16 Revealed

Xavier was holding Alex when the doorbell rang. He opened the door to find Sebastian and James with two handsome young men behind them.

Sebastian looked at the man’s handsome, smooth torso and smiled. “I’m sorry, I know it’s early Xavier….”

Flustered, he blushed and said, “Please come in…. I don’t normally have guests before 9am,” he added, to explain why he was wearing only pajama bottoms to his guests. He quickly handed Alex to James and said, “You’ll excuse me for a moment and I’ll change!”

“Why spoil the view?” Sebastian asked with a smirk and made Josh sort of giggle. Xavier was really extraordinary—fit, like a fully matured William, but with flawless pale skin and piercing aqua eyes.

Xavier frowned and retreated to his bedroom, returning wearing a robe over his pajama bottoms. Looking over his guests, his eyes lighted on Josh and he smiled. “YOU must be James’s brother,” he said with a smile. “Pardon your host’s manners, but I am Xavier Montrose. My partner Aiden is in the capital today, and the boys stayed over at Matt’s last night, so I’m alone with my grand-nephew, Alex.”

“Hey, I’m Josh, and this is my partner Billy Thompkins!”

“Wait a second,” Billy said, his eyes cutting to the baby in James’s arms. “You only have the one nephew, right?”

“William, yes!” Xavier said.

“But if this is your grand-nephew, that means this is William’s son?” Billy asked. “But I thought William was gay and with another boy.”

“He is with Chase, that’s right,” Xavier said.

“Well, how do teenage gay boys end up with a child,” Billy asked with a laugh, surprised the question wasn’t obvious.

Xavier looked at Sebastian and James, who shook his head slightly. “That’s a long story, guys, and not really mine to tell.”

“Fair enough,” Billy smiled. Changing topics, he said, “Sebastian has convinced us to relocate here, after the threat.”

Xavier nodded. “I think that’s a good idea. If you need help finding a place, I’d be happy to help. Aiden and I only recently moved here to be closer to William and Chase….”

“That would be great,” Billy said, and the two of them were off chatting soon.

Sebastian smiled at Josh and said, “You guys will love Aiden too! He’s great!”

Just then, the front door opened and Chase and William entered, holding hands and laughing. Chase dropped his hand and ran over to Sebastian, giving the ancient vampire his accustomed warm embrace. “SEBASTIAN!”

“How is it you’re never less happy to see us?” Sebastian asked as he kissed the boy on the cheek.

“I LOVE you guys!” Chase said, turning to give James a hug as well.

“What about me?” Josh asked, jokingly and was surprised when the boy turned and gave him a big hug as well.

“Wait a second,” Chase said as he looked up at Josh, “who are you?”

“I’m Josh,” he laughed. “The pleasure is all mine!”

“I’m sure,” Chase grinned stepping back. “You MUST be James’s big brother!”

“Yep,” the man grinned. William stepped forward and introduced himself, and Josh introduced Billy.

“I’m glad you fellows made it,” Sebastian said. “My plan for relocating these guys depends on you! Chase, when do your parents get home?”

“Day after tomorrow,” the boy replied. “Why?”

“I want to convince your dad to hire these guys so we can get them closer, where we can protect them,” Sebastian said.

“Are you good?” Chase asked, looking over at Billy and Josh.

Josh nodded and Billy shrugged. “Don’t be modest,” Josh scolded. “Billy is an excellent lawyer!”

Chase motioned for Sebastian to follow him upstairs and into his bedroom. He picked up a phone and sent a quick text message: ‘Dad, Sebastian needs to talk to you.’ He looked up at Sebastian and said, “Dad and I worked this out so I could get in touch if I needed. It was a way to keep mom from phoning in 5 times a day.”

A few minutes passed, and the phone rang. “Is everything alright, Chase?” Steve asked immediately.

“I’m fine dad, but Sebastian needs your help,” Chase said.

“I don’t see how I could, but put him on,” Steve said, mystified.

Handing the phone to Sebastian, he said, “I’ll give you some time!”

“Please, stay,” Sebastian said. “Hello Steve!”

“Sebastian, what can I do for you?” Steve asked.

“Well, I have a need, and a prospect for you.” Sebastian quickly explained the situation and his plan, as well as his guarantee to send enough business their way to more than cover both men’s hefty salaries. “So what do you think?”

“I’ll need to meet them, but it sounds fine. Why don’t you take them down to our new offices to meet Dave. Place is a wreck, but they can see where they’ll be working, if everything works out.”

“It will, Steve,” Sebastian said with a smile. “They’re both extraordinary young men who were cut off by their parents in high school. They stayed together, helped each other through school, and everything.”

“Sebastian, no touching my soft spots,” Steve chuckled. “I’ll see them on Friday afternoon!”

“Enjoy your last full day of vacation, then,” Sebastian smiled and handed the phone to Chase.

“Please, dad! They are nice guys, and James’s brother and Billy are sooo cute together!” Chase said, drawing a new smile to Sebastian’s lips.

“See you Friday morning, son. Love you,” Steve said, hanging up the phone.

“Well, I think he’s done for,” Chase said.

“I’d say so! He wanted me to take the guys to meet Dave. Want to come along?” Sebastian asked.

“Sure,” Chase said. “We can follow you over. I want to see how things are going at Xavier’s gallery. He has his grand opening a week from Friday,” Chase said.

“We’ve already gotten our invitations,” Sebastian said, following him back downstairs to expectant faces.

“You guys can come back over here Friday afternoon and meet my dad,” Chase said, “but it’s pretty much a done deal. We’re all going to go over to the office so you can meet Dave!”

“So, who is this Dave?” Josh asked, and Chase told them how William basically hired the guy off the street.

Josh’s eyes flashed with recognition. “So William is the big account?” Chase nodded. “You guys are something else,” he added with a laugh.

“Xavier, would you like to come along? Chase and I would be interested in a tour of your gallery,” Sebastian prodded.

“Sure, if you can wait for me to change,” he said.

“We’re in no hurry at all,” Sebastian said.

When Xavier returned, he rode with William, Chase, and Alex, and Sebastian’s car followed. When they arrived, he said, “This is my building. My gallery is the ground floor, and the upper levels are office space. Steve has one floor.”

“Well, he has plenty of space if it’s just the two of them,” Josh said.

“Yeah, but it’s still under construction, so beware,” Xavier announced as he led them upstairs.

William knocked on the door and a surprised Dave opened the door. “Hey, guys! How’s it going?”

“Great,” William answered. “You busy?”

“Just working on one of my last papers!” he answered. “What can I do for you guys?”

“Well,” Chase said, “we wanted to introduce you to some friends, and some new associates! You remember Sebastian and James?” he asked.

“Sure! I think we met at Xavier’s one evening?” Dave said, shaking their hands.

“Well, these two fellows are Josh and Billy,” Chase answered, nodding. “Josh is James’s big brother, and Sebastian wants my dad to hire them.”

Dave shook hands with both men and said, “Dave Swanson, nice to meet you!”

“Josh is an accountant and Billy is a lawyer,” Chase said, before turning to the guys and saying, “and Dave is about to graduate college and start law school, and he’s getting married this summer.” Dave smiled and pointed to a picture on the desk.

Josh laughed and said, “Congratulations! I was starting to feel like I had fallen into a gay alternate universe!”

Dave laughed and said, “You’ve met their friends, then?” Josh shook his head and Dave laughed. “OH!”

“Dave, I’m going to show the guys around downstairs, but why don’t you plan on talking to them afterwards? Maybe run them through some of what you and Steve have been working on, so they’ll be prepared,” Xavier suggested.

“Sure thing,” he smiled. “Just let me know when you’re ready.”

Xavier gave them a tour of the rapidly filling gallery. Dorian’s art was placed among the more established artists’ pieces, but they drew everyone’s eyes. “Extraordinary,” Sebastian said as he stood before one piece in particular. “What’s it called?”

“Inferno,” Chase said. Seeing the surprised looks, Chase said, “It’s the one he brought over to Xavier’s house! What?”

William, rolling his eyes, explained for their guests’ sake, “Dorian is a hottie!”

“He’s cute, but don’t exaggerate,” Chase said, blushing.

“No, really,” Xavier said, “he’s one of the finest men I’ve ever seen! Ever!”

“So are we invited to the show?” Josh asked with a laugh, earning a love tap from Billy.

“Of course! It’s a week from Friday, so get your tuxes dry-cleaned,” Xavier said with a wink. “Or make Sebastian buy you a matching set!”

“We’ll add that to our to-do list, Xavier,” Sebastian smiled and shook his head.

“You don’t have to,” Josh began, but Sebastian put up his hand with a sense of finality.

“You’ll meet some extraordinary people; it’ll help you make new connections. Besides, your brother and I will be here!” Sebastian said, and the two men nodded.

William went upstairs with the men to talk with Dave—it was his money they were playing with, after all—while the rest stayed downstairs to talk.

“When or how are you going to break it to them?” Xavier asked. “I mean we can protect them, but they’re going to find out eventually if anything happens. Or when you and James never get any older,” Xavier counseled quietly.

“The longer this goes on without them knowing, the more they’re going to feel betrayed,” Chase added.

James and Sebastian thought silently for a moment, before James said, “You’re right of course, but we’ve just turned their lives completely upside down. That would be a little much, don’t you think?”

“The sooner the better,” Chase said. They discussed how to break the news to the men for the better part of an hour, but their discussion was interrupted by the return of the men.

“Did we interrupt something?” William joked, seeing the looks on their faces.

Chase shrugged and said, “Josh, Billy, do you consider yourselves the open-minded kind of guys?”

“Sure,” Josh answered, hesitantly, feeling like there must be a punchline.

“Like about religion and the supernatural and stuff?” Chase continued.

“Yeah,” Billy replied.

“Why, are you like Mormon or something?” Josh added with an uncomfortable laugh.

“Not exactly. I’m Jewish, but that isn’t the point,” Chase said. He went up to the men and took their hands. It being Chase, they let him.

“There is something you need to know about us,” he said. “None of us are normal.”

“Duh!” Josh laughed.

Chase shook his head. “This is serious. What I’m about to tell you puts us all in danger….” Josh nodded. “Do you believe in magick?”

Josh’s smile returned. “I mean, there’s some weird stuff in the world, but you aren’t…. You are serious?” Chase nodded. Releasing their hands, he extended his palm toward a pen on the counter and it flew into his grasp. “Neat trick, but….” Josh fell silent as Chase turned his palm up and the pen levitated in front of Josh. Then its cap was removed, and the pen wrote in the air, “No tricks,” in light blue flame that hung in the air like skywriting.

William stepped up next to Chase and put his arm around the boy. “We are normal guys in a lot of ways…. Well not a lot,” he smiled. “We’re gay, out, in a relationship, and we’re magickal beings.”

Josh was silent and stunned, but Billy’s eyes softened. “You said none of you are normal,” he said softly.

“I am a trained battle wizard,” Xavier declared. “I serve under Sebastian, whose title is….”

“Consul,” Billy interrupted. Sebastian smiled and nodded. “It’s what the man at the club called him,” Billy explained. “So what does that mean?”

“It means that every supernatural entity in North America east of the Mississippi answers to him,” Chase said. “Unless they’re bad, of course.”

“Of course,” Billy nodded.

“That just leaves you,” Josh said softly, looking at his brother.

“I’ve learned a lot of magick,” James said, looking away, “but I’m different in another way.” James’s eyes misted over. “Dad shot me, and I was on my death bed. There was no way to save me, you have to understand! Sebastian is a vampire….”

“You are a vampire,” Josh said, his eyes still watching his brother like a hawk. Then he stormed toward the door.

“JOSH!” Billy called, but his partner did not turn back, but burst onto the street.

James followed him and yelled, “So you are just going to abandon me again?”

“What am I supposed to do?” Josh turned and yelled. “You just told me you are a monster, that your boyfriend is a monster and your friends are FREAKS!”

Pulling his punch mightily, James hit his brother, knocking him to the ground. “I AM NOT A MONSTER!” he yelled, and then started crying. “Sebastian is not a monster, and my friends are the best people in the world!” James turned to walk away, before spinning and saying, “You know, he kicked you out because he thought you were a freak too! Now you are about to turn your back on your brother, the little brother who adored you, because you think he’s a freak! I guess you really are HIS son!” Josh sat stunned on the sidewalk and watched as his brother walked away.

Josh finally stood up and started to keep walking, but at last, quietly, he walked back toward the store and peaked in the window. James sat on a stool, tears in his eyes, while Sebastian knelt whispering to him, and all his friends were crowded around trying to comfort him. Even Billy had a hand on his shoulder, a hand James was holding on to for dear life. Now Josh really wanted to run away, but he swallowed that and stepped to the door, and entered with a cough.

“So,” he began shakily, “you kill people?”

James’s tears increased and Sebastian’s eyes darkened visibly. “He doesn’t, but I have,” Sebastian growled.

Chase put his hand on the vampire’s shoulder and said, “He’s afraid, Sebastian. Remember what we are!”

“I helped build a government that protects humans from our kind. Now we get our blood from humans whom we let live, and whom we heal afterwards. Some feed on social deviants to punish them, others have human lovers, or harems of lovers, while others just pay people to let them drink. Then there are the humans who are addicted to the rush,” Sebastian explained, trying to remain calm.

“How would you pick out a bad guy to eat?” Josh asked, uncertain.

“Many of us can peer into minds. Not so much reading thoughts as seeing images, feeling feelings. You know a bad guy from a mile away, which is the main reason I haven’t gotten a little testier with you,” Sebastian explained, adding a little grumpiness at the end.

“I … I did kill one person,” James said, his tears increasing, and he felt his brother’s eyes on him. “I had just turned and Sebastian brought this guy home. He’d picked out somebody who deserved the ‘punishment’ but he didn’t know. He didn’t know! I couldn’t just let the guy leave!”

Before anyone realized what was happening, Josh had pushed through the crowd and taken his brother in his arms, pulling his head to his chest. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered. “So sorry!”

Sebastian motioned for everyone to give them some space, his face softening instantly. Billy came up to him and pulled him aside, and whispered, “Josh isn’t a bad guy, Sebastian! This is a lot—I mean it’s a lot for me. But—and we’re all messed up, Josh and me, and James too I think—Josh is, he still has a hard time. Still has nightmares. Still needs medicine to sleep.” Sebastian nodded, and Billy bit his lip before asking, “The man James killed was a child molester?”

“He was raping his son almost nightly,” Sebastian whispered, causing Billy to shiver.

“What happened, have you talked about it?” Billy asked.

“Not yet,” Sebastian said.

“Give it time,” Billy said. “Josh and I talked about it a long time ago, but only after we’d been living together scraping along for a year or two. And we had a lot of background before that….”

“How could he leave James there to keep suffering? He should have said something!” Sebastian said, trying not to be judgmental but failing.

“It was worse for Josh,” Billy said, closing his eyes. “It isn’t mine to tell, but it was worse for Josh. You can tell I’m telling the truth,” he added.

“I can tell you believe what you’re saying,” Sebastian nodded. “And thank you for being so understanding.”

After a while, things calmed down and Sebastian suggested, “James, why don’t you take your brother and Billy around town, grab a few housing advertisements and get fitted for those tuxes, then meet back at Xavier’s to go over the housing situation?”

“What about you?” James asked.

“I should go home for a while and make sure everything is alright, check on Spencer, and the like,” he said crisply, opening a portal and disappearing into thin air.

“Wow,” Billy said simply.

“He hates me now,” Josh said, pouting.

James grabbed him for a hug and said, “He doesn’t hate you, but he IS very protective of me.”

“Good,” Josh said softly. “I’m sorry for screwing everything up,” he added.

“Stop being so sorry and let’s start making up for lost time,” James said with a smile. “See you guys later?” James said to his friends.

“We’ll hold dinner for you,” Xavier said with a smile.

After they were gone, William said, “Sebastian was pissed, huh?”

“OH YEAH!” Xavier said. “That one will take a while!”