Author’s Note: Ok, so I apologize if this update feels a bit all over the place. I’m not all that happy with it, but I hope you guys enjoy it. Another huge shoutout to Miss Ivane. She has once again been a huge help and our collaboration continues to be such a blast. So if you haven’t done so yet, go check out the Chronicles of Clarke, the link is in the right hand side of the blog! Go, do it now! If there are any errors in this, it is entirely my fault XD
Any gathering of the Wyverns is a boisterous affair. We just can’t help ourselves. I know it can be a bit… much for those not used to it. We all tend to talk at the same time, argue a little, laugh a lot. I know it’s a lot of chaos, though I wouldn’t have it any other way. And despite my brother’s propensity for avoiding a lot of contact for long periods of time, I don’t think he would either. Watching him with Cali, the way he glides his hand up and down her back, or how he’ll brush his fingers along her elbow. Cali does much the same, a little touch here, or a brush of her fingertips there. I recognize the look in their eyes, the way the eyes almost seem to glow.
It’s good to see. I’d love any woman my brother brought home because he loves her. But I always hoped I could love the woman herself. And I can already see that I will. But something’s been bothering me. Cali is what I call a “broadcaster”. Most regular humans have some form of shielding on their minds. But just like there are some with natural shields, there are some that tend to broadcast their thoughts. I’d been able to pick up things from Cali since she arrived. The poor thing was nervous, but it was much more than that. I had my suspicions, but I’ll look into a little later.
For now, I was concentrating on my brother.
I’ve never been one to beat around the bush, especially not where my family was concerned. I wanted the story, the full story from him. “So Alduin,” I began, watching him carefully. “You died.”
That silenced the chatter. We’d all been wanting to know. No one but me knew how to broach the subject. After what happened in Bridgeport, I knew the only way to get through painful news was to get it over with.
Alduin told his story and as I listened, images flashed in my mind. Normally, I had a strict code about not intruding. I picked up enough surface thoughts that I didn’t need to pry. But I was making an exception in this case. I didn’t need my telepathy to know that my brother was hiding something. I knew him too well. Even the way he met my gaze, then dropped his for a split second had warning bells going off. The story that he told was bad enough to make my blood run cold. But then I got a shock. A picture of two men I knew too well flashed in my brain. My eyes narrowed dangerously at my brother, but he was looking at Cali, his hand rubbing her back in small circles, reassuring her.
The Treskers… I had to bring my hand to my lap to hide the fact that it was clenched into a fist hard enough that my nails dug into my palm. They’d gone after my brother… The realization that he knew their name hit me and it took all my control to keep the growl from escaping my throat. Me and little brother were going to have a talk. Yes we would…
If that little revelation wasn’t enough, there was finding out about two new groups. The Guardians and the Caste. I’d heard whispers of these names while in Bridgeport, but from what I could tell then, they didn’t operate here much. There were other Realms, if you listened to those in the know. I hadn’t liked what I’d heard. Both sides had their own agendas, and mostly they opposed one another. Their interest in my brother’s girlfriend made me nervous. The thought of this Natalya having a connection to them would require me looking into things more and it added another punch to my theory.
<”Luna, what’s wrong?”> my husband asked silently.
<”I’ll tell you later.”>
Pop and I handled the questions. He and I had shared a look. Of everyone aside from Roark, he and I had the most contacts within Monte Vista as well as abroad. Every little bit would help us dig into this more. And you can bet that we’d be doing a lot of digging. After everything that’s happened to this family, we weren’t going to let something else happen to Alduin or Cali.
Unless you counted me boxing his ears… which he’d be getting later, that much I promised myself. But the cries of my son saved him… for the moment. Thought it was the perfect time to introduce Ryu to his Uncle and his Aunt. I’d fed him already and placed him in the crib, letting them get a good look at him.
If it were up to my brother, that’s all he would do, I knew. I could see the pride in his eyes, but there was also trepidation there. Alduin had never been exposed to kids, really. Well, it was time for a crash course. If the look in Cali’s eyes was any indication, my brother wouldn’t have much of a choice in that exposure. The best way to deal with Alduin was just to go through it, make it quick, like pulling off a bandaid fast.
After I’d placed Ryu in his arms, Alduin had certainly frozen, but it didn’t take him long to warm up to Ryu. Of course, my son knew just how to get to him too. Seeing the look on my brother’s face, the same wonder I feel whenever I hold my son had me smiling. When Cali got into the picture, it was just beautiful.
Of course, I had to howl at the look on his face after Cali whispered something into his ear. I’m sure it was along the lines of how many kids she wanted someday. After rescuing my son and laying him down for his nap, we wandered back out into the hall.
Mom and Dad, Pop and Nan had already gone off to do various chores or just go relax. So it ended up that Roark, Cali, Alduin, and I stood chatting. Unsurprisingly, Roark and Alduin stepped off a ways while Cali and I gushed over shoes. She’d been admiring mine, apparently. “We definitely have to go shopping together before you guys leave!” I told her. “We’ll make it a girl’s day, just the two of us.”
Roark nodded to my brother. “Luna’s been looking forward to this visit for a while.” He grinned. “She was up before dawn this morning.”
“Wait, Luna? My sister? The one who needed three cups of coffee to feel human even at noon?”
My husband laughed. “Yes, that Luna.”
I could feel Alduin look at me sideways and I didn’t need to see his face to see that smirk of his. “It’s good to be home. I’ve missed this place. And it’s good to see Luna’s home. How are you finding our dear Monte Vista?”
Roark smiled. I could feel his gaze on me. I was always very aware of my husband’s gaze. “It’s home,” he replied after a moment. “I was never attached to Bridgeport and had I been stationed somewhere else all those years ago, would have gone there. But this is home now.” He eyed me again.
Alduin grinned. “That’s good to hear. You won’t have to go anywhere else will you? Any other deployments?”
Roark shook his head. “I doubt it. Few missions here and there, but nothing extended. This will be my post for the foreseeable future. What about you? Luna tells me you’ll be going on to Aurora Skies eventually?”
My brother nodded. I had to swallow at that. I knew Alduin was a grown up now. And that means he would go his own way, but it seemed so far. We’d just gotten him back… and I realized that I was thinking just like my mother had before I went to Bridgeport. Sucks when things come back, huh?
“I’m about to go down for my workout, wanna join me, Alduin?” Roark asked.
“Sure, why not. Cali, you ok here with Luna?”
I rolled my eyes and faced my brother with my hands on my hips. “Shoo, go now. I’ll entertain your girlfriend. Place nice, you two.”
Roark just grinned. “That’s no fun!”
I laughed. “Go! Both of you!”
Roark looked up at the chin bar. He extended his arms and gripped the bar. His brother-in-law was on the weight machine. The two men worked out in silence for a long moment.
“So,” Roark began nonchalantly. “How long have you been working for the Agency, Alduin?”
Alduin froze. He slowly turned his head toward the vampire. “What did you say?”
“I was an intelligent asset early in my career,” Roark continued. “I dealt with some of their operatives. Someone like you? Obviously powerful mediumistic abilities, a Wyvern… you guys have had a reputation for a while, thanks to your grandfather. Yeah, they’d salivate for a chance at someone like you.”
Alduin thought furiously, thinking of denying it all. Then he just let out a laugh. “Great… you and my sister are meant for each other. Never could keep a secret from her… Does she know?”
“She suspects.” Roark grinned as he continued to do pull ups. “There isn’t much she doesn’t suspect. And I’m sure she’ll get it out of you later. But I haven’t told her anything. I figure that’ll be up to you. Thought I should warn you though. You know how she is once she gets on a scent… and let’s face it, we both know you kept something back from your story.”
Alduin winced. “I’m doomed, aren’t I?”
Roark laughed. “Yeah, pretty much. That’s ok, I’ll be right there with ya, when she finds out I suspected and that we had this conversation. Something to be said for living dangerously, huh?”
The younger man couldn’t help but let out a snort. “Yeah, if that’s what ya wanna call it.” He sobered up. “So, what was the purpose of this conversation?”
Roark was silent for a long time. Finally, he said, “The one who tried to kill you, you know who they are, don’t you? You didn’t tell us for a reason. I can only assume that reason is to protect someone you care about.”
“Yeah… yeah, I gotta figure out that if you know about the Agency, and could put two and two together, you must have a pretty good idea who it was. I… I know my sister. She’ll go after them as soon as she knows it was the Treskers. She’s too impulsive not to. I hope that you have better discipline.”
Alduin couldn’t see the way Roark’s eyes glowed with a cold light. “I have enough discipline not to hunt them down like the dogs they are. For now. I know my wife, too. I don’t doubt her courage or her resolve… or the ability to land smack dab in the middle of trouble at a moment’s notice. I don’t want her going after them. And she will.”
The two men lapsed into silence, both with their own thoughts, but running along very similar veins.
I looked at the tiny bundle in my arms. “That’s my beautiful boy,” I cooed. “Who’s a good boy?”
Ryu let out a giggle and a coo.
I lay my son back into his crib and stretched a little. It had been a good day. Seeing my brother and Cali had been much needed. It had also raised questions. Questions that kept running through my mind. I wandered into my room, letting it all stew in my brain. There was my husband, freshly showered and dressed. “Hey handsome.”
“Hello beautiful,” he greeted.
“So, did you and my brother have a nice workout?” I asked casually.
Roark just grinned. “We did,” he answered, his eyes gleaming.
I stamped my foot. “Argh, I hate it when you do that. Not gonna tell me anything, are ya?”
“Nope. What fun would that be? You’ll get it out of him tomorrow, anyway, right?”
Grumbling under my breath, I let out a sigh. “True enough. C’mon, let’s relax for a while, then get some sleep.”
“So, was it as bad as you thought?” Alduin asked as his girlfriend settled onto his bed. He was as giddy as a school boy to be able to sleep in the bed he’d grown up in with the person who meant the world to him. Just as it had been like some kind of wonderful dream to watch her meet his family and see the way they just… folded her right in.
Cali’s smile was beautiful. “I am in love with your family,” she murmured.
He pulled her close into his arms. “I’m so glad to hear you say that. They’re in love with you, too, in case you didn’t notice.”
“Oh yeah? What’s not to love right?” She grinned flirtatiously and flicked her brows at him but she couldn’t quite suppress the shudder as Why would they love you? You bring nothing special to them ran through her mind.
Alduin grinned at her. “Cold? Well c’mere, I’ll warm you up.” He waggled his eyebrows at her even as his lips covered hers.