This is the excerpt I promised in my LIVE on IG today. This story is teaching me lots about eagles. It's fun.
To give a little context, Silas feels Julius isn't taking proper care of Oliver. Most people would sit Julius down and have a kind chat with him. Not our Silas. He has different methods. I feel like this scene gives us an idea of what/who we are dealing with.
The "puppies" talked about at the end are the puppies the family acquired (long story). Who do you think is responsible for that?
Lost Brothers Copyright to Mock 2022 (unedited)
My dancers call me Sauron. I’m known to run a brutal battalion in the dance studio. I have danced the most complicated of choreography in front of thousands of people in tights and pointe shoes with only a brief bout of nervousness beforehand.
Standing in front of Silas, I forget I am that man.
I got a farewell kiss from Oliver when he dropped me off at the doors of their state-of-the-art home gym. “Silas won’t hurt you,” he said. “Much. Oh God. You don’t have to do this. Just go to work. I’ll talk to him.”
Being hurt by Silas isn’t what I’m afraid of. I can take a beating. I know I’m walking into a test. One I haven’t rehearsed for. If I fail, I lose Oliver.
“I don’t need you to fight my battles for me, amore,” I told him. He pursed his lips and nodded.
Standing by the heavy bag, Silas studies me. The firm crease of his thick brow is cemented in furious thought. I have never seen an orbital ridge that thick. His icy eyes peer from underneath. All he’s wearing is a pair of loose black cotton gym pants. Feet bare. He’s taping his hands. As he turns and fusses with them, I get a view of his back. He has the same eagle tattoo Darius has. I catch the bold font with Randall but can’t see what’s written underneath.
I can’t show fear, or I’m done. He’ll get rid of me and tell Oliver whatever he needs to so that Oliver will never look at me again or maybe even have me do it myself. I can’t even fault him for it. Oliver should have the best and if that means Silas keeping me on my toes, I’m fine with that. It’s no different than working under a harsh dance master. Their methods may be brutal and sometimes questionable, but they make you into the best dancer you can be.
I want to be the best everything for Oliver I can be.
“If you remove your feet wraps, will it ruin your foot for dancing?” he asks.
I had put them on before coming down here, but looks like that was a waste of time. “No. So long as you’re not going to ask me to dance in pointe shoes.”
He shakes his head. “Take them off.”
That’s an order and I remember. “Yes, sir.” I don’t bother with Italian. Just because I’m a dominant man, doesn’t mean I can’t take orders. Silas needs to know I can—the first part of this test. Oliver is complicated. Silas knows him best. I have to be willing to seek and accept his guidance. Silas has all of Oliver’s love and loyalty. There is only so much of that I’ve earned from Oliver so far. Sometimes, I’ll have to seek Silas when Oliver won’t hear me.
Removing the wraps is painful. I flex and extend my feet to get the blood circulating. Then I await the next order. I don’t think there’s going to be much talking.
“Hold the bag for me.”
A dancer’s power comes from his core. I was one of the most powerful dancers in the world and I’m still formidable. I brace for hits I know will come hard and fast. I’m right. A punch from Silas, even through the sand-filled heavy bag, is like getting hit with a sledgehammer.
Over and over and over again.
He doesn’t restrict himself to the center of the bag. He swings to the sides, high, low. The explosive force is impressive, but I hold my ground until he kicks the bag. That’s when I lose my footing. I curse myself in Italian. I’ve been in my head, not focused on his movements. I watch dancers all day long. Judging their motion. Assessing their mobility. I’m paid to know what they do before they’re going to do it so I can critique them. I need to pay better attention to Silas.
Test number two. Will I pay attention to Silas?
He takes a break to grab water. I’m dripping with sweat and I’ve lost track of the time, no idea how long we’ve been at this. All I know is I’m panting as vigorously as I do after an entire night of performing. I struggle to catch my breath. He’s barely breathing hard, only slight rises and falls of his chest. It’s his knuckles that have taken the beating—bloody, red, bruising. Calmly, he retapes them.
“I fucked up,” I admit. “Oliver needs someone harder. I’ve been too soft.”
I’m here to win him back. I’m not going to be allowed to fight. I need only to survive. Not just physically—that’s part of it—mentally too.
Those eyes again from under the steel brow bone. They watch me with the careful calculation of an eagle. “You aren’t taking proper care of him.”
No guidance or threats, just a statement of fact and I get it. This is both warning and punishment.
“How can I? I’m trying to find balance. It’s not my wish to come between you two.”
I know it’s the wrong answer as soon as I say it. I think he’s dismembering me in his mind. “Again,” he says.
I hold the bag for him again and it’s not so easy this time as my endurance wanes, but watching his footwork and the lines of his body help me predict where he’ll land his blows. Otherwise, I’d be on the ground. I have to work harder to keep my center. My muscles burn like they never have. I want to give up as much as he wants me to. He doesn’t care if I lose. He hopes he can convince me to. “I get it,” I say through grit teeth as he punches the shit out of me without actually punching the shit out of me. “He’s your cub. You’re protective.”
“No.” He’s still punching the bag. “He’s my eaglet. Do you know how savagely an eagle protects his nest? They don’t allow other eagles near—another eagle is an eagle’s biggest threat now that they’re a protected species. You get as close to Oliver as I allow. Period.”
“Are you threatening me?” I pant out. It’s embarrassing how quickly he’s wearing me out.
He pauses, arching a brow. “I don’t need to make threats or promises. You know what I would do if you hurt him. Why waste words? This has nothing to do with protection.”
At least he’s finally showing signs that he’s human; breathing sharper, sweat beading over his chest. “I will never like you. Only tolerate you,” he says.
Already figured that one out. It would be nice to snap back at him with a line about what a waste of words that was, but not helpful at this juncture.
If he thinks I give a fuck about whether he likes me or not, he’s mistaken. I’m here for Oliver and I’m enough for him. “Don’t be so hasty. You’ve never tried Nonna’s carbonara,” I just manage to spit out, my voice gravelly, but loaded with my accent.
He may not like me, but he likes my cooking. I’ll use it against him if I have to.
Another kick flies, but I don’t back down, ready for him this time knowing where it will land, and how much to brace. My torso’s going to be bruised. I don’t care.
That’s the third test. Endurance. There’s no winning this with him. Only enduring. How long will I last in this crazy family? To what ends am I willing to go for Oliver?
“All right, we’re done here. I’m sure we’ll speak again. Don’t make it any time soon.”
I’ve passed. I keep Oliver for now. Until he decides to test me again. “Yes, sir.”
I take my wraps and leave. Oliver’s outside. I hadn’t expected him to stay, but I’m glad he did. The smile on his face is worth it. “You look like you’ve danced Sleeping Beauty,” he says.
“Feels like it.”
I take his hand, tugging him way, glad to leave Silas behind. “No. I wasn’t taking proper care of you. I deserved all I got. It won’t happen again, Oliver.”
He glares behind us to where Silas is even though we can’t see him. “Because my brother will kill you if you don’t?”
“No. He only reminded me of my own promises to you, which have nothing to do with him.” There’s some amount of pride felt having survived a session with Silas for Oliver. Like I fought a dragon. A little more resolve bleeds into to my ballerina stride.
“You’re going to get tired of having to do that all the time,” he says, dejected. “That won’t be the last time.”
We make it upstairs and to the front door where I left my dance bag. I should be leaving now, and I won’t with him like this. But it’s true that I would have if not for Silas's reminder. I would have raced out the door to work, promising we’d talk later.
Silas always puts Oliver first—above work, above his own life, above everything. That’s the standard. Oliver deserves at least that from me.
“If I give up, I don’t deserve you.”
I sit on the steps in the entryway so I can wrap my feet. He watches. I hate the worry on his face. He waits until I’m done wrapping and then he moves closer lifting my shirt, pressing under my leotard. I wince. “He hurt you. I could kill Silas sometimes.”
Oliver might be the only one who can. Silas would give him the dagger and show him how to pierce his heart with it.
“I am Sauron,” I tell him. “Silas thinks an eagle’s largest threat is another eagle, but I can crush thousands of dancing elves in one swoop.”
His smile returns. There we go. “You can. I wasn’t totally sure you knew who Sauron was. I’ll have to tell the guys they might need a new insult.”
“Because you know who he is, and you’re not insulted.”
“Does it have to be insulting? Can’t it just be true?”
He nods, reaching for my dance bag as I slip on my shoes. “Do your stretches today—five times through.”
“Five? Julius. I thought it was my day off?”
It’s rare for him to complain about doing anything ballet related. He’s testing me too. The whole Randall family wants to test me today? Fine. “You just lost coming privileges for today, amore. Want to try that again?”
“Dayum. That wasn’t worth it. Of course, I’ll stretch. Five times through.” His smile is bright as he kisses me. We walk to the porch.
“How did you date in high school? I don’t imagine any teenager surviving him," I say.
He laughs. “Silas doesn’t give a fuck who I date or well, he didn’t before the assault. It only became a big deal then. He cares more about the one who’ll inspire his eaglet to fly from the nest.”
That reminds me. “Why don’t you have the tattoo?”
“My next birthday. Darius was twenty-five so Silas said I’d have to wait until then too.”
“What does Silas’s say underneath the Randall?”
He smirks. “Harpy. They’re the most dominant and most powerful eagle—bird—in the world.”
“Of course.” I’d laugh, but he lives up to the name. “And Darius?”
“Golden. They’re formidable too—one of the largest birds in the world, even larger than the harpy—but he mostly likes it because it has the word gold in it.”
Very Darius. “What will yours say?”
“Can you guess?”
I nod. “Eaglet.”
“Don’t you want to pick something terrifying? Wouldn’t an eaglet be the most vulnerable?”
“I dunno about that. Imagine you were a harpy’s eaglet. Only a crazy person would challenge that nest.”
Guess I’m a crazy person. “Buon punto, amore.”
“It’s also special. Silas has called me that since I can remember. "
That’s something for me to remember. As much as Silas is bonded to Oliver, Oliver’s fealty is just as fierce to Silas. “I must go, amore.”
“Will you come back tonight? I’ll make sure there are no puppies.”
“I’ll make sure there are no puppies no matter how much you give me your own puppy eyes. And yes, I’ll come back. Though I don’t know why you want me in your bed tonight. I’m only going to tease and torture you with no relief.”
“Yeah, I know but, I’m…” His face floods with pink heat. “I’m looking forward to showing you how well I can behave. I give that to you, Julius.”
“Then I have won the prize of all prizes.” I kiss him with Italian fierceness. “Ci vediamo doppo, amore.”