03 Wrong Place

Sam arrived at the cabin around 1:30 and knocked. He wasn’t surprised that no one was awake, since they’d all had a trying night. He put on a kettle for tea, and the hissing of the kettle roused Marcus, who quickly dressed and joined him.

“Care for a cup, my boy,” the man asked.

“Sure, thanks,” Marcus said. “Should I wake the others?”

“Let’s have a chat and drink our tea first.” The man poured hot water into two cups, dropping a tea bag into each. “Now, you seem oddly refreshed for a man who’s only had a couple of hours sleep,” Sam noticed.

“Rabbi,” Marcus said, shifting uncomfortably.

“Oh, pooh,” the older man said. “I’m your superior officer, and a man to boot. I take it your young companion has worn you down?”

“Does everyone know about that?” Marcus laughed, reddening.

“Just about,” Sam laughed. “High time if you ask me. Man wasn’t meant to be alone, and young men especially!”

“What about you, sir?” Marcus asked.

“I’m not a young man,” Roth parried his question.

“But you were once,” Marcus insisted.

Roth spread his hands and said, “Things weren’t always as they are now! And in my line of work, it wasn’t feasible to … well, you see, I couldn’t be both what I was called to be, and with whom I wanted to be.”

Marcus nodded but said nothing, and the old man continued, “When I was training with the battle wizards, I had a few little flings, you know, just passing things. But I was young, too young then…. You know I was orphaned and sent to the Academy at 12.”

“I thought fourteen was as young as you could start,” Marcus asked.

“My circumstances were peculiar,” Sam said with a nod. “So I was younger than the other boys, and so it never got serious. Then when I went off to study Kabbalah with the mystics and got diverted to the rabbinate, I was made to understand that partnered gay rabbis were not a reality that could be accepted. I’m glad things have changed some.”

“When you were in the field, on missions, undercover, did you ever, you know?” Marcus asked, blushing a little to be talking about this with the older man.

“Man has needs,” Roth smiled. “But it was too hard to fill them, knowing I couldn’t have what I wanted most—someone who would be there every morning. Sleeping in a man’s arms after making love, knowing that, when the mission ended, my lot was an empty bed. That or finding a wife I could tolerate, but that wouldn’t be fair to her….”

“I’m sorry to bring it up,” Marcus said.

“Quite alright, my boy,” the rabbi smiled. “But hold on to that young man,” the Sam added with a wink.

“I will, and I think he plans on holding on pretty tight himself,” Marcus laughed.

“You got that right,” Chris said, entering the room rubbing his eyes, wearing thin shorts and a t-shirt. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to listen in….”

“No secrets here,” Sam said, motioning the boy over. “Would you like some tea?”

Chris nodded and sat down and the man poured him a cup of water as well. “So where is this cat of yours?” Sam asked about the time the big animal tromped into the room and tried for Chris’s lap, which wasn’t big enough to support him comfortably. So he settled for the empty seat by the boy. “My, my! That is a healthy beast,” Sam laughed.

“Smart, too,” Chris smiled, petting the animal. “He led us back to the place in the woods on a verbal command!”

If they didn’t know better, they would have said the animal looked amused at the attention before it wandered off to stretch out more comfortably on the couch.

“So what did Carl find?” Sam asked.

Chris and Marcus looked at one another and Marcus said, “I’d rather you see it first.”

“Just don’t point a wand at it,” Chris snickered, earning a look from Marcus.

“Yes, it seems more than willing to defend itself against magick, even just a probing spell,” Marcus reported.

“It must have knocked this big lug about twenty feet onto his back,” Chris added.

Sam raised his eyebrows and said, “Perhaps it IS time to wake those boys….”

Marcus nodded and knocked on their door. Getting no answer, he called, “GUYS! Time to get up. We need to go check out the site and get you guys home!”

“Do we have to?” Edward called in his soft sweet voice.

“YES!” Marcus answered with a laugh. The boys got up and hurriedly dressed and joined the others. As they walked out onto the porch, Carl tapped Marcus on the shoulder and said with a wink, “Good show, old man!”

Marcus blushed and Carl ran ahead to grab Edward’s arm, smirking over his shoulder. The cat did join them and led them directly back to the clearing that he refused to enter.

“What’s wrong, kitty?” Chris asked and the cat, never taking its eyes off the stone, hissed angrily. “OKAY!” Chris said, holding up his hands.

Sam had watched that interchange carefully and was in full defensive mode as he entered the clearing alone, motioning for the others to stay back. He raised his hand and projected some of his own energy toward the stone, which did not respond angrily to his more mystical magick.

“It’s an altar,” he called to the others, confirming their suspicions, “and you’re quite right. It does not belong here!”

“What is it?” Marcus called out.

“It’s old, and it’s powerful. More than that will require a great deal of research,” he said, motioning for them to join him. He approached the stone and put his hand on one of the carvings. Immediately, he cried out, “Oh!” and took a quick step back.

“What?” Marcus asked.

“Carl,” Sam said. “Put your hand on the stone.”

The boy hesitated but did as he was told. “Now what?”

“Clear your mind,” Sam said, “and tell me what you feel.”

The boy did and a couple of minutes later, the boy said, “I feel … le I do when I’ve been cooped up for too long, like I’m hopping with energy to burn! Like too much caffeine or something!”

“Carl, you’ve learned to create fire?” Seeing the boy nod, Sam instructed him, “Make a fire in the middle of the stone.”

“But there is nothing there to burn,” the boy replied.

“It doesn’t matter,” Sam said.

Carl tried but nothing happened, and just when Sam was going to give up, Edward caught the boy’s eye and nodded, expressing confidence in Carl. Suddenly a spark ignited in the air just above the altar and a pillar of flame descended from the sky, as if it was being poured out from a heavenly vessel.

“God almighty,” Marcus whispered, earning a nod from Sam.

“Any time now, my boy,” Sam said, putting a hand on Carl’s shoulder, and the liquid fire stopped falling.

“What was that?” Carl asked, trembling.

Sam smiled and said, “I can’t explain right now, but I’ve got a good idea where to start my research.” Looking all around, he said, “Tell NO ONE of this outside of our little circle. Not even Avery or one of the consuls, or even Spencer,” he added the last looking at Marcus. Everyone agreed, and they returned to the cabin to pack, leaving Sam to make drawings of the symbols to assist his research.

“Marcus,” Carl began as they arrived at the cabin, “can you tell me anything?”

Marcus sighed and said, “That fire you called down was only magick in the loosest since of the word. It seemed like you channeled a latent power in the stone itself; this is more of a priestly power than wizardry per se. Looks like you’ll be joining Chris and Chase for a little training….”

“But I’m not a kabbalist,” the boy said.

“Never mind that,” Marcus said. “Priestly powers are more alike to each other than they are to any particular magickal system. You seem to be a bit Druid wizard, a lot Druid priest….”

The group set about packing up and cleaning, and they were ready to go when Sam returned. “Alright, gentlemen, I’ll be in touch,” the man said as he disappeared through his own portal.

Marcus looked at Edward and Carl and said, “Boys, stay in touch. You’ll hear from me soon. Oh, and Edward?”

“Yes?” the boy asked.

“Be careful when practicing your potions. You don’t want to have an accident at home!”

Edward nodded and said, “I’ll be very careful!”

“I know you will,” Marcus said, opening a portal for them to Edward’s back yard. Then he looked at Chris and said, “Ready to go?”

Chris grabbed his hand. “I’m ready,” he said. “When we get home,” the boy began to ask and fell silent.

“What is it, Chris?” Marcus asked, turning to face the boy.

“Things won’t … go back to the way they were?” Chris asked, unsure.

Marcus smiled, showing his dimples, and laughed, pulling the boy in for a kiss. “Chris! There is NO turning back,” he whispered, reaching around with his big hand to smack the boy on his tight ass.

Chris jumped and laughed, and then said, “Do we have to leave RIGHT NOW?”

“Did you have something else in mind?” the man asked.

“Remember that clearing where we sucked each other off the other afternoon?” Chris asked mischievously. Marcus nodded, and Chris continued, “I thought we could take a blanket out there and do it out in the open.”

“You ARE naughty, aren’t you?” Marcus laughed, already reaching into his bag for a blanket.

“There’s something about the sun on your body,” Chris said, taking the man’s hand and leading him right back to the spot. The cat just glanced at them as they left and stretched out for a nap.

***

“Are you okay, Chase?” William asked as they walked toward where the concert would begin.

“NO!” the boy said, still fuming. “I AM NOT OKAY!” After a moment, he added, “Sorry, that wasn’t for you,” with a cute, apologetic smile.

“I know, sweet thang,” William teased. “What are you going to do? Are you going to tell him?”

“I sure as hell have to, if she’s dragging his plain ass all over town, rubbing it in everyone’s face. I don’t want him to get blindsided!” Chase complained.

“You want to head over there now?” William asked, nudging him.

“Yes! But I want to see this too!” Chase said.

“Let’s grab a flier for their group and go to one of the meetings sometime? Good compromise?” William asked. Chase smiled and William ran up to one of the young people handing out fliers and asked for one.

The boy handed him a flier and started up a conversation. Who wouldn’t be interested, Chase laughed to himself, and walked over and grabbed William’s arm. “Hey, I’m Chase,” he said, holding out a hand to the boy.

“Carter,” the boy replied and smiled with a little nod. “You must be his boyfriend?”

“Sorry,” Chase said with a laugh.

“Anyway, hopefully we’ll see you guys around,” Carter said and waved before they left.

“He seemed nice,” Chase said as they walked away. “He thought you were pretty hot!”

“Chase!” William said. “This is payback for Dorian, huh?”

“A little bit,” the boy giggled and started listing off Carter’s more fetching characteristics.

***

“There are a couple of the places we want to visit again tomorrow,” Billy said to Sebastian, “but my favorite is a place a few blocks from Xavier. It’s a lot smaller of course, but nice and it’s a good neighborhood.”

“Well, I must say that pleases me, because the closer you are to our friends, the easier it is to protect everyone. And of course, that neighborhood now houses some of the most powerful wizards in the world,” Sebastian said.

“Fringe benefit,” the man smiled. “And a bunch of nice young guys.”

Suddenly they both heard footsteps hurrying upstairs and Sebastian said, “MARCUS! CHRIS! How are you?”

“Great,” Chris said. “Great week!” Then he grabbed Marcus’s hand and said, “Who’s this?”

Billy stood and held out his hand. “Billy Tompkins!”

“I’m Chris Price, and this is my boyfriend, Marcus Donaldson! We’re both regulars around here.”

Sebastian smiled. “Billy’s just learning about all this, so don’t worry about saying anything inappropriate. A lot has happened since you’ve been away. Billy is James’s brother’s husband.”

“James has a brother?” Marcus asked.

“James’s brother is gay?” Chris asked simultaneously.

Billy laughed. “Yes to both!”

“And it seems someone tracked them down and threatened them to get at us,” Sebastian added, “which had a positive outcome. It seems that there was a misunderstanding between the boys that needed to be cleared up.” Billy helped fill in the whole story as Chris and Marcus sat down, Chris leaning into Marcus comfortably.

“Oh, and Spencer has finally come out of the closet as crown prince of the witches,” James added as he and Josh came in from the yard, trailing Spencer, who had joined them for a workout.

“What?” Marcus asked in shock. “I’ve been sharing a barracks with you for how long and I never knew!”

“I just want people to like me for me,” Spencer said, blushing.

“Damn right,” Marcus said, “but you could have told me.”

Josh and James excused themselves to their respective showers to wash off after their workouts, while Marcus and Spencer had an animated but amicable conversation about wizarding stuff.

“So,” Chris said, sitting next to Billy, “how are you taking all this? I mean you’re sitting a couch away from royal wizards on the one hand and Abraham’s cousin on the other!”

“Abraham who?” Billy asked, making Chris laugh.

“Bible Abraham. You realize Sebastian’s like four thousand years old, right?” Chris asked.

“I do forget that, but yes, I did,” the man trailed off in a moment of realization. “THE ABRAHAM?”

“I knew him well when we were boys,” Sebastian said. “He was,” Sebastian paused, almost subconsciously raising a hand to his heart, “for most of my long life the person I loved most.” For a moment there was total silence in the room as eyes fell on him in curiosity. “Hmm, oh, I thought it went without saying! James, of course, and, in a very different way, Chase….”

Billy nodded, thinking about the boy he’d only just met, and in a way he couldn’t express, he understood Sebastian’s sentiment. Breaking the awkward silence, Billy turned to Chris and said, “It has been somewhat strange, but I’ve always believed there were more things out there than I knew about. I’m just glad I didn’t know how many,” he added with a laugh.