Australia was hot. The simple fact was that Australia was almost always hot. The temperature, even in winter, never dropped below twelve. He could stand on the large step shaped rock far behind the house and spread his arms to the hot sun pretending to melt. He'd stand there and squint in the distance seeing Maori tribesmen marching towards the river to fish. Some of them were traditional and some weren't but he liked to watch the ones that kept to their cultures and the old way of life. He found them fascinating but Keith wouldn't let him go near them.
Ira blinked his sore eyes coming back to the moment and rubbing them until Nick pushed his hand away from his face giving him a sympathetic look. He didn't say anything. Ira didn't want to talk about it. After he had called Keith last night he had gone back to bed and sobbed himself to sleep. He would not let them see him cry about his mother. He hated crying in general but to let anyone see him do this would be a failure on his part.
This morning when his father brought it up he ignored him refusing to answer his questions. Ira had stared at his French toast not answering. He pushed his strawberries around in the syrup on his plate. He listened to Dominic singing in the background and Clary reading the paper to her dad and Reese. He did not answer. They prodded him again. He still didn't answer. They got the hint after that.
It had been semi cold for him during the winters at home but it was nothing compared to America where snow and frost seemed to reign supreme for months on end finally giving way to a summer Ira figure had to be a joke. He was not looking forward to it and he didn't want to get used to it either but there was no choice. He'd have to buy a parka if he was here that long. He shouldn't be.
Ira stood completely still as Nick held up the pair of jeans in front of him and nodded setting them across his arm. Ira's attention was, instead, on the book store across the way from the high end clothes place Nick insisted he shop at. He didn't care too much about what the clothes looked like. He didn't have anyone to impress but the pack and he didn't have much interest in that. The cloth always felt itchy and tight on him and he longed to take them off most days anyway. His mum said it was the werewolf in him. Keith said it was a boy thing.
Ira had a few sets of clothing but not enough and definitely not enough for the weather up here. It might be summer but it was too cold for him. Everyone was in shorts and t-shirts and sandals but he had been walking around in a hoodie and jeans huddled up cursing. So far the country had not made a good impression on him.
Ira turned when he heard Clary's voice bounding off the racks of clothing in the small store. She called for her dad; running up to them holding up a mini skirt and a tank top that looked like it might fit Dominic better than her. Ira raised an eyebrow and looked at Nick semi concerned. Irene would never be allowed to wear that. Keith would…well it wouldn't be good. How would Nick react?
"Are you a dancer or a stripper?" Nick asked and Clary laughed but shook her head. "Then not as long as I am ever alive." Nick gingerly took the clothes from her hands and handed them to the ever present clerk who kept taking clothes back and forth for him. He basically had a store assistant for the duration of their stay. No one else was here. Ira was surprised he hadn't bought out the store and closed it down. One thing he had learned was that the Sorrentino's were rich, really; really rich and so was his father.
In Oz they had never struggled for money but there wasn't a lot of it. That's why most of the pack members worked and then they came home and worked on the sheep farm making it into a veritable business. Even he had been expected to earn his keep and he was up shortly after dawn every day to do it with the others. His mum was normally up during the nights and asleep most days. She was a bar tender and she did other stuff Ira was not supposed to know about.
"Go try stuff on; I'll give you more after." Ira sighed exasperated but turned and walked to the changing room. Inside the attendant had laid out his clothes and asked him if he wanted help. Ira gave her his biggest smiled and asked her if she would change too. That sent her scurrying out of the changing room fast giving him a disgusting look. Ira chuckled and shut the door turning to the stacks of clothes. His mum always said he was a little too sarcastic for his own good, probably picking it up from the older werewolves around the farm. She had many talks with them about the impression they made on the younger kids but they didn't have to listen to her. She was a woman and there to serve and not have a voice, even if she was the Alpha's wife.
He contemplated the clothes for a moment before he pushed them to the floor and sat looking at the mirror pulling his legs up and hugging them. One quick glance made him look away again. He'd never been afraid of his appearance but he'd never been one of those people who would look at himself constantly. Now all he saw was his father's hair, face and eyes and nothing of his mother. He always thought before that the shape of his eyes came from his mother and his nose and chin but after seeing his father he knew he hardly had anything from his mother. It was his father's fault. He didn't want these strong features. He didn't want to look like Reese when he grew up but it was inevitable.
Ira kept his gaze on the poster hanging in the wall of the changing room instead. A poster with two boys modeling clothes and looking like it was the only thing in the world they wanted to do. What a waste. One of the boys was blonde and blue eyed and looked a bit like him and his father. He wondered how many other blonde kids were running around with Reese's blood that he didn't know about. Maybe they could have a werewolf army.
"Daddy, how about this one," Clary asked from right outside the door before she burst in. She ran to the mirror and spun in a circle admiring a sequined purple tutu that was ostentatious enough to be seen at New York fashion week. Ira raised an eyebrow wondering when this torture would end.
Nick walked in after chuckling at his daughter. "All covered up I see. That's much better. Don't tell your mom and you can have it princess," Nick affirmed. Clary grinned as Nick reached down and scooped her up kissing her on the forehead. She giggled and squirmed and Ira turned away suddenly overwhelmed.
"I want to go home," Ira demanded and pulling the hem of his shirt up over his nose. It smelled like him and his mum and even a bit of home. He liked the smell and often used it to calm himself down. He looked at Nick who was scrutinizing the clothing on the floor. Finally Nick sighed and set Clary down. She immediately ran back to the mirror to twirl. Nick crouched and took the shirt from Ira's nose pulling it down gently.
"What's wrong kiddo? Did something happen?" Ira shook his head and watched Clary instead of Nick's soulful eyes. He could tell the man could see right through him and it was disconcerting. How much could Nick tell just from his eyes, or from the lines around the corner of his mouth and eyes?
"I just want to go home, Nick." Nick nodded and looked at the clothes on the floor again saying they would take them and he could try them on later.
"You know your dad wanted to be here right?" Nick asked. Ira shrugged. His father had told him he needed new things and they would go shopping, just the two of them. Ira tried not to look forward to it but he liked shopping and he liked new things. Then he had a work emergency and had to leave. If it was going to be like this and his father was going to make promises and leave all the time then Ira didn't want anything to do with him.
He stepped in the door shaking off the rest of his annoyance about the emergency situation at work. He was officially taking time off to get to know Ira but he was a lead on a few major projects and one of them had an emergency no one else could deal with. The client was irate and only wanted to speak to Reese. Therefore Nick got to take Ira shopping instead of him. The kid already didn't trust him and he was sure ditching him for work didn't help their relationship a lot.
Reese loosened his tie and walked down the hallway going towards the voices. He found Nick in the media room with the kids watching a cartoon. Dominic was standing up against the TV stand and reaching for the characters running back and forth, hitting them and saying "toast" for some inexplicable reason. On the other side of the room Nick was having a tea party with Clary in a new purple tutu. She had managed to make her father wear a little pink crown which made Reese snort. Nick looked up and grinned before going back to the tea party. Nick was in his element with his kids. No one could deny that. The man who was only interested in being an uncle made one of the best fathers he had ever seen.
Reese finally looked towards the couch where Ira was sunken into the cushions and reading a book. "Hey buddy, how was shopping?" Ira shrugged without looking up. Reese heart sank. He was trying but it didn't seem like he was getting anywhere. He was excited to come home and looked forward to seeing his son but it didn't seem to make a difference to the boy.
"Listen, Ira. That won't happen again, ok? I am officially off work for the next little while." Ira shrugged again and turned a page. He was propped up against a large pillow and had his knee up and his legs crossed.
"Reese, can we talk?" Nick asked standing up and taking the crown off his head to set it on his daughters. Reese nodded casting a last glance at Ira feeling uneasy. Would it be like this every day with his son? Something new with Ira's behaviour they had to speak to him about?
Nick explained and Reese nodded as perplexed as the older werewolf was. "I'm not sure what happened honestly. One second he was ok and the next…," Nick trailed off and then swore covering his mouth. Since the kids came the swearing was curbed. Vanessa kept a swear jar where instead of owing money he owed sexual positions though it didn't seem to work too well. Obviously the jar was kept secret. "I hugged Clary and kissed her. He must have reacted badly. That was stupid."
"No, he has to get used..," Reese started to say but was distracted by the front door opening. Both werewolves glanced towards the door tensing. Neither had been expecting anyone. A petite Spanish woman stepped inside and set her bag down looking down the hallway at both men who stood shocked. Her smile lit up the foyer and Reese's heart.
"Kim?" Reese asked surprised. His stomach both dropped into his bowls at seeing his wife and jumped into his throat. Elation mixed with dread. "Kim," he said again smiling this time. He jogged down the hallway putting his alarm aside for now. Her smiled widely as he picked her up in a hug and swung her around before bending, hovering over her lips and watching her dark deep brown eyes. She moved upwards meeting him in a deep kiss that made him forget his name let alone what he hadn't told her.
"Are you in the habit of kissing every random woman that visits." Reese's eyes snapped open and he let go of his wife and looked down the hallway. Ira hovered by the doorway to the living room half hidden with Nick behind him sending an apologetic look and trying to get Ira to move but he refused.
"Who's that?" Kim asked smiling at the boy who stared at her curiously. Reese took her hand and entwined his fingers with hers. It was now or never. He might be a pack enforcer but he was no match for his wife. She would kill him in two seconds flat and Reese would probably let her.
"Ira, come here. I want you to meet someone."
Ira stayed where he was eyeing Kim, frozen. Reese couldn't blame the boy. He'd had so much change over the last few days and now he was expected to meet more people. He'd be meeting even more and things would be changing even more in the next few days too. Maybe he needed to hire a therapist to see the kid through the next few weeks and him as well.
After a few seconds Kim started forward pulling Reese along, it had always been that way with them. Kim pushed him to places he would not normally go, challenging him to be better. Of course they would go to Ira. He was the boy and they were the adults, the parents. He was a father. No, it still had not sunk in yet. It was clear Kim would be a good mother though. She was a natural and kids loved her. That was not to say she was soft. Kim would put you in your place quicker than any of the other pack members except for Elena.
"Hi, Ira is it?" Kim said letting go of Reese and crouching down. Ira took a step back backing into Nick's legs and nodded. "I'm Kim, sweetheart." Ira jerked his head again but kept his eyes on her watching and studying like usual, taking in every feature and coming up with a conclusion.
"Are you Reese's wife?" Ira asked. Kim nodded. Finally, his assessment of Kim done, Ira looked up at his father annoyed. He crossed his arms growing hostile again. Reese tensed and opened his mouth to diffuse the situation but nothing came out.
"Is she the reason you left mum?" Reese cringed and Nick groaned reaching for Ira but he pulled away from Nick glowering at him too before looking back at Kim and studying her once more. Reese couldn't imagine what he was thinking but it wasn't anything good. "Mum is prettier."
"Ira!" Reese scolded. He looked from him to Kim and mouthed an apology reaching for his son to…well, he wasn't sure what but Ira backed away from him too. The kid had a serious no touching policy. Was that because they were basically strangers or did he always act like this?
"You have nothing to apologize for Reese, and neither does he. He's just curious and apparently truthful. No, Ira. Your father and I have only known one another for ten years. Anymore questions that you would like to ask in a more respectful tone?"
Ira stared at her unfazed and shook his head. "No." With that he turned and walked back into the living room and back to his book uninterested. How did this kid's head work? He had no idea. It must be a labyrinth though, a huge one.
"I'll watch him for a bit," Nick said. Reese nodded his thanks and looked at Kim jerking his head to the stairs. Kim nodded and turned before he could take her arm or hand. He felt the frost coming off of her and he cringed. This would not be the best evening, or day or even week for that matter. He loved Ira now, he may not understand Ira but he loved him. He loved his wife as well, so much he knew that without her he would not be able to exist like he did. Life would be a monotonous black and white picture of snapshots. He would not really be living, just existing.
Kim stopped when they were inside their room and stood in the middle facing the window. He walked towards her but stopped when she turned. Her eyes were like ice. He took a deep breath thinking of a million excuses. Finally he just shook his head and told her everything from meeting Daniella again to the danger Ira might be in. When he was done Kim closed her eyes and squeezed the bridge of her nose.
"Where is she now?" Kim asked, "Where is his mother?" Reese had told her all about Daniella years ago and Kim had nothing but hate for the woman. Animosity palpated off of her every time Daniella was mentioned which was next to never.
"Gone," he explained. "She couldn't stay in our territory. Ira is here permanently." Kim nodded and relaxed going to sit on the bed. Reese finally felt it was safe to be within a few feet. He walked to the bed and sat down taking her hand again and setting his head on her shoulder.
"Ira is here now Kim. I apologize unreservedly for not telling you but he was such a shock to me and controlling him or even getting through to him has been difficult. I was and am overwhelmed. That was my fault. I should have told you right away."
"Reese, do you promise me you knew nothing about him. You didn't run from being a father?" Reese sat up looking wide eyed at her. He hadn't even thought of that but he realized now this might be how she saw it, him being young and being too scared to be a father until he was forced, maybe making up the whole story about Australia to cover the fact that he had a kid he wanted to forget about.
"No, everything I told you was true Kim. I had no idea about Ira. We were always safe; we used two different forms of protection plus pills. Either Ira was a surprise to her too or she messed with the safety precautions on purpose. Maybe she wanted a child. I have no idea." It would not surprise him knowing what he did now that she may have tampered with the protection. She had wanted kids in the future so maybe she jump started the process. The question was why would she make sure she had a kid with him when she had Keith and could have his legitimate kids? It didn't make sense. There had to be an ulterior motive.
Kim looked into his eyes for a few moments studying before nodding. Kim could always tell 100% what he was feeling, thinking or if he was being truthful just from looking into his eyes. If Ira was the same way he would be set. "I believe you Reese. The question is what do we do now?"
Reese paused suddenly fearful about what she would say. Would this be the line drawn in the sane? Would she finally get fed up with him? "I need to be his father Kim. I know you didn't sign up for this…," Kim put a finger to his lips quieting him and he smiled and kissed her finger before letting her go on.
"Reese, I signed up for you and everything you come with. That includes your past. Ira is part of that past and now he is part of our future. He probably doesn't want a mother right now but I'll be there for him too. Whatever he needs and you need. This can't be easy for either of you."
"I knew there was a reason why I love you." Reese grinned. He grabbed her around the waist and rolled her onto to the bed growing hard. It had been way too long. Everything else could wait.
Ira couldn't concentrate on the words on the page anymore. He kept reading the same sentence over and over again. Reese had a wife which meant he had another mother. He missed his mother and wondered where she was now. No one would tell him he was sure. They wanted him to forget about her but he wouldn't. Just because he had a new dad did not mean he would forget the person he loved most in the world. He secretly kept her picture under his pillow to look at. His father might not like it and he might take it away from him. Ira wasn't sure yet and so he would keep it hidden for now.
Again the tears sprang to his eyes and he pushed them back. He refused to cry about this. He was too strong for that. He cried once and that was enough. Quickly he got up and rushed from the room ignoring Nick's question about where he was going. There was a bathroom two doors down from the media room and Ira slammed the door in answer to his question. He locked it and turned to the sink turning the cold water on to splash his face. Cold water always helped when he felt weak.
"Ira, open door policy." The door handle rattled and Ira sighed and turned off the water.
"A little privacy would be nice," Ira growled. The handle stopped rattled and he could just picture the person on the other side of the door, exasperated and annoyed at him. Well, he was annoyed too. At home he could run around and go as far as he wanted as long as he was home for supper but here he seemed to be forever under observation. He couldn't go two steps without someone wanting to know where he was going. Maybe they should just hire body guards if they were so paranoid.
"Unlock it and you get privacy." Ira ignored Nick and sat down against the tub pulling his knees to his chest with his head between his knees. He ignored the voices and the outside world. He needed to breath now or he might explode. The voices, the rattling and the sound of the house faded. His mum had taught him to breathe when he got angry or upset and it was a link to her so he would use this tactic often.
He pretended he was in Oz again sitting in the closest in his room surrounded by his childhood toys and life, his safe space. He didn't have a safe space here and he felt like he could never be alone. They were always watching him. He was the watcher and he hated being watched.
He came out of his thoughts when the door was opened. Noah stood there with Nick close behind holding Dominic who was trying to hit him and opened his mouth to start howling his head off. "Come on," Noah said holding out his hand. Ira stared at him contemptuously before he accepted it. He had no idea why the pack was so touchy. His pack back home wasn't as touchy as this. The only person who was ever this way with him was mum and sometimes his grandfather when he wanted something. Gavin was a manipulator but he taught Ira how to do it as well simply by watching him so it was worth it.
Ira was beginning to wonder if Noah was going to do the easy thing and take him out back to get rid of him when they stopped and Noah gestured for him to look up letting go of his hand. Ira didn't mind someone holding his hand sometimes but only sometimes and only some people. Ira did and gasped. Above their heads was a large tree house stretching out along three branches and ending in the fork in the tree. "Go on up, I'll be behind you." Ira nodded and grabbed the rope ladder starting to climb. He never had anything like this back home, possibly because trees were not as common where he grew up.
When he got to the top he wiggled onto the boards and then stood looking around. It was a large fifteen by fifteen structure. Old comic books were stacked in the corner and some junk food was stacked opposite that. When he looked up he saw a faded painting on the ceiling of a dark haired boy with wolves surrounding him in the woods. "Antonio built this tree house for Nick when he was five and Jeremy did the painting."
"It is cool. I thought maybe you'd need a place to be alone sometimes, maybe a special place just for you. As long as you tell us where you're going then it should be fine." Ira nodded and sat down reaching for the comics.
"They're so old," he said making a face. Noah chuckled. He liked Noah a lot because he could read Noah so well. He was open, honest and kind and that was all. He had no hidden motivation which was nice for a change.
"Yeah," Noah answered and glanced at his watch before taking it off. "I'm going to leave this with you. I'll get you one of your own so you can tell the time. Can you tell time?" Noah asked and Ira rolled his eyes but nodded, "Ok, come back in at seven for supper."
Ira really liked Noah, a lot more than his father and the others at least. Ira glanced at the watch seeing he had a few hours so he grabbed a comic and some junk food before getting lost. He didn't normally read comics but these intrigued him. By the time he had finished the stack and remembered to look at the watch he saw he had very little time left. He picked up the watch shoving it in his pocket and was about to climb down when he heard footsteps.
Ira froze and then crouched down looking through the floor boards. Antonio stood below him looking up. "Ira, time to come inside," he called. Ira poked his head out of the bottom of the hole and looked at the man annoyed.
"You know Noah gave me the watch to be able to tell when I should come inside. I don't need a reminder." The man looked up narrowing his eyes. Being so high made him forget he should be afraid of this man. He remembered it now and gulped.
"And I don't need or appreciate a sarcastic nine year old." Ira shook his head and began climbing down. He slipped half way and Antonio caught him easily setting him on his feet where he heard a crunch. Ira tensed the entire time. He hated being touched without knowing it was coming. He hated being touched when he knew it was coming too though, Keith was always grabbing him and hauling him around which his mum told him to just grit his teeth at.
He looked down to see Noah's watch crushed under his shoe. "Oh fuck."
"Ira, where did you learn that word?" Antonio asked bending and picking up the broken watch. He looked it over and shoved it in his pocket shaking his head but he didn't seem angry. Then again Ira didn't know him so maybe he was.
"Keith, the Australian packs Alpha, he says it all the time but mostly when he angry or when he's kicking the shit out a mutt. He lets us watch sometimes." Antonio stared at him for a moment not knowing what to say but finally he shook his head again and gestured for him to start walking.
"No swearing here ok, kid? I don't want the other repeating it." Ira shrugged muttering that he should mind his own business. Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder and he tensed looking up. He didn't dare back away though as uncomfortable as it was. Soon, if he didn't let go Ira's shoulder would start to throb and then burn. He had no idea why.
"Remember I have very good hearing Ira."
"I'm sorry for what I said. It won't happen again." Antonio raised an eye brow still watching him before he couched to look him in the eye. His grandfather had taught him that when a bigger or stronger person is angry with you, you should apologize and manipulate them into thinking you actually cared. His mum had hated that but he found it useful.
"Ira, I have been around children for my entire life. I am going to suggest you tread carefully here. You are old enough to know how to behave and to know your actions have consequences and I am old enough to know when a kid is lying to me or being insincere. I'm not sure what your hiding but I'd suggest you tell your father. It would make it a bit easier." Ira stared at him open mouthed as the man patted his shoulder and let go.
He took a deep breath rubbing his should and watched him walk down the path gawking for a few seconds. He balled his fists angrily before making himself relax and hurried to catch up. He would have to tread carefully around Antonio. The man was good, way too good.
Reese pushed the bedroom door open slightly and looked towards the bed. Ira was asleep slumped across the bed with a pillow, an old Star Wars one from Logan, half over his head and his blue blankets strewn over his legs. He walked in quietly and pulled the covers up gently before he stood back and watched the gentle rise and fall of his son's chest.
Ira's face was totally relaxed, all the hostility, all the fear and sadness gone. He was just a little boy now and one Reese's was finding he loved more and more every time he looked at him. It was easy to love him when he was laying there dreaming. Reese finally stepped backwards until he reached the door and backed into the hallway.
"Asleep?" Kim asked and Reese nodded.
"Did you talk to Nick?"
"Yeah, he'll check in on him but we have to take Clary and Dom when Nessa gets back tomorrow. Would you like to accompany me to the guest house?" Reese asked holding out his hand. Kim smiled and glanced at the door uneasily. Reese took her hands and pulled her closer bending down to kiss her cheek.
"He'll be fine Kim. He slept through last night so he should be ok tonight. If not Nick will call us," Reese assured. Kim nodded. He knew she felt awful taking him away from Ira even if it was briefly and even if he was asleep, but right then he needed her and just her without worrying about anyone else. Maybe that meant he was not cut out to be a father, if he could not put his son first.
"No, Reese, stop feeling guilty. I would know that look anywhere," Kim scolded. Reese chuckled and gave her one last kiss before heading downstairs. They called goodnight to Antonio, who was working late on a project like many nights, and stepped outside.
Reese unlocked the door to the house and gestured for his wife to go first. He had been in earlier to air the house and set up some candles. "Are you sure we should still be trying? Maybe we should wait for Ira to settle a bit?" Kim asked turning in the living room where the candles circled the room and flower petals, lilies, were strewn around the middle of the living room he had cleared out. He had set up a blanket near the fire place and led her there now.
"No, it won't matter if we are pregnant now or later. We won't be telling any of the kids until three or four months down the road. That will give him time to settle in and trust us," Reese said sitting down and pulling Kim onto his lap.
"I know I just…,"
"I know…," Reese whispered cutting her off with a kiss.