He Is Not In The Picture
“What just happened?” A voice from behind me said in a shaky tone. I looked behind me to find Aponi by the door with her eyes wide open. She must have been watching the whole scene from the safety of the living room window. She gazed down towards me, and we locked eyes. We exchanged a knowing look, and her eyes diverted from mine like she was embarrassed about what she had done.
I hoped she was.
“This doesn’t make sense,” she muttered to herself, looking back out into the compound to where Honon was still trying to get Elan to stop crying.
It wasn’t working.
Things clearly weren’t going as Aponi had planned. I wanted to yell at her, but I held myself back and just watch Honon who was still trying to get Elan to walk over to him. I noticed Aponi was about to make for the porch stairs, but I blocked out my stretching out my feet. She looked over at me with a frown, and I mirrored her look, gripping the wooden stair I was sitting on as I held our gaze. I wasn’t going to let her go over to the commotion. She’d done enough.
“You’ve caused enough trouble,” I said. My voice was cold, accusing, and it seemed to make Aponi upset. She opened her mouth to say something, but she ended up sighing and shaking her head. She was in a brown skirt that reached her ankles, and her hair was weaved back into pigtails. She stood at my legs for a while, but eventually turned on her heels and walked away. She disappeared into the house as more wolves emerged from their individual homesteads and from the main packhouse to watch the scene that was still playing out.
I looked on too, still not knowing how to react to all of this. I was still shaken by the fact that Honon was here and couldn’t make sense of what was happening in front of me.
“What are you doing? Ahote, go up there!” I heard Kaya scold me in a series of hisses. I turned my head to look up at her. She had come out into the patio a while ago and had taken a spot at the railings by the stairs.
“I should go up there, shouldn’t I?” I said, talking more to myself than to her.
“Yes!” Kaya deadpanned as Honon seemed to give up making the child come to him willingly and instead moved to grab his shoulder, making Elan’s cries to only get louder.
I got up at that, not being able to bear it anymore. I walked down the stairs and headed to the group of wolves surrounding Honon, Alex and my child.
“Stop it.” My voice was firm as I bent down a bit to pull Honon away. He seemed shocked at my reaction, but he moved away and let me pick Elan up. The boy stopped crying once he was safely cradled in my arms. His little hands had formed into fists, and he sniffed as I ran a hand through his hair. Elan’s eyes were on Alex, but sometimes they would move to Honon who was now on his feet and it would cause him to whine a bit until I shushed him by swaying from side to side.
In the silence, Honon approached me and tried to touch Elan again, but the boy cried, making him withdraw his hand. “What is wrong with him?” he asked in a frustrated tone, frowning at Elan.
“There’s nothing wrong with him. I think it would be stronger if he had just walked into the arms of a stranger,” one of the father’s that had been standing around said as he approached us with his child sitting on his shoulders. “You’re a stranger,” he said, giving Honon a blank look before looking away and wandering away with his child.
“Why is he acting like I knowingly left my child here...” he said, looking on at the man before turning sharply towards me. From his look, it seemed like he wanted to talk to me about that. He looked like he wanted to blame me as he blamed me for his attraction to me when he found out we were mates all those years ago. Honon was good at that — pointing fingers, but he managed to keep it to himself this time, and he instead asked me a question.
“What are we going to do about this?” he asked, referring to the situation with Elan.
“Absolutely nothing,” I said in a matter of fact tone. Honon’s jaw hung low as his brows came together in a frown. He was shocked, and he looked like he wanted to argue that out with me, but before he could, we were interrupted by Alek, who had been standing a little distance a while ago but had moved closer. As if on instinct Elan decided to be fuzzy in my hands as he wiggled in the direction of Alek. I let Alek take him from me, and Honon watched the interaction with both shock and confusion.
“Are you bound together?” Honon asked, as his eyes lingered on the bite marks on our necks.
“Not yet, but we will be.” My heart was beating loudly. I could hear it in my ears, and it seemed to want to jump out through my throat. Telling Honon all that felt satisfying in a way. I was moving on, he couldn’t see it in real time, and I liked it.
Honon didn’t seem to know what to say to that. His eyes darted from me to Alek and then to me again.
“Then what happens? I came here to meet my son,” he said, repeating his concerns from before.
“You’ve met him,” I said, gesturing to Elan that had fallen asleep on Alek’s chest. The only good thing about toddlers crying was they eventually tired themselves out and went to sleep.
Honon shook his head. “Stop playing like you’re fucking daft, you know what I mean,” he groaned as he pushed strands of his hair away from his face. “I’m sorry,” he spat out, shaking his head. He was like that. He slipped into vulgarities when he was frustrated.
“I came all the way here from Toronto. I had to cook something up not to make Camila too worried—”
His voice cut off for me at that point. All I could hear was the lady’s name echoing in my head. Camila. There was finally a name to the face in the pictures.
I think Alek noticed that I had zoned out because he had moved Elan to sit on his hip while he used his now free hand to squeeze my shoulder. I blinked, looking up at him. He smiled at me lightly, and I felt the end of my lips tug to mimic the expression. He was holding on to me — he was holding on to my son. They were in the picture, and Honon rambling on about his worried girlfriend was out of the frame and focus.
“Are you two even listening to me?” he groaned, making Alek and I look over at him. We both didn’t say anything to him. The compound had emptied out, and it seemed that the patio had too. People must have concluded the best of the show was over, so they went back to their respective businesses. Of course, gossip spread fast around here, so I was sure everyone and their pet lizard knew Honon was back by now.
Honon looked down at the dirt, pursing his lips as he folded his hands in front of his chest. “Well then, I’ll go get my stuff. I left them at the territory lines,” he said as if informing whoever cared to listen before turning away from us and walking away. As I watched Honon leave my throat started to choke up, and the poised composure I had put up faded.
“You’re shaking,” Alek muttered, and I just nodded shutting my eyes as I tried to level my breathing. He moved his hand to pull me to his chest too, and soon I was pressed against Elan who was fast asleep. His smell mixed with that of Elan’s was calming, and I was soon able to peel my eyes open.
“You knew he was coming, didn’t you?” I asked, making Alex tense up.
“It’s not an interrogation. I just want to know,” I said in a soft voice.
“I did,” he said. “Aponi told me, but I wasn’t sure how to tell you...” he trailed, and I just nodded against his chest, taking in a deep breath.
“It’s okay, I understand,” I sighed as Alek made to run ah and through my hair. It wasn’t on Alek to tell me, so I won’t hold it against him. Aponi on the other hand... I closed my eyes again, trying to control my rage. I’ll talk to her later. I decided, opening my eyes to stare out into the compound. The only thing that stressed me now was that Honon was going to be under the same roof with us for an indefinite amount of time.
“I think you’ll have to move into my room,” I said, breaking the silence.
“Why?” Alek asked as I pulled away from him, his blue eyes scanning my face.
“Your room is Honon’s, remember?” I said, and he narrowed his eyes at me a bit before nodding. “Don’t worry about this, things will work out,” I muttered as we moved in the direction of the packhouse. The porch was empty. I had a feeling Kaya was roasting Aponi over coal about this situation. I felt bile rise in my mouth. I didn’t want to talk to Aponi for a while. I was already shaken up over things today.
“Alek,” I called, reaching out to take his hand and give it a squeeze. “Don’t think too much about this, he’s not in the picture,” I said. Alek didn’t say anything, but he squeezed my hand right back as we continued to walk to the packhouse.