13 It’s The End of the World…

Chase had gone to the park with Matt after school so he wasn’t home as the news began to break. Steve was sitting next to Sarah watching news about the the Vatican when rumors of war began to spread.

“Thank you, Neill…. I’m reporting live from Vatican City where a powerful … tremor has damaged Saint Peter’s, as well as other sacred sites…. Early reports coming out of the Vatican indicate that the toll on the Catholic Church will be great…. Official reports indicated that an unofficial meeting of cardinals was taking place at the time of the incident, and that as many as thirty cardinals, as well as significant portions of the Swiss Guard, were killed by falling debris…. We have official confirmation that the pope is alive and unharmed….”

The anchor, Neill, sat forward, and said, “Excuse me, excuse me…. We have confirmed reports that, just hours ago, a Chinese warship sank an American cruiser and a South Korean destroyer in South Korean territorial waters….” The graphics began to change as the man went on. “An emergency session of the United Nations is underway, and we have unconfirmed reports that North Korea has attacked the South, and Japan….” William, who was in the kitchen with Aiden and Xavier, yelled for him to turn up the volume.

William and his uncles had walked into the living room to watch the news report, so everyone was shocked when a too-sweet voice from behind them said, “Such a pity, all those lives … and of course the beautiful frescoes in the Vatican.”

All eyes turned to face the lone white-robed figure. Even as Sammael raised his hands to send a shock wave through the room, William felt time crawl to a near stand-still. Chase was with Matt, thank God! But the most important people in the world to them both were in this room, the people Chase needed to survive the end. And then there was Sarah who, like his own mother had at her death, had young life growing inside of her. She saw but barely had time to register the sad smile that danced at the edge of William’s lips as he leapt forward, raising his arm in a defensive gesture to erect an angelic shield that would deflect all of the energy aimed at Steve and Sarah. But he would not be behind that shield.

When the wave of energy impacted him, William was thrown across the room into a silent, unmoving heap. Steve and Sarah started to move to William’s side, as Aiden and Xavier lay stunned on the other side of the room, but Sammael sinisterly smiled at them as he walked to the boy’s side. When Sammael disappeared, William was gone.

Steve and Sarah rushed to help Xavier and Aiden, both of whom were bleeding and unconscious. Steve quickly called 911 and asked them for an ambulance, whose sirens were Matt’s and Chase’s first sign that anything was amiss next door. Matt gasped and grabbed Chase’s arm.

“What is it?” Chase asked, afraid to know what had shocked his friend.

“The ambulance is at your house,” Matt said, and the boy slipped his grip and tried to run to his house, tripping on a little step up. Matt was a few steps behind him and helped him up and into the house.

“What’s happening?” Chase asked with terror in his voice.

“My God,” Matt whispered as he saw the living area of his friends house, which looked as if a small bomb had gone off. “It’s your uncles, they’re both unconscious,” Matt whispered.

MOM? DAD?” Chase called, and Sarah ran around the corner and wrapped her arms around the boy. “What happened mom?”

The woman started to speak, but a deep sob wracked her and left her silent. His father spoke gently. “Sammael … he came here! After he attacked the Vatican…. He was going to kill us all,” Steve said, falling silent.

“But you’re okay?” Chase asked, relief seeping in. “Are Avery and Xavier going to be okay?”

“They’re going to make it,” Steve said, with a sigh.

“But I don’t understand, how did you all surv…. NO! NO!” Chase’s denial didn’t keep his head from spinning and he began to wobble. When he finally collapsed, it was Matt who caught him. A deep pain welled up inside of Chase, tinged with an anger like he’d never felt, a rage that bordered on madness and threatened to overflow. Sammael had come into HIS HOUSE!

Sarah knelt down beside him and whispered, “When Sammael unleashed his … whatever … there wasn’t time for him to defend us all…. I don’t know why he….”

“Babies,” Chase whispered. “He was saving you and the babies…. Where is he? Take me to him….”

“Chase, he’s gone,” his mother said, her voice pleading.

I KNOW HE’S GONE! I just need to ‘see’ him,” Chase said, tears beginning to flow.

Steve looked away from his son, unable to bear to watch his heart breaking over and over again. “His body is gone, son…. Sammael … he took it with him….”

Chase’s tears turned to sobs and his mind’s eye saw red. He felt his emotions reaching for all the tremendous power he had access too, determined to seek and destroy and damn the consequences. Chase began to rock softly as he cried, and tried to focus, tried to control himself, because if the torrent were released that very moment, he could very well give Sammael what he wanted. No one else saw the huge black figure appear in the room and walk over to the boy and touch his shoulder. Suddenly, Chase’s dark world went silent and insensate. He couldn’t feel, smell or taste….

He was experiencing pure sensory deprivation, but his mind was active. “Chase, you’re losing control,” Raziel said, appearing in his mind’s eye.

“He’s destroyed my world! I WANT TO LOSE CONTROL! I WANT TO DESTROY HIM, AND ALL THOSE WITH HIM!”

“Chase, I’m so sorry, but I cannot let you out until you have control of your vast power…. I can’t allow you to do his work for him,” Raziel said, turning and walking away in Chase’s mental image.

“God damn it all! God damn him!” Chase raged.

Raziel looked over his shoulder sadly and said, “See how well that worked out last time?” And then he was gone, and Chase was locked up inside his mind.

***

The paramedics left with Xavier and Aiden, and Matt knelt by Chase, holding him in his arms. The boy was absolutely nonresponsive, so Steve called Sam, who arrived shortly.

The man checked the boy out and shook his head. “Looks like he’s had a mental break…. I don’t know what to tell you: there is no telling how long this will last or how to reverse it….”

“Isn’t there something you can do?” Sarah asked.

“Even if there was, I wouldn’t…. Messing with a mind like that would be too risky to be worthwhile…. Matt, could you get him into bed upstairs?” Sam asked.

Matt slipped his arms beneath Chase’s slight body and lifted him with ease, carrying him upstairs and laying him gently on his bed. He removed Chase’s shoes and pants, and pulled his sheet up over him before lifting off his shirt. Then Matt sat on the edge of the bed and rested his head in his palm like the thinker.

Meanwhile, Sam called Sebastian. “There was an attack here,” the old man said immediately.

“I heard,” Sebastian said. “Everyone’s alright? I was just about to come….”

“No, everyone isn’t alright. It’s William. He’s gone,” Sam said.

Sebastian sniffled and coughed to clear his throat. “I … I thought he’d go after Chase,” Sebastian murmured.

“He’s a coward!” Sam said. “He did go after Chase! He came to kill everyone the boy loves, but William put up a shield to defend Chase’s parents. Aiden and Xavier just made it, as they were partially shielded. But William was hit by the full force of it, as well as the energy that reflected off of his own shield. And Sammael succeeded—Chase has had a psychic break…. Right now, he’s gone, too….”

“I’m on my way,” Sebastian said, slamming the phone down. On his way out of his office, he called for Avery and said, “Mind the desk! I’m in Richmond!” And he was gone before the man could answer him.

Before Sebastian could get out of William’s training area, however, he was waylaid by the dark and surly figure of Gabriel. The figure blocked his exit, and Sebastian said, “I don’t really have time for this….”

“You have time for this, vampire,” Gabriel grumbled. “There is precious little time left, and our only hope is dangerously destabilized….”

“You mean you did this to him?” Sebastian asked, the anger rising up in him.

“No…. Not me. Raziel. The boy was losing control. His anger and sorrow were so intense, it could have dragged the world down with it…. He had to be contained,” Gabriel explained.

CONTAINED? CONTAINED! Your boss did this to him, made him like this, and when things went wrong, you lock him up in his own mind? What kind of reward is that? Be the best person you can be, and God will punish you again and again, with a side of loss for good measure?” Sebastian railed.

“Sebastian, calm down,” Gabriel said, more a plea than an order.

“After what I’ve lost? No! It’s enough! Let the whole fucking mess get swallowed up! Why not?” Sebastian asked as he collapsed to his knees and struck the ground.

“Sebastian,” Gabriel sighed and knelt beside him, “I, of all beings, understand loss, betrayal … but there is a bigger picture: a world of life and love and opportunities, a world where James is still alive. Remember that. He’s not lost forever….”

“How can I ask Chase to overlook what he’s lost … for a world full of potential?” Sebastian asked as his dark, thick blood dripped from already healing knuckles.    

“I can offer no more guidance on this matter…. It is beyond my sight. But you must save him if he is to save the world….” And then Gabriel was gone.

***

William’s body was battered and bruised, and blood was trickling from his nose, but he was alive. James could tell that much. He could smell the boy’s blood, despite the fact that he was outside the room….

“He got loose! He’s got a protective circle,” Sammael railed at Pursan.

“But he can’t escape,” the wise demon nodded. “And bringing him here was never my idea, was it? Put the boy in with him…. It is enough they are trapped….” At last, Sammael assented and tossed William’s unconscious body into the room, so he rolled into James’s circle of protection.

James rushed to the boy, and he suddenly wished he’d learned a little healing magick. The boy was in desperate need. James knelt over him and placed his hands on the boy, and tried to visualize his energy probing at the battered form, pouring healing into it. He could feel it working, but he knew it was costing him much more than it was helping William, and at last he had to stop. Finally, he scooped the boy up into his arms and just held him as he watched the door.

After a while, Daemon snuck in and exclaimed, “Hell!” James looked at him with raised eyebrows. “What? He looks terrible. I kinda liked him…. He tried his best to resist me!” That had inspired something akin to respect in the demon, who could not fathom true love but did understand the kind of power it took to resist his charm. “Here, drink this…. Keep your strength up to help him,” Daemon said as he tossed the young vampire a couple of bags of warm blood.

James smelled it and could tell it was free of any … additives, so he nodded. “Thanks….” Daemon smiled a smile that would have softened marble, winked, and exited quickly. James quickly drained the first bag, then the second, before turning his attention back to the friend in his arms.

***

Sebastian walked into Chase’s room, where he found Matt curled up next to the boy. Matt moved to get up but Sebastian shook his head and smiled. “Please, stay….”         

“I’m sorry about James,” Matt said softly, brushing Chase’s hair from his face.

The pain in Sebastian’s face was evident, but he pushed out a smile and nodded. “Thank you…. And now William … and Chase…. And you know about James’s friend Peter?” Matt nodded; Chase had explained that to him. “Some moments, I hate him, I want to destroy him: I know he’s caused some of this. But … in clearer moments, I know that he’s as much a victim as the rest of you!”

“And you,” Matt said softly.

Sebastian gave Matt a look that was something between thankful and pitying. “I’m much more to blame than a victim would be!”

Matt gave him a hard look and said, “You really believe that….”

“It’s the truth,” Sebastian said sadly.

“No. It isn’t…. Sammael is responsible. Demons and old evil things are responsible. The leaders of this fucked up world are responsible. If it wasn’t for you, it would all be so much worse now….”

“You’ve been talking to Chase,” Sebastian said with a simple smile, sitting by the bed and taking the boy’s hand under Matt’s watchful eye.

Matt grabbed his hand away in a flash and Sebastian looked at him, hurt and offended. “Oh, I’m sorry Sebastian,” Matt said, blushing. “It’s just, I noticed something…. Look at the ring!”

“It looks like it did the night it was made,” Sebastian said, confused.

“Would it? From what I understand of these mystical bond thingies, the signs only last as long as the Bond…. What happens when the Bond is broken by death?” Matt asked.

Sebastian smiled brightly and looked like he might cry for a moment. “The black swirls in the ring would disappear and it would look like a golden ring….”

“So William is alive,” Matt said, returning the smile.

“And he’s probably being held where James is…. I could kiss you,” Sebastian said, glowing.

Matt blushed a little and said, “If I didn’t have a girlfriend, I might let you….” Then it was Sebastian’s time to blush, making Matt laugh.

Sebastian got on the phone and called Sam over. When the man arrived upstairs, Sebastian said, “William’s alive, and I think I can track him!”

“What? How?” Sam asked.

“Matt figured it out,” Sebastian said, smiling again at the boy. “The ring, the Bond is not broken….”

“Of course,” Sam exclaimed.

“I can use something of Chase’s to trace back to William’s energy because of the Bond, and I’ll find James with him. I’m sure of it!” Sebastian smiled.

“Good Lord,” Sam murmured.

“I’m going to assemble one last team, Sam…. Will you stay with the boys? Protect them?” Sebastian asked.

“Of course, of course, my friend…. Good luck and God bless,” the old rabbi added.

Clasping the old man by the shoulders, Sebastian said, “Thank you my friend…. If things don’t go well … it was one of my greatest pleasures to serve with you….” Sam wiped his eye and gave a hard nod, and the vampire was gone.

“Can he win?” Matt asked, sounding more like a man than the boy he was. Sam’s look pleaded that he could not answer. So Matt looked down at the boy he loved like a brother, and he began to whisper in his ear. “Chase, it’s Matt…. PLEASE HEAR ME! PLEASE HEAR ME! WILLIAM IS ALIVE!” He pleaded with the boy over and over.

“He cannot hear you,” Gabriel’s deep voice interrupted the quiet mumbling.

“Can he hear you?” Matt asked.

“He is beyond me…. Only Raziel could reverse this spell, but he is convinced the boy is too unstable to be allowed to return to consciousness….”

“And that’s worth risking the end of the world as we know it?” Sam demanded angrily of the angel.

“An unstable Chase could mean the end of the world, period!” Gabriel declared.

“But William is alive!” Matt pleaded.

“You are a bright boy,” the angel smiled approvingly. “But Raziel is convinced by this episode that Chase is just too dangerous….”

Matt turned his eyes back to Chase and lowered himself onto the boy’s pillow and stretched out next to him and resumed talking to him, ignoring the conversation that proceeded between Sam and Gabriel. “Chase, I love you…. It may all be over soon, but I hope you always know that! I wish I could talk to you one last time, tell you all I want to tell you…. William is alive and Sebastian is going for him and James. Maybe he’ll make it.”

***

In a vast empty void, Chase’s self-image railed angrily against the chaos. Anger, sadness, and confusion rolled off of him like tsunamis. He cast spell after spell into the abyss impotently, tears streaming down his face.

And suddenly he wasn’t alone. Suddenly, the figure of Matt stood before him, and called to him: “Chase! Stop!”

Chase’s anger almost overcame him to the point that he struck out at his oldest friend. But at the last minute, he pulled back. “WHY SHOULD I?”

Matt looked at him like a deer caught in headlights, but at last choked out, “Don’t you love me at all?”

“What?” Chase asked, flabbergasted. “I…. I….”

“Chase, I love you, your parents love you, Sam and Sebastian love you, Gideon loves you…. Chase, what are you doing?” Matt pleaded.

“It hurts so bad,” the frail form collapsed to its knees, and soon Chase felt ethereal arms around his self-image.

“You can’t lash out at the world, Chase…. There’s so much left worth saving, and you … blowing up…. You could do so much damage!”

“I know…. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” Chase cried out.

“Chase, they say you are putting the whole world in danger if you lose control, so Raziel has locked you inside your mind until he believes the threat is past,” Matt said.

“I…. I … can control it,” Chase said.

“Chase, I need to tell you something…. William … William is alive!” Matt said.

Chase looked like he was in shock before standing, and raising his hands, which filled with the brightest of white light. Then he pressed his arms outward until the whole world filled with light.

***

Both boys sat upright in bed, gasping for breath. “Chase!” both Sam and Gabriel exclaimed in surprise. Gabriel asked Matt, “What did you do?”

“I reached for his hand and started turning the ring while I talked to him and suddenly I was inside….”

“Raziel … let the boy out?” Sam asked.

“No,” Chase said with a determined fire in his face. “The boy let himself out!” He stood with a determined look and went downstairs to find his parents.

“Honey,” Sarah said, both shock and thankfulness in her voice.

“William is alive,” the boy said simply, “and I am going to go get him….”

Sarah sat back in her chair and started to say something. She looked at the television, where the news showed the world creeping toward war. Then she nodded at her son. “Be careful,” she said. At just that moment, Xavier and Aiden burst through the door.

Chase looked at the men and said, “You’re late…. He’s alive and we’re going to get him!” The men looked shocked but followed the boy upstairs to his room. “Matt, you should stay here,” he said as he entered.

“I’m going with you,” Matt answered. Chase nodded and moved his hand through the air, effortlessly ripping a hole to his chosen destination, dispensing with tools.

Sam looked apprehensive and said, “I promised Sebastian I’d keep you safe….”

“Then I GUESS you’d better come with us then,” Chase said with a little smirk and stepped through. Matt followed him immediately, then the three men.