I want to go home.
“Why is everyone looking at me?” Donald asked. “Vash is the alpha now.”
“Do you really think I want to be alpha here?” Vash demanded. “Most of these people either hurt me or turned a blind eye while other people hurt me. There are only a few people left that I respect here. I have a new home now and two mates. Why would I want to come back here?”
Vash felt Casey’s pleasure at his words but before he could comment Keith spoke up. “Alpha,” Vash flinched at the title, “there is one thing you can do.” At Vash’s nod he continued. “As alpha you can name a successor and then step down. It’s the same principle as the Community Councils.”
Vash stared at him, could it be that easy? He turned to Donald. “Can I do that?” he demanded.
Donald seemed to be considering it until Jackson let out a growl. “Yes, you can, my mate,” Jackson said while glaring at Donald.
At Vash’s questioning look Casey explained. “Jackson is also a High Council Elder. He just doesn’t like to advertise it. He likes to slum it with us commoners.” The last comment earned him a swat to the back of his head from Jackson, making Vash chuckle.
Vash thought about his options. Then he looked at Keith and grinned. “You can do it,” he exclaimed.
Keith looked shocked at the outburst, and then realization dawned in his eyes. He shook his head frantically. “No. No. No. I cannot be alpha. I’m too old and no one will listen to me.”
“The transition would take about a month.” Donald explained, ignoring Keith’s continued protests. “First we need register you, Vash, as the alpha and Keith there as your head beta. Then you will need to show that you made sure he is suitable for taking over when you step down. Of course to do all that you don’t have to be here all the time. What better way for him to prove he can do the job. Just leave him to do it and you will only have to come here to sign papers and make final decisions on things. Then you’re home free.”
Vash was grinning. “Does that mean I can go home?”
“Yes, it means you can go home. But, I think you should at least show your face around here for a while first. Maybe stay a couple of hours, and let people get the apologies out of their systems. Also I need you to point out who participated in hurting you, the High Council will want to punish them with the ex-alpha.”
Vash lost his grin but nodded, then smiled at Casey as he felt his mate rubbing his arm soothingly. An idea occurred to him. “I have a few books in my old room slash cell, that I would like to get. Why don’t you come with me?” he sent to Casey and Jackson. “Plus, I don’t know what my reaction will be to seeing that place again, but, I think I need to, to help put the past behind me once and for all.”
Casey nodded and rose, holding out a hand. “Lead the way.” Jackson came to his other side as he stood to join Casey.
“We’ll be back in a while,” Vash told Donald and Keith, before leading his mates toward the basement stairs.
Entering his old room again Vash found he couldn’t stop shaking. Casey drew him into a warm hug and he felt Jackson’s arms come round them both too.
After a few moments of soaking in the feeling of his mates Vash felt strong enough to look around. He was shocked to realize it looked even more stark and bare than he’d remembered. The walls were still white but the bareness seemed even more pronounced now he was used to the soft, warm colors of Casey’s home. “Our home, little one,” Casey’s voice corrected him. Vash nodded and continued his perusal.
He suddenly felt a wave of anger coming from Jackson. Spinning to see what the cause was, he followed Jackson’s gaze to his old bed. The sheets were still covered in his dried blood from his last whipping, the chain sat on the floor also colored in blood from the times he had had nightmares and pulled against it in his sleep. The room still smelled terrible with the toilet in one corner and small sink beside it. He had always tried to keep his room clean; he didn’t want to suffer more punishments than he had to. But cleaning a toilet with no cleaning solutions and no tools was an impossibility, and therefore the room had always stunk.
Moving slowly into the room he went to the small bookcase. Dragging it out he lifted a floor board and pulled out a box from the hole he uncovered. Sitting crossed leg on the dirty floor he opened the box and took out three well-read children’s books. There was; ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, and lastly, his favorite, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’. Caressing the covers, he spoke quietly. “These were given to me by my nanny before she was killed. I think she knew what was coming and so she hid them and made me swear I wouldn’t tell anyone where they were. I could always hear anyone coming down the stairs and so I had time to hide them whenever I took them out to read.
“I liked Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the best because it told of a poor boy making it good. I always dreamed I would get a letter one day that said I had been picked for some great thing and then I would be whisked away from this place, never to return.”
“You have us now, love,” Casey whispered. “We’ll never let anything or anyone harm you again. You have my word on that.”
Vash gave them a watery smile. “I feel as though I have won first prize with you two as my mates.” That remark earned him a kiss by each of them and a long hug from Casey.
They were interrupted by scuffling coming from the next room. Casey looked at Vash but Vash shook his head. “I never saw what was in the other rooms,” he said, berating himself silently for not thinking to check them as soon as they’d arrived in the alpha house. Jackson took the lead as they went back out into the corridor. There were four other rooms and they moved to the first one. The door was locked but Casey muttered a quick unlocking spell and the door swung open to reveal a scene that could have come straight from a horror movie.
There were three children chained to the wall of the room. They were all facing the wall and had long whip marks crisscrossing their backs. The sound they’d heard became apparent when they saw the foot of the smallest child trying to find purchase on a small stool. The child had a rope around her neck and the only thing stopping her choking was balancing on the tiny surface of a step stool. There was only really room for one foot and so she seemed to be trying to swap feet.
Jackson rushed across the room and grabbed the little body up so no pressure was being put on her neck. At her weak, fearful cry, he started talking quietly. “Hush there. I’m going to help you. Just keep still and we’ll have you all down in no time.” Raising his voice slightly he called. “Casey, Vash, I have her but I can’t get the rope.” Casey rushed over and Vash headed toward the other two chained figures.
Jackson laid the child down and Casey immediately started muttering and running his hands over her small body. She couldn’t be more than ten years old and Jackson watched as silent tears fell down her cheeks until she finally closed her eyes. Casey stood scooping her up. “I’ve put her to sleep. I’m going to take her back to the clinic and leave her with the staff. I’ll come back for you and the others.” With a pop he disappeared.
Meanwhile Vash had got the other two children down and laid out on the floor—a boy and a girl. They were both unconscious but breathing. They seemed to be older, maybe fifteen, it was hard to tell because it depended on their species.
Casey reappeared with another pop and moved to the prone figures. Crouching between them he muttered quickly. “They’re both only superficially hurt. They’re also drugged. Hang on, I think I can numb any pain and wake them up.”
After some more muttering the girl started to stir but the boy remained out. Her eyes blinked open and started darting around the room. They landed on Vash, then Jackson and finally Casey.
“What’s going on?” she asked, her voice was husky, either from lack of use or screaming, Jackson didn’t think he wanted to know which.
“You’re okay,” Casey reassured her.
“What about my brother? Where’s Billy?” She started to panic and when she saw the boy next to her still unconscious she let out a cry. “No, Billy.” She tried to rise and Jackson had to step in to hold her down.
“Calm down, young lady,” he commanded. “Billy is unconscious but okay. If you give Casey a chance, he will wake him up for you.”
Casey nodded and quickly began muttering again, much faster this time. Soon Billy was blinking and looking around groggily.
“Billy!” the girl cried and even Jackson couldn’t stop her from rolling over to throw an arm over her brother.
“Kelly?” the boy asked, sounding confused.
“What’s happening?” he asked finally looking at his sister.
“I don’t know.” She answered and finally met Jackson’s gaze. “Who are you? What’s happening? Where’s the alpha?”
Jackson smiled. “We just found you and got you down. As for the alpha, he is right there.” He pointed at Vash, who glared at him.
Casey rolled his eyes. Vash agreed; of all the times for the old vampire to get a sense of humor. Casey spoke with a long suffering tone. “What my mate means is Vash is the new alpha. The old one is currently occupying a nearby cell. Now, I take it your names are Kelly and Billy?” At their nods he continued, “Well, my name is Casey, the vampire is Jackson and your new alpha as I said is Vash. Can you tell me who we should contact for you? Family? Friends?”
Both children’s faces fell. Kelly spoke for both. “Our parents are dead. They defied the alpha and were put in the challenge circle with two of the betas. We don’t have any other family.”
Vash felt his heart go out to them. “You could come with us,” he offered before he thought about what he was saying.
Casey looked him with love in his eyes and Jackson was still watching the children.
Kelly was frowning though. “We are with you. You’re the alpha and this is your house.”
Casey chuckled. “She’s got you there, love,” he sent, causing Vash to scowl at him.
“That’s a long story. I’ll tell you what, is it okay if Casey stays with you while Jackson and I sort out some business? Casey will explain what is happening and then we can all go home.” Vash offered to the group as a whole.
After everyone agreed, Vash and Jackson moved out the cell and headed back to Vash’s old room. They picked up the books and Vash then took Jackson on a tour of the alpha house. They checked the other cells and found them empty, except for the old alpha who seemed to be asleep or unconscious.
By the end Jackson really wanted to find the old alpha and tear him apart. Vash had showed him all the rooms and told him exactly what happened in each of them. He understood this was akin to a therapy for his mate, but that didn’t stop him from getting angry that he hadn’t been able to get the young man out sooner.
They ended up back with Donald and Keith. Jackson told Donald what they’d found and got the other man’s agreement that he would do the preliminary report to the High Council so Jackson could take his mates and the children home. Vash agreed to return within the week to name the people who hurt him, and to sign any needed documents.
“Let’s go get the others and Casey can get us home,” Jackson said holding a hand out to Vash.
Vash nodded and hand in hand they headed back down to the basement. They found Casey, with the children curled up asleep with their heads on his lap.
“Can you get us home?” Vash asked cuddling up to Casey’s back, the feel of his bonded mate helping him to relax.
“Of course. Just let me contact Jamie.” Vash and Jackson were brought along for the ride as Casey spoke to Jamie. “Hey, bro. Can you help me send Vash, Jackson, and me home, with two passengers?”
“Two passengers?” Jamie’s queried.
“I’ll explain later bro. Please, I want to get our passengers and Vash out of here.”
“Okay, calm down. Can you reach out and take me and Andrew with you? I really don’t want to be here anymore than you do.”
“Um, yes I should be fine getting all seven of us home,” Casey replied. Then he turned to Jackson and Vash. “If we do this there is a chance I will be unconscious when we arrive, seven is a large group, even with Jamie helping…”
Jackson nodded. “We understand. Jamie knows what to do.”
Casey smiled and Vash felt the magic rising within his mate. Then it grew even stronger as Jamie joined his brother and the world blinked out.