking about the safest place to go, what other state they could live in and Alaska seemed like a popular choice. Ira made a face to this. He didn't want to be in the snow all the time and his dad saw and interpreted the look telling him it was not cold all the time.
He was gathering papers around the room for a project to get past the boredom and coming from his parent's room when he heard their low voices, careful and strained but they were not talking about what he thought they were though. He froze and stood silent when he heard his name.
Ira twisted the paper in his hand hard now wondering but they stopped before he heard too much. They were talking about him being so quiet. He didn't really think about what he was doing but he knew it was right for some reason, right for him. There just wasn't anything important enough to say and when he chose to say it he would and that felt good.
"What do we do?" Reese asked now as Kim bit her lip thinking. Suddenly he was kissing her lightly. Ira looked away for a moment and then stepped out making noise to let them know he was there. Both of them smiled at him when they came up for air with no answers.
The knock came at the door after dinner when Ira was surrounded by brochures he found in the various rooms that he made into airplanes and boats. He'd tried to make the boats float in water and it took a few tries, plus a few of his dad's suggestions to do it but he now had over twenty floating in the bathtub, and ten in each of the sinks in the bathroom and kitchen. He was perfecting his design when his dad got up and walked quietly to the door picking up the aluminum bat by the font entrance and hefting it in his hand. This was another example of the pack using weapons when they normally wouldn't. They were on their own now so he figured his dad would use anything he could to protect them. He looked through the peephole. Kim set a hand on Ira's shoulder and tightened it when Reese looked back and mouthed "Elena".
Reluctantly Reese set the bat aside and opened the door blocking the view when Ira craned his neck to see. Finally he let the Alpha in and Clay when he could not make excuses anymore. She looked at Ira and smiled as his father shut and locked the door which was outfitted with three more dead bolts than a normal door had. The whole house was like that. Kim set a hand on Ira's head and brushed a hair from his eyes which normally annoyed him but he let it go getting lost in the tension.
"How did you find us?" Reese sighed irritated.
"Do you not think I would have you followed?" she asked dryly. Silence. "Ira, how are you?"
Ira glared at her hard earning him a sharp look from his father. He coloured and picked up one of his creations examining it. It was a tiny boat made from a brochure about the Statue of Liberty. They might go there tomorrow if his parents felt it was safe enough. He just wanted to be on something so high that he could see into the next world.
"Respect," Reese reminded wearily before he asked Elena what she would like in an icy voice. It was very unlike his dad's cheerful tones. Ira actually looked up at him to make sure that Josef suddenly hadn't appeared in his dad's place. He tensed immediately on instinct and shook off Kim's touch not wanting to be touched.
"We need to talk, Reese. You can't take a young child and two babies into the world and you know it. You know what the mutt's will do and how much danger they will be in," she reminded. His dad winced and so did Kim, "Especially with the Australian pack hot on your heels."
"Are you more worried about the danger they are in or about losing good pack members and future ones as well," Kim asked coldly. Ira went wide eyed at this and looked up at her. Kim was blunt sometimes and she would get to the issues and sometimes that was hard but this time it did not bother him. He smiled and took her hard looking hard at the Alpha to let her know whose side he was on.
"I don't have much of a choice, Elena." Reese rubbed both hands through his hair. Ira let go of Kim's hand and walked to his dad's side tugging on his shirt. He saw the stress evident there for the first time, the red eyes and bags under them and he felt bad because that was his fault.
"Clay take…," Elena started but then stopped and started again. That told him that she saw the break happening and she shouldn't give an order right now. "Can Clay take Ira so we can talk?" she asked. Ira shook his head to this as Clay stepped forward and smiled. He liked kids and he was good with them so Ira was never afraid of him but he didn't want to leave, he needed to stay and back up his dad. He took a step back enforcing his position and shook his head hard imploringly at the man and grabbed his hand hard yanking.
His dad wanted the same thing. "I want him close," Reese answered picking Ira up. He protested but Reese shushed him and brought their foreheads together. "Everything will be ok because…," Reese began.
"You promised," Ira mouthed without a voice looking into the man's eyes, familiar eyes and features. Reese nodded and kissed his forehead. He trusted his dad now, explicitly now but not them. His father was questioning his trust in the pack and Ira was too. If he didn't trust Ira couldn't either.
"He's not talking?" Elena asked looking worried and taking a step forward like she wanted to pick him up and examine him. Ira pulled back from her tugging on his dad's collar and Elena froze sensing his anxiety about her being near and not liking it. The pack was about trusting the Alpha overall no matter what and it was something he could not do.
"Not since he apologized to Clary," Reese sighed looking at Ira who was pulling the collar of his dad's shirt anxiously again. "To much has changed, including this," he said in a harder voice. Elena's cool gaze made the room freeze.
After a few tense second Reese handed him to Clay who set him on his feet and took his hand. Clay mentioned that they should find some good desserts but Ira shook his head, when Clay asked him why as they walked out the door, he just shook his head again. Maybe the person he saw outside was a mirage but he wasn't taking any chances and he wasn't telling anyone. They didn't need to think he was any crazier than they already thought he was.
Ira rode his scooter, a birthday present that had been in Clay and Elena's car since he'd last gone to Stonehaven, up and down the driveway from one end to the other with Clay sitting on the porch by the door listening to the conversation and watching Ira. He had brought some rope to show Ira how to tie some knots but Gavin had shown him those when he was three and he mastered most by four. He did them all to show Clay he could and then took off after Clay brought it up.
He stopped at the end of the driveway each time he got there and looked onto the street but he only saw cars and people walking or kid's playing. When Clay asked him what he was looking for Ira raised an eyebrow at him but didn't answer. When people walked by the house he ignored them or scooted around them, riding on the sidewalk, not answering when they asked if he was ok or complimented his cuteness. Clay said nothing to this and that is what he liked. He could be rude and Clay wouldn't care because was much ruder most times.
"We can speak about Ira later," Elena sighed when the door was closed and Reese was satisfied with Ira being outside with Clay. He looked calm and comfortable which was where he needed him to be. He turned back to the Alpha and raised an eyebrow staying by the window as Kim sat holding her bulging stomach. Elena smiled at the bulge, a wall of worry appearing in her eyes. "I'd like to talk about you leaving the pack," she said.
"A pack is about bonding and Ira can't bond with the others if he can't be around them," Reese growled and Elena nodded and opened his mouth but Reese had finally reached the top of his temper point, the mountain was exploding. "What happened to my son was not his fault and what is happening to him now is not his fault. Treating him like a pariah is not helping."
"I know but I can't have him hurting the others either," she sighed leaning against the door and crossing her arms. She glanced out the window at Clay and Ira, one sitting unmoving but watching and one moving up and down the driveway but watching just as keenly. "Maybe I was too quick with my decision but I am not allowing you to leave the pack." Reese glanced at Kim who nodded slightly to this and looked at her stomach.
"You can't stop us," Reese said a bit louder than he should of. It made Elena stand straight and look him in the eye and for once Reese kept the gaze. "I will do what is best for my family."
"You will get them killed you idiot," Elena snarled, "The Australian pack is not only after you but after Kim, the babies and Ira. They will kill all of you because of your stubbornness and not only will we lose good pack members but good friends and three little children who haven't even gotten a real chance to live. Do not let your pride get them all killed," she finished.
"We have no intention of getting our children killed, Elena. It is a mutual decision. If Ira can't be a part of the pack, a real part on his own terms we are not interested in membership no matter what the benefits," Kim announced.
When the door finally opened Ira was at the end of the driveway watching the growing dusk and the street lamps turn on. The people has changed from kids playing or people tidying yards to people coming home for supper and older kid's from school. When his father called for him he turned from his study and watched the man instead, his expression said he wasn't happy and Elena, behind him, looked even more annoyed.
Clay stood studying the situation as well and waiting for Elena to join him. Ira finally made himself move. He let the scooter fall to the lawn and when he got to his dad the man picked him up and again and set him on his hip. He closed the door and locked it without saying a word to Elena and then sighed and let his head fall against the cold wood. Ira put up a hand and rubbed his dad's head to get his attention. Reese chuckled and turned his head pretending to bite at Ira's arm while he pulled away and shrieked.
"How much do you think he knows?" Kim asked quietly. Reese looked at the bathroom door listening to the boy take a bath.
"Never sure with him honestly," Reese answered and Kim nodded. It wasn't as if Ira was a normal child that they could hide the world from and hide him from the world. This kid was like a ninja Einstein and they were aware that he would be a much more difficult and unique kid to raise. They still were not sure if that was a good or bad thing.
When they heard a splash and suction noise they looked towards the bathroom doorway where Ira appeared in a towel with dripping wet hair. Reese got up and grabbed another towel pushing it over his head and rubbing furiously until Ira reached up to push him away laughing and smiling.
They distracted the boy for the rest of the night with reading and playing a board game they found in a the games cupboard, by the time Ira was done his bedtime snack he was ready for bed and had been yawning for the last half hour. "Night buddy," Reese smiled and bent to kiss his forehead. Ira reached up and grabbed his hand making an uncharacteristic request.
He shook his head hard. Reese was taken aback for a moment but nodded and got into the large bed curling around Ira and hugging him close. They both heard Kim shut the door and saw the lights dimmed. Uncharacteristically Ira set his hand on his dad's beard and rubbed up and down using the texture to anchor him until he stopped abruptly closing his eyes.
Reese stayed where he was enjoying the moment and looking at the boy and never wanting to look at anything else. When he did finally make himself get up he closed the door lightly and found Kim dozing on the couch with a magazine laid across her lap, a parenting one. He touched her lightly on the cheek pressing the back of his hand to the soft surface. She opened her eyes and smiled moving her hand up to cover his.
"I need to go patrol," he said. Kim's dark eyes immediately turned worried and she shook her head. "I have to, Kimmy. I need to make sure they are all safe," he emphasized setting a hand on her stomach and the tiny lives in there not moving, it must be sleeping time.
"Please, be careful," she begged.
"Always," he promised sliding a leather jacket over his limbs and zipping it up. A deep kiss a few murmured "be careful" instructions later and he was heading into the cold looking and listening for anything unusual. After a few blocks he dropped change from his pocket and bent to sniff, over the next few blocks he relaxed enough to get some coffee and slow the search. He thought he caught a whiff of faint werewolf scent on the street across from the house but it was so faint it could only be days or weeks old and no one, not even them, had known they would be here. Still, an unknown werewolf on New York State territory was not good or welcome. It was faint enough he didn't worry but he would mention it…but to whom. Elena he supposed even if they were not going to be part of the pack any longer they scent was in their territory and they should know. They would call Elena from wherever they settled if it wasn't too late but of course that was a pack problem and not theirs. Not anymore.
He heard the voices and thought they were part of his dreams but one of the voices was Noah and Noah hadn't been in his dream last night. He blinked and opened his eyes squinting at the light coming from under the door. He lay there trying to decipher the words; finally he stood and walked to the door rubbing sleep from his eyes. When he opened the door he saw Noah standing in the living room facing his dad. Kim was sitting on the edge of the couch holding the bottom of her stomach.
"Please, Reese you can't do this. I won't let you do this," Noah said angrily. His fists were clenched and he seemed more frustrated than angry.
"I have to Noah. I can't have my son in a pack where he feels like he isn't wanted or like an outsider. It would not be fair to Ira or to the babies being born. You know how a pack works Noah. Ira is supposed to be as close to the others as possible and his brothers should look up to him. If I bring him back he'll be ignored and his brothers will take their cue from the others. He'll never be a part of this pack and I can't have that."
"Yes, Noah. I'm not going to let that happen and you need to accept that," Reese sighed and brushed a hand through his hair pacing. Kim watched his every move back and forth, back and forth.
"No," Noah growled and grabbed Reese's arm when he came close, "I am not letting you or Kim go," he said with resolve and turned to the doorway. He looked at Ira and smiled before walking forward but Ira shot to the side and ran to his father. He stood a little behind the man's legs glaring at Noah who frowned and then chuckled and shook his head.
"Looks like he's finally chosen a side." Reese glanced down at Ira and a set a hand on head brushing feather like hair back. It was getting so long but the boy never seemed too bothered.
"It's ok, Ira," He assured. Ira shook his head and glared at Noah. He was wringing his shirt tightly picking up on the hum of tension and stress from them all.
"He's not going to trust him until you two make up, come here sweetie," Kim instructed. Ira turned and went to her sitting beside her and pressing into her side snuggling in as she wrapped an arm around his slim shoulder. Noah glanced at the boy and then at Reese.
"Noah," Kim began. Reese strode forward and set a hand on Noah's arm.
"I'm coming with you," he said now and his dad stopped surprised. "I'm leaving the pack too. I'll leave the force. We'll go somewhere and I can help protect the boys. You're my best friend Reese, you always have been and you're my brother. You are not leaving without me."
Reese looked at Kim who smiled and nodded. "If you feel that strongly…."
"I do…I have to. It's…it would never be the same without you two and the kid."
Ira laid his head on Kim's shoulder and looked at her with curiosity trying to get a sense of her feelings about this new development. She smiled and set a finger under his chin.
"You're going to bed," Kim immediately said. Reese nodded and reached out but Noah shook his head and said he'd do it. Ira rolled his eyes but let them coddle him. When the babies were born they would hopefully have them to indulge instead.
When he woke the next morning with sunlight filling the room and casting shadows from the angle of the bed and dresser, he rolled over and saw Noah fast asleep beside him shirtless and open mouthed. He carefully climbed from bed and pulled a sweater and slippers on before slipping into the hallway and towards his parent's room. He snuck a look in at his dad and Kim still fast asleep and turned walking to the doorway and looking out the side window.
The bus was coming up the road and kids were getting on, moms and dads were waving goodbye or going to work. Ira watched fascinated at normal life with white picket fences and dogs. Finally he was enthralled enough to unlock and open the door and step outside to sit on the porch and watch. Many of the neighbours said "hi" and waved and Ira finger waved back. He had been there for twenty minutes when he saw the man again. He was casually walking by in clothes too heavy for the weather. He waved again and looked across the road heading towards the house and him but a car pulled into the driveway fast cutting off the man's approach and making him duck to the side awkwardly like he had just gotten lost.
Ira watched him until he was out of sight and then looked at the familiar car feeling anxiety bubble in his stomach. Nick got out of the car slowly and looked at the house grimacing and then over at Ira. They eyed once another for a moment and then Nick smiled and shut the door. "Hi kiddo, how are you doing?" Ira didn't answer him. He continued sitting on his hands warming the wooden porch beneath him. Nick sighed and crouched in front of him.
"Ira, I am sorry for scaring you. I'm not happy with what happened but you're a kid and I am the adult and should have handled it better, I am sorry. Thank you for apologizing to Clary." Ira didn't make a move until the other car door opened and Antonio got out.
"Hey," Nick said getting his attention again and reaching out for his arm. Ira did move this time, he scrambled back until his back was against the door. Nick held up a hand but kept crouching. "Ira, I'm your godfather, did you know that? Well, along with Noah," he asked. Ira shook his head but Nick didn't get a chance to say anything more before the door opened and he almost fell back.
He craned his neck to see Noah standing there shirtless and annoyed. He reached down and grabbed Ira picking him and setting him on his feet and then pushing him inside. "What are you doing here?" he asked. Ira looked out from behind Noah at the men almost visibly seeing the tension grow.
"What are you doing, Noah?" Nick asked crossing his arms. Noah did the same and Antonio sighed and scratched his beard watching like Ira, a silent participant. They were the same in their reticence in that moment.
"I'm going with Reese. I can't let him leave without someone to help out. I owe him for how much he's done for me," Noah admitted. Ira swallowed and tugged on Noah's shirt making the man look down and uncross his arms. Ira immediately took his hand and squeezed glowering at Nick much like he had at Elena. If his dad didn't approve then he didn't either. Noah was on the approved list but Nick wasn't, not anymore.
"What about all the things I did for you Noah? Or Antonio? The pack?" he asked. Noah visibly winced and Ira squeezed his hand again and growled lowly.
"He won't talk you know? Ira, he won't say a damned word because of what happened, all the stuff he's been through," Noah informed in a half accusatory tone, "and don't you dare make me feel guilty for going my own way, Nick, don't you dare." Ira backed up as Noah shut the door and slammed the dead bolts home and then leaned against it. He sighed and slide down the door holding his face with both hands.
Ira glanced at the window beside the door to where Nick and Antonio were having an animated debate in another language Ira wasn't sure about, maybe Italian. He waited a second longer before he moved forward and dropped onto Noah's lap. When he looked up he put both hands to Noah's stubble covered cheeks. Noah's forest green eyes met Ira's bright blue one and he smiled. Slowly he wrapped his arms around Noah's and laid his head against his shoulder.
"Thanks buddy," Noah whispered putting a hand on the back of his head and kissing his hair.
It seemed like his father came out of nowhere and it only took seconds for him to tell them to get ready so they could leave and minutes more to make plans. Noah would go to the precinct to hand in his notice and Reese, Kim and Ira would wait the few hours it would take in the city. They had promised Ira a museum visit, a central park visit and pancakes before leaving for wherever they were going. Hopefully they could avoid the pack and the any mutts for that long. Ira had forgotten all about the man he saw by now. When he thought about it later he knew he should have told them and maybe everything would have been ok and not blown up so quickly.