Isabelle dodged a water balloon, only to get nailed in the back by another. She squeaked, running a little faster to the safety of the kitchen.
“They’re ruthless!” She laughed, helping Raine collect plates and forks to take outside for the cake.
Valery grabbed a bottle of soda from the fridge, “Tell me about it, Trevor got me in the pants,” She closed the door revealing a large wet patch in the crotch of her jeans, “Then he laughed at me and said I peed myself.” Raine and Isabelle laughed out loud at Valery’s misfortune.
“That little brat,” Isabelle giggled, “I’ll get him back for you.” She winked, carrying the cutlery out to the picnic table set up with lunch for the kids. Raine checked on the twins playing happily in the playpen set in the shade.
Valery sat down the soda and more cups, “Want me to go get the men for the cake?” She asked, watching Isabelle and Raine playing with the twins.
“Please?” Raine smiled at her over her shoulder.
Valery nodded, walking back into the house. She hesitated in the kitchen hearing the volume of the TV go up a little louder. Slowly she walked towards the living room, listening to the two voices argue back and forth.
“We need to stand up for all of Human safety. Together, Drakons and Lycanthropes out number us. With their unpredictability and social tensions, we Humans are in danger!”
She heard Vince scoff, and froze, moving behind the wall so she could watch out of view.
The guys were engrossed in a news station with two men shown side by side, one Human, one Drakon.
“Social tensions? From a war that happened 20 years ago? We are all still healing from that aftermath, Humans included.” The Drakon man said shaking his head in disbelief.
“There’s no healing! How are we to defend ourselves from beings with powers?” The Human man spat.
“Are you serious? Not all Drakons or Lycans can manipulate power, and Humans are just as capable -”
“Statistics? Look around you-”
“Look around yourself! We are in danger from you people!”
“‘You people’? You think segregation and violence will solve your fears?”
“Proper identification and protocols will.”
“You think people are willingly going to out themselves to potential violent situations that that will cause?”
“Not complying is violence.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“Very. Drakons and Lycanthropes should comply with these orders. Especially Lycanthropes, since they have the ability to cut off their tails and blend in with Humans. Physicals should become mandatory. If no one will comply to these demands, then swift action will be taken.”
Valery’s head spun at the words, her blood running cold. The Drakon man looked just as unnerved and speechless as she felt.
“You’re mad-” He hissed, and she felt she had had enough at that point.
“Hey, guys,” She called out, stepping around the corner, her stomach turning at how quickly Gabriel shut off the TV, “We’re... We’re going to bring out the cake now and sing happy birthday.”
“Great!” Gabriel grinned, trying to look as though he hadn’t just witnessed the horrible things Valery had just heard.
Ezekiel moved quickly to the kitchen, “Thanks,” He went to the fridge to grab the cake Raine had made earlier that morning,
“I’ll bring it out. Where did the candles go?” He said quickly, trying to push the nervous feeling in the pit of his stomach away.
“The counter,” Valery responded shakily, then turned to Gabriel, “It’s bad, isn’t it.” It wasn’t a question. She could see it on everyone’s face.
Gabriel’s face fell, “It’s not good,” He confirmed, ignoring the scoff from Vince as he passed by them out into the yard, “We’re fighting it, we can all fight it. None of that will go through, there’s no way.”
Valery locked eyes with him, “Okay,” She said softly, “Don’t tell Raine. Don’t ruin her day with the kids.”
“No, no talking about it today,” He reassured her, kissing her on the check, “We don’t need to worry about it today.” He smiled, taking her hand and lead her out to the yard where everyone had gathered around to sing to Cole. She smiled at Raine, trying to push the fear to the back of her mind. As Raine lit the candles, the boys began singing ‘Happy Birthday’ as loud as they could, making Cole giggle and laugh happily. Valery couldn’t help but feel happy for him, and frightened at the same time. She sang along, looking around the group of people she had come to know as friends and family, wondering what was going to become of them all.
“Go ahead, blow out the candles, kiddo.” Raine ruffled Cole’s hair.
Cole took a deep breath and blew out the candles with one blow, jumping up and down in victory, “Ha!” He laughed, “I want that piece!” He pointed to a section with a blue candle stuck in it.
Ezekiel nodded, “You can have that piece,” He cut into the cake, and scooping the slice out onto a plate, “Happy birthday, kiddo.”
The kids all picked out their slices, and sat down in the grass near the twins. The adults sat on the edge of the deck, watching over them while chatting quietly. A cool breeze broke through the warm air, sending a chill down Ezekiel’s back. He shivered, making Raine lean a little into him.
“You okay?” She smiled at him, unaware of the anxiety working its way through him.
He nodded, “Yeah, I’m okay.” He smiled at her reassuringly, catching the look Vince gave him from across the deck.
Suddenly it all clicked. Everything Vince had been warning them about for months. The shelter they were working on to humor him, the cryptic messages. They all suddenly made sense.
Ezekiel took a bite of cake, trying to push away the memories of war clawing at the back of his mind. Vince was right, another war was brewing, and it was going to be dirty. He looked at his family. Raine was holding both twins while Isabelle and Valery helped give them a little taste of cake. Cole was out in the yard doing katas with his friends making up their own moves.
He would fight anyway he could to keep them all together. Hell would be the price to pay if anyone dared tried to split them apart. He made eye contact with Vince and nodded, he was in. He would do whatever it took to keep them safe.
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