A/N: I owe you all an apology for updating after a month. I did want to update within a week of the previous update, but then I had to write a lot of assignments for my college and by the time I was done with it, my laptop was short-circuited (I could no longer write). I just got it repaired a couple of days ago and I am updating it. I will try to update as soon as I can.
By the time Taurus and I reached the hospital, Aiko was down there with Kessa. Though she was not connected to the IV line anymore, the back of her hand had a needle.
She blinked at a male and then at the female on the bed next to him. There had been a time when Aiko and Clio would look like sisters. But now, the female who was nothing but skin and bones did not share an ounce of resemblance with her daughter.
Silence prevailed over that family as Erica cried. Tears streamed down her face, leaving a trace of where they have been. When I looked at her, a pair of black beads studded in red pools looked at me. When the red was white, her eyes held so much vivacity that spurred me on many times. Now, I had to search for her breath to know she was alive.
Her face was puffy, and her shoulders shook continuously. Nox stood next to her, but no one comforted her.
Seeing me, Mina took a document and gave it to me. “A sign here.”
I skimmed through the document. Medical words danced before my eyes before I finally saw the place where I had to sign. Taurus handed me a pen, and somehow I signed my name there.
Before I could finish my sign, Mina walked towards Erica and a nurse took the document from me.
“Doctor.” Erica had a scratchy voice. “Can you-”
Mina pulled her up and gave her a tight hug. “I… I was there when N-Nash died.” Her voice broke. “I lost him that day,” she whispered, “I know the pain, Erica. I won’t let you lose Zeke. I promise.”
Her words stunned me. Who did not know how Mina lost her mate, Nash? I heard stories of how she had operated him herself and when her medical skills failed; she had even marked him to keep him alive.
Was Erica to Zeke what Mina was to Nash? Was she his mate? Why did Zeke never tell me? Tell any of us.
“Thank you,” she croaked. “Thank you, Mina.”
Nodding, she left, giving the nurse next to her a set of instructions. The smell of death and blood cloaked me. Suffocated me.
I looked at the male next to Erica.
“I-I am sorry, Draco,” he said. “I failed.”
My gaze turned sharp. “I told you, Nox. Told you that Zeke was not a fighter. Told you to protect him as well.”
He dropped his face down and closed his eyes tightly. “I-I am sorry.”
“Is that going to bring my friend back?” I roared. “Will it?”
Taurus gripped my wrist and pulled me towards him. Though I was an inch taller than him, I fit in his embrace. I struggled, but he never let me go.
“Draco.” His voice was soothing. “Listen to me. Zeke is not dead. He is there in the operation theatre and Mina is trying her best to save him. Don’t talk as if he is gone. Nox brought him fast enough to give him some minutes. Maybe… there were too many that even Nox had trouble. He is a star, yes, but he is not omnipotent.”
I choked. “Z-Zeke is my best friend.”
Taurus nodded. “I know. He is.”
“I can’t lose him after Sean,” I said. “I already lost one friend.”
“You won’t lose him,” he affirmed.
I pressed my head to his shoulders. “Did you know? After each assignment, each mission, I feel low. I feel like taking my life instead of all those I had shot. It was Zeke and Zyon who were there with me. They cheered me up. Gave me a reason to smile. I can’t bear if anything happens to them.”
I may be a pulsar now, but when I had been human, those two were the ones who stayed by my side. Rune could help me only from the shadows, and Lawan and Wirat had already sacrificed so much for me. I could not ask these three for any more help.
If I drank myself to oblivion, they made sure I reached home safe. If I was feeling down, they made me laugh. Most of all, they helped me make my world a better place to live in.
“T-There was a half-star,” Erica said in a small voice. “Rekha. Nox was fighting her.”
“Half-star?” Taurus asked. “Who was her parent? Her star parent?”
“Mirfak’s daughter,” Nox supplied.
That star’s daughter? Of all the stars, why him?
“What did you do?” I asked Nox.
He bit his lips but summoned a white light in his right palm. “I took her soul out but destroyed her body. She is not exactly dead. Since she is a star, if you give her enough time, she can manifest a body for her own. This was the only way I could think without killing her. Knowing Mirfak, if I had really killed his daughter, he would rage and possibly destroy the earth.”
I sighed. “That would be a wise choice.”
“Not to mention,” Nox intoned. “Like Mirfak, she was a Navigator. I could not kill her. If I did, my father would have butchered me.”
I released myself from Taurus. “You can’t be butchered.”
He looked at me dead in the eye. “You don’t know what Rigel is capable of. If he wants to do something, it will be done.”
I moved to where Aiko was standing. She took a second to notice me. She shuffled to give me some space but ended up standing closer to a male who I think was Allen.
A nurse was working on the machine next to Clio, and she whispered a few instructions to another nurse next to her.
“How is she?” I asked.
Kessa bit her lips and lightly shook her head.
The nurse wearing the pink uniform rose her eyebrows. “She is in a coma. Don’t know when she would wake up.”
I sucked in a sharp breath. “Nothing can be done?”
She shrugged. “It’s a miracle she is breathing. Though she did not starve, she is badly bruised. Even if she wakes up, we can’t say if she can ever walk. They broke her spine. As of now, we really can’t say if she would wake up.”
The male had a hard look on his face as he pinned Aiko down. “Who was that?”
His words startled her. “What?”
“Who hunted us down?” he spat. “Who chased me and my mom?”
It took her more than half a second to respond. “D-Dave.”
“Who is he?” he enunciated.
“Omicron of Summer Coven,” I answered.
“And who the bloody hell are you?” he asked without missing a beat.
I frowned and gazed at the eyes that were very much similar to Sean’s. They had the same slant in their eyes, though his eyes took Clio’s shade.
“The one who saved you,” I replied.
“Bullshit,” he sneered. “You guys did more damage than necessary. My mom and I lived happily. Yes, we were poor but happy. But then suddenly these guys popped out of nowhere and started chasing us. We were running for our lives. You dare say you saved us?”
The nurse said in a flat tone. “I don’t want people raising their voices in front of our patients. She needs as much as peace and silence as you can give her. If not, move out.”
“I am her son!” He gritted his teeth.
“I am sorry,” the nurse said. “But the one who signed the document is her daughter.”
Allen looked at her. “Y-you’re my sister?”
Aiko nodded. “Yes.”
He stared at her for a long time. His eyes skimmed to the needle in her hand and the hospital dress she was wearing. “Mom told me a lot about you.”
“A lot?” she chuckled. “Good things, I hope?”
He turned his face away. “She said she knew two powerful warriors. One was dad and the other was you.”
Aiko closed her eyes as a lone tear rolled down. “She forgot to include herself in that, I see. She persisted when Dave killed her mate. She pushed on to live just so you would grace this world. How could I possibly compare myself to her?”
He raised his hand as if he wanted to wipe her tear, but stopped it. “She said you nearly gave up everything to save us.”
“I clearly did not give up enough,” she laughed mirthlessly. “If not, how could she be lying on the hospital bed like this?”
Kessa gathered the girl in her arms. “Aiko. Stop blaming yourself. If anything, it is Dave who killed your father. He was the one who threw you in the dungeon. He chased Clio and forced her to flee Laukris. It was his fear that you would take the title of Omicron from him. After all, you both have every right to take the title from him.”
Allen frowned. “Dave… is he the one who killed my father?”
I nodded. “The very same.”
He inhaled sharply and sat on the chair next to his mother. “I-I will look after her tonight. You can come tomorrow.”
The nurse who stood by the side cleared her throat. “Dr Mina asked me to tend to your wounds, Mr Huang.”
Allen shook his head. “It’s all healed.”
“You’re still bleeding from the sides, Allen,” I said. “I bet it was a werewolf who gave you that slash. As much as you can heal yourself, it will take at least three days for it to stop bleeding. Better dress that wound.”
Allen touched his right flank, and his fingertips carried a red stain. “But-”
“You can trust us, Mr Huang,” she said. “We won’t do anything to our patients. But as Mr Stykes said, you need to tend that wound.”
Aiko touched his shoulder. But seeing Allen flinch at that action, she withdrew her hand. “I will stay tonight. Kessa and I will be here. You tend that wound.”
“I am not leaving,” he said stubbornly. “I am-”
“You are,” Aiko said in a hard tone. “You are going to patch up that. Come tomorrow morning.”
“I will not do anything to mom! You can trust me.”
“It’s not that-” he mumbled. “It’s-”
Nox stood up and walked over to him. “I will go with him. Make sure he gets treated.”
“I do not agree to this!” he protested, but Nox pulled him away, nodding the nurse to lead the way.
As they left, Aiko’s lips curled in a smile. “At least he is okay.”
I slightly bumped my shoulder against hers. “He will be.”
Just as Aiko sat on the chair with Kessa on the bed next to Clio’s legs, a familiar scent wafted to my nose. But before I could even see that face, Taurus growled loudly.
The nurse who reprimanded Allen for creating noise was about to open her mouth, but she could not produce any words.
Mali and Riley stood at the entrance of the emergency ward with Sorrel and Brody behind them.
“Haven’t I warned you enough?” Taurus hissed.
Riley stared right back at Taurus. “We heard-”
“Haven’t I warned you enough, Riley Garcia, son of Rigel?” Taurus asked. “Did I not tell you that you and your mate are never to meet Draco?”
“But this is Allen we are talking about!” Riley snapped. “He is Sean’s son and Sean was Mali’s friend too!”
“Friend?” he sneered at the word. “If Sean was truly her friend, he would not have died, Omicron Garcia.”
Mali inhaled deeply. “I had to choose between saving Sean or Draco and I-”
This female was clever, I would give her that. But was Taurus a kid in her eyes? How many people had he seen in his life?
“You could have saved both,” Taurus snapped. “Don’t try to act a goddess by saying that you could save only one and you saved Draco to escape from me. In fact, both would not have been in that predicament if you had just minded your own business.”
Mali looked down. “I did to save myself. I may be selfish, Second Warrior, but I could do only that. If you have lived with someone as cruel as Dave even for a year, you would understand. I did everything to save myself.”
“Save yourself?” Aiko scoffed as she took a step forward. A small smile touched her lips, but it had pulled melancholy with it. “I heard it from Rune and others. If you had not begun to play with Harriet, Dave would have nothing to control you.”
Riley hissed. “You don’t-”
“Don’t know anything?” Aiko fired, her voice breaking. “Yes, I don’t know how Mali played. How she literally manipulated others. How she did everything to save herself.” Then she turned to Mali. “I mean, did you ever consider that other people do exist apart from you? Did you think that the world revolves around you? My dad died, Mali. Because of you. And nothing that you’re going to say is going to bring him back alive.”
Mali’s lips parted. “Aiko-”
“What?” she snapped. “Going to use your powers on me?”
I inhaled sharply. It was not me who suffered the worst. It was not even Rune or even Clio. It was Aiko. She took the brunt of Mali’s backlash of planning and never said anything to us. She was the one who suffered in the dungeon. The one who was starved. The one who was forced to separate from her family.
Aiko sneered. “Thought so. Don’t try me, Mali. Not when I hold you responsible for my father’s death. You will not like how it will end.”
Mali looked down. “I-I will be leaving.”
“No,” Aiko said in a sharp voice. “You will not be seeing me or my family for the rest of your life. Even if I die, you are not to attend my funeral.”
Riley was about to snap, but Mali held his arm. “I understand. I won’t bother you any longer.”
Just when she was about to leave, Sorrel opened her mouth. “Then don’t stay in our hospital.”
I could understand where Sorrel was coming from. Her Omicron had been insulted and she just wanted to avenge her, but her timing nor her words were right.
For the royals had passed an order that the hospitals, fire services, temples and shrines, airports, railways and bus stations never belonged to any single coven, pack or tribe. Even if the enemy of a coven wanted to admit in their hospital, they had no say. Health services were not restricted.
“If you forgot, Epsilon,” Erica said, standing up. “Apart from the Royal order regarding health services, even Alpha Eric’s pack made significant contributions here. We have an equal say on what happens here. Ms Aiko is not only your guest. She is ours too.”
The sharp gaze and that hard voice made Sorrel take a step back. Brody stabilised her. “I never thought you would stand on the other side one day.”
“Neither have I imagined one day that you would lose your rationality,” Erica said.
Lawan and Wirat entered the hospital with Rune talking to someone on his phone, standing out. As Sorrel and Brody left, Lawan glared at the other female. Paired with her pale face and bloodshot eyes, I would not be surprised if Lawan just dug Sorrel’s heart out. Wirat who usually held calmness carefully was haggard. A faint scent of caffeine rolled off him.
“Such hostility,” Aiko commented. “What did she ever do to you?”
Lawan pursed her lips for a while. To be angry for the sake of Kyril, were they close?
“S-she rejected her mate,” I said. “For her boyfriend.”
Kessa shook her head in disappointment.
But it was Aiko’s reaction that made me root to my place.
She chuckled lifelessly. “People don’t appreciate what they get, not knowing many want what they want.”
“Yeah…” Wirat mumbled. “But what one wants is not what the other wants.”
Aiko shrugged and held her mother’s hand. “That’s true. You can’t blame Sorrel either. She is being true to her boyfriend.”
Lawan looked at me and then at Taurus. She slowly moved it over to Erica and Kessa. Finally, she saw Aiko again.
“A-are you alright?” Lawan said. “I heard about you, Silver and-”
“There’s nothing to talk about it,” Aiko said flatly. “Silver loves Mina and Mina was going to give zir up for me. She wanted to break the bond herself so that she would be in pain while Silver could be happy with me. She even wanted to give blessings to us.”
Erica sighed. “How she has become!”
“How was she in the past then?” Aiko asked.
“Headstrong,” Erica said. “Though she appeared to have it all under control, she did not have the inner strength she has now. Mina has changed a lot.”
“People like Mina exist?” Lawan asked. “Giving up their chance at happiness?”
Aiko nodded. “She visited me and we had a long conversation. That’s when I learnt about her. She is a rare gem. And to see the fact that she did her best to save me, staying up all nights some days, I owe her a lot. And not to mention, she knew Silver before I did. I can’t hold them for that.”
I caught her tone. “You’re giving up?”
Aiko smiled. “What was mine to give up? Silver… ze just saved me. The bond woke, but he never had feelings for me. Even if he did, he is very faithful towards Mina. I wish the couple to stay happy.”
Lawan hugged her tightly. “You are a strong girl, Aiko. Never doubt that.”
“Everyone is strong in their own way, Lawan,” Aiko returned the hug. “Some just have to find it.”
From the parted lips and wide eyes of my mother, I knew Aiko had not told her this. “If-if they are together, what are you going to do?”
Aiko hummed as she let Lawan go. “Don’t know. Leave with Allen? I don’t know anything about my brother, perhaps stay with him.” She grinned at Kessa’s crestfallen face. “If Mina could get her own happiness, perhaps I will find one too. Don’t worry.”
I glanced at the female werewolf. “What’s the deal with you and Zeke?”
Her expressions froze. “I wish there was something.”
“Elaborate.” I folded my arms across my chest.
Erica licked her lips. “W-we have mutual feelings for each other. I hope he is my mate.”
“But,” Aiko began. “What Mina said-”
She shrugged. “I feel that deep, but we don’t have a bond or whatsoever between us. I like him and he likes me. I… I might have even imagined a future with him in it. But he is not my mate,” her voice faded, “as much as I want him to be.”
Kessa walked over to her. “Draco’s father was my mate. I thought he would be there for me forever. Who knew he would give me divorce the second he met another female? The bond broke the second he walked out of our home. Nothing is finite.”
Kessa and Aiko sat next to Clio while a nurse came and took readings every half-hour. Lawan, Wirat and Erica were immersed in a deep conversation. Conversation on how beautiful West Coven was. From the way they spoke, I wanted to check it out. Rune and Niran joined us four hours ago and the two were sleeping on each other.
“It is beautiful,” Taurus murmured next to me. “Best time to visit would be spring.”
“Heard it was a romantic spot,” I said.
“I heard Fia mention it,” he said. “I went there thrice… for business deals.”
I snickered. “I did not expect anything less than that.”
He snorted. “I may not have dated as many as you have, but I think I can make a good job keeping you with me.”
I leant on his shoulder. “You already are doing a great job.”
His brows met. “What did I do?”
A lazy smile crept to my lips. “You were there for me.”
“Very specific,” he said.
I just laughed. It was not just being there. It was much more than that. But what use would it be if I was to say it now? We were already together.
Already together. My smile widened. I finally had the chance to tell the world or rather the universe that this male was mine. That no one else could pine after him.
Just as Taurus was about to open his mouth, the operation theatre doors opened and Mina walked out talking furiously with a nurse next to her.
At the sound, Rune and Niran woke up, with the latter spluttering nonsense.
Nodding, the nurse left and another replaced her showing something in a tab. She frowned at what she saw and then she paused at the hallways and then began to type in that.
As her fingers stopped pressing the poor screen, her eyes widened as she removed her mask and gasped. “No wonder why.”
“Doctor?” the nurse asked.
Mina shook her head and took a stylus and wrote something on the screen and gave it to him. “Change the regimen. His genes are different from ours. Change it to this medicine.”
The nurse frowned. “But Doctor… these are in the lab…”
Mina nodded. “Exactly. Use them.”
Confused, the nurse walked away.
“What was that about?” I asked when she came towards us.
“The operation was successful,” she said. “Mr Calvo will live.”
Erica burst into tears. Her lips quivered and a shaking hand covered her mouth. My mother hugged her while Aiko had a grateful smile on her face.
“Why do I feel that there is a but?” I asked.
“There is,” she said.
“What is it?” Taurus asked.
“It is like this,” Mina cleared her throat. “I will not lie. Mr Calvo was supposed to die. In fact, during the operation, he was dead for a solid minute.”
“You said he is fine,” I said.
She nodded. “He is. The thing is… after my sister shifted, I studied her genetics. Somehow, Mr Calvo’s genetics matched hers.”
Erica lost her tears to the confusion. “You are trying to say that he is related to you?”
She shook her head. “My sister, Aspen. His genes are similar to hers.”
“Related to your sister?”
“Mr Calvo,” Niran muttered. “Wait a second,” his eyes widened as he fished his phone out and scrolled. “I-is he a shifter?”
Mina smiled. “That’s right. His genes somehow activated during his operation. That was the thing that saved him.”
“This happens?” Niran asked. “I mean… just how?”
Mina shrugged. “I don’t know what triggered his genes exactly. But his wounds began to heal at a rate that is faster than a werewolf’s should. At first, I thought the drugs were working fine, but now, I know.”
“You sent it for DNA analysis?” Taurus asked. “In such a short span of time?”
Mina gave a crooked smile. “I know what you are implying at, Second Warrior. But Dr Whyte and Dr Throne gave tremendous contributions to the field. There is a reason why the West Pack held so much power.”
“So,” I said. “He is alive now?”
Mina clicked her tongue. “Yes. Seems like he is favoured by Amaris. He is destined to live. You can visit him after he is transferred from the ICU.”
She patted Erica’s shoulder on her way out. There were tiredness and pride in her stance, but she was like the lone tree in a desert. Giving shade and a cool breeze to all, but received nothing in return.
Niran chuckled. “Of all the places.”
“What do you mean?” Erica asked.
Niran said, “I once helped Fia gather all the shifters out in the world. In that, there was a name, Calvo. Once I was about to find him, but that stupid Nox messed things up. I was searching for this fellow literally everywhere. His ancestor was apparently Fia’s friend and she owed it to him. Now I learn that this Calvo was before me all this time.”
I raised my eyebrow. “If you had just asked his last name, you would have found it earlier.”
“I did.” Niran gulped. “But I did not connect him being a shifter.”
We all stared at him. Whose fault was it?
“Not even by scent?” Taurus asked. “You said you were at the same place where Calvo had been to.”
Niran scratched the back of his neck. “About that… I was too engrossed in the fight that I did not catch his scent.”
Rune blinked. “Is your nose fine?”
“I mean,” Niran defended. “I caught his scent, but did not commit to memory.”
I shook my head. “I am never going to trust you with my life.”
A/N: Trying my best to update as frequent as I can. If I am not able to update, it must be because of my university. (It is getting hectic day by day)
Thank you for all who are patiently waiting for Taurus! I will finish it.