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Age Of Aquarius - Book 2
Ministries of Change - Chapter 3
Jase stared at the TV as he watched the morning news. He seldom watched television. Even though they had the latest "Magitech" modified items, he still wasn't comfortable with technology. He had to admit it was damn convenient.
The images from the news reports were fuzzy and disorganized. Jase knew Mira had a lot to do with the confusion of the reporting. It was best that people not know the reality of the situation. "This was the scene at Cognitive Collectibles, the City's premier metaphysical and occult store, earlier this morning. Statements from the Fire Department and Police have been limited. It is believed this act of arson was the result of Hate Crimes. Police have not revealed the identities of the four suspects captured near the crime..." Jase cut off the TV.
Mike leaned against the wall and studied Jase for a few moments before speaking. "This is going to get ugly."
Jase nodded. "That's probably an understatement." His worried gaze met Mike's. "How's Morg?"
"Physically she'll be fine in a couple days." His jaw was set in anger and frustration. "They tore her up, Jase. I found five bullets in her. That she lasted till we could get to her is a miracle."
Jase clenched his fists letting his nails bite into his palms. "Who tore her up, Mike? Why?"
"I haven't a clue. All I know is they had those boxes."
Jase eyed the boxes sitting on the coffee table. "I still find it hard to believe. A piece of tech that disrupts magic."
Mike sighed. "It does, Jase..."
Jase snapped back at him. "I believe you, Mike. I don't think you're stupid. If you say it does, it does."
Mike was taken aback. He realized their argument at the fire hadn't been resolved; at least not emotionally. "I'm sorry, Jase." He swallowed, moved to the couch and sat down beside his man. After a moment, Jase leaned in and Mike held him. "I'm trying, Jase. When I see what you can do and when I think about all you have, I feel like nothing."
Jase gripped Mike's shirt. "You're everything to me, Mike."
Kissing his hair, Mike lifted Jase's chin. "I love you, Jase. I've got my issues, but I've never questioned us. Not since the night we saved Phil."
That brought a whimsical smile to Jase's lips. "I would again, you know, if you asked me too."
Mike smirked. "Would what?"
Mira held Morg's hand as the older woman slept. Morg had been her protector, mentor and role model. Everything the woman was, Mira wanted to be. She'd never felt independent or strong. She made a good show of it, but she knew that she was still a little frightened girl hiding in the corner. Morg needed her now. Jase was the elder apprentice but Mira knew that Morg would need them both. They were family in ways normal people would never understand.
You need some rest too, Mira. Mike had slipped in behind her without being noticed.
I'm ok. She closed her eyes as his arms wrapped around her. Like Jase, she couldn't help but melt against him. She felt a tear slip down her cheek. Why do you have to feel so good?
She didn't realize she'd shared the thought till he brought his chin to her shoulder. It's ok, Mira. I don't think its wrong.
Mira shuddered. It is, Mike. I've been feeding off you two like a vampire.
Mike turned her to face him. Do you really think we'd be able to live without you?
She shook her head and rested her cheek on his shoulder. I don't think I could. It just hurts so much.
Mike lifted her into his arms and carried her down the hall to the master bedroom. We'll make it work, Mira. Somehow. He lay her down beside Jase's sleeping form and stroked her hair. After a moment he bent down, kissed her eyes closed and whispered, "I'll watch over Morg. Get some sleep."
She couldn't fight the softness of the bed or the warmth of Jase's body as he rolled over and wrapped himself around her in his sleep. Before Mike, they had slept in the same bed nearly every night. The familiar, safe feeling carried her under without any resistance.
Mike looked at them as they slowly spooned in almost the same way he and Jase did. He felt a pang of jealousy but he brushed it aside. He had meant every word; they would make it work He returned to Morg to find her awake and watching him as he entered. He sat down beside the bed and gave her a soft smile. "You should be asleep."
Morg nodded. "When you get as old as I am, you'll find you've slept enough."
Mike smirked. "I won't look as good as you do."
Morg took his hand. "Thank you, Michael."
Mike's eyes blurred with tears. "Morg, I'm sorry. I tried but Chloe..." He looked away. He'd never lost someone before.
She squeezed his hand. "It wasn't your fault, Michael. Don't do that to yourself."
He looked back at her and smiled weakly. "It's hard, you know? Mira teases me about having a 'white knight' complex."
Morg smiled though her tears. "I find it charming." She closed her eyes and sighed. "Do you know Mira's in love with you?"
Mike nodded. "Yeah, with both of us." He swallowed trying not to let his confusion rise from the pit in his stomach. "How can I love both of them, Morg? I feel like I'm being disloyal. I love Jase more than anything, but sometimes..."
Morg sighed. "Imagine how Jase feels. You're bisexual, Michael. He knows it. Though you're confused, he's frightened." She squeezed his hand. "And he loves Mira even more than you do. Enough, I think, that her gender really isn't an issue."
Mike looked back towards the hallway. "It isn't normal, Morg. Love triangles never work."
Morg laughed. It was a bitter sound that caught Mike off guard. "Only because society doesn't support the idea. It has been driven into the psyche of every generation that we are supposed to find that 'one soul' we are meant to be with and then commit ourselves completely till the end of our days."
He looked at her and she smiled. "I can tall you, Michael, that isn't the case. I have loved every one of my husbands. No, I haven't had many but more than a few." She took his hand in both of hers. "The human heart has an unlimited capacity for love. Never be afraid to love, Michael."
Wong had advised him to take time to live his life and honor his relationships. Morg was telling him to let the relationships be things he had never allowed himself to think about. It was a lot for a good Catholic boy to process. He was lost in thoughts when he realized Morg was sitting up. "You should stay in bed."
She waved away his concern. "I'm going to get some tea and read. My mind is too busy to sleep at the moment."
Mike frowned. "I told Mira I would watch over you."
Morg smiled. "You may if you like, but I will be downstairs, reading. I haven't slept more than five hours a night in nearly a hundred years."
Mike shook his head. "That is so weird to think about. You talk about centuries the way most people talk about decades."
She nodded. "About the same, I suppose. Another few 'mage decades' and I'll start really feeling old." She rose and patted Mike on the shoulder. "You're young. You need your rest. Go back in there and take what comfort you can from life." Her eyes looked haunted as she lifted his chin. "I think that is all any of us will be able to do. There is a war coming, Michael. A Sanctum has not been violated in hundreds of years. The Council will respond, and may the Gods help us."
Jase woke to find Mira is his arms and Mike spooned behind him. He closed his eyes and just enjoyed the feeling. They'd never discussed the fact that until Mike, he and Mira had slept in the same bed for years. Mira had simply taken another bed without complaint. In the beginning, Jase hadn't really thought about it because he was in the throws of new love and then of marriage. It hadn't been till Mike's headaches that Jase had realized he missed holding Mira. He was a gay man, but he didn't really think of Mira as a girl. She was, of course, but as time passed it just didn't seem to matter. He knew if she'd been a guy that they'd have been lovers from day one. The fact of it hadn't changed even with how desperately he loved Mike.
Mike embraced Jase a bit harder. He'd felt Jase wake. Morning.
Jase smiled and pressed back against Mike. Morning. When did Mira finally give up?
Mike's hand reached over Jase's shoulder to caress Mira's hair. She didn't. I brought her in about three am.
Jase lay silent for a moment. He knew they had to talk about it. Mike, you know I love you, right?
Mike kissed Jase's shoulder and nodded into his neck. Yeah. This is scary, isn't it?
Jase closed his eyes. I don't know what to do, Mike. I want Mira with us. He shuddered. I've actually dreamed about it. It makes me feel so... wrong.
I know. I've thought about it too. Then I get scared, because I feel like I'm being disloyal.
Jase paused again. We didn't make that vow, Mike. I can't remember why we took it out, but we did.
To forsake all others. I remember that it wasn't in our vows. We swore to love, honor and cherish... the whole sickness and health thing... but we never said to forsake all others. He pressed his cheek against Mike's. Why?
Mike didn't have an answer. That was a lie; he had the answer and he knew it. He swallowed and pressed himself harder to Jase. It would mean forsaking Mira. You couldn't do that, and I guess, deep down, neither could I; not after Saint Briggid's.
Mira stirred and snuffed as she realized her nose was pressed against Jase's chest. She pulled back and blinked as they looked at her. "Morning." She felt embarrassed to have snuggled in so easily. That part of her life was over. It took her a moment to realize there was something in the way they were looking at her that made her nervous. "What?"
Jase stroked her cheek and she had to stop herself from shuddering. He hadn't done that in a long time. "We're willing to see where this goes, Mira, if you are to." It wasn't really a question. They all knew she wanted it as much as they did.
Mira nodded and brought her cheek back to his chest while she cried. She didn't know what she wanted but she knew she didn't want to be without them. They shared everything else; the bed was simply the last threshold.
Morg studied the "enigma box" as she sipped her tea. The whole situation was more than disturbing. She had been dumbfounded the previous year when she had learned about the spells that could allow a mage to work with technology. She was more than dumbfounded to learn that someone had made technology that could disrupt magick; she was mortified. She heard the children enter the kitchen and she smiled at them. At least they have each other.
Jase came over and kissed her on cheek. "How long have you been up?"
She smiled. "Since I sent Mike back to get some rest as well." She shrugged. "About 3:30am or so."
Jase heard Mira rooting around the coffee pot and he went to save his kitchen. "No way, faerie queen; get out of this kitchen."
Mira laughed and retreated to the dining room. She kissed Morg as well and then sat down to look at the "horrible box." Everyone had their pet name for the thing. "What are we going to do with it?"
Morg frowned. "My first impulse was to blow it to dust, but that wouldn't serve any purpose." She sipped her tea. "I think we need to get 'the brothers' involved."
Jase looked up as he started the heat under the pan. "I called them yesterday. I only got their answering service. They haven't called back."
Morg's frown deepened. "That isn't like them. They are the most punctual, responsive young men I've met in a long time."
Nodding, Jase wisped the pancake batter. "I know. They usually call back within a half hour." He eyed the French Press. "Mike, could you press down the grounds and pour out?"
Mike pulled down the mugs and mixed the various preferences before pouring the coffee. "Think its coincidence?"
Jase frowned. "I'm not sure I like the sound of that, Morg."
"I don't think they are involved, Jase. I think they may be victims."
Jase flipped the pancakes. "I'll have the jet readied. Magitech became one of our partnerships about six months ago. If the twins are in trouble, that's a valid business excuse to me."
"I'll go with you." Mike put his arm around Jase as he sipped his coffee.
"You've got patients, Mike. I'll keep in touch." Jase leaned his head back to rest against Mike's shoulder. I need you to protect Mira and Morg, Mike. Morg, especially. You and Mira know how to fight without magic.
You really think they'll go after Morg again?
My gut tells me that this is only the beginning.
Jase looked at the warehouse. Magitech was a small, ten-person operation. The brothers lived in the apartments above the main warehouse; or at least they had. No one had answered his calls or answered the door. It hadn't been a problem to hex the lock and get in. What he found inside made his stomach churn. Everyone was dead. George and Terry employed a small crew of "techno-geeks". Most of them were community college or tech-school students who needed part-time work. The corpses were left where they had been shot. It apparently happened quickly and without warning. The receptionist had been caught at her desk. Several of the front line workers had been gunned down at their positions. A few had tried to run but had been killed as they fled. Neither of the twins was there.
Like at Morg's, the outer wards had been in place. Unlike Morg's, these were well within Jase's abilities to get around. George and Terry were quite skilled but they weren't very powerful; hedge-wizards really. They could do enough magic to do some really useful things but neither one could hold his own against another mage or the creatures that Jase had faced in his life. Jase found his way to the apartments. The door had been broken down and the inside of the apartment was a disaster. The brothers had obviously put up a hell of a fight.
When Jase got to the bedroom, he found himself staring at Terry's empty, soul-shattered eyes. Terry was in the corner, holding George's broken body in his arms, rocking the lifeless corpse like one would a baby, and muttering to himself.
It had been difficult to control the situation with the police without Mira's help. Jase had managed but he lacked the finesse needed to do it well. It had been impossible to keep the emergency crews from taking Terry without direct intervention. He had finally resorted to domination spells. He wasn't proud of it but he found he didn't care. Phil would have choked him for using magic against law enforcement personnel. What Phil doesn't know won't hurt him.
He'd brought Terry directly to the Clinic after the plane landed. Mike was Terry's only hope. Jase contacted Mira while Mike examined their friend.
"Morg and I will be there as soon as we can, Jase." Mira's voice was shaky but determined.
"Thanks, Mira. I think we'll need your help to piece him back together." Jase looked over at Terry and shuddered. "If we can do it at all."
Mike had repaired the superficial injuries by the time Mira and Morg arrived. Terry hadn't been shot or even hit by anything. How he had survived was only something he could tell them. It wasn't certain he would ever have that opportunity.
It didn't take Mira long. Her psychology training coupled by her skill at glamour and mind magicks gave her insights few people could imagine. "He's completely submerged himself. From what I can feel, he had a backlash from George's death in a similar way to how Mike and I did when your mother tried to fill you with her power." She frowned. "I think George may have done a death-spell to save Terry."
Jase looked at Morg. "Would that work?"
Morg nodded. "The two most powerful forms of magic are at the opposite poles: creation and destruction. Sex magick and death magick can do almost anything. That is why so many older rites use sacrifices as a fuel source."
Mira sighed. "I can reach him. I can bring him back." She shook her head. "I just don't know if I should."
Mike was shocked. "We can't leave him like this."
Mira looked at him. "He will probably come back on his own, Mike. It just may take some time. Assuming he wants to come back at all."
"We don't have time, Mira. These aren't random attacks. You didn't see that place." Jase swallowed at the memory. "It was like a military hit or something. Efficient, coordinated, and ruthless; someone is hunting mages, Mira."
Mira glared at Jase. "Yes, Jase. I know that. Who was it who cracked open that guy's mind two nights ago?" She didn't give him time to answer. "It was me. He didn't know a lot but what was abundantly clear was they were being equipped and funded by an organization that believes people with magick are an affront to God. We are to be purged to make the world pure."
Jase's eyes softened. "I'm sorry, Mira. I just can't get the sight of all those dead people out of my head. They'd never done anything wrong. Most weren't even magick-borne." He gave Mira a hug and closed his eyes to keep from crying.
She hugged him back and then took his face in her hands and kissed him lightly. "I'll do it, Jase. Be prepared for anything."
Jase nodded and stepped back.
Mira put her hands on either side of Terry's face and began humming. It was an alluring, almost compelling sound that made the listener want to seek out the source. She let her magick sink into him and waited. Terry's body began to fidget. It looked like he was trying to stay away. He was fighting the return. Tears rolled down Mira's face as she continued to pull him back. She didn't want to do it but she knew it had to be done.
Terry screamed. His body went ridged and his hands gripped the table. Every fiber of his being fought against the awareness that he was alive. Mike touched him sending his power into Terry as the man convulsed. Rolling into a ball on his side, Terry wept. "Why? Why didn't I die too? I wanted to die too..."
Jase knew exactly how he felt. When he thought he'd lost Mike at St. Briggid's, he'd wanted the same thing.
It took a couple days before Terry was able to talk His mind tried to retreat a couple times but Mira always brought him back. He wept almost constantly.
Jase had known that the brothers were gay. What he hadn't known was they were lovers. They had been lovers since they were thirteen. Jase hugged Mike and Mira whenever he could as they waited for Terry to come around. He saw in Terry what he would be if he ever lost the either of them. It was almost more than he could bear.
It was during Jase's watch that Terry finally started talking. He had looked at Jase with such utter grief that Jase couldn't stop himself from pulling the man into his arms and hold him. Terry cried again, but his time he was coherent.
"He's gone, Jase." Terry wept into Jase's shoulder. "Gods, what am I going to do? I loved him so much."
Jase just held him through it. He didn't have any answers. When Terry settled back against the pillows, Jase decided it was time to ask questions. "Terry, man, can you tell me what happened?"
Terry nodded, his eyes looking hollow. "It was first thing in the morning, maybe 8:30am. It was raining cats and dogs, but that's typical this time of year. George and I were upstairs working in the lab when it started." He stopped for a moment and shook through a memory. "Gods, the screaming. We heard the gunfire and the screams." He looked at Jase. "It was over so fast. Before we could get out of the apartment they were breaking through the door."
Terry shook his head. "I don't know. They wore black and had on ski masks." He started to cry. "George told me to run. I didn't realize he didn't plan to follow. I'd gotten to the fire escape when I found he wasn't behind me." He hugged himself. "Then I felt it. It was like an explosion in my brain. He'd been standing at the door to the bedroom, blocking them, and they just shot him down." He choked. "The bastards just kept shooting and shooting; but he wouldn't fall."
Jase waited as Terry rocked, his arms wrapped around his knees and his eyes distant. "We had a connection, you know, like you three do?"
Jase nodded. He'd suspected the twins had something because they could double team tasks like no one he'd ever seen.
"He told me he loved me through the link and then it felt like I was dying and being born all at once. He poured into me like you'd fill up a glass." He gave Jase a tearful smile. "I'd never thought about why neither of us had much magic. When it all came flooding to me, I realized why. George had been the mage-born; I was just a normal, but he'd shared it with me. All our lives he'd been giving me his power, making me feel special. He left it all in me when he went. He said that way he'd always be with me..." Terry choked on his tears and didn't try to explain any more. He wanted George back and that was something he'd never have.
Jase hugged Terry again. "We'll find out who did this, Terry. We'll find them and stop them. I promise."
Terry nodded clutching to his friend like a lifeline. "You can count me in, Jase. Anything I can do, I'll do." He looked at Jase, his eyes pleading. "I need something to do or I'll go mad."
"We've got something we need you to figure out Terry. It's probably what allowed them to get past your wards and to everyone."
Terry pulled back blinking.
"They have tech that disrupts magick."