We spent the final month of my pregnancy… well no, Specter spent the final month of my pregnancy working like mad. He moved the washer and dryer downstairs since there was a hookup thingie downstairs, with the plans of when we adopted the werewolf we could turn the laundry room–which was a decent sized room–into his room. After taking all the laundry stuff downstairs, he cleaned out the room and we measured it out for furniture.
Then, two weeks before my due date, we moved back to the labs. Just in case. Specter put in a lot of overtime during these two weeks. And I got to spend time with the little werewolf who still seemed wary of me. I just wanted to scoop him up and take him home but it would be a while before we could take him home. I hoped we could still adopt him after Presea was a month or so old. He adored Specter so much. Whenever Specter came into the room the werewolf would start demanding his attention then cling to his beard. I felt so warm and bubbly whenever Specter sat down with the werewolf in his lap, reading a story with the baby listening with big eyes. Sometimes I managed to sneak a picture, and I just melted every time I looked at the photos after.
At about three days before my estimated due date, I started having a lot of pain. Horrible, miserable, incredible pain. I knew to expect this but as soon as I got the pain I felt so scared. I kept remembering the pain I had when I lost the first baby. I was alone when the pain started. Specter was working and Uncle Kay (who was pretty much with me any time Specter wasn’t) had stepped out to get us lunch. I knew I could call for someone but I was frozen with fear. When I finally felt like I could move I just collapsed onto the bed and sobbed, clutching my middle.
That’s how Uncle Kay found me. I heard something hitting the floor as I guess he dropped whatever he had brought. I heard my name being called but it sounded far away. I think he pulled me to my feet, I wasn’t really sure, and then we were moving. He kept saying something about how I was going to be fine and the baby was going to be fine. I think he said it because I think I was repeating over and over that I was losing the baby. I knew I wasn’t (deep down) but the fear was too overwhelming.
After that everything became really hazy. I was taken to the labs and I cried at the ceiling for a while then Specter came running in and held my hand tightly. He said I could be given some pain medicine soon and to ‘hang in there’. I dug my nails into Specter’s hand every time the horrible pain happened which began happening more often. I wanted to stop the pain but was told it wasn’t time yet. But then, after hours of pain and fear and clutching Specter and crying, it was finally time now. I was injected with stuff and not put to sleep like I figured I would be. There was pressure, and I felt weird–but Specter was right there, promising me everything would be fine. I heard Uncle Kay, and Dr. Green-Eyes talking as they cut me open to pull Presea out.
“It’s a human!” I heard from Dr. Green-Eyes and she really sounded disappointed. “Oh. It’s human? It’s human–“
“It’s a g-girl,” I heard Uncle Kay said.
Presea was crying. I began crying. I wanted to see her but I had to be sewed up or whatever. But Specter held her and I could see her and she looked human, and looked like Specter and she was so cute, so I began crying again. It felt like an eternity before she was put in my arms and I could hold her. As soon as I did, looking down into her scrunched up, crying face, I felt even happier. My baby. OUR baby. “Baby,” I said, barely more than a whisper. “Presea.”
“Presea,” Specter said, leaning in close. “Look at her. She’s so perfect.”
“Welcome to the world, little Presea.”
Specter, Presea and I stayed at the labs for a couple more days to make sure everything was fine and then we went home. I was so happy to be home though Specter carried Presea around since I was afraid to hold her unless I was sitting down. That’s how it went for the first couple weeks–and then when it was time for Specter to go back to work, I was a bit terrified. I wasn’t falling as much as I used to, and mostly when I ran, but I was still too scared to move around when I held her. And no way was I using the stairs with her in my arms so when Specter was at work, the two of us spent all our time downstairs.
I took a bazillion pictures, filling both the my phone and the camera’s memory quickly and every other day needing to upload the pictures onto the computer. I e-mailed Gretchen about twice a day with pictures and she always replied back, excited to hear any little thing about what she called her ‘pseudo-grandchild’. Specter had to explain to me what ‘pseudo’ meant (and how to pronounce it), and then I was pleased and we both told Gretchen we were glad she was Presea’s pseudo-grandma.
Of course during this time Gretchen came to visit and brought about fifty zillion things with her. Uncle Kay visited a lot too, and also brought stuff with him. Specter usually brought something home with him. Between the three of them I think Presea was one of the most spoiled little girls ever. I wished I could spoil her a bit but I didn’t go out of the house much except when we went to the labs for her checkups, and also for me to visit the werewolf boy who was definitely in need of adoption.
We agreed we would be taking him in when Presea was two months old. We were pretty sure he was on the younger side of the estimate that Uncle Kay originally gave us, and when Presea was two months old, the werewolf would be about fifteen months old. He still wasn’t talking much though he tended to growl a lot. He gave cute little happy growls, and sad little growls, and annoyed growls and it reminded me a lot of Specter’s growls and hmphs. No wonder the two of them bonded so much.
Specter stayed late one full moon night, and then brought home pictures of the werewolf in his wolf form. Well, really, puppy form since he was just a tiny little wolf pup. I had never really thought much about what werewolves looked like when they ‘turned’ but they were really just wolves. This one was an all-white wolf with a little blue marking on its face and head. SO ADORABLE!
“You’re gonna have a big brother,” I told Presea one day and she stared up at me with her big brown eyes. “He doesn’t have a name yet. But he’s the cutest little boy, just like you’re the cutest little girl. See?” I showed her pictures and when I later told Specter I swore Presea was paying attention, he was smart enough not to argue with me. I insisted Presea was a genius like her daddy. I kinda hoped she was. I wasn’t ashamed of not being very smart or educated, but I really did want her to have a more educated life like her daddy had.
When it was time to adopt the werewolf, Specter and I needed to decide on a name. I had already picked out a name and it took a lot of discussion on whether to use it or not. “It’s not any stranger than Specter or Presea,” I pointed out.
“I just don’t see the–I mean, are you really gonna want to name our kids after video game characters?” Specter grumbled.
“It’s not any worse than names like celebrity baby names,” I said. “At least we’re not naming him after, say a direction on the compass.”
Specter snorted at that. “But it’s a very unusual name.”
“Like Specter, and Presea.”
“Why do you like these names so much?”
I looked down, trying to figure out how to explain to him. “I just–really like the characters. The names mean a lot to me. Like, the characters mean a lot to me and–how is it any weirder than naming kids after family members or friends?”
“Yeah but they’re real people, not fictional.”
I shrugged. “Sometimes fictional people are just as important to someone as real people. Haven’t you ever felt like someone from one of your books is a friend?”
Specter went completely silent at that, then wrapped his arms around me and kissed the side of my head. “Yeah,” he said quietly. “You’re right about that.”
I won the name discussion, and so our newest addition to the family would be named Vilkas. Vilkas Danevbie-Greyson was a mouthful, but any name we chose would be a mouthful because of our hyphenated last name. Presea and Vilkas… I was so excited, and so happy. I would have my little girl and my little boy and my wonderful husband and oh, my life just felt so incredibly amazing.
The day Specter brought Vilkas home, I was a nervous wreck. Mostly because he was really late. I was so scared something had happened that when I heard the car pull up, I went to the door still holding Presea–that was unusual for me, I rarely walked around with her in my arms. I hovered by the door and then gave Specter an anxious look as soon as he came in the door.
“Is everything okay?” I asked, looking from him to Vilkas, whose eyes were as big as dinner plates as he looked around. “Hey there,” I said and he growled unhappily.
“Yeah there was just a minor emergency at the labs. Someone tried to get into the labs,” Specter said but he was smiling. “Shall we switch kids?”
I handed Presea over to him and took Vilkas in my arms. He whined, squirmed, and watched Specter but didn’t try to get away from me. “Hey sweetie,” I said, snuggling him gently. Cautiously. I didn’t want to overwhelm him or scare him.
“Hey sweetie,” Specter said to Presea, snuggling her close. Then we exchanged big smiles and I took Vilkas farther into the house. “Vilkas, this is your new home,” Specter said as he followed us. Vilkas actually looked over at Specter and I raised my eyebrows in surprise.
“He knows his new name?”
“I’ve been calling him that whenever I could, ever since the adoption was finalized. I think he’s getting used to it. I rather wish we knew his name from before…”
“The doctor really looked though, right?” I asked, unintentionally tightening my hold on Vilkas. “I mean, for the–the family?”
“She looked. The Professor looked. Several assistants looked, including myself.” Specter came close and kissed the side of my head. “Nothing was found, not even any relating werewolf strains.”
“Clans all have similar werewolf DNA in them,” Specter explained, “so if you examine the DNA of, say, two siblings who were born werewolves or bitten by the same werewolf, their wolf DNA would be similar. But if you have two siblings who were bitten or turned by two different werewolves, they wouldn’t have the similar DNA.”
“Oh,” I said, only halfway understanding. I didn’t ask him to explain more cause I was pretty sure I would still only sorta get it. “Should we show Vilkas his new room or… are you two hungry?”
“How about food first and then the room,” Specter said so I took Vilkas towards the dining area and put him in the high chair we had just gotten. He squirmed and smacked the high chair but didn’t really fuss much. He accepted the food I gave him and ate it with enthusiasm, making a total mess.
The rest of the evening was so nice. We went back and forth between taking care of Presea and taking care of Vilkas. I left it up to Specter to clean up Vilkas since the werewolf knew him better and was less likely to throw a fit. Then later I played with Vilkas while Specter rocked Presea, and then I read Presea to sleep while Specter tried to read Vilkas to sleep but it didn’t really work because Vilkas kept crying and sobbing, shaking the bars on his crib, getting louder if it looked like Specter might leave the room.
“He might not be able to sleep in an unfamiliar place,” Specter said warily as I stooped down to pick up the stuffed toy Vilkas threw from the crib.
“What should we do then?” I asked, no idea how to handle this sort of thing. Specter put his hands out in an I-dunno way and then we both looked at Vilkas who was reaching for Specter. “How about he sleeps with us tonight?” I suggested and took him, finding a tissue to wipe off the tears and snot. Vilkas fidgeted but began crying less in my arms.
So that’s what happened the first night. Vilkas shared our bed, snuggled up close to Specter and sleeping pretty peacefully. “It must be the fur,” I whispered with a grin.
Specter shot me a glare. “Stop calling my hair ‘fur’, unless–unless…”
“Unless what, big bad wolfie?”
“Shaddup,” he hissed, face all screwed up in annoyance as I giggled. “Besides, if my hair makes him feel at home then I am fine with that.” He reached down and rested his hand against Vilkas’s back.
I leaned over and kissed the top of Vilkas’s head then kissed Specter’s cheek. “I’m so happy we have him.” But inside I was kinda still worried. Technically speaking, this was a bit illegal. But everyone involved knew the proper adoption world wouldn’t really accept Vilkas into their system. They didn’t acknowledge supernatural kids. So what happened if–if Vilkas’s birth family one day showed up…? I didn’t speak these worries to Specter since we had discussed them at one point and it was pointless to keep going over and over this worry but… I just couldn’t help it.
As the days turned into weeks I still worried, but a lot less so. Each day (and night!) was so full of activity that there wasn’t any time to worry. Presea and Vilkas occupied almost all my time. The first two weeks Specter stayed home to help out and to help the four of us bond as a family but then he had to get back to work, and the first day without his ‘dad’, Vilkas threw a fit. He tossed toys, pouted, growled rather viciously at me and didn’t go down for a nap until I put a picture of Specter by his bed. After, of course, he cried so loudly that he woke Presea up from her nap so I had to get her back to sleep. I was utterly exhausted by the time Specter got home that we just ordered pizza for dinner.
“You–you’re sure you can handle taking care of two kids?” Specter asked me that night after we got both of them to sleep. Vilkas still refused to sleep nights in his crib so he was still in our bed. Every day we told ourselves tonight would be the night we make sure he stays in his room all night, and every night we’d give in.
“I can,” I promised with a smile. “It will take some time to adjust. But it will be fine.”
And that’s just how it was. It took several days but finally Vilkas accepted that Specter was gone most days. He even started getting used to me until finally he stopped unhappy-growling at me and would reach out for me even if Specter was around.
When Vilkas and Gretchen met for the first time, it initially went well. He still disliked strangers so he only accepted meeting her from in my arms. But he gave her a timid smile and didn’t complain when she shook his hand. However things went downhill after that. I set him on the floor to play and he began crawling at a very high speed right for Mr. Fluffy. He growled loudly, Mr. Fluffy’s fur poofed up and he began hissing in response. I ran as fast as I could for my kid before Mr. Fluffy could scratch, but Vilkas was biting down on Mr. Fluffy’s tail. Mr. Fluffy yowled and began flailing (although not, THANKFULLY, scratching!). Gretchen and I had to do a bit of maneuvering to get Vilkas to release Mr. Fluffy’s tail.
“I am so sorry!” I said, holding Vilkas close as he growled.
“It’s fine, Chance, it’s not your fault–kids are curious and he is part canine,” Gretchen said, holding Mr. Fluffy close as he growled back.
After that I had to keep Vilkas in his playpen. Mr. Fluffy at first paraded around until Gretchen scolded him. He stalked off to the laundry and curled up on the warm, freshly cleaned clothes for a nap. Vilkas eyed him for a while but settled down to play.
Not long after Gretchen’s visit we had our first full moon experience with Vilkas. The day of the full moon he sprouted some fur and his features changed in a kinda creepy way. He seemed a lot fussier than normal during this time and ate a lot more than usual, but we had been forewarned about that. He needed the extra food for the energy it took to turn wolf. And then when the moon started rising, he turned into complete puppy form. He was so cute, so much cuter than the pictures I saw from Specter. And in puppy for, Vilkas seemed even more social than usual. Maybe because he could get around easier? He tumbled around the house, tail wagging, nose sniffing at everything, and kept licking me and Specter. He whined and pawed at Presea’s door but we didn’t let him into the room because we just wanted to be absolutely safe.
I stayed up super late that night, exhausted more than before. But Vilkas just didn’t want to go to sleep. He wanted to play. He tore up one of his stuffed animals and I left the mess for the next day. He also made a different sort of mess that I didn’t want to leave for the next day. Finally, at three am, he fell asleep in my lap. I planned on going upstairs after a few minutes but wound up falling asleep on the couch as well.
That day was awful. I was getting used to doing stuff with very little sleep but that day was just one of the worst days. Luckily Vilkas was pretty tired, but Presea was as needful as ever and I was just so tired. I got nothing done except for a couple naps, and there was pizza for dinner that night. Specter and I talked about what we might do to help this. If the full moon fell on a weekend, that’d be fine since Specter would be home the next day to help and we could split the nighttime activities. But there wouldn’t be a full moon on a weekend for a couple months. What till then?
The answer came two days later when Gretchen visited again with some toys for both the kids. When I told her how awful it had been, she said, “Well, I guess I’ll have to come in the days after to help out. Don’t say no, because young parents need as much help as they can get–any parents need as much help as they can get, really. Young, old…” She fixed one of Villy’s buttons and then shrugged. “Mr. Fluffy will have to deal.”
The rest of April went by smoothly, and the full moon in May went a lot better than the previous one since Gretchen came in during the day. She helped care for the kids and some of the housework, and I took a couple naps. Mr. Fluffy joined me for both of them and remained in the master bedroom for pretty much the entire time he had to be in the house.
In June Specter and I realized Vilkas was about eighteen months old and still not talking. It hadn’t really crossed our minds before since we were getting used to everything, but I was reading a book about toddler development and saw that most kids start using little two-word sentences between the ages of 18 months and 2 years. 2 word sentences? Villy wasn’t even speaking other than growls. He wasn’t walking either. He would stand on his own often and toddle around in the walker, but left to his own devices he wouldn’t walk.
“Maybe werewolf kids are different?” I asked Specter one night.
“Might be,” he replied. “I can try and talk to some people about it if you’re that worried, but remember he’s had… not the easiest of lives. He lived in the woods for his first year and was there when his mother was killed.”
He had a point but I was still a bit worried so I began trying to get him to talk. Since Presea was 5 months old and the books said babies can start mimicking words at that young of an age, I tried getting them both to say ‘Papa’. Both of them stared at me as if I were crazy as I sat in front of them and went, “Papa. Papa. Can you say ‘papa’? Papa? Papa?”
Vilkas began biting his toy block while Presea squealed and clapped her hands. I didn’t give up though and my hard work paid off cause it wasn’t too long before Villy said his first word. Okay so it wasn’t ‘papa’ or anything like it. It was actually ‘Saya’, as in ‘Presea’. At first I thought he was just babbling even though he never babbled but then he said it again later that day. I texted Specter to let him know and he replied a bit later as every bit excited as I was. Soon after ‘Dada’ was his second word and ‘Food’ his third. I was a teensy jealous he wasn’t saying ‘Papa’ at all but I was really mostly happy he was talking.
Throughout the summer his list of words grew but not ‘papa’, and Presea began babbling away. She said ‘papapa’ a couple times but never directly about me. She also began picking up the habit of growling from Vilkas. Vilkas would sit in front of her and growl, and she would growl back, and he would tilt his head and growl–back and forth. It was so cute. I wondered if the growls were words for Villy. I wondered if he could understand wolf-speak in wolf form, or even not in wolf form. I asked Uncle Kay one day when he was visited and he admitted he wasn’t sure, but he’d look into it for me.
The summer was super nice though. We went out as much as we could and even took a short trip to the beach one day which was partially a disaster. Villy was terrified of the water and cried when he was put in, but cried when he was taken out too. Presea cried the entire time, and I got a sunburn–but maybe next year we’d have more fun.
“Mine?” Villy asked, tugging at my pant leg and lifting up a pacifier.
“No, sweetie, that’s Presea’s.”
“MINE!” he complained and screeched when I tried to get it away from him. “Mine, mine, mine, mine.”
“No, Villy.” I managed to get it from him and set it on the counter, rubbing my eyes. Villy beat his fists on the floor in protest and I just ignored him. I was feeling really tired, like super extra tired. Which was strange since I was finally sleeping through the whole night. Villy was twenty months old, while Presea was nine months. Both of them pretty much slept through the night except full moons when Villy stayed up to play as a puppy. But Gretchen always came in the next day and I would take naps. There was no reason to be so tired…
When I mentioned it to Uncle Kay later in the day over the phone, he grew worried. “It c-could be something t-to do with the–the body’s response to a p-pregnancy. You should c-come in tomorrow so we can make sure it’s n-nothing bad.”
So the next day Specter and I got the kids ready for a trip to the labs. I wasn’t feeling quite as tired as usual but still pretty tired and the car trip made me super sick. I threw up when we got there which made Villy worry. “Papa?” he asked when I came out of the bathroom. He reached out and I took him in my arms.
“I’m ok,” I said, hoping that was a promise I could keep.
Uncle Kay was doing the checkup and I could see the moment when he discovered there was a problem cause his eyes got all big, and his mouth opened. He wanted his sister to check me over and my heart just thudded hard. Why did this keep have to happening? Why couldn’t one year go by without some sort of medical emergency? At least the help we got was dirt cheap since Uncle Kay wouldn’t let us pay much for any of our medical help…
So, after lunch, Dr. Green-Eyes examined me. Uncle Kay must have told her what to look for because she did specific tests. It didn’t take her long to find out ‘the problem’ and asked Specter to come in before telling me. Specter hadn’t been overly worried before now, he just figured it was trying to take care of two kids under the age of two. Now he looked worried. He shifted his weight around and held my hand, forehead all wrinkly as we waited for the doctor to say whatever it was.
She adjusted her glasses, looking first at Specter then at me. “It seems you have a penchant for unexplainable pregnancies, Danevbie.”