4 Into the Open

Chase woke up sometime after eight, rolling over to run his hand across William’s tight abs and exposed nakedness.

“Hmmm,” William moaned, before grabbing Chase and pulling the boy up onto him, grabbing Chase’s ass.

“Ahh,” Chase groaned, kissing the strong boy beneath him. Nibbling William’s earlobe, Chase whispered, “Since I can’t have my first top on my birthday, maybe I can have my first bottom?”

“A present we’ll both enjoy!” William said, smiling. Then, it suddenly occurred to him. “What time is it?”

“About 8:45,” Chase said.

“Still time! I gotta get ready; I need to get down to the synagogue,” William said.

“What?” Chase was at a total loss. William gave Chase the 10-second summary of how he had met Rabbi Roth, his father’s friend, who had invited him to services. He hadn’t thought he wanted to go but then he decided he did and now it was time! “All right, run, shower!”

William was in the shower for about a minute before Chase pulled back the curtain and stepped into the shower and started washing.

“What?” Chase asked. “I’m going with you of course! Now hurry!” The boys didn’t even have time to mess around. After running across the hall to get dressed, they ran downstairs and found Steve at the table.

“We need a ride, dad!” Chase said. “William will explain in the car!” The man rolled his eyes and grabbed his keys, as William gave a slightly more full account of his encounter with Sam Roth, omitting reference to his own heritage.

The car ride was short. As Steve pulled up in front of the synagogue, William said, “We’ll call you to come get us,” smiling and holding up his phone. “Thanks, dad!”

Steve waved as he drove off, and William led Chase to the door, which opened as he pushed. William grabbed a kippot for Chase and himself from a basket near the door, and helped Chase put it on. Together, they walked to the door of the sanctuary; a few people were scattered throughout the quiet room, waiting for services.

When the rabbi came in and saw them in the back, he led them to seats nearer the front. “The old folks like to see young faces,” he said, laughing. “It’s good to see you, William,” he said. Placing a hand on Chase’s shoulder, he added, “And you must be….”

“Chase, sir, Chase Abernathy! It’s nice to meet you!”

“It really is my pleasure, young man…. Extraordinary,” the man proclaimed as he clapped the boy on both arms lightly. He then made his way to the front of the small congregation and got everything set up, before donning his tallit—prayer shawl—and saying a prayer. Then he went to the back of the room and returned to William with a spare tallit.

Holding it out to the boy, he said, “Repeat after me,” and recited the prayer word by word, William following along, before placing it across the boy’s shoulders and giving him a hug. “Shabbat shalom,” the man said with a beaming smile.

“Shabbat shalom,” William responded, as if in a daze.

“What was that all about?” Chase asked, but William had no response.

As the service began, the congregation began chanting the Hebrew, which neither boy understood, but everything did seem strangely like home to William. With the tallit across his shoulders, he felt draped in … holiness. The service was long, very long, actually, but William felt comfort, and it seemed like no time had passed when it was over. By that time the room was nearly full, and the congregation was curious about the visitors. In small groups, almost everyone came up to William and Chase to meet them. The rabbi came up between them and put an arm around each of them.

“Come along, come along, join us for Kiddush! We all have a little lunch together!” So the boys followed the rabbi and got light plates of food, and sat down with the man and a few families at one of the large tables in the community hall. The boys had already met, at least in passing, most of the people at the table, but the rabbi reintroduced them. “William here is the son of an old friend of mine! He was like the son I never had! And Chase is his boyfriend….” Chase blushed until his ears turned purple over that comment, and a couple of the women at the table laughed.

William caught their eyes and said, “He’s cute when he blushes, no?” But soon enough, Chase recovered and got involved in a conversation with one of the families nearby, and William sat back and watched with pride as his boyfriend charmed the table.

William excused himself to the restroom. But on his way back he walked toward the sanctuary. He was standing in the back, staring toward the ark, when he heard the rabbi’s voice behind him.

“It feels right, doesn’t it?” Sam asked.

“Yes,” William said, turning to find the man with his arm across Chase’s shoulder. “You know, I left here the other day not knowing who I was, until I found myself in Chase’s arms, the one place I know exactly who I am,” he said, as Chase flew into his arms. But William continued, “But I felt something like that today, here. I want to learn more….” The rabbi nodded, pleased.

“Come see me early next week. I’ll have some information, and we can talk then! I can show you some good books!” William nodded, and walked with Chase toward the door. But Chase made him come back to the social hall to say goodbye, and then they left.

William called Steve, and put the phone in his pocket. While they waited, Chase asked, “So what was all that?”

“My mother was Jewish, I was born a Jew. I need to understand that part of where I come from.” Chase hugged his arm and leaned on his shoulder until Steve pulled up.

On the way home, Steve asked, “So how was it?”

“I don’t know, but I’ll be back, I think.” Steve nodded, and drove the rest of the way in silence.

Back at home, the boys changed into their casual clothes. William lay down with a book, while Chase browsed the net. Getting bored, Chase crawled onto the bed, laying his head in William’s lap. William absentmindedly fingered Chase’s hair and read his book, and soon Chase dozed off.

“Chase,” William whispered about an hour later, “Chase, wake up, sweetheart!” William patted his chest, and Chase groaned. “Chase, your friends will be here soon! We should go downstairs.” Chase rubbed his face then walked across to the bathroom and splashed some water in his face to freshen up.

Downstairs, they found Steve and Sarah sitting and talking. “So,” William said with a wicked smile, “we stayed out ‘til after 11 last night, but we came home and heard the strangest noises! Chase thought some animal might be caught in the back yard. We thought we ought to stay home tonight and get to the bottom of that!” Sarah blushed, and Steve tossed a pillow at the boy.

“What movie are you going to see?” Sarah asked.

“Who knows?” Chase said. “We’ll see what everybody wants to see….”

“And who are these kids?” Steve followed up.

“Dad! It’s Matt and his new girlfriend, and Maria and Susan from a few streets over, and their boyfriends! Which reminds me, Matt’s inviting everybody and his brother to my birthday party, so it may be a little bigger,” Chase informed them.

“So what are we talking about?” Steve asked.

“To hear Matt tell it,” William said, “you’ll definitely need the back yard for overflow! At least….” Just then, Matt let himself in, dragging Amy along.

“Hi, everybody! This is Amy! Amy, you’ve met Chase, this is his boyfriend William, and his parents, Steve and Sarah….”

The girl stepped forward and held out her hand. “Nice to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Abernathy!” Turning to William, she appraised him with a smile. “So you’re Chase’s mystery man?”

“I don’t know about that,” William said, smiling and taking the girl’s hand, “but I am Chase’s!”

Amy smiled and grabbed Chase’s arm. “He is sweet!”

“I know! Oh, that reminds me,” Chase said, reaching into his pocket and handing a piece of paper to William. “I did some research on the net and thought you might want to take care of this!”

William looked at the paper and smiled: it was the name and phone number of Charlotte’s wedding venue. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to make a call!” In the other room, William called and booked the ballroom for the date Charlotte wanted, providing payment in full. He asked the staff to call the young woman and let her know it had been taken care of as a wedding gift from him and Chase.

Returning to the living room, William and squeezed Chase’s shoulder before sitting on the floor and leaning against Chase’s legs. When the doorbell rang, Steve and Sarah answered it, leaving the kids alone. They pointed Maria and Susan and their boyfriends toward the living room and went to watch some television in the bedroom.

Susan and Maria found the living room and announced themselves, and Chase stood up and offered his hand to William, who pulled himself up. “Susan, Maria, you guys know everyone but William,” Chase said, putting his arm around the boy’s waist proudly.

“Nice to meet you,” William said, shaking hands with each of the girls.

“This is my boyfriend, Charles,” Maria announced, and the boy shook hands with William and Chase.

“And this is Edward,” Susan introduced the boy to her left, who nodded shyly to them.

Susan whispered something to him, and he stepped forward with an embarrassed cough and said with a light British clip, “I … I’m sorry. It’s nice to meet you chaps! Edward Boyle….”

Chase took his hand warmly in both hands and smiled. “You’re English?”

“We moved here a few years ago, but I suppose it’s dead obvious,” Edward laughed.

“Nothing to be ashamed of!” Matt laughed. “The girls love the British accent….”

“The boys don’t have a problem with it either,” Chase grinned.

“If you can talk to them,” Edward laughed, smiling at Susan.

They all got to know each other a little better, but at last Matt took the lead. “I thought we could hang out at the mall, get some food at the food court, and catch a movie!” They all agreed that that sounded good. “I can drive,” he said. “Who else? We can all go in two cars.” Charles had driven, so he drove his group to the mall, and Matt drove Amy, Chase and William.

The little kids had a lot of fun at the food court and walking around the mall, and William picked up a few new additions to his wardrobe since he had lost most of his clothes. Edward and Susan stayed close to Chase, with Edward almost doting on the boy. Clearly, William thought, his experience in America had not been positive, and he was drawn to anyone who showed him a little kindness.

William got Susan alone for a moment and said, fishing for an explanation, “If I didn’t know better, I’d say your boyfriend was sweet on Chase!” Susan just smiled and shrugged. “He’s had a hard time?”

“It’s not my place to say,” she said, “but give him a chance and he’ll probably tell you himself….”

Chase and Edward, happily chatting as Chase guided himself by the boy’s arm, had gotten far enough ahead of them to be out of sight, and Matt and Amy had ducked into a store with Maria and Charles. Suddenly, a small group of jocks blocked their path.

“Hey, if it ain’t the school queers! Your boyfriend know you’re out with another guy, Chase?” The boys were emboldened as they taunted the shy English boy and the diminutive blind kid. “I think it’s going to be a bad night for you two!” In a surprising show of courage, Edward stepped in front of Chase and stood quietly. “Well, isn’t that sweet? He’s going to protect his little boyfriend!” the boy said, lurching forward and laughing when Edward cringed.

Chase reached forward and grabbed Edward’s arm. “Let’s just get out of here,” he whispered.

Another one of the boys laughed and said, “You aren’t going anywhere!”

“Oh, no?” William said as he walked calmly past Chase and Edward. A couple of the boys who had seen him at school tried to blend into the crowd and walk away, but William pointed at them. “Hey, where are you going? It’s no use; I know your faces!” The boys stopped in their tracks.

The big boy, shrugging off his friend’s hand, stepped forward with a derisive laugh. “I was expecting … more!” William’s hand shot out like lightning, two fingers striking a pressure point at the base of the boy’s neck, doubling him over. It happened so fast, passers-by had no idea anything had happened.

William leaned over and said, loud enough for the boy’s friends to hear, “This is over! No more! I’d like to show you all what I can do, but I can’t take my boyfriend and friends to the movie if I get arrested for attempted murder.” Standing up, he pointed at each of the remaining boys, one by one, “You all … get one last free pass! But any one of my friends gets hurt, ever, from here on out, I don’t care if you did it … I’m coming for you! So maybe you’ll watch their backs, make sure none of your friends bumps into them in the hall, or anything like that. Yeah?” The boys nodded and walked off, leaving their friend in pain. “You! Get outta here!” The boy stood up shakily and headed for the nearest exit.

William took Edward by both shoulders and looked into his eyes, and asked, “Edward, you okay?”

“Yeah,” he said, a little dazed. Smiling, he said, “That was brilliant!”

William gave him a hug and whispered, “I saw what you did for Chase, getting between him and those guys! That means the world to me!” William patted the boy on the arm as he backed up, pretending to ignore the moisture in the Edward’s eyes.

“What happened?” Matt asked as his group came out of the store.

“Jocks,” Susan said with disgust.

But Edward smiled, “Got handed their asses, proper!”

Matt laughed—been there, seen that—but Edward regaled the rest of them with his tale of William’s ‘badassery.’ The rest of the night passed without incident, and the movie was funny but forgettable.

Sunday brought boredom. William went out for an early morning run and finished with a workout in his lab; then he showered and woke Chase with a kiss. The boys mostly just watched TV and read, and Matt came over for a long visit. Sarah found the boys laying around in the living room in the afternoon and made them go with her to buy party supplies, both to get their input and make them carry all the stuff inside when they got home.

Monday, with the boys back in school, William started to get into a routine, running and exercising early in the morning, then working on his magick in the lab, before returning to the house for lunch and study. When Chase came home William got back to work in the lab so he wouldn’t distract Chase from his homework.

That afternoon, William had a very particular task to achieve—he would concoct a very dangerous potion known as “the deep waters.” At his workstation, he triple-distilled a half-gallon of water, which he then placed in his cauldron, slowly adding the ingredients, which included the tale of a scorpion, the venom of a snake, and deadly-nightshade. Carefully, he brought the boiling cauldron into his inner room and sat it on a prepared fire. In his right hand, he held his wand, in his left a scroll carefully copied out on natural parchment in an ink of his own blood. In Latin, he spoke, “Potentest of poisons, darkest night and deepest death, bow before the light of love, submit to the heart of man, give up your sting!” On the last word, he dropped the scroll into the cauldron and stood at ready as a small explosion rocked the room. He was expecting it, and contained the explosion with his wand, suspending the liquid midair and, by the force of his will, collecting it into a single location for collection in a jar. The effort drained every ounce of his energy, and he barely managed to lock the potion away and get half way to the house before collapsing.

When he came to, he could not even call out. Barely able to move, he rested his head on his arm, he closed his eyes; as much as he hated to scare Chase, William knew only he would be able to hear him. ‘Chase,’ he concentrated his mind. ‘Chase, I need help. Chase!’ He was too exhausted to maintain that level of focus for more than a few seconds. But soon he heard the sweet, soft voice calling for him.

“Chase,” he managed a low moan, but the boy’s hearing was well-tuned.

“Dad!” Chase called for Steve, “Something’s wrong!” Soon enough, Steve knelt at his side.

“William? William, are you alright?” Steve asked, worried.

“I….” William couldn’t finish, instead shaking his head weakly. Steve dragged William to his feet, but realized that the boy would be no help in bearing his own weight, so he called Chase down to help support William.

“Be careful, son,” he cautioned, but Chase showed impossible strength in the circumstance. Inside, they laid William on the couch in Steve’s office and tried to decide what to do. Sarah was just coming in, so she checked his vitals and he seemed okay on that front. Steve wanted to call Aiden, but Chase was worried that Xavier would overreact.

“Call Rabbi Roth,” the boy said, running upstairs for William’s wallet. “His private number is on the card!”

“Why would we call a rabbi?” Steve asked, thinking his son had lost it.

“Rabbi Roth is … like them, a wizard or whatever,” Chase said.

Things fell into place, and Steve opened the wallet and found the man’s card. He dialed the number, but handed the phone to his son.

“William?” Sam answered, having seen Abernathy on his caller id.

“Rabbi Roth? It’s Chase!”

“Yes, how are you, my boy?” Sam asked.

“I’m sorry, sir, but … William just collapsed in the back yard coming back from his lab,” Chase said hurriedly.

“What’s your address?” the man asked, and Chase could hear the man gathering his things as he took down the street number. “I’ll be there in five minutes!” In what seemed like less time than that, the man bustled through the front door, dispensing with knocking. “I’m glad this is the right house!” Sam said with a little laugh as he walked past the gathered family and sat next to William.

Sam placed his hand over the boy’s heart and said, “Well, he’s fine physically!” Closing his eyes, the man concentrated, looking into the boy. At last, he smiled, “He’s fine, he’ll be fine! Just playing in the deep end of the pool…. I can revive him a little if someone can spare a little energy?” Without a moment’s thought, Chase was on his knees next to William.

Sarah and Steve were about to object when the man smiled and held up his hand. “Absolutely no long-term side effects! The short-term side effects are easily countered with a hearty meal and a nice long sleep!” Steve nodded but Sarah looked nervous.

Smiling at Chase, the man reached out and took his hand, and placed it palm down over William’s heart, with both of his on top of it. Closing his eyes, he directed a small amount of Chase’s psychic energy down through the boy’s arms into William’s chest.

“That’s it!” the man proclaimed after a few short moments. He helped Chase to his feet, and together they helped William sit up, and sat on either side of him. “How do you feel, Chase?”

“Like I could use a nap, but fine! Thank you for coming and helping,” Chase said.

Looking at William, Roth continued, “As for you, once you’re rested up, you can expect to make this up to me! You scared us!” Impossibly tired still, William looked down sadly and said nothing, but Chase put his arm around him and gave him a hug.

“Could you all give me a moment alone with William?” the man asked. Steve closed the door behind them as they granted his request. When he was sure they were gone, the man turned to the boy and said, “What the hell were you doing? What if you had passed out locked in that building?” William looked at him in shock, as he’d not talked to the man about his lab. “Don’t look so surprised! You poured so much powerful magick onto that place that I can feel it from here! No one I know could break down those barriers on short notice!” The man softened and smiled at the boy. “It’s actually quite impressive….”

William smiled weakly, and whispered, “Deep waters….”

“What?!” The man looked shocked as he turned to William and moved away slightly.

William’s shoulders fell. “I thought you knew! That comment about swimming in the deep end….”

“Wizards twice your age have died trying to make that potion, you damned fool!” The old man sounded very much like a grandfather torn in scolding his grandson for a foolish act but proud of a valiant effort. “Even I’ve never actually seen the deep waters….”

“Would you like to?” William asked with a sly smile.

“You mean…? It can’t be!” William nodded and the old man’s pride in the boy overcame his concern.

“Can you walk?” Sam asked.

“Can I borrow your cane?” the boy asked with a laugh. The two of them hobbled from the room and toward the door. Waving off the others, the rabbi said, “It’s alright, we’ll only be a moment, no worries!” William retrieved his wand and opened the outer and inner doors. “You’ve really done something impressive here, William. Just the setup is fantastic.” William put his hand on the wall and opened the vault. Carefully he removed the small jar of clear liquid swirled with glowing blue that didn’t mix in.

“Dear Lord,” the man exclaimed, as the boy held out the jar. The man absolutely refused to take it in his hand, for fear of dropping it. “But William … why? If you failed, one drop of the vapor could kill an average man! There are only a few reasons one might make this….”

William replaced the jar and asked the man, “If you promise not to say a word? It’ll soon be done in any case….” The man hesitated, but nodded, and William took out the other vial and the velvet bag. “Hold out your hand,” William asked, and the man did. William emptied the contents of the bag into his hand, and the man peered into his palm.

Now he looked at the vial in the boy’s other hand and asked, “That isn’t?”

“Essence of fire?” William said, nodding with a hesitant smile.

“Dear Lord!” the man repeated, emptying his hand back into the bag. “Deep waters, essence of fire, and angelic gold…. Most wizards would pay unimaginable sums for any one of these elements! You’re forging a Bond?” The boy nodded sheepishly, and the man sighed. “Youth!”

“I’m going to do it,” the boy said, with finality.

“I know! I know! But I can’t let you do it alone,” Sam scolded.

“I want to do it for him, I need to do it by myself,” William said.

“In any case, not alone! If anything goes wrong, I need to be there, not only for you, but also for your father and mother! You’re their memory!” The man felt bad touching that nerve, but anything to gain the boy’s agreement. And he got it. “Anyway, you don’t know Hebrew, so you’ll need me to tell you how to pronounce the words that have to be spoken during the forging at the fires….”

“Have you ever done anything like this before?” William asked, grateful for the man’s assistance.

“I’ve faced graver danger side by side with your father. This won’t involve dark wizards and demons, anyway…. You’ve passed the most dangerous step, anyway! But no, I don’t know when the last time someone approached the fires was….”

“Well, I’m glad you’ll be with me,” William said.

“We should get back before someone comes looking! You need to rest up! And I mean it! No more difficult magick until we meet for the final stages!” Sam demanded.

“I still need the dragon’s breath incense,” William said.

The man peered at him above his glasses, and sighed. “Of course! Then you’ll have the four elements…. Not before Wednesday!” The boy nodded, and Sam led him back to the house. Inside, Chase was waiting; he took William by the arm and had him lay down on the couch, with his head in Chase’s lap. The rabbi smiled and muttered, “Remarkable!” Turning to Steve and Sarah, he held out his hand. “Sam Roth! I don’t believe we’ve been properly introduced,” he said with a laugh.

“Steve Abernathy,” the man said, taking his hand, “and this is my wife, Sarah….”

“I don’t know if William mentioned the interesting coincidence by which we crossed paths in town…. His father was very dear to me!” Sam explained.

They both nodded, and Sarah said, softly, “We’re sorry for your loss….”

The man’s bright eyes glistened, and he responded, “Just take care of him, for me?” He paused. “Tell me—if it’s too personal, say so—what do you think of the boys’ devotion to one another?”

Sarah looked uncomfortable, and Steve said, “They make each other happy—but it’s peculiar.” They all looked over at Chase, gently stroking William’s face totally unconcerned at being watched.

“Not so quickly, I think,” Sam mused. “Is there anything unusual about your son—besides the unexplained blindness, I mean?”

“No,” Steve answered, but Sarah’s eyes widened.

Smiling, Rabbi Roth asked, “What is it?”

“Gideon,” she said, and it dawned on Steve too, then.

“William’s guardian?” Sam asked.

“Apparently, he’s been visiting Chase in his sleep for years. We only just learned,” Steve explained.

“I think … Gideon was preparing your son for William through his dreams! And likely he was doing the same with William! What was it he said about them?” Sam asked.

“They were destined for each other,” Steve responded.

“Well, it’s not that this developed quickly, it’s that they’ve been waiting their entire lives for this last week!” The parents looked overwhelmed by the sudden awareness of powers they could not manage at work in the life of their only son. The man smiled, and put his hands on their shoulders. “I feel privileged to have the opportunity to see them together, as I am saddened that Alexander and Leah won’t! You’ll see things in your lives that you couldn’t imagine!” Removing his hands, Sam stood up and declared, “I really must be going…. See you on Wednesday, William?” The boy waved from the couch and the man was on his way.

William lay on Chase ‘til dinner, and after they ate, Chase immediately helped him upstairs to bed. Chase got on his computer after William was asleep and used text-to-voice software to listen to his reading.