Katashi stood and watched his family prepare for dinner. So much had changed in his life in these last five years, he still worried that it could be a dream. One he would fight fate itself to hold onto. Which just might be on his to-do list if the call he just received careened into the worst-case scenario.
While he always welcomed an update from his Alpha Thomas, hoping that each call would be the one to call the pack together finally. When they didn't, it also broke his heart in ways he tried to hide from his mate. Jinx knew though for she was his heart as much as he was hers. But she never tried to stifle the pain or convince him to deny the commitment they had both had made that day.
Letting his mind worry at the problem of finally getting the call they had all waited for the best of outcomes. Though Katashi knew he couldn't keep the information away from his family, no matter how he wished.
Using this brief time between the call and sharing it he allowed himself to continue to enjoy his picturesque family before him. Knowing he didn't have the right to censor the news as much as he wished he could. Keeping the new information about Thomas, Kelsey, Karan, and Kalina would hurt them too much.
While he would always look to the boys as his cubs, they would have been considered adults in their former lives. No matter how their new lives had changed them, you can't slow down or reverse maturity. No matter how he and Jinx might wish to do so in the name of protecting them. A warm comfort curling around his heart as he finished his debate on what he needed to tell the boys.
The absolute love and acceptance helped to lighten the weight of his resolve that it was necessary to share all. Jinx was always with him even while his mate was engrossed in listening to Timmy tell her about his current class load and how if he had been allowed to join the universities baseball team it wouldn't be in last place again. But part of keeping the boys safe was keeping them as unnoticeable as possible. It sucked that the boys had both had to give up anything but recreational sports, but they understood even as their young hearts wanted to try anyway.
That too could be a thing of the past if things went best case scenario. The boys would never get those lost years back, but they just may be able to graduate having finally joined a season of their preferred sports. They would have to temper their new strengths as they were still playing human, but both brothers had shown a remarkable ability to blend in every time they had moved.
It was part of how fantastic his mate was. She had trained them from a young age to blend, to go unnoticed. Keeping them as safe as a young single mother could in the dangerous neighborhoods she had to raise them during what the trio of siblings called the dark time in their lives. For none of them had ever experienced how they were living now, except as a TV movie on the Hallmark channel.
Katashi planned to spoil all of them unmercifully for the rest of their lives to make up for not finding them sooner. He had been content to play his father's enforcer and diplomat, never thinking his mate would need him as much as he would need her. Content to be the second son who would never be heir because he loved his brother too dearly to want to usurp the harsh hierarchy of a wolf pack. Now while he and Jiro were still close, but the change in his life had put a different strain that made living too close an impossibility for them both.
Though he knew Jinx would rap him upside the head for thinking he was supposed to have saved her and the boys sooner. For, in the end, Jinx had not only safeguarded herself but her brothers and Katashi with her inability to give in, to let the powers that move through their lives as others cower her. She still was growing into what she was born to be, though it was a slow go because the only contact they could allow was through her dreams. Until their fractured pack was settled, it was the only safe way.
Watching Tommy sneak up on his brother, he shared a look and a smile with his mate. The two boys were straddling the line between adult and child, so it was still common for one to ambush the other. Since it was a great way to practice always being prepared, neither adult culled the activity, though they made the boys fix anything they broke during their play.
As the Timmy turned and caught his brother before he could pounce, Jinx moved away from the impending mayhem of youths tussling.
"Dinner is in five minutes." Was all Jinx said to the boys as she walked into the arms that would always be ready to hold her.
Looking at the boys in their play Katashi was proud of how the boys used the training they and Jinx did with him daily, in non-lethal ways of course. He had been doing his best to direct Tommy and Timmy's energy into martial arts and weapons training. This had been a win-win for all of them as they were able to bond and release their angst in a safe environment. Jinx even joining in when her work schedule allowed.
While Katashi hadn't needed to work and by extension his mate because he had amassed a nice nest egg while working for his birth pack, Jinx had struck a deal with God and Devil. She was a revolving district manager for their various clubs and venues, filling in where needed as they slowly moved across the country. Staying as long as six months or year in one place before moving again. It wasn't ideal, but it kept them all safe.
Continually moving was just one of the safety measures him and Jinx and come up with after a midnight conference with the Three Amigos after one of Jinx's dream visits had warned that staying put would lead to at best both boys being kidnapped, worst one or more of them dead. The rest of the foretold outcomes for their family staying had at least one of his precious family dead at the hands of Karan, something backed-up by a missive from The Oracle herself.
The martial training and keeping a low profile in various cities was the trifecta of protection that satisfied the Oracles advice. When a being who has been the advisor of those deemed other for over fifteen millennia it was a wise course of action to listen to her advice. Though no one could tell of a time when she had been so active about giving unasked advice. But that was a mystery for later, for others.
While the family wasn't exactly trying to hide their trail, it just made it easier to find those who wanted to track them, for they weren't leaving forwarding addresses either. For the last five years it had worked and the boys had been able to grow into their new lives, Jinx too. Katashi just gave thanks to the powers that be that he was blessed with such a great family. Tightening his arms around his love, he knew he would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Jinx always knew when her mate was hurting, thinking of the life he had to live to be with her. While she knew it had been hard for Katashi to leave his birth pack. Though he had admitted more than once, he had always known it was a possibility, his parents, and brother too. The strain she placed on the brothers was a wound she tried to hide deep in her heart, for though she knew her mate wouldn't change his past actions if he could, some of that pain was from her.
The fallout with Jiro and she had never healed, it had actually widened between her and his mate. Paining both Jinx and Katashi for the irrational anger his brother and wife harbored for an entire race. The sins of the few should never cloud how you see an entire species. Katashi hadn't minced words the few times they had come in contact since that day, he loved his brother, but he wouldn't allow his mate to be made scapegoat for an act she had nothing to do with.
"Katashi," The sweet voice of his mate, brought his thoughts back from the past and to the woman, he was honored to be able to call his own, "what put such shadows in your eyes tonight?"
"Thomas called." At those few words, all movement in the room stopped.
The boys untangled, coming to stand by their guardians. The beautiful thing about enhanced senses you never needed to yell to be heard. Looking expectedly at Katashi, he could feel the excitement from the brothers. It was hard to hide things in a pack with the bonds that held them tight, in a family within a pack and emotions could transfer no matter how hard everyone shielded.
"Thomas has Kelsey at the den, and he needs our help." Katashi wasn't about to mince the words or dole them out slowly, his mate might leave a mark if he tried to be so chauvinistic.