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~ Kleitos ~

Pace, pace, pace, growl, pace, pace, sneer, turn.

The pattern repeated itself with precision as Kleitos restlessly waited in front of a closed door for his mate and two sons to finally stop this nonsense and come out.

Mating ritual, his ass! Deikan would leave the house over his dead body!

This, of course, was not as impossible as he would have liked it to be, especially not after that little performance in the council hall earlier that very evening.

The sire growled again, wishing he had really not been there to witness it, but even more so that the whole thing had not been related in any way to his family. Which was again an impossibility, seeing that his youngest son was the very reason for what had happened, thus making the rest of them directly involved and placing Kleitos right in the middle of it.

Bad Deikan!

Not that he did not love his son to pieces... well, maybe that was a bad comparison right now, but he did love Deikan and he truly wished him to be happy. Still, it seemed the young father's idea of happiness was not the same as Kleitos'. Not to mention that Deikan's choice was... childish, impossible, infuriating even!

For the love of the gods, couldn't the boy have picked someone else as a mate?

Kleitos stopped for a moment and threw a punch at the wall. He was strong, the rock stronger, and the pain that shot through his fist helped him gain some control on his thoughts. Not that it helped much. Even without the evening's events, Deikan's choice would have made him angry.

Quite, quite angry.

It wasn't as if he had not expected his youngest child to find a mate and move away, no. In fact, Sorya and he had encouraged it; but Deikan, being his stubborn self, had seemed not to want to leave his parents' home so soon, and Kleitos had secretly been glad of it. He had known that, when the right sire came into his life, Deikan would give up all pretences and follow his instincts.

But the one who had finally captured Deikan's attention was not exactly a parent's ideal of a good mate for their son. Not by a long shot.

He wasn't at all like one would expect the Executioner to be, either.

"Greyan." Kleitos snarled the name, hissed at the wall, and started pacing again.

When Deikan had started accepting courtship gifts, Kleitos had been both excited and worried. Excited, for it showed his son had finally reached full adulthood and was willing to start a family of his own, and worried because he did not know who was sending the gifts. He had followed his son at a distance, hoping to find out who the sire his son had taken a liking on was. Unfortunately, Deikan had managed to elude him most of the time, for the young father had become very adept at sneaking around, in spite of his parents' opinion about doing that. So there had been no glimpse of the sire before Kleitos and Sorya had left the city a year before. The task of supervising Deikan's behaviour and assessing any pretender had then been relegated to Takhi, Kleitos' oldest son, and his mate Edran. Edran, being a member of the council, would have known what to do if the mysterious sire had not been acceptable.

But, according to the pair, the gifts had stopped coming altogether and Deikan had shown clear interest in at least three other sires while his parents had been away. Soon before their return, however, Deikan had started accepting gifts again, and these were even more extravagant than they had been at first - with yet again no sign of the one sending them, though Deikan must have known his identity.

When Flavik, head elder Mardus' brother, had approached Kleitos soon after his return to the frozen city, the mystery of the sire's identity had appeared solved. Truth be told, Kleitos hadn't known Flavik all that well, but he came from a good line of velassi, with good recommendations, and the fact he would have created yet another link between Kleitos' family and the council was not to be ignored. So Deikan's parents had decided that, if Deikan wanted Flavik as his mate, there was no reason to deny the sire's claim.

To them, it had appeared strange that Deikan would back out of it the way he had, just two nights before. Still, knowing their son well, they had taken it as yet another proof that they had spoiled Deikan more than they should have, and had agreed to let Flavik retrieve the young father after he had run away. They hadn't even thought twice about the two not returning on All Souls Night.

It soon became clear that not only had they not known their youngest son as much as they had believed to know him, but that Flavik hadn't been quite what he had claimed to be.

And also that Deikan's real choice had been far, far worse than Kleitos could have imagined.

Or so the sire thought.

But perhaps Sorya and he carried part of the fault. They had truly spoiled Deikan as a child, and led by the false belief their son would be a sire - Deikan had displayed a healthy curiosity, over-possessiveness, and the desire to always wander off and explore - they had not tried to restrain his freedom in any way. When the child had grown to be a father, it had been far too late to correct their error, for Deikan had been too strong-willed to simply obey without a word.

Kleitos couldn't help a smile. Deikan took after Sorya in that department; and had he lived in the same times as Sorya and Kleitos had when they had begun their courtship, it wouldn't have been a problem. But times had changed, and the expectations towards the roles of sires and fathers had changed as well. Disobedient fathers were not nicely looked upon by the council, or by the younger sires in search of a mate. Deikan had been somewhat protected from the elders' intervention to "correct" him by the fact their family was an old one, and by Edran's position in the velassi council.

Kleitos had secretly rejoiced that someone had managed to capture the rebellious youth's interest and hopefully "tame" him in time.

He was now far from enthusiastic at the thought.

For though Deikan had gone to Greyan's side willingly, in front of the council and his parents, centuries' worth of rumours about the vicious sire that claimed the title of Executioner wouldn't be easily overlooked. Not by someone who wanted his son to be safe.

Hearing sounds from the direction of the door, he grabbed the nearest object and flung it that way with a ferocious snarl and baring of fangs.

Edran barely dodged the marble bust, who shattered against the wall from the force of the impact.

The older sire snarled again, this time in frustration, and resumed the pacing back and forth in front of the closed door, stealing glances at Takhi's mate. He really wanted to render someone into pieces himself, but Edran had done nothing to deserve it, and for the looks of it wasn't entirely unaffected by the whole situation. In fact, he looked quite frightened - a rare sight, for little fazed the blond council member.

Kleitos finally stopped, hanged his head and rubbed his eyes. "Tell me this isn't true," he growled. "Or at least that there's a way of getting my son out of this bond."

Edran dropped in a chair nearby and shook his head. "Not unless Deikan lied about them being mated... which, judging by Greyan's reaction tonight, is wishful thinking."

Kleitos didn't bother to hide his hiss. "I'll just have to kill him, then."

Edran snorted. "Kill Deikan? You wouldn't go that far and kill your own son, and then you'd just end up in pieces as well. And I'm not really sure what it would take to kill Greyan."

Pace, pace, pace, sneer, pace, pace, growl, turn.

"You're not making this any better, you know."

"I cannot make it better, Kleitos. Mardus is in shock, by the way, and nobody is sure how he'll react when he comes out of it. It will take a few nights to clean away all the blood, and after Greyan's declaration only a fool would try to defy him. And you are no fool, my friend."

Golden eyes narrowed at Edran. "Are you telling me that I should let that monster take away my son? Not bloody likely!"

"What does Sorya say?" the other sire asked.

"He and Takhi are... 'preparing'... Deikan for the mating ceremony. Without asking me, I might add." Kleitos snorted, crossed his arms to his chest and leaned against the wall. Not that there would be a ceremony, if he had a saying in it.

"And Greyan?"

Fangs snapped at the blond sire. "He went 'to change clothes'. Maybe he won't come back," he added under his breath, then continued out loud. "He is not welcomed here."

Edran steepled his fingers and rested his chin on them. "That is not a wise thing to say, Kleitos."

"It's not your bloody son he wants to bond with! What would you say, were you in my place? Sure, Flavik may have been a bit strict in his ways, but at least he wasn't a freak!"

The elder drew a breath and released it slowly. "He does not come across as a freak to me. In fact, I do believe he is polite and courteous most of the time." He ignored Kleitos' glares and continued, "And he is, I believe, the best choice for Deikan. Strong enough to protect him, yet indulgent enough to overlook certain aspects of his behaviour that many sires I know would strive to get rid of." He sighed again. "Greyan is not what you believe him to be, Kleitos."

As much as he hated to admit it, part of Kleitos believed it. Not many sires could put up with his son without sooner or later losing control of their actions. And he doubted any of them would go up against Mardus, who had earned his position as head of the council and had since then proven to be a redoubtable adversary on various occasion.

But that did not mean he could easily overcome the instinct to fend Greyan off at all costs.

"He doesn't even look like a sire," he grumbled.

"And that has worked to my advantage on several occasions," a smooth voice replied, making both Kleitos and Edran jump and turn towards it source.

The shadows moved as Greyan stepped further into the room. He had indeed changed his bloodstained clothing for another outfit, this one a little more elegant than the one he had worn previously. Swung across one arm was the fur coat that Deikan had been gifted with, the only splash of colour on him except for his face and hair. Kleitos instinctively bared his fangs at him, even as Edran stood up and prepared to step between them if it became necessary.

"I do apologize if I come across as something I am not," the white-haired sire said, effectively cutting off Kleitos' snarly remark about coming in uninvited. "I should have probably spoken to you before things evolved into a scandal. But Deikan and I thought it wise to wait until after All Souls Night before any introductions were made. Had I known about Flavik's plans, I would have come sooner."

Kleitos gave Greyan a measuring look. Seen up close, he looked far less frightening than he had in the council hall earlier that evening. And what fazed even more was the calm demeanour and soft-spoken words. The fact that he had killed the head elder's younger brother that very evening didn't seem to have made a great impact on him.

Perhaps it had not.

"I do not care what you could or would have done," he spat, "you're not taking Deikan and that is that!"

This declaration might have shocked Edran, but it seemed to amuse the white-haired bastard. "I do believe that is not your decision to make. Deikan alone can decide whether or not he will come with me. If he asks me to leave, I'll leave... but we both know it will not happen."

And the worst thing was, he was right. It appeared that Deikan was positively smitten with him.

That did not mean Kleitos had to like it.

"I know who you are better than my son does. If you think I am going to stand by and watch as he runs off with a monster, then you are mistaken."

Silver eyes flared to red and the smiled disappeared for a moment, but just as fast Greyan's face returned to normal. "I have been called that, and worse, many times. It takes more than that to make me angry. But I understand your desire to test me. I also know that, no matter what I do, in your eyes I will never appear as a good mate for your son. But believe me when I tell you that I shall take very good care of him."

Kleitos refused to reply. It was Edran who spoke. "Kleitos feels that Deikan deserves someone who can appreciate him for who he is, and he - forgive me for saying this - doesn't think that you would be a good mate, given your history and, er, occupation."

Greyan's voice was bitter as he answered. "Yes, well... who can blame Kleitos? He only wants what is best for his son." His eyes turned on Deikan's sire. "Please understand that I know what you wish for is Deikan's happiness. But he became my mate of his own free will, in full knowledge of who and what I am, and of what I may be forced to do in the future.

"I am well-aware that he is not a picture of virtue and obedience, for it is that which drew me to him in the first place. However, I was raised in a time when sires and fathers were seen as equal, and where others see flaws I might see virtues.

"Do you believe I do not know how lucky I am to have him by my side? That I would not give my life to keep him safe? I care for Deikan, and I will not let anything come between him and his happiness. So you see, you and I are not that different after all."

"Those are pretty words, Executioner. But can you prove them to me?"

The white-haired sire shook his head. "Only time can prove them. What you should do is give your son the credit he deserves. You raised him well, Kleitos. You know he would not choose a mate who is unworthy of him."

Oh, Kleitos knew that. "I still don't have to like it. And you're not mated until I say you are!"

Greyan placed a fist over his heard and bowed slightly. "As you wish."

The brown-haired sire did not trust this sudden display of submissiveness. The freak was up to something, he could feel it!

Before he could say anything, the door he was still leaning on was pushed open, forcing him to step aside or fall over. Sorya peeked out from behind it, his eyes widening for a moment before he gave the three sires a forced smile.

"Does any of you know where Deikan might have left his cloak?" he asked.

The cloak in question was retrieved from one of the tables by a smiling Greyan, who offered it to Sorya with a nod. Kleitos' nails dug into his palms as he struggled to control himself at the sight of a dangerous sire being near his mate; but Sorya had quick fingers and pulled the proffered garment out of the Executioner's grasp in less than an instant. With a quick "Thank you" and a slammed door he was gone.

Still smiling, Greyan sat in the chair closest to the door.

Edran snickered and shook his head as he took a seat as well

Kleitos merely growled, leaning against the door once more.

So they waited.

~ Sorya ~

There were times in one's life when being a parent held no particular appeal, even to a child-loving individual. For Sorya, tonight was one of them.

It wasn't just the fact that your youngest child had done something that could be deemed as either brilliant or incredibly stupid. No... it was when your mate started acting territorial and your other child grumbled under his breath, his mate looked like he was trying to fend off a great headache, and...

... and the Executioner was sitting in your living room, waiting for your - crazy! - baby to come out so they could be formally mated.

Fucking lovely!

Sorya leaned back against the door, feeling his mate do the same on the other side of it and being just a little grateful for the support the sire's strength would lend him, albeit indirectly. He remembered a time when his own strength had been matched to Kleitos', openly and unquestionably, and when no one really gave a damn about what was going on in their lives. But those times were gone, old laws giving way to new, stricter ones; and his pregnancy with Deikan had been taxing on him.

Not that it wasn't worth it. At 200, Deikan was as strong and stubborn as Sorya himself had been at that age. Not that Takhi hadn't been strong as well... but his was a different kind of strength, reminiscent of Kleitos'. Not so openly defiant, but more subtle and refined in imposing his will on those around him.

He couldn't help smiling. His children were like two gems: one polished and sparkling; the other uncut, rough around the edges - but both precious beyond words. And Deikan would get a nice sparkle of his own, in time.

Hopefully. If he didn't get himself killed.

Not that he was likely to do so any time soon, given his recent choice. Greyan would watch over him like a hawk - Sorya himself would make sure of it. Unlike his mate (who had the tendency to exaggerate when the safety of his family was concerned - a sire thing, Sorya was sure), he had a very good idea what Greyan was capable of and what not.

The Executioner had a secret side very few knew about - he did not like to harm fathers. Sorya recalled that, when he had been but a child, there had been a father named Dannai who had gone insane after his mate's death and had murdered not only his two children and their families, but his mate's brother as well. The council had eventually captured him, and had sentenced him to death. Later that night, Sorya and a few of his friends had snuck out of the garden they were playing in and had taken one of the less travelled routes to the underground caves they used for containment.

They had been young and stupid. They had thought an execution would be fun to watch. They had hid in one of the uninhabited corridors and watched as Dannai was chained to a wall by two of the council members. Then all but the head elder had left, and the children had been impatient to see what would happen.

Words had been exchanged, and they had not been pleasant. Even in his madness, the father had known what would happen, and Mardus had gleefully pointed out that Dannai's death would not be a quick one. But finally, out of the shadows a figure had stepped forth, and Sorya and his friends had stopped moving, stopped speculating on what would happen.

The Executioner had arrived; and though there was nothing frightening about his physical appearance, the children had felt the aura of danger around this man.

Unlike Mardus, he had not smiled or taunted; he had simply looked at the father chained to the wall, had stopped the head elder's chattering with a hard look, and had approached his victim. Dannai had stilled, and Sorya had felt his fear when a pale hand had caressed his cheek and had brushed his hair away from his face. Then the executioner had bent forward to whisper something in his ear, and the look on the father's face had been pure triumph, his feelings true joy.

Sorya doubted Dannai had seen the blood dagger strike; but he and his friends had. It had been a swift death, and the Executioner had not enjoyed it. He'd thrown Dannai's head to Mardus and left without a word.

The head elder had not been happy either, but for an entirely different reason.

Sorya let out a small laugh as he pulled away from the door. At the time, he had not fully understood why the Executioner had shown any mercy to a father who had killed his own children. He still didn't, not fully. But he did know that they were all their fathers' children, and that Greyan did not like to harm fathers. And that was all that mattered.

Perhaps, one night, he would ask Greyan about it. Perhaps Greyan would answer.

But not tonight. Tonight was time for a small celebration. Deikan was finally getting a mate, one he had picked for himself and with whom he seemed quite satisfied. Sorya did have some doubts, but unlike Kleitos' they were not about Greyan's ability to keep his youngest son safe. They were... of a more personal nature.

Across the room, Takhi had finished stuffing some clothing into a bag and was still muttering about his brother's sense in men - or lack thereof -, but if one looked closer one could see the smile playing on his lips. Deikan, dressed in the impressive suit of green silk which had been one of the courtship gifts, was sitting on the bed and absent-mindedly brushing his hair. The dark wood box which held the jewellery items was placed next to him.

The older father smiled, hoping that some of Greyan's sense of style would eventually rub off on his son. Obviously, Deikan's mate knew his gems. Though not as sparkly and expensive as emeralds, the pale jade set he had gifted his chosen with suited Deikan perfectly, and was of excellent craftsmanship. When Deikan had received the first piece, a heavy necklace, Sorya had been a little worried that refusing it may offend whoever had sent it... but apparently he had had nothing to worry about.

Another lavish gift was the cloak that the three of them had been searching for. (Sometimes, Deikan kept forgetting where he left things, and losing such a valuable garment would have been quite embarrassing.) A cloak that, he recalled, had caused Deikan to snarl at more than a dozen people who had tried to touch it. There was a certain... over-possessiveness... over certain objects that his son couldn't let go of.

"We've found the cloak," he announced as he approached the bed, wisely loosening his hold on it so that when it was pulled out of his arms it would not be ripped apart. He smiled indulgently as he watched Deikan snuggle it, and winked at Takhi.

His older son shook his head. "Spoiled brat," he whispered, then asked his father, "So, where was it?"

Sorya shrugged. "Since Greyan gave it to me, I assume he brought it from his home."


Two sets of blue eyes blinked at the youngest velassi.

"Greyan lives in his caves. You know, the ones just beyond the city line." He waved a hand as if it were common knowledge, then set the cloak on the bed and rose. "So, are we done yet? If he's here, we might as well leave."

"Deikan, Deikan," Sorya tsked. "You're not getting out of the bonding ceremony that easily." He ignored the smothering glare, and retrieved the jewellery box which he handed to Takhi. "Now stand up straight and let me see what we can do about making you pretty for your mate."

Deikan growled. "He likes me as I am, there's no need for all this - ouch!"

Sorya tugged on the braid he had just made again, just to make sure he had Deikan's attention, and then took the hair clip Takhi held out to him. "Father's privilege," he announced. "Besides, now that you have found a suitable mate there are some things you need to know and rules you need to follow, and I am not letting you walk out of here ignorant.

"First of all, please try to refrain from criticizing your mate in public - it reflects badly on you both. Listen to what advice he offers, for he is older and probably knows better what he is talking about than you do. But also make sure he knows you have your own opinion on certain things, and remind him from time to time that he does not have any power over you other than the one you offer him."

He stroked the waist-length braid of brown hair, then pulled out a gold-and-diamond comb from his hair - a gift from Kleitos - and used it to get some rebel strands out of Deikan's face and secure them.

Deikan growled. "Greyan knows better than to act like he owns me, and the whole damned world besides that," he announced.

Sorya and Takhi shared a knowing smile. Deikan might think so now, but the sire without protective instincts towards his mate had yet to be born.

While Takhi placed bracelets and rings on Deikan's hands, Sorya arranged the heavy necklace and made sure Deikan's braid fell enticingly over one shoulder before stepping back and admiring his handiwork, chuckling at Deikan's deepening scowl.

Children always grew up too fast. Gone were the days when he had watched Deikan take his first steps, or learn to hunt; the days of doting upon him like he were a treasure. He'd always remember them fondly, the same as he did with Takhi's childhood. But now there would be no son to watch over, and the house would feel a bit lonely...

And Kleitos would just have to try his best to keep Sorya from getting bored.

Which reminded him...

"Deikan," he sighed, "I am not going to play the innocent and pretend that nothing has happened between Greyan and you. You have been feeling the fires of All Souls Night for a few years now. I do want to know one thing - does he please you?"

Predictably, Deikan blushed; but it was Takhi who let out a chocked sound. Though, to be fair, Sorya had only spoken to his eldest son of this a few months after the mating ceremony. Still, one had to adapt to circumstances, and given this particular sire, one had to wonder if he had skills other than those used to fight and kill.

"He doesn't look anything like I imagined your chosen mate to be," Sorya elaborated. "That does not mean he is not fit to be a good mate, but I cannot help but ask myself if he is... properly equipped."

Deikan's face turned a deeper shade of red. "He is," he choked out, his eyes anywhere but on his father.

"Ah, good. And - out of pure curiosity, you understand - is he any good in bed?"

"Father!" Takhi exclaimed in pure outrage, but Sorya waved him off and caught Deikan's eyes.


His youngest child seemed to gather his wits and meet his gaze, still blushing fiercely. "He is... very good. He does this thing with his tongue..."

"Oh for goodness' sake!" Takhi interrupted. "It's one thing to know you two are doing it, and another thing to be given the details. I for one do not want to know how the Executioner goes about having sex with my younger brother, thank you very much! So can we please end this conversation here?"

Deikan grinned at his brother. "Well it's certainly better than having to hear father and sire or Edran and you doing it. Those high-pitched half-screams you do..."

"Why you little..."

"Children, enough!" Sorya intervened before the two started fighting in earnest. To Deikan, he told, "he pleases you, and that is all I wanted to hear."

The brown-haired velassi nodded. "Can we please get on with this?" he asked impatiently.

Sorya retrieved the white fur cloak from the bed, placed it around his son's shoulders, and looked him over. Deikan made quite a picture, and he fought back a sob as he embraced him.

"I'm so proud of you," he whispered, pulling back.

Takhi approached. "Although I am far from delighted in your choice of mates, little brother," he said, "I do wish you to be happy with him."

"You used to like Greyan," Deikan replied.

"So I did. I just wish someone had told me he was the Executioner before I had invited him in my home. People like that..."

"Are necessary in order for our race to survive," Sorya cut in. "Our people, and sires in particular, need to fear someone, need to be reminded that they are not all-powerful and that they should reflect on their actions and the consequences. And I am fairly certain that Greyan is a nice person outside his line of work."

Takhi seemed to ponder those words for a few moments, then he reached out to embrace Deikan as well. "I hope you two are happy together," he repeated. "And do come visit from time to time."

Deikan returned the embrace and smiled. "I love you too, older brother."

Sorya turned around and set about to open the door, putting a little strength to it when it would not bulge. On the other side, someone yelped, and the door finally opened to reveal an... interesting picture, to say the least. Edran was just pulling away from the wall he had apparently leaned on; Greyan was seated in a nearby chair, his chin leaning on an upraised hand; and Kleitos, who had been the one blocking the door, was now frowning down at his mate. Sorya smiled up at him and gave him a quick kiss before entering the living-room.

"Everyone's here, I see. Good. Then let us get started." A deceptively small hand shot out to capture Kleitos' arm before the sire did anything impulsive, like jump between Deikan - who was walking out of his room, Takhi closely behind him - and the Executioner, who was standing up and unconsciously rearranged the folds of his dark cloak. Sorya looked at his mate pointedly, warning him to behave. Kleitos complied, but judging by the look on his face he did not do it happily.

Still, not even he could deny the attraction between the two newly-bonded velassi. A broad smile graced Greyan's face, and he held out his hands to greet Deikan, who appeared to be very self-conscious at the moment but did not stop walking towards the white-haired sire.

"So beautiful, my nightingale," Greyan murmured, taking Deikan's hands in his and lifting one up so he could kiss it gallantly. There were other words exchanged through a mental link, words not meant for anyone else but the young father, but whatever had been said helped Deikan relax a little and smile shyly at his mate.

Kleitos hissed.

Takhi made his way over to his parents after glaring at Edran.

The words "one big happy family" nearly left Sorya's lips, but he held it back. No use making thing worse, no matter how funny the outcome.

He sighed. "So. Now. Edran, as a member of the council you stand official witness that Deikan and Greyan are now mates, and that Kleitos and I agreed to their union." And elbow in Kleitos' ribs ensured that the sire would bite his tongue and his protest with it, so after Edran concurred Sorya turned to the Executioner. "Greyan, we all know that yours has not been a typical courtship. However, Kleitos and I shall not deny our son the right to be happy with whomever he chooses. What we ask in return is that you keep him safe."

"Or I'll have your head for it," Kleitos growled even as Sorya's nails dug into the sire's muscled arm.

The Executioner bowed slightly. "You have my word."

"You will also take Deikan as far away from the city as possible, at least until we are sure the head elder will not have you both killed for what happened today."

Deikan grinned and circled his new mate's waist. "We had agreed on travelling anyway." Greyan smiled and pulled him closer, kissing his lips most tenderly.

"Now, normally we would ask you to spend the night here," Sorya concluded. Next to him Kleitos growled - something he did on a regular basis that night, it seemed; Deikan blushed again and turned to bury his face in Greyan's shoulder, and the sire pulled him closer but kept his eyes on Sorya. Silver, unsettling eyes. Almost daring him to demand it.

"However, since we are trying our best to get you as far away from Mardus as we can, that wouldn't be a wise course of action. So I suggest you two go to your home and get busy."

Sorya had expected growling and outrage; instead he got a glare from his youngest son and a chuckle from the white-haired sire. Then Greyan pulled away from Deikan long enough to bow again, a bit lower this time, his eyes not on Sorya but on Kleitos.

When he straightened, he turned to Takhi and spoke softly, "I should have told you who I was, when no one did. For that, I apologize. And I promise you that, when the time is right, I shall bring Deikan back to meet the child you are carrying."

In the resulting chaos, Sorya pretended not to notice Deikan and Greyan slip out the door.

~ The End ~