He watched as Kim and Reese crouched and sniffed conferring with one another and waiting. It seemed to him that leaving was the best option and not waiting. Even if they did bring the mutts to the others they could help fight them. If this was not Keith he might really be in trouble by the way. As he watched a shadow appeared at the front of the ally cloaked in darkness with the angle of the sun, the shadow was big. Ira swallowed and looked at Reese and Kim who were already aware of the mutt's presence. Ira squinted recognizing the man and gasping.
"Hello little man, how have you been?" Benton asked as he walked down the alleyway, garbage and refuge crunching under his feet. Benton was a big guy who liked sweets. He was always eating candy around them and giving them sugar as well which none of their mum's appreciated. He may be a werewolf but his stained and black teeth, werewolves were not into dentists, still haunted Ira's nightmares. Ira looked wide eyed at Keith's enforcer, one of them anyway, and then at Kim and Reese who watched the mutt move towards them. His father was as tight as a bow string, that was a saying his mum used a lot and Ira rolled his eyes at but it was true. He'd never seen his dad so tense and ready to fight or so angry.
Ira waved quietly afraid to not answer the man; he would not hesitate to smack him if he thought Ira was being disrespectful in any way. It didn't matter whose kid he was. Benton's slaps hurts and left bruises for weeks. The man smiled at him, a toothy grin with those bad teeth, and took something from his pocket making Reese moved forward on instinct. Kim set a hand on his arm stopping him. He threw a sucker up to Ira who watched as if landed on the metal railing making a small tingling sound but Ira didn't move to touch it.
"Don't eat that," Reese growled not looking at Ira who hated suckers anyway so it wasn't a big deal. He didn't like hard candy in particular and didn't really have a sweet tooth. He preferred burgers and pancakes, especially chocolate chip ones or sweet potato fries. His mum said it was because she ate so healthy when he was inside her but he didn't believe that. He read up on it.
Benton chuckled and asked Ira how he had been and about his dad but Reese ordered him not to speak. Ira didn't. "You're on pack territory," Kim growled. Benton nodded and dug out another sucker unwrapping it and sticking it in his mouth. They looked at one another; Kim nodded like she was giving him permission. Reese moved forward and Benton smiled. He lived for the fights and the challenges. Even picking fights with his own pack members when there had not been a good one with a mutt in a while but they all did that, for fun.
"Don't worry kid, by the end of the day you'll be on your way home and your father will…," Benton started to say but Reese rushed him making the breath rush out of him. Benton moved to the side and tried to trap him in a head lock but his father dodged the other way so quickly and with such finesse Ira hardly registered it until it was done. He gripped the bars watching and worrying. Benton was very good and he wasn't sure how good Reese was. Maybe before he wouldn't have been sure what side he wanted to win but he knew where he wanted to be now. He loved his dad and he liked the pack. He wanted to stay with them now. He liked not being called names and not having to worry about being smacked around either. It was safe and good. He didn't want to see his dad beaten to within an inch of his life, he was sure of that. He didn't want his baby brother's hurt, he already loved them. He even liked his step mom, Kim.
When he brought his attention back to the scene he saw Benton and his dad were on the ground trading punching and blows. Benton would suddenly get the advantage and scramble to the top sending an upper cut to Reese's jaw or winding him by punching his side but his dad was quick and would send a punch or kick right back equally as hard and equally brutal. At one point during the fight his dad got the advantage by yanking Benton's shirt over his eyes obscuring his vision and smashing his head into the concrete hard. Benton was daze for a moment but he came back stronger than ever with a wolf like growl ripping through the fabric.
When Ira yanked his gaze away again and looked at Kim he let out a gasp making her turn sharply to see Darrin, another enforcer but lower down on the hierarchy chain than Benton, coming behind her. She must have been too distracted by the fight and the noise and worrying about her mate to notice him. Darrin reached for her and Kim ducked out of the way and spun sending a back kick to his side and winding him. The kick was not as strong as normal due to her large belly and disrupted coordination. He frowned and then grinned; Ira recognized the look in his eyes.
He wanted Kim probably because she smelled so good. He had overheard a conversation once about how woman who are werewolves, which is very rare, smelled so good to male werewolves, very, very good. Keith said he would find out someday if he was lucky with that weird wink of his.
Ira saw Darrin's pupil's contract and the lust come into his eyes which seemed to make Kim fight even harder. Yes, he knew what lust was, he looked it up. Kim was good but she might never be as strong as a guy unfortunately. Ira was sure she should be relying more on distracting him then fighting him full on and maybe she was trying to do that but it didn't look like it. At one point in time she got a good kick to his crotch making Ira laugh a bit, more tense than entertained, and giving her time to try and knock him out.
He recovered too quickly though and grabbed Kim's head smashing it so hard into the brick wall that she went limp immediately and fell to the ground bleeding onto the cement. Ira watched her chest to see if it was moving but he couldn't see. She looked dead to him. He took a moment to contemplate this. If she was dead the babies would be too. No one deserved to die like this and it made him sad over all. He loved them; he knew he loved his little family. He didn't want to lose them now.
When Kim was still on the ground Darrin concentrated for a few moments and let his nails grow long. He trailed one down Kim' protruding stomach muttering about how Keith would love to know Reese had more progeny. Ira stiffened and sucked in a breath thinking about his brothers. He already knew their names. He's already helped paint their room, buy them books and clothes. He didn't want to lose them.
When Darrin was done he sent a wink to Ira who was expressionless and moved towards where Benton and Reese were fighting. Ira let out a breath thankfully. He was distracted by other things apparently. The fight ended quickly. Two on one wasn't fair which is why Kim had stayed back. It was how fair werewolves did it but the Australian werewolves were not fair, they were more like a real wolf pack. That's what terrified him.
Ira held his breath as Darrin grabbed his father in mid fight and hauled him back. Reese struggled trying to get the advantage and looked around for Kim who wasn't there. Benton threw a punch to stun him. His dad was stopped for a moment as Darrin hauled him up and Benton started beating on him. Ira watched enraptured even after his father caught his eye and ordered him to look away. He couldn't. It was like watching an accident. He was horrified at the blows and the blood and the sounds his father was trying not to make but he could not look away.
Ira screamed when it became too much. He covered his ears and the tears flooded his eyes and ran down his cheek. He loved his dad. He knew he loved him and he didn't want to watch him die. It would be his fault if his dad died. This would make a total of five times he cried in his life, five times that were justified in his mind.
When Benton was done he wiped his hands on his jeans and looked up at Ira letting his dad fall to the ground unconscious. "Get him," Benton ordered. Darrin nodded and walked to the fire escape ordering Ira to climb down. He lowered his arms and wiped his eyes and his cheeks with his sleeved. He stayed where he was for the moment contemplating. He could go further up and maybe escape them but it was a long shot. It was better to do as he was told until he could escape. Darrin barked at him again and he scrambled up and climbed over. Darrin caught his feet as he climbed down and caught him when he let go and fell.
He set Ira on the ground and his hand flew back to smack him, Ira tensed and put his own hands up to ward him off but Benton quickly grabbed Darrin's hand and held it. "Not here, people will be concerned about a kid walking around with a bruise on his face. Wait until later." Darrin nodded grabbing his hand hard telling him to obey. Ira nodded wincing at the pain in his hand as they pulled him away.
He looked back to where his dad lay unmoving and saw his eyes flutter a bit. He looked up at Ira mouthing his name and trying to rise again, he could only cough blood. The worry in his dad's eyes penetrated his heart like nothing else Reese had ever done. Darrin yanked hard on his hand and Ira turned walking out with them. He wondered if he would ever see his dad again or the pack. He wondered if his new family would die. It was enough to make his eyes water again and Darrin calling him a "sissy", he quit it wiping his eyes again and resolving to be brave. He had to be brave for them.
He didn't remember anything when he opened his eyes but he felt the pain instantly. His face felt swollen, his ribs felt cracked and he felt like he had been through a garbage disposal. He moaned and blinked looking into someone's face, brown eyes and dark hair with olive skin. The man looked relieved to see him awake and instantly he smiled and called to someone before he turned back to him again. "Reese, are you ok? Where's Ira?" he demanded. Reese struggled to focus and not fall back into unconsciousness again as the man shook his shoulder.
Reese growled and winced pulling away which hurt as well. "Nick?" Reese asked dazed and Nick nodded the iron taste of blood in his mouth, coating it like a sugar candy. Behind him Elena appeared and Clay. Reese blinked again moving his head to look at his surroundings. There was a large pool of blood both under him and a few feet away where he saw a hand but not a body. He was very confused. Why was the pack here?
Suddenly he remembered and in a rush he tried to get up. "Ira, Kim!" he growled but Nick pushed him back down easily. He growled again and tried to get up but this time Clay helped with holding him down. "What happened?" he asked desperately. Where was his son and his wife? His head was killing him. He glanced at the fire escape not surprised to see Ira long gone.
"Kim is over here, she's unconscious but she's fine and the babies are fine," Elena informed and tried to get out of him what happened. It took a few tries but he finally was able to articulate everything that happened and how the Australians had taken Ira back. How they needed to find him before they left the states.
"Reese, it's been a full day. They might already be gone," Nick informed. Reese swore and, with their help this time, he stood wincing and limping towards his wife. Kim was propped up against the ally wall and Karl was keeping an eye on her vitals. Reese made it to her and crouched down painfully pushing Karl's hand away and checking for himself. He could barely see out of one of his eyes.
"We followed the trail but it ends after they get into a vehicle, definitely unfamiliar wolves though." Reese looked up squinting at Noah's voice as he jogged down the alleyway followed by Adam, Savannah and Paige. "The pack got some information and were close by," Noah explained when Reese raised an accusatory eyebrow at him. Conspirators be damned.
"We need to find him," Reese said urgently.
"You aren't doing anything Reese, you're in no shape. We'll find him." Reese wanted to protest but the blackness came up and swallowed him whole again the stress and movement taking its toll.
He didn't remember the plane ride. Everything was a blur as soon as they left the alleyway. While Darrin parked a few miles away from the airport to look up tickets on his phone Benton produced a bottle and forced Ira to drink. He was thirsty but he clamped his mouth shut and shook his head pushing back further into the oversized back seat. It was sticky leather and his skin stuck to it. The standoff ended when Darrin finished and grabbed Ira's hair hard in his hand ordering him to obey. He did and found himself confused and dizzy unable to think or walk on his own for the next few hours. The plane ride was a blur and so was getting into New York State and checking into their hotel room. Everything was bigger and brighter and more unsettling.
When he felt better they declared that he would be helping them look for his mother. Ira shook his head still confused sitting up in the bed and then almost screamed when Darrin's hand came across his cheek hard slapping the disobedience out of him. He whimpered not used to the treatment anymore and put a hand to his cheek. It stung but not as much as thoughts of his dad and the babies and Kim.
"Don't try anything funny," Benton warned and reached down pressing a hand, over's Ira's smaller one, into Ira's cheek and making him feel while he shouldn't try anything funny. Inside Ira wanted to scream but on the outside he didn't want to let him see how much pain he was in, inside or out, or how scared he was.
Ira nodded looking into the man's eyes. Benton glowered and pulled Ira off the bed and outside to the sidewalk. They started walking. Ira followed with Darrin in the back. They had been keeping him between them since they took him, afraid he would run. He wasn't sure where to go so he didn't try. He had tried to steal a phone and call someone; maybe the police but they kept too careful an eye on him. The cell phone Reese gave him had become toast as soon as they searched him. He did have Antonio's number though so there was still a chance.
They drove to Manhattan and started looking there. They had been uptown, downtown and through Brooklyn and a lot of small areas like China Town and Little Italy by the late afternoon. Ira had been so exhausted by supper time he had fallen asleep the first few nights of looking after eating and woken up back in the hotel room the next day. He was surprised they didn't wake him up and get angry at him for falling asleep but maybe they enjoyed the break and this was easier. He knew he was not as easy kid. He made sure he was not an easy kid.
Ira followed them as they walked through the park. Sometimes he would pretend to drop something so they could crouch and sniff. This was his main role with them, that and being used an incentive for his mum to come out of hiding and get him. They had called her multiple times and left messages but she never called back, she never showed up. Ira knew she probably couldn't but it still hurt. She was still in the rehab place he assumed but he hadn't visited her for a few weeks. He would never tell them where she was though.
Antonio's number was burning a hole in his pocket by the end of the weekend. He had been sitting on the bed watching and waiting for one of them to leave their phones alone but they always kept them close until the night of the fight. Darrin wanted to go but Benton wanted to stay and keep looking. They had both been drinking and Ira had stayed well out of the way. Ira watched as Darrin, sitting at the little table in the corner of the room, on his laptop, told Benton where to go and who was in charge. He watched as Darrin stood and took a swing at the other man a little sloppily.
Ira scurried up and snuck forward ducking when Benton almost crashed into him; he found his balance and attacked Darrin again. Ira rushed forward and grabbed one of the phones, he ran for his life to the bathroom where he slammed and locked the door. He listened to the background but the two were not even aware he existed. If he could reach the chain lock he would run but this was the best he could do right now.
With shaky fingers he dialled the number on the card shaking in his fingers, he misdialled before he finally got it right. He walked to the tub and slid down hugging his knees as he waited for Antonio to pick up. After four rings he did answering in a business like tone. Ira opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out. Instead he gripped the phone tightly as Antonio said "hello" again and asked what he wanted. Finally he caught on.
"Ira? Ira is that you...talk to me….we're coming, bambino, we're coming," he assured. Someone started beating on the door a second after; Antonio paused when he heard it asking if Ira was safe. Ira wanted to answer but there was no time and he just couldn't. He clicked off the call and scrolled through erasing the call log and then stood and walked to the door unlocking it and looking up into Darrin's angry face.
The man glanced at the phone throwing it to Benton behind him. Darrin had a black eye and split lip and Benton was holding his arm. Both of them had gotten hurt. The slap came so fast Ira wasn't even aware of the pain until he was flying across the bathroom floor tripping on the slick tile. He hit his head on the toilet as he fell and pain bloomed through his skull.
"Little brat," Darrin roared using the anger from the fight and coming forward to take it out on Ira. Ira raised a hand but the werewolf slapped it out of the way and grabbing his shirt front delivering a hard punch to his jaw. Ira screamed and blacked out but not before Benton yelled for him to keep Ira alive.
Ira was not sure how long he was out but he came to sore and with a massive headache. They threw him some pain pills and told him to toughen up. He felt like they had been walking forever by Monday and the throbbing in his head and jaw didn't help. When Darrin suggested they stop for supper he spotted someone familiar. Elena and Clay were walking down the street opposite them. Ira opened his mouth to shout surprised because he didn't think they were looking for him. Benton grabbed him hard covering his mouth and pulling him into the alleyway. Ira struggled and kicked against him almost biting his hand to get free and get the burning feelings to stop. Benton painfully jammed his fingers into Ira's side making him scream and stopping his struggling.
"Stop!" Benton growled. Ira heaved a breath behind Benton's hand trying to suck in enough air. His skin began burning more and more from the tight grip, Ira knew he would have red marks. Tears streamed down his face from the pain and the fear he felt. He never thought he would be glad so glad to see the pack again but his heart was bursting with emotion.
Benton gestured for Darrin to have a look and when he looked back he gave the all clear. They warned Ira to be quiet and finally put him down, the boy nodded and backed away rubbing his arms and chest and wiping his eyes embarrassed, six times but this one didn't count because it was pain tears. Ira put a hand to his side which was still radiating and looked at the men.
"We need to get back to Oz, forget the bitch," Darrin said. Benton looked at Ira with regret and shook his head. Ira growled when they called his mum a bitch but neither paid attention to him. Ira put both hands to ears as their 'discussion' escalated. He backed up into the brick wall and closed his eyes. He couldn't run, he couldn't fight. He couldn't do anything.
He thought about, not Oz this time, but being back at the Sorrentino's. He realized he loved it there; he loved his room and his stuff and the calm atmosphere. He was safe there and his father was good and so was Kim, his father and Kim who were probably dead now. The pack would probably send him home. He had no family here and no one had obligations to him at all. They wouldn't want Ira around as a reminder of his dead father, step mother and baby brothers.
Ira was jerked from his thoughts when someone grabbed his wrist. He opened his eyes to see Darrin griping him in a strangle hold almost crushing his wrist. "Come on brat." Ira glowered and was yanked from the alley and they hurried him to the hotel. Apparently they were staying and not letting the pack push them around. For lunch they threw some pop and a bag of chips at Ira and told him to watch TV while the adults talked. Darrin turned on the TV to some stupid cartoon show. They walked to the other side of the room as the TV blared and Ira could hear nothing.
He opened the bag and ate a chip making a face at the sour taste. He moved on the bed towards the men and opened his can of pop. When he finally got to the end he found it didn't help at all. He could still hear nothing. He concentrated on the bag of chips instead and drank the pop laying back on the bed. When they food was gone he closed his eyes dreaming of escape. He had almost been able to get Clay and Elena's attention and maybe they were still searching in the area. Maybe they caught his scent and would come for him but then what? He would be sent away again. He didn't want that. Maybe he could live with his mum in rehab.
Ira, still exhausted from everything that had happened, fell asleep soon after with the cartoon noises in his head invading his dreams. He dreamt of his dad and Kim but they were oddly cartoon shaped and they moved funny. He was jerked out of his reverie by whispers. The TV was off now and Benton and Darrin were furiously talking. "You do it, he's asleep and he'll never know," Benton whispered.
"Keith will kill us if we don't bring him back. We may as well just let him go back to the pack," Darrin whispered. They were very close and Ira sensed that there was a dip in the bed where one of them was sitting. Both voices were over them like they were on opposite sides of the bed.
"The pack will kill us if we stay here any longer and I don't want to take that brat back. Just do this. Get rid of him." Ira tensed hoping they didn't see. There was silence for a moment and Ira wondered what was going on. He had to form a plan but he wasn't sure what to do. He couldn't escape them. He'd have to use everything he had, biting, kicking and punching so he wouldn't go down without a fight.
"It will be easy. Grab his neck and squeeze…,"
"No, wake him up. We need to keep looking. Keith is not expecting us back until tomorrow and he is expecting the boy. He won't believe us if we say he was hurt or killed. He will kill us and he wants to take care of Ira himself. Plus, we need to tell him about the babies. He'll want them." Ira immediately wondered what that meant while his heart raced in terror for his brothers, weren't they dead, but Darrin was soon shaking him awake.
As they left to go walking again Ira put his mind to the idea that he had to find a way to escape and find the pack on his own. He was clearly better off with them. Ira kept a keen eye out for them but there were no more sightings. He could not understand how they have missed his trail and the mutts.
They walked around until supper time which was more junk food making Ira's stomach hurt. He felt sluggish and annoyed at this but had no time to complain. They took him right to the hotel again and ordered him to sit while they packed the few things they had. Ira sat on the bed looking at this toes and sucking on a sucker Benton ordered him to eat after he threw it at him. He said something about nutrition as well but Ira did not catch it. Ira read up on that too. Sugar was bad and gave you no nutrition and good food was, well good. He liked bad food sometimes but enough was enough and that was pretty bad coming from a ten year old.
"Come on," Darrin growled and yanked him up by the upper arm. Ira tried to pull away but at that point a knock came on the door. Benton moved towards it as it burst open before he could answer.
"I think I found our room darlin'," Clay grinned and walked in boldly followed by Noah and Elena. Darrin immediately grabbed Ira and squeezed his neck hard with his arm strangling him. The man seemed to not know anything other than grabbing people roughly.
"Come any closer and the kid will die. I've got nothing left to lose," he warned. Ira, feet off the floor, put both hands on the stronger man's arm and held on trying to make him let go but his kicking was no good.
"I don't think so," Elena spat cockily and behind them Benton made a cry of surprise. Ira turned slightly. Antonio had come in through the window and while he was distracted Noah and Clay had moved forward to attack. Ira ended up on the floor when Darrin let go, Elena was quick to swoop in and pull him away from the fighting. Picking him up Elena turned and strode from the room setting him down in the hallway and calling for Antonio.
Ira didn't speak though she asked him if he was ok and examined the bruises. When Antonio appeared sweating she ordered him to take Ira to the safe house and then she disappeared into the room and the fighting again. Ira kept quiet and let Antonio pick him up. He laid his head on the man's shoulder and stayed quiet until they got to where they were going. Antonio kept glancing at Ira worried.
When they stopped they were at a very nice condo building, it must have been the safe house, in the heart of the city. Ira observed people dressed up walking to the theatre and on their way to dinner and other events. Compared to them he looked like he had been living in a dumpster. Antonio led him inside and past the doorman, who he paid off not to ask questions, before they got into the elevator. He asked if he wanted to talk about it crouching down but Ira shook his head and backed into the corner of the elevator. Antonio nodded and backed off leading him to the door of their condo when they got off with a light touch on his back.
After the man checked him over, nothing was broken they went to the condo. It was the one that Tonio said they used sometimes when they were on business here or were in town. Ira quickly wondered why Kim and Reese had used a house then but he was distracted when Antonio opened the door. As soon as they were inside Ira knew they were not alone. He took off his shoes and walked across a small foyer and into a larger living room.
He felt like he was moving through a dream but he could not take in any of the surroundings. The only thing his brain could register was his father lying on the couch unmoving. He bit his lip and moved forward. His eye was swollen, his lip was broken and bleeding and he had multiple bruises. Half his face was twice the normal size and he didn't even look like himself. His leg was bandaged as well. Ira swallowed but could not bring himself to touch him.
"Ira." He turned and saw Kim walk in with a bandage on her head and a few bruises of her own but otherwise no worse for wear. He glanced at her stomach which looked the same. She looked sore but she smiled at him and immediately asked if he was ok. He backed up when she came at him though and glanced at his father again. Antonio explained he might be a bit touchy and Kim understood. She gave him space.
Ira glanced at his dad wondering if he was dead and how he felt about that and confused that Kim was alive and the babies. He had resigned himself to the fact that they were dead. Both of them confirmed his dad was fine though knowing his question without him asking, but would take a while to heal. Ira nodded and walked forward setting a hand on his side when it started hurting again. Antonio said nothing was broken and told Kim about his injuries but he tuned them out until Kim swore and hit the side of the wall with her fist making Ira jump.
"Kimberly," Antonio sighed rubbing a hand through his hair. Ira ignored them and hoped off the coffee table he had been sitting on. He needed a shower. He hadn't been allowed one in three days and he liked to shower daily. He let the hot water wash away the past few days, cleaning the dirt from his fingernails which had been bothering him immensely and, borrowing a large t-shirt and some socks from the clothes there, Nick's by the smell; he went back to the living room and sat on the coffee table again watching Reese breath. He wanted to make sure he didn't stop breathing. He was surprised at his own concern and his own attachment. He had always been detached from people and things so this was odd.
"He'll be ok," Antonio assured setting down a big sandwich beside him and an ice bag for his face. Apparently he interrupted a conversation but he was not paying attention. Ira gratefully took the food and ate, his jaw aching, watching his father. For the next few hours he refused to move first sitting cross legged watching him and then laying down. He didn't move to a bed either. He had to watch or something bad might happen.