Ira watched the gravel under his black chucks as the swing swung gently in the breeze. He pushed a little bit every few seconds but never got even half a foot off the ground. The gravel and the grass were blurs under his feet but it's all he could concentrate on. The feeling in his stomach, the emptiness was going to encompass him if he didn't concentrate on the world around him.
The conversation he had been anticipating having with his mum and, the one he dreamed of since she left, was not even remotely what happened. He would tell her he loved her and that he needed her to come and get him. She would hear in his voice how unhappy he was and she would come and get him immediately. They would go to Europe like she always talked about. They used to sit in the hammock outside on Keith's porch and he would snuggle into her, no matter how hot it was, and listen as she told him about Rome and the Coliseum, or Egypt and the pyramids, or Tokyo and all the dragons. They would talk about how they would escape everything someday. In some ways he thought they would be doing that when they left Australia a few weeks ago.
The conversation was actually a disaster. He didn't want to think about it again but he couldn't stop. His mother had said, "What," as soon as he answered and that had thrown him off at first. She sounded annoyed and out of breath. His smile disappeared instantly and confusion took over. Beside him his father sat on the desk and he shifted position trying to catch Ira's eyes but Ira looked away refusing to see.
"Mum?" Ira asked confused. She sounded angry now, her breathing was short and shallow, but he didn't care. It was worth it to finally talk to her and to hear her voice. He missed her so much. All he wanted to do was ask her to sing to him while he sat listening to her. Well, that was secondary to the wanting her to come and get him. There was a breath before she started again.
"Ira, why are you calling me? Is Reese…is you father…is everything ok?" Ira nodded and realized she couldn't see him so he answered. He clutched the phone so tightly he felt it would break. It was so sweaty in his hands and he was so nervous he almost dropped it.
"Yes, but mum you need to come get me now. I want to…" Ira started to say. He had a brilliant plan to convince her to come and get him but she didn't even give him the chance. His father said something and got up trying to reach for the phone but Ira darted out of the way. Reese raised his hands in a 'giving up' gesture and backed off watching him carefully.
"Ira, you are not to call me. Do you know dangerous this is? Where is your father?" she growled at him. Ira had never heard her speak to him in that voice before and it scared him a lot. He froze and tried to think of something to say before his father took the phone. The man was relentless and he was up again and holding out his hand giving Ira the look. Ira shook his head again and backed away thinking fast.
"No, Ira. You will never call me again. I can't come get you. You live with your father now permanently. Do you understand?" she growled. Ira had no idea what to say. All he wanted was his mother and she was angry with him. Before he could form a reply the phone was taken from his hand and his father started speaking. Ira stood stunned and rooted to the floor. His mother had spoken to Keith like that before sometimes when she was very angry. She usually got back handed for it and she had spoken to others like that too. He never wanted to make her angry because he would be afraid of the consequences but, now, she was angry. It didn't matter how far away she was, he still felt ice in his chest.
"Daniella? Yes…No, we're fine. He's…I let him call because he needed to hear your voice. He's…Daniella he's upset and he's almost…Do. Not. Yell. At. Me," Reese warned. Reese's body tensed and his expression turned storm cloudy. Ira tensed as well and looked up feeling the tears coming finally. His parents were fighting and it was his fault. His mother hated him now. His father looked angrier than Ira had ever seen him and was pacing. Ira was sure he would break the phone in two.
Reese continued to speak his voice escalating and Ira heard his mother's voice getting louder and louder as well. Ira covered his ears and watched horrified and wide eyed as they screamed at one another oblivious of everyone else. He backed up until he hit the couch and almost fell back. The tension in the air was tangible.
"Reese, is there somewhere else you can do this?" Kim suddenly asked yelling over their voices and reached down to Ira. Ira pulled away from her and rushed from the room too scared to stay. He headed for the back door and the woods. He needed the space and the air and he needed to be alone right then. He didn't grow up around woods but he loved them now. He couldn't get enough of it like the trees were calling to him. He liked how safe it made him feel.
"Noah, catch him," Kim ordered behind him. Suddenly Noah was in front of him. Ira backed up still with his hands on his ears. Now he closed them and refused to hear or see anything. He was home and nothing was wrong. He was with his mum, who still loved him, and he was in his secret nook, and she was reading to him and everything was fine.
"Ira, Ira?" Kim's voice asked escalating now with worry and joined by Noah's voice. Ira shook his head refusing to hear. She tried once more but finally their voices left him. He stood there for a few more minutes before he was ready to be part of the world again. He slowly lowered his hands and blinked his eyes. No one was in front of him. He looked behind him to Kim was waiting on the porch steps with Noah beside her and they were watching him.
"Ok?" Kim asked and Ira shrugged. "Want to talk?" she asked. Ira shook his head. Instead he turned and headed to a play set off to the side of the house. He sat down on a swing and moved his legs. His eyes had been constantly watering but he refused to give in, even now. He was not weak and he would prove it. He wasn't broken and he would prove that too. He'd make his mum love him again somehow.
After a few moments he heard his father's voice speaking low, he was whispering with someone. Ira closed his eyes again and felt the air shift in front of him. Someone had stopped his swing from swaying but he kept his eyes closed. If he didn't open them then maybe he would not need to face anything ever again, and that would be good. "Come on buddy, please look at me." Ira shook his head but Reese didn't leave. When he finally did open his eyes minutes later he saw his father still in front of him.
"Are you scared of…of me?" he asked and Ira shrugged. "Are you worried about me and you mum fighting?" he asked and Ira shrugged again. "Buddy, you need to talk to me," Reese said. Ira shook his head and looked past his father to Kim and Noah still on the porch. If his mum didn't want him then he didn't have anyone. He was alone and it felt like the world was pressing down on him. He felt a million emotions at once.
"What can I say that will make you feel better?" Reese asked. Ira didn't justify that with an answer. Reese stood then and growled putting both hands on his head and pacing. Ira could tell he was frustrated. He knew it took a lot to make the usually patience man upset. Kim came over immediately and whispered something to him. Reese sighed and pushed both hands through his hair before he turned and strode towards the woods without a word.
Kim looked after him and then looked at Ira indecisive. "I don't want you," Ira said making the decision easier for her. Kim brushed away the look of hurt before she followed Reese leaving Ira alone. Ira kicked the gravel around the swing angrily but finally got up and headed towards the porch where Noah sat quietly waiting.
"I don't want to be here anymore." Noah sighed and rubbed his chin but didn't answer right away. He looked a lot different when he wasn't in his cop uniform, younger maybe but that made Ira feel closer to him and like he could talk to him.
"How about I take you away from here for a little while? We can get some ice cream." Ira huffed and sat down on the steps on the opposite side. He crossed his arms and pulled them close to his body and laid his head against the wooden post watching the woods.
Ira always knew that Keith wasn't his dad since he didn't look like him at all and werewolves were supposed to look like their fathers. Ira barely looked like his mum either. When he found a picture of Reese and his mum he knew Reese was his dad. He didn't know Reese's name and he didn't dare ask his mum, but he kept the picture under his pillow and he studied it. He memorised Reese' smile and his eyes and his body language, he made up a whole story about Reese and why he wasn't there. He turned Reese into an international spy for the pack and a fire man who went around and rescued people and even royalty once.
Now that he was with his father he found the reality much duller and much harder. He pictured his mum being there and them all being together. He pictured his mum's happy smile and maybe even some siblings. None of that would ever happen. His parents hated one another and would never be in the same country let alone the same room. He now had Kim and his father but even if he survived here and they had kids he would be forever illegitimate in the pack. He'd be nothing. Maybe he was nothing.
His knuckles were bloody by the time Kim found him and forced him to the ground. He lay with his cheek pressed to the cold earth and with Kim on top of him saying nothing. She rubbed his back calmly as he took deep breaths. Sometimes, teaching a recalcitrant mutt, it would get away from him and he would just keep hitting. He had phenomenal control but sometimes he needed to go harder, or further. Finally he calmed down enough to reach behind and flip Kim over in a quick move, so he was on his back, and, Kim was on top of him.
"Better?" she asked. Reese took another deep breath and nodded. Kim smiled and bent down kissing him to cool the anger and frustration. He groaned as she moved further down and kissed his jaw and neck making a trail down his t-shirt and stomach. She pulled up his shirt and gave him the same treatment making her way across his abs and to his jeans. Reese felt himself harden and knew he needed a distraction. He couldn't think of anything right then when all these emotions clouded his mind. His mate was the best kind of distraction.
As always she knew the best way to get him to the right state of mind. As she moved on top of him everything else left him. It was just him and his mate and he needed this. An hour later he lay with her in his arms staring up at the tree branches. Kim hadn't moved for the last little while but Reese had been tracking her breathing. Her loved watching her breath, and sleep, and he loved when her eyelids fluttered as she lay there.
"Better?" Reese nodded this time. "What are we going to do?"
"I have no idea," Reese admitted. Kim sat up and brushed a few leaves from his hair. She reached down and brought his hand up examining his knuckles and then kissing the dried blood. He knew she hated when he came back with blood and bruises, or, when he got them right in front of her. They had talked about it many times but they couldn't change their lifestyles. Reese was a pack enforcer and Kim was becoming one. This was the life they chose, the life that would keep them, and now their son, safe.
Kim had not come to them a fighter. In fact she came to them terrified and bitten, a privileged girl who was used to fast cars, money and hot guys. Then the wrong guy came along and her luck changed. Luckily, they were tracking the guy from hearing stories about an out of control mutt. They found the mutt and they found Kim. It had been a rough few years but to Reese it had been worth it. Kim was his world.
"I wish you wouldn't do that." Kim kissed his hand again and Reese murmured an apology.
"It's my job Kim," Reese said. He looked away before he could catch the look she gave him and reached for his shirt. She had talked many times about just leaving and living normal and simple lives. They would have to fend off the occasional mutt but they could raise their children in safety instead of bringing them into this life. It would never really happen because both of them loved the pack, the pack had saved them both, but it was an ideal.
"We should get back. We need to keep trying to talk to him," Kim said. Reese nodded. Kim stood and grabbed her jeans tugging them on as Reese watched with rising interest. She shook her head and reached out a hand when he was ready to walk back.
"We need to figure out a way to get him to trust us." Neither of them had any ideas how though. He was a stone wall and the only way to get through that wall seemed to be with a wrecking ball. That would do more damage than good. No, the way they needed to address this was by eroding the wall slowly taking their time.
When they cleared the woods Reese prepared to do battle again but when he glanced at the swing, it was empty. "How long were we gone?" Reese asked. Kim shrugged as he dug into his pocket and took out his watch. He sighed. Almost two hours. The yard was deserted except for Nick who was working on his laptop on the back porch. He looked up and waved as they walked towards the patio set.
Kim mentioned that she needed a shower and took off, pecking Reese on the cheek before doing the same with Nick, and disappearing. Reese smiled watching her walk away, he was intent on getting some food but Nick stopped him, asking him to sit. He sniffed the air and made a face before shutting his laptop.
"Reese, I don't think you have your priorities straight here." Reese stiffened and drummed her fingers on the glass table top. He desperately needed a coffee but leaving right now would be a bad idea. Nick would not be appreciative of that. "Instead of talking to your son you went in the woods, and, you had sex. What kind of a solution is that?"
"Nick, I needed some time. He was pissing me off…," Reese sighed and Nick raised an eyebrow. "I mean, he's frustrating me. He refuses to talk or let me in; all I want to do is help him. I have no idea how." Nick reached for his coffee and took a drink before he started up again.
"Cooling off is fine but it seems like you went into the woods to deck the trees," he said looking at Reese' knuckles, "and then tried to forget about him by having sex. First of all, you need to keep in prime shape in case we need you for the mutts and, secondly, what are you doing still trying to conceive when you have him to think about?" Nick asked.
Reese growled and crossed his arms angrily. It was his life and he should have control of it. He should be able to decide. He was dealing with suddenly have a child as best he could. He wanted to be a good father but, he was just realizing he was a father. He was a parent but he was struggling with it. It wasn't supposed to happen this way. They were supposed to have a baby who grew into a child and they would just learn along the way. Now he had a child without learning the rest.
"Reese, just listen. Ira is not an easy kid. You've had him for, what a week? Week and a half? And I can already see that. Ira is a smart little guy but he is very challenging and he's been traumatized. You need to focus on him right now and not having a baby." Reese closed his eyes and took a deep breath before standing. "I'm not trying to tell you how to live your life," Nick said.
"Yeah, it really seems like it. I need to go find him," Reese growled. He was already frustrated by everything going on and he didn't need Nick telling him what to do. This was hard enough already. He strode to the door pulling it open.
"Do you remember when Clary was born and more recently Dom. Night upon night of no sleep, totally focused on the baby day and night with hardly any time for anything else? Where would Ira fit into that Reese? He needs a lot of attention right now." Reese froze and set his hand on the door frame. "I know you're scared you can't do this Reese, but you can. If I can shape up and become someone my kids deserve you can too. You've always been a much better man than me, more focused and more level headed. You're going to make a great dad but Ira needs to be your first kid right now. No one else," Nick said.
"No, you're not Reese. Sneaking off to have sex instead of dealing with Ira and thinking about having a new baby. That is not putting Ira first. Smarten up," Nick advised. Reese bristled at this but said nothing. It hurt to think that he wasn't being the best dad he could and there was no excuse he could find that was acceptable.
Ira played with the spoon in his ice cream cup swirling around the rest of his Heavenly Hash on the bottom. He called it ice cream soup. His favorite part was waiting to see it melt and eating it like soup afterwards. Noah had been watching him eat but hadn't said anything. A few people had stopped by the table and talked to Noah who always smiled. They called his officer and Ira was intrigued at how they treated him. Would they treat him the same if they knew what he was?
Noah introduced Ira as his nephew and Ira went along with it knowing this was how it was in the pack. Ira's attention drifted from the latest conversation Noah was having with someone to the tables and the ice cream shack itself. It was a little past the last few building in the town and stood in a grassy field with picnic tables surrounding it. It was moderately busy being after supper but it didn't bother Ira too much, when his mum and him went to the city it was always much busier. He stuck close to her not being the best people person in the world.
"Did your dad ever tell you how I met him?" Noah asked. Ira shook his head still watching his ice cream but listening intently. "I was seventeen and he helped rescue me from some bad mutts. I learned to trust the pack because of him. Your dad has been through some bad stuff and, so had I, but it was hard for me to trust. He was working on trust too and we helped one another. I don't think I would have done so well if it wasn't for your dad. I know you don't see it now but he's so kind and caring. He's loyal and he's one of the best people I know. He's my brother and best friend Ira. I really wish you'd give him a chance."
Ira glanced up pushing his ice cream cup aside and watching Noah. "I want to hear the whole story. What happed to your dad?" Noah tensed but nodded and began at the beginning making it a PG13 tale instead of the R rated story it was. When he was done Ira watched him carefully.
"Why was Reese here? Why did he leave Oz? Mum…," Ira said inwardly wincing when he thought of her, "mum never said. She just said he abandoned us. Why would he do that if he was so good?" Ira was still gripping the plastic spoon and it snapped it half with his anger. Ira looked surprised and then set it aside folding his hands and looking steadily at Noah again. Noah opened his mouth but he didn't answer. Instead someone behind him did.
"I left because I needed to," Reese said behind him. Ira turned to see his father and Kim. Noah nodded to them and Reese gestured for him to leave. Noah stood and Kim set a hand on his shoulder and mouthed a "thank you". He bent and hugged her tightly before Reese patted him on the shoulder and gave him a thankful smile.
"Why?" Ira asked. Reese sat down in Noah's vacated chair as Kim gathered the ice cream cups and deposited them in the garbage.
"I'm going to make you a deal, Ira," Reese said as Kim sat down beside him, "I…we think your old enough and smart enough to hear the truth and, I'm going to tell you everything. If I do tell you everything I need a promise that you'll start speaking to me, especially about what happened today, ok?" Reese asked. Ira sighed and placed his hands and arms on the table setting his head on his hands.
"If you tell me something I tell you something?" he asked. Reese nodded and said that was the deal for now but in the future Ira would be expected to talk without being given an incentive and that was non-negotiable. Ira raised an eyebrow at this knowing he could get around it if he wanted to. As long as he got what he wanted now he didn't care about the future.
He agreed to the terms and they headed somewhere private to talk. What his dad had to say couldn't be said in public. They started towards a walking trail and Ira noticed Kim was coming too. He stopped and turned towards her crossing his arms. "I'm sorry Ira. I'm staying," Kim said picking up on his thoughts. She set a hand on his father's shoulder and he sensed that they were a united front. He didn't really want her here and he wasn't really interested in another mum but he had to pick his battles. He nodded and they continued on.
Over the next hour he heard a story that was vastly different than what he previously heard and what he assumed. His father told him the truth and left no detail out. He heard about them meeting and him rescuing her which later turned out to be a set up, he heard about their perfect relationship and her finally telling him who she was. Reese even told him about his mum manipulating and betraying him and about his parents dying. It was his mum's fault and Keith's fault too.
His father tried to be as gentle as possible but he couldn't picture his mother ever acting like that. Of course after the phone call maybe he could imagine it a bit more. She was always there for him, always kind, for the most part, and always standing up for him. She was never really nice to anyone else though, she yelled a lot at others and she liked to have her way. Her way was always Ira's way too he realized. His mum had shaped him to bend her way. There was never a situation where she did not get her way with him, where she did not come out on top. The revelation was so heavy he suddenly had to sit. Not many people in the pack had liked his mum and now he knew why.
His father asked him if he was ok and he nodded picking a leaf off of a nearby tree and crushing in between his fingers. Neither Reese nor Kim, who had been silent through it all, said anything. They let him be there and be silent and just think. He missed his mum but now he missed her less, after the phone call he was desperate to reconnect with her though. To make her feel the same about him, or for her to see he was the same. He would do whatever she wanted and maybe she would tell him her side. Maybe it was different than what Reese said. How could he really trust a man he hardly knew?
When he was ready he looked up to see Reese and Kim were sitting on the side of the path waiting for him and holding hands. They were talking quietly at first but had been silent for the last little while. If what Reese said was true it would make him the good guy and if he was the good guy Ira would be wrong. He didn't seem like the good guy though. Not that he was evil but it was something Ira could not pin down, something non tangible.
"Ready?" Reese asked. Ira shrugged, stood and started down the path with them following. He wasn't ready to face this yet. He also was not ready, or permitted, to tell them that they lived on Reese's sheep farm. If Ira told him that then Reese would go and kill them all. It wasn't that he cared so much about most of them but what about Irene. Would his father kill a child? If she were privy to secret information then he might, information that would hurt werewolves everywhere.
Ira was silent on the way home until Reese reminded them of their deal. He opened his mouth but then decided against it. He didn't have any obligation to tell them and it would only make him look bad. He kept his mouth shut. When they finally stopped insisting he speak Reese told him he would be apologizing both to Kate and the Alpha when they got in, and he would be punished if he didn't. He wondered what a punishment entailed exactly. He didn't have time to consider it too much though, because he was waylaid by Elena right away when he stepped inside. Ira looked from the Alpha to Reese wondering. If he had his way he wouldn't listen to either of them and he would leave immediately. He'd catch a bus or a plane and find his mum. If she didn't want him, it hurt a lot, but if she didn't want him he would go somewhere else. He was old enough to be on his own. Smart enough to fend for himself.
He ended up in the study sitting on the couch kicking his legs with crossed arms. He looked at the fabric of the couch across from him and not at the Alpha. She insisted they speak alone and now they were. Elena had already asked him to look at her but he couldn't yet. When she moved closer to him and sat on the coffee table he pushed back into the cushions. Finally he felt her stare and he looked into her profound blue eyes that were open but firm.
"Ira, thank you for looking at me but I would like you to do it the first time I ask next time, understood?" Ira nodded. "Good, now Reese tells me you know the rules and the difference between right and wrong but what you did today proves you don't. Do you have anything to say?" she asked sitting back. She started to cross her arms but then stopped and kept them at her sides crossing her legs and gripping the table top lightly. Ira watched her knuckles for a moment.
Finally he shook his head and started to look away but it was hard, harder than with anyone else. It had been like this with Keith too. It was hard to not be compelled by the Alpha's gaze. He blinked finally and forced his gaze away annoyed. "Ira, I would like you to speak when I ask." Ira tensed and shrugged. Elena waited him out making him nervous about an adult's attention for the first time in a long time.
Elena kept trying to get through to him but he had stopped paying attention. He didn't care anymore. Her voice droned in the back ground and he dreamed of anywhere but here. He went to his safe space, the place where he liked to read in Oz. The feeling of the rocks and the way it got so dark sometimes he had to use a flash light but, it never mattered. He was always safe there no matter how dark it got or even if it got a bit cold at night.
He stayed in his own world until he felt her touch his leg, lightly. Ira's eyes snapped back to Elena and the world around him. Her touch sent a small burn circulating around his knee and he pulled back bringing his knees to his chest and hugging them. "I would like you to apologize to Kate and you will be working around the house to pay to fix the phone, understood?" Ira eyes her and shrugged again.
"Ira, you will answer me verbally." Ira sat up straighter annoyance zinging through him but, like with Keith, he knew when and where he could push and with who. You didn't push with the Alpha, not too much anyway. Elena may be a woman but maybe she would still get annoyed with him and he would end up hurt.
"Yes, I understand. I'll apologize and I'll do chores. Can I go?" Ira asked. He would have just walked out but he knew that would not work here. Elena shook her head and Ira slumped back suppressing a groan.
Elena kept him there wanting to know if they was anything he knew that would help. He didn't, well he did, like the fact that he called Keith and that he knew where the Aussie pack was and, that they were coming. He didn't tell her any of that. He kept his face and eyes shuttered but he was sure she saw right through that. He didn't care and surprisingly she didn't push too much. She finally let him leave.
"Ira," she said as he walked fast to the doorway. He stopped but didn't turn, "I don't care if you are angry, upset or if you hate us all. You will acknowledge us and and be respectful even if you are picturing killing us all. Understand?" she asked. Ira was frozen. He took a moment to contemplate walking out but he was too tired for another fight. Slowly he pivoted and straightened up throwing on a neutral expression on.
"Fine, I'll try," Ira said only being able to muster semi respectful right then. Elena nodded looking a bit annoyed but she only told him that he should give Reese a chance and that he was just trying to help. Ira doubted that but he nodded and was finally allowed to go and get ready for bed. He was bunking with Logan and the girls would be with Kate. Logan wasn't too happy with him but at least he wasn't giving him the cold shoulder. He stared up into Logan ceiling listening to the outside and day dreaming of home.