Sometimes, lately, he wondered how this whole pile of shit was even his life. Today was definitely one of those times. Life was simpler when all he focused on was burning it all down after he'd been turned and his wife killed, every were that ever existed. But, somehow, killing off so many of the old families, and decimating the ranks of those who remained...well, that earned him a place as the fucking packmaster of Zion. Not that most of the old families, the purebloods, the garou, wanted to really acknowledge him as such. But, they'd also realized they couldn't stop him. One man, one 'mutt' had done what not even all their centuries of infighting had managed; they were in danger of extinction, the garou. The only thing that had really saved them was that Atticus was simply, finally tired of fighting and killing.
And now? Now he was supposed to rule the very creatures he'd wanted to see eliminated entirely.
Atticus shoved away the scroll – and seriously, how pretentious was that shit, a scroll – that had been deposited in his lap earlier in the day with terms for a potential alliance with the vampires in the city. Well, at least, those this...Lazarus had under his control. He was under the impression it was most of them, though, and certainly most all of the ones that might present any real threat to Atticus and his position. He wasn't even really sure what he personally would get out of it, though it would certainly seem it would benefit those of his kind, the so-called 'mutts' out in the city without the protection of the larger – formerly larger, he thought with a smirk – old garou families.
But, he decided making that decision could wait. He'd met with Lazarus once already, and the damn bloodsucker made his skin crawl. He really didn't want to have to meet with the ancient vampire again. And there was no one he could currently trust to do it in his place. His position was just too...uncertain.
Instead, he turned his thoughts to what he should do about his little house-guest. Well...unwilling house-guest, but he wasn't going to call her a prisoner, not even in the privacy of his own thoughts. Remy Durante, daughter of one of the very oldest of the garou families. He cared nothing about her, not really. (And he would absolutely keep telling himself that.) She'd just been a random drunken romp before he discovered who she really was, right about the same time she discovered who he really was. But, she had condition that very much concerned him.
Remy was pregnant.
And the whelp was his.
Her family was still trying to bargain for her release, certain he was keeping her as ransom to keep them in their place, to keep them from continuing their campaign to have him destroyed. They were the last holdout garou family, the only one that hadn't finally bended knee to him and sworn loyalty to him as packmaster. And it wasn't a bad idea, letting them think that's why he held Remy. He suspected from their reactions, though, that she'd never let slip the secret of the father of the whelp she carried. He wasn't even sure they were aware that she was pregnant. But, he'd found out thanks to the few spies he could trust – as much as he managed to trust anyone, anyway – and he'd just known it was his. The timing, after all, matched exactly.
But, what to do with her? He wouldn't let her go, not until the child was born. That was his, his blood. And he wasn't going to just let her make off with what was his. She was garou, carrying a child that was very much not pureblood. He couldn't let her destroy the child, either, as he'd been suspicious she'd do. So, he did what he'd done nearly every moment since awakening to discover he was a changed man, a new thing....were. He took what he wanted, he took Remy, kidnapped her, and put the pretty puppy in a gilded cage until she delivered the child.
But, still, what to do with her until then?
His thoughts were interrupted by a hesitant knock at the door to the study he'd hidden himself away in. (A 'gift' from the first garou family he'd destroyed, and a place he took great pleasure in using as his home and headquarters.) “What,” he barked out, looking to the door. It was several moments before the door slowly opened and the cowed little thing that was the sole survivor of the family the house he now lived in once called theirs peeked in cautiously. Squinting, Atticus nearly growled. He loathed Timothy, but he kept him around simply because he was too cowed, too beaten to even consider betrayal. It was a twisted sort of trust, but...he'd take what he could get. “Well, what the fuck do you want?”
Timothy swallowed nervously, and suddenly Atticus knew what the issue was. It was written on the man's face, his fear of Atticus' anger. Remy. “She's demanding to see you. Again. She's, uh, not eating, either....sir. Says she won't until you release her.”
“Fuck.” Atticus really didn't think she'd go that far, but...well, she was a stubborn thing. She just might. After all, he really didn't think she cared for the whelp she carried, not with the mixed blood. So, who knew, she might just do it anyway, and hope it took care of the problem for her. “Fine, bring her here. And see to it that food is prepared and brought as well.” He hesitated, then grinned. “Plenty of meat, good stuff. Let's see how long she can hold out on her little hunger strike.”
He watched Timothy back out of the room, and settled himself at the the small old oak table to wait for his dinner guest to arrive.
Remy had went on the hunger strike for two reasons: one, she couldn’t keep anything down – so less she ate, the less she threw up, and two, she was pissed the hell off at this man holding her prisoner. No, not man. Mutt. He thought he owned her because he was the packmaster, which she refused to acknowledge. Her father was supposed to be the head next, if not her father, then Matthias. Which was how it became, Matthias eventually ended up as the head of the family while her father grew frail and suffered from dementia. Matthias taking over the family was how it had always been done, he should have become the Packmaster of Zion – again, it was how it had always been done.
Then the rules had changed the last time she visited a doctor in the pack. She had sworn him to secrecy about the new discovery until she could figure out what to do. The pregnancy would not be welcome in her family, they did not do illegitimate bastards; especially if they knew whose child she was carrying. In the middle of trying to figure out how to approach Matthias about the pregnancy or if she should abort the child because it was a complication – not because of what it was, but whose child it was; Atticus had stormed her place and taken her to his place, not a word even while she raged against him.
He hadn’t told her why she was there, but simply that she would stay there until he decided things.
That had been a while ago. She had tried different tactics to let him go and he stood staunchly. Fuck, she hated that man, hated that he was the father of her child. The paper she had been reading ripped in a half as she looked up at the door, expecting Atticus to come storming in with demands to counter her own.
But instead there was a timid knock, she didn’t even bother calling out the invitation because she knew who it was – only one person in the household knocked like that. Timothy. When the door swung in slowly, she managed a slight smile, putting down the ripped paper, “what does his royal highness say?”
Timothy blushed furiously as he was spoken to, his eyes flicking down to the ground, he knew that Remy was strictly hands off. However, it was so nice to look at her up close, she had never noticed him until now. “Atticus says to come meet him in his study,” he shifted weight on his feet, glancing back up at her, “I-I-I can take you,” he offered up a hand with a weak smile.
“I’ll take myself,” Remy chuckled at Timothy as she shifted off her bed, managing to avoid being touched by him. Her skin crawled every time he touched her, it was as if he carried some sort of taint. Her lips curled into what she hoped was a pleasant smile. “I don’t think you want to be around for this conversation,” she waited for him to leave before she followed him out of the room, taking a left while he took a right.
She squared her shoulders before taking a deep breath, here goes nothing. And she stomped down the hallway, not even bothering to knock on the door that led into his study as she stormed in. “Tell me why I’m here!” She raged at him, not bothering with a hello or any pleasantries at all.
Not long after he'd dismissed Timothy, a couple of the servants that came with the manor he now occupied came in with platters of food – steaks still sizzling, roast still steaming, venison just barely seared – and set them out on the large oak desk that was a match to the little table Atticus sat at. After that, they set two places at the table, complete with a single lit candle. He paid the servants no mind; they'd been magically bound to the manor and most were barely able to even speak, let alone hold an actual conversation. At first, he'd tried to help them, sickened by what had been done to them, but now...he barely even noticed them.
The food was, of course, perfectly tempting. And that was, after all, the point. Lots of iron rich protein, everything a bitch should eat to nurture her whelp. A smirk twisted his lips, and he settled in to wait, barely able to resist the tempting smells himself. And he...wasn't even really all that hungry. If she really was avoiding eating, the spread should help solve that problem. No matter how high and mighty she thought herself because she was garou, she was still just a 'wolf, and she'd need a good supply of meat the same as any other 'wolf. More, since she was carrying a whelp.
She came storming into the room, door flying open to bang against the shelf behind it before bouncing back and clicking shut from the force she'd used. Atticus, prepared for just such a reaction, didn't even flinch. His lips twitched with amusement that she actually thought she was in a position to demand anything from him.
Fuckin' garou bitch anyway.
“You know why you're here.” He said it pleasantly enough, despite the urge to just growl at her. Atticus gestured to the seat across from him, offering her a pleasant smile – one that never quite reached his eyes as he watched her closely. “Sit.” Again, it was said pleasantly, but there was a tone underneath it that made it plain it wasn't an invitation or a request, but an order – one he expected to be obeyed.
Not, of course, that she did so. Then again, he hadn't really, honestly expected her to. Not yet, anyway. “Fine then, if you don't want to be civil about this...well, that's fine. I'm sick of all the fancy garou trappings anyway.” He stood as he was speaking, moving over to stand before her, just close enough to be invading personal space without actually being truly offensive. Just...enough to attempt to intimidate her. Not that he expected that to work on her, either. She was nothing if not stubborn. And, if she were anyone else, he'd even admire it.
“You're here because you're carrying my child, and I intend to see it delivered safely, alive, healthy. After that...you can go.” He shrugged casually, looking down at her. It was the truth. He didn't care anything for her. She'd been a one-night stand, a bit of fun. She meant....nothing. But the whelp? That was his blood, his family, and he would do whatever was required to keep it safe.
After a few moments of just studying her, he sighed and turned away from her, going over to the meal laid out on the desk. “Go sit down and I'll bring you something to eat so you can stop this foolishness.” Without even checking to see if she would do as she was told this time, he looked over the offerings, picking a little of the best of everything and serving it up onto a plate for her.
When he ordered her to sit, even with the smile on his face, she lifted her chin and clenched her jaw. She was not going to bow down and lick his boots, fuck that. She left her arms loose at her sides, “you want to tell me, or shall I leave?” Her voice was clipped, words tried to hold a threat, but her anger overwhelmed the threat and made the words seem empty. And there he was. Larger than life as he stood up to move over to her.
She refused to back down, she had taken down men just as large. She exhaled ever so slightly, her only comment on how she felt with him being so close. Her body betrayed her as it responded so violently, her lower stomach rippling while she remembered how his body felt over hers. She cleared her throat while mentally shaking away the memories – as disjointed they were. “Garou trappings,” she spat the words back at him, they were part of her heritage; he was reminding her once again how much he didn’t belong. “Then why don’t you go back to living a mundane life?” She snorted, “run when the moon is full, then pretend you’re a human again.”
Then there it was, he slapped her in the face with his words. His child. Her hands instinctively went to cover her stomach as a protective gesture, “my child,” she corrected without a thought. As much as she hated the idea of carrying his child, it was a baby that had no fault in this. She wouldn’t admit to anyone how she kinda looked forward to seeing this child grow. “You only played one part in this, I’m doing the rest.” She snorted as her eyes flicked away to the food, oh god, she finally registered the fact there were so many different types of food laid out.
Venison, her favorite.
She worked her jaw again while her hands stayed over her stomach, she’d be damned if he thought she’d just have the child and walk away.
Then he told her to sit down, the tone was different this time, she didn’t trust it. But she really was hungry. Her teeth grazed her bottom lip as she debated within herself before delicately choosing a chair that had nothing set before it. She was not going to sit at the other chairs. Her eyes set on him as he moved along the table. “Who told you?”
Atticus fought to maintain his composure, lest he lash out at her with the rage that always simmered just below the surface. It wouldn't do to hurt her – the child might be hurt as well. Besides, despite knowing Remy was far stronger than she looked, like any were, she was a woman and he just...didn't like to hurt women. He'd done far too much of that in his decades long murderous rampage as it was. And he was, in truth, just so tired of the violence, the killing, no matter that it was a part of his nature. Once...it hadn't been. Unlike her, once he really had been human.
“You have no idea what you're talking about,” he bit out. “There's far less of a difference between you and me than you think. Except that I know what it's like to be human, and you...are nothing more than a beast at heart.”
He had to take a deep breath when she corrected him. Oh, Remy was working hard to get on his nerves. “My child,” Atticus said, tone soft, belying the rage showing clearly in his eyes. She was a bitch, meant to breed, and nothing more. He didn't really believe that, but he had to keep telling himself that. In her case, he needed to believe it, or he might lose his rage, and his nerve, where she was concerned.
He made a point of adding extra of the venison steaks to Remy's plate as he was serving up the meat for them both. He'd not missed where her eyes strayed to when she'd looked over the offerings. Atticus missed little where she was concerned. It was a fact that irritated him to no end, how focused he was on her whenever she was near.
Damn the garou bitch.
Still, he managed to plaster that disgustingly pleasant smile back onto his face before he'd turned back to her. He stopped for a moment, actually amused that she'd made a point of sitting where there was nothing set out for dinner. What Atticus bet she hadn't thought of was that it would put her beside him, instead of across the table from him.
He'd expected the question, of course, so he didn't react when she asked it. Instead, he set her plate in front of her, leaving her to fetch whatever she'd decide she might need from the place that had been set for her originally. Heh...fetch. Unable to help himself, his lips twitched with amusement at the thought. But, he said nothing at all as he took his seat and then leaned back in it, arms folded across his chest to watch her.
“I have my sources. Not everyone likes the way things used to be. Some of them...they can be pretty easily persuaded to pass along information.” He allowed himself to smirk at her briefly. “Now, eat. Stop this hunger strike silliness.” He tried for a pleasant tone again, just trying to get through this to make sure she ate something. But...actual concern crept into his tone, despite all his attempts at masking it.
Godamnit, yes, he was concerned. He wasn't a complete animal. And Remy...well, if she hadn't been who she was -which he hadn't found out until the next morning – he might have actually been willing to pursue something more than just a one night fling with her. Once.
Remy gave him a sharp look when he called her a beast at heart, she was not going to respond to that remark; she forced herself to close her eyes and silently count until she was sure she wouldn’t pick up something to stab him with. Her eyes opened again to watch him as he kept picking out her food for her. She wasn’t used to that, she actually made the servants step away to serve herself when she was at the family home.
“Mine,” she snarled back, “I refuse to give him up for anyone.” She leaned back in her seat, waiting for a response. “Not even his father.” Her eyes flicked away as she put her arms around her midsection again, protective. He made her want to keep the baby closer than anyone else.
When he sat down with the plate, but nothing else, she studied him for a moment. “Thanks,” she drawled as she reached over to pick up his fork, she wasn’t going to play his game. She could either eat with her fingers, which would just give him a worse picture of who she was, or take his utensils. He already thought horribly of her anyway, just from how he treated her.
An animal in the cage.
She looked away from him to the plate, “so someone told you even when I swore them to secrecy.” A frown danced over her features, “how did you figure out it was yours? You seem to think all garous mate with everything that moves.” She finally stabbed a vension with a fork, taking a delicate bite of the meat.
The only response Atticus gave her at first was silence, though he went still for a moment at her snarl. Only when he was sure he could speak without growling did he answer Remy. It took several long moments. “Then I guess you'll be extending your stay with me. Lovely.” And, so be it. If she was actually attached to the child, despite the parentage, then...so be it. He actually couldn't help but admire her for it. “I'll be sure to make arrangements for you. Give Timothy a list of things you'll require and I'll see to it.”
Atticus knew first-hand most of her kind would happily walk away from a child like Remy was carrying, if they didn't just destroy it outright. It had always amused him, in a sick way. The child, just by virtue of being born instead of infected, changed from a human, was far closer to garou than it was a common 'wolf. But so many garou were so focused on their 'pure' blood that they never seemed to see it.
Once seated, he laughed at Remy's audacity in pointedly taking his own fork instead of the one obviously intended for her. Still, if she took it, maybe she'd actually eat. Which was...good. Very good. Atticus reached across the table to snatch up the other fork, eyes darting to her as she questioned just how he found out, and how he knew the child was his. He settled back into the chair before answering, taking his time, watching her the whole while. It was, he found, hard to take his eyes off her. She was fascinating, and, despite the rage that simmered, she was still damn appealing. Then again, she'd been the first he'd taken to bed in....a very, very long time.
He shut down that line of thought before it lead places that weren't safe for him to be while anyone was around. Especially someone he was determined to keep safe...if only because of the child she carried. Mostly.
“No clue if he was sworn to secrecy or not. But he told me what I wanted to know, and all I had to do was promise him a place here, instead of under the thumb of your family. It was probably the cheapest bribe I've had to pay out since I took over. And,” he grinned now, “having a doctor around couldn't hurt.”
He paused, watching her start to eat. Relief that he was careful not to let show flooded him. He'd heard how she wasn't doing a very good job of keeping down what she'd been eating before, and he could only hope that the suggestion of the very doctor he'd suborned from her family would work – offering her the best meat he could find, to bolster the far greater protein needs of the child within her.
Alright. So, maybe he was concerned about her, too. He wasn't so much the animal that he couldn't feel something for the mother of his child – all the more now that she was openly showing she cared about the child despite its parentage – even if it was something he couldn't allow to show, or to act on. No, she was garou, he was...not. It made all the difference in their world.
He sighed, relenting a little. “I never said I think that garou, ah, 'mate with everything that moves' at all. If anything, you're too stuck up to mate with anything that doesn't pass your purity standards. How'd I know? I...did the math. I've been....watching you,” he admitted, his tone softening. What the hell, right? He'd been interested enough to keep tabs on her, even if he knew nothing could ever come of their one night. Hell, she ought to be thankful. She was the sole reason her entire family hadn't been eliminated when her brother took over and refused to acknowledge Atticus as rightful packmaster. He just...hadn't been able to do it.
“Wait, I did not agree to staying with you,” she lifted her head up, stilling her hands as she studied him with narrowed eyes. “I do have a life that you have removed me from, I’m surprised Matthias has not knocked your doors down.” Then she made a face at the mention of Timothy, her lips parted to say something about him, to entrust a secret to Atticus, then she realized who she was talking to. A shake of her head, “you should ask me nicely. I might stay and share this,” she waved her hand over her stomach, “experience with you. He is yours too, but he’s mine,” she looked at him with look. “I am his mother and I will put down anyone who harms him.”
She nodded after she said that threat, no, promise; then returned to nibbling on the venison, hoping to god she would be able to keep it down. It wouldn’t do to go running from his room to the bathroom, not when she was trying to keep her dignity intact.
“So, the man I swore to secrecy sold me out to you, of all people.” She considered this while chewing her food slowly, after swallowing, “how do I know he did not sell me out to others?” She worried about Matthias knowing before she was able to tell the secret. This was something that was supposed to be hers alone, but everyone was going about finding this out without her permission. She shook her head and put down the fork for a moment to study him with her hands clasped in front of her face, elbows on the table, “nice to know how quick loyalties turn. How do you know he won’t turn against you?”
With that said, she went back to trying a different piece of meat, a steak this time. Just little bites, but god, she was starving.
“I’m not stuck up about purity,” she snorted at him after swallowing, “I’m just careful about who declares their love for me. I am a Durante afterall, a descendant of the old ones.” A shake of her head as she studied him, “we used to stand for something pretty fucking powerful, Atticus.” Then she took another bite of her steak, pointing at it with the fork as she nodded her approval.
“Why would you watch me? Matthias is the one to watch,” she rolled her shoulders, “I’m just his right hand.” Then she cleared her throat, putting down her fork as she put a hand on her stomach. “Where is your bathroom?” She tried to say it as calmly as possible without acting like her stomach was threatening to turn on her at that very moment.
He snorted, not even bothering to hide how much she amused him. “Your agreement isn't required. If you want to stay with your child, you remain. You're not leaving with it. Period. Your... brother,” he couldn't keep the contempt from his voice, “won't bother if he knows what's good for him. After all,” he paused, purely for effect, then continued, “the only thing that kept me from destroying your entire family is...no longer there.” Her, of course, he'd stayed his hand for her, but he wasn't quite ready to openly admit that. Not...yet. It might reveal more than he cared for her to know just now.
“I've no idea who else the good doctor might have told your little secret to. Don't care, really.” Atticus shrugged, finally turning his attention to his own food. The smell was enough to make him hungry all over again, even though he'd eaten not so long ago. Were metabolism was, sometimes, both a blessing and a curse. He stabbed a chunk of roast, then lifted it, but hesitated before taking a bite. Instead, he looked back to Remy. “I don't know, not for sure. But he sure seemed grateful to have a place on my side. Funny thing, really. He seemed so sure I was going to destroy your entire family for not accepting me as packmaster. Guess he figured if he was on my side, I'd spare him.
“He wasn't wrong.” He gave her a long, steady look while he bit into the roast and chewed with relish before swallowing. It was a little juvenile, but...god, something about her just brought out the worst in him. She'd had such potential, and he'd had so much interest in her, but...she just had to be a damn garou. Worse, from one of the oldest and most stuck in their ways garou families.
Atticus narrowed his eyes, clearly not believing her. “Yeah, well, times change. You grew complacent, you garou. And someone stronger, better, faster, and smarter came along and pulled the rug out from under you.” He laughed, though it was laced with bitterness. “One of your kind made me. Isn't that just the funniest thing? And then, not all the power of the garou was able to stop me. One man, one mutt, Remy, and I brought your world tumbling down.”
He shrugged, refusing now to look at her. Instead, he poked absently at the meat on his plate, his appetite dying away. “I've no interest in Durante, in...your brother. I'm willing to let him be as long as he stays out of my way. He was about to say more, probably more than he should, when she spoke again. Atticus' eyes darted up to her, taking in the sudden paleness to her cheeks. He pointed to a small door tucked into the corner behind the desk with his fork. “There. Remy...are you okay?”
He didn't get an answer, though, as she rose and disappeared behind the door. He frowned after her, afraid that his attempt to get her to eat had done more harm than good, after all. With a huff, he rose and went to stand just outside the door, trying to listen for any signs of distress from her. If she was sick enough, she could fall, hurt herself, or worse. But he just waited, at least to begin with, fretting quietly.
And never once did it occur to him his worry was for her, without any thought at all for the baby.
Her eyes narrowed, “we’ll see about that,” she wasn’t going to argue about this right now. This shouldn’t feel like a business transaction or a threat between them, there was a child to consider. Their child. “Matthias does not know, and I do not wish for him to know, at least, not right now.” She frowned at him, “this child is not to be a pawn in your game,” she fluttered her hand with a deeper frown. Then she fell silent when he talked, “am I supposed to get on my knees and thank you for not destroying my family when you destroyed so many others? Those that I grew up with are now gone.” She shook her head at him, “but no, that doesn’t mean much to you, you are… or were.. or whatever, angry.” Her eyes flicked away to her plate, for some reason, he managed to make her talk so much.
She shook her head even while looking away from him, “the doctor is an idiot.
“Right, a mutt.” She shook her head, “so fixed on being that mutt. You sure didn’t behave or feel like a mutt that night.” Remy looked directly at him when she said that to put emphasis on which night she was speaking of. She went back to eating her food again before her stomach threatened once more.
When he told her where the bathroom was, she rose and managed a quick walk to the door without acting like there was an emergency. Dignity, it was all about dignity, dammit. When she closed the door, she hurried over to the toilet and lifted the lid and the seat; she managed to crash down on her knees before throwing up whatever was in her stomach. She let out a moan as she finished heaving, an arm slung across the toilet while resting her forehead on that arm.
“I can hear you,” she groaned as she shifted a bit closer to the cool toilet, the cold helped her right now. She muttered, “you can at least help me up. I’m not that big of a mess.” Fuck, she hated having to ask for help, especially from him, but she felt so weak while sitting there hugging the toilet.
He let her words wash over him, trying his best to ignore the guilt they brought on. He'd done terrible things, horrible things, in the time since he'd been turned. He knew that. And he knew that the fact that he'd eventually come to his senses, that he'd stopped...well, it couldn't even begin to make up for the suffering he'd caused so many who didn't deserve it. Then again, there were easily just as many who had, who killed innocents and thought nothing of it because they were human, somehow lesser, their lives meaningless. And those, his true targets, he couldn't regret a one of those.
Guilt, however, was a weakness. Weakness could get you killed when you were a werewolf...or garou.
“Your brother sure as hell won't hear about it from me,” he finally said, voice almost a growl. As for the rest of it, he couldn't even bring himself to respond. Rage was just too close to the surface from too many different things. He couldn't even begin to think of the child as some pawn, and it enraged him that she would think he intended that very thing. He wasn't a fucking garou, where everything was about power and appearance. Sure, he held power, and he clung to it...but only because it put him into a position to do something about the murderous bastards that thought preying on innocent humans was a sport. But...he wouldn't tell her any of this, either. She was garou, she grew up in that culture. She...probably saw humans as nothing more than animals there for the hunting anyway.
He froze, squinting at her. It was the first time she'd ever indicated she might have ever viewed him as anything but the mutt most of the garou called him – either behind his back, or...to his face, if they were brave enough, or suicidal enough. Before he could force a response to that, she'd distracted him and made her escape to the bathroom.
Standing there at the door, listening helplessly, he grunted when she finally spoke. He figured it was as close as he was going to get to a real request for help, and pushed the door open cautiously. God, she looked wrecked. He abandoned all his pretense of not caring about her in that moment, rushing to her side. “Fuck, Remy, I didn't think it was really this bad,” he said, concern lacing his voice as he knelt beside her. He reached out to brush some of her hair out of her face, frowning at the sweat dampening her forehead.
Then, he suddenly shifted himself, and,, not giving her any time to move away, lifted her up into his arms and rose to his feet. She, of course, struggled against him, but he just cradled her securely against him. She was sick, weakened, and really no match for him, no matter how strong she might be otherwise. “Shush. I'm just gonna take you back to your room. I'm not gonna hurt you.”
He waited patiently – far more so than one might think he was capable of regarding her, if judged by his attitude around her – until she finally gave up her struggle, then he smiled a bit, the first genuine smile he'd offered all evening. “I'm going to get you settled in bed, and then call that fucking doctor, or...something. I need to make sure you're okay.” The helplessness he felt was there to be heard in his voice as he spoke. Weakness, but he just didn't care. All he could think of was making sure she was going to be okay.
He carried her out of the bathroom, then out of the study and into the hall. There, he found Timothy hovering, and he stopped to stare at the cowering man. If he;d been thinking clearly, he might have found his presence suspicious, but, well, Atticus wasn't thinking very clearly just then. “Go see if you can dig up that worthless fucking doctor. Have him come to Remy's room.” Timothy merely nodded rapidly and scuttled off. Sadly, Atticus was willing to bet the doctor was likely drunk and passed out somewhere, as he had been every night since he'd been 'welcomed' into the manor.
With a sigh, he resigned himself to caring for Remy himself tonight, or...however long was needed.
When he picked her up, she squirmed but not at her full-strength, she grunted at him while trying to plead with him to put her down. She could walk, she was fine, really. He silenced her, she frowned at him. “I’m fine,” she finally spoke again, but her voice betrayed her with a quiver as she shifted around in his arms to get comfortable.
Everything hurt right now from throwing up, she was so sick of throwing up.
“Okay,” she finally relented before putting her head against his chest as she slipped an arm around his neck to make sure he wouldn’t drop her. “Fine,” she murmured as she closed her eyes as he walked. When she heard him talk again, her eyes fluttered open to see Timothy and she physically recoiled into Atticus, curling against him. She listened to Timothy’s footsteps fade away before she looked up at him, “I don’t like him,” her words were simple, but her voice were child-like.
She fell quiet as she let him walk her to the bedroom, this was the first time he actually had dared to enter the bedroom that he had deigned as hers. “I…” She looked up at him, unsure for a moment before he put her down in the middle of the bed. “I’m sorry,” she chuckled as she shifted a bit, he was already pulling the blankets down around her and she was trying to help. “No one told me that being pregnant meant getting sick all the time.” She looked down at her clothes, grimacing before she just settled into the pillows. “You don’t have to stay,” she added as she looked up at him, suddenly self-conscious. She didn’t like the fact that he would see her at her weakest.
Remy's reaction to Timothy startled him, but he said nothing until the man was well away. As pitiful as he was, Timothy was still garou, and just as blessed – or cursed – with acute hearing as any other were was. “Then you won't have to deal with him anymore,” Atticus said to her gently, resolving to find someone else to attend to her as she deserved, and resolving, as well, to take that task on himself until then. He shifted her slightly in his arms, doing what he could to help her be comfortable before he continued on to her room, footsteps echoing down the hallway.
When he nudged open the door to the bedroom he'd set aside for her, he let himself look around as he made his way to the bed. The room was overly opulent, in his opinion. But then, so were most of the rooms in the manor. The study was the only one he could really stand, and his own bedroom further down the hall, but that one had only been after he'd stripped it of most of the furniture and all of the decorations. What struck him the most, though, was that the room was very much as it was the day he'd picked it out for her.
Had she really done nothing to change it to suit her at all? He knew he'd left very specific instructions for Timothy to give her whatever she wanted, as long as she showed no signs of trying to do harm to herself or the baby. It made him wonder just what exactly Timothy had been doing...and what had caused Remy to react so badly to him. Later, though. He'd figure it out later, when she was taken care of.
Atticus laid her gently in the center of the bed and pulled blankets over her, his every movement gentle and careful to avoid jostling her more than he absolutely had to. “You don't have anything to be sorry for, Remy.” He paused, frowning. “I...didn't think being sick so much was normal.” He almost said more, looked like he wanted to, but he kept his silence. He didn't think adding that his only experience with pregnancy was human pregnancy would be helpful, and he honestly had no idea how much garou pregnancies might differ.
He settled himself on the bed beside her, facing her with one knee cocked up on the bed, despite her protest. “I'm staying, unless you really don't want me to.” His lips twitched into a brief, faint smile. “But I'm warning you now, if you tell me to leave, I'll just park myself outside your door so I can listen to be sure you don't need something.” Or, he thought to himself, she didn't collapse. “Either way, I'm sticking around. Where and how I spend the night is entirely up to you.”
He studied her, considering what he could possibly do to help her. But, really, he was clueless. “Is there anything I can do? Or...get you?” He glanced to the door, then turned back to her, irritation flitting across his face. “That damn doctor isn't actually likely to show up. He's probably dead drunk somewhere. Is there, uh, someone else I should get for you?” He knew he was possibly opening up the way to a fight with that question. She could easily ask for her brother, or demand that he let her go again. But, concern drove him to ask anyway, consequences be damned.
She rolled her shoulders a bit as she tried to settle down under the covers, amused at the fact that he was fussing over her as much as she was trying to hide her weakness. “I guess garou pregnancy is crazy. Usually the women hide away, only coming out for the pictures, press meetings and what not,” she rolled her eyes. “It’s a honor when we get pregnant,” she chuckled as she studied him as she shifted a bit so she could see him better.
“Probably different because it’s our baby,” she closed her eyes for a moment to take in a deep breath, exhaling slowly. “Yuck, my mouth tastes like ass,” she chuckled as she shifted back so he couldn’t smell her breath. Which, of course, didn’t help much – she knew that, but still had to do it. Her eyes opened again to look at him.
“Okay, so obviously I can’t get rid of you, you might as well be where I can see you. It’s unnerving having someone right outside of my door.” She gave a soft chuckle, it was weird to be right there with him where they weren’t trying to kill each other. She watched him with a laugh. “I just need to change into clean clothes and…” she frowned, “I need Gatorade or something.” She shrugged a bit, “dehydration happens when you throw up.”
Then she blinked “no. No one knows about this, only you and the doctor.” She paused, “unless you’ve told someone else because apparently you don’t care who knows.”
“An honour, huh?” Somehow, he doubted that applied when a garou went and got pregnant with a whelp fathered by, well, anyone not also garou. Hell, until it had happened with Remy, he hadn't even been sure it was possible. Most of the garou certainly always wanted to make everyone believe it wasn't possible. Then again, it probably only helped to keep their precious bloodlines pure.
He grunted acknowledgment, wondering if that was really the reason. Honestly, at this point, he was afraid there was something wrong. He hated the helpless feeling that brought on. If there was something wrong, there was nothing he could do. Fuck, fuck, fuck. All he could do was trust that she would realize if something really was wrong, and actually let him know.
“Eh,” he shrugged again, completely unrepentant. “I'm just trying to make sure you're okay. But, uh, I can get you something to drink while you change, I guess.” He paused, considering her. “But be careful. I don't want to come back to find you passed out or something.”
He stood, then paused to regard her solemnly. “I do care who knows. No one knows why you're here, no one but me. Everyone else here thinks I'm holding you to ensure your brother doesn't do something...stupid.” He shifted awkwardly from foot to foot, then sighed. “I'm sorry it had to be this way. But...that's my baby, my blood. I couldn't take the chance of Matthias doing...something. I had to get you out of there before he found out. Before your good doctor with the closet alcoholism issue opened his big mouth to someone besides me.”
His hands clenched at his sides, then relaxed again. “I'm gonna go get your drink now. Get changed, whatever you need. I'll be back.” Without waiting for a response, he turned and stalked out of the room, planning to use the time to get himself back under control. Because, god help him, she managed to test every single bit of the control he had, in ways he really couldn't afford to let himself think about.
“Garous get pregnant, but not often,” she shook her head, “and we don’t always carry to full term.” She held a hand up before he could worry, “we’re fine on that.” She chuckled softly, “I’m pretty sure we’re fine on that part.” She was already picturing him ordering her to stay in the bed until the baby came out. “If anything goes wrong, I’ll tell you, I promise,” she looked up at him, searching his eyes for a moment before looking away.
“I’ll be careful,” she pointed over to the dresser in the direction where she had been looking, “everything’s in there. Just get me some Gatorade. Oh, some crackers.” She paused, “and some venison.” She blinked as she blushed, “please?”
She started slipping the blankets off of her when he had moved to stand, pausing when he paused, a frown dancing over her face while she listened to him. “So they think you’re holding me for politics?” She paused then gave a slow nod, “let them worry about that. I’m safe.” She shrugged her shoulders as she gestured around the room, she really was safe. “I’ll talk with Matthias when I’m ready.” She chuckled, “he’s a drunk, but he’s a good doctor, and you know it.” She gave him a pointed look, knowing about the times he had to be stitched up… all because of the doctor’s big mouth.
She was ready to give a retort when he just left, so she sat there for a moment, unsure what to do. She wasn’t used to being this weak or this side of him; it confused her. She was supposed to be mad as hell at him and making sure that the Durante name endured.
But in the end, she liked this, an uneasy truce all for the baby.
She shook her head at the room before managing to get herself out of the bed to walk over to the dresser, it really wasn’t an arduous task. She took off her shirt, tossing it aside with a grimace, she would need to have that washed. Next were the pants, they joined the shirt. It took her a moment to rummage through the drawers to find an oversized t-shirt that she sometimes wore as a night-shirt, she wasn’t even sure whose shirt it was, but it had been there when she first came to the room.
Atticus went still, staring at her, brow furrowing despite her reassurance. It further drove home to him that he just had to try to trust her in regards to the pregnancy and the baby's well-being...and, her own. At least now he knew Remy cared, that she wanted the baby despite its parentage. It made it a little easier to trust her promise, despite her general stubbornness. It didn't, however, do a thing to stop him from worrying.
When her steady gaze slid away from him, he huffed out a breath. Atticus noted her requests, pleased to realize that everything Remy wanted should already be in the kitchen. His lips twitched the slightest bit when she added 'please' at the end, though he wisely said nothing, merely nodded and grunted his assent. It wouldn't do to bring attention to her, a garou, saying such things to him, a mere 'wolf, no matter how much it amused him.
“Mmhm,” he acknowledged. “Everything's about politics with the garou. You should know that.” His words could have been harsh, and probably should have been. But, somehow, they were just quietly resigned. And that's how he felt about it all, really. Resigned to playing the games, for now. It was the only way he could, eventually, force the changes he wanted to see amongst the packs of the city.
But when she said she was safe, and appeared to mean it? That gave him pause. That she might come to accept what he felt was necessary in keeping her here, he could believe that. But to go so far as actually feeling safe here, with him? He mulled it over as she went on about the drunk of doctor, wondering at the apparent shift in attitude, unsure what to think about it.
Granted, Remy wasn't wrong about the doctor, either. But it did little good if he spent half his time unable to do his job. Besides, despite the man's usefulness, Atticus had little patience for anyone who would betray loyalties just to save their own miserable hide, no matter how useful to him it had been.
Once he was out in the hall, away from her, he allowed himself a moment to just breathe. It had been all he could do to avoid reaching out to her on that bed, to keep from touching her. It wasn't even desire that tempted him, not really. He told himself it was merely because she was the first of his kind he'd had relations with in all the many years since he'd survived the attack that left him forever changed. Some stupid instinct thing, that's all it was. Just because they'd had a bit of fun, and she carried his child now, it meant nothing...and gave him no rights to her.
He would just keep telling himself that until he believed it; he was more than just an animal at the mercy of instinct, after all.
Shaking his head, he set off down the halls toward the kitchen, forcing himself to focus on digging up the things she'd requested. And, of course, considering anything else that might help her, or...please her in some small way. Anything, really, to just make her feel better.
Unfortunately, he was so focused on his thoughts – and so used to feeling safe in this place – that Atticus never noticed Timothy lurking around, watching the packmaster leave Remy's room with a look of eerie satisfaction.
Remy managed to get herself dressed without falling over or feeling weaker. Thankfully she hadn’t eaten much so she didn’t feel as weak this time around after a round of vomiting. She ran her fingers through her hair, trying to at least make herself feel presentable – though she was sure she failed at that as she stood there. Why was she even trying anyway? It wasn’t like they would acknowledge each other further than being parents for the child coming along.
Her lips twisted as she rubbed at her face a little before going over to the bed. She climbed in under the covers, tugging it up around her while she waited.
It was awkward waiting for someone to wait on her, especially considering who it was. But right now, it was way better than having Timothy simpering around her. God, she wasn’t even sure why he was constantly under her feet, she wasn’t his master – Atticus was.
It took Atticus a surprisingly short time to gather everything Remy had asked for. Surprisingly, there was even the Gatorade she'd asked for, though he couldn't begin to imagine why it was there. But the kitchen wasn't really his domain, so...who knew.
Coming back through the hall to her room, he hesitated once, certain he'd heard the faint sound of someone - that subtle sound that was a combination of breathing, blood thrumming through the body, and the minuscule sounds of life itself. But when he stopped, he heard nothing. If there had been someone there, they'd moved away. Atticus shrugged it off as one of the enspelled staff, and beneath his notice.
He came to her room and, balancing the tray holding the selection of things he'd grabbed from the kitchen – Gatorade, an entire box of crackers, plenty of warmed venison left from the interrupted dinner, a couple bottles of water, and a small dish of lemon sorbet at the suggestion of the hired cook – in one hand, he knocked on her door to warn her he was coming in, then pushed the door open. Remy was tucked back into bed, and he nodded in satisfaction as he shut and locked the door behind him.
“Found everything you asked for, and a bit more,” he said, moving over to the bed. Atticus settled onto the bed beside her, knee cocked up and facing her just as he had before, before then setting the tray further up on the bed, but still in easy reach for her. “I..hope some of it helps.” After earlier, he was done with trying to keep the concern from his voice, or from his expression. He'd given himself away, and there was no real point in backpedaling now.
“Is there anything else I can do? At all?” He tilted his head a bit as he studied her, bothered by how pale she was, and how he'd let this get so far without realizing, or acting sooner to do something to help her. “I... I'm sorry I didn't do something sooner. I didn't realize. No one told me.” The last was said with a bit of a growl. He didn't have to say who should have told him, either. There had only been one person he'd made responsible for seeing to her needs. And he would be having a discussion with Timothy about that issue tomorrow.
Remy heard the knock and shifted herself into a better position in the bed, “Come in,” she paused, a soft laugh coming from her lips. “Why did I tell you to come in? It’s your place.” She shook her head as she watched him balance the tray, “you could have had me help,” she frowned a bit, unsure about how she felt about him waiting on her like that.
“What is that?” She eyed the sorbet before reaching for it, not bothering to wait for his answer as she took a tentative bite, the sorbet was tart, but it melted easily on her tongue. She closed her eyes and sighed at the sensations. Her eyes fluttered open, “thank you, Atticus.” She paused then took another bite while she thought, she had never really used his name without connecting it to some curse during an angry rant, so this was different for her. Her eyes flicked away to the bowl in her hands.
“I’m fine,” she laughed as she looked back up at him, “really. I just apparently can’t handle having a kid in me.” A roll of her shoulders, “Are you seriously going to sit here all night, even when I go to sleep?”
She put down the sorbet to pick up the crackers. “I made sure no one knew, “she shrugged again, “it was easier to say I was on a hunger strike instead of `oh yeah, I’m throwing up everything I eat.`”
He laughed, but it was a kind sound, so unlike he was used to uttering. “The day I can't manage to dig up some food from a kitchen and carry a tray around will be the day I show my belly to Durante.” He froze then, realizing it was probably the wrong damn thing to say to her of all people. He sighed, then muttered quietly, “sorry, Remy.
“Uh, sorbet, I guess. Cook said it might help if you had an upset stomach,” he said, grateful for the change of subject. “That's all I told her, don't worry. I don't want it getting out any more than you do. Not...yet.” Eventually, of course, it would be impossible to hide it from anyone who saw her. But, if she remained cooperative, he had a plan to keep her safe and hidden away so that no one would know. If only she didn't change her mind about cooperating between now and then.
“You're welcome. You...should have been getting whatever you wanted. I'm going to make sure that's seen to from now on. Personally.” He might have said more, but he was caught by watching her enjoy the sorbet. The pleasure that was clearly shown on her lovely face made his stomach clench in a peculiar way, something that was a small part desire, and a larger part...something he wasn't entirely sure of.
He really didn't think she was fine. It just bothered him that she was having such a hard time with the pregnancy, It couldn't possibly be safe for her if she couldn't keep food down. Or, of course, for the baby, he thought, trying to ignore how the baby was quickly becoming the secondary concern for him. But, he wasn't going to argue with her about it. Certainly not tonight.
“Not...here, exactly. I...didn't think that would be very comfortable for you.” He shrugged, eyes darting around the room before returning to her. “The floor will be fine. I've had worse.” He flashed her a grin, hoping she didn't notice he said nothing at all about actually sleeping, as he had no intention to actually do so.
The grin faded into a worried frown. “You could have just said you were sick. Even garou must get sick occasionally, huh? 'Wolves aren't completely immune to everything, I can't imagine garou are that much different.” He huffed out a breath, running his fingers through his hair roughly, a clear sign of worry to those able to pick up on it, and a habit he rarely indulged in unless he felt secure. And this time, he didn't even realize he was doing it.
“Just...eat what you can, Remy. You need your strength. And rest, I suppose.” He knew he should move away, go find a spot to get as comfortable as he could for his overnight vigil. But...he was reluctant to move away from her. A few more minutes, he told himself. Just in case she needed his help.
No other reason.
She gave him a dirty look for saying that, she wasn’t going to let it go by her, but she was feeling generous and decided to leave it only at that. She would have to teach him that not all Durantes were the same, sure, she loved her brother and understood his campaign, but that didn’t mean she was angling to take Atticus out. She was trying to get him to understand where they were coming from. Well, she had been. Now she was just trying to survive the pregnancy and the awkwardness that would come with it.
Her eyes flicked away, “they’ll figure it out soon. I’ll enjoy my kinda flat stomach as long as I can.” She glanced down at her stomach with a chuckle, “I’m already showing a little bump.” Sure, it was tiny, but she was able to tell even if others probably wouldn’t notice for another month or more. She felt like they’d notice within the week.
Her eyes returned to him when he promised to make sure her needs would be personally seen to, her cheeks flaming for a moment and she couldn’t look away. Then she focused on her food, clearing her throat as she tried to change the subject. “Just give me one of your…” she flapped her hand, “do they all not speak in here? At least in my parents’ house, they speak. Well. Yeah. I try not to interact with them, I can do it myself.”
Silence, she felt unsure, was she revealing too much about her family to him? The one person that didn’t care and shouldn’t know?
And he changed the subject, she moved with it, grateful as all hell for the help to get out of the confusion. “You don’t have to sleep on the floor,” she laughed, “you can get a couch moved in here.” She wasn’t going to ask him to sleep in the same bed as her, oh god no, that’d cause more confusing feelings. She had worked hard at making sure her mind and heart knew that what happened between them was an one-time thing, nothing more. Now it’d be them as parents and who knows – friends, if things worked that way.
Her eyes watched him, she tried not to laugh at how his hair ended up after he raked his fingers through it. “Oh Atticus,” she shook her head as she moved the tray over so she could scoot in to fix his hair. “You really should cut it if it’s going to keep doing that.” Her fingers raked through his hair quickly before she pulled her hands away – almost as if burned. “I…” She looked over to her food, “good crackers.” She slowly shifted back to prop herself up against the pillows as she picked up the crackers. “I’ll sleep soon.”
His gaze followed hers down to her stomach, and a memory rose unbidden of nuzzling that soft flesh, nibbling, moving slowly lower, pausing occasionally to look up to her just so he could see that look on her face...
It took a tremendous force of will to keep his thoughts from showing on his face. And even then, he wasn't sure how successful he was at it. Even if she were ever interested again – something he really didn't believe would ever happen – now was not the time.
Even worse, he went from thoughts he really shouldn't be thinking to thoughts he'd never imagined he'd ever be thinking. He wanted to reach out and lay his hand against her belly. Not, this time, with any thoughts of anything sexual, but...merely to see if he could feel the evidence of the baby she carried there. His child. Their child.
When she looked up, he jerked his eyes away, looking instead down at the tray as though it were the most interesting thing in the world. Whatever it took to keep from meeting her gaze for fear of what she might read in his eyes.
“They're not really mine,” he said absently, still distracted by thoughts he didn't want to be thinking. “Leftovers from the Voss pack. I...don't trust them, not with you.” He paused, then allowed himself to look back up at her. “You're too important. Um...the child is too important.” Maybe she wouldn't notice he put her before the child without. Then again, it was Remy. He knew how clever she was. It was, after all, what had attracted him about her in the first place.
He did note, absently again, the bits of information about her family she let drop. But, he really didn't care much right now. He didn't want to fight them, not really. And such information was only of use if he planned to attack the Durantes. He'd much rather they just swear loyalty, accept him as packmaster, so he could start trying to force peace on them...and work on the changes he wanted to see made.
His lips twisted, and he shrugged. “I didn't say I was going to sleep on the floor. I'm going to watch out for you tonight. Make sure you're okay, that you don't need anything. Or...be here, if you do.” He paused, studying her. “I can still go out in the hall if that bothers you. But I'm not going to bother with any furniture moving tonight. You need as much rest as you can get.”
He could only watch her silently, going still when she scooted closer and reached out so casually to run her fingers through his hair, attempting to smooth it down. He might have laughed at the attempt to tame his unruly hair, if he hadn't been so startled by her touch. Oh, god, it just made him want all over again. When she jerked away, clearly bothered by what she'd done – or maybe by his reaction, or whatever look had crossed his face, it was hard to tell – he blinked and jerked off the bed almost as fast as she'd jerked her hand away from him.
“Yeah, uh...you should do that. Eat...and sleep. That'd be...good.” He cleared his throat, carefully avoiding looking at her, backing away until his back came up against the wall behind him. “I'll just, uh, settle in right here,” he said, sliding down until he was seated on the floor right there, propped against the wall. “I'll just be here, y'know, in case you need anything.” His head tilted back to rest against the wall, his eyes closing so that he could continue to avoid meeting her eyes, for fear of what she might see in his.
Unfortunately, closing his eyes just seemed to be an open invitation to his traitorous brain to start up a reel of greatest hits of the last night he spent in Remy's presence.
She just assumed he meant she was important as in with everything going on politically around them, especially with him being who he was. She tried to keep it that way, the baby was the more important thing – she understood that. It was his child, she hadn’t asked if it was his first, she didn’t know if she wanted to know the answer. It was awkward even thinking about him having a life from before – she only had considered him as two things: human then a ‘wolf. But then there were moments where she considered him to be more.
Then she cleared her throat, shaking her head as she chuckled at him, “then I’ll have to ask for a bell,” she teased, “when you finally do leave my room.” She colored at the joke before shifting a bit, biting down on a cracker, enjoying the taste.
“No, god no, I don’t want you out there. It’s bad enough having him out there.” She chuckled as she shook her head, “just stay in here with me. I’d like that,” she murmured softly. Then there had been the touch, she rubbed her hands together, why had she did something like that? That had been intimate – they weren’t supposed to be intimate. She had briefly caught that look on his face, it made everything stir inside, her body instinctively responded to the look of surprise then wanting.
God. She wanted it too.
When they both jerked away, she forgot how to breathe for a moment before she found herself again, tugging the blankets up more around herself as she gave a half-hearted nod as her eyes followed him down the wall to the floor. “Yeah,” she murmured softly. She did need him. She wanted him. But.
She shook her head, trying to convince herself it was just the hormones talking. She had read somewhere how women wanted more sex during the early trimesters when not fighting morning sickness. She shifted again under the blankets to lay down onto her side away from the food tray, it had immediately been forgotten in her attempt to act as if everything was normal. Her eyelids closed, she was trying to force herself to go to sleep, the quicker she was asleep, the less awkward things would be.
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