Jackson looked up from his desk, “Come in,” he called.
When he saw Adam he frowned, “Aren’t you meant to be seeing to the person we sent Thane and Harry to rescue? You know we need to find out as much as we can.”
Adam sat and refused to meet Jackson’s eyes.
“What is going on Adam? You look like shit.”
At that comment Jackson finally got a reaction out of the man, Adam chuckled, “Well so would you if you had seen what’s been done to that boy.”
Jackson stopped in the act of turning off his computer and stared at Adam, “It was a boy? Is it serious?”
“Oh yes very! I do think that you need to come and see him. There’s something that doesn’t sit right with me.”
Jackson turned to frown at Adam, he knew his friend was trying to play it down but he could see he was very worried and he even looked slightly afraid of something.
Jackson nodded, “I’ll come now, there’s still three hours till sunrise.”
Casey had just transported Vash to the spare bedroom and he was surprised to get a call to go to the clinic reception, he headed down and into the clinic, to see who wanted him.
“Jackson, what are you doing here?” he demanded, as he entered the reception area and saw who was waiting. Adam looked very uncomfortable and was trying to look like he wasn’t there. Casey guessed everyone had been doing that recently, every time he and Jackson were in the same room, which wasn’t very often if they had anything to do with it, Casey was even more snarky and rude to Jackson, than he had been before the Basil incident.
“Adam thinks I should meet your new patient. Is he up to one more visitor?”
“You can come with me to check on him. Only because I think as a High Council member you should see what has been done to him. Follow me.” With his last words he headed for the main clinic doors and then on to the connecting door. He continued to speak as he walked, “Most of his wounds have healed due to a mixture of my magic and his DNA. I assume Adam told you about the collar stopping him shifting?” Jackson nodded As Casey continued, “Okay, the newer wounds were whip marks over his front and back, I judge they were at least a day old and to not have already healed they must have been very deep to start off with. He also had bruises on his face, arms, legs and chest. They looked like he had been restrained and suspended by all four limbs while being beaten. Lastly he had a partially healed broken nose and three broken fingers, again partially healed.
“He has a much older scar on his back, it spells out the word FREAK, I would assume it was done with a silver knife and that salt was rubbed into it regularly to ensure it scared rather than healed. Other older scars not visible to the naked eye but visible to magic were, bruised kidneys, old dislocated shoulder, healed broken ankle, wrist and multiple fingers and toes, burns to his chest and genitals and lastly he has been choked regularly to the point of passing out, most likely whilst being raped.
“Other than that he is severely malnourished, which probably explains the slow healing process, and, of course, he’s very, very scared. Please don’t make any sudden movements once we are in the room and no sudden noises either. You are liable to send him scurrying into a corner if you do. From what Craig has been able to glean so far and from talking to Vash, it is a very good bet he has been conditioned to respond to orders, so please watch your tone of voice and ask don’t tell.”
Jackson looked to be trying to decide between how angry he was or how appalled he was, as they arrived at Vash’s room but he nodded at Casey’s orders and Casey opened the door.
Vash looked so young and relaxed curled up asleep that Casey almost didn’t want to wake him, but with a sigh he laid a hand on Vash’s face and mutter the counter spell to allow him to wake up slowly.
Vash started to stir and then his eyelid’s started to flutter. When Vash saw Casey his face lit up with a smile, Casey smiled back and sat on the edge of the bed, “How you feeling little one?” He asked, as he smoothed hair away from Vash’s face.
“A bit better thank you, Sir.” Vash responded in a whisper.
“Casey, not Sir, remember?” Casey said softly, keeping his tone light and trying not to sound like he was telling the boy off.
Vash blushed and nodded shyly.
Casey waved Jackson closer and Vash flinched when he saw him, “Vash this is Senior Elder Jackson Langman. He is the one who found out about you and ordered Thane to rescue you.” Seeing the boy was still scared he decided to have a little fun and hopefully put Vash at ease too, “Let’s see, what else do you need to know about him?” He tapped his chin and Jackson started to scowl as he could probably see Casey was up to something, “Well he likes bowling but is not very good at it. You should have seen him last time we all went, the ball nearly ended up going through the end of the alley—too much vampire strength. Then there was the time we met a couple of psychics, Jackson ended up on his knees for insulting one of them. Actually you may meet him eventually his partner is Craig, the one you met when you first woke up. But otherwise Jackson is an okay guy for a vampire I suppose.”
By the time Casey had finished Vash had a small smile on his face, but then he looked at Jackson and the smile fell off his face and he tried to crawl off the bed. Casey stopped him with a sharp word and glared at Jackson who had been glaring at Casey.
“What did I tell you about controlling yourself around my patient? If you can’t behave in the way I tell you, you can get out of my clinic and my home. If you scare my patient again your invitation to return will be revoked. Do. You. Understand?”
Jackson’s mouth was hanging open but he quickly shut it and schooled his expression, “Of course, you’re in charge here and I apologize for my actions.” He turned to a still scared Vash and held out a hand, “Little one, I apologize if I scared you. I was not cross at you, just embarrassed that Casey here decided to tell you a few things I would rather forget. Please will you forgive me?”
Vash was looking between them but gave a small nod, he didn’t however take Jackson’s offered hand.
Casey continued to stroke Vash’s face and hair until the boy had calmed enough to relax back on the bed. Casey felt a bit guilty, he had known that saying those things would annoy Jackson, but he’d wanted to make Vash smile and annoying Jackson had been a good side benefit. He now regretted his impulsive action.
“Little one, Jackson and Adam want to ask you some questions. Do you feel up to talking to them? Or would you rather rest?”
Vash looked at him and then flicked a glance at Jackson but Casey used his free hand to bring Vash’s attention back to him. “You don’t have talk to them if you don’t want to. No one is going to make you do anything and you’re still healing.”
Vash took a deep breath and turned within Casey’s arm to face Jackson, “I’ll speak to you, but I don’t know what I can tell you. I rarely left my room, and then it was only in the company of a guard or my alpha.”
Jackson nodded, “First let me say that the way you’ve been treated is not how you will be treated here. As Senior Elder of this community I assure you the people here will welcome you with open arms.”
Casey smiled at Vash’s shocked expression, “He’s telling the truth little one. You remember Thane? One of the men who brought you here?” Vash nodded. “Well he’s half witch and half vampire. He’s never been judged or treated any different because of that. We also have a half psychic and half shifter who visits often because he is friends with Craig who you also met earlier.”
Jackson sat on the edge of the bed next to Casey, “Please Vash, tell us your story.”
Vash took a deep breath knowing this wasn’t going to be easy, but this was the first chance he had ever been offered to speak out about what had happened to him. He instinctively trusted Casey, although he didn’t know why, and there was something that told him he could trust Jackson too.
“The first thing I remember is being dragged away from my nanny at five years old. She was screaming that I needed her still, I was an orphan since birth and she had been given charge of my care. But the alpha was saying I was now old enough to care for myself, he said shifters grew up fast and I needed to do the same, even if I was a half breed freak. When the woman still protested the alpha back-handed her knocking her to the ground. He said questioning his orders was not acceptable and then nodded to the guards that were holding her back from rushing to me again. One of them grabbed her by the head and all I heard was a snap before they just let her fall to the ground.” Vash stifled a sob and when Casey pulled him into his arms he burrowed into the comforting scent.
He knew his voice was muffled but he needed to get it all out, “I ran to her but she wouldn’t wake up. The alpha laughed and said that was what happened to women who didn’t know their place.
“I was taken back to my room and never left it again, unless it was with a guard or the alpha. I spent two years being trained by the alpha to obey and do what I was told. If I was good I was allowed toys and my favorite foods. If I was bad I was starved of food and the blood I needed. My alpha always made sure I had enough to survive but never enough to completely fill me. Some of the guards took pity on me occasionally and would try and sneak me food, but then that guard would disappear and a new one would take his place. Soon all the guards treated me the same as the alpha did.
I was seven when I started learning. The alpha had to make sure I could pass the required exams or the High Council would be suspicious. Only members of the pack he trusted to keep quiet were allowed to be my teachers. My lessons were done in my room and they only taught me what I needed to know for the exams. Any other questions I asked were met with silence or if I persisted a slap from them or my alpha to ensure I behaved as I was told. As I got older the slaps became punches and then later any behavior my alpha didn’t like was punished with a beating, or worse by withholding food and blood.
“When I turned eighteen and I passed my exams with top marks the alpha came to my room. He said he had a reward for me. He said that because I had got good grades he was going to give me the best gift he could. He told me to strip and then he pushed me down on the bed…”
Vash couldn’t continue, the memories of that day and the ones that followed were memories he had tried his hardest to push down into the depth of his mind and slam a door on them. He felt a wetness on drip on his face to join the tears he was shedding. He looked up and was shocked to see tears streaming down Casey’s face. He reached up to brush them away but Casey caught his hand and brought it to his lips. The kiss Casey laid on his fingers was soft and sent a sense of belonging through him.
Jackson’s voice interrupted the moment, “Vash I’m so sorry for what has happened to you. Please let me reassure you that your old alpha will be dealt with.”
Vash nodded, still looking at Casey.
“Can you continue?” Casey asked, “I think it may be good for you to get it all out now, rather than in dribs and drabs later.”
Vash thought for a moment, if he did want to break away from his alpha then he would need to tell them all he knew and all of what had happened. He was never going to get another chance like this one.
Nodding he started talking again.
“After that first time my alpha would visit me at least once a week and sometimes more. Sometimes he was gentle, but most times he seemed to be angry for no reason. Some of the worst times were when a guard would come to get me. I was taken to a member of the pack and left there for a night before being returned to the guard to be taken back to my room. I later found out those pack members had done favors for the alpha and I was their reward. Some of them just wanted to use me, but others took great pleasure in seeing how much pain I could take without passing out. The more I screamed or begged the worse they became.
“Then last week I turned twenty and things got even worse.
“Just three days ago, my alpha had me washed and dressed up so he could take me to a meeting with some other alphas. I only had to serve drinks at first and I thought it was good to be out of my room and actually doing something that didn’t involve me screaming for mercy. But then he started talking about me like I was for sale. I quickly realized I was for sale. He took offers for time with me. One alpha bought me for an hour and another bought me for a night.
“The next day I could barely move, the one who’d had me for an hour had confined himself to just taking out his frustrated lust on me. The one that had me for the night, however, had some more specialized tastes. I was taken to my alpha’s room he had it set up with chains and whips still from last time he had decided I needed to be ‘taught a lesson in manners’. I don’t remember much after the first time I passed out from the pain. My alpha also decided I ‘needed a reminder of what I was’ and so he and the other alpha carved something in my back. I haven’t seen it but they told me that no one would want me once they saw it. My alpha had been trying to mark me for a few months but he hadn’t been able to make the cuts scar as he wanted them too. The visiting alpha told him how he needed to rub salt into the open wounds and to keep doing that each day till they sealed up, then the scar would be permanent.
“By the end of the night I had multiple broken bones and so many cuts and bruises that I couldn’t move without pain.
“I don’t remember much the next few days. I have vague memories of being woken by searing pain in my back before passing out again. The next thing I remember is Harry coming to get me — although of course I thought he was a guard coming to take me to someone else. I’ve never been so scared, I didn’t know what was happening. He took me outside and Thane unchained me, they tried running me through the woods but then I passed out again. I woke up here.”
Vash rushed the last part out as fast as possible and then collapsed in sobs in Casey’s arms again.
Jackson was furious, he wanted to go to that camp and rip the alpha limb from limb. People like that should not be allowed to live.
He came out of his thought when he heard a low sound coming from Casey. Looking up he saw Vash was cowering away from him again and burrowing as far as he could in to Casey’s arms. Jackson was proud of his mate, Casey had such a caring soul and he was always there when people were in need of help. He just wished those arms were around him instead of the young boy on the bed. He shook those thoughts away, Vash had been through a horrific time and he needed Casey’s talents a lot at this point.
“I’m sorry Vash,” he said trying to reach for the boy. Casey just tightened his arms and glared at him. “I’m not angry with you. I’m angry at your former alpha.” He wanted to keep making the point that the person who had done this was not Vash’s alpha anymore. It had not escaped his notice Vash still referred to him as ‘my alpha’.
Rising from the bed Jackson straightened his clothes. “I need to head home so I’m in doors before sunrise. I’m cutting it close as it is.” He headed for the door.
“Your old room is still made up here you know.” Casey’s voice sounded from behind him.
He stopped halfway to the door, turning on the spot he stared in shock at Casey.
Casey was looking at Vash, but Jackson could see the tension in his body and could guess how hard that offer had been to make. Now the choice was his; should he give him a way out and tell him he’d be fine, or should he accept graciously?
“Adam, you could stay too if you want. There’s a room free in the clinic and I can leave a message for Ben to meet you there.” Casey added while Jackson was still dithering.
Adam nodded his head and headed for the door brushing past Jackson and giving him what must have been a very deliberate knock on the shoulder, “Answer the man,” Adam whispered low enough to only be heard by Jackson.
“Thank you, Casey,” Jackson managed to say, “If it’s not too much trouble then I will gladly take the offer of the room. I don’t believe I could make it home before sunrise anyway.”
Casey nodded and waved a hand towards the door, “You know the way. The maid keeps the room clean and made up. Never knew when you might need it again.”
Jackson nodded to hide his shock, his room was kept clean and made up? That gave him something to think about. He pondered the questions going round in his head as he bid Vash and Casey sleep tight and headed for bed.