Author Topic: Troubling News  (Read 781 times)

Rhys Bristol

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Troubling News
« on: April 16, 2019, 12:23:57 PM »
It wasn't unusual for the Bristols and the Sparrowhawks to get together over coffee, especially when the kids were in school or otherwise occupied. After all, they were best friends, but somehow today seemed different. Rhys wasn't psychic, but being summoned to breakfast as soon as the kids were off to school and day care and play groups seemed a little urgent to him, and Rhys didn't like urgent.

It didn't seem to be deathly urgent. Gina was still padding around in her pyjamas, making the most of a day off work as she hummed to herself over the frying pan. Nat couldn't help smiling as they walked into the Sparrowhawks' kitchen. The pyjamas had "What do I want?" across the chest, and "Dat ass" on the ... well, appropriate part.

Despite a small case of nerves, Rhys rolled his eyes at Gina's choice of attire. "Good grief, Gina. If I knew we were having a pajama party, I'd have come over in my skivvies," he said, though it would probably be a good day in hell before he actually did that. He might be brash, but he wasn't the type to parade around half-dressed, unless it was for his wife.

"You say that like I haven't seen you in your birthday suit," Gina pointed out, grinning over her shoulder at him. "Geez, look at you. Calm down, the world is not ending."

"Not anymore," he muttered. At least, he hoped not. Preventing one Apocalypse had been enough for all of them; none of them wanted to go through that again.

"Morning, kids!" Adam said as he joined them in the kitchen, touching a kiss to Gina's cheek before moving toward the coffeepot. "Coffee?" he asked their friends.

"Yes please," Nat agreed with a smile. "Oh, but, uh ... not strong, please." She glanced at Rhys with a faint grin, easing into a lean against the counter so as to be out of the way.

Rhys smiled back, relaxing a little. They had some news of their own to share, if Gina and Adam hadn't guessed already. Maybe he was just being paranoid. Maybe Gina and Adam were finally pregnant. Maybe that was what this was all about, though only God knew how they'd handle yet one more. "And make mine extra strong," he said, though that was no surprise.

Gina tilted her head toward the other couple, a suspicious smile on her face. "Are you knocked up again?" she asked, skillfully removing sausages and bacon from the frying pan and tucking them into the oven to keep warm while the eggs and tomatoes got a start.

"That better not be for later," Rhys remarked with a nod of his head toward the frying pan. "Because, healthy or not, a bowl of Cheerios isn't breakfast."

Adam handed first Nat and then Rhys a cup of coffee, one a little watered down and one strong enough to wake the dead. He neither denied nor confirmed Gina's question, as it was up to Nat to do that, but he did offer his wife a wink.

"Again with the underestimating me." Gina laughed, rolling her eyes at Rhys. "We practically grew up together, dude, I wouldn't deny you bacon. I know how dangerous you get when I do." She winked at her friend, hip checking her own husband as Natalya took a sip of her watered down coffee.

"Oh, was I supposed to answer the question?"

"You can plead the Fifth, but that's practically like admitting your own guilt," Adam pointed out, smirking as his wife as wound his arm around her waist. "You don't need my permission to sit, you know," he told their friends.

"I see nothing to be guilty about," Nat said cheerfully. "We are expecting a package at the end of November, that is all."

Gina snorted with laughter, leaning into Adam with a smile. "Nat, you always sound like you're expecting some kind of furniture to be delivered."

"There's another little Bristol bun in the oven," Rhys proclaimed, looking pretty proud of that fact. No one had ever said there was anything wrong with his ability to father a child. He tugged Nat close for a second, careful not to jostle her too much or risk spilling their coffee, kissing her cheek before moving to pull out a chair for her.

Adam grinned. "I'm gonna be an uncle ... again."

"You gonna pass out there, Unky?" Gina asked laughingly, moving to plate up the cooked breakfasts and set them on the table.

Adam snorted. "Pfft, hardly. Just didn't expect it yet," he said, keyword being yet. He knew Rhys and Nat had wanted a third child; it was just a matter of when. He moved to help Gina distribute the food, waiting until she was seated before taking a seat himself. "This is kinda nice. Just the four of us, without any interruptions from the little people. We should do this more often," he said.

"When the package drops, we can add mimosas," Gina suggested, pouring out juice into glasses before sitting down herself.

Nat smiled faintly. "Perhaps we should do this more often," she agreed. "With Ian and Aurelia, too."

"We're gonna need to hire more than one babysitter," Rhys remarked with a grin. Between the three couples, they had seven kids in total and one more on the way. "So, why not invite them over, too?" he added, since they were only next door, after all.

Gina glanced at Adam. "They said they had a couple of people to meet," she said, not really giving much away there. "Maybe it's a witch thing."

"Not an Avalon thing, is it?" Rhys asked, remembering his gut feeling had told him this was about more than just breakfast. He crunched on a piece of bacon, while he awaited a reply.

Gina grimaced. "You're way too smart these days," she grumbled, rolling her eyes. "Ian's in Avalon with Morgan. Aurelia is doing something mysterious with that guy they met at the university benefit last week."

Rhys furrowed his brows at that bit of news, ignoring her remark about his intelligence or lack thereof, for the moment. "Okay, I'll bite ... Why is Ian in Avalon while Aurelia is dealing with some mysterious business alone?"

Natalya frowned as her eyes turned to Adam, who was keeping very quiet right now. Suspiciously so, in fact. Gina, however, sighed, tucking her hair back behind her ear.
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Rhys Bristol

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Re:
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2019, 12:24:33 PM »
"Because, apparently, Aurelia is visiting a vampire right now."

Adam winced, wishing he'd been the one to make that announcement.

"WHAT?!" Rhys exclaimed, shoving back from the table and pushing to his feet, his expression one of not only shock but anger and just a hint of fear.

Adam stood, too, laying a hand on Rhys' shoulder in hopes of reassuring his friend. "Relax. It's not what you think, and Aurelia knows what she's doing."

There was a pause as Nat tucked her own hand into Rhys', squeezing gently. "Milaya," she said, hoping he was listening to her. "Of all of us, Aurelia is the safest when it comes to making contact with beasts or monsters. She can protect herself with magic; she can shimmer away in less than a second. She will be fine."

Rhys sat back down, or was half-pushed down by Adam. His face had turned pale at the mention of vampires, but it was Nat's voice that pulled him back out of his thoughts and memories of the night Dylan had died.

"I know you don't want to hear this, but they're not all evil blood-sucking monsters," Adam said.

"Oh, Christ. You're not gonna give me the 'vampires are sparkly' speech, are you?" Rhys countered, clearly agitated.

"Easy." Nat didn't let go of his hand, drawing it into both her own, pressing his palm against her midriff. Connecting him to the present and the future, away from the past.

Rhys drew a shaky breath, just the mention of vampires taking him back to his teens and the horrific events of that night. Despite all the years spent fighting demons and other monsters, it was that single experience with vampires that had traumatized him the most, even now.

"Vampires are definitely not sparkly," Adam assured his friend. "But they're not all like the ones who killed Dylan."

"Okay, so wanna tell me why Aurelia is meeting with a vampire then?" Rhys asked, his breakfast forgotten for the moment. He was clinging to Nat's hand, like she was his only lifeline.

"Because he wants to introduce her to a dhampir, so that she can be introduced to you," Gina told him gently. "Aurelia will be able to tell you all the details, but we wanted to make sure you were forewarned."

Nat frowned curiously. "What is a dhampir?"

"A legend, a myth," Rhys replied, though if Adam and Gina were telling the truth, he might have to re-adjust his thinking. "A dhampir is supposedly the offspring of a vampire and human, but I've never run across any vampires that were able to procreate." He turned to Adam, with a dubious look on his face. "Have you?"

Adam shook his head. "No, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. Have you ever met anyone like you?"

"Point taken," Rhys muttered.

"Aurelia will be able to tell us more when she gets back," Natalya said gently. "I know it is hard, Rhys, but there must be a reason for this diplomatic approach. If they intended harm, Ian and Aurelia would never have come home from that meeting. Da?"

"So, why is Ian in Avalon?" Rhys asked further. Was it to keep Morgan away from the so-called vampires, or did he have business of his own there? He wasn't sure how he felt about Aurelia meeting a vampire on her own, but Nat was right - of all of them, the witch was the most capable of taking care of herself.

"He's keeping your Lady informed," Gina told him, glancing at Adam. "And yeah, he probably took Morgan with him as a just in case measure. It's what you'd do."

"So, what does a dhampir want with me?" Rhys asked, still tense but willing to listen. He still wasn't sure such a thing existed, but he was willing to admit that everything in folklore was usually based in some kind of fact.

"Rhys, we don't know," Gina said gently. "That's why Aurelia's doing this. But, uh ..." Her eyes flickered to Adam. "You wanna pick this up?"

Adam nodded, turning to both Rhys and Nat because what concerned one, concerned the other. "You remember a few years ago when you were being followed?" he asked, not waiting for a reply. "I've been doing some digging, and I think it might have been either vampires or werewolves."

Rhys' knit his brows together in confusion. "Why would vampires or werewolves be interested in me? Besides the obvious," he added, meaning the fact that he was a hunter. He'd always been far more interested in hunting demons than anything else, but he'd had his encounters with them, too. These days, he was more concerned with his family and Avalon than with hunting monsters.

Adam shrugged. "I'm not sure, but I think it might have to do with your immunity," he suggested. "Anyway, we'll know more when we hear from Aurelia."

"Immunity that Ana and Micah also have," Nat said, her tone suddenly tense and not at all prepared to take a risk where her children were concerned. "What makes a dhampir different to a vampire?" she asked pointedly, looking at her husband. "Are the children safe?"

Rhys tensed again, having to fight the urge to jump out of his chair and bolt from the house to check on their children, but neither Gina nor Adam looked too concerned.

"Relax, I've got eyes on them. They're safe," Adam assured his friends.

Rhys remained in his seat, but he didn't seem convinced. "They better be, or there'll be hell to pay," he murmured.

Nat, however, was a little less forgiving of being kept in the dark. "If someone does not answer the bloody question in the next breath, I am going to scream before leaving to collect my children right this second."
Everybody's got their dues in life to pay.

"Dream On" - Aerosmith

Rhys Bristol

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Re:
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2019, 12:24:49 PM »
"From what I've read of them, dhampirs don't need to drink blood to survive, they can handle daylight, and they're long-lived," Adam explained.

"So, basically they possess all the benefits of being a vampire without the downside," Rhys said, summing up what Adam was telling them. "Still doesn't explain what a dhampir wants with me."

"And you are sure that our children are safe without us?" Nat pressed, needing that answer before she could relax and let the conversation continue on around her.

"Do you really think I'd put any of our kids' lives at risk?" Adam countered. "Trust me, Nat. They're in good hands. Safe hands. Capable hands," he assured her.

Gina reached across the table to squeeze Nat's other hand reassuringly. Between them, she and Adam had more than enough contacts to make sure that all the children were well watched over when they were out of their parents' sight.

Nat drew in a slow breath, reluctantly nodding but making a mental note to pick up Micah from daycare earlier than usual, and Ana from her holiday club.

"I'm still waiting for someone to tell me exactly what this is all about," Rhys said, just about glaring at Adam, his tone of voice betraying his agitation. Just the word 'vampire' was enough to put him into a fit of rage. He seemed to be the one who knew the most about the vampires or dhampirs or whatever they hell they were.

"I'm not entirely sure myself," Adam started, knowing that wouldn't do much to make Rhys or Nat feel any better. "I think it may have something to do with your blood."

Rhys rolled his eyes, interrupting Adam's explanation. "Well, of course, it does. They're vampires!"

"Rhys." It wasn't often Gina took that tone with her best friend, but sometimes he needed to be slapped down. "Don't interrupt. You asked the question, have the courtesy to listen to the answer."

Rhys grumbled a little to himself, looking as chastened as a boy who'd just been scolded by his mother, but quieted. He was clearly tense, but he did trust his friends. Adam had never failed him and had even saved his life, more than once. He was too annoyed to apologize, but he did shut up. Adam nodded his thanks to Gina, knowing how hard this was for his friend, but he needed to listen.

"A few years ago, an associate of mine was investigating some murders upstate. Serial killer, they thought, but as it turns out, it was vampires. Nasty stuff. The Bureau got involved, but you know how it is. Don't tell the public, or there might be a panic. Anyway, things settled down for a while, but a few years later, there was a ... conflict between a couple of factions. Big bloody battle, to be more precise. They do a pretty good job of cleaning up their own mess. Best we can tell, the vampires took care of their own. Things have been quiet since then. No more serial killers, no more bodies drained of blood, no more psychopathic vampires. Your friend Jason? Turns out his buddy Nick is a vampire. Turned against his will. A cop, Rhys. Nick was the guy investigating the serial killers in Albany, so they turned him. Only thing is, instead of joining them, he helped put them down. Long story really. I'm sure you'll hear it all before long. The point is, not all vampires are cold-blooded murderers. I'm not saying they're sparkly and misunderstood, but in my experience, it's better to make the enemy of your enemy your friend. Or at least, your ally. Nick's a good guy. Seems this vampire Aurelia is meeting with is one of Nick's friends. Not sure what he wants, but I'd be willing to bet they're on our side."

Nat held onto Rhys throughout this, listening herself to try and wring some sense out of the information being imparted. "You said something about werewolves as well," she said quietly, accepting that there was close to nothing they could do about Aurelia making friends with a vampire at this moment in time.

Rhys face had turned stark white, as if he had been drained of blood. He clung to Nat's hand, struggling not to squeeze her hand too hard. All he wanted to do in that moment was break something, but instead he only clenched his jaw and tried to make sense of what Adam was telling him, rather than fly off the handle without thinking it through.

"Yeah," Adam replied, his expression changing, betraying his own worry. "Here's the thing ... When you were in the hospital back in Flagstaff, they took samples of your blood. I've done everything I can to wipe out any records of that. So has Avalon. But word travels fast, especially among the preternatural community. We think that's why you've sparked someone's interest. Either vampires or werewolves or both, and I'm willing to bet someone sees you as a threat. Not because you're a hunter, but because you're immune."

"We are going to have to make it very clear that our family is off-limits, then," Nat said thoughtfully. She had gone unnaturally calm and quiet in a way no one there had seen but Adam - it was her reaction to terror and trauma, and it was how she had reacted after Rhys' death in France. "We need to know who our enemies are."

"You realize there are other shifters besides werewolves," Rhys pointed out, the only thing he was ready to say just yet.

"Yeah, but ..." Adam said, pausing to address Nat's concerns first. "I should have told you about this a long time ago, but I didn't want to worry you. For that, I'm sorry. But you have to trust me on this. I would never do anything that would put any of you or your children in danger. I'd rather die first."

"Can you tell us who you have at the school and the daycare?" she asked quietly. "And how much they know about what they might have to face?"

"People I trust. Undercover people. We take care of our own, too, you know," Adam said, looking to Rhys with an expression that told him a lot more than he was saying. The two men had known each other since boyhood. They were like brothers, and Adam knew there was no one Rhys trusted more than him. Still, he didn't have to like it.

"You should have told us," Rhys said, his voice a touch too low, like the calm before the storm.

"And what would you have done then?" Adam countered.

Unconsciously, Nat's fingers strayed to the amulet about her neck, pouring her fear and anger and worry into a moment of contact with the only person she knew who could calm Rhys at any moment. There was a pause, and the familiar maternal warmth of Elaine, the Lady of Avalon, swept through the kitchen, enveloping Rhys as she touched his mind.

Tell me, Champion ... what do you need of us?
Everybody's got their dues in life to pay.

"Dream On" - Aerosmith

Rhys Bristol

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« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2019, 12:25:08 PM »
Rhys tensed and then relaxed as he felt the Lady's presence and heard her sweet voice in his head. He drew a breath, all the anger going out of him, for the moment, replaced with only worry.

"I need to keep my children safe," he replied quietly and without hesitation. After all, they shared his bloodline and it was likely they shared his immunity, even if they weren't incarnated angels.

"But without too much disruption to their lives and friendships," Nat added, feeling her own distress easing to know that Avalon really was there whenever they needed it.

Gina glanced at Adam. She had only been to Avalon once, a special dispensation to attend Rhys and Nat's wedding, but there was no mistaking the owner of the presence that had swept through their kitchen. The Lady, however, spoke only to her Champion and Priestess.

We have many friends in your city, she assured them. Lionel shall assign them to your children, to your friends' children. To you. We do not abandon our own.

Adam remained silent. He couldn't hear what the Lady was telling his friends, but he could feel her unmistakable presence all around them. Though he hadn't received any special invitations to Avalon, he had connections of his own that not even Gina knew about. Rhys nodded his head, his heart constricting in his chest, but not from fear this time so much as relief. He trusted Adam and knew his friend would do everything in his power to keep his children safe, but Adam was only human, after all.

"Thank you," Rhys told her, not saying more than that for now. He said nothing about Nat's condition, assuming the Lady had probably known before he did.

We are always with you.

Those words came with the ghost of an embrace for both of them, the echo of a kiss dropped on Rhys' forehead. Nat let out a shaky breath as the presence subsided, raising her eyes to Adam and Gina.

"I am sorry," she apologised. "You do not deserve my anger. And I probably should have asked before inviting a powerful being into your kitchen for  a chat."

Adam frowned, as though there was something still worrying him, something niggling at him, something he was still keeping from those closest to him. He was a Fed; he was used to keeping secrets, but in truth, he hated keeping things from those he loved, even if it was for their own safety. "I wish I could have told you, but I'm telling you now," he told them, apologetically.

"It is better to know," Nat agreed softly, stroking her fingers over Rhys' palm. "And we cannot do anything without knowing more of what these ... people ... want from us. We have to be patient."

Rhys grimaced. Patience wasn't one of his better traits, and they all knew it. If it hadn't been for the Lady's intervention, he might have slugged Adam. It wouldn't have been the first time or likely the last, but it was better if they worked together on this, and he knew Adam had his reasons for keeping secrets, just as Rhys had in the past. "Okay, so what happens now?" he asked, skipping past all the crap to get right to the heart of the matter.

"Now," Adam replied. "We wait to hear back from Aurelia," he told them simply.

"So we finish eating," Nat said, breaking it down further for her husband. "And you will go and get Micah from daycare, and I will fetch Ana from her club at the school. May I take Amy as well?" she added, tilting her head toward the other couple.

Gina nodded; she knew when not to argue. Rhys and Nat had absorbed plenty of worrying information in the last hour. They were allowed to overreact a little for the day.

"I can do that," Rhys replied, toying with his bacon. He was itching to get up right then and there and fetch their children, take them to safety, even to Avalon where nothing could harm them. He knew this was why Adam had kept things from them - that Rhys was more likely to fly off the handle or flee to safety in Avalon before thinking things through. Thankfully, he could take a little comfort in knowing the Lady was watching over them, at least. Adam watched his friend, knowing him better than he knew himself. He knew Nat was worried, too, and possibly Gina. He hoped she didn't read him the riot act when they were alone later, but she knew what she was getting into when she'd married him. Mostly, anyway.

"You might as well know, just between us," he started.

"Gods, what now?" Rhys muttered.

"Stow the attitude, dude," Gina warned him. She loved her friend, but Rhys' temper was not an unknown quantity, and his crankiness could last for days.

Nat glanced between them. "What is it, Adam?" she asked quietly.

"Yes, Mother," Rhys murmured, but he didn't mean it as a gibe. He'd lost his own mother long ago, and though Gina was more like a sister to him, he didn't hold it against her when she scolded him. Adam glared at Rhys, giving him a silent warning for a moment, but he knew Gina could handle herself. His expression softened as he looked to her, about to confess something even she hadn't known.

"This doesn't go farther than this room, but you might as well know, Avalon recruited me a few years ago."

Rhys' brows arched upwards in surprise, but he didn't look displeased by that news. "Oh, thank God. I thought you were going to say you were a vampire or something."

Of everyone at the table, Gina was the one who looked the most surprised. She raised her brows, meeting her husband's eye pointedly. "Well, that's new."

"I was sworn to secrecy," Adam said, lifting his shoulders in a light shrug. "I doubt it matters much now. I still work for the Bureau, but it doesn't hurt to have connections, and it's hard to tell Lionel no." There was a ghost of a smile on his lips, relieved to have finally shared that secret with those he considered his only remaining family.

Natalya snorted with laughter, glancing at Rhys. "I think we can both appreciate that," she assured Adam. "The reason we have two insane dogs is because a certain person couldn't say no to the Grandmaster."

It was Rhys' turn to shrug, relieved the tension in the room seemed to have dissipated, their friendship strong enough to overcome their secrets. "I always wanted a dog. Now I have two," he said, making no apologies.
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"Dream On" - Aerosmith

Rhys Bristol

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« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2019, 12:25:25 PM »
"They're not dogs, Rhys. They're miniature horses," Adam pointed out with a grin.

Gina rolled her eyes. She would talk to Adam about his side-commitments later. "If I ever see Amy riding one of your dogs, I'm going to report you to animal welfare," she told her friends, but she was smiling.

"Just Amy?" Nat asked in amusement.

Gina grinned back. "Sure. What you let your daughter do is none of my business, right?"

"Hate to say it, but my dogs could take on a werewolf any day of the week," Rhys remarked, taking a bite of his toast. Breakfast had gotten a little cold, but it was still edible, as far as he was concerned. He wasn't just saying that about the dogs either. Lionel had been no fool in giving them a pair of dogs capable of protecting the family.

"And they are definitely his dogs," Nat added in amusement, slipping the last of her bacon over onto his plate.

Gina chuckled. "I'm pretty sure those two only take real orders from Ana, guys."

Rhys chuckled. "I don't know about that. They listen to you pretty well - especially when you're angry," he teased his wife, elbowing her lightly, even as he crunched on another slice of bacon. The dark mood seemed to have lifted, at least for now.

"Darling, I could command armies when I'm angry," Nat reminded him in deep amusement, glad that she didn't need to feel frightened for her family too much.

"That, I would pay to see," Gina said, gesturing with her toast.

"I'll be selling tickets the next time Cody has an accident," Rhys quipped, with a wink Gina's way. It was good to know their friendship could weather any storm - and had on more than one occasion. "Okay, so, when do you think you'll hear from Aurelia?" Rhys asked, a little nervous for the witch, but confident she could take care of herself.

"Not too long," Adam replied, sipping his coffee. "We should hear back by the time you get back with the kids."

Natalya nodded, relieved that they weren't going to be judged harshly for needing their children home after hearing that news. "That will not take long," she said easily, looking down at her plate. "In fact, I have further to go and more talking to do, so I will head off now for the girls." She patted Rhys' hand. "And you will fetch Micah?"

"Yes, ma'am," Rhys replied, furrowing his brows a moment. "You sure you want to go alone?" he asked, that over-protective worried side of him kicking in again.

"I have this," she reminded him gently, touching her amulet. "And it will be quicker to have them both home if we go separately. You should call ahead, ask to speak to Amaris. She won't have any problem with you taking Micah out early."

"Amaris, got it," Rhys repeated the name, committing it to memory. They were used to sharing the task of child-rearing, but Nat was the one who made it a point to get acquainted with their teachers and careers. "Can I finish my bacon first?" he asked her, smiling as he took another bite.

"Yes, you can, because I have to collect the dogs as well before I get into my car." She rose to her feet, kissing his temple affectionately. "I will not be so very long. And thank you," she added to their friends. "I appreciate that the news was difficult to share."

Adam nodded. Though he wasn't so sure he'd done the right thing in keeping it from them, he'd done it for all the right reasons. He had a feeling he and Gina were going to be having a long talk in the not-too-distant future.

"Just share it a little sooner next time," Rhys added. "If anything doesn't feel right, call me," he told Nat.

"I will," Nat assured him, squeezing his shoulder one last time before heading for the door, offering a smile and a wave to the others on her way.

Gina swallowed a mouthful of her cool coffee, her eyes turning to Rhys. "Are you sure you're okay?"

Rhys turned to watch Nat go, resisting the urge to follow her. So long as she was wearing that amulet, he knew she'd be safe. "Would it make you feel better if I said yes?" he replied to Gina's query, as honestly as he could.

"Not if you're lying to me," she told him, shaking her head gently. "We've been to the pits together, Rhys. You don't need to spare my feelings. I want to help, if I can."

"You are helping," Rhys assured her, looking across the table at both his friends. "I'm sorry if I got pissed, but you both know how I feel about vampires. Werewolves, too, actually. And I won't take any risks where my family is concerned. I can't," he told them both, though they knew all this already. He'd lost too much. They all had. "I just can't bear to lose anyone else. And that includes both of you."

"Rhys, I get it," Gina promised him. "We both do. And I know that you have deep trauma around vampires. But you also have deep trauma around demons, and you still went out of your way to save Aurelia from herself and bring her back to humanity. If you can do that for a demon, then you can shelve your anger and let yourself believe that not all vampires or werewolves want you dead."

"That was different. Aurelia wasn't a demon; she was possessed by one. I was working to free her from it. I would have done it for anyone, if I could," he said, though he wasn't sure if that was really true. He'd been forced into killing people who'd been possessed, including his own father. He didn't want to kill anyone if he could help it, but vampires and werewolves were different. Still, he knew some of them hadn't asked to become what they were and probably tried as hard as he did not to do any harm. He drew a deep breath. "I'm trying, Gina. That's the best I can do."

"These aren't the vampires who were responsible for Dylan's death, Rhys. They're dead. We killed them a long time ago," Adam reminded him.
Everybody's got their dues in life to pay.

"Dream On" - Aerosmith

Rhys Bristol

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« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2019, 12:26:43 PM »
"And these vampires obviously know that you have good reason to distrust them," Gina added. "They're being amazingly careful in how they approach you, Rhys. Aurelia could have shut them down, Ian could have refused the meeting she went to today. They could have just shown up on your doorstep. They're being surprisingly respectful."

"But what do they want?" Rhys asked. That was the big question - a question no one seemed able to answer just yet.

Adam hesitated a moment, looking a little reluctant to answer that question, though he could make an educated guess. "My guess is it has something to do with your immunity to vampirism. If they wanted you dead, they wouldn't have gone to so much trouble, and you would have known by now."

Rhys frowned. "That's not much comfort, you know."

"Look, Aurelia will be back in a couple of hours, tops," Gina pointed out. "Go get your boy, hang out at home or come over here. I'm sure she'll come to you as soon as she knows what's going on."

"Yeah, okay," Rhys replied, lifting his cup of coffee to gulp down what remained before moving to his feet. "I'll be back as soon as I can," he promised them both, an unspoken warning that if he wasn't, something was wrong.

Gina nodded, glancing at Adam. "I'll get dressed, then," she said. "Wouldn't want to scare the children with my heinous pyjamas."

"Well, the ones that can't read yet wouldn't get it," Adam said, smiling at his wife. And those who could had probably seen them already.

Rhys snagged a slice of uneaten bacon off Adam's plate, the usual smirk on his face. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do," he warned them both, crunching on the bacon as he started toward the door.

It wasn't long before Rhys was pulling up in front of the daycare center to pick up his son. The drive had given him a little time to think, but not enough to figure out what vampires might want with him, not to mention a dhampir. So far, he hadn't had any second sense feelings that he was being followed - at least, not by anyone who might wish him harm. He'd learned to trust his senses, especially since becoming Champion of Avalon, but he wasn't going to let his guard down until he knew he and his family were safe. He tried to look as though today was no different than any other day, even if he was pulling their son out of daycare early. He'd called in advance and asked for Amaris, so that Micah was ready when he got there. The woman hadn't seemed suspicious in any way, only too happy to help, just as Nat had said.

Amaris had obviously been keeping an eye out for him. As he approached the daycare center, a voice floated very clearly from the garden out back. "Hey, Micah, my main man, the dad dude is here!"

"Hi!" Rhys said, lifting a hand to wave at the woman as he approached. "You must be Amaris. Nat sent me," he joked, a smirk returning to his face.

Amaris turned out to be a woman in her late twenties, early thirties, all beach-tossed blonde hair and warm dark eyes, freckles on her nose and paint on her denim dungarees. She offered him a bright smile.

"So I guess that makes you the dad dude, huh?" she asked in amusement. "I am definitely Amaris. My main man's just putting his sneakers on."

"I'm Rhys," he introduced himself, chuckling at her remark regarding his son. "He's a bit young for you, don't you think?" he teased. He didn't sense anything strange about the young woman, nothing dangerous or unusual. As far as he knew, she was just a young woman who liked kids so much she got paid to spend a lot of time with them. "Hey, Micah!" Rhys called. "How's my little man?"

"Are you kidding?" Amaris grinned. "The world of the toddler mafia is cut-throat. A damsel like me has to have a fearless protector. Right, Micah?"

The toddler grinned up at both of them, stamping to make his sneakers settle before speeding over to throw his arms around Rhys.

Rhys crouched down to catch the toddler and scoop him up into his arms. The boy wasn't too old yet for kisses, so Rhys planted one on his son's cheek. "Been a good boy for Amaris?" he asked Micah as he rose to his feet, the boy in his arms.

Micah nodded, settling comfortably on his father's hip. "Umreese is m'main girl," he informed Rhys with a proud grin.

Amaris chuckled, winking at the boy. "See? He gets it."

"I see that," Rhys replied, with a smile. He didn't bother to ask if Amaris had a boyfriend, as that wasn't any of his business. "Well, I hate to break you two up, but we need Micah at home. Is that okay with you, little dude? I promise you'll see your main girl again real soon."

"I just don't compare with Mom and Dad, do I?" Amaris assured Rhys, grinning at Micah.

The little boy agreed with a wide grin of his own, hugging his father tight about the neck. "Buh-bye, Umreese!"

"Bye!"

Rhys waved back at the young woman, mostly for Micah's benefit, as he started back toward the car. He chattered happily at his son as he put him into his car seat, as if there was nothing unusual about taking him out of daycare only a little while after he'd been dropped off. With any luck, the little boy wouldn't sense anything was wrong, and they'd arrive back home without incident. Micah chattered back to him, full of garbled stories about his two hours of daycare today, waving one pudgy hand to Amaris as she watched them drive off with a wave of her own.

Neither Rhys nor his son saw her pause at the gate and sweep her eyes over the road back and forth, stilling for just a moment on someone who had been there for quite some time. Turning away from the gate to head back into the center, she touched one of the rings on her finger, murmuring into it.

"Yeah, he's with his parents now. No open opportunities today."

It was a good thing Rhys had already left, or he might suspect Amaris was not what she seemed. He might even think she meant his son harm. Was that the case? Only time would tell.
Everybody's got their dues in life to pay.

"Dream On" - Aerosmith