"So how does it feel to be the father of adults?" Tamra asked as Cassian joined her at the sink after dinner.
He narrowed his gaze on his mate, who hadn't aged a day physically since she manifested. A smirk played on his lips as he leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.
"Hmmmm, great. Draven and Helios can't seem to take a hint we don't need them around?" He replied, picking up a dish and wiped the surface clean.
Tamra hit him with the dry dish towel and rolled her eyes. Leaning in for another kiss, this time on her lips, Cassian narrowly missed with the thunderous footsteps of his first born. Cassian eyed Draven as he thumped down the stairs with his brother quietly in tow.
"Going on patrol." The eldest shouted. "Helios is with me."
Helios had no parting words, quick well placed steps following his brother, showing the stark contrast in natures between the two.
"You're not leaving without your sister." Tamra shouted, pulling away from Cassian, but with a stroke over her shoulder, she backed away from the door frame that led to the living room and looked up at him with exasperation. "They are NOT leaving..."
"They are adults now." He smiled smugly, their only daughter and youngest of the three, trudged down the stairs, books snug under a well-toned and tanned arm. "And you know as well as I do this will be their last year with us in our home."
His mate sighed. "Draven carries too much Onyx in him. I would have sworn he was going to be one."
"And you lost." Cassian teased.
"As did you."
Cassian remembers he took bets with Jacinda on the morning of the birth of his and Tamra's first born child. Not for gender, gender was mostly irrelevant to him, despite his father's constant reminders of 'Strong Alpha Males'. However, looking down at his first born son, Cassian knew his father had his Alpha.
"He will be an Onyx." Cassian had proclaimed, hours after Draven's birth, smiling wide. "I'm sure of it."
Cassian smiles at the memory, fondly. Needless to say, Grandpa Severin was more than thrilled, babied little Draven all through his toddler years.
Draven matches his aunt and mother in looks but was physically strong like Cassian himself, fearless and got into heaps of trouble before he manifested as the prides second fire breather. Tamra beamed with delight and her sister, Jacinda rolled her eyes and collected her earnings with a smug smile and a punch to Cassian's arm.
"Next time, eh Cass?" She quipped, thumbing through her winnings. "There's how many Onyx's? 30 of you now? We have more muscle then we know what to do with, so get that stick out of your ass and smile for once."
Now, at age 20, Draven was everything an Alpha should be; strong, reliable, determined. A year after Draven's birth came Helios, a very stark comparison to his brother.
"You were right about one thing in Helios, he is a survivor." Tamra nodded, but her smile grew bitter. "Just like with Onyx's... I mean, look at what my sister hauled you through."
"You did narrowly escape death many more times than I did." Cassian mused and added with a sly smile. "So I wouldn't chalk survival rate up to pure Onyx."
"You thought Helios was an Onyx too." Tamra reminded Cassian, taking a plate from him.
"Onyx's have the best survival rate." Cassian replied. "Needless to say, both Corbin and I were born early."
"This time our child turned out to be his mother's son." Cassian said softly.
Tamra's second pregnancy was a little difficult and ended three months premature with a small boy. Sickly, but he pulled through against the worst odds placed against him.
"Helios." She had mused quietly, holding the content bundle in her arms before handing him back to the doctors.
While Helios was early in birth, he manifested on time. Four years after Draven, Helios's hair bleached out and his eyes faded to yellow just like his mother's had. With the death of Nidia two years prior, this was a fantastic revelation. The pride's future was secure, though Tamra showed no signs of ever slowing down. Helios fell right in line with his training, following obediently in his mother's footsteps.
By the time Lania, the only daughter to make an appearance, Cassian had dropped making any bets. There was no gambling when it came to his daughter.
Their third child was born a year after Helios. A girl Cassian named Lania, tiny, dainty and feminine. She resembled her mother before she manifested but held the slight tan of Cassian behind her flushed cheeks. He'd suspected shader for the longest time, longer still after Lania turned 13 and failed to manifest. Tamra held firm in her own belief that one day, Lania would manifest, but when their only daughter turned 15 and had yet to taste the clouds, Cassian felt his heart sink. Severin, to say the least, was not amused despite the previous success rate of the small family Cassian had provided.
"It's... not uncommon, you know." Tamra chided, inspecting the utensil that Cassian handed her. "And you know full well that defunct Draki still have a place in the pride. Will and Jacinda's child, for one example…"
"The fact of the matter is that I blamed you." Cassian added, frowning. "You were a late bloomer, as your sister put it."
Tamra sighed. "I blamed you for not being more accepting, as my sister put it."
There was a shout that interrupted the pair and Curiosity got the better of Cassian when he heard the raised voices out in the yard. Draven, still in full manifest, had managed to singe a book to ashes in Lania's now scolding hands. Sibling rivalry could get ugly amongst Draki, but when one was his only daughter, Cassian knew where his alliances would lie in this particular battle.
Cassian stopped just short of the living room window, shimmering off the ashes on Lania's hands caught his eyes. Draven's fire shimmered, his ashes never did and a smile graced Cassian's usual stony face.
"You're going out there to break this mess up?" Tamra asked, joining him by the window, arms encircling his waist.
"No." Cassian relaxed, admiring the way his daughter's tight fist shimmered black and pummelled Draven square in the chest as the rest of her body began its manifest into the black scales that could belong to no other Draki but an Onyx. "I think she's going to do just fine on her own."
Cassian shifted to the side, allowing Tamra to see beyond his arm. "Well, well, looks like you're right my dear."
Cassian snorted. "No, we were both right."