Before the Fall

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Chapter 35

Eight months ago, Jackson territory, off the grid safe house…

“I can’t tell you anything if there is nothing to tell,” Baron says calmly, infuriatingly.

This is the first time Silas has been granted access to Alpha Jackson’s territory and it is proving to be a trial of patience.

“Audra,” Jackson bite out. “You’ve been hiding out here, we know you know something.”

Clothes rustle in a way that Silas thinks means the woman has shrugged.

Silas taps a considering finger to his lips. Even if he doesn’t feel it, Silas knows how to project an air of coolness. “So you don’t know anything about the children of Richard and Maya Holt, okay, I can accept that that’s all you’re willing to tell. How about,” he lilts, “you share what you know about the triple homicide of Richard and Maya Holt and Paisley West.”

Audra huffs. “What makes you think I know anything?”

Silas stifles his growl of impatience, but Jackson doesn’t. Silas looks sharply in the direction of Jackson’s face and hopes it has the desired effect. Silas can sense how close they are to getting something out of her. They just have to get her tired or impatient or scared enough to misstep.

Silas continues a line of questioning for a long while longer. Finally, he tries one final thing. “Where has the killer gone, Miss Audra?”

Something about what Silas has said obviously strikes a chord with Audra, because her next words are seething with righteous anger, so unlike the calm and cool demeanor she has maintained thus far. Silas smiles on the inside.

“I don’t know who did it and I don’t know where she’s gone, now get out of my house!”

Jackson shifts as though he’s about to approach the old woman, but Silas tries to grab his arm and catches his sleeve. He calmly addresses the woman. “Alright, Miss Baron, we have no further questions for you today.” He smiles toothily. “We appreciate your hospitality.”

If she’s not aware of her freudian slip, Silas isn’t going to clarify for her. This way, their next meeting will be so much better...

:::::

Present day, Atwood territory...

Slate had made no mention about the exact nature of her healing ability to anyone, as far as she’s aware. He hasn’t even mentioned it to her. She’s sitting at Sara’s house now, siphoning off nausea on and off. It’s been a particularly bad couple days for her. She’s largely been unable to sleep without throwing up at odd intervals during the night, and she can’t do anything active during the day, plagued by dizziness. It’s driving both of them a bit mad.

Sara’s lying on the couch with an arm thrown over her eyes, just focusing on breathing and relaxing. Gray is sitting in a chair by her feet, periodically laying a hand on her ankle to monitor her symptoms.

Some things are more difficult to take than others, dizziness and fatigue being two of them. She can ease some of the headache that often comes with the dizziness, but she can’t really absorb the head spinning aspect of it. Fatigue escapes her completely.

Suddenly Sara rumbles a sound in her chest that doesn’t necessarily sound positive or negative and lifts the arm from her face. She blinks and squints at the dim lamp light and looks at Gray. “Your tall, dark, and handsome is coming over. Do you guys have some date to get to?”

Gray winces. Sara has been referring to their runs as “dates”. To be fair, Gray has thought of them as dates in her head as well, but she doesn’t mean it...romantically. It’s just a word that’s better than “appointment” or “rendezvous”. None of it really seems to fit. Sara definitely means it romantically, though. She claims she’s just kidding around, but Gray can’t really tell how Sara feels about Gray and Slate right now.

“No,” Gray says slowly. “Are you expecting him?”

Sara shrugs and settles back down, closing her eyes and clasping her hands on her stomach, “Nope. But it’s not unusual that he’ll just stop by. I think he only started warning me beforehand so he doesn’t surprise you if you’re here.”

Gray hums. That’s oddly...considerate. Slowly but surely, Gray is learning how to read and appreciate him.

Moments later, there’s a warning knock at the door before it opens, revealing Slate carrying a few bags of groceries. Sara opens her eyes and starts to sit up slowly. Gray automatically puts a hand on her ankle to absorb as much discomfort as possible. When she looks up, Slate’s eyes are pinned on the point of connection between Gray and Sara. His brows are furrowed as he stares before slowly dragging his gaze up to Gray. She has no idea what he’s thinking, she probably looks like a deer in headlights.

Sara snorts. “What’re you doing, buying the whole drugstore?”

Gray tears her eyes from Slate’s and sees Sara rifling through the bag in Slate’s right hand that’s within reach. Slate rolls his eyes and jerks the bag away. “No,” he says simply, and walks into the kitchen with his bags.

Sara frowns and pulls her legs in until one of them is tucked under her. “Then what did you get?” She sniffs the air almost comically. “What are you doing?”

Slate says nothing, but reappears moments later holding a bag of...ginger candies?

Sara shakes her head in confusion. “Okay, hold up. What are you doing, you weirdo?”

Slate sets the bag on the small table next to the couch and unwraps a candy for Sara. He shoves it at her with an expectant look. “Eat this.”

Sara huffs and rolls her eyes, but pops the candy in her mouth anyway, trusting that Slate won’t feed her poison and that he’ll eventually tell her what’s going on when he’s good and ready.

He disappears back into the kitchen and it sounds like he starts boiling water. He reappears and perches on the edge of the couch next to his sister, all while Gray watches. “The ginger is for nausea, and the chamomile tea will be for muscle soreness.”

Sara hums and thinks while she sucks on her candy...but Gray feels her heart grow ten sizes. Whether he’ll admit it or not remains to be seen, but Gray knows the natural remedies are for her benefit. Normal medicine is processed and metabolized too fast by the werewolf immune system to have much effect, but Gray knows from working with Miss Audra that holistic methods still seem to be largely effective.

“So,” Sara says, “what brought on this fit of interest in my health.”

Slate frowns and gives Sara a look. “I’ve always been interested in your health.”

Sara waves a hand and gives Slate a remorseful smile. “I know, I know. Sorry. But why now? I’ve got my very own pain drainer with me right now.” She winks at Gray.

Gray smiles back, but it’s tinged with guilt. Slate stares at Gray intensely for another moment and Gray really thinks he’s about to out her, but then he sighs and says, “I know, Sara. But Gray can’t be here all the time, and you might like to know how to take care of yourself some.”

Sara shrugs and continues sucking on her candy.

Gray only sees it because she’s watching him, but when Slate gets this faraway look on her face, she knows he’s bond communicating. He covers his eyes with a hand for a moment before standing and kissing Sara on the crown of her head.

She makes a discontented noise and says, “Hey, where are you going? You just got here. I never see you anymore,” she pouts.

Slate rolls his eyes and says under his breath, “You sound just like Raven.” Louder, “I have to go meet with Dad. Can I trust you to prepare your own tea?”

Sara huffs. “Fine. You’re forgiven, and yes I will make the dumb tea if it will make you happy.”

“It will,” Slate says firmly. He detours on his way to the door to squeeze Gray’s shoulder and give her a kind look before he whisks himself away as if he was never there in the first place.

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