Ira swiped the table top with a wash cloth and turned to go back to the kitchen but Jeremy's raised eyebrow made him stop. He walked back and redid the job slowly moving the place settings this time and wiping under them. The apology to Kate had not gone well and had gotten him another talking to from both Reese and Elena. For a normally quiet person he was finding it difficult to keep up talking so much. He missed being invisible. His best super power was being unseen and unheard. Here that was impossible because the pack was so much smaller than the one in Oz.
He had meant for the apology to go well so he could just get it over with. Admitting he was wrong was hard. They were stuck here for the rest of the day and he was tired of the tension. He found his valour and had said he was sorry, but Kate had made an offhand remark about his mum and he had lost it. He now knew that she hadn't meant to be unkind, she was just asking about his mother to be nice. He took it the wrong way and lunged at her, an impulse he rarely had, punching her jaw but it did little good. He wasn't that strong. Luckily Kate was pretty controlled and she didn't fight back. He was hauled off of her before she could anyway.
After that he had listened for an hour to both Elena and his father lecture him on pack etiquette and controlling his hostility. He had tried to listen, he really had and he even managed to at some points but eventually it became overwhelming. If he had to listen to one more 'do's' and 'don'ts' he'd scream. Finally he closed his eyes and hid his head under a pillow curling up on the couch. Ultimately they stopped talking and let him be to take a breath and clear his mind. He suddenly missed his mum more than ever. She knew his limits and she knew when he couldn't take anymore. They didn't.
He had decided to give up at this point. The first few weeks here with his father had been a huge disaster. There seemed to be no one he couldn't upset, nothing he couldn't ruin or get a look for or get into trouble for. Logan, and especially Kate, was not very keen on him right now. He figured out if he pissed off one of them the other would be upset as well, backing their twin up. Therefore the twins were not fond of him right now. Nita, at least, still liked him though, Karl had gotten wind of Ira's attitude and now he preferred Nita not be around him.
None of the adults seemed terribly happy with him either. He spent the rest of his time at Stonehaven staring out the window watching the other kids playing or trailing behind them when they, the twins, because of the adults, or the adults themselves, urged him to join in. He declined most of the time. He was a loner back home so it was more comfortable to be a loner here.
There had been one interesting conversation with Jeremy when Ira was trying to escape the noise and found his studio. He opened a random door and stopped seeing easels, canvases and paint. Some of them were filled with pictures like wolves or pack members. They looked so real Ira walked up to one trying to figure out if it was a picture. Behind him the door closed and he turned surprised to see Jeremy standing there. His hands had paint on them and there were a few streaks in his hair.
"I'll go," Ira said immediately. One thing he learned about adults is that they liked their privacy and they liked their private spaces to be kid and other adult free. They didn't like people entering those spaces and doing so often led to some pain or in Ira's case, when he invaded Keith's private basement room, when he was three and before he understood these things, a black eye. He moved fast past Jeremy to the door and the man reached out. Ira flinched and flung himself on the doorknob trying to open it to no avail.
"Ira," Jeremy said quietly but firmly. Ira gave the doorknob one last tug and then turned to look at him pushing against the wooden door. "If you are looking for a quiet place to think then you are more than welcome to be here." Jeremy walked to one of his easels and picked up a paint brush. Ira silently watched him and decided it was safe. He stayed there for most of the duration of their stay. He learned later that Jeremy didn't normally like anyone in here. Ira repaid him but sitting down against the wall and watching silently for hours not saying a word or making a noise, just thankful no one was bothering him for once.
The kids were playing tag in the backyard and the twins were trying to tire them out before supper and distract them from the fact it was too wet for a bonfire. Ira, as usual, was just watching them. Reese had finally dragged him from Jeremy's art room after hours of hiding and told him to get some sunshine. He wasn't bonding with the pack kids and it was immensely worrying. Even Clay had bonded with Nick and then the others after a bit but Ira was so withdrawn and so against making a connection Reese was beginning to wonder if he was an atypical werewolf.
Elena said to give him time but this was so critical and Ira had so little time to make a good impression and find his place here. The boy was frozen watching the kids run back and forth but he didn't even have anticipating in his eyes or wanting to join. He looked bored. Reese wanted to push him but he didn't dare. He was a wall and the only way to get through was to slowly erode the wall or find the cracks that could be fixed.
Behind him he heard the door open and he turned seeing his mate. Kim had gone to pick up Jaime at the airport and they had gone shopping for a few hours before coming here. This was Kim's distraction and one she desperately needed. She was not a woman who liked to lose and she was finding herself on the losing side of her new son too much lately. They all were.
"I got your something," she smiled. Reese glanced outside a last time before walking to where she had dumped a dozen books on the table. Reese narrowed his eyes confused and picked one up. Parenting your Adopted Child and Reaching Adopted Boys.
"Parenting books?" he asked and Kim nodded. She picked up one and sat down starting to page through it. Reese was not sure if he should point out that Ira was not really adopted but Kim picked up on his thoughts and smiled patting the seat near her.
"Ira may be your biological son but for all intents and purposes we are basically adopting an older child, an older child who has been through a trauma and who is difficult. I think these will be better for us than the typical parenting book, don't you?" she asked. Reese nodded and took one feeling trepidation but knowing this was part of what Nick was talking about.
"We're not going to be doing much beyond reading for the next little while, are we?" Reese sighed and put an arm around her shoulder. He pulled his mate to him and bent down kissing her hair.
She smiled and winked at him coming close for a kiss, "I hope you enjoyed the woods today." Reese groaned. Reading was a poor substitute for their usual entertainment. Hopefully Ira would not catch on to what they were doing but he was a smart little boy. Maybe he would see it as them trying but most likely not. They would get some kind of rye comment or observation at least.
Ira never thought he would be so happy to be back at his new home, his father's home. If they noticed anything different about Ira they said nothing. He felt like giving up but maybe that didn't look any different than when he had first come here. Maybe they were disappointed in him, a grownups favorite expression and sentiment when dealing with children. Ira did not care. He was not here to please them; he was forced to be here, against his will. It was almost criminal.
Admittedly back home he had a lot more chores and responsibilities then this and he was really getting off easily. On the sheep farm, which had grown exponentially in the last few years, all the kids knew how to feed the sheep, shorn them and how to watch them when in the fields most of the day. There was a schedule and they took turns. Ira loved sitting on the hill and watching like a shepherd of old. It was necessary as well since everything is Australia was effectively trying to kill you and therefore the other animals.
He was helping to clear plates and supper things off the table, part of his new chore regiment to pay Kate back, when the door opened. He perked up immediately and walked fast to the doorway looking out. A woman he did not recognize stood there. She was tall and beautiful but she wasn't his mum. In his heart he knew he should not be still looking for her, listening for her familiar footsteps and her voice. He still wanted that so much. He both hated himself for wanting her and loved himself for being so loyal to her.
Behind him Nick was taking Dom from his high chair and he was proceeding to set a new record for the toddler longest throw with his sippy cup. It bounced off the china cabinet and juice flew everywhere as Dom clapped. Clary, as soon as the door opened, had jumped down from her chair and was now running down the hallway screaming "mommy". Nick and Dom passed him next with Dom babbling and opening and closing his hands again and again as Nick met the woman in the hallway, Vanessa, and hugged her tightly. They shared a kiss before she bent and picked up Clary and kissed her son on the forehead. Both children babbled about the days their mother as away. Ira watched with growing discomfort as their mother hugged and kissed them and spoke to them with a huge smile. He was totally forgotten and ignored. Normally he would not mind. Today it seemed cruel and unusual.
Ira turned from the scene and his heart contracted. As fast as he could he headed down the hall towards them and up the stairs. Vanessa mentioned having presents for her kids and Clary's squeal hurt Ira's ears. He was half way up the stairs, with hands lightly over his ears, when his father's voice stopped him. Ever since his dad told him about his past Reese had been a little more demanding and more focused on the father part. The part Ira hated was that he was expected to listen now, another criminal act.
Now his dad commanded him to stop and come back. Ira considered this. He really did not want to be around Vanessa, a mom, with her kid's right then. It was too soon. On the other hand he did not feel like a fight either. He was so tired of fighting. Plus, with the stupid new parenting books Reese and Kim were reading they had a slew of new punishments and things to annoy him with. He didn't want to make it easy on them but he was tired of it all.
Ira gripped the banister tightly watching his knuckles to turn white feeling the grain of the wood under his fingers as he contemplated. "Ira, now." Kim whispered something that Ira didn't catch but he turned. His father was half way up the stairs. Ira gave in and swept past his father and the family reunion to the dining room. He hastily took dishes and shoved them in the dishwasher in the kitchen making Antonio, who was at the sink, turn and ask him to be more careful. Ira nodded sharply forcing his wet eyes away. He had come closer and closer in the last few weeks to giving in, showing them his weakness.
"Ira, are you ok?" Ira gave another sharp nod before shutting the dishwasher, slower now, and rubbed his hands on his jeans. Antonio wiped his hands on a dishtowel and Ira could sense what was coming. He fled before Tonio could say anything opening and shutting the patio door too hard. He flung himself onto a patio chair. He felt so alone, so deserted. Talking to his mother had enforced how alone he was right now. His mum hated him. He had no one now. How long should he wait before he tried to go back to Oz? Or maybe tried to find his mum? In person he felt that he could convince her of thing he couldn't on the phone. She would see him again and love him again and he would prove he was good enough to be her son again.
He pulled his legs to his chest and closed his eyes. He hated this. No one else cared so why should he? The sliding door opening interrupted his thoughts and he opened to his eyes to see his dad. Ira forced himself to be calm and stood. He had already banished the water from his eyes. He was well practiced now. "I'm sorry, ok. I'll go back and do my chores." Ira strode forward intent on doing that so he could go to his room, but Reese reached out for him.
Ira ducked and continued until he was at the door. "I know that wasn't easy," Reese said. Ira froze. His muscles were starting to be sore because of being so tense the last few weeks he was starting to get muscle pain. He'd been in the hot tub a lot the past little while to dissuade this.
"No, you're not. Talk to me, buddy," Reese said and crouched so they were on eye level.
Ira growled annoyed instinctually surprising his father and tried to calm down. This time he couldn't. He balled his fists and finally exploded. "I am fine! I don't have a mum anymore so what does anything matter? I don't care!" Ira yelled. He stood on tip toes muscles taught screaming at his dad who crouched there calmly looking. He didn't look angry or annoyed with his outburst, in fact he smiled.
"Finally, I've been waiting for you to scream since you got here." Ira looked at his dad dumbfounded and blinked. "Listen, I am so sorry about all of this Ira," he said turning serious again. Ira's anger amped up another notch and he felt he could spit fire.
"You will never understand," Ira seethed in a low tone. He hugged his arms so tightly to himself that it almost hurt but it was the only thing keeping him together right then.
"Then help me, buddy, help me understand." Ira shook his head helplessly and clamed up. His eyes watered. "Ira, please. I want to help you so badly." His dad looked beyond desperate. Ira ignored him and turned away going back inside to finish his chores. He angrily swiped at his eyes and finished putting the food away without really paying attention. Ira had never really opened up to anyone in his life and even his mother only got a certain amount of his emotions that he kept well hidden. She was just well versed in his moods and knew him so well she surprised him sometimes by knowing when he was upset and usually what about.
When he was done he passed the door to the study on his way back and Kim called out to him to come and meet Vanessa. Ira glanced in seeing Vanessa on the couch, Nick was beside her and the kids were on the floor surrounding by wrapping and playing with presents. Immediately Vanessa smiled and asked if Ira wanted his gift. That threw him off and surprised he stared at her. He had to wonder what strings were attached to it. Since he didn't know he shook his head.
"I'll take it," Clary called standing and moving to take the gift but Nick stopped her and told her it was for Ira and she had plenty of toys.
"Well, I'll leave it here for you but, I've got to tell you it's pretty cool." Ira didn't answer until Reese, standing behind him, prompted him to be polite. He did so, as robot like as possible, and then excused himself. He had no intention of taking the present. He wasn't stupid. There was always an ulterior motive and he wasn't falling for it.
Still, as the week went on he couldn't help but glance at the present on the coffee table contemplating. He didn't have any toys here but he had books and he had a notebook he could write in now too. Clary offered to share her toys but the world of a seven year old girl is vastly different than the world of a nine, almost ten, year old boy. He wasn't playing tea party and princess, ever. Well, maybe if Irene asked but never anyone else.
The gift continued to haunt him throughout the week and he had every facet of it memorised from the blue shiny paper to the silver ribbon. He had even gone over and explored the tag with his name on it done the neat curly script; he liked the writing best of all. Whenever anyone saw him eyeing the gift they urged him to open it but he refused. It was driving Clary nuts and she had almost disobeyed and opened it a few times but she was weary enough of her parents to stop just in time.
No, the present would be a problem he wanted to contemplate for a while before he decided what to do. Nick had even joked at breakfast that morning that if this was what Christmas and birthdays would be like they would need to book a week off for the occasion. Ira glanced at the calendar when he said it. There were still a few more weeks before he turned ten in October. They had brought up the subject of his birthday a few times but Ira told them in no uncertain terms what he wanted, nothing. Normally his mum made his favorite raspberry cheesecake and they would spend the day away. If he couldn't have that he didn't want anything. There had also been a lot of talk around the house now of getting him into school so Reese could go back to work. His dad had been reluctant. Good, Ira didn't want to go. He didn't want to stay around here either but it was the better of two worst case scenarios.
He was on his way to the front door to get his shoes, Kim and Reese said they were going to get food, when he noticed the blue paper scattered all over the living room floor. He stopped and walked in to see Dom sitting on the chair and chewing on the side of a Lego box in the middle of the wrapping paper. Ira cocked his head to the side to see it a model for 16+. He may have enjoyed that. Dom smiled when he saw him and picked up the paper with one hand shaking it and gurgling like he wanted Ira to join him.
"Dominic Emilio Sorrentino, that was your cousin's toy," Vanessa said behind him. She walked in and picked the boy up taking the toy from him and apologizing to Ira. Ira shrugged. Vanessa seemed annoyed and a little hurt but Ira didn't know why. He stayed for a few moments and then went to foyer not bothered by it at all. Now he didn't need to worry about an ulterior motive. Babies were good for something after all.
"Vanessa told us about Dom and your toy, are you sure you don't want it?" Kim asked as they waited in line at the local Italian restaurant. He was coming to find it was a place they went to at least once a week. Ira shrugged and took another bite of his gelato. He'd been hungry and the gelato was free for kids so they'd gotten him a big scoop of coconut and pineapple, his favorite.
"You can have it if you want Ira. You don't really have any toys and you won't really let us buy you any either," Reese said looking at Kim annoyed. Kim shook her head at him to drop it and his dad did with reluctance. His father had asked him again and again if he wanted something, anything, besides the books he was buying, and getting the others, to buy for him on a frequent basis, maybe but he didn't ask for the books and he would not ask for the toys. He was ok without them.
He did ask for an allowance like the others though since all the other pack kids got one. No one knew what he was using it for but he had plans. They were always encouraging him to buy something but he wanted to save. He had to get to his mother somehow. He'd also asked for a computer but he wasn't getting that until his birthday or Christmas, or so he had been told. He'd have to wait to do research on his mother's whereabouts. Of course they didn't need to know that.
After almost a month of being here Ira frequently wondered when he would finally push his dad too far and he was really anticipating it as well. Maybe then he would stop talking, stop trying and stop buying Ira off. Reese was around every corner and Ira felt like it was an assault. The only breath of relief seemed to be when Kim distracted him or he went to bed. Maybe school would not be such a bad idea after all.
"I'm stuck with you," Ira finally said one day when his father had been at him to spend time together all day or to do something besides sit around and 'mopping' as he put it. Reese could not disguise the cloud of hurt and he didn't try. He had finally said something to show his dad he was done. Reese was apparently done too and he looked up resolved.
"I'm stuck with you too, I guess," Reese shrugged. Ira went wide eyed and he opened his mouth to speak but his father didn't expand on this. He only shook his head, mumbled something and left. Ira watched him go and minutes later he heard Kim saying something and the front door open and close a little too hard. He sat there dazed for a bit before he turned the TV off and got up. At the front window he saw Kim and Reese talking to one another outside before Reese threw up his hands and started to walk away. Kim yelled something after him and Ira tensed. Now, he had caused them to fight which he thought was impossible. He was just a home wrecker he guessed. For some reason the thought made him smile. If they were fighting they were not focused on him.
Finally he grabbed the front door handle and undid the lock throwing the door open. The alarm blared immediately but Ira didn't care. He walked onto the front step as his dad put on a helmet and took off on a motorcycle Ira didn't know he owned. Kim put both hands to her head watching him go. Behind him Ira heard someone's hurried footsteps. They were fast in this house.
"Ira, why don't you go inside and get ready for bed?" Ira turned and nodded sharply to Antonio before walking off. This got him thinking. He was upset because he was stuck with Reese but he never realized that Reese would be upset to be stuck with him too. As the dad Reese was forced to take care of Ira and maybe he didn't like it any more than Ira did. Maybe he could just tell his dad that he didn't want to be here and that he could go back to Oz. Keith would not hurt him, he was sure about this.
Ira was lying in bed looking at the ceiling and thinking about how he could approach the subject. If he did it with finesse than maybe Reese would listen to him and the Alpha too. Maybe he could go home and convince his mum nothing was wrong. Lost in thought he didn't hear someone knock on the door but when he looked over he saw Kim hovering there. She looked uncertain before she smiled and came to sit down on the bed. "Reese is out…,"
"Because I made him leave," Ira said without emotion. Kim immediately started to protest but Ira held up a hand. "I wanted him to leave Kim and I want you to leave too." Kim took a deep breath and looked as if she would get up but then she shook her head looking resolved. Ira glared and crossed his pyjama clad arms. This was his room, his one safe space that no one was allowed to invade without his permission.
"You're not scaring me away Ira, you may think you're a scary kid but you're a little boy who needs help even if you don't realize it. We're here to stay and so are you. Get used to it." Ira scowled and ignored her covering his head with the blanket when she asked if he needed anything or wanted her to stay. Under the blankets he sent out a muffled reply that he didn't want or need her. She said nothing. When she finally left Ira emerged breathing a sigh of relief. How often would they have to push them away before they got the point? He didn't want them. He didn't want anyone but his mum who might not be interested in the fact that she had a child anymore.
He set his helmet on the bench in the hallway and turned to re-engage the locks. The house was silent and he assumed all the kids and everyone else was asleep. He purposively came back late so he wouldn't encounter anyone. He wanted to be there for Ira but the boy pushing him away hurt so much and he was having a hard time admitting it. He needed some time.
"You missed his first smile, his first words, his first steps, his first laugh Reese. Don't miss anymore firsts." Reese looked up guiltily to see Kim in the doorway coming in quietly like a ghost. "Don't let him push you away so you miss anymore, sweetheart," she pleaded. She looked incredibly upset like he had only seen her when talking about her family.
"I am trying." Kim nodded and walked forward hugging him. He hugged her to his chest tightly and set his chin on her head. "I am trying so hard but when he keeps saying he doesn't want me and that he doesn't need me. When he keeps rejecting everything I try and do for him. When he request things like an allowance or a computer and I know he has ulterior motives, it hurts. That boy and you are my only real family since my parents," Reese said quietly. Instantly a picture of Daniella threw itself into his head and then the last time he saw his parents. His shoulders sagged as he gave into the memories.
Kim looked up seeing his eyes and instantly she took his hand and walked him into the living room. She pushed him into a seat; the leather on his jacket squeaked as she sat on his lap and put her arms around his neck. "You have a whole family here that has had your back ever since Clay and Elena tracked you down in Alaska. I know it is not the same but we're all here for you, we're all family, we're all pack."
"I know. I just feel so connected to Ira since he is my blood, my only blood in the world and he hates me. I have no idea what to do." Kim put her nose to Reese's cheek and closed her eyes feeling her mate tremble a bit. She held him while he came unravelled for a few minutes in time. Kim and everyone else knew that adults being pillars of strength was bull shit, adults got upset but they just hid it better. They cried just not as much. Reese had his share of tears even if he didn't tend to be as susceptible to them as the kids. How could he not with what he had seen and how he had been treated by those he had trusted?
"Ok?" Kim asked when Reese moved a bit. He nodded and she reached up and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He chuckled not ashamed of them and buried his nose in her neck. This was the ultimate sign of trust to her. That her mate could show her his deepest weakness and not be ashamed said so much.
"Yeah, is he asleep?" Kim nodded. Reese held her for a little while longer before he stood and settled her on her feet. Kim rolled her eyes at the noise his jacket made and arm in arm they walked back upstairs and opened Ira's door to look in on him. He was fast asleep curled around one pillow with his own tears dried onto his cheeks. He would not cry in front of them but he did cry which was a relief. He wasn't hiding all his emotions until he exploded. He was just hiding from them.
Reese walked into the room quietly, taking off his jacket in the hallway, and looked at his son deep in sleep. He looked back at Kim for a moment and then snuck closer to the bed. As slowly as he possibly could he set a knee on the bed and then sat down. When Ira didn't move Reese reached for him and gently pulled him into his arms hugging him lightly. Ira's head fell on Reese's shoulder and he breathed in his son's scent. He hugged him, a real hug, for the first time. He was little boy mixed with a small bit of werewolf. He held Ira for as long as he dared rubbing his back gently feeling his slight weight. Finally he put him back down and pulled the covers over. He brushed his hair gently from his eyes and, for the first time, kissed his forehead. This was the best kind of first for him.
As they walked out Kim beamed at him and rubbed his arm. "That could have gone so horribly wrong."
"But it was so worth it," Reese said feeling rejuvenated. It was time to push and be what Ira needed. No more walking on egg shells around the kid. Ira was going to learn who was in charge and more importantly that he could trust them and feel safe. Maybe this would be the thing that nearly killed him. Maybe it would take months or years.
"We should talk," Reese said quietly when they were in their room undressing for bed. Kim nodded pulling off her jeans and for a moment Reese was distracted. She rolled her eyes and gestured for him to go on and he did pulling off his own jeans and shirt and getting into bed waiting. He put a hand behind his head and dreaded the conversation he needed to have with her. She was not going to like it but Nick was right.
"I think, in the interest of putting Ira first, we should stop trying to have a baby." Kim paused in the act of picking up their discarded clothes and throwing them in the laundry chute. "I know how badly you want a family but…I'm worried about Ira and I am worried about focusing on him. If we get pregnant it might be twice as hard with him," he explained reaching up and brushing a hand through thick blonde hair. A sure sign he was stressed.
"I know," Kim sighed and walked to the bed. She pulled back the covers on her side of the bed and climbed in staying still instead of cuddling into his side like normal. Reese's mind raced a million miles a minute trying to think of a way to make this right.
"I'm sorry, Kimmy," Reese said rolling over and putting an arm around her, his muscled and scarred arm encompassing nearly her whole tiny chest and stomach.
"It's ok, Reese, your right. Our focus should be him right now." Her voice froze him a bit and he knew he had gone at this the wrong way. Her skin even felt a bit colder than normal like she was an ice woman under the surface and could freeze into a statue where he could never reach her.
"No," Reese said getting up covering her body in seconds. He looked down on her, just as scarred as he was but more beautiful. "It's not ok. I know you're disappointed." She nodded not trying to hide it. Not that she could. Her eyes told the tale of her life at any given moment.
"I know he is not yours Kim, not really and I know that it's frustrating…"
"Reese, he is mine. I accept him and he is my son, even if he never calls me mom or never accepts me. I don't care. He is ours, not just yours," Reese smiled. "I am worried but I'm worried about Ira more, so, it would be better to wait." At this she reached over to the dresser drawer and opened it taking out the condoms. He looked over and grinned pressing his readiness into her thigh. At least they would still get to have fun.