Safe Harbor

So I made my way back into Harlem, I had already visited Armande once this week and inquired about the dragons in his area. He had mentioned one was taking up safe harbor in the building recalling he always smelled like burning things. Which was a dragon thing so nothing really to worry about. I had reassured him. But now maybe, not so sure if he was part of this bigger conspiracy by the Last Phoenix then maybe he wasn’t quite so safe.

The problem though, before Armande would let me take him in I’d have to prove I had a cause. That was the point of Safe Harbor. And I really didn’t want to be on Armande’s bad side. Our alliance was important and i wouldn’t destroy it for one single use. So right now I just wanted to talk to him. It was the middle of the day Armande would be asleep, or at the very least in a catatonic state. I’d have to talk to his humans. Loyal servants he called them. But they were bound by nothing more than their paychecks.

Cari was the only vampire I knew who kept her food close at hand – feeding from only the same people for as long as they wanted to reap the benefits of immortality. Her current crew didn’t look like it was going anywhere soon. They all thrived and were finding answers they sought.

And Armande wasn’t strong enough to command that sort of power. He was a weak vampire in comparison, but he had Del Figlio and Il Cane’s backing thus he was powerful. More powerful than Bernstein who ruled the Underworld. Which was to say that the tunnels and sewer systems under New York City were his domain. Under all the island was his turf. If it was dark it was Bernstein’s domain. Bernstein was a unique vampire. One my father was getting to know quite intimately. They had a sort of alliance thanks to me. Bernstein was the defacto leader of the cursed vampires having been curse himself thousands of years ago. Those that follow Bernstein or of his bloodline. Those he turned, and those that they turned, all followed him. They are the vampires that the stories are told about. The ones that humans make up stories. The curse can deform a bloodline, making nosferatu – the ugly horrid bat like creatures from the movies. Count Dracula was a cursed vampire. Vladimir the Impaler was cursed by a wicca to live forever in the darkness drinking the blood of his enemies. Such as the story goes.

Bernstein was a human vampire hunter – you know like Van Helsing, who was a real man. A real human hunter. They had both been taught by the Venatori to hunt monsters. But Bernstein tried to kill a witch too powerful for him. She cursed him to live as one of the things he hated most. Dad found a connection with him. And much of that he was using to find a connection with me. Dad wasn’t just killing vampires anymore. But he wasn’t saving them either. He had learned to work with Bernstein. They took care of the vampires making problems – together. Even Emilio Vega was taking a lesser role in those trips.

Not that Emilio was a bad person. But he didn’t need to temper my father then. So he let him be free. For once in their lives they were working separately. And it was doing their friendship a great deal of good. My father is a hard friend to have. Just like I am. We are so similar it’s not even a joke anymore.

My thoughts took me through the AU building, on to the subway and now I was standing in front of the Safe Harbor building wondering which building this number emeniated from. So the best thing to do was ask. Who, though that was the question. I could feel all sorts of powers inside – vampire, theiran, dragon, and even a few things I didn’t want to – demons and angels were not something to mess with.

I figured someone would find me. If not I’d ring the phone in the dragon pockets of magic. I was certain it was a dragon. But Val was working with dragons, maybe some of the other shady characters were too.

The front door was propped open with a rock. I kicked the rock out of the door jamb so it would shut behind me. The lobby wasn’t really a lobby like I was used to. It was just a large opening with a bunch of mail boxes and a door to the front office, which was closed. The large area opened into halls that led to stairs and elevators and other rooms. I closed my eyes then let my senses go and felt a sort of freedom I hadn’t before. Like all that bottled up pain was fleeing as my senses grew stronger. I felt all sorts of magical energies. I’d been taught to keep them to myself. But I found my senses to be useful. So I never listened. It was one reason why I was such a good fighter against the Venatori. Why they underestimated me despite my lack of speed and agility.

I wasn’t near dragon so I walked to the third floor. I was pretty sure that Armande had mentioned that. Or many it was the feeling of different. But that’s where I went. I didn’t really open my eyes to see where I was going. I could easily find my way with just the extra senses. It was an odd situation when I was in a building. Not something I’d do outside where I could run into the middle of the street or something, or underneath something that was about to fall. It was dangerous to do. But I was feeling too much, too many senses on top of my already raw emotions. I was surprised I was holding together.

A small voice inside said. ‘You have people who love you, that’s why’. My inner self was far more confident in that than I was. But the next moment it would be telling me I was a failure and that I didn’t deserve to live. The mind is a funny thing.

There was actually no people around as I slowly walked the third floor. Watching and waiting for the thing I was looking for. Which I didn’t really know what I was looking for, but I’d find it eventually. I knew that much.

So when I stopped in front of plain brown door I knew something or someone was behind this door that was important. I felt dragon. I smelt sulfur and other things – dragon things.

Well Done IT

I had things to do, but I looked around my new place. It was different. But it was starting to smell like home. I took a quick shower and changed into clean clothes. I loved my room. Drake’s room was full of windows. The twins didn’t have as many but there was plenty of light in the whole place. Lots of space. There was more than enough space in my bedroom to add chairs and things, but I liked having the space for doing my yoga, though that might disturb my bed mate?

I sighed as I reminded myself yet again, that Alex wasn’t responding to my texts. With that note of despair I headed to the AU building. It was a actual walk and nice too. I took 30 flights of stairs down, and then the 40 plus to go to my desk. It was a good workout. If I ran it, it might be better too. It was a thought.

I sat down at my desk and noticed my stack hadn’t changed at all. Though my father still had a stack of stuff for me to look at. Vampire things. I grabbed the files, and headed to the cafeteria. I hated working at the desk. It was in the middle of everything and people liked to stop and read over my shoulder. I hated that.

At least in the cafeteria most people were too busy eating to do anything else. Especially pay attention to someone doing work while nursing a snack. I wasn’t hungry but I grabbed a bottle of water and sat down with my back to the cafeteria line. I expected people to sit around me so I made sure I was only taking up so much space.

The things my father wanted to know was nothing more than for me to figure out what the hell they were doing in such and such district. There was a commune of humans were worshiping them like gods. Which was about right for that district, it housed the only Church of the Damned in New York City. It was the only one Desmond, Cari and Ant allowed in the city. It was the top side of Harlem and it was benign. They didn’t turn anyone against their will and they were careful to watch their fledglings. I’d never had any problems with them.

I was amused that my father had just not found them being the resident vampire hunter in the City. But with the influx of supernatural I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later. I wrote down a bunch of notes for my father. Mostly pertaining to who was who in the Church of the Damned and who to contact if a fledgling was outside of Harlem.

I also noted to my father that if he asked for their ID they’d give him one that said exactly what faction and bloodline they were apart of. It wasn’t common knowledge, but my father was starting to lean the right way in terms of how he handled the supernatural beings. I guess I wasn’t always talking hot air. Even though he liked to accuse me of it.

There was paperwork to fill out regarding Naomi and her husband. And an update on Drake’s testing. He was having to go to the Golden Clan’s citadel in order to be properly tested per his mother’s instructions. I was assured he’d be returned to me in good health with the proper insignia branded on his chest. That was not something I was happy with. Branding a three year old for life? I almost stormed out of the place but there really was no point in it. I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t know who to talk to. Fuck, even if I did what was I going to do? I didn’t meddle in supernatural affairs unless they related to the Clandestine Providence and branding a three year old was hardly going to shatter the human belief system.

Fuck! I was gonna go insane with that. My phone rang and I was grateful for the distraction. I answered without thinking, though I hoped to hear the voice of a certain blue eyed man on the other side but it was Nate, “Hey Nox.”

“Hey Nate. How you doing?”

“I’m doing great! I also have great news for you.”

“Tell me you have a the location of a blue eyed man and he’s heading this direction?” I joked.

Nate laughed. “No. Who you looking for?”

I shrugged, but Nate couldn’t see it. “No one. What do you have for me, Nate?” I asked.

“I have a list of addresses from the numbers you gave me a few days ago.” My phone beeped with a new text. “I sent you the information. I’m so surprised Mom let me have a cell phone. Well not Mom, more Dad. You haven’t rubbed off on Dad at all. Mom likes you.”

I grinned. “I like your Mom. Your Dad reminds me of everyone else here.” I said. “Thank you Nate. I’m glad you worked that fast for me.”

Nate chuckled. “It wasn’t all for you, ya know? This was the most exciting thing I had to do.”

“Really?”

“I have reports to type up. Fun.”

“Sounds great and boring and I’m glad I only have to deal with my own reports.” I said.

“You get to go hunting monsters and skirt around the city.” Nate awed.

I sighed, “I don’t hunt monsters. I help supernatural beings.”

“I know. It’s so cool.”

I sighed. “You can still be a hunter, you have two years left yet to finish.”

“I can’t be a hunter, my father would kill me.”

“You don’t have to do what your father says.”

“So says the boy with no family.” He chuckled. “Mr. Vega, let you do whatever you wanted.”

I laughed. “I was nothing but a nuisance, Dorian just did that to get rid of me.”

“Still.” Nate said with a sigh, “I have to get back to those reports. They don’t type themselves.”

“It’ll get better. I promise.”

Nate signed off and I was left alone with my thoughts on how I was raised and how I needed to make sure Drake felt loved. I never had. I sighed as I looked at the addresses. The very first one I knew. Well fuck!

Breakfast with Family

Breakfast With Family
I woke with a start curled against Rider on the bottom bunk. My back was sore and I was breathing harder because of the nightmare I’d just woken up to. But my back wasn’t bleeding. I shoved Rider and he groaned as he fell out of bed. “Shit, Nox!”

“Sorry. I can’t move.”

Laker hung down from the top bunk with a grin. “That was funny.”

I grinned at my brothers. “You hungry?”

Both of them said at the same time, “Always.”

“Grab showers and I’ll make you food. Mia and Sage are still here with Naya.”

“She’s a sweetie.” Rider said as he grabbed clean clothes.

Laker groaned. “I don’t wanna Dad.” Then burst into laughter. “Mind if I use your shower?”

“Don’t wake the baby.” I said as I crawled out of the bottom bunk bed. This was the first time cooking for real in my apartment. The pumpkin pie filling didn’t really count as cooking even though I did use a pan to make it.

The one good thing about my brothers is they were used to getting up at the ass crack of dawn with me. Mostly because that’s what they had to do on a normal day to get to school on time. Living in the middle of nowhere meant early rise for them and they only had one bathroom.

I made breakfast. It was simple eggs, bacon and toast. There was a roll of cinnamon rolls that someone had brought and I made them too. The soft scent of cinnamon permated my kitchen and the rest of my house and I knew exactly why they’d left them in my fridge – calming. I didn’t know who it was and it didn’t really matter. It was someone who knew me and knew me well enough to understand that I was a mess.

I glanced at my phone, still no response from Alex.

After I had everything finished I took a picture of a plate cinnamon roll and all. Then sent Alex a text.

N: Look what you are missing.

I shredded some bacon and left overs for Fee and then went to sit outside on my balcony. I was finding being outside more calming than sitting at my dining room table. On my plate was also a healthy scoop of my pumpkin pie filling. I was going to have to make more. I might never go to Bonnie’s again.

But I knew that was a lie. I heard the twins joking as they walked into the living space and grabbed their own food. I probably needed to make more than I did with two growing sixteen year old spending the next month or more with me. We’d get through this change together I guessed.

My brothers came out with me with their heaping plates. There was a scramble for the last seat which ended up with both of them laughing as they fought over the chair. Rider shoved Laker and Laker pushed at his brother. Rider won the chair when he licked his brothers hand. So gross.

Laker thought the same thing and jerked away relinquishing the chair to his cheating brother. He grumbled about cheating as he sat down with his back to the railing. “This is a nice place, Nox. And way up here it’s almost quiet.”

I nodded. “I like it up here.”

“And you are so afraid of heights too.”

I grinned. “Heights never stopped me.”

“That’s what Mom used to say too. Said that near death experience made you afraid, but if something happened you were always right there doing what needed to be done.”

I sighed. And Rider looked at me with a frown. “Mom was just afraid, Nox. She loved you. Couldn’t say enough good things about you. She hated it, every day. We were afraid we’d never live up to you.”

“She should have told me herself instead of hating me till the day she died.”

“She was afraid more. That’s all. But she forgot some days, but when you were there, she saw nothing but a monster. She couldn’t shake it. We know she loved you.”

I shrugged. “Doesn’t matter now.”

“No.” Rider said. “But it does matter to us, that you…”

I interrupted my little brother. “I would never hold it against you. Yeah at first I was mad that she had a whole other life without me. But I can’t be mad at you. Anymore than I’m mad at Jesse or at my Dad. I just wished she knew I’d forgiven her.”

My brothers smiled. “She knew.”

By the time we finished eating, Sage was shuffling out of the bedroom. “Nox?”

“Out here.”

Rider took my plate and he pulled his brother to his feet. “We are going to go see what’s around the new neighborhood, maybe find a pick up game or something.”

“Make sure you take your phones.”

“Will do Dad.” Laker grinned as he closed the glass door behind him.

“You like it out here huh?” Sage asked.

“It’s calming.”

Sage nodded, “No urge to jump?”

I shook my head. “No I’ll stay here where I don’t worry anyone, and I don’t accidentally die.”

Sage grinned. “Good.” He handed me the jump drive I’d given him two days ago. “I had it done yesterday morning before your brother’s called. I knew you weren’t going to work on your birthday, but I knew if I gave it back to you, you would work. You needed a chill day.”

“Thanks. What did you find out?” I asked.

“Well, it’s not really a means of stealing anything. It’s more like they were monitoring things, and setting up back doors all around the City. I think they are looking for a backdoor into the Stock Exchange. There were several key acronyms that I recognized. Like they were looking to take advantage of the fluctuations in the market. It’d be perfect to destabilize the economy as well as make someone rich. But I’m not stock man. I just know what the code was doing. The encryption was tight.”

“But you hacked it.”

Sage grinned, “Of course I did. Computers talk to me, doncha know.”

I echoed his grin and nodded. “Thanks Sage. I can’t imagine what the dragons would want to do with this particular device. They don’t usually hoard money. And destabilizing our world doesn’t seem like the best thing in the world to do.”

“Unless they want the supernatural world to take over – create a safety net of magic. We can fix things, run things, humans may be the dominant race but we unknown things can kill you in an instant.”

“But why now? And why dragons? They will outlive us all.”

Sage shrugged. “Dad and Adrian keep saying it’s the time of prophecy. So maybe the dragons are taking advantage of that.”

“Time of prophecy as, in things are already written? That’s bullshit.” I said.

Sage shook his head. “I don’t know. Fate, destiny, the will of god seems very Venatori if you ask me.”

I laughed. “Shows how much you know. The Venatori don’t believe in fate or destiny. There is no god. No divine providence.”

“But there is the Clandestine law.”

“Which only states that we are to stay hidden in order to protect humanity. And it’s not a Venatori thing, it’s a supernatural law. The minute the Clandestine Providence is broken is the minute that everything we know dies. Wolves will be hunted for their pelts. Vampires will kill all the humans for food. There will be chaos.”

“And if someone say the dragons were to be peacekeepers like the Venatori?”

I laughed, “You honestly think that the Dragons can do any better than the Venatori? Eventually it’ll all end up the same. We can’t have one race rule them all.”

“Your way is better, but still the humans.”

“The humans what? Need to know? Or do we keep them safe? They are such a fragile race, any one of us could hurt them.”

“But there are so many of them.”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. We each need to govern our own and have a unifying law to protect us all. Which is what the Clandestine Providence was supposed to be.”

Mia stuck her head out, “Hey Sage, you want a ride home? Me and Naya need to get back to Brooklyn.”

“Sure.” Sage stood up and placed a kiss on my right temple. “I love you, no matter what. Call me if you need anything Nox.”

“Thanks you two.”

Mia pressed a kiss to my forehead and dropped a small bundle in my lap and she giggled. “Hey sweetheart.” I gave her a big kiss on the cheek and she giggled a little more. “You be good for your mama.”

“I will.” She held her hands up for her mom to grab and Mia and Sage waved as they left me alone in my new apartment. I sighed as I stared at the USB drive in my hand. I didn’t know what their game was, but at least I knew I something more was going on.

Nightmares and Comfort Foods

By the time I got back to my apartment both Sage and Mia were asleep with Naya in my bed. I sighed then grabbed another shower. At least they left me space, but then they knew better than to make me sleep in the middle of the bed too. But that’s where they had me.

With a pair of clean boxers and a tank top on I crawled into bed in front of Sage. Naya was sprawled across the middle of the bed. I curled down next to Sage and then lifted the little girl on to my chest where she pressed he head into my chest. Mia’s eyes blinked open at me as she moved closer, “There you are. You want your side?”

I shook my head. “I’ll okay.”

She grinned as her arm fell across the back of her daughter. Sage had shifted closer oblivious to Mia’s hand across my body. He was raised in a wolf pack but couldn’t stand to be touched. It had been hell on him until he met me. I could be in the middle of his puppy pile and he could touch me. He got all the comforts of family he wanted without all the hassle.

I closed my eyes and a pair of elusive blue eyes floated in my vision.

He laughed at me. “So pathetic. I could never love you.” Visions of Alex shoving me, laughing at things I did. And then he reached into my chest and I heard and felt him pull my heart of my chest. It beat in his hands. “I’d thought it be bigger.” he said just before my eyes popped open. It was hard to breath, I felt a weight on my chest making it even worse. Sage’s hand clamped on my shoulder and Mia’s rubbed my arm. Both of them shushing and reassuring me in their sleep. Like they’d done so many times before that. I couldn’t stay lodged between them. I sat up with Naya in my arms and rolled her over on top of her mother then climbed out of bed over the foot of the bed.

The apartment was silent. It was strange walking across the dark wood floors with nothing more than my own eyes to guid me. Fee was curled up on the couch. I sat down next to her and ran my fingers over her stiff coat. She purred absently then quieted as her dreams took her over again.

I hung my head against the back of the couch and stared at the ceiling. I can say one thing about having a party, my apartment smelled more like home. Not perfect, but close.

I didn’t know what time it was, but it didn’t matter. I wasn’t going to sleep. I was dreaming of Alex. I was surprised I hadn’t been beaten by the blue eyed demon. Maybe it decided to change tactics since my worst nightmare was Alex rejecting me. I glanced at my phone and saw there were no missed messages.

I sluggishly pulled myself off the couch and into my new kitchen and started rummaging through Henry’s box of goodies. Only to find a can of pumpkin puree. I’d never been much of a baker, and really I didn’t need to make a crust, that was just added carbs.

I flipped open my browser on my phone and started a search for the best pumpkin pie recipe on the internet.

I brewed a pot of coffee while I searched. I drank two cups before I was busy in my kitchen making the can of pumpkin puree into pumpkin pie filling. Only thing I needed was whipped cream, but I could make that from scratch too I had heavy cream for Fee. She’d be pissed I used it all, but I’d make it up to her.

Two pots of coffee later, and half a pie’s worth of pumpkin pie later the first soul roused. Rider was stretching as walked into the living room area. “What time is it?”

I shrugged. “No idea.”

“You been up all night?” my little brother asked concerned.

I shrugged again. “Yeah I think so.”

“Dad’s been keeping weird hours lately. I though it’d be different here. You always slept until 4am at least.”

“Sorry.” I apologized. “New place. I’m not used to it yet.”

“Has nothing to do with the guy who didn’t who up?”

“Has everything to do with that, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’d still be a mess.”

Rider grinned as he sat down and took my spoon from my long fingers. “Pumpkn pie?”

“My favorite.”

Rider nodded. “I know, but where you’d get it.”

“I made it.”

“There is no crust.”

I nodded, “I’m not a baker, and I really only like the filling anyway.”

“Smart. Less carbs too.” He smiled. “Dad says you are a bad influence.”

“Why?”

“Cause Laker and I started going to the gym about a year ago. We did it so we could play football, but then we decided soccer was better.”

“You like playing?” I asked.

He nodded. “It’s nice. But I like running, and actually like just lifting heavy things.”

I grinned. “That’s what I like too.”

“But you do it to keep in shape.”

“Actually I do it cause it keeps me sane.”

Rider sighed, “You okay?”

I shrugged, “I dunno.”

“Go back to bed Nox.” Rider said as he pulled the bowl away from me and got up to put it in the fridge.

I watched him, he sighed and walked around the table and pulled me out of my chair. “Come on.”

Rider didn’t even bother taking me to my room, he shoved me under the bottom bunk and crawled in after me. “Sleep, now.”

I listened, but only because once I was lying on the bed I yawned and I was tired. Rider let me curl around him and I whispered, “I thought I was supposed to be the big brother here.”

He laughed, “You are. But sometimes you need someone to take care of you. And that’s why we are here.”

I pressed a kiss to the back of his neck which Rider promptly wiped off. “Thanks.” I whispered as I drifted off into the darkness. I knew I’d have a nightmare, but I was too tired to care.

Gauging Interest

I’ve mentioned before that AJ is actually completely reworking Darwynn’s Law, which means that DL needs a new outline, and AJ can’t outline it until we get done with The Last Phoenix. So I’m gonna ask my faithful readers, if you’d be interested in seeing the story from Alex’s PoV?

AJ will share a few other bits and peices of the story that aren’t Alex’s PoV too. There will be a lot of repetative conversations you’ll have read except with Alex’s PoV.

This will give AJ time to flesh out DL correctly and still provide you with stories to read.

Comments baby! Let me know if this would interest you. Ambrose I’m looking at you since I know you’ll comment. I know there others of you who read regularly please don’t be afraid to comment. I won’t bite, I promise. Not even if you ask! Though I won’t say the same for Alex :)

We still got a bit to go with The Last Phoenix, AJ hasn’t finished it yet, but it’s getting there so I’m asking now before I run out of story.

Joe, The Doorman

Sage and Mia were cleaning my apartment, not that it was a disaster when I walked out in shorts and a t-shirt carrying the box I’d found in Colorado. I was hesitant to give it back to Alex. I didn’t want him to think I didn’t want it, or him. I needed to explain. I don’t know why I took it, or why I was giving it back. Maybe it was just an excuse to see him.

I grabbed a disposable plate and a slice of chocolate cake and wrapped it up then headed down the stairs to Alex’s apartment. I walked. I was dressed for a run but I walked. I didn’t want to mess up the cake – at least that was my excuse.

Alex’s building came into view and I stalled outside a coffee shop. Why was I nervous? But I was, my hands were shaking and my heart was pounding in my chest. I thought about turning around several times before I went inside the coffee shop and ordered two coffees. I sat down with my little bundles and sipped at one. The other sat staring at me while I waited to calm down. I should just go home. Alex would call me if he wanted to see me.

But he got mad the last time I didn’t call. Fuck! Why was he so confusing?

I sucked it up finished my coffee and took my stuff across the street to Alex’s building. The man at the front door asked me, “Who are you coming to see?”

I gave him a friendly smile. “Joe, right?” He wasn’t wearing a name tag, but I vaguely remember something like that. “I’m here to see Alex Kennedy.”

The man nodded but frowned at my request. “He’s not here. I haven’t seen him all day. Is there anything I can help you with?”

I sighed. “Any idea when he might be back?”

The man looked at me with a curious gaze, but he hid what he was thinking, “I don’t know. He keeps odd hours, sometimes I don’t see him for weeks.”

Well fuck. I sighed. I knew he wasn’t telling me the whole truth but I couldn’t prove it much less say anything. “Alright. Do you have a parcel delivery or holding location?”

“Of course.”

“Is it safe? I want to leave something that’s irreplaceable. If not I’ll stop by again some other time.”

“It is secure, only accessible by staff, and we have a safe if you’d prefer.”

“Could you put it in his apartment?” I asked hopeful.

“I could have that done for you.” He smile.

“Great. Do I need to fill out anything?”

“No, step inside I’ll take care of it right away.” I followed Joe inside.

“Thanks.” I said as Joe stepped around the front desk and set Alex’s box on top. “If he’s not here then he can’t drink the coffee or eat the birthday cake, so you might as well have it.” I said pushing the treat towards the door man.

“I couldn’t.”

I laughed. “The cake will probably go to waste at my apartment and I don’t drink cream with two sugars.” I visibly shuddered at the thought.

“Is it hot?”

I nodded, “I just came from across the street.”

“If you are sure.” He said.

“I am.”

A man came from inside the back room. “Take this box up to Mr. Kennedy’s apartment.” he handed the man a key card and he was off towards the elevator.

“Thanks Joe.” I said.

He waved and made a note in a book as I turned to leave. I wasn’t feeling any better, but I stopped outside the door and leaned against the rough rock wall and sent Alex a text.

N: Your doorman is awesome. I had him deliver your box to your apartment. I intended to give them to you five years ago, but you never showed up. I didn’t mean to keep them. I just wanted proof of who I was. I have so many questions about the box. Maybe you’ll let me ask those questions sometime.

I didn’t think he’d ever let me ask those questions. He didn’t like talking about himself. Didn’t want to open up. Which is fine with me, except he bitched about me not caring. Alex was so fucking confusing.

I stared at my phone for another ten minutes hoping for a response but got nothing. I pushed away from the wall then ran. I ran for two hours…

Family and Friends

It was pretty much like my last birthday actually. Except this time we were at my apartment and everyone was a lot more casual. Dorian and Marco were curled up together on my couch with Aiden and Drake playing on the video game system I now apparently owned. They were dueling cookie monsters or something. I had no idea.

Ryan was chatting with Sage. I didn’t see Dee anywhere. Naya was watching the boys play video games. My brothers were flirting with Mia and she was hamming it up as usual.

My Dad and Margo were chatting at the dining room table. Nate and Nick were chatting while Henry was in the kitchen. Ant whispered, “You have a lot of love already Nox.”

I nodded. And I agreed. But none of this was home. Dorian came the closest. I missed my apartment. Fee was meowing at the door. “I know sweety, I don’t know if the stone will work. You’ll have to deal with me being your butler.”

She tossed her tail in the air as she walked down the hall. She was going to have a difficult time living in human areas, but maybe it would all work out.

One good thing about today, I hadn’t had to cook. Ant was off chatting with someone else as I stepped into the kitchen for my twentieth coffee of the day. I yawned again as I poured myself a cup. It hadn’t been sitting long, the pot was still full.

Henry grinned at me, “You’ve seen better days.”

I nodded. “The whole moving thing is a bit much.”

“Nick said you’d be a mess. I don’t think I believed him. I’ve never seen you quite so … disheveled.”

I laughed. “I just got out of the shower.”

Henry smiled. “Yeah, I can see that, but that wasn’t what I meant. You’re wearing a t-shirt, shorts, no socks and shoes.”

“You mean you’ve never seen me relax before?”

Henry nodded. “Yeah. I guess we’ve never actually spent time in your comfort zone before.”

“This isn’t exactly my comfort zone right now.”

“That’s why we are here, making it home.”

“House warming parties are meant to do that. Notice all the new little things you have. The Xbox for one? But your dad brought that plant by the door. He said Margo picked it out specifically because it had anxiety reducing plants in it. I think he said there was a snake plant, dracaena and a areca palm. Not that he knew what any of it was. I think your little brothers, who oh my god, look exactly the same, I can’t tell them apart.”

I grinned at him and pointed out Laker, and then Rider. “How the hell do you know?”

I laughed, “It’s a talent I have.” I didn’t want to explain the patterns to Henry. He had a hard enough time living in our world without me trying to explain the things I see.

Henry continued, “But they bought you a grill that is out on your balcony. They said it was the only thing you didn’t have yet. Seems Dorian had already furnished your place.”

Henry pointed to the box on the counter. “Nick said he didn’t have any clue what to get you, so I went to the grocery store and bought things you’d use. A replenishing of your stocks so to speak for all the times you cook for everyone. I picked up a few bottles of wine and I think there is a sixer of Irish Red in your fridge now.”

“You are a god.” I pressed a kiss to his cheek and then headed to the fridge for a beer. I didn’t drink to get drunk, but fuck I needed to relax.

Nick walked in and pressed a kiss to his boyfriends lips and I was jealous. Not because he was kissing Henry but because I didn’t have my own beau with me. Fuck, Alex, where the hell are you?

Nick shook his head, “Man bro, you got it bad.”

“Yeah. I’ll get over it.” I grinned and left the love birds to their flirting and made the rounds.

I thanked everyone for coming. We chatted about this that and everything else. And after an hour of mingling I was burnt. I found myself outside on the balcony alone. Well not exactly alone, I had Naya curled up in my lap, she’d fallen asleep ten minutes into our relaxing sit down. The balcony door was cracked open and I could hear the party breaking up. I guess my leaving it kinda singled everyone it was time to go.

Drake pushed open the sliding glass door and climbed into my lap only slightly disturbing the sleeping princess in my arms. “Mr. Dorian is taking me back. He says next time I can stay. But tonight no.”

I nodded. “That’s probably for the best, I’m a mess.”

Drake giggled. “You fine.” He pressed a kiss to my cheek. “Bye. I get to see Mommy tomorrow morning.” He sounded happy. But it made me sad.

“That’s good, I want to hear about it okay?”

He nodded emphatically and slithered off my lap with a many fingered wiggly wave and closed the door behind him. The noise from inside was muffled now with the door closed, but I knew only Ant, Sage and Mia were left, now that Dorian and the boys had left.

Rider and Laker must already be in their room. I wondered if they’d separated or taken the bunks as Dorian intended. I guess I’d find out later.

It was dark and quiet out on the balcony and I was alone with my thoughts. The door slid open behind me and I smelled a burning candle. Mia presented me with a single piece of chocolate cake with a single candle blowing in the wind. “Make a wish.”

My wish was simple. I wish Alex were here. I blew the candle out, but knew no matter how much I wished it wasn’t going to happen. Alex hadn’t called all day. Not that I expected it. Mia handed Sage my cake and pulled her sleeping daughter out of my lap and into the living room to lie her down on the couch while the three of us sat outside. Sage took up a seat on the floor leaning against the railing. Leaving Mia to the other seat.

Ant spoke from the open doorway. “Everyone’s gone, you two need a ride home?”

Sage shook his head, “Nah, I’m gonna stay the night. You could check on my wife.”

Ant looked to Mia, “I’m staying too. Jace is out with the guys, I already left him a message.”

Ant nodded and put his hands on my shoulders. “I guess I don’t need to stay.” He squeezed my shoulders then he stepped outside sliding the door mostly closed and then found a shadow and was gone.

“So strange when he does that.” Mia said.

“Why are you two staying?” i asked. “You have lives to get back to.”

Sage shook his head, “Nox, this is hard on you. We know that. We can’t leave you here alone.”

“I won’t be alone. Fee is here, so are Rider and Laker.”

Mia laughed, “Like your brothers know what to do when you are having a panic attack at 4 in the morning because there is a cobweb in the corner of your bathroom.”

“Fuck you! I’m not that bad.”

Mia giggled. “Yes, Nox you are.”

“I don’t get bent out of shape for a cobweb.”

Sage laughed, “No, just a dirty plate in the sink, or a stray cup on the counter. We cleaned up to the best of our ability. But it’s new for us here too. And if it’s new for us, it’s gotta be fucking freaking you out.”

I sighed. “Anyway, thanks. For everything,” I said. “I should go for a run.”

Sage nodded, “We’ll finish cleaning up and we’ll be here when you get back. If you go see Alex, and stay there, call us so we can go home. Alright?”

I nodded, “How does everyone know his name?”

“Your brothers wouldn’t shut up about him. Ant filled us in a little too.”

“Well fuck!” I said.

“Nothing bad.” Mia said. “Just that he’s the one who broke you into tiny little pieces before and he’s doing it again.”

“Yeah that’s not bad.” I said as I pushed open the glass door. “I’ll have to thank him later for that.”

I didn’t wait around for them to scrabble after me and apologize or explain. I was in my room with the door closed changing when I thought maybe I should go see if Alex was around. Give him back his things. I could take him some chocolate cake too, god knows there was enough left over.