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Resolutions - Chapter 6

Hank and the Professor arrived the night after my birthday. Jack and Nora had been surprised that Professor Xavier would make a special trip down. More than anything, I think that drove home how concerned he was that I might lose control. Cynthia greeted the professor with a hug and genuine affection.

"How are you, Cynthia?"

Cynthia smirked. "Other than recent events, life has been uneventful." I looked at my shoes. I think she sensed I felt responsible because she reached over and squeezed my hand. "You've got a good group of seniors coming up this year, Professor."

He smiled. "Yes, I know." His eyes trailed up the stairs and I could feel his thoughts extending to Jeff's room. "You apparently handled things quite well, Daniel. Hank is impressed with the care you and Katherine gave Jeff."

I nodded, still waiting for the other shoe to fall. "Thank you, sir."

His smile was sympathetic as he looked at me. "You aren't in trouble, Daniel. I'm your guardian, not your prison keeper." His lips curled into a restrained smile. "This simply gave me an excuse to give you your presents personally."

My head jerked up. "Presents?"

He laughed. "Quite a few, actually." Looking at Kate as she came down the stairs he smiled. "Katherine, would you help Daniel bring in the packages from the back seat of the sedan?" Kate looked at me for a moment and then we both dashed for the door.

The Professor was talking with Jack as we came back in with armloads of packages. "Yes, you are quite right, Mr. Watkins, Daniel's talents are extraordinary." I couldn't see either of them because I was stacked up past my nose. Fortunately, my other senses compensated.

Jack laughed and pulled a few boxes off my stack. "Don't you think a couple trips might have been better?"

I grinned sheepishly. "I've never gotten a lot of presents before. I guess I got carried away."

Kate smirked as she slid her packages to one side and balanced them on her finger. I could feel her telekinesis holding the packages up. "He's so surprised to have a fan club that he's forgotten we don't have to do this the hard way."

I laughed. "You could have suggested it!" I released gravity on my packages and let go.

Kate gave me the most evil smile. "I enjoyed watching that dancer's butt of yours while you were struggling to keep everything balanced."

Cynthia laughed while I tried to hide my blushing by grabbing the packages.

"Do you think Jeff would want to be around when I open these?" I was torn. I wanted to tear into the presents but I also wanted to share it with him.

"I think that would be an excellent idea, Daniel." The Professor wheeled his chair about. "Why don't you give your packages to Katherine and then help me up the stairs. I'd like to see Jeffery before we leave."

Kate took my presents up to Jeff's room while I took hold of the Professor's chair. "How do you want to go up, sir?"

"The simplest method with the least fuss, Daniel."

"Ok." I wheeled him back till I was on the stairs and then lowered the effect of gravity so he and the chair were about five pounds. I lifted the chair easily and walked up the stairs backwards so I wouldn't bump the walls.

Jeff was smiling and looking a bit brighter as I wheeled the Professor in to see him. Kate had deposited the presents on the end of the bed. "Hey, Professor."

"Hello, Jeffery. Hank says you should be on your feet in a day or two."

Jeff looked at Hank pleadingly. "Isn't it the same if I'm lying on the beach as lying in bed?"

Hank laughed. "It's the traveling to the beach that is the issue, Jeff."

I looked at Kate and she smirked. "Between Dan and I, I'm sure we can make the trip as minimal effort as possible."

Hank shrugged. "I'm only the doctor here. Sure, if you take it easy and let them help, you can do the beach." We all beamed.

Jeff nodded at the packages. "What's all that stuff?"

I couldn't contain the happy grin that lit my face. "I got birthday presents!"

"No shit!" I could tell he was surprised at the number but he was also teasing me. "So are you going to stand there or are we going to see what you got?"

It didn't take any more encouragement for me to be ripping off paper and opening boxes. The first box was from Scott. It was small and when I got it open there was a pair of gargoyle shades inside with a note. "Dan, you can't cruise the beach looking cool without the proper pair of shades. Don't get too burned and send a card. Scott." The lenses were an incredibly dark shade of rose with a slightly reflective surface.

Kate looked at them and whistled. "Those are so cool!"

The next two boxes were from Rogue. What was it about girls and gifts of clothing? Inside were a pair of Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. "Hey Dan. You can't do the tropics without something to help you blend in with the natives. See you in August."

Jeff gave the shirt a dubious look. "You aren't actually planning to wear that are you?"

I laughed. "Don't you think I'd look like a tourist?" He shuddered.

The next was another small box, unwrapped. Inside was a buck knife. It was simple, solid and basic. The note said, "Got to get one practical thing you could use. I'll show you how to use it when you get back. Logan."

The Professor frowned slightly at the knife. "I'm going to have to have a talk with Logan about giving weapons to minors."

I got workout clothes and new sneakers from Devin. Bobby sent me a whole batch of club dance videos and a club shirt. Hank gave me a couple sets of whites for my medical internship. I received several books on magick from some of Gram's friends. The last several packages were from the Professor, new clothing, a laptop and portable printer, and a leather bound book that looked hand made. I ran my fingers over it and felt something energetically under the leather. There was a thin, metal pentacle imbedded in the cover, undetectable to normal observation.

The Professor smiled when I gave him a questioning look. "Your grandmother would have wanted you to have your own 'book of shadows', Daniel. You have hers, but I suspect you'll need someplace to record some less than traditional spells as you develop them."

I wiped a tear away and smiled. "Thanks, Professor. I hadn't thought about that."

I think he sensed I was about to get emotional. The Professor looked at his watch. "We must be going." He looked at Hank. "I assume you are finished with Mr. Watkins?"

Hank nodded and picked up his bag.

"Kate, would you see me down?" He looked at Jeff and I with a smile. "We will see you in August. Try to refrain from any more public displays."

"Yes, sir." We said in unison, which inspired a chorus of laughter.

Jack found reports of the attack in the Friday paper. There was no reference to mutants or paranormal events. The news reported the incident as the result of college kids experimenting with drugs. I wondered if the Professor had done some sort of damage control while he was down, but I kept my suspicions to myself.

By the weekend, Jeff was getting a bit anxious to continue the explorations we'd started on my birthday. It wasn't that I wasn't interested. I'd held off because I didn't know how serious his concussion had been. I got an email back early Saturday morning from Hank saying that a little extracurricular activity wouldn't do Jeff any harm. Jeff had gone into the shower when I shut down the laptop. It struck me suddenly that other than our time in the ocean, we still hadn't been naked together. I decided to rectify that situation immediately.

I slipped out of my underwear and went into the bathroom. Steam had already fogged the mirror. The shower doors were frosted but I could see that the movements behind the glass were too specific to be general cleaning. I almost didn't have the guts to interrupt but I really wanted to see. I tapped on the glass before sliding the door open a bit. "Anything I can help with?"

Jeff looked like he'd just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. If it hadn't been for the guilty look on his face, the whole scene would have been incredibly erotic. He had soapsuds trailing down his chest, clinging to his muscles. His hands were on his rigid cock and playing with his balls. Thankfully, he recovered quickly and gave me a nervous smile. "Sure."

I realized I was hard as a rock as I slid the door open and stepped into the tub. This was our actual first time seeing each other hard and horny. I couldn't decide what I wanted to do first. I just stood there, the water misting against me off his shoulders. After a few uncomfortable moments, Jeff laughed.

"You going to help me here or am I putting on a show?"

I blushed. "I couldn't make up my mind what I wanted to do first." I reached out tentatively and wrapped my fingers round him. His eyes closed and he shuddered as I started slowly stroking him. That was all I needed to get me past my initial doubts. I stepped closer and pressed myself against his hip while I started pumping a bit harder. I reached around to his back and gripped his ass to give us a little more support as he began to tremble. I opened my senses and felt as he tripped. Like the previous day, I was blown away but the sensations as he shot volleys of white against the shower doors with a strangled cry. I let go as his dick began to deflate and ran my hand up to his neck.

He was panting hard but that didn't stop him from wrapping his arms around me and kissing me. After his tongue had inspected my teeth, he pulled back and rested his forehead against mine. His hand trailed around to wrap about my own aching shaft. I was so wired from his orgasm that it didn't take more than ten strokes to have my crying out, muffling myself against his shoulder, as I sprayed his belly. When the tremors stopped, I looked back into his eyes. "I got you messy."

He laughed. "I suppose I'll need some help getting cleaned up."

We grabbed the soap and shampoo and used far more than was necessary to wash every inch of each other's bodies. I don't think I could ever get enough of Jeff's chest; the way he shuddered every time I'd brush his nipples just did me. I enjoyed massaging his pecs but when I started tasting them I was in heaven. There is nothing better than the taste of freshly washed man. We were startled out of our reverie by a pounding on the bathroom door.

"Yo, guys! You're clean already! We want to eat and get to the beach!" Kate was laughing.

"Ok, ok! We'll be down in a moment!" Jeff frowned at the door as Kate laughed again and left. He sighed and rested his head against me. "I could keep this up all day."

I smiled. "Yeah, but we'd look like prunes if we did."

He turned off the water and we grabbed the towels. As we were getting on our clothes, he looked over at me. "Thanks, Dan."

"For what?"

He shrugged. "I didn't know how to ask."

I realized at that he was as nervous as I was about pushing things too fast. I went over and gave him a hug. "You've been the one to take us everywhere, Jeff. I suppose it's time I grew up and become an active participant in this relationship." I lay my cheek against his shoulder. "You helped me with Gram's death. You were the one to say we were best friends. You were the one who forced the issue with my being too scared to tell you how I felt. I don't know how you could put up with all that." I squeezed him harder. "I'm glad you did."

He turned around and gave me a quick kiss. "So am I." Simple, straightforward, and to the point; god I loved him.

Kate and Cynthia were waiting in the kitchen when we got down there. Kate was trying not to smile too knowingly and Cynthia rolled her eyes. "If you're going to use up all the hot water, the least you guys could do is wait for everyone else to be done."

Jeff gave her a defiant smirk. "Enjoy the show?"

She couldn't hide the guilty look that flashed over her face. She smoothed it quickly enough but she knew she'd been caught. "Like I'd be interested in the cleaning habits of two under-aged white boys."

Jeff slid his hand down and gripped my cheek. Before I could object he had his other hand behind my neck and was trying to suck my life from me right there in the kitchen. I couldn't help it; I melted. By the time his lips had drained me of any resistance I was completely relaxed against him and whimpering. He pulled back from my lips and gave Cynthia a truly wicked smile. "You're just jealous because we're the only ones getting any action this weekend."

Kate was giggling uncontrollably as Cynthia glared at Jeff. "Thank you for that little reminder, Jeff. My boyfriend is several thousand miles away and I haven't seen him in weeks."

Jeff's face fell. "I'm sorry, Cynthia. I just meant it in good fun." His grip on me had loosened significantly.

Kate just burst out laughing and nearly fell off her chair. Cynthia looked at her with annoyance written across her face. I could tell Jeff felt like shit and something wasn't quite right. It finally dawned on me and I looked at Cynthia. "You know, most women mention -boyfriends- pretty early in meeting new people. You're just trying to get us back!"

Cynthia cracked a smile. "Kate's right, you're a lot smarter than you look."

I shrugged. "The fact I can tell when people are lying doesn't hurt."

Cynthia eyed Kate. "Another little fact you failed to mention, sis."

Kate shrugged. "How the hell am I supposed to keep up with what Dan can do? Every week he comes up with something new."

Rogue smashed against the far wall and sank to the floor. The Bitch was launching herself at Rouge, claws extended, as I struggled back to consciousness. I was known for coming up with new ways to use my powers. Maybe I could stop Rogue from dying.

As Bitch's claws began to sink into Rogue I lashed out. Her movement stopped, she couldn't continue with her attack but she couldn't pull back either. Rogue was bleeding where the claws had sunk in, but I could sense her draining powers kicking into gear. Evil shrieked and tried to break free. I wouldn't let her go. Her body began to quake as she struggled. Every attempt at movement I countered. Holding her still was easy; keeping myself conscious was hard.

We saw Kate and Cynthia off safely after several more days of fun. We watched them descend the ramp, waited till the plane had pulled from the gate, and then we bolted for the car. It was mere minutes before we were on the Turnpike heading north. I couldn't stop smiling. I had never been to Disney World before. Four hours and a fortune in tolls later, we were pulling off I4 and following the gaudiest, color clashing signs I'd ever seen to 'The Dolphin.'

"Are those signs for real?"

Jeff groaned. "Yeah, rumor has it that Eisner's wife was the consultant on the colors."

I grimaced. "I'd hate to see their house."

Jeff laughed. "Don't go there!"

We parked and grabbed our luggage. I still couldn't believe Jack had let us go off to a resort without parental escort. "I can't believe we're here alone."

Jeff gave me a guilty look as we got to the doors. "We aren't."

I stopped short. "What?"

Jeff sighed. "Dad arranged a chaperone."

I groaned. "Ok, no fun this trip."

Jeff smirked. "We get our own room and I think you'll like our -boss-."

I raised an eyebrow. "Who would that be?"

"That would be his boring, ugly, prudish, straight-laced older brother." I heard as the doors opened. The man stepping through the doors was drop-dead gorgeous. Six foot two or taller, he wasn't as muscular as Jeff but he was lean and moved with a grace you'd see from a toreador or Latin dancer. The resemblance between them was amazing. George opened his arms and pulled Jeff into a tight hug. "How you doing, shrimp?"

Jeff hugged him back. "Doing better knowing I get to spend time with my two favorite guys!"

George pulled back and smiled. "Ok, then you better introduce us."

Jeff reached over and pulled me up against him. "George, this is Dan. Dan, this is my crazy older brother, George."

I extended my hand. "Great to meet you."

George laughed and pulled me into an affectionate hug. "You're family, Dan. Handshakes are for strangers."

I wasn't used to so many displays of affection in public. I liked it, but I kept expecting people to start throwing stones. After George let me go, Jeff wrapped his arms around me from behind. "Hey, keep your hands off my boyfriend, old man!"

George smirked. "I don't go for jail bait, little brother." He gave me a good looking over. "I suspect Dan's going to be a late bloomer. One of those, 'awkward teens' who comes into his own once he hits twenty."

Jeff frowned. "I think he's perfect as is." He kissed me on the neck and then let go. "We already have rooms?"

"Yep." George held out a couple of key cards. "Room 512. I'm in 514."

Once we'd gotten into our room, George unlocked the pass-through between the rooms and sat on the bed while we unpacked. Jeff sat down on the other bed and was putting away his things using his aura. I did it the old-fashion way. When done, I leaned against the dresser and looked at the brothers.

Jeff was darker, but that probably had more to do with the last month on the beach than genetics. He was wider, more muscular and had a stronger jaw. His hair had golden highlights from the sun but was primarily black. His eyes were the deepest chocolate.

George was leaner and taller than his brother. His hair was a medium brown and his eyes were an unusual shade of coffee with cream. He was definitely masculine but where Jeff reminded you of a wolf, George was like a great cat. He moved with confident grace and seemed to take delight in everything.

George gave me a quirky smile. "So, Irish, how'd you snag this horn-dog brother of mine?"

Jeff gave George a look of mock offense. "Horn-dog? Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black! For your information, we're both still virgins and plan to stay that way till graduation!"

George looked genuinely surprised. "You're kidding, right?"

I was imitating my hair again, but I kneeled down behind Jeff and put my chin on his shoulder. "That was the deal." I hugged Jeff, trying not to tremble too much. "Call me romantic but I like the idea of courting and commitment."

Jeff leaned into me and nodded. "Me too."

George gave us a skeptical look. "So, nothing, nada, zilch?"

Jeff laughed. "I'm not going to give you details, George. At least, not without checking with Dan first." He rubbed his head against my ear.

I shrugged. "We're doing the normal explorations as we're comfortable, I guess. I just like the idea of holding off on..."

"Fucking." Jeff added confidently.

"Yeah, till we're out of school." I smirked, with my cheeks burning, and nuzzled Jeff's neck. "If we're still committed by then, it'll be one hell of a graduation party."

George just smiled at us. "Ok."

Jeff looked at George like he was seeing an alien. "Ok? That's it?"

George nodded. "Sure. You guys want to take it slow and be sure 'this is it'; I respect that. Not what I chose, but I'm the last person to say the way I choose to live is right for everyone."

"Thanks, bro."

George laughed. "If you need any advice, and I mean you too, Dan, just give me a call. If I haven't done it, I'm sure I know someone who has!"

I buried my head in Jeff's shoulder to keep from turning scarlet. Jeff just laughed.

It was at breakfast the next morning when George picked up the topic again. He smirked at me while chewing on his bacon. "You know, you never answered my question yesterday."

I blinked. "Which one?"

"How you got Jeff interested in you?" He sipped at his coffee while I poked at my eggs.

I shrugged. "I don't know. I run that through my head and I just come up with a blank." I gave George a weak smile. "I'm not much to look at. I'm emotional, introverted and not very good in groups. I think your brother has a thing for homeless puppies."

Jeff was looking at me with disbelief painted across his face. I reached over and squeezed his hand. "It's not like I'm unhappy about it. I lusted for him since the first day we met. I was in love by mid-semester and totally miserable because I didn't think he'd be receptive to it. I spent the whole school year having dreams about my best friend." I sighed and lost my self in those chocolate depths. "I panicked near the end when Jeff forced the issue, but he wouldn't let go. I definitely got the better end of this deal."

George watched us looking at each other while he ate. Jeff just kept looking at me with such intensity that I finally had to look down. He squeezed my hand and turned to George. "Do I really have to have a reason?" Jeff nodded at a few other obvious gay couples in the restaurant. "You don't fall in love with someone because he's good looking, dances well, or is smart. Dan's all those to me, but I think most of the gay ideas for relationships are bullshit. They base things on meaningless stuff like whether a guy has rippling muscles, looks hot in tight jeans or has a big dick. You may lust after a guy for his looks, his money, or something else, but it's how the guy makes you feel that counts."

My eyes were tearing up when Jeff looked at me again. "Dan makes me feel great. I feel whole when we're together, and I have to smile when he smiles. I just know I'd rather spend time with him than anyone else."

George had put down his fork and was leaning in on the table with his chin resting on his hands. He had a whimsical smile on his lips. "I don't get it. How did my baby brother grow up so fast?"

Jeff just smiled and squeezed my hand again. "I met the right guy."

After surviving the morning's interrogation, the rest of the day was a blast. We had four-day multi-park passes and we planned to hit everything. Naturally, we had to do the Magic Kingdom on our first day. This was, according to George, a moral imperative.

"No gay man can claim his rainbow sticker if he hasn't done the 'Kingdom'." George explained as he chewed on some cinnamon almonds we'd gotten on our way around the lagoon.

"There is no way you are convincing me to subject Dan to 'the horror'." Jeff was rolling his eyes in disgust.

"Jeff, he -has- to experience IASW. It is an integral part of American Heritage."

"We're going to do Mexico tomorrow. That one is close enough but isn't as painful." This argument had been going on all day. George wanted us to go, and Jeff staunchly refused. From the best I could determine, the "it's a small world" ride was either adored or reviled, there was no middle ground. Apparently Jeff and George were in opposite camps. "My boyfriend, my choice! If you want to go, round up an able bodied man and have fun."

It'd been a great day but the continual undercurrent of sibling rivalry was beginning to wear on me. I was also getting pretty hungry. Though George seemed content to get his nutrition from the quick grab carts, Jeff was a bit pickier and I grew up without a taste for American junk food. We'd had to practically beat George into submission to let us find a cafeteria for some real food at lunch. Now that it was sliding past 6pm, my stomach was arguing about as continually as the boys. I wanted good food and I wanted Jeff to get his daily dose of quality protein. His body was a temple and I was his high priest. It was time to take matters into my own hands.

"George, shut up. Jeff, zip it!" They both looked at me like I'd grown a second head. "This under-educated, gay-boy-in-training is hungry and his feet hurt. So unless you want to see me practice being a drama-queen, we need to find a place we can get -real- food. I vote for 'Downtown Disney'."

Jeff smiled and raised an eyebrow at George. "Don't look at me to try and stop him. You haven't seen drama till you've seen a mutant-gay-boy do it."

George put up his hands in surrender. "Ok, ok. No reason to start issuing threats." He shook his head and started muttering as he turned toward the main gate. "Try to give the kids valuable cultural education and this is the thanks I get."

Jeff smirked at me. "He's going to be intolerable the rest of the evening."

I raised my eyebrows. "I could always stir his aura a bit and let him know there's more to life than he thought."

Jeff gave me a shocked look, and then an evil smile crept across his lips. "You wouldn't."

I shrugged. "He kept asking me how I caught you. It's the only thing I can think of as an explanation."

Jeff draped his arm over my shoulder as we followed George to the gate. "You caught me long before that, Dan. The whole aura thing was when you finally yanked me out of the water and into the net."

I laughed. "So what are you, a fish?"

He tickled my ear with his lips. "Nah, I'm a merman."

Merman was right. I think we had more fun in the shower over those four days than anyplace else. During our last day, George had actually met someone and so we had an evening to ourselves while he club hopped at Pleasure Island. Jeff decided he wanted to try a bath together. It was fun. I had always preferred baths to showers. Gram's house hadn't had showers. There was something about just laying in hot, soapy water with his arms around me that felt so right.

It was an hour after we'd gotten in that Jeff realized the water hadn't cooled. He nibbled my neck. "You're doing something to the water?"

I giggled. "Finally caught on to that, huh?" I snuggled back against him. "I'm just enjoying the whole thing." I eyed the candles, listened to the music playing softly from the other room, and we had been in a sudsy bubble bath. Who says seventeen year olds can't be romantic? "Think we'll be able to commandeer the dorm bathroom to do this again?"

Jeff squeezed me. "I'm sure we can figure out something." He settled his chin on my shoulder thoughtfully. "Dan, how do you want to handle school?"

I stiffened. I knew Jeff would be perfectly comfortable being "out", but I wasn't. "Can we keep us private for a while? I don't think I'm ready to face being -out-."

"Ok." He began to kiss my neck and shoulder. "Then we better spend a lot of time behind closed doors."

I didn't object to that idea at all.

Jeff's birthday was two days before we returned to school. It had been nearly impossible to get him a present. I was finally able to order him a present off the Internet during one of his sleep-in times in the morning. Nora loaned me her card to place the order. After my usual morning meditation I went downstairs to help Nora with breakfast. She smiled at me as I came in.

"I brought your present down, Dan, it's on the kitchen table."

"Thanks." I looked at the preparations she had started. "So, what's left to do?"

She nodded to the cutting board and the onions, peppers and mushrooms beside it. "I could use those diced."

I washed my hands and started chopping. "Looks like omelets."

"Jeff's favorite." I made note of that for future use. "With hash browns, cooked with butter."

I smirked. "Why do I feel like I'm being given 'how to please my son' tips?"

Nora smiled. "Because you are." She laughed and gave me a kiss on the cheek. "You're a good boy, Dan. I have a lot of friends who met their spouses in school and have lived happily ever since. I see no reason why you and Jeff can't be the same way. Despite what George may think."

My stomach sank. "He didn't like me?"

Nora looked shocked. "He thought you were adorable." She waved away my fears with her spatula. "George is a free spirit. He can't fathom why two young men should fall in love and commit themselves when there are so many other people to have fun with." Rolling her eyes she let out an exasperated breath. "He grew up 'being gay' here in Miami. It influenced his choices of life style and his views on relationships. The way he talks you would think he lives on one of those -gay tv shows.-" She turned and pointed her spatula sternly. "Don't ever let the 'gay culture' make your decisions for you. You don't have to get your right ear pierced, you don't have to wear rainbow jewelry, and you don't have to be an advocate of free love." She shook her head as she pushed about the potatoes. "You two are far more sensible than George ever was."

"Thanks, Mrs. Watkins." I really did like her.

She sighed. "Nora, my name is -Nora-. 'Mom' works too. Mrs. Watkins is my mother-in-law."

I had to wipe away a tear before she could see it. Nora was the absolute best mother any guy could have. I gave her a smile that I hoped didn't wobble. "I think I'll hold off on 'Mom' till Jeff and I make an official commitment."

She nodded. "Very sensible of you, Dan. Finish with the chopping and then go up and wake the birthday boy."

I eyed the clock. "Uh, we aren't going to let him sleep in on his birthday?"

"Absolutely not. Breakfast will be ready at eight-thirty. I don't want my efforts ruined because he can't seem to rise with normal folk. Some times I think his mutant ability is to sleep indefinite periods of time."

I laughed. "That's better than mine!"

Nora raised an eye. "And what is your -real- mutant ability?"

I smirked. "Irresistibly muss-able hair!"

She looked at my hair appraisingly and then reached out and straightened an errant bang. "Could be worse." She paused and let me wonder what could be worse. She then reached out and grabbed my cheek between her thumb and forefinger. That was something no one ever did, my face was never pudgy. "You could have pinch-able cheeks."

I laughed and finished chopping the vegetables. As I finished, she gave me another smile. "You may think me a silly romantic, but I think God puts people together for reasons. You may think you two are an odd couple but when I look at you two I'm totally at ease. I can see you and Jeff visiting us years from now and being just as attached."

This time I couldn't hide the fact there were tears in my eyes. "Thanks, Nora."

She pulled down my face and kissed me on the forehead. "Just call me 'Mom'."

There was no movement in the room as my awareness returned to the present. Everyone was still alive, even the Bitch. We were apparently in a lull before the storm.


My eyes wandered to Aurik's body and I felt tears leaving tracks through the blood on my face. We'd made the commitment. I'd even managed to make the rings; Nora had them for when we turned eighteen. I'd looked forward to visiting 'our parents' when we'd started going grey. I'd looked forward to having Jeff distract me from research in our library. I had wanted to learn all the recipes Nora had been copying into our first cookbook.

I really wanted that life together but I could sense my blood cooling on the floor. At least a pint or two must have dripped down my limbs at that point. My body was getting cooler and I could sense my neurological energies were dwindling. It really sucked knowing exactly how I was dying.