Being a fairy doesn't mean the same thing now as it used to. Wendell knows that even if he is too young to remember the Old Ways; siren songs, changelings, and tempting feasts are all well before his time. That doesn't stop him from listening to the stories that can sometimes be heard spoken in voices as old and creaking as the wind through tree branches. Things were different, more wild and lawless, and there are those who would prefer a return to the old days, even among the youngest. There are snarls spoken in hushed darkness about taking back what was rightfully theirs before they were shackled, tamed and domesticated like common dogs.
Wendell doesn't mind the changes, though Brennan has more than once pointed out that he can't say that for certain without having experienced how it used to be. He's pretty sure of it though, especially on nights like this.
Aaron is home for the first time in nearly two weeks, his eyes bruised with fatigue and his jaw still dark with stubble, but his hands are steady and gentle as he pulls a blanket up around Jack's shoulders. Their voices are quiet, lowered to match the faint light glowing from Jack's Batman night light. The words don't carry to where Wendell is standing guard in the hallway, but the tone is simple enough to pick up, and it's easy to tell from the sad affection in Aaron's voice that tonight's bedtime story is about Haley. Jack remembers the little, important things, like the sound of her laugh and the softness of her smile, and Aaron is there to fill in the rest, even--especially--when it hurts.
On nights like this it can be difficult to remember how to let gravity keep him on the ground, and Wendell leans back against the wall so he won't float way on a draft from the air conditioner. It's not so long past that a fairy would have looked at the Hotchner family and seen easy targets. Jack's a bright child in both intelligence and aura. He calls to Wendell, something in him yearning to know more than what he can see with his eyes, and it would be so easy to snatch him away from his often absent father. Taking children, even willing ones, has been outlaw since the Treaty was signed, but a fairy's need for a child's laughter isn't in any way diminished by that, so instead of spiriting Jack away, Wendell bandages his scrapes and cobbles together his lunches and teaches him how to glide across an ice rink as easily as flying.
Their voices have trailed off now, a sure sign that Jack has fallen asleep, and Wendell straightens from his slouch as Aaron comes out into the hallway. There's something of Jack in him, worn down and dimmed though it may be by too many hard years and harder lessons, and Wendell gravitates instinctively toward his tarnished warmth.
"He missed you," Wendell says quietly, because he can still smell Jack's yearning hanging sharp like citrus in the air. Aaron looks at him for a long moment, dark eyes almost black in the shadows, then nods once. Something daring and near wild swells behind Wendell's breastbone, and he reaches out to touch a fingertip to the back of Aaron's hand. He looks at where they're connected for a moment, at the smattering of hair over pale skin, then meets Aaron's gaze. He knows Aaron will see the moonlight in his eyes, and Wendell has always looked good in moonlight. "We both missed you."
Aaron hesitates. Of course he hesitates; he would not be Aaron if he rushed into things. It's short though, short enough for Wendell to know he isn't the only one who's thought about this. The moment passes, and then Aaron's closer, his breath warm against Wendell's parted lips and only getting nearer.
If this is what it means to be shackled, Wendell thinks as they come together, then he is more than happy to wear his chains.