We took the stairs up further into the AU building. Alex didn’t like it. I smiled at him and held his hand. “It’s not like they know what you can do by looking at you.”
“You can,” Alex said. “It’s one of your talents.”
I chuckled. “The only person who can read the pattern is Dorian. And he already knows.”
“You trust him?” Alex asked all serious like.
“With my life. If anyone was a parent to me it’s Dorian. And he’s all I had for a long time.”
Alex sighed, “You have me now.”
“Always and forever,” I agreed.
The daycare level was not nearly as noisy as the Academy levels. It was nap time probably. There were class rooms and play rooms and storage rooms full of toys. We passed a cluster of firestarter rooms and I shivered. I hated those rooms.
The room we wanted was on the left. I knocked on the door and waited for the attendant/teacher whatever you wanted to call them at this level to answer. The woman was a few years younger than I was and I remembered her from my time in the Academy. “Yes?” she asked but forgot to not sneer at me.
“Treec. I’m here to pick up Cassidy Donovan and Drake Pierce. My kids.” I handed her the two papers.
“Oh. Um, yeah, Hunter is in the infirmary,” she said absently.
“I know. I’ll get him in a few minutes.”
She pushed the door open and called, “Cass, Drake, someone is here to get you.”
There was a small squeal and then I heard two peels of laughter as they barrelled around the door with their backpacks. Drake had his arms around my legs before Cass figured out what was going on. “You aren’t Mr. Dorian.”
“No, but he did send me. I’m Nox. This is Alex.”
“You have bad news.” She looked at me and frowned. “Tell me now.”
I raised my eyebrows and she kicked me. “You got me in trouble!”
“Oh, that wasn’t nice,” I said.
Alex laughed but he didn’t say anything but Cass turned to look at him with wide eyes and then she dropped her gaze and nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“At least she listens to you,” I said. I put my hand on her head and pulled her along as I picked Drake up with the other arm. “Hey little man.” He wrapped his arms around my neck and buried his head. “Let’s go get your brother and then we’ll get some ice-cream.”
“Before dinner?” Alex asked.
“Why not?” I asked. I looked down at Cass. “Are you too old to be carried?”
She shook her head. “No. I don’t want you to touch me.”
“Fair enough. Let’s go get Hunter.”
“Where’s my ma?”
“We’ll talk about that when we have your brother.”
Cass stomped her foot and stopped in her tracks and I stumbled over her and the three of us collapsed to the floor. I sighed as I sat up. “Z, can you take Drake and get Hunter?”
“They won’t let me taken him will they?”
“They will this paper.”
“I don’t know my way around this place,” Alex said looking around. “It all looks exactly the fucking same.”
“Okay. Can you take Drake around the corridor then? Keep making rights and you’ll end up back here.”
Alex nodded. “Okay.”
I moved against the wall but Cass was still glaring at me and she was standing above me with her hands on her hips just like her mother did. “You look like your mother when you do that.”
Her glare grew bigger. Alex tapped her on the head and Cass looked up at him. “Be good. Or I’ll make sure you don’t get any ice-cream no matter what he says.”
She nodded and looked at me but that glare never left. I waited until Alex was around the corner. “Cass right?” I asked and when she nodded. “Your mom died awhile a go. They found her body a few days ago.”
“You’re lying,” she said and she punched me in the shoulder. She pushed into my head and she screamed, “You’re lying.”
Her little fists pounded against my shoulders. I grabbed the little hands and I fixed her thumb. “You’re hitting wrong. You’ll break your thumb.” I fixed her hand and moved her hands in the right motion. “That’s how you hit.”
She didn’t hit me again just stared at me. “Why would you do that?” she said through the tears that fell.
“Do what sweetheart?”
“I was hitting you, why would you show me how to do it better?”
I smiled, “If you are going to do something, you need to do it right. I don’t want you to break your hands. Cass, did your mom tell you about your dad?” I asked.
She shook her head. “She said we’d meet him one day when we could do magic. But no one believes us we can.”
I nodded. “I believe you. Can I tell you something?”
She wiped at her tears but nodded. “I’m your dad. Your mom left me a note, told me all about you and Hunter.” I felt my own tears starting to fall.
“Why are you crying?” she said as her little fingers wiped my tears away.
“For lots of reason. I miss your mom. I’m sad I didn’t get to know you before – mostly that. I’m sorry I have to tell you this horrible horrible news. But I’m also happy that I get to meet you and Hunter.”
She cocked her head to the side, “How come what you say is what you think?”
I shrugged. “I don’t find the need to lie when I’m with my family and friends.”
“My mommy is really gone?”
I nodded. “I’m so sorry, Cass.” I took her by the hands and pulled her against me. She fought me at first until I wrapped my arms around her and pressed a gentle kiss to the side of her head. And then she lost it. She sobbed in my arms. Her arms wrapped around me and her face pressed against my neck. “I’m so sorry baby girl. I wish it wasn’t this way. But I know how you feel. So does Alex and Drake too. Everyone you are about to meet knows how you feel. We’ll help okay. It won’t get better fast, but we’ll help.”
Alex and Drake were talking as they rounded the corner. I offered Alex my hand and he helped me up and we started walking towards the Infirmary. One down, one to go…