Journey: 1st version

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Chapter 8

The next few days seemed to simultaneously drag by and go quickly. Isabelle had taken charge of dealing with press questions about the attack, trying to smooth over the situation the best she could. Since Cole was a child, and the group of Humans had attacked them, she wasn’t having much trouble with the law aspect of it. The news stations were another story; the reporters were having a field day with it.

She made arrangements for Cole in a guest bedroom at her house, one closest to her father’s lab, and where no prying press eyes could find him. Testing began immediately once Cole arrived and was set up. Ezekiel stayed posted by Cole’s bedside, and when he wasn’t, he could be found with Raine. The reporters were stressing him out, and Isabelle could tell he was on the verge of an agoraphobia attack again. She was thankful that Raine was around, seemingly keeping his head just above the proverbial water.

Every day that passed, tension grew a little more. Isabelle was considering avoiding Ezekiel because she couldn’t find answers, and the stress was getting to them both. The man was tense, his attitude quickly becoming more aggressive with every negative result, making him feel out of control. Isabelle tried to address him about it then quickly realized what he needed was space. Curiously, she also noticed he seemed more at ease and less aggressive the more and more Raine came around. She started to save any negative news for when Raine was there, noticing he was able to handle it better with her around.

It was the seventh day since the accident, the sun had set hours ago, and the lights were dimmed in Cole’s room. The news reporters had tapered off and stopped coming around the fifth day. There was a sense of relief when they didn’t show up for the second day in a row. The phones were still ringing, however. It was always the same people checking in on Cole’s status, wondering if the little boy would ever wake up. The calls were making Isabelle sick to her stomach, so much, she had unplugged the phones in the wing Cole was located in.
Raine quietly peeked into the room, her hands rubbing her arms shakily. Ezekiel sat in his usual place, right at the edge of Cole’s bedside, his head bowed.

“Zeke?” She whispered, tapping on the door gently.

Lifting his head, Ezekiel looked over his shoulder at her, “Hey.” He breathed in like it was his first breath in a while. The tension from the day slowly began to ease out of his shoulders as Raine moved across the room to him and Cole.

Gently, Raine brushed the bangs from Cole’s face, “How is he?”

“No different,” Ezekiel whispered, “He’s just not waking up,” He rubbed his eyes, “I don’t understand it... EKG, CT, PET scan, MRI... You name it, I think they’ve done it, and no answers so far,” He looked at her tiredly, “And he’s still not awake.”

Raine worried her lip, “Hey, kiddo,” She whispered, unable to bring her voice up any louder without it breaking, “We miss you.”

Leaning forward, Ezekiel rested his hand on Cole’s, “You really think he can hear us?” His voice was thick with exhaustion and desperation.

“I think so.” She moved back as Ezekiel gently stroked his son’s cheek.

The door creaked open behind them, light flooding in from the hall, “Hey, guys,” Isabelle said softly, putting her hands on her hips, “It’s late, why don’t you head home and get some rest?” Ezekiel gave her a sharp look, “I don’t want to kick you out,” She sighed holding her hands up defensively, returning the look with one of sympathy, “But I haven’t seen you sleep in days, and you need to get rest for Cole.”

“I don’t need to sleep.” Ezekiel grumbled.

Raine rested her hand on his shoulder, “Come on, I’ll take you home.” He looked up at her and shook his head, opening his mouth to protest, when she took his hand, “Please? I’ll stay with you. Then Isabelle can get ahold of either of us if anything changes.”

“Cole will have around the clock monitoring,” Isabelle reassured him, “He’ll be okay. You need to focus on you tonight.” Hesitantly Ezekiel stood up, leaned down and kissed Cole on the forehead, then silently left the room.

Raine followed him to the doorway and paused, “Call me if anything changes?”

“You know I will,” Isabelle patted her on the shoulder, “Make sure he sleeps, it’s been at least three days. He needs it.”

Raine nodded, “Thanks, Belle, goodnight.” She hugged her friend before hurrying down the hall to the front door. She hesitated a moment before pulling it open, finding Ezekiel standing outside. The cool air brushed against her warm skin.

“Did you drive?” She asked, not remembering if she had seen his car when she arrived or not.

Ezekiel shook his head, his eyes focused on the sky above them. After a moment, he sighed, “It’s late.”

“Mhm,” Raine walked over to her car, unlocking the doors,

“Almost midnight.”

Climbing into the passenger side and buckling up, Ezekiel leaned his head back against the seat, “They had you on a late shift today.”

Raine pressed her lips together, turning on the car, “Yeah, I guess.” She turned on the heat, adjusting the settings.

Ezekiel lifted his head, watching the city lights begin to rush towards them as Raine drove, “You guess?” He tilted his head, his eyes sliding over to her face. Something felt off about her. The usual bubbliness was deflated, and she seemed shakier than usual.

She stared at the road, her tail taping her thigh, “Mhm.”

He raised an eyebrow, “Are you okay?” His stomach felt sick at the change in her, it wasn’t right, and he wanted to fix it.

Raine blinked, looking at him then quickly back to the road, “Me? I’m fine. Just a bit of a headache. From working.” She added quickly, looking at him again, “I’m worried about you.”

Ezekiel shook his head, fighting back a yawn, “Don’t worry about me,” He grunted, “You don’t usually work this late.” He pressed, his mind stuck on the late hour, trying to work out what could have happened.

“I know,” Raine worried her lip, her tail twitching faster, “I have tomorrow off though,” She reached for the radio and flipped through stations, “Do you have any pain killers?”

Ezekiel tilted his head, “Yeah, I have some at home. Headache that bad?” He frowned slightly as her sleeve rose revealing a set of bruises forming on her wrist, “What’s that?”

“What?”

He gently touched her arm and she flinched away, pulling her sleeve down, her tail stopping. They sat in silence the rest of the way to Ezekiel’s house. The exhaustion Ezekiel felt earlier pushed to the back of his mind. Anger and fear were working its way through his mind, stunning him into silence. Questions raced through his mind, building up during the long drive out of the city. Raine parked the car in his driveway, the headlights shining on the front of the darkened house.

“Raine,” Ezekiel said finally, his voice gruff with alarm, “What happened?”

She sat still, her tail nervously twitching, “Do you have a charger? I need to make sure my phone is charged in case Izzy texts or calls about Cole.” She deflected, pulling her sleeves over her hands.

“Raine.”

“I don’t want to miss her call.”

“You won’t.”

“But I might, and then I’ll feel bad. I don’t want you to miss anything important.” She rambled, climbing out of the car quickly.

Ezekiel followed her out, “Wait!” He called out after her, as she all but ran up the porch steps to the front door and tried turning the knob, “Raine... What is going on?” He pressed, realizing the only reason she stopped was because of the door being locked, “Talk to me, please?” He said gently, stopping at the bottom of the steps.

Raine stood facing the door, her hand pressed against it, “Can we not do this now? Please?” She whispered, rubbing at the back of head, “Let’s just focus on Cole right now.”

Slowly, Ezekiel climbed the steps, cautiously touching her shoulder, “Raine,” Carefully he turned her towards him, “Isabelle sent me home to sleep, I can’t sleep worrying about you too.”

Tears ran down Raine’s face, stubbornly she rubbed them away, “I can’t, Zeke,” She shook her head slowly, her voice breaking, “Okay? Not right now,” She stepped away from him, “I need... I need to walk.”

Confused, Ezekiel watched her hurry down the stairs and down the path leading around the side of the house. He breathed in deeply through his nose and followed after her.

“Raine!” He called out, startling as he nearly ran into her as he rounded the corner. He stepped back automatically, his breath catching in his throat.

Raine stepped forward slowly, “I don’t know where to go.” She bowed her head, her shoulders rising and falling with soft shuddering breathes. Ezekiel felt his chest tighten, his hands opening and closing at his sides.

“It’s late.” He frowned to himself, wishing she’d turn around so he could see her face.

Raine tilted her head back, “It is,” Her eyes wandered the skies, “Maybe I should go home.”

“Come inside.”

She froze, “No…” Her body stiffening at the offer, “I don’t know.” Going inside meant she had to deal with reality, she knew he wasn’t going to drop it. Her skin began rising up with goose bumps, she shivered. But leaving meant being alone.

Ezekiel leaned back, “You... You said you would stay.” He rocked forward slightly, his cheeks flushing.

Raine shook her head, “You don’t need me to stay.”

“I want you to stay.”

Turning around to face him, she looked at him skeptically, “Okay,” She nodded, looking away, “But I’m really not feeling well, Zeke...” She pulled her sleeves over her hands and wrapped her arms around her stomach, “I just want to go to sleep.”

Ezekiel ran his hand through his hair, letting out the breath he didn’t realize he had been holding, “Come on,” He tilted his head to the side, “Let’s go in,” Hesitantly, he wrapped his arm around her, leading her to the front of the house, “I’ll make some tea.” He unlocked the door and flipped on the lights to the living room.

Raine stiffly followed him into the kitchen, hanging on tightly to her sleeves as she sat down at the table, “I just... I think I just need sleep,” She chewed her bottom lip, rubbing her arm nervously, “We both do.”

Starting the water, Ezekiel pulled out a couple mugs and mint tea bags, setting them on the counter. He dug through a cupboard, pulling out a white bottle of pills and handed them to Raine. She accepted them cautiously, watching him move back to the counter and lean heavily against it before turning to her.

“What happened?” He asked gently.

Raine bowed her head, turning the bottle in her hands, “Maybe we can talk in the morning about it.” She said unable to look at him.

“Raine...”

“No,” She snapped, setting the bottle down on the table, “I’m not a child, I don’t’ want to talk about it.”

Shame filled Ezekiel making him lower his ears, “I’m sorry,” He said softly. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

“No, I’m sorry,” Raine took a deep breath, “It’s just… I can’t talk about it,” Her voice broke as tears welled up in her eyes, “I’m a trained soldier... I was a trained soldier, this... Look at me,” Motioning towards herself, she sighed, her voice lowering to a whisper, “Look at me... I’ve let myself go. I’ve gotten weak... and this... This proves it.” She ran her fingers through her hair, pushing it out of her face, “And I’m crying. I’m so tired of crying.”

“Whatever happened,” His eyes fell to her hands trembling in her lap, “If you think this somehow makes you weak then you’re wrong.”

Slumping back in her seat, Raine wiped the tears from her face, “I’m wrong about a lot then,” She whispered, her body trembling, “You don’t get it, Zeke.”

The electric kettle clicked, steam pouring out of the top. Ezekiel grabbed it, filling up their mugs and dropped a tea bag in each, “Okay,” He moved over to the table, setting the mugs down in front of them, “Explain it to me then, maybe I can help?” He pulled a chair out and sat.

Raine bit her lip staring at her mug of hot tea, “You want to help?” She reached out for the tea, still holding her sleeves over her hands.

Ezekiel stopped her, placing his good hand on hers, “Yes.” He looked at her making sure she was okay before gently pulling her sleeve up with his other hand. The bruising wrapped around her wrist, running up and around her forearm. He breathed in deeply trying to help steady her shaking hand, “Fuck, Raine… Who did this to you?”

She pulled her hand away, pulling her sleeve back down, “I don’t think you can help.”

Ezekiel looked away, his own hands shaking with anger, “Then I will be here and listen whenever you want to talk,” He looked back at her, his face softening, “Anytime you want to talk.”

Biting her lip, Raine shook her head slowly, “You have a lot on your plate. You don’t need to add my problems to it.”

“Hm,” Leaning back in his chair, Ezekiel tilted his head back, looking up at the ceiling, “But,” He lowered his eyes to her, “We’re friends, right?”

Raine blinked, “Yes?” She raised an eyebrow.

“It’s give and take,” He said recalling what Gabriel had told him a couple weeks earlier, “And you’ve been doing a lot for me lately... Can’t I help you this once?”

Opening and closing her mouth, Raine breathed in deeply, “If I tell you, can we drop it then?”

“If you want me to.” He scooted his chair closer to hers.

She sighed, her eyes lowering back to her tea, “I got out of work at 9. My ex was waiting by my car in the parking garage and said he wanted to talk.”

“You’re ex did this?” Ezekiel interrupted, he knew he didn’t like that guy. That there was something seriously wrong with him, but he never thought he’d physically harm her. His blood began to boil, but at the look on Raine’s face he shut his mouth and waited for her to continue.

She picked at the end of her sleeve, pulling at a loose string, “Yeah... He grabbed me when I told him I didn’t want to go with him. I tried to pull away, but it just made him angrier. He pinned me against my car, said he’d kill me if I didn’t go with him. Then he pulled me out into the alley. I... I was terrified... can’t remember anything he said, I just followed him scared of what he was going to do.” Her leg bounced as she talked, her body shivering despite the warmth in the room, “He lead me a few blocks away from where I worked to an apartment building,” She hesitated, her arms encircling her stomach, “He... He’s been living by my work, tracking me... and I had no idea.” Her voice trembled, making her pause to compose herself, “I told him I wanted to go home, I needed to leave. He slammed me against the wall, and suddenly I was in his room on his bed.” Her hand went to the back of her head, her eyes watering, “I think he knocked me out...” She ran her hand through her hair, stopping at the base of her neck, “Everything is fuzzy...”

Ezekiel felt his chest tighten with every description of the horror Raine had just gone through. He wanted to reach out to her, but was afraid of making her feel more uncomfortable.

Tears were now running freely down her face, her body trembling visibly as she relived each moment she told him.
“My dress...” She sobbed, clutching at the bottom of her shirt, “I-I was wearing a dress. It was pulled up, and he was,” Swallowing thickly, she shook her head, her cheeks darkening in embarrassment, “He was on me...” She hid her face, unable to look at Ezekiel any longer, “I panicked and bit him. It must have startled him, because he let me go, and I kicked him as hard as I could. He fell off the bed, and I ran... I just ran. I remember getting in my car, and getting home. I threw away the dress, pulled on new clothes, and went straight to Isabelle’s.” She looked everywhere but Ezekiel, shame and embarrassment washing across her face, “I... I haven’t even showered... I was afraid to stay longer than I needed to at home... What if he knows where I live?”

Ezekiel’s ears laid flat against his head, his heart lodged in his throat, “I’m gonna kill him.”

Looking up at him in shock, Raine opened and closed her mouth a few times before finding her voice, “What?” She squeaked.

Ezekiel met her eyes, “I’m gonna kill him,” He shook his head, clenching his fist, “How could he do this to you?”

“Zeke,” Raine choked out a nervous laugh, wiping away the snot and tears from her face with her sleeve, “Can we not talk about him anymore?” She stood up, moving over to him, “Let’s get some sleep, my head hurts, my stomach hurts and I’m tired.” Taking his hand, she led him out of the kitchen, their tea forgotten.

Stopping her, Ezekiel pulled her close to him, “You are not weak,” He wrapped his uninjured arm around her gently, “This wasn’t your fault.”

Raine crumbled, “How can you say that?” She cried burying her face into his shirt, “How can you believe that?”

“Because, when I look at you, you’re anything but weak,” He sank to the floor with her as her legs gave out, “Raine,” He whispered stroking the hair from her face, “We’ll get through this okay? I can protect you, Gabriel will protect you. You have us, and you know you have Isabelle and Vince too.”

Raine hiccuped, “No, no, I don’t want them to know.” She sniffled trying to compose herself.

“You should get checked out...” Ezekiel said slowly, frowning as her body went stiff against him.

“I’m going to be sick.” She gasped out, finding her feet and raced to the kitchen, vomiting into the garbage can.

Ezekiel followed her, grabbing a glass from the cupboard and filled it with water. He set it on the counter next to her, and gently rubbed her back as she dry heaved into the can.

Raine whimpered, spitting into the garbage, “This can’t be happening,” She groaned, taking the water and rinsed her mouth out into the sink, “Uhg, I’m sorry.”

“You’re fine, there’s nothing to be sorry about,” Ezekiel handed her a paper towel, “Why don’t you go take a shower, might help your head a little?” He suggested, leading her out of the kitchen and up the stairs.

Freezing in front of the bathroom, Raine looked at Ezekiel nervously, “Can you stand by the door for me?” She asked meekly, feeling embarrassed for the request.

Ezekiel nodded, “Sure.” He turned his back to the bathroom and leaned against the wall protectively. Raine looked at him in awe, butterflies stirring in her stomach at his no questions asked response. Hesitantly she went into the bathroom, closing the door so it still remained open a crack. She turned the water on before carefully pulling her clothes off, avoiding looking into the mirror at herself. Once the water was warm enough, she stepped in, her body suddenly feeling foreign to herself. She glanced around the edges of the tub, spotting a bottle of body wash and a couple bottles of shampoo and conditioner. She grabbed the bottle of shampoo, pouring a little into her hand. The smell of oranges filled the shower making her smile to herself. She expected something more masculine smelling to be in the bottle, something like pine or sandalwood. Ezekiel had a very distinct earthy smell to him, and now that she thought about, standing in his shower washing her hair with his shampoo, there was a hint of orange to him as well.
Rinsing her hair, she reached for the body wash and gently began washing her body. Her hands ran over the bruises on her body, making her flinch at the contact. She hesitantly looked down at herself, her breath catching in her throat. The water rinsing from her legs was tinged pink as dry blood washed from her body. Her legs buckled under her, making her drop to her knees.

“Z-Zeke?!” She called out, her head spinning, her ears suddenly ringing.

“What?” The bathroom door swung open, “Are you okay?” Ezekiel appeared suddenly. He quickly looked away, reaching for a towel. Raine found herself uncontrollably sobbing, unable to form any kind of coherent sentence. Calmly Ezekiel shut the water off and wrapped her in the towel, carefully lifting her from the bathtub and took her into his room. Gently he set her on the bed, wrapping a blanket around her shoulders. Raine trembled, her knees drawing up to her chest, the towel and blanket wrapped tightly around her body. Ezekiel sat next to her quietly, letting her curl up next to him and calm down.

“I-I need to see Belle tomorrow,” Raine whispered, rubbing her eyes, “She’s going to... She’s going to be disappointed in me.” She took a deep shuddering breath.

Ezekiel rubbed her back, “No one’s going to be disappointed in you. This isn’t your fault.” He soothed, his ears laying back.

“He was right there the whole time. I should have known he was there.” She rambled, trying to burrow deeper into the towel and blanket.

Shaking his head, Ezekiel pulled her closer to him, “You couldn’t have known he was stalking you. This isn’t your fault.”

Raine nodded, sniffling, “I’m sorry,” She whispered, holding the blankets up to her chin, “I’m such a mess. I’m only adding stress to you.”

Frowning, Ezekiel stood up and moved to his dresser. He dug through the drawers finding a pair of black sweat pants and a dark purple t-shirt. He laid them on the bed before moving over to the door.

“You can wear those. They’ll probably be big on you, but at least they’re dry.” He said moving out into the hallway.

Raine shivered eyeing the clothes. Hesitantly she sat up, pulling the shirt on while simultaneously letting the blanket and towel fall into her lap. Quickly she pulled on the pants, unable to look at herself any more than she had to. The clothes were a little baggy, making her feel a little at ease. Her body hidden in the folds of fabric, hiding away the damage he had done.

“You done?” Ezekiel called out from the hallway.

Looking down at herself, Raine nodded, then rolled her eyes, “Y-yeah,” She called out, finding her voice, “You can come in.”

Ezekiel awkwardly walked back into the room, his hand behind his head, “You can sleep in here tonight, if you want.”

“Where will you sleep?” Raine asked, her eyebrows drawing together.

“I don’t know if I can sleep,” He sighed, his shoulders slumping as his hand fell to his side, “I want to be able to protect you and Cole.”

Raine looked at him in surprise, “I don’t need to be protected, Zeke,” She stood up, her arms encircling her stomach, “I’ve been trained to protect myself, and I should be able to do it...”

“I know,” He lowered his ears sadly, “I know... I’m not saying you can’t protect yourself, but... I want to be there for you.” He looked up at her, his head tilting to the side, “Maybe we should train together?”

“Yeah, I’d like that,” Raine smiled at him wryly, “Hopefully Isabelle will have answers tomorrow about Cole.” She tried changing the subject. She looked down at her arms, shakily covering some of the bruises with her hand.

Ezekiel crossed the room, pulling her to him and hugged her tightly, “I’m sorry,” He whispered, “That shouldn’t have happened to you.”

After the initial shock of being hugged again, Raine buried her face into his chest, “I hate him.” She whispered, squeezing her eyes shut as the inevitable tears began all over again.

“Let me take care of him,” Ezekiel growled, holding her, “Let me make sure he’ll never hurt you again.”

Choking back a sob, Raine shook her head, “I can’t let you do that,” She sniffled, trying to fight back the tears, “I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

Ezekiel stroked her hair back from her face, “I’ll be okay.”

“Your arm is broken,” Raine pointed out, “And if you were caught, then you wouldn’t even stand a chance. They’d throw you away and then what?” She pulled back, wiping her face with her hand, “How could I face Cole every day after that? How could I tell him that you’re not around because of me?”
Ezekiel’s breath caught in his chest, realizing just how much she cared for not only him, but Cole too.

“Raine... I-”

“Look,” She stopped him, meeting his eyes sympathetically, “My ex, he’s not an issue right now. He’s not worth the time... Cole is, and you are. You haven’t slept in days,” She gently guided him by the shoulders to the bed, “You need to relax and at least try to get some sleep.”

Ezekiel allowed her to lead him towards the bed, his eyes suddenly feeling heavy and glazed over, “I can’t relax. I can’t sleep,” He grumbled, his forehead resting on her shoulder as her arms encircled his neck, “I can’t, Raine. You need me, Cole needs me... I need to be awake for you both.”

“I’m going to be fine. Cole’s going to be fine.” She whispered, gently rubbing his back trying to soothe him. Slowly she sat down, pulling him down next to her, “We’re both going to be okay. Just try for a few minutes.”

He snuggled into her, his body relaxing, “I care about you, Raine.” He mumbled, sleep already pulling him in.

She ran her fingers through his hair, “I know.” She whispered back, smiling as his breathing became soft snores. She shifted slightly so she could get up if need be, but also allowing him to continue holding onto her. Ezekiel snuggled closer to her, keeping his arm wrapped around her waist. Resting her hand over his, she watched his face as he slept, taking in everything he had said to her earlier. He cared about her. He had done more for her in the past hour than her ex had in the three years they had been together. She chewed on her bottom lip, guilt welling up in her stomach. No matter how desperately she had wanted this, wanted to be with him, she couldn’t bring herself to drag him into her problems.

Just as her body began shutting down in exhaustion, a soft knock at the front door startled her awake. Her heart jumped into her throat, he found her. She glanced at Ezekiel, a mixture of emotions running through her as she noticed he hadn’t even stirred. As she began to pull away, she heard the front door open and close. She froze as footsteps neared the bedroom. Slowly the door creaked open and she found herself unable to breath. Skyler popped her head in, stepping in as she spotted Raine climbing out of the bed. Raine looked at her with raised eyebrows and the girl immediately backed out of the room, leaving the door open.

Raine sighed in relief, shakily following the other woman out the door, closing it behind her, “You’re-”

“Skyler.” The girl cut her off frowning, her arms folding over her chest.

“Skyler,” Raine drawled, shifting her feet uneasily, then motioned for Skyler to follow her down the stairs, “Ezekiel just fell asleep, I can let him know you stopped by when he wakes up?” She said feeling caught off guard, anxiety making her body tremble.

Skyler eyed Raine, “Who are you again?”

“Raine-”

“No,” Skyler held up her hand, “I don’t want to know your name. What I mean is- who do you think you are? In bed with my man?”

Raine stepped back holding her hands up, “Whoa. Wait a minute-”

“You shouldn’t be here. You know Ezekiel is in a relationship with me.” Skyler snarled, “Aren’t you just the babysitter? Typical he’d be sleeping with the help.”

“The ‘help’? Are you kidding?” Raine straightened up, “Did you know that you’re in a relationship with him?” She shot back, making Skyler blink in surprise.

“Excuse me?!”

“Where have you been the past couple of days?” Raine crossed her arms, her anxiety quickly turning into anger.

Skyler scowled, “Excuse me? Don’t try and make me the bad guy here! What the hell do you think you were doing?!” She jabbed Raine in the chest with her index finger.

Raine dropped her arms to her sides, her fists clenched shut, “Do you even know what’s going on?” She asked, standing her ground.

“You mean why he has a mutt in his bed?”

“No,” Raine growled, “His son is in a coma,” She stepped towards Skyler, her teeth bared, “If you cared about him you would have already known that. You would have answered your phone. You would have returned the text messages he sent you. You would have wondered where the hell he’s been for the past week!” She breathed in deeply through her nose, her voice getting dangerously calm, “But you didn’t. You were more concerned with your new boy toy than you were him. What happened? He leave you so you think you can come crawling back here to Zeke?”

Skyler seethed, “You don’t know what I’ve been doing or haven’t been doing, dog.”

Ezekiel, having been woken up by the raised voices, stood listening at the top of the stairs. The two women so engrossed in their conversation to even notice him. He scowled at the derogatory names Skyler threw at Raine every chance she got, his fists tightening at his sides.

“I don’t know,” Raine said softly with a shrug, “I really don’t care either. I’m more concerned about Cole and Ezekiel right now.”

Skyler shook her head, stepping backwards, “I bet there’s nothing even wrong with his brat,” She eyed Raine, “He’s just dead weight anyway.”

Ezekiel stepped forward to react, when Raine’s tail puffed, straightening out horizontally, “Get out.” She snarled.

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me.” Her face twitched, slowly taking shape to that of a wolf.

Skyler leaned back in shock, stepping backwards towards the door, “You mutts are disgusting,” She stepped back again, her face twisting in disgust, “You can keep the mutt lover. He wouldn’t even let me touch him anyway.”

“Oh, this night,” Raine chuckled dryly, her eyes rolling up to the ceiling, “Can it get any fucking better?” She eyed Skyler, “Is there really even any question in your mind why he wouldn’t want to touch a bitch like you?”

Skyler stopped with her hand on the doorknob, “Bitch? Oh that’s just ironic. I’m too good for that mess of a boy,” She hissed, opening the door, “Hope he enjoys his bestiality,” She said sarcastically, glancing over her shoulder once more at Raine, eyeing the bruises on her arms, “I hope he gave you those too.” She sneered stepping out.

Everything that had happened over the last few hours came roaring to a halt in Raine’s mind. Her vision shivered with rage as she stepped forward getting into Skyler’s face. Then in a deadly calm whisper said, “I will end you if I see your face again,” She stepped forward, making Skyler step back automatically, “And I don’t mean in a quick sudden death kind of way,” Raine continued, stepping forward making Skyler step back again, “I will tear you to pieces in a way that you will feel everything and still be alive, wondering when I will end it to put you out of your pathetic existence.” She stood back soaking in Skyler’s stunned expression.

“You’re crazy.” Skyler breathed, standing at the edge of the stairs.

Raine nodded taking a step back inside, “Fucking right I am.” She slammed the door shut, making Skyler startle backwards.

Raine smirked listening to Skyler tumble down the steps with a yelp. She chuckled wryly, locking the door and leaned her back against it listening to Skyler scream at her through it.

“Hey.”

She startled seeing Ezekiel standing at the top of the stairs. She stared at him at a loss of words, her body suddenly trembling with anxiety all over again.

“Uhm,” She pushed away from the door looking everywhere else but him, “That was uh... Skyler...”

“I saw.” He looked over her shoulder at the door, Skyler’s voice shouting muffled curses through it.

“Oh...” Raine unconsciously tucked her tail between her legs, glancing back at the door as Skyler’s voice quieted.

He walked down the stairs and peeked out the window at Skyler’s retreating form, “How long was she here for?” His phone chirped from his pocket.

“Shouldn’t you be sleeping?” Raine avoided the question.
Ezekiel ignored her, reading the message on his phone. His eyebrows rose up in confusion as he texted. Suddenly rage washed across his face and his ears flattened.

He typed something then rolled his eyes, “We’re done.”

“What?” Raine squeaked, her body suddenly feeling numb.

“Skyler and I.” He shrugged, sitting down on the couch.

The air exploded from Raine’s lungs, “Oh!” She sat down next to him, “Was that her just now?” She leaned over, looking out the window to see if she could still see the Drakon woman. Ezekiel handed her his phone, nodding.

‘I saw u w ur mutt.’
‘My what?’
‘That nasty pet u keep around the house. I had no idea u were n2 bestiality.’
‘Her name’s Raine. I don’t appreciate you talking about her like that.’
‘I don’t appreciate U fuckin dogs bhind MY back.’
‘I don’t appreciate you disappearing to cheat on me or breaking into my house.’
‘I nvr cheated! We r so done, Ezkiel.’
‘What was your first clue?’

“Bestiality...” Raine rolled her eyes, “Well... that’s... not nice.”

Ezekiel grunted, “Are you okay?”

“Me? You’re the one who just got dumped,” Raine laughed under her breath, then scowled, “She has to be living under a rock... I told her Cole was in a coma, and she didn’t believe me because this,” She held up his phone, “Is all she can focus on? Not to mention the amazing timing she seems to have.” She rolled her eyes, pulling her knees up to her chest. Ezekiel took his phone back from her and tucked it into his pocket. He wrapped his arm around her, making her tense in surprise.

“Forget her.” He said relaxing into the couch, pulling Raine down into him.

She relaxed, her heart in her throat, “Are you feeling okay?” She laughed nervously, resting her head on his chest, listening to the steady rhythm of his heart.

“Mmhm, just tired.” He closed his eyes.

Raine chuckled, “You must be.”

“Heh... Thank you.”

“For what?”

“Being here for me and Cole.”

Raine smiled, closing her eyes, “Anytime.”

~*~

Ezekiel woke up first. The sun was just starting to break up the night sky, flushing it out through the cracks in the blinds. He watched Raine sleep, his mind drifting to her fight with Skyler the night before. The way she reacted to Skyler’s insults about him and Cole had surprised him. He hadn’t expected it. But looking back, he was beginning to see how blind he had been. Back to the way Gabriel spoke about her to him, and how he kept throwing out little hints. To the obvious date he and Isabelle set them up on. The way she blushed when she complimented his shirt before his date with Skyler. Oh, his date, he winced. That had been a huge mistake in more ways than one. Was he really that dense when it came to other people and their feelings? He rolled his eyes up to the ceiling and nodded, yes, yes he was.

Not only had he been ignorant to her feelings, but he had ignored his own and Cole’s. Cole very clearly trusted her. That was evident with how he only wanted to see her with the fireflies, and how easily he opened up to her about his nightmares. Then there were his own feelings, like how quickly he felt like he was able to trust her. How she could touch him and immediately calm his nerves.

His stomach turned at how he nearly threw it all away by trying to make some kind of stupid imaginary point to Gabriel. Even through all of his stupidness, she still was there for him when he needed someone the most. When he needed her.

His chest tightened at the sight of the bruises on her bare arms. The immediate need to protect her washing through him. He frowned, unable to fathom how someone could hurt her like her ex had done. He wanted to take all the pain and fear away from her, but was struggling to even help himself with all his own problems. He couldn’t defend his own son from three Humans, how did he think he could protect her from a Lycan? Could he even let her see that side of him, he wondered sadly. What if she were to reject him? What if he couldn’t be the strength she needed?

Raine stirred, slowly waking up. She snuggled into his chest sleepily then suddenly sat up, Ezekiel’s arm draped across her back stopping her just above his face.

“What?” Ezekiel blinked, moving his arm so she could move if she wanted.

Raine relaxed a little, “I thought I was dreaming.” She laughed softly, lying back down against him to hide the blush creeping up on her cheeks.

He brushed the hair from her face, “How’re you feeling?”

Turning her face into his shirt, Raine shrugged, “Sore.” She mumbled, and then sighed, propping her head up on her arm,

“How’d you sleep?”

Ezekiel hugged her to him, “Good.” After going so long being unable to touch anyone, he was enjoying the feeling.

“Good, you needed it.” She closed her eyes listening to his heartbeat.

His heart slowly sped up, “Because of you.” He said softly making Raine open her eyes in surprise. She looked up at him, her breath catching in her throat. He was blushing, his cheeks turning a dark purple, “You’re really good to me,” He whispered, “And I don’t deserve it.”

Raine sat up slightly, “What do you mean?”

“You’ve been there for Cole and me every time we’ve needed someone. When Cole’s fireflies died, when I had that anxiety attack at the restaurant... and at Gabe’s wedding,” Ezekiel pressed his lips together, his eyes rolling up to the ceiling in embarrassment, “Instead of realizing what we needed was right here, I looked elsewhere...” He met Raine’s eyes, “I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to see that.”

Raine breathed in sharply, “Are you saying-”

“I like you, Raine, a lot...”

“Zeke...” Raine sat up, “I...”

Scooting back so they could both sit comfortably, Ezekiel looked at her solemnly, “It’s okay,” He reassured, “You don’t have to feel the same, especially after... After everything,” His ears twitched back, “I just want you to know that I appreciate what you’ve been doing, and that I will do everything in my power to make you feel safe again.”

This was it. This was what she had been wanting for so long, reciprocated feelings. Except now the thought suddenly terrified her, making her feel even more broken and frustrated.
She forced a smile, looking down at the floor, “I should run home and get some clean clothes.” She could have screamed at the words coming from her mouth, her heart was yelling at her to tell him how she really felt. Her mouth refused to form the words, instead mumbling out deflections to try and steer away from anything that could bring them closer together.

Ezekiel nodded eyeing her sympathetically, “I can drive you there on the way to Isabelle’s.” He noticed her visibly begin to withdraw into herself.

“Sounds good.”

Standing up, Ezekiel looked her over quickly, his head tilting to the side, “Will you talk to Isabelle?”

Raine swallowed thickly, “Yes.” She pulled her knees up to her chest, her toes hanging over the edge of the couch.

“I’m going to get changed. I’ll be down in a minute.” He said disappearing up the stairs. Raine picked at her nails, suddenly feeling vulnerable without someone in the room with her. She tried to shove the feeling away, trying to ignore the way it clawed at the back of her mind making her feel dizzy. The relief was almost instantaneous as Ezekiel came back down, now dressed in a pair of blue jeans and long sleeved teal shirt.
He held out her clothes from the night before, her shoes on top of the pile, “These were in the bathroom.”

Hesitantly she took them, “Thanks.” She said, carefully putting on her shoes.

“Mmhm,” He sat down next to her to pull on his own socks and shoes, “Hopefully we get some good news today.”

“Yeah,” Raine agreed, looking him over, “I like you,” She said quickly, “I just… I need time.”

He studied her face for a moment, then nodded, “Take as much time as you need.” He said sincerely. Raine sank into the couch slightly, her mind wandering through thoughts of how much had changed in the last couple of weeks.

She pushed herself forward, standing up, “Let’s go.”

~*~

Raine’s tiny apartment was not far from Isabelle’s house. Ezekiel peeked out the window, noting he could even see the building from the 4th floor apartment.

Raine stepped out of the bathroom wearing a clean orange long sleeved shirt and pair of blue jeans, running a brush through her hair, “Nice view, huh?” She picked up her bag off the counter, packed full of clothes for the next week, and put the brush in it. She shakily looked around the small apartment for anything else she might need, while shoving her feet back into her shoes.

“Hm, yeah, I guess,” Ezekiel shrugged, glancing at the window then back to her, “I’m not one for cities really,” He shifted uncomfortably, looking at the paintings hanging on the walls.

Raine hesitated, “Me either, but I did like the convenience of having everything nearby.”

Did, Ezekiel nodded noticing the phrasing of her words, “Yeah, that would be nice.” He smiled reassuringly at her as she laced her fingers through his, a shy smile working its way across her face, “Cool art, by the way.” He tilted his head to the painting of a flower in a burning field on the wall.

Raine shrugged, “Heh, thanks,” She moved to the door, letting go of his hand to open it, “They’re old, I don’t paint much anymore.” She said leading them out the door, locked up and walked with him to the stairs.

“You painted those! They’re really good.” Ezekiel glanced over his shoulder as though he’d be able to see them again.

Flushing, Raine flashed him a small smile, “Thanks.” A Drakon couple passed them, taking a double look as they walked by. Ezekiel felt a mixture of anxiety and anger at the attention. Raine squeezed his hand gently as they made their way down to the lobby. Ezekiel’s ears lowered at a snicker from a Lycan on a cell phone eyeing them near the mailboxes.

“Yeah, totally with a Drakon.” The man giggled quietly, glancing over his shoulder at Ezekiel and Raine in amusement.

Ezekiel glared at the man, “You have a problem?” He growled.

“Sorry, dude.” The man ducked his head, turning away, embarrassed at having been caught. Raine squeezed Ezekiel’s hand again, her eyes looking up at him with a mixture of panic and worry. He frowned slightly, following her down to his car and climbed in.

He sighed once they were in motion, his fingers tapping against the steering wheel.

“I’m sorry.” Raine said softly, her face red in embarrassment.

Ezekiel glanced at her in surprise, “Sorry? For what?”

Biting her lip, Raine bowed her head, “Back at my place...”

“It’s their problem, not yours, or ours.” Ezekiel took her hand in his and kissed it gently.

She smiled sadly at him then looked out the window, “Yeah...” She mumbled. After a few minutes of silence, she straightened up, “You know how you suggested training?” She tilted her head to the side, looking at him out of the corner of her eye.

He nodded, “Yes?” He frowned at the traffic near Isabelle’s place, his neck already prickling with a cold sweat at the cars parked in the driveway.

“When can we start?”

Finding a place to park, Ezekiel turned off the car and leaned back in his seat, “Uhm,” He looked up at the building, noticing people walking by the windows, “Maybe today. Depends how Cole is doing.” He said softly.

Raine nodded, “Whenever you’re ready is fine with me.” She patted his thigh before climbing out of the car. He nodded to himself, following her out and up the rest of the drive to the doors. The building was abuzz with people in white lab coats rushing around. Ezekiel felt his head start to swim the moment they walked into the building. Raine looped her arm through his and held his hand. He looked down at her, the dizzy feeling starting to fade. She was grounding him, he realized, giving him something else to focus on in the chaos. He breathed in deeply through his nose, and then noticed the anxiety in her eyes. She was grounding them both.

“This way,” She led him through the group of people wandering around.

Isabelle greeted them at Cole’s door, “Hey! Sorry for the crowd today. They’re doing a party of some sort... Or something, it’s dad’s thing,” She said quickly, waving away the distraction, then grinned, “But I do have good news!” She opened the door.

Ezekiel stepped into the room, “Cole.” He breathed, walking over to his son’s bedside.

Cole grinned holding his arms out to him, “Daddy!” He chirped happily as Ezekiel scooped him up, hugging him tightly.

“He woke up about fifteen minutes ago,” Isabelle looked between the two and Raine, “He’s a little weak from being out for so long. He should gain his strength back over the next couple days.”

Raine stood back, her eyes tearing up watching Ezekiel holding Cole to him. She looked at Isabelle, “Is he okay?”

Isabelle shrugged a shoulder, “We can’t find anything wrong. We’ll watch him over night just to be safe, but he can go home tomorrow.”

“Raine’s here too?” Cole gasped, his voice raspy from lack of use, “I want a hug!” He reached out towards her.

“Oh kiddo, of course!” Raine moved over to the two, taking Cole from Ezekiel and hugged him. Cole hugged her around the neck happily, pressing his cheek against hers with a happy squeak.

Ezekiel stepped back watching the two, unable to stop the smile from spreading across his face. He looked over at Isabelle, “Thank you.”

“We’ll keep on monitoring him today. After he goes home let’s schedule two therapy sessions a week, just to be on the safe side.”

“Okay.” Ezekiel nodded, taking Cole back from Raine.

“I’m hungry.” Cole said looking up at Ezekiel.

Raine grinned, “I think he’s feeling better,” She patted him on the head, “I’ll go get it, I need to talk to Izzy for a minute anyway.” Ezekiel locked eyes with her, looking a bit torn at what he should do, “I’ll be okay.” She whispered rubbing her arms.

He looked at her as if to say, ‘You sure?’ His body language becoming protective, ready to do anything she asked. He held Cole tightly to him, ready to follow her with the boy at her say.

She breathed in deeply through her nose and nodded, “I’ll be okay,” She repeated touching his arm.

He nodded back, gently kissed her on the forehead and sat down on the edge of the bed with Cole. Isabelle’s eyes widened at the display of affection. Wordlessly, she followed Raine out of the room, closing the door behind them.

“Did I... Did I just see that?”

Raine, her back to Isabelle, smirked, then looked over her shoulder with a straight face, “See what?”

Isabelle quickened her pace so she was walking alongside Raine. Gently she pushed her, “No you don’t! Don’t play games! He kissed you!”

Unable to keep up the act, Raine smiled, laughing lightly, “Okay, yes. That happened.”

When did that happen?” Isabelle prodded, the two turning into the kitchen.

“Just now?” Raine shrugged then giggled at the look Isabelle gave her, “Last night sometime... ” She watched Isabelle pull open cupboard, “I need to talk to you.” Her face fell.

Isabelle looked over her shoulder slowly setting down the plate she had grabbed, “Uh oh, what’s wrong?” She liked to pride herself with being able to read Raine like an open book, her best friend couldn’t keep anything from her. Right now she could definitely tell Raine was not doing as well as she put up. She looked her up and down, “Are you okay?”

Raine nodded then shook her head, “No,” Her eyes immediately began tearing up, “Stuvock found me last night,” Isabelle froze, her jaw dropping, “He’s been stalking me, I don’t know for how long. But uh,” She fumbled with her words, shakily pulling at her sleeves, “He uh... I need to be... I...” Isabelle caught her before she fell to the ground, her legs giving out.

“Raine, what did he do to you!?” She gasped, holding her best friend to her tightly as the uncontrollable shaking started all over again.

Raine clung to Isabelle’s shirt, “I don’t know,” She hiccuped, then shook her head, trying to compose herself, “I’m a mess, Belle,” Pulling her knees up to her chest, she tried to swallow back the tears already making their way down her face, “He was living near my work... He could see it from his apartment,” She shivered, “He dragged me there, and threw me against the wall... And I blacked out. I don’t know what he did.” She rocked trying to calm the nerves working their way through her stomach, “I woke up with him on me, my dress pulled up and my underwear...” Her face flushed, “I kicked him and was able to get away. I came here after...”

“Why didn’t you tell me last night?” Isabelle asked gently, carefully helping Raine back up.

Shaking her head, Raine stood and leaned heavily against the counter, “I was embarrassed...” She whispered, raking her hands through her hair, “And I think in shock.” Breathing deeply, she turned to Isabelle, “Will you... Will you check me out for me? I uh... I was bleeding, and I don’t know...” She trailed off, tugging at her shirt again.

Isabelle nodded, “Of course, sweetie,” She hugged Raine tightly, “Let’s get Cole his lunch, then I’ll check you out, okay?”

“Okay,” Raine wiped at her eyes, watching Isabelle go back and pick up Cole’s plate, “I slept with Ezekiel last night.” She blurted out.

Isabelle nearly dropped the plate she was carrying, “Whoa! Whoa! You slept with him!?” She set the dish down and leaned against the counter, “You did have an eventful night, didn’t you?”

Holding her hands up, Raine chuckled softly, “I mean... We fell asleep together... On the couch. His girlfriend showed up last night.”

“No!” Isabelle hopped up onto the counter and patted the spot next to her, “Continue.”

Raine sniffled, still calming herself from the earlier conversation. Moving over to the counter, she hopped up, “Yeah, well. She came over after I got him to go to sleep. She found us in bed together-”

“What? In bed? Why are you leaving things out!?” Isabelle interrupted.

Raine held her hand up, “Stop your mouth!” She laughed dryly, “I’m not leaving anything out! He was sleeping, I was lying with him. That’s it. She walked into the room finding us, so I got up and went down stairs to talk to her. She assumed we slept together and left.”

“Uh huh,” Isabelle nodded, tapping her cheek with her finger, “So...?”

“Okay... Actually,” Raine’s tail twitched in annoyance, “She was a bitch. She broke into his place, accused me of sleeping with him, and kept calling me a dog. Never mind that her friend outed her to us that she was seeing someone else on the side,” Raine frowned, shaking her head still in disbelief at everything that had happened, “I actually got really mad...” She pulled at her sleeves, “Backing up a bit... When we left here, Ezekiel, he uh, he saw these...” Hesitantly she pulled up her sleeve revealing the dark purple bruises underneath.

Isabelle gasped, gently taking Raine’s arm, “What the hell, Raine!” She lifted the sleeve more, “That bastard...”

Raine pulled her arm away, “Yeah,” She covered her eyes, “Ezekiel had a similar reaction. He was really upset by it all...”

“I am too!” Isabelle frowned, “What did he say?”

“He wants to kill him.”

Isabelle nodded enthusiastically, “That makes two of us.”

Worrying her lip, Raine let out a breathy laugh, “I tried to take a shower and saw blood-”

“Blood?” Isabelle cut her off worriedly.

Nodding, Raine sighed, “Yeah, I’m not sure what from. Could have been from where I hit my head, I don’t know. I saw it and lost it. Ezekiel wrapped me up, carried me to his room, and gave me a pair of his sweats and T-shirt to wear to sleep in.”

She wrung her hands, “He was worked up over it all, and I convinced him to lie down. As soon as his head hit the pillow he fell asleep. That’s when Skyler showed up.”

“Uhg.” Isabelle groaned, rolling her eyes.

“My thoughts too,” Raine shook her head exasperatedly, “She came in, and saw me getting out of the bed. Uhg, Izzy, she saw my bruises and said she hoped he had given them to me!”

Isabelle’s jaw dropped, disgust washing across her face, “Who says that!?”

“I don’t know! I threatened to kill her and forced her out. They broke up through text after that.” Raine leaned back, anger pulling her eyebrows together, “Seriously she was the one who had been cheating, and ignoring his texts and calls.” She vented, and then took a deep breath to calm herself.

“Wow...” Isabelle pressed her lips together tightly for a moment, then shook her head again, “What a whore!”

Raine nodded, “She is! I don’t understand why she did half the things she did… Ezekiel didn’t deserve any of that. After all of that happened, he hugged me, and we fell asleep.”

Isabelle smiled, “Aw.”

Rolling her eyes, Raine hopped down from the counter, “It was a long night.”

Isabelle frowned, jumped down off the counter and moved to the fridge, “Sounds like it. I’m sorry you went through all of that, especially with Stuvock.” She looked at Raine sympathetically making Raine suddenly feel squeamish. She was beginning to hate that look, like everyone was looking through her suddenly.

“Want me to help you?”

“No,” Isabelle pulled out a container of fruit, “Go on, keep talking.”

Raine shrugged, “Well... When we woke up this morning,” Her cheeks darkened slightly, “He said he liked me… a lot.”

Isabelle paused in her task of placing fruit on the plate, “Really?” She asked, raising an eyebrow, “That would explain the kiss…”

Raine nodded, “Yeah... But I told him I needed time.”

“Shut up!” Isabelle slammed her hands on the counter, nearly hitting the plate. She startled, lowering her voice, “No you didn’t. Raine, isn’t this what you’ve been waiting for?!”

“It is,” Raine fidgeted, “But after Stuvock...” She trailed off, her stomach flipping.

“Oh, that bastard,” Isabelle hissed, “I’m so sorry, hon.” She said sadly.

Raine took the container of fruit from Isabelle, “I feel so off,” She put the fruit away and grabbed stuff for a sandwich, “I do like Zeke, and I feel safer with him around, but...”

“But?” Isabelle pushed gently.

Pressing her lips together, Raine quickly made a ham and cheese sandwich for Cole, “I’m scared,” She admitted quietly, “What if I’m too broken and not good for him?”

Isabelle straightened up, “You’re not broken,” She hugged Raine tightly, “You will get through this. We’re all here for you.”

Raine breathed in deeply, pulled away and put the left overs away, “Thanks, Izzy,” She offered her a reassuring smile, “I appreciate that.”

“I mean it.” Isabelle insisted, picking up Cole’s lunch off the counter and moved to the door.

Raine opened the door for her and followed her out into the hall, “I know you do. Do you have any answers about Cole?” She changed the subject, feeling uneasy.

“I won’t know until I talk with Cole a little more.” She handed the plate to Raine, and opened Cole’s door for her, following her inside.

Cole smiled happily at Raine as he accepted his food, “Thank you!” He said around a bite of sandwich.

“You’re welcome, kiddo.” Raine moved next to Ezekiel standing next to the head of the bed. She looked to Isabelle, “What do you think caused his coma?” Ezekiel turned his attention to Isabelle as well, his ears perking up.

Isabelle let her shoulders drop, “We’re thinking it might be the beginning stages of something.”

Something?” Ezekiel cut in, “Can you be less vague?”

Isabelle rubbed her hands together, “Not really, no. We won’t know until I talk more to Cole. Mental health is a tricky thing. Going by what we know happened, I can only make guesses.”

Ezekiel scowled, “Then guess.”

“I’d rather not. I don’t want to cause any extra worry or stress.” Isabelle frowned, “Many of these things don’t fully manifest until a person is an adult. I’m not sure how it works with Drakons, but I’m hoping it’s the same. This could be a warning for something that will hit full blown when he hits puberty.”

Ezekiel and Raine exchanged looks, “Then what are we supposed to do?” He said, his hands opening and closing at his sides.

Isabelle frowned, “Watch and wait.” She eyed Raine, “We should go and get you checked out now.” She said carefully.

Ezekiel noticed the nervous look flash across Raine’s face before she nodded in agreement. He moved closer to her, catching the worried look she gave him.

“Will you come with us?” She asked quietly, feeling embarrassed for asking.

He looked over his shoulder at Cole enjoying his lunch, then back to Raine and Isabelle, “Yes.”

Isabelle moved to the doorway, “I’ll have a nurse keep an eye on Cole for us.” She said disappearing out into the hall.

Ezekiel went to Cole, ruffling his hair, “I’ll be back in a little bit, okay?”

“M’kay.” Cole smiled up at him.

Isabelle led a young nurse into the room and introduced him quickly to Cole. Raine walked out into the hall, Ezekiel following close behind.

“You don’t have to come.” Raine said quietly, waiting for Isabelle to finish giving her instructions to the nurse.

Ezekiel studied her face for a moment, “Do you want me to?”

Raine shrugged nervously, “You haven’t left my side throughout everything that’s happened, so I won’t leave yours. Not unless you tell me to.”

Meeting his eyes, Raine took a deep breath, “Thank you.” She said blowing the breath out as Isabelle met them in the hall.

“Alright?” Isabelle asked then gestured down the hall at Raine’s nod, “Our examination rooms are down this way.” They walked in silence, Ezekiel watching Raine from the corner of his eye. They reached the room, Isabelle comfortably walking in while Ezekiel hung outside waiting for directions from Raine.

Isabelle held out a gown to Raine, “The bathroom’s there,” She pointed at a closed door, “Put this on then we’ll start.”

Taking the gown, Raine looked from it to Ezekiel awkwardly, “You uh... You can come in if you’d like.” She blushed turning away and hurried into the bathroom.

Eyeing Ezekiel, Isabelle gave him a once over, “This isn’t going to be weird for you, is it?”

“Is it going to be for you?” Ezekiel countered, clumsily folding his arms across his chest.

Isabelle smirked a little, “Oh, not at all,” She sang softly, “I’ve seen her naked plenty, have you?” She went to the cupboards pulling out a pack of sterilized equipment, placing them on a tray.

Ezekiel realized his mouth had fallen open at Isabelle’s question. He quickly closed it, turning away, “Hm.” He grunted, shaking his head, unwilling to tell her about Raine’s meltdown in the shower.

His reaction amused Isabelle making her giggle softly, “By the way,” She looked back at him seriously, “Thank you for being there for her.”

Ezekiel nodded once, his eyes shifting over to Raine uncomfortably walking out of the bathroom. She held the gown shut in the back with one hand, her clothes held against her with her other.

“Um...” She stammered, looking between the two with wide eyes, “Do I have this on right?”

Isabelle quickly took the clothes from her, leading her to the chair, “You’re fine, it doesn’t really matter anyway. Sit down and get comfortable.” She set the clothes on the counter, snapped on gloves, and wheeled over the tray.

Moving over to Raine’s side, Ezekiel eyed the crazy looking devices Isabelle was examining. He exchanged looks with Raine and took her hand to try and help ease the fear he could see welling up in her.

Isabelle sighed softly, “Okay, hon, first... Are you going to press charges against Stuvock?” She asked looking over the back of Raine’s head for any injuries.

Trying not to squirm, Raine flinched as Isabelle’s fingers combed over a sore spot, “I don’t know Belle...” Her voice cracked, “Then I have to see him again, won’t I?”

Isabelle stepped back, “Yes,” She frowned, “You will. But Raine, this could finally put him away, and you won’t have to worry anymore.”

Raine forced a laugh, crying, “He was living in front of my job, I’ll always be looking over my shoulder.” She let go of Ezekiel’s hand and grabbed onto her tail, smoothing it out.

“He’ll have to go through me,” Ezekiel growled, his ears pinned tightly back, “I’ll kill him before he can touch you again.”

“Sweety,” Isabelle said gently, “I need to know. I know this is really hard, but if you want to press charges, then I have some tests I need to do. If you don’t, then I can skip them until you feel more up to it.”

Fighting the urge to get up and run away, Raine nodded, “Okay,” She swallowed thickly, “Okay, do the tests.”

Isabelle’s eyebrows rose, “You’re going to press charges?”

“Yes,” Raine nodded, “Let’s get this over with, please? I don’t want to think about it anymore.”

“Okay,” Isabelle pulled off her gloves, and pulled out some paperwork from a drawer before grabbing another pair of clean gloves, “Lean back and try to relax.”

Raine scooted back in the chair, giving Ezekiel an uneasy look. He took her hand again, and she smiled through the fear threatening to overwhelm her.

“Thank you.” She whispered, leaning her head back and closed her eyes.

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