2 This Could Be Magic

Aiden stood at his door looking pensive in civilian clothes – jeans and a tight polo under a leather jacket. His hair was still a little wet from showering at the station, no doubt. 

“I got your address from your statement.” Tom didn’t open the door, so Aiden shifted nervously. “Can I come in?” he asked, looking embarrassed. 

Tom opened the door and waved the man in. “Can I get you something? Wine? Beer? Something harder? I’ve got some leftover Chinese.” 

Looking surprised, Aiden laughed and said, “I am starving!” Tom took his coat and hung it by the door, grudgingly admiring the lines of the man’s body beneath his clothes. In the kitchen, Tom microwaved the leftovers, which Aiden washed down eagerly with a beer.  

Tom sat in front of him. “You need to take better care and eat better on duty.” 

Aiden smiled at Tom and rolled his eyes. “Thanks, mom!” As they laughed, Tom couldn’t help but soften towards the man. Aiden had seen something impossible. 

“How’s the boy?” Tom asked. 

“Fine. Night shift is on guard. We’ve got some good prints, so hopefully this ends soon,” Aiden explained. 

“Good. Is he awake?” Tom asked. 

“No, doctors don’t expect that any time soon. So,” Aiden began, becoming more sober suddenly, “you lost someone recently. She must have been very special.” 

Tom had expected a different question but asked with a smile, “Why do you say that?” 

“Well, you’re smart, funny, doing well for yourself,” Aiden yammered. 

“Not to mention devilishly handsome with a rocking body,” Tom added with humor. 

Aiden blushed a little, or was it Tom’s imagination. He thought Aiden was cool enough that he could say what he wanted. “Jamie was the most special person I’ve ever met. I really thought we’d be together forever. When Jamie died, it made me wish I’d died too.” 

“Do you have any pictures of her around?” Aiden asked. 

Tom laughed and Aiden was confused. “There’s a picture of me and Jamie in the living room, on the writing desk,” Tom said, leading Aiden by his elbow. Tom picked the frame up and handed Aiden a photo of him and Jamie standing in front of the house. Jamie’s arm was around Tom’s shoulder and Jamie was leaning in to kiss him on the cheek. “My neighbor took this picture a week before….” 

“So Jamie? Sorry, I … shouldn’t have assumed,” Aiden stammered. 

“Why wouldn’t you, Aiden? I like to think I come across as masculine,” Tom teased. 

Aiden laughed sympathetically, “You do! You look … very happy together.” 

“The happiest ten months of my life! Some of the only truly happy months of my life,” Tom added darkly. He was surprised when Aiden gently squeezed his shoulder. “You aren’t uncomfortable, super-cop?” 

“No. It’s so rare to find someone, so much harder when … I really am sorry!” Aiden said. 

After a pause, Tom admitted, “I thought I’d never see you again after this evening!” 

“Yeah, me too,” Aiden smiled. “But the way you looked when you left, I felt bad! And a little curious, too.”  

Tom motioned for Aiden to sit, and then sat at the other end of the couch. “What you saw was a piece of ancient magic recorded six hundred years ago, but reportedly passed down to Moses on Mount Sinai.” 

“Come on!” Aiden challenged. 

Tom smiled, “Well, who knows? But I did find it in a medieval Jewish mystical text, and I may be the first person to use it in six hundred years.” 

“What kind of person just browses and memorizes medieval magic?” Aiden asked. 

Tom looked embarrassed. “I was a lonely child and had a lot of time on my hands. I got obsessed, and, at first, it was just, you know, hypothetical. I found I could do things. If I worked a simple luck spell over and over, within a couple of days, something good would usually turn up. That spurred me to harness power more instantly. But I also learned an ethical code: avoid selfish gain, do good and avoid doing evil. When I went to college, I studied philosophy, but I spent a year abroad in Paris. My God! The old bookshops contained wisdom so much older, so much more powerful. I started studying with a group of mystics, for lack of a better word, who shared info, books. When I came home, I wrote my dissertation in philosophy, but my life was absorbed studying this,” Tom concluded with a sigh, nearly out of breath from spilling it all at once. 

Aiden slid down, closer. “It’s just hard to accept! That light, and your voice, and that other voice! It’s all real, and that’s heavy!” 

Tom put a hand on the man’s shoulder, near his neck. “It is real!” 

“That voice?” Aiden asked. 

Tom closed his eyes. “I wish you’d never heard that.” 

“What?” Aiden demanded. 

“Evil personified,” Tom said. 

“A demon?” Aiden persisted. 

“If you prefer. Again, I’m sorry you had to hear that,” Tom said, looking at his hands. 

Aiden nodded grimly. After a moment, he stood. “Well, thanks for the food. I’m sorry for reacting so poorly today, but I was shocked! Anyway, I wanted to let you know.” 

Tom walked Aiden out and shook his hand, again lingering far too long. When Aiden was gone, Tom sighed. Damn that cop was sexy! Immediately, he was filled with guilt, as if it was too soon to be thinking such things. Billy was a fantasy, but Aiden, was serious. 

For the next several days, Tom went about his normal routine, straight to school and straight home, but now stopping by the hospital twice a day to check on the boy and, truth be told, to see Aiden. He felt sure that, when the case was closed and the criminal was caught, he’d never see Aiden again, but Tom couldn’t help but want to see him. 

One evening, as Tom was sitting by the boy’s bed wiping the hair from his face, Aiden entered the room. He cleared his throat so he didn’t startle Tom. Tom drew his hand back, but Aiden just shook his head. “I just wanted to let you know I’m off.” Aiden turned to go, but then looked over his left shoulder. “I don’t suppose you wanna grab a bite?” 

“I guess I have to eat,” Tom said wryly. 

“Way to make a guy feel special! You want a ride?” Aiden asked. 

“I’ve got my car,” Tom said.  

“I’ll follow you to your place, and we can ride together!” Aiden suggested. Tom smiled and nodded, patting the boy on the arm as he got up to leave. 

After dinner, Aiden brought Tom home and accepted an invite inside. As they settled onto the couches, the young cop looked at the ceiling for a moment and coughed to clear his throat. “Look doc, I’ve got a confession to make. I’m gay too….” 

Tom laughed. “To be honest, I kinda thought you might be!” 

“Was it my limp wrist?” Aiden asked with a grin. 

“Wishful thinking! I hoped you might be taking more than a passing interest,” Tom said. 

“You like a man in uniform, eh?” Aiden teased. 

“Or out of uniform,” Tom said. “Wait! I didn’t mean it dirty!” They both cracked up laughing. 

Aiden put a hand gently on Tom’s, closing his eyes at the feeling. “I’m sorry about how it happened, and how I reacted, but I’m glad I got to meet you. It was worth it.” 

There was a spark, but Tom drew his hand back, smiling but hesitant. “Aiden, you, you’re a beautiful man and you seem so sweet,” Tom began. 

“But … you’re not ready?” Aiden asked. 

Tom smiled but felt sick to his stomach. “I thought I was. I wanted to be! I even wanted it to be you, honestly, but somehow I just,” Tom said, trailing off. 

Aiden scooted closer still and shakily put a hand on Tom’s chest, just above his heart. “You were in love, I get that! But would he want you to hide in this house alone? He loved you! Nothing will replace that, but you don’t run out of love.”  

Tom nodded, his stomach settling. He put his hand on Aiden’s and said, “Can I call you? I need to think but I….” 

“Alright,” Aiden said, smiling, as he dragged his hand across Tom’s chest to grab his wallet. “By the way, you are devilishly handsome with a rockin’ body.” As Tom laughed, Aiden wrote his home phone, cell phone, and email on the back of his card. “Call me any time. I should let you get to sleep. I’ve got to be back at the hospital in the morning.” 

Tom followed Aiden to the door and said, “I’ll see you there on my way to class.” 

“Great,” Aiden said and, not knowing what to do, gave Tom a quick hug. “See you tomorrow.” Tom surprised him by returning the hug and giving him a light kiss on the cheek. Aiden was unable to stop his hand from rising to his blushing cheek, bringing a smile to Tom’s lips. 

‘What the fuck is wrong with you, Tom?’ he asked himself when Aiden was gone. A nice, sexy young guy just poured himself out to you and you let him leave with a ‘Can I call you?’ and a kiss on the cheek? “Oh, Jamie,” Tom sighed out loud, choking back a sob. In his bedroom, Tom hugged Jamie’s pillow, and though it was faint, he could still get just a hint of his scent. “Jamie, Jamie, I don’t know if I can do it!” As he had so many nights before, Tom cried himself to sleep on that pillow. 

Again morning found Tom cold and alone, and he got out of bed and went about his morning ritual almost mechanically. Work out, shower, dress. Look over notes for class. Eat breakfast. But he went through the steps faster and earlier, so he could go by the hospital. 

Though his first class wasn’t until 10, and the hospital was on campus, Tom walked into the hospital at 8:15. The boy had been moved and apparently wasn’t a John Doe anymore, so Tom had to find a doctor to direct him to the semi-private room where he found Aiden asking the boy some simple questions. When Tom walked in, the boy looked at him with a weak smile. “You….” 

“You!” Tom replied, making the boy laugh a little. 

“It hurts to laugh,” the boy complained. “I’m Peter Dawson.” 

“Professor Thomas Corman, or Tom to my friends,” Tom said, putting a hand on the boy’s thin arm. 

“I know.” That surprised both men and Peter chuckled a little again. “I started college this semester. I saw one of your public lectures. It was good.” 

“So you’re not in college anymore?” Tom asked. 

“Trying to take my job, doc?” Aiden replied. 

“Sorry! But?” Tom asked again. 

“No, my parents stopped paying the bills, kicked me out on my ass. I tried to get a job, but it’s hard, you know? I’ve basically been on the street for a month,” Peter explained. 

“Why did your parents do that?” Aiden asked.  

The boy blushed and looked away, and said, sullenly, “You wouldn’t understand!” 

Tom put a hand on the boy’s cheek and turned him to face them. Brushing hair from the boy’s face like a mother, Tom said, “I think you’ll be surprised, Peter!” 

“I got here, and I started feeling free, so I … I came out to my family when I was home for the first time. My dad hit me so hard I hit my head on the floor, and my mother wouldn’t speak to me! They told me they never wanted to see me again, that I was never to see my brothers again,” Peter said as he completely broke down in tears. 

“I’m so sorry,” Tom said, kneeling down so they were at face level. “Peter, listen to me! What your parents did is unforgivable! You’re right, I don’t understand that! My father told me that he loved me when I told him I was gay….” 

“You?” the boy asked, incredulously. 

“Yeah, me! My friends know, but I’m pretty private. I’m not ashamed or anything, but I’d just rather live a quiet life, you know?” Tom explained. 

“I’ll never be able to,” Peter cried. “What am I going to do?” 

“You just get better, and we’ll talk. I think I can help you, but let me worry about that! Just trust me?” Tom asked. 

The boy thought a moment and nodded. “Listen, here’s my cell phone number,” Tom said, handing the boy a paper. “I’ve got a couple of classes and some work I need to do, but I’ll be back this afternoon around three. Call me if you need anything or can think of something that you’d like?” 

“Thanks, Tom,” the boy said, and Aiden walked the young professor into the hall.  

When they were alone, Aiden shook his head. “You’re going to take this kid in?” 

Tom shrugged. “I’m going to do what it takes to help him.”  

“You’re amazing,” Aiden said, giving him a dazzling smile, complete with dimples. “Listen, I didn’t mean to pressure you last night.” 

“It’s okay,” Tom said, putting his hand on the man’s forearm. “Can you just give me a little time?”  

Aiden nodded. “I won’t say it’s easy, though!” Then he winked and went to finish his interview with Peter. 

Tom went to his office and answered his emails, one of which was an offer from Cambridge to publish his first book, on medieval political thought. He replied with his thanks before forwarding the email to his department chair. Then it was off to class. He taught two introduction to philosophy classes in a row, then, after an hour of lunch, his medieval philosophy lecture. Back in his office, he sorted mail and checked his messages. 

“Dr. Corman! Congratulations,” his department chairman, Walt Moore, called as he burst into the office. 

“Thank you, sir! I was very excited to hear back,” Tom said with a smile. 

“This is just wonderful, just wonderful! Why don’t we have a little celebration? A dinner at the house? Martha would love to see you, she misses you!” Walt leaned his cane on the desk and settled into a chair. “I know things have been difficult, but Jamie wouldn’t have….” The man choked a little, as the name caught in his throat. Jamie Moore had been his third child. 

“Walt,” Tom said with a trembling voice, “I … it’s been so hard! I…. Alright!” 

“Really?” the man asked. “You can’t back out, if I tell Martha!” 

“It’s alright, I’ll come! Invite some fun people, though,” Tom said with a smile. 

“Guaranteed!” Walt promised. 

The man started to get up, but Tom started, “Walt? I … need some advice and, well, I don’t know who else to ask. You and Martha are the closest thing I have to … anyone.” 

“Shoot,” the man said, looking a little unsure. 

“I … it’s been nine months and I’m finding it really hard to move on and…. Well, I don’t know,” Tom said, struggling with his words. 

“There’s someone, someone you’d like to get to know better? But you’re worried you’ll be betraying Jamie?” Walt asked, piecing it together. 

“How do you do that, Walt?” Tom asked, laughing. 

“A lot of sons, my boy! You know, Jamie saw the sun rise and set in your eyes, Tom, and I’ll always be thankful that, in his short life, he got to know what you had together. If you think there’s a chance, even a chance, that this man can make you happy, it would tear Jamie up to think you’d pass that up!” 

Tears filled Tom’s eyes, but he choked them back. “Thank you, Walt!” 

The man stood to go, but turned and put a hand on Tom’s shoulder, “You’re a young man with everything going for you. Don’t let life pass you by.” 

Tom nodded, and when Walt was gone, he put his head on his arm and cried onto his desk. Only a knock at his door brought him back. “Just a minute,” he called, and straightened himself, wiping his eyes and blowing his nose. Opening the door, he found Sarah Graham who clearly looked startled by his appearance. “Can I help you, Sarah?” 

“I can come back later,” she said, hesitantly, but he waved her in magnanimously. 

“Take a seat, Sarah,” Tom insisted. 

“It’s a bad time,” she said, hesitantly. 

“Nonsense. No time like the present,” Tom said. 

“You’re alright?” his graduate student asked with concern.  

“No, but I’ll make it.” So they had their scheduled meeting about the woman’s thesis, but he was watching the clock. A few minutes early, he announced, “Sarah, I promised I’d be at the hospital at three for a friend….” 

“I’m sorry,” she replied, beginning to gather her thing. 

“It’s okay, he’s going to be fine!” After he packed his own bag, Tom stuck his head in Walt’s door. “Just let me know when!” 

“Will do! I’m thinking Friday, but I’ll talk to Martha tonight. And Tom, why don’t you bring your friend? I’d like to meet this fellow,” Walt instructed. Tom blushed but nodded.  

Later, Tom arrived at the hospital with a bag of books and snacks, and found the boy alone. “How are you, Peter?” 

“Sore, but the doctors say I’m fine,” Peter reported. 

“When are you getting out?” Tom asked. 

“They want me to stay over the weekend, so Monday if nothing changes. Where am I going to go?” Peter asked, sounding momentarily like a little boy. 

“I’d like to talk to you about that. Where’s Aiden, uhm, Officer O’Connel?” Tom asked. 

“They caught the guy. Some gang initiation! Apparently, assaulting a ‘queer’ is the admission price, so he figured to make major points by killing one,” Peter explained. 

“How did he figure you out?” Tom asked. 

“Hell if I know, unless he’d been watching me. I’m not proud of it but it’s been cold. I let a guy take me home the other night to get off the street,” Peter said, embarrassed. 

“I’m sorry,” Tom said softly. 

“No, he was cool about it, and nice to me,” Peter said. 

“But it could have ended very differently! I’m sorry you got put in that position! So, when you get out of here, how would you like to come to my house?” The boy looked him over and arched his eyebrows. “Peter,” Tom scolded, “it’s not like that!” 

The boy’s eyes fell and he meekly apologized. “Sorry, Tom.” 

“I guess you’ve had to do things to stay alive,” Tom said. “Did they test you?” 

“Yeah, syphilis, but I’m being treated. I need to be tested again in a few weeks and a few months to get cleared for HIV.” The boy tried to sound clinical, but the fear shined through. 

“So, I’m offering you a room, free of charge. You’ll help me out around the house, get a job, follow the house rules. I’ll help you get back into school in the spring and you can stay with me throughout, if you like,” Tom declared. 

“I can’t afford,” Peter began. 

“I’m pulling some strings. We’ll work something out. But I need to be clear, I don’t want anything in return, other than help around the house,” Tom said seriously 

“I’m sorry, Tom, I should never have,” Peter began. “I was joking, but you are cute!” 

“Thanks, Peter, but nothing can ever happen,” Tom declared. 

“You’re just my fairy god-brother,” Peter affirmed with a nod. 

Tom laughed. “Good! Now, I brought you some books,” he said, pulling out a mystery and a horror novel. “I didn’t know what you like, but I had these at the office. And I brought you some snacks. The food in these places….” 

“Sucks! Thanks, doc!” Peter said, smiling. 

“You spent too much time with Aiden today,” Tom laughed. 

“Don’t you mean Officer Cutiepie … I mean O’Connel?” Tom’s face flushed as the young man laughed. “I knew it! You’re totally into him!” 

Tom shrugged. “You’ve seen him in that uniform!” They laughed and talked, getting to know each other some, but as the sun started to set, Tom stood. “I’ve got to go, you need your rest.” 

“Do you have to?” Peter asked. 

“I’ve got some grading to do,” Tom explained. 

“Come back tomorrow?” The boy asked, sounding desperate. 

“I’ll come by in the morning and again in the evening, I promise! Why don’t we see what’s on?” Tom asked, staying for another hour to watch TV and talk.