Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2010 15:29:12 -0500 From: Jason Gordon <email@example.com> Subject: A Light in the Darkness Chapter 11 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. My sincerest thanks go out to Tarton who kindly edited this chapter. And thanks to everyone for writing such encouraging emails. I am now posting my stories to a Yahoo!Group, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jaygordon_1981/ as well. I'm putting them up there a little in advance so I can make final edits before submitting to Nifty, so if you are interested, you can check it out. It's closed membership to avoid spam and flames, so just let me know! A Light in the Darkness, Chapter 11 "One Last Fine Day" The hour was late and the soldiers had returned to their places. Chase and William found themselves at last alone with James and Sebastian, after Steve and Chris got the hint and took Lt. Spencer upstairs for a rousing game of something on the Wii. Sebastian leaned into James comfortably as they sat across from the boys and said, "Chase, you're really coming along with your power.... I must say I never expected...." Chase blushed a little and smiled. "Raziel's been teaching me ... at night." William's face changed imperceptibly; he'd wondered when, but didn't feel he should ask. "I must say we're all quite grateful, but you put yourself in terrible risk," Sebastian said, gently scolding. "We had no choice," Chase said softly, and he clearly believed that. Everyone else knew better. The boys could have stayed safe: James had to go for Sebastian, and Chase felt compelled as well. And William had gone for Chase. And Lt. Spencer had supported James. After a moment of silence, Chase said, "You know, it's just all too much...." William reached out and grabbed his hand, and for a while Chase was quiet while the others chatted. But at last Chase piped back in: "Did you know that the school decided not to let us go to the valentine's Dance? Me and William, or Edward and Carl?" Sebastian's eyes flashed fire as James asked, "What?" William nodded with a sigh, and Chase continued, "So William's rented a ballroom at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond and we're going to have our own! A lot of people are coming to ours instead of the schools! Oh, you guys have to come!" Sebastian smiled a smile indicating he'd do anything to please the boy, but said, "We're very busy with the war and all, and that's very public." William smirked, "All the more reason to be there.... Who better to defend us? And you'll blend right in.... In fact, if you could arrange some of the older wizard types to come as chaperones/guards, we wouldn't have to have parents all over the place...." James chuckled at Sebastian, knowing the discussion was over. "All right," the ancient vampires said with a brilliant smile. "Of course for you...." "Oh, we should invite Steve and Chris, I guess they aren't getting to go to dances either?" Chase asked, bubbling over and getting back into his role as the dance's 'hostess,' as he'd giggling described himself to Matt. James took him up to where the boys were playing so he could invite them. When they were gone, Sebastian rose and sat next to William and put an arm across his shoulder. For once, William relaxed with him and enjoyed the feeling. Sebastian had done all he could to prove himself to William, and it was enough. Quietly, William asked, "What is he?" "Who?" Sebastian responded. "Chase?" Sebastian sat silently for a moment. "I ... do not know," he answered honestly, at long last. "More than you thought, though," William stated more than asked. "Yes," Sebastian said. "Yes, I think so...." "There is no way to keep him safe now, is there?" William asked, his voice cracking. Sebastian projected to James, 'You guys hang out upstairs a little. We need a moment....' And then he said, "No.... Sammael was wary of me, but he's ... can it even be said? He's afraid of Chase. And beings like him, they don't get afraid; I'm sure it's not something they deal with very well...." William's eyes teared up as he nodded. "I'll die before I let anything happen to him...." "I know," Sebastian said, squeezing him in a big hug. "I hope it won't come to that for either of us," he added, hoping William understood. After a few comfortable moments, he said, "Now let's go find that boy of yours so you can get home!" After joining in the conversation upstairs for a few more minutes, William and Chase made their way home, exhausted, excited, a little scared, but, most of all, bone tired. They'd called Steve and Sarah earlier to let them know they were alright, but they stuck their head in to say goodnight before heading upstairs. Sarah, who was sitting up in bed reading, held out here arms, summoning the boys for a goodnight hug, and whispered to them, "Thank God you're safe." They both told her they loved her and went upstairs and straight to bed. Over the next week, the boys enjoyed a relatively normal week at school, which is not to say it was entirely pleasant. On Monday, the chatter amongst their group of friends was largely about tuxes and dresses and the like, since the dance was now just under two weeks away. They were all sitting around the table at lunch when two normally perky looking girls, juniors, marched over, clutching their books tightly, knuckles white. "Well, I suppose you're happy now?" asked the more fearsome of the two, a blond with carefully styled hair whose father was a Presbyterian minister. Everyone fell silent and William looked up at her with a blank look that spoke volumes of disregard. "I'm afraid I don't follow...." "Well, you've just ruined our dance, and all so that you and your ... whatever can flaunt your ... lifestyle...." The girl concluded with an angry huff. "Ruined your dance?" William asked with interest and a hateful smile. Amy appeared to be the only one to notice Chase on the verge of tears. The girl's mousy sidekick piped in, "We aren't selling any more tickets, and a lot of people who bought them aren't coming!" She fell silent at her mistress's sharp look. "Well, it sounds to me that you guys will get to have a good time with likeminded Neanderthals.... So why don't you march yourself right back over to self-righteousville and leave us alone?" William answered, his anger rising. "I just don't see why you can't act like everybody else? Why can't you just let us be and ... stop trying to ... pretend like your normal," the girl fumed. "Don't the rest of us have rights?" William looked as angry as anyone had ever seen, and then he heard Chase's sniffling and saw the boy's tears. No one knew what was about to happen but it wasn't good. Then out of nowhere, Amy, Matt's girlfriend, who had been sitting just in front of the girls, rose to her feet, turned, and smacked the girl right in the face. For a second, their whole part of the cafeteria fell deathly silent and the girl raised her hand to her cheek in shock. Her look said something like, "What?" and "Traitor!" combined. "Why is it when these guys, nice guys, want to do what everyone else is doing openly every day, its rubbing it in your faces? Why is it that what you do is your right, but what they do is only interfering with your rights? Don't they have any?" Amy was mad and it showed. "There is no right to be disgusting, immoral.... Humans weren't meant to...." But the girls was silenced by the loud crack of Amy's hand again striking her cheek. By luck, they had not yet been observed by anyone in authority, blocked as they were by the gathering crowd, but the sounds of laughter and a little clapping finally drew the attention of an assistant principal. "What's going on here? Everybody return to your seats!" The man was raising his voice and students dispersed. "You too ladies," he shouted at the two girls who were still frozen by the shock of what had happened, and they scurried off full of pride and indignation. Amy sat down, her face red, and very lady-like, straightened her hair and noticed everyone staring at her with varying degrees of repressed laughter. Smoothing out her skirt, she raised her eyebrows. "What? She made him cry!" At that, everyone, Chase included, laughed. Matt leaned over and whispered in her ear, "That was maybe the hottest thing I've ever seen," making her giggle. She whispered back, "Save that thought for later. My parents are going out tonight!" That evening, Chase sat with Sam talking while James and William trained alone in William's space. At present, Avery remained to distracted and unfocused to be an effective teacher, so Sebastian would step in as he was available to take up the slack. Then the boys joined Chase's parents for dinner, before heading upstairs to work on their school work. It was getting late and they were just thinking about turning in for the night when they heard a tap against the window. Matt had tossed a pebble at the window to get their attention, and William ran downstairs to let him inside. "Come on up," he whispered, trying not to disturb Chase's parents. "What's up?" he asked as he closed the door behind him. "I don't have to be home for a little while yet so I thought I'd stop in," the boy gushed, clearly walking on air. "You sound excited," Chase said with a grin. "Well, I spent the ... evening at Amy's," Matt answered slyly, like there was something he couldn't wait to tell but was dragging it out. "We ... uh, you know ... for the first time...." "Huh?" chase asked. William shook his head and laughed, "They YOU KNOWED for the first time...." "OHHHHH!" Then after a moment of thought Chase said, off-handed, "I just figured you'd been you-knowing for a while...." Matt blushed. "No...." William looked at him seriously, "You were careful, right?" "Yes, mom! Besides, Amy's on the pill...." "Doesn't matter," William said. "You don't want to be the one in a thousand, do you?" Matt looked nervous. "No, we were careful." "Good," Chase said. "I like Amy...." "Just because she beat up the mean girl?" Matt teased. "She didn't beat her up, much," Chase laughed, faux pouting. After a few minutes more, William walked Matt out and locked up behind him. After a moment's thought, he smiled to himself and ran up stairs to suggest a little ... you know. Word had gotten around about the mean girls' confrontation with William and Chase and it did little to bolster their position, and more and more people were getting on board with William's dance, especially when he announced chaperones would be provided by a private security firm (AKA Sebastian's wizard squad) overseen by Chase's parents. Chase was as happy as could be by the end of the week, when he and William arrived home to find a young woman waiting on the sidewalk in front of the house. William and Matt stepped in front of Chase, and without a second thought, Matt's hand went to the protective amulet Chase had given him. Within a moment, a couple of men appeared nearby and flanked the woman before the boys moved. "Private security, ma'am," the taller of the men said simply. "What's your business here?" The woman looked flustered and reached into her purse, prompting the other man to say "Wait a minute! Slow and easy!" The woman looked shocked and slowly pulled out a press ID from the local paper. "I ... was just here to see if I could ask these guys some questions," she said, a little shaky. "What's with the security?" "Long story," William said grimly, seeing the woman's eyes light up. "And we're not talking...." "I just figured you might want to get your story out," she said. "Alice Hunt," she announced, holding out her hand. William shook it warily. "William Jennings." Chase stood there for a moment before she realized. "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't notice," she said and reached gently for his hand. "Chase Abernathy," he said with a smile, after their hand's touched. "And this is my best friend, Matt...." Matt nodded but didn't say anything to her. "Don't say anything to her until your mom gets home," Matt said finally, glaring at her before he walked up to his house and went inside. "What do you want to talk to us about?" Chase said with a smile, surprising both the woman and William, and the guards never moved away from here. "Chase?" William warned urgently. But Chase just said, "She's alright ... for a reporter...." Alice looked at him funny, but then said, "I'm here to ask you about your dance, the dance you're hosting at the Jefferson...." "Oh," William said, his relief telling her there was another story. But she'd stick with this one now. "So why did you decide to have an alternate dance? It's very expensive," she said. "Do you mind if I record?" "No, I don't mind," William said. "Chase and I wanted to go to the dance together," and he paused, taking Chase's hand for emphasis, "but the principal decided that gay couples wouldn't be allowed to attend together.... We decided to do something with our friends and anyone from school who wanted to join us, without prejudice and free of charge." "Wow," she said, smiling, "you boys have some kind of guts!" Then after a pause, "How long have you boys been together?" Knowing she wouldn't take them seriously if the said exactly, William said, "A while now.... We love each other very much. We just want to be treated like everyone else, no better, no worse...." "Why do you think your principal decided not to allow you to attend? It's a private school and most of the parents at your school are from more liberal families," Alice said, reading from her notebook. "That's a real good question.... To be honest, it didn't make a lot of sense, but she told us all in front of our parents," Chase piped in. "All? There were others," Alice asked. Chase blushed and said, "I shouldn't have said that. I'm not sure the other couple would appreciate being named, but I can ask them.... Maybe they'd talk to you too.... Maybe their parents...." She handed William her card. "If they want to talk, have them call me as soon as they can...." After a few more questions, she was ready to go. But Chase stopped her. "Why don't you come to the dance? Get some pictures, talk to some students?" She stopped and smiled at him. Not only was he adorable, but very polite. "I just might. I'll let you know...." She turned to go, but stopped. "I got to ask ... what's with the goon squad?" The wizards raised their eyebrows but suppressed smiles. "Goon squads, you mean," William smiled, nodded secretly in the direction of a few other visible guards, making the woman's eyes widen again. "You've got my name.... Look it up...." The woman walked away closely watched by the guards, occupied by a head full of thoughts. "Well, this could be interesting," Chase said with a sweet smile. William shook his head with a smile and took the boy's hand, leading him inside. Chase stayed upstairs reading on his computer's Braille readout, while William met James and Sebastian for the last training session of the week. By common consent, they were taking the weekend off from training. Chase was just finishing up when William returned and flopped down on the bed. "I'm tired," he declared. Chase sat on the bed next to him and put a hand on his stomach. "What do you want to do this weekend?" William smiled and put his hand on Chase's. "Let me think about it while I grab a shower?" He grabbed his robe and made his way to the bathroom, returning shortly smelling fresh and clean. He pulled on a pair of jeans and a sweater and suggested, "Want to go to a movie?" "Sounds good," Chase said and changed out of his uniform into more comfortable clothes, while William watched appreciatively. He sidled up behind the boy and ran a hand up the front of his shirt, tickling his smooth tummy. "Later!" Chase laughed and turned in his arms, giving him a tight squeeze and a sharp smack on the behind. They went downstairs and asked Steve to give them a ride to the mall. Thirty minutes later they were walking around, hand-in-hand, talking, waiting for a seat to open up at the Macaroni Grille so they could eat before their movie. They watched a comedy from the back row of the theater, where they sat cuddled up with each other. During his walk through, the usher gave them a long look but didn't say anything before he left. Afterwards, they called Steve and got ice-cream cones while they waited. As they sat on the bench, some guys from school passed and said hello. William talked to them a minute before they went on their way. "It's strange," Chase said. "What do you mean?" William asked. "So normal.... I keep waiting for something to happen!" Chase laughed and leaned into William, who wrapped an arm around him. "Me too!" "Are you going to synagogue in the morning?" Chase asked. "Will you come with me?" William responded. "Of course, if you want," Chase answered, snuggling in tight, just before Steve pulled up and honked at them to hop in. The next morning, the boys set off for synagogue, opting to take a long walk (with a few wizards hot on their trail) in the brisk mid-winter air. Bundled in their good clothes, they walked hand-in-hand down to the old house of worship and said their good mornings. After they joined the congregation for lunch, they called Steve for a ride home. Then they went to visit Xavier for the afternoon and joined him for dinner. In fact, he was a little lonely in the big house with Aiden away for the weekend, so they agreed to spend the night, after calling Sarah and Steve. As they laid in the big, luxurious guest bed in one another's arms that night, Chase smiled at William and sighed. "What?" William asked. "It's been so nice and normal this week," Chase said happily. "Well, the part where your best friend's girlfriend puts a smack down on your enemies and you get interviewed by the paper isn't exactly normal for most people," William chuckled. "It is when you're us," Chase answered, rolling over onto his belly and resting his chin on William's chest. "I like it like this...." "I can tell," William said, flexing his thigh against Chase's hardening member. Then he reached under the covers and gave it a quick rub. With his strong arms, he grabbed Chase and positioned him so Chase was kneeling between his legs. "Try not to make TOO MUCH noise," William teased as he wrapped his legs around the boy's waist and slipped a spit lubricated hand down between his legs to help Chase (and himself) out. Xavier turned up the music in his room, shaking his head with a little laugh. "Young love," the young man whispered as he rolled over and hugged Aiden's pillow, drifting off to sleep. The next morning, the boys put their worn clothes back on and stumbled downstairs, accepting coffee. Xavier gave them both a funny look and said, "I sure hope you boys talked to Sarah and Steve...." William was about to ask, "What?" when the phone rang. Xavier picked it up and flinched at the high pitched voice n the other end. He held the phone out from his ear and said, "Sarah!" That seemed to stop here, so he continued, "I've got them right here.... You want me to bring them home or come here?" After a few words from her, he said, "See you in ten, dear, and CALM DOWN.... It's okay!" Chase looked scared, and after he hung up, Xavier laughed and said, "Don't worry about it.... It's actually a good article. Probably get you boys expelled, but it's pretty compelling," he finished, tossing the paper to William, who read the article to Chase on their way home. When they pulled into his driveway, Chase said, "I can't believe they put it on the front page of the Sunday local section...." "Yeah, everyone will see it," Xavier said, repressing a little snicker. "Don't worry boys...." Inside, Sarah was in a tizzy. "You boys talked to a reporter without talking to me or your father first? Without an adult present?" "Did she lie?" William asked, calm. "Did she say anything bad or demeaning about us?" "No," Sarah said, tossing the paper onto the counter. "She told your side of the story, pretty well favoring you boy's side actually.... You realize how much trouble this is going to cause?" "Probably not much more than us holding an alternate Valentines Dance and ruffling every holy roller feather in school," William reported, and Xavier put his hand over his face to hide the laugh that was ready to bust out at any moment. "You should have told us," she said in a huff. Then with a sigh, "Have you boys had breakfast? Can you stay, Xavier?" The boys ran upstairs to shower and change, and Xavier sat and talked to her while she made pancakes and bacon. While the boy's were gone, he asked, "So what's wrong, Sarah?" "Oh, nothing.... I'm just scared for them.... This will make things harder...." "Harder than the prince of darkness," he asked with a wry smile. "I guess THAT does put things in perspective," she said, giving him a look. "I AM proud of them," she allowed. "They're good boys.... Good to each other...." "And powerful.... Don't forget, he may be your little boy, but he's scary powerful Sarah...." Xavier looked quickly at the steps. "I shouldn't say anything, but the boys were in the same room with Sammael on Sunday...." "What?" she asked, in a panic. "Chill," Xavier said. "I'm only telling you this because it should make you feel better.... Chase, protected by William and James, saved some of the most powerful vampires and wizards in the world. As I hear it, Sammael was a little weirded out by Chase...." Sarah cooked silently for a moment. "He looks so ... fragile.... And he can't see.... It's hard to see him like the rest of you do.... I guess I have to try...." "He's your little boy," Xavier smiled, "and that's fine.... But he and William can take care of each other," the man said with certainty. Xavier was still there with the boys when a heavy knock at the door got their attention. Xavier carefully checked the peephole before opening the door and stepping aside to let Sebastian and James inside. "What brings you to town?" Xavier asked in a somewhat distant voice before smiling and shaking hands with James. "Please come on in.... The boys are in the living room." "We're just dropping in for a visit," Sebastian said with a polite nod to his former friend. Xavier raised his eyes. This was unlike the Sebastian he remembered. "Look who came for a visit," Xavier announced as he lead them into the room. "James! Sebastian!" William hopped up and shook hands with them, not surprised that Chase followed suit with hugs. "Just in our neighborhood?" "Things have been quiet," Sebastian said with a smile and a shrug. "I've worked out a security plan, so I thought we'd come down and do a walk through at the hotel.... Then maybe take you guys out to dinner...." "Sounds fun," Chase exclaimed. "Let's go change!" "Why?" William asked. "We're going to one of the most luxurious hotels in the state to make arrangements for an expensive event," Chase said, matter-of-factly. William looked at Sebastian and James, saw they were dressed, if not dressy, expensive and preppy. Smiling, he ran upstairs with Chase and they returned shortly, and the foursome looked very cute together. Chase told his mom where they were going and promised to call on the way home. Half an hour later, the striking group of young (and young-looking) men walked through the doors of the Jefferson Hotel. They walked to the desk and a snooty woman asked, "Can I help you BOYS?" "Yes, MA'AM," William responded, taking issue with the woman's attitude. "I'd like to speak to your manager...." "I'm afraid Mr. Wesley is very busy with important business at the moment," the woman responded. Sebastian could barely restraining himself from getting into the woman's head, but James squeezed his shoulder. William leaned in and whispered, "Trust me, he'll want to talk to me.... Now if you don't go fetch him just now, Barbie, I'm going to lose my temper...." The woman frowned and picked up the phone and spoke into it quietly. Shortly a young man walked around the corner flanked by two gorilla-sized men. The young man looked at a loss when he saw the clean-cut, handsome crowd of boys that had so flustered the woman behind the desk. "I'm going to have to ask you gentlemen to accompany me outside...." "Why? We just asked to speak to the manager," William said, bewildered, and the man looked again at the woman behind the counter. He was about to tell the security officers they could go when one of them made the mistake of grabbing Chase's shoulder. When Chase gasped in surprise, Sebastian was on the man in a second. Though he looked not much bigger than Chase, with a lightning fast blow, he dropped the man to his knees, then grabbed a pressure point in his shoulder that sent pain through the guard's whole body. When the second guard moved on him, Sebastian laid him out on the floor with a quick kick to the chest. With a hiss at the young man in charge that chilled his blood, Sebastian announced, "He put a hand on Chase...." "Thank you Sebastian," Chase said. "Please let him go...." The man who had accompanied the guards stood stunned. William looked him in the eyes and said, "You'll please fetch the manager now? We'll be waiting." The man hurried off and returned shortly with a very distinguished-looking man in his fifties; he was fit and his silver hair was perfectly styled, and he carried himself with regal bearing. "Gentlemen," he said in a proper southern accent, "I'm Clark Wesley. How may I help you? I understand there's been some ... excitement?" "Mr. Wesley, I'm William Jennings...." "Of course," the man said with a brilliant smile showing off his perfect teeth, though his eyes cut murderously to the woman behind the counter. "Is everything in order for your event next weekend?" Then he looked at the younger man and said, "Mr. Jennings has rented the main ballroom next weekend, as YOU might recall...." "Well, we were coming to discuss security with you and make some last minute arrangements with the chef, but the woman behind the counter refused to call you.... I don't suppose you treat everyone who walks up to the counter like this?" Seeing the man's face he smiled. "I thought not. When I warned her that she'd really want to call you, she called this man and security...." Mr. Wesley looked darkly at his employees and said, "Why do I feel the story doesn't end there?" William nodded. "I believe this gentlemen was about to send the security men away when one of them grabbed my boyfriend, Chase, by the shoulder...." Just when the man looked mortified, William added, "He sort of surprised Chase, since Chase is blind, and my friend Sebastian ... neutralized your security men...." "That's impressive," Wesley nodded, looking at James, and James laughed. "I'm James.... My boyfriend is Sebastian," he said as he wrapped his arm around the much smaller Sebastian and Wesley's jaw dropped. William resumed, "You understand, the only reason we don't walk out of here right now and never look back is that we don't have time to find another ... classier venue...." The woman sealed her coffin by snorting and muttering, "That and the deposit...." William laughed at her outwardly but lost his temper and was about to say something, when Sebastian put a hand on his arm and looked at Clark Wesley with a firm glance. The man looked at the woman like you might look at the paperboy, with only passing interest, and said, "You're fired...." She started to argue, but he looked at the two guards and said, "See that she gets all her things and finds her way to her car.... Eric, your future with our little hotel is in Mr. Jennings's hands.... See to it he has what he needs after we're finished...." The young man nodded, pale, and took the woman's place behind the counter temporarily to call her replacement. William took Chase's hand and followed Mr. Wesley into his office. As they sat, William passed him the security plan, announcing, "I'll be hiring private security and chaperones for this event. I wouldn't want any of my guests to be unexpectedly assaulted...." William allowed a quick smile to cross his lips to let the man know he was just having a little fun with him. Chase, however, gave William a little frown and said, "That's over.... It's done!" "Yes, dear," William said with a smile, winking at Mr. Wesley. The man looked over the plan and said, "This looks very thorough.... Your security firm is licensed and bonded?" "Yes, sir," Sebastian answered. "My men are all well-trained and licensed, as well as trained martial artists...." When the man looked at him, surprised, Sebastian added, "I am the president of the Martial Corporation, among other things...." The Martial Corporation, Sebastian's most famous, or infamous, moneymaking endeavor was an international, private and secretive security firm. They specialized in sensitive projects -- defending high risk targets, and targeting high risk targets. A team of Sebastian's had kidnapped a high-ranking Taliban official from the mountains of Pakistan. "I see," Clark Wesley said slowly, taking the measure of the group of young men before him anew. "Then by all means, your people may have whatever access they need." He picked up the phone and told the chef to be expecting a VIP shortly and then cut back to his guests. "Now, gentlemen, there is the matter of settling up for the ... incidents of this afternoon." He sat back and let the boys have a moment. William, however, turned it back on the man. It was after all his responsibility. "What do you think is fair, Mr. Wesley?" The man smiled and tapped his fingers on the desk for a moment. "Of course, you'll pay no more than you have for the ballroom, and I'll be sure you're food is served to your guests at cost...." William nodded and the man added, "And perhaps you'd like the use of a presidential suite so you may relax after your event?" Chase's smile lit the room and even Mr. Wesley couldn't help be brightened by it. The boy squeezed William's hand, and William said, "That's very kind of you.... We appreciate it very much...." "Good," the man said, handing them a card with his direct line on it. "Let me know if I can be of further assistance, and consider Eric at your disposal until next Sunday," he added, quite seriously. With a smile, he shook hands with the four boys. Leading them out, he said, "Eric, the chef is expecting them.... I told them you were at their disposal for a week.... That means night and day.... Do be sure they have your cell number...." Eric led them off and began apologizing as soon as they were out of earshot. William let him roast for a little while before Chase smacked William's arm and said, "Eric, it's not your fault.... She called you and you had no idea what you were walking into...." The young man smiled and stopped apologizing, but he looked away. He was blushing. And he was pretty cute, they all noticed for the first time. He was maybe twenty-five, and in his suit he looked overly serious, but smiling and blushing, he looked like the cute frat boy he had recently been. "So you're the ones hosting the Valentine's Dance?" Eric asked as they walked on toward the kitchen. "William and Chase are," Sebastian said. "So you guys are," Eric began to ask but cut himself off. "Chase and I are together," William said, entirely unembarrassed. "And Sebastian and I," James said proudly. Eric nodded with a weak smile. "That's great," he said, though it didn't sound great. "Does that bother you?" William asked. Eric looked over, surprised. "Oh.... Oh, no.... Not at all.... I...." Chase cut him off softly. "It's okay Eric, you don't have to say anything. My boyfriend is being a little touchy, as not everyone has been real nice to us the last few days...." William grunted slightly but took Chase's lead. "I only meant to say I've never been brave enough to be myself ... openly," Eric confessed and then William understood. The man was lonely and afraid. "I wasn't either until I met Sebastian," James said with an understanding smile. "It was hard, but I'd never go back...." "Maybe one day," Eric said with a wistful smile. "Maybe you should hang around the evening of the dance.... A lot of my security guys are ... of the right persuasion, and you are pretty cute," Sebastian teased a little. "I'll have enough security that one distracted guard won't make a difference...." Eric laughed and nodded. "Might take you up on that.... I don't meet many guys here...." Shortly, they went over the final menu with the chef and talked with Eric about coordinating with the DJ the afternoon of the party. Afterwards they caught dinner down by the James River at a restaurant with a great view. The following week was a blur, what with training, school, party planning and last minute arrangements for the party. It was like they all had two full-time jobs. But Sammael's people were laying low. Oh yes, there were little attacks, here and there. Random, untraceable, unpredictable. But increasingly, Sammael's people were attacking in the open. Or they left messages, arcane references to biblical texts. References to beasts, and war, and chaos. But Sebastian made sure none of that came to William or Chase. Not this week. On Monday, the boys were all called to the office again with their parents, where they were all read the riot act for talking to the press. But the principal could hardly do anything to them, lest that show up in the paper too. She made it clear that they wouldn't be made comfortable for a while, however. But the boys knew many of their teachers liked them, so they weren't too worried about her. On Thursday, William and Chase went down to try on their suits, which were perfect and required no further alterations. William paid handsomely and a little something extra for the old tailor. On Friday, all their friends offered any assistance they could, but Saturday found all the couples getting ready for the big event. Chase and William went out early and checked into their suite. After a last minute walk through the ballroom, which was beautifully decorated, William and Chase returned to their room to shower and get ready for the evening. William was tying his tie when he felt Chase's hand on his back. "The material is so soft," Chase said. William turned and looked at the boy and gasped. All put together, Chase was as beautiful as William had ever seen him, and he told him so. Chase wrapped his arm around William and kissed him softly on the lips. "I wish I could see us just now," he whispered. "Oh, baby," William said. "I know.... I'm sorry...." "No, no," Chase said with a smile. "I can't tell you what it means that you did all this for me.... It's perfect." "Are you ready to dance?" William asked him finally. Chase grabbed his hand and they headed downstairs. Familiar faces filled the lobby and lined the ballroom, handsome young wizards and beautiful young witches in tuxedos and dresses, ready to serve and protect, and make sure the punch didn't get spiked. Eric hurried over to Chase and William and said, "You two look fantastic!" "Thanks," William said with a big smile. "See anyone you like around here?" Eric smiled and blushed and turned his eye toward a solidly built, handsome wizard with blazing green eyes. William kept the smile out of his voice as best he could as he turned to Chase and said, "Lieutenant Spencer...." "What?" Eric asked. "I got the idea that he's a pretty straight arrow," William said, and Eric frowned. "I never was a good judge," Eric said. "One reason I rarely get the nerve to ask...." "Ask," Chase said, "if you're interested.... All he can do is say no, and he'll be nice about it.... We don't know him well enough to know for sure...." Eric looked at him thoughtfully, "You think I should?" Chase nodded and the man walked off deep in contemplation. "You think he'll ask?" Chase asked. "He looks pretty nervous.... What do you really think?" "I think Lt. Spencer is a nice man who is looking for someone to love.... I think he's a little like Avery and doesn't really care about the ... shape of the package...." "You mean whether the package has a package," William sniggered. James and Sebastian walked in arm-in-arm and greeted the boys. "Security is all in place," Sebastian said as he kissed William on the cheek, European style, before giving Chase a big hug and kiss. James gave William and Chase both hugs, and they stood about talking in the lobby as guests began to trickle in. William and Chase began to greet them and send them on into the ballroom where food was out and music was beginning to play. Maria and Charles were the first of their close friends to arrive, and Maria gave them both hugs. "Let's show 'em how to have a good time tonight, sweethearts," she squealed. Charles led her inside, where the photographer took their picture and they joined the growing crowd. There were maybe fifty or sixty students there already, including some girl- and boy-friends from other schools, when Matt and Amy arrived with Edward and Carl. Everybody hugged and William said, "You guys go on inside; we'll be out here for another fifteen or twenty minutes, then we'll be in...." Almost everybody else they expected showed up in that time. One of the last was Seth Stein, the boy Chase had invited from the synagogue. William shook his hand and Chase gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek that made the boy blush mightily but beam with happiness. After giving some instructions to the staff on letting the stragglers in, William and Chase accompanied Seth inside. After a few minutes of socializing and grabbing a bit of food, William gave the DJ a sign and the man started playing some better dance music. Chase and William kind of milled around until the man announced, "The next song was a special request by your host, William, for Chase, his forever.... An oldie, sung by Elvis Presley -- 'Can't Help Falling in Love'...." Chase glowed as William led him out onto and took him in his arms, leading him gently around the dance floor. When the song ended, everyone was clapping and William realized that, while he had been lost in his own world, everyone had been watching them. For a moment, the volume of the music dropped and William said, "Chase and I want to thank all of you for coming out and showing your support. I can't tell you how much it means.... I hope you all have a great time!" There was more applause and then DJ announced another song, "The next song is going out from my man Sheldon to the love of his life...." Chase and William were just about to join their friends dancing again when someone tapped William on the shoulder to cut in. "Do you mind?" Amy asked. William looked at Chase who shrugged, so William accepted. Once they had danced away, out of earshot, he whispered, "So what's this about?" Amy grinned a devious grin and said, "I told Matt he ought to ask Chase to dance...." "Oh," William said with a pleased laugh. He looked over to see the handsome neighbor boy whispering something to Chase before taking his hand and sliding an arm around his waist. Chase's smile was as bright as the sun. "I think you did a good thing," William said to Amy. "I just wanted to do something to make Chase happy," she said with a lopsided smile. "Honestly, I can't imagine anyone knowing him and not wanting that," William laughed. Then he muttered, "Those bitches...." As if on cue, Lt. Spencer appeared and walked over to Sebastian, who stepped away from James and dropped his hand, following the man outside. Two girls and a young jock were being held by his men. "Lt. Spencer?" he asked. "We caught these kids letting the air out of tires and doing other things to people's cars.... Their identification shows they go to William's school," Lt. Spencer answered. "Do you have video in the lot," Sebastian asked Eric, and the young man nodded. "Lt. Spencer, accompany Eric to the security booth and make copies of the videos for the police." At the word police the youngsters all paled noticeably. "And make sure someone sees to all the damage before anyone tries to leave.... Let's not let this put a damper on the occasion." William, not knowing what to make of Sebastian's departure, but seeing Seth standing by himself by the dance floor, steered Amy toward James. "Hey, James, while Sebastian's away, would you mind dancing with our friend Seth? He doesn't know anyone here.... Maybe you could help him ... hone in on a willing dance partner?" James winked and walked over to the boy. "Hey, I'm James...." Looking up at the big ex-football star, Seth gulped and squeaked out his name. James smiled and said, "I'm a friend of Chase and William and my boyfriend has had to leave for a few minutes. Want to dance?" The boy looked like a deer in headlights, but nodded, and James gently took his hand and began to lead him in a dance. James could tell they were being noticed, and since everyone had seen him with Sebastian, the brain signatures read something like, 'Cute, single, gay...." James smiled and said, "You know, there are boys here watching you?" "Really?" Seth asked, sounding doubtful. "Absolutely! They think you're very cute!" "And who can blame them," Sebastian asked with a smile as he approached, taking the boy's hand from James and cutting in, leaving James standing on the floor with a grin. "I'm Sebastian," he added. "Seth," the boy choked. Sebastian was one of the two most beautiful boys he'd ever seen. "You met Chase and William at Sam Roth's synagogue?" Sebastian asked. "No," the boy answered. "My parents brought them home from services one evening with the Rabbi.... You know him?" "Very well," Sebastian said cryptically. "Now tell me, there is a boy just behind me by himself staring this way. What do you think?" "Cute," Seth said with a blush. "But he's not...." Sebastian said, "You're very cute, and he IS interested, I promise...." Sebastian expertly guided them in the boy's direction, then accidentally bumped into him. "OH! EXCUSE US PLEASE!" The boy looked surprised and flustered as he looked from Seth to Sebastian. Sebastian quickly excused himself saying, "I'm so sorry! I've got to get back to my boyfriend.... I'll see you later, Seth!" When the next song ended, Chase put his head on Matt's shoulder and gave him a big hug and kiss on the cheek. "That was fun," he whispered to his oldest and best friend. Matt surprised him by giving him a kiss too and said, "I love you, buddy...." "I love you too," Chase replied, eyes misty. Matt walked his friend over to where Amy and William stood, and William winked at him before he and Amy got back to dancing. "Sebastian danced Seth into a cutie a few minutes ago," William added with a laugh. "Crashed right into him then ran back to James...." "Sneaky old vamp," Chase whispered with a laugh. "Is Seth dancing?" "No, they're talking, but it's like they're standing real close and whispering. He was a good catch...." As the evening progressed, they danced with Edward and Carl, as well as some of their more self-assured straight friends and their girlfriends. When the DJ announce, "Maria has asked me to play, 'O My Love,' sung by Jackson Brown, for her sweetheart, Charles," all the guys ooohed and aaahed to embarrass the big boy, who smiled and took it all in stride After midnight, the crowd began to thin and William and Chase did their duty, thanking their guests and bidding them farewell. By one, only their closest friends remained. "Well that was awesome," Matt said. They all laughed and agreed. Then the DJ announced one last song, "The last song of the night is dedicated to Sebastian and James...." Each of the couples took to the dance floor one last time for the night, and then they all said their farewells. William saw Seth and the boy he had met talking in the lobby and he and Chase went up to them. "You guys need a ride?" William asked. "I'll call you a cab...." "Dad's on the way," Seth said. "He's going to give Nathaniel a ride home too," Seth smiled when he said the boy's name. "Well, if you guys want to double-date sometime, give us a call," Chase said with an impish grin. Seth and Nathaniel both blushed, but Nathaniel grabbed Seth's hand and nodded. Then they sat to wait for Seth's dad. After a very personal farewell with Sebastian and James, William and Chase retired upstairs to their suite and hopped in the jacuzzi tub after shedding their suits. Chase sat between William's legs as the boy gave him a shoulder massage, while the warm water worked its magic. When Chase leaned back and laid his blond head on the boy's ample chest, he felt William's plumping member against his back. With a sly smile, he rolled over and rubbed William's cock against his silky, soapy tummy. "Take me to bed?" Chase asked with a sultry smile and soon the boys were rushing to get dry and over to the big four-poster bed. It was late and they were tired, but William made long and gentle love to the boy who had changed his world, and perhaps held the world in his small hands. And for one last long moment, hell seemed a long way away. Light streaming into the beautiful room the next morning woke William and he reached over to call for a sumptuous breakfast by room service before slipping into shorts and a t-shirt. He signed for the food and the young woman wheeled it in and sat it up on the table for him, getting a nice tip. Then William woke Chase and they enjoyed the delicious food. While they were getting ready to check out, William flipped on the television, which was already tuned to CNN. A woman stood in the windy cold, just down the street from an old line of mansions. "I'm standing just a few blocks away from the sight of an overnight explosion that rocked this historic neighborhood overnight.... It seems that a car departing from one of the homes on this street was blown up, seriously injuring the driver. Reports indicate that the passenger is missing...." Chase turned to William in fear when he heard the boy gasp. He had recognized the house in the distance. It was Sebastian's.