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“Don’t tell them,” Zane murmurs so quietly she almost misses it.
“What?” She asks.
“Don’t tell them he’s here,” He says again, then, “Please.”
“Zane,” Rebecca starts, disbelief plain on her face, turning to look at him completely. “They would be able to protect you,”
“They’ve protected me enough!” Zane snaps, and she sees in his eyes the gratitude the both of them could never repay, “I don’t want to bring this to them. I don’t want them getting hurt,” Zane shook his head, his grip tightening on the steering wheel. “You don’t,” He shook his head. “They don’t know what he is,”
Rebecca frowns, but Zane turns to her, and she sees the desperation in his eyes.
“Please, Rebecca, don’t tell them, not even James,” Zane asks for too much, he’s always asked for too much.
“Zane,” She snarls, James will see it in their faces, he’ll just know. And it will break him that they’ve lied to him.
“Please,” Zane never begs, and that he is now has her hesitating. “There’s enough going on right now,” James was still tearing them apart from the inside. “I can’t do this to them, not now.”
Because then they’ll know, not guess, that their children weren’t safe. Because Daniel will build stronger walls around them all. Because James’s battle will only become that much harder. And it’s the last reason that causes the troubled look in Zane’s eyes, that make him turn to her, pleading.
“Please,” He tells her, “Just until I figure this out, why he’s here, what he wants,”
And it’s the haunted look in piercing blue eyes that stops her. To protect her brothers, she concedes. “Just until you figure it out,” She starts, “But if I see him again, I run screaming to Elizabeth,” Rebecca grasps his forearm, a long scar stretching across it, right till his wrist. Zane flexes his muscles, and she feels the scar half alive.
“I’d run to her first,” He swears.
“What were you doing at the Hunter’s Place?” Daniel asks them later that night.
They’d waited the day out, but they hadn’t seen Rustum or the person he’d been with, and Zane had relaxed a little. They still hadn’t told them anything. Rebecca was still against the secrecy.
Zane smiles then, for the first time since he’d seen his older brother.
“We went to get you something,” He pushes himself off his chair, and goes to retrieve the gift he’d stashed in his room.
Daniel was thrilled. And James was incensed.
“Why did you leave without me?” He demanded, as Daniel awed over his gift.
“I think that was the point, lovely,” Elizabeth explained kindly.
“Because you’re pathetic at keeping secrets, James,” Zane told his brother with less kindness. “And worse at choosing hunting equipment.”
“You bought it, today! You gave it to him, today!” James answered, but he was answering Zane, so there was no fire to his words.
“I notice how you didn’t bother with denying any of those two accusations.” Rebecca told him, trying to flex her wrist just so, as Zane had, to lengthen one of the arrows.
It didn’t budge, and glaring at the offending item, she shook it.
Both Zane and Elizabeth took a step back, and Daniel, leaning over her, deftly plucked it from her hand, staring in awe at his son that hadn’t moved out of the way of her would be murder weapon.
“When have I ever ruined surprises?” James demanded, glaring at Zane, twin blue eyes staring each other down. “When have I ever ruined anything?”
“That’s brave of you to say,” Zane told his brother, an almost smile pulling at his lips, teasing. “Because I keep an alphabetised list.”
James glanced to her, and she shook her head. Stand down, James. She willed him to hear. He would hear her, he always heard her, but he glared at Zane, then turned away.
“Well, fine,” James muttered, he picked up one of the darts moodily, and flexed his wrist. The dart lengthened to a carved arrow.
Rebecca glared at her brother. There was no fairness left in the world.