Author’s Note: Another shoutout to Miss Ivane. The fact is, for this bunch of chapters, she is the one that got the screenshots so the gorgeous shots are all her doing. Makes it super easy to write a chapter. So, hope you guys enjoy it!
Alduin was using the weight machine once again, losing himself in the repetitive motion, feeling the sweat and slight ache that came with light exercise. He’d left Cali sleeping peacefully in his bed. He couldn’t help but grin at that thought. Having her in his bed felt so…. right. He wanted that to continue… for the rest of his life, in fact. A frowned marred his countenance for a moment. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but something didn’t seem quite right. Cali was fitting in perfectly, yet there was something there, some kind of undercurrent. Alduin wished he knew what to do for her. It was killing him not to know.
Lost in his thoughts, he didn’t hear the quiet tread of feet on the stairs. It wasn’t until the figure got down to the bottom that Alduin noticed he was no longer alone. He nodded to Roark. “Morning. Isn’t it a bit early for you to be up? I figured you’d only emerge around evening time.”
Roark grinned. “Nah, I’m up all hours. Just depends.” He was dressed to work out himself. “I’m not as opposed to early morning as my wife is.”
Alduin laughed and nodded. “Yeah, Luna was never a morning person. If she didn’t have to be up for school, she’d sleep till noon.”
“Still is like that. I think that’s partly why she likes being a PI. It gives her an excuse to stay up late and sleep in the morning,” Roark said with a laugh as he approached the chin-up bar once again.
His brother-in-law snickered. “Wouldn’t surprise me in the least.”
Roark began to lift himself up. “Saw your girl upstairs before I came down. Your Nan is letting her cook in the kitchen, ya know. That should tell ya somethin’ right there.”
“She is? Whoa… yeah, guess it does.” Alduin had to stop for a moment. It tickled him to no end that his grandmother had shown such trust. It might not seem like much to most, but Sophia was Queen of her kitchen. To allow someone else into it was quite the endorsement.
Roark nodded absently. The two continued their workout in a companionable silence. Though they hadn’t talked much, they seemed to have come to an understanding. Alduin had a lot of respect for the vampire. When he’d first heard who his parents were, he had to admit, his initial reaction had been one of horror. But it hadn’t lasted long. Especially not after Luna had told him the full story. But Alduin had still found himself curious about the man. He was the one that his sister had chosen to spend the rest of her life with. A life that would seem like a drop in the hat to a vampire’s long life. Alduin didn’t really want to think about that, but it was certainly a factor.
“Hey, Roark. I never thanked you for coming to Luna’s rescue. I know you would have anyway, I just… she’s my sister. I don’t know what I’d do without her. The months that we didn’t hear from her were pure hell.”
Roark was silent for a long moment. “Don’t thank me for something like that. You’re right, I’d have done it anyway. W-when I thought my brother had her, that he’d hurt her… there was a part of me, Alduin, a part of me that wanted to rend and tear someone apart. I’ve spent my entire life keeping that part of myself locked away. I want to be nothing like my mother. Yet… If Alaric had hurt her…” He couldn’t even finish the sentence. For the first time, Alduin saw how tightly controlled his brother-in-law was and his respect ratcheted up.
“I know she’s fully capable of taking care of herself,” Alduin murmured. “I do. Who knows better, right? I’ve looked up to her since before I can remember. But that unflinching courage of hers scares me sometimes.”
“That courage of hers is what drew me to her,” Roark confided in him. “But you’re right. It has the capacity to make all the spit dry up in my mouth. Yet… I wouldn’t have her any other way. I have to trust her. She’s incredibly smart and capable.”
“Too capable,” Alduin muttered.
Roark let out a laugh. “That’s what you get for trying to keep secrets from your older sister. Secrets for her are like waving a red flag in front of a bull. You’re just asking for trouble.”
“Yeah yeah, I know. Grew up with her, remember?”
“And yet… you still haven’t learned.”
I waited until I heard voices out in the kitchen, particularly my brother’s, before I got out of bed. Today was the day I was going to get to the bottom of the secrets that I knew my brother was keeping. It wasn’t that I felt that secrets were a bad thing. Everyone had their secrets. But if this had anything to do with the Treskers… or with Elvira, I had a right to know. If they were the ones who had gone after Alduin, they had done it because of me. And that wasn’t something I would tolerate. And if he thought keeping it a secret would stop me, he had another thing coming.
I wondered out into the kitchen and Alduin was just taking his plate to the dishwasher. “Morning sis,” he greeted me, that customary smirk I knew all too well plastered over his face.
I joined the rest of my family at the dining room table. I smiled at Cali. “Morning.”
“Not morning, afternoon,” my dad corrected with a grin. I stuck my tongue out at him as I sat down.
“Morning for me,” I told him, grinning. “Besides, we know how I am in the morning, so this is as much for your guys’ benefit as my own.”
“Is that it now?” Pop asked, his eyes twinkling.
“Of course,” I murmured, digging in. “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
Cali laughed and looked up at me. “You and my dad are gonna get along, Luna. The rest of us are morning people. Not him. He gets up when we’ve all already left for work or school.”
I pointed my fork at her for emphasis as I exclaimed, “That’s my kind of guy! I take it from your chipper and oh so cheerful tone that you’re a morning person, Cali?”
“Yes!” She sighed wistfully and rested her chin on her hand in between bites. “I love sunrises and the morning dew on flowers. The smell of toast and jam and pancakes…” I couldn’t help picking up the thought: I’m not Alduin’s dawn for nothing… It brought a tender smile to my face as I looked at her. She was a sweet girl. “Bring on the mornings.”
I made a face. “I’ll stick to my afternoons, thanks. You and my brother can have the mornings. I’ll take the night sky dotted with stars and a full moon any time.”
Breakfast passed with a lot more ribbing, mostly my family having fun at my expense. Everything was right in the Wyvern household. If we aren’t picking on one another, then something is surely wrong. Nan left to go change into her martial arts gear. Apparently, she’d offered to train Cali and Cali had agreed. I winced. “Watch her roundhouse, Cali. I don’t recommend sparring with her anytime soon.”
Nan gave me one of her looks. “Don’t you worry about the girl. She’ll do fine.”
I grinned at my grandmother. “I know she will. But c’mon, Nan, you gotta admit, your methods can hurt a little.”
“Only when I’m teaching a couple of blockheads,” my Nan retorted with a snort. “You and your brother in particular.”
I snorted. “I have a much harder head than he does, thank you very much.”
“And a smarter mouth,” Nan commented, “which I wasn’t sure was possible.”
I laughed as I got up. “Where do you think he learned it from?”
After exchanging a quick kiss with my husband as he came into the bedroom for a minute, toweling off the sweat from his workout, I changed. “Going to interrogate your brother?” Roark asked, watching me.
“Oh you bet ya.”
My husband laughed. “Poor kid. Why don’t you go easy on him?”
Normally, I might have laughed. Instead, I just looked at him slowly. “Because, if this has to do with the Treskers, he’ll have a lot of explaining to do, especially why he kept it from me.”
Roark sighed. “Love… he loves you.”
“I know. Roark, just… let it be, alright?”
He was silent for a moment. “Ok. Go talk to him. He was heading up to the veranda.”
I nodded, fluffing out my coat a little. Little brother was going to have the chat of his life…
My brother had a good poker face. But I knew him. I could see the look of trepidation in his eyes when I opened the door. I was on the phone, listening to a voice on the other end. I’d called a contact as I was walking upstairs. “Uh huh,” I murmured into the phone, my eyes on my brother.
“Ok, thanks for the info, Craig,” I murmured, hanging up. Alduin just kept looking at me. His body language was tense. “Let’s not pretend that you don’t know what I’m doing up here,” I murmured. “You know what I want. Start talking.” My hand rested on my hip as I stared him down.
He looked away for a long moment, refusing to meet my gaze. His mouth was a tight line.
Finally, he sighed and rested his elbows on his thighs. “Luna…” He laughed, though it wasn’t a mirthful sound. “Why do I bother trying to keep secrets? Or to protect you? You never let me before.”
I ignored the shaft of guilt that tried to embed itself. “I’m the older sister. My job to protect you,” I murmured.
He shut his eyes, letting out a growl as he rubbed his hand vigorously through his hair. “Ok, look. Yes, it was the Treskers that shot me. I knew who they were when they showed up.”
“I never told you who it was that killed Alaric, that attacked me in Bridgeport,” I said quietly. “How do you know them, Alduin? And don’t even think about holding back. I swear, I will have you begging for mercy.” My voice had grown dangerous. I could feel something welling in me, something in my chest that was begging to be let out. Payback. I had promised that those who had shot my brother would pay. Knowing it was the Treskers made me do something I’d never done before: Hate. I hated them with a fierce passion that was trying to claw its way out.
Worrying his bottom lip, he went silent. I slammed my hands down on the tablet in front of him. “Alduin!” I growled.
“Alright!” he snapped, fire leaping into his eyes. His hands had balled into fists. “I… I work for something called the Agency. They’re-
I held up my hand and said with him, “an agency that polices Supernatural forces and deals with those that threaten Simanity.” He fell silent, looking at me with wide eyes. Then he burst out laughing.
“Why do I bother?” he murmured. “How do you know about them?”
“I’m a PI for Plumbob’s Sake!” I told him, exasperated. “I’m also a powerful telepath. You don’t think they tried recruiting me?” My own hands had balled into fists at the thought that the bastards had gone after my little brother and they had actually managed to rope him into things.
His jaw dropped and he looked… poleaxed was the only way to describe it. Then he threw back his head and laughed. “I should have known,” he murmured, shaking his head. Then he looked at me. “Why didn’t you tell anyone?”
“Because I said no. I wanted nothing to do with them. I got a bad feeling about the whole business.” I swore viciously. “And you work for them… Watcher Alduin! What were you thinking? How long have you worked for them?”
His gaze slid away from mine and he mumbled something under his breath. “What’s that? Speak up!” I didn’t need him to, but I was ready to slug him at that point.
“Since high school!” he shouted at me. He looked about ready to slug me. That was fine by me. I could use the catharsis of pounding on something, especially on my brother’s stubborn block head. But I couldn’t… staring at him, I realized something very important: he was a grown man.
I sighed and reached my hand back, rubbing at the knot between my shoulder blades. “Alduin,” I murmured, going to sit on the table in front of him. “I love you, more than I can ever say. You’re my little brother. I… do you know what it did to me when I saw you get shot?”
Alduin looked down. “Sis…”
I shook my head. “Just listen for a minute, ok? I know I screwed up in Bridgeport. I was in a very dark place there, Alduin. And I had to confront a part of myself that I am not proud of. That part will always be a part of me and I have to live with it. Just as I have to live with a lot of thoughts and images that I’d rather not. Seeing you lying in a pool of blood is one of them. You d-died.” I was appalled that my voice broke. But I couldn’t have stopped then. “I saw you die.”
My brother’s face fell. “Ah Watcher, Luna… I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. Please, don’t cry. I-I can’t take it if you cry.”
I sniffled. He stood up and placed himself in front of me, putting his hands on my shoulders. “You have always been one of the strongest people I know,” he murmured, looking into my eyes. “I… I wanted to be like you, like Pop. I wanted to help people, Luna. I thought I could do that through the Agency.” He smiled. “I know now why you said no to them. I don’t agree with their methods most of the time. But ya know what? They’re the reason I met Cali. And for that? I’d do it all again, even knowing what would happen, I’d do it a hundred times over, as long as it meant I could have her.”
I broke down and wrapped my arms around my brother’s waist and buried my head against him. He just held me, let me cry it out. All our lives, I’d been the older one, the… stronger one, I guess. Alduin had never been weak, never that. My little brother wasn’t so little anymore. “I’m so proud of you,” I whispered. “So proud, little brother.”
He drew in a deep breath and cleared his throat. “That means a lot to me, ya know,” he said softly. He swallowed. “Luna? I want you to know something.” He took a step back and pulled something from his pocket. “I uh… I plan to ask Cali to marry me. I’m gonna talk to Mom and Dad about it, then her own folks when we go to Aurora Skies. But… I wanted you to know first.”
I stared at him, then at the box in his hand. My throat constricted and I was in danger of breaking out into sobs. I jumped up threw my arms around his neck. He hugged me tightly. “I love her, Luna. With everything I am.”
“I know. I can see it. I’m so happy for you. I love her, I really do. You make each other happy.” I didn’t tell him about my suspicions. That would be for later, after I had a chat with Calysta. I wiped my eyes. “I’m sure Nan is putting her through the paces and don’t you guys have somewhere to be? Aren’t you heading over to her brother’s house today?”
“Oh, that’s right!” Alduin exclaimed. He hugged me again and took off, turning around to wave at me.
I watched him go. Only after I heard him call Cali did I let the rage back into my eyes. Fury swept through me. The Treskers… I had been looking out over our property, my hands clenched into fists. I was going to hunt them down like dogs and I was going to make them pay if it was the last thing I did.
Yet when I turned to head downstairs, my path was blocked. “Luna,” Roark said softly.
“Get out of the way, Roark. Now,” I told him, my voice low. There was an underlying growl to it.
Of course he didn’t listen. He never did. Instead, he put a hand on either shoulder. “Don’t do this,” he told me quietly.
“They killed him! They killed my brother!” I snarled. “They killed Alaric! They deserve to pay!”
“I know, I know what they did,” he told me. His voice never changed, but his eyes did. In their glowing red depths, I saw what Roark kept buried. The rage, the primal urges that hid within my husband were only too clear to me. And yet, his grip was gentle, the way he rubbed his hands over my shoulders was tender. “I want them to pay too. I want them to pay for Alaric, for your brother. And I want them to pay for putting you in danger, for daring to lay a hand on you. And they will. I promise you. We’ll hunt them, together. But… not now, not like this.”
“We have to, we-“
“Luna, we have a son now. Do you really want to leave him on a mission of vengeance? And don’t you think Alduin has been trying to find them?” he asked me, a hint of impatience showing through. “Think for a moment, use that brain of yours that I love. If he thought there was the slightest chance that they’d return to finish the job, do you think that he hasn’t been trying to find them?”
My jaw dropped. Of course he had… of course Alduin had been searching. The rage had clouded my thinking, made me miss something so important. “You knew?” I finally asked. The fight had gone out of me. Roark was right… if I couldn’t think straight enough to realize something so… obvious, I had no business hunting for them, not until I could get myself under control.
He nodded. “Yes. I did.”
I smacked his chest. “Dammit, Roark! Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Because it wasn’t my place. I figured Alduin would tell you on his own. The fact that you didn’t think of it after this, tells me… you aren’t thinking straight, baby.”
I sighed. “You’re right. You’re right. I want them to pay, Roark. In the worst way.”
“I do, too,” he whispered. “And they will. Give it time.” He hugged me to him. “I promise you, Luna. They’ll pay.” The darkness swirled in his voice.
It was a comfort, somehow. We all have darkness in us. At that moment, I was glad I wasn’t alone in that. I rested my head on my husband’s shoulder. For now, the darkness would be illuminated with light. Roark’s hand cupped the back of my head and he held me against him. “My Moonlight on a dark night,” he whispered. “We won’t let them hurt anyone else. I swear it to you.”
“I know,” I whispered. If Roark made a promise, he kept it. I knew it with all my heart. We stayed up on the balcony for a while longer, then Roark took my hand and led me back downstairs.
I have to put it aside now, tuck it away. But it’s there, just beneath the surface, waiting…