Date: Mon, 5 Jul 2010 07:36:13 -0500 From: Jason Gordon <email@example.com> Subject: A Light ing the Darkness Chapter 15 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 and Darryl the Radio Rancher 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 15 "Insight" When William awakened, he found himself laying in the lush grass at the heart of Eden's garden, no longer filled with throngs of angels. It was just an ancient forest, lit by a supernal light. Then it struck him -- it was the pain in his hand that had awakened him. He grabbed his wounded hand and applied pressure as he sat up to look around. It appeared he was the first to come to, and he crawled as best he could to Chase's side. The boy's hand was also bleeding, and the dagger had fallen from his other hand. "What did you do?" William wondered aloud to himself as he used the knife to cut two strips of cloth from his shirt, one to bind up his wound, one to bind Chase's. Suddenly he noticed for the first time Sammael's robes lying on the ground, the demon -- the man, he guessed -- nowhere to be seen. Then the pile rustled. Tentatively, he reached for it, not knowing what he'd find. He half expected it to be a serpent, but he never expected what he did find. A beautiful baby boy reached out and grabbed his finger. "Dear Lord," William murmured. "Indeed," Gabriel said from behind him. "Sammael couldn't be dealt with the way Pete was, I'm afraid.... He was never human, and to allow him to keep his memory, well, that would have been disastrous...." "Is he?" William asked, his eyes tearing up. He'd be seventeen in a month. "He is yours," Gabriel nodded. "Your flesh and blood. Your son." "I ... I can't," William gasped, choking up. "It's too much...." Gabriel laughed, and said, "After all of this, a baby is too much? You have Chase and his parents, your uncles, and a not inconsiderable fortune...." William's shoulders sagged and he reached out for the bundle of baby and took it into his arms. Looking down into the little face, he felt his head spin. Then he looked around, and he had no idea why, but he handed the baby to Gabriel and said, "Take him to Sarah, and introduce her to her grandson...." Gabriel looked at him peculiarly. "You don't trust your friends?" "Not everyone here," William said, his eyes flickering first to Pete, then to Avery. "They're good men, I think, but I'm not sure what they'd do if they knew...." Gabriel smiled, and nodded, and then he was gone. William laid beside Chase and took him in his arms, and he fell asleep again before Chase woke up. A few hours more passed before the men in the garden began to stir. William woke again as Sebastian knelt over him, shaking his shoulder. Chase reluctantly opened his eyes then too. "What happened?" Sebastian whispered. "It's all over," William said, catching Chase's eye and nodding almost imperceptibly. "There will be some things for the Council's operatives to clean up a few messes, put out a few fires, but ... it's over...." "How do we get out of here?" Sebastian asked. And then it occurred to him. "Sammael?" "Taken care of," Chase said. "And we can get home after we get outside of the gates...." It took about thirty minutes to get all the men up and on their feet. Xavier was supporting Aiden. Matt was groggy but okay. James and Avery were helping Pete. Chase tried to stand, but his right hip and leg screamed in pain. "What's wrong?" William asked, hurrying to his side. "My leg's hurt bad," Chase said, tears in his eyes. After a minute, he asked, "Get me a walking stick to lean on?" Beneath the tree Sammael had been leaning on, a largish branch lay on the ground. William snapped off a few twigs and tested it. It was plenty strong enough to bear Chase's weight. The slight boy rose, leaning heavily on his cane, and led the way out of the garden and opened two gates, one to Sebastian's and one to William's workspace. As Chase hugged Sebastian, he whispered, "Come see us soon.... You and James...." Sebastian nodded and led his little contingent through the gate, which Chase closed behind him. When they were alone with Matt, Xavier and Aiden, Chase hugged William and asked, "The baby?" "Gabriel.... I sent him to your mother. You're going to have some explaining to do! You knew this would happen?" William whispered, as their uncles and friend looked on utterly confused. "It was the only way," Chase said. "The only way to save him.... He never had a chance. He's not all that different from Pete, only his wounds have had an eternity to fester...." "So he won't remember who, or what, he was?" William asked. "Never.... And it's our job to protect him," Chase whispered. "So ... he's ours?" William asked. "Ours.... To be a real human, he needed a human form, a natural human body. Our blood, our genes, mixed.... Yes, he's our son," Chase said. "I never thought we'd have to worry about that," William commented wryly. "I'm sorry," Chase replied. "I know it's a lot.... You don't have to...." "Shut up!" William exclaimed with a laugh. "I can't let you be an unwed teenage mother, can I? It's just ... not what I expected." "What's he like?" Chase asked with a smile. "Perfect," William replied softly, kissing the side of his head. As the boys made their way up to the house, followed by Xavier and Aiden, Chase hobbling but in less pain, the back door opened and Sarah and Steve rushed out to meet them. "Thank God," the woman cried, as she ran down to her son. Seeing him flinch as she hugged him, she asked, "What happened?" "Nothing," Chase said, putting off the narration until later. "My leg's hurt. How are things here?" "There's been a strange light in the sky for hours now.... Things are ... different. Can't you feel it?" she asked. "Of course he can," William smiled, wrapping an arm around Chase's shoulder. "Where's the baby?" "Where's the baby, he asks," she said crossly. "That angel shows up here with my 'grandson', telling me you'll explain! And you boys are a little young to be parents!" "Well, you're a little old to be parents," Chase giggled at his mother. "Now, where's my baby?" "Gideon, or Gabriel or whoever, is with him inside.... Steve went to get formula and diapers and some basics earlier, but we're not ready for a baby! Come on," she said, and William followed her, helping Chase all the way. "Chase," Gideon said, a soft smile carrying in his voice. "Come sit!" Chase hobbled over as best he could and William saw Gideon eyeing his walking stick carefully. "Your leg...." "It'll be fine," Chase said. "I'm sure I just hurt it when I fell...." Gideon paused and said, "No...." "No?" Chase asked. "Your injury is ... metaphysical.... You don't walk away from a close encounter with the Divine unscathed, child.... When Jacob wrestled with the Presence alone, he was left with just such a debilitating hip injury. You should count yourself lucky...." "So there's nothing?" "It will never get any better," Gideon confirmed. Chase's throat became dry as tears rushed to his eyes again. But he choked them down and reached for the baby, which Gideon placed in his arms. Slowly, gently, he ran his fingers over the little figure. Chase smiled. "He's beautiful," he whispered before the tears did overcome him and he clutched the little form to his chest. "How can I take care of a baby, Gideon? I'm blind! I can barely keep myself straight!" "I'm sorry," Gideon answered as the boy's lover and mother looked on helplessly. "I...." "You promised," the boy said, breaking. "You said I'd see William's face.... Now I'll never even see my son! I know, I know I traded in my own hope to save the world, but it all seems a little hard now that it's over...." "Chase," William said, kneeling beside Chase. "Would you love me any better if you could see me?" "No," Chase sobbed. "I couldn't...." "Do you trust me to help you?" William asked again. "Yes," Chase answered, rubbing his face. "Then we'll be fine...." William said, sounding surer of himself than he was. Gideon looked away, ashamed at himself before the two boys, one of whom held the human form of the only being he'd ever truly loved as an equal. Gideon took his leave then, and Matt hurried home to face the music with his parents. The family gathered around the television to watch the events unfolding, which had been initiated by the boys' actions. Slowly, they told their story from beginning to end, filling in Sarah and Steve, as well as Xavier and Aiden, on the origin and identity of the baby Chase was cuddling. "And he won't ever remember?" Sarah asked. "He's really human, just like the rest of us?" "He won't, mom," Chase said with a smile, "but given his heritage, he might be a little more than your average human...." When the baby got fussy, Sarah hurried to mix some formula. She returned with a warm bottle and handed it to her son, who fed the baby like a natural. "We can't just keep calling him 'the baby' Xavier noted, and we sure as hell can't call him Sammael, so...." Chase said, "I had a thought for a name, but we haven't had a chance to discuss it...." William smiled, "What were you thinking, baby?" "Alexander Abernathy Jennings," Chase said, and he felt William's arms around his shoulder squeezing. "That's wonderful," William said, beaming. "Agreed," Xavier smiled. "Your father would be proud, William!" When evening came, Xavier and Aiden retired to their own house, and Sarah and Steve made the boys a light dinner. Steve sat quietly and let Sarah do most of the talking. Then he suggested, "In the morning, why don't you and I go and pick up a crib and a few things for Alex, William?" "Sure! That will be great," William nodded. "What are we going to do with him tonight though?" Steve thought for a moment and then called a neighbor across the street whose children had a baby that sometimes visited, and asked to borrow the travel crib they used for such occasions. Not surprisingly, the neighbors, who had always been friendly, were in an exceptionally generous mood. Mrs. Busch arrived at the front door toting the crib momentarily. "I could have come to get it," Steve protested. "But then I wouldn't have gotten to see the baby! Where is he?" "In here, Mrs. Busch," Chase called. "What a beautiful boy," she exclaimed, but then looked puzzled. "He looks just like you did when you were a baby!" She looked around smiling, confused. "The baby is mine," Chase said, smiling apologetically at his parents. The neighbors would love that! "Oh, dear," the woman said. "Well, that's ... congratulations?" Sarah smiled and nodded to let the woman know it was an appropriate occasion. "I thought you and he," she began, looking at William. "We are," William answered. "Well," she said, looking thoroughly confused but smiling, "you have a beautiful baby! Let us know if there's anything else we can do!" Then she hurried off. "This is going to be confusing," William laughed. "We need some sort of story...." "That can wait," Steve answered, carrying the travel crib up to the boys' room and setting it up. William took the baby and helped Chase up the stairs to their room and lay the sleeping bundle in the crib. Then both boys stripped to their shorts and crawled into bed and fell instantly into a deep sleep. When Alex woke at 2 a.m., William hurried down to get a bottle warmed up and returned to feed the baby, which felt incredibly smooth against his bare chest. "You are cute," he whispered, "baby Alex.... Will you ever forgive us for being so weird?" he asked with a soft laugh. After he burped the baby, he held the little guy until he fell asleep before setting him softly into the crib and returning to his own deep sleep. The next day, William and Steve drove to the Wal-Mart to buy an inexpensive crib to go in Chase's bedroom at the foot of the bed, as well as a diaper disposal container and more diapers, bottles, and formula. Then they picked up a few changes of clothes to tide Alex over until Sarah could go on a shopping spree. Steve also picked up a new digital camera. Seeing William laughing at him, Steve asked, "What? Isn't this what grandpa's are supposed to do? Not that I was expecting Chase to get knocked up so soon," the man added with a twinkle in his eye. William laughed and they shopped on. "We need more room," William said after a long pause. "Well, I suppose I can clean out my office for the time being," Steve began, but the look on William's face he paused. "That's not what you meant, I guess...." "Not exactly.... And in a few months you're going to need a lot more room. Room for three growing babies, for grandchildren to visit.... And, well, we need more space too...." "You're too young," Steve began, and William laughed. "I hid alone in the mountains after my parents were killed, I outdid much more powerful magickians to prove my love for your son, and together we turned the tide against the devil.... I think we've earned some credit!" Steve nodded for him to go on. "I don't mean we'd want our own place. Not exactly...." "Spit it out, son!" Steve exclaimed, laughing. "What if we bought some land just outside of town and built a place.... Two places, maybe, right together? Close but a little privacy? We could share a pool or a lake or whatever, have a compound like the Kennedys," he added with a laugh. "There is one problem," Steve said. "Chase would never want to move away from Matt...." "Matt's old enough to drive.... Maybe he'll get a car?" William suggested. Steve shook his head and rolled his eyes. "We'll talk about it," Steve said with an exasperated smile. William smiled, too, knowing what that meant. Chase was upstairs with the baby when the doorbell rang. Shortly, Sam Roth appeared in his doorway, smiling. "Is that who I think it is?" the old man asked. "You can't tell anyone," Chase said, confirming his suspicion. "My lips are sealed. May I?" he asked, and Chase held the baby out for him. Sam rubbed the baby's belly. "Let's see.... He'll need to be circumcised in six more days.... I'll ask a friend of mine if you're willing." "Sure," Chase said. "How are things going back at Sebastian's?" "Sekhmet, Resheph, and Aethon have disappeared.... The Council has been tracking down some of our remaining enemies. And then we're helping the humans ... clear the slates, you might say," Sam said grimly. "Assassinations?" Chase asked. "And coups and revolutions," Sam said. "Everyone sees now that some things have to change.... And change isn't always pretty...." Chase nodded thoughtfully and said, "I know.... They say he looks like me," he added, sadly. "He does," Sam said. "I'm sorry ... for what you had to give up...." "And I'm crippled now," Chase said, patting his hip. "Guess I just don't get any breaks, huh?" "Chase," the man began, but he could think of nothing to say. He handed the baby back to the boy and said, "Did you ever think you'd have a baby all your own? A baby with your husband?" "No," Chase smiled. "No, I never did...." "Call me to set up the ceremony?" "Sure, we'll come by and visit in a day or two," Chase said with a smile down at the bundle in his arms. "Tell William I said hello," the old man said as he bade the boy farewell. Later in the afternoon, Matt came over and helped William put the crib and things together and talked to Chase. "It's so weird," Matt exclaimed as he looked over at Chase holding Alex. "So how much trouble were you in?" Chase asked the boy, ignoring him. "Your parents told my parents I refused to leave your bedside, and they bought it, of course.... So none...." When they finished putting the crib together, William took the tools downstairs and left Matt and Chase alone for a while. Chase handed the baby to Matt, who sat next to him on the bed. Matt held him somewhat awkwardly and said, "He smell's weird...." "He smells like a baby," Chase laughed. Then he put an arm across Matt's shoulder. "I don't guess anyone but us and our closest friends will ever know what you did...." Matt looked down at Alex's face and said, "I just followed you...." "You brought me back from a prison I was locked in by one of the most powerful of the angels.... And then you followed me to Hell and back. Literally.... You saved the world. Without you, there would be nothing left here...." Matt shrugged it off. "What else could I do?" he asked with a laugh. Chase leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, before laying his head on the boy's strong shoulder. "I love you, Matt," Chase said. "I love you, too, little bro," Matt whispered. "And you too, little little bro," he added, kissing Alex on the forehead. That night, Chase and William slept soundly until around one in the morning. Chase suddenly awakened in the silent room and sat up; he could sense the shadowy figure standing by the window though he could not see. Chase got up and self-consciously grabbed a long button-up shirt to put on to cover himself. "So modest," the angel said humorlessly when Chase drew near. "Well, I'm blind, thanks to your boss, so it's not like I knew who was here, now was it, Raziel?" "Our boss, Chase," the angel responded harshly. "So, that's him?" The angel moved forward to look into the crib and Chase raised his hand. "Stop! What are you doing here?" "I wanted to see for myself.... What have you done, boy?" "Apparently, what our boss wanted, otherwise he would have toasted this place and started all over. You included. Now, stay away from my baby.... Stay away from me!" "You have much yet to learn, boy," the angel said flatly taking one step forward. "I have nothing more to learn from you, Raziel," Chase answered with anger. "I can restore your sight," Raziel said with an arched eye. When Chase didn't say anything, he continued, "Just go to the bathroom for a moment.... When you return, your sight will be restored...." For a second, Chase stood frozen, and then his face contorted. "You trapped me once, demon, but you'll not do so again! William! The baby! Get the baby out of here" William's eyes shot open and he hurried around to grab the sleeping infant. Chase raised his hand and conjured an angelic shield, the one Raziel himself had taught him, and fought off the angel while William slipped out with the baby to his interdimensional training room. He was torn between going back for Chase and keeping the baby safe, but he knew what Chase would want. He banged on the door that opened to Sebastian's and hoped someone would be downstairs to hear him. Raziel laughed and said, "You think you can stop me? I taught you everything you know!" But when he stepped forward, sparks flew from the shield that repelled him. Chase slowly contorted the shield into a ball, imprisoning Heaven's equivalent to Pursan. The angel screamed and began to strike out against the sphere. Chase knew he couldn't hold him for long, so he began methodically circling the angel, casting magickal circle after magickal circle to keep him in place. "WHEN I GET OUT OF HERE, I'LL FIND THE ABOMINATION AND MAKE YOU WATCH AS I TEAR HIM TO PIECES, YOU FILTHY BEASTLY PRIMATE!" "MOM, DAD, GET OUTSIDE!" Chase yelled down in an unearthly voice. "Raziel, you taught me a great deal but you never understood the source of my power," Chase said as he began to carve sigils into the space around the increasingly violent form. Each symbol seemed to weaken him further. "You are no more than a vessel! A broken form! He needed you weak and blind so you could bear him.... You're nothing!" Raziel exclaimed. Chase's eyes gleamed, not with the supernal light of the divine emanations but with an inner light. "Then why are you in a cage and I've got the key?" Chase asked with a smile. "I've been wondering why God 'did all this to me' and sometimes I might have agreed with you.... But you know what I've realized? He did it not to make me weak to receive Him, but to make me strong enough to bear Him! The source of my power is the converse of Sammael's -- it is the love of my friends, my family, William, and my love for them. And you've made yourself a threat to all of that!" "I'll," the angel began but Chase just laughed at him as he kept working his spell. "You'll what? You'll taunt me until you're gone? You know what I'm doing! You can feel it sapping your strength, symbol by symbol, can't you? Cutting you off from the Source?" Chase asked, menace seeping into his voice. "Don't! Please!" "Tell me why! Tell me why, and I'll consider it," Chase demanded. "Why what?" Raziel asked. "Why have you betrayed God?" Chase asked as James and Sebastian rushed into the room behind it. "Good God," Sebastian exclaimed. "What are you doing, Chase? That's Raziel!" "And he was just about to explain to us why he betrayed everything he holds dear, or I'm going to annihilate him!" "Chase," James began, but the boy rounded on him with a fierce expression. "HE CAME HERE FOR THE BABY!" Chase exclaimed. Sebastian turned to look at the angel and he saw it. He saw that demonic glint in the angel's eyes. "Go ahead, Chase.... Do it. He's guilty as sin!" Chase went back to work on the matrix until he'd nearly finished six layers. Then Raziel cried out, "Alright, alright! I ... I told Him eons ago, Sammael couldn't be allowed to survive. He should have destroyed him then. So I've been watching him since then, watching the danger grow to nearly unimaginable proportions. And then there was you.... The timing was perfect! I knew you could beat him...." "You let Sammael out! You helped him escape!" Chase exclaimed. "Of course! It had to be done. HE wasn't going to do it, and Sammael was bloody insane! If he ever got loose when there was no one to challenge him...." "So you put yourself in God's place?" Chase demanded. "I DID WHAT GOD WAS TOO WEAK TO DO! I was going to destroy evil! And you were my instrument!" Raziel's eyes gleamed as he spoke and Chase knew he was lost. "You've fallen, Raziel!" Gabriel's voice resonated through the room making Chase jump. "All this to destroy Sammael?" "The fallen should never have been suffered all this time! Why couldn't He begin again at the beginning? Why subject the world to their influence?" Raziel looked pointedly at Gabriel and asked, his tone more pathetic, "Why couldn't YOU let him GO?" "I love him," Gabriel said, simple and sad. "WHY HIM?" Raziel asked. "Everything that made him fall so hard made him so great when he was still good. You, Raziel, you were always a prissy, goody-two-shoes, know-it-all.... You're cold as ice! I could never love you!" Gabriel shouted. "Michael! Rafael! Uriel! Metatron!" Soon the little room was filled with archangels. And Chase felt small. The one called Metatron turned and spoke to him in a familiar voice, the feminine Voice of the Presence. "Hello, my friend.... I'm sorry. We should have seen this...." "Damn right," Chase said, trying to stay angry. Metatron laughed a sweet feminine laugh and said, "So much spirit! I need you to undo your spell and release Raziel, and then I need you to take your friends and your family and join your husband and child in his training room.... Do you understand?" "What are you going to do with him?" Chase asked. "Nothing," Metatron said. "He's done it to himself. An angel, a great angel from heaven is about to fall.... And then, he'll be punished. He'll never hurt you or yours again," Metatron assured. Chase nodded, then turned to James and said, "Go next door, get Matt and his family too?" James nodded. The adults would resist, but he would 'persuade' them. Then Chase began to release the angel from his cage. By the time he had reversed his spell, Raziel had his power back and he lunged for Chase as soon as he was free and he nearly had his hands around the boy's neck when Gabriel grabbed him and smashed him to the floor. The four archangels each held down one of his limbs while Metatron took out a knife. "You are the wisest of all angels and yet you know nothing of us," he said softly in the Voice. Sebastian took Chase by the arm and led him away as the angel began to carve patterns into Raziel's back with his knife. All the way down to William's building, he could hear the angel's screams and his maddened yelling. Sarah was cradling the baby, while Matt and William were pacing. Matt stood by as William threw his arms around the boy before taking his own turn. "What's going on?" Matt asked. Everyone gathered near as Chase collected himself. "This whole thing ... happened because a ... false friend did a very bad thing. Raziel ... betrayed us all and let Sammael out of his cell and set this whole thing in motion. He came tonight to kill the baby...." "Good God," Matt said. "Are we safe?" "We are now.... He's being taken care of, but ... I'm sorry, Mom, Dad.... I think there'll be some damage to the house," Chase said sadly. "It's okay," Steve laughed. "We were going to move anyway," he added, casting a glance at William. Sarah just raised her eyes at him and glared. "I didn't know how dangerous it would be, so that's why James came for your family," Chase added. "Don't worry," James laughed, nodded at the dazed couple sitting against the wall. "When I take you guys home, they'll be fine and won't remember any of this." They all jumped as two dark figures appeared a few feet away. "It is finished," Metatron said easily. "Had you not uncovered our traitor.... Well, thank you, Chase.... Again...." "Metatron!" Gabriel said insistently. "We can't do this! We owe him everything!" "We owe him nothing," Metatron said without a hint of anger. "He acts by the grace of our Master.... You have served Him well, little one, but you have received your gift!" As Metatron turned to walk away, Gabriel said, "I WON'T DO THIS!" With that, he knelt before Chase and grasped his shoulders. Chase only then grasped the angel's intention and said, "No, Gideon ... Gabriel ... don't!" But the angel leaned in and kissed first his left eye, then his right, and as Chased collapsed, the angel eased him to the ground. Metatron's eyes flashed with fire as Gabriel began to scream, orbs of white light flying from his body and circling him in a growing vortex. "What have you done?" Metatron asked sadly in his own voice before the sweet feminine Presence spoke through him, raising his hand and smiling. Gabriel suffered great pain, but the Presence forced those orbs back inside him. "You have disobeyed," the Presence said with a smile that was hypnotic to all present. Gabriel bowed to the ground and asked, "Why have I not fallen?" "Disobedience was never the sin of the fallen, Gabriel.... Pride was their sin. Your sin was nothing but love, just as this vampire," she said, pointing to James, "was born in blood by love alone.... There has been enough of destruction for my tastes," she added, "and too many angels lost to give you up.... In any case, didn't you think it was all a little unfair of us?" "Well ... to be honest...." Gabriel cut himself off. Then he added, "The boy was being tested...." "Indeed," the Presence smiled. "And so was his guardian...." Gabriel's eyes widened. "That's right! You've sat on the edge for too long, Gabriel.... You didn't hate humanity, but you didn't love them either. So I gave you to Chase and William.... I tested the limits of your love for them.... And just as Chase should have been willing to stand for William even against Us, so should you have been willing to stand up for Chase.... Your love for him has redeemed you, my friend...." In the form of Metatron, the Presence reached out to him and said, "Rise! If you wish, you may return with me to the Highest Heaven and sit at our left hand, as you once did...." Gabriel looked at William, and at Chase lying at his feet, and Alex in Sarah's arms and said, "If I might ... stay until my duty is fulfilled, Master?" Metatron smiled and in a flash he was gone. Then Gabriel said, "Let the little one sleep...." And then he too was gone. If William didn't know better, he would have sworn Gabriel had tears in his eyes. James helped Matt and his family back to their house, which had suffered minor damage to upstairs windows. Sebastian and Steve determined that the structural integrity of Steve's house had been disrupted, so Sebastian invited them all to stay at his place until morning. But Steve and Sarah agreed they should stay in town, so they called Xavier and Aiden up and took the boys and the baby to his place. Chase never woke that night, and William undressed him and crawled into be next to him. The next morning, Steve and Sarah went to meet the investigators at their house. No one seemed hopeful that they would determine the cause of the damage, but the best guess seemed to be a gas main burst. Right! William woke around seven to the sound of Alex's cries, but by the time he got to the baby he found Xavier popping a bottled into Alex's waiting mouth. "You got it all under control?" William asked. Xavier smile and nodded, before looking back down at Alex and talking to him about who knows what. William shook his head and went to shower, pulling on some old clothes his dad had packed into a backpack for him the previous night. Then he went and sat on the bed next to Chase and waited. And waited. And waited. Time slowed to a crawl, and it wasn't until 10 a.m. that Chase began to stir. "Chase," William whispered. "Are you okay?" The boy rubbed his eyes and groaned. Then he cried out and shut his eyes tight. "Ugh! Can you pull the curtains tight? It hurts my," he began to exclaim, but stopped. After a moment, he said softly, his voice catching in his throat, "It ... hurts ... my eyes...." William hurried to the window and drew the curtains tight. Slowly, tentatively, he opened his eyes, and felt pain as his eyes. Gradually he came to be able to discern lighter and darker spaces. He could see William's outline as the boy walked toward him, and as William sat down next to him Chase reached out and touched his face. There was none of the tentativeness in his touch this time. He could see where empty space ended and William began. "Is it real?" Chase asked weakly. "Yes," William said, his smile clear in his voice. "Gabriel did it...." Chase began to remember what happened and William hurried to fill him in on what had happened after he had passed out. As William spoke, Chase's eyes continued to adjust until the world appeared to him as through frosted glass. Chase peered in close at William, frustrated at the fuzzy image he was getting, but growing more excited with every moment. Chase stood and William hurried to his side and helped him into his clothes. Together they walked downstairs and found Aiden and Xavier still fussing over the baby, or perhaps fussing over the baby again. "Good morning, sleepyhead," Aiden said, and both men caught the smooth way Chase looked back and forth between them. He still couldn't really see them, but he knew where they were and he could discern major features. "My God," Aiden said, coming round the counter and putting his hands on Chase's shoulders. He put a finger in front of the boy's face and watched his eyes follow it back and forth. "My God, it's true! You can see?" "A little," Chase said, his voice airy behind his smile. "It's really fuzzy, but I can pick out shapes...." Aiden hugged him and kissed his head as Xavier hurried over with the baby and threw yet another arm around him. Chase took the baby and held him up and whispered, "I can almost see you!" By the evening, Chase's vision had cleared to the point that he could see everything as if through a fog. His parents, William, and Xavier and Aiden sat around watching him like a television, waiting for something else to happen, but his sight was clearly returning at a slow, if steady, pace. The next morning, Chase woke to find William propped up on his elbow staring down at him. "How is it this morning?" "Blurry," Chase replied with a widening smile. "But better...." William leaned in to kiss him and Chase whispered, "You're cute even if you are blurry...." William laughed and tickled him, but before anything else could happen, Alex could be heard crying for a bottle. Chase smiled and grabbed his robe, then ran downstairs to grab a bottle. He laughed when he realized he was keeping his eyes closed, but he knew he could do it faster without looking at this point. The visual stimulus was as confusing as it was helpful for useful tasks. Back upstairs, he did open his eyes to watch the baby eat as best he could, smiling at being able to see as if his heart were about to burst. William smiled and said, "You need to call Matt to come over, and later, we need to go see Sam...." Chase nodded and finished with the baby, burped him, and handed him to William, who laid him on the bed and tickled his belly while Chase picked up the phone. "Matt? Hey, could you come over here for a second?" "Sure, be right there," he heard. "Amy's here.... Do you mind?" "No," Chase smiled, "we're in our pj's but if she doesn't mind, come on over.... She knows about the baby?" "Yeah, but I wasn't sure how to explain," Matt laughed. "I'll leave that up to you...." Moments later, the door downstairs opened without announcement and two sets of footsteps hurried upstairs. "Hey," Amy smiled and went to sit next to William. "HE'S SO CUTE!" William smiled and let her play with Alex. "So what did Matt tell you?" "Just that you guys have a baby now? Who's is it?" she asked, not looking up at him. "Chase's and mine," William said. "Who's the mom, silly," she said. "He's doesn't have one," Chase said. "We're his biological parents...." He watched her for any sign that she thought he was crazy, but she just nodded and kept playing with the baby. Turning to Matt, he laughed and yelled, "YOU TOLD HER!" Matt blushed and said, "She figured it out about you two a long time ago! What was I supposed to do, lie?" "YES!" Chase laughed. "But it's okay I guess...." "So, what was so urgent?" Matt asked. "What the angel did to me.... It started to work. I can kinda see," Chase said. Matt hugged him tight and said, "That's wonderful! What's it like?" Chase explained how his vision was progressing as Matt and Amy listened in awe. When he finished, Matt said, "Wow!" "I know! It's kind of strange," Chase said. "Hard to get used to.... But ... it's amazing to see things I've only imagined!" Matt and Amy stayed and played with the baby for a while until it was time for a diaper change, then they made a quick, laughing exit. In the afternoon, the Xavier took the boys to visit Sam and make arrangements for Alex's bris. While William excused himself to the bathroom, Sam said quietly, "I think, given events of recent weeks, there will be no need for you to convert.... After all, you are the HIGH PRIEST...." Chase blushed and nodded. When William returned, they made all their arrangements and Sam had an announcement sent out to the community letting everyone know when the event would take place. "And you and your husband go buy yourselves a tallit for the service!" On Sunday, the boys arrived at the synagogue with the baby before morning prayers in suits. Sarah and Steve, as well as Xavier and Aiden came along. Matt and Amy, Charles and Maria, and a bunch of their friends came too. Edward and Carl came in just before the ceremony and sat in the back, waving a little. Chase held the baby during the service, and while the assisting rabbi prepared the cut, William made it. Alex cried for a minute, and then it was all over. After it was all over, there was a reception. Sarah held Alex and "introduced" him to all the guests, while Chase and William mingled with their friends. Seth Stein brought Nathaniel with him, and the two of them held hands as they talked to Chase and William. When they had a moment alone, Chase and William cornered Edward and Carl. "Where have you guys been?" Edward blushed, and Carl smiled and said, "I took him out to my family's cabin when things got hairy, and we holed up out there to defend ourselves...." "So you could defend me, you mean," Edward said leaning into the boy. "Let me guess," William grinned. "Mostly you just had to find things to do to stay ... busy?" Both boys blushed and nodded. William and Chase invited them to come by Xavier's that evening so they could catch up in private.