***Contains Spoilers for Darkest Hour Before Dawn***
: Can we have a training session with the Hobbs brothers where Rafe and Ethan find out about Seb and TIN?
Final Part (Links to previous parts at end of post)
“I’m sorry. You’re right. I should have come to you. You’re my big brother, and nothing’s going to change that. Ever.” Seb sat with his hands between his knees, wondering where the hell the years had gone? Seemed like only yesterday that Ethan was just a kid, Seb tucking him into bed before finishing his homework while Rafe cooked them dinner so their mom could focus on their dad, and making him comfortable. Back in the day, medication for their dad’s condition had been iffy at best. Not that it was stellar now, but at least now his father had some good days where the pain wasn’t as bad.
Rafe was quiet for several seconds before finally speaking up. “I know there’s going to come a time where I’ll be more of a hindrance than a help, but while I can help, I want to.”
“Hey, look at me,” Seb demanded gently.
Rafe did, and Seb cupped the back of his brother’s neck. “You are never going to be a hindrance on me, Ethan, or anyone in our family, you understand? Do you think dad is a hindrance on mom?”
Rafe shook his head, his bottom lip wobbling as a tear rolled down his cheek. “Fuck, Seb. Look how much she’s suffered with him. I know she loves him, but God, how do you think it makes him feel? She’s spent nearly their entire marriage taking care of him. Having to stab needles into him, crying herself to sleep because he’s in so much pain, and there’s nothing she can do about it. I don’t want to do that to anyone.”
“You’re not doing anything to anyone. We’re your family, and we love you. Mom doesn’t do what she does because she has to. She does it because dad’s still the same guy she fell in love with years ago. They adore each other, and when mom said, “in sickness and in health” she took that to heart. Would you ever give up on dad?”
Rafe gave him a dirty look, and Seb held his hands up in front of him. “You see? So why would we give up on you?” Seb put his arm around his brother and hugged him close. “You’re absolutely right about me and Ethan coming to you, and I promise you we’ll try harder. You know how hardheaded the three of us are. Sometimes it takes a bit for things to get through out thick skulls.” He lightly knocked his fist against Rafe’s head, making him laugh.
“Yeah, I think I started that trend.”
They both laughed quietly. Seb worried his bottom lip between his teeth before doing what he said he’d do, and confiding in Rafe. “You know, there’s another reason why I’ve made peace with joining TIN.”
“If there’s a cure out there, or something that can help you, and dad, I’m going to find it, Rafe. I swear I won’t stop until I do.”
Rafe turned to meet his gaze. “You’re going to look for a cure?”
“With TIN’s resources, and the training Hudson and I are going to get, we’ll have access to information and specialists we didn’t even know existed. Sparks says TIN can fix my knee.”
Rafe stared at him. “They can do that?”
Seb nodded. “It pissed me off at first, that they wouldn’t help before I joined, but after Sparks explained it, I got it. Sort of. Hudson had to explain some of the medical jargon.”
“Wait, they have a procedure that will fix your knee, and they wouldn’t do it unless you joined them?” Rafe shook his head with a glower. “What the hell?”
“The technology isn’t legal yet.”
Rafe opened his mouth to reply then closed it. He cursed under his breath, and ran a hand through his hair. “Shit, Seb. Is it even safe?”
Seb winced. “It’s kind of experimental, but so far it has a high success rate. They’ve performed the procedure on several of their operatives, and it’s worked. They’ve been doing it for years. Do you think Sparks would have hired me as an operative if she wasn’t sure it was going to work? If I don’t take this chance, my knee’s just going to get worse. My point is, there’s gotta be something out there. Even Dex has sworn to Ethan he’s going to find something.”
Rafe cursed under his breath. “Daley’s in on this?”
Seb nodded. “Talk about stubborn. There’s no way we’re winning him on that. If Dex promised Ethan, he’s going to come through with something. There’s no way in hell he’s going to let Ethan down.”
Rafe let out a sigh, and for the first time in a long time, he looked… hopeful. When he spoke, his voice was shaky. “I’m kinda terrified to get my hopes up.”
“Whatever happens, we’re going to get through this together.” Seb brought Rafe in for a hug, both of them laughing when another pair of arms joined in.
“You two are such dorks,” Rafe said, pulling back to ruffle Ethan’s hair.
“Jerk,” Ethan muttered quietly, his grin wide.
Well, we must have gotten it from somewhere,” Seb teased.
Rafe gasped. “Are you calling mom a dork? I’m so telling.” He made to stand, and Seb saw him wince before he sat back down with a pained expression. Seb nudged Ethan, and Ethan disappeared inside.
“Remember when we used to sit out on the stoop at mom’s while Ethan and Calvin played hide and seek?”
Rafe let out a bark of laughter. “Ethan was not good at hiding.”
“Kinda hard to hide when you’re thirteen and almost six feet tall.”
“Remember when Cal hid in the tree, and then he got stuck?”
“I remember you two jerks just standing there laughing at me,” Calvin grumbled, taking a seat next to Ethan after Ethan plopped down beside Rafe. Everyone came out from inside and sat around Rafe, Nina sitting between Rafe’s knees and leaning back into him. She stretched up, and he kissed her. The smile that followed lit up his face. Man, his brother was a goner.
“Because birds weighed more than you did,” Rafe said, answering Calvin.
Ethan made a jumping motion with his hand, and they laughed.
“Oh, shit,” Rafe snickered. “I forgot about the squirrel.”
“Squirrel?” Hudson sat between Seb’s legs, and leaned back to look up at him, his pupils blown. “What squirrel?”
If there was anyone who loved chasing squirrels more than Ethan, it was Hudson, but then most wolf Therians seemed to go crazy over squirrels. Seb didn’t understand it himself, but Hudson was adorable when he chased something. He looked like a big gray bunny hopping around, tail wagging.
“A squirrel landed on Calvin’s head while he was stuck in the tree,” Seb explained. “Calvin screamed, let go of the branch, and luckily, we were right below him, and caught him.”
Ethan nodded. He patted Calvin’s head.
“Screw all of you. That squirrel was vicious.”
Rafe nodded. “As squirrels went, that one was particularly vicious, and fluffy tailed.”
They all teased Calvin, and while Rafe was busy teasing Ethan about his hiding skills, or lack thereof, Nina looked over at Seb, and put her hand to her heart, mouthing the words “thank you”.
Seb winked at her. They might be a mismatched family of misfits, and he included Destructive Delta in that, but Seb would do anything for them. Together, they’d get through whatever storm came their way.
Missed the beginning? Start with Part One here
. Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS Published by Dreamspinner Press.