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Resolutions - Chapter 4

I couldn't believe I'd agreed to spend the summer with Jeff and his parents. I thought it was a bad idea but I couldn't deny him when he asked again. His parents were great. They were the coolest parents any kid could ever have. They lived in a massive home just a few blocks from the beach.

Nora, Jeff's mom, wouldn't put up with any of my emotional nonsense. By the end of the first week she'd had me crying twice and laughing more often than I could remember. I was sleeping in George's room. George was Jeff's older brother and had just graduated college. Jeff's sister, Janet, would be starting Duke in the fall. It was hard getting to sleep the first night. I'd gotten so used to the sense of Jeff near, even if it was on the other side of our dorm room, that the bedroom felt even more alien. Apparently Jeff had the same thought because he decided to rearrange his room the following morning. Jeff's room and George's room shared a wall and he moved his bed so that we would be sleeping against the shared wall. From that night on I went to sleep with the feeling I was being held, even though the guy holding me was on the other side of a wall.

We didn't have to hide the fact we were mutants, which had worried me. Though Jeff lived a "normal life" till he was thirteen, I couldn't remember a time when I wasn't living "out of the ordinary." Jeff's father was a chemist who patented a couple chemicals used in advanced cooling technologies and was reaping the rewards of brilliance. When they learned they had a mutant child, instead of freaking they had begun researching it. I guessed Jack was an unofficial expert on mutants.

It wasn't uncommon for Jeff to get things for his mother on high shelves or to carry heavy items from the store using his powers. I could sense his using them, but when we were out in public he was careful and didn't make them overt. It still made me nervous. It didn't make me as nervous as the affection he would show me when no one was looking. It was on more than one occasion Nora would come across us and I'd try to look like nothing had been happening. I think the secrecy was driving Jeff nuts. He never was very good at keeping his feelings hidden.

It was our second Saturday night there when I woke from a solid sleep. Jeff's aura wasn't around me but that wasn't surprising. His aura usually slid back through the wall when he fell asleep. I'd worked very had to keep my senses dimmed down. Kate's self-hypnosis techniques were good for that. Even dimmed I could tell Jeff wasn't on the other side of the wall. I tried not to think about it but I was restless. I decided to get a glass of milk and heard voices in the family room as I was coming down the stairs. I knew I shouldn't, but I enhanced the sound so I could hear what was going on.

"You know we've always accepted you." Nora sounded tired.

"I know, Mom..." Jeff sounded nervous and I felt my stomach clench. I couldn't help but think this was going to go very badly.

"You know you can tell us anything, right?" Jack sounded tense.

There was a long pause and then I heard Jeff talking. "Well, I have good and maybe not so good news." He paused a bit, and I enhanced the sound energy again. At this point I could practically hear him swallow. "I think I've answered the question of whether I take after George." I could hear Nora take a breath and Jack sighed. "And I've met someone at school..."

Jack interrupted him. "Jeff, don't drag this out. Are you saying you're Gay and have a boyfriend?"

I couldn't hear the answer but I assumed Jeff answered by nodding.

Nora was crying a little bit. "All we want is for you to be happy, Jeff. That's all we ever wanted." She hiccup'd. "Have you..."


"Sorry, sorry. I shouldn't have asked that."

"It's ok, Mom." He paused. "And no, we haven't."

There was another long pause, and I heard Nora again. She sounded more like her normal self. "Am I presuming here, or is the nice young man sleeping in your brother's room that -special someone-?"

I swallowed and waited. "Yeah, Dan's really special..."

As if I weren't already blown away, what I heard next had me falling down the last few steps. "I suppose since you two have already been sleeping in the same room for the past year, there is no point in having Dan sleep in George's room." I couldn't help yelping as I hit the floor.

I found myself looking up at a bemused Jack. "Looks like someone couldn't sleep either." I stuttered something really stupid and he just laughed and picked me up. "I think you can hear better from in here anyways."

Jeff's cheeks were burning. "Actually, he could hear anything we said from anywhere in the house. That's why I'd waited till he'd gone to sleep."

"I'm sorry, Jeff. I was just coming down for a glass of milk, honest!"

Nora laughed. "You are the most apologetic boy I've ever met."

Jack pushed me towards the couch. "Sit down, Dan. I want to go over some ground rules." I had been blushing before, but by the time Jack laid out the rules I was colors I didn't know were possible.

I eyed Jeff doubtfully. "Are you sure they're cool with this?" I put the preparations on the tray while he poured out milk and juices. We'd planned the breakfast a few days ago but I wasn't sure how to go about things with being 'outed' to his parents the night before.

Jeff came over and gave me a hug. His doing that so casually was both wonderful and frightening. I was still reeling from his parents' acceptance. Now Jeff wanted them to see what I could do.

"You worry too much, Dan." He floated the tray and kept an eye on it as he sent it into the dining room. "They've seen me use my powers since I was twelve."

"That's not what I meant."

He rolled his eyes. "Yes, for the hundredth time, yes." He leaned against the counter. "It isn't like they haven't suspected I might prefer guys, Dan. How many times do I have to tell you that George is gay, happy, and still loved by his family?"

I sighed. "It's just so unreal." I put the eggs, bacon and biscuits on a second tray.

He laughed. "Unreal? You're grandmother sent you letters that contained illusions of her writing to you. And you are calling 'my' family unreal?"

I blushed. When he put it that way, it did sound pretty silly. Finally I just looked at him and shrugged. "I guess I can accept the 'paranormal' because I grew up with it. I always thought 'normal people' were easily spooked, bigoted and reactionary."

Jack walked in and smiled. "Many are, Daniel. Don't let Mr. Optimism have you believing that all people are bleeding-heart-liberals like his parents." He ruffed up my already unruly hair and patted Jeff on the arm. "You boys ready?" What was the strange attraction everyone had to my hair?

"Yeah, we just have to get the food in there."

"I've got it." I looked at the tray and it floated up as I released it from gravity. I gripped it with a hand and walked into the other room.

"Can you -all- do that?" Jack was watching in wide eyed fascination.

Jeff laughed. "No, Dad. Most mutants can't."

Nora looked at us expectantly as she and Jack sat down at the table. "Well, Jeff, this was your idea." She looked at the food and cookware. "I know you're abilities can't cook food."

Jeff smirked. "Actually, Dan wanted to cook you breakfast."

I frowned and felt as if I'd just been tossed onto a stage without a script. "I'd planned on using a STOVE."

Jeff laughed and tossed an apron at me. "Like you need a stove." He smiled and I realized it was a smile of pride. "You guys should see what he can do."

Jack smirked. "Looks like we have no choice." He gave me a sympathetic look. "Dan, you don't have to do anything. You aren't a side show act; you're a person."

I looked from Jeff to his parents. Jeff wanted to show me off. He'd told them I was special, and he wanted to prove it. I wasn't about to back down even if I did feel like I was going to puke. "Thank you, sir, but it would be good practice." I put on the apron and frowned. "Why do I feel like a French maid in this thing?"

Nora laughed. "Probably because you're a dancer, dear. It looks fine."

I wasn't convinced. "A real man wouldn't wear an apron with lace."

Jack looked appalled. "So that's why my boys are gay." He glared at Nora. "You should have warned me I was setting such a bad example wearing that thing!"

Nora played along and shrugged. "How was I to know? None of the books referenced lace edged aprons as influencing gender preference. I'll be sure to pass that tidbit along to Janet for when she has children." Jeff started laughing. As usual, I blushed.

"Ok, but I don't want any complaints if I burn things. I've never actually -cooked- a meal using my powers before." When I got nods all around I concentrated.

The meal wasn't bad. I did burn the bacon before I got the temperature right for the pan. The eggs were pretty good. I was particularly proud of the biscuits. By the time I got to them, I had the hang of keeping radiant heat contained in a localized space. It had taken me a lot longer to cook with powers than on a stove top, mainly because I wasn't used to it, but no one complained. Jack watched the whole process totally enraptured.

After the meal, I was going to clean up when Nora waved me back to my seat. "Oh no. The cook does not clean the table." She looked at Jeff. "You insisted he cook in here. The mess is your problem."

Jeff just smiled. "You've got to admit, it's pretty cool."

Nora nodded. "Yes dear. Now I know if you are ever destitute and homeless, Dan will be able to keep you warm and well fed."

Jeff laughed and started lifting assorted items from the table. They floated away at his whim and he stopped by my chair. Bending close, he whispered in my ear. "Thanks." I grinned and blushed as he took the stuff into the kitchen.

Jack looked at me significantly. "I still can't figure out exactly what your power is, Dan. I hope you don't mind my curiosity?"

I shook my head. "No, I'm just not used to it."

He smiled. "Have they actually defined you're abilities? Jeff's is the enhancement and control of his aura. We still don't know what extents to which he will be able to use it and what for. Originally I'd thought he was a telekinetic."

I smiled. "That's what they thought my abilities were at first. My grandmother thought I was a witch."

Nora gasped. "That must have been horrible."

I laughed. "No ma'am. Gram -was- a witch. They aren't what you read about in faerie tales. She was an amazing woman. She could do things I don't think I'll ever figure out." I saw that Jack was waiting for me to actually answer his question. I shrugged. "I have absolute control over all forms of energy. I can redirect it, change the intensity, and transmute it to other energy forms."

I should have expected that Jack would understand what that meant. "Any energy?"

"Yes, sir."

He looked at me in awe. "Have you any idea what that means?"

"I think so, sir." I smiled wryly. "The teachers at school are certainly trying to make sure I know."

It looked like Jack was about to leap into a barrage of questions. I didn't blame him. As a chemist and physicist, being able to change the energy states of anything would be like a dream come true. Fortunately, Jeff came to my rescue. "Hey, Dad, leave Dan alone. He's only sixteen. You've got plenty of time to convince him to become a great scientist." He pulled me out of my chair and smirked. "Now if you don't mind, I want to take my -boyfriend- to the beach and convince him to put on something skimpy."


He gave his mother an innocent look. "I can't DO anything with him. Dad didn't say anything about not being allowed to look at him!" Why was it my fate to spend half my life blushing?

I looked in the mirror and frowned. Why would anyone want to look at me? Gangly, pale, freckled, sharp nosed, and the reddest hair that could be called natural. I sighed and poked my head out of the bathroom. "You have to be joking."

Jeff looked up at me. He'd already changed into a black Speedo that clung to him in ways that should have been illegal. "What do you mean?"

I stepped out wearing a similar suit of forest green. "Where the hell did you find this thing?"

"Green looks good on you."

"Earth to Jeff! I'm not exactly a gym body here. Did it completely escape your notice I'm skinny, pale and have nothing to put on display that anyone would want to look at?"

Jeff scoffed. "I think someone doesn't look in the mirror."

"My eyes are just fine, thank you. Just because you're built like a young Hercules doesn't mean the rest of us are."

He came over and pulled me back into the bathroom. He turned me around and pointed at the back of my suit. "See that? That is a bubble butt. Maybe it escaped your notice but you've spent nearly the last year in dance class. What is it everyone says about dancers?"

I blushed. "Ass and legs."

"Bingo." He leaned in and whispered in my ear. "You have great ass and legs. I don't care what anyone else thinks. I want to look at them."

I looked at him in disbelief. "You never showed any interest before."

It was his turn to blush. "I just wasn't obvious about it. I wasn't sure you'd appreciate the attention." He pulled my chin up and looked into my eyes. I felt like I could just melt in their chocolate depths. "You weren't exactly being all that open either, you know?"

I looked back at the reflection. We were a very odd pair. Jeff had his dark complexion, wide build and muscularity. I was smaller, lean, almost faerie-like in my thinness, and my pale complexion and red hair stood out like beacons in his night. I closed my eyes and just enjoyed the feel of his arms around me. "We could just stay here."

Jeff chuckled. "True, but then we'd end up breaking one of Dad's rules."

I sighed. "I know: no sex while here."

"So get your Irish ass out of the closet and spend some time with me on the beach!" He raised an eyebrow. "Unless you don't want to spend time with your boyfriend."

I laughed. "You know, you never did even ask me if I -wanted- a boyfriend." The look of hurt that crept onto his face had me regretting my bad choice of humor. All I could think of was to take that look from his face. I pressed my hand against his chest and stirred our auras. He shivered; so did I. I stopped and looked back into his eyes. "I really didn't mean that the way it sounded."

He groaned. "I suppose we will have to wait for the beach now." At my look of confusion he slid my hand down over the bulge in his briefs. "I'm going to need a cold shower."

I started to laugh as I realized I was in the same boat.

The sound of Rogue screaming snapped me back to the present. The Bitch was bent down over Bobby and was running her tongue seductively along his neck. If I hadn't known her intent was malignant, it might have been erotic. Rogue was thrashing at her bonds and spitting curses that she could only have learned from Wolverine.

"Now, now precious. I'll get to you soon enough. I'm just having another taste of my tv dinner." She sank her teeth into Bobby's neck and his body convulsed.

How do you protect your friends when you're dying? Bobby's powers allowed him to be immune to the effects of cold. The Bitch was not so lucky. I forced the warmth from his flesh and dropped the temperature around his body towards absolute zero.

The Bitch howled in pain as her lips froze. Her fingers bonded to the floor and she literally tore off her flesh as she struggled to get away.

My friends had thought I avoided fights because I was scared. They were right, I was; but I wasn't scared of getting hurt. I was scared of what I could do when I really got mad.

After a few days I got used to the stupid green Speedo. I still preferred my trunks but if Jeff liked the view, who was I to complain? It also didn't hurt that he spent half his time trying to tease me.

He was a god on the beach. Tall, strong, muscular, Jeff was a fitness magazine model in the making. What I found most intriguing was the maturing wafts of hair that trailed down his eight-pack and disappeared beneath his black Speedo. He knew I was watching him whenever he would come out of the water from body surfing. He would stand up, letting the water and remnants of sand slide down his body, and he'd stretch. The bastard. Some times he would scoop up significantly more than a handful of water, aura control was a beautiful thing, and rinsed himself down if he caught me watching.

I couldn't bring myself to be so uninhibited. He may have appreciated my assets but I still wasn't exactly lust material. Of course, I had to admit, I'd been changing a lot in the last year. Hank had been right about my going through a second puberty; everything was growing. Gram may have had the best intentions when she used her magick to inhibit the maturation of my mutant powers, but it apparently had unforeseen side effects. When I'd arrived at school, I was only five foot eight. Next week was my seventeenth birthday and I'd sprouted up nearly three inches in the last year. I suppose at five foot eleven, I wasn't tiny. Jeff had grown too, but had only gained another inch or so in height. At six foot he had twenty or more pounds on me and it was all muscle; beautiful, toned, rippling muscle that haunted my dreams. If we hadn't come together, I would have been a fucking mess. I was five weeks older than Jeff and I was going to make sure he knew it once I turned over a new year.

Of course, I still hadn't actually been with him or seen him. I'd had glances of him from our first year as roommates, but those were stolen and guilty. Now that I could actually look without fear, my curiosity was getting the better of me. I knew he wasn't small. If the way he filled his Speedo hadn't been evidence enough, I had woken the past two mornings with a pulsing iron rod tormenting me through his boxers. Following the rules was going to be a true test of self-control. It was only mid-June, we had six more weeks of summer term, and I had agreed not to do -anything- about that tormenting muscle of his till the summer was over. I don't think even Scott could have held out that long. I wished I could have talked to him about it, but I was too embarrassed to call.

One advantage to my powers was I didn't need to wear sunscreen. It was a nearly unconscious act to change the intensity of UV light so that I wouldn't burn. Yes, I do mean burn. My pale, Irish skin did not tan. I either burned or freckled. After two weeks in Florida I was beginning to look like a Dalmatian, save that my spots were brown instead of black. Jeff thought my freckles were cute and would tickle me by trying to "connect the dots." I just wished they would merge together and give me one, consistent color.

Jeff pulled out the tanning oil and gave me a smirk. "I still don't get how you've kept from burning. We're on the beach for hours and you only put on SPF2 oil."

I giggled. "I only like it because it smells of coconut and it gives me an excuse to have you put your hands on me." Ok, so maybe I wasn't completely inhibited.

Jeff laughed and tossed the bottle into the sand. "Like I need an excuse." With a growl he pounced on me.

I believe the proper description of my reaction was 'squeal like a little girl.' I was laughing and trying to get away when his hand slipped under my suit and squeezed my ass. I froze and got really scared. "Jeff, someone might see." Rolling away I looked out at the waves.

Jeff frowned. "So? This is Miami Beach, Dan. Head a few miles south and you can practically watch guys doing it in the dunes."

I pulled my knees up to my chest. Hell, I suppose I could have put a foot behind my head I was limber enough. I wasn't feeling very sexy. I was feeling exposed. I didn't answer him.

After a few minutes of awkward silence he scooted over onto the blanket and knelt down behind me. His knees slid slowly on either side of my hips and he gingerly put his arms about me. As usual, the moment I was in his arms the rest of the world's worries diminished. I leaned back and closed my eyes. I didn't want to stay mad. He set his chin on my shoulder and looked out at the ocean. "I'm sorry, Dan. I keep forgetting you didn't grow up with a gay older brother."

I just basked in the strength of his body for a few moments. "I know, and I'm sorry too. I shouldn't have freaked." I smirked. "At least I'm getting more self control. I might have shut off gravity for the whole beach."

He laughed and hugged me tighter. "You've grown a lot, Dan. And I don't mean the fact you're a damn bean pole, you freak." He bit my ear before I could protest. That shut me up. "You're so much more like a whole person. Kate says that it's like you've been doing remedial work to make up for the past five years."

I smirked. "I suppose I have." I ran a finger along his forearm and traced my way along his bicep. "I know one thing for sure."

He shivered a little as I kept my fingers tracing his arm muscles. "What's that?"

"I wasn't this horny the last time I went through puberty."

He was about to say something, probably lewd, when a shadow passed over us. We looked up to see a guy sneering down at us. A small collection of other college-aged jerks had begun to mill about.

"Isn't this cute. A guy and his fag." That got several snickers from the jerks.

Jeff stiffened, and he pulled me a bit tighter against him. I could only imagine his eyes were burning. "What's the problem, pig, jealous?"

Mr. Attitude laughed but I could sense from his pulse and the play of his nervous system that it stung him. Did I mention that once my senses had burned new pathways I found I was almost a living lie detector? This guy was probably a closet case and total phobic. I tapped Jeff on the arm. "Come on, Jeff. Let's go."

"Sure, faerie queen, get off our beach." Mr. Attitude gave me a haughty leer.

Jeff was fuming. I could feel his blood pressure rising and his body temp was going up. I also felt his aura energizing. I pulled up the other towel, grabbed the discarded bottle of oil and grabbed the bag. "I'm burned anyways." It was definitely in more ways than one.

Jeff looked at me as if I was an alien. He gritted his teeth, stood and yanked up the other towel. There were more than a couple catcalls from Attitude's friends and one did try to harass me on my way past but Jeff caught up and stared him down. I'd just gotten to the dune when Mr. Attitude pushed it one step too far.

"That's right, girly ass, don't make us show you what real men are like!"

Jeff spun, tossed down his stuff and stalked back into Attitude's face. "We don't need to take your shit, numb nuts. Just because you can't deal with the fact you want a diet of pickles and eggs, doesn't give you the right to insult my boyfriend."

Oh goddess, this wasn't going to be good. I turned around and pleaded. "Jeff, please, let it go!"

There were no stopping things after Attitude threw the first punch. I hadn't been worried about Jeff getting hurt. I knew he could take them all down without breaking a sweat and could have held them there for me to tap dance on their asses. The problem was I didn't want to tap dance. I wanted to wipe the smug looks off their faces. I wanted to do something dramatic like focusing all the light of the sun down and fry them. It took everything I had to just stand there and let the fight happen. I could have stopped it, but I'd have really outed us. We would have been mutant-fags. Jeff's family didn't need that grief. Jeff could fight and no one could tell he wasn't just really tough and fast. My powers weren't that covert.

The entire fight took less than five minutes. It felt like hours. Jeff broke more than a couple noses and fractured just a few bones. I was certain he'd left them with a half dozen concussions but I didn't know what those felt like yet. He spit at Mr. Attitude and posse as he picked up his stuff. "Just remember it was a pansy-fag who kicked your bigoted, worthless asses. Next time we're on our beach, you'd better leave well enough alone!"

I was livid by the time we got back to his parents' house. I hadn't said a word the entire trek back, and he'd acted like he'd defended my honor or some macho-bullshit. He actually thought I needed him to protect me from some pitiful, genetically backwards bigot. It wasn't till we got to his room that I let loose.

"What the FUCK was that about!" I threw the towels and beach bag on the bed.

"What the hell are you mad at me for?" His eyes burned with righteous indignation. "You were just letting those assholes scare you off the beach!"

I was so angry I actually felt the room ripple as I floated off the ground. I bet if it could have, my hair would have been in flames. "You have NO idea!" I flicked my hands and felt the room throb with me as anything smaller than a basketball was suddenly thrown around like it was caught in a windstorm. I think I had created my own gravitational vortex; I really wasn't paying attention. "You think I'm scared of some powerless bigot?"

Jeff had never actually witnessed me cut loose. He'd only heard about my first tantrum as he'd been at the periphery of the effects when I'd gone off. The freezing scene during the tag game didn't look nearly as impressive as it actually was. Jeff was an "on the surface" sort of guy. He was pretty much an open book, and he thought life was the same way. If I hadn't spent so much time trying to hide my own issues, I'd have seen he had been interested in more than friendship a long time ago. Witches have "books of shadows" for a reason and he was about to find out why.

"I didn't mean it that way!"

I actually laughed in his face. "Oh, and how else could you mean it? Just because you're big, strong and tough you think I'm some limp-wrist weakling? You're as bad as Devin!" Some of the things in the room were beginning to tremble. Smaller paper items were starting to char as my temper flared.

I think he was finally noticing what was going on in his room. His eyes began to look a bit wild. I bet mine were completely insane. He put out his hand to me. "Dan, stop it."

I didn't listen. I was seeing red as intensely as Scott did. "Yeah, I was scared! But I wasn't scared of what they could do to me, and I certainly wasn't worried about you!" I flexed a hand and the baseball that was circling past exploded as I sent each of its fibers in different directions. "I'm in training every week to keep me from hurting people! If I think the wrong way, just once, I could kill someone without meaning to! You have NO idea what it's like having to keep everything buttoned down and contained."

Dan launched himself at me and grabbed me. His aura wrapped about us and he clutched onto me. "Dan, STOP!"

The wave of sensations of having him joined with me hit me like a ton of bricks. What ever I'd been doing ceased and we hit the floor. I felt the energy waves wicking away as surely as my anger. I started to cry. Why was I always the one to cry? "I'm scared all the time, Jeff. What if I hurt you, or your parents, or our friends?"

He rocked me back and forth and kissed me on the head. "You'd never hurt any of us, Dan." He looked about at the wreckage of the room. "Hell, even in the middle of this you didn't touch me once. That's got to mean you've got pretty good control."

I sobbed and clutched at his hair. I needed to feel him against me. I needed to know I hadn't pushed him away. He kissed me back as desperately as I was kissing him. I finally stopped shaking and looked in his eyes. "I don't feel like I'm in control."

He looked at me, and I think for the first time he realized there was a lot more that I struggled with than he'd given me credit for. He ran his thumb under my eye and erased the trail of my tears. "I'm sorry about the beach. I didn't think..."

I put my hand to his lips. After a moment he playfully nibbled at my fingers and I giggled. I pulled out of his embrace and stood up. "You've got a white knight complex, Jeff. Every time someone is hurt or threatened you have to ride in with your sword drawn and save the day." I smirked. "Most of the time I like being saved."

He stood up and looked around the room. "I think you're going to have to get a flag you can wave when you don't want saving."

I laughed. "I'll keep that in mind." I was really glad his mother hadn't been home. "Sorry about your stuff. I don't think I torched very much."

He laughed and started picking things up. "Well, other than the baseball you blew to shreds, anything else can be replaced."

I looked at the stuffing that had snowed all over his bed. "I don't think there's any way to salvage it."

He smiled and gave me a hug. "I never was a big baseball player fan anyway." He nuzzled my neck and pulled me tight against him. "I've a bad habit of stalking dancers, though."

I laughed. "I don't think you need to stalk any more; you've caught one."

He spun me around and mussed my hair. I was going to have to ask Hank to do an analysis my head and see if I exuded some chemical or pheromone through my scalp. "Don't you forget it."

It was weird realizing we were almost eye to eye. I think he still saw me as the little guy who had to look up at him. I certainly hadn't figured out that he wasn't my giant protector any longer. I smiled. "I never will."

We had some serious explaining to do when Nora got home. There was no way we could cover the smell of the melted plastic and burnt items. We had gotten it all cleaned up, but the evidence was in the cans in the garage. She made us wait till Jack got home so we wouldn't have to tell the story twice. I think the waiting was worse.

They both took my tantrum in Jeff's room with amazing grace. I'd expected to have scared them, and maybe I did but it didn't show. Jack was less than thrilled, however, to hear about the fight on the beach.

"What were you thinking, Jeff?"

If I hadn't already thrown a tantrum at him, Jeff might have tried to justify his actions. Instead, he just looked at his hands. "I wasn't." He looked back up, and I realized he was ready to cry. "I just couldn't stand it, Dad. Dan was cool and just took it. I got so mad..."

I really wanted to defend Jeff. I couldn't even hold his hand because we were sitting across from each other at the kitchen table. Why were all confessions and punishments met out at the kitchen table? I closed my eyes and did the energetic equivalent of squeezing his hand. I know Jeff looked at me for a moment, and I felt him squeeze back. What ever happened, we weren't letting go.

Jack looked at Nora significantly and then sighed. "Did you hurt any of them?"

Jeff nodded reluctantly. "Yeah, but nothing that they couldn't have gotten from a regular fight. A broken nose, split lip, maybe a broken finger or two." He looked at me for confirmation and I nodded.

"Really, Mr. Watkins, Jeff was restrained in everything but his insults." I tried not to smirk.

Jack looked at me. "And you're sure the other guy threw the first punch?"

I nodded again. "Yes, sir. Jeff had simply gotten back in his face and asked for an apology in rather colorful language."

Jack huffed. "I can imagine." Jeff looked at the ceiling.

"Ok, we're going to let this one slide. I'm not happy with either of you and I expect better judgment in the future."

Jeff beamed. "You mean it?"

Jack finally smiled. "Yeah, I mean it. I don't approve of you're using your powers to beat up people, but if you were just a regular kid and defending your boyfriend, I would have cheered you on." Jack looked at me and smirked. "Hell, I'd probably have joined in."

With an incredible sense of relief, I knew we were ok.

I was so excited I hardly slept. Kate was flying down with her sister to spend a week with us on the beach. She'd even scheduled it to arrive on my birthday. I hadn't had a birthday party since before I moved in with Gram. Sure, we celebrated my birthday but living in the hills of Ireland didn't provide a lot of neighbor-kids. I stayed in Jeff's arms till the sun was pouring through the shades. The clock said 6:30am and I couldn't rest.

I'd always been a morning person. Jeff was anything but. We'd come to an understanding that I would get up and do my meditation to reign in my senses and what ever else I needed to do, but I was not to try and get him out of bed before 8am. He'd originally insisted on 10am but Nora vetoed that. After doing my fifteen-minute morning ritual, I got a shower, brushed my teeth and made it down stairs a little after 7am.

Jack, another early riser, was at the kitchen table reading the paper. "Is it too early to wish you a happy birthday?"

I beamed at him. "Only if I'm six feet tall, dark haired and built like a brick wall."

He laughed. "Well then, Happy Birthday, Danny-boy." His horrible imitation of Irish brogue made me laugh.

"Thanks, Jack." I eyed the coffee and then grabbed a mug of water. "Coffee?"

Nodding, Jack pointed to the mug near the pot. "Just brewed it."

I poured him his coffee, pulled out a tea bag for myself, and sat down at the table. I looked at his mug and it slid across the table to stop near his hand. This was a little morning ritual that never ceased to fascinate Jack. I looked back at my own mug and changed the energy state of the water. In a moment it began to boil. I dropped my teabag in and set the saucer over the top to let it steep.

"That is absolutely amazing." He shook his head, took a sip of his coffee, and made a hissing sound. He set it down. "Hot."

I smirked and cooled his coffee. "Try that."

He picked it back up and sipped. He smiled. "Jeff has every reason to be proud of you."

I smiled. "He's easily impressed."

Jack laughed. "You'd think so, but really he isn't. He's as easy going as they come, but he doesn't hand out compliments that aren't sincere." He sipped his coffee. "You know he talked about you constantly over Thanksgiving and Christmas?"

I blushed but I was also grinning from ear to ear. "No, I didn't."

"It really wasn't much of a surprise when he told us he'd met someone. Since he'd never talked about any of his other friends in such glowing terms, it was pretty easy to know who." He reached over and squeezed my hand. "I know you were worried that we'd be upset. We aren't, not with you and not with Jeff." He picked up his mug again and sipped his coffee. "At least we know his sister also likes boys. We'll get at least one grandchild out of the three."

"You're the best parents any kid could ask for, Mr. Watkins." I was actually tearing up. "Jeff's a really lucky guy."

He shrugged. "What else is there to do? Screaming, yelling and crying won't change who our kids are. We have to love them and accept them as God made them. The best we can hope for is they'll grow up to be happy, productive adults."

I pulled out my tea bag and smiled. "I'm sure they will."

He sipped his coffee again and nodded. "So am I."

I slipped back into the room with a tray of juice and some hot cinnamon rolls. Pillsbury was a wonderful thing. I left the tray floating as I pulled off my shirt and shorts and slipped back into bed. It was my birthday and I wanted to have breakfast in bed with my guy. At 8:01am I leaned over and began nuzzling the cleft between Jeff's pecs. He moaned when I found his nipple and started chewing on it like a pacifier. His hands pulled my face off his pec and he kissed me. Even though his eyes were still foggy with sleep, I smiled and chirped. "Good Morning!"

For once, he didn't scowl. "Happy Birthday, Dan." As he kissed me again I felt his aura starting to flow from our lips. I immediately pulled back before I lost hold control of the tray.

"Later, I'm hungry!" He looked at me like I had two heads and finally focused on the tray of food. I laughed. "I told you last week what I wanted."

He scratched his head and suddenly looked guilty. "Breakfast in bed."

I nodded happily.

"God, Dan, I'm sorry."

I pouted. "What, you aren't going to eat breakfast with me?"

"I didn't get up and fix it."

I laughed. "I said I wanted breakfast in bed, not a miracle." I fluffed my pillows and brought the bed-tray to rest across my legs.

He gave me a sheepish grin. "You're a freak. Who cooks their own birthday breakfast and is happy about it?"

I grabbed a roll and shoved it in his protesting mouth. "I do. Put your mouth to more constructive use, stud boy."

He gave me an evil look as he chewed. "It is totally unnatural to be so happy before 10am."

"Sue me!"

Suddenly his eyes lit up, and he spun around and started fishing for something under the bed. I got fairly curious to know what he was doing; not that the view of his boxer clad ass wasn't pleasant enough. He came back up and held out a box. "I didn't wrap it."

I almost dropped my cinnamon roll trying to lick off my fingers to take the box. I opened it and saw my half of the friendship pendant along with a beautiful, solid silver chain. I looked at him and looked at his pendant. Like his cross, he always wore it except during sports or training activities. That should have clued me in months ago. Ah well, Kate was right; gay boys were drama queens.

He pulled it out of the box and opened the clasp. "Remember when I asked you why you never wore your half?"

I nodded. I'd been kind of stupid. I'd bought the dual pendant but then had only gotten one chain.

"Well, now you don't have an excuse."

It was a silly, small gesture but it meant the world to me. I let him fasten the chain, and I beamed. "Thanks, Jeff." I don't think I could have felt more loved.

I snapped back to attention as the Bitch's claws were shredding the front of my uniform. Her finger hooked the silver chain around my neck and she yanked it off. She looked at the half-spiral pendant that dangled from her hands.

"How charming." She looked back at Aurik's torn uniform and eyed the mated pendant hanging with his cross. "Hero's got a boyfriend."

Her taking of the pendant hurt more than the claw marks she'd left on my chest and neck. That pendant was sacred. I focused on the pendant and it flew from her fingers and slapped against my bloody chest. I felt the cool metal slide down and slip into the folds of my ruined uniform.

Her lips curled into a wicked grin. "Did I touch a nerve?"

She didn't get it. She was too caught up in her own game to realize I was finally getting mad. I saw Rogue glaring at her from across the room, her gloves were tattered and her hands were flexing at the air. Rogue's eyes were determined and I could almost read her thoughts. Kate had taught me never to argue with a woman.

With a thrust of my will, Evil was thrown across the room and slammed into Rogue. Rogues fingers clawed at the Bitch's face and I watched with no little sense of satisfaction as Evil got a taste of its own medicine. Evil howled in agony as Rogue got in a few good digs.

I only wished I could stay awake to watch.