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Age Of Aquarius - Book 2
Ministries of Change - Chapter 10
George shuddered as he took his first breath. He'd never wanted to do this. It was wrong, but he couldn't let Pat and Terry die over "rules". The feeling of warmth, blood, body, and life flooded him. He was alive; no, Terry was alive. George's eyes narrowed; he was a visitor. This was not his body; this was not his life. He was keeping his brother safe, and nothing was going to stop him.
Pat twisted in agony as he tried to force his body to dissolve. He was losing too much blood, too quickly. He was fucked. He wasn't sure what was happening when the screaming started. The vampyrs were stumbling away from him, clawing at themselves as they erupted into flames.
George glared at them, his lips curled in vicious satisfaction as his magic answered his call. It knew him; even in death, the magic knew him. That part of him had lived on; held safe within Terry's heart and soul. George knew hate; he knew how it burned and the ravenous hunger it caused. Terry had been the only thing that had kept him from giving into it. Terry had needed him; he'd been Terry's protector. Terry had been his soul; he had been the one true light in his life. No one and nothing was going to put that light out.
They had been total opposites. Terry couldn't bring himself to kill spiders; George had to struggle to keep from reacting violently to anything that went wrong. Terry always saw the good in people; George had thought everyone was an idiot or worse. That wasn't quite true, of course; he was over simplifying who they'd been and their roles. Still, he knew he had needed Terry far more than Terry had needed him. Terry would never understand that; he would never understand how the strength of one pure soul could anchor the chaos of so many lives. Terry had been his anchor; he would become the anchor for so many more people. He was important; even if he didn't know it.
He was pulled from his thoughts by the hiss of the master's rage. She sent the roof at him in a swirling of darkness and debris. George didn't even flinch. "Ieldshay." Pig latin. It was a ridiculous method of magic, but it had been their childhood method of talking. Amazingly, their mother had never figured it out; she thought it had been nonsensical babble. That babble was the language of their hearts; it was also the language of their power. The maelstrom smashed against his magic, but he felt none of it. He was magic-borne; he was a mage; the bitch didn't have a prayer in hell.
She may have spit threats or curses at him, George didn't even notice. His eyes met hers for a second, and that was all it took. "Urnbay." The bitch screamed as she felt her insides boiling. Her form dissolved to shadow, but she wasn't gone. George could feel the magic flowing from him. She had transported herself somewhere else; but she wasn't gone. He let the magic flow, holding her with his rage, till he could feel the magic trying to continue where there was nothing left to feed upon. He released it; caressing the retreating power like a favorite pet. He'd loved his magic; now it was Terry's. George prayed his brother would put it to good use.
Pat's gasps of pain brought George's awareness to the rooftop. He moved to the man who was becoming Terry's friend, and knelt. "I'm going to pull it out."
Pat nodded, his eyes clouded with pain. He clenched his jaw to keep from screaming as Terry yanked out the sword. Though hurting, he was still aware enough to keep Terry from touching him. He grabbed his friend's arm, hoping none of the blood would sink in. "Don't get the blood on you."
George flinched. "Why?"
Pat clutched at his side and slid away. "That's how you contract it. You have to ingest the blood, but it may be transferred through wounds too. Open cuts or sores. I don't know."
George pulled back. Terry's hands had blood on them, so did the clothes. "Eanclay." The magic scoured him of everything; dirt, blood, sweat; it was all gone.
Pat stared at him, confusion mixing with his pain as his senses kicked back in. "You're not Terry."
George shook his head. "No, I'm George." Pat's eyes went wide as George knelt. "You can't tell him, Pat. He can never know. He'd try to get me to 'share' time, or worse, he'd just back off and let me have another shot at life. I don't want that; I didn't save him to have him sacrifice himself for me." George grinned. "One martyr in the family is enough."
Pat tried to get a handle on the situation. "You could do that any time?"
"No, but if Terry retreats or is asleep I probably could. He was so panicked that he didn't offer any resistance." George sighed. "He won't remember this, Pat. It will be a complete blank. Tell him he just went nuts; tell him he saved you. He needs that; he needs to know he could do something to protect himself and his friends. Maybe next time he'll be able to do it for himself."
"What about you?" Pat didn't know why, but he felt like he was talking to a dying man. He didn't want George to go; just the few moments he'd been aware of him, Pat could feel they were kindred souls.
"I'll be around." George knew it was time to bring Terry back. A small part of him didn't want to; he flinched and pushed the thought aside.
"Will I see you again?"
George really didn't have an answer for that. "I don't know; I hope not. I'm dead; I think it should stay that way."
"Thanks, George." Pat saw Terry's body shudder and nearly topple over. As he watched, he could see the very essence of the body's nature shift. Terry was back; he was frightened. "Hey, T, snap out of it." George may have been a kindred soul; but Terry was something special. Pat could feel it now. Through all of it, he'd somehow held onto innocence that Pat didn't think he'd ever had.
Terry looked around, confused and disoriented, as he tried to get his bearings. They were on the roof, the place was wrecked, and there was the awful smell of smoke that had an aroma he couldn't recognize. It was similar to burnt meat. His eyes met Pat's. "Oh God, Pat!"
Pat tried to keep Terry away, but Terry was holding him before he could stop him. "Terry, you've got to let go. I might contaminate you."
Terry didn't let go. "I don't care. We've got to get you patched up."
Pat knew what he needed to heal, there was no way he was going to manage it. "Can't exactly call the paramedics."
Terry pulled back. "You need blood, don't you?"
Pat nodded. The need was beginning to make him ache. He could feel Terry's pulse and hear his heart beating like a song of hunger. He looked away and tried to swallow down his desire to open Terry's throat. "Get out of here, Terry."
The glass and steel of the buildings trembled as rage's wings beat the air, carrying death aloft with a hunger that would not be denied. She ignored the screams and chaos that erupted from the street below. The beast was awake; it hungered, and she was going to feed it. There were stings against her hide; biting, annoying, troublesome stinging that distracted her. Her serpentine eyes fixed on her prey; their weapons spit at her with impotent barbs. She had weapons of her own, and she let them feel her rage. It rose from her belly, as she twisted around herself above them, and spit forth in a red rain of destruction.
The screams were music to her as her claws sank into the building. Her fangs gleamed in the crimson light as her breath cooked her food. They were nothing but cattle to her, meaningless at best and annoying at worst. With a snap of her jaws, the first of her prey fell. The other two were rolling, trying to put out the fire that could not be extinguished. She chewed, enjoying each satisfying crunch of bone and tear of sinew. The next one's screams ended in the sound of snapping bone and torn flesh. She butchered him between her claws and jaw before swallowing him down and moving on. There was no need to follow the third, but she did. She climbed over the edge of the building, crushing the structure with her claws, and loomed over her victim.
He stared up at her, in horror filled pain, as she descended upon him. It was over in seconds. Their weapons, the boxes, and their plans were useless. They had missed their chance. There would be no mercy on their souls.
Morg's eyes scanned the cityscape as the light of her fires dimmed. The city was hers; she had protected it for so long, but she was tired of it. She wanted to feel the wind in her wings, inspire the awe and respect that magic demanded, and bring the ignorant people to their knees. She could taste the power in the air. It was hers. From below, she caught sight of something else. It was small, a spec, but it called to her. Of all the insects below her; one of them meant something. One of them was important. She was needed down there.
Giovanni gasped, and tasted the blood and bile in his mouth. He hurt. Morg wasn't there. She had been beneath him when the bullets came. He needed her. She had been his protection in dark times, and he loved her. It was not the carnal ways of flesh that had bonded them; their souls had touched. Only his love of God burned brighter. He felt his heart beating; he felt the blood cooling on the concrete beneath him; he could feel the burbling of his chest as he tried to breath; the only thing he didn't feel was alone. God was with him. He felt the touch and blessing; it was not his time. He had things left to do.
In the chaos, no one saw her emerge from the shadows. Morg settled down beside her friend and pulled his head into her lap. His cough and sigh brought tears to her eyes. He hadn't been taken from her. It was more than that; God was there and her own divine spark resonated with his. They sang to one another in a language far older than man. Slowly, she turned him over, cradling his head in her lap. Giovanni smiled up at her, and coughed. "Your hair... is tangled."
She smiled, her tears dripping from her chin. "I'll comb it later." Bending forward, she brought her forehead down to touch his gently. "You're an idiot, you know that?"
Giovanni grinned. "Yes, but God protects fools." Morg held him, shielding him from the cold, till help arrived.
The bite hadn't been that bad. Actually, the feel of Pat against him had been nice. After a while, Terry didn't even care that he was beginning to feel cold. Terry was shivering. He felt so cold. He could feel Pat's arms holding him, but he was too disoriented to figure out where they were. He cried out as he felt warmth washing over him. It was only Pat's soothing voice and caring touch that kept him from panicking. He was safe; Pat would never hurt him. He relaxed into Pat's embrace and let him take over.
Pat held Terry to him in the shower. He'd taken too much of his blood. He'd tried to stop, but the hunger had been so strong. There was no time to get back to the townhouse. Terry needed to be warmed up, and he needed fluids. He also needed to get Terry clean of blood. He'd gotten them to a Super 8; it had a 7-11 across the street. It would work. He prayed that he was wrong about the blood; he silently pleaded for the disease to only be carried through ingested blood. When Terry felt warm again, Pat shut off the shower, dried them off, and pulled Terry into bed.
Though still shivering a little, Terry didn't look as pale. Pat kissed him on the forehead and held him as he slipped off to sleep. He'd have rather given Terry another reason to be naked with him in bed, but Pat simply held his ward in his arms. They were safe, for a while at least; that would have to be good enough.
Mira woke to the oddest sensation. She felt flushed. There was the slightest bit of construction behind her abs and above her hips. She grinned and thought about all the possible reasons for it; they were all very pleasant memories. It took her a moment to realize that Jase wasn't holding her. She was in Mike's arms. She felt a fleeting sense of panic and concern before she felt Jase.
I'm down stairs, Mira; don't get flighty on me already.
Mira smiled and snuggled further into Mike's embrace. Why aren't you up here?
Breakfast in bed, nosey. It will be another fifteen or twenty minutes. I'm making waffles. It felt as if he was stroking her cheek. If you want to make yourself useful, you could find a nice way to wake Mr. Stud. He had a pretty busy night.
Mira tried not to laugh. Not bad for a good, catholic boy, huh?
Not bad for anyone. She could feel the love coming through their connection; it made her tear up from the intensity. You weren't exactly unremarkable either; Mrs... he paused, Mira, are you going to change your name?
That jolted her out of her hazy feelings. I don't know; I hadn't really thought about it.
She could almost feel Jase shrug. Not important; it just sort of came to me. She smiled again as he sent her a very provocative image. Think you can handle waking him?
You sure you don't want to do that yourself? Mira really wanted to do it, but she wasn't sure where the boundaries were.
I've been waking him for about a year, Mira. We won't always be able to be an intimate threesome; might as well make sure we're all ok with each other. I'm cool with it if you are.
Mira blinked away her tears. I love you, Jase.
Yeah, right back at you. Now get to work; or I'll have to give you remedial lessons on how to keep guys happy.
Mira felt the connection diminish and she smiled. It didn't matter what happened; they were best friends whether they were lovers or not. She also noticed the hard, long length of Mike pressing against her. "What the hell," she whispered as she gently rolled Mike onto his back and began rubbing herself against him.
Mike moaned. He loved waking up to the feeling of his lover against him. The night had been so incredible. He had lost track of who had done what to whom. All he knew was he'd gone to sleep feeling more content than he ever had before.
Mira gasped as she tipped him back and slid onto him. Mike felt so right. She felt their connection snap into place as he came full awake. For a split second he was confused, and then he sighed and relaxed into it. God, you're as sneaky as Jase.
Mira laughed. "It was his idea; we're not done with you yet." She slid up and back a few times, trembling with pleasure.
Mike sighed, pressing his hips up as she slid back. "I hope you aren't." He opened his eyes and looked at her. She was so beautiful. "I need you both; you know that, right?"
Mira nodded, biting her lip as she settled back again. "I need you both too... Jase thought it was best to find out if we can work individually." Gasping, she let him thrust up into her a few times before she leaned forward and just gave him full access. "I think he's worried we wouldn't be compatible together if he isn't here."
Mike wasn't sure how he felt about it all. The logistics of having two lovers was not so difficult to his heart, but his mind was still trying to figure it all out. How could he be fair? Would he love one of them more than the other? Doubts began to creep into his thoughts. Mira felt them, leaned forward and kissed him. That was all it took. Mike rolled them over and began to thrust in earnest. "God, Mira."
Mira lost herself under him. He was so good; so strong; so masculine. She cried out as the first wave hit her, only to be followed by another, and then another. She held on, biting into his shoulder as he rode her through release after release. It never ended; the connection from the previous night was just growing stronger.
It wasn't till Mike clenched his jaw and bit back his cry that she realized they really hadn't been alone. She felt the ripples coming back from downstairs. As Mike settle against her, she started to laugh.
"What?" Mike looked at her; wanting to be amused, but feeling a little hurt.
Mira kissed him; smiling so brightly that he knew she wasn't laughing at him. "I think Jase just made a mess."
Mike sent out his thoughts. You ok?
He got an embarrassed, frustrated thought back. Sure, no problem... I just need to pour some more juice.
Mike started to chuckle. "He tripped with us, didn't he?"
Mira nodded, delighted at the idea. "I wonder if it will happen every time."
Grinning, Mike began to nuzzle her neck. "Only one way to find out."
Don't even think about it! Jase's thoughts hit them so hard that they practically rolled out of bed. It was a few moments later that he got into the room; a tray of food floated in behind him as he headed for the bathroom. "I'm soiled enough as is, and I don't want to break any more dishes." He was trying to look pissed, but all he really looked was disheveled and embarrassed.
Mike got up and pulled the trays from the air while they heard the water running. Jase came back in a few moments later; his boxers were gone. "That is going to be a problem. Can you imagine what would happen if one of us is driving someplace and the other two get into it?"
Mira grinned. "Now you know a little of how I felt that first night."
"It wasn't -that- strong was it?"
"It was pretty strong, but I wasn't invited, so I spent my time trying to block it out instead of going with it."
Mike picked up a plate, forked a couple waffles onto it and poured on some syrup. "Anyone else back yet?"
Jase shook his head, putting some food on a plate for himself. "Nope. I don't expect Morg all weekend; she has a friend here from out of town. I suspect Pat and Terry will be back soon."
"I still can't believe you put Terry in Pat's custody for the evening." Mira nibbled on a strawberry and eyed the coffee longingly.
Jase poured her a cup and passed it to her while he shrugged. "Morg's idea."
Mike squinted at Jase, frowning a little. "We did a number on your neck."
Jase flinched. He traced his fingers over his neck tentatively. Pat's bite marks were there, but he'd hoped they'd be missed. He should have known Mike wouldn't miss something like that. He looked away. The phone yanked him out of his internal concerns. "Who the hell is that?"
Mira's eyes went wide as the knowledge hit her. "Oh my gods... It's Pat; something's wrong."
Pat was rocking Terry against him as they got there. The anguish in his voice tore at Jase as Pat pleaded with Terry to hold on. Terry was pale and shivering in Pat's arms. Pat looked up at them, and it was obvious he'd been crying the entire time.
"I think he's got it..." He almost couldn't choke it out.
Mike wanted to rip Terry from the vampyr's arms, but Jase knelt down and held Pat's gaze. "Caught what, Pat?"
"Vampyrism." He clutched at Terry, sobbing. "There was so much blood. I tried to get it all off him. I thought he'd be ok."
"Let go, Pat. Let us have him." Jase stroked Pat's arm till he was willing to release his hold. Mike took Terry and stretched his shivering body out on the bed.
Mike snarled as he saw Terry's neck. "What the fuck are these, Pat?"
Pat cringed. "He wouldn't go away. I told him to go, but he stayed. He said he wouldn't let me die."
As angry as he was, Mike could feel Pat clearly. Pat was grief stricken and telling the truth. What had happened had not been his fault. It apparently didn't matter, because Pat was blaming himself anyway. Mike took a slow, deep breath, and let his anger drain away. "You guys find out what happened; I'll work with Terry."
Mira nodded and slid around onto the bed. Jase smiled at Mira briefly and then focused on Pat. Pat looked like he was almost in shock. "What happened, Pat?"
Pat took a breath and tried to focus. "We were outside, cooling down at Sixty-nine, on the roof." He took another breath and his thoughts became clearer. He didn't feel Mira's magic wrapping about him and helping him recover. "A hunting party came after me. I should have known they would." Pat sounded bitter, but Jase kept him on track.
"So you guys were attacked by vampyrs?"
Pat nodded. "They'd have taken me to; even with the new powers, there were just too many."
Mira perked up. "What 'new powers'?"
Pat looked confused, and Jase frowned. "We'll worry about that later, Mira."
"If it hadn't been for Terry, they'd have gotten me." Pat looked back at his friend, and Jase saw the light in his eyes. Pat wasn't 'in love' with Terry, but there was definitely a connection. For a moment he felt jealous.
Mike looked up. "You mentioned blood."
Pat nodded. "They cut me open pretty bad, and Terry refused to keep away. He got it all over him; his clothes, his face, his hands, everyplace. I couldn't heal fast enough; it was all draining out." Pat choked. "Then he told me he wouldn't let me die. He just held his neck there, and waited." Pat's eyes pleaded with Jase. "I didn't want to do it, but I couldn't stop." Pat wrapped his arms around his knees, dropped his head and sobbed. "I couldn't stop."
Jase wrapped his arms around Pat and rocked him as the man sobbed. His eyes met Mike's and he realized that Terry was in pretty bad shape. Mike gave him a helpless look. I don't know if I can fix this, Jase. I can feel it; it's seeping into him like a poison.
Then slow it, stop it, reverse it. I don't care what it takes, Mike. If we can't, we'll lose two friends. Jase's hold on Pat tightened as he pushed aside the thought. He wouldn't lose them; if he had to call down every power known to magick, he'd do it.
Mike flinched. He could feel Jase's determination and resolve. Jase had never demanded anything from him; he was demanding now. Mike pushed his hands against Terry's forehead and chest, and concentrated. He would find a way.
Mira rubbed Pat's back as his sobbing eased. "What made you think he was changing?"
Pat flinched. "I woke up with his teeth gnawing at my throat. He was asleep, or delirious, but he was trying to get to my blood." Pat shuddered. "For a moment I thought he was getting frisky, but then I felt how cold he was and how he was shivering, and knew it had to be something else."
Mike's power poured into Terry and began separating corrupted cells from healthy ones. Time didn't seem to mean anything as he knelt, pouring himself into his friend, trying to save him. Mira watched, splitting her attention between Pat and Terry. Jase held Pat through the whole thing, reassuring him that it would all be okay. When Mike was done, Terry's complexion looked close to normal and his shivering had stopped. Mike slumped back, shaking from the effort, and struggled to get his breathing back to normal. Mira left Jase with Pat and dropped down beside Mike.
Mike smiled. "Yeah. Just another day in the Castanio-Steward family."
Mira laughed and kissed him lightly. "At least we aren't boring."
They all looked as Terry moaned. Pat scrambled up beside him, and stroked his friend's face with worried hesitation. Terry grinned up at him as he opened his eyes. "You sure know how to show a guy a good time."
Pat stroked Terry's cheek. "I'm sorry."
Terry just kept smiling. For the first time since George died, he didn't feel totally helpless. "You didn't die on me."
Pat grinned. "So we're still cool?"
"Yeah, on one condition."
Terry's eyes twinkled. "The next time, maybe we could play fetch?"
Pat laughed, and hugged Terry to him in mirth and relief. "Ok, Pup. I promise."
Mira and Mike sent their confusion to Jase, but he just shrugged. He had no more idea what it meant than they did. He was just glad that everyone was ok.