VI | A Rose By Any Other Name...

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The world faded into existence again. Kaia had expected to see the same white ceiling she'd been staring at the entire time she'd been in the hospital, but instead, she saw a soft yellow. She squinted, sure her eyes were playing tricks on her.

Her mind felt fuzzy like she'd fallen asleep in the middle of the day and woken up in the night. It was backward and wrong like something had gone missing.

And her body felt worse. Slowly, she became more and more aware of the aches that plagued her. Her chest hurt, and so did her shoulder. Everything felt heavy like it would be impossible to move.

Then Kaia heard someone exhale. The sound was full of such relief it made Kaia's heart twist. "You're awake."

Kaia tried to twist her body so that she could see who was talking, but the ache escalated to straight pain when she did. She hissed, holding her side. "What happened?" she asked, breathing deeply. Smoke.

"Stay down," he ordered, then he was standing, looking down at her. His yellow eyes were intense, concerned. "You were hurt badly." His expression turned into a scowl, and his eyes grew distant as though he was reliving what had happened. What had it had been real.

Kaia slowly propped herself up on a pillow, moving so that her injuries wouldn't be disturbed. "Are you ok?" Kaia asked. Kaleb looked so tired, drained, not to mention how frustrated he looked. At himself, Kaia had a feeling.

He turned his attention back to her, confused. His voice grew serious, his reply too quick, he was trying to defend himself, "I'm fine."

Kaia blinked, watching him as he slowly came to sit beside her on the bed. She looked around the room. It was well furnished, with everything your average bedroom has. It was cute, with decorative ribbons tied everywhere and a teddy bear in the corner. It must have been a child's room. 

"Where am I?" Kaia asked. Fear set in, "Where's my dad?" 

Kaleb scowled, "I'm sorry, but I had to bring you to my Pack's Mansion. You weren't safe at the hospital." 

"Does my dad know where I am? My brother?" Kaia demanded. 

"They don't know," Kaleb admitted. Kaia was about to let her anger burst out of her, but Kaleb spoke quickly to calm her down, "But you can call them soon. Maybe even go see them if it's safe." 

Kaia was silent for a moment. "You can't just abduct someone like that," Kaia mumbled, crossing her arms over her chest and ignoring the stiffness she felt. She had a lot of questions, but there was a part of her that was telling her to stay calm. There had been this little voice in her head these days that told her what to do; it almost never made any sense, but Kaia always felt like it was right. 

"I did what I had to do," he said coldly. Kaia frowned. He seemed angry all the time. Honestly, it rubbed Kaia the wrong way. But she still had a feeling that there was more to this man than their brief time together had revealed. 

She looked back to Kaleb, who was brooding. Even when he was frustrated, though, he was perfection. Or maybe it just made him even more gorgeous, the shadows pushing forward in the battle between dark and light that was Kaleb's existence. Kaia didn't know what was happening to her. She couldn't stop watching him, how his eyes darted around like he was looking for something, how his muscles twitched when he moved, ready for action. 

His black hair was wild like it had gotten a taste of freedom, of wind running through it and the enormity of the world outside. Kaia, for a brief moment, envied Kaleb. But then she remembered how quick he'd been to deny any weakness. 

"You said you're fine, but it's ok...not to be fine," Kaia said, "You know that, right?"

Kaleb raised his head, looking at her, his expression stormy. He stood, putting distance between them. He was restless. And then, so quietly that Kaia almost couldn't hear it, he breathed, "Not for me."

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