Evan took a deep breath as he approached. He felt everyone’s eyes on him. His hands fisted and released several times as he walked toward the house. He said nothing to any of them who had gathered there. He didn’t want to say anything or give anyone a reason to start anything until he had spoken to his mama. The growls and the grumbles didn’t phase him on the outside in the least. He walked through and made his way up the stairs until he was outside the master bedroom.
He watched Dr. Keene walk out, a very sad look on her normally bright and smiling face. She had probably been talking to Lord Evansworth along the way. Evan didn’t care. He moved steadily forward and into the room.
Rose sat on one side of the bed, holding Eva’s hand in hers and rubbing the top of it. Inea was in the chair beside the bed.
“She’s sleeping,” Inea whispered.
“No. No I’m not. I’m resting. There’s a difference,” the lycan woman scolded her friend, but her voice was soft and weary. Her eyes slowly opened and focused on her son. She lifted her free hand and patted the bed on the opposite side of Rose.
Evan looked to the place and made his way to it, but he stood there instead of sitting right then. He took a breath and began telling them what he could.
“I’m sorry that this happened. But, you’ll never have to worry about Coven Eriksson ever again. It was completely dismantled today. The remnants are being wiped away from existence as we speak. Crimson and the Council had everything they needed. And so, now it’s safe for when Becca is ready and able to come home – she can. Because she wasn’t anywhere near that coven or any of it’s houses and lands.” He had promised Sebastian that he wouldn’t say anything, so he left it at that. “And now, I can go and help papa bring back Miss Matthews and Terry…”
“Stop… Evan, stop,” Eva patted the bed again. “Sit down with me. Please?”
He very gently sat on the bed and let his mother take his hand. He tried not to look into her eyes, but he couldn’t help it. “I’m sorry…”
“You have nothing to be sorry about, Evan. Stop saying those words. This situation wasn’t just something that came up because of you. This doesn’t rest solely on your shoulders, son. So stop carrying all the weight of it.”
“Mmmm… mmm…no. Listen to me. Gabriel and Senias went over as soon as they could. They showed me the papers and I saw the name of the primary pack that had drawn war on Weylyn from the other side on those papers. This wasn’t just an Eriksson attack. Our pack will always have enemies, And as Alpha, I accept the dangers that I am placed in. As shaman, I should have known better than to try to carry triplets with my body still recovering from recent ailments and the trip over through the portals. I also let my wolf gain control of my body when I should have done something else. And the Erikssons? They would’ve found a way in with or without you. We may have an enemy among us and I will be more than happy to let you help find them out. It was a matter of time. We should have better protected our pack and our family from the inevitable. We failed. So, it took all of us to make this bad storm happen. That’s why I want you to stop apologizing for it. What’s done is done. We just have to try and move on. Like you said, Becca’s still out there and Terry and Izzy,” Eva squeezed Rose’s hand. “So we need to worry about them.” Eva swallowed. “But thank you for your part in taking down that coven, once and for all. Maybe one day, I’ll stop looking over my shoulder.”
“They’ll be found soon, I have faith in that.” Rose gave a half hearted smile as she squeezed Eva’s hand back. So much loss and they still had their children missing. She had known she was needed here and when she arrived it was made clear to her that this grieving mama needed support. She missed her Isabel, but had faith her daughter would return.
Without even a second thought Rose lifted a hand to rest on Evan’s cheek, “You look tired and hungry, why not rest here like the others for at least a short time? You’re no good to anyone exhausted and hungry, young man. Raven and Starr are here with Ryker down stairs. He’s very upset and could use one of his older brothers to talk to. Clint is out helping the Pack check the grounds and Ryan is getting the twins in bed before they get into trouble as young ones are known to do.”
“I…I think that might be advisable… It’s Mrs. Matthews? You look like your daughter. I only got to meet her once last week. She’s very nice.”
“Thank you, Evan. Isabel can be just as fierce as she is nice.” Rose winked at him, “It’s why I know they’ll bring her back to me.”
Outside the door Sebastian leaned against the wall and just held Samantha in his arms. She had been tending to Eva for hours without rest or break, now she needed comfort before anything else. Placing a kiss on her forehead he simply held her close for as long as she needed it.
~ I’ve never had this kind of call. I didn’t realize how much it’d hurt to watch her hold them and give them their names. Inea and I were with her the whole time and then Rose came in to hold her while we took them. I had Mary come get the Incubation crib and the little ones’ bodies to take to your lab so they could be kept in the cooler for when Devon comes back. ~ She wiped her eyes. ~ She’s so strong to keep things going. She’s more worried about Devon, Terry, and Isabel than she is about herself. And hearing what she just told Evan…~ More tears came to her gentle blue eyes.
Sebastian gently brushed her tears away and smoothed Samantha’s hair back. ~ She’s a strong woman and when she gets with her mate, Eva will let herself break. Losing children is the hardest thing you’ll ever go through. It can rip the very soul from one that suffers it. She has Devon and her other children to help her and trust me they will. ~
~ You had no one. ~ The thought was there, but it was not meant to be spoken. Sam didn’t even realize she had let it slip. What wasn’t expressed in such a fashion, but was there in her heart and soul was the understanding. Sam had always thought she could handle something like this with being the professional she was. And she had done her utmost best. But now that she had a moment in the arms of the one she trusted beyond anyone else, she let her guards down. And she knew what he had been through. She never wanted him to go through anything close to it again. She had told him what she had done, but she had made sure everything happened before he had got back. She had done that for a reason.
He didn’t answer because he didn’t have to, Samantha knew some of his history. She knew that his entire family, including his Chosen had been murdered by hunters. Sebastian just hadn’t shared all the gruesome details with her about his life. Yes, he knew what Eva was feeling and he sympathized with her. It would be hard until Devon was with her. The Alpha Male would ease the ache of loss.
Evan sat leaned over and let his mama and even Rose have his warmth until he saw his mama had fallen asleep. He very gently moved off the bed and made his way out of the room. He had a family to tend to now. He made his way back down the steps, ignoring Sebastian and Samantha as he did.
Standing away from him and wiping her eyes with a cloth, Sam tried to get herself together. “I need to check on them.”
“Eat and catch a nap first. I’ll stay with them while you do that. I still have a few hours in me. She’s resting and soon the others will too.” Sebastian kissed his love and smoothed his knuckles along her jaw.
When Evan got downstairs, he was looking for Raven, Starrfire, and Ryker. Ryker was his main concern.
Seated on the couch with Starrfire, Raven’s head lifted from her kindragon’s shoulder as she watched Evan enter the room. When he started towards the window where Ryker was standing staring out, she cautioned him, “Careful, he’s not quite himself right now Evan.” She squeezed Starr’s hand as she watched the two brothers.
Evan’s odd eyes looked to Raven and Starr, who nodded back to the other man. The dragon was like an older brother to these kids. Having him here was helpful and he really owed both of them a lot. But her warning didn’t stop Evan. The eldest walked over to Ryker and noted the signs of unrest in the young man.
Since he’d brought his mama home and the Doc had taken over her care, Ryker had been prowling the entire house. He could feel his twin! He knew Terry needed him, but he couldn’t go to him! His mama needed him close right now and that just made it all the more frustrating. He wasn’t focusing on his own needs as much as he was his twin and his mama. Ryker hadn’t let anyone else take her food and tend to her. His father had left him in charge of seeing to his mama and Ryker was taking it very seriously.
“Ryker,” Evan’s normal social behavior was to touch the ones he was concerned about. He placed a hand on his younger brother’s shoulder and it was immediately pushed away. He took a step back.
“Don’t touch me.” The voice was deep, calm and yet very serious. The gaze that shifted from the window was filled with rage and fury, but unlike Russell, this gaze was very controlled. Even with little sleep there was no sign that the young lycan was even close to losing control.
“Let’s go outside. We need to talk. I need your help. I think you could use mine.” Evan recognized the duty and pain in those eyes along with the fury. He appreciated the control he saw.
Nathan, Izzy’s father and husband to Rose, listened. He was already on the porch, smoking his cigar. He’d not been invited to find Izzy and he knew there was a reason for that. It didn’t make him less resentful, but he’d get over it. After all, he had his own network of contacts on the lookout. None of them understood the bond between himself and his little one and for now, that was fine. For now, he needed to make sure Rose was fine, too. The best thing he could’ve done was bring her over to help with Eva. It got her mind off of things, kept her busy… and gave her that connection to a friend who was in the same boat.
The white-haired man tapped the cigar on the side railing and then waited. He wanted to see if they’d come out or if he’d need to drag their asses out.
“He needs me. I should be findin’ him, not here! He’s sufferin’ and I feel it down to my soul.” Rykers nails scored grooves in the window sill as he rumbled at the panes deep enough to make the glass vibrate. Breathing hurt, he wanted to vomit from some foul taste his brother was being forced to endure and every muscle and bone in his body ached right then as if he had been beaten. None of them understood the strong connection he had with Terry that went far beyond the twin bit. “I shoulda kept ‘em safe.”
“You kept them safe. You kept all of them safe that you could, Ryker. I know how it is being the oldest in the battle. I know… you feel like you can never do enough. But if you and Terry and Isabel hadn’t fought like you did, ALL of your cousins and brothers and your mama would’ve been taken. And believe me, when I say… it could’ve been soo…much…worse.” He stepped closer as he spoke the words, the last ones coming out nearly in a rumble. His eyes glowed for just a moment and then, he pulled his control forward. “Let’s go outside. We don’t want to wake mama.”
Ryker turned from the window then and walked out of the room and made his way outside. He glanced towards Nathan and stepped off the porch to turn and look at his brother. “What do ya need help with?”
“Trust. Control. And connection.” Evan stood strong before Ryker. He could tell that the boy still had some growing to do – maybe two more spurts before he’d reach his full young adult size. But he was at that age, where he had truth and idealism and reality all converging inside of his mind and Evan wanted to be sure to foster that the way he had been lucky enough to find someone to help him with it.
“I don’t understand how ya think I can help with that.”
“How do you keep control? How were you taught? Because, I almost lost it twice already today. I was ready to rip people apart. They didn’t deserve it, they weren’t the ones I was really mad with. But… I saw red. And here you are, so much younger than me and you’ve got it. How?”
“Pop says I’m a natural, but Terry helps a lot. I mean our connection… he keeps me calm without either of us realizin’ it. It’s natural is what mama says. We trust each other and that’s how it works. Not sure that’ll help ya.” Ryker was watching his older brother cautiously.
“I envy you. You and Terry, and all of your brothers. I never had a bond like you have. I…I don’t know how it is you can still feel things from him when he’s on the other side of a portal. Most bonds can’t be felt between dimensions, except in the Astral.” He sat down in front of Ryker on the grassy ground.
Ryker shrugged his shoulders and shoved his hands into his pockets as he glanced back at the house. “Pack elders says our souls were entwined before birth and that’s why we’re so connected. Usually it ain’t this strong, but he’s scared and he’s alone so he is drawing on me trying’ to get me to him.” His gaze moved towards the Great oak as he rumbled low. “Nothin’ to envy trust me.”
“I couldn’t find Becca. Part of me is relieved, ya know?” he looked at Ryker. “But part of me wishes I had a bond like yours so I could at least know she’s really safe. See, I…I have a hard time trusting people. Especially people in high places. I had one tell me she’s safe. But he won’t tell me anything else. And I’m not in a position to … to do anything about it. I just…I just want to know she’s safe again. She had your smile. You and Terry? That sweet smile that comes especially when you kind of get embarrassed? When I first met the two of you, all I could think of was – I wish I could see Becca wear that smile again. I want to know she’s okay. I don’t trust…enough. And even if she were in pain, at least I’d know she was fighting and alive. But I don’t know how you’re able to do that. Did you mean to? Or is it all because of you being in the womb together? Because Russ and Clint and Ryan – they don’t seem to have it…”
“Not identical..but Aaron and Mical are mostly the same. In some ways it’s actually stronger with ‘em.” Ryker rolled his shoulders and took a deep breath as his wolf rumbled. Something was happening with Terry and his beast could feel it.
Nathan was more than a little amazed by what he was hearing. Most of the time, lycan handled their frustrations in battle. And that’s not to say these two wouldn’t vent some frustrations at some point, but to see Evan handling Ryker as he was, it made Nathan wonder if he wasn’t actually Devon’s, after all.
Starrfire had walked with Raven out to the porch and stood next to her at the railing while watching the two brothers outside. ~ He needs help. He reminds me of you, when you’ve gone too long. But he’s fighting it for Ryker and the family. Not sure how we handle this, but at some point, the right timing, we need to make him drink and rest. ~ Starr was concerned. He was glad most everyone else was asleep at this point. He hoped they could get people well enough for whatever they were about to face, be it good news or bad news.
“Ryker?” Evan swallowed and got into a crouch immediately. The hair on the back of his neck stood. Something was wrong.
Dropping to one knee Ryker sucked in a breath as his connection to Terry felt like it suddenly was just.. just gone! There was a loud deep snarl from the young lycan as his wolf was suddenly pushing forward in panic. “NO!” He went from calm to panicked in a matter of seconds as he felt that loss straight to his core.
When he looked up at Evan his face had taken on more of the hybrid look and it was obvious it wouldn’t be long before he was full hybrid form as he started towards the Great Oak. “Terr… I’m here Terr! I’m comin’!”
Evan had been startled and the boy had pushed past him. But he recovered as he heard Raven and saw her place herself in harm’s way. Starr was startled and had to catch up to everything! He was running down the steps to catch up and Nathan was hopping over the banister.
“Ryker no you can’t!” Raven was calling out even as she shadowed from the porch to cut the teen off. Eva had said no one else was to go over until they were called for.
Evan shifted immediately. His smoky colored silver and gray and black fur was in contrast to most of his brothers. He ran as quick as his tired feet could carry him and as Ryker got to Raven, he was between them, hopping up into his hybrid form to stop Ryker’s forward progress.
Pushing his feet into the ground Ryker found his stance and pushed forward causing his brother to back step a few paces. He didn’t want to hurt them he just wanted to reach Terry.
Raven found her drummer’s strong arms around her waist and her body tugged aside so that as Ryker continued to push Evan, neither would harm her. He ran, the girl across his chest and partially over a shoulder to get out of the way. He’d seen and been part of lycan fights, and he didn’t want to be part of this one, should it manifest further.
“You can’t reach him through there! It’ll take you to where they dumped out! Could be anywhere!” Evan tried to reason with his little brother. He pushed the words into the boy’s mind, because it seemed like he wasn’t listening, he was still struggling.
~ Terry’s not at the end of that portal! You know that! If you go through, you’ll be just as lost! ~
“Not lost.. will find my way!” Ryker snarled, “Just let…me…go!”
Evan crouched, letting Ryker’s weight push forward and then he threw his brother over him onto his back. He was on top of him, his hands pinning Ryker’s shoulders and his legs over the hybrid’s thighs.
“It’s instinctual. You said it yourself. You have to think it through, Ryker!” ~ Please! ~ Evan had already made contact with Ryker’s mind. He didn’t want to have to do this, but dammit…he couldn’t let the boy go through. He knew the portal was still active. Crimson had needed it that way when they investigated. At least, the original at the oak was still humming with magic. “Papa and the dragons and Russ and Derek – they’re already over! Crimson was right after! What more can you do?!”
“I can find HIM!” There was a shift and Ryker was flipping with Evan.
They rolled down the hill, grappling – not kicking, not clawing, not trying to hurt one another. It was a big difference. Ryker was trying to get past Evan and Evan was trying to keep him from making a horrible mistake.
There was more growling before they finally rolled to a stop at the bottom.
When they landed next, Evan’s eyes were glowing. He looked into his brother’s eyes and he made a decision. ~ Sleep. Rest. Don’t dream of bad things. Dream of good memories. But Sleep….now… Ryker, sleep. ~
His eyes grew sleepy and slowly Ryker went lax. His body slumped against Evan as it started reverting to human again.
Nathan stopped in a skid down the side of the steep incline on the hill they’d tossed each other over. He was assessing the situation and hoping neither were hurt. Evan was slowly shifting back to his human form and Ryker already was. The dragon moved quickly to check Ryker’s pulse and look him over.
“I…I made him sleep.” Evan backed up on his hands and knees. His stomach turned and flipped and he dry heaved, before turning to face down the hill. “I shouldn’t have asked him to help me. I made it worse.” He grabbed at a clod of dirt they’d kicked up and threw it down the path angrily.
“No.. something happened with Terry and he felt it. That’s not your fault Evan.” Raven was with Starr just behind Nathan. Her heart broke for all of them right now.
“You did right. He needs sleep,” Nathan pulled Ryker up against him. The boy already weighed a fuckton and most of it was muscle. He looked to Starr and Raven and then his head nodded to Evan. “I’ll get him ta bed.”
“He can’t help it, Evan.” Starrfire squatted beside the lycan. His compassion was obvious.
“We can see to Evan, if you’ll see to Ryker.” Raven looked to her Chosen. Starr had said it himself, they would need to see to Evan and she would need to feed him.
“Rave, ask yer daddy ta meet me on the porch. I’d prefer he take a look at the kid.”
Mentally Raven called to her father as Starr helped Evan to his feet. As she moved to Evan’s free side to help him also, Raven answered the ancients request. “He’s waiting for you there.”
“Thank you, dear,” The dragon hefted Ryker up into his arms and closing his eyes, he teleported.
Copper tinged tears moved down Evan’s tired face and his lower lip trembled. “I’m not a bad person. I’m just bad luck.”