This story contains detailed descriptions of sex. If this causes you offence, you may rest assured that I have done my level best to offend you as much as possible. If you live in an area where reading such material may cost you your liberty, then I would advise that you flee while there is still time. If you are under the age permitted for reading such stories where you live, please remember to clean out your browser's cache directory and history file immediately after reading. Otherwise someone in authority over you will probably find it. The rest of you can read on with a clean conscience. Any likenesses to persons living, or dead, is unintentional. I retain all rights to this story.
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Micah had a free bell, so he took the opportunity to go talk to the headmistress before he lost his nerve. "Linda, do you have a moment?"
"Sure, Micah, come on in."
"Well I need to ask you a question, purely hypothetical of course."
"Of course, close the door and have a seat." Micah did as asked and as he sat, she looked him over, "What is the question?"
"Um, I would like to know what the repercussions would be if a member of the staff became seriously involved with a ganami."
"Seriously as in?"
"Under contract." He told her and she nodded.
"A ganami or a ganami who attended this academy?"
"A ganami who would transfer to this academy if he chooses to sign the soon to be offered contract."
Linda folded her hands on her desk. "Should I assume this staff member would be a tenured teacher in excellent standing."
"That would be a correct assumption."
"Then I don't see any real legal issue. The problem would be an ethical one." She watched Micah carefully. "The contract is consensual and fair, I assume?"
"Is the teacher prepared for some protests and some outrage from the parents of their other students?"
"I do not believe the teacher really cares."
"But the teacher is worried enough about it to come in here seeking advice, hypothetically speaking."
"Yes, Linda, I am."
"Well I don't really see a problem with you contracting a ganami, lord knows you've bedded enough of them." Micah blushed. "Oh, yes, Micah, the boys talk, and sometimes they talk where they are over heard. I understand you will make some lucky little bottom boy very happy."
"He's not made any complaints."
"There has however been other talk that does have me concerned." She paused. "I knew when I hired you that you were a part owner of the Screaming Faery, and I know that many of the senior boys who are ganami go there on the weekends. That is not a problem, it is a Guild concern, not mine. However, there has been talk of a certain new Mulciber on the scene that fits the description of one of our teachers - a Mulciber with a very young Erebi. Now some of the tales I've heard say that neither one have ever declared themselves as such, but others say they don't have to, it's obvious as day and night. Honestly, I don't know enough about the Guild to say one way or another how it's done, but if one of my teachers should turn up a Mulciber, tenured or not, it would be a serious infraction of the morals and ethics code."
"Serious enough to get him fired, but not serious enough to get him arrested." Linda broke the news gently as possible.
"And if this Mulciber sent his Erebi to another school?"
"It wouldn't matter. The profession of the Mulciber and the profession of teacher are too at odds with each other in the morals and ethics code. One can not be both."
"Do you Micah?"
"Sure, Linda, it was all a hypothetical question anyway, right?" He smiled at her and forced a laugh.
"Right. Enjoy the boy you intend to contract, if he accepts."
Micah got up and left then, slightly embarrassed about his conversation.
Geraldine sat up in the hospital bed. Soon her children would be arriving – two of them. One came in the morning and two at night; the nurse reminded her when she had propped her up with blankets on either side. She had asked their names, but the nurse said she did not know which two would come. She said everything would be just fine, not to worry. Geraldine nodded and the nurse wiped her face. If she worried, she would worry her children. She did not want to worry her children.
Two came, a boy and a girl. Geraldine smiled up at them and the girl wiped her face.
“So pretty…” Geraldine said and reached for the girl’s hair, “so pretty.”
“You have pretty hair too, mama.” Elaina said as she sat on the edge of the bed and stroked her mama’s listless hair. “Doesn’t she have pretty hair, Cody?”
“Yeah, it’s a lot like yours.” Cody said as he sat down on the opposite side of the bed from Elaina. “Mama, Janni said we had to tell you goodbye. He said we had to tell you it was all right for you to go.”
“Janni?” Geraldine looked around for her son.
“Yes mama,” Elaina said, “he couldn’t come tonight. He said he all ready told you goodbye. Do you remember?”
“Papa didn’t lie.” Geraldine said softly and reached up to stroke Elaina’s cheek, “so pretty.”
“That’s right mama, papa didn’t lie, Hunter and Janni can take care of us; so you don’t have to any more.” Cody told her. “Go to papa, mama. We will be fine.” Cody leaned over and kissed her cheek.
“We love you mama, but it’s time to let go.” Elaina told her just as the nurse came in with mama’s medications.
“I’m sorry, but she’s getting them much more often now.” The nurse apologized.
“It’s all right, we are going to go.” Cody took Elaina by the hand. “Mama needs her rest. Good-bye Mama.”
“Good-bye Mama.” Elaina echoed; tears flowing freely down her face as Cody pulled her out of the room. He got her to the waiting room before she broke down completely. He held her while she cried, and he cried with her. “She’s going to die, Cody.”
“Yes, she is.”
“I don’t want her to die.”
“I know,” and he held her, as she wept more. It was a while before they composed themselves enough to head home.
Thursday morning first thing, Jove and Cody boarded the bus that would take them and the rest of the debate team over to Northside for their match. It was the first one of the season, and both brothers were looking forward to the challenge as they went over their notes one last time. As they neared the school, a new ultra modern facility, Mr. Johnston walked along the center aisle straightening ties and giving words of encouragement to those who needed it. When he arrived at the seat where Jove and Cody sat he smiled at the brothers. "I know you both will do well, boys. Don't let them fluster you Jove, you know the legal points better than most of the boys who have been studying it for three years now. Just remain calm and stick to your points, don't get sidetracked. Cody you are the senior on your team, but let Jove handle the legal arguments whenever you can. It doesn't hurt to defer to his deeper knowledge of the system."
"Yes, sir." They both intoned together as he moved on to the next group.
"Yeah, how is it that you know more about the law than any one else I know?" Cody asked Jove.
Jove snorted. "People talk and I listen. Most of them don't realize I'm there, they just look right past me, or they did when I was little. A lot of it didn't make much sense back then, but more of it is starting to, now that I have a frame of reference to build on."
"See, it's things like that… a frame of reference… what do you mean?"
Jove looked at him and rolled his eyes.
Cody blushed. "Oh." He said quietly as the bus slowed to a halt.
The girl who made up their trio joined them as they walked toward the auditorium where they would find out where their debate would be held. Altogether Southside High had nearly thirty debaters, a respectable number for a school with such a poor academic reputation. There were a few singles, and a team of five, but most were groups of three. Jove knew that last year the trio Cody had been on went up against teams of five and won and that he was looking forward to a good year this year as well. Of course, with the two of them, it was bound to be spectacular. As luck would have it, Cody's team had drawn Northside High's B team. They would be holding their debate in one of the classrooms with the judges and an Honors English class for an audience. Mr. Johnston turned them over to their guide and sent them on their way, knowing they would do their best.
"Mr. Mackenzie is the best. You'll really like holding your debate in his class." Their guide -- a blue-eyed, blond, senior in a cheerleader uniform -- babbled as she bounced down the hallway. She leaned over toward Noel, "He's really cute too, all the girls talk about him, and half the boys do too." Then she giggled. Cody rolled his eyes.
"I can imagine this Mr. Mackenzie of yours is quite old and wrinkled, with false teeth and a cane." Cody teased her.
"Well you'd be wrong. You'll see." She stopped at a door. "Here it is." She knocked then pushed the door open. "Mr. Mack, the Southside team is here."
"Send them in." Came the voice from inside the classroom.
Jove froze outside the door where he had been standing with Cody and Noel who walked inside the room ahead of him. Once they realized he was missing, Cody came back for him. "Come on, Jove."
"What do you mean you can't?"
"I mean, I can't." He looked at his brother pleadingly. "Don't make me."
"We are not going to lose this debate because you got cold feet. I'll go get Mr. Johnston. He'll make you come in here."
Jove turned beet red and swallowed hard. There was no way out of this. None. He nodded once and set his resolve. "Just remember you said that." He whispered as he walked past his brother into his lover's classroom.
Linda sat in her office after Micah left and thought about their conversation. She did not doubt his integrity as a teacher, nor did she question that he found himself in love with a ganamus. What bothered her was his reaction to her hypothetical Mulciber. In all her years as an educator, she had never met another educator who had been able to reconcile the morals and ethics codes of the two professions. They were just too different.
Typically, the Erebi were located well before college and guild-bound whether it is in service to a Mulciber or in training to become a Mulciber however their tastes lie. How someone who was as talented an educator as Micah had slipped through she did not understand, unless he did not realize his own potential until he was older. She sighed as she picked up the phone. Either way, his reaction was not typical and that in itself was enough to warrant an investigation. She hoped she was wrong; it would be terrible to end his career this way.
Micah Mackenzie stood in the back row of his re-arranged classroom with the three other adults who had been drafted to serve as judges for this debate. Their chairs were actually closer to the center of the room, but he wanted to give them a chance to ask any last minute questions before the other team arrived. His team was already in their seats to the left of center at the front of the classroom. The rest of the class had pushed their chairs around to give everyone the best viewing advantage. He did not really think it was fair pitting a larger team against a smaller team, but Alonzo Johnston had insisted that his 'B' team, although smaller, was up to the challenge. When their arrival had been announced, he invited them in, but it appeared they had a reluctant teammate. Maybe the whole team was not as up to the challenge as Alonzo had thought. Micah made his way to the front of the room as the young man exited leaving the young woman to make her way over to the table set aside for their team. She took the third seat, leaving the speaker's chair and the center chair open. That meant the 'spokesperson' and the 'expert' were outside the door; she looked more like the 'emoter'.
By the time she was settled and he had begun addressing the class concerning the upcoming display of verbal skill, he heard the door close behind him and two chairs softly scrape. The other two had entered and taken their places. He then posed the question, and turned the floor over to the Pro team, beginning the debate, before taking his seat and turning to face the two who had entered while his back was turned.
The young woman speaking is from his school, which gives him time to study the Southside team. The boy in the spokesperson's chair is watching the speaker intently, but it is the boy in the second seat who is taking the notes. The girl is making a few notes, but not nearly as many as the middle boy does. He has his head nearly down on the table and does not look up at all even as the speakers change. That is poor form, and Micah knows the judges will take points off for it, but nothing can be done for it. He's just glad the boy isn't on his team. He turns his attention back to the speakers and tries to follow the arguments they have prepared.
Soon it is time for the Con's side and the spokesperson, Cordell Ward, stands up to speak. The middle boy slides a paper over to him, and while that is not disallowed, Micah is curious as to why the first boy hasn't made up his own notes or speech, then he begins talking and the reasons becomes obvious. He speaks from the cuff with the middle boy giving him the facts, as he needs them. When his turn is up, he introduces the middle boy, Jove Ward, stands up. He looks around the room for the first time and Micah gets a good look at his face, he could be a twin of Hunter. Then he spoke. His voice, like satin, caressed Micah and did strange things to his nervous system. This was his Hunter, the boy he held in his arms just last night. The boy he had planned to hold again tonight, but he had been introduced as Jove.
The rest of the debate was a blur to Micah. It did not matter now who won, he needed to speak to Jove and ask him about Hunter. He had to know: Who? How? Why? Mostly he had to know if what he felt was real, and there was only one way to know that. He would have to convince Hunter - no Jove - to come tonight. That he was not angry - yet.
When their debate was over the two teams and audience went down to the auditorium to hear the results along with everyone else. The Southside students had special reserved seating off to one side. Jove took his seat next to Cody and Noel and some of their other teammates who were talking about their debates and how they thought they did. Cody thought they had at the very least held their own. Noel was of the opinion they could have done better if Jove weren't so distracted.
"I'm sorry, Noel, it won't happen again." He muttered under his breath at her.
"What got into you anyway, usually you are so on top of your game, today you just froze."
"I don't know, I guess I had an off day."
"Well you won't get to stay on this team having days like that. That one boy nearly trounced you on a point I know you had researched."
"I said I was sorry." He turned to Cody. "Do you know where the bathroom is?"
"No, but if you ask someone over by the door I'm sure they can tell you."
Jove nodded and left his group. There were several older students standing by the door chatting. "Excuse me, where is the bathroom?"
One looked him up and down, "Come on, I'll take you, so you don't get lost." They headed down the hall and around a corner, "First door is the one you want." He indicated a door a little further down the hall.
Jove walked toward it, and read the sign; then looked back toward the boy. The door was clearly marked Hestoi with the symbol for male. He took a deep breath and pushed the door open. Northside was very different from Southside to have separate toileting areas.
When he exited, he was looking down, thinking about everything that happened to him since Hunter got hurt, and before; thinking so hard that he bumped right into someone.
"There you are." He did not need to look up to identify the voice. "I know they teach reading over in Southside, is there a reason you were in that restroom?"
Jove looked around for the boy and thankfully didn't see him. "It's the one the other student showed me."
"I don't think we have been introduced." Micah began. "I'm Micah Mackenzie," he stuck out his hand so to shake Jove's hand. "You are?"
Jove took his hand and shook it. "Jove Ward. Pleased to meet you, Mr. Mackenzie."
Micah caressed his hand a little before letting it go. "The pleasure is mine, I think, Jove, now would you care to tell me who Hunter is?."
They began to walk back toward the auditorium. "My brother."
"Your brother." Micah sounded hurt. "So how is he?"
"He is healing well, he broke his leg a while back, but the doctors expect him to fully recover."
"So… was it a dare?"
Jove stopped cold. "Do you really think that?" he asked softly. "That I would risk everything for something so trivial as a dare?"
Micah turned and faced him. "You lied."
"I had to."
"Come tonight." Micah gave the command and turned away from his lover.
"Yes, Sir." Jove whispered to his back, Micah did not pause, but he knew he had been heard. He stood in the hallway for a short while, and then returned to his seat next to Cody and lost himself in his thoughts until it was time to go home.
Finally, on the bus, Cody was able to ask Jove what his problem was. Jove just shook his head. "I can't tell you."
"What do you mean you can't tell me?" Cody asked getting angry.
"Please, Cody, don't push me right now." Jove pleaded.
"Was it him? Was he there?" Cody whispered. There were four men in the room to judge.
Jove just looked out the window and didn't say anything.
"You have to talk to me, Jove."
"At home, we will discuss this at home."
"Fine, but between now and then you want to tell me what you and that teacher were talking about in the hallway? Everyone saw you."
Jove shrugged. "I bumped into him coming out of the bathroom, he brought me back to the auditorium. Nothing important."
"He sure looked angry about something."
"Must have been because we trounced his team," Jove tried to make his comment sound light hearted, but it came out flat instead.
As promised, Tanza called Franko first thing when he returned to the office on Thursday afternoon. He discovered that not only is Hunter not Erebus material, but the young man is laid up at home with a cast from his toes to hiship , and he didn’t believe he would be out in the clubs yet. Furthermore, the young man in question was under a contract, which he believed was still in force. Franko promised to check on the matter and call Tanza back as soon as he could.
Less than an hour later, Tanza received the return phone call. Hunter Ward was not an Erebi and had no desire to be one, the question of the contract was unclear, but he was laid up at home with a broken femur. “Now why did you need to know about my ganami?”
“It seems he was in my club last night, dancing with my partner.” Tanza told him calmly.
“That makes no sense. The ganami has a broken leg, how can he dance?”
“I know it makes no sense, but I’m telling you, I have it on film. I saw his card myself before I went upstairs to ring him to make sure what I was dealing with, you know health code regs.”
“You ringed him?”
“Yes, last night. He seemed very happy to have it done.”
“I’m not so certain we are talking about the same young man. You say you have it on film?”
“Yes, security loop, not the best picture, but it’s clear enough for identification purposes.”
“Do you mind sending me a copy so I can see if it’s my Hunter.”
“I can have it to you sometime tonight.”
Franko sat watching the film loop replay. The boy on the screen was not Hunter but he favored him closely enough to be related, so it had to be one of his brothers. With the loop still playing in the background, he started looking through the archived files of Vincent Ward.
Several hours later he found what he was looking for: three contracts, one for each boy, which named Cliff Bath, Chester Wilcox, and William Reed as the contractors. The first two made sense for the older two boys, but William Reed was a well known and rather popular Mulciber who held the contracts of several boys, all of them erebi. Franko checked the date the contract had been signed, then did the math. The boy would have had to have been about eleven when Vincent chose to place him in service to William. How could had anyone suspect a child as young as eleven to have erebic tendencies? Vincent was an excellent spotter, but for fifteen year olds, not eleven year olds.
Franko scratched his head and read the contract. Written as if the boy had passed the first set of preliminary tests, the contract allowed for alternate contracting at William’s discretion if Jiovanni were to be found ‘not satisfactory at his First Passage’, which was to be given no sooner than thirty days of his sixteenth birthday unless he requested it before. As far as Franko knew, Jiovanni had not requested any such testing.
Franko looked up at the vid again. The youngster on the screen could be fifteen or sixteen. Easy way to figure all this out, Franko thought and keyed up the high school and logged into the administration. He would not have access to Jiovanni’s picture as he was underage, but he would have access to Cordell’s latest school ID picture and in a few clicks he had it on screen. He waited until he had a clear facial shot of the boy on the vid. They were related, but not the same boy. Tanza was dealing with Jiovanni.
Franko was torn. He should call the law, the boy was fifteen, but he was Vincent’s boy, and the guild looked out for its own. He firmly believed that. Then there was the matter of Hunter asking for emergency funds when he had nearly twenty thousand dollars in his account. He looked at the vid again and wondered how long Jiovanni had been seeing clients on Hunter’s guild card; it was the only explanation, especially since Tanza said he had seen the card.
A few keystrokes later and Franko had pulled up Hunter’s account. Regular deposits had been made from one account into Hunter’s account since a day or two after Hunter broke his leg. The previous week’s deposit was nearly triple the amount of any of the previous deposits, there was a deposit for last night, too, again at the higher rate. The boy had been seeing this one man, regularly. If the man was a Mulciber, which the vid suggested, then Jiovanni was an Erebi who went seeking, at fifteen that was allowed, so why all the secrecy?
Franko tapped his fingers on the desk and considered what he knew about the Ward family. Vincent had been with the guild from the time he turned sixteen, worked as a ganami then accepted a staff position when he married Geraldine and started his family. Geraldine had held the guild responsible for Vincent’s death, he agreed with her somewhat, but there was no proof. Vincent had been knifed in a dark alley with no witnesses after accepting a young fifteen year old into the guild as an erebi and negotiating his First Passage with William. As far as he knew, William still held the youngsters contract. Hunter wouldn’t discourage his brother, or would he?
Franko sat back in his chair and watched the vid loop again. There was no fear in the boy; he was confident and secure that he would not be caught. He also trusted the man he was with completely with his body, yet he lied to him constantly. It had to be Geraldine. She has made the boys not trust the guild or their own instincts when it comes to their own sexuality. Jiovanni is trusting himself here, but he cannot be open, so he is not only lying to the man he is with but to himself.
looked up at the clock. It was getting late and he had things to attend
to. Franko decided he would deal with Jiovanni Ward first thing in the
morning though. It was time someone explained his rights to him before
he ended up in jail.