Spring was still holding on by its teeth, despite summer’s various attempts at thawing it out. Ezekiel unzipped his hoody, his eyes watering from the pollen in the air. He stood outside Isabelle’s office waiting for Cole to finish up his session. He had just arrived from meeting with Gabriel in the city, his behavior more chilling than the coldest days winter had thrown at them.
The office door opened and Cole burst out, chatting up a storm to Isabelle following shortly behind him.
“Then we read another book. That was a good book, wasn’t it dad?” He turned to Ezekiel, bouncing on his toes.
Ezekiel looked down at him confusedly, “What book?”
“The one with the dragon!” Cole threw his arms open wide, “The huge red dragon!”
“Oh, yes, that one,” Ezekiel chuckled, “We read that one three times last night.”
Isabelle smiled at them, ruffling Cole’s hair, “Okay, kiddo, I’ll see you again in a couple days. Trevor’s out back, why don’t you go play with him for a bit?”
Cole nodded enthusiastically, “Okay! I want a hug!” He reached up and Ezekiel picked him up in a bear hug. Cole giggled hugging Ezekiel tightly around the neck, then squirmed to be put back down and ran off towards the back yard.
“Don’t forget your coat!” Isabelle called after him, watching the boy skid to a stop before running back and into her office. He raced back out with his coat on, zipping it as he ran.
Isabelle smiled warmly at Ezekiel, “I want to talk to you for a minute.” She tilted her head towards her office.
Ezekiel lifted an eyebrow, “What’s up?” He followed her in, folding his arms across his chest.
“We haven’t talked in a while, just you and I,” She picked up her coffee mug filled with hot chocolate from her desk, “How are you doing?”
Lifting a shoulder in a half shrug, Ezekiel dropped his arms to his sides, “Should we? I am in a relationship with your best friend...”
Isabelle smiled, “It’s up to you. I can refer you to someone else, if you’d like?”
Ezekiel looked away, pressing his lips together. Someone else meant getting used to a stranger, “No, it’s okay.” He looked back at her, shrugging again.
“The offer is always open,” Isabelle reassured him, “If you ever want to talk about her or things involving her, you don’t have to speak to me about it if you’re not comfortable.”
Ezekiel nodded, “Alright.”
“Things are okay though, right?” She looked him over, taking in his healthier appearance, “You look like you’ve been sleeping better.”
“Yeah,” Ezekiel shrugged, “I still have anxiety attacks, but they seem to be... better, I guess...” He rolled his sleeve up a little to scratch under the bandages wrapped around his arm. The cast had been removed a few days earlier and replaced with soft bandages instead, to give his arm another few days of healing. He was still adjusting to the new found mobility without the stiff plaster cast, “Raine helps a lot.” He rolled his sleeve back down, folding his arms again.
Isabelle smiled, “I’m glad,” She leaned against the desk, sipping her hot chocolate, “Cole seems to be doing well. Still having nightmares, but managing them well.”
“They’re less frequent,” Ezekiel nodded in agreement, “They don’t get him down as much as they used to at least.”
“He was saying they’re not as scary anymore,” Isabelle stood up, moving to the window, “Have you talked to Vince lately?” She looked over her shoulder at him, her face suddenly creased with worry.
Ezekiel pressed his lips together averting his eyes to the photos on the walls, “No. Gabe has though.”
Nodding, Isabelle looked back out the window, “As long as he’s alright.”
“Raine told me.”
A sad smile lifted her lips, “I’m not surprised.” She turned away from the window, walking over to the desk and sat down.
Ezekiel shifted uncomfortably, “He cares about you and Trevor-”
“I don’t doubt that,” Isabelle interrupted, “I wish he could just do it here,” She leaned back in her chair, stretching her arms out in front of herself, “He’s so paranoid lately.”
Folding his arms over his chest, Ezekiel nodded curtly, “Side effects of the war.”
Isabelle slumped forward, “Is it? He’s always had that paranoid edge to him, nothing like this. He’s never taken off to train for more than a couple days at a time. I haven’t seen him in weeks, Zeke. He’s not calling. He’s sending me cryptic messages through either Gabe or one of his soldier buddies. He’s talking about getting Trevor for some of this training soon. I’m actually freaking out now.” She wrung her hands, trying to maintain her composure.
“He won’t tell Gabe what he’s heard that’s shaken him up. Just to keep his eyes open and that we all need to ‘prepare’,” Ezekiel sighed, his shoulders dropping slightly, “The only thing we’ve come up with is that he’s afraid of the upcoming election. Not sure who exactly, there’s a handful of shitty politics running their mouths right now.”
Isabelle looked up at him, “If you see him, tell him to come home?”
“I will,” He looked at her sympathetically, then turned towards the door, “Will you be okay?”
“Oh yeah,” Isabelle chuckled softly, “I should be used to this by now. It’s just...”
Ezekiel paused, “Feels different this time?”
Isabelle nodded in agreement, “Yeah. Different.”
“I’ll tell Raine to come hang out... You’re always welcome over whenever you want too.” He said sincerely.
“Thanks.” She smiled watching him leave before turning to the papers on her desk with a sigh.
“I need to ask you something,” Valery flopped down on the couch next to Raine, offering her a cherry from the bowl in her hands, “You and Ezekiel have had sex, haven’t you?”
Raine blushed immediately, “Wha- Why are you asking that?” She flustered, dropping the cherry she had grabbed back into the bowl.
Valery laughed, “Come on Raine, Drakon’s are asexual, aren’t they? How’re you two getting it on?” She made a lewd gesture with one arm.
“No!” Raine laughed then laughed harder at the look Valery gave her.
“No? No what!?”
Raine shook her head slowly, “Uh uh,” She giggled, “They’re not asexual.”
Valery leaned back, “Huh, learn something new every day,” She grinned mischievously, leaning forward, “Is he good?” She winked, wiggling her eyebrows up and down.
Rolling her eyes in amusement, Raine nodded, “Oh yeah, very good.” She giggled at Valery’s reaction.
“Really? He’s really not asexual?” Valery said quizzically, getting an exasperated look in return. She shrugged, her lips twitching, “Is it normal looking?”
Raine’s eyebrows shot up, “Is what ‘normal’ looking?”
Valery rolled her eyes, “You know… his dick. Does it look like a Lycan’s or Human’s?”
Exploding in laughter, Raine nodded unable to answer her through her giggling.
Egged on by Raine’s reaction, Valery continued, “How big is it? Like an impressive size, or are you just saying he’s good because you’re embarrassed by how small it is?"
Raine waved her off, “Stooop,” She drawled, wiping at her eyes, “You’re horrible! Why don’t you talk about Gabe? How’s he?” She smirked.
Valery took a slow bite of a cherry, “Eh,” She shrugged, “He’s alright.”
Raine’s jaw dropped in shock, “Val-”
“Mom- I mean Raine!” Cole ran into the living room, tackling Raine with a tight hug, “I missed you!” He snuggled into her happily.
Raine smiled down at him, not missing the amused look Valery gave her, “I missed you too, kiddo,” She hugged him back, looking up at Ezekiel as he walked into the room, “You beat Gabe back.” She ruffled Cole’s hair as he pulled back and hopped down off the couch.
“Where’s Ira?” He asked, running off in the direction Valery pointed in.
Ezekiel nodded eyeing Raine curiously, “He was meeting up with Vince again, I think. You okay?”
Raine wiped her eyes, “Yeah, yeah. Just laughing.” She stood up, throwing Valery a look.
Valery smiled innocently in return, “Hehe.” She giggled, popping another cherry into her mouth.
Shaking her head, Raine turned to Ezekiel, “How’s Belle doing?” She asked, sobering up.
Not sure what was going on between the two, but sure he’d probably hear about it later, Ezekiel shrugged it off, “She’s freaking out, she said.”
“Vince is acting so strange,” Valery stood up putting the bowl down on the table in front of her, “It’s making Gabriel’s nightmares worse lately,” She looked between the two seriously, “He’s talking about war again.”
Raine furrowed her eyebrows in confusion, “Between who?” She looked to Ezekiel for answers to ease her nerves.
“Not sure,” Ezekiel grunted, pulling at his coat, “I already told Gabe, if you guys feel safer out of the city, you’re more than welcome to stay with us.”
Valery smiled nervously, “Thanks,” She glanced at Raine, “We’ll keep it in mind. I think he’s considering going to his mom’s for a bit. She’s just as far away from the city then he can keep an eye on Joseph too.”
“This is getting serious.” Raine whispered feeling discouraged by Valery and Gabriel’s plans.
Ezekiel wrapped an arm around her, “It’s only precautions,” He kissed her temple, “Doesn’t hurt to make plans in case of an emergency.”
Exchanging worried looks with Valery, Raine nodded, “Yeah, I guess so,” She patted him on the chest, “We should head home. It’s starting to get late.”
Lightening up, Valery smiled at them, “We need to hang out more often, Raine!” She pulled Raine into a hug as Ezekiel called out for Cole to come out, “You guys are welcome over anytime!”
“Thank you!” Raine hugged her back, “We do need to hang out more. I had a great time.” She grinned, “We’ll get together again really soon, I think Isabelle already has plans for us.” She winked.
Cole and Ira ran out of the back rooms, “Do we have to leave?” Cole whined, reluctantly pulling his boots and coat on.
“We’ll be back soon.” Ezekiel reassured him, helping him zip his coat up.
Raine pulled her own coat on, “Thanks again, Val. Keep us updated if you hear anything...?” She tilted her head slightly.
Nodding, Valery gave Raine a serious look, “Yeah, you know we will.” She waved to them as they disappeared out the door, then turned to Ira, “Dad will be home soon, let’s make some cookies!”
“Yes!” Ira cheered.
Ezekiel sauntered down the stairs unwrapping the bandages from his arm. He sighed in relief, scratching the irritated skin where the bandages had rested.
Halfway through the drive home Cole fell asleep, giving Raine and him some time to talk. Raine was a bundle of nerves from their previous conversation with Valery, wondering out loud what could possibly be going on to cause Vince to act the way he was. She was stuck on the thought of another war, her tail bristled out unconsciously.
He tossed the wrap onto an end table, gently massaging the sore muscles around his still healing injury.
“I just... I don’t get it,” Raine chewed on her bottom lip, “Why won’t you tell me what Vince has been saying?”
Ezekiel frowned, “I don’t want you to worry more than you already are. Vince is paranoid-”
“You’ve said that,” She cut in, “But if that’s all there is to it, then why is Gabriel afraid, and why did you offer them to come out here if they want too? If it’s just him being paranoid, you guys aren’t far behind...”
At a loss for words, Ezekiel turned away. Raine watched him move across the room to his laptop and turn it on. He opened something, turning on a slow sounding song and turned the volume on low. She raised an eyebrow curiously as he walked towards her and held out a hand.
“What?” She raised an eyebrow, caught feeling between confused and amused.
Ezekiel’s ears twitched, “Will you dance with me?” He asked softly, his cheeks tinged with color.
“...Okay.” She smiled taking his hand and stood up. She wrapped her arms around him, swaying slowly with him to the rhythm of the music. Closing her eyes, she leaned her head against his chest, listening to the steady rhythm of his heartbeat. He kissed the top of her head before resting his chin on it, his shoulders relaxing into the embrace.
Raine tilted her head back, “You’re deflecting.” She smirked, snuggling back into him.
“Just wanted to take your mind off everything.” He ran his hand up and down her back gently.
She looked back up at him, “Thank you,” She kissed him, then leaned back, “Can I ask you something?” She asked softly.
She swallowed nervously, “What happened to Cole’s mom...? If you don’t mind me asking?” She added quickly, closing her eyes and resting her head back against his chest.
Ezekiel pressed his lips together, “He doesn’t have one.” He could feel his face getting warmer with every passing second.
Raine opened her eyes, “Oh... What happened to her?” She peeked up at him, noticing his increasing discomfort, “You don’t have to tell me.” She winced, “It’s not really my business.”
“I,” He paused, their swaying coming to a stop, “I think I should tell you.” He sighed looking intently at a spot on the far wall.
“Really, it’s okay,” Raine said, “You don’t have to tell me right now. Tell me when you’re ready.”
Ezekiel looked down at her, “Cole doesn’t have a mom because I had him.” He said softly, “Drakons have the ability to reproduce asexually, and that’s what I did.”
“Oh.” Raine leaned back slightly, letting what he said sink in.
Ezekiel sighed, “You’re actually the first partner I’ve had sex with.” He mumbled, lowering his head.
Raine blinked, “I’m your first?”
“Yeah... Well... It’s hard to do when you have an anxiety attack every time someone touches you.” He closed his eyes, feeling like melting into the floor and fading away.
Suddenly Raine was hugging him, her arms wrapped tightly around his torso. He looked down at her in shock, slowly returning the hug.
“Zeke,” She whispered, pulling back to look him in the eyes, “You’re perfect.”
The breath rushed from his lungs, “‘Perfect’?” He repeated, his ears laying back.
Raine nodded, “I love your honesty... And that you’re just you...” She glanced away, biting her lip, “I’ve heard about Drakons being able to have their own offspring before... But I didn’t know it worked both ways.”
“What?” Ezekiel furrowed his eyebrows.
Raine giggled nervously, “I thought it was one way or the other... Like some could have offspring asexually but not sexually, and others could the other way around...” She blushed avoiding meeting his eyes, “I thought I had heard Vince say you had Cole...So I thought you were asexual then...” She looked back at him shyly, “But when things happened, I just went with it. I was happy about being with you, even if there wasn’t going to be sex. It was a nice surprise.” Her cheeks heated up in embarrassing as she spoke, “That’s why I assumed Cole had a mom... I dunno, I guess I confused myself.” She finished lamely, bowing her head, “I’m shocked I’m your first though. You didn’t with Skyler?” She hesitantly made eye contact with him.
Ezekiel shook his head, “I couldn’t even touch her,” He laughed at the skeptical look she gave him, “What?”
Raine scrunched her face up, “But you’re so... Good!”
“Thank you?” Ezekiel laughed again.
“Don’t get me wrong... I’ve only been with one guy,” She held her hands up defensively, a nervous laugh escaping her mouth, “It’s just been my experience that the first time isn’t very good...” She looked up thoughtfully, “Or... Any of the experiences for that matter.” Her stomach turned at the thought of her ex.
Ezekiel held her closer to him, “So... you’re saying... I’m a better experience?” He smirked, before nuzzling her neck and nipping at it.
Raine gasped, “Oh yes,” She giggled as he picked her up, moving them both to the couch, “Much better...”
Curled up together, they laid on the couch relaxing. Ezekiel ran his fingers through Raine’s hair, twirling a piece around his index finger. Raine closed her eyes, enjoying the afterglow.
“You’re amazing,” He whispered, his hand pausing, “Not just with... That,” He said quickly, looking up at the ceiling, suddenly feeling embarrassed, “You just are.” He stumbled out, looking down at her.
She was looking up at him smiling, “Thank you,” She pushed herself up over him, “You are too.”
Ezekiel sighed leaning his forehead against hers, “I don’t know what I would do without you.”
She hummed, “You too,” She softly kissed him on the cheek, then shoulder, “I think it’s time for bed.”
“I don’t want to.” Ezekiel groaned, as she climbed over him and got down off the couch. The loss of warmth made him shiver and his skin raise on his arms. He sat up, throwing his legs over the couch and stood up.
“We’re just going upstairs.” Raine chuckled, pulling on her pants and flopped back down on the couch.
Ezekiel sighed dramatically, “I know.” He smirked at her, turning off the radio.
“Baby.” She giggled, watching him pick up his clothes.
Kissing her on the cheek, Ezekiel smiled back, “Come on.” He offered her his hand, helping her up.
She ran her hand through her tangled hair and frowned, “I need to brush my hair.”
Ezekiel looked her over, “Maybe,” He smirked, as she tried to straighten herself out, “I kind of like the look.”
“Right,” Raine shook her head rolling her eyes, then smiled at him “You’re funny.” She looked at him happily, “Let’s go.”
Ezekiel smirked following her up the stairs, “Okay, babe.”
“Babe!” Raine looked over her shoulder at him, “That sounds good coming from you.” She purred backing up against the wall as he wrapped his arms around her, kissing her gently.
“Maybe I’ll say it more often.” He kissed her neck.
She sighed, briefly closing her eyes, “I have to pee,” She giggled kissing his cheek as he pulled back giving her a playful look, “Sorry.”
He shrugged following her down the hall to the bathroom and grabbed his toothbrush and toothpaste. Raine washed her hands, watching him pull his lips back away from white fangs. She picked up her toothbrush, looking at her teeth in the mirror.
“You’re really sexy, you know that?” She looked at him out of the corner of her eye as she brushed her teeth.
Ezekiel spit in the sink, “I’m just brushing my teeth!” He looked at her with mild amusement.
Raine leaned against him as she brushed her teeth, “So sexy.” She giggled, making him roll his eyes and laugh as well.
“You’re a dork.” He mumbled leaning into her as well.
“You promise?” Cole said again, looking up at Raine with the biggest eyes she had ever seen on the kid.
She laughed, nodding, “Yes! I promise!” She ruffled his hair, finding the shaggy mess adorable. They walked up the sidewalk to Isabelle’s house. She had promised the boy that if he opened up and talked a little more to Isabelle, she’d get him a warm cookie from the bakery down the road. He had suddenly regressed in his therapy, not willing to talk to Isabelle as much as he used too. Raine had narrowed it down to him being afraid of needing medication if he told her anything negative anymore. Something Trevor had told him might happen.
Cole hesitated in front of the door, “Chocolate?”
“If that’s what you want,” Raine smiled, pulling open the door, “Maybe I’ll get a couple.” She turned to him, stopping him, “I just want you to try a little, okay? If you are afraid to talk to her about some things, you don’t have to. Just tell her about your day at least, okay?” She said, suddenly feeling guilty for trying to bribe him, “No one is going to make you take medication for talking, okay?”
Cole nodded smiling, “I’ll try.”
Raine patted him on the shoulder then led him down to Isabelle’s office. Isabelle opened the door before she could knock, startling them both.
“Hey guys!” Isabelle greeted them happily, “I’m excited to see you today Cole. I brought some markers and paper so we can color.”
Cole’s eyes lit up, “Really?” He peeked into the room.
Isabelle nodded, “Go on inside, you can start.”
Cole hugged Raine’s leg before running inside, sitting down on the floor in front of the coffee table covered with papers and markers.
Raine smiled, “That’s perfect. He was so worried about today.”
“Yeah,” Raine nodded with a sigh, “I promised him cookies after if he says more than two words to you. Not sure what was up with last week. Ezekiel said he wouldn’t talk to him either.”
Isabelle stuck her lip out, “Really?”
Raine glanced about, lowering her voice, “Trevor told him he’d have to take pills if he had nightmares,” She pressed her lips together, “I’m not sure it was meant to scare Cole, but he took it that way regardless.”
“Ahh,” Isabelle leaned her head back with a sigh, “That explains a lot. Hm. So where’s Ezekiel today?”
“Helping Gabriel with some things. I think they’re building something,” Raine shrugged, “Do you have some free time after you’re done with Cole?”
Isabelle tilted her head to the side, “Yeah, what’s up?”
Raine shrugged, “I think I have an infection,” She made a face, “UTI maybe. Could you check it out for me and prescribe some medication?”
“Oh, ouch! Sure! Come back in an hour, I’ll have Trevor take Cole to play and I’ll give you a quick physical.”
“Thanks, I appreciate it.” Raine smiled, she leaned in the doorway, “I’ll see you in a little while, Cole!” She waved chuckling at the half wave he gave her while preoccupied with his coloring, “He’ll do that the whole time.”
Isabelle nodded, “Good,” She winked, “See you later.”
“See ya.” Raine smiled walking away.
Raine spent the hour chilling out by the indoor pool talking to Vince, her doing most of the talking and Vince tuning her out. Raine didn’t mind, the occasional grunt or response amused her enough. She was glad to see him back and seemingly more at ease than he had been a few weeks earlier. Checking her watch, she excused herself and headed to the wing Isabelle’s office as Cole was running out.
“Can we get cookies now?” He shouted barreling into her for a hug.
Isabelle laughed, “He did good.”
“Sure, kiddo.” Raine ruffled his hair, “I need to talk to Isabelle for a few minutes first.”
“Trevor’s probably in his room,” Isabelle held the door open, “Why don’t you go play with him for a bit?”
Cole nodded, “Okay!” He hugged Raine once more before running off towards Trevor’s room. Raine chuckled, following Isabelle down towards the labs.
Isabelle looked her over with a raised eyebrow, “So what’s going on?”
“Uh, well,” Raine rubbed the back of her neck, “It hurts when I pee.” She laughed nervously, “Started the other day, today my lower back hurts. I’m worried it’s getting worse.” The two walked into a sterilized smelling room that closely resembled a doctor’s office.
Isabelle frowned, “Well that certainly doesn’t sound good,” She dug through a drawer pulling out a small container, “You know the drill. Bathroom’s right there.” She pointed at a door at the back of the room.
Raine looked at the container then back to Isabelle, sighed and nodded, “Okay...” She walked into the bathroom and closed the door. The bathroom smelled like it had just been cleaned with lemons. Raine scrunched her nose up then sighed looking down at the container again.
“Uhg.” She grumbled getting the task done. Quickly she washed her hands and walked back out with the sample.
Isabelle accepted it with gloved hands, “I’ll go run this real quick. Did you want the full physical right now?”
“Uh... No, not really,” Raine laughed nervously, “Ezekiel wanted to go do something tonight, so we should get back to clean up before he gets home.”
Isabelle nodded, “Right.” She winked then walked away.
“Stop winking at me!” Raine whined, the door swinging shut behind Isabelle. She sighed looking around the room, “Now what am I supposed to do?” She grumbled noticing an absence of anything to look at or do. She opted to pacing around the room reading the random fact sheets on the walls. Isabelle walked back in fifteen minutes later holding a pad of papers.
Raine sighed, “Finally!” She grinned then quickly sobered up noticing Isabelle’s hands were shaking, “Belle?”
“You should sit down.” Isabelle said quietly.
“Sit down?” Raine swallowed, “I don’t want to.”
Isabelle nodded her head, “You want to.”
“No… No, I don’t. What’s going on? Is it really that bad?”
Raine’s eyes began to tear up, “You’re freaking me out.”
“I got your test results,” Isabelle continued on in the disconcertingly quiet voice, “You do have an infection. It was border line serious, but I can prescribe you something to take care of it.”
Raine nodded, “Okay, and? What else? Something else is wrong?”
Isabelle bit her lip, “You’re pregnant.” She whispered.
“What.” Raine straightened up, “What did you just say?”
Isabelle grinned, “You’re pregnant!”
Raine felt her knees start to give out and quickly leaned against the counter, “Pregnant? Are you joking!?”
Isabelle shook her head showing her the paper with the results, “You said back pain and I ran it just in case. Super positive. We can schedule an ultrasound later to see how far along you are.”
“Oh my god,” Raine whispered looking down at her hands, “Oh my god, Zeke! What’s he going to think!?”
Isabelle grinned, “I know!”
Raine looked at her, “You’re way too excited about this!”
“I know!” Isabelle bounced, “I’m going to be an aunt!”
Raine couldn’t help but laugh at that, “You are, but I need to talk to Zeke. I need to lie down,” She said, her head suddenly swimming, “Oh boy.”
“Are you okay?” Isabelle knelt down next to Rain as she laid down on the ground.
“Yep, I’m good. Just need to lay here for a minute.” She waved Isabelle off.
Isabelle giggled standing up, “I’ll get you a drink.”
“Oh good, something strong.” Raine joked, sitting up on her hands.
Isabelle tisked at her, “Oh no, not for Ms. Preggers!” She said taking a cup out of a cupboard and filled it with water.
Raine sighed, “Really? Preggers?” She grumbled, reaching up to accept the cup of water.
“I see we’re already hormonal.”
Raine rolled her eyes swallowing the water in her mouth then laughed, “You’re so stupid sometimes.” She grinned then winced, “This is unbelievable...” She sighed, covering her face with her hands, “With everything going on, we have to throw me being pregnant into the mix?”
“What do you mean?” Isabelle tilted her head to the side, “What’s going on?”
Raine looked at her pointedly, like she should already know and making her explain was going to take more effort than she wanted to exert. Isabelle returned the look with a blank one and a shrug.
Sighing again, Raine shook her head closing her eyes, “The boys acting weird and suspicious... Like another war is about to erupt at any time.”
Isabelle gasped, “Oh! Yeah,” Her face dropped, “Yeah... I was so excited I forgot about that for a minute.” She watched Raine for a moment then nudged her with her foot, “What are you going to do then?” She frowned, a ping of sadness running through her at the possible options Raine could consider.
Raine stared up at the ceiling, “I’m going to have it,” She turned her head to look at Isabelle, “And hope Ezekiel is right about them just being over cautious.”
Licking her lips, Isabelle turned away, “Vince said it has to do with politics.” She mumbled making Raine sit up curiously.
“What does? What’s going on with them? I think I knew that much.” She pushed herself up onto her feet and sat down on the examination table.
Shrugging, Isabelle glanced at her, “Some people high up are planting seeds, and he said they’re starting to sprout.”
“He said that?” Raine’s shoulders dropped at Isabelle’s nod,
“Are you saying I shouldn’t have this baby then?”
“No!” Isabelle exclaimed, shaking her head, “Not at all!
Raine picked at her nails, “Maybe it isn’t a good idea,” Her chest tightened, “I don’t know what to do, Belle.” She said sadly looking up at Isabelle with watering eyes.
Sitting down next to her, Isabelle wrapped her arm around Raine, “Aw, Raine... Talk to Ezekiel about it, hon,” She squeezed her, “I think he’ll be happy, and will help ease your worries a little more. You know him, Vince and I, Gabe and Val, we’ll all watch over you.”
Nodding, Raine leaned into Isabelle, “Thanks,” She mumbled, dropping her hands to her pants, “This might sound stupid,” She looked at Isabelle, her eyebrows drawn together, “But how long are Drakon pregnancies?”
Isabelle leaned her head back in thought, “Four weeks if they produce an egg on their own, the last week being the most growth and changes. Together, five months with chances of it being born either in an egg or live birth.”
“That’s a big difference, “Raine’s eyes widened, “And what about Drakon and Lycanthrope children?”
Isabelle blinked, “I... I don’t know.”
“Lycanthrope pregnancies are roughly 7 months long,” Raine said, “And Humans are around 9 to 10 months. If a Lycan and Human have a child, the pregnancy takes after the male’s species... Right?”
Isabelle’s eyebrows shot up, “Right... So it might be developing faster than we think?”
Raine nodded slowly, “Do you think you can do an ultrasound for me in a couple days?”
“Of course!” Isabelle stood up, pulling out her phone from a drawer and flipped through her calendar, “I have an opening Friday?”
“Sounds good,” Raine sighed, “But now I need to go tell Ezekiel...”
“Why are you so worried?” Isabelle asked leaning against the counter.
Raine chewed on her lip for a moment then shrugged, “We’ve gone through a lot over the past couple of months, but I don’t know how this will affect us... I haven’t even missed my period...” She looked up at the ceiling, her fingers opening one by one as she did mental calculations, “Okay, I have. But still!”
Isabelle giggled, “You’ll be fine. That man is so in love with you, I don’t think he’ll be upset by this. Cole will make an awesome big brother too.”
Raine nodded, “He will,” She smiled, “Oh... I don’t want to be excited yet.”
“Just a little?” Isabelle pressed, forcing a toothy smile.
“Okay,” Raine smiled nervously back, “Just a little.”
“Eee!” They both squealed together hugging.
Raine pulled back, “Okay, okay! I need to get Cole and head home. I’ll let you know how it goes tonight!”
Isabelle squeezed her one more time, “Okay! Good luck!”
Prescription filled and cookies bought, Cole and Raine now sat at the table with a box of cookies. Cole was shirtless and half covered with chocolate and cookie crumbs as he munched on his second cookie. Chocolate was smeared across his face and down his arms from the melty cookie. Raine winced at the mess then smiled knowing how much he was enjoying the treat. She finished up her cookie, wiping her hands off on a napkin and closed the box to save the rest for later.
“You’re a mess,” Ezekiel made a face as he walked into the kitchen, “Is it good at least?”
“Mmhmm.” Cole hummed licking his lips before taking another bite.
Ezekiel grinned, “Good,” He turned to Raine, “I hope you’re going to be the one helping him clean up?”
Raine smiled, “Sure... Hey, mind if we talk alone for a minute?” She stood up, tilting her head towards the living room.
Ezekiel raised an eyebrow, “Sure? Everything okay?”
“Oh yeah, yeah! Fine! I just need to tell you something.” She passed by him towards the living room, looking over her shoulder for him to come in as well. She walked to the couch, Ezekiel following, and sat down.
“I had Isabelle look me over today,” Raine turned to Ezekiel, her hands immediately starting to tremble, “I have an UTI.”
Ezekiel frowned, “That why you haven’t been feeling well lately?”
Raine blinked surprised he had picked up on her feeling off the last couple of days. It was only the back pain really, she thought she hadn’t let on she was in discomfort, “Yeah, you noticed?”
“Just a little, your energy seemed off is all,” Ezekiel smiled reassuringly, “I’m glad you’re okay.”
Raine couldn’t help herself from smiling, “There’s more.”
She nodded, “I’m pregnant.”
Ezekiel’s jaw slowly hung open, “What?” He said after a minute, his eyes widening as the words sunk in.
“I’m pregnant.” Raine repeated shakily.
Ezekiel let out a long breath, “Wh- how? How do you know?” He sank down onto the couch next to her.
“Pregnancy test at Isabelle’s.” She lowered her head as tears began welling up in her eyes. Quickly she wiped them away, trying to fight it, “It’s okay if you’re not happy about it. You don’t have to-”
Ezekiel’s face drained of color as she spoke, his ears lowering to his head, “I...I... No, I’m happy,” He cut her off, offering a shaky smile, his head spinning from the news, “But I... I need a minute... I need to...” He stood up, looking around almost frantically, “I need to go outside for a minute.” He opened and closed his mouth a couple times, then turned on his heel and walked out the front door.
Raine stared at the door numbly, her heart pounding in her throat. She swallowed thickly, slowly sinking to the floor. Before she could let herself fall completely apart, she remembered Cole sitting at the kitchen table. Shakily she picked herself up, went to the kitchen sink and splashed water on her face. She then grabbed a handful of paper towels, dried her face with one, and turned to Cole with the others.
Cole looked up at her, the remainder of his cookie in his mouth, “'m done.” He said around chewing.
“I see that.” Raine forced a smile, “Come on let’s clean you up.”
Cole stood up, letting her wipe his hands off, “Where’s dad?” He asked, leaning his head from side to side as she wiped his face, “Did he leave?”
Raine flinched slightly, “He forgot something. He’ll be back later.”
“Are we not going out then?” Cole pouted.
“Sorry, kiddo, not tonight.” Raine lead him up to the bathroom, “But I’ll tell you what,” She said noticing the disappointment on the boy’s face as he undressed to climb into the tub, “We can camp out in the living room tonight. I’ll make snacks and you can choose the movies we watch.”
Cole grinned, “Really!?”
“Really.” Raine nodded, a mixture of feelings running through her mind as she walked him up to the bathroom. What if Ezekiel wasn’t happy? She turned on the water and poured in a cap full of bubble bath. Cole grabbed his toys and hopped excitedly into the tub.
Raine smiled sadly watching him play, her mind wandering about Ezekiel. He left, that didn’t seem like a happy reaction... What if he asked to break up? What if this was the last time she got to see Cole? She leaned against the bathroom counter as he played in the tub. Cole was like a son to her, he was even calling her ‘mom’ now. Her heart ached at the thought of losing him too.
Her phone pinged with a text message. She hesitantly pulled it out and looked at it. It was Isabelle asking how Ezekiel had taken the news. A lump formed in her throat as she responded with his reaction.
“My house. Now.” Isabelle replied.
Raine looked up at Cole, “Hey kiddo, change of plans.”
Ezekiel found himself out on the cliffs a few miles away from his home. He stood at the edge looking out over the surrounding villages. His heart ached, but he couldn’t will himself to go back, not with how badly he was trembling at the moment. Slowly he stepped back from the ledge, his arms folding over his chest.
“Gabriel.” He could hear the man approaching him, the rocks crunching under his boots.
Gabriel walked up next to him and stood. He looked out at the view, taking it all in for a moment, “What are you doing?” He said at last.
Ezekiel didn’t move, his jaw tightened and relaxed.
Gabriel turned to him, his eyes sad, his mouth turned in a slight frown, “I heard the news.” He tilted his head to the side, observing Ezekiel’s reaction, “Why are you doing this?” He was growling now, the sadness turning into anger.
Ezekiel looked at him, “Mind your own business, Gabe.” He growled, his voice shaky.
“You’re scared.” Gabriel confronted him, “When are you going to stop? Stop pushing everyone away, stop running when things get a little difficult or different?”
Ezekiel bared his teeth at Gabriel, his fist clenched at his sides, “Shut up.”
“No,” Gabriel scowled, “You know what I would give to have had Valery open up to me when she was pregnant? To get to be there for my son’s first years of life? You’re getting that chance, don’t you go and fucking throw it away!”
Ezekiel stared at him, shocked at how emotional the Lycan was being. No, not emotional, he looked away, furious. And for good reasons. He bowed his head, rubbing his eyes with his thumb and forefingers.
“Why are you doing this?” He grumbled, dropping his hand to his side and glancing at Gabriel.
“Aside from Cole, Raine is the best thing to have happened to you,” Gabriel said, his face softening, “I’ve never seen you as happy as I’ve seen you with her.” Ezekiel turned away, so Gabriel kept talking, “Not to mention how amazing she is with Cole. You want to take that from him? Why?”
Ezekiel spun around, “He has nothing to do with this!” He snapped, baring his teeth.
“He should!” Gabriel snapped back, “You should take him into consideration at least! Since you have absolutely no reason to be running!”
Ezekiel ran his hands through his hair, growling in frustration, “Go away, Gabe!” He shouted almost whiningly, trying to fight off the panic threatening to consume him.
“No, Zeke, not this time,” Gabriel shook his head, “Talk to me. Tell me why you’re running? I need to understand this. Having gone through it with Val, I can’t imagine it happening to someone like Raine.”
Ezekiel glared at Gabriel, then sighed looking away, “I’m panicking.” He grumbled, sinking down onto his knees.
“Panicking?” Gabriel repeated, waiting for Ezekiel to continue with his explanation.
Ezekiel nodded, rubbing his eyes, “What if something does happen?” He looked up at Gabriel with bloodshot eyes, “When she said she was pregnant, every possible wrong thing that could happen ran through my head. What if the baby doesn’t make it? What if Vince is right? What if Cole thinks we’re replacing him?”
Gabriel held his hands up, “Whoa, Zeke, slow down-”
“I can’t,” Ezekiel growled, looking away, his eyes welling up with tears, “I’ve been so careful not to let anyone in, built up walls, and just kept to myself. Cole... I had to let him in, there wasn’t any way I couldn’t. Then Raine came along, and knew which bricks to pull to make the whole damn thing fall down. If something were to happen to either of them...” His voice cracked, “They’re my whole life. I already feel like that baby is a piece of me, and I’m freaking out.” He rocked slightly, bowing his head into his hands, “I’m not running away. I just don’t want her to see me like this.”
Gabriel knelt down next to Ezekiel, “You need to talk to Raine… Are you afraid she won’t understand?” He asked, his face softening.
Ezekiel shook his head, trying to gain composure, “Since I’ve been with Raine, my anxiety has gone down a lot. Even when I have an attack, she knows just what to do it seems. It’s like...” He hesitated, rubbing the back of his neck, “She can just read me... I’ve never felt this way about anyone.” He looked at Gabriel, “Cole wants to call her mom, and she’s okay with it... I’m okay with it… neither of us are correcting him on it anyway. Everything’s happening so fast. Really fast.”
Gabriel leaned back, “Zeke, That’s life.” He said softly, “Sometimes it just happens quickly, and all we can do is hold on. Raine will be in good hands, and I’m positive Cole will be thrilled to have a little brother or sister.”
“He will be,” Ezekiel sighed, shaking his head, “But that’s not the point.”
Gabriel frowned slightly, “You’re worried about the war Vince is predicting,” He tipped his head back, looking up at the sky soberly, “We’re doing everything we can to keep our families safe just in case something does happen. Even building that underground bunker Vince suggested,” He laughed dryly, “Hopefully it’s all just paranoia and we don’t need any of it.”
Ezekiel looked at him out of the corner of his eye, “You don’t believe it’s just paranoia though do you?”
Shaking his head, Gabriel closed his eyes, “You know, Raine didn’t let on anything was bothering her until Cole had left the room.” He deflected, opening his eyes and looking at Ezekiel sadly.
Ezekiel shot him a look, “What?”
“The boys are having a sleep over at Belle’s. We got there the same time as Raine and Cole did. Once the boys had left to play, she completely fell apart.”
Ezekiel looked away, pain washing across his face, “I’m hurting her.”
“She loves you.”
“How can she?” Ezekiel looked back at Gabriel, his face open with raw emotions, “I’m so messed up, Gabe.”
Gabriel rested his hand on Ezekiel’s shoulder, a cool breeze blowing past them, “She doesn’t love you because you’re flawless,” He said, the wind catching his words, “She loves you because of who you are all together.”
Ezekiel smiled warily at Gabriel, “Hm. Did I screw it up then?”
“No,” Gabriel shook his head, “I don’t think so. But you better buy her some flowers.”
The couches were torn apart, and a large blanket fort was set up in the center of Isabelle’s living room. The three boys laid just outside it, each with their own bowl full of popcorn, engrossed in their cartoon movie. The women sat in the kitchen, just out of earshot of the boys, but still able to see them. Raine sipped on the strawberry smoothie Valery had just made them. She glanced out at the boys before looking back at her friends sitting at the table across from her.
“Are you feeling any better?” Isabelle asked, pouting slightly in sympathy.
Raine shrugged, “I don’t know. I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to feel.”
Valery bit her lip, “I can tell you how I felt when I found out I was pregnant?” She said softly, flushing slightly when the two looked at her.
“Oh, yeah...” Raine frowned, “You left... Why?”
Valery nodded sadly, “I was afraid. I didn’t want to ruin Gabriel’s life, we were still young.”
“You were young,” Raine sighed, “We’re not exactly young now.”
Valery shook her head, holding her hand up, “No, but Zeke might be afraid. He’s never been in a relationship before.
You’re his first. Same with Gabriel and I. Gabriel was my first, and suddenly we were about to get really serious, really fast.”
Raine’s eyes widened briefly, she turned to Isabelle, “What about you and Vince? How did he react again?”
Isabelle exchanged looks with Valery, “He said ‘No’ and disappeared for a few days.” She shrugged then laughed awkwardly.
“Oh, that’s typical Vince.” Raine rolled her eyes, “So this is probably a panic instinct then? You ran finding out because you were worried about Gabriel, and Vince ran because... Well because he’s Vince and was worried about himself?”
Isabelle grinned, “Actually, he was afraid he’d hurt the baby when it was born. He had never been around babies before, the thought terrified him.”
“Oh,” Raine sank back in her seat, “Then maybe Zeke will be okay...” She worried her lip.
“He wouldn’t abandon Cole, he’ll be back,” Isabelle reassured her, “Especially with Gabriel talking to him.”
Raine nodded, “Do you think the baby’s okay? I haven’t felt any different than normal. I thought throwing up was part of being pregnant?”
Valery and Isabelle grinned.
“Not always,” Isabelle said, “I did with Trevor. I think I was six weeks when it hit, and it went away by ten weeks.”
“I had it horrible the first few weeks with Ira but by the second trimester I felt pretty good.” Valery peeked in the living room at the boys still watching their movie happily.
Raine breathed a sigh of relief, then suddenly looked worried, “Do you think I’ll lay an egg?”
Both Valery and Isabelle fell over laughing. Raine didn’t think it was that funny. She pouted, waiting for them to compose themselves enough to talk.
Isabelle shook her head, still giggling, “I did some research after you went home. There’s been a few cases of Lycan and Drakon’s having children together. The only cases of children being laid in eggs were if the mother was a Drakon. I think you’ll be okay,” She grinned, “But honestly, I think laying an egg would be a lot easier.”
“I don’t want to lay an egg!” Raine snapped grimacing, “When can we do the ultrasound and check on it?”
“You’re getting anxious, aren’t you?” Valery giggled, unable to stop herself from smiling.
Raine shot Valery a look, “Yeah! I don’t want to lay an egg!”
The girls erupted into another fit of giggles, Raine joining in this time.
“Are we interrupting something?”
The three women looked up in surprise at Gabriel and Ezekiel standing in the doorway.
Valery stood up as Gabriel approached them, “No, we were just talking is all.” She nudged Isabelle to stand up and follow her out of the room.
“You two kiss and make up-” Isabelle started to say and laughed as Valery pulled her out of the room shushing her.
Gabriel rolled his eyes and smirked looking down at Raine, “I’ll let you two talk.” He gave Ezekiel a look before he joined Valery and Isabelle outside the room. Raine watched him leave, unable to look at Ezekiel.
“I uh...” Ezekiel stepped into the room awkwardly, “Got you... These...” He laid a box of chocolates down on the table in front of Raine.
Raine looked at the box, her eyebrows furrowing slightly, “Thanks.” She said softly hesitantly looking up at him.
Ezekiel shifted uneasily, “I’m sorry about earlier,” He ducked his head in shame, “I panicked.” Raine nodded looking away, unsure of what to say to him. Ezekiel sighed softly leaning back on his heels, “I was worried about losing you, so I reacted stupidly. This is all new to me. Relationships, kids, everything.”
“Why are you afraid of losing me?” Raine asked, her eyes rising up to meet his.
Ezekiel swallowed, “Pregnancy and child birth are dangerous...” He said, his voice gruff with repressed emotion.
Raine blinked, “I’ll have good doctors who will take care of everything, even if there’s an emergency.”
“I know,” Ezekiel nodded, “It was panic induced irrational thinking. I really am sorry.”
Raine stood up moving over to him, “Is this something you want?”
Ezekiel’s face softened, “Yes.”
Before she could say another word, Ezekiel wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close to him. Raine buried her face into his shoulder, unable to hold the tears back anymore.
“I’m sorry I put you through that,” Ezekiel whispered pulling back to see her face, “Do you know how far along you are?”
Raine wiped at her eyes sniffling, “I don’t know, I just found out this morning. I think four weeks. I’m having an ultrasound in a couple days.” She smiled as Ezekiel kissed her forehead, “I was so scared about telling you.” She said resting her head against his chest.
“I’m sorry,” He gently rubbed her back, “I... I messed up.”
Raine breathed in deeply through her nose, “Well... We really haven’t been together that long... I can’t say I blame you.”
“That’s not it,” Ezekiel kissed the top of her head, “If someone had said I’d be a father last year, I would have thought they were crazy. Then Cole came into my life, and forced me to start viewing my life differently. When you came into my life,” He closed his eyes, “You changed me. I found myself relaxing for the first time in years,” He pulled back to look her in the eyes, “The length of time we’ve been together isn’t what I care about. That’s not why I panicked. I panicked because I can’t imagine my life without you. I was worried about what kind of world we’re raising our babies in...” He trailed off, unable to complete that train of thought, “Looking at you, I know whatever happens, we’ll make it through. As long as you and Cole are happy, I’m happy.”
Raine smiled, her eyes filling up with more tears, “I love you.”
“I love you,” Ezekiel kissed her softly, then pulled back, his eyes lighting up, “Did you tell Cole yet?”
Raine shook her head, “Not yet. Not with everything that happened.” She said trying to recompose herself.
He tilted his head towards Raine, “He’s been calling you mom,” His face flushed slightly, “I never asked... Are you okay with that?” He picked at his bandages.
Raine smiled, “I’m honored he wants to call me mom, Zeke,” She hugged him, “Maybe we should talk to him about that first and then tell him about the baby… after we see the ultrasound?”
Ezekiel nodded, “Yeah, good idea. Then he won’t feel like it’s because of the baby.” He pressed his lips to her forehead gently, the reality sinking in even more, “We’re having a baby.”
“We are.” Raine pulled back, “Isabelle’s going to do an ultrasound for me this week.”
“Am I allowed to come?” Ezekiel asked hesitantly.
Raine nodded excitedly, “Yes, she’s going to make sure I’m not going to lay an egg.”
“That you’re not going to-”
Laughter from the other room, and Isabelle popping her head in interrupted Ezekiel, “Raine!” Isabelle chided, “You’re not going to lay an egg!” She dissolved into another fit of laughter, Valery joining in with her.
Cole and Ira walked into the kitchen rubbing their eyes tiredly, “Who’s going to lay an egg?” Cole asked raising his hands up for Ezekiel to pick him up.
“No one,” Ezekiel gave Raine an amused look, “Were you sleeping?”
“A little,” Cole yawned, snuggling up to Ezekiel, “Trevor is snoring.”
Ira nodded, going to Valery as she walked into the kitchen, “Hi, Mom.” Ira leaned against her leg and smiled happily when she picked him up.
Raine rubbed Cole’s back gently, “Did you want to go home?”
Cole shook his head, “No, I’m having fun.” He yawned again, “Mom?” He looked at Raine then blinked, “I mean, Raine?”
“Yes?” Raine brushed his bangs from his eyes.
“Are you and dad staying here too?”
“Yeah, we’ll be here, kiddo.”
Cole smiled relaxing more, “Good.”
“Cole?” Raine said softly, the boy opening his eyes to look at her, “You can call me ‘mom’ if you want too, kiddo. You don’t have to call me Raine.”
Cole closed his eyes, “Mom...” He smiled fading off to sleep.
“Aw, that was the sweetest thing.” Valery awed, rocking her own sleeping child gently, “I bet that means the world to him.”
Isabelle moved over to the table eyeing the box of chocolates, “You guys are adorable.” She grinned, opening the box up.
Ezekiel smiled, “Hey,” He said suddenly, looking up at Raine in confusion, “Did you know they kill flowers to sell them?”
Both Valery and Raine looked at him in confusion, “What?” They said simultaneously.
“What?” Isabelle trailed behind with a mouthful of chocolate.
“Yeah!” Ezekiel said, his eyes widening, “Gabriel wanted me to buy you a bunch, called them a ‘bouquet’. I don’t understand people. Who wants to buy flowers that will die in a couple days!? So I got you chocolate instead.” The women exchanged looks before breaking out into laughter.