3 Identity

“Gideon,” the boy whispered. The Braille readout of his alarm clock read 4 a.m. He sighed and exhaled deeply, rolling into William, and putting a hand on the boy’s chest. William was sound asleep, so Chase gently traced the contours of William’s face with fingers light as feathers. He could almost see it!

William stirred, sighing at the boy’s soft touch, mumbling, “That’s nice….”

“Shhh…. Go back to sleep,” Chase whispered.

“Is something wrong?” William asked.

“I … just had a strange dream,” Chase said.

William woke up a little and asked with a little more concern, “What is it, sweetheart?”

“I … was just,” Chase began hesitantly. “Are there … magick doctors for other things?”

William rolled onto his side, facing Chase. “You mean … eye doctors, or brain doctors?” Chase nodded. “I suppose. I only knew about the stuff I told your parents about, because….” William’s voice broke and he stopped mid-sentence.

“Oh, William!” Chase said, hugging the boy tightly. Chase couldn’t imagine, but he had to ask, “She wasn’t already?”

William nodded and was wracked by a soul-shaking sob. With a concentrated effort, he choked down his tears and said, “Twin boys….”

Chase kissed his face, and cradled William’s head into his chest, stroking William’s caramel brown hair with one hand and back with the other, as the boy cried himself to sleep. Chase realized that, while he had suffered a lot in his life, William’s strength was a wall against intolerable pain that would only be released, little by little. When William was asleep, Chase quietly showered and dressed, and then got on his computer, finishing up his paper and starting to get ahead on other work. Over an hour later, he noticed the time and slipped away to meet Matt at the bus stop.

“I talked to Amy on the phone last night for an hour! She’s really cool and we had a lot in common,” Matt bubbled.

“That’s really cool,” Chase said, but Matt could hear that he was somewhere else.

“What’s wrong, dude?” Matt asked.

“Just … a heavy night,” Chase sighed.

“Trouble in paradise,” Matt asked, laughing, and Chase smacked his arm.

“Paradise is still as hot and bothered as ever! It’s just … don’t say anything, but you know William told my parents about this doctor who’s helping them … you know? Well, he told me how he knew about this doctor. His mom was pregnant when she was killed,” Chase explained.

Matt’s eyes watered and he coughed to clear his voice, “I’m sorry … to hear that! Losing his parents would have been….”

“Yeah,” Chase said, and the boys stood quietly together in the crisp morning air, shoulder to shoulder.

When the bus came up, they got on, and people who never talked to them said hello and waved. People who sometimes picked on them averted their eyes. Chase and Matt laughed, and sat together. The girls sitting in front of them turned around to talk to them. Chase knew Maria, a beautiful (so he had heard) dark-haired latina who lived two streets over. She’d always been nice, but they never got close. Her friend, Susan, was relatively new to the neighborhood.

“So, Chase,” Maria began, “is it true?”

“Which part?” Matt asked, laughing.

Maria actually blushed before elaborating, “You’re gay?”

“Chase, not me!” Matt blurted quickly.

Maria smiled, and said, “Well, that makes me feel a little better! I always had a crush on you, but you never seemed to notice, so I moved on….”

‘That might explain how we never got close,’ Chase thought. “I’m afraid the subtle clues are lost on me,” Chase said, indicating his dark glasses. The girls giggled nervously.

“You know, Chase’s birthday party is a week from Sunday. You and Susan should come!” Matt said, and the girls agreed quickly.

“What time?” Maria asked.

“Sixish,” Chase said.

“So we’ll get to meet him, then?” Maria asked.

“Him?” Chase asked with a sly smile.

“Chase! Your boyfriend, the badass!” Maria said.

“He’s really sweet,” Chase said, and Matt nodded grudgingly.

“I’m sure he is,” Maria said, “but I heard what he did when those football thugs attacked Matt!”

“He’s … very protective,” Chase said.

“From what I heard, he’s a James Dean ninja,” Susan said, and they all burst out laughing.

The four sat talking, but before the bus pulled into the school, Chase said, “Why don’t you two come by this weekend, maybe Saturday afternoon. I’ll introduce you; maybe we can all go to a movie?”

The girls looked at each other and shrugged, “Can we bring our boyfriends?”

 “Sure, as long as they’re cool with us,” Chase said. The girls nodded, and the four made their way into school.

When William got up, he pulled on some pajama bottoms and walked down to the kitchen, grabbed a cup of coffee, and sat with his head in his hands.

“What’s wrong, champ?” Steve asked as he emerged from his office. William shook his head, but the man sat down next to him and waited.

“What happened to Chase? What do the doctors say?” William asked.

Steve sat his glasses on the table and rubbed his eyes. “Where’s this coming from?”

“I just want to know,” William said.

“Chase seemed to be developing fine, but one day, after he started walking, he just started walking into things, so we rushed him to the doctor. They said he was totally blind…. Eye doctors said his eyes were perfectly developed, the neurologists said nothing was wrong with his brain. Wait a minute! You’re thinking….”

William raised his hand and shook his head, “I don’t know, I don’t know!” Steve again sat silently waiting. “Chase asked me last night … if I thought there was someone who could help him. I told him I didn’t know. I’m not an expert, I just had some private knowledge about your problem….” Steve decided not to push that one, but he put it in the back of his mind.

“Chase is happy, now as happy as he’s ever been. If you’d check into it, we’d be grateful, but we understand there are limits to all powers,” Steve said.

William nodded, and took a long drink of coffee. Just then, there was a knock at the door: it was the men delivering the equipment for the shed. William ran to unlock the gate and showed the men where he wanted the table and burners set up. One of the delivery guys was young, maybe nineteen, and cute, and was checking William out hard. When everything was settled, the older man hopped into the truck’s cab, and the young guy came back into the shed with a work order.

“Could you sign this, please?” the young man, Robert, asked.

William signed the page and handed it back with a smile. “Thanks a lot.”

Robert took the paper and walked to the door, then turned back and said, “Look, I’m probably out of line, and don’t be offended, but would you like to get a bite to eat sometime?”

William blushed, and said, “I’m flattered, and I’d take you up in an instant, but I’ve got a boyfriend….”

Robert nodded, smiling and examining William’s bare chest. “Lucky boy! Well, listen, you know where I am!” With that, the young man was gone, and William found himself wishing he knew someone who needed a boyfriend. The guy seemed very nice, actually.

William grabbed a few blocks of wood from the woodpile in the yard and carried them into his inner room. He made a fire in the middle of the room, and the smoke wafted into the infinite space above. “I call upon the elemental of fire! Come to me, oh great spirit.” A humanoid figure of flames appeared in the fire

“What would you have of me, wizard?” the elemental asked.

William bowed. “I, your humble servant, request a vial of essence of fire….”

“This is no small thing, young wizard! What is your purpose for requesting my most powerful gift?” the creature demanded.

“Love, my lord! I wish to forge a Bond!” William declared.

The being laughed deeply, “Well, well! It is a beautiful thing, and rare….”

“What is your demand?” William asked.

“Come to me,” the figure said, and William hesitated for only a moment before stepping into the flames to be embraced by the figure. The powerful elemental protected him from burning, but not from the pain. Moment after moment passed, and soon William cried out, but he did not struggle in the fiery arms. The figure stepped back and reached out with fingers of flame, taking William’s hand in his own. At last, William fainted from the pain. When he awoke some time later, he thought he had failed the second trial, until he found the vial of red, glowing liquid beneath his hand. “Thank you,” he whispered and carefully placed the vial next to the velvet bag in his safe.

With all the strength he had left, he lock up and made his way to the house. Inside, he told Steve, “I’m going for a nap….”

“Good! Aiden and Xavier will be here at 6:30, and we’ll call for you when we’re ready,” Steve said.

“Oh, yeah, thanks!” William dragged himself upstairs and fell on top of the covers, clothes on, and passed out.

At school, Chase and Matt were having a banner day, and Matt was rapidly turning Chase’s birthday into the social event of the winter, inviting all their new friends. With Amy and a couple of her friends joining them for lunch, even the popular jock crowd would have to rein in their hostility.

After school, they found William dead to the world, so Matt went home and Chase sat at his desk to work at the computer. When Chase went down to get a drink, his dad called him into his office.

“Tonight’s going to be intense, Chase…. I’m a little worried,” Steve said.

“They’ll have to understand,” Chase said.

“Eventually…. Tell me, I’ve been wondering, has William said anything to you about why he knows about fertility doctors?” Steve asked.

Chase turned white, his lip trembling, and answered, “Yes, but I’m not sure I should….”

Steve held up his hand, “He nearly said something, but I didn’t push the issue…. His mother?” Chase nodded, and Steve ran his hand through his hair. “She wasn’t?”

“Twins, far enough along to know they were boys,” Chase said.

“Jesus!” the man exclaimed.

“Dad?” Chase asked.

“Yeah?” Steve asked with a sigh.

“Do you think William,” Chase began. “Do you think that it will make him sad?”

“It might, but he’s part of our family now, and I think he’ll get through it….” Steve hoped, anyway.

“So, he said something to you,” Chase began, hesitantly. “I guess he mentioned….” Steve nodded, and Chase’s shoulders slumped. “I’m so selfish!” Steve laughed, but if Chase could have seen, he would have seen Steve’s tears.

The man came and sat next to his son, embracing the boy and coughing to clear the emotion from his voice. “You selfish? When you were little, you always tried to make your mother and me feel better! If it weren’t for you, I probably wouldn’t have brought William home! You agreed to share your room with him before you knew how you two could feel…. You love everyone unconditionally! You are the least selfish person I know!”

Chase wiped his eyes, and said, “Thanks, dad.”

“Run on, now! Why don’t you take some food upstairs? William forgot lunch, and I want him to be upstairs when it’s time for Aiden and Xavier to get here,” Steve said.

“Is he okay? How long has he been asleep?” Chase asked.        

“He seemed okay, but he’s been asleep for hours,” Steve said. “I think he may have worn himself out working on something….”

“Alright. Thanks, dad!” Steve kissed Chase, and the boy went to the kitchen and made a sandwich for William. Setting it on his desk, Chase curled up next to William’s sleeping form, rubbing his back and ass.

“Mmmm,” William groaned, waking up a little.  Messing with Chase, when the boy’s hand grazed his ass, William moaned, “Oh yeah, Matt!” Quicker than he expected, Chase smacked his ass sharply, and William rolled over laughing, pulling Chase into a passionate kiss.

“When did you get home?” William asked, stroking the boy’s cheek.

“Ages ago,” Chase said.

“What time is it?” William asked, sitting up. “I need to get ready!”

“After five,” Chase said. “I made you a sandwich…. You should stay upstairs until my parents talk to your uncle.”

William gave him a quick kiss. “You’re the best! I’ll be right back!” Grabbing Chase’s robe, William shower quickly in lukewarm water—the hot water still made his skin tingle like he was sunburned, probably from the fire elemental. When he was done, William sat on the bed with Chase and ate his sandwich, while Chase stroked his thigh gently, occasionally wandering too high.

“You’re doing that on purpose,” William said with a laugh.

“Me?” Chase asked sweetly, and if the boy’s fingers weren’t at that moment tickling him, William might have believed the innocent face.

“My uncle will be here in half an hour!” William said.

“Plenty of time for you to relax,” Chase said, pushing him onto his back. Chase proceeded to do unimaginably pleasurable things to William with his tongue, mouth and hands.  William grabbed at the boy’s shoulders, moaning in increasing pleasure, until he couldn’t hold back anymore. 

When Chase fell over at his side, William opened his eyes, he said, “I never thought I’d say this, but I can’t wait to have you inside me!”

Chase giggled and tweaked William’s nipple, making the bigger boy groan. “So much power,” Chase giggled. Shyly, he asked “Do you ever think about, you know, doing me?”

“No,” William said.

“Oh,” the boy said simply, sounding hurt.

“I’ve never thought about ‘doing’ you…. But I love every inch of you, and I can’t wait to make love to you,” William said.

Chase released a held breath and smiled. “I’ve been thinking about what it would be like ever since I realized I was different. But now that you’re here, I can almost feel it,” Chase said, sweet and excited, hugging William tightly. “Now, clean yourself up and put some clothes on! This is for my eyes only!”

William laughed, but the doorbell ringing put some pep in his step as he pulled on khaki pants and a powder blue shirt, with a darker blue sweater. Chase stood at the door. “If I don’t go say hello, they’ll suspect something! I’m usually the first to the door!”

“Go!” William encouraged, closing the door after him. He heard Chase run downstairs and cry, “Uncle Aiden, Uncle X!”

“There’s my boy,” Aiden said, taking Chase in his arms.

“How are you, sweet thang?” Xavier asked as he got his hug.

“Too hot to handle,” Chase said, making both men laugh. They began to catch-up, but Steve knew they shouldn’t delay too long.

“Listen, Aiden, Xavier, we invited you over to thank you, but there is something else….” The surprised men waited for him to continue. “I think you’re going to be upset, and I hope you can forgive me, but….”

Steve, you’re my best friend! Now, don’t be silly and get on with it,” Aiden said, laughing nervously.

“Promise me that no matter what you think, how you feel, you cannot speak a word of what you are about to see outside of this house. Not to family, not to friends, not to anyone! Can you both swear that?” The men looked at each other and nodded. “Chase,” Steve said, nodding for the boy to go get William. As Chase slowly went upstairs, Steve moved next to Xavier and took the man’s hand, something he had never done except to shake it. “I am sooo sorry, Xavier, really,” Steve said sadly. Soon, they heard two sets of footsteps on the stairs, and then the two boys stood in the doorway.

“No,” Xavier said, standing and pulling his hand away, reaching for the wand hidden in his coat. “You can’t!”

“Uncle Xavier, please,” William said, pleading, “put that away?” The man backed away as if it was all some kind of a trap, and William held his hands up and out, circling the man carefully and moving away from Chase. “Do you remember when I was five and you took me to the park? I busted my lip, and you were so scared, I had to comfort you?” Confusion replaced the fear and anger on Xavier’s face, and he lowered his wand a little. “The secret ingredient in grandma’s chocolate chip cookies is cayenne pepper?” Xavier dropped his wand, his eyes tearing up. William ran and hugged him.

“How?” Xavier sobbed.

“I snuck out to visit Peter down the street; I was in the back yard when the house exploded! I got knocked into the woods and hit my head…. I went to the emergency rendezvous and waited, but I knew they weren’t coming, so I packed up the supplies and I hid in the woods for weeks and weeks,” William explained through his tears.

“I looked for you! They never found your … body! But no amount of magick let me find you,” Xavier said with confusion.

“I had plenty of time alone. I cast every cloaking spell I could find!” As William spoke, Xavier ran his hand over the boy’s head, stroking his brown hair gently with a look of devotion and pride. “How did you come to be here?” the man asked, his voice turning hard as he looked at Steve.

“We were camping,” Chase said. “William smelled our fire and came to check us out. He was invisible, but he thought he wasn’t because I knew he was there, so he came out and then dad came back and we brought him home!” Xavier couldn’t help but smile at the boy’s enthusiasm.

William took his uncle by the shoulders and looked at him seriously: “I told them not to tell you!” The man looked surprised and hurt. “I trusted you, I did…. But I didn’t know if the people who killed my parents were watching you! They may still be watching you! Gideon didn’t want me to see you, but he said I could if you promised not to let anyone know….”

“Gideon!” Xavier shook his head. “Guardians are so overprotective! Your house was a gas leak, nothing more….”

“You don’t believe that! Every bone in my body tells me it was planned,” William said.

Xavier sat, looking at Steve grudgingly. “Thank you for protecting my nephew….” Turning to William, “So, when all of this is settled, you’ll move to D.C. with us?” William looked shocked, but of course his uncle would want him! Chase, however, was in an inner panic, and looked like he might pass out. His eyes were full of tears, and he ran out of the room.

“Chase, dear, what’s wrong?” Aiden called, going after the boy.

“Leave him, Aiden,” Steve said. “There’s a complication, Xavier, one I suppose you, of all people, must understand…. I know he’s your nephew, but I’d like for him to stay with us!” William looked back and forth between the men, petrified and in shock, not sure what to say.

“Complication?” Xavier demanded angrily, standing up. “COMPLICATION?! He’s my nephew, of course he’ll come live with us!”

“Uncle Xavier,” William said with a sob, “I ….” But he couldn’t finish, as tears overcame him. Then Chase appeared in the door, wiping his eyes with tissues.

“William, you can go or you can stay! I promise I’ll understand, and we’ll get through it,” Chase said, wiping his eyes. William’s tears intensified, and Xavier’s face was again etched with confusion as he looked back and forth between the boys. Chase walked to the chair where William sat in tears, and knelt down before him. With exceeding tenderness, he wiped the William’s eyes and placed his hand on William’s cheek. Then he leaned in and kissed William on the lips, hugging him tightly as he broke again. The room was completely silent except for the sound of William’s sobs, the adults unable to look on as Chase comforted him.

Finally, Chase stood and William struggled to his feet, putting his arm around Chase’s waist. William began softly, “Can you understand, Uncle Xavier? I thought I was dead inside until,” pausing to turn face-to-face with Chase, “you brought me back to life….” Chase didn’t care who was watching: he kissed William deeply. Again everyone ultimately looked away from a scene too intense to watch.

Xavier approached, putting an arm around each of them and lowering his head to kiss each of them on the cheek. “I love you boys! I couldn’t separate you…. I just….”

To avoid another tear-filled chaos, Aiden spoke authoritatively, “We’re moving to Richmond!”

“Aiden, really,” Xavier said, “I couldn’t ask you to….”

“You didn’t,” Aiden said, with finality. “Most of my daily business can be done from here, and it’s not exactly as if the commute will be difficult! My company has private planes, and I’ve got my wand….”

“And I could move my gallery to Richmond,” Xavier mused out loud. “A good deal of my business is over the net!” William wiped his eyes, and Chase was practically bouncing.

“Really?” Chase asked. When the men nodded, he threw himself into their arms.

“Now, if you all don’t mind,” Xavier said, smiling sarcastically at Chase, “I’d like to talk with my nephew privately?” William led Xavier to Chase’s room, and they sat on the bed.

“It still seems like a dream,” Xavier said, hugging the boy again. “But you’re here…. And you’re gay?”

Again, William shrugged and said, “At least for Chase, I am….”

Xavier laughed and said, “That’s easy to understand! And certainly easy to see…. Your mom and dad would be proud of you. They knew, you know?”

“What?” William asked with a laugh. “I didn’t know….”

Xavier shrugged and said, “They always used to ask me about my life, how a gay boy should be raised, and the like…. They knew!”

William’s tearfully said, “I wish they would have known him….”

“They do, they do,” Xavier said. “Somehow….”

William nodded, and, when he could speak, he said, “Thank you for not taking me away!”

“How could I? I’ve loved you both since you were babies! I couldn’t have done it to either of you!” The boy snuggled with his uncle as they lay down, getting all the comfort they could from each other. After a little while, there was a light knock at the door, and Chase came in. “Feel like dinner?”

“In a minute,” Xavier said, and Chase wandered over to the bed and crawled into the other side, laying his head on Xavier’s chest across from William “You boys!”

“You love it!” Chase joked, and the man hugged them both.

A few minutes passed before Aiden came. “Come on guys, let’s eat,” he said with a big smile. “Look at you! Alone for a few minutes and you’ve got both arms full of teenage boy!”

“Come on in if you want some,” Chase said playfully, but Aiden waved them over.

“Come on, guys,” Aiden smiled. When the boys were on their way downstairs, Xavier dragged Aiden into the room.

“Thank you,” Xavier whispered, putting his head on the man’s shoulder.

Aiden wrapped his arms around Xavier, but whispered with a laugh, “I love you, too…. But keep it in your pants ‘til we get home!”

Downstairs, everyone tore into dinner, laughing and talking, and truly catching up. when the little party broke up very late, William walked outside with his uncles, after everyone else had said goodbye. “Listen, William,” Aiden said, “we need to talk sometime soon. There’s some business we need to discuss. I’m the executor of your parent’s estate, so I’ll be taking care of all that ‘til you turn 25, but I need your input.” William nodded and hugged the men again. “You’re okay for money right now?”

“Yeah, I have direct access to some accounts my parents kept,” William said. Then occurred to him to ask, “Do you remember my father ever talking about Sam Roth?”

“Rabbi Roth,” Aiden asked, smiling. “Of course! He, your father and I were once on this … thing in Budapest….”

“For the Council?” William asked. Aiden’s smile faded, but he nodded. “What’s the Council?”

“We’ll talk about that later,” Aiden said, “but, for now … it’s like the congress of magical beings. They make rules and enforce agreements, and mediate with the human world. Your father and I were both with the Council, representatives of the Society, but not for a long time now! Rabbi Roth was our division chief in the Society!”

“Is he safe? Can I trust him?” William asked.

“Yes, you can…. But wait, you’ve been in contact with him since the explosion?” Aiden asked.

“Yeah. I had a glamour on though. He helped me and I told him what happened, and then he knew….” William sounded in a panic, and Aiden took him by the shoulders.

“It’s alright! He won’t be under active surveillance…. And he loved your father like a son!” William nodded. “Now, go back inside…. We’ll call you soon!” William waved goodbye and stepped inside. William went and hugged Sarah and Steve wordlessly before making his way upstairs to find Chase waiting in bed for him. Again silently, William undressed and crawled under the covers, laying his head on the silky skin of Chase’s chest, closing his eyes as he felt the boy stroke his hair.

“What you said tonight,” Chase whispered, “it’s true for me as well. My dad said something to me this afternoon … I’ve always been so strong for everyone, but when I’m weak in your arms, I feel so alive!” William looked up at Chase and kissed his chest.

Gently, William reached under the covers, and Chase’s head lolled backward. Sliding the covers down, William grabbed Chase’s waist, slid him down the bed and straddled him.  “What are you,” Chase began, but William put a finger on his lips. Reaching around with his other arm, William guided Chase.  Hearing the big boy gasp, Chase grabbed William’s hips to help steady him. “We can stop,” Chase whispered.

“No, I need this!” William said, the heat growing almost unbearably intense, and he whimpered. Gradually, William relaxed; when he began moving, the pain was residual and the rest was pleasure. Chase sighed and William leaned it to kiss his lips, slowly moving his hips up and down. They soon flipped, and William wrapped his legs around Chase’s waist, digging his heels in. Chase gave William a fiery kiss as he sped up, and William held on tightly, sucking Chase’s earlobe.

William whispered, “Oh God, oh….,” and Chase responded with his body. “Oh, that’s it, that’s the … ungh….” Ultimately it was William’s orgasm that drove Chase over the edge. Chase collapsed onto William lay there until he caught his breath.

“What a stud,” William sighed, cracking a smile.

“What was that?” Chase asked, standing and tossing William a towel.

“Now I’ll have to get you something for your birthday,” William teased. Then, seriously, “I just felt like I needed to be close to you tonight!”

“I’ve never … that was the sexiest, most wonderful thing,” Chase stammered, flustered, blushing thinking about it.

“I’m glad! I guess I don’t need to tell you that you can have me any time, big man?” Chase really blushed at William’s words. If admitted it to himself, making love to the jocky William and his gushing over Chase’s prowess made Chase feel strong and masculine in a way he rarely had. But so did having William cuddle up to him and lay his head on his chest, as he was doing just then.

“I knew it would be good,” William said, “but, my God!” Chase chuckled and stroked his back, and soon drifted off. William noticed the boy’s hand fall still and knew he was asleep. William rolled over, keeping his back in contact with Chase’s side, and fell into his own deep sleep.

Friday came too early for either of them, and the alarm woke them both. Chase ran off to shower and throw on his uniform, while William pulled on a pair of athletic pants and a t-shirt. Downstairs, they found Matt waiting for them.

“Waz up?” the boy said, sillily.

“You’re a little early this morning,” William said.

“Hellz yea,” the boy said, adding in his normal voice, “I’m just stoked! Tonight’s my big date! I’m taking Amy out to eat and to the movies….”

William laughed, and Chase said, “Well, you should probably calm down! You don’t want to come off like a dork….”

“And speaking of coming off,” William said, trying to stifle his laugh, “you should probably choke the chicken before your date so you don’t keep bumping into her with your boner!” Matt looked down, goofily. “You are a lost cause! I didn’t mean you have one now, only that … never mind!”

“I’ll take care of the dishes,” William said, as the boys ran out the door upon hearing the bus. He was putting the dishes in the dishwasher when Steve came out in his robe.

“Sarah gone already?” the boy asked.

“Yeah, early morning, but it wasn’t any trouble for her, since she didn’t have any wine last night,” Steve said.

“Getting ready?” William asked with a smile.

“Yeah,” Steve laughed. “With all the drama last night, I don’t know if Chase mentioned that he and Matt invited some girls and their boyfriends to go out with you guys tomorrow night?”

“No, he didn’t,” William laughed.

“I think it’s pizza and a movie or something. If you boys might want to make it a late night, I thought it might be nice for Sarah and I to have a romantic dinner at home….” William snorted and nodded.

“Sure! I’ll just explain that we need to see the later movie because Chase’s dad is at home boning his mom,” William said with a straight face.

Steve gave him a good smack in the arm and laughed, “Thanks!”

“Are you going to be around today?” William asked.

“Should be, why?” Steve replied.

“I’m going out for a run this morning, and they’re delivering my weight machine,” William said.

“No problem! I’ll be here….” Steve walked to his office and came back quickly. “Take this with you; it’s my old business cell. It’s yours until we get you a better one, so keep it on you!”

William took the phone and said, “Thanks, dad,” this time with a cheeky grin. Steve put his arm around the boy and ruffled his hair.

“I think I like the sound of that! You know, it’s no disrespect….” William nodded, smiling and only tearing up a little. “After all, I am like your … father-in-law!”

“Does that mean that, if Chase gets me pregnant, we’ll have an honest-to-goodness Virginia shotgun wedding?” Steve gave the boy a swift smack on the behind with the newspaper, making him jump. He walked to the door laughing and laced up his tennis shoes before jogging out the door. Steve picked up the phone called to arrange a very expensive home service, with server, from Sarah’s favorite place.

William took it easy this time, bypassing the park and its creepy denizens and heading straight for town. He was just getting winded when he arrived at the door of the old synagogue. Pushing the button, he heard the woman ask, “How may I help you?”

“It’s William, the boy from earlier this week….” He heard the door buzz, and he walked over to the office. “Thanks a lot! I was wondering if the Rabbi was available?”

“He’s with someone right now, but he’ll be free after,” she said, checking his calendar. “You can wait in our library, if you like?” William nodded, and she pointed him in the right direction. In the library, he gravitated to the mysticism section, thumbing through a few books on Kabbalah until he heard the door open behind him.

“William,” the man exclaimed warmly. “I was worried I wouldn’t see you again for a while!”

“My uncle Aiden vouched for you,” the boy said with a smile.

“Aiden Phillips is your uncle? Of course, Xavier! Your mother was a Montrose! Remarkable! You’ll forgive an old man the slip of mind! How is he?” Rabbi Roth asked.

“You can ask him yourself, soon…. They are moving to Richmond to be closer!” William said, excited.

“And why you aren’t planning to move back to D.C. when your troubles get cleared up?” the man asked.

William considered the rabbi closely and figured he had not disapproved of Aiden and Xavier. “The people I’m staying with…. I’m in love with their son.” The man smiled and nodded, sitting down in a big chair and motioning William to the other.

“You are … very young!” The man watched him carefully, “And love is a difficult thing….”

“Believe me, I know how difficult love is, but that’s no reason to live without it! Who knows how long you’ve got?” William asked with deep emotion.

The man smiled and nodded, “So you are in love? Good for you! Hold on to him!” William thought he detected something in that, but let it pass.

“I will. With your connections, I wonder … do you know of any neurologists who are like us?” The man sat back and looked at him expectantly. “The boy, Chase, he’s blind, and no one can figure out why, and I just thought….”

The rabbi nodded, and said, “But you know, it’s like anything else…. Our powers are not absolute! If it’s a curse, if the wizard was very powerful and very dark, there is only one way to help your friend….”

“I’ll do it,” William said, and his look confirmed it.

“Then there are some powers above ours,” Sam explained.

“What powers?” William asked, causing the rabbi to laugh and spread his hands, motioning to his surroundings. “Oh, yeah, of course….”

“You know, William, wizards are people too. We all need something to believe in! We, of all people, know what’s possible. There are wizards of every tradition. I tried to talk to your father, but he didn’t want to hear it. I loved him, but he was very stubborn! I hope he didn’t pass everything on to you,” Sam said with a laugh.

“I believe in God. All power and magick comes from somewhere,” William said.

The rabbi smiled in clear disagreement. “God is so much more than that! God is the merciful, the compassionate, the benevolent—not just a power plant!”

“Where was God, then?” William spoke with a little anger, though less than Sam expected, actually.

“He was shielding you from harm! He guided you to the forest, into the arms of your beloved!” William felt angry at himself for hearing the sense in what the man said.

“Gideon did those things,” William muttered.

“And who do you think Gideon is? Who do you think he answers to? Your guardians are what we call angels,” Sam said.

“That’s what Chase said—guardian angels,” William mused.

“Bright boy! Your Gideon, I suspect, is closer to God than most,” Sam said, sitting back.

“Why do you say that?” William inquired.

“Gideon is the name of a man, not an angel. Gideon,” Sam said, stopping abruptly as the big black-winged figure loomed silently and unnoticed behind William, raising a finger to his lips before dissipating.

“What?” William asked.

“I’m afraid I’m not allowed to say. It has been forbidden.” William looked frustrated, but nodded.

“So, God is looking out for us, God cares for us…. What about my parents?” William asked.

The man sighed. “It’s not ours to know! But couldn’t it be that some great purpose required a personal tragedy? In the end, all will be restored, all will be united, and your parents watch over you still!”

“Xavier said something similar…. But theology later! Could you look into the doctor for me? I want the best in the world,” William announced.

“That will be expensive,” Sam cautioned.

“I don’t care about the money,” the boy said, and Sam knew he must have plenty, if he knew Alexander Jennings. “I’d spend it all for this.”

“I’ll have a name and a contact for you next week,” the man said. William gave the rabbi his new cell number and thanked him.

“Do come see me again soon! You remind me of your father,” the man said, eyes glistening.

“I will,” William said, and pleased the man by giving him a hug.

William was pushing on the door when the man called, “Wait! I forgot, there IS something I want to show you! I was doing some research for your father!”

The man showed William two papers, one in Hebrew, the other his English translation. “There is little more important to a wizard than his magical heritage! It’s part of what ties us all together…. Your father’s family tree is complete back into the middle ages, and connects there to very ancient wizards, but your mother’s was more … incomplete. Many of her ancestors were unaware of their powers and left them undeveloped. But there was one connection I was helping him check. It turns out that your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother was married to one of the great figures of Hasidic Judaism, a sect of modern mysticism. Your great-grandfather very powerful and very important to the movement!”

“What does this mean?” William asked.

“Well, it means that you, and I suppose Xavier too, can fill in a long branch of your family tree, because through this man, you trace your roots back to the biblical era.” William sat down, hardly able to believe what he heard. “And it means that you are Jewish….”

“What?” William asked.

“Well, a person can be born Jewish or convert to Judaism, but if your mother was born Jewish and never converted out, you are Jewish. In your case, generations of your matriarchs never converted to another religion, and so are, legally, a Jew, should you choose to embrace your heritage….” William’s head was reeling and the man sat next to him.

“I don’t know anything about Judaism! I don’t understand,” William said softly.

“Your relatives hid their identity to escape persecution, and I suppose they masked their identities in fear. They came to America and lived as secular wizards, as did your grandparents and your mother. Come by some Saturday for services, just to see how it feels…. You should know about your past, and perhaps your future!” William nodded and took the English translation and the copy of the original, and thanking Sam before leaving.

A week previous, he didn’t even know there were Jewish wizards! Jogging toward home, he couldn’t help but wonder, ‘Who am I? What am I?’ By the time he reached the house, he found himself in the midst of a minor existential crisis.

He numbly asked Steve if his weights had arrived, and the man pointed him to the yard, outside his building. “You forgot to open the door, so….”

“Thanks,” he said, and went out into the yard. With a wave of his wand, the door opened and the box floated through it. William borrowed the tools he needed and moved it to his inner room, throwing himself into putting the equipment together. His whole sense of space and time was thrown off, and when Chase got home and called for him, William didn’t answer.

When Chase knocked on the door, calling his name, his voice finally penetrated William’s thoughts, and William came out to the door and threw his arms around the boy, surprising Chase.

“That was unexpected…. Is everything alright?” Chase asked.

“Yeah, sorry,” William said, catching his breath, “just got caught up in putting this stuff together. I bought this new weight equipment to work out at home and I just want to get it set up and out of the way….”

“Okay,” Chase said, smiling and putting a soft hand on his cheek, “I’m going to go do my homework so I’m free this weekend….”

Before Chase got too far, William called playfully, “So were you going to tell me about this quadruple date we have tomorrow night?” Smiling, Chase walked away. William laughed and shook his head. “I love you,” he called, lighting the boy’s face. Chase blew him a kiss before heading inside.

William’s head was clearer, suddenly, and he was able to finish putting the machine together. Then he went out to his lab and found the willow branch he had collected, and took out one of his ritual knives and carved the wood into a long smooth shaft a little thicker than a thick pen and about 11 inches long. It was a good start, he thought, but a lot of work remained. So he took the shaft into his inner room and locked it in his vault. Better safe than sorry.

Looking at the weight machine, he decided that this was as good a time as any. He hadn’t lifted in a while, so he knew he should start slow. But he needed to work off some energy, so he adjusted the machine to a not-too-strenuous weight, and started a circuit through the basic exercises.

Forty-five minutes later, he was drenched in sweat and ready for a shower. Inside and upstairs, he stripped and hopped into a cold shower, hoping to avoid sore muscles. Then he styled his hair in the mirror and crossed the hall wearing a big towel.

“Hey,” Chase smiled up at him and ran his hand up the back of William’s towel, squeezing his ass. “All clean?”

“As a whistle,” William said, “whatever that means….”

William pulled out some black pants and a form-fitting white dress-shirt, which he left unbuttoned to the third button, and shiny black leather shoes. “Why don’t you get dressed and let me take you out on a date? We should have one before we go out with a group….”

“Really?” Chase asked excitedly. William told him what he was wearing and ran downstairs while Chase was changing.

“Well, aren’t you dressed up,” Steve said. “What’s up?”

“I want to take Chase out tonight, just the two of us,” William said.

“And you need rides?” Steve asked.

“No, I thought you might want to practice for tomorrow night,” William said with a mischievous smile, “I just need your permission. I’ll call a car service….”

“Sounds fun! Take your phones and be safe,” Steve insisted.

“Thanks,” William said and ran to get the phone book, calling to reserve a car and driver for the evening then for a reservation at a posh Thai restaurant. He was stumped about what else to do. Mini-golf was out, and they were going to the movies the next night.

Sarah passed behind him and leaned in to whisper, “There is a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth tonight at the Carpenter Theatre! Chase loves Beethoven!” William gave her a peck on the cheek and phoned the box office. The timing was perfect, and there were seats left, but they were the most expensive in the house, the woman explained, hearing the youth in his voice.

“Two please,” he said, and made the reservation.

Shortly, Chase came downstairs looking like a young movie star in his tight white turtleneck and sleek black pants. “Picture time,” Sarah announced, and the boys posed for her at the bottom of the stairs.

“Now,” Steve said, taking a fatherly tone, “You guys have a good time, have my son home after 11, and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do….”

“Dad!” Chase complained playfully. “Wait! After 11? Ewww, dad, gross!”

“Those baby brothers and sisters aren’t going to fertilize themselves,” Steve said, giving Sarah a playful smack on the behind.

“You guys are gross!” Chase teased.

“They’re pretty cute for old people,” William said, dodging Sarah’s hand. Their banter was halted by a knock at the door.

“I’m Derek, I’ll be your driver for the evening…. Would you like me to wait, sir?” the young driver asked Steve. He was surprised when William answered, “No, we’re ready!”

“Yes sir,” the driver said, leading them out to a new black Lexus limousine. Derek stood by the door and opened it for them, and watching William help Chase inside. “Will there be any other passengers, this evening, sir?” Derek was wondering if there were any young ladies to be picked up.

“No, Derek, it’s just us, tonight,” William answered, wrapping his arm around Chase and confirming the man’s suspicion.

“Very good, sir,” Derek replied, not revealing anything. “Where to?”

“Thai Curry House,” William said.

“Very good,” Derek answered. “There are drinks in the cooler, if you like.” With that, he raised the privacy glass, and Chase cuddled into William. Shortly before they arrived, Derek lowered the privacy glass to announce their destination, and Chase made no move to withdraw from William’s embrace. This time William saw the longing in Derek’s eyes before pulled the car stopped and Derek opened the door for them.

As they got out of the car, William asked, “Can I get you something? We’ll be a while at our next stop!”

“Thank you, sir, I’ll be fine.” Something told William the young man was being polite, but he said nothing, and led Chase to the door.

Approaching the hostess, William said, “We have a reservation for Abernathy.” The boys were led to their table and sat next to one another facing the room. Each boy ordered soup, salad and a meal, and they sat talking and holding hands, ignoring the few disapproving looks. The food was delicious, and the boys cleaned their plates. They ordered a desert to share, and William asked for an order of pad thai, to-go. When they were all finished, William paid and took Chase’s arm, leading him out of the restaurant. Derek jumped out of the car and opened the door for them.

When Derek was back in the car, William directed him to the theater. When they arrived, William let Derek help Chase out of the car, while he sat the food on the man’s seat. They collected their tickets at the will-call window and found their seats, sixth row center.

Chase held William’s hand throughout the first half of the performance, occasionally squeezing it in approval. During the intermission, William ran to the restroom, leaving Chase alone.

Chase was startled when a young blond woman with rosy cheeks leaned forward and said, “You two are very cute together!”

Chase turned to thank her, and introduced himself, extending his hand awkwardly, “Chase Abernathy!” His ill-aimed handshake, as well as his dark glasses in the dimly-lit room, revealed his condition, and she took his hand warmly in both of hers.

“Charlotte Wilson, and to my left is my fiancé, Dave Swanson.” Dave, a cute guy with brown hair, shook Chase’s hand warmly, deep dimples at the corners of his smile.

William returned and smiled at them as Chase was chatting away. “William, this is Charlotte and Dave! They’re engaged! Oh, and they are students at the University of Richmond!” William smiled and shook hands with the couple, immediately noticing Dave’s almost sapphire eyes.

“William, I know you’re on a date, but Charlotte and I were going to get coffee and a snack afterward if you guys would like to join us?”

Chase took William’s hand and squeezed, smiling at the cute college boy’s words.

William, knowing they had some time to kill if they didn’t want to hear Sarah and Steve ‘practicing,’ answered, “Why not?” Then the lights flashed to quiet the audience. After a few shorter pieces, the show was over, and the foursome waited for the aisle to clear a little for Chase.

William asked, “Did you have fun?” Chase, always enthusiastic, threw his arms around William and squeezed, and William kissed him on the cheek before smiling at the other couple in embarrassment. “So where are you guys going?” William asked, and Dave explained that there was a diner they liked near campus and that they had taken the bus.

“Well, we have a car; we can all ride together,” William invited, and the couple happily took them up on it. As they exited the theater, William warned, “We don’t always travel in this kind of style!” as Derek pulled up and came around to open the door. “Derek, Dave and Charlotte are joining us for coffee!”

“Yes, sir,” the young man said, smiling at his passengers.

As the other passengers got into the car, William asked, “Do you like pad thai? I wasn’t sure….”

For a moment, the young man dropped his mask of professionalism and smiled, “Thank you!” William nodded and climbed in.

“You sure know how to show a guy a good time,” Dave said, laughing. “Poor college students like us get by best we can….”

“You had pretty good seats,” William joked.

“My parents have season tickets and they couldn’t come,” Charlotte laughed.

“Dave, could you tell Derek where we’re going,” William said, and when the car started to roll, the privacy window went back up.

“So, I don’t mean to be nosy,” Dave said, looking around the car.

“Sure you do,” Charlotte cut him off.

The boys laughed and William said, “It’s alright….”

“How’d you swing this?” Dave asked.

William smiled and said, “My parents were very good with their money….”

Charlotte, hearing what was unsaid, put her hand on Dave’s arm to stop his follow-up. “How long has it been?” the young woman asked.

“Two-and-a-half months…. Tonight is my first night out,” William explained.

“I’m sorry,” Dave said, genuinely. “What happened?”

Chase squeezed William’s hand and answered for him. “Someone blew up their house….”

“I’m sorry, I really am! I grew up without my parents,” Dave said. “They died in a car accident when I was nine and I lived with my grandparents.” William nodded in sympathy.

Chase broke the awkward silence, asking, “So, when is the wedding?”

The couple looked at one another and Charlotte said, “June, if we can get our site reserved!” She and Chase chatted away about her wedding and the planning she’d done, while William and Dave just smiled.

“What do you want to do after you graduate?” William asked the young man.

“Well, I’m an economics and business major, so I guess financial advising or something like that. I’d like to go to law school so I can handle more aspects of my clients’ businesses, but it’s so expensive and I don’t have any help and I don’t want that kind of debt at the beginning of our marriage!”

William had an impulse and considered the young man’s face, “Give me your hand,” William requested, and Dave looked at him funny, not sure what to make of it. At last he held out his hand and William took it like he was shaking it, but held it still. Now Charlotte and Chase were wearing curious looks, as Dave started to get nervous. “Calm down,” he said. “Would you ever lie to your client?” The young man shook his head, no. “Would you ever take money from a client that wasn’t due to you?” No. “Do you honestly believe you have the skill to make money for your clients?” Yes.

William sat back and thought for a moment, before speaking. “In the last couple of months, I’ve learned to go with the flow! I’ve also learned that not every meeting is random and insignificant!” Chase smiled and took his hand, and William squeezed it. “I think you should go to law school! And I think you should work for me….” Everyone looked at him in shock. “Finish school, come to work for me! Go to night and weekend classes for law school, work for me, and then when you’re finished, take on other clients….”

“Are you serious?” Charlotte asked, and Dave looked at him with incredulity.

“I’m very serious! While you’re working for me, I’ll give you $70k, plus law school tuition and insurance,” William offered.

“This is … unbelievable,” Dave said, still not sure he wasn’t being put on.

William pulled out his card and dialed the number for the first account. After providing his authentication, William asked, “Balance?” Hearing the response—upward of 14 million Euros—William held the phone up to Dave’s ear and asked the voice to repeat the balance. The young man’s eyes bulged as he heard the number and William snapped the phone closed. “There are ten accounts like that one, in addition there is my parents’ estate. I’m not interested in most of the day-to-day, so you’d pretty much have free reign to make me some money. If you’re successful, we can talk about a percentage of the profits for you….”

Dave looked at Charlotte, who was just bouncing and who, at last, leaned across with a squeal and gave William and Chase a big hug. The car pulled over and Derek opened the door for them. In the diner, they all got coffee, and Chase and Dave talked about the kinds of business interests Dave wanted to research before he would start working for William officially. William offered to have a contract drawn up and wanted to meet Dave the next week to get that signed and in place. He would also have the young man meet with Steve, who was an expert in struggling businesses. In the meantime, Chase asked Charlotte about the wedding venue and the delay in scheduling it.

“The down-payment—they want half now, and half at the wedding, and my parents think it’s too expensive,” she said.

Chase nodded, and said, “I’m sure you’ll figure something out….”

They all chatted for a while longer, and William said, “I think we should head home….” They settled their bill and William stopped at the ATM on the way out to the car to get some cash. “Do you guys want a ride back to your places?”

“No, thanks,” Charlotte said. “We’re just across the way, so we’ll walk.” William exchange numbers and emails with Dave, and he and Chase got back into the limo. “We’re ready to head home, Derek….”

When the privacy glass was up, Chase said, “I think you did the right thing! He’ll be a good man….”

“I thought so…. And I don’t want to worry with business; it’s not my thing!”

Chase and William snuggled and started a little light making out, but soon enough Derek pulled up to their house and came around to open the door for them. As Chase stood by, William signed the slip for the credit card and gave Derek a very generous cash tip.

“Derek, could I talk to you a minute?” William asked, and the man straightened up a little.

“Sure I’m off the clock,” he said. Chase looked like he was worried William was about to hire this man too, given his wry smile.

“I may be out of line, but are you gay?” The young man blushed heartily, and nodded almost imperceptibly. “Are you out?”

Again he nodded, but he added, “Not that I know all that many people…. I’ve had a hard time and, well, I keep to myself!”

“Do you have a boyfriend?” William asked.

“No, I’ve never had … a boyfriend,” Derrick replied.

“I met a guy this week,” William began, “he’s a really nice guy, and I thought you guys might hit it off. If you’d like, I could introduce you?”

“Really?” Derek asked, sounding a little excited. “I … it’s hard for me to meet people and especially to ask a guy out unless I know he’s … you know!”

“Well, give me your number and I’ll call him up and see what we can do. Two cute guys like you shouldn’t be alone,” William said, teasing a little, as Derek wrote out his number and handed it to him. Chase took his arm and walked with him up to the house. Before they could get inside, however, they saw Matt’s car pull in next door, so they walked over to say hi.

“Yo, Matt, what’s up? Besides you?” William asked, snorting at his own joke, which was true this time. Matt’s hair was a little mussed up as well.

“Oh my God,” Matt said, “what a weird night! We went out and had dinner, and … you were right, William! She noticed my … you know. When we were in the movie, she held my hand in my lap and fingered me through my pants! When we kissed goodnight, she put her thigh between my legs and I’m so frustrated … and she’s freaking awesome!” The boys laughed at Matt, who seemed well on his way to knocking boots with the prettiest girl in school.

“So, we’re all going out tomorrow and I’ll get to meet your Amy?” William asked, and the boy nodded dreamily. “Well, night,” William said, nodding toward Matt’s lap, laughing, “I guess we’d better leave you to it!” Matt waved and shot him a bird, and William and Chase went in the house quietly.

Tell-tale sounds from the master-bedroom said it still wasn’t late enough, but the clock said after 11. William looked at Chase, holding back his laughter, and said, “Must be round two!”

“Ewww,” Chase whispered, smacking him, and the boys tiptoed upstairs. William stripped down and lay on the bed, pulling up the covers and turning on his side, and Chase crawled in with him, wrapping his arm around William’s waist. The warm spooning soothed William and he fell quickly to sleep.

In the night, William felt a sleeping Chase humping him softly.  William smiled to himself and assisted Chase, who would soon rise from sleep in the middle of sex. Chase stopped suddenly and William whispered, “Please, keep going….”  After a quick climax, Chase whispered, “That was different,” smiling and kissing William, who got up to go to the bathroom. After Chase straightened the bed and William returned, it was William’s turn to spoon Chase as they fell back to sleep.