He had a son. He had a son. No matter how many times he said it or thought about it, it was not sinking in. He had a son, a boy who would be a werewolf. He was almost ten. He had missed a decade of his son's life. He had missed his first words and steps and every other first in his life. He had a son. He was almost a teen father, like Antonio. What would he have done if he knew about the baby? Would he have stayed? Would he have let the baby live? He wanted to believe he would have but given the circumstances, probably not. It would have been too risky for both of them. The baby would have been taken care of as soon as it was possible, before he even knew if it was a boy or girl, or even considered it a person really, or his.
He watched carefully standing against the wall with crossed arms as his son, his son said goodbye to his mother. Daniella was whispering lowly to him explaining why this was happening and why it was important. Reese took note of this observing how Ira liked to have things explained to him. It was a good thing he had unending patience for the most part.
In his hand he held an envelope with information on Ira including medical records, school records, like and dislikes and how he liked to be treated. It was basically an encyclopedia on his son he would study to begin to get to know him.
Reese cleared his throat and Daniella looked up with a glare. He met her glare with his own and she backed down. When they were going out it had been easy for her to forget what he was, the kind of monster he could be. He made sure of that by bringing her food and flowers to the airport where he would meet her or surprising her with little gifts, being gentle with her, teasing and tickling her. Now she could deal with his monster. It was what she deserved.
He was the one doing her a favor by protecting his son and by letting her live. Elena had left the decision up to him. He could have told Daniella to get lost and ignored the boy or he could have killed her but he did neither. He did the right thing. Taking in his son and protecting him was the right thing and letting Daniella live was the right thing. She had wanted to stay to let Ira get used to the new situation but he didn't feel he could stand that. This would unfortunately be a clean break. It would be harder on Ira at first but necessary so Reese could keep his word or the alternative would be much harder on him. Seeing his father kill his mother for, what would seem to him, no reason at all would break the boy.
Finally she gave Ira one last hug and took his hands. "Be good and listen to your father. He is a good man." Ira sucked in a breath and nodded resigned. Reese saw a not a child so much as a little adult forced to grow up too soon. That was partly his fault but maybe he could give him back some of his childhood and some of his sense of security.
Daniella gestured for him to go to Reese. Ira did after a second's hesitation. He stood in front of him but not too close to touch. "As per our agreement be out of New York State by midnight," Reese said leaving the rest unsaid. During their long talk, in which he had a very hard time not yelling at her or murdering her, they had come to an agreement similar to the mutts they dealt with. If she was not out of the state by midnight Reese would come after her. Ira would never know what happened to her. It seemed cruel but necessary. Daniella nodded to this and turned to leave.
"Mum." Ira raced forward and hugged her tightly. Reese sucked in a breath seeing Ira's eyes water but he didn't cry as they hugged again. Daniella said he rarely did. Finally she pushed him away and hurried out the door. Ira caught it before it shut again and rushed outside. Reese walked out after him and took the boy's upper arm before he could run to the car. Instead Ira watched as his mother slammed the door and the car took off without delay. She never looked back.
Clay and Elena were taking her to the airport and making sure she understood the terms of her release. "Let's go back in. It's a bit cold out here for you." Ira stared after her for a moment before he pulled away from his father's grip and went inside as directed. Reese followed and shut the door relocking it. Now he was alone with this boy who seemed wise beyond his years and was looking at him like he expected something of him. He expected him to be his father. How did he start being a father?
"How about we start getting to know one another?" Reese asked crouching down and smiling at him. Ira looked unimpressed at this. He was still blinking away unshed tears and Reese wanted to hug him and tell him everything would be ok but he didn't dare. Instead Reese's mind scrambled to make other suggestions but nothing came to mind.
"You have that," Ira pointed out in a semi choked up voice gesturing to the envelope. "If you want to get to know me start with that," Ira ordered clearing his throat now. Before Reese could answer Ira turned and marched into the closest room, an ill use living room that was barely even dusted. Antonio and Dominic used to use it for special business meetings with clients they couldn't meet anywhere else back in the 60's and 70's. Please a client by showing them your ostentatious home and hire a caterer to cook and impress them and hopefully land the deal. They didn't do that anymore. It was too risky and too old school. "So five minutes ago" as Clary would say.
Reese stood and looked into the living room. Ira had marched directly to the window seat lining the large bay window. It looked out into the front yard and considerable trees surrounding the drive way. Reese followed his gaze to the fountain boarded by a circular gravel driveway. Cars would circle around it to drop passengers off at the front door before leaving or going to the garage.
The house was designed to accommodate a time when socializing was a must for high class families and appearances meant everything. Antonio had been thinking of renovating but Nick was having a hard time letting go of the way things have been since he was born. They all were. None of them enjoyed change. It was a wolf thing, conformity and sameness.
Ira watched the outside world but Reese could tell he was seeing nothing but the images in his head. He wanted to move forward and hug the boy again, like he would do with any of the other pack kids when they were upset or unsure, but this situation called for a delicate touch. Reese clutched the file tightly and then turned away from the room to give him some private time. He wanted to get to know Ira badly but that wasn't what he needed right now.
When Reese lost his parents he wanted to be left alone. He spent weeks sitting in a hotel room just staring into space wondering what would happen and who would take care of him. It was an inane thought since he was twenty but when your parents die or leave you, you wonder these things. They are always there to help or go to for advice, food or money and suddenly they aren't. You have no one to turn to. The loss still ripped his insides like a knife, the pain not fading with time like it was supposed to but getting sharper with age.
Reese walked to the next room, Antonio's study, and knocked on the door before entering. The oldest pack werewolf spent most of his time, almost sixty five hours a week, at the office or travelling around. The study was something that was more functional, again, a few decades earlier. The study had giant book cases with centuries old books, that had been touched in as long, lining the walls, a large window to look out at the side of the house and more trees, a fire place surrounded by more modern leather couches on the far side of the room and the massive desk taking up the wall bordering the living room next door. Maybe the house did need some major renovation.
Reese sat down at the desk and set the files on the mahogany top opening it. He looked down at the first sheet seeing basic information to begin with. Ira Gavin Wright was born on October 6th in 2011, exactly nine months after he fled Australia. He was named for his grandfather and given her family name as well instead of Keith's which would have made him Ira Tynes. Keith had refused; it seemed, to give Ira his last name making him illegitimate. He wasn't sure where the name Ira came from and Daniella had not explained. It suited him though. He skimmed the next pages seeing he had a glimpse into what he had missed for the last decade which settled his nerves more than he knew.
His gaze travelled back to Gavin's name though. Where was Ira's grandfather? Wouldn't the pack Alpha, or former Alpha, want his grandson? Or did Gavin consider Ira illegitimate as well given one of his parent's was a pack traitor? Gavin was another person they might need to be on the lookout for. The pack was having an emergency meeting in the next few days to discuss all the key players and how to keep the pack safe from the potential threat, and keep Ira safe as well.
He read for the next twenty minutes learning more and more. Ira didn't seem like a complicated kid on paper with all the facts laid out. Everyone was more than the facts of their existent though. There were layers and layers of complicated emotions, characteristics and thoughts. Ira may only be nine but he seemed more complicated than the twins or Dominic and Clary. Was that because he had never had to be in the prime role of parent? He was always an uncle and friend but being a dad meant he had to try harder, see more and be more. Was he cut out for this?
"Lost him already?" Reese started from his thoughts a bit and chuckled. He shook his head and closed the files. Soon Elena would need to read them and the rest of the pack so they could get to know him but he needed to be first to figure out who this little person was. Ira was nothing if not fascinating to him now. He not only wanted to study his son to get to know him but to figure out how he thought and what made him tick. He was sure his self-assured front was just that, a front. There was someone different inside, someone who was not always on the defensive and someone who wasn't as confident. Plus, if he did not concentrate on Ira right now he would leave here this second and go after her. His first gift to his son would not be killing his mother.
Nick walked into the room and thumped down on the leather sofa watching Reese with a self-assured expression. "Remember how you wouldn't even touch a woman when you came here. I'd try and convince you to go on dates and give a girl a chance but you were a…,"
"Prude?" Reese chuckled. Nick laughed and shook his head.
"Not a prude just running maybe, always running. Now I find out you were a play boy in Australia and you had a kid?" Nick grinned and shook his head again. Reese sat back and crossed his arms.
"I wasn't a play boy I just…"
"Shut it," Reese growled. He leaned back in his chair tipping it on two legs and folding his arms.
"Still, you've got a kid. How are you holding up?" Nick asked moving forward on the couch and setting his elbows on his knees folding his hands. This was Nick's thinking pose or his deep conversation mode as Noah liked to call it. He adopted it shortly after Noah came to live with them and showed no signs of giving it up any time soon.
"Not sure. He's distant and I'm not sure…well, about anything yet. All I have are these papers and that kid sitting in the other room not speaking." Nick nodded to this as Reese pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. How could a child be so complicated?
"Reese, it took you six years to tell me about your parents, to tell me about your life in Australia and how much you miss it. I learned a whole new side of you on that day. It's going to take some time, I imagine, for him to want to open up and speak. I am betting the things he went through are painful and losing his mother is even more so. You just need to give it time." Nick leaned back down setting one arm on the couch back and crossing one leg over the other regarding him, studying him.
"Six years?" Reese asked opening his eyes and looking at his mentor. Nick nodded again.
"I waited that long and you were worth it. If it takes six years, it takes six years Reese. Ira will be worth it too." Reese set the chairs legs back on the floor and looked at the folder. The sound of the house alarm blaring to life made him jump and scatter the papers across the desk and floor.
Simultaneously the men stood and walked fast to the front door which was flung wide open. "We've got a runner," Nick sighed. They both grabbed their shoes and went after him. They had an alarm set in the house for when the front and back doors were open taking the idea from Clay, Elena and the twins.
When the twins were two they escaped the house in the middle of winter and went to play in the snow bare foot with hardly any clothes on. Luckily they found them before frost bite could set in. As soon as Nick found out Vanessa was pregnant he set up the alarms and baby proofed the house despite the fact that Clary had been nine months away and would have at least a year before she really needed any of it.
Reese looked around seeing no one in the front yard and swearing. "He's probably headed towards the gate. He can't have gotten far," Nick said. Reese nodded and started jogging down the driveway and sniffing. Ira had indeed been there shortly before hand. Another fact to add to the Ira file in his mind, he was fast. Reese and Nick only caught up with him when he was at the gate trying to climb it with no success. The large S's was too high for him to use as a stepping stone and the vertical bars were clearly besting him.
"Ira," Reese said startling the boy who turned and fell to the ground landing on his feet before either of them could catch him. Ira eyed Nick before he looked at his father crossing his arms and backing up until his back hit the gate. Reese took a moment to take a step back and Nick did the same giving the boy some space.
"I can't stay with you Reese. I need to go and fine mum. She needs me," he declared. Reese nodded. He was clearly scared and uncertain. This was unfamiliar and he'd already read in his file that Ira was skittish and didn't do well with change and uncertainty.
"I know you're scared…," Reese started but Ira's face scrunched up and his eyes narrowed, "you're scared for you mum," he amended, "but she can take care of herself. She can't do that if you're with her right now." He had no idea what he was doing but he hoped this would work.
"Yeah, she'll just be thinking about you the whole time and she won't be able to be safe," Nick put in and Reese nodded. Ira looked from one to the other unsure. He scuffed his chucks against the gravel under his feet and grabbed the bottom of his long sleeved blue shirt with his hand balling both fists.
"If she gets into too much trouble she'll call you right and you'll go and rescue her?" Ira asked standing up taller now. Reese's answer would mark the pivotal moment of Ira and him trusting one another so Reese nodded. It was not what he wanted to do and not what he had planned but already Ira's will was starting to implant itself on his heart. If Ira wanted him to save his mother he would despite his feelings. How could a child change his heart so quickly?
"I promise I will Ira." Ira let out a breath he'd been holding.
"Ok," Ira said lowly. He glanced back at the gate once more before focusing on his father again.
"Will you come back now? And not leave again without telling one of us?" Reese asked and held out his hand. Ira shook his head and suddenly sat down back against the gate and legs pulled up to his chest. Reese sighed and walked forward. Ira pushed his back into the gate harder but there was nowhere to go.
"Buddy, you can't sit against the front gate. People are going to drive in and hit you," Reese tried to reason. Ira shrugged and started staring at the gravel ignoring both of the werewolves. "Can you at least move over a bit?" Reese tried again. Ira shook his head a final time. He sighed and looked at Nick who raised an eyebrow and gestured for him to take care of it.
"Ok, Ira up now," Reese ordered. Ira didn't even bother looking up much like getting up. Reese immediately bent and took the boys arm which he jerked back hard. The look Reese got was much the same one he often gave mutts. Disdain. His son hated him. That stung.
"No!" Ira yelled glaring up at the man. He folded his arms tight to his body and tried to compress himself into a small ball. Maybe he hoped to disappear.
"Ira, you can't stay here. Please." Ira shook his head and covered his ears with both hands not listening. This was something Kate often did when she was stressed, overwhelmed and just plain to stubborn to listen or she did when she was younger. At thirteen she was a bit beyond that but she was still as stubborn as hell.
"Fine." Reese moved forward and sat down close to the boy who looked at him surprised before he moved over a few feet closer to where the two sides of the gates met. Reese straightened his legs in front of himself and crossed his ankles.
Nick raised an eyebrow and then shook his head before heading back to the house muttering something unintelligible. Reese was sure if this were Clary or Dominic they would be hauled up whether they liked it or not and sent to their rooms. Ira wasn't like them though. Reese was already frustrated trying to figure him out. He did know that hauling him up against his will and forcing him to back to house was the wrong move. Daniella could have gotten away with it because of their established relationship but he hadn't known this kid for five hours yet. He would regret it if he forced him.
Reese looked over at Ira who had finally lowered his hands and was staring steadily at the gravel. "I'm sorry I touched you Ira. That was a mistake." Ira looked over at him with frosted eyes so similar to Reese's own that it was spooky yet endearing.
"You don't have a right to touch me. Mum told me so. No one does," Ira growled in a low voice. He hands went to the gravel on either side of him and he pressed the hard rocks into his skin unconsciously.
"She's right. No one should be able to do that. It won't happen again," Reese promised. Ira nodded and relaxed a bit. He had made a mistake. He could not just force Ira to do what he wanted because he would end up with a child who hated him and kept running from him. If he wanted a healthy relationship with Ira he figured he would need to start slow. Lesson learned. He also had no idea what he was doing so going slow was probably best. Maybe he would make fewer mistakes that way.
"How about we play a game?" Reese suggested. Ira didn't move a muscle or acknowledge him so he pushed ahead fighting to get to know this kid. "The game is called say anything. If you could say anything right now to anyone without getting into trouble, what would you say? Who would you speak to?" Ira kept still and Reese sighed figuring he was being ignored again.
Reese closed his eyes and leaned his head back listening for cars instead so he could get Ira out of the way. "I'd tell my mum and dad how much I loved them," Reese finally told Ira moving his head slightly to the side to see him. The boy looked over surprised. Reese watched him until he looked away again. More silence.
Reese studied Ira carefully inspecting him picking up the rocks and rolling them around in his hands, watching him press them as hard as he could into his fisted palm until he scrunched up his face in pain and watching him relax when he let the rock go and examined his palm and the hard rock impression in his skin.
Ira's small voice finally brought him back to reality. Ira was looking at the woods now speaking to the trees instead of him but it was better than silence. "I wouldn't have kept the secret from mum. I would have told her," Ira informed.
"What secret buddy?" Ira shrugged and looked back at the gravel again lost. Well it was a start.
When the sun started to set causing the gate to cast a long shadow on the ground and Reese was about to suggest they go inside again. The noise of a vehicle stopped him. He stood and stretched looking at Ira who clearly heard but refused to move. Reese looked towards the trees hiding the car for another minute and before seeing Antonio's Mercedes roll up the drive. Reese waved an arm and he stopped outside of the gate and got out.
Antonio was immaculate in a three piece suit perfectly tailored to fit him and so expensive it could probably have paid Reese's tuition for a term when he had been in school. It was a façade. At home Antonio dressed in jeans and polo shirts or button up shirts that could have come from a big box store for all he cared. This was business Antonio, the Antonio who had multiple multi-million dollar corporations and could not afford to look shabby even if he preferred to.
"Is the house closed today?" he chuckled. Reese shook his head and explained. Ira stayed put.
"Sorry Tonio." The man nodded and looked at the boy he hadn't actually met yet. Antonio loved kids and loved having them around. His greatest joy right now was being a grandfather or a poppa as the children called him. He was the free babysitter in his off time and the spoiler of the kids much to Vanessa's everlasting exasperation. The Sorrentino's did not know how to do small. Go big or go home. It should have been a family motto.
"Well, I suppose I could use a walk," he shrugged. In a deft move he grabbed the gate and hauled himself up dropping on the other side. Ira looked up startled and bit his lip. Antonio smiled and held out his hand expectantly. The boy looked at it and then at the two men before slumping his shoulders. He was finally defeated. Ira stood and walked forward. For a moment Reese was sure Ira would reject him and opt to walk on his own but after a moment he gabbed Antonio's larger hand with his smaller one and willing let the man walk him back.
Reese stared after him astonished and shaking his head. Apparently the secret was not to try. "Reese, can you get my car?" He caught the keys flying through the air at him and waited for them to disappear before he climbed the fence baffled.
The evening was a blur after he stepped back into the house and smelled dinner cooking. Antonio hadn't said much but he told Ira what was what. There were rules and he would follow them both for his own safety and the safety of the pack. Ira could only nod throwing in a 'yes sir' for good measure which made Antonio chuckle. The man scared him because he reminded Ira of Keith and his grandfather, both were also muscular and Keith at least never laughed or smiled much.
Dinner was a silent affair for him. He listened to the conversations and answered a few questions but concentrated on studying them. He needed to know these people in depth and he could only do that by being a watcher. Five people lived here, plus two kids, but he hadn't met them all yet. Vanessa, Nick's wife, was away working. There were also other pack members of which he had only met Elena and Clay so he couldn't really say much about them. Elena was nice to him but she was firm and Clay had the same look in his eyes as one of the enforcers back home Ira was terrified of. He would stay away from Clay.
Nick and Antonio seemed similar but were really different and not just in appearance. He couldn't name the differences yet but he saw them. They had so many similarities as well. Nick wasn't as confident as his father but they were both just as boisterous and fun loving. He thought maybe he would like Nick a lot and maybe Antonio if he kept laughing and smiling. Noah seemed nice as well. He didn't talk as much as the others but he smiled a lot too and winked at him across the table.
Clary and Dom seemed like nice kids but they didn't really talk to him at all. They talked to the others and looked at him a lot but they didn't really speak or say hi. Nick said they were shy sometimes but they would come around. When they had come into the house and found the kids in the living room they had both rushed to Antonio who had given them huge hugs and kisses and proceeded to tickle them. Ira stood back observing. It was quite different than how his family acted, except for him and his mum that was.
His dad was the hardest one to figure out so far because the man was trying to figure him out. He seemed ok sometimes but kind of annoying like he wanted to be Ira's friend but also something more. Was a parent a friend or a parent? Where did an absentee parent fall? Or where did Reese fall? He loved his mum but he wasn't sure he wanted a dad. His mum had always been like both parents so it never mattered and he had Keith. Keith was nice sometimes.
His new room was right next to his dad's and on the other side of Dominic's. The house was big enough they could probably all have their own floor but all they all seemed to sleep on the same level. Maybe it was a werewolf thing. His dad also had the guest house out back and he said they might move there together in the future once they got to know one another better. Ira didn't care where he lived as long as he had a room to himself.
He didn't like the unfamiliar smells of the room or the pillows. Nothing was familiar here and it was racking his nerves. Ira turned over on his side and stared at the light coming from under the door. The last few minutes had been a trial of unending question from the man he was still mad at, the man he didn't trust and didn't really want to get to know right then. Did he want a bed time snack? No. Did he want a night light? No. Did he like to have a bedtime story read to him? Hello, he was nine, no. He just wanted to unpack, shower and go to bed.
After he had showered Nick had run the bathtub for Clary and Dom. They were both fascinated by him and had stared after him as he left. Thankfully they had all left him alone to shower. He told them he was far too old for adult supervision but his father hovered outside anyway like he would drown himself in an inch of water, not on purpose at least. He also didn't let Ira lock the door but they didn't at home either. Privacy didn't really exist at home. Finally he was left alone but he saw a shadow pass outside his door every few minutes and voices floated under as well giving him small tidbits of conversation.
Ira took his pillow and folded it up over his ear. He missed the sounds of the outback floating in from his open window at night. He couldn't get used to the rustle of trees and odd animal hoots and calls. Back home the birds called all night putting him to sleep and coyotes howled to one another in the distance. He officially hated it here but if he had his way he wouldn't need to be here for long.
Ira glanced towards the door before throwing back the covers and walking quietly to his bag. He reached inside and took out his cell phone scrolling through the options until he found Gavin's number and hitting the call button. He sent out a silent apology to his mum.