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Age Of Aquarius - Book 2
Ministries of Change - Chapter 1
Jase woke with the arms of his love wrapped about him. He snuggled back into Mike's embrace and sighed. One year, one month, twelve days since I stepped off that plane and back into your arms. It hadn't been the most perfect of beginnings and the past year had more than its share of problems. Even with the arguments and the tears, Jase was happier than he could ever remember. The moonlight glinting off his wedding band made him smile. He tried to go back to sleep but whatever had pulled him awake would not let go.
Regretfully, Jase pulled himself from Mike's embrace and kissed his husband on the cheek. Sleep well, stud. You deserve it. Jase stretched and felt a pleasant soreness in his low back. Thank the goddess I know a good doctor; I'm going to be stiff later. Jase grabbed a sarong from the foot of the bed and wrapped it about his waist before following the tingling sensation up the stairs.
Jase loved the attic. When he had the town home modified, the live-in attic had been the most important improvement. He yawned as he stepped through the door. He was graced with the image of the auburn-haired-witch who shared his heart. Sitting crossed legged in the copper pentacle on the floor; she looked up as he sat down on the window seat.
"Ok faerie-queen, what has your wings in a thither at 3am?"
Jase frowned. Mira's dreams had been getting more and more troublesome in the last few months. "This is the third one this week. Have you talked with Mike?"
She shook her head. "He has enough to worry about, Jase. The clinic has only been open a couple months."
Jase shrugged. "I don't know why he's so frantic about it. It's not like I'm going to call in the loan or anything."
Mira smiled. "Let's not go there again, Jase. He hadn't wanted you to give him the loan in the first place."
Jase threw his hands up. "Excuse me for BEING RICH! Hell, he married me he should get some benefit from it other than achy hips."
Mira threw him an exasperated look. "Don't talk to me about achy hips, Jase. I haven't had any for a long time."
"Sorry, Mira." Jase looked out the window. "I thought John might have been a keeper."
Mira snorted and stood up. "Sure, if he hadn't turned out to be such a mama's boy."
"He had a great ass."
Mira smiled. "And exactly how would you know that, Mr. Married?"
Jase smirked. "I'm married, not dead. His ass doesn't compare to the one on the man downstairs anyway."
Mira sighed. "Or yours, for that matter."
"No prob." She came over and snuggled onto the window seat. "I don't think I'll ever find a guy who could hold a candle to you or Mike. It sucks being a girl bound to two gay men."
Jase gave her a squeeze. "Maybe we should just find you a good woman."
Mira groaned. "Been there, done that. No thanks."
"I thought you and Chloe were almost perfect."
Mira sighed. "It was pretty good, Jase. We were both just too intense. You just can't imagine what it's like in an apartment when two women like me and Chloe sync."
Mira rolled her eyes. "Something guys don't have to worry about. Plumbing, Jase. Plumbing."
"Oh..." Jase frowned. "Two of you turning into witches with bad attitudes?"
"That must have been charming."
"Let's just say it isn't something I would want to repeat."
"Well, other than for sex, Mike and I aren't exactly the worst choice in best friends."
Mira laughed but the tone was a little sad. "Yeah, great eye candy and uninhibited affection."
"We could hire a straight house boy."
"Don't you dare. I'm not going to pay for it."
"Ouch." Jase frowned but he wasn't actually offended.
"Sorry, honey. That was thoughtless of me." Mira snuggled in closer and felt safe. She yawned. "I love you, you know."
Jase woke to a soft touch on his arm. He looked into the most beautiful brown eyes he had ever seen and Jase smiled. Good morning.
Mike smiled back at his husband and looked at the bundle of auburn hair in Jase's arms. If I didn't know you were gay, I'd be jealous.
Jase sighed. Couldn't sleep.
Mike frowned. "Again?"
Jase shushed him. Don't wake her.
Sorry. Mike ran his hand through Mira's hair. She really should let me work with her on them.
She doesn't want burden you. She knows how much energy you're putting into the center.
Mike shook his head. Family comes first. She should know that.
Jase's eyes misted. He still wasn't used to hearing those words to describe himself or Mira. I love you, Mike.
Mira stirred and began to stretch. She didn't need to look to know they weren't alone. "Morning, Mike. Sorry, but I borrowed your husband... again."
Mike kissed Mira on the side of her head. "If you ever convince him to do something more than hold you, I demand participation rights."
Mira laughed. "Don't tease me before I've had my coffee." She stood up and stretched. "I could take either of you alone but I don't think there's a woman alive who could manage the two of you at one time."
Jase smiled at Mike and winked. "That sounds like an interesting challenge."
Mira smacked Jase on the arm. "Enough!" She headed for the stairs. "I'm going to get some coffee before I find myself duped into an orgy." She stopped at the door. "You are a sick boy, Jason Steward."
"I aim to please."
Mira laughed and descended the stairs. Mike pulled Jase into his arms and looked into his eyes. "From now on you have only one client, Mr. Steward-Castanio."
Jase melted into the embrace. "I love hearing that, Mr. Castanio-Steward." He tilted up and brushed his lips against Mike's jaw. "How long do we have?"
Mike's hands slid down and squeezed Jase's glutes with appreciative desire. "Not long, unfortunately. I have paperwork to finish before we open this morning."
Jase smirked. "I could always help you with your shower."
Mike kissed his husband quickly and then stepped back. "Oh no, the last time you helped me shower I was twenty minutes late."
Jase sighed. "I suppose I'll go down and fix breakfast. Mira does coffee fine but she can't even make toast."
Mike laughed. "Don't I know it." Kissing Jase one more time, Mike smacked his man on the ass. "Go make me food, bitch."
Jase looked at husband in mock offense. "That's all you men want, food and sex, sex and food. What about my needs?"
Mike cocked his head and looked at Jase. "And exactly what are you?"
Jase paused and then looked surprised. "Oh, right: I'm a man."
"Ok." Jase flashed him a bright smile and headed for the kitchen.
Mira nursed her mug as Jase looked in the fridge. "I can't believe you did -instant-, Mira. It doesn't take that much longer to use the French Press."
Mira grumbled. "You're the cook, gay boy."
"Yes, mistress. I will have your coffee shortly." Jase studied the Fridge a bit longer. "Omelets or French Toast?"
"Mike has a full schedule today. I'd make it a big omelet. He will probably skip lunch."
"Good thinking." Jase pulled out the eggs, cheese and the containers of pre-chopped vegetables."
"You know that is unnatural, Jase."
"What?" Jase frowned at her as he set the skillet on the burner.
"No one should have fresh fixings chopped and prepackaged in their Fridge."
"Hey, I'm a good house husband. I have to keep my man happy. A well fed man is a happy man!"
"Well that at least explains why Mike smiles all the time."
Jase chuckled. "Amongst other things..."
Mira tapped her mug on the table. "Hey, no sex talk till I'm caffeinated!"
Jase took her mug and poured out the instant she had been drinking. He refilled it with good coffee, added cream and sugar, and returned the mug to the table. "Drink up, addict."
Jase had the omelets ready as Mike arrived. Mira watched with a smile as they circled each other. Jase and Mike did an unconscious dance of passing items. They moved in such coordinated grace that anyone watching would think they'd been married forever. As the boys settled down to eat she laughed. "You two are so cute!"
Mike smiled at Jase. "Yeah, I must admit we are."
Mike stepped out of the rain and shook his coat. I should have checked with Mira this morning about the weather. He frowned a little as he looked about the room. Mira's talent of foresight had improved dramatically over the last six months. With it had come the nightmares. Mike really wished she would let him help. Another throb pulsed from his temple to the back of his head and Mike winced. I wish these damn headaches would stop. He pushed the thought aside as he approached the table. He leaned over and nuzzled Jase's neck in greeting before taking his seat.
Jase giggled as Mike's goatee tickled his neck. He smiled happily at the man he loved. "I'm still not used to the facial hair."
Mike laughed. "You didn't mind it last night."
Jase shuddered and his ass clenched at the memory. There were some definite advantages to having a husband with a beard. "I wasn't complaining."
Mike's eyes followed Jase's finger as it twirled absently above his cup. The coffee swirled ever so gently in time with the finger. "I didn't say you were." He grabbed Jase's hand. "Stop that!"
Jase's eyes went wide. Chill, Mike. It's not like anyone could see.
Mike sighed and pulled back his hand. "It isn't that. It's just that it still weirds me out."
Jase nodded, knowing exactly what Mike meant. "I know; it's becoming a problem."
Mike's eyes flashed with concern. "What do you mean?"
Jase took a sip of his coffee and looked out the window. "With Mira's dreams and your headaches, I didn't want to bring it up."
Mike frowned. "You're evading, husband mine, and my headaches aren't that bad."
Jase's eyes went hard with anger. "Don't lie to me, Mike. I felt that stab from over here when you entered." He looked at his husband, displeasure written on his face. "You were never able to read people's thoughts till after Mother's death. Sure, we had the connection but neither of us could pick up random thoughts of anyone else."
Mike gritted his teeth. He didn't like admitting weakness. Jase needed him to be strong after everything that happened. He'd hoped he could get control of his problem before it became obvious. "How long have you known?"
Jase shrugged. "I knew your sensitivity had increased about a month after Saint Brigid's. I really didn't connect the headaches till a few weeks ago."
Mike sighed. "Ok, so we're all trying to protect one another by keeping our problems hidden." He picked up his coffee and sipped. Making a face he set it down. "And failing miserably, I might add."
Jase lifted an eyebrow. "What's wrong with the coffee? I got your favorite."
Jase smirked. "If you weren't forty-five minutes late, it'd be hot." He dipped his index finger into the coffee and swirled it a couple times. He raised the finger and proffered it to Mike.
Mike wrapped his lips around Jase's finger and sucked. He lingered a bit longer than necessary and then picked up his hot coffee. "Thanks."
There were a few catcalls and one of the guys at the neighboring table held up his mug and asked for a stir. Jase laughed as Mike's cheeks burned.
"You'll need to get used to that if you don't plan to curtail the PDAs." Jase had no problems with the reactions of others; he had been out for years. Mike hadn't even known his sexual preferences till they had met again as adults. Jase gave his husband a sympathetic smile. "They're just jealous because I have the best looking guy in the place eating off my fingers."
Mike's blushing didn't diminish but his eyes went serious. "You're still evading the question."
Jase shrugged. "You know why I chose Latin as my magickal language?"
Mike nodded and sipped his coffee. "Yeah, so you wouldn't accidentally cast spells in normal conversation."
Jase sighed. "I haven't figured out how to isolate my gestures to be specifically magickal. So if I'm upset or edgy, just waving my hand can have unpredictable results." He took a sip of his coffee and continued. "Remember the argument we had last week and I slammed down the phone?"
Mike winced. "Yeah, the squealing noise at my end of the line was painful."
Jase shot him a guilty look. "I fried the phone. No just the phone, but all the house phones and the box at the corner."
Mike looked at him in disbelief. "But the phones were working when I called back."
Jase was terribly pleased with his quick sculpting of the repair spell. "I repaired it all before you called."
Mike took Jase's hand and brought it to his lips. "After a year I still find you amazing."
Jase came up the stairs with the grocery bags floating behind him like a baby ducks following their mother. His fingers danced a happy jig, reminiscent of something he'd seen Mickey do in Fantasia, as he walked into the kitchen and pointed each of the bags to its respective place. He turned to get some water when he saw Mira sitting on the couch, crumpled tissues scattered about her.
"What are you doing home? You had lecture today." Jase came around the counter and crossed into the living room.
Mira looked up at him with miserably red eyes. "I couldn't face it."
Jase's face was a study of concern. "What's wrong, Mira? This is the second day in a row you've stayed home sick."
Her voice cracked. "Hold me, please."
Jase sank onto the couch and pulled her to him. He could feel her terror the moment they touched. His heart ached as she wept. "I can't keep looking at them, Jase."
Jase kissed her head. "Who?"
She sobbed. "Everyone. Everyone I look at is going to die!"
Jase pulled up her face. "We're all going to die, Mira."
She shook her head. "You don't understand. I can see how they're going to die. I can see it every time I meet a new person." She cringed. "It's like spiritually they come up, shake my hand, and say 'hi, I'm going to die this day and this is how it's going to happen.'"
Mira nodded. "Only the first time. After the initial meeting, I don't get it when I see the person again." Mira's eyes filled with immense sadness." I'm avoiding anything where I could meet anyone new. It's becoming a neurosis, Jase. I'm studying to be a psychologist, I know the signs." She gripped him and shook. "Is this what your mom went through? What if I can't handle it?"
Jase crushed her to him and kissed Mira's head. We'll figure it out, Mira. We've all been hiding what she did to us. It's time this family pulled together.
Mira nodded against Jase's chest. "I love you, Jase." Don't ever let go.
Jase was still cradling Mira when Mike made it home. The frozen goods had melted hours before and Jase knew there was more than a little mess in the kitchen. It didn't matter, his family was in trouble. He didn't need to say anything as Mike came in. Mike just pulled off his coat and shoes and slid onto the couch behind Jase. Mike wrapped his arms around his husband and sister and let the weight of their worries flow into him. I'm here.
Jase rested his head against Mike's shoulder as Mira shifted in her sleep. Mom's fucked us, Mike.
Mike shuddered. Memories from what she had done to him came back and though he knew that wasn't what Jase had meant he couldn't stop the sense of defeat from gripping his heart. He also remembered how Mira had brought them both back from the brink. He wouldn't do any less for her. We survived it the first time, Jase. We'll get through it this time too.
Jase took strength from Mike's closeness. I know. She was sane when she did her last magick. I know she didn't mean this to be a curse. She was trying to change a future she wouldn't be around to prevent.
Mike kissed Jase on the head and extended his vitality to his family. He'd been so alone after Jase had run away in high school. When Jase returned to him six years later he'd brought Mira into Mike's life. Mike had initially been so jealous of their bond but after all the three of them had suffered to survive Mike couldn't imagine life without her. I can't imagine what it would have been like if you'd been the sole recipient of her magick.
Jase shuddered and pressed harder against Mike. A tear slipped down his cheek at the thought. "I'd be locked up at Saint Brigid's like she was."
Morg ran her fingers over Mira's troubled brow and sighed. "She should have come to me when this began." She looked up from the bed at Mike and Jase. "You all should have."
Jase looked down but Mike met her eyes. "We need to learn how to survive without you, Morg. You won't be around forever."
Morg smiled. She always admired how Mike so seldom backed down. "You already know how to do that. You've proved it a couple times over." She looked back at Mira. "But I can help you through the difficult parts without being a crutch."
Mike sighed. "You're right, as usual, Morg."
She rose and gave Mike a hug. "Of course I am, dear. I've been around even longer than Wong." Mike hugged her back.
She took Jase's hand as she let Mike go. "I'm so glad you found him, Jase. I was getting worried about you."
Jase smiled. "He's my other half."
Morg looked back at Mira's sleeping form. "Well, at least a third." She fingered Jase's wedding band and smiled again. "Never doubt the bond you share. Mike and Mira are so much a part of you it can be hard knowing where one of you ends and the others begin." She gripped his hand tight. "I'll see her through this, Jase. You have my word on that."
She looked from Jase to Mike. "I'll be dealing with your problems as well. We just have to do first things first."
"Yes, ma'am." They said in unison. Mike and Jase smirked and tried not to laugh as Morg gave them a depreciating look.
"You know how I feel about that word." They nodded. "Now get into that kitchen and start making some food." Jase saluted her and headed for the stairs as she looked at Mike. "Guest room made up? I think I'll be here for a while."
"I'll check on it." With another salute, Mike set about his task.
Morg looked at her sleeping apprentice and a tear leaked down her cheek. My poor child; how you must have suffered.
Mike checked the linens in the guest room and then made his way to the kitchen. He stopped at the door and leaned against the doorframe appreciating the view. Jase was a complete genius in the kitchen. The person who had written "Kitchen Witchery" was a novice compared to Mike's husband. Packages were putting themselves away while a knife was chopping vegetables and then sliding the finished fixings into separate containers. Jase was leaning on the counter flipping through a copy of "Beard's American Cookery." Mike felt himself harden a little as he eyed his husband's denim clad behind.
Jase chuckled as Mike pressed his pelvis against Jase's inviting buttocks. "Keep that up and I won't get dinner cooked."
Mike leaned forward, pressing himself along Jase's back. His lips brushed Jase's ear and he whispered in a low husky voice, "We can't have that."
Jase closed his eyes, letting the book flop down on the counter and he pressed himself back against Mike's hips. "No, we can't." After a few more seconds of grinding Mike to rigid discomfort Jase ducked down and slipped away from a startled Mike.
"Hey!" Mike looked at him painfully. "That's not nice."
Jase smirked. "I'm not a nice person." He waved and Mike found himself lifted onto the counter. Jase slid between Mike's legs and briefly nuzzled his husband's belly. "And you are an over sexed Boy Scout."
Mike groaned. "You wouldn't know it by the aching I have in my jeans."
Jase gave him a wicked grin. "That ache is good for you; builds character." Jast stood back up and picked up the last few items that hadn't made it to their destinations. "Not to mention, it's rude to ignore the needs of our guest."
Mike sighed and slid off the counter. "Yeah, yeah. I'm going." He headed for the door. "Will Chloe know where everything is?"
Jase laughed. "If she doesn't, Morg will kill her. She's the latest apprentice in a long and distinguished line."
Mike laughed. "Not to mention, bottom of the totem pole."
Jase smiled. "Damn, straight. I did my stint as Cognitive Collectible's resident slave!"
Mike grabbed his keys and headed for the garage. "How long before dinner?"
"Then I better get on the road."
"That's what I said before, boner-boy."
Mike blushed as he checked his front. "That will be gone before I get there."
"I could fix that if you don't get your hot ass out of this house!" Wiggled his fingers threateningly in Mike's direction.
"Oh you would so pay!"
Jase sighed happily. "True, not like you need any help with staying power."
Mike poked his head back around the corner. "Not with you around, tantra-boy."
Jase tossed a hot mitt as Mike laughed and disappeared down the stairs. Jase turned and nearly wet himself to find Morg sitting at the dining room table. "Jeez, Morg!"
She raised an eyebrow. "It is a good thing Michael has a healthy libido."
Jase sighed. "I know, I know." He rolled his eyes. "Do we have to go over that again?"
Morg looked at her elder apprentice with understanding eyes. "Every magick born has a weakness, Jase. It always comes in the form of an addiction and it is always determined by our early life experiences."
Jase tossed the last grocery bag in the recycle sack. "Ok, so I'm a nympho. Mike isn't complaining."
Morg inclined her head. "I concede that to you. Mike is very much like your grandmother, Jase. He has a compulsion to be in control. In his case it is of himself and not others."
"And Mira is an alcoholic. Get to the point."
Morg sighed. "The -point- is that each of you will fall back upon your addictions if you aren't careful. The changes induced by your mother's death magick will be trying for each of you. You know the weaknesses and you're smart, Jase. Keep your senses sharp."
Jase nodded. "I made sure I hexed all the alcohol bottles when I started noticing Mira's problems sleeping. If she tries to pour any out, the alcohol turns to water."
Morg laughed. "The church would have kittens to hear that. 'Witches turn wine to water, the end days are nigh'." She smiled proudly at Jase. "I'm impressed you thought of that so early."
Jase sighed. "I know I'm leaning on Mike's libido, Morg. But do I really have to restrict my appetites? We haven't even been married six months yet!"
Morg laughed. "You can satisfy your appetite every night and every morning for all I care, Jase. So long as the desire is from your mutual love and attraction there is no danger. Be careful to know when the need becomes something other than that." She stood up and moved close to her student, taking his hand again. "It is when life dampens the fire and puts barriers between you that I am most concerned about."
Jase nodded. "I'll be careful, Morg. I'll keep an eye on them as well."
Satisfied, Morg headed for the stairs. "That is all I can hope for."