Paranoia (attn: Xeph)
"God damned it."Â?
Reign swore to herself as she missed another shot. There was no denying it, her stroke was off. She was still tense and upset and very worried.
About a week ago she'd gotten a call from her father in the middle of the night and had basically run straight from Drew's rooms at the Den jumped in her car and gone home to Chicago in a hurry. Not that there had been much she could do at that point but she also wasn't going to sit down in Nachton and not do anything.
Her father had called to tell her that the house had been broken into, no one had been home at the time and the following day after a late night at work her mother had been the target of an attempted car jacking. Thank god her mom had lived in a big city all her life. She was able to get away shaken up but unharmed. Still even though every one was physically OK Reign felt she had to be there. She was the oldest, she needed to do something to make it OK, to protect them.
There had been nothing she could do. She'd spent the time at home fussing at her mother, who finally yelled at her to back off, and helping to fill out paper work and clean the house. It was a nasty feeling to be so helpless and so far from home. Finally though, after repeated assurances from her sibs that everything would be OK and from her oldest brother that he'd be keeping an extra close eye on the folks Reign had decided to come home to Nachton. She'd been back a day now but hadn't really made contact with any one, maybe tomorrow she'd call the boy. He and the mutt could run and then maybe he'd help her work off some of this edginess. Drew was good for many things but two of the best were taking care of excess energy and listening, she just had to call him was all.
As she lined up another shot Sirius rose from his favorite spot in the hall way, he lurked there most of the time when she practiced, and looked expectantly at the door. Apparently they had company.
Still, Xeph was concerned about Reign. He knew how she felt about her own family and figured she was probably worried about them. He wouldn't have put it past them, either, to have had to pry her fingertips off the door and send her packing (no pun intended) back to Nachton.
As he reached the door of her house he didn't hear any barking but he knew Sirius would be waiting for him. He and the shepherd got along just fine. Xeph knocked anyway though. He wasn't about to barge into Reign's home uninvited. Besides, the last few times he'd been there had been slightly awkward for several reasons. Hopefully this visit was more normal.
He waited for Reign to answer the door herself. When she did he smiled at her and scratched Sirius on the head, then leaned down to give Reign a hug. Looking at her with one eyebrow raised he said, "So, they kicked you out huh?"
Reign wasn't much of a hugger but with the Doc, it seemed natural. At his question she shook her head and gave him a look of pure disgust.
"I was out numbered."Â?
She clearly wasn't happy about being half shoved out the door. Reign still thought she should be in Chicago doing... something.
Sighing she pointed him toward the living room and angled toward the kitchen.
"Did you want any thing before you try and convince me you're not a stalker?"Â?
Part of her really wasn't surprised he knew at least something about what had happened.
He didn't veer off into the living room like some guest to be waited on, which he was not. Instead he followed Reign to the kitchen and leaned on the door frame, his mismatched eyes watching as she proceeded him in. "I trust Officer Martin was able to help you all out," he said mildly.
The man in question hadn't necessarily been the front man talking to Reign's family, but he'd been responsible for processing the paperwork quickly and, at Xeph's request, had also been able to provide a number of "mysterious leads" no one seemed able to explain. Hooray for superhuman senses.
"Tabs, stalking... potatoe potato. The point is I think you'd make a good spy Doc."Â?
Taking the bottle opener from him after he'd availed himself of its service Reign took a good-sized swallow from her beer.
"Ah he's your inside man. I'd wondered, the break in paper work went much more smoothly than mine here did and he was suspiciously helpful."Â?
Poor insurance company hadn't seen what had hit them the CPD had been so damned efficient... for a change. It had also been a huge relive to both Reign and her parents not to have to beg the cops for information and follow up.
"I appreciate the help. A lot. It was a hell of a two days, I'm not sure any one could have handled even one more problem."Â?
"They are not the same thing. Stalking involves some kind of perverted sexual fantasy. I don't have time to stalk that many people."
He favored Reign with a smug smile as he said it, glad her pool cue wasn't in the room so she couldn't beat him with it. He would make a good spy though, he thought, scowling suddenly. Even his abhorrent jackal-man had seen that. Xeph still wasn't sure what he had in store for the vampire the next time they met, which he assumed would be soon. He'd had ample time to do some digging on the Meridian archivist and hadn't discovered anything noteworthy, really.
Focusing back on Reign Xeph nodded at her again. "We don't have many Pack up there in the windy city, but the few we do have promised to keep an eye on your folks." He held up a hand to forestall the inevitable. "Not spy on them, just keep them safe. I have a few sets of ears tuned to the airwaves. They'll be listening extra hard for anything suspicious, at least until we find out who was after what, and why."
Hiding behind slightly sarcastic humor was easy and natural for Reign. Oh, it probably wasn't healthy but it was better than bottling things up. Well mostly better. At least she thought so.
She set the beer down, determined not to drink it in two swallows, because that wasn't healthy either, and shook her head.
"To tell the truth I'm rather amazed there is any one up there. The city has never struck me as particularly hospitable to wild life. But I suppose as long as you plan a little bit it could work."Â?
The revelation that he had folks keeping an eye on her family Reign probably should have found presumptuous, but she didn't. In fact she was rather relieved. It was the next best thing to being there herself.
"I wish I could tell them that."Â? She grinned suddenly at an odd memory. "You should have seen Alex, the FedEx guy showed up late with Ma's new laptop just before I left and my darling brother decided to give the guy the third degree. I have never seen any one so happy to get a signature, he practically ran back to his truck."Â?
That had been what finally convinced Reign it was OK to come back to Nachton. Her folks might only have four of six kids still right in the Chicago area but four was more than enough to drive off most trouble, as long as they were all alert.
Still, the fact that no one could explain either her break in or her folks' was bothering her still. And she wasn't the only one in the family that thought it was odd.
"No, the city isn't all that agreeable," he acknowledged. "That why there's not much of a presence there. It's been hard enough establishing in Nachton. We do what we can though. Today Nachton, tomorrow the world, and all that."
Xeph grinned ferally at the idea of scaring the delivery guy. "I approve," he said. Then he sobered. "You know we'll help where we can," he said to her. "I've already sent a couple more of our more reliable watchdogs up that way."
He had, indeed, dispatched two of the security team the day before yesterday to specifically watch over Reign's family. She was Pack now, and taht meant her family was their family, in their way. But he knew Reign, too, and he wasn't sure that would be enough.
"You know there's nothing else you can do," he pointed out gently. "You can't exactly stay there worrying. It wouldn't help; your mom and dad would just be distracted with you in danger too."
"Great, I have a power hungry wolf in my kitchen."Â?
She rolled her eyes as she hopped up on the counter. Maybe it wasn't the best habit to have but she sat on kitchen counters for years, some times in her family that was the only place left -to- sit when things got crowded. And now there weren't any chairs in the kitchen.
She wondered a bit if the Pack members up there were native Chicagoans. It seemed that it would be terribly hard to adjust to the city as a wolf. But if you were native to the city and only had to adjust to being a wolf you might be all right. Oddly enough, Reign had thought about it a bit and had a few ideas how to handle it.
While Reign still felt she should be home doing something, standing guard or something she also knew she would sacrifice just about anything to help her family. In this case, it was her pride and she wasn't going to turn down or protest offered help.
"Just make sure they don't get too friendly with my sisters or they'll have to deal with my brothers."Â?
Reign grinned, again trying to find some humor in the situation.
Sighing she slouched backward letting her head bang into the cabinets and not really caring.
"I know. I know. It just doesn't feel right does it? I mean if all hell broke loose here while you were back in Australia I can't see you just hanging back and not doing anything about it. And eventually they are going to have to stop worrying about me and let me worry about them. Aren't they?"Â?
"Better a power hungry wolf than a just plain hungry one," he pointed out. "It could be worse."
He raised his eyebrows at Reign's assumption and grinned again. "I think your sisters are safe," he pointed out, "but your brothers had better be able to watch out for themselves. Those ladies are killers."
In many senses of the word, but Elaine and her sister Emma were definitely not hard on the eyes. They weren't headed to Chicao to party though, and Xeph knew the two would fit right in in the city and do the best job they could.
Shaking his head at Reign he said, "Sure, you get to look after them. But I don't know if they're ready for you to be putting them in the old folks' home yet. Look at mom," he said, meaning Lily. "Sure, she moved to the USA to be near me, but if I tried to go all protective on her," and he had, with no success, "she'd rip me a new one. Literally. Besides, worrying about them isn't the same as making a nuisance of yourself coddling and hovering."
It was half joke and half invitation to raid the fridge. The boy had a taste for things raw and Reign was a touch on the carnivorous side herself so there was meat to be had. There were veggies and nibbles too, nothing hard to prepare and nothing fancy though. A chef she was not.
Glad the pack was equal opportunity Reign found herself laughing at the idea of her brothers getting involved with a wolf. Wow, wouldn't that lead to some great heart to heart talks.
"Then they'd better look out for me. I'm not as nice as I seem."Â?
She quipped with a wry grin, although she wasn't at all worried about it. she might be playing with the idea now but Reign wasn't stupid. She knew who ever the Doc had sent up there wasn't hanging around to play, it was business Reign both understood and respected that.
Sitting up and rubbing the back of her head, she'd hit the cabinet harder than she'd planed, Reign took a sop of her own beer.
"You know now that you mention it I'm glad neither of my folks has teeth and claws. I hadn't thought of that."Â?
Sobering and after a seconds hesitation she continued.
"I know that. I really do. But I still can't help thinking that if I'd been there, if I were in your position, or even the boys I might have been able to do more. Maybe even stop it from happening or at least catch the bastards."Â?
Reign wasn't ready to out and out say it, not just yet but the idea that if she had been there and not only been there but been a wolf herself things might have been different.
As it was all the sib were in agreement that if they ever got hold of the low life that tried to hurt their mother, he'd be in a world of hurt. Hell, the whole thing was a big enough deal that her ex-husband had made contact with her for the first time in years, and his twin had been totally on board with those sentiments. You had to love close-knit neighborhoods.
He chuckled at Reign's defensiveness over her brothers. "They'll take good care of them," he assured her. "They know their job."
It was said with a grin; he didn't think Reign was truly concerned that her Packmates might somehow do harm to her family, in any way. Instead Xeph watched her smack her head with a wince, then waited while she talked herself through what he'd assumed might come up sooner or later.
Everyone weighed the pros and cons of Gifting when they knew about it. It was part of being Illamar, part of being surrounded by those who howled at he moon once a month. Some chose to surrender to it as inevitable; some chose to grasp it and claim it; some decided it wasn't for them and stayed as they were, living out a normal human lifespan.
"It's not the best way to go about it," he said to Reign, finally, as she skirted around the topic. "But it isn't the worst either."
He knew where her thoughts had led her to. "It is permanent though. You know you can't take it back."
Reign had no doubt some one was taking good care of the Doc behind the scenes. Maybe the Indian woman from the bowling ally all that time ago, huh that was the night that she and Bas had basically gone poof. Either way, he didn't look like he was starving so she wasn't worried.
She offered him a silent salute of her beer acknowledging that the Pack would take care of her family. It was a good feeling.
"Either way I'd still had to have been there so it isn't like I think it is the answer to all these problems."Â?
She wanted to assure him he wasn't making a rash decision or thinking this was some kind of magic fix. Right now, it was just an idea.
"Yeah, and that sort of sets me back. I'm not sure how the family would take it either."Â?
It was a given that her family would have to know. Reign couldn't even conceive of not telling them.
He let Reign talk out the question of Gifting on her own, smiling when she looked as if she might be talking herself out of it. He shrugged at her when she stopped.
"Hey, I'm not saying it isn't a good thing to do either. I told you before I think you'd make a fantastic wolf and that opinion holds. I just want you going into it for the right reasons."
Xeph wasn't going to try to talk Reign out of that decision, if she made it. He saw in her the potential to be an active and reliable Pack member. He even saw the potential for leadership in her, and that was something he would prefer to encourage.
"You never know, eventually we'll need someone strong enough and smart enough to organize us in another city."
It didn't hurt to plant that seed, either, he figured.
Reign had always liked the Doc and been able to banter with him. In a warped kind of way, she was almost glad that the break in had lead to finding out what he was and about the pack. She did still wish it hadn't lead to the break up, but she was starting to think that had been inevitable, besides that had lead to her adopting and being adopted by the pack so even there was a silver lining.
Grinning she nodded at his idea she'd be a good wolf. This really was a path she'd never thought her life would go down.
"Funny how everything seems to lead back to that question though, at least for me. I'm not quite sure what to make of it."Â?
It was like the universe was trying to speak to her. She wasn't quite picking up the right signal but she had no choice but to think about it.
She cocked an eyebrow at his almost idea. The man was good about saying things without saying them. He could nudge her just a bit and let her reach her own conclusions.
"From what I've seen you've got a good sturdy and growing base here and a lot of talent to draw on already."Â?
He shook his head and lifted a shoulder at Reign. "So don't make anything of it," he said. "The offer stands if you decide it's what you want. And if not, there are plenty of Illamar who stay just that. It's not like a pre-cursor to a Gifting."
He did add though, "Course, I'll be right pissed off if the Vyusher were to get to you." The very thought made him glower. Reign, as a Vyusher? He didn't like it at all. She was Kadzait even if she was never gifted.
He continued on, however. "Of course we have a good solid base. We need good solid bases in other places too though. And it's important to have human contacts in any city."
Xeph really did think Reign had what it took to eventually lead a Pack of her own. If that Pack happened to be outside of Nachton, he couldn't complain. She would always be a strong pack member.
"That sounds a hell of a lot like Ma as well. Probably why I like her."Â?
She hadn't gotten to spend as much time with Lily as she would have liked but she was a grown up and didn't need her mommy or a substitute mommy on a regular basis. All the same she would consider looking her up some time soon. Could one ask a woman like Lily for a beer?
"Sooooo no, new agey hippy wisdom here huh? I can live with that. How do you know it is what you want though?"Â?
For a second she just sat there thinking about what they said while finishing off her beer. Then without a word she hopped off the counter got herself another beer and returned to her perch.
"You know I have whole other rooms with actual chairs and such."Â?
Not that she had any issues hanging out in the kitchen. While not much of a cook life in a large family always seemed to hinge around the kitchen, even more so with her adoptive Italian family, so for Reign this was perfectly comfortable and natural.
She smiled sadly.
"I don't think you have to worry there Doc. That boat has sailed."Â?
Although due to her association with a Vyusher Reign was positive she was a carrier for the virus. That was another thing she seriously had to consider, she'd have no second chance once bitten it would be done. As she considered this Reign absently started to toy with the necklace she'd taken to wearing since in association with the Kadzait. The silver wolf that identified her as an Illamar.
"I'll give you that one, if you keep the Pack in total isolation well... yeah that would be bad."Â?
Rather abruptly Reign decided to put something big on the table. Well it was a big deal to her.
"I'm not committing one way or the other but you know if you get me you'd probably wind up with us all one way or another eventually."Â?
Most of her issues with being gifted Reign had suddenly realized came back to her family. She couldn't cut them out of her life again and this would be a life changing decision.
He shook his head at her next though, shrugging his shoulders. "Can't know unless you try sometimes. But you live with those who do long enough, you'll learn what you want."
Reign's brief attempt at hospitality was met with another shrug. Xeph was equally at home in almost any room. She was Pack and that made her family; it didn't matter to him where they hung out. Her next words gave him pause.
"No, it hasn't," he pointed out. "That little trinket you wear doesn't save you during a full moon. We can't all control our baser urges when she's full, and you're as high risk as the next human living in Nachton to be attacked or bitten. Granted, you know the risks of being out during a full moon, but," he held his hands out helplessly. "Things happen."
He wasn't trying to scare her into thinking one way over another though; he just wanted her to have all the facts. Nothing was certain, for their kind, until the Gifting. "It's been rare that someone's been Gifted unintentionally. But it has happened."
Xeph didn't go into the pain, the heartache, the ruined lives, such a thing could cause; particularly when the other family members belonged to the opposite Pack. There was nothing to be done though. Your Pack became your family; werewolves had an inherent need to seek out and stay with others of their kind. Even the "lone wolf" types eventually found their way even if, like Nikhila, they had to wander again after a brief stay.
The idea of reign's entire family though, made him grin. "I can just see it - Chicago run by a Pack of Sorensen wolves. Help us now."
Half lost in thought she started chewing the inside of her cheek. Hans always yelled at her about that, said it was a tell and let her opposition know they had her on the ropes. How exactly did he put it? Ah yes, it let them smell blood in the water. It didn't stop her though, she still did it.
Reign wasn't scared off by his honesty, she just nodded thoughtfully.
"I hadn't quite thought of that. I mean I'm not dumb enough to go outside wearing a T-Bone necklace but I don't exactly lock myself up inside a fortress for those three nights either."Â?
Frowning intently Reign considered, and quickly concluded she had -no- desire to be part of the other Pack. That was -not- her family.
"That could be a serious problem. Some how I don't think we'd get on that well."Â?
His grin was contagious and Reign could only shake her head at the idea.
"Lord and the city thought it was bad when Capone was running the place."Â?
He hadn't rejected the idea out of hand. That was a -big- step in the right direction and defiantly something to add to her 'pro' column.
"Sounds delightful," he said with a snicker.
Joviality aside though, he couldn't see Reign in the other Pack either. In all fairness he knew that because they were werewolves, they were also family and group oriented. Once Gifted he was sure she would be all right; that's just how it was. Pack became family, every bit as much as your biological parents and siblings.
He would just rather avoid the risk of losing Reign. What if Bastian decided to do something rash? Xeph didn't know the man well. Lovers' quarrels could be dirty. Look and what he and Nikhila had done, for example. They had somehow managed to alienate each other for more than two decades. Only good fortune had granted them the time to recognize and rectify their mistakes.
"I know you wouldn't get on that well," he agreed.
The smile was back on his face quickly though, when he thought of Capone being scared off by a wild frothing Pack of Sorensens, were or not. It was an amusing thought.
She pointed her beer at him, but with out any real hostility and a tiny bit of humor. Reign liked to think she knew the Doc well enough and he knew her well enough not to suggest something like that. She wasn't about to start hiding from other wolves now.
Did she want this though? Maybe, it was a definite maybe. It might pay to talk to a few other people about it though.
"Hell of a cliff to jump off of though isn't it?"Â?
Could he possibly know how odd it was to consider this when you didn't come from a family of wolves? The whole concept was... wow.
"Good to know I have a parachute and all that though but... you don't have a recruitment quota or anything do you?"Â?
She asked suspiciously.