Date: Mon, 18 Jan 2010 18:00:04 -0600 From: Jason Gordon <email@example.com> Subject: A Light in the Darkness, Chapter 1 Disclaimer: The following is a work of fiction which will include t/t and m/m relationships, and probably some sex too. If it is illegal in your area to read this, or if you are not old enough to read this (you know who you are), stop here. Otherwise, please enjoy. AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is a companion story to "Things that Go Bump." The story lines are related and the characters will occasionally interact. The stories begin at roughly the same time. A Light in the Darkness, Chapter 1 "Lost and Found" The boy was cold and the night was dark and hopeless. He couldn't hope to survive like this, always in hiding. But he had no one left in the world.... No one left in his world, anyway. So here he was, somewhere in the forests of Virginia, cloaked in a magical circle and protected by as many spells as he knew. He didn't know if anyone was even looking for him any more -- for all he knew they all thought he was dead, but he couldn't take any chances. But besides being very tired from remaining constantly vigilant, he was very hungry. The food he had with him was rapidly running out. Dawn was swiftly approaching when William smelled smoke, the smoke of a campfire.... He carefully lifted his protection spells and his magical circle, making himself invisible with a powerful spell he had recently mastered. Carefully and quietly he approached the smoky campsite. The small camp was in a clearing and William observed from the dense forest for a long time. Finally, a boy who looked about 13, maybe 14, emerged from his tent in jeans and a flannel shirt, carrying a walking stick. The boy looked shaky on his feet and moved quite tentatively toward the fire and sat on a log to warm his hands. William shifted on his feet, and a twig snapped. The boy looked directly at him and said, "Hello?" William panicked and stood up, asking surprised, "You can see me?" The boy half-laughed, half-grunted. "Not exactly," he said, standing and walking toward William. Now he could see it.... The boy's eyes were not focusing on him and he was carefully probing the ground with the cane. "I'm sorry.... I didn't mean.... That's not what I...." Now the boy did laugh, and smiled a brilliant smile, "I know.... We didn't realize anyone else was camped nearby...." "Yeah, me either.... I've been out here for a while.... Who are you here with?" "My dad, Steve.... He's just gone down to wash and get some water for breakfast.... My name's Chase -- Chase Abernathy -- by the way." William reached out and took the Chase's soft, warm hand and shook it. "I'm William Jennings...." "Are you out here by yourself, William?" "Yeah...." The tone of his voice betrayed his sadness very subtly, and Chase caught it in an instant. "I'm sorry.... Would you like to stay and have breakfast with us," Chase asked, and William could tell he was sincere. "I don't want to intrude...." Chase laughed and revealed his cute dimples again. He reached out and grabbed William's hand, surprising the boy, and led him toward the camp.... The boys talked for a while and were laughing heartily when Chase's father returned. The man had a very confused look on his face as he looked around. William thought he must be wondering who he was, so he said, "I'm William, I'm camped a few miles down and I smelled the fire, so I came down and met your son...." The man's confused look deepened as he looked around aimlessly. "Where are you, William?" "Shit," the boy cursed, as he realized he was still under the invisibility spell. He could cut out and no one would ever be the wiser, or he could trust Chase and his father. His hunger and loneliness led him to chose the latter, and with a swift hand movement, he broke the spell. The man jumped as a handsome teenage boy appeared a few feet from him. But to his credit he stood his ground. "I ... I ... can explain...." "What's wrong, what's going on dad," Chase asked. "Your friend was ... invisible...." "What," Chase asked, laughing, but he could tell his father was serious. William sat down with a heavy thump and put his head in his hands. He felt Chase's hand softly rest on his head and slide to his shoulder, as the boy eased down next to him. "I've been hiding out in these mountains ... I don't know how long any more. Weeks, maybe months? All I have is what I could get into my pack and another bag, and some food I've scavenged.... You're the first people I've talked to...." As he sobbed, he felt Chase's arm tighten around his shoulder. Chase's father sat down across from him, and asked, "What are you running from? Have you run away from home?" William's deep-chested sob was enough to tell him that this was not the case. But at last, he answered, "No, my parents are ... they were killed, and ... I don't know if the men who killed them are after me or if they think I died in the explosion...." "Oh, dear boy," Chase's father exclaimed, coming to his other side. "I was coming back from a friend's house, I was in the back yard when the house.... I was blown clear of the rubble I guess, because when I woke up, the house was surrounded by firemen.... If I was found I knew they'd come for me, so I took the bag I had with me and I ran. I sneaked back to a place in the woods near my parents house where we had some supplies stashed in case of danger and got my second bag and some ... books...." "So, your parents were...." "Sorcerers," William finished the thought for the man. "No shit?" Chase asked, incredulous. "Language," his father replied, disapprovingly. "And yes, if you saw what I saw, William appeared out of nowhere. While he was talking to you, he was invisible...." "No wonder you were surprised when I 'saw' you," Chase said, chuckling. "Yeah, that made me forget I was under a spell...." For a moment there was a lull in conversation, and Chase's father went to the fire and started frying some eggs for egg sandwiches and boiling water for coffee. When he brought the boys food, he sat down and said, "So, you need for these people to think you're dead, but you also need to get out of the forest? Hmm...." "Can he come home with us, dad?" "William, if you'd like, you are welcome to come with us.... I don't know how we'll work it out but...." "Thank you, dad," Chase exclaimed. "You will come, won't you?" Between the hopeful look on Chase's face, and his weariness, the choice was relatively simple, and he nodded yes. Chase laughed, and asked, "Did you just shake your head, lame-o?" William laughed, "Yes... but yes, I will...." Chase gave him an enthusiastic hug, then seemed a little embarrassed at himself and backed off. "I just need to go grab my things...." "Do you need me to come with you," Steve asked. William responded, "No, I'll be fine, one last time. Besides, I'm pretty good at defending myself...." "I bet," the man responded. After a short rest, William took off to retrieve his things. While he was gone, Steve asked, "So what are we going to tell your mother?" "He can tell as much of his story as he wants -- she won't turn him away...." "She might not like the idea of us harboring a fugitive runaway teen under the radar...." "Well, given the circumstances...." "Hmm," his dad grunted, losing himself in thought. How would they make this all work? William felt like he was floating as he made his way to his little camp. He was sure he was making the right decision. No one would find him with these strangers and he'd stay off the radar as much as possible. Things were definitely looking up. But as he approached his camp, something began to feel wrong.... He tried summoning his belongings to him from a distance, but something was blocking him. He stopped in his tracks as a figure stepped from the shadows. "William Jennings...." "Who are you," the boy asked with as much authority as he could muster. "A friend...." The figure lingered in the darkness. "I wish I could believe that.... How did you find me?" "I am your guardian...." "What? My parents never said anything...." "No that kind of guardian, William.... I am a protector...." "Let me see you, then...." The man stepped from the shadows, and in the light, his skin began to glow. As he walked nearer, William could tell that he was in no danger. "Where were you when I needed you," the boy cried at the man. "Where were you when my parents were killed?" The man waved his hand in front of the boy's face, and William knew in an instant -- he had survived the explosion because of the man's protection. Still, he couldn't help but feel anger at the loss of his family. "I am sorry," the man replied, "but I could not save them. It was not allowed...." "Who are you?" "I am your guardian...." "Yes, but what do I call you?" "I am not allowed to tell you my names, but you may call me Gideon...." "And how does this work? Do I contact you, or what?" "I am always watching out for you, but if you have questions, you may call me. Just concentrate and call on me and I will come to you...." "Am I still in danger?" "Always," the man replied instantly. "Is it safe to go with these people, the Abernathy's?" "Yes.... But do not contact anyone from your previous life without consulting me.... Some of them, your parents closest friends will be helpful in getting your new life started, but some of those closest to your parents may have become their most potent enemies...." With that, Gideon disappeared in a flash of fire. William was reeling, but he quickly gathered the things he wanted to take with him and made his way hastily back to the camp. Steve looked up at him and asked, "Are you alright?" William nodded, then thought better of it. "Someone was waiting for me.... A guardian...." "Like a guardian angel," Chase asked, in awe. "Something like that," William responded. "William," Steve began, "We were planning on leaving this evening, but we'd be glad to head on home, if you'd like?" "No, no.... I'll be fine...." Steve nodded and went about his work. After a few minutes, he said, "I'm going down to the river to fish.... You boys like to come?" Chase shook his head no after the boy responded, "No thanks." "Stay near camp, then.... I'll be back around lunch time...." When his father was gone, Chase asked, "Would you like to lay down, take a nap?" William started to say no, but realized how tired he was, and said, "Yes, that would be nice...." He headed for the tent and crawled inside, and laid down on the air mattress. A few minutes later, he was starting to doze when he heard the tent flaps rustle and felt the extra weight on the air mattress. "Chase?" "Thought I'd lay down too...." William rolled onto his back so he didn't have his back to the boy anymore and slowly fell into a deep sleep. After a while, Chase rolled over next to him and put his arm across his chest, the warmth lulling him to sleep as well. When Steve returned some hours later he found the boys still fast asleep. He called out to them, "Come on boys, get up -- there'll be plenty of time to sleep tonight!" William woke up slowly and felt the thin arm draped across his chest. Gently, he shook the boy and Chase withdrew his arm. "Sorry," he said, pretending he had rolled over in his sleep. William smiled at him, which he could not see, of course, and replied, "Don't worry about it...." The boys stepped groggily out of the tent, and Steve laughed at them. "It's about time...." He made sandwiches for them and they all ate quickly. "So, do you boys want to fish any, or should we pack up and go?" "I'm up for fishing," Chase said, and William quickly agreed. "Well, let's pack up, then we can drive down by the river.... Be easier that way." William helped take the tent down while Chase rolled up the sleeping bags and help pick up as he was able. Soon they drove down to the river and Steve let William use his pole so the boys could fish together. Steve sat at a distance, reading, but he was watching the boys carefully as they interacted. William and Chase were laughing and talking like old friends. Suddenly, Chase cried out as his pole lurched. "That's a big one, Chase," Steve called. "No shit," Chase replied, standing with his pole and ignoring his dad's response. He stumbled lightly and he heard William's pole hit the ground before he felt the boy's strong arms wrap around him and help him with the pole. Both boy's struggled and soon the fish broke the surface; William released Chase to grab the net and waded out into the water. Soon Chase had brought the fish in far enough, and William scooped it up in the net. "Wow, this thing must be twelve, maybe fifteen pounds," William exclaimed. From the shore, Steve said, "Closer to fifteen, I'd say...." When William got to the shore, Chase came over to him and felt the fish. "It is big," he said, smiling from ear to ear. "Bigger than anything I've ever caught," his father answered. "Chase, hold the fish up, I'll get a picture of you boys with it, then we can pack it in ice and head home." Chase held the fish up when his dad had the camera ready and William stood at his side, resting an arm on his shoulder. Then they were on their way, the fish in the back of the SUV in a cooler. Dusk was just giving way to night when they pulled into the driveway of a nice suburban home outside of Richmond. Steve pulled the SUV into the garage and the William helped Chase unload the gear. Steve carried the fish in to show his wife, Sarah. "My goodness," the woman exclaimed, walking to the garage to give her son a hug. But she stopped dead in her tracks on seeing William. "That's ... quite a fish you caught, baby." "Mom! William helped me reel it in. It almost pulled me over...." The woman looked at William with a question mark in her face, "William...." The boy held out his hand to the woman, "William Jennings, ma'am...." The woman shook his hand politely. "Call me Sarah.... Come on inside.... Dinner be ready in a half an hour, Chase why don't you show William your room?" Chase led the way without his cane without any difficulty; he knew his home like the back of his hand. When they were upstairs, William said, "It's really amazing how well you get around...." "A lot of practice and not a lot of choice...." "Have you always been...." "You can say it, you know. It's not a bad word.... I've been blind for nearly fifteen years, but no, they don't think I was born this way.... No one really knows why...." "So you're fifteen?" "Almost sixteen.... I know I look younger.... What do you look like?" William laughed. "I don't know, I...." "Look in the mirror if you need to remind yourself," Chase said, laughing. "Well, I'm sixteen, for a few month's now.... I have light brown hair, blue eyes, I'm pretty tan. I played baseball and I swim, so I guess I'm pretty well built...." "Could I see you ... touch your face, I mean?" "Sure," William said, hesitantly, and he guided Chase's hand to his face. The boy brought his other hand up as well, and he traced the lines of William's face slowly, with the lightness of feathers. From his jaw, he traced his fingers down the sides of William's neck, causing the boy to shiver involuntarily, and Chase withdrew his hands. "So?" "So ... what? Now I know what you look like...." "Never mind," William said, turning away and half-heartedly examining the room. "I'm sorry, I ... didn't want to offend you...." Chase replied, softly. William arched he eyes as he turned to face the boy again. "I know I'm no movie star, but...." "You're cute," Chase said, his face turning red. "Oh.... I...." William was flustered, but he could see that Chase was fading fast. "So you didn't just roll over in your sleep this morning then, huh?" Chase's face would have given him away, but to his credit he answered, "No, when you fell asleep, I put my arm around you and fell asleep...." "But you didn't know I was cute this morning," William said with a half smile, which his tone conveyed. "No, but I knew I liked you -- you're nice, you're strong, you're different...." William stepped closer to him and was surprised to see the boy flinch lightly, but Chase relaxed instantly when he felt William's arms wrap around him and squeeze. Chase melted into him, but William whispered, "Chase, I really like you.... But I don't know if I can...." Chase stepped back and asked, "I'm not what you're ... looking for...." "I ... it's not that, it's just, I've never thought about boys ... like that...." He paused -- was that true? Really? And then, he'd never really been all that interested in girls.... He looked at the boy -- small for his age, maybe 5'2" and slightly built, his features were finely sculpted, and his skin was nearly porcelain. His face was pristine, his nose was perfect, and his eyes were an icy blue. His lips were full and crimson, and his face was framed by straw-blond hair. He sighed -- he'd not allowed himself to really look before. The boy was absolutely beautiful. He reached out his hand and put it on the boy's cheek, stepped in close, and kissed his other cheek, before taking the boy in a big hug. "We'll take it slow then...." Chase rested his head on William's chest and nodded. The boys talked about their favorite music and what they did in their spare time, and Chase showed William the computer system he had that was adapted for use by the blind. Downstairs, a different conversation was unfolding. "So, who is this William, Steve," Sarah asked. "Just a boy.... He had been living in the woods...." "He's a runaway? We need to call the police," she said, reaching for the phone. Steve took it from her hand and put it on the receiver. "We can't.... He's not a runaway.... He's on the run...." With that, Steve filled his wife in on the boy's story, omitting any reference to magic. And she caught on. "What else aren't you telling me? Why would you believe his story? How do you know he's not running a line of bull?" "He isn't.... His parents were ... into magic, and when I met him, he was invisible...." "Are you insane?" "Sarah!" "Steve, wizards and witches? Really, come on...." "If you don't believe me, ask him...." Sarah laughed at him, right in his face. And he couldn't blame her. He wouldn't have believed his own eyes if he had not grown up on the border of that world. His father had served as an attorney and business manager for some rather infamous wizards, and he had grown up among their children. "Chase, William, come downstairs, please," Steve called, ignoring his wife. The boys made their way downstairs and both looked a bit bewildered. "William, my wife is a skeptic -- I need you to help her understand the truth of your situation...." William steeped away from Chase and hesitated -- "What would convince you?" Sarah looked at the boy's face and her skepticism wavered, "Give it your best shot...." "I don't think your home could withstand my best shot," the boy said gravely, "so let's settle for this...." In Latin, he intoned, "I invoke the powers of the air and of the fire, come and do my bidding," and extended his arm, his palm face out, toward the sink full of dishwater. The lights in the room grew ever-so-slightly dimmer, as the water in the sink come to a rolling boil and began to quickly evaporate. Then he rotated his arm so that his palm faced up and the three pots lifted out of the sink and settled across the room on the stove, as the pots and pans holding dinner slowly moved from the stove to the table, settling lightly on heat-pads. If Sarah had been watching him she would have noticed that his eyes were bright with an inner light. William watched the woman who stood transfixed, but who still said nothing, so he proceeded to set the table, including pouring glasses full of liquid and sending them across the room. At last, he said, again in Latin, "I release you, with thanks...." Then he turned to the woman, "Is that quite enough?" When the woman said nothing, he closed his eyes, and called, "Gideon!" Now the lights in the room truly grew dark as a great figure appeared behind the boy, massive wings spread wide.... Chase, who had of course seen nothing, suddenly stepped toward William and reached out, past him, placing a hand on the being. "You're real! It can't be...." The angel knelt down so he could be face to face with the boy, and for the first time William saw the being smile. "Of course I am, sweet boy...." "You see him," William asked, confused. "Not now, no, but in my dreams many times...." "Those aren't dreams, dear boy," Gideon said. "I come to you in your sleep.... I rather enjoy your company actually...." Exceeding all propriety, Chase put his arms around the being and gave him a big hug, bringing a hearty laugh to the usually gloomy figure, "Such a being of light," Gideon exclaimed proudly. At last, however, Gideon stood and faced the adults, towering over them. "You understand, it took a great deal of work to bring William into your care -- I trust you won't disappoint...." Finally, Sarah spoke. "What happened to his family.... I can't put my child in danger's path...." "Mother! You can't just turn him away because you worry about me!" "Sarah," Gideon began, "You can turn William away, now.... But do not think you'll be protecting your son by doing so.... If anything, you put Chase in greater danger. No matter what you do, these boys have intertwined destinies.... And Chase is safer with William than apart from him.... That is all I am at liberty to reveal.... But I will be sorely disappointed if you turn the boy away...." And with a mighty beating of wings, he disappeared. "Sarah? Sarah?" The woman stood still and white-faced, before turning to William, "So your parents really are.... And you're all alone?" The boy nodded sadly, and the woman got the nerve to walk over to him, and give him a hug. "I'm sorry," she whispered and he nodded. Steve broke the ice, "Anybody still hungry? Table's all set." "I'm starving," Chase said and took his seat. The rest of them were close behind him, and they all sat. There was little talk, and only Chase seemed to have an appetite and be in good spirits. Steve spoke at last, "You know, I grew up with wizards...." Now all eyes were on him. "My father is an attorney for some very different sorts of folks," Sarah snorted at that, "and some of his most important clients are wizards. They were around so much, not only his office but out home, that I got to be friends with a lot of their children...." "I was wondering how you accepted my story so easily," William said. "Did you remain close with any of them?" "Yes...." Steve looked at his wife hesitantly. "I went to college with some of them, and my closest friend there was a young man named Aiden Phillips...." "Uncle Aiden is a wizard," Chase asked, excitedly, and Sarah just cast her eyes to the sky. "Yes, Chase...." "He wouldn't be the Aiden Phillips who's ... friends ... with a young man named Xavier Montrose?" They all looked at him surprised and Bill nodded. "Lord in heaven," the boy exclaimed, again surprising them. "What, we're wizards, not atheists.... Xavier Montrose is my mother's brother." "Oh my God," Chase said dropping his fork, "that's what Aiden was telling us about then.... We knew he and X were away for a funeral, a very sad loss.... He's going to lose his mind when he hears you're...." "I'm sorry," William said, clearly losing control of his emotions as a sigh rose in his throat, "but for now you can't tell either of them ... or anyone ... who I am, or that I'm here...." Chase's smile fell away, and he nodded somberly, hearing the sadness in the boy's voice. "So you'll be staying," Sarah said matter-of-factly, startling everyone who had been half-ignoring her to give her space. "I'm afraid we don't have a large home, so your options are pretty slim.... We can set you up on the couch in Steve's office until we figure out something more permanent ... or, if Chase wouldn't mind, you boys can share his room...." Chase's face glowed with hopeful expectation, and William couldn't deny him. "We'll be fine in Chase's room -- it's pretty big...." "We can get some bunk-beds up there -- it'll leave more room than the big queen, and give you your privacy...." "If you want.... I don't mind sharing, at least for now...." "Alright.... We'll talk about that later.... William, I really do want you to feel welcomed here, but ... this is all so new to me. I just can't get my mind around it all.... Wizards and angels and destiny.... It's really too much...." "I know, and I'm sorry for dragging you into this world, but if Gideon is telling the truth, I suppose it isn't all my fault...." "Of course it isn't," Chase declared. "I can't remember a time when I didn't know Gideon, and if he's your guardian, that's gotta mean something, doesn't it?" Steve, knowing his wife could take little more, turned the conversation in another direction, and soon Chase was telling his mom about the camping trip and all the things he'd done. After dinner, Steve volunteered to clear the table and sent the boys on their way upstairs. "Steve?" Sarah asked when she heard the door upstairs shut. "Is this the right thing to do? The right thing for our son?" Steve rounded on his wife suddenly, and hissed under his breath, "How can you ask that? That boy upstairs has been through hell, and what are we supposed to do? Turn him over to the authorities and get him killed?" "Well, what about Xavier?" "Xavier will be part of his life, but only when this whole situation is sorted out and its safe for him to know William is alive.... They'll be watching Xavier...." "I'm just scared.... I'm sorry," she cried and buried her head in her husband's chest. He wrapped his arm around her. "Have you ever thought that this might be good for Chase?" She looked up at him and he continued, "Look at how he is with Chase, how Chase looks up to him.... I think that somehow this will all help Chase grow to be the man he's supposed to be...." Sarah thought back to the last few hours, how happy and lively Chase was with William in the house, how vibrant and confident.... The boy did bring something out of her son. Chase seemed almost radiant. "You know, come to think of it...." Steve patted her on the shoulder and went back to cleaning the dishes, and soon enough they sat down to watch a little television, leaving the boys upstairs to their own devices. "Do you mind if I check my email," William asked, causing Chase to frown. "That's a bad idea.... If you go logging into your email, someone might be monitoring it...." "Damn, you're right...." "Aren't you tired? After all those weeks in the woods?" William swiveled in his chair and gave the boy a long look. "You wouldn't be trying to get me into bed now would you?" Chase blushed and turned away, walked over to the bed and sat on it. "I wouldn't ... kick you out of bed...." William laughed and walked over to the boy, wrapping his arms around him. He found that he felt really comfortable with the boy in his arms. William kicked his shoes off, and walked around to the other side of the bed, took his shirt off and dropped his pants. Then he put his things away and slid beneath the covers. Chase looked shy all of a sudden, and walked toward the closet to change. "You don't have anything to be embarrassed about," William said with a laugh in his voice. Chase answered from the closet, "It's not fair, you get to see me, but I don't get to see you...." "You can see me if you like," William answered him sincerely. Chase stepped from the closet in his powder-blue boxers and heard William catch his breath. "What?" "It's just, I've never ... looked at a boy like you.... You're beautiful...." Chase's blush spread to his chest. William saw he had only the lightest dusting of light blond hair on his arms and legs and the beginnings of a treasure trail leading into his boxers, and his stomach was flat and tight, but not washboard. As he crawled into bed, William scooted over next to him and put his arm beneath the boy's neck. Their naked skin rubbed together, and William reached out and grabbed Chase's hand, placing it on his chest. Slowly, the boy ran his fingertips across William's lean, muscular torso, tracing his pecs and abs so slowly. "Turn over?" the boy whispered, and William rolled over on his stomach. He was surprised to feel Chase straddling his back. Beginning with his shoulders, Chase slowly traced the muscles of William's back, down to the top of his underwear. Then, with surprising strength, he leaned forward, placing a hand on each shoulder, and began to firmly massage the tight muscles, tense from weeks of hyper-vigilance. "Oh, yes," William moaned, sounding so erotic that he soon felt Chase's hardening penis pressing into his ass-cheek. Slowly, Chase worked his way down William's back, feeling the boy relax more and more beneath his touch. Then he slid down, massaging the backs of his legs and calves. "Roll over," Chase said, and William rolled back onto his backs, feeling the boy's gentle fingers on his shins and, then his thighs. Impulsively, William reached out and grabbed the boy by his shoulders, dragging him down on top of him. "Mmmm," he sighed, feeling the boy's warmth, his soft skin. "Thank you...." "Thank you," Chase replied with a laugh, grinding himself against William softly, a not-so-subtle reminder of how much he had been enjoying the massage he had been giving. Chase grabbed the boy beneath him at the waist and dragged his fingers up his side, tickling him. William laughed, but grabbed the boy by his hair and pulled his face down into their first french kiss. William was overcome with a passion for the beautiful blond, and the kiss lingered for what seemed like forever and not long enough. Chase nuzzled William's neck, kissing the boy's strong shoulder. But William felt a warm tear fall on his skin, "What's wrong?" "It was my first kiss ... perfect...." "You are too sweet, Chase." Chase dismounted William and the boys laid face to face, inches apart, talking and kissing, until William started to nod. Chase put his hand on the boy's cheek finally and said, "Go to sleep!" William reached out and put his hand on the soft skin of Chase's back and pulled the boy into himself, snaking his arm beneath Chase's neck. Now they were chest to chest, thigh to thigh, and William gave him one last kiss before drifting off to sleep. Soon enough, Chase joined him. When the sun woke Chase the next morning, William was still dead to the world, so Chase disentangled himself from the boy and made his way to the bathroom. He decided to go ahead and shower. Downstairs, Steve and Sarah were having their coffee and reading the Sunday paper, when the front door opened and a boy stuck his head inside. Steve waived the neighbor boy in -- Matt had been best friends with Chase for years and had been instrumental in helping Chase "mainstream" into public schools. "Chase is in the shower, I think," Steve said, causally, and it only occurred to him too late that Matt wouldn't be expecting William. "Matt," he called, but the boy was already in Chase's room. Immediately Matt could see that the sleeping figure was not Chase -- the dark tan and athletic muscles, as well as William's size, gave that away instantly. Matt stepped into the room slowly, moving toward the other side of the bed to see who it was, but Chase's voice stopped him. "Matt?" Chase stood in his door, dripping with a towel around his waist. "How did you.... Never mind.... Who is this?" "It's a long story, can I get dressed?" "Sure," Matt laughed and sat down at the boy's desk. "Some privacy, please...." "What about him?" "He's asleep, jerko...." Matt grumbled and walked downstairs. Chase began patting himself dry, and William whispered, "I'm not asleep, you know...." He raised himself up on his elbow, pleased that the boy kept drying himself unselfconsciously. "You are so beautiful." Chase smiled but said nothing. "And you're adorable when you blush...." Chase's blush spread at the comment. "I guess I'll get a better 'look' at you tonight then," Chase said, smiling shyly toward William. "It will be my pleasure," William chuckled, causing Chase to laugh, as well. "So, Matt is my best friend and neighbor, and he's going to be super curious about you, and he's over here all the time so there's only so much I'll be able to hold back from him...." "Do you trust him?" "Like a brother...." "Well, get him back up here and we can talk to him once I get out of the shower...." With that, William gathered his clothes and made his way to the bathroom and started getting ready. When he returned, Chase was telling Matt about the fish he caught. Before William was even able to put his things away, Matt asked, "So who are you?" "Matt!" "It's okay Chase.... My name is William.... I can't tell you my last name.... The Abernathys were kind enough to take me in after ... my family was...." Suddenly, rested and in the light of day, William couldn't say the words again. They caught in his throat and his eyes watered. Matt looked at Chase, demanding explanation, and Chase responded a bit angrily to his insistence, "Someone blew his house up, and pretty much everyone thinks he's dead.... Okay?!?" Matt looked ashamed as the tears began falling from William's eyes, and he looked away as Chase sat next to the boy and put his arm around him. Through his tears, William said, "It's alright Chase, he's just looking out for you...." "Well," Chase said, shooting Matt a cautious smile, "he doesn't have to be a dick about it...." Matt knew Chase wasn't serious so he turned back and smiled. But he couldn't help himself. "You guys seem like you've known each other for a while, though.... How long have you known each other?" "We met yesterday.... You know everyone I know, Matt!" "Hmmm.... I.... Well, you guys just seem awful close...." "I'm sure you and I seem awful close, Matt," Chase retorted playfully, but Matt was ready to turn it around on him. "But we've been best friends for almost 10 years.... I used to help you find the school bathrooms!" "I guess you're right," Chase said, glancing at William, who shrugged his shoulders as if to say, 'It's up to you.' Chase got up and walked to the door. Opening it, he heard his parents talking downstairs, so he closed the door and leaned back against it. "You know how you're always talking about cute girls and what girls I like? And I always said, maybe I wasn't interested because I couldn't see what I was missing...." "So, you're a butt-pirate...." Chase laughed and nodded. "I figured that out a long time ago Chase.... So you guys are...." "We're figuring that out," William answered, and gave Chase a peck on the cheek. "Him I had figured, but you I wouldn't have guessed," Matt said, making William laugh and Chase threw a pillow at him. Then, in a more serious tone, "You be good to Chase, he deserves it...." William nodded and smiled. "Now we can double-date, Chase, when your boyfriend can come out of hiding!" "I don't know about that," Chase said. "I don't know how my parents would feel about that.... And I'm not sure I want them to find out that I'm sharing my room with my boyfriend, just yet! They might clear out the office downstairs and give him his own room...." "Hmmm, my own room," William said, getting a soft punch from Chase, and a laugh from Matt. "We could always go out the three of us and pick up your girl, Matt...." "Cute and smart," Chase said. "Get a room," Matt said after making a gagging sound, then looked around and added, "Oh, yeah...." The boys laughed and talked a while before, out of nowhere, Chase asked, "So how did you know about me?" "Well," Matt said, hesitantly, "there was your disinterest in girls, and one night you were talking in your sleep.... Well, more moaning than talking, but the name you said was a boy's...." "Oh my God," Chase said, laughing and embarrassed. "Not ..." "Ewan Brady...." Chase put his face in his hands and laughed like he'd lost his mind. Ewan Brady had been a good friend of both Matt and Chase in elementary and part of middle school. The three boys used to have sleepovers together and do almost everything together. In middle school, Ewan had really developed as an athlete. Chase could remember the last time the boy had let him touch his face for a 'look,' in the seventh grade. Shortly after that, he'd started spending all his time with the jocks. Now he ignored Chase, though unlike most of the jocks, he didn't pick on the boy; he did not extend Matt the same courtesy. "Ewan is the god of the jocks," Matt explained to William, who laughed and looked at Chase's cute blush. "Before," Chase answered, "he was just our friend and that's when I.... Not anymore...." "I know Chase," Matt said. "I'm sorry...." "Never mind," Chase said. "I'm starved, we haven't had breakfast yet...." The boys tromped down the stairs in their herd and demanded breakfast. "You know where the cereal is," Sarah said with a laugh. "I'll make pancakes," William said, making his way to the pantry and grabbing what he needed to whip up some batter. "I'll take three," Sarah responded, and laughed again when William tossed her a box of Cheerios. She got up and dug around in the refrigerator, handing him some eggs, then getting out a package of turkey bacon. "Might as well make breakfast then...." While William mixed his batter, Sarah put two skillets on the stove and started frying the turkey. Soon, William was at her side, quickly cooking pancakes. In the living room, Matt whispered to Chase, "You've got quite a woman, there, Chase." Both boys broke out in loud laughs, drawing looks from Steve and Sarah. But Matt was shocked when, from nearly thirty feet away, William looked over his shoulder and said, "I'm all man...." Now Chase's parents were laughing at the boy, assuming the joke had been about William's masculinity. When they weren't being watched, Chase whispered to Matt, "What he said, it's TRUE...." "Ewww," Matt said, whispering but giggling. It wasn't long before they all sat down to breakfast. As they were eating, Matt said, "I really came over to see if Chase wanted to go to the carnival.... But I guess we can't now...." "Why not," Sarah asked, casually, "that sounds fun...." Steve caught her eye and turned his gaze to William. But the boy smiled. "You should go," he said. "You're going to have to leave me here to go to school for a while ... to go to the mall, and games, and dances...." "Are you sure," Chase said, making his parents proud of having such a thoughtful boy. Perhaps because of his disability, his mother, at least, would never have considered its true origin in this case. His father had some idea.... "Absolutely! I have some ... work I need to do, anyway. It's really the kind of thing I need to do alone...." "Okay.... Tell Gideon I said hello...." William smiled and winked, leaving Matt entirely in the dark. "A friend of William's," Chase explained. When they finished breakfast, it was nearly eleven, and Chase followed Matt outside to his house, so Matt's mom could drive them to the fairgrounds. While Steve was doing the dishes, Sarah looked at William across her coffee and asked, "So what's this work?" William considered her briefly, then began, "I know I've asked a lot already.... I was wondering if it would be possible ... could I get one of those small, prebuilt sheds like they have at the Home Depot, and put it in the far corner of the yard? Just a small one...." "They're kind of expensive," Sarah said. "Oh, no, I didn't mean to ask you to buy one.... I'll buy it, I just want your permission to put it in...." Steve looked at Sarah out of the corner of his eye, wondering what she'd say. "Do you mind my asking...." "Well, I guess if I'm going to be continuing my education, I need a place to work on my magic.... It'd be ... safer for me to do that outside and away from the house...." Sarah laughed and nodded, "I guess it would be nice to have a place all to yourself as well.... Alright...." "Thank you," William said, smiling brightly. "It will be nice to have my own space, but...." "But?" "I don't want you to get the wrong idea.... I really like sharing a room with Chase, actually.... I think I've been very lonely for a long time...." "Well, I'm glad, for one," Steve said, from the sink. "I really didn't want to give up my office...." William laughed. "Chase seems a lot happier too," Sarah thought out loud, "He has always been happy, but.... I think we were so worried about his condition, we didn't have any more children, but I think he would have been happier...." "It's not too late," William said. "You're still not THAT old...." He was joking but the atmosphere grew thick. "We did try, a few years ago, but we didn't have any luck," Steve said. William looked at his hands, then decided to continue. "Did you never think to ask your friend, Aiden, or my uncle Xavier for help?" Both adults looked at him, strangely. "Well, no," Sarah said, looking at Steve, "apparently we didn't...." Steve laughed, "I'm so stupid...." "Listen, when you talk to Aiden, ask to speak to Xavier.... Tell him you've been trying and you need to find someone who can help. My parents were friends with a fertility doctor who's also ... like us, so he can do some things that regular doctors can't do, if you know how to ask.... I'd introduce you myself, but...." Steve nodded, dumbly, and Sarah looked at the boy with new eyes -- not at the power, but at the thoughtful heart that would care enough to think of them.... William was taken completely by surprised when the woman walked over to him and gave him a big hug. He thought she might have been crying, but she quickly made her way to the master bedroom. William nodded to Steve, who went straight to his office and picked up a phone. In a few minutes, he heard Steve asking, "I'm really sorry to bother you Xavier, now of all times, but I didn't know who else to talk to...." William went upstairs and made the bed. He opened his bags and spread out his worldly belongings. The bags had been charmed, so they held a remarkable amount, but still, for a life, it was all he had of his own, of his family.... His clothes he left in the bag -- it was deep enough to serve as a closet. There were books, books his family kept stashed in their getaway room, that replicated their entire library of magical knowledge, and a few things that shouldn't be kept on shelves, to boot, as well as an emergency set of magical goods. Basic potion ingredients, magical implements such as a cauldron, a wand, etc. His own wand had been in his room, no doubt burned to a crisp, so this generic wand would serve until he could fashion his own. He stuck the wand into his waistband at the hip, beneath his shirt and continued his inventory -- pictures, sacred family objects, and finally what he was looking for -- a small card bearing ten alphanumeric codes. He pocketed the card, and walked downstairs to Steve's office. He knocked on the door, and found Sarah and Steve talking excitedly inside. "We have an appointment on Tuesday," Sarah gushed, hugging the boy again. This time he could return it. "Listen, I need to ask another favor...." "Anything," Sarah responded immediately. Steve smiled -- the boy had earned his pass into her heart, the man thought. "My family has some untraceable accounts.... But they're not the kind of accounts one writes checks on...." "Swiss banks," Steve asked, and the boy nodded. "I need an account to transfer money into so I can use it -- an account with a debit card...." He looked almost ashamed to ask, but finally, "Do you have an account for Chase?" Sarah looked at Steve, who nodded. "An account we use to keep his college fund with Fidelity. You can access the cash with checks and the debit card, but we never use it, of course.... "Listen, here's what I'd like to do.... I want to transfer some money for me to use into that account.... In return for that use, and for my costs here over the next few years, I'll also transfer enough additional money to cover the cost of Chase's college...." "You couldn't, we couldn't take your money," Steve replied. "You can, and you should.... Your costs are about to go up, I think," he said, smiling at Sarah. "You might want to add onto the house, or start a second college fund. It's something I'd like to do. I'll also see to it that the taxes are paid and everything is above-board...." "If it's what you want to do," Sarah said, and the boy nodded. "If you could get the account number?" With that, William took out the card and dialed the international number and placed the phone on speaker. A woman with a thick accent answered, saying only, "Account number?" Chase read off the third series of numbers. "Personal identification?" "Falconer," William responded. "Good morning, William. How may I assist you?" "Balance, please...." "One moment.... The balance in this account is 7,859,400 euro, as of the close of business, Friday, sir." Sarah and Steve exchanged a glance. William shrugged with a smile. "I need to transfer some funds to an account with Fidelity Investments," he said, reading the account number, which the woman repeated. "How much would you like to transfer?" With four eyes on him, William said, "$2.5 million. Could you also make sure that the taxes are settled for the recipient?" "Of course, sir.... Can I help you with anything else?" "No, thank you." "The funds should be available by the open of business, Tuesday. Have a nice day, sir." William ended the call, and said to the assembled, "I'm putting a lot of trust in you...." Steve slapped the boy on the shoulder. "And vice versa.... Now, why don't you and I head down to the Home Depot?" "I can't go out...." "Do you know how to glamour? Change your face...." "That'll work," William said, "As long as we don't run into anyone who knows me well." "What are the chances of running into a wizard you know in a Home Depot in Richmond?" William laughed and reached for his wand. Waving it in front of his face, he cast a glamour so that anyone who saw him would see someone else. "You don't look different," Sarah said. "Look in the mirror, sweetie -- that's what anyone will see who doesn't know he's performed this spell...." They all looked in the mirror, and saw a face equally beautiful and an even more buff body. "We're trying not to draw attention, William," Steve said, laughing. With another wave, the body grew slightly less buff, and Steve laughed. "Well, I suppose the greatest danger this poses is that you'll be abducted by cheerleaders...." They walked out to the SUV and drove away. On the way, Steve said little, and William stared out the window. At the Home Depot, they looked at some of the prefabricated sheds and chose a modestly-sized building that would make a nice little workspace, and Steve put it on the card and scheduled a delivery for the next day. Steve, as it turns out, was friendly with the manager.... So they headed home. Finally, Steve couldn't hold back. "Your family was very wealthy?" "My parents were very conservative with their money, and lived a very middle class lifestyle. But they both had good careers and came from very wealthy families.... But then you know my uncle Xavier.... I don't know for sure, but I suspect that the account I called on today is one of the smaller ones.... I don't really want anyone besides you and Sarah to know.... I don't care about the money...." "Your parents did a tremendous job...." "Thanks," the boy said, softly. "You know, you don't have to give us anything...." "I know.... But I want Chase to have it ... the chance to go wherever he wants...." "Sarah's right, you know.... You make Chase very happy...." "Chase makes me happy," William said, staring out the window. "I feel like we've known each other forever...." After a long, tense silence, William, still not facing the man, asked, "Is there something you'd like to ask?" "Are you gay?" William laughed, and sighed, "No.... I don't think so anyway. I've never been all that interested in girls, though.... But ... Chase is the first person I've ever known that I thought was truly beautiful, in every way...." Steve was quiet, and the boy finished, "So I'm not sure if I'm gay, but I am sure that I'm falling in love with your son...." "I have to admit, kid, you've got balls," Steve said, laughing, "To tell that to a boy's dad...." William laughed and after a moment's thought responded, "Not really.... It just didn't seem right to deny it, and hiding it seemed to me like denying how I feel about him...." Steve smiled and patted the boy on the shoulder. "You are something else.... But let Chase talk to his mom when he feels up to it.... She likes you now, you don't want to spoil that...." William finally looked at the man and said, "How do you know I'm not a star-crossed lover? What makes you think Chase has anything to tell?" "I'm the boy's father," the man said, smiling. "Most people don't know many blind people in their lives, they don't know how long it takes for a blind person to size them up with their hands. Chase spends about twice as long on the boys as the girls, but no one notices...." William blushed, and Steve ragged on him, "He really must have tried to memorize you, base on the look on your face...." "About 10 minutes," the boy said and Steve laughed hard. "That's about 10 times longer than normal, and about 20 times longer than necessary...." William blushed mightily but smiled, remembering how the boy had worked on his body for an hour.... When they got home, William ran upstairs to his room and put most everything back in order, then he called for Gideon. "Yes," the voice asked from behind him, startling him, before chuckling lightly. "Am I really still in danger?" "Until we know who killed your parents and tried to kill you, and why, yes...." "You don't know?" "We only know what we are told and what we discover by our own initiative...." "Do you think my uncle Xavier was involved?" "No, absolutely not!" "When can I see him?" The being hesitated. "He may be under surveillance, or a future target.... We need to rule that out first...." "He could see me here! Aiden and Steve are old friends, best friends. That wouldn't appear unusual to someone watching him. And Xavier can keep a secret, I think...." "You think? Are you so sure he wouldn't let it slip, even in private conversation? Or what about Aiden?" "Steve," William called from the door, and the man rushed up the steps. He hesitated to enter when the form of Gideon came into view however. "I want to see my uncle, and he and Aiden can come here without suspicion. But do you think they could keep absolutely quiet about me?" Without hesitation, Steve answered, "Yes...." Gideon stepped forward. "Is your answer the same considering the risk a leak poses to your family?" "Absolutely!" "Very well! You may see your uncle here, but impress upon him the absolute need for secrecy...." Before Gideon could disappear, William said, "Wait!" When the being stopped and looked at him, William smiled and said, "Chase said to say 'Hello' for him...." This brought a near-smile to the being's face. "Tell him we'll be talking soon.... I have grown fond of our conversations," the being said cryptically, disappearing. William looked at Steve and shrugged. "Why don't you invite Aiden and Xavier over on Thursday or Friday -- a thank you for their help with Sarah's doctor and to catch up...." Steve nodded and smiled at the boy, shaking his head. "What?" "You are a force to be reckoned with, boy.... You have a way of making things move, don't you?" Again, William shrugged and smiled, and Steve went downstairs to make the call. When he heard the door slam downstairs, he forced himself not to run down the steps into the boy's arms. Chase returned without Matt, and looked very happy. "Have fun," William asked, laughing. "It was awesome! I wish you could have been there...." "Me, too, sweetheart," William replied, whispering the last. "But I got a lot done -- my workshop is coming tomorrow...." "Workshop?" "Your parents are going to let me put a little prefab shed in the far corner of the yard.... A place for me to work on my magic and stuff...." "Cool," the boy exclaimed. "And my uncle and Aiden are coming later this week and I'll get to see him...." Hearing the longing for family and familiarity in the boy's voice, Chase hugged him tenderly. "Then we can all celebrate," William continued, cutting himself off. Chase had missed a lot and he wasn't sure what he should say.... "Celebrate?" "Run ask your mom, and meet me upstairs...." The boy looked confused but wandered off in search of Sarah. William meanwhile ran upstairs, where a few minutes later, he heard Chase squeal excitedly. Then, faster than he thought possible, the boy was upstairs, kissing him all over. "Excited?" "Oh my God! I hope it works!" "It will -- he's very good...." That's when he noticed the tears in Chase's eyes. "What's wrong?" "I'm just ... so ... fucking ... happy!" "Language," William exclaimed, smacking the boy firmly on his cute behind. Chase's eyes went wide and he wrapped his arms seductively around William. "That was ... nice...." Almost immediately, he felt William's hardening cock press into his stomach, but they were interrupted by a call from downstairs. "Come down, boys!" Before they left the room, though, Chase said, "Mom told me about the money, too." "Oh," William said, crestfallen. He'd not had a chance to ask her not to.... "I don't care about the money," Chase said, drawing in close to him again, "except that it means that when you go, I can go with you.... If you want me too." William smiled, and pulled Chase into him, breathing deeply and kissing him once on the neck. "If you couldn't go, I wouldn't.... It doesn't make any sense, it's too fast, too unreal, but I love you...." "I ... love you too," Chase responded, stumbling through a deep sob of relief.... "Oh, and your dad asked if I was gay...." "He what," Chase said, almost alarmed.... "What did you say?" "I said no, I didn't think so," William began, feeling Chase tense up, so he rushed on, "but that I was falling in love with you...." "What?" Chase said, incredulously and with a half laugh. "You didn't?" "I did.... He said you'd have to tell your mom, though, now that she likes me...." "So, he knew ... about me?" "Yeah, he said he figured...." "That's all?" "That's all...." Chase pushed him playfully and walked out the door, with William on his trail. "What up, momz?" "Dinner! What kind of pizza do you boys want?" The rest of the evening was uneventful, until the boys were heading upstairs and Chase stopped on the steps, turned and said, "Hey mom?" "Yes, dear?" "I'm gay," he said with a smile, and tromped up the stairs. William stood stunned on the steps, and remained there as Sarah swept past him, closing the door behind her as she entered Chase's room.