6 The Past

The man walked over to Tom and said, “Judge Tucker would like to see you in chambers.” Tom looked doubtful, so the man added, “It’s urgent!”    Felicia shrugged and Tom followed the man to an office, where the crisp-looking middle aged woman had shod her robes. “Please, take a seat, professor.” Tom sat, and Judge Tucker continued, “So, did you really save Peter?”

“I suppose so. I found him bleeding and held my hand on the wound until help came. I paid for his medical care. I brought him into my home,” Tom said.

“You’re aware how that might look,” the judge replied casually.

“Judge, I’m not sure we should be having this conversation,” Tom said defensively.

“Don’t be silly,” she said with a laugh, pouring herself a glass of tea and offering Tom one. “You’re not a party to any cases of mine – you aren’t seeking custody, Peter is – and I can see that you only have eyes for one man.” Tom blushed, and she said, “You took a risk for these boys and I admire that. I wish someone had taken a risk for my son.” Tom sat back and waited for her to continue. “He’s like you – gay, I mean. He ran off to college and really blew it, trying to exercise his freedom. Now he’s working a dead end job until he can pay off his credit cards. Then we’ll try college again maybe. He could have used a good example!”

“Is that what you wanted to tell me?” Tom asked, not meaning to sound rude, but feeling intensely uncomfortable.

“No,” she laughed. “I wanted to ask you if occult activity may really be involved in the parents’ case, and I can’t talk to your handsome policeman about that!”

“Perhaps I shouldn’t,” Tom began.

“Thank you, for confirming! A few years ago, a thirteen year old boy – the little brother of my son’s friend – was found murdered in the woods, symbols carved on his body. No one was ever caught,” she reported.

Tom sat back thoughtfully, before saying, “I’ve spent a good deal of time researching the occult. I could perhaps take a look at the file in the boy’s case and offer an opinion.”

The woman nodded. “I’d appreciate it. Getting the information will take a few days.”

Tom stood and shook her hand, and quickly took his leave after giving her his card. Then he huddled his men together, packed them into the car, and drove back to his place. Aiden gave him a kiss, before going to work for the rest of his shift. Then Peter and Tom gave David a rundown of the house. David had packed some clothes, but they’d have to go get the rest later.

That night, Aiden spent the night. He knocked softly on the door and Tom dragged him inside, pinning him to the door with a kiss. “I’m glad you came!”

“I didn’t figure you’d want to leave the guys here alone,” Aiden said, adding with a wink, “And why sleep alone when you don’t have to?”

That night, Tom had a dream in which he woke to find a slightly luminescent Jamie sitting on the bed next to Aiden. He looked at them sadly smiling, and stroked Aiden’s hair.

“Jamie, I’m sorry, I,” Tom began.

“Hush! This is what I want for you.” Looking at Aiden, he said, “I couldn’t have hoped for better! But I’ve come to tell you something, and I need you to remember it word for word. Promise me, you’ll write it down as soon as you wake up?”

“I promise,” Tom said.

“I am a son of God, I am a child of Light, I am one too strong to fight,” Jamie began.

When the long litany was finished, Tom asked, “What is it?”

“A spell,” Jamie answered.

“What’s it for? How does it work?” Tom asked.

“I can’t say. You’ll know, but you must remember.” Leaning across Aiden, the spirit whispered, “I’m sorry, Tom, I’ve got to go. I love you, and I know you’ll always love me!” With that, Jamie kissed him softly as wind and was gone. Tom’s eyes snapped open, and, wracked by sobs, he wrote out Jamie’s message. Then he rolled onto his side and cried hard into the pillow. Suddenly, a sleepy Aiden rolled over and put an arm around him.

“What’s wrong?” Aiden mumbled sleepily as he squeezed Tom tightly.

Tom put his hand on Aiden’s. “Nothing, now,” he said, wiping away his tears before drifting back to sleep. In the morning he woke later than usual, still in Aiden’s embrace.

Tom prepared himself for class, then woke Aiden to give him time to get home and back to the station before his shift. They found David watching TV with Peter under a blanket.

Tom asked, “So what are you guys up to, today?”

I don’t know! You’ve got to teach today?” Peter asked.

Yep, but I’ll come home as soon as I’m done. We need to get David into school, so I’ll be here to pick you guys up at 2:15,” Tom reported.

“Okay!” the boys replied.

“Stay inside. It might not be safe,” Tom said to Peter, not knowing what David knew.

“We will,” Peter answered.

Tom pulled out a twenty and handed it to Peter. “Order some lunch – pizza and Chinese menus are on the refrigerator.”

When they were alone, David asked Peter, “So they are cool?”

“What do you mean?” Peter asked.

“They don’t, you know, want something for all they’re doing for us?” David asked.

“Dude, no! They’re just trying to help! I wondered at the beginning, too! I would’ve, because Tom is cute, but he set me straight,” Peter said with a smirk.

“Eww! I mean, I guess he’s not nasty or old, but,” David began.

“He was nice to me. You don’t know what I’ve had to do since I’ve been on my own,” Peter said, moving away from his brother.

“Nothing could be as bad as Carter,” David said feeling certain. The look in Peter’s eyes made him wonder though. “I’m sorry, Peter….”

“Me, too, buddy!” Peter replied. “But these guys are totally cool, and they’d do whatever it takes to keep us safe.”

“I guess they can, too, because dad’s been talking about Tom a lot,” David said.

“Tom saved my life,” Peter said.

“Yeah, he kept you from bleeding to death,” David recalled.

“But there’s more. In the hospital, I was slipping away. Then I felt him put his hands on me and I could feel the warmth and power flowing into me. I could see him and I could see angels … thousands of angels behind him! One brought me back to my body and helped put me back together,” Peter tried to explain.

“I didn’t know there was any other kind of magic,” David said, in awe.

“I know! While I was in the hospital, Tom faced off with the demon, unarmed and outside, and he came through it. He even came back and protected me.” David shook his head, deep in thought. “So, how’s it been since I’ve been gone?” Peter finally asked.

“Well, not very different. Carter was hurting me even before you went off to college…. Dad started using me for bloodletting, though,” David explained.

Peter’s hands balled into white-knuckled fists. “He put you in shackles?” The boy nodded and Peter looked up at the ceiling in a fury. “I shouldn’t have left! Fucking damn it!”

David said, “If you hadn’t we’d both still be there! It’s over now!” Peter sighed heavily.

David got into something on TV, and Peter began to browse the books in Tom’s large library. He picked up one of Tom’s philosophy texts, and sat reading until David called.

“Up here, bro!” Peter called.

“Cool!” David exclaimed on seeing the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. “I’m hungry!”

They ordered Chinese and placed their order. Thirty minutes later, Peter answered the door in his shorts and t-shirt, and stood dumbstruck by the sight of hunky Billy Thompson. Billy, who had been expecting his crush, took in every inch of the short slender blond.

“I, uhm, is this the right house? Is Professor Corman’s?” Billy recognized the interior.

Peter blushed for no reason, and looked away. “My brother and I are staying with Tom for a bit while our family works some stuff out.”

“Cool! So … here’s your order,” Billy said.

Peter handed Billy the money, making sure their hands brushed. “What’s your name?”

“Billy!”

Peter, not knowing where he was getting the nerve, said, “Billy?”

“Yeah?” the young man replied.

“I don’t know many people, and you seem nice,” Peter began nervously. “If you ever want to hang….”

Billy smiled and waved, “Sound’s fun! I’ve got your number! I’ll give you a call soon: I work and go to school, but maybe this weekend we can get together!”

As Peter closed the door, David called from the couch, “Take a cold shower, Sally!”

“What? He’s cute!” Peter answered.

“Whatever! Bring me my lunch!” David demanded, teasing.

They laughed and talked as they ate in front of the TV. Then David cleaned up, and they both got ready in time for Tom to pick them up. As they got in the car, Tom could tell David was warming up to him, as the boy joked, “Hey Tom, I thought Peter was going to have the Chinese delivery boy for lunch today!”

Tom burst out laughing, and Peter shrugged, “Who could blame me if I did? By the way, Tom, I think we’re going to be hanging out this weekend some.”

“Billy’s a nice boy. He was in one of my classes,” Tom said approvingly.

“I just … you know I didn’t want to have him around if it makes you and Aiden uncomfortable. I don’t know who knows about you guys,” Peter explained.

“Thanks, Peter. We’re both ‘out.’ I just don’t want it to be a big issue on campus. Billy’s okay: you boys can entertain yourselves so that he won’t be worried about us!”

David laughed, until they pulled up in front of a hulking building. “What’s this place?”

“Saint George’s High School,” Tom said.

David and Peter gawked as they walked through the front door to the office. “How can I help you sir?” the secretary asked.

“I’d like to speak to Dr. Franklin,” Tom said.

“Who may I say is calling?” the woman asked with crisp professionalism.

“Professor Thomas Corman.”

“Professor Corman! Dr. Franklin is expecting you!” She stood and opened the door to a nicely appointed office paneled in mahogany. A well-dressed man a few years older than Tom stood to greet them. He hugged Tom warmly and shook hands with the young men.

“You look well, Alasdair,” Tom said with a smile.

“Life is good,” the man said in a British accent with a glowing smile. “So, what can I do for you, Tom? You’ve never asked for a favor before, at least not from me!”

“Alasdair, I’d like you to meet Peter and David Dawson. Peter, David, Alasdair and I have been friends since Paris.”

“Ah, Paris,” Alasdair said with a grin, motioning them into chairs.

With a slight blush, Tom began, “In any case! Peter was a freshman in college, his brother a sophomore in high school. When their parents found out Peter was gay, they cut him off. Both boys were abused. I invited Peter into my home after I found him bleeding to death in the street, and he has gotten temporary custody of his brother – hopefully to be extended soon. I have legal papers signed by a judge.” Tom handed the papers to Alasdair, who didn’t look at them, but was instead fixated on the brothers.

“So you’d like us to take David on? Admission here is highly selective. Tell me about yourself, David,” Alasdair said conversationally.

The boy blushed. “I got good grades, I play sports, I’m a state championship wrestler in my weight class,” he added. “I’m not sure what else to say. I’m nothing special.”

Alasdair smiled and said, “I’m sure that’s not true! By good grades you mean?”

“Straight A’s,” Peter announced proudly.

“Until recently,” David said, glumly.

“Well, that’s not surprising. Dr. Franklin, my brother and I were victims of ritual abuse for most of our lives,” Peter said.

 “I was attacked by a demon for helping them,” Tom announced, causing all eyes in the room to widen – Alasdair’s at the news, and the brothers’ at his openness. “Alasdair and I met in Paris during my ‘mystical’ journey,” Tom explained to the boys.

“Is that what they’re calling it these days, Tom?” Alasdair teased.

“I’m not talking about that, so harness your ego before we suffocate! Besides, hopefully David will be a student here, so let’s keep it PG-13, Alasdair!” Tom suggested.

“Alright, Tom! I can make the decision on my own to admit him, but not to finance him. That’ll go before the board. I’ll need his records and he’ll need to take our exam, but some of the details of his troubles will help me make the case to fund him,” Alasdair said.

“Thank you, Alasdair,” Tom said. “Whatever they won’t pay, I will, even if it means full tuition.” Alasdair raised his eyebrows and nodded. Picking up his phone he called his assistant. “Marsha, will you get a volunteer to give David and Peter a tour?” Turning to the brothers, he said, “A student will show you around campus. I’ll get a test set up for you tomorrow, David, if that’s alright?” The boy nodded, and the brothers went out to meet their student guide, a young lady who shared an instant mutual attraction with David.

“It’s been too long, Tom,” Alasdair said when they were alone.

“I know,” Tom said with a sad smile.

“So, who is he?” Alasdair asked.

“Who’s who?” Tom replied.

“Who’s the guy who’s brought you back to life?” Alasdair asked again.

Tom smiled. “Aiden O’Connel. He’s the police officer who helped me save Peter.”

“Saved Peter how?” Alasdair asked.

“I used the healing prayer from the Synagogue Codex,” Tom said.

“Good Lord,” the man exclaimed.

“Indeed,” Tom said. “But seeing him brought it all back. I couldn’t save Jamie, but I could save this boy!”

“And now you’ve got two teenagers and a boyfriend. One never knows,” Alasdair mused, “how things will turn out!”

“No, no indeed! Speaking of which, how’s Rachael?” Tom asked of the man’s wife.

Alasdair smiled and said, “Pregnant!”

“Congratulations! When?” Tom asked.

“The baby is due in December,” Alasdair reported with a huge smile. “Boy!”

 “Wow!” Tom exclaimed.

“Rachel’d love to see you. She’s … we’ve missed you,” Alasdair said.

“I know! I’ll be spending the next decade making it up for it,” Tom said apologetically.

“You’ve got nothing to apologize for! I can’t imagine what you’ve been through! Why don’t you bring Aiden around sometime, the Dawson brothers, as well?” Alasdair suggested.

“Alright,” Tom said with a smile. “If you’re sure.” They made tentative plans.

Honestly, Tom had always felt a little weird around Rachael, who loved him like a brother. Given Tom’s history with Alasdair – and knowing that she knew, even if she didn’t seem to have a problem with it – it just felt absurd. Tom’s mind wandered to Paris, where he’d met the dashing young Brit in a bar frequented by the magical subculture. Alasdair, with his sweeping auburn hair and regal bearing, had made even tweed jackets look sexy. He had been studying at the Sorbonne that year. Away from his life as a buttoned up aristocrat, Alasdair was living life to its fullest in Paris. They had begun a conversation about magic, but as the liquor flowed, Alasdair bragged more about his conquests of Paris’s eager co-eds.

The two became close friends, and, over the course of weeks, Alasdair tried to pry out the details of Tom’s own conquests. One night Alasdair had gotten fed up with the denials. “Come on, a young American stud like you should be getting his fill in Paris!”

Tom was sitting at Alasdair’s window, staring out at the starry sky above the city. “I’m shy,” Tom said simply, grinning over his shoulder at the cute Englishman.

“Bollocks!” Alasdair declared.

“I am! Plus I have no clue as to who will be interested!” Tom replied.

“If it has two legs and breasts, it’s probably interested!” Alasdair yelled with a laugh.

Shaking his head, Tom said, “Alasdair, I’m gay! Ninety five out of a hundred guys I might come on to will probably beat the shit out of me!”

“Ahh,” Alasdair said. After a brief but comfortable silence, Alasdair put a hand on Tom’s shoulder. Tom leaned into him, resting his head on Alasdair’s chest. “So what’s it like?”

“What’s what like?” Tom asked with a sigh.

“Having sex with a guy?” Alasdair asked, curiously.

“How would I know?” Tom asked.

“Seriously?” Alasdair exclaimed.

Maybe it was the alcohol, or maybe Alasdair was sending him signals, but Tom had gotten the courage to respond, “I would gladly learn!” Alasdair ran his hand up the front of Tom’s shirt, over smooth muscular flesh, as sensually as he would any woman. Then he turned Tom around and pinned him to the wall, kissing him passionately. They barely left the apartment over the next few days. During Tom’s time in Paris, they must have spent the night together at least once a week, even after those passionate first weeks. But Tom had never had any illusions – Alasdair’s feelings for him would never be true, romantic love. Alasdair loved women, however much he loved being with Tom, and that never would change. Alasdair did teach him about friendship and sex and longing – he was his first. Jamie taught him true love – he was his second. And Aiden? Time would tell.

“Tom? Tom? I lost you there for a minute!” Alasdair smiled wickedly. “Thinking about old times, then?” Tom straightened himself, smiling, but said nothing. As they emerged from the office, the brothers were returning. Tom smiled at the way the girl was touching David as she talked – a hand on an arm, a playful pat on the chest. Peter rolled his eyes.

“A man after your own heart, Alasdair,” Tom mused quietly, causing the man to laugh.

“So it would seem! Expect a call from Rachael, Tom. Gentlemen, if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to oversee a mass exodus!” With that, they hurried to beat the rush.

On the ride home, David piped in from the back seat, “That school might not be so bad. They’ve got a pool, a nice gym, and all kinds of sports! Plus an amazing library!”

“And pretty girls in plaid skirts?” Tom teased.

“There’s that,” David added with a blush. Retributively, he retorted, “So, there is a rated R – or is it Rated X – version of your stay in Paris?”

Tom dodged, “Alasdair gives me a hard time about Paris! He was quite a hound then!”

“I wonder if he offers lessons?” David asked with a laugh. Before heading home, Tom drove them down to Best Buy and had them pick their favorite color of netbook. He explained, “You need your own computers to get your work done and email friends. We have a wireless network I’ll set your computers up on.” Peter chose red, and David white.

“Thanks!” David exclaimed, “But you really don’t need to do all this!”

“But I want to!” Tom said. “You guys deserve a real chance, and helping you guys out and having people around is nice. My family’s gone, and I’ve got a lot of money but nobody. David, for the last nine months, I’ve basically been a shut-in. My partner and I were attacked but he didn’t make it….”

“I’m sorry,” David said with feeling.

“I’m just thankful to have you guys and Aiden around,” Tom said softly.

Back to the house, Tom helped them set up their computers. Peter went to get his email set up and try to get in touch with some friends. David put his computer on the coffee table and walked over to the writing desk, picking up the picture Tom had shown Aiden. “This is him?” David asked.

“Yeah,” Tom said with a smile.

“You really loved him,” David said more than asked.

“I would have traded myself for him, but it doesn’t work like that,” Tom admitted.

“Hmmm,” David replied.

“What, buddy?” Tom asked. “I’m glad you’re here,” David whispered. Tom patted David on the shoulder and walked down to his office, finding a few books off their shelves. He replaced them and set to work on his new book project to distract himself.