The news that his son had given information to the doppelgangers about him and Gabriel and how to contact him for their needs bothered him. Not only did that part bother him, it bothered him that Gabriel had found out he had a child not from his own mouth, but through an official situation at the Council Chamber.  

“Why… why didn’t someone tell me?” Senias asked them all.

“I didn’t tell you because I wanted you to be the one to tell me about him in your own time.”

“It was your story to tell brother.” Dev shoved on Derek’s shoulder, “Not his.”

“To be clear, I thought you already knew, Sen,” Derek was quick to say. He might’ve been happy to poke the dragon earlier, but he’d crossed a line he hadn’t even known was there! That was bad!

“That little jackass…” Senias’ eyes shifted and he moved to get up. Both lycan stood and each of them had a shoulder and shoved the dragon back down in his seat beside Gabriel.  Luckily, they were outside the diner and no one saw the small altercation.

The low growl from Senias was a warning, “Let me go.”

“Nooooo…. Just…. Just breathe, okay? We need to have breakfast, remember?” Derek looked at his Alpha. Shit. They didn’t need anything bad to happen in public. “He won’t be going anywhere he wasn’t already going. Just because you know about it, doesn’t change his life or his decisions. You can track him just as easily tomorrow as you could right now. He has no clue about the goings on of the Council. You know that.”

“Sen, stop.” Gabriel held his lover’s gaze as he reached beneath the table to grasp his hand and squeeze it.

Though his eyes were still changed, his need to press onward stopped. Gabriel easily took his attention from anything. He took deeper, longer breaths to calm himself. His hand grasped his lover’s hand beneath the table.

Derek tentatively took away his hand and sat back down. The human definitely had sway on their old friend. He couldn’t help but wonder if that was always going to be a good thing. Derek’s eyes cut over to Devon.

“It doesn’t change anything between us. But…” Gabriel licked his lips and looked at Devon.

“Who was there? Was Skinner there?” It was his worst fear. If that wretch had a head start on knowing about Starrfire before Senias even knew? Starr would be in mortal danger. There was no limit to what Ezekiel Skinner might be capable of or how he might use such information against him and those around him. The draconic man followed gazes once again and let his rest now with his lycan brother.

With his hand still on Sen’s shoulder, Devon spoke low to him, “No. But, Sebastian was there and heard it too.” Dev knew that would sting both Sen and Bastian but then he knew how deep that connection ran between the two men.

“He knew before he joined us at Pandora’s Box?” Senias asked. He swallowed as Devon’s hand finally moved from his shoulder. Everything had happened so quickly after Sebastian had invited himself to the mission. Had that been part of the reason the vampire had made the decision to join? “He said nothing of it. That’s odd.”

“Why?” Derek was now confused as well.

Senias took a deep breath and stirred his coffee with one packet more sugar before taking a drink. Putting the cup back down, he looked first to Gabriel, then to Devon and back to Derek, who had asked the question.

“It was my mating another dragon that ended my time with Sebastian. I never told him about having a kitling. Never got the chance before he just disappeared from my life altogether. I didn’t realize until much later that he’d turned himself in to Crimson and taken the judgement that was waiting for both of our heads. The warlord that I once was? Even if it’s found out that we’re one in the same, I will not be held to judgement for it because of him.” Senias explained to the two who didn’t know the entire story.  “He did that because of my betrayal. Because he didn’t understand the mating… that it is an instinctual drive.  And, if I’m honest – I thought we were getting too close. I saw the prospect of mating as a means to end our … whatever it was. He in turn just, just gave up.”  Senias sighed. He looked at Gabriel. “I was a horrible creature. Still am. Ask Eva.”  

As Sen explained things Gabriel listened and when he paused Gabriel couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “I can’t see Evansworth simply giving up and crawling into a Crimson cell.”

“Then you don’t know him very well.” Sen replied quietly, yet firmly. “Sebastian would never admit any of this, and the story doesn’t go beyond this table, you got me?” Senias eyed them all.

“You, us, and the fence post. Got it. I don’t talk to the fang, anyway, so…” Derek replied.

Devon eased back in his seat as he already knew this tale. He’d kept it to himself all these years and didn’t see giving it up any time soon so Sen didn’t need his assurance. He need Gabriel’s.

“I don’t share much of anything with anyone as you well know.” Gabriel grinned and squeezed his lover’s hand beneath the table. “So tell me how I have it so wrong about Sebastian.”

“Since he’s been released from the cells and he’s climbed his way back up into politics, I…uh…. I still never said anything about it. I suppose I never wanted to endanger either of them. The less Sebastian knew, the better for him…same reasoning I had where you were concerned, Gabe – until I was sure you could know what I was and not have the information taken from you. And also – when Bastian first came out of those cells, he was more intense and dangerous… so it was best not to say anything about Starrfire,  in my opinion. And then time passed…” He shrugged.  Of course, there was the other side to Sebastian. Perhaps the reason for helping and not harming was simply that he knew the pain of losing his own children. Now that he had hold of himself, Sebastian might not be a danger to the young dragon at all.  

“He has to know that any child of mine had to have come from that encounter. All my others were lost to the Dark Times or nature. It has to piss him off just knowing my dragonling exists. And instead of punishing me yet again for getting that slap in the face, he helped us that night. He nearly died helping us that night. Which means he truly has gotten past everything. Or at least, I hope he has. He had to drink from me that night. I’m sure that wasn’t something he relished – but he did it.”  

Staring down at his cup Gabriel processed everything they were being told. Sen had told him once that the story was Sebastian’s to tell and yet now that it also involved his son, it seemed Sen felt it needed telling by him. He had no doubt that there was a great deal more to the tale, but it was obvious Sen was telling them the important details. “Perhaps it’s time you went to see him then before he meets your son face to face.”

“That’s not a chore that’d be as easy as it sounds, Gabriel.”

“No, I don’t think it is going to be as easy at it sounds, but you have a son that you’ve obviously not been very attentive to in his lifetime. Do you really want your former lover meeting him before you two talk?” Gabriel simply pointed out the obvious.

Licking the dregs of the milk from his lips and whiskers, Dev rumbled, “Sounds easy except when that fang holes up in his lair no one gets to him that he don’t let in. I know ya’ll seemed hospitable after Pandora’s but looks can be decievin’. So even if Sen wanted to talk to him, how do ya suppose he gets to him?”

“With his mind and if that fails I know someone who can reach him for Sen. He just needs to ask her nicely.” Gabriel wasn’t stupid, he knew the connection was still there mentally between the two men. After so many years together it wasn’t severed so easily.

“My mind speak hasn’t connected to him in centuries, Gabriel. That night of the meeting was a fluke. And even as close as we were – standing right next to each other – it was difficult. Besides,  reconnecting comes with its own consequences,” Senias whispered, his fingers tracing over Gabriel’s hand beneath the table as they talked. The dragon wasn’t sure he wanted to open those old wounds by trying to force a psionic call to the vampire. He was staring at the table as he thought over it all.  “Who could reach him otherwise?”

“My friend, Dr. Samantha Keen over at the clinic. Sam has been spending quite a bit of time with him. After he was nearly killed the first time by the doppels, he took himself to the clinic remember.” Gabriel heard Dev chuckle and watched him nudge Derek as he grinned at the younger lycan.

“Dare knows her too seein’ as she is the one the pulled copper outta his ass when he got shot in it.” The waiter appeared with plates of food and the lycans attention suddenly shift to hunger. “Just on time cause my stomach is eatin’ its way outta my body.”

“Glad that didn’t happen!” Rusty laughed as he served the generously portioned food to those at the table. “I can always bring you more if you need it. Just let me know.”

As focus turned to food, Gabriel leaned closer to Sen and spoke low, “You need to talk to him or at least try to. I’m not urging so much for him as I am for your son. We need to find Starrfire and you need to make it safe to do so. It isn’t very safe if a Coven Master is after his hide is it?”

Sen smiled at Rusty as the big bowl of oatmeal drizzled with roasted pecans and honey and brown sugar was placed before him. But he had heard what Gabriel was saying. Would Sebastian be a danger to his dragonling? He doubted it. However, it had probably come as a shock to the vampire that a kitling had come of what his partner had seen as an indiscretion.  It would be best to speak with him, regardless of intention. He nodded in agreement and took a nice big breath of cinnamon.  

Finishing his toast Gabriel enjoyed his coffee while the others devoured their meals. He pulled out his phone and began rescheduling things. Other than meeting the new Elven Councilor, his plans and focus had changed.

“Tell me more about this new elven Councilor that we’re goin’ to pick up.” Devon rumbled to change the subject to something a little less personal.

“I don’t know much about her other than that she is related to the previous Councilor. She is said to have a better head on her shoulders.” Gabriel sipped his coffee as he answered the feral.

“They’re of the same caste. That’s probably a given,” Senias added. “You can tell from the names. Ends in “lial” so… what, Dev? Healing caste? They tend to make the healers become diplomats in this world because most royal elves don’t want to deal with other races. Healers are given a gift that they share with anyone who needs it. So they’re already sullying themselves.”

“More than likely healin’. I dealt more with the warriors than the healers, but they’re all pretty as they come.” There was a slow grin and a long sigh from the Alpha male. He had a lot of good memories with the elven females of his past and he’d not deny it. Eva knew of his previous preferences in lovers but that was long before her and there was no sour feelings from it.

“Don’t let moms see that look on your face. I know she says she doesn’t care about your past, but it eats her just a little. I see those little green devils in her eyes when I’ve been around and you mention those past flings, old man,” Derek chuckled before taking another bite.

There was a deep chuckle at that, “I’m no fool son. I well know ya mama and those green devils of hers, but she also knows my fierce loyalty to her and no elf has ever or will ever have that from me. Show that demoness the same and ya’ll will be inseparable.” Dev grinned wolfishly at his eldest and winked at him. “Can’t say this new Councilor won’t be tempting.”

Derek’s eyes got big at the response. Had Devon just… he shook his head and went back to eating.  He wasn’t gonna touch that with a ten foot pole! However, he would file that advice away. He already felt that if he ever got a chance with the lovely demoness, how could he ever want for another?  

“I’m sure she’ll be pale, petite, and perfect – at least so far as her kind are concerned. Healers tend to have similar traits. You loved the warriors – taller, more fierce, and ruddy or tanned of complexion.” Senias smirked. His eyes were a bit wicked on his brother. “Or was it that you always wondered about the healers and never got a chance?”

Gabriel sat quietly and simply listened to the banter now going on between the trio at the table with him. He only smiled as he sipped his coffee.

“I was indeed always curious, but petite and pale really ain’t my thing. I’m a bit rough and feral for that type ya get me brother?” His gaze went between Sen and Gabe. He wasn’t the only one that didn’t care for frail built lover.

Senias’s eyes grew a bit surprised by what his brother was saying. The dragon chuckled and was glad he had a mouth full of the tasty cinnamon and honey oats in that moment. He’d certainly had pale, but never petite. He liked his lovers able to take his draconic roughness and enjoy it; perhaps even put him in his place. However, Sen was fairly certain Gabriel didn’t care to hear all of that.

Wiping his mouth Gabriel carefully folded the napkin back before retaking Sen’s hand beneath the table. “He’s had pale.” When the trio looked at him a little surprised he went on with a short explanation of what he meant. “Evansworth’s pretty pale from what I can tell.”

With a cough Devon covered his mouth and hid his chuckle the best he could. He was pretty sure that they’d all been corrected and reminded that Kennedy paid more attention and was a little smarter than they gave him credit for.

“Good one, Gabe,” Derek commented.

“Enough from the peanut gallery,” Senias pointed his spoon at the pup.  But he winked. Then he looked over at Gabriel and turned his hand beneath the table so that they could entwine their fingers.  It was a small gesture, but it was meaningful, though private. “I find healthy and tanned to be a new and much more pleasant experience.”   Considering neither of the men were petite, that went without comment.  

Derek just chuckled and took another drink of his juice.  

The way that Sen held his hand out of his sight and their fingers interlaced was very endearing to Gabriel. “I would hope so because I’ve no intention of ever going pale.” He wanted to draw Sen close and kiss him, but now wasn’t the time or place for such intimacies.

Senias couldn’t help the chuckle, a bit louder than he had done until then. This conversation, as convoluted as it had been, had put the Tasker back in a good mood. He was thankful for that.  

Clearing his throat to get their attentions, Devon looked just a little uncomfortable right then.  “Need a room?” he mumbled low to them so no others could hear.

“Well, it was you’re smartass mouth that started this crazy train, brother.  Don’t want us to keep it going? Jealous?” Senias stuck out his tongue like the truly immature creature he was before scraping his bowl for the last bite. “Where is Eva, anyway? She’d have had a blast hopping on board with us.”

“Not too, I think she’s out lookin’ for Russ but not certain.” Dev shrugged his shoulders as he drank more milk and licked his lips. “Ya really want her here seein’ those looks on both of Ya then hear this one pine over the succubi? I don’t think that’d go so well do you?” he sighed, “Not to mention the elf talk.”

“Ohhhh, we’d just make her day! If she’s looking for Russ, she’s already in a bad mood,” Derek grunted as he took the elbow to the rib despite speaking the truth from his mind.

“What could Russell have done to earn his mama’s ire?” Gabriel was confused by this new bit of detail.

“Who knows? He’s always walking that line…” Derek found himself cut off.

“Russ is fine.” Senias let go of Gabriel’s hand and wiped his mouth with the napkin he had before placing it in his bowl.  “He’s got a good head on his shoulders. I’m sure it’s just her needing to check on him.”  Senias was a bit protective of that particular pup.  Always had been.  

There was a low whistle from Devon, “Brother, ya should know better than to get between them. She can have a nasty bite as ya recall.” He’d irritated his mate in the past and knew from experience that her bark and bite were pretty damned equal.

The Tasker paused, his eyes looking to Devon while his hands moved to his wallet to find some cash to throw on the table. “Oh, I remember that bite. One of few I’d remember. She likes to grab hold and then twist, the little… “ He shook his head and didn’t finish that sentence in front of her mate.  He tossed a fifty on the table to cover pretty much all of them. “Lost scales thanks to her temper one time.”

“Ouch,” Derek was just trying not to laugh.

Senias put his wallet away, clearing his throat, he moved himself behind Gabriel. He leaned down to place his mouth near the Councilor’s ear, “I’ll take care of the personal business with Bastian before meeting with you at the estate. I just need to apologize and explain myself. You’re right.” He brushed a light kiss to the tip of Gabriel’s ear before standing and looking to the others, “I suppose I’ll be seeing you later today, and you, pup? Stay out of trouble for as long as you can?”

Derek toasted to the idea of staying out of trouble, though he didn’t plan on it. Not really. What fun was that?