1 Lost & Found

The boy was cold and the night was dark and hopeless. He couldn’t hope to survive like this, always in hiding, but he had no one left in the world to turn to. So here he was, somewhere in the forests of Virginia, cloaked in a magical circle and protected by as many spells as he knew. He didn’t know if anyone was even looking for him anymore. For all he knew they all thought he was dead, but he couldn’t take any chances. Besides being very tired from constant vigilance, he was very hungry. His food was rapidly running out.

Near dawn, William smelled campfire smoke. He carefully lifted his protection spells and his magical circle, making himself invisible with a powerful spell he had recently mastered. Quietly William approached a campsite in a clearing, and he observed from the dense forest for a long time. Finally, a boy, who looked to be in his mid-teens, emerged from his tent in jeans and a flannel shirt, carrying a walking stick. The boy looked shaky on his feet and moved quite tentatively toward the fire and sat on a log to warm his hands. William shifted on his feet, and a twig snapped.

The boy looked directly at him and said, “Hello?”

William panicked and stood up, asking surprised, “You can see me?”

The boy half-laughed, half-grunted. “Not exactly,” he said, standing and walking toward William. Clearly the boy’s eyes were not focusing and his cane carefully probed the ground.

“I’m sorry…. I didn’t mean…. That’s not what I,” William stammered.

Now the boy did laugh, and smiled a brilliant smile, “I know! We didn’t realize anyone else was camped nearby!”

“Yeah, me either. I’ve been out here for a while, though. Who are you here with?” William asked.

“My dad, Steve…. He’s just gone down to wash and get some water for breakfast. My name’s Chase—Chase Abernathy—by the way.”

William reached out and took Chase’s soft, warm hand and shook it. “I’m William.”

“Are you out here by yourself, William?” Chase asked.

“Yeah….” The tone of his voice betrayed his sadness very subtly, and Chase caught it in an instant.

“I’m sorry. Would you like to stay and have breakfast with us?” Chase asked, and William could tell he was sincere.

“I don’t want to intrude,” William protested.

Chase laughed and revealed his cute dimples again. He reached out and grabbed William’s hand, surprising the boy, and led him toward the camp. The boys talked for a while and were laughing heartily when Chase’s father returned. The man had a very confused look on his face as he looked around.

William thought he must be wondering who he was, so he said, “I’m William, I’m camped a few miles down and I smelled the fire, so I came down and met your son….”

The man’s confused look deepened as he looked around aimlessly. “Where are you, William?”

“Shit,” the boy cursed, as he realized he was still under the invisibility spell. He could cut out and no one would ever be the wiser, or he could trust Chase and his father. His hunger and loneliness led him to choose the latter, and with a swift hand movement, he broke the spell. Chase’s father jumped as a handsome teenager appeared a few feet from him, but he stood his ground. “I … I … can explain,” William muttered.

“What’s wrong, what’s going on dad?” Chase asked.

“Your friend was … invisible,” Steve said cautiously.

“What?” Chase asked, laughing, but he could tell his father was serious.

William sat down with a heavy thump and put his head in his hands. He felt Chase’s hand softly rest on his head and slide to his shoulder, as the boy eased down next to him.

“I’ve been hiding out in these mountains … I don’t know how long anymore! Weeks, maybe months? All I have is what I could get into my pack and another bag, and some food I’ve scavenged. You’re the first people I’ve talked to….” As he sobbed, he felt Chase’s arm tighten around his shoulder.

Chase’s father sat down across from him, and asked, “What are you running from? Have you run away from home?”

William’s deep-chested sob was enough to tell him that this was not the case. But at last, he answered, “No, my parents are … they were killed, and … I don’t know if the men who killed them are after me or if they think I died in the explosion!”

“Oh, dear boy,” Chase’s father exclaimed, coming to his other side.

“I was coming back from a friend’s house, I was in the back yard when the house…. I was blown clear of the rubble I guess, because when I woke up, the house was surrounded by firemen! If I was found I knew they’d come for me, so I took the bag I had with me and I ran. I sneaked back to a place in the woods near my house where we had some supplies stashed in case of danger and got my second bag and some … books….”

“So, your parents were,” Steve began.

“Sorcerers,” William finished the thought for the man.

“No shit?” Chase asked, incredulous.

“Language,” his father replied, disapprovingly. “And yes, William just appeared out of nowhere. While he was talking to you, he was invisible!”

“No wonder you were surprised when I ‘saw’ you,” Chase said, chuckling.

“Yeah, that made me forget I was under a spell,” William explained.

For a moment there was a lull in conversation, and Chase’s father went to the fire and started frying some eggs for egg sandwiches and boiling water for coffee. When he brought the boys food, he sat down and said, “So, you need for these people to think you’re dead, but you also need to get out of the forest? Hmm….”

“Can he come home with us, dad?” Chase asked jumping on that line of thought.

“William, if you’d like, you are welcome to come with us. I don’t know how we’ll work it out but,” Steve began.

“Thank you, dad!” Chase exclaimed. “You will come, won’t you?” Between the hopeful look on Chase’s face, and his own weariness, the choice was relatively simple, and he nodded yes. Chase laughed, and asked, “Did you just shake your head, lame-o?”

William laughed, “Yes… but yes, I will.” Chase gave him an enthusiastic hug, then seemed a little embarrassed at himself and backed off. “I just need to go grab my things….”

“Do you need me to come with you?” Steve asked.

William responded, “No, I’ll be fine, one last time. Besides, I’m pretty good at defending myself!”

“I bet,” the man responded. After a short rest, William took off to retrieve his belongings.

While he was gone, Steve asked, “So what are we going to tell your mother?”

“He can tell as much of his story as he wants—she won’t turn him away,” Chase said confidently.

“She might not like the idea of us harboring a fugitive runaway teen under the radar,” Steve cautioned. “Your mother’s not a pushover like your old dad.”

“Well, given the circumstances,” Chase insisted.

“Hmm,” his dad grunted, wondering how would they make it work.

William felt like he was floating as he made his way to his little camp. He was sure he was making the right decision. No one would find him with these strangers, and he’d stay off the radar. Things were definitely looking up. But as he approached his camp, something felt wrong. He tried summoning his belongings to him from a distance, but something was blocking him. He stopped in his tracks as a figure stepped from the shadows.

“William Jennings!” the figured declared.

“Who are you?” the boy asked with as much authority as he could muster.

“A friend,” replied the figure lingering in the darkness.

“I wish I could believe that! How did you find me?” William demanded.

“I am your guardian,” the being answered.

“What? My parents never said anything,” William began.

“Not that kind of guardian, William! I am a protector….”

“Let me see you, then!” William demanded. The man stepped from the shadows, and in the light, his skin began to glow. As he neared, William could tell that he was in no danger. “Where were you when I needed you?” the boy cried at the man. “Where were you when my parents were killed?”

The man waved his hand in front of the boy’s face, and William knew in an instant—he had survived the explosion because of the being’s protection. Still, he couldn’t help but feel anger at the loss of his family.

“I am sorry,” the man replied, “but I could not save them. It was not allowed….”

“Who are you?” William asked.

“I am your guardian,” the being repeated.

“Yes, but what do I call you?” William asked.

“I am not allowed to tell you my names, but you may call me Gideon,” the figure replied.

“And how does this work? Do I contact you, or what?” William asked.

“I am always watching, but if you have questions, you may call. Just concentrate and call on me, and I will come to you,” Gideon replied.

“Am I still in danger?” William asked.

“Always,” Gideon replied instantly.

“Is it safe to go with these people, the Abernathy family?” William inquired.

“Yes, but do not contact anyone from your previous life without consulting me. Some of them may not be a danger, but others close to your parents may have become their most potent enemies!” With that, Gideon disappeared in a flash of fire. William was reeling, but he quickly gathered his things and made his way hastily back to Chase and Steve.

Steve looked up at him and asked, “Are you alright?”

William nodded, answering, “Someone was waiting for me…. A guardian.”

“Like a guardian angel,” Chase asked, in awe.

“Something like that,” William responded.

“William,” Steve began, “We were planning on leaving this evening, but we’d be glad to head on home, if you’d like?”

“No, no…. I’ll be fine!” William insisted.

Steve nodded and went about his work. After a few minutes, he said, “I’m going down to the river to fish. You boys like to come?”

Chase shook his head no after William responded, “No thanks.”

“Stay near camp, then…. I’ll be back around lunch time,” Steve told them.

When his father was gone, Chase asked, “Would you like to lie down, take a nap?”

William started to say no, but realized how tired he was, and said, “Yes, that would be nice!” William crawled into the tent and lay down on the air mattress. As he was starting to doze, he heard the tent flaps rustle and felt the extra weight on the air mattress. “Chase?”

“Thought I’d lie down too,” the small boy replied.

William rolled onto his back so he didn’t have his back to the boy anymore and slowly fell into a deep sleep. After a while, Chase rolled over next to him and put his arm across his chest, the warmth lulling him to sleep as well. When Steve returned some hours later he found the boys still fast asleep. He called out to them, “Come on boys, get up—there’ll be plenty of time to sleep tonight!”

William woke slowly and felt a thin arm draped across his chest. Gently, he shook the boy and Chase withdrew his arm.

“Sorry,” Chase said, pretending he had rolled over in his sleep.

William smiled at him, though Chase could not see it, of course, and replied, “Don’t worry about it!”

The boys stepped groggily out of the tent, and Steve laughed at them. “It’s about time!” He made sandwiches for them and they all ate quickly. “So, do you boys want to fish any, or should we pack up and go?”

“I’m up for fishing,” Chase said, and William quickly agreed.

“Well, let’s pack up, then we can drive down by the river! Be easier that way,” Steve said. William helped take the tent down while Chase rolled up the sleeping bags and helped pick up as he was able. Soon they drove down to the river and Steve let William use his pole so the boys could fish together. Steve sat at a distance, reading, but he was watching the boys carefully as they interacted. William and Chase were laughing and talking like old friends. Suddenly, Chase cried out as his pole lurched.

“That’s a big one, Chase!” Steve called.

“No shit,” Chase replied, standing with his pole and ignoring his dad’s response. Chase stumbled lightly and he heard William’s pole hit the ground before he felt the boy’s strong arms wrap around him and help him with the pole. Both boys struggled and soon the fish broke the surface; William released Chase to grab the net and waded out into the water. Soon Chase had brought the fish in far enough, and William scooped it up in the net.

“Wow, this thing must be twelve, maybe fifteen pounds!” William exclaimed.

From the shore, Steve said, “Closer to fifteen, I’d say!” When William got to the shore, Chase came over to him and felt the fish.

“It is big!” he said, smiling from ear to ear.

“Bigger than anything I’ve ever caught,” his father answered. “Chase, hold the fish up, I’ll get a picture of you boys with it, then we can pack it in ice and head home.” Chase held the fish up when his dad had the camera ready and William stood at his side, resting an arm on his shoulder. Then they were on their way, the fish in the back of the SUV in a cooler. Dusk was just giving way to night when they pulled into the driveway of a nice suburban Richmond home. Steve pulled the SUV into the garage and William helped Chase unload the gear. Steve carried the fish in to show his wife, Sarah.

“My goodness,” the woman exclaimed, walking to the garage to give her son a hug. But she stopped dead in her tracks on seeing William. “That’s … quite a catch, baby!”

“Mom! William helped me reel it in. It almost pulled me over!” Chase exclaimed excitedly.

The woman looked at William and asked, “William?”

The boy held out his hand to the woman, “William Jennings, ma’am.”

The woman shook his hand politely. “Call me Sarah. Come on inside…. Dinner’ll be ready in a half an hour. Chase, why don’t you show William your room?”

Chase led the way without his cane with no difficulty; he knew his home like the back of his hand. When they were upstairs, William said, “It’s really amazing how well you get around!”

“A lot of practice and not a lot of choice,” Chase explained with a smile.

“Have you always been,” William began to ask.

“You can say it, you know. It’s not a bad word…. I’ve been blind for nearly fourteen years, but no, they don’t think I was born this way. No one really knows why, though,” Chase answered.

“So you’re fourteen?” William asked.

“Almost sixteen! I know I look younger…. What do you look like?” Chase asked.

William laughed. “I don’t know, I….”

“Look in the mirror if you need to remind yourself,” Chase said, laughing.

“Well, I’m a junior, and I turned sixteen two months ago. I have light brown hair, blue eyes, I’m pretty tan. I played baseball and I swim, so I guess I’m pretty well built,” William said, wondering how to describe yourself to someone who can’t see you.

“Could I see you … touch your face, I mean?” Chase asked with hesitation.

“Sure,” William said, equally hesitantly, and he guided Chase’s hand to his face. The boy brought his other hand up as well, and he traced the lines of William’s face slowly, with the lightness of feathers. From his jaw, he traced his fingers down the sides of William’s neck, causing the boy to shiver involuntarily, and Chase withdrew his hands. “So?”

“So … what? Now I know what you look like,” Chase smiled brightly.

“Never mind,” William said, turning away and half-heartedly examining the room.

“I’m sorry, I … didn’t want to offend you,” Chase replied, softly.

William turned to face the boy again. “I know I’m no movie star, but….”

“You’re cute,” Chase said, his face turning red.

“Oh…. I….” William was flustered, but he asked, “So you didn’t just roll over in your sleep this morning then, huh?”

Chase’s face would have given him away, but to his credit he answered, “No, when you fell asleep, I put my arm around you and fell asleep.”

“But you didn’t know I was cute this morning,” William said with a half smile, which his tone conveyed.

“No, but I knew I liked you—you’re nice, you’re strong, you’re different,” Chase answered.

William stepped closer and was surprised to see the boy flinch lightly, but Chase relaxed instantly when he felt William’s hug him and squeeze.

Chase melted into him, but William whispered, “Chase, I really like you, too! But I don’t know if I can….” 

Chase stepped back and asked, “I’m not what you’re … looking for?”

“I … it’s not that, it’s just, I’ve never thought about boys … like that….” He paused—he’d never really been all that interested in girls either. He looked at the boy—small for his age, maybe 5’2” and slightly built, finely sculpted features, and porcelain skin. Chase’s face was pristine, his nose was perfect, and his eyes were an icy blue. His lips were full and crimson, and his face was framed by loosely curled straw-blond hair.

William sighed—he’d not allowed himself to really look before. The boy was absolutely beautiful. He reached out his hand and put it on the boy’s cheek, stepped in close, and kissed his other cheek, before taking the boy in another big hug. “We’ll take it slow then?”

Chase rested his head on William’s chest and nodded. The boys talked about their favorite music and what they did in their spare time, and Chase showed William his computer, adapted for use by the blind.

Downstairs, meanwhile, a different conversation was unfolding. “So, who is this William, Steve?” Sarah asked.

“Just a boy…. He had been living in the woods,” Steve answered.

“He’s a runaway? We need to call the police,” she said, reaching for the phone. Steve took it from her hand and put it on the receiver.

“We can’t! He’s not a runaway! He’s on the run….” With that, Steve filled his wife in on the boy’s story, omitting any reference to magick.

“What else aren’t you telling me? Why would you believe his story? How do you know he’s not running a line of bull?” Sarah demanded.

“He isn’t! His parents were … into magick, and when I met him, he was invisible!” Steve exclaimed

“Are you insane?” Sarah asked.

“Sarah!” Steve yelled.

“Steve, wizards and witches? Really, come on!” Sarah demanded.

“If you don’t believe me, ask him!” Steve demanded. Sarah laughed at him, right in his face, and he couldn’t blame her. He wouldn’t have believed his own eyes if he had not grown up on the border of that world. His father had served as an attorney and business manager for some rather infamous wizards, and he had grown up among their children.

“Chase, William, come downstairs, please,” Steve called, ignoring his wife. The boys made their way downstairs and both looked a bit bewildered. “William, my wife is a skeptic—I need you to help her understand the truth of your situation.”

William stepped away from Chase—“What would convince you?”

Sarah looked at the boy’s face and her skepticism wavered, “Give it your best shot!”

“I don’t think your home could withstand my best shot,” the boy said gravely, “so let’s settle for this!” In Latin, he intoned, “I invoke the powers of the air and of the fire, come and do my bidding,” and extended his arm, his palm face out, toward the sink full of dishwater. The lights in the room dimmed ever-so-slightly, as the water in the sink come to a rolling boil and began to quickly evaporate. Then he rotated his arm so that his palm faced up and the three pots lifted out of the sink and settled across the room on the stove, as the pots and pans holding dinner slowly moved from the stove to the table, settling lightly on heat-pads. If Sarah had been watching him she would have noticed that his eyes were bright with an inner light.

William watched the woman, who still said nothing, and proceeded to set the table, including pouring glasses full of water and sending them across the room. At last, he said, again in Latin, “I release you, with thanks!” Then he turned to the woman, “Is that enough?” When the woman said nothing, he closed his eyes, and called, “Gideon!”

Now the lights darkened dramatically as a great figure appeared behind the boy, massive wings spread wide. Chase, who had of course seen nothing, suddenly stepped toward William and reached out, past him, placing a hand on the being. “You’re real?”

The angel knelt down, face-to-face with the boy, and for the first time William saw the being smile. “Of course I am, sweet boy!”

“You see him?” William asked, confused.

“Not now, no, but in my dreams many times,” Chase said. “I know his name, and I could sense him when you called!”

“Those aren’t dreams, dear boy,” Gideon said. “I come to you in your sleep! I rather enjoy your company actually….” Exceeding all propriety, Chase gave Gideon a big hug, bringing a hearty laugh to the usually gloomy figure, “Such a light!” Gideon exclaimed proudly. At last, however, Gideon faced the adults, towering over them. “You understand, it took a great deal of work to bring William into your care—I trust you won’t disappoint?”

Finally, Sarah spoke. “I can’t put my child in danger!”

“Mother! You can’t just turn him away because you’re worried about me!” Chase demanded.

“Sarah,” Gideon began, “You can turn William away, now…. But do not think you’ll be protecting your son by doing so! If anything, you put Chase in greater danger. No matter what you do, these boys have intertwined destinies! And Chase is safer with William than apart from him! That is all I am at liberty to reveal…. But I will be sorely disappointed if you turn the boy away!” And with a mighty beating of wings, he disappeared.

“Sarah? Sarah?” Steve asked.

The woman stood still and white-faced, before turning to William, “So your parents really are…? And you’re all alone?” The boy nodded sadly, and the woman got the nerve to walk over to him, and gave him a hug. “I’m sorry,” she whispered and he nodded.

Steve broke the ice, “Anybody still hungry? Table’s all set.”

“I’m starving,” Chase said and took his seat. The rest of them were close behind him, and they all sat. There was little talk, and only Chase seemed to have an appetite and be in good spirits.

Steve spoke at last, “You know, I grew up with wizards….” Now all eyes were on him. “Some of my father’s most important clients and colleagues are wizards. They were around so much, not only his office but also our home, that I got to be friends with a lot of their children….”

“I was wondering how you accepted my story so easily,” William said. “Did you remain close with any of them?”

“Yes!” Steve said, looking at his wife hesitantly. “My closest friend in college was a young wizard, Aiden Phillips….”

“Uncle Aiden is a wizard?” Chase asked, excitedly, and Sarah just cast her eyes to the sky.

“Yes, Chase,” Steve said, subdued.

“Is his partner named Xavier Montrose?” William asked.  They all looked at him surprised and Steve nodded. “God!” the boy exclaimed, again surprising them. “What, we’re wizards, not atheists! Xavier Montrose is my mother’s brother.”

“Oh!” Chase said dropping his fork, “That’s what Aiden was telling us about!  We knew he and X were away for a funeral! He’s going to lose his mind when he hears you’re….”

“I’m sorry,” William said, clearly losing control of his emotions as a sigh rose in his throat, “but for now you can’t tell either of them, or anyone, who I am, or that I’m here!” Chase’s smile fell away, and he nodded somberly, hearing William’s sadness.

“So you’ll be staying,” Sarah said matter-of-factly, startling them. They had been half-ignoring her to give her space. “I’m afraid we don’t have a very large home, so your options are pretty slim. There’s a couch in Steve’s office until we figure out something more permanent … or, if Chase wouldn’t mind, you boys can share his room.” Chase’s face glowed with hopeful expectation, and William couldn’t deny him.

“We’ll be fine in Chase’s room—it’s pretty big!” William said.

“We can get some bunk-beds up there—it’ll leave more room than the big queen, and give you your privacy,” Sarah asked.

“I don’t mind sharing, at least for now,” William said.

“Alright,” she said. “We’ll talk about that later…. William, I really do want you to feel welcomed here, but this is all too much for me to get my mind around! Wizards and angels and destiny?!”

“I know, and I’m sorry for dragging you into this, but if Gideon is right, I suppose it isn’t all my fault,” William said.

“Of course it isn’t!” Chase declared. “I’ve known Gideon forever, and if he’s your guardian, that’s gotta mean something, doesn’t it?”

Steve turned the conversation in another direction for Sarah’s sake, and soon Chase was telling his mom about the camping trip and all the things he’d done. After dinner, Steve volunteered to clear the table and sent the boys upstairs.

“Steve?” Sarah asked when she heard the door upstairs shut. “Is this the right thing to do … for our son?”

 Steve hissed under his breath, “How can you ask that? That boy upstairs has been through hell! What are we supposed to do? Turn him over to the authorities and get him killed? Especially now that we know he’s related to my closest friends!”

“Well, what about Xavier?” Sarah asked.

“Only when this whole situation is sorted out and it’s safe for Xavier to know William is alive. They’ll be watching Xavier!” Steve said.

“I’m just scared! I’m sorry,” she cried and buried her head in her husband’s chest. He wrapped his arm around her.

“Have you ever thought that this might be good for Chase?” She looked up at him and he continued, “Look at how he is with Chase. I think that somehow this will all help Chase grow.”

Sarah thought back to the last few hours, how happy, vibrant and confident Chase was with William in the house. The boy brought something out of her son. Chase seemed almost radiant. “You know, come to think of it….” Steve patted her on the shoulder and went back to cleaning the dishes. Then they sat down to watch a little television, leaving the boys upstairs to their own devices.

“Do you mind if I check my email?” William asked, causing Chase to frown.

“If you go logging into your email, someone might be monitoring it,” Chase cautioned.

“Damn, you’re right,” William said.

“Aren’t you tired, after all those weeks in the woods?” Chase wondered.

William gave the boy a long look. “Are you trying to get me into bed?”

Chase blushed and sat on the bed. “I wouldn’t … kick you out.” William laughed and walked over to embrace the boy, enjoying the feeling himself.

William undressed, put his things away and slid beneath the covers. Chase looked shy all of a sudden, and changed in the closet. “You don’t have anything to be embarrassed about,” William laughed.

Chase answered from the closet, “It’s not fair! You get to see me, but I don’t get to see you….”

“You can see me if you like,” William answered him sincerely.

Chase emerged in his powder-blue boxers and heard William catch his breath. “What?”

“It’s just, I’ve never looked at a boy like you…. You’re beautiful!” Chase’s blush spread to his chest. Chase had only the lightest dusting of light blond hair on his arms and legs and the beginnings of a treasure trail leading into his boxers; his stomach was flat and tight, but not washboard. As Chase crawled into bed, William slid over and put his arm beneath the boy’s neck. William took Chase’s hand, placing it on his chest. Slowly, Chase ran his fingertips across William’s lean, muscular torso, tracing his chest and abs slowly.

“Turn over?” the boy whispered, and William rolled onto his stomach. He was surprised to feel Chase straddle his back. Beginning with his shoulders, Chase slowly traced the muscles of William’s back, down to the top of his underwear. Then, with surprising strength, he leaned forward and began firmly massaging William’s tight shoulders, tensed from weeks of hyper-vigilance.

“Oh, yes,” William moaned, sounding so erotic that he soon felt Chase’s hardening penis pressing into him. Slowly, Chase worked his way down William’s back, feeling William relax beneath his touch. Then Chase moved on to his legs and calves.

“Roll over,” Chase said, and William complied, feeling the boy’s gentle fingers on his shins and thighs.

Impulsively, William grabbed Chase by his shoulders and dragged him down on top of him. “Mmmm,” William, sighed, feeling the boy’s warm, soft skin. “Thank you!”

“Thank you!” Chase laughed, grinding against William softly, a not-so-subtle reminder his own enjoyment of William’s body. Chase dug his fingertips into William’s waist and dragged them up his side, tickling him. William laughed, but grabbed Chase by the hair and pulled him into their first French kiss, overcome with a passion for the beautiful blond, and the kiss lingered for what seemed like forever and not long enough.

Chase nuzzled William’s neck, kissing the boy’s strong shoulder, and William felt a warm tear fall on his skin, “What’s wrong?”

“My first kiss! Perfect,” Chase whispered.

“You are too sweet, Chase,” William said softly. Chase dismounted, and the boys lay face-to-face, talking and kissing, until William started to nod.

Chase stroked the boy’s cheek finally and said, “Go to sleep!” William put his hand on the soft skin of Chase’s back and pulled the boy into himself, snaking his arm beneath Chase’s neck. Chest to chest, thigh to thigh, William gave Chase a last kiss before drifting off to sleep.

When Chase woke the next morning, William was dead to the world, so Chase disentangled himself from the boy and ran across to the shower. Downstairs, Steve and Sarah were having coffee and reading the Sunday paper when a boy stuck his head in the front door. Steve waived the neighbor-boy in: Matt was Chase’s long-time best friend and had been instrumental in helping Chase “mainstream” into school.

“Chase is in the shower, I think,” Steve said, not thinking that Matt wouldn’t be expecting William. “Matt!” he called too late.

Immediately Matt could see that the sleeping figure was not Chase—the dark hair, the tan and athletic muscles, as well as William’s size, gave that away. Matt stepped into the room slowly, moving toward the other side of the bed to see who it was, but Chase’s voice stopped him.

“Matt?” Chase stood in his door, dripping, with a towel around his waist.

“How did you…? Never mind! Who is this?” Matt asked.

“It’s a long story! Can I get dressed?” Chase asked.

“Sure,” Matt laughed and sat down at the boy’s desk.

“Some privacy, please?” Chase laughed.

“What about him?” Matt asked.

“He’s asleep, jerko,” Chase replied. Matt grumbled and walked downstairs.

Chase began patting himself dry, and William whispered, “I’m not asleep, you know!” He raised himself up on his elbow, pleased that the boy kept drying himself unselfconsciously. “You are so beautiful!” Chase smiled, and he blushed even more when William added, “And adorable when you blush!”

“I get a better ‘look’ at you tonight then!” Chase said, smiling shyly.

“My pleasure!” William chuckled, causing Chase to laugh.

“So, Matt is my best friend and neighbor, and he’s going to be super curious about you. He’s over here all the time, so there’s only so much I’ll be able to hold back from him,” Chase explained.

“Do you trust him?” William asked.

“Like a brother,” Chase answered without hesitation.

“Well, get him back up here and we can talk to him once I get out of the shower!” William gathered his clothes and made his way to the bathroom. When he returned, Chase was telling Matt about the fish he caught.

Before William set his things down, Matt asked, “So who are you?”

“Matt!” Chase exclaimed.

“It’s okay, Chase! I’m William; I can’t tell you my last name. Chase’s family were kind enough to take me in after….” Suddenly, in the light of day, William couldn’t say the words again; he stood silent, eyes watering.

Chase could feel the heavy demand for explanation in Matt’s silence, and responded a bit angrily, “Someone blew his house up, and pretty much everyone thinks he’s dead, okay?!?” Matt looked ashamed William began to cry and looked away as Chase comforted him.

Through his tears, William said, “It’s alright Chase, he’s just looking out for you!”

“Well,” Chase said, shooting Matt a cautious smile, “he doesn’t have to be a dick about it!”

Matt knew Chase wasn’t serious and smiled. But he couldn’t help himself. “You guys seem like you’ve known each other forever! How long have you known each other?”

“We met yesterday! You know everyone I know, Matt!” Chase said.

“Hmmm…. I, well, you guys seem awful close!” Matt danced around it.

“I’m sure you and I seem awful close, Matt,” Chase retorted playfully, but Matt was ready to turn it around on him.

“But we’ve been best friends for almost 10 years! I used to help you find the school bathrooms!” Matt exclaimed.

“I guess you’re right,” Chase said, glancing at William, who shrugged as if to say, ‘It’s up to you.’ Chase listened at the door and heard his parents talking downstairs, so he closed and leaned against it. “You’re always talking about cute girls and what girls I like. And I always say maybe I wasn’t interested because I couldn’t see what I was missing….”

“So, you’re a butt-pirate?” Matt said, and Chase laughed and nodded. “I figured that out a long time ago Chase! So you guys are…?”

“Figuring that out,” William answered, giving Chase a peck on the cheek.

“You I wouldn’t have guessed,” Matt said, making William laugh, and Chase threw a pillow at him. Then, in a more serious tone, “You be good to Chase, he deserves it!” William nodded and smiled. “Now we can double-date, Chase, when your boyfriend comes out of hiding!”

“I don’t know,” Chase began, “how my parents would feel about that. I’m not sure I want them to realize I’m sharing my room with my boyfriend, just yet either! They might give him his own room!”

“Hmmm, my own room,” William said, earning a soft punch from Chase, and a laugh from Matt. “We could always go out, just the three of us, and pick up your girl, Matt!”

“Cute and smart,” Chase said.

“Get a room,” Matt said gagging then, realizing, added, “Oh, yeah!”

The boys laughed and talked a while before, out of nowhere, Chase asked Matt, “So how did you know about me?”

“Seriously?” Matt teased. Then, hesitantly, he said, “Well, your disinterest in girls, and one night you were talking … well, moaning, in your sleep. But the name was a boy’s!”

“Oh my God,” Chase said, laughing and embarrassed. “Not?”

“Ewan Brady? Yeah!” Matt teased. Chase buried his face in his hands and laughed insanely. Ewan Brady had been a good friend of theirs in elementary and part of middle school. The three had sleepovers and did almost everything together. In middle school, though, Ewan had developed as an athlete. Chase remembered when Ewan had let him touch his face for the last time in the seventh grade. After that, he spent all his time with the jocks. Usually he ignored Chase, though unlike most of the jocks, he didn’t pick on the boy; he did not extend Matt the same courtesy.

“Ewan is the god of the jocks,” Matt explained to William, who laughed at Chase’s cute blush.

“Before,” Chase answered, “he was just our friend and that’s when I…. Not anymore!”

“I know Chase,” Matt said. “I’m sorry!”

“Never mind,” Chase said. “I’m starved, we haven’t had breakfast yet!” The boys tromped down the stairs in their herd and demanded breakfast.

“You know where the cereal is!” Sarah said with a laugh.

“I’ll make pancakes,” William said, going to the pantry and beginning to whip up batter.

“I’ll take three,” Sarah responded, and laughed again when William tossed her a box of Cheerios. She got up and dug around in the refrigerator, handing him some eggs then getting out a package of turkey bacon. “May as well make breakfast then!” While William made batter, Sarah put two skillets on the stove and started frying the turkey. Soon, William was at her side, quickly cooking pancakes.

In the living room, Matt whispered, “Quite a woman you got, Chase.” Both boys broke laughed loudly, drawing looks from Steve and Sarah.

But Matt was shocked when, from nearly thirty feet away, William looked over his shoulder and said, “I’m all man!”

Now Chase’s parents were laughing, assuming the joke had been about William’s masculinity. When they weren’t being watched, Chase whispered to Matt, “It’s TRUE!”

“Ewww,” Matt said, giggling.

Soon they all sat down to breakfast. As they ate, Matt said, “I really came over to see if Chase wanted to go to the carnival, but I guess we can’t….”

“Why not?” Sarah asked, casually. “That sounds fun!” Steve caught her eye and turned his gaze to William.

But William smiled. “You should go!” he said. “You’re going to have to leave me here to go to school, the mall, and games, and dances!”

“Are you sure?” Chase said, making his parents proud of his thoughtfulness. While Steve suspected the source of his care, Sarah was clueless.

“Absolutely! I have some work I need to do, anyway. The kind of thing I need to do alone!” William announced.

“Okay! Tell Gideon I said hello!” Chase said, making William smile and leaving Matt entirely in the dark. “A friend of William’s,” Chase explained.

Around eleven, Chase followed Matt to his house, so Matt’s mom could drive them to the fairgrounds.

While Steve did the dishes, Sarah asked William, “So what’s this work?”

William considered her briefly then began, “I know I’ve asked a lot already but would it be possible for me to get one of those small, prebuilt sheds like they have at the Home Depot? Just a small one; I could put it in the far corner of the yard.”

“They’re kind of expensive,” Sarah said.

“Oh, no, I’ll buy it. I just want your permission to put it in,” he explained. Steve watched Sarah, wondering what she’d say.

“Do you mind my asking why?” Sarah asked.

“Well, I guess if I’m going to be continuing my … education, I need a place to work on my magick. It’d be … safer for me to do that away from the house!” William explained.

Sarah laughed and nodded, “I guess it would be nice to have a place all to yourself as well. Alright.”

“Thank you,” William said, smiling brightly. “It will be nice, but….”

“But?” Sarah asked.

“I don’t want you to think…. I really like sharing a room with Chase, actually. I think I’ve been very lonely for a long time,” William explained.

“Well, I’m glad, for one,” Steve said, from the sink. “I really didn’t want to give up my office….” William laughed.

“Chase seems a lot happier too,” Sarah thought out loud, “He has always been happy, but … I think we were so worried about his condition, we didn’t have any more children. I think he would have been happier….”

“It’s not too late,” William said. “You’re still not that old!” He was joking but the atmosphere grew thick.

“We did try, a few years ago, but we didn’t have any luck,” Steve explained.

William looked at his hands then continued. “Did you never think to ask your friend, Aiden, or my uncle Xavier, for help?” Both adults looked at him, strangely.

“Well, no,” Sarah said, looking at Steve, “apparently we didn’t!”

Steve laughed, “I’m so stupid!”

“I’ve been saying that for years,” Sarah said.

“Listen, talk to Xavier…. Tell him you’ve been trying and you need help. My parents were friends with a fertility doctor who’s … like us. He can do some things that regular doctors can’t, if you know what to ask. I’d introduce you, but,” William trailed off.

Steve nodded dumbly, but Sarah looked at the boy with new eyes, appreciating the thoughtful heart that would care enough to think of them. William was taken completely by surprise she gave him a big hug. He thought she might have been crying, but she made a quick escape. William nodded to Steve, who went straight to his office to make a call. Shortly, he heard Steve asking, “Sorry to bother you Xavier, now of all times, but I didn’t know who else to talk to….”

William went upstairs and opened his bags, spreading out his worldly belongings. The charmed bags held a remarkable amount, but he had remarkably little to show for a life, for his family. There were some spare clothes and the books his family kept stashed in their getaway room, including one that replicated an entire library of magical knowledge, as well as an emergency set of magical goods: basic potion ingredients, magical implements such as a cauldron, a wand, and the rest. He’d lost his own wand in the explosion, so the generic wand would do until he could fashion his own. He stuck the wand into his waistband at the hip, beneath his shirt, and continued his inventory: pictures, sacred family objects, and, finally, what he was looking for, a small card bearing ten alphanumeric codes.

William pocketed the card. Downstairs, he knocked on the door of Steve’s office and found Sarah and Steve talking excitedly inside. “We have an appointment on Tuesday!” Sarah gushed, hugging him again. This time he could return it.

“Listen, I need to ask another favor,” William asked.

“Anything,” Sarah responded immediately. Steve smiled: William had earned his pass into her heart.

“My family has some untraceable accounts, but they’re not the kind of accounts one writes checks on,” he began.

“Swiss banks?” Steve asked, and the boy nodded.

“I need an account to transfer money for my use– an account with a debit card.” He looked almost ashamed to ask, but finally, “Do you have an account for Chase?”

Sarah looked at Steve, who nodded. “His college account with Fidelity. You can access the cash with checks and the debit card, but we never use it, of course.”

“I want to transfer some money for me to use into that account. In return for that and my costs here over the next however long, I’ll also transfer enough additional money to cover the cost of Chase’s college.”

“You couldn’t, we couldn’t take your money!” Steve replied.

“You can, and you should! Your costs are about to go up, I think,” he said, smiling at Sarah. “You might want to add onto the house, or start a second college fund. I want to do this, and I’ll also see that the taxes are paid and everything is above-board.”

“If it’s what you want,” Sarah said, and the boy nodded.

“If you could get the account number?” With that, William took out the card and dialed the international number and placed the phone on speaker.

A woman with a thick accent answered, saying only, “Account number?” William read off the third series of numbers. She asked, “Personal identification?”

“Falconer,” William responded.

“Good morning, William. How may I assist you?” the woman asked.

“Balance, please?” he asked.

“One moment…. The balance in this account is 7,859,400 euro, as of the close of business, Friday, sir.”

Sarah and Steve exchanged a glance. William shrugged with a smile. “I need to transfer some funds to an account with Fidelity Investments,” he said, reading the account number, which the woman repeated.

“How much would you like to transfer?” she asked.

All eyes on him, William said, “$2.5 million. Could you also make sure that the taxes are settled for the recipient?”

“Of course, sir…. Can I help you with anything else?” she asked.

“No, thank you,” William replied.

“The funds should be available by the open of business, Tuesday. Have a nice day, sir.”

William ended the call, and said, “I’m putting a lot of trust in you….”

Steve slapped the boy on the shoulder. “And vice versa…. Now, why don’t you and I head down to the Home Depot?”

“I can’t go out,” William said.

“Do you know how to glamour?” Steve asked. “Aiden used to do it for us so we could go out when we were kids,” he added with a wink.

“That’ll work,” William said, “As long as we don’t run into anyone who knows me well.”

“What are the chances of running into a wizard you know in a Home Depot in Richmond?” William laughed and reached for his wand. Waving it in front of his face, he cast a glamour: anyone who saw him would see someone else.

“You don’t look different,” Sarah said.

“Look in the mirror, sweetie—those who don’t know he’s performed this spell will see that,” Steve responded.

A face equally beautiful and an even more buff boy appeared in the mirror. “We’re trying not to draw attention, William,” Steve said, laughing. With another wave, the body grew slightly less buff, and Steve laughed. “Well, worst case scenario, you’ll be abducted by cheerleaders!”

On the way to the store, Steve said little, and William stared out the window. At the Home Depot, they chose a modestly-sized prefabricated shed that would make a nice little workspace, and Steve put it on the card and worked out with his friend, the manager, for them to deliver the next day.

On their way home, Steve couldn’t hold back. “Your family was very wealthy?”

“My parents were both from very wealthy families, but were very conservative with their money. But then you know my uncle Xavier. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that the account I called about today is one of the smaller ones…. I don’t really want anyone besides you and Sarah to know. I don’t care about the money.”

“Your parents did a tremendous job,” Steve said with a smile.

“Thanks,” the boy said, softly.

“You know, you don’t have to give us anything,” Steve said.

“I know. But I want Chase to have it; he can do whatever he wants with it,” William said, staring out the window.

“Sarah’s right, you know…. You make Chase very happy!” Steve said.

“Chase makes me happy,” William said, still staring away. “I feel like we’ve known each other forever!” After a long, tense silence, William, still not facing the man, asked, “Is there something you’d like to ask?”

“Are you gay?” Steve asked.

William laughed, and sighed, “I don’t think so…. I don’t know! I’ve never been all that interested in girls, but Chase is the first person I’ve met that I thought was truly beautiful, in every way!” Steve was quiet, and the boy finished, “I’m not sure if I’m gay, but I am sure that I’m falling in love with your son….”

 “I have to admit, kid, you’ve got balls,” Steve said, laughing, “to tell that to a boy’s dad!”

 William laughed and after a moment’s thought responded, “No, I just wasn’t going to deny it, or pretend…. “

 Steve smiled and patted the boy on the shoulder. “You are something else! But let Chase talk to his mom when he feels up to it. She likes you now; you don’t want to spoil that!”

 William finally looked at the man and said, “Maybe I’m a star-crossed lover? What makes you think Chase has anything to tell?”

 “I’m the boy’s father,” the man said, smiling. “Chase, when he gets the chance, spends about twice as long ‘looking at’ the boys as the girls, but no one notices. Having someone feel your face is awkward enough.” William blushed, and Steve ragged on him, “He really must have tried to memorize you!”

“A few minutes,” the boy said and Steve laughed hard.

“That’s about 10 times longer than normal, and many times longer than necessary!” William blushed mightily but smiled, remembering how the boy had worked on his body for an hour.

Back home, William ran upstairs and put most everything back in order, then he called for Gideon. “Yes?” the voice asked from behind him, startling him, before chuckling lightly.

“Am I really still in danger?” William asked.

“Until we know who killed your parents, and why, yes!” Gideon said.

“You don’t know?” William asked.

“We only know what we are told or what we discover on our own,” Gideon said.

“Do you think my uncle Xavier was involved?” William asked.

“No, absolutely not!” Gideon replied.

“When can I see him?” William pressed.

Gideon hesitated. “He may be under surveillance, or a future target. We need to rule that out first.”

“He could see me here! Aiden and Steve are old friends, best friends. That wouldn’t appear unusual to someone watching him. And Xavier can keep a secret, I think,” William said.

“You think? Are you so sure he wouldn’t let it slip, even in private conversation? What about Aiden?” Gideon asked.

“Steve,” William called from the door, and the man rushed up the steps. He hesitated when the form of Gideon came into view however. “I want to see my uncle, and he and Aiden can come here without suspicion. Do you think they could keep quiet about me?”

Without hesitation, Steve answered, “Yes!”

Gideon stepped forward. “Any leak risk a leak poses to your family. Still?”

“Absolutely!” Steve declared.

“Very well! You may see your uncle here, but impress upon him the absolute need for secrecy!” Gideon said.

Before Gideon could disappear, William said, “Wait!” The being looked at him, and William smiled and said, “Chase said to say ‘Hello’.”

Gideon nearly smiled. “Tell him we’ll be talking soon! I have grown fond of our conversations,” the being said cryptically, disappearing. William looked at Steve and shrugged.

“Could you invite Aiden and Xavier over on Thursday or Friday—a thank you for their help with Sarah’s doctor and to catch up?” William asked. Steve nodded and smiled at the boy, shaking his head. “What?”

“You are a force to be reckoned with, boy! You have a way of making things happen, don’t you?” Again, William shrugged and smiled, and Steve went downstairs to make the call.

Hearing the door slam downstairs, William forced himself not to run down the steps into the boy’s arms. Chase returned without Matt, and looked very happy.

“Have fun?” William asked, laughing.

“It was awesome! I wish you could have been there,” Chase said.

“Me, too,” William replied. “But I got a lot done—my workshop is coming tomorrow….”

“Workshop?” Chase asked.

“A little prefab shed for the far corner of the yard, a place to work on my magick and stuff,” William explained.

“Cool!” Chase exclaimed.

“And my uncle and Aiden are coming later this week!” Hearing William’s longing, Chase hugged him tenderly. “Then we can all celebrate!” William  cut himself off. Chase had missed a lot and he wasn’t sure what he should say.

“Celebrate?” Chase asked.

“Run ask your mom, and meet me upstairs!” Confused, Chase wandered off in search of Sarah. William meanwhile ran upstairs, and soon heard Chase squeal excitedly. Then, faster than he thought possible, the boy was upstairs, kissing him all over.

“Excited?” William asked.

“Oh my God! I hope it works!” Chase exclaimed.

“It will—he’s very good!” Noticing the tears, he asked, “What’s wrong?”

“I’m just … so … fucking … happy!” Chase laughed.

“Language,” William exclaimed, smacking the boy firmly on his behind. Chase, pleasantly surprised, wrapped his arms seductively around William.

“That was … nice,” Chase whispered sultrily. Almost immediately, he felt William’s hardness press into his stomach, but they were interrupted.

“Come down, boys!” Sarah called from downstairs.

Before they left the room, though, Chase said, “Mom told me about the money, too.”

“Oh,” William said, crestfallen. He’d not had a chance to ask her not to mention it.

“I don’t care about the money,” Chase said, drawing in close to him again, “except that it means that when you go, I can go with you! If you want me to….”

William pulled Chase into him, smiling and kissing him once on the neck. “If you couldn’t go, I wouldn’t…. I know it doesn’t make any sense, it’s too fast, too unreal, but I am in love with you! The moment I woke in your tent with you curled up with me, I was lost!”

“I … love you too,” Chase responded with a deep sob of relief.

“Oh, and your dad asked if I was gay,” William said.

“He what?” Chase said, almost alarmed. “What did you say?”

“I said no, I didn’t think so,” William began, feeling Chase tense up, “but that I was falling in love with you!”

“What?” Chase said, incredulously, half laughing. “You didn’t?”

“I did! He said you’d have to tell your mom, though, now that she likes me,” William said.

“So, he knew … about me?” Chase asked.

“Yeah, he said he figured,” William replied.

“That’s all?” Chase asked.

“That’s all….” Chase pushed him playfully and walked out the door, with William on his trail. “What up, momz?”

“Dinner!  What kind of pizza do you boys want?” The rest of the evening was uneventful, until the boys were heading upstairs and Chase stopped on the steps, turned and said, “Hey mom?”

“Yes, dear?” she asked.

“I’m gay,” he said with a smile, and tromped up the stairs. William stood stunned on the steps as Sarah swept past him and closed Chase’s door behind her.

“Chase?” she asked.

“Yeah, mom?” Chase smiled as if he hadn’t a care in the world.

“Are you sure?” she pressed.

Chase frowned then. “You never suspected? Matt knew ages ago! I figured I should tell you while you can still handle being surprised. Can’t have your blood pressure get up when you’re pregnant, can we?”

“You told Matt?” Sarah asked.

“This morning. But I didn’t have to, he already guessed,” Chase said.

“Chase, what’s this all….” A moment of comprehension dawned on her face, and she sat down. “Are you sure, sure? I mean, you can’t even….”

“I don’t have to see! It feels right: I know who I’m comfortable with, who I want to share my time with! I like boys, mom!” Chase exclaimed.

“Your life was going to be so difficult anyway, and this will just be extra suffering,” she said.

“Would I suffer less pretending to be someone I’m not, living with someone I didn’t love?” Chase asked, and Sarah took her son in her arms.

“You’re right! It’s just … hard! So, William?” she asked.

“I’m falling for him pretty hard,” Chase admitted.

Sarah smiled at Chase’s expression as he said the words. “He’s pretty cute, huh?” she asked.

“Way!” Chase said in his surfer accent.

His mother laughed, but then said seriously, “Maybe he should have his own room?”

“Mom! No! Please?” her son begged. “I … I promise we’ll … be good?”

“Well, at least you didn’t hide it, but don’t make promises you can’t keep!” Looking at the door, she called, “William?”

William entered quickly. “Yes?”

“Do you mind sharing a room with my son now that you know he’s … gay?” Sarah asked.

William walked over at put his arm around the boy, kissing his cheek. “Promise me that you two will,” she paused with a sigh, “be careful of each others’ feelings?” With that, she stood and walked to the door. “William, Chase may be a young man, but he’s still my little boy!” William hugged Chase close and nodded.

“What a day!” William said after she left. “You could have warned me!”

Chase laughed, and said, “But then I wouldn’t have had to apologize!” He pushed William onto the bed and kissed him deeply, rubbing William’s chest.

William moaned, and when Chase pulled away, he asked, almost shyly, “Would you mind? My shoulders are really tight…. I guess I’m still tense.”

“Sit up,” Chase commanded. Crawling behind William, Chase started rubbing his tight shoulders. After twenty minutes, William was groaning from the pleasure of the relaxation of his tight muscles. Shortly, Chase said, “It’s getting late. We could get ready for bed?”

William tossed his shirt in the corner, then stood to strip his pants off. He turned to bed to find Chase clad in only very tight blue briefs. His erection looked rather larger on his slight body, and the material outlined it superbly. William whispered, “You are … amazing!” Chase caressed William’s defined torso, lightly brushing the front of his boxers.

Chase rolled onto William, positioning himself between the bigger boy’s legs, pressing their penises together. Chase licked William’s nipples, teasing him to feel him spasm.

“I’m going to make a mess if you don’t stop!” William said. Chase just smiled and began rhythmically humping, until he felt a warm wetness accompanying William’s grunts. Then Chase rolled off and began jacking feverishly. Unexpectedly, he felt William’s hand replace his own. After only a few jerks of an unfamiliar hand, Chase ejaculated up his chest. William raised his hand to his mouth: Chase tasted different.

William cleaned both of them off with his boxers, treating Chase gently, before grabbing a fresh pair.

“Why bother?” Chase said, and William tossed them away.

‘Why not?’ William thought to himself. “I didn’t want to tempt you in your sleep,” William joked. Chase cuddled into him, giving his butt a playful squeeze and resting his head on William’s chest. As William stroked the silky skin on his back, Chase gradually fell asleep. Once Chase was deep asleep, William extracted himself and grabbed a book from his bag, reading over some of the spells he’d need to enchant the shed. About an hour later, he turned out the reading light and went to sleep.