This is a work of fiction – a bit of science fiction and fantasy mixed together in fact. None of the characters, names or personalities, are based on real people. Any resemblance to a real person is entirely coincidental and not intentional. I do live in the Atlanta area and use a lot of places I’ve been in the story.
If you are offended by sex between adult men don’t read any further.
If you are not of legal age don’t read any further.
If this type of story is illegal where you live, for whatever reason, don’t read any further.
This story is copyrighted to me and cannot be reproduced without my express written consent.
is a link to the song Lane sings at the end of this chapter to Bryan
and everyone else. Just ignore the cheesy video - no offense to
whoever put it together but i just needed a link to the song and the
imagery doesn't go with the story at all:
And now on to Chapter 10!
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The Order - Chapter 10
They all headed down to Grady Hospital and met outside the parking deck near the entrance. Lane had his guitar case in Bryan’s Explorer, and once they got down to the hospital he felt like he should bring it inside with him, so he had it strung over his back as he entered the building.
Ken said, “Rick and Loy you go in and meet with Tag’s wife, and the rest of us will spread out on the fifth floor. I know there are multiple waiting rooms, so we can fan out and not be so conspicuous. Everybody stay linked and if you see anything out of the ordinary or feel anything in your gut that doesn’t seem right let everyone else know immediately. Let’s go in pairs every couple of minutes so we don’t draw attention to ourselves.”
As soon as Brad entered the lobby, he felt the oppressive atmosphere hanging over the building. Glancing around, he noticed that no one was smiling and most had blank looks on their faces completely void of expression. He could literally feel the oppression pushing against his shield.
Guys, something’s going on. I’m feeling some kind of oppressive broadcast. Lane, Bill, Loy, and Darren, you guys amp up your emotional push. Everyone needs to be on the same page for maximum effect, so let’s all go for happy and content. I have a feeling we’re going to let the Enemy know we’re here as soon as we do this so be ready.
Brad concentrated for a second and Ken felt the wave of emotion come off his lover, and right after he felt it strengthen as Lane, Loy, Bill, and Darren joined him. Within second’s people throughout the building started shaking their heads like they were waking up or trying to shake off the cobwebs.
Loy and Rick went straight up to room 584. The door was shut, so Loy knocked gently and pushed the door open. Olive was sitting at Tag’s bedside holding his hand and she stood up as soon as they entered the room.
“Mrs. Keenan? It’s Loy and Rick.”
“Thank you for coming Mr. Barton. I’m so sorry to bother you but the doctors don’t seem to be able to do anything. Tag spoke of you so often... I just didn’t know what else to do. I can’t thank you enough for what you did for him, whatever it was. He never told me what you did, or why, but whatever it was, for some reason it stuck with him this time.”
She had a tissue in her hand and her eyes were red from crying. Her eyes teared up as she started talking. She was a thin woman with a quiet voice; not mousy just soft. She looked exhausted.
“Ma’am, I can’t tell you how sorry we are about what’s happened to your husband, but I think we can help.”
“You do? How? Are you doctors?”
“No ma’am. It’s difficult to explain, and things might seem a little strange, but if you trust us, and will let us, I think we can help him.”
“The doctors don’t know what’s wrong with him. He OD’d, and it did terrible things to his body, but something else is happening they can’t explain. He keeps getting weaker and I’m afraid he doesn’t have much longer.”
“Please call me Olive.”
“Ok Olive. I can’t tell you how I know this, but someone did this to Tag. He didn’t go back to using drugs on his own.”
“I don’t know how you know that, but I believe you. He was getting better. He had his bad days sure, but he was trying so hard to make things work. He finally found himself again, and he even managed to get a job. I had about given up on him, and when he came back to me I almost didn’t let him back in the door. But something about him was changed, and you helped him, so I think you have good intentions. I have no idea why you would do this for him or me, but I’ll take whatever help you can give.”
“Part of how I know, Olive, is that the reason Tag was targeted is because he helped us find a friend of ours a few months ago who was missing. That’s when we met him for the first time. Please believe us that we had no idea that anything like this would happen, but we’re going to do everything in our power to make this right, and get him back to you.”
“Olive, I’m not sure what’s going to happen in the next few minutes. It’s possible that the people who did this to Tag might show up. We’ll protect you if that happens, but I want you to know that you’re going to see some strange things that might seem impossible. Just know that whatever you see is necessary to help Tag and is for your safety and his, ok?”
“Mister you’re scaring me, but if it’ll help my husband find his way back to me, you can spin on your head upside down and I won’t care.”
Loy gave her a reassuring smile and patted her gently on her arm. “That’s the spirit, Olive. Tag’s a lucky man.”
Rick moved over to guard the door, and Loy moved over to Tag’s bedside. He put his hand on Tag’s forehead and reached out for his mind. Right away he hit some kind of barrier and felt a sharp searing pain in his own mind. It was excruciating and caused him to grab his head and he doubled over with the pain.
Everyone in the link felt it to, although Loy took the brunt.
Brad piped in – Loy, what the hell was that?
There’s some kind of barrier protecting Tag’s mind. Fuck that hurt!
I’ll be right there.
Ken followed Brad from the waiting room down the hall to Tag’s room.
Rick said, “Olive, these are friends of ours, Brad and Ken and they’re here to help. Guy’s this is Olive, Tag’s wife.”
Ken and Brad both took her hand and Ken told her, “Pleased to meet you ma’am. We’re so sorry about your husband. I want you to know we will make this right and do whatever it takes to fix this so the two of you can be together.”
She didn’t know what to make of these big strong handsome men that came to help, but somehow their presence was reassuring. As soon as Loy and Rick entered the room her mood lightened and she felt hope for the first time since Tag was brought in to the hospital. And when Ken took her hand and told her everything would be alright she felt that somehow everything would work out.
Olive felt the conviction of Ken’s words deep down inside of her. She not only heard his words; she also felt them. The solid presence of this man was comforting and any lingering doubts she had about these men vanished. Brad was the only one who noticed that Ken’s tattoo flared briefly when he said those words.
Brad moved over to the opposite side of the bed from Loy. He decided to talk out loud rather than over the link. Even though most of what they would say wouldn’t make any sense to Olive, it would give her comfort to hear their voices and know that they were trying to help.
“Loy, the doc showed me something that might help. I wish we had more time at the lab with this type of thing. I hate the trial by fire, but it seems to be the norm these days. Shift your Sight and let’s take another look.”
Everyone but Olive saw Brad and Loy’s foreheads start to glow with a beautiful blue light.
When Loy and Brad looked at Tag now, what they saw was horrifying. To the naked eye they were invisible, but with their Mind’s Eye they saw some type of creatures clutched over Tag’s energy centers. They were digging into his body, and seemed to be feeding off his energy. The creatures were somewhat transparent, but dark and foggy, and in some areas solid black. They had spiked shells that spit little tendrils of black, smoky energy.
Brad sent his thoughts out to the doctor and Albrecht. Doc! Albrecht!
The soothing, gentle strength of both the doctor and Albrecht entered their link immediately.
Yes Bradford, we are here.
Can you two look and see if you know what these things are that are attached to Tag?
They felt some alarm from Albrecht as he said – They are spirit creatures called Iktomi. They are vile, evil creatures of the Pale. They will feed off his life force through his energy centers until he is dead. This is very bad.
How do we get rid of them?
Once they are attached there is little to be done. There are certain crystals that can be charged with energies that they find distasteful, but depending on the strength of the Binding of whoever put them there that might not work.
Can we kill them?
Iktomi die when they are full. Think of them like ticks, except when they are bloated with the energies from their host, the host dies and the Iktomi die as well. If you try to remove them or destroy them by force they will kill the host so you must be careful.
Ok I think we can take it from here. If they want food we are going to give them more than they can handle.
Be careful Bradford.
Brad turned his thoughts back to the hospital and the link with the Team – Lane and Bryan I need you in here.
On our way.
Darren’s voice piped into the link – Guys we have some activity. We have goons starting to arrive off the elevators. So far I count five.
Bill’s voice interjected Make it ten, five more just got off the elevator by me.
Ken said Ok guys do what you can to hold them off and do your best to keep them from hurting any civilians. Don’t take any risks. I don’t want any of us getting hurt. Holler if you need me or Rick to come back you up.
Seconds later, Lane and Bryan came into the room.
“Olive, this is Lane and Bryan.”
Lane said, “Hello ma’am; pleased to meet you.” Bryan, the gentle giant he was, smiled at her and nodded his greeting, touching her softly on the shoulder with a gentle squeeze of his big hand.
Olive nodded to them, her eyes wide. “How many of you are there?”
“The rest of the team is close by Olive. The people who did this to Tag are here and they aren’t happy. If things get exciting you need to stay behind us. We won’t let anything happen to you.”
Lane pulled his guitar case around and put it on the spare bed and took out his guitar.
Brad told him, “Lane these things on Tag are feeding off his energy. The doc and Albrecht say they’re like ticks, and when they get full they die. I want you and Bryan to power up and stuff them so full of energy that they explode. I think Tag is trapped in a construct where he’s back in Afghanistan and we can’t get him out until we get rid of these things. He might need additional healing once they are off so be ready. I know this is a lot to ask but you and Bryan are our best chance to get this done as fast and as safe as possible.”
In his deep gravelly voice Bryan said “No problem.” Lane smiled at Bryan, thankful for his confidence and trust. Lane was already strumming his guitar, warming up his fingers. “I have the perfect song for this.”
Lane moved over to Olive and said, “Ma’am, I’m going to sing a song twice. After I’m done the first time, I’m going to need you to come over and take Tag’s hand. I’m not sure what you’ll see when you do that but hold on tight and let him know how much he means to you. Can you do that?”
“I have no idea what you all are doing or how this will help my husband, but I can do that.”
Loy turned to Olive, “Olive you’re doin great. Anyone else would probably have thrown us out by now. Please believe me, however unorthodox this looks, it’s all to help Tag.”
They heard a crash outside in the hallway and Pat, Darren, Bill, and Kevin shouted over the link shout – Incoming! Brad and the others in the room could feel the power coming from Pat and Darren through the link as they started their part of the fight. Brad gave Ken a knowing smile that their efforts and training were paying off.
Bryan got behind Lane and put his hands on his shoulders, ready to support him both physically and mentally. He whispered in Lane’s ear and not over the link squeezing Lane’s shoulders as he did so, “Take what you need from me Little Buddy. I’m with you.”
Lane looked over his shoulder with a confident smile and winked at Bryan.
Olive started when she saw Bryan’s and Lane’s eyes turn white. When their tattoos started to glow and spit off small colored tendrils of energy her eyes got wide. When both their bodies started to glow faintly her hand went to her mouth.
At first she was scared to death, but the look on their faces calmed and soothed her fears. She felt something radiating from them; it felt like… love? It was warm and beautiful and it soaked into her Soul. The love she felt for Tag came flooding up to the surface of her mind and the hope that everything was going to be alright filled her heart. In the midst of all this chaos and uncertainty, tears of happiness started flowing down her cheeks.
Lane was singing a song he had on his iPod, but his intuition told him he should sing it himself rather than just listen to it. The part of him that loved music preferred making music over listening to it even if it was something he didn’t write himself. His instinct was right and he and Bryan were both carried by the music further outside themselves than before.
The love and intimacy they shared together when this happened fueled their Bodies, Minds, and Souls. Colored ribbons of power crackled from their energy centers and wrapped around them both.
Lane was occupied so he didn’t notice, but Brad and Loy both felt a mental touch brush over their minds like a slight breeze. Over in the corner of the room was the giant form of a Nephelem, his head cowled so they couldn’t make out his features. He was crouched down to fit in the room, and even though his face was covered he seemed completely focused on Lane and Bryan.
Brad said quietly but intently, “Ken, Rick, look!”
They both turned to see the giant cowled figure sitting there quietly observing them.
Lane and Bryan were lost in the music and oblivious to the presence of the Nephelem. Lane was playing loud and hard on his guitar, and his Soul was flying high, with Bryan by his side. To Brad and the others in the room, Bryan’s and Lane’s energy centers were completely intertwined and blindingly bright. The flows were getting stronger and brighter as the song went on, causing a hot wind around them to blow the hair on their heads.
The creatures began to squirm more actively, sensing a stronger source of food nearby.
All three colors blended together into one intensely bright white column of energy. Since Lane was playing and his hands were occupied, Bryan was the lens, magnifying and directing what Lane was generating. Like the sun through a magnifying glass, Bryan raised his right hand and directed the energy towards the first Iktomi that was attached to the center of Tag’s forehead. Almost immediately the creature exploded into a small black cloud and vanished, unable to absorb the amount of energy Bryan directed into it. A dark blue spot was softly glowing on Tag’s forehead where the creature had been attached.
The white ribbon moved down to Tag’s chest and that creature vaporized as well. One by one, over a matter of a few seconds, all the creatures were destroyed, leaving a small, slightly glowing spot at each energy center on Tag’s body; dark yellow on his chest and a deep red on his lower stomach.
Bryan’s deep voice was loud and powerful over the link, almost deafening. It vibrated with the energy flowing through him, Brad get him out of the construct so we can finish.
Brad threw himself into Tag’s mind. There was no barrier this time, or pain. He appeared in the middle of a street in Afghanistan. He quickly looked around and saw Tag. Bullets were flying everywhere and even as his combat instincts took over and he started to get under cover, he cried out in pain as a stray bullet ripped through the flesh of his left shoulder. The impact of the bullet knocked him off his feet and he hit the ground hard, doubled over in agony.
In Tag’s hospital room, Brad’s shoulder erupted in blood, splattering everyone around him and he dropped to his knees.
Ken shouted, “Brad!” Since they were linked, Ken threw himself into the construct. He appeared in the street and saw Brad on the ground clutching his shoulder, his face contorted in pain. Ken knelt down immediately and grabbed ahold of his partner.
Brad felt Ken grab him and shouted, “Ken!? What the fuck!? What are you doing here!? Get out of here man!”
“Fuck that bro! I’m here to help!”
Brad tried his best to ignore the pain, and he concentrated on breaking the construct apart. It was much stronger than he expected, and he kept pushing harder but it was too strong for him to break.
He was breathing heavy and said, “Fuck this thing is too strong! I can’t break it!”
Ken had to yell to make himself heard over the gunfire, “Take what you need from me to rip this shithole apart and get us out of here! We can do it together B!” Ken pulled Brad against him and wrapped his strong arms around him in support. Brad heard Ken’s voice in his mind Always together B, now and forever.
Ken felt Brad draw on his energy and he almost passed out. The construct was strongly built and it took everything that Brad and Ken both had, but the construct shattered like a broken mirror, sending them and Tag back to the real world. As soon as they were back in their bodies, Ken and Brad collapsed on the floor, both semi-conscious.
Olive heard Lane’s voice inside her head, Take his hand Olive. Talk to him and make him hear how much you love and need him. You’re the one who can lead him back.
To amazed to be afraid any more, Olive rushed over and took Tag’s hand, holding it tightly. She was whispering over and over, “Oh baby, come back to me! Lord, bring him back to me!”
Lane and Bryan continued through the song a second time. This time Bryan focused their energies into Tag, refilling his body with what the creatures had sucked out of him. His body arched from the influx of energy. Bryan was as gentle as he could be but to Tag’s spirit it was like trying to drink from a fire hydrant. Bryan could see the damage to his body and mind and he altered the flows enough to not only re-energize Tag’s spirit but to heal the damage to his body from the drug overdose, and to soften the damage to his mind. He didn’t remove the memories but he took away the physical pain and emotions they invoked from repeatedly losing his leg in the explosion.
When Lane stopped playing, the glow died down, and both he and Bryan staggered down to one knee, exhausted. Rick rushed over to check on Brad and Ken and Loy rushed over to Bryan and Lane.
Tag’s eyes opened and he saw Olive looking down at him. He felt her hand squeezing his tight. His voice was weak and raspy but he managed to squeak out, “Hey baby! What you cryin for? I heard you callin me sweety! Daddy’s home baby!”
“Oh Lord! Thank you! ” She leaned over and put her face down on his chest and started crying her heart out. Tag wrapped his arms around her and hugged her as tight as he could manage.
Tag heard sounds in the room and he looked over to see Rick and Loy hovering over some other men, and said, “Hey fella’s! What’re you doin here?”
Olive said through her tears, “I called them baby! I didn’t know what else to do! I was so afraid I was going to lose you.”
There was still a lot of noise coming from out in the hallway; people screaming, sounds of crashing and breaking glass, and even some gun fire. It was muffled because the door was shut but it was still loud enough to cause concern.
Tag asked, “What the hell is goin on out there?”
After a few more loud crashes, everything in the hallway fell silent.
Rick saw that Ken was just dazed so he started tending to Brad. His shirt was covered in blood and Rick could see a large bullet hole in the ball of Brad’s left shoulder and it was bleeding profusely.
Rick found some rolls of gauze on a shelf by the bathroom and grabbed them. He ripped the sleeve of Brad’s t-shirt off and started wrapping his shoulder up.
Ken felt completely drained and was having a hard time staying conscious but he forced himself to focus. The knowledge that Brad was shot sent a surge of adrenaline into his body and as his vision began to clear he saw Rick wrapping up Brad’s left shoulder. Brad was conscious but pale. He reached for Brad’s mind but he hit a wall; Brad didn’t want Ken feeling or sharing any of the pain and was blocking him. It pissed him off and he punched through.
Fuck! B are you alright!?
Yeah I’ll be fine. It just hurts like a mother fucker.
B, take what you need from me to heal that right now.
Ken… I’m not sure… we should get Tag out of here and get everybody safe. I already took so much from you to destroy the construct I’m not sure it’s safe. I can wait.
Fuck that! The guys have things under control and Tag is fine for the moment. We still have a few minutes before we need to clear out of here. Do it, B. I can deal with you being in pain if I have to but I don’t like it. And I don’t like you shutting me out like that, so let’s fix this together.
Alright. Let’s do this. Scoot over here on the floor in front of me.
Ken moved over and they faced one another. Brad was sweating from the pain and he lifted up his shirt to wipe his face off. He was pale and it was clear from the expression on his face he was in a lot of pain.
I’m not sure if this will make a difference but put your hand on my tattoo.
Ken reached out and put his hand on the ball of Brad’s right shoulder and Brad did the same to Ken. Like colorful flares, the energy centers erupted one by one and their eyes turned white. With Ken’s mind now fully opened he was able to help Brad control the energy flows.
They felt the warmth of their tattoos pulsing with their own energy. The power started to flow between them like water in a stream and they both felt that euphoric sense of well-being as their love and support for one another fueled their connection. After observing what Bryan had done, Brad used Ken as a lens and focused all the colors together into a white ribbon. It wasn’t nearly as bright or as strong as Bryan’s and Lane’s but it was still powerful. Brad held his hand over the wound directed the energy into his shoulder.
He and Ken could both see the destruction of the skin and muscle tissue in the flows and he instinctively knew what to do to heal the damage.
As soon as Ken and Brad moved over together Rick backed off and let them do their thing. He went over with Loy to check on Bryan and Lane, who were exhausted but recovering. After killing the Iktomi, re-energizing Tag’s life energies, and healing his physical and mental damage they were both severely drained.
Rick glanced over apprehensively to the corner where the Nephelem was still crouched, not saying a word or making any movements. He just sat there with his large hands on his knees, his face shrouded in the shadows of the cowl except for his lips and strong square chin. Rick did a slight double take; his chin looked familiar but he couldn’t see clearly enough to place it. He saw a slight upturning at the corners of his mouth; not a smirk but a smile. The Nephelem nodded to him in acknowledgement and literally vanished.
The door opened and Rick spun around quickly, ready to go after whoever came through the door and protect everyone in the room. Rick saw Pat, Darren, Bill, and Kevin all standing there. They looked a little disheveled and some of their clothing was torn, but other than a few scrapes and minor bruises they all looked fine.
Kevin asked, “Are you pansies done in there? We did all the heavy lifting out here. We need to evac a.s.a.p.”
Kevin stepped into the room and saw Ken and Brad on the floor facing one another, glowing brightly with their tattoos flaring underneath their hands, and Brad’s shirt covered in blood. Bryan was helping Lane stand up and they both looked fine but exhausted. Tag was awake and holding Olive.
“It looks like you guys had your own fun in here. I can’t wait to hear about it. Is everyone good to go?”
Just as Kevin finished talking, the glow around Ken and Brad faded and they both slumped together breathing heavily, their sweaty foreheads pushed together. They both had smiles on their faces.
“You two lovebirds can make out later, we need to scoot.”
Ken and Brad both laughed at that. Brad cupped his hand behind Ken’s thick neck and pulled him into a brief kiss and whispered, “I love you buddy. Thanks!” Brad unwrapped the gauze that Rick had used to bind up his shoulder; it was soaked in blood, but when Brad unwrapped his shoulder, other than a little redness the skin was smooth and the bullet hole was gone. Brad was tired but Ken looked exhausted and pale and was his body was shaking.
Loy moved over to Tag and said, “Tag you and Olive need to come with us. We can keep you safe until we figure this out.”
“Git my leg, it’s in the closet wit my clothes.” Loy opened the closet and got Tag’s prosthetic leg and quickly helped him get it on and harnessed. He grabbed the small bag that had Tag’s clothing and said, “You can get dressed in the car.”
Everyone who had been in Tag’s room had no idea what had gone on out in the hallway. When they got out and headed for the stairwell the hospital looked like a warzone. There were no civilians in sight but there were unconscious muscle goons everywhere. Most of the furniture was overturned, carts were on their sides, and papers and medical supplies were all over the floor. It looked like a tornado had gone through the place.
They all made it down to a side exit of the hospital on the ground floor. As they were leaving, Ken remembered the security cameras and let out a “Fuck! We need to erase the security cameras before we leave.”
Pat smiled and said, “No worries boss man. It’s taken care of.”
Ken looked relieved and said, “You’re awesome Pat.”
Pat winked at him and said, “Yeah, well somebody has to be with all you losers around.”
By the time they got down and out of the building Bryan, Lane, Ken, and Brad were functioning better. They weren’t up for another fight, and were exhausted, but they could drive. Loy and Rick took Tag and Olive with them, and everybody made it back to their vehicles and headed to the lab.
On the drive back Ken took ahold of Brad’s hand and started playing with his fingers. Once they got on the interstate, Brad felt Ken’s hand go slack and he looked over and realized Ken had fallen asleep.
Brad said out loud, “God I live you Ken Habersham.” He took a second to study Ken’s handsome face. Asleep, he was completely relaxed, and if possible even more handsome; his straight nose, strong square jaw, his day old growth of beard. Brad breathed deeply and he could smell Ken’s musky aroma. Brad couldn’t help himself and as tired as he was he got hard.
As a testament to how exhausted Ken was, he didn’t wake up even when Brad pulled into the parking lot of the Lab. Ken was always such a light sleeper, and combat trained to wake at the slightest sound or movement. When Brad unbuckled his own seatbelt he leaned over and gently brushed Ken’s hair back on his forehead, and kissed him softly on the lips. He felt Ken’s lips curl up in a smile, and his mouth opened and he lightly grabbed ahold of Brad’s tongue.
Ken breathed deep and stretched, flexing his huge physique, putting one arm around Brad and pulling him close in a hug. “Sorry man, I didn’t mean to pass out on ya. That healing shit is exhausting.”
“Yeah it is. I can’t wait to get Tag and Olive settled so we can get home. I want to take care of you so bad right now; in every way imaginable.”
“Well shit, let’s get this show on the road!”
When they got inside, Loy and Rick made sure that Tag and Olive were put into a guest room and comfortable. The doctor and Albrecht did a quick exam of Bryan, Lane, Ken, and Brad.
“I am most impressed with what you all did today. Kenneth you and Bradford learned quickly from observing Bryan and Lane. You did an exemplary job of healing Bradford’s shoulder. Though I will stress upon you that doing that in the field is not recommended if the injury is not life threatening.”
“Yeah I’m sorry doc. I know I should’ve waited but I couldn’t stand seeing him in that much pain.”
“I understand my boy. What I say is far easier said than done. If it was Albrecht in pain I would have felt the same way.”
Lane, Bryan, Ken, and Brad still had their shirts off from the exam when Rick walked in. He threw his hands up over his face in mock horror and shouted, “Oh my eyes! My eyes!”
When they stopped laughing, Rick asked, “Ok so when are we going to tell the doc about the elephant, or should I say Nephelem, in the room?”
The doctor looked surprised and raised his eyebrows. Rick continued, “Yeah doc, during most of the entire episode, in Tag’s hospital room, there was a twenty foot tall robed guy in a cowl crouched in the corner watching us.”
The doctor asked, “He did nothing to interfere? No actions of any sort?”
“No sir. Right before he disappeared he smiled at me and nodded. The only thing visible were his chin and lips, but I swear he looked familiar to me doc. I just couldn’t see enough of his face to place him.”
“Hmmm… interesting. It is possible that you have met him before. They seem to have taken an interest in all of you, and they can take human form when they wish. They rarely communicate with us directly however. They have their own rules that dictate such things.”
Rick looked around and noticed that he didn’t see Henry. “Doc where’s Henry?”
“Henry is no longer here. Others in The Order wish to discover what happened to him and how he was changed. He is safe and will not be harmed.”
“Will he be back?”
“That will be up to him. Although we do not like to do so, occasionally we resort to removing memories to help individuals overcome trauma. Henry will be treated well and counseled for a long time, and after that if he wishes to remember and move on with his life he can. He might also choose to have the bad memories removed.”
“Wow, what a choice.”
“Yes. It is a heavy burden, and I deeply regret what has happened to him and what he will have to bear as the consequences regardless of his choice. However if I am any judge of character, I think he will choose to remember, and we might even see him again.”
“Now all of you get dressed please. I need to examine everyone else, as well as our new friend, Mister Keenan. You four, “he pointed to Ken, Brad, Bryan, and Lane” should go home and rest. You will probably all sleep heavily for the next 24 hours. Richard, I will need you and Loy to help settle Mr. Keenan and his lovely wife.”
Ken and Brad changed into clean clothes they had stored in their lockers at the lab and headed home. They were both quiet on the ride home, holding hands as usual. Ken kept his sun glasses on and his head back, but Brad knew he wasn’t sleeping, just tired.
About halfway home Brad asked him, “Are you hungry? We should probably get some food while we’re still out if we want to just go home and crash.”
Ken was about to reply when his stomach let out a huge rumble.
“I’ll take that as a yes. How does PF Chang’s sound?”
“The only thing that sounds better is sitting right next to me.”
“Flattery will get you everywhere bud, you better watch it.”
“I’m counting on it.”
Brad called in their order and they swung by to pick it up.
Ken was getting dark circles under his eyes by the time they got home and ate. He devoured his food in no time. Brad was tired too but he knew that Ken had used up a lot of his own energy to heal his shoulder on top of what Brad took to help shatter the construct. Brad loved him for it but he also felt guilty to be the cause of Ken’s exhaustion.
When they were finished eating, Brad went and pulled a light blanket out of the hall closet, and he got a small towel from the bathroom.
“Hey Ken, strip down buddy.” Brad started taking his own clothes off. Ken was running on autopilot and did as he was told without asking any questions. He was standing in the den and he dropped his shorts and underwear and stripped his t-shirt off on the spot.
Brad laid down on the couch first and put the blanket on the floor within easy reach. “Get over here and lay down in front of me with your head in my lap.”
Ken did as he was told and rested his head on one of Brad’s big thighs and partially across his lower abs. Brad started massaging Ken’s forehead and temples, occasionally going a little lower to rub his neck and upper chest, but mainly focusing on his head. Brad loved the feel of Ken’s head and shoulders resting on him; the solidity and weight of his body and the soft warmth of his skin, and the feel of his short hair against own skin.
Ken’s deep voice was barely a murmur as he moaned, “Fuck B that feels so nice.”
“Shhhh sit back and relax Ken. I just want you to feel good man. This is all for you. Don’t even think about reciprocating.”
Ken felt himself getting hard as Brad’s hands worked their magic on his body. Brad’s hands were roaming over his head and face and neck and chest and his dick. It dawned on Ken that there were too many hands touching him. He slurred out, “B you shouldn’t be doin that man. You’re tired too.”
“Hush and don’t be a douche. Relax and enjoy.”
Ken was so relaxed his voice was barely audible and he said with a lazy smile, “I love it when you call me a douche.”
Ken could feel Brad’s hard dick throbbing against his neck and it felt so hot and wonderful against his skin. He moaned when he felt a hot mouth take in the head of his dick. Brad’s hands were slowly jacking his shaft and he felt a tongue swirling around the head. He felt hands roaming over his thighs and his balls, and hands rubbing his chest and nipples. He felt hands roaming through his hair and caressing his forehead and temples. He let himself get lost in the sensations the man he loved more than anything in the world was causing him to feel. Brad kept this up for about five minutes before Ken couldn’t hold back and started shooting ropes of white hot cum across his abs and lower chest.
Brad continued caressing Ken’s muscular body until he was sure Ken’s orgasm was complete; the last thing he did was open all their energy centers and he started a gentle flow between the two of them, wrapping them both in each other, sharing their very essence. Ken felt Brad’s energy around him and inside him wrapping him in a cocoon. There was no better feeling in the world.
“Sleep now Ken, and rest up. I love you buddy.”
Ken’s voice was barely a whisper and he said “I love you too, B” as he drifted off to sleep.
As soon as Ken was asleep Brad went back inside himself, and reached down and cleaned Ken off with the towel and then he pulled the blanket over Ken to keep him warm. Ken’s body would keep Brad more than warm enough plus he had his own new body heat and didn’t feel the cold as much. Brad kept his hands rubbing gently over Ken’s big chest until he fell into a deep, restful sleep.
That night while they slept, a Nephelem watched over them. He stayed crouched down in the den watching them asleep on the couch, his huge body hunched down to fit in the room. Just before dawn, he reached out and gently touched each of their tattoos, causing them to glow brightly for a brief second.
As soon as the morning sun filled the room, the Nephelem vanished back across the Veil. He was sure that Brad would be able to see him now, and most likely Ken. He could still conceal himself if necessary but did not want to make the effort to do so. He did what he came to do.
Ken woke up after 14 hours of deep, restful sleep. He loved waking up first, so he could watch Brad sleep. He stretched a little and repositioned himself and tried to be as careful as he could to not wake Brad up. He folded one of his big arms to rest his head against, and he gently rested his other hand on Brad’s chest. He wanted to feel the warmth of his body and feel his heartbeat as Brad’s chest slowly rose and fell while he slept.
It took another half an hour before Brad started to wake up. As his eyes opened sleepily, the first thing he saw was Ken’s handsome face looking at him. They both smiled and after Brad stretched lazily he rolled over so he was half lying on top of Ken and stayed quiet for a few more minutes.
Ken wrapped his arms around his lover and slowly ran his hands up and down Brad’s back, letting him wake up at his own pace.
Brad’s mental voice still sounded sleepy as he said, Mornin.
Ken brought his hand up behind Brad’s head and pulled him down into a quick good morning kiss and hug and he thought, God I love you so much B.
I love you too Ken.
They both lay still for a while, being quiet and together. After a while Brad lifted his head up enough to start a long loving kiss. After they pulled apart they settled back together, enjoying the feeling of each other’s warm naked skin again their own. After a few minutes Brad broke the silence, Ken, are you blown away by all this? When I think back in the last year and how much things have changed for us it’s almost too much to take in.
Brad moved up and over Ken and stared into Ken’s eyes while they were talking mentally. They both held each other’s heads, running their fingers over noses, cheeks, ears, jaws, and through their short hair.
Yeah, B, it’s over the fucking top. But I think it’s cool as hell and I wouldn’t have it any other way; especially bein with you. We could have made it work, I know we would have. But to know you like I know you now is what blows me away. You have to be the sexiest most beautiful soul in existence.
Aside from yours you mean.
Grinning like a kid Ken replied, Yeah ok I’ll give you that.
Their eyes twinkled with the laughter they both felt at their running joke.
Brad put his head down in the crook of Ken’s neck and shoulder and closed his eyes. Ken instinctively wrapped his big arms around Brad and held him close, pressing the two of them together.
Brad took them into a construct of the den, so they could lie together as long as they wanted. Ken realized what he did and why. They stayed like that for almost two hours, being naked together and talking about the things they went through the previous day. They talked about ideas they had for training with the Team, and what the whole Nephelem thing might mean.
In the real world only a moment passed. When Brad brought them back, they both got up and got dressed to go for their morning run.
Ken was in the driveway waiting and ready to go. He felt really good and was ready to go for a good run and then head to the lab to workout.
Come on slowpoke!
Hold your horses I’m just downing the last of my coffee. Be right there!
As Brad came out of the house he noticed that Ken was literally bouncing on the balls of his feet. He shut the garage door and set the alarm and headed down the driveway to start their run.
Right off the bat Ken took off at a fast pace. Brad always let him set their pace, and sometimes he pushed harder than others. Today it took everything he had to keep up with Ken. After two miles Brad was really winded and sweating heavily; it had only been eight minutes since they left the driveway.
Ken noticed how hard Brad was breathing and asked What’s wrong B? You aren’t gettin soft on me are ya?
Dude do you have any idea how fast you’re goin? We just beat the world record by nearly forty seconds.
Are you shittin me? Fuck bro I’m sorry I’ll tone it down. I seem to have all this excess energy this morning. I feel like we’re movin in slow motion.
The next three miles were better but Brad still had to push to keep up.
When they got to the Lab they each went to their different areas. Brad hit the regular weights and Ken hit the special area the doctor had set up for him and the other Physical partners. The weights the doctor designed for them were magnetic, and the amount of weight was controlled by computer. As long as they stayed in the designated areas they could program how much resistance they wanted on any of the straight bars, easy curl bars, dumbbells, or benches.
Shortly into his own workout Brad started to pick up some heavy feelings of frustration from Ken.
What’s up man? Something wrong?
Somethin’s not working right B. Maybe the controls are messed up. I have everythin set to my regular profile but everythin feels too lite.
Let me come over and take a look.
Brad moved over to the main console that controlled the equipment. Sure enough Ken had everything set properly.
“Ok bud, get on the flat bench and hold up the bar… I’m going to manually adjust the weight until it feels better and we’ll see how far off the calibration is. If it’s not too bad I can take care of it for now and then the doc can fix it later.”
Ken lay down on the bench and effortlessly lifted the bar into position for a flat military bench press. Brad never got tired of looking at Ken’s body when he worked out; he loved seeing the cords and muscles tensed.
“Damn bud you were already pushing it… you have it set for 900lbs.”
“Yeah I told you I feel really good this mornin. I figured I’d take advantage of the extra energy. We didn’t make out this mornin so it has to go somewhere.” Ken smirked and glanced over at Brad when he said that last part.
Brad laughed and said, “Somehow I knew this was going to be my fault. Ok I’m going to take it up 50lbs at a time and let me know how it feels. I wish one of the other guys was here to spot you. I’ll be quick to turn it off if those skinny little arms of yours give out.”
Brad was beginning to wonder if the hardware was completely dysfunctional. He kept cranking up the weight and Ken kept right on benching it like it was effortless. He only started to slow down when he was close to two thousand pounds.
“How am I doin B? It’s finally startin to get close. I was hopin to try a max lift this mornin but I’m not sure if it’s gonna go high enough with the way it’s actin up. What’s it set at now?”
“Take a quick break Ken… you need to anyways after all those reps if you want to do a max check. Let me run a diagnostic on the system while you do that.”
Brad started the self-test on the hardware and the self-diagnostic on the software. It took a few minutes for both to complete and they both came back showing that everything was normal. Brad waited an extra couple of minutes to give Ken a longer recovery time. He didn’t want to tell him what the settings would be and wanted to see how he handled it; they weren’t deeply linked right now so Ken shouldn’t pick up on it. Something was definitely going on with Ken; after their run this morning and now this he was sure that Ken was experiencing some kind of change. He knew he should probably call the doc in but nothing traumatic was happening so he felt safe to continue for now. He cranked the weight up to twenty five hundred pounds.
“Ok Ken try that. I’m gonna keep my hand on the switch so go to failure and I’ll turn it off when you run out of juice.”
Ken got in position and took a few quick breaths; his form was always perfect. He lifted the bar and Brad could tell that he felt the weight now. His arms, shoulders, and chest all tightened beautifully as he lifted the bar.
“Oh yeah man this is more like it.”
He got three full reps and managed a fourth before he put the bar back on his own without Brad having to reduce the weight. Brad could see the bar bending under the current settings and turned down the power. He wasn’t sure the doc spec’d out the equipment for that much weight and he wanted to check with him before Ken lifted anything else that heavy.
“Whew! Ok B that felt good. What’d I do?”
Ken’s body was pumped and the veins were showing across his arms, shoulders, and chest. He was breathing a little heavy and was sweating slightly; he looked sexier than ever. Brad noticed that Ken’s tattoo was glowing softly. As he looked at Ken’s body, Brad started feeling a pulse inside his head; it sounded like Ken’s heartbeat. It was mesmerizing and he sat still listening to it. The noise filled his ears getting louder and louder and suddenly he felt completely disoriented and it felt like a big hand was pressing his body down and to one side and he fell out of the chair. Things started moving in slow motion; the noise of Ken’s heartbeat filled his ears so he couldn’t hear anything else. He saw Ken’s mouth move and saw him moving over to try and catch him.
Brad started to panic as his mind rapidly expanded beyond his control… moving out of himself further than he had ever been. In desperation he tried to reach for Ken but he couldn’t. As his eyes turned white, his vision started to fade and as he felt Ken’s arms around him, his chest exploded in pain and he passed out.
Brad wasn’t sure where he was or how much time had passed. He wasn’t in his body, in fact didn’t seem to have a body at the moment. Wherever he was it wasn’t like the place where he and Ken had gone before. He thought he heard voices and he instinctively started moving towards them. He had no real sense of motion but as he thought about wanting to get closer to the voices they seemed to be getting louder. As he got closer all the voices but one went silent.
Greetings Brad Wilson.
As soon as Brad heard the deep rich voice in his mind he felt himself being pulled towards it. He didn’t feel any sense of danger so he didn’t try to resist. He wasn’t sure if he could have even if he tried; the grip he felt, while gentle, seemed extremely strong.
Hello? Who are you?
A friend. You have nothing to fear, but you should not be here.
Where am I? And how did I get here?
Ahhhh I see. I am glad you came to me first. There are others here who would not be happy to see you. Not many but some. You have crossed the Veil, my friend. We weren’t sure if you would be able to, at least not so soon. This is a dangerous place for you, unlearned as you are. You are powerful, and will be even more so, but right now you are a babe and should not be here unescorted.
Can you teach me?
I could, but I am reluctant to do so. My open support of you and your brothers is unpopular as it is. Many here fear you and what you will become. I have already given up much in helping you as I have.
I remember you. You were there the morning of the last procedure.
Yes. That day was…difficult.
Thank you for your help. I don’t understand everything that happened but we appreciate what you did for us.
Whether we did the right thing remains to be seen. It is my hope that you will not fail us. You have been here long enough. Your physical body was not ready for this crossing, and through no fault of his own, your partner has injured you. Your wounds are not life threatening but your body is drained and needs to recover.
Can you help me get back? I don’t even know how I got here.
The voice receded as he felt himself moving further away, Farwell for now Brad Wilson. Now that you can cross I am sure we will meet again soon enough. Be well, and keep the Light my friend.
Brad’s eyes popped open as he came back into his body. He started to take a deep breath and felt massive pain across his chest and ribs and found it hard to catch his breath.
He heard Ken’s voice shout, “Doc! He’s awake! B?! Can you hear me buddy!?”
Brad tried to lift his head but found the movement painful so he stayed put.
Ken was leaning over Brad, and he could see the worry and stress on his face.
“Oh fuck, B! You scared the shit out of me bro! Are you ok?”
“Yeah man I’m fine. What happened? And why does it hurt when I breathe?”
“God I’m so sorry B! When you fell I tried to grab you… fuck…I didn’t mean to hurt you but I squeezed to tight.” Ken’s voice started to crack at the end and it was obvious he was really upset and distressed.
As soon as Brad heard the pain in Ken’s voice he reached out and pulled Ken inside of himself. He merged them completely, bringing their Souls together. Right away he felt the harsh anxiety in Ken over what happened and he was distraught and beating himself up.
Shhhhhh man its ok. Brad let his love wrap Ken up, so he would know there was nothing to forgive. He saw from Ken’s memory what happened… they each had an Awakening and both of them just became far stronger than before. Ken didn’t realize it and his sensitivity was off and he cracked some ribs and bruised his chest when he grabbed Brad.
He heard the doctor come over, “How are you feeling Bradford? Can you tell me what happened?”
He wanted to talk to the doc, but he wanted to talk to Ken more to make sure he was alright. He plunged them both deeper to give them time to talk.
They both appeared in that place deep inside themselves. The image of Ken that appeared had tears in his eyes as they appeared in the darkness.
Come here buddy. In this place Brad’s body was whole and sound and he grabbed ahold of Ken and pulled him into a tight embrace. Don’t be afraid man, you can’t hurt me here.
Brad felt Ken’s arms wrap around him and squeeze him tight, almost desperately. He felt Ken trembling slightly from the anxiety he was still feeling over hurting his best friend and lover.
Fuck B. I love you man – if I had seriously hurt you I’d never forgive myself.
But you didn’t… in fact I don’t think you could. I think you would have stopped yourself. And besides I’ll be as good as new in no time. As soon as I talk to the doc we’ll both heal me up.
Brad held on to Ken until he felt his body stop shaking. They continued to hold onto each other, and Brad kept running his hands soothingly up and down Ken’s back and shoulders. He knew how deeply Ken was shaken by what happened and he gave him all the time he needed. For Brad there was nothing to forgive and he made sure Ken not only knew it but felt it, but it still took a little time for Ken to forgive himself.
Once Ken calmed down they continued to hold each other but Brad pulled his head back far enough to initiate a kiss. It wasn’t sexual; it was of those emotionally supercharged kisses that expressed everything they felt towards one another. Between the kiss and the fact that their souls were so deeply intertwined they had trouble pulling apart. With their souls united, being one, the feeling of completeness was so strong it was almost overpowering. Neither one of them was sure how long they stayed like that; it felt like years and it could have been in this place where time hardly moved.
Eventually they pulled apart, and the ribbons of energy that tied them together slowly unwound and went from white back to blue, yellow, and red, and then slowly faded. Brad could see that Ken felt better and he smiled and held Ken’s head in his hands, cupping his cheeks and running his thumbs over the stubble in a gentle caress.
Ken finally broke the silence thinking So tell me what happened to you B.
Ken you aren’t gonna believe this! Brad brought Ken back into his mind and shared his experience with the Nephelem across the Veil.
And Ken, as soon as I’m healed up we are gonna get you situated and comfortable with your change too. I know exactly how to do that now. You’re amazing bud – do you realize you can now probably lift up our Explorer? Fuck I’m getting hard just thinking about that.
They pressed their foreheads together and stared into each other’s eyes and smiled. When they finally broke apart Brad brought them both back out and into their bodies.
“I feel fine doc.”
“You and Kenneth both had an Awakening. I can see you are aware of this. Can you tell me what happened?”
“I was across the Veil doc, and I spoke with a Nephelem! Apparently I was lucky to stumble on to one of the ones that helped us.”
“Oh my! Bradford, you must promise me not to try to do that again until we have studied this some more!”
“Yeah I know it’s dangerous doc. I’m still not sure how I did it… I sort of found myself there after I passed out.”
“That is remarkable! That gift is among the most rare and you are only the second member of The Order that has ever been able to do so!”
“Even though it seems amazing doc, at this point I’m not sure how useful it will be.”
“You will be amazed Bradford, at what that means once you have a better understanding. Albrecht can bring some books that might be helpful. They are very old but there was a member of The Order a long time ago that was able to pass through the Veil. There might be some useful information in his writings. Albrecht can help you translate if need be.”
“Now you and Kenneth take care of your ribs and bruises. Lane and Bryan are not here at the moment but you should be able to do this without too much effort.”
The night before Bryan and Lane had just gone into bed. After an hour of passionate sex they both drifted off to sleep, with Lane resting his head on Bryan’s chest and his arms wrapped around Bryan’s thick torso; the peaceful sound and feel of Bryan’s strong heartbeat lulled him to sleep.
In the middle of the night two spots of light appeared in their bedroom, hovering at the foot of their bed. They floated there for a few moments, bobbing softly in the air talking quietly to each other. As soon as they appeared, Bryan’s and Lane’s tattoos started to glow in response to their presence and little sparks of color flared up in the darkness of the room.
The balls of light grew steadily larger and took on the rough outline of a winged human shape before fading, leaving the forms of two men standing in the bedroom.
They were both large men, but one was definitely much taller and stockier than the other. The smaller of the two had dark red hair and it was long but pulled back tight into a pony tail. They were both uncannily handsome; their features more than human. The one with red hair was wearing a nice tailored suit, dark grey with a vest, but the larger one was dressed in a more archaic fashion, with a tunic and belt, leaving his big arms sleeveless. Instead of boots his legs and feet had animal skins wrapped up with leather ties.
The red haired man said, “Lane Weaver, Bryan Gunter, awake.” His words echoed in their minds as well as their ears.
Bryan started at the first sound of his voice, and his body’s reaction woke Lane. Bryan immediately sat up and moved to position himself in front of Lane to protect him.
The red haired man held his hands up in a placating gesture. “You have nothing to fear from us. We are not here to harm you.”
Bryan’s deep voice was hard as he asked, “Who are you? And how did you get in here?”
“Your security system is not at fault. In fact it is quiet good and serves its purpose well against the Enemy and normal intruders. We entered from another route, one that is only accessible to us. We are your Protectors. Well two of them anyways.” He smirked a little when he said that.
Lane asked, “What are you doing here? And what do you want with us?”
“Our task tonight, Lane, is to show and guide you and Bryan in another step on your journey. You are to come with me, and Bryan you are to accompany my brother.”
Bryan’s voice was still hard, “And why should we trust you?”
“An excellent question. Listen to your hearts and see if they give you any insight.”
Lane realized right away that neither his nor Bryan’s instinct or intuition was indicating any danger to either one of them.
“I think we can trust them Bry.”
Bryan was still hesitant but said, “Alright. So where to?”
The stocky man looked at Bryan and said, “The first part of our journey will be warm and the second cold and damp. Dress as you see fit.” The man’s words seemed a bit curt, but his expression and body language were very polite. Bryan got out of bed and went into their closet to get dressed.
Lane looked at the red haired man and asked, “What about me?”
“We aren’t taking your body so you are fine as you are. We will be gone for some hours; you should get your body in a comfortable position. Let me know when you are ready.”
Lane laid back down, both nervous and anxious with what was about to happen. He reached out to Bryan and felt his solid presence. They took in each other’s love and support for one another for a brief second to help settle their nerves. Bolstered and calm from linking with Bryan, Lane took a deep breath and said, “Ok. I’m ready.”
Lane never had any sensation of movement but the perceptions of his surroundings changed immediately. He no longer felt his body; it felt strange to just be a consciousness.
Where are we?
That question is both simple and complicated; closer to my Home than yours is the short answer. This is one of those rare places that exist on both sides of the Veil. This is as close as I am allowed to bring you; you and your brothers are not permitted there yet, but I wanted to bring you here; this is the perfect place to teach you.
Teach me what?
To listen. What you learn today will be key in your fight against the Enemy if you and your brothers are to be successful. It pleases me to be the one to teach you today Lane. I have a certain affinity for music myself.
Even though he didn’t have a body, the mischievous smile that often accompanied Lane’s humor was evident through the essence of his being and Gabriel sensed it as Lane thought, I should have brought my guitar. We could have jammed together.
Gabriel couldn’t say anything yet, but had no greater wish than to do just that.
You have a Gift for music Lane. It is part of your soul, your very essence. What you have done with it so far, on Earth, is commendable but trifling compared to what you can truly accomplish. As a human, your capacity was limited, but now that is no longer the case. There is another part of Creation that you can now hear, if you will open yourself to it. What you need to understand is that there is music available to you at all times, no matter where you are, if you can hear it. That is why I brought you here… so close to Home the music is much louder here and more varied. It is fairly quiet near Earth, but even there it is present.
What are you talking about? I don’t hear anything other than your voice.
That’s because you aren’t listening. Be still, quiet your mind, and open your Heart and Soul to what is going on around you. There is music everywhere Lane; every time a particle collides with another it makes noise, Pulsar’s pulse, White Dwarf’s strum, strings of dark energy vibrate… make these sounds your instruments and create music like you have never experienced before.
Lane calmed himself; he was excited by what this man was saying. He would have taken a deep breath if he had a body. He instinctively reached for Bryan but couldn’t feel him. He thought to himself, Ok Lane, get your act together. Don’t be a pussy. You can do this.
Lane found his center and opened himself up. As he cast himself out, his mind started to translate an image of where they were. It seemed as though they were floating in deep space, filled with stars and galaxies, and brightly colored gas clouds. Shit! No wonder we couldn’t bring our bodies.
As he traveled further and further out of himself, he began to hear faint noises tickling the back of his mind. The more he heard the more he wanted to hear. His mind and Talent started to make sense of what he heard, and he began to form and shape the sounds into something of his own making.
He soon became lost in the sounds, exploring and experimenting. The power starting to run through him was much stronger than when playing his guitar or listening to his iPod. The energy he felt was a rush, and he started to pull more and more, filling himself until he felt like he was about to burst; it was painful but exquisite at the same time. The joy and pleasure he felt at being a conduit for such powerful forces was amazing.
Very good Lane. I knew you would learn quickly. It runs in your family.
As the significance of what he heard registered Lane abruptly let go of the music and the sudden quiet was almost deafening.
My family? What do you mean? I don’t have a family. I mean I have Bryan and my brothers, but my parents died when I was a child and I never knew them. As far as I know I have no blood relatives.
You don’t have an earthly family true, but you forget what the doctor did… the part of you that is not human.
Wait! Do you know who that part of me comes from?
Yes I do. Very well in fact. That is why I wanted to be the one to teach you tonight.
Please tell me! If I have family I want to know!
All in good time Lane. For now it will have to be enough to know there are others out there who love you and have your interests at heart. There is a reason you cannot know yet.
Fuck that! Why not?
Gabriel laughed and said, You are as impertinent as your ethereal father. Enough Lane; I cannot tell you and that is that. Be patient and trust that you will know when the time is right.
Now, calm yourself and let us continue.
Lane took a moment to focus and settle himself. He was excited to know that he had a family, even if they weren’t human. He couldn’t wait to tell Bryan! The knowledge lifted him up and he cast his mind out and struck a chord that resounded through the heavens. The first song his Talent ever brought to him came to mind, The Humbling River. That song not only unlocked his own mind and those of his brothers, but he felt the metaphor of the song was appropriate to what was happening to him now. This time he played the song on a cosmic scale, and even the choirs in Heaven briefly stopped to listen.
Gabriel smiled to himself, feeling proud of his grandson. Well grandson many times removed but still...
When Bryan came out of the closet Lane was unconscious and the red haired man was gone.
Bryan put on shorts and a t-shirt, but had a gym bag strapped on his shoulder with some long sweatpants and a jacket he could put on if he got cold. He put on his hiking boots instead of tennis shoes, in case they would be walking much.
He moved over to the bed and looked down on Lane’s unconscious body. He stared at Lane’s handsome face and muscular body. He sat on the edge of the bed and placed the palm of his big hand over Lane’s heart and felt it beating as his chest slowly rose and fell. He felt the warmth of his skin and tightness of his chest. He ran his thumb through the light dusting of hair in a loving caress. Bryan thought to himself I love you Little Buddy. Be safe wherever you are. I’ll be back soon. He leaned over and kissed Lane’s forehead.
The big man held his hand out and Bryan took it in his own. There was no sensation of movement but suddenly it was warm and humid and they were standing on a large rock. It was dark out and the sky was clear and bright and full of stars.
Uriel took off, moving quickly and said over his shoulder, “Follow me.”
Bryan gave a small grunt, trying to take in what was happening. This place felt strange to him; his senses were going haywire. To Bryan this place felt alive and very strong. His guide was quickly getting out of sight, so Bryan knelt down and launched himself, sailing through the air and rolling to his feet, closing the distance by a good margin. He picked up his pace to catch up and then he easily kept up with the man.
An hour later the stars started to fade as the sky began to turn a light pre-dawn grey. They had been steadily moving towards a mountain range and the terrain was becoming difficult. There was no apparent path but the man seemed to know exactly where he was going. Bryan followed in silence. The air was hot and sticky and both of them were sweating heavily.
The man was leading them to what looked like a dead end. The base of the mountain was a sheer rock facing, coming straight out of the ground and it had to be well over a mile high. Bryan had never been very good at geography, and he was trying to think where on the planet they might be. He decided not to worry about it and just go with whatever this stranger had planned for him.
As they reached the wall the man barely slowed down. He began to climb the sheer facing at a fast pace. His hands and feet found any small crack or hold as leverage and he began scaling the wall effortlessly. Bryan let out a small grunt of acceptance and followed suit. Making sure his bag was secured over his shoulder he began to climb.
As soon as he started to climb, with the first bunching of his massive shoulders as he grabbed ahold of the rock, his tattoo started to glow. As he climbed it was getting brighter and for the first time he saw a new color in the little sparks – a beautiful emerald green.
After nearly an hour and a half, Bryan was beginning to tire. He was sweating heavily from the exertion and his eyes were starting to sting from the sweat running into them. His arms and shoulders ached and his hands and forearms were on fire. He looked up and realized that the man was gone and he had a slight moment of panic until Uriel’s head popped straight out from an opening not ten feet up from where he was. As soon as Bryan got close enough Uriel reached down for his hand and he pulled Bryan up the rest of the way like he weighed nothing.
They were on a small ledge that was the mouth of a tunnel leading into the mountain.
“Take a moment to catch your breath.”
Bryan took off his pack and stripped off his t-shirt and wrung out the sweat. He sat down with his back against the wall and after a few minutes his breathing was back to normal. He put his shirt back on, knowing his body heat would help dry it out quicker.
Bryan stood up and nodded, indicating he was ready to continue. The tunnel was pitch black and they had no light source. Even with Bryan’s exceptional vision it was impossible to see. He pulled up the sleeve of his shirt and used the glow from his tattoo to light his way. In the darkness it was amazingly bright, and as they continued down the tunnel it was getting brighter. The further in they went the more pervasive the feeling of life energy in this place was and it began to overwhelm Bryan’s senses; his whole body was practically tingling. He started to slow down and fell to his hands and knees. It was similar to when he and Lane merged deeply; he had the same sense of being overwhelmed but this time Lane wasn’t there to hold onto and he was beginning to flounder; it was so beautiful and all-encompassing he wanted to lose himself in it. He kept thinking of Lane and tried to reach for him but there was nothing.
“Lane? …. Oh fuck…” In his desperation he didn’t realize he said Lane’s name aloud.
Bryan felt a touch on his forehead and he heard Uriel’s voice in his mind, My apologies Bryan. I did not realize how sensitive you would be to the energies of this place. It is a testament of your strength that it has affected you so deeply.
Bryan felt the pressure recede; it was still there but now held at bay. His chest was heaving and he lay still for a moment to get himself together. Bryan rarely felt fear, but he was terrified right now. The terror he felt was of losing himself in this place to the point where it would wash Lane’s existence out of him like a rushing tide.
As the feeling rescinded he got a grip on himself and steeled his mind and heart as best he could, using his love for Lane as a shield and anchor.
After a moment Bryan felt able to continue and mumbled a heartfelt, “Thanks.”
Uriel held out his hand and pulled Bryan up.
It wasn’t much longer before Bryan saw a light ahead. As soon as they stepped out of the tunnel Bryan’s breath was taken away at what he saw. They were in a bowl inside the mountain range and the sun had just made it over the top of the mountains. The largest tree Bryan had ever seen was growing in the bowl. Its trunk had to be at least a quarter of a mile across; that is where the energy was coming from. It was ancient beyond belief but strong and healthy and vibrant. His tattoo flared brightly and pulsed steadily now with an emerald light; matching the color of the canopy of the enormous tree in the morning sun.
A huge grin broke over Bryan’s handsome face and he closed his eyes and took a massive deep breath, literally smelling the life energy. He wanted Lane to be here so bad so he could see this and share it with him!
“What is this place? How can this be here?”
“This place exists in both realms, mine and yours, on both sides of the Veil. There are few places like this on the earth now. When the Veil was called into being to separate the Physical and Spiritual Realms this place became hidden. As you can see it is difficult to get to even when you know the way. There are Guardians to protect it from those who come here without permission. You and I are permitted be here, and after today you will be able to return as needed. Just the knowledge of this place and its existence is dangerous. I realize you will share this with your brothers, but you must impress upon them the importance of keeping this place sacred and secret. The Enemy knows of this place and would like nothing more than to come here and destroy it, but they do not know how to find it. If they ever discover that you have that knowledge, they will stop at nothing to get it.”
“Now let us go down. There is a task we have to complete and there is something you must see.”
As they got closer, the immensity of the tree was staggering. The overall shape was a bit squat but the crown had to reach at least half a mile high if not more. The power emanating from the Tree was staggering and if Uriel wasn’t shielding him it would have been overpowering.
Uriel led them down to the base of the Tree. The roots were enormous and intertwined, making it difficult to navigate. Bryan loved the texture of the bark under his hands; he wanted to stop and listen and feel the life force under his fingers, but Uriel would not wait. Bryan gave a small grunt of frustration and ran to catch up.
They worked their way right up to part of the massive trunk and Bryan could see the opening of another tunnel among the enormous roots.
“You should change clothes now. It will be cold and damp below.”
It only took a minute for Bryan to pull out his jacket and slip the sweatpants he brought over his shorts and they were once again moving down into complete darkness. This time however, Bryan shifted his sight and with his Mind’s Eye, with all the energy the tree was putting out, he had no trouble finding his way. The further down they went the colder it got and Bryan was glad for his jacket.
It was slow going, as the path was very twisted and uneven. Most of it was literally crawling over roots and rocks and loose soil. After a while the soil became rockier until eventually they were in a natural tunnel and it became easier to navigate. After a few minutes the tunnel opened up into a large cavern.
Bryan could hear running water as they approached the center of the room, and he could see a waterfall that was pouring water over the roots of the Tree, forming a small underground lake. The water emanated its own Power and was giving off a soft silvery light.
“It is your task to drink from this lake. This will Bind you to the Tree and its energies for the rest of your life. This is the next part of your Awakening. I am not sure what you will experience when you drink; it is different for everyone.”
Bryan didn’t hesitate. He knelt down and cupped his hands together and drank. The water was icy cold.
He stood up, expecting to feel something. He waited a moment. It started as a tickle in the back of his mind… at first it was the awareness of the grubs and the earthworms in the soil nearby. Then he felt the fish in the stream above and it expanded to the flora and fauna around the Tree. It kept expanding, filling his mind with the awareness of Life and its interconnectedness throughout the Earth. It continued to expand, further and further, beyond the Earth and out into the Universe, until Bryan felt stretched so thin he felt like he was about to rip apart. For a split second, it was like he saw the mind of God and how every natural thing in existence was supposed to be in its perfect form and harmony with everything else. The beautiful pattern of Creation was laid out before him; the complexity and interconnectedness of everything.
Then the pain struck, as the flaws and brokenness hit him. He cried out in physical and emotional agony as he saw the gaps from species that no longer existed, so many beautiful things, flowers, plants, people, and animals that were no longer able to connect with everything because their bindings had been severed or they were extinct. The groaning and Agony of Creation became his own for the briefest of moments and it was soul crushing. He tried to retreat back into himself but it was a part of him now and he couldn’t escape it.
He fell to his knees, doubled over in pain, his arms gripping his body tightly, every muscle taught in trying to fend off what he was feeling. Tears were streaming down his face from facing the tragedy of what things were now compared to what they were supposed to be.
Out of desperation and instinct Bryan went to the one thing he knew could save him from going insane – the knowledge and love he and Lane shared between them; the other half of his Soul. He knew that Lane couldn’t feel him right now, but in that split second of feeling everything, he knew that Lane was a part of that; and Brad and Ken and the others. He focused on seeing Lane in the midst of everything else. He knew Lane was far away, but he felt his Soul even at this distance and it gave him the strength to hold on through the rest of the pain. He plunged himself into it and used it as a shield and put it between himself and everything that he was experiencing. It didn’t reduce the pain but it helped him to fight it not be destroyed by it.
Uriel looked down at Bryan’s big frame, his eyes gone white, his body wracked in pain, and felt sorry for what his grandson was going through. It was necessary; but there was still so much beauty left in the world – he would have to remind Bryan of that. Part of Bryan’s job was now to protect and preserve that beauty, along with the Free Will of Mankind. It was a difficult balance and Bryan was going to have to learn some harsh lessons; he was already learning the first of many.
A few minutes went by and Bryan was still bent over, his breathing harsh and his eyes clamped shut. His big frame was shaking from the trauma that he just went through; his body was taught as a wire and he was drenched in sweat. He wasn’t sure how long he lay there; the pain felt like it went on forever.
Uriel moved over to him and put a hand gently on his shoulder and asked quietly, “Are you alright?”
Bryan was slowly recovering and coming back to himself. He felt Uriel’s touch on his shoulder and it helped to bring his awareness back to his body. The new knowledge that filled his mind was there but not filling his conscious thoughts. He could feel the connectedness as part of himself now, and the painful gaps, and he knew if he concentrated he could bring them to the surface. He let them stay in the background for now, his heart and soul still raw from the experience.
“Fuck that was intense.”
Bryan stood up and wiped his eyes. He could feel the Tree now, not in the crushing manner as before; now he was a part of it, and the warmth and beauty of its energies were soothing. He breathed deep and let himself rest in that warmth for a minute, letting it refresh and restore him.
“I know what you saw and felt Bryan. I am sorry it was so difficult… that is one of the most extreme Awakenings I have seen. You went very deep my friend.”
“If you are sure then follow me; I still have one more thing to show you.”
Bryan grunted his acceptance. He took a deep breath to steady himself and rubbed his hands roughly over his face. He felt exhausted from what he just went through but he wanted to keep moving and get this over with so he could get back to Lane. After all this he missed his lover more than ever.
Uriel led him through the cavern to another tunnel. The way was easy and smooth. After nearly half an hour Bryan felt the air getting warmer again and he could see an orange light ahead.
As they approached he heard Uriel’s voice in his mind We must be utterly silent here. It is vital that we not wake him. The consequences would be dire.
Bryan smelled something musky… and old. It wasn’t unpleasant at all. He felt something powerful as well but it seemed… quiet? Asleep?
As they entered the chamber, Bryan stopped and stared, his jaw hanging open for a moment before a huge grin spread across his handsome face. Before him was the head of an enormous creature. It was asleep, and he could feel its hot breath wash over him as it exhaled. It was so beautiful! A perfect creature created in a perfect time before the Fall, here and untouched. The scale of the creature was huge, filling the cavern he could see and more.
He had never seen or read about anything like it. He could tell its body was long and went back into the tunnel further than he could see. He could see the tips of cartilage that might be wing joints but they were folded and barely visible. Its skin was smooth and flawless, flowing over a tightly muscled frame that looked powerful even at rest. It didn’t appear to have any visible appendages.
He’s beautiful! The awe that Bryan felt was heard in his mental voice.
Yes he is. He is one of a kind, and he awaits his purpose; asleep until he is called upon to fulfill his role in Creation. He is another reason you must keep this place a secret. If the Enemy were to awaken him early it would be… bad.
What do you mean bad?
It would bring about the end of the world my friend. The Lord holds this creature as a means to destroy the world when the time is appropriate.
If he should ever wake early, you and Lane will be the only chance to stop him. That is something else the Enemy must never know.
I do not know my friend; I just know that is the case.
Bryan could not keep his eyes off the creature. It was so perfect. It looked savage, but natural… and flawless. Before he realized what he was doing he found himself moving forward; drawn to its presence.
Uriel tensed as soon as Bryan began to move but he didn’t want to make any sudden movements that might wake the creature.
Bryan raised his hands and slowly moved forward. He ever so gently laid his hands on the hide of the creature. He laid himself against it, closing his eyes, and spread his big arms out, his hands caressing its hide and inhaling the smell of it.
The huge eyelid facing Bryan twitched ever so slightly, and Uriel felt cold fear grip him.
Its eyelid started to open, just the tiniest sliver, and a huge golden eye showed through.
Bryan looked up and said aloud in his deep gravelly voice, “It’s ok buddy. I’m here now. You’re safe. I just had to say hello and have you hear my voice. Go back to sleep now. Shhhhhh. There ya go.”
Bryan kept caressing the hide and made soothing noises until the eyelid closed. The cavern shook slightly as it inhaled deeply in a contented sigh and went back to sleep.
When he was sure the creature was asleep, Bryan turned to Uriel with a huge grin on his handsome face and said, “He’s awesome!”
Bryan was either oblivious to the look on Uriel’s face or he chose to ignore it. He moved quietly back towards the tunnel they had come from.
As they got back to the cavern with the waterfall, Uriel grabbed Bryan by his big shoulder and spun him around. What were you thinking!? Did I not say waking him was dangerous!? You could have destroyed everything!
Chill out man. Everything is fine. I did what I felt I had to do. You brought me here for a few reasons and that was one of them. I don’t think you understand him at all.
It is not my job to understand him!
But it’s mine now. I thought you knew that when you brought me here; to understand him, and this place; the Tree.
Uriel had no answer to that. Bryan was right, but his anger at being caught unaware still smoldered in his eyes; not at Bryan but at himself.
We should head back. There is one small thing left to do and then I will take you home.
They made their way back outside to the base of the Tree.
Before we return, collect five seeds from the ground. Keep them safe and hidden. Once your brothers have all had their next Awakening you will be told what to do with them.
Farewell for now Bryan. You did well tonight and I think you will shoulder this burden well.
It’s not a burden if you love it. It’s a Gift. I wish you fuckers would understand that.
Uriel was proud of Bryan, even if he did scare him out of his wits. He had to laugh at himself over that; he hadn’t had a scare like that in a few millennia and he forgot how alive it made him feel.
Ken and Brad linked and healed the bruising in Brad’s chest and his broken ribs. The damage wasn’t severe, just painful, so it didn’t take much out of either of them; Ken bore the brunt of using his own energy and since he was controlling the flows Brad didn’t have a say in it. He felt Brad’s irritation but was prepared for it.
I’m sorry B but it was my fault. It’s the least I can do bud.
Brad got up off the bed, his body covered in a light sheen of sweat from the healing process. There was no pain and he felt relaxed and totally healthy.
He moved over and hugged Ken and was surprised for a second when Ken didn’t hug him back; then it dawned on him that Ken was still afraid of hurting him again. Ken’s mind went back to the early days of his adjustment and how long and hard that process was.
Brad hugged Ken again and this time he felt Ken’s arms wrap around him. He was extra careful but he did squeeze gently. He felt the effect it had on Brad and he squeezed a little harder.
Fuck I love you B. I don’t know what I’d do without you bro.
If you ever want to play the game of who loves who more I think we’ll be here a long time, but I’m game to try anytime. I’ll never get tired of saying it or hearing you say it. I love you to Ken.
They stayed that way for a few minutes, holding each other and taking comfort and solace in each other’s presence. The doctor saw them and smiled to himself, realizing what was going on. He went back to his office to give them a bit of privacy.
After a few minutes Brad broke off their hug and thought, Ok Ken. Let’s get you situated. I never want you to be afraid to touch me again.
Brad took them deep inside themselves, to the place they first merged with one another. It was dark all around them and they were both naked.
“Alright Ken, we have all the time in the world we need to get you squared away. I’ve wanted to try this with you for a while now but we’ve been so busy and distracted the chance has never come up. You’re going to have more control than you ever dreamed possible when we’re finished here.”
Brad sat down and spread his legs out and said, “Ok lay down here and put your head in my lap.”
“Mmmm fuck yeah that’s my favorite place to be… between your legs.” Ken laughed a little as he lay down and got into position.
Once Ken got comfortable, Brad started to rub Ken’s forehead and temples like he loved to do. He kept it up for a few minutes; it relaxed him to touch Ken like this and Ken let himself get lost in the feelings of his lovers hands soothing his body.
Brad finally broke the silence and kept his voice low and calm, “Ok man I want you to relax totally. I’m going to guide you through some exercises. Albrecht and I talked about this and he said it would help you and the others. You know the basics of this but we’re going to take it to a whole new level. We’re going to isolate and let you feel every muscle, tendon, and ligament in your body one at a time and then in their related groups. You are going to practice relaxing them and bringing them to full tension and all the stages in between. With my help you’ll know at every stage exactly what the limits are and the sensitivity. You’re going to unlearn the control you’ve had all these years; it served its purpose but it was never a part of you. It took conscious effort; what we are doing now will become so natural it will be instinctual and you’ll never have to consciously think about it again. All I’m really going to do is focus your mind and guide you; you’ll be doing all the work.”
Neither one of them was aware of how long it took. Ken got into it and saw it as a challenge and they both felt so comfortable being inside one another that they were unaware of time passing. Brad knew that once Ken caught on he would master the technique easily. Ken lost count of how many times they went through every muscle in his body.
Brad could feel the emotional duress leave completely as Ken became more sure of himself and his mastery over his body. He felt Ken’s appreciation and love for supporting and helping him, making something that would have taken months in the real world take mere seconds.
They stayed like they were a while longer, Ken with his head and shoulders resting in Brad’s lap. Brad continued to touch and caress Ken’s body, now going lower; lovingly rubbing his chest, biceps, shoulders, and neck. They were completely enmeshed in one another and didn’t feel the need to talk; they just stayed inside one another and were content with the extreme intimacy.
After a while Ken looked up at Brad said “Hey B?”
Ken leaned forward and sat up and spun around to face Brad. He got on his hands and knees and moved forward. He got a devilish grin on his handsome face and said, “I think there’s one more muscle that needs a work out.”
Brad could feel how much better Ken felt about himself; and relieved and thankful and loving.
“This isn’t out of payment buddy, this is to show you how much you mean to me and to test drive my new control. I want to keep you on the edge for a while.”
Brad felt that cold ball of excitement in the pit of his stomach at what was about to happen. He let Ken crawl on top of him and they started to kiss and cuddle. As Ken let his body down, they both relished in the feel of their warm soft skin touching; their hard bodies pressing together. They made love to one another for hours and hours and Ken, true to his word, kept Brad on the edge the entire time. He was a quivering pile of exhausted, sweaty, satisfied muscle when Ken finally let go and filled Brad with his cum.
They lay together for a while, wrapped in each other’s arms, touching and caressing and not saying much. They could have stayed that way forever, but ever the practical one, Brad brought them back out to their bodies where they were still wrapped in each other’s arms.
The next morning they were both toweling off after their shower when Ken said, “We need to get the ball rolling for the party, B.”
“Yeah, let’s skip PT today so we won’t be so rushed.”
“Alright. We can do double tomorrow. What do you wanna to do for breakfast?”
“We really don’t have time to go out. How about I start cooking for you and me, and you can start marinating the ribs and chicken.”
Just then Brad heard Lane’s voice in his head – Brad?
Brad held his finger up to his temple and mouthed ‘Lane’ to Ken. Ken nodded and let them talk.
Hey buddy what’s up? How are you two feeling? All rested up?
Yeah, we’re doing great! Me and Bry just had fantastic morning sex. He’s still a little beat I think. We both had an amazing night man. We had visitors and I can’t wait to share with you and Ken and the Doc and Albrecht what happened. This will blow your socks off.
Visitors? That sounds interesting but makes me nervous. I can’t wait to hear about it. You guys want to come on over and join us for breakfast? I’m just starting things so the timing would be perfect. We can take all the time we need to share with each other. Ken and I had an interesting new development yesterday too!
Yeah man that would rock. We’ll be over in about twenty minutes. I know Bry will want to help with the cooking.
Ken is about to start prepping the ribs and chicken for later and can use the help. Don’t forget your thongs for Sally!
Oh shit! That’s right! You got it. Anything for my girl!
“Alright that was Lane. He and Bry will be here in about twenty minutes to join us for breakfast and Bry can help you with the food prep. Lane said they had visitors last night and had some news for us but he didn’t elaborate. He wants to wait til they get over here.”
“Visitors? I don’t know what that even means anymore! I’m glad they’re commin over though; Bry does a much better job on the meat than I do.”
“Don’t sell yourself short bucko, your meat is awesome.” They both realized what he said and busted out laughing. For some reason it struck Ken as extra funny and by the time he stopped laughing he had tears in his eyes.
Ken got busy pulling everything out of the fridge and Brad started cooking breakfast. Brad thought French Toast would go great as well so he got some extra eggs out and an uncut round loaf of sourdough.
Ken looked at the spread that Brad was putting together and said, “Damn B, you aren’t pulling any punches this morning. We need to do triple PT tomorrow. “
“Yeah but it’ll be worth it!”
Brad’s started cutting up a couple of big Vidalia onions for the hash browns just as the chime went off indicating someone pulled in the driveway. Ken unlocked the door and opened the garage to let Bryan and Lane in.
Bryan came in first and right away Ken pulled him into a big manly bear hug. “Hey big guy. I didn’t get to tell you how awesome you and Lane were the other day healing Rick and at the hospital with Tag. You guys fuckin rock!” Bryan’s face turned red as a beet as he blushed from the praise. He was a big quiet, stoic man, and complements always embarrassed him.
Ken grabbed Lane into a hug too and slapped him on the back a few solid times.
Bryan said, “All in a day’s work man, no biggie.”
Lane looked exasperated and said, “No biggie my ass you big goof! You’re a fuckin studly hero so get used to it. Guys would you please convince him he’s a fuckin studly hero? He won’t listen to me.”
Brad and Ken both said in unison, “You’re a fuckin studly hero Bry!”
Lane looked at Bryan proudly and said, “See man?”
Bryan said, “Not now little buddy we’re in mixed company.” Bryan had a very dry sense of humor and it took Ken a second to get the play on words. He laughed and slapped Bryan on the back. “You guys can borrow our bed if you need a few minutes?”
Lane grinned as he said, “We’d better not. If we get started again we’ll be back there all day!”
Lane moved out of the way, not wanting to crowd the kitchen. Bryan saw Brad’s eyes were red and teary from cutting the onions and said, “Hey Brad, do you have any vanilla?”
“Yeah sure man but what do we need Vanilla for?”
“Two things; one I’m going to show you a trick to use when cutting up onions, and since we’re having French Toast, a little vanilla in the eggs with a touch of salt make them taste better.”
Brad got the vanilla out of the cabinet and handed it to Bryan. He took off the top and put his finger over the lid and shook it a few times. He moved over and cupped Brad’s cheek in his big hands and said, “Look up like you are gonna to put a drop in your eye.”
Bryan smeared a small strip of vanilla below each of Brad’s eyes. Just like a charcoal smudge you would put on your face for football to protect against glare.
“There ya go. Now finish cuttin those up. When you’re done wipe off the vanilla so it won’t be sticky.”
Brad noticed the difference right away and said, “Holy shit man thanks! Where’d you learn that?”
“When I was little I used to sit with my granny and watch her cook and she always put vanilla under her eyes when she cut up onions. It evaporates and makes a shield over your eye that blocks the fumes from the onion”
Lane went back through the kitchen to the garage and after a minute came back with his guitar case and a paper bag that he put on the kitchen counter. He said, “Here’s your stuff from the car Bry.”
Bryan opened the bag and pulled out a rolled up apron, and a large Ziploc bag that was filled with more tiny plastic bags of herbs and spices from Bryan’s garden. Bryan took off down the hall to the bathroom.
When he came back out he was shirtless and had his speedo on, and he was tying the apron around his waist. Ken and Brad busted out laughing when they saw the apron – it had a Charlie Brown like penis and pubic hair drawn in on the crotch. So big, tan Bryan, with his huge arms and heavy shoulders and chest, was wearing this white apron with a penis on it. He put his arms over his head and did a little pelvic grind for them, causing hoots and hollers from Ken and Brad.
Ken and Lane got their swimming trunks on and took off their shirts and went into the back yard to get the pool ready and set up the volleyball net. They pulled out the floats and re-inflated the ones that had gone flat. It was already getting warm and they were both a little sweaty by the time breakfast was ready.
Brad filled the table with two dozen scrambled eggs, a loaf of sourdough toast, two pounds of bacon, a pound of sausage links, a huge pan of crispy hash browns, and whole loaf of sourdough French toast with soft butter and warm syrup. Brad even managed to make some fresh sweet tea, and also had orange juice, milk, and fresh coffee. He called in Ken and Lane, and as they came in to sit down Bryan was washing his hands from prepping the meat.
As they all sat down, Brad laughed and said, “Man I feel overdressed.” He stripped off his shirt and threw it over on the couch. “Alright guys dig in. We need to make this last until the cookout.”
The first few minutes were silent except for the clanking of plates and silverware as everybody filled their plates and passed what they couldn’t reach. They were like four brothers sitting and eating together.
After his plate was loaded and he started eating Ken let out a, “Oh my God, B, this is good. You outdid yourself. I’m glad we skipped PT for this.”
Bryan and Lane both lifted their glasses to Brad as well. Bryan said, “Good job man.”
Lane had his mouth full but managed a “mmmm hmmmmm’ in agreement.
Ken said, “Hey guys I know I said this when you got here, but you two really rocked the other day. I’m not sure what we would have done without you two. We might have figured out something but it would have been a lot more difficult and probably not nearly as safe.”
Bryan said, “Thank the Energizer Bunny over there. He’s the amazing one.” Bryan was grinning at Lane, and it was obvious to anyone who knew him that he was head over heels madly in love with Lane.
Lane shot back, “No way it’s all me bro. I’m nuthin without you and you know it. You’re the fuckin studly hero and never forget it. As a matter of fact I got special song for you tonight before we leave. It’s going to embarrass the shit out of you so be prepared.”
Bryan flushed a deep red but knew Lane would figure out a way to sing it regardless of his efforts to distract him.
Brad and Ken just smiled at one another.
Brad broke the silence, “Hey guys, there’s something we need to share with you. And Lane said something happened to you last night too. I’d like to take a minute and let you two know what happened to us and vice versa before everything gets ramped up for the day.”
Brad gently brought them all together and they merged completely. They all settled into one another; there was no sting this time, just love and support and an amazing feeling of fulfillment and closeness at being so open and intimate with one another. Almost instantly they each knew and experienced what happened.
As before they were all a little teary eyed from such a deep level of openness and sharing with one another. Ken sniffed and let out a “Holy shit guys,” when they pulled back into their bodies. He was looking at his friends with wide eyes. “That’s unbelievable!”
Lane said, “Yeah it’s over the top. To think yesterday I was floating around space making music with a Nephelem or God knows what he was, and today I’m sitting having breakfast with my man and two of my best friends. It’s a hard transition.”
“You don’t think those two guys were Nephelem?”
“I don’t know; if they were it’s the first time they haven’t pulled the big grey robe wardrobe on us. The Doc said they can take on human form so I’m not sure. He actually said they were two of our Protectors but he didn’t elaborate. Maybe the doc or Albrecht will have an opinion on that.”
Ken piped in, “Guys this is a little frightening to me. Brad crossing the Veil, and what you two can now do… what’s now becoming a part of us. With me it’s just my body, but you guys are all getting so powerful… Fuck Bry you could have destroyed the world yesterday. I mean how much bigger does it get?”
Bryan looked at Ken and said, “It’s not just your body Ken. A lot more happened to you yesterday than just getting stronger. I can feel it in you now; I don’t understand it but I can see something else there. You got stronger in ways I don’t think you can imagine yet.”
Lane asked, “Guys what’re we turning into? I mean it seems amazing, but I feel like we’re getting too far away from who we started out to be. I don’t want to lose that part of us.”
Brad said, “I couldn’t agree more Lane. We have to keep a hold of that part of us. We need to help each other to do that. I think that’s another part of the Doc’s plan and why we’re bound together as couples and as brothers. I think it grounds us that way emotionally and we need to hold on to that or we’ll be lost. That’s what I think the Nephelem are afraid of. That’s why days like today, this party, are so important. It might seem mundane but I think we can’t stop doing stuff like this.”
Ken said, “We need to share what’s happened to us with the other guys and the Doc and Albrecht. Let’s have the party today and ask the guys to hang around for a few minutes after Sally takes off. I’m not sure how but it might help get them ready for their own changes. Since it already happened to us I’m sure they aren’t far behind.”
Ken and Lane cleaned up the table and did the dishes since Brad cooked breakfast and Bryan was working on food prep for the party. There was still a ton to do, so after the cleanup they all chipped in to get things moving.
Ken got the huge coolers loaded with ice and cokes and beer. Bryan got all the meat rubbed down with herbs and marinating and got the garlic bread ready to grill. Brad and Lane cut up fruit and vegetables for the salads.
By noon, the other guys started showing up, and Sally arrived a little after twelve thirty. She was thrilled that everybody brought their speedos, even if they all weren’t wearing them to start with. But after an hour of beers and hot sun all the guys had theirs on for swimming.
Sally was having a blast, openly touching their muscles and flirting with them all as only a straight girl can with a bunch of hot gay men. The guys all loved it and put up with it for her because they really did love her like a little sister.
Before the food was ready, Brad asked her “So Sally how are things going with Carlo?”
“Oh baby, let me tell you! I think he might be the one. He’s a little rough around the edges but nothing I can’t fix with a little southern charm and womanly wiles.”
“That’s awesome! He’s one lucky dude. If you guys tie the knot can we all be in the wedding? We can be Bride’s Butlers!”
“I heard about that! A friend of mine got married and her best friend was a guy so he stood in place of the maid of honor and that’s what they called him. That would be so sweet!”
All the guys were either in the pool, or playing volleyball, and Sally was enjoying the attention and their sweaty muscles shining in the hot sun. They all looked so handsome with their sunglasses, dark tans, and solid muscled bodies.
Lane was playing music from his iPod through the sound system in the house but not so loud that everyone couldn’t talk without yelling. Brad and Ken were very considerate of the neighbors and liked to keep things peaceful.
Ken, Bryan, and Rick heard the chirp of the security system over the noise. Not wanting to startle Sally Ken got up, grabbed a towel and quickly went into the house, putting the towel around his waist. He signaled Bryan and Rick to stay back with Sally.
Yeah man what’s up?
The alarm just chimed. Probably nothing but I’m checking it out. Just bein cautious.
Brad got up and went into the house telling Sally, “Pee time!”
He grabbed his shorts and put them on quickly over his speedo and went to find Ken.
Brad found Ken in the garage crouched down beside their Explorer.
Brad didn’t sense anything wrong over their link, but just to be quiet he asked mentally, What is it?
There’s a car parked across the street in front of the Taylor’s house. The driver is around the side of the house with a camera and a telephoto lens and he’s trying to take pictures of our backyard.
Any idea who he is?
Yeah I think it’s Carlo checkin up on Sally.
How do you want to handle it B?
Let’s get him in here so Sally doesn’t see him. I think we need to have a talk with him.
Ken and Brad silently moved around to the side of their house and saw Carlo in the hedges trying to find a slit in their fence he could take pictures through.
Brad thought, Get ready to grab him so he doesn’t fall and make any noise.
Brad reached out into Carlo’s mind and gave him a firm gentle ‘thunk’ that knocked him out. As Carlo’s body started to slump Ken was there in a flash and caught him. Ken effortlessly lifted Carlo up into a fireman’s carry and quickly took him into the garage so the neighbors wouldn’t see.
Brad closed the garage door and opened the back of the Explorer and Ken dumped Carlo into the back of the car. The camera around his neck was a nice Canon digital model. Brad didn’t even look to see if he had any pictures, he took out the memory card and wiped the camera’s memory. Brad handed the memory card to Ken, who crushed it to powder between his fingers.
The garage was hot and both Brad and Ken were already sweaty from being out in the sun. Their tan muscled bodies were shiny in the dim light of the garage. They both had their glasses up on top of their heads and looked sexy as hell.
Ken started to lightly chafe Carlo’s face to wake him up. Carlo was a pretty big guy, and handsome. He seemed to keep in good shape, but it was hard to tell with the clothes he was wearing. His biceps were decent size and he had a trim waist. He came too quickly and started when he saw these two big men hovering over him.
“What the fuck!? Who are you?”
Ken put on his most intimidating voice and said, “I think the question is who are you and why are you trying to take pictures of a private party in our back yard?”
Carlo knew he had been caught. To his credit he fessed up right away.
“That woman in the back yard is my girlfriend.”
Ken continued, “And you are checking
up on her why?”
“She wouldn’t tell me where she was going today. She made a big deal of it and said it was personal. It was suspicious so I used the GPS in her phone to track her.”
Brad had his arms crossed across his chest, squeezing his pecs together to make himself look bigger and more intimidating.
“So you don’t trust her and you’re checking up on her. That sounds like a great way to start a relationship Carlo.”
“How the fuck do you know my name.”
“Sally told us all about you man. She thinks you are ‘the one’ and possibly marriage material. What do you have to say about that?”
“Well what the fuck is she doing with all you guys? I mean look at you! She’s partying with a bunch of nearly naked strippers in speedos and she’s keeping it a secret. What am I supposed to think?”
Ken looked over at Brad and laughed, “Well I gotta say we are pretty hot, right B? I can see why you thought we were strippers. But you’re blowing it big time Carlo. We are all the guys at TGH Securities that Sally works with. This is her going away party, and we’re all dressed like this at her request.”
“I’m sure Sally never said anything to you about our personal lives. She’s very discreet and knows we like our privacy. Carlo, we,” Ken pointed to himself and Brad, “and all the other guys in the back yard, are gay. She likes to party and wanted to cut loose with us one last time. It’s between her and us. She has no idea you’re here. Should I go get her? It’ll ruin her day and maybe your relationship.”
“Fuck no! Don’t tell her!”
B, should we intervene here?
As much as I want to, I’m going to say no. This is something they need to work out between them.
“Alright Carlo. Take off and we won’t mention this to Sally. But I’m telling you she’s an incredible catch and you’re working hard to fuck things up with her. You need to learn to trust each other or it’s never going to work.”
Carlo said, “Thanks for not saying anything. Hey how did you knock me out?”
Brad said, “Trade secret.”
Ken said, “Carlo, we’re going to keep tabs on you and Sally. She’s been a good friend to us. I don’t want to hear that you made her unhappy or broke her heart. Do you hear me?”
Brad was getting a kick out of Ken playing the protective older brother role with Sally, but he kept his face serious and intimidating. He took a look into Carlo’s mind, to see what he was made of. He seemed to be an ok guy. He definitely had feelings for Sally, but he is jealous and hot headed. Brad was struck again with how lucky he and Ken and the others are to have their minds and hearts opened. Carlo was stumbling around in the dark, doing the best he could. He seemed to be a good enough guy and he wanted to make it work with Sally. He wanted kids with her, but was shy on getting married.
Ken handed Carlo his camera back.
Carlo nodded and said, “Yeah man. I want to make her happy. I let things get a little out of hand in my own head you know? I thought she was keeping something from me.”
Ken said, “Well she was but it wasn’t anything for you to worry about. How are you going to handle Christmas and birthdays if you can’t handle this? If you love her, have enough confidence that she loves you too, and trust her to have your best interest in mind. I know her pretty well and if she loves you she’ll be devoted to you until you give her a reason not to be.”
“Now get out of here and don’t give me a reason other than a wedding to come find you.”
Carlo took off with his tail between his legs.
As soon as Carlo was out of earshot, Brad started laughing. “Look at you getting all Dr. Phil! I love it when you play the overprotective big brother. I think it’s hot!”
Ken shut the garage door again. It was hot in the garage and he and Brad were both still sweaty.
Ken looked down at the tent in Brad’s shorts and laughed, “I can see that.” He moved over behind Brad and wrapped his arms around him from behind, pressing his big hard hot sweaty body against his lover. His hands went down into Brad’s shorts and grabbed his steel hard erection. “Damn! Look what I found!”
Brad moaned and leaned back against Ken, rubbing his sweaty back against Ken’s chest. Ken started to slowly stroke Brad’s dick in his shorts, and Brad started rubbing his ass against Ken’s crotch matching the motion of Ken’s stroking. Ken started licking the sweat from Brad’s neck and shoulders. His voice was husky and his breathing heavy as he said, “Fuck B you’re so hot buddy. We need to make this quick before we’re missed.”
Brad turned around to face Ken and they both pulled down their swim gear. Their hard ons sprang up like steel rods against their tight stomachs. They crawled into the back end of the Explorer and started a hot 69. Neither one tried to hold back because they needed to hurry. Brad was dripping sweat onto the carpet in the car and Ken was dripping sweat all over Brad, which was just stoking the already hot fire going on between them. Ken’s eyes flashed white and he amped up their physical connection to double their pleasure. In less than five minutes they both experienced an intense but very satisfying orgasm. They both swallowed each other’s load to keep the mess to a minimum.
After they were both going soft, Ken slipped around and lay down on top of Brad. They were so sweaty their bodies literally made a loud squishing sound, which made them laugh. They spent another few minutes kissing, and then decided they needed to stop before they both got hard again. Ken got his speedo back on and Brad got his swim trunks on and they headed back to the party.
Rick had a good idea of what they had been up to from the looks on their faces when they came back out. He just shook his head and sent a thought to both of them – You horn dogs! In the middle of Sally’s party you guys go make out? Nice!
Ken replied with a mental smile, We had a little issue with Sally’s jealous boyfriend Carlo. I was so studly Brad got excited, which got me excited, and well... you know…
Brad just shrugged his big shoulders with a, ‘I couldn’t help myself look’ and laughed.
Yeah I ‘know’. So Sally’s boyfriend showed up?
Yeah but he’s gone and she doesn’t need to know.
Brad piped in, Ken went all Dr. Phil on him man! It was hot!
Alright I can’t wait to hear the details later.
Bryan was pulling the chicken and ribs off the grill as Brad and Ken came back out. They both jumped in the pool to cool off.
The next hour was filled with great conversation and great food. The guys all joked around with Sally as she continued to flirt with all of them, and she kept asking their opinion of this actor or that actor, and who was hotter, this guy or that guy. After they ate she insisted on a group photo with all of them holding her up like a showgirl.
As the evening moved along, Lane broke out his guitar and started taking requests.
Sally loved spending time outside of work with all the guys, but when it started getting dark she said she had to go.
Lane said, “Ok Sally, just stay long enough for one more song. I have a special one I’m going to sing and I’d like you to hear it.”
Bryan groaned and went beet red but was resigned to it. Lane started strumming his guitar and tuning it up. He put his sunglasses on because he wasn’t sure he could control his eyes and didn’t want Sally to see that.
He hummed the first bar and then started singing in his strong clear voice:
fill up my senses
Like a night in a forest
Like the mountains in springtime
Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert
Like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses
Come fill me again
Come let me love you
Let me give my life to you
Let me drown in your laughter
Let me die in your arms
Let me lay down beside you
Let me always be with you
Come let me love you
Come love me again
fill up my senses
Like a night in a forest
Like the mountains in springtime
Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert
Like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses
Come fill me again
Come let me love you
Let me give my life to you
Let me drown in your laughter
Let me die in your arms
Let me lay down beside you
Let me always be with you
Come let me love you
Come love me again
Lane, as soon as he started playing, reached out beyond Earth. He heard what he wanted and used it, projecting it through his Mind and Soul to Bryan and his brothers. They heard the words, as did Sally, but the music in his Soul and the emotion that went with it was incredibly profound. What he did was a shock to the rest of the guys. They had felt him do this before on a smaller scale with just his guitar or his iPod; it was amazing to them before but this was so deep and powerful it left them speechless. Lane wrapped up Bryan and then his brothers; he made the song for them as well, for each other, knowing they felt for each other what he felt for Bryan. As a response, instinctively, they all merged together, first as couples and then all together. Their energy centers opened and their Bodies, Minds, and Souls all melded together. They formed a big ring of white energy that would have been blinding to anyone who could see with their Mind’s Eye. Brad had to intervene because all of them started to glow and Sally could see it and she felt the love emanating from all of them. He altered her memory so she heard the song and the lyrics and simply thought it was a beautiful song Lane sang for his lover.
When he finished everybody was silent for a few seconds. Sally was crying, “Oh my God Lane that was so beautiful!” She got up and went to hug Bryan, who was teary eyed. “You are both so lucky to have each other. All of you are. I hope Carlo and I can be half as happy as all of you! I love you guys so much; I’m going to miss working with you!”
The guys all knew something different just happened and Ken felt it through their connection.
After Sally takes off I’ll explain guys. It’s all good believe me.
Everybody got up and she made her rounds hugging and kissing every one of the guys on their cheeks. She managed to squeeze a few butts and biceps on her rounds. When she was done she fanned herself, and in her southern bell accent said, “Oh my! You boys just have me so worked up I’m going to have to go home and rape my poor boyfriend!”
All the guys busted out laughing and let out a few cat calls, “Tear him up Sally!” and “Show him who’s boss girl!” Sally gathered her things and took off for home.
Ken waited for a few more minutes before he hollered out, “Ok ladies! I got something I need to talk to you all about so get your asses over here for a minute!” Since Ken and Brad had just made out and swallowed each other’s cum they were both charged up; Ken mentally and Brad physically, and now after their last Awakening the effects were stronger than before.
Ken brought everybody into a link, Ok guys I want to do this in our heads just to avoid any prying ears. B would you put up a shield around all of us just in case?
Kevin asked, What’s up boss?
There’s been a little development that we want to share with you all. Brad and I and Lane and Bry all had another Awakening yesterday. We want to share with you what happened and what we can now do, and I hope this will get you ready for your own. I have a feeling it won’t be long before the rest of you have yours.
As a group they all merged again and it wasn’t lost on the guys that it was Ken maintaining the link and not Brad.
Just like when they met in the conference room in the lab, Ken took the time to focus on every one of them through their connection.
Fuck you guys are awesome. When we do this, and I see who and what you all are, I am so fucking proud of you all it makes me want to burst.
They all relished in each other’s presence, feeling the powerful bond of loving brothers that linked them together beyond just friendship.
Over the next few minutes they shared what had happened. The main reaction was one of awe and amazement, and there was a little trepidation. The scale of what happened with Bryan and Lane, and even Brad was shocking.
I understand any apprehension guys. Not knowing what is going to happen, or when, is a pain in the ass. Just know that you won’t be alone in any of this. It’s a little unnerving at first. One thing I want to stress with all of you, and we talked about this earlier today, is that we can’t lose sight of who we are and where we come from. As we gain all these amazing abilities, we can’t forget who we are and we need to maintain our humanity or all of ‘this’ can destroy us, both as individuals and as a group. We need to make a habit as couples of staying close and we need to merge like this often as a group. We have to be here for one another as we grow; but the first person who grabs my ass besides Brad is gonna get a black eye.
He felt the ripple of humor and it lightened the mood he sensed was getting heavy.
Ok that’s all I have to say. Let’s finish off the beer and chill out for a bit.
As Ken brought everyone out of the link, all of the guys had tears in their eyes. Their bodies always seemed to react that way from the emotional intimacy of merging so deeply with each other. Each of the couples stayed close and touching the rest of the night, either arms over shoulders, holding hands, or reclining against one another.
Just like Ken intended they took solace in each other and shored each other up for the changes they knew were coming.
Ken’s intuition was telling him times were soon going to turn bad. The Enemy was aware of them and knew they were still growing and was surely planning something. They would all have to keep their eyes and hearts open for whatever might come.
Shortly before, as Lane reached out beyond Earth and shaped his music, the nearby agent of the Enemy felt it. He was there to watch and observe Ken Habersham and Brad Wilson’s house. There was someone like him observing each couple that was now a part of The Order.
As the song went on and all of the men merged, their energy centers intertwined and vastly enhanced by Lane’s ability, their love for one another radiated outward; even as Brad reached out to alter Sally’s perception of what she saw and felt, the man started screaming in Agony. What he felt coming from them was a hot fire to his black soul and he knew he had to flee quickly or it would consume him. His masters must know of this!
Ok that’s it for Chapter 10… I hope you enjoyed it!
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