Chapter 47: Consequences

I woke up the next morning after the skit, my husband’s arm snug around my waist.  It was unusual for him not to be up before me.  The man seemed to run on very little sleep.  I could almost hate him for it at times.

But this morning, there he was.  My lips curled into a smile.  It was rare for me to catch him when he was completely unguarded.  I slowly rotated so I could face him.  I traced a finger gently over his jaw, careful not to wake him.  It hit me again, the emotion that grabbed me by the throat at the oddest moments.  He was always there for me.  Even when I didn’t want him to be.  Especially then.  And it was when I needed him the most.

“You’re thinking too loud,” he grumbled sleepily, his eyes still closed.  I had to giggle a little at the way his voice sounded when he was all cross and sleepy.

“I’m not thinking anything,” I told him, tongue-in-cheek.

“I can hear you.  Go back to sleep.  Aren’t you the night owl?”

“And aren’t you the one that’s normally downstairs by now, hitting the weight machine?”

“I’m sleeping right now, or I would be if someone would go back to sleep.”  One eye slitted open to glare at me, though I could see the way one corner of his mouth was creeping up into a grin.

“What if I don’t want to go to sleep, hm?” I murmured, leaning on one elbow as I gazed at him.

“You awake at this hour?  Just what are you gonna do, hm?” he asked.

I leaned over him and pressed my lips to his.  It was soft at first, then I took it deeper.  I could hear the groan in his throat.  He turned over onto his back, pulling me on top of him.  I broke the kiss and grinned wickedly down at him.  “Do you have an idea now?”

“Yes, I think I do.”


 

We emerged after noon, hand in hand.  I was feeling much better, my head and heart felt… lighter than they had since my little “chat” with Natalya.  Roark went immediate to go check on Ryu.  Standing there, I saw my brother sitting at the dining room table, leaning back as Calysta played with his face.

I had to grin.  I loved watching them together.  Watching my little brother’s eyes light up the way they did whenever Cali was near made me one happy big sister.  They may have been opposites, but they were perfect for each other.  My brother needed someone to get him out of himself every now and again.  Left up to his own devices, he’d barricade himself in his room, reading or writing or maybe escape to the garage to tinker on his workbench.  All of which were fine hobbies and he was pretty damn good at them.  But Cali brought out another side to him entirely.  And it warmed my heart.

“Awesome. I’ll be back right after I knock some sense into my brother.” Calysta was saying.  Then she leaned down to place a soft kiss on his forehead.  “Love you, babe.”

“I love you too, Cali.”

I slid into one of the chairs, giggling even as Calysta wheedled the keys to his motorcycle out of my brother.  Little sister certainly knew what she was doing when it came to Alduin.  I watched her skip out of the house and then I turned to my brother, grinning wickedly.  “She’s sure got your number, pal,” I told him, nudging him with my elbow.

“Yeah, guess she does,” he replied, no shame in it whatsoever.

I laughed.  “Oh yeah, you are so totally gone over her.”  I put my hand on his.  “Good, I’m glad.  You two practically give off hearts at all times, ya know.”

He winked at me.  “That’s the idea.”

Mom and Dad joined us at the table a few moments later, drawn by the sound of us picking on one another, I’m sure.  Alduin smiled at them.  “Glad you guys can join us.  There’s been something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about since I got back home.  Just haven’t been able to do it before now.”

Our parents shared a look between them and then waited for him to speak.  “I’ve already said this to Luna, but I wanted you to know before going through with it,” he swallowed a moment, “I’m planning to ask Calysta to marry me.”

They looked at one another again, then Mom told him, “You both are young yet, Alduin, but your father and I are so happy for you.  She’s a terrific girl.  You belong together.”

Dad nodded in agreement.  I could see the pride in his eyes.  “You’re a lucky man, son.  And she’s a lucky girl.  You hold onto her, ok?”

My brother nodded solemnly.  “You can count on that, Dad.  I’m not letting her go.  We belong together.”

It made my throat close up a little to hear him say that.  Knowing what they’d gone through together and knowing what that bitch Natalya had planned for them… it made my blood boil all over again.  I could see the way Mom looked at me, her eyes narrowing.  The only one I’d told so far had been Roark.  I hadn’t been able to bring myself to even tell Mom and Dad.  I may have been the impulsive one in the family, but let me tell you, I inherited my temper from my Mom.  She was just a heck of a lot better at keeping hers at bay.  But it was there.  And nothing would bring it out faster than someone messing with her baby boy.

I should have known.  Even as I thought it, my brother turned to me, his expression utterly serious.  “Ok, Luna.  Spill it.  What happened between you and Natalya?”

I hesitated.  He had a right to know, I knew that.  But I didn’t want to tell him.  My brother was normally very calm and collected.  But I knew that where he and Cali were concerned… something like this would set him off.  He stood up, leaning over the table, getting into my face a little.  “Luna, c’mon, tell me!”  There was a bite to his voice now, enough that my eyes narrowed as I considered him.

I tried to dredge up some anger, or at least something other than the dread that was curling around my spine and creating a shiver that ran through me.  I stared into his red eyes, eyes like my own and knew I had to tell him.  I shut my eyes and let out a breath.  As I did, Roark came out of the nursery and sat down next to me, taking my hand.

Grateful for his presence, I opened them again and looked at my brother.  Haltingly, I told him what I had learned about what the sorceress’s intentions had been for him.  How her ‘help’ would consist of her replacing the missing pieces of his soul with nothing but hate and revilement for the woman he loved.  For a moment, after I finished, my voice trailing off, he just… froze.

I could see the way the fury lit his eyes, and the tremor that ran through his arms as they held him up.  I’d never seen my brother this way.  He’d always been… gentle with a romantic side that he covered with a lot of charm and smarm.  But this… I never cowered and I didn’t now, but something about him, something about seeing him this furious broke my heart.

“Alduin,” I murmured, reaching for him.  My touch on his arm seemed to snap him out of it enough that he stumbled back, basically just falling back into the chair.

His gaze looked down at the floor.  I shoved my chair back and got down in front of him.  “Hey, hey,” I soothed.  As I touched his arm with my hand, my eyes widened.  He was ice cold.  “Alduin!”  There was no response…

I heard my mother release a whimper.  I whipped my head around and all the color had drained from her face.  “Watcher, no.  Please, no!  Not my baby!”  Her hands clutched at the table as she watched my brother, tears swimming in her eyes.  I watched her dissolve into tears.

I shook Alduin’s shoulders, even slapped him across the face, trying to get some kind of response.  But his eyes were… vacant.

“Alduin!”  My voice was sharp, made more so by fear.  Something was terribly wrong… I couldn’t read him.  At all.  There was just… nothing there.  “Damn you, Alduin!  Snap out of it!” I shouted.

Roark pulled me away, gently.  “Let me try, babe,” he murmured.  I could only nod, trying to hold in the sobs that were threatening to burst forth.  He took my place in front of Alduin and touched a hand to either side of my brother’s temple.  He closed his eyes and I could feel him extend his own senses.  But a moment later, he staggered back, shock written all over his face.  That scared me more than anything.  Roark was always certain, always… steady.  For only the second time, I saw him unsteady, even afraid.  “I-I… there’s nothing there.  It-it’s like he’s just… gone.”


I paced around the entrance to the house, wanting to hit something or rend something apart.  But all I could do was hang my head.  It had been an hour or more since I’d told Alduin what I’d learned from Natalya.  An hour that he’d gone completely unresponsive.

Dad had checked all his vitals, tried a couple tricks he’d learned.  But Alduin still hadn’t snapped out of it.  Everyone had tried.  I had, Mom had, even Roark had tried again.  But none of us had any luck.  Even Nan and Pop had tried.  We were all at a loss.  I couldn’t sit still. And I couldn’t do anything else.  I walked back inside.  Nan and Pop were leaning in the doorway, their faces unreadable, even for me.

None of us said it aloud… we didn’t have to.  We all knew this had something to do with the Netherworld.  I knew about the pain.  Mom did too.  She could feel it.  But there wasn’t anything we could about it.

Cyn had come out, and she stood there, looking a little lost as she stood next to her brother.  I looked at my husband.  He’d been silent since the last time he’d tried to reach my brother.  I knew that look.  He was thinking about Alaric.  He’d gotten close to Alduin in a short amount of time and being unable to reach Alduin, as he’d been unable to reach Alaric…  He couldn’t even look me in the eye.

Mom hadn’t been able to stop crying.  She was curled up in Dad’s lap as he held her.  None of us knew what to do.  We were at a loss.

“Call Cali again,” Nan finally said softly as I stood next to her and Pop in the archway.  “Call her, get her back here.”

I swallowed and nodded.  I prayed for all I was worth as the phone rang.  It went to her voicemail.  But I kept calling.  Pick up, Cali, pick up! I ordered in my mind.  Watcher, pick up!

“Luna? What’s going on?”  I could hear the worry in her voice.

“Cali, we need you here. We’ve tried everything. Alduin…”  I couldn’t stop my voice from cracking, no matter how hard I tried.  I couldn’t hide the tears that were threatening to erupt at any moment.  “-he’s just… gone… We can’t get him to respond to anything… Please… just come here.”

I hung up and sat at the table, willing Cali to hurry.


 

Chapter 46: The Dark Knight’s Tale

Author’s Note: Ok guys, I have spent the last two days on this.  I was having a heck of a time.  It is finished and as good as it is going to get.  I hope you guys like it.

To see the full skit, please head to 02.21- The Pharaoh and the Pirate chapter of the Chronicles of Clarke legacy!  Go check it out anyway 😛

From the journal of Roark Wyvern

 

Luna’s deep breathing told me she had finally allowed herself to sleep.  It had gutted me when I’d finally managed to corner her last night and I’d been able to tell just how bad off she was.  The physical effects of using abilities like we had were myriad and often painful.  I didn’t know what she had done, not until she told me, but I knew that she had to be in such pain.  There was no color in her face and her eyes, those beautiful red eyes, were glazed over in agony.

As I looked at her now, she was still too pale for my liking, but I knew I’d have a fight on my hands if I tried to take her to the hospital and the crux of it was, there was little they could do for her anyway.  She needed rest, that’s what would help her.  My wife had the frustrating habit of not thinking of herself.  She was larger than life and had confidence in spades.  That was what drew me to her from day one.  That welcoming and downright intriguing light in her eyes had drawn me to her like a moth to a flame.  And while she was aware of her own beauty, her own self-worth, she was infuriatingly ignorant of the impact that she had on others.  My wife was one that affected whoever she came in contact with… for good or ill.  She often took center stage, often without realizing it.

And she cared.  Her heart was so big.  Her tendency to shepherd everyone around her was another reason I couldn’t help falling for her and falling hard.  But it was gut-wrenching for me to see her like this.  So busy trying to protect her brother and her new little sister, never once thinking of herself or what protecting them could do to her.  That’s who my wife is.  I loved her for it and still, holding her close like this, one of her hands clutched in mine, it broke my heart the way that little whimpers escaped her throat.

I leaned forward to kiss her forehead.  She snuggled closer, letting out a soft sigh.  There was something about seeing a strong woman- and that’s certainly what my wife is- let their guard down.  It didn’t happen often, not even with me.  One of the most infuriating things about her was her propensity to try to handle everything on her own.  Her pride hated it when she appeared weak, though that was never a word that came to mind when I thought of her, nor would you see anyone associate that word with my wife.

After I listened to her breathing for a few hours, I finally let myself fall asleep, listening to the sound of my wife’s heartbeat and feeling her warmth next to me.


The next morning, I slipped out of bed, gently covering Luna with the blanket.  She was still cool to the touch.  She was still in shock, really, from the mental toll she’d taken the night before.  I kissed her forehead and left the bedroom.  I thought about working out, but then I heard the TV on.  I walked into the living room and found my brother-in-law on the couch, playing video games.  I grinned.

“Hey, always heard you were supposed to be really good at this.  Feel up to a challenge?” I asked him, hopping on the couch without waiting for an invitation as I grabbed the second controller.

“Pft, a challenge huh?  Someone thinks highly of himself,” Alduin snickered.  “But I’ll humor you, oh lowly peasant!”

As Alduin switched menus to begin two player mode, I had to grin a little as a memory from a long time ago surfaced.


My little brother, sister, and I had just been taken in the middle of the night from the little apartment in Bridgeport and had been deposited in a house on the far outskirts of the city.  We’d been told very little.  Alaric and Cyn were only about 4.  I was very close to turning 15 soon.  None of us really knew what was happening, other than we were being sent away “for our own protection”, though even then I suspected that wasn’t entirely true.  Still, for us, this was a new adventure and there was a big screen TV there and a couch big enough for all of us to crowd onto it and get to play our favorite games.

Games were something that we’d always enjoyed together.  And even as we all grew, it was something that remained as a favorite pastime.  It was before everything had gone so horribly wrong, when we’d had hope, when we’d been a family.


“Hey, you gonna hit start or what?” Alduin complained, laughing and nudging me with his shoulder.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m gettin’ there.  Patience is a virtue, Your Highness,” I reminded him with a sneer, shaking my head to clear the memory.  “Oh and prepare to be dethroned.  There’s about to be a bloody coup in the Wyvern house tonight!”

“Pft, you wish!  Your little coup will be nothing but an embarrassing defeat!  Prepare to meet your better on the field of battle!”

It was indeed a bloody battle, and an epic one if I do say so myself.  My brother in law is a worthy opponent.  I might have had him had I been paying better attention.  As it was, it was a close battle.  At the end screen, I shook my head.  “So you keep your title another day,” I told him, grinning.  I leaned back, thinking.

“Another round?” Alduin asked, smirking.

I made a noncommittal noise.  “Hey, I think we need to try cheering up the girls.”

I could see something pass over his face as he looked away.  I understood all too well.  And the worst of it was, he still didn’t know everything.  I thought about warning him, telling him what Luna told me.  Any other time I would have.  But one of the things that Luna had told me that she’d ripped from the sorceress’s mind had been that Alduin had lost a part of himself on the trip back from the Netherworld.  I knew so little about it, I didn’t dare.  I’d let Luna handle that conversation.  Part of me hoped they didn’t go down that road.  My wife wasn’t up to her usual fierceness.  What I was getting off her brother, this time, he’d be the one doing the interrogating.  As much as I wanted to tell him to lay off, I couldn’t.  He had a right to know.

“What do you suggest?”

I shrugged.  “Well, they’d definitely enjoy a day at your family’s spa.  We can use that time to… do something, right?”

Alduin nodded.  “Yeah, they’d love a spa day.”  He pursed his lips.  “What do you have in mind?”

“You know your sister and girlfriend,” I told him.  I hoped he’d come up with something.  I wasn’t the most creative.  Truth is, Luna was easy.  Despite appearances, she wasn’t very high maintenance.  In Bridgeport, we went dancing, had a few drinks, but for the most part, she and I had just loved sitting at home, watching TV or a movie or even playing games.  Once we’d come to Monte Vista, it had all been about the baby and healing, for both of us.  So sitting together outside, or in our room.  That’s what we’d done.

“Cali loves acting, loves theater,” Alduin mused.  “Hey, what about a skit?”

“A skit?”  I reached up to stroke my goatee.  “Hm…”

My brother in law was really getting into it.  “Yeah, a skit!  Think about it, costumes, performing.”  His eyes widened and his smirk turned into a wicked grin. “Oh Watcher… Cali in a SimTrek costume…”

It made me laugh.  There was no shame on his face at all.  “Yeah…” I told him with a snort and a friendly punch to the arm.  “Somehow, think maybe you should save that for uh… when you two are alone.”  But his idea had gotten me thinking.  “Hm, a skit… a skit about true love maybe?” I suggested with a shrug.

He had the grace to blush, though he was still smirking.  “Hm, you’re probably right…”   He ran a hand through his hair, looking thoughtfully to the side. “A skit about true love…”  I could almost hear the wheels turning in his head.   “Think we can get everyone to participate? Would Cyn be up for something like this?”

“My sister would love that!”  I grinned, thinking back once again.


I’d come home from a long day of ROTC training.  I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep.  But I’d come through the archway and just stopped.

“Wait, I thought you were going to be the princess,” my younger brother said exasperatedly.

Cyn grinned at him.  “I don’t do so well as the princess.  I’ll play the Dragon for you to slay!”

“But you’re my sister!”

“We’re playin’ pretend though!”


“She and my brother used to love playing pretend,” I murmured.  I spent a lot of time putting the past behind me.  But it had been harder lately, more of it seemed to surface.  I looked at Alduin.  He was Luna’s little brother and by extension mine.  He wasn’t Alaric, the differences were too glaring.  But there was still something about him that reminded me what it had been like, before I’d lost my brother.  It was a bittersweet feeling and one I wasn’t entirely comfortable with.

I must have let something show because I felt Alduin put a hand on my shoulder.  “This uh, might help cheer her up, then.”

“Yeah, yeah I think it will.  So, Mr. Writer.  Any ideas?  And think we can get it all set up before they get back?”

He grinned.  “Are you kidding? Let’s get everyone working on it. We can do this. I’ll talk to Dad and Pop. You talk to Mom, Nan and Cyn.” He stood up quickly, ready to make a break for it.

It almost brought out a chuckle.  I was well aware of his opinion on the females in this family.  Truth be told, I empathized with him to a certain extent.  But I had to rib him a bit.  “Oh sure, you would leave me with them, wouldn’t you?”

He stopped and looked at me, completely unrepentant.  “You, powerful vampire.  Me, unassuming loner.  I have faith in you, Roark.”

All I saw was his back in retreat as I called out, “I think I know why you like yellow!  You sure you don’t have “coward” in there instead of loner?”  He stopped and looked back at me, baring his fangs at me in a grin.  I waved him on.  “Go, go.  With tail tucked between your legs.  I’ll protect you from the vicious females.”

His laugh echoed back at me. “They scare me and I’m not ashamed to admit it!”

I sighed in bemusement.  Cyn would be easy.  Aurora would enjoy it, I was fairly sure.  Sophia… I had to admit, of all the Wyverns, Sophia was the most intimidating, even to me.  I wasn’t afraid of her, necessarily.  She reminded me of my first commanding officer after I enlisted.  Unassuming and even congenial, but when there was trouble, she hadn’t batted an eye.  I’d seen grown men, hardened men, cower before her without her raising her voice.  Erin Kennedy had been a transplant from Sunset Valley, risen in the ranks there, then transferred to whip the base in Bridgeport into shape.  Sophia was a lot like her.  Rubbing the back of my neck, I prepared to go and try to pull this together before Luna or Cali woke up.


Roark held a cup of coffee in his hand as he watched his wife sleep.  It wasn’t for him.  His smile was tender as he watched her begin to stir, her nose twitching as she caught the scent of the contents of the mug.  It was always a treat to watch her wake up.  She was still a little pale, but the pain seemed to have left her eyes.  In fact, they twinkled when they opened and lit upon the man standing there with a fresh cup of coffee.

“Is that for me?” she asked, tilting her head at him, a light in her eyes as she looked at him.

“Maybe.  How do you feel?”

“There’s only a dull ache now, and compared to last night, it’s a huge improvement.”

Roark nodded and came and sat down on the bed, handing her the coffee.  “Yeah, that’s definitely better than it was.  Still a bit pale, but your eyes are clear.”  He leaned forward and placed a kiss on her forehead.  “Luna.  I want your word that you will keep your shields up.  I’m going to bolster them so stray thoughts don’t get in.  What you did yesterday was bad enough to cause physical symptoms.  There’s no telling what the side effects of continuing to use your abilities will be until you heal.”

His wife sighed.  “Roark, I know-“

“Luna, please.  Promise me.”  His gaze was intense as he brought a hand to her cheek.  “You didn’t see yourself last night.  Will you do it, for me?”

The corners of her mouth curled up in a gentle smile.  “Alright, Roark.  For you.  I promise.”

“Good girl,” he murmured.  “Thank you.”  He touched his forehead to hers.  As he did so, he opened a hole in his own shields.  He extended his thoughts out and touched her shields.  Shields took different forms for different people.  When her grandfather had helped her develop her shields, he’d told her to visualize a wall, like the wall of a castle.  It was a good technique.  But much like a castle wall had arrow slits, there were holes in Luna’s shields.  Roark used his power now to help fill those holes.  He’d remove it after a week or so.  He hoped it was enough time for her to heal.

Roark finished and opened his eyes.  Luna crawled over onto his lap after kissing him.  She let out a soft sigh as she cuddled against his chest.  “I think, that after the day you and Cali had yesterday, you guys should go to your family’s spa.  I think it would do you both a lot of good.”

“Mm, that sounds like a wonderful idea,” she purred, nuzzling her cheek over his as she crawled into his lap.


Preparations took a little bit of time.  Alduin and I ran quickly into town to grab a few things while Sophia, Draco, Aurora, and Jeff got things set up in the garage.  But by the time I heard the roar of Luna’s muscle car on the road, we had everything set up.  I smiled at my baby sister.  “You’re up, Cyn.  You remember what to do?”

She nodded vigorously.  “I remember, big brother.  Cali and Luna will love this!  This is so much fun!”  I couldn’t stop smiling.  Cyn looked great.  I hadn’t seen her this excited about something since the one evening I’d taken her to the Summer Festival in Bridgeport.

I’d wanted nothing to do with the city, not after everything that had happened.  Alaric had already left us.  Cyn missed him terribly.  I couldn’t handle another trip to the hospital, so I’d taken her to the festival, hoping it would cheer her up.  She’d had a good time, just exploring the grounds and she even got her face painted.

She looked gorgeous in her chosen outfit for the skit.

“Go on outside.  I hear them now.”  I hugged her and she seemed to glide out the front door just as Luna and Cali pulled up.  I had to grin as I watched them from the window.  It seemed like forever before Cyn led them to the garage.

“Ok, everyone ready?”

I got nods and grins all around.  “Well, here we go then!”

It was pitch dark in the garage, but it wasn’t a problem for me.  Being a vampire has its uses.  I had to lead Alduin in so he didn’t fall flat on his face.  “Hey, watch it!” he grumbled as I made him sit.

“Shhh!” I had to hold in a laugh.

I took my place, and then the lights came on.

As Cyn gave her lines, I had to admire her.  She was doing really well.  She played her Pixiepire role very well.  “Once upon a time, in a desert beside a vast ocean, the pharaoh of Egypt woke up next to the king of pirates.”

Then I heard the reactions of our audience.  Calysta let out a whistle and called out, “I want a pyramid of my own, Pharaoh!”

Then I heard my own wife’s voice call out, “Where’s your queen, baby?  I volunteer!”  It sent a shiver down my spine and I had to hide a grin even as I had to recite my next lines.

Alduin had written the skit revolving around the Pharaoh and the Pirate King who had yet to find love.  It was a good idea, and the way Alduin had written it, the girls would love it.  Except… I’m no actor.  Not by a long shot.  I couldn’t help but stare at my wife, watch the play of emotions over her face.  Turns out, I’m not the only one who couldn’t concentrate on the skit.  My father-in-law couldn’t stop staring at his wife the entire time he was supposed to be speaking.

I did have to hand it to Cyn, though.  She really shined in her part.  Of course, I think she might be spending a bit too much time with my wife.  That smack upside the head was definitely an improvisation.  As was our wild west proprietor and his saloon girl making out in the corner.

By this point, poor Draco was the only one that seemed to be taking his role seriously at all.  He gave his speech rather eloquently.  But his granddaughter was busy flirting with me and I was busy flirting back.

Cyn was still having a ton of fun.  After the last “scene”, Cyn got to bring in the rest of the packages Alduin and I had picked up.  Cali and Luna tore into the packages and then ran up to Cyn’s room to change.  We waited downstairs.

Alduin was being impatient.  “What is taking them so long?” he groused.

Truth be told, I was getting impatient, too.  I wanted to see my wife.  As footsteps sounded above, I held my breath as my wife came down the steps.

It was like a punch right in the gut.  Luna was beautiful, inside and out.  But watching her descend those steps in the garb of a Pirate Queen… It fit her right down to the ground.

When she stood at the bottom of the stairs, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.  She took my breath away on a regular basis.  But there was something in the way she looked at me then, something that had me closing my eyes for a moment.

She sauntered over to me, her hips swaying.  I’m pretty sure she was trying to kill me.  “Hello my King,” she whispered, her voice low and sultry.

“You… Luna, you are so beautiful.”  It wasn’t in character, wasn’t even all that eloquent as compliments go.  But I couldn’t get the words out.  I couldn’t find any that adequately described how I felt about what I was seeing, or how she made me feel on a regular basis.  I wasn’t a poet, I didn’t have my brother-in-law’s gift with words.

All I could do was tell her the best way I knew how.  Through my actions.  There was activity going on around us, I knew that.  Alduin had been laughing when his sister came down.  But I could hear his breath catch as Calysta came down.

Luna looped her arms around my neck.  We didn’t need words at that moment.  It worked for us.

Truth be told, I wanted to carry my wife off to bed immediately and I was pretty sure I wasn’t alone in that thought either.  But Cyn insisted that we all take some photos to commemorate the night.  So that’s what we did.  I’ll be putting a couple of these in my wallet, I think.

As I lay here, holding my wife close while we get ready to sleep after we had taken care of our son, I can’t help but look back on tonight with a smile.  I’m certainly no actor.  I’ll leave that to Calysta.  But it was the most fun I remember having… ever, really.  I snuggled closer to my wife.

“Good night my Pirate King,” she murmured, her voice already half-asleep.

“Good night, my Queen,” I whispered back, leaning up to kiss her cheek before closing my eyes and letting myself fall into sleep.


Author’s Note: Another huge shoutout to Ivane.  The shots from the skit are all hers.  Aren’t they just freakin’ awesome?  And she found the costumes which I just love!

Chapter 42: Revelations

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.”

“Great idea.”


 

“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.


 

Chapter 40: The Newest Wyverns

Author’s Note: This is a smaller update, but I figure you guys would enjoy it ^^  Not a whole lot happens, so sorry if anyone is bored XD  Let me give a shoutout to Blamsart!  I used at least one of their poses in this chapter and will be using many more later!

To:  Baby Brother (970-541-1234)

Subject: Hey Uncle Alduin!

Ryu says: “Aren’t I cute, uncle Alduin?  Mommy says that you had better come to visit me soon or you’re going to have a whole family reunion come down on your head.  I wouldn’t make her mad.  Mommy means it.”

Alduin stared at the picture of his nephew that his sister had just texted to him.  He had to admit, even with him swaddled in blue like that, the kid was cute.  Of course, he didn’t know the first thing about kids.  In fact, as cute as the kid was, Alduin wondered how his sister handled something so fragile.  He had to grin at the message, at least the first part.  The second part had him gulping.  He knew his sister meant that wholeheartedly and he had no doubt whatsoever that everyone would come, including the baby!  A shudder passed over his frame and he grimaced.  Taking his phone out, he sent a quick reply: He’s adorable, sis.  He’s gonna be a real cutie.  You don’t know how happy I am that the both of you are ok.  He hit send.

Next thing he knew, his phone was ringing.  He winced when he saw the caller ID.  “Hey, Luna.”

“Don’t you ‘hey, Luna’ me!”  Alduin gulped.  He was used to his sister’s banter.  What he wasn’t used to was hearing her voice crack like that.

“Oh, c’mon, Luna, you aren’t crying are you?”

“So what if I am?  I have a right to cry.  Are you ok?”

He thought about making light of it, as he normally would have, as he often did with Cali.  But this was Luna.  And if she was upset enough to be crying, he owed her more than that.  “I’m alive, sis.  Which I count as pretty ok.”

“Alduin…” she warned, sniffling.

The thought of Luna actually breaking down on the other end of the line had him panicking.  “Luna, really.  I’m fine.  There’s some… residual pain, but I’m fine.  I promise.”

“You better be,” she murmured, swallowing.  He could hear her take a deep breath.  “When are you coming home?”

“Thought about after the term is over.”

“You’re bringing, Cali right?”

Alduin chuckled.  His sister didn’t have a subtle bone in her body and the innocent way in which she asked that had warning bells glaring in his head.  “Yes, Cali will be coming with me,” he told her, tongue-in-cheek.  He’d let Luna stew a bit. Except, he knew very well that she had no patience.

Luna growled over the phone.  “Don’t get cute!  I want the scoop on her little brother!  You guys are an item, aren’t you?  I want details!”

“Crimeny, Luna,” Alduin laughed.  It was good to hear Luna’s voice, even when she was prying information out of him.  “Yeah, you could say we’re an item.  I promise, I’ll tell you all about it, ok?  Promise.”

“I’ll hold ya to it.  Just remember, don’t even think about trying to get out of visiting with your Cali.  I guarantee if you try, you’ll have an invasion.  Is that understood?”

Alduin rolled his eyes, rubbing his free hand on the back of his neck.  “Yes, ma’am.  We’ll be there.  I’ll give you flight info later, alright?”

“You better.”  Her heard her breath hitch.  “And take care of yourself, Alduin.  I mean it.  I-I love you, little brother.”

“I love you, too, Luna.  Take care of yourself and that little guy, ok?  We’ll see each other soon.”


 

I had to wipe away the tears as I hung up my phone.  I wanted my little boy.  I couldn’t be sad when I was holding him.  I opened the door, then stopped.  I quietly closed the door.  Tears stood in my eyes.  “There ya go, little man,” my husband murmured, “all changed and fed.  That’s my boy.”

As I watched the tableau, my throat constricted.  Watching Roark hold our son, hearing the love in his voice brought home just what I had.  My brother was safe, I’d get to see him in a few weeks.  I had a husband who loved me and a beautiful little boy.

I must have made a noise… or maybe he could just sense me.  Whatever it was, he turned around.  He smiled.  “Hey, look.  There’s your Mama, Ryu.  Isn’t she gorgeous?”  Our son cooed in answer.  Roark laughed.  “See?  He knows the way to a girl’s heart already.”

I sniffled.  “I used to tell my brother roses did the trick.”

Roark laughed as he gently lowered Ryu back into his crib.  After placing a gentle kiss on his son’s forehead, he went to me and picked me up in a bear hug, then found my lips with his.

I sniffled some more.  “What’s this now?” he asked, putting me at arm’s length.  “Baby, why are you crying?”

“M-must be hormones,” I murmured, looking away, “residual hormones.”

“Luna, baby, talk to me,” he murmured, putting a hand on my shoulders, holding me in place.

“I-I just got off the phone with Alduin.  I knew he was ok, but… hearing his voice…  I got weepy.  I went to go cuddle Ryu and there you were with him.  It just… made my heart melt.”

Roark smiled.  His smile was soft and tender.  And it never failed to make my heart turn over.  He picked me up and carried me into our room.  He just sat down on the edge of the bed, holding me close.  He didn’t say anything, just held me close for a long moment.

I couldn’t help laughing, though.  “Snic, you’re snoring, there girl,” I murmured, raising my head to look at the dog that had decided our bed was the perfect place to sleep.

Roark snickered.  “Silly mutt.”  He leaned over and ruffled the dog’s fur.  Snic was one of Roark and Cyn’s dogs.  She had a sister named Snac.  I haven’t had much of a chance to introduce them.  Both are pure bred collies.

Snic gave a groan and picked her head up.  Yawning, she stood up and padded out.  I imagine she was going to go find Ares.  Snic and Snac were fitting in just fine around here.  I had my suspicions.  They were getting along really well. Snic had taken quite the shine to Ares and Snac adored Apollo.

Roark kissed me gently.  “I love you.”

I linked my arms around his neck.  “I love you, too.  I love you so much.”

“I think you’ll feel better once you go take a shower, stand in the spray like you like to.”

I nodded.  That was a good idea.  I reluctantly got up and padded into the attached bath.  After a good long shower, I wandered out.  My husband lay on our bed, looking relaxed.  He smiled at me and winked.

“You look comfortable.”

“Just waiting for my wife.”  He stood up and followed me out into the hall.  Then he grabbed my arm, spun me around and dipped me toward the floor, covering my lips with his.

Mom walked by.  “If you two want some alone time, that’s perfectly fine with me.  I’m going to go and spend a bit of time with my grandson.”  She walked right into the nursery and shut the door.  Roark and I laughed.  Our son is quite the hit, as you can imagine.

His gram adores him.  Gramps does, too.  Soon as Dad gets home from the hospital, he makes a bee-line to the nursery to get a bit of time in with his grandson.

Of course, Pop and Nan dote on their first great-grandson something fierce, too.

Even his Aunt Cyn can’t resist him.

She was leery at first.  “W-what if I drop him?” she asked fearfully.  But Roark just laughed and he gently laid Ryu in her arms.  Cyn looked down into his eyes and the wonder on her face was something to behold.  “H-he’s so tiny,” she murmured.  “And so cute.”

Between all the people in the house vying for his attention, it leaves Roark and I time to just be together.  Even though it’s still winter, one of our favorite things to do every night is just to go out and sit in the snow, looking up at the stars.


 

It never ceases to amaze me the capacity for caring that my family has.  I knew they’d welcome Roark and his sister into our family.  And even knowing that, watching them handle her, even in one of her fragile states, is something else.  She’s taken to watching the gardening channel with Nan just about every night.

Just this evening, they unveiled something they’d been working on.  My great-grandmother had had quite the garden once upon a time.  Pop and Dad has spent the last few days digging through the snow, taking the plants and then replanting them in the greenhouse they had built.  Now, Cyn can care for these plants at all hours and not have to worry about weather or more importantly, the sun.

She was ecstatic.  We have a hard time getting her out of the garden, now.

But she’s very happy.  Even ventured to get a part time job at the Science Center here in town.  It took a little convincing.  She’d loved the job in Bridgeport, but she was still getting used to Monte Vista.  It’s a good sign though.


 

Well, my suspicions were confirmed!  It seems Snic is pregnant with a litter of pups.

Boy, is this house going to be a full one before too long…  And I can’t wait.  Before too much longer, Alduin will be home for a while, and I’ll get to actually meet his girl.  Life is good right now.


 

Chapter 39: Unbreakable Bonds

A/N: Ok, first off, sorry, got a bit wordy on this chapter lol and not as many screenshots to go with the words.  Still, hope you enjoy it.  HUGE shoutout to Miss Ivane once again.  Head to the link on the right side of the page to check out Alduin and Cali’s adventures and figure out just what’s going on with Alduin!  We did a lot of collaboration with this chapter.  In fact, the conversation between Cali and Luna is all her and I going back and forth.  So definitely check it out and I hope you enjoy!

So, our child still refuses to appear.  I was hoping I could avoid a C-section but if our little one doesn’t decide to show themselves soon, I go in next week for the cesarean.  I was eating some of my Nan’s apple pancakes (she makes some of the best pancakes, really.  Why yes, pancakes have been one of my cravings, can ya tell?).  Pop had scored a plate of them too, while Nan had grabbed some of the leftover Goopy Carbonara.  “Don’t worry, sweetie.  It’ll be ok,” Nan told me.  “Babies seem to have their own set schedules and never mind what those who are waiting for them want.”

Pop nodded his agreement.  “Yes, your mother decided she was going to come a wee bit early… on our prom night.”  He grinned at Nan, a shared memory that made Nan chuckle.

“Yes, she did.  And your Pop here… he managed to panic so much that he forgot we weren’t going to prom.  Had even changed into his tux.  So he looked pretty handsome in the hospital room, though.”

Pop chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck.  “Thought I was prepared.  Turns out, not so much.”

I grinned.  I’d heard the story a couple times.  But I never actually tired of hearing it.  “Yeah, I know.  I just… want to hold them so much, ya know?”

“Oh we know, sweetie,” Nan murmured, sympathy tinging her voice.  “We know.  You will soon, though.”  She grinned again.  “We’re all looking forward to your little one’s arrival.”

“Your mother just told me of a dream she had the other night about getting to hold her first grandchild,” Pop said with a grin.  “I think she’s just as anxious as you are.”

I grimaced, then laughed.  “Yeah, she and Dad both.  They’re trying to hide it, but I can tell.”  Just the other morning, Dad and I had been chatting after a quick snack.  Well, I had had the snack.  Dad, I think, just wanted to talk.

“You’re taking your vitamins, still right?”

“Yes, Dad.  I’m still taking them.  If I don’t, Roark comes in, shaking the bottle and giving me that look of his…”

He laughed.  “Good for him.  He’s only looking after you.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I grumbled.  “I know, I know.  Just tired of feeling like a beached whale.”

I could tell Dad was fighting to keep from grinning.  “Still smarting a little over the lecture he gave you the other day?”


 

The incident Dad was talking about happened a few days ago.  I’d noticed that the bathroom attached to our bedroom was filthy.  Roark’s first day at the base here had been earlier in the week, so he’d been unable to clean anything.  Without really thinking anything of it, I decided it was time to fix the leak in the shower.  So I took a monkey wrench and began tightening the connections.

I made a little bit of a mess on the floor, so I cleaned that up.

And since I was there, might as well clean the toilet right?

Except… well, when Roark got home and found me bending over so precariously over the toilet, he had a few choice words for me.  “What under the Plumbob are you doing?” he growled at me.

I have to admit that I jumped a bit and whirled around.  My cheeks heated and I glared at him.  “You don’t need to scare me!”

“Luna,” he ground out, obviously trying to find patience.  “You are nine months pregnant.  What are you doing in here?  Did you actually fix the shower too?”  He smacked his forehead with the palm of his hand.  “She’s trying to give me a heart attack,” he muttered, more to himself than me.

“Wait, you’re a vampire… can you even have a heart attack?” I asked him, smiling widely.

He just gave me a dark stare.

“You can’t be doing this!” he finally exploded.  “Your doctor- who happens to be your father-, your mother, your grandmother and grandfather have all told you to take it easy.  Is this taking it easy?”

“I’m not a child, Roark,” I told him in a low voice, my eyes narrowing.  I was a grown woman, yet he made me feel like I was back in high school again, getting a lecture from one of my teachers for disrupting class or something.

He blew out a breath and stepped toward me, putting both hands around my waist as he stared into my eyes.  “No, you aren’t.  That’s true.  You’re my wife.  My very pregnant, very stubborn wife.”

I framed his face with my hands, pursing my lips a little.  “I know you mean well.  And I know I probably shouldn’t be doing things like that at this stage.  Though… if it would induce labor, I’m all for it, really-“

“Luna…” he warned, his voice low, though I could see the smirk he tried to hide.

I grinned at him.  “I honestly didn’t think anything of it, babe.  Really.  It wasn’t like I was defying orders… I just didn’t think anything of it.  I’d been meaning to fix the leak and the bathroom needed a good scrub down.  So I just did it.”

He frowned.  “And what if you had fallen?”  I opened my mouth to retort that I hadn’t fallen but the look on his face stopped me.  “Luna, I couldn’t take it if anything happened to you, or to our baby.  I know nothing did and I’m very grateful for that.  But the fact is, it could have.  You’re already almost three weeks over-do.  And you said yourself your balance isn’t at its best, right?”

I sighed.  “No, no it isn’t.  I’m sorry, ok?  I’ll be a good little girl.”

“Oh, c’mon.  Don’t be like that, please.”  He stepped back a bit and placed his hand on my very swollen stomach.  “Hey little one, tell your mom that she needs to take care of herself, huh?  She’s gotta be ready for when you decide you’re ready to face the world.”

The expression on his face as he spoke to the life that was growing within me, then when he looked up at my face had me swallowing back any comment as well as a few tears.  I know he worries about me.  Worries about our child.  I also know I’m not the easiest person to deal with at times, either.  So I have to give him a lot of credit.  If I were him, I might have throttled me quite a while ago.


 

I grimaced.  “No.  No, I know he was right.  Though if you tell him I said that, I will make you pay for it, Dad.  Just so you know.”

Dad snorted.  “Uh huh.  Sure, baby girl.  Whatever you say.”  He got up and patted me on the head.  “Don’t worry, you’ll get to hold your little one soon enough.”  Roark and I had purposefully waited to find out the sex of the baby.  We wanted to be surprised.  Of course, we were hoping to have already met our little one by this time.  They had other plans, apparently.


 

In other news, Cyn has settled in quite nicely.  She really loves her own little space.

We added a desk for her at her request, so she has a place to put her laptop that she brought with her.  And Mom and Dad even had an extra washer and dryer installed in the garage for her to use.

She’s been spending most of her time up there, on her own.  She’s never had a place just to herself.  Roark was a bit too leery of it because of being in Bridgeport.  That place wasn’t easy on her.  Since she’s been here, she’s only had a few episodes and most of them she’s been able to take care of herself.

Roark went up to visit with her.  He says she seems quite content there.


 

All I can think about when I lay down to sleep is the baby.

Roark holds me as we fall asleep.  Only three more days, and then it’s time for the C-section.  I really shouldn’t be this worried.  Dad’s told me everything is fine.  I’m healthy and all the sonograms have assured us that the baby’s healthy too.  I just… want to hold my baby.  Patience has never been one of my virtues, if you couldn’t tell.

Knowing I’ve been having trouble sleeping, Roark suggested we do look at the night sky for a little while.  This time, he made sure I wore more appropriate attire.  It was still definitely cold, though it wasn’t quite as bad as it had been.  Spring would be there before too long.  I cuddled close to my husband’s side.  Husband… I still find it a little surreal to call Roark that.

It was a pretty night, clear skies with a small crescent of a moon.  I’d always loved the outdoors.  And there was something about getting to share it like that with Roark that took my breath away.  I giggled at something he’d whispered in my ear, when I froze.

A sob escaped my throat.  Images flashed through my mind.  I heard two gunshots, and saw my brother fall.  There was darkness, then there was a strange red glow.  The images stopped and I found myself in my husband’s arms as he carried me inside to our room.  “Roark,” I whispered.  “Al-alduin.  Something happened to my brother!”

He looked down at me as he laid me on our bed.  Worry creased his brow.  “You just lay here.  I’ll go talk with Jeff and Draco.  We’ll make some calls.  We’ll see if we can’t figure out what’s wrong.  Are you ok, Luna?  You’re awfully pale.”

I sat up and nodded.  “I’m fine, I want to come with you-“  I stood up and I could feel something loosen within me.  My eyes widened and I grabbed at my stomach.  “Roark,” I drew in a pained breath.  “Roark, the baby… my water just broke!”

He whirled around, his eyes as wide as saucers.  “Wait, what?  NOW?!”

“Yes now!” I shouted, a scream ripping from my throat.

Leave it to my child to choose NOW to decide to make their appearance.  After that first initial panic, Roark got it together.  He called for my Dad and Mom who came running.  They knew the gameplan.  Mom already had my bag ready.  Roark led me out the door, acting like a bit of a drill sergeant.

He helped me into his truck; it had 4-wheel drive and would be the only thing that would get us through all the snow still on the ground.  As he drove, his knuckles white on the steering wheel, he kept shooting me glances.

“Breathe, baby, breathe.  That’s it, in and out,” he coached, his voice soothing.  I had tears running down my face.  All I could think about was my brother.  I knew the vision for what it was: I’d seen something happen to him.  It wasn’t a vision of the future.  It had actually happened.  But even as I thought about that, the pain in my abdomen and other regions ripped another scream from my throat.  I had to concentrate.  I couldn’t do anything for Alduin right now.  Oh Watcher… Alduin, you had better be alright…

We got to the hospital in one piece and I waddled my way through the front door, Roark right there with me.

The staff came with a wheelchair and wheeled me off to the room.  The contractions were getting worse.  The pain made me hazy.  They got me into the room.  I’ll spare you the details here.  I have to say, Roark was a champ.  I owe that man several apologies.  It’s a good thing vampires are more resilient.  I’m pretty sure I would have broken his hand otherwise.  And I know I told him if he told me to breath one more time, I was going to beat him with the nearest blunt object.  But we survived it.  After close to six excruciating hours of solid pushing, our son, Ryu Alaric Wyvern, was born.

I wanted out of there as quickly as possible.  I wanted to get home.  Since Dad is Chief of Surgery at the hospital, there wasn’t a lot of arguing they could do.  So Roark and I took our son home.  We got back and I laid him in the crib.  The same crib that I had slept in when my parents brought me home.

Once I had laid my son down, I went out of the nursery.  Pop, Dad, and Roark were there.

“Has anyone heard from Alduin?” I asked, trying to keep my voice steady.

“Not yet, baby,” Dad confirmed.  He looked worried.  “Can you sense anything else?”

I shook my head.  After that first initial vision, there had been a tightness in my chest, like I couldn’t breathe.  Even after I’d given birth, I’d felt it.  But now…  I frowned and tried to concentrate.  It was hard to lower my shields.  I’d spent a lot of time learning how to put them in place.  Taking them down fully required effort.  But as they came down, I saw my brother laying on a bed, a young woman hovering over him.  I opened my eyes and blinked rapidly.  “I-I think he’s ok…”  I took out my phone.  “I’m going to call him.”

I walked out to the kitchen, my hands trembling as I hit the speed dial again.

The phone rang four times.  My heart sank with each ring.  Until I heard it pick up.  I almost cheered until I heard a very tentative- and very female- voice answer, “Hello?”

“My brother… This is Luna.  Is my brother ok?”

There was no answer for a long moment.  “Please… is he alright?”

I could hear the woman on the other end of the line- Cali.  This had to be Cali, the girl Alduin had told me about.  “I’m not sure exactly what happened, Luna,” she responded, “but he was shot last night.”

I had all I could do not to let out a wail.  Alduin… my little brother…  I was shaking, but I couldn’t make a sound.  She rushed on a little bit.  “I don’t know who did it… I just… saw him… and…”  Her voice broke.  I could tell she was on the verge of tears, maybe a total breakdown.

So I had to keep my voice steady, even a little soothing.  “What condition is he in now, Cali?  This is Cali, right?”

“Yes. I’m Calysta… He’s still unconscious, but he’s… recovering. The gunshots are… gone.  We’re back at the dorm.”

My eyes widened and I pinched the bridge of my nose.  In some way, that made sense.  It seemed everything was ok.  That pressure in my chest had disappeared and I didn’t feel anything from Alduin.  Yet I could still feel him, where I hadn’t been able to before.  I had to pull in a deep breath.  “Ok, back up.  Start at the beginning, ok?  What happened to my brother?”

I could hear a deep gulp of breath and when she began talking, I could barely keep up with the words.  “We were just hanging out at the theater.  Then he just asked me to run.  I was outside and I heard gunshots and I just ran in and there were these two guys screaming in frint… and then I saw Alduin-“  Here, her voice splintered, sounding shattered, “…there was blood all over the place.  He was still conscious and I just held him and…”  She stopped.  My own heart was hammering hard enough that I thought it would crack a rib.  “He died, Luna,” the girl whispered.  “Alduin died.”  I saw black for a moment.  Darkness closed over my eyes.  I knew she spoke truth.

I didn’t even recognize my own voice when I asked, “”What happened next, Calysta?”  She had told me he was alive.  So something had to have happened.  I wasn’t sure what, other than knowing my brother’s abilities with the spirit realm.

“It’s going to sound crazy…”  There was a lot of hesitation in her voice.  It was like she was afraid I wouldn’t believe her.  I waited.  As I listened, I realized how hard all this must have been on her.  The emotion in her voice… she loved my brother.  I didn’t need to be telepathic to tell that.  So I waited and let her get it out.  “…but someone I know came to the scene… T-they helped him.  They opened a way for him”

She hesitated, her voice breaking again.  “…I’m waiting for him to come back. Their magic worked. He’s breathing… The gunshot wounds are gone…”

My mind whirled around.  A door through the Netherworld.  It would have been the only way.  Cali sounded like she needed assurances as if she couldn’t really believe what she had seen with her own eyes.  Though I was holding tears of fear and relief back myself, I kept my voice steady.  “Alduin’s a Wyvern.  He’ll be ok.  He’ll come back.  Just give him a little time.  He’s got you to come back to.”  I let out a breath.  “Cali, when he wakes up, give him a message from me.  H-he has a little nephew now.  He’ll need to come and see him as soon as he has a chance ok?”

“Okay.”  Her voice sounded like that of a child and I knew she must have been going out of her mind with worry. “I’ll let him know, Luna.”

“You do that.  And Cali?  Thank you.  Go on, you’ll want to be there WHEN he wakes up.”  I hung the phone up and just stood there, swaying.

The tears that I had hidden from Cali swept down over my cheeks as I let it all out.  Alduin was alive.  He’d come back to us…  I remembered when he was just a little guy and I could hold him in my arms…

Someone had shot my little brother… I was going to find out who.  And there would be hell to pay.

I turned around and there was Roark.  He took one look at me and opened his arms.  I ran into them and buried my head against his chest, the sobs wracking my body.  He just picked me up and carried me to bed, holding me as I let it out.  I fell asleep with him holding me close.


 

Chapter 38: The Meaning of Family

We ate breakfast at the dining room table.  Conversation was light.  Roark sat there next to me, his voice quiet when he was asked a question, but otherwise he was silent.  Cyn sat there, looking all around her, sometimes in fascination, sometimes with an almost calculating look.  It was hard to know sometimes just what she was thinking.  My family was welcoming, smiling and joking like normal.  Once everyone had eaten (Cyn had finished her tube of plasma juice; Roark was nursing his, deep in thought), the dishes were cleared.  Nan stood up.  “Roark, Cyn,” she murmured.  “Welcome to our home, both of you.  We have something to show you both.  When Luna told us you were both coming, we had some work done.”

She looked at Roark and smiled.  “I know you worry about your sister, but you want her to have her privacy.  We think this will work nicely.”  She led the way to the garage.  “We had a small room constructed up there ages ago and just hadn’t really thought of what to do with it.  I think we found something.”  She ushered them up first.  I followed them.  I couldn’t believe it.  They’d turn it into a small efficiency apartment, decorated in bright yellows.  It had a mini fridge to house all the plasma juice she’d need, a double bed, a small bathroom, a large TV, and a sink.

Cyn went crazy.  She ran and jumped on the bed, and ran around the little space.  Roark just looked on, tears in his eyes.  “T-thank you,” he murmured gruffly, his arm around my waist.  He looked at my family.  “Thank you, all of you.  This-this-“  He let out a shuddering breath.  “What you’ve done here… I can’t ever repay you but-“

“Hush on this talk of repayment,” Nan scolded, hand on her hip.  “We’re family here, Roark.  Cyn’s family now, so we’re happy to do what we can.”  She smiled as she watched Cyn dive onto her bed face first again.  Pop, his stance much like Roark’s, with his arm snaked around my grandmother’s waist, nodded, grinning from ear to ear.

“Sophia’s right,” he announced.  “Family does what it needs to do to see to their own.  You’re our own now.”  He laughed at Cyn’s antics.  “Let’s let her enjoy herself.  We can all go have a cup of coffee… tea for you, Eclipse.”  I gave him a pout.  I missed coffee…

We all trooped back into the house, leaving Cyn to enjoy her new space.  We all ended up back at the dining room table.  We were too numerous for the island or even the living room now.  Mom, Dad, Nan, and Pop took a seat.  Roark was holding my hand.  After they were seated, he cleared his throat.  He looked at me, holding both of my hands in his.  Then he addressed my family- no, OUR family.  “I want to say something to all of you.  I want to thank you all.  I know you say I don’t have to.  But I want to.  I don’t have experience with a family like yours.  My own… you know who my mother is.  And that, in and of itself, is a miracle.  I made mistakes when it came to your daughter.  Mistakes I regret with all my heart.  I made those mistakes because I made assumptions.  You have welcomed me, the son of someone who has caused you all so much pain…”  I could see the tears in his eyes.  My own watered.

He cleared his throat.  “I didn’t believe Luna when she said you’d welcome me.  I’m sorry for that, baby.  I really am.”  He looked at them all now.  “I love her with all my heart.  I know she told you what happened.  No matter what went on between us, I want us to move on, to look to our future.  Our future together, our child.”  Now I was really crying.

“I just want you all to know that I am humbled by what I have been shown here by you all.  So thank you.”

Pop stood up.  He had a serious look on his face.  “The measure of a person is their actions.  What they do because- or despite- their blood, their environment says a lot about them.  Son, you’ve had a hard life, a lot harder than most.  What you’ve done is just short of miraculous.  You’ve looked after your sister and have done a heck of a job with her.  She’s happy and healthy.  I know her condition can be difficult to deal with.  But you’ve embraced it.  And I see the way you look at our Eclipse, like she’s your whole world.  I can’t ask more than that.”  The serious face fell away and his eyes twinkled as he winked.  “Especially not with this family.  Our women are a bit of a handful, after all.  We try to look after them, but-“  Nan reached up and smacked her husband on the shoulder.

“You better watch it, or you’ll need to be looked after,” she growled.  “Sit down, Draco.”  Her eyes twinkled with mirth… and something else as she looked at Roark.  She nodded.  Even my mother gave him a nod.

I was oblivious to what was going on.  Roark pulled me to him, hugging me tightly.  “I love you, Luna,” he whispered.

With what I’d calling a steeling breath, he got down on one knee.  My eyes must have been the size of saucers.  He pulled a box out of his pocket and opened it.  “Luna Eris Wyvern,” he murmured, “You are the light of my night, that which illuminates my life.  I love you with all my heart.  Please, you would make me the happiest man in the world if you’d agree to become my wife.  I don’t want to go another day with regrets where you’re concerned, baby.”  His voice cracked.  “Luna, marry me.”

He slid the ring on my finger; I couldn’t speak.  I had clapped a hand to my mouth to keep the squeak I knew was coming at bay.  As I looked at that ring twinkling on my finger, I took my hand off my mouth and just looked at him.  Even before, we’d never actually defined our relationship.  We’d never actually been a couple.  Things had just… tumbled into place after our first meeting.  And then things had gone so very wrong.  I’d betrayed Roark, plain and simple.  And because of that, because I’d allowed my own pride interfere, we’d both been manipulated and someone had died.  And yet… there he was, asking me to become his wife.

All of these whirled through my mind at warp speed, but I’d been silent for long enough that I could hear the uncertainty in his voice when he asked, “Luna?  Baby?”

I threw myself at him, a very pregnant woman, my arms twining around his neck.  “Yes,” I sobbed, unable to hold the dam back.  “Yes, Roark.  I’ll marry you.”

He held me tightly, though very conscious of my condition, I knew.  As my family cheered around us, he put me at arms’ length.  When he did, he said, “Luna, I hope you or your family doesn’t object, but… I’d like to take your name.  I want to be a Wyvern.  I-is that ok?”

In answer, I just stared at him.  “Of course you can!” I exclaimed.  Then, I looked at him, an urgency egging me on. “Let’s do it now, Roark.  I don’t want to wait.  I-I want to be your wife.  I-I want a fresh start for you and I.  Can we do that?”

“Now?  I… I don’t mind, Luna, but… don’t you want your brother here?”

“I would love it if Alduin could come back for this.  I really would.” There were tears in my eyes again.  “He’ll understand.  And I’ll make it up to him when he comes home to visit again.  I just… I want this fresh start, Roark.”

He kissed me gently.  “Alright.  We’ll do it now.  Any objects here?”

My family shook their heads.  If any of them were shocked, they didn’t show it.  They just smiled at the both of us.  Mom and Pop got up and went to me.  “Don’t you want a dress baby?” Mom asked me.

“No, Mama.  I wouldn’t be able to fit into one right now anyway,” I told her wryly.  “Y-you understand, don’t you?”

“Of course I do baby.  I do.  It’s alright.  You should at least get dressed though.  It’s cold out there, baby.”

“I’ll be ok, Mama.”  I know I was being ridiculous.  I was still in my nighty for crying out loud!  But… I just wanted to marry Roark.  Maybe it was the hormones talking after all, but I wanted it so badly.  Roark was talking to my grandmother about something, though I couldn’t hear what she said.

Pop seemed to know not to say anything.  He just leaned down a bit and gave me a hug.  There were no words needed.

After a few minutes, Roark went to me and grabbed my hand.  “Your grandmother says we might as well go use the wedding arch in the backyard.  I’m not going to argue with her.  Are you sure you don’t want a coat, baby?”

“I’ll be ok, Roark.  Really.”

And so, we trekked through the several inches of snow to the wedding arch at the back of the property.  Roark and I stood under the arch.  It was cold, but to be honest, I barely felt the wind.  Standing there, just looking at him, knowing that soon enough, we’d be husband and wife, that part of me that was still bleeding, still scarred from the mistakes I had, was finally healing.  Oh we had a long way to go, I knew.  Maybe we’d never fully be at peace over what happened, but we had each other.  And soon enough, we’d have a child to love as well.

Apparently, what my grandmother had been talking to Roark about was rings.  She’d given him the set she and my grandfather had used almost 40 years ago.  So, with my grandparents’ rings, Roark and I exchanged vows with our family looking on.  As he slid the ring on, he murmured, “With this ring, I pledge my life to yours, to unite two lives, and two hearts.  I vow that I will love you, and cherish you with my last breath.”

Tears slid down my cheeks when it was my turn.  I slid the ring on his finger and gave my own vow, “With this ring, I pledge my life to yours, to never give up on you, to treat you as my partner, my friend, and above all, my heart of hearts.  I vow that I will love you, and cherish you until the end of my days.”

We clasped hands.  We were both trembling with emotion.

“Kiss already!” Nan called out after a moment.  It brought out a chuckle from the gathered family.  Roark laughed and he pulled me close, his lips soft and tender against mine.  I didn’t want soft and tender.  My arms went around him and I gave him a real kiss.

When we finally came up for air, Roark took my hand and led me back inside.  I didn’t even notice that my teeth were chattering.


 

Aurora leaned against her husband, ignoring the cold snow against her bare legs.  “Well… this has certainly been interesting.”

Jeff sighed.  “Yeah, you could say that.”  The wedding was over.  Roark had led Luna back inside already and Draco and Sophia had followed.  “I think they’ll be ok, though.”

“I hope so,” Aurora murmured.  “I think they have a long way to go yet, but I think they’ll get there.  They’ve both been through so much pain, it’s almost cloying for me, Jeff.”

“I’m sorry, Rora.  I wish there was something I could do for you, and for them.”

“Sometimes there’s nothing we can do.  Just give them time.  It’s a beautiful night.  Though… I’m cold now.  Let’s go inside and get some cocoa, ok?”

He laughed and took her hand, pulling her up beside him.  Then they walked inside.


 

The house was quiet.  Most everyone had gone to bed already, though it wasn’t too late.  I was having trouble sleeping anyway.  I knew I had to do something.  I’d put it off long enough.  Of all the calls I had made, this one was the toughest for me.  I pulled out my phone and looked at it for a long moment, then hit #3 on the speed dial.  As soon as the familiar voice answered with a tremulous “Luna?”, I had to swallow.

“Hey little brother,” I whispered.  “I uh… I have a lot of explaining to do, I know.  I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry, Alduin.  I-I can’t imagine how worried you’ve been.”


 

Alduin couldn’t quite believe it.  His sister was ok.  He’d feared the worst and had had to argue out of leaving Uni to go and search for her.  Any of the feelers he’d put out online had gone strangely without answer.  But here she was.  He looked at his watch.  He should still have time to meet Cali.  “Yeah, you could say I’ve been worried.  Luna, what happened?”


 

“I-it’s a long story, little brother.”  Tears stood in my eyes.  I had to fight to keep my voice from cracking.  “If you’ve got a minute, I’ll tell ya about it.  I messed up, Alduin.  Really bad.”  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t keep my voice steady as I told him all of it, much as I had my mother.  Yet this was harder, somehow.  Admitting to my baby brother how badly I had messed up, how badly I’d handled everything was painful.


 

Alduin rubbed the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger.  “Luna… Oh Luna.  I’m so sorry.  Is-is there anything I can do?  Are you ok?  Wait, don’t answer that.  Stupid question, sorry.  Are you and the baby ok?”


 

That brought a smile to my face, briefly.  “Yeah, we’re fine.  You’re niece or nephew is worse than I am, though when it comes to being a night owl.  Won’t give me a moment’s peace, and yet doesn’t seem to want to come out and greet the world.”

He chuckled.  “Definitely your kid, sis.  Ok, spill it.  What’s wrong?”

“Alduin, Roark and I got married today.  I-I’m sorry I didn’t wait.  I know you’d want to be here for it.  I-I just-“  My voice cracked and I had to choke back the sobs.  “I needed to do it.  I needed to make as clean a slate as we could.  I-I didn’t want to wait.  Can you forgive me?”

He was silent for a moment.  “Luna, you shouldn’t have to ask that.  Of course I forgive you.  There’s nothing to forgive.  Though, I think you owe me some cake when I come home, at the least.”

I laughed, the horrible weight I’d been carrying evaporating.  “You got it, little brother.  By the time you get here, you’ll have a niece or nephew to help spoil.”

“Oh you bet I’ll spoil them, I’ll-“  The mirth died from his voice as I heard a noise coming from that end of the conversation.  I was suddenly bombarded with a cacophony of noise.  It was panic.  Sheer panic.  I couldn’t make heads or tails of it, except something was wrong and it involved someone he greatly cared about.  ‘Cali’ flashed through my mind.  It was a litany that he was repeating in his mind again and again.

I didn’t question it, just told him, “Go.  Go to her.”  Then I hung up.  I stood there for a moment, hoping my brother didn’t do something stupid.  I hoped his lady friend was ok.  A shiver ran down my spine.  “Be careful, Alduin.”


 

The last couple days have been another roller coaster of the worst kind.  Aunt Faye called.  She had two pieces of news for us.  We lost Uncle Falkor last night.  He and Aunt Faye had gone to bed at their normal time.  When she awoke… Uncle Falkor was gone.  He’d had a heart attack during the night and had slipped away quietly in his sleep.  He was buried today in the family crypt with his mom and dad.  Pop’s been pretty quiet, but he has Nan to be there for him.  It’s weird, considering Falkor was a few years younger than Pop.

If that isn’t bad enough, the other news she gave us was about Alduin.  Apparently, she had helped him set up the device he’d rigged himself.  He’d been concerned about his friend Calysta and had made an app that he’d installed on her phone.  It notified not only himself, but the University police, and my Aunt Faye.  She’d waited a day to tell us because she’d wanted to get as much information as she could.  Alduin’s friend had been attacked.  One of the fraternity boys had lured her to a party.  But he’d been the only one there.  This same guy is also being questioned in a rape/murder on their campus.  I had a bad feeling about that one.  I think I know why Alduin had been so afraid for his friend.

He had been going to meet her there when I had called him.  I haven’t quite been able to process that.  The guilt is already mingling with what I have so that I can’t tell the difference right now.  After she’d put up the distress signal, he’d gone there.  He found her, beaten and bloody.  According to Faye, not only had he fought off her attacker, but he’d given him a hell of a beating.  I can’t say I wasn’t happy to hear that, though I knew my brother was pretty sensitive.  He’d feel the guilt of that for a while.  He hasn’t called us yet.  I hope he’s ok.  And I sincerely hope his friend is ok.  Faye couldn’t give us a lot of details about how she was.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

I’m as big as a house right now.  I can barely walk.  Even a trip to the fridge can be laborious.

I’m trying so hard not to concentrate on all the negative.  Maybe that’s why my child hasn’t made an appearance yet.  Their afraid because their mother is always so upset.  I’m really trying.  Though it’s hard.  I’m so uncomfortable.  Dad says another three-four weeks and then the C-section.  I hope it doesn’t come to that.  But it’s all up to the little one, I guess.  Hopefully, they’ll decide to make their appearance sooner rather than later.


 Author’s Note: Special shoutout to Ivane’s Chronicles of Clarke.  The link is in the right hand corner.  Calysta and Alduin’s adventures can be seen there if you haven’t checked it out yet!  Go, check it out!

Chapter 37: Brighter Days

Luna rubbed the back of her neck, then stretched a little.  The desk was uncomfortable, especially having to lean over because her belly wouldn’t allow her to push the chair all the way in.  But she didn’t want to stop.  She was almost to the end.  Her cheeks were damp with tears and the paper showed a few blotches from where they had fallen onto the pages.  But her mother had been right.  She’d needed to do this.  Getting it all out was helping.  She thought she’d always carry the twin seeds of guilt and regret within her, but it wasn’t quite so bad now.  Getting it all out was helping, a little.

Something made her look up.  Her eyes lit up and she stood.  Roark stood in the doorway, watching her.  “How are you feeling?” he asked her quietly, going to her and framing her face with his hands.

“Back’s sore,” she confessed.  “But otherwise ok.  Just waiting for this little one to be ready.”  She grinned ruefully.  Her child was taking their sweet time in appearing.  She had been due almost two weeks ago.  Her dad had told her they’d wait another week.  If she hadn’t gone into labor by then, they were going to take the child through cesarean section.

“They’ll come when they’re ready,” her husband murmured.  He looked at the desk.  “Writing again?” he asked quietly.  He seemed to be searching her eyes for something.  “Is it helping?”

Luna nodded.  “It seems to be.”  She swallowed.  She’d been an emotional wreck since the day Alaric had died.  Add pregnancy hormones to everything else and you had a recipe for a lot of crying.  “I-I don’t know how I can ever make up for what I did.  I-“

Roark put a finger to her lips.  “Luna, we’ve gone over that, haven’t we?  We both made mistakes, a lot of them.  We both have to take responsibility for what we did- and didn’t- do.  We’ll get through this.  We will.”

She leaned forward, resting her forehead against his.

“I know,” she murmured.  After a moment, he put her at arm’s length.  “Why don’t I give you a backrub, then you can come back to this, ok?”

“I think I like that idea.”


 

The night Alaric died… I was in a haze.  I barely remember talking to the cops, guys I knew.  I just remembered the look in all their eyes.  I thought it was accusation, though in hindsight, maybe I thought I deserved it.  Alaric was dead because of me.  Once the questioning was over, I ran.  Roark had been trying to get to me for hours afterward, but I just… couldn’t.  I couldn’t face him, after everything.  I just couldn’t do it.  I hid away.  I talked to no one, I didn’t work…  I ignored phone calls, emails… any attempts to get in touch with me were ignored.  Somewhere, I knew my family must have been going out of their mind.  But I couldn’t face them, any more than I could have faced Roark.

Almost two weeks later, I began to be ill.  Anything I ate would come back up.  After almost a month of that, I finally went out and went to the doctor’s.  When they told me I was pregnant… I broke down and bawled right in the clinic.  I was pregnant…  Oh Watcher, what was I going to do?

For almost three months in total, two months of it being pregnant, I continued to wallow.  I took care of myself, such as it was, though it was really just going through the motions.  And then finally, staring out that window, I realized that I needed my family.  I needed them like I never had before.  And after I told my mom everything… I knew there was one last thing I had to do.  I took a taxi from the apartment and gave the driver Roark’s address.

I knocked on the door.  Roark answered.  When he saw me… I almost burst into tears then.  There was such naked emotion on his face, it hurt to look at him.  He was so focused on the fact that I was there, he didn’t seem to realize I was in maternity wear, nor that I had gained a little weight.  He looked… elated and apprehensive all at once.

He must have starred at me, just starred at me for ten minutes.  Finally, he shook his head, as if coming to.  “Come in, please.  Have a seat.  Do you want anything?  A drink?  Anything?”  I had taken a seat on the couch.  I just shook my head, unable to speak past the lump in my throat.  He sat next to me and silence reigned for quite a while.

Finally, I stood up, unable to take it anymore.  I felt like a coward, among my many other sins.  I couldn’t face him, but I knew I needed to get it out.  “Roark,” I began in a rush, “I’m pregnant.  I-I… I don’t know if you’re the father or not.”

Silence reigned for a long moment.  I didn’t dare turn around.  I was afraid what I would see on his face.  He must have suspected something happened between Alaric and I.  My nerves, already strung out to the breaking point, were perilously close to snapping.  I wanted to sink onto the floor, curl into a ball and just sob.  Just as I was about to give into the sensation, there was a hand on my shoulder, and I was spun around.  The next thing I knew, Roark had wrapped his arms around and pulled me close.

“Luna,” he whispered in my ear.  “Whether I’m the father or not, that child is mine.  You are mine.  We’ll get through this.  I-I can’t tell you what it did to me to see you tonight.  I-I thought I was dreaming.  I love you, Luna.  I’m so sorry, so sorry for everything.  I want to work on things, want us to be together.  Is that what you want, Luna?”

He put me at arm’s length, looking deep into my eyes.  “Yes,” I whispered.  “Yes.”  I did break down then, clinging to him.  He held me as I sobbed, brokenly getting out my confession.  I told him all of it, what happened after I’d left him, how I’d gone to see Alaric again.  The drinks, seducing Alaric… He stopped me for a moment.

“Luna.”  His voice was gentle.  There were none of the recriminations, or accusations that I had been prepared… even welcomed.  There was only love in his eyes.  “He played you.  He was always good at that…”  He swallowed.  “He wanted to drive a wedge between us.  It’s why he told you who we were.  W-when he called me… he told me he’d… been with you.  He said you were beautiful and in the same breath, he told me if I didn’t come to the warehouse, he’d make sure your body was dumped on my doorstep.  My brother was a lot of things.  He’d never been a murderer, though.  But I couldn’t take that chance.  I couldn’t risk you.”  He smoothed a hand through my hair, just looking at me for a moment.  The tenderness made my throat close up.

“R-roark, I don’t deserve you,” I whispered.

He put a hand gently under my chin, tilting my head up.  “Luna, we both made mistakes.  I should have told you from the beginning.  I-I can’t imagine how betrayed you must have felt when you found out.  I-I… And I should have told you why.  I was scared.  Once I realized who you were… once I connected the Wyvern name back to your grandfather… I should have told you.  But I didn’t.”

 

“And I should have listened to you,” I murmured.  “I should have stayed away from Alaric.  I was just so… angry.  So hurt…  I-I wanted to hurt you as much as you’d hurt me.  I hate that that’s in me, Roark.  A-and I hate what it brought on.  If I stayed and talked to you, if I had been able to put away my pride long enough to listen… none of it would have happened and maybe… maybe your brother would still be alive.”

 

“We both made mistakes, Luna.  Mistakes we both have to live with.  Alaric… I couldn’t save him.  I lost him years ago.  I thought I’d kept him safe, kept him away from the life my mother wanted for him.  But I couldn’t.  He had always been so angry.  Angry at me, angry at our mother, yet he idolized her.   That anger ate at him.   In the end, though… in the end, I think he found something that helped cool that anger.  You.  Something happened between you that night.  You were able to reach a part of him that I never could.”

 

I swallowed, guilt assailing me.  “A-all I could see was your face, Roark.  I just- just wanted to stop the pain.  I’m so sorry.  I’m so sorry for everything.  How can you still care for me?”

 

“None of us are perfect, Luna.  None of us.  If you’ll have me, I’d like to try to work through this, together.  And-and I want to be there for the baby.  And for you.”

 

I could only nod.  “Y-yes.  Yes I want that.”

 

He smiled at me, then leaned down to rest a hand on my stomach.  “Hey, little one,” he murmured.  “I’m your Daddy.”

I broke down again.  What had I done to deserve this man?  I couldn’t think of a single thing good, only several things that spoke to the opposite.  Yet here he was…  “Roark,” I murmured.  He straightened and looked at me, tilting his head.

 

“What is it?”

 

“I want you to come home with me,” I told him.  “I-I want to go home and I want you and Cyn to come with me.”

 

He pursed his lips for a moment.  “I have a few favors I can call in.  A transfer to the base in Monte Vista is feasible.  Go, rest.  Let me make some calls ok?”

 

I nodded, feeling numb somehow, yet full of so much emotion, I didn’t know what to do with it.

 

While I slept, Roark made his calls.

He woke me up a few hours later.  “Our flight is booked.  I’ve talked to Cyn.  We leave in a week.  Should be enough time for us to get our stuff packed.”

 

I was… shocked.  I had wanted him to come with me, but I think there was a part of me that didn’t believe he would, not after everything that had happened between us.  But we were going.  I nodded.  “A week.”

 


The week passed quickly.  Roark and Cyn packed up what belongings they wanted to bring with them.  It wasn’t much, really.  I asked Roark why.  “This was never really home, Luna.  It was the place our mother dumped us in, to get us out of the way.  What little we have packed made it that little piece of home.  All I need is Cyn, you, and the baby you carry.  You need your family, Luna.  We’ll figure out how to deal with all this there.”

 

That was that.  Once the luggage was packed and the things we didn’t need on the plane were shipped, we boarded our plane.  It was a long flight.  I spent most of it either sleeping or throwing up.  I don’t handle travel well while pregnant, it seems.  But finally, we touched down.  I don’t remember the car ride from the airport.  Roark had slid behind the wheel, Cyn in the back.  She’d let me have the front.  Before I knew it, the car was stopping.  “We’re here, babe,” Roark murmured.

 

He helped me out of the car and gave my hand a squeeze.  Cyn and Roark looked at the house; I could see the apprehension on their faces.  Me… I was home.  I was home, Roark and Cyn were here with me.

I didn’t expect anyone to be up.  I’d told them we wouldn’t get in till late and not to wait up.  I should have known better.  As we walked in, I saw a familiar shape at the island in the kitchen.  Of course my mother would wait up for us to get there.

“Mama,” I whispered walking in.  She got up and went right to me.  She put a gentle hand on my arm.  There were tears in her eyes.

 

“Welcome home, baby,” she murmured.

 

Roark and Cyn stood there for a moment, not sure what to say.  But mom turned to them, smiling.  “Welcome, both of you.  I’m sure you both are exhausted.  Cyn, there’s a bedroom upstairs for you to use, dear.  We have a bit of a surprise for you, but it isn’t ready quite yet.  There were some delays.  You can have your dogs just explore.  Ares and Apollo will be glad of more playmates, I’m sure.”  She turned to Roark.  “Welcome to our home, Roark.  Take my daughter to bed and see that she gets some rest, will you?”

Mom turned back to me.  “I managed to convince everyone to sleep tonight.  But I imagine they’ll be awake early and they’ll all want to see you and to meet your young man.  Go rest baby.  You look very… drawn.”

We easily took her advice.  Roark put his arm around my waist, helping to support me.  I realized I’d been swaying on my feet.  He walked me to my room down the hallway.  It hadn’t changed in the three years that I’d been way.  It was still the same.  It was home.  He tucked me into bed first, then slid in next to me.  I curled up next to him.  I was home.  Roark was next to me.  For the first time since everything happened, a tiny seed of hope had begun to bloom.

As exhausted as I was, I only managed a few hours of sleep.  The baby had been moving around a lot and when they finally settled down, they had decided that settling on my bladder was the perfect position.  I got up to go to the bathroom.  I looked down at Roark who was still sleeping.  Still a bit incredulous that he was here with me, I just watched him for a long moment.  I didn’t want to disturb him, so I left, thinking I’d see what leftovers there were.  In our house, there were always leftovers.  As I approached the kitchen, I heard the soft murmur of voices.

 

My throat closed up.  Dad and Pop.  I could picture just what they were doing.  They’d been doing it since I could remember, sitting at the chess table, talking about anything and everything.  As I walked out, I saw them just where I knew I would.

As soon as they saw me, Dad got up to give me a hug.

Immediately after that, he had to lean down to press a hand to my swollen stomach.  “And how are you feeling, baby girl?  You look tired.”

“The next person to tell me that, I may have to smack,” I told them, a ghost of a smile tugging at my mouth.  It was already good to be home, but there was still a part of me that felt… detached, even separate.  Dad laughed, giving me another hug.

“Leave the girl alone,” Pop admonished.  He grinned at me.  “Welcome home, our little Eclipse.  It’s good to have you back.”  He pulled me into a close, but gentle hug.

“It’s good to be home, Pop.  It really is.  I-I’m sorry.  I-“  Pop shook his head.

 

“You have no reason to apologize.  I want you to do me a favor, baby girl, ok?  I want you to try to forgive yourself and to relax.  It isn’t good to be so stressed with the baby.  Try to cut yourself a break, ok?”

I could only nod, unable to speak past the lump in my throat.  “Love you, Pop.”

 

“We love you too, Eclipse.  Now, where’s your young man?”

 

I had to snort.  “Pop, he’s actually older than all of you, you know.”

 

He snorted.  “He’s your young man, so hush.”

 

I could feel an actual smile forming.  It was the first one I could remember in quite a while.  “Whatever you say, Pop.  Anyway, he’s still sleeping.  The baby decided they wanted to keep me up, but I thought he should still sleep.”  I grinned.  “I figure he’ll need to be tip top to have to deal with our crew here.”

 

Throughout everything, I had never doubted that my family would accept Roark.  Was he the son of Elvira Slayer?  Only in the most biological sense.  He was a good man and I knew my family would see that.  I know he was worried about how they’d deal with him, and he had told me that he fully expected them to be upset, considering who he was.  But he beat himself up about that more than anyone, even if he was as far from his parents as it was possible to be.  To find that I was right, it helped steady me.  That’s what family did.  They helped steady you when your foundation had been rocked.

 

Before too long, I heard the door to my room open and I went to see him.  He kissed me, then pulled away.  “How do you feel?”

 

“Better,” I told him truthfully.  “I-I needed this, needed to come back home.  Thank you.”

“I want what’s best for you, Luna.  For you and the baby.”

 

I nodded.  I realized that, realized that was all he wanted.  I teared up.  “I know.  I know that.  Thank you.  My family wants to have a chat after breakfast, ok?”

 

I could see the apprehension come back into his eyes, but he nodded.  “Of course, baby.”  I wanted to reassure him, but I realized that wouldn’t work.  He’d need to experience it himself.  So I smiled at him.  He’d see.  He’d been right.  We’d get through this, together.


 

Chapter 23: The Dragon’s Heir

A/N:  Hope you guys enjoy this update.  This is done almost entirely with Pose Player.  Now, I don’t plan on using it a ton because I do like letting the gameplay speak for itself.  But since I’m experimenting, I used it a lot here after I had the idea to use this storyline.  So I hope you guys enjoy it.  If you notice anything I can do differently or like something more than another, please, let me know!  Without further ado, here’s Chapter 23!

It’s amazing how time can change.  It’s only been a few hours since we arrived at the hospital in Bridgeport.  Yet it feels like days, months since we boarded the plane.  Jeff and I wait out in the waiting room with walls that are supposed to be a soothing light blue with Luna while Mom is at his bedside.  She hasn’t left since he came out of the last surgery.  I can only look through the little windows since no one is supposed to be in the room.  They made an exception for her.

“Baby, why don’t you go to the hotel, try to get some sleep?” Jeff murmured to me.

“I can’t.  I just… can’t.  I can’t leave.”

“Rora…”  He sighed and just settled back onto the couch in the waiting room.  He knew trying to argue with me was useless.  At least, about this.  I knew he was worried about me.  An empath in a hospital was bad enough, but an empath in a hospital watching her father fight for his life was excruciating.  But I couldn’t leave.

I can’t settle, no matter what I do.  Even as my daughter plays with the little dollhouse in the corner, I get up and pace, then take a seat on the floor.  Poor Jeff doesn’t know what to do.  He tries to comfort and honestly, just his presence is calming, but still…

We’ve had no word from the doctors, not since they told us that dad would need to go for another surgery, except he wasn’t strong enough, not yet.  They didn’t say that time was of the essence- they didn’t have to.  Even if I couldn’t feel it from them, it was written over their faces.  Oh Watcher… what are we going to do?

Jeff squatted down next to me, putting a hand on my shoulder.  “I’m going to run to the vending machines, grab a coffee.  Do you want anything?”

I just shook my head.  The thought of something even as simple as coffee made me ill and that is saying something.  Even as he went to leave, I could feel his gaze lingering over me.


Jeff headed out into the hallway, toward the vending machine, his hands in the pockets of his coat.  He was a doctor himself.  He knew by the snippets he’d been able to glean that it didn’t look good.  Ah Watcher… He ran a hand agitatedly through his hair.  It didn’t seem real.  He dealt with this kinda thing, day in and day out, but it was a lot different when it was one of your own.  Not Draco… Jeff hit the vending machine with the heel of his hand, letting out a curse.  Despite the somewhat rocky start to their relationship, Jeff had gotten quite close to his father-in-law.  Jeff was an orphan, spent most of his time in state run homes.  When he’d moved in with Aurora and her parents, he’d finally had a family.  And now…

His gaze sharpened as a figure in scrubs approached.  “Dr. Blakely!”  The surgeon who had spoken to them jerked and looked at Jeff, blinking.  Jeff recognized exhaustion when he saw it.  He gentled his voice.  “Dr. Blakely, I’m Dr. Jeffrey Dean.  I’m in my residency at Dr. Simano’s Sanatorium in Monte Vista.  Look, that’s my father in law in there.  What can you tell me?”

Dr. Blakely looked toward the end of the hall, into the waiting room, then he sighed.  “Doctor… I shouldn’t be speaking with you, you know that.  But I will, doctor to doctor, alright?”  Jeff swallowed.  “Mr. Wyvern– your father-in-law–  was found at least three hours after he was shot.  The fact that he survived long enough to even make it here is, in itself, a miracle.  We’ve done all we can at this point.  He’s too weak to go for another surgery, but without it… it’s only a matter of time.”

Jeff shut his eyes.  His residency involved trauma situations, and he knew the dangers of a penetrating chest wound.  “Is it a pericardial tamponade?”

The doctor nodded bleakly.  “I’m afraid so.  We tried to perform pericardiocentesis without putting him fully under for a thoracotomy.  We’ve repaired what we could in the first two surgeries, but the bullet did a tremendous amount of damage.  He’s not capable of breathing on his own, which is why he’s on a ventilator.  I’m sorry- but I wish I could give you some kind of hope.  I just… don’t see how.”

“T-thank you, for being honest with me and speaking with me.  N-now I have to find a way to tell my wife… and my daughter.  S-she’s only four.”  Jeff scrubbed his hands over his face, feeling the bite of tears in his eyes.

Dr. Blakely put a hand on his shoulder in sympathy then walked off, holding a cup of coffee.  His own coffee forgotten, Jeff stood there for a moment, feeling lost.  Knowing he had to tell Aurora, he made himself go back in.  His gaze saw his little girl, still playing quietly.  She’d been an angel this whole time.

Then he brought his gaze reluctantly to meet his wife’s.  She couldn’t read him like she could others, but she must have seen it in his eyes, the lack of hope.  She let out one little whimper.  The noise was all Luna needed.  The toddler began to cry, begging for her Pop-pop.

They scooped her up together, holding her between them, trying to comfort her, but it was hard, so very hard when the grief was already beginning to swamp them.

As they held their child to them, a wail rose from the next room.  Jeff took Luna as Aurora ran to the door.  Sophia’s wail fell off, the shrill whine of the EKG machine droning on.  “Daddy!” Aurora sobbed out, falling to her knees, holding her head in her hands.

Luna’s wail joined hers even as the child buried her head in the crook of her father’s neck.  As Jeff reached down, wanting to comfort his wife, something happened.  Aurora threw her head back, a golden glow of light surrounding her.  Her red eyes glowed as well.  Jeff could only stand there, slack-jawed as a wind sprang up around his wife.  Slowly, she rose into the air, that glow intensifying.

Even as she began to glow, Draco did as well.  Sophia raised her head in shock even as the EKG machine seemed to spark and then go utterly blank.

Jeff could only stare in shock and amazement even as the glow vanished from his wife and then she dropped to the ground, still.  Voices shouted as doctors and nurses came running in.  Luna cocked her head uncertainly.  “P-pop-pop.  Mama,” she murmured, her cheek against her father’s.  But she was no longer crying.


Jeff ran his hand through his wife’s hair, his eyes closed.  He, Dr. Blakely and several nurses had been checking on her the last several hours.  She was just sleeping, exhausted from whatever had happened.  Still, he couldn’t help but want to be near her right now, just to reassure himself that there were no ill effects from… whatever that was that she had done.

But the doors from the other room opened and Dr. Blakely stepped out.  He turned and then saw Jeff and Aurora, a small smile forming on his face.

“He’s awake.  You can go in and see him now.”

Jeff stood up, being careful to lay Aurora’s head down gently, and then shook the doctor’s hand.  “Thank you, for everything.”

Dr. Blakely grinned.  “This has been… enlightening.  This is certainly a rotation I won’t soon forget.”  Jeff gave him a half smile and then he walked through the door, into the room.  The sight he saw had him stop for a moment.

“This-this is a sight for sore eyes,” Jeff murmured, his voice cracking just a bit.

Draco, looking a little paler than normal, grinned nonetheless.  “What?  This?”  He shifted and grimaced.  “Guess I scared you guys, didn’t I?  I know Sophia couldn’t look at me without crying.”  He looked guilty at that.  “Why I told her to go and take Luna and get some sleep.”

Jeff stepped closer, just nodding, not sure if he could speak quite yet.  He did try, clearing his throat.  “Yeah, yeah you scared us a bit.  Look-“

But his eyes widened in shock and he managed to shout, “What in the Netherworld do you think you’re doing!?”  Draco had thrown his legs over the side of the bed and, arms shaking, had then stood up!

“What does it look like?” Draco asked sharply.  “Can’t a guy get out of bed?  Need to stretch-“  He let out a grunt as his legs buckled.  Jeff was there in an instant, throwing one arm around his father-in-law’s waist and slinging Draco’s arm across his own shoulders.

“Of all the hard-headed, stubborn, headstrong stunts!” Jeff grumbled as he helped Draco lay back down.

“Easy, lad!” Draco protested.  “You’re acting like I’m on my deathbed here.  Just had a bit of problems with my balance, that’s all.”

“No, that isn’t all!” Jeff exploded.  He had to take a shaky breath.  “Do you remember what happened?  At all?”

Draco frowned as tried to think back.  He lost what little color he had had as his memories solidified.  Then he looked at his son-in-law.  “H-how am I still alive, Jeff?”

“Rora,” Jeff said simply.

“What happened?” Draco asked quietly, looking down.

“I-I don’t even know.  All I know is, you should be dead, Draco.  I’m not exaggerating.  You were too weak to go through the surgery that would save your life.  Y-you flatlined and then-“  He was about to explain more when Dr. Blakely  came back in.

“What’s this now?  The patient anxious to be out of here?”

“I…”  Draco trailed off, looking out the window.

The doctor and Jeff slowly explained the rest of what happened and then Dr. Blakely told them both, “You’re still wounded.  After… we’ll call it the miracle for now, since that’s what it amounted to, but after that, we were able to go in and repair what needed to be repaired.  You’ll still be weak and your body will need time to heal.  In a few more days, I think you’ll actually be well enough to travel back home.  I think you’ll recover better in more familiar surroundings and I’m sure your family will appreciate being home as well.”

He gave Draco a gentle pat on the shoulder and then left.  “Thank you again, Dr. Blakely,” Jeff murmured, shaking his hand.


Jeff and Aurora both trudged up the stairs of the hotel, neither really noticing the lovely décor.

As they reached the landing, Aurora let out a sob and buried her head in her hands.  Jeff had been expecting it for a while and without a word, just pulled her to him and held her closely.  “That’s it now, just let it out,” he murmured, rubbing his hand over her back in gentle circles.

After a good cry, she stepped back.  “I-I thought we-we’d lost him, Jeff.  I-I don’t even know… what happened.”

“I know, baby.  I know.  C’mon, we’re all exhausted.  Your dad is gonna be fine.  Let’s go get some sleep, ok?”  They’d deal with the other thing later.  Right now, he knew they needed sleep.  Maybe a good night’s rest would make things clearer in the morning.  He took her hand and led her into their room where Sophia had already taken Luna.  Somehow, his mother-in-law had already dropped off to sleep.  Then again, she was as exhausted as they all were and as emotionally wrung out as they were, maybe more so.  Her granddaughter had brought her a little bit of comfort after the horrible grief and then the confusion.

Jeff and Aurora stood there together, watching their daughter as she looked back at them.  “/Love you, Mama.  Love you, Papa,/” she murmured sleepily, too tired to actually speak.

“We love you too, sweetheart,” Aurora whispered as she leaned back against Jeff.

She and Jeff changed and then both slid into bed.  So exhausted were they that they were asleep almost before their heads hit the pillow.  Knowing that the nightmare was over, the family slept peacefully.


 

Chapter 22: Shadows

A/N:  Ok, so I want to give a huge shoutout to Trip for all her help.  There are a few images that I’ve manipulated.  It is due to her help and a tutorial using GIMP that I was able to it.  So, Trip, thank you so very much!  You are awesome!

Ok, as I’m sure you guys have noticed, I tend to use screenshots that I’ve gotten from the game itself mainly because I find the Sims interesting enough on their own.  However, I have found the joy of Pose Player and so this chapter and later ones have utilized it quite a bit.  Now, I am an amateur at it, so please bear with me.  If you guys have any comments or tips, please feel free to give them to me.  I love to learn and any tricks or tips are greatly appreciated.  Also, RaiaDraconis was super helpful in helping me find a good majority of the poses I’ve used so far, so there’s another big shout out!

Anyway, here we go!  Enjoy this chapter guys!

I don’t even know where to begin!  I’m feeling so overwhelmed right now, I can barely focus.  Maybe writing it out will help settle me down.  First off, it’s been three days since Dad left.  He didn’t- couldn’t- tell us much, other than he hoped that things would finally be done.  None of us were happy about it, not at all.  But Mom, the unhappiest of us all, said that it was something he had to do.  She was the one who had given us the news; Dad had already left right from the station, apparently.  She had told us of the phone call that had pulled him out of the house and then the subsequent phone call she’d gotten from him a few hours later.

I haven’t been able to shake this horrible feeling that won’t leave me.  I do my best.  Poor Luna can’t figure out where her grandfather has gone.  She’ll sit on the floor and just look around, as if she were waiting for him.

Every time I go to get her from the crib, she looks at me and asks hopefully, “/Pop-pop?/”

It breaks my heart when I have to tell her that, no, he wasn’t home yet.  Though he’s been gone this long before, the fact that we haven’t heard anything yet is very upsetting and it makes this terrible foreboding I have even worse.  Mom won’t admit it, but she has a similar feeling.  She’s been trying to clear her mind using meditation, but I don’t think that’s helping her much.

If that wasn’t bad enough in and of itself, earlier today was just a nightmare.  After Jeff and I got married, Mom and Dad insisted I get my furniture out of storage, start making my mark on the house.  I finally did and with it, we had a fireplace installed in the living room, something I’d always wanted.  Boy am I regretting that now.

Jeff had just lit a fire in it.

I was in the nursery with Luna, trying to get her settled down for her afternoon nap.  Without her grandfather, it was harder to get her to go to sleep.  Jeff had gone back to our room to get dressed.  Suddenly, I heard my mother yelling.  I came running out of the nursery to see what the matter was and this was what I saw:

Jeff and I both ran out to do what we could to help Mom battle the blaze at first.

We had mostly gotten it all out when this happened…

Luckily, he made it into the shower.  He only got a little singed, though his pants were a dead-loss and his nice jacket was damaged.  But that was a small price to pay.  After I and my mother looked him over and made sure he was ok, he went immediately into Luna’s nursery and held her close.

She must have heard the yelling because it had taken quite a while for him to get her settled down again.  As he turned away from her crib, I had come in and I wrapped my arms around him, burying my head against him.

I had been so frightened.  I couldn’t stop the tears that slowly slid down my cheeks.  He held me for a long moment, then put me at arms’ length.

“We’re ok, love.  I’m fine.  A little singed, but I’m ok.”

“I-I know.  Just scared me.”

He pulled me close again.  “It’ll be ok.  C’mon, let’s try and go get some sleep, alright?”  I nodded.  I was exhausted; between the worry about Dad, the terrible feeling of impending doom that wouldn’t leave, and now the fire, I was a wreck.  “Yeah, a nap would be great right about now.”

So Jeff and I headed to our room and slid into bed.  I curled up next to my husband and closed my eyes.  But as I slid into sleep, my dreams were not easy.


Draco waited in the elevator, nonchalantly leaning against the  wall as the too-cheerful music played.  Why did elevator music sound like that?  Whose bright idea was that anyway?  Chuckling to himself, he crossed his legs, watching the floor indicator.  If everything had gone to plan, he’d get into the office, find what they needed, then get out.  And since he hadn’t gotten the abort signal, everything should have gone to plan.

As the little bell dinged to indicate they had made it to the top floor, Draco nodded.  He looked sharp in his tuxedo.  It paid to appear as someone important when needing to get into a building such as this.  He’d been able to steamroll across the receptionist that had tried to stop him on the way up.  As the doors slid open, he stepped out into an elegantly furnished office that spanned the entire half of this floor of the building.  Being the boss must have paid quite well.  He walked in and then stopped abruptly when he saw someone sitting behind the giant mahogany desk.

The images of the dream were distorted, hazy, not very clear.  But even in sleep, Aurora knew them to be real.  She whimpered, wanting to scream for her father to get out of there, to run away.  She could only watch it unfold, however, as if she were the only witness to what would come.

The figure behind the desk smiled at him, showing pointed canine fangs.  “Welcome, Mr. Wyvern.  Do you mind if I call you, Draco?”  The smile fell away in a split second.  “You’ve become a very big problem in the last few years, you know.”

His expression had gone utterly blank, but now he grinned, making it as insolent as he could while his mind raced.  “I’ll take that as a compliment, Slayer.  Or should I call you Elvira?  Since you want to get cozy.”  His voice was calm, almost as insolent as his smile.  His blood was ice and his head was cool as he considered his options.  He knew Elvira to be fairly old by vampire standards and knew she was dangerous.  But he hadn’t gotten to where he was by being stupid, either and he knew what he was doing.

Elvira Slayer continued to glare at him for a long moment, but again, that same vicious smile curled the corners of her mouth upward.  “I applaud your courage, I truly do.  But since I’ve received enough information on you to know that you are far too honorable to work for me, I’m afraid that leaves me with only one option.”  She stood up and looked to her left, to a small alcove that hid something… or someone.  “My dear, if you would come and dispose of our guest, please?”

Draco braced as a figure stepped out into view.  Anger suddenly boiled up within him.  “You!” he snarled, stepping forward.  “Traitor!”

Elvira laughed and William just grinned.  “Oh, poor boy.  William has been mine from the beginning.  It’s very useful to have someone who knows and understands the inner workings of the police force, wouldn’t you say?”

”I won’t let you get away with this!” Draco snarled, that anger sizzling through his blood.  He braced himself for a fight.

Elvira rolled her eyes.  “William?  If you would dear?”  Draco was strong, and smart, and he’d trained for a long time.  But he still hadn’t quite recovered from his last assignment and he was getting older.  Despite his powers, he hadn’t seen this betrayal, probably due to a vampire’s superior mental shields.  He just wasn’t prepared as William seemed to come flying at him, his knee connecting with Draco’s solar plexus.

As if played out, Aurora tossed and turned, tears beginning to slowly slide down her cheeks.
Draco’s breath exploded out even as he was tossed against the reinforced glass of the windows behind him.  When he hit, he just slid down onto the floor, stunned.  It was long enough for William to bring up the gun he held in his hand.  Elvira threw back her head, laughing.  “Kill him, William.”

”S-sophia,” Draco whispered, fighting to get his breath back.  But staring down the barrel of the gun, he knew his luck had run out.

As the sound of a gunshot exploded and then echoed through her brain, Aurora awoke, screaming.  “D-daddy,” she whispered, a burning sensation spreading out from her chest.

Her eyes rolled into her head even as Jeff jerked awake.  As Aurora slid into darkness, she heard her daughter’s piercing cry of anguish.


 

Chapter 21: The Calm Before the Storm

I’ve spent the last day reading over the book my father gave to me.  I always knew there was a family history: I remember watching my grandmother writing in it.  Then she turned it over to him and now it’s my turn.  I think it will be different than keeping my own journal, which was mostly a way to help cope with what I feel, every day.  I will forever feel things that are not mine.  For the most part, I have developed a shield of sorts, though things get through.  Jeff is my anchor when things become too much.

Speaking of Jeff (before I treat this too much like my own journal)… our daughter is quite the daddy’s girl.  As soon as Jeff comes home from the hospital, she crawls to him and begs to be picked up.  She’s so smug once he scoops her up.  He dotes on her so.

She insists that he be the one to put her to bed, as well.  And when he leaves, she gives him such a pathetic face.

I can see and feel the calculation once he leaves the room.

When her and I began to work on skills such as talking and walking, even potty training, this is the look I get:

I can’t help but be entertained by this.  I know for a fact it’s not because of malicious intent.  She just loves her father.  Actually, she’s not just a daddy’s girl.  Her grandfather is just as taken with her, and she with him.

Watching her with them makes my heart melt.  Jeff and Dad are both so good with her.  The little imp knows just how to get to them too.  With me, it is not so easy.  Even her grandmother is held under her sway.

But I suppose that is as it should be.  After all, I was much the same.  So it could be said that she takes after her mother the most.  And she does love me, that I know.  Just as I always loved my mother, but I felt closer to my father, to my grandfather.  Maybe that is just the way it goes.  When she is in a good mood, happy, she wants her grandfather or father.  But when she is feeling down or a little colicky as she was the other night, her mother’s arms are the only thing that will satisfy her.


I got quite the shock today, though in hind sight, I should have been prepared for it.  Luna’s certainly a Wyvern, alright.  I had gone to get her out of her crib to feed her.  I leaned down to her and I heard, “/Mama!  Mama, me hungi!/”  At first, I thought she was talking.  She’d been doing better with her lessons, but there had been no sound, none at all.

I stopped and just looked at her for a long moment.  “Luna?”

She looked back up at me, grinning.  “/Mama!  Baba?/”

I could only laugh a little.  “You’ll get a bottle.”  I lifted her out, mulling this over.  After I set her on the floor, giving her her bottle, I went to find my dad.

“Dad?  I need to talk to you about Luna.”

His brow furrowed when I told him.  “Hm, well, it makes sense, doesn’t it?”  He grinned a little.  “She’s definitely a Wyvern.”  He got that look in his eyes that meant he was doing some serious thinking.  “I wonder if it’s straight telepathy or more along the lines of your own abilities.”

The prospect that my daughter would have to live with what I did made me gasp.  My dad put a hand on my shoulder.  “Easy, Rora.  We don’t know that it is yet.  If it’s straight telepathy, we’ll have an easier time controlling it since it would be more in line with my own powers.  Why don’t you let me see what I can see with her, hm?  What about you?  What do you sense from her?  I know it’s harder for you to get a read on one of us, but I know you can.”

I thought about it.  “I don’t think she can do what I can because I don’t feel from her.  I can hear her thoughts.  Or at least, she can project them when she wants to.”

Dad laughed.  “Hm, yes, sounds like her.  Leave it to me.  I’ll see what I can find out from her.”

I nodded.  His clairvoyance and ability to see the truth of things would come in handy here.  “Ok.  Thanks Dad.”

“No need to thank me, Rora.”  He patted my shoulder.  “Why don’t you go spend some time with Jeff?  I’ll have a chat with my granddaughter, alright?”

I could only grin.  “Ok, dad.”  I leaned up to kiss his cheek, then went to go find my husband.


Draco carried Luna outside; the weather was gorgeous and he knew the little girl loved the outdoors.  “C’mon, lil Eclipse.”  He set her down and then leaned down.

“Pop-pop!” she babbled.

Draco smiled.  “Yup, that’s right.  It’s pop-pop.”  He went silent, but in his mind, he thought, “/Does our lil Eclipse want a special treat?/”

“/Treat, pop-pop, treat!/” Her voice in his head was at a high squeal even as she clapped her hands.

Wincing, he laughed.  “That answers that.”  Using his thoughts again, he asked, “/Luna, you can hear pop-pop can’t you?  You can hear what he’s thinking?/”

Smiling up at him, she nodded her little head.  “/Hear pop-pop,/” she murmured coyly, looking up at him with her red little eyes.

“That’s what I thought.”  He lifted her into the air, causing her to squeal with delight once more.


Aside from Luna’s normal toddler skills, we are now working on her abilities.  Like me, she automatically picks things up, though hers are thoughts, not feelings.

“Luna, sweetie, when you’re with other people, remember, you have to try to block them out, ok?”

“/Ok, mama.  Block dem./”

“Mhm.  And remember, you can talk like this to us, but when you talk with others, need to do it out loud.  What does daddy do?”

“He a docer!  He make people feel better!”


Luna and her daddy like to go out for rides in the stroller most evenings.

Mom and Dad like taking over after that, giving Jeff and I time to spend together.  With this gorgeous weather, he and I really like spending time in the hot tub.  It’s very relaxing, with the stars twinkling overhead, crickets serenading us as water swirls around us.

“Mm, this is nice,” Jeff murmured.

“Yes, yes it is.”  The sun was beginning to set as we both just lounged against the side of tub.

I could feel Jeff eyeing me sideways even as I felt him sidle closer, sliding his arm around my shoulders and pulling me close.

“So, uh,” he began, leaning in close, “I talked with Dr. Bianchi today.”  I frowned; his tone was nervous with an undercurrent of what sounded like disappointment.

“And?  I thought the lists for the accepted residents weren’t supposed to come out until next week, right?”

“Yeah, that’s true.  But, I uh… well, he called me into his office early.”

I turned to him.  “Oh Jeff, I’m sorry.  There’s always next time.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know…”  He shrugged one shoulder.  “Then again, I won’t need it for next time.  Not since I’ll be a resident starting tomorrow!”

I started at him for a moment, a blank look on my face.  Then my eyes widened in glee.

“Wait!?  Really!?”  I slapped his shoulder even as he laughed like a loon.  “You’re such a brat!”

It took him a moment to get himself under control.  He had a grin from ear to ear.  “Yes, I am.  But I couldn’t resist.  Sorry love.”  He coaxed me back over to him.  “C’mon now, where’s my celebratory kiss?”

I was still glaring at him, though I just couldn’t keep it up.  I knew how much his career meant to him.  And he’d been working so hard for the limited number of residencies that were available.  So I had to give him his kiss.  And then we really celebrated.


Draco frowned at his buzzing phone, then read the caller ID.  His frown deepened.  He looked at his wife.  “I need to head to the station, ok?  Looks like they need my assistance with something.”  He smiled down at his sleeping granddaughter, who he had just laid in her crib.

“Is everything ok?”  Sophia’s voice was sharp.  Though she had forgiven Draco for not being honest with her, the entire episode had made her bitter toward those who ran the department.

“I honestly don’t know, babe.  I wish I did.”  He smiled at her.  “Hopefully, just need my help with something.  If it’s more, I’ll call and let ya know, alright?  I promise.”

Sophia worried her bottom lip, then she firmed it up and nodded.  “Alright.  I’m holding you to it.”  She stepped to him and gave him a hard hug.

Though Draco knew she was worried (and he really couldn’t blame her), he had to go.  He took his oath very seriously.  So he left the house, wondering what was so urgent.


He walked into the precinct, barely acknowledging those still at their desks.  He headed through the long, twisty halls to what looked like a storage closet.  But looks are deceiving.  After hitting a hidden switch, he found himself in a sparse office.  There was someone standing in front of the single desk, like they had been expecting him.  “What gives, Faye?” he demanded, his voice unusually harsh as he strode right up to her.  “Why are you calling me out in the middle of the night?  I told you that the last assignment was it!  You- and the brass- agreed!”

“Draco, please have a seat, ok?” Faye murmured, indicating the chair, her face unreadable.

But Draco knew her well enough, and could sense that there was definitely something up.  Sighing, he dropped into the visitor chair as she stepped behind her desk, though she didn’t take the chair.

She turned away, looking at a spot on the wall.  “Draco, I know what you went through after the last assignment.  I was there… Look, we’re partners and I’d have told the brass to take this latest assignment and stuff it… if I didn’t know that you’d at least want to know about it.  If you decide that you don’t want it, I’ll go to them and tell them just that.  But, I know how much you hate to leave things unfinished.”

Now she did turn to face him.

Draco’s gaze sharpened.  “You found them.  You know where it was all coming from now, don’t you?”

Faye sighed.  She should have known he’d know before she could say it.  “Yes, we do.”

“Where?  Who?”

“We were finally able to track it to Bridgeport.  And it goes to the top, the cream of the crop there, Draco.”

“Slayer.  It’s Slayer!  We always suspected, but could never prove anything!”  He looked at her face.  “We still can’t prove it, can we?  Not enough to make an arrest.”

Faye shook her head.  “No.  That’s… what this assignment is for.  To get proof.  You’re the best we have, Draco.  You can get in there and get out better than anyone.”

“And you need me for another reason: I’m one of the few that might have a chance again a vampire,” he told her point blank.

“There’s that too, though frankly that’s not as important.  I want you to meet your partner for this.  He’s a LT in the Bridgeport police.”

As if on cue, the door opened and a figure walked in.

“Draco Wyvern, this is William Fangmann,” Faye introduced the two of them.  “He’ll be your contact while in Bridgeport.”

Draco took his hand and nodded in greeting, then looked at Faye.  “Alright.  I’m in.”


A/N:  I’m setting things up for the next couple of chapters.  I used Pose Player heavily and it’s my first time experimenting.  I’m also trying to do something else that Trip is helping me with, but not sure how long it could take, just as a warning.