Remembrance of Things Past Ch. 02bylilgirlsix©
2025 - Boise, Idaho
The two men surveyed the darkness, noses scenting the air, before slamming the doors of the SUV. They glanced at each other and nodded, moving towards the warehouse and quietly opening the door. The sign on the front said "Creighton Enterprises – Boise, ID." The place was deserted except for a lone figure, slumped in a chair in the dimly lit office. The two men entered the office, softly closing the door behind them.
"Why the secrecy, Drago?" Silvano's confused voice was soft as it cut through the silence.
"We don't want everyone to know, at least not yet." Drago seemed distracted as he spoke, not able to look either of his two fathers in the eye.
Zsigmond and Silvano exchanged perplexed looks.
"You know you can trust us, Drago, with anything. Now what is so urgent that you've asked to meet us alone in the middle of the night?" Zsigmond knew it must be something bad for Drago to meet them without his mate or his two mothers present.
"I don't even know how to say it." The human half of his mind was a jumble, warring with his wolf who didn't understand why his human half was so distraught. Drago sat motionless, unable to look up at his fathers.
Silvano was always a little unnerved when he saw his adopted son side by side with his biological father. It was like looking at twins, the only difference being Drago's short-cropped hairstyle in contrast with his father's longer, almost shoulder-length, hair. Even their voices were close to identical. And, of course, there was a hint of gray at Zsigmond's temples; he was over two hundred years old, after all.
Zsigmond laid a hand on his beloved son's shoulder. "How can we help you if you don't confide in us?" Even if he hadn't already felt his son's distress through their bond, he would have felt the tension in his muscles, so unlike his easygoing son.
Drago swallowed hard before trying to talk. His voice cracked as he began. "I think Kelly and I must have done something wrong." He could feel the surprise from his fathers through their bonds. "Jason is... he's not normal." His voice was so quiet that anyone without supernatural hearing would not have heard him.
Zsigmond felt his heart break. His grandson, Jason, was the light of his life. He had vowed to be a part of the cub's life, no matter the distance or inconvenience. He wanted to be there for each milestone, each little step that Jason took, if for no other reason than to assuage the guilt he still felt about Drago's kidnapping as a cub. His hand tightened on Drago's shoulder, but he couldn't find the words.
Silvano could see the pain in Zsigmond's face and spoke for both of them. "Tell us, Drago. Maybe we can help. It can't be that bad, can it?"
Drago closed his eyes a moment and spoke. "My son is human. He isn't a Werewolf." There, he'd said it. He couldn't look at either of them. He was afraid of how they would look at him, their son, unable to father a true Werewolf.
"That is impossible, Drago. You are a Werewolf, and Kelly is a Werepanther. Your children cannot be anything but Weres. There must be some explanation." Zsigmond wasn't sure what else to say. He looked at Silvano, the scientist. "Silvano, have you ever heard of a Werewolf fathering a human?"
"No, not that I am aware of. Drago, why do you think he is human? Not that it is possible, mind you."
Drago looked at the two men he trusted more than anyone in this world, besides his own mate. He took a deep breath and told them. "He can't shift. There's no bond with me or Kelly, not even with the Alpha. He's a human!" There, he'd said it. Drago felt as if a load had been taken off his shoulders. The secret was out, finally. He just couldn't pretend anymore.
Zsigmond was speechless. As far as he knew this was unprecedented. Drago had to be wrong. "I've never heard of such a thing. Even if he is late to shift, there should be a bond. Shouldn't there?" He looked to Silvano. He was the educated one. Zsigmond knew how to run a pack, how to hunt, how to lead the Betas in a fight. He knew nothing about Werewolf biology.
Silvano was as dumbstruck as Zsigmond. But a thought suddenly came to him. "Have you spoken with Leonardo? Did he suppress Jason's wolf as he did Kelly's panther? As he did to all the cubs in his pack for a century?" That must be it. The Creighton Alpha had ordered his cubs' panther-selves to remain dormant until they were mated to be sure they did not show themselves to the humans in the surrounding community. He had thought it best for the pack. Surely he had not done that to his own second's cub without telling him.
Drago slowly shook his head. "That was my first thought, but he swears he's done no such thing!"
Zsigmond squared his jaw, determined not to let his son down by showing weakness. But he couldn't stop the tears from forming at the corners of his eyes. "I will speak with Guillame about it. The Alpha has been among many packs over the centuries. Maybe he will know." His hand went to Drago's head, the gesture from so many years ago still so natural, to touch his son's head to bring them both some comfort.
"I need to go back home. Kelly is waiting for me. I didn't tell her I was meeting with you tonight. She doesn't know what it's like to have a bond with her parents, so it doesn't seem to bother her. But I can't live this way. I know we're missing something; he's missing something."
Silvano was shocked at the admission. Drago seemed almost broken. He knew that Carla and Margareta would be devastated to hear that anything was amiss with their grandson. He was a lucky boy to have such devoted grandparents. They had all been aware he hadn't shifted yet. But since there were no other cubs in the Creighton Pack, it wasn't totally unexpected. Although, to be honest, twelve was going beyond what anyone had heard before. To have no bond with his parents, though, that was a horrifying thought for a Werewolf. Why had Drago kept his secret so long? Why hadn't he told them sooner?
Drago took a deep breath. "I'll tell Kelly we met and what we talked about. And we'll wait to hear from you about what we should do next." He gave each of his fathers a hug and locked the doors behind them as they left.
"Are you sure Leonardo doesn't have something to do with this?" Alistair had never fully trusted the Alpha Panther.
"What reason would he have to lie?" Jenna knew Alistair didn't like Leo, but to think he was lying? You know you're being unfair. This is his great-grandchild, you know.
And he did the same to his own granddaughter. I wouldn't be surprised!
Rhys ignored the looks he saw exchanged between Alistair and his mate. "I do faintly remember some sporadic cases of the wolf-self joining with the human-self much later than usual, but I can't think of specifics. I'll look through our records. Katy has been employing Ben to digitize everything so we can do these types of searches more easily. I fought her a bit on it, but I guess I will have to concede that she was right."
He whirled around at the sound of a familiar giggle coming from behind him. "Sneaking up on me again, little one?" His grin lit up his face whenever he saw his lovely flame-haired mate. He just couldn't help but tease her a little bit.
Katy rushed into Rhys' arms and was enfolded in his strong embrace. She lived for these moments, and savored them every chance she had. "I knew you'd give in as soon as it came in handy. Just think how much time we'll save by not having to rely solely on your amazing memory and paper records." She snuggled for a moment before pulling herself away from his warmth. "Bronwyn and the other cubs will love having Jason here to visit." It always amazed her how the children interacted with him. They didn't hold it against him that they could shift and he couldn't. They were just kids and played and laughed. They didn't need bonds to love him. They just did.
"They'll be here later today. In the meantime, Carr says that Jeff, Logan and Xylon are brainstorming. They say they have a plan, so we'll leave it up to them." Alistair still wouldn't put it past Leonardo Creighton to be behind this in some way.
A few hours later the members of the Baxter and Bertrand-Kardos packs lined the driveway, waiting for Drago and his family to arrive. The cubs were jumping with joy and the few that had arrived in their wolf forms had quickly shifted back to human and slipped on their clothes.
Jason was popular among the children, especially the girls, who were almost giddy as they waited for him to arrive. Kyla and Tyra were jumping up and down, holding hands, unable to keep still as they waited. They and their brother, Colin, were among the very few cubs that weren't Jason's cousins. They both secretly hoped that someday one of them would be lucky enough to be Jason's mate. Even Werewolves could be boy crazy teeny-boppers at age twelve.
The black SUV pulled up in front of the main house. Drago got out, followed quickly by his Alpha, Leonardo Creighton. No one but Jenna could see the look of aggravation that flashed across Alistair's face. Kelly and Jason climbed out of the back seat.
Kelly smiled when she saw her friends and walked over to Jenna, giving her a big hug and speaking to her through the special bond she shared with all her sister-panthers. Jenna, do you think we should be worrying? Drago is going crazy about this. Is it really a big deal?
I wasn't born a Were, so I don't really know. It seems to upset the men, though. I guess we'll have to wait and see. What about your grandfather? Does he seem worried?
Kelly glanced quickly at Leo. Trying to read him is like reading a block of ice. I don't have a clue.
"Hey, Mom? Do I have to stick around here? The guys want to show me the tree house they built this spring. Can I go?"
Kelly smiled at the interruption. "Sure, go ahead. Have fun." She watched as he ran off with a group of cubs. They were like their own pack of twelve year-olds, led, of course, by Colin Baxter. She was just sure they'd get into some kind of trouble this afternoon. "I know you'll all make it back by dinner!" She had to yell to be heard over the whoops and hollers of the boys as they took off running through the compound. She laughed when she saw the disappointment in the girls' faces. She knew Jason was going to be a heartbreaker someday. He looked so much like Drago it was scary. What was it about these Vlkolak genes, anyway? The boys all looked similar; the girls were carbon copies of their mothers. It was kind of spooky. At least in their pack... on second thought, she realized, their pack wasn't much different.
"So, what are we doing here?" The booming voice of the Creighton Alpha reverberated through the foyer as they entered the Baxter Alpha's home.
Kelly was mortified. "Grandpa, Jason has a problem. You know that. We're here to see if we can figure out how to help him. I thought we discussed this thoroughly before we got on the road. You didn't have to come, you know."
"He is my blood, and a member of my pack. I will be here." The tall man glared at his granddaughter. You are showing great disrespect in front of outsiders, Kelly. It is not appreciated.
This is Drago's family; they are not outsiders! And they are going to help Jason; at least, I hope they can.
Drago showed nothing on his face but knew his mate and his Alpha were having one of their "disagreements." Alpha, you and your granddaughter are very much alike, but this is my family! I will not have them shown disrespect by your quarreling. We are here to help Jason, nothing else. So please, restrain yourselves until we get home!
Kelly felt the mental rebuke from her mate and acknowledged it through their bond. She saw the slight flinch on the face of her grandfather, but he acquiesced silently.
Jenna ignored the awkwardness between the Creighton Pack members and quickly grabbed Kelly by the hand to lead her into Carr Baxter's office. "They're in here. The doctors have been putting their heads together for days." The door was open and the room was already crowded with people. Carr Baxter, his mate, Lee, the two pack doctors, Xylon the geneticist, Drago's parents, both biological and adopted, and Guillame, the Bertrand-Kardos Alpha.
Lee welcomed the newcomers and put out a hand to Carr. "Let's leave them to their plans, love. We have things to do. Besides, Kyra and Tyla want me to help them with their hair. They want to look beautiful for when the boys come back." Lee winked at Kelly, who laughed.
Drago looked dejected as he sat next to his mate. Kelly stroked his neck while they waited, leaning in close to lend Drago the peace she felt. Their son was healthy; if he never shifted or had a bond with them, would it really be the end of the world? Gazing at her soul-mate, she guessed that his answer would be "yes."
Leo seemed impatient, and leaned against the wall with his arms crossed. "So, what now? How do you intend to fix my great-grandson, hmm?" The alpha panther was an imposing male, and in lesser company would certainly have been frightening. But he was standing among the most powerful Weres in North America. Whether he liked it or not, they were his equals at the very least.
Colin stopped at the top of the hill, glancing back at his friend struggling with the steep incline. Colin and the cubs from the pack weren't tired at all, but Jason could barely keep up. He had to keep stopping to catch his breath. Colin pushed the chocolate brown hair out of his green eyes and sat down on a rock, calling out to his pack-mates. "Hey, guys, wait up, I'm tired, gotta catch my breath!" He saw the heads cocked in question, then understanding and grins as they trotted back to the big rock to wait for Jason.
Jason wasn't surprised to see his friends waiting for him. He was gasping for breath when he plopped next to Colin. "Thanks guys. I know you aren't tired." He smiled at their attempts to make him believe that they were exhausted and laughed at Colin's fake wheezing. He looked down for a minute, his toe pushing a rock in the dirt. "You guys try to make me feel better, like I'm part of the pack, but I know I'm a freak. My dad thinks I'm a freak. I see the way he looks at me; how my Alpha looks at me. The only one who doesn't seem to think I'm strange is my mom. She says it's nothing, that she was the same way." He kicked the rock ahead of him, watching it land in front of Corey.
"Hey, adults don't know everything!" Corey kicked the rock to his left, hitting Jamey in the foot.
"Yeah, they think they do, but they don't." Jamey swiped his foot through the dirt, sending the rock sailing through the air to hit Teddy on the forehead.
"Ouch!" Teddy rubbed the long cut on his head which quickly healed into a faint line under his fingers.
Tad leaned over and looked at it closely. "Dang, Auntie Rebecca and Uncle Trey are gonna notice that right away!" Tad and Teddy were the images of their twin fathers, and as close as brothers themselves.
Colin laughed. "You're just trying to look like my dad!" Even after thirteen years, Carr Baxter carried a rather dramatic scar on his forehead from the battle with Gary's Dire Wolves. It had become his badge of honor, and the cubs were enthralled by the story of the fight whenever they heard it.
Teddy took a big kick, the rock bouncing off a tree and landing on top of Daniel's head. The blonde giant smiled and reached up to pull the rock out of his hair. He stood a full head taller than the other cubs his age. And although he was as gentle as a lamb, the entire pack expected him to make as good a Beta as his parents, Nathan and Lila.
"Well, let's get moving. If we're gonna make it to the tree house and back for dinner without our parents nagging us, we should get going." Always the leader, Colin jumped up and put an arm around Jason's shoulders. "You know you're one of us, even if you'll be a panther someday. So don't worry if you get tired. You can tell us."
Jason nodded and grinned at his best friend. Well, his best friend other than Hope, that was. And he couldn't wait to get a chance to tell her everything that was going on. She always seemed to understand him best, even better than his mom.
Even though they'd driven into the middle of the Baxter Pack compound, they'd be staying with his grandparents at the Bertrand-Kardos compound right next door. And since Hope's parents were the Alphas, he knew he'd have all the time he wanted to visit with her.
"Jason, did you hear me? We're here." Colin didn't know what was distracting him, and didn't really care. If Jason wanted to talk, he would.
Jason realized he'd been thinking about what he wanted to tell Hope instead of paying attention. He looked up and saw the tree house, just as Colin and Corey had described it to him. "Wow, that's neat!" He looked at his friends who were waiting for him before they climbed up the ladder into their lookout high in the branches of the juniper tree. "How tall is it?"
"It's gotta be like a thousand feet tall." Jamey was staring up at the top, a huge smile on his face.
Corey leaned over to whisper to Jason, "More like about forty-five feet. Dad brought out some kind of instrument that he used to measure it. Said mom wouldn't let us do anything without knowing how far from the ground we were going to fall first." Corey snickered when he remembered his mother's argument about how dangerous it was. "She kept saying 'Wolves aren't supposed to climb trees.' Dad just laughed and said we'd heal, so what was the problem."
Jason glanced up at Corey, one of his many cousins in the pack, watching him climbing the makeshift ladder. Did Corey know that Jason didn't have the Were healing abilities that they all did? I'll just have to make sure I don't fall. He quickly, but carefully, clamored up the ladder after them. Within minutes he was sitting on the edge of the platform high up in the tree.
"Wow, this is awesome!" He could see across the entire valley, even making out the buildings that made up the two separate pack compounds. He tried to pick out his grandparents' house, next door to the Alpha's. His Grandpa Zsig was the second in the pack, and his Grandpa Sil was a scientist. Sometimes when he was little he'd gotten confused about how he was related to them, but now he was old enough to understand. Dad had two sets of parents. His grandmothers were overprotective, especially Grandma Margie. He figured she'd be really upset that he was out here with his buddies. In fact, he'd probably be lucky to get some time like this again during the trip. Grandma Margie barely took her eyes off him when he was visiting. But now that he thought about it, Grandma Carla wasn't much better.
But for now, he'd just sit up here and listen to the wind whistle through the branches high in the air. The boys laughed and cheered at the blackbirds swooping after a Red Tail Hawk that dared to come too close to their nests. Jason was going to enjoy this as much as he could. Soon enough he'd have to come back to earth and whatever the doctors had planned for him.
"And what is this DNA going to tell you?" Leonardo looked skeptically at the Greek Were. What could the boy's blood say that wasn't obvious? He wasn't a panther, he wasn't a wolf; he was a human, through and through.
"I'll be looking for any possible abnormalities. We've mapped the Werewolf genome, and since meeting you, the Werepanther genome. They are similar, but different in small ways. The Vlokolak seem to be some sort of amalgam of the two, and those peculiarities seem to show up generation after generation." Xylon was about to lose his patience with the panther Alpha. He seemed very unwilling to look to science for any help for his great-grandson. Just because Leo was over a thousand years old didn't make him the authority on everything.