Happy Reunion

Happy Reunion
I sat in the cafe for a little while longer before I grabbed Drake’s things and slid out of the bench dropping a fifty on the table for the girl I didn’t know.

I tucked the napkin full of information into my pocket as I walked. I tried hard not think about the last time I made this walk. Though we had made a stop at the park and as usual it had ended badly. But why on this fucking earth did I keep wanting to talk to him. To see Alex made me happy, even though we always fought. Fuck!

I couldn’t keep him from my head. The things he’d said, what I hadn’t done. All the shit that piled on top of me. I hadn’t cared enough, somehow I had lost sight of his feelings. And that was killing me more than anything. I knew I was a fucked up mess. Why would I want to put someone else through it too. I glanced at my silent phone – maybe I should.

I brooded the whole way. My talk with Margo and then later with Tony only confirmed one thing, that I needed to make changes if I ever wanted someone to love me.

The AU building was home. It towered in the sky in stark contrast to the other buildings. It was home and yet so much less than that too. I took the elevator. I watched the ground, and all the people walking in the lobby get smaller. I could feel my heart racing in my chest. But I forced myself. Made myself deal with it. I’d done it before, but always reverted back to my usual coping mechanism. I had to find other ways. Show it less, be normal…

I continued going up after I reached HQ, I wanted to drop these things off with the little Dragon before I went and started the real work of tracking these numbers down. The elevator opened up to the desk where the same woman who had been here yesterday sat. Her name was Barbara, Alex had pulled it from her head. “Good morning, Barbara.” I said with a perky voice. I may not feel it, but I was good at covering up how I really felt. I’d been doing it for years, the class clown when all I wanted to do was curl up and die.

She looked at me and frowned, “You shouldn’t be here, you got me in trouble.”

I sighed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. I just thought it would be a good idea for Drake to see his mother one last time before her execution.”

The woman frowned, “He’s doing better since you did that.”

I held up his things. “I brought him some of his things, if you’d make sure he got them. But I’d like to give him some of them personally.”

She stood up and took his things and was tagging them before she looked at me. “He’s in class right now. He has more control than some of the others there, so they felt safe letting him be with other potential fire starters. And teachers who expect it.”

I nodded. “Can I go see them?”

She pointed in the direction of the day car rooms. “Orange Door.” she said and smirked.

“Thank you.” I said as headed down the corridor. I hadn’t spent any time in the toddler section. I was five when I came, I went directly into regular classes once I’d been cleared.”

The orange door was on a half walled room. the top half of the wall was covered with one way glass. And fireproof. Just in case. Everything in the room was designed to reduce the risk of fire. Three were several rooms like that, which meant it wasn’t the most comforting of places to be and I felt my heart start to race as I knocked on the door.

A woman came over to the door and poked her head out. “Hi. I’m sorry to interrupted, but there’s a little boy in there, he’s new I was hoping I could take a few moments of you class time to talk to him.”

She opened the door wider. “Nox?”

I nodded. “It’s me Trica. Beatrice Holland. We had class together.”

I nodded as if I remembered her. She added, “I lost a lot of weight. Turns out sometimes we get a human metabolism and we have to learn to eat like them.”

I nodded knowingly at that. I did that, but I was half human, she was full Venatori. I still didn’t remember her. “Come on in.” She said and stepped aside of the orange door and I shuddered. I really hated these rooms. I hated them, but I forced my feet forward and I headed into the room.

As soon as I stepped inside a little boy was flinging his arms around me. I looked down to see orange eyes blinking up at me. “Hey little man.” I said and knelt down for a proper hug. “How are you doing?”

“I’s good. I get to play with kids.” He sounded so happy.

“I’m so glad for you.” I held up his blanket and his bright grin told me he was happier to see that. “I thought you might like some of your things.”

He took the blanket and pulled it to his face and buried himself in it. He took a big whiff of it. I totally got it. Then I held up Snoopy and he grabbed the stuffed toy and swung him around in a circle dancing happily. I pulled out my phone and grabbed a picture of Drake dancing around with his Snoopy Dog. I wanted to send it to Alex later, “Did I do good?” I asked as I tried to push Alex from my head.

He nodded emphatically. “Good.” He wrapped his arms around my neck. “Tanks.” He squeezed tight and the skipped off to the other kids and I saw the little girl who had turned her hair purple, she was talking with animation to one of the other boys, but I couldn’t see his face for all the moving that the girl did.

I stood up. “See ya Drake.” He gave me a wave.

Trica walked me to the door. “We should get together sometime Nox.” She said twirling her hair. Clearly flirting with me.

“Maybe.” I said. “Thanks for letting me see him. You know they can all touch all the elements. I imagine most of them have already sparked, just not with fire. I already know the girl Cass can control part of it. I watched her copy one of my tricks.”

She turned to look at the group of kids. “They all have potential but none of them have sparked.”

I shrugged. She didn’t have to believe me. I knew what I did. I would need to tell Dorian.

Manhattan Wolfpack

I picked up the phone, “Liam, back to me already.”

The werewolf on the other side was not Liam, “Liam’s a little busy running an errand for me. I’ll meet you where you usually meet him at.” Dom didn’t even wait for me to acknowledge the message before he hung up. Something had him agitated and I was guess it had to do with my message and why he’d taken Liam’s phone to call me. This wasn’t boding well.

But before I got up from my table I typed one sentence that was the ultimate truth. ‘I am in love with Alex Kennedy.’

I closed down the app and headed for Hell’s Kitchen.

When I arrived carrying a stuffed toy and a blanket with two bags the men standing behind Dom’s booth seat at the end of the row started laughing. I set Drake’s things down and slide them into the booth before me setting the blanket and Snoopy on the table near the window. I didn’t bother giving his men a glare. I didn’t care what they thought.

Dom looked at the stuffed toy and then back at me. “What kid you saving now?”

I gave him a wry grin. “A dragon and her mate I brought in for bank robbing have a son. I promised to take care of him.”

“Like you take care of Abby and Liam.” He nodded and snapped his fingers and his minions stopped laughing abruptly with muttered apologies.

“I don’t think you know about Val, so I wanted to be the one to tell you, he’s been ferrying information between dragons of The Last Phoenix.”

“How do you know that?” Dom asked in his burly voice.

“I found Val’s number in her phone.”

“He could have been hooking up with her.” Dom smirked.

“No, she was mated. Dragon’s mate for life.”

“So do wolves.”

“Which is why you aren’t married.” I grinned at him.

He frowned. “You know nothing.”

“I know that the love your life was killed by Venatori. They say it was collateral damage. They didn’t know anyone was left in the building when they burnt it to the ground.”

“You believe them?” Dom asked.

I shook my head. “No. I don’t believe they checked at all. I believe that they thought it was empty while your queen slept. I do believe it was an accident, but it’s not an excuse.”

“That’s one thing I can always count on with you, Nox Sétanta. The absolute fucking truth, even if it makes me want to rip your fucking head off.” Dom smiled at me. “But I won’t. Not even if you had said you believed them. They are your people. All you know. All you love.”

“Funny thing, there is very little I love about the Ventori or anyone in the Venatori. I can count the number on my fingers and toes of those whom I care about. Though the number is growing as my nieces and nephews are born. My life is out here.” I didn’t want to say it to Dom, but I’d give up the Venatori life if Alex asked me to. I don’t know what the fuck I’d do. And I know I’d go fucking crazy, but I’d do it. There was nothing keeping me there.

Dom chuckled. “I know that look.”

“I’d rather not talk about it.” I returned back to our topic at hand, “I am sorry the Venatori caused you sorrow. You know I would have done all that I could have.” I sighed. “The Venatori don’t know Val is involved yet, and I don’t intend to tell them if he gives me all the people he’s been ferrying information from. My Dragon will take the fall, no need to put one your wolves in harm’s way.”

“You couldn’t save her?”

I shook my head. “She was caught on camera breathing fire. But I have reason to believe this was bigger than just a bank robbery gone awry. You know they don’t care why, but I do. She was dead either way. They have another team on it. I was brought in because I survived Dragon’s fire, and I know the City. They are preparing her trial. I saved her son. It was all I could do for her.”

Dom nodded. “Thank you for looking out for even a scumbag like Val. He’s missed the last few hunts. Now we know why. Guilt or too busy to come with us, either way. And he’s not picking up his phone.”

“So call him, the other way.” I said. “If he doesn’t come willingly I will have to put in an order so I can hunt him down. And if I do that in connection with the bank robbery they will kill him too. I know you don’t like to pull the Alpha card, but I need him here. And you know I don’t hunt without a mission.”

One of the minions behind Dom snickered, “Except Il Cane.”

I smirked, “Except Il Cane, but that’s about the challenge of it all.”

Dom took a deep breath and nodded. I felt his power rise, it felt like a cold chill but so warm and welcoming. The need to obey was strong but he wasn’t calling me. He was calling Val to him. The men behind him bowed the heads as the power was sent out into the world. Dom frowned, “He’s resisting me.” He reached the edge of the table and his hand pressed mine to the table and I felt a surge of energy through me. Dom’s eyes were on mine instantly and he pulled harder and the men behind him went to a knee. Their hands on a shoulder of the Alpha.

And just like that the power fled and Dominic Olmos was staring at me like I was something he’d never seen before. “Sheridan has always said you were an Alpha in your own right. Says that you don’t know your potential. Fuck, Nox, what was that?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. I didn’t feel anything else after you touched me, not even the call of your power.”

“You shouldn’t feel my power Nox. You’re Feras. You should be blind to it. Like I should be blind to your’s.”

“But you aren’t. But I’m also the first Venatori you’ve stood next to long enough not to throw excessive power around with to get a reaction.”

Dom smirked. “Touché. Val is on his way. Why don’t you have something to eat, on me.”

“I just ate, but I’ll take a coffee.”

Dom raised his hand and the waitress I didn’t know came over and asked, “What can I do for you honey?”

Dom pointed at me and I smiled at her, “Well, Duckling, I’d like a black coffee.”

Dom added, “He’ll also take whatever his usual is here to go.”

She looked at him confused which made me laugh, “I don’t usually come here now on this day, Chrissy knows my regular. Don’t think she does. Is Jay on?”

She nodded. “You betcha, don’t leave this place while it’s open.”

“Tell Jay Nox wants his regular and he’ll take care of it for you.” I said.

She frowned, “You don’t want to repeat it?”

Dom interrupted, “Darling, he’s a regular, you should know it. You know mine and I come her even less than he does.”

She blushed. “That’s different.”

I laughed, “She likes you Dom. Got a crush on the big bald latino. I can’t say as I blame her.”

Dom let out a loud guffaw. “Darling, just go tell Jay and bring us his coffee. And make it snappy.” Dom was bristling with power but she was human. Though she did what she was told, and scurried off to the kitchen to talk to Jay.

“You know she can’t feel the power right?”

Dom laughed, “It was unintentional, I was tired of her annoyances.”

I smiled. “Short of temper.”

Dom nodded, “It’s part of my charm.”

“It is.” My coffee arrived and the waitress looked at me, “You’re savory pastry will be ready in a few minutes.”

I sipped my coffee and we waited. Small talk wasn’t much of our thing even when we were in debrief mode.

I drained my coffee just as Val walked in. I didn’t see him but I smelled the musty smell of wolf which Val was giving off, he was suitably cowed. I wondered how close to changing he’d come. Weak therians didn’t suffer well when they fought their Alpha’s call. I felt Dom’s power rage as he saw Val walking towards us.

Normally I’d have moved over but I didn’t have room to with Drake’s bags in the seat. And Dom didn’t move over. And Val was on his knee before he spoke, “I’m here Alpha.”

“Only took ten phone calls and a calling for you to come.” Dom said.

“I’m sorry.” Val pleaded, “It won’t happen again.”

“Nox tells me you are working with Dragons?”

Val paled, “No… sir, it’s… ” Val let out a sigh, “Yes, sir.” I could feel Dom’s power prickling at me, I couldn’t imagine what it felt like to the pack. The men behind Dom were standing with their backs straight and it looked like a challenge just to be doing that.

I put my hand on Dom’s across the table which drew his stern gaze to me. I nodded to the men behind him and he looked at them and there was a slight coloring of his face but it was gone just as fast as it was there making me doubt if I’d actually seen it. But the power lessened and Val relaxed as did Dom’s men behind him, one of them even gave an audible sigh of relief which earned him a glare from Dom.

“I want the names, contact information whatever you have of all The Dragon’s people you’ve been ferrying messages between.” I said to Val.

He looked up defiantly at me. The look was almost one of hatred, I’d ratted on him, and that was almost as good as killing him in his eyes. I sighed. “Look Val, either you give me the information freely, or I file a hunt order so I can get the information from you a little more violently. And since it’s in connection with a violation of the Clandestine Providence, you won’t survive the order.”

“You would threaten me in front of my Alpha?” Val sneered.

“It’s not a threat, Val. It’s the truth, a fact. I already told Dom the deal. He called you to me to spare your life, not that it’s worth it, but I don’t want to see you dead if I can help it. So give me the information.”

“I can’t. He’ll kill me.” He said.

“And I won’t?” I asked.

Val looked at Dom in fear. Dom shrugged. “You know why Il Cane is afraid of him?”

Val looked at me and frowned, “Yes. The true death.”

Dom chuckled, “It’s means Final Death, but that’s not why she fears him. That’s what she calls him, because she knows if she were to go rogue she would trust that he’d do the deed.”

Val looked at me and sneered, “He doesn’t have it in him.”

Dom backed up in his chair with his hands up and looked at me. “Do you what you have to.”

I only smirked. “I don’t have to do anything. I’ll just make a call, get that order of execution drawn up and then I’ll just give you to the two guys I’m working with. Give me a second.” I pulled my phone out of my pocket and I started scrolling through my contacts looking for Dae’lin’s number. I knew I the number I didn’t need to use the contact. But it was for the show. I found it, dramatically hit the call button and then put it on speaker.

It only took one ring before Dae’lin answered, “What Nox?”

“Nice to hear from you too Dae’lin. But there is no time for pleasantries, I have some news about the dragon case I’m working with legal. I think she was in league with someone and that it was a bigger job than we think it was.” It was all the truth.

Van hung up on her, “Fine. I’ll tell you.”

I snickered and redialed Dae’lin, “Sorry, it’s a bit late for that.”

Dae’lin answered, “Nox what the hell!”

“I’m sorry, something interrupted us. I’ve got to take care of it, I’ll see you when I get back and fill you in.”

“You are so annoying.”

“I know but you love me.” I grinned, “See ya Duckling.” I said then hung up as Dae’lin was calling out my name angrily at the endearment.

“So Val. Names and numbers and I’ll omit your involvement, and let Dom deal with your unsavory dealings with Dragons.”

He grabbed a napkin and Dom handed him a pen and his two men took Val to another table for him to write down all the names.

“You have such a way with words.” Dom said then he sipped at his water.

“Just the truth.” I said

“You are one scarry mother fucker, Nox. I don’t know why your people look down on you. I swear you are the only thing that keeps peace in the city. Il Cane, her son, the council members, they all kept a shallow peace until you came.”

I shrugged. “I don’t think it’s me.”

Dom laughed, “You wouldn’t. But I do. 5 years and you’ve got me protecting vampires.”

“Chris shouldn’t need protecting from his own kind. Most vampire resent what I did for him.”

“Only because they know if they go rogue you’ll kill them. New vamps are the only ones that cause problems here. Same as us. You get that. You give us a chance, they’ll understand eventually. They have long lives and they can get outta Dodge if they don’t like it.”

“And the threat of Il Cane will keep them in line.”

Dom laughed, “Or the Prince. He’s more likely to come after someone for messing with you.”

I grinned. Ant was very much like a body guards and had threatened a few vampires who thought they could manipulate me with ease. I didn’t know why we’d struck up a bond, but we had. It was a lot more than just a friendship.

Val’s chair scraped against the floor as he moved it back. He cowered as he moved towards us the napkin held out in his hand like he was offering me tribute. I took it and saw a bunch of numbers written down on it. There were no addresses. “This is all I have. No names, no addresses. We always meet someplace different.”

“Is the guy who keeps giving you the job listed here?” I asked.

Val shook his head, “No. He always left a dead drop and paper notes that he told me to burn after I’d done each job.”

“Where’s the deaddrop?” I asked.

Val held out his hand and in askance and I handed him the napkin. He quickly jotted down an address. I asked, “How do you know to pick up?”

Val sighed, “I check everyday.”.

“Keeping doing that.”.

Val called. “But…”

“Keep doing it Val or he’ll suspect you. You don’t want that do you?” He shook his head. “I need you to act normal but if you get another job you need to tell Dom. And he’ll tell me.” I didn’t say or Liam will, which was more likely. Dom rarely came himself. Today was an exception, mostly because I’d asked for him.

Dom grabbed Val by the ear. “Anything else to tell him?”

Val shook his head, “No Alpha.”.

“Good, let’s go.”. He said as he tugged the cowering wolf by his ear towards the door. I watched as Dom released his ear and the lesser wolf fell in behind and Dom’s two goons followed them. It was a strange wolf parade.

Now I had more leads to follow.

More Than I Was Looking For

I pulled the key from my pocket that I’d taken from the plastic bag of Naomi’s things. And headed up to the apartment I’d found Drake and the human in. I think his name was Gordon but I hadn’t technically met his so I didn’t remember really.

The fourth floor was empty, well save for the homeless man sleeping under the stair well. The stench of body odor was the only thing I could smell. It wasn’t pleasant. I unlocked the door and the soft scent of burning wood greeted me. It was definitely a dragon den. It made me wonder what Naomi collected as i walked through her living room. I opened myself to the patterns around, there would be indications of hidden things in the patterns and that’s what I wanted to find since Naomi hadn’t told me where the safe was, only the combination. Next time I’ll have to remember to ask.

But it wasn’t hard to find, it was located behind a painting in the master bedroom. And i didn’t need the combination either I could see the pattern without it, and if I couldn’t I could just melt the hinges off anyway.

Inside there was a lot of things, more than just the USB drive. Mostly papers. I didn’t search through the papers but I did move them around until I found the drive I was looking for. That was when one of the envelopes caught my attention. It had Drake’s name on it.

Inside was a Stock voucher from way back and a letter written in elegant Dragon script. I’d learned to read it along with others, but it was rusty. I hadn’t used it in ages.

But I was pretty sure it read:

Dear Drake,

The Dragon has tasked me what is surely a suicide mission, but he says it’s for the greater good and he is my leader, my mentor and everything that I know to be true. Just as you will know yours, I know mine. I’ve collected many of these old documents in my years with the Last Phoenix, and at the last appraisal it was worth one million dollars. This should be enough to see you well off in life, go to college and start a family in the even that I’m not around to see you through it. Should you need it The Golden Clan offers sanctuary to netherdragons like you. They can teach you. Know that I love you baby boy. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you.

Love your mama

I folded the letter up and stuck it back in the envelope. I pulled out the rest of the papers and carefully stacked them together being careful not to damage any of them. I had found Naomi’s hoard. I wondered what she had here and if any of it needed to be returned to its rightful owner. I’d have to do the research before making any decisions.

I found a document case sitting on a desk full of more old things and put what I had in the safe inside and took it all. It was all Drake’s and he was going to be mine. I didn’t feel any guilt about taking them. The Venatori would likely just burn the place down, everything else inside.

Drake’s small room was down the hall. I could smell his soft smokey scent and stood staring at the all the small things, a bed, a dresser, toys all over the floor. I didn’t know how i was going to do this. How was I going to take care of him? How was I going to get through this mess? I took a few pictures of the room with my phone and then grabbed a bag and stuff the toy car collection into it. I found another to stuff his clothes into. The only two things left that showed use was the blue blanket and the ragged snoopy dog. Both which I carried in my arms. I looked like I was going on vacation. Or moving out. But Drake was.

My stomach rumbled and I realized I hadn’t eaten anything today. I’d had coffee but that was it. My day was such a fucking mess. But I felt a little better after having two heart to heart conversations. I’m sure Ant and I would later, and Sage would probably try to get me to talk about it too. Tomorrow was my birthday. What the fuck was I going to do all fucking day by myself. I was pretty sure Alex wasn’t talking me. But I stopped in to one of my local lunch places and grabbed a sandwich. I sat down at an outside table with a bottle of water.

The sandwich was a usual, chicken salad on rye, light mayo with tomatoes and avocado. Like everywhere else, I can in regularly and ate the same thing. It made me think of Alex and how he had accused me of being selfish. Of the things we’d fought about. I sighed as I opened up my text messages and saw no response from Alex. But it didn’t stop me from sending him another one.

N: The joys of childhood. Look at the mess in my future.

Tony said to uncomplicate me. There was only one way to uncomplicate me, as Dorian would say, write it all down. I opened up a new doc on my phone and stared at the page. I titled it. ‘All The Things You Wish You Knew About Nox Sétanta’ and that was as far as I got before my phone rang.

Lead Number Two

I pulled up the number to call Liam. He was my go to when I needed to speak to Dom personally. And that was when I remembered I hadn’t seen Marshal yet, so much for seeing Desmond. Not that I really needed to do that. I’d slept through my alarms. How the fuck had I done that. I sent Marshal’s assistant a text

N: Hey Mary, tell Marshall I’m sorry I didn’t make it today. I had some personal problems to deal with.

M: No problem, Nox. Marshall hardly noticed the cute annoying boy who is always bugging him on Wednesday morning was missing.

N: Glad to be noticed :) I’ll make it up to you (him) with a decent breakfast.

M: You know he won’t get any.

N: He won’t even notice! :)

With that out of the way I called Liam.

“Yo.” The werewolf answered.

“Hey Liam, Nox.”

“I know who it is.” He chuckled on the other end, “To what do I owe this displeasure?”

I grinned, “I need to talk to Dom. Like him, not you.”

Liam sighed, “You don’t want my good looks?”

“I’d settle for them, but duckling, I need the big boss man. It’s about Val.”

Liam groaned, “I see how it is. You want to see Val over me.” Liam spit on the ground. “I’ll get on it boss. I’ll call you back with the details.”

“Thanks man.” I hung up and knew that Liam would get it done, he always did. I could have called Dom myself, but that was a call I only liked to make in an emergency. And this was hardly an emergency.

I started down the hall to the elevator I didn’t feel like taking the stairs. As I rode down I sent Alex a text. He seemed fond of Drake before maybe it would interest him. But I don’t know, he hadn’t responded to my last text. It kinda felt like it was over, but he went through all that trouble to fix it, for what? To tell me so he could take it away. It was what he said he wanted to do after all. I didn’t want to think about it. So I just typed the message anyway, until he told me to fuck off I was going to keep sending them.

N: I just thought I’d let you know that I was heading down to Drake’s apartment to pick up some of his things. You think he’d like anything special?

I didn’t expect an answer, anymore than I had received one about lunch tomorrow. But I’d keep my lunch open for him. Any lunch. I sighed as I looked down as the ground approached. The panic started to rise but I kept watching as the ground grew closer. It was only slightly less unnerving going down with the ground approaching.

But by the time we had reached the ground I was hyperventilating. I managed to get off the elevator but I sat down at his table and ordered a cup of black coffee and held the warmth of it in my hand and breath deep of the strong aroma to calm down. I would fight everything that made me me if that was what Alex wanted. Fuck I’d give him the world if he asked for it.

As I sipped my coffee someone sat down across from me. I looked up to see Ant, but it wasn’t Ant, it was his father, it took me a second to differentiate between the two. “Did Ant send you?” I asked.

“He did. He’d have come himself but the sun is high in the sky and your room is locked down.” He gave me a smile. “You don’t look good.”

“I’m fine.” I lied I didn’t want to talk about it with Ant’s father much less anyone else. Talking with Margo hadn’t helped either.

Tony laughed. It was heartwarming. It was part of his vampiric power to calm individuals around him. He was a strong empath. “You don’t feel fine, Nox. Ant’s worried. He said you were beaming happiness and then all of a sudden it was broken anxiety and high point depression. I can feel the anxiety wafting off of you.”

I shrugged. “I’m fine, Tony.” I stood up and threw my empty cup away. “I have to go to work.”

“I can walk with you.” He said. It wasn’t a request and who was I to stop a fucking Prince of the Underworld. But it wasn’t like hell, it was another name for Sanctuary, the home of the Primeval Vampires. A place made with magic inside of a mountain someplace on the other side of the Earth. The only way to enter is to shadowwalk. Some Primeval Vampires have never even seen the light of day.

We walked out of the AU building. With Ant I would have flirted some, but Tony was not his son. And we weren’t that close and even if he had a male playmate, I wasn’t about to think Tony would appreciate some fucking kid flirting with him.

And while Tony looked my age he was 900+ years old. He was younger than Cari by 20 plus years. Which in vampire years was nothing. My measly 25 years was nothing to him. We walked in silence for a while until we boarded a train. “You walk in the open?”

I nodded.

“No one ever stares?” He asked.

I grinned. “I like the stares.”

“So the flames are normal?” Tony asked.

I ran my fingers through my hair and sighed. “No. Normally it’s just orange, or red or blue. Not multi colored. I was messing around with a friend.”

“The same friend who has you on a rollercoaster?” He asked.

I nodded. “The very same.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

I shook my head. “Not really. It’s just complicated.”

Tony looked past me like he was lost in a memory. “I remember when my love life was complicated. I loved her so much, I grew up loving her. And then everyone forbade us from even seeing each other.”

“But you still saw her.” I said.

“We did, which is why it was complicated. I love Sierra. I do, but Cari is something else. I can’t break the bond we forged. You are probably the only person outside of Cari’s small circle who knows the truth.”

I laughed. “It’s not because I’m friend with your son you know. He only confirmed what I knew to be a truth.”

“He told me. Anthony is very forthcoming with your relationship. His mother has him singing like a canary.”

“I’m not a secret Tony. I just see things differently. I saw the first time I’d met you two, the bond you shared was so powerful when you stood next to each other your auras merged.”

Tony chuckled, “Nick says much the same thing. I only have one piece of advice to give you about complicated. Uncomplicate it. When I told Sierra about Cari it was hard. She kicked me out of the house. She forbade the kids from seeing me. But China and Henry were grown by then and they could make their own decisions. Sierra and I are still friends, but the part of our relationship that had been love had already faded. Uncomplicate it.”

I sighed. “I think that’s the problem. We uncomplicated it. There are no hidden truths anymore. But it left a tangled mess, much like all my other relationships. My father’s, my mother’s, even fucking Dorian’s. It’s complicated with Sage, and Mia and with Ant.”

Tony nodded, “Then maybe that’s not what needs to be uncomplicated.”

“I’m the problem is what you are saying.”

He nodded and then shook his head. “I think you are making it too complicated. You either love him, or you don’t. Uncomplicate it Nox.”

I sighed, maybe he was right, but how the fuck did I go about uncomplicating myself. Though I hadn’t actually said it was a him, “Am I that transparent?”

Tony was weighing his decision visibly. He laughed. “Honestly, Nox I wouldn’t know a gay man from a straight man these days. I only know what Ant has told me about you. And if you are having relationship issues, it’s only with another man. You almost as predictable as Cari is.”

“I think I’m a little more predictable.”

Tony laughed. “Maybe.”

The train lurched to our stop and we got off. “I can leave if you are feeling better.”

“It’s up to you, Tony. I’m good either way. I’m just going to go unlock a safe, grab some kid things from the apartment and go back. But I do need to get in contact with Jack. I need him to tell me what’s on the USB stick in the safe.”

Tony sighed, “Cari and her chevalier are all in Italy in comunicado. Jack I’m told is going and I quote fucking insane.”

“Well shit.”

“You could always call your hacker friend. I don’t know why you use Jack when your best friend is just as good as Chevalier.” Tony laughed, “Or you could call… what’s his name… Reaper? He’s a rival hacker isn’t he? I can never keep up with all that shit. Computers, hell lights are sometimes more complicated than things I knew as a kid your age.”

I laughed and had to stop and lean against a wall to catch my breath. “That was almost 900 years ago Tony. Fuck there were no computers or fucking lights!”

Tony grinned, Ant looked exactly like his father and all I saw was my friend as he said, “My point exactly. You humans advance so fast.”

“I’m not human.”

“You know what I mean. But back to asking The Wicked Truth for help. I’ll see that the payment is a favor of Cari and you’d owe her.”

“That could work.” I said. “Can you tell Ant to come see me when night falls and we’ll go see Sage and offerup the favor.”

Tony nodded. “I can do that. You going to be okay? Ant will decide never to send me again if I come back with you in knots still.” He grinned, “Though I think that would benefit me in the long run. Running errands for my son.” I knew he wasn’t running errands for Ant, he was probably doing Cari a favor.

He laughed, “You are too intuitive for your own good. Yes, Cari made me come see you when Ant was restless. You are her favorite pet.”

I sighed. “And she’s my favorite master.” i said with sarcasm.

“I won’t tell her you said that.” Ant’s father said as he stepped into the shadows of the nearest ally. “Just call if you need anything.” He said. “And I mean the phone. I’ll have Anthony text it to you.”

“Thanks.” I said as he shifted out of sight to god knows where. I was where I needed to be anyway. So it didn’t matter really. I didn’t need a babysitter.

Lead Number One

Margo was right about one thing I was going to throw myself head long into work. And I was likely going to break down later. I’d had a rough few days and I could feel it in the cracks of my mind. There was going to be a hell of a downpour of everything at some point. But not now.

All of Naomi’s possessions were sitting on my bar like they belonged there. Someone from Dae’lin’s office dropped them off. I saw them earlier but I didn’t want to deal with it. But it was work. Her things were all neatly stored in a plastic storage bag. I took everything out as I searched for her cell phone. On it was a number of her contact. I only had to find it.

As I was putting her things back in the bag, the cell phone had sunk to the bottom and everything was neatly laid on the bar, there was a knock at my door. I waved my hand and the door opened. I didn’t turn to look, I new from the smell it was Dorian. He always smelled like cinnamon and vanilla. I felt the tears falling and Dorian came in and shut the door. His voice was soft as he wrapped his arms around me, “Margo told me.”

I closed my eyes and sank into the feeling of the man who was the closest thing I had to a father growing up. He held me and I cried. There was no thoughts, no self pity, no anxiety just safety in his arms. And he knew it so he held me.

I think we stayed like that for an hour before Dorian shifted uneasily. I sighed, “You can go. I’m okay. I know you have to get to work. So do I.”

“Are you sure?” He asked.

I nodded. “I have to go open a safe, and have to get IT to track the numbers on the phone so we know who’s on there.”

“Why don’t you go see Sage?” Dorian suggested.

I shook my head. “I can’t. If I ask him a favor, he’ll want something in return and I can’t. I can’t do anything right now Dorian.”

He nodded. “Alright. But IT will take forever you know this.”

“I know. I’m sure I’ll be able to figure something out. I can always call Jack.”

“I didn’t think you could do favors?” Dorian said.

“The good think about Cari’s favors is she likes to save them for when it’s necessary. Or I just feed Ant.”

Dorian shook his head. “You should call Anthony and Ryan and spend a few nights there.”

I shook my head. “No, that’s exactly what Alex expects I’ll do. Go running to my vampire boyfriend and let him help me through my shit. Because it’s all about me.” I took a deep breath and sighed. “I should let it go, but I can’t.”

Dorian chuckled, “You will Nox. You always do.”

“I didn’t with my Dad.” I confided.

“That’s different Nox. There is nothing to forgive, he didn’t know. You had to get over years of built up preconceptions. And Kai is a hard man to love. You’ve seen him with his other children, and you know how hard it is sometimes for my father to love the man.”

I laughed a little. I’d known Kai my whole life. He was like an Uncle to Dorian. And we’d had dinner many times when I was a child. He was the perfect hunter. My idol and my father. It was hard to get past the latter. But I was doing better, and so was Kai. we were working on it. Dorian gave me one last hug. “Call me if you need me, Nox. Any time.”

I nodded. “I will Dorian. Thank you again.”

“My pleasure son. Go follow your leads.” He said as he walked out the door. And I was alone again.

The world wanted to press in on me but I pushed back. Alex had accused me of not standing up for myself. He was wrong in that. I choose my battles carefully. There was only so much strength in me. I picked up the dragon’s cell phone and turned it on, thankful when I saw the logo of her provider flash on. At least it wasn’t dead. I didn’t have a charger for that type of phone. I hated when companies used proprietary plugs.

The wallpaper of Naomi’s phone was a picture of her son. He was flying a car through the air in Central Park. it made me smile. How was I ever going to take care of a kid, I couldn’t even take care of myself. I was such a mess.

I had to fight my own inner demons and push them away so i could focus. I pulled up her recent calls and scanned through them. I sighed as I recognized one of them fucking Val. At least I didn’t have to go to IT. Valentino Sprague was a werewolf who sold secrets for a price. He was shady and I disliked dealing with him. But I knew that if he was dealing with Dragons Dom didn’t know about it. And that was about to change.

I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and noticed that it was still on do not disturb from last night. A torrent of emotions flood my mind. All the feelings from the night before tied up in one small setting on my phone.

I couldn’t push it away. I didn’t want to. I wanted to feel it all even the pain. I just wanted to say I’m sorry again. Tell him I’d try harder. I wiped the tears that fell from my eyes and decided I’d have to call Dom after a shower. It’s not like 20 minutes was going to kill the lead. Val didn’t even know I knew he was selling secrets or himself to the dragons.

Emergency Session

Emergency Session
I made it across the street and up to my room. I pushed open the door and the world crashed in on me. I let my shield go and I felt the anxiety wash over me like a bucket of cold water. But I didn’t like the way I left it so I sent Alex a text.

N: I’m sorry I left like that. I just need time to wrap my head around things. I know selfish, but I have to do what I have to do. Maybe we can get together for lunch tomorrow? I’ll cook.

The text was off and I sat down at the bar, my body was shaking. I dialed Margo’s personal number. It was still before working hours but I needed to talk to someone who wouldn’t judge me. I was going in-fucking-sane right then.

Margo picked up groggily, “Hello?”

“I’m sorry to bother you Margo. But I need to talk.”

“Nox, alright.” I heard the bed rustle and she was moving around her bedroom. “I can meet you in ten.”

“I can come up to you.” I said. “I’ll make you breakfast.”

Margo was silent for too long. “No, I’ll come to you. You can still cook me breakfast.”

I nodded, “Alright.”

So I started making breakfast for 2. I wasn’t really hungry. Though I knew I should eat. I made eggs and sausage and threw in a few slices of toast. It wasn’t the greatest breakfast in the world but it was all I could manage right now. I was just going through the motions. I was sipping coffee when there was a knock on the door and I let Margo in.

She looked professional and like she’d been up for hours. She was probably the fastest woman alive, I smiled to myself. Mia had been so fucking slow to get ready and I thought I was bad in all my perfectionism.

Margo sat down in Fee’s chair. The cat was still asleep on her pillow she hadn’t even noticed that I was home yet. “What’s wrong, Nox?” Margo asked then started cutting her sausage to mix in her eggs.

“I told you about the guy I met?”

Margo nodded. “Turns out he’s the same guy I was going to meet five years ago.”

Margo turned and blinked at me, “The one from your dreams?”

I nodded. “One and the same. He laid out a lot of things that I don’t remember and a few that only proved he was right.” I pushed my eggs around my plate. “Is it possible that the nightmares were that overpowering.”

Margo sighed, “Dreams are a funny thing, no one really understands them. Conscious and subconscious thoughts all lingering together to form images as we sleep. And a dream walker – well that’s something entirely different. But your nightmares are strong and predictable Nox. There is no telling what it overwrites in your brain.”

I ate a piece of sausage and nearly gagged on it. I pushed my plate from me and looked at Margo. “He called me selfish. Everything’s always about my anxiety and my problems.”

Margo smiled, “It won’t be that way forever. You need time to adapt is all.”

“I don’t have time to adapt, Margo. He throws me curveball after curveball and I adjust and then everything crashes in on me.” I shook my head. “I fucking love him. From the moment I kissed him outside Aspect. I wanted more. Even now I want to go back to his place. Beg him to forgive me, but I can’t. I can’t go back because if i do I’m going to break down again. We’ve known each other for three days in the real world and every fucking time we are together I have a fucking breakdown.”

“He’s change. You know it will pass.”

“I do. But he doesn’t. He doesn’t have the patience.”

“Then maybe he isn’t the one Nox.”

“Fuck, no.” I sighed. “I’ve been pining for him for 5 fucking years. Wondering what we could have had if I’d gone to him instead of my Dad.”

“Nox, do not go there, you made the right choice.”

“Did I? Did I choose to save my father instead of start something that could mean I’d be in fucking high heaven right now?”

“And if you father died while you did that? You’d be beating yourself up over that.”

I sighed. “Yeah but I didn’t know my dad then. I wouldn’t be any closer or any farther from him because of it.”

“You’d wish your father dead?” Margo sounded appalled.

“Not dead, Margo.” I groaned as I stood up and dumped my food in Fee’s bowl. “I just wish I hadn’t had to make the choice. If Jace is right and he didn’t show up then yeah wrong decision, but he did show up. He thinks I wasn’t interested.”

“He’s a telepath, Nox. He knew the truth.”

“He doesn’t act like he knew the truth, Margo. He told me I was just a fucking job. He only took it because he wanted to hurt me like i hurt him.”

“So there you have it Nox. Not the one.”

“Margo, stop with the he’s not the one. We didn’t even get a chance to try. Because it’s nothing but lies. He’s always been about the lies. All those faces. Never the same.”

“Nox, how do you know that? I thought you said you didn’t remember?”

“I don’t.” I said. “I sometimes say things I don’t know where they come from.”

“I think you might be repressing memories, or at the very least your nightmares are hiding them.” She smiled at me as she finished her last bite. “I think Monday we’ll start with a different therapy, think about where you want to start in your memories. And we’ll go from there.” She glanced at the time on her watch. “I have a session in an hour. Monday? Or do you want to pull in a second session. Maybe on Thursday?”

I shook my head, “Not this Thursday, it’s my birthday.”

Margo smiled. “Right. I knew that. Monday then, and you can decide if we need to do the memory therapy on another day then alright?”

I nodded. “Thanks Margo. For everything.”

Margo stood up and put her hand on my shoulder. “Honey, don’t break down alone, and don’t throw yourself into work. But I know you will. I will have Dorian check on you later.”

“Thanks again.”

“My pleasure, Nox.” She said as she left my little apartment. I felt even more alone now. Fuck!