The Guardians

By Rilbur

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You're all probably familiar with the standard drill: this story may contain sexual scenes -- including same-sex encounters -- rape scenes, cross-generation themes, abuse, and other nastiness. If reading such is illegal in your area, please do not continue. If you are under eighteen, please do not continue. This writing is copyrighted to the author and unauthorized reproduction is illegal. Readers are authorized to download and store the page for reading purposes. Readers are authorized to print one copy of this story for reading purposes. Any distribution of those copies is prohibited. Reproduction of this text for any purpose is strictly prohibited.

Legal stuff aside, this is not a standard Nifty story: sex is there, and it's a major element of the plot, but only insofar as sex is a major issue in life. And the sex scenes, in general, won't be in any sense 'detailed'. This story isn't intended to get your rocks off, but to be an enjoyable read in its own right, much as any published work might be. (In fact, you can find hardcopies on sale via Lulu, and E-Book versions are also available at )

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Chapter Sixteen

"You aren't supposed to sleep," Ashley scolded Jason, shaking his shoulder.

"I'm not sleeping," Jason answered her with a sigh. "Though I was having the most wonderful daydream!"

Ashley tried to straighten the blanket covering him. "What do you mean by-" she started to say. The sudden and clearly visible answer to the unfinished question earned Jason a shocked "Oh!"

Jason rolled onto his side to conceal the tent that had been hidden in the folds of the covers. "Yeah, that's what I meant," he told her as he blushed. Just in case, adjusted his package so it wouldn't be quite so visible if he rolled onto his back.

"Well, it's far from surprising,"Ashley commented as she moved to a nearby chair. "And don't worry about it, I've had plenty of teenaged boys around here, so I'm used to ignoring things like that."

"Gee, thanks," Jason commented wryly. "It's a real boost to my self esteem that I'm not packing anything a buncha thirteen year old kids can't beat."

"Well, there's also Tommy," Ashley pointed out. "And I wasn't talking just about... things," she said hesitantly, "but also walking into an 'empty' bedroom and finding boys... stretching themselves out."

"Stretching themselves... out..." Jason figured it out halfway through. "I imagine that gets very hard..." Jason cringed, and decided try again. "I mean difficult to deal with," he said carefully.

"Hard isn't a bad word, Jason," Ashley chided him, "and neither is 'wet'."

Jason started choking for a moment. "You... you didn't!" he protested, laughing.

"I most certainly did go there!" Ashley laughed. "You needed a laugh, so I provided."

"God, I can't believe you said it!" Jason laughed.

"Well, I will admit that 'wet' comes up much less in conversations with girls than 'hard' does with boys," she laughed. "But there's no reason not to use them simply because of the double entendre that can be read into it."

"Can be read into it?" Jason giggled.

"Well, alright, when it comes to boys I suppose 'will' be read into it is more accurate," Ashley agreed.

"You're trying to distract me, aren't you?" Jason asked.

"Well, we can't let you wander off into that dark... hole, I think is the way Ronan described it," she admitted.

"And the pain I feel at the thought of what Ronan is doing isn't a player?" Jason asked.

"Ronan told you what he was going to do?" Ashley asked. "He refused to so much as mention it to us when he kicked us out."

Jason looked away, refusing to answer.

"Jason, what is he doing?" she pushed.

"You don't want to know," Jason told her.

"What could possibly be so bad?" Ashley asked.

"You can't hear it?" Jason asked. "I thought as much," he muttered when she shook her head.

It curled his stomach simply to hear the noise. Ronan could block the physical noise, but Jason knew what was happening... and Ronan could not hope to block Jason's Sight. Even when it was sound being carried by proverbial sixth sense Jason had found within himself, his Sight was there.

Jason pulled the covers tight around himself as he curled into a tight ball. "I can hear what he's doing Ashley, and it sickens me. He has to do it... but God have mercy on us all for doing it."

"It can't be that bad," Ashley protested.

"How do you keep me here if I try to wander off," Jason asked her.

"What?" Ashley asked, confused.

"If my mind wanders, how do you keep it here?" Jason asked.

"Well, I try to talk to you and if that doesn't work... I hurt you..." Ashley shook her head. "Jin is too far for that, though. We tried. Short of... Oh God!"

"If a little pain won't work, then try lots of it," Jason agreed. "It has to be done, but..."

"Ronan must feel like crap," Ashley swore. "He hates things like this with a passion."

"Wait, this isn't the first time?" Jason asked.

"He hates unnecessary pain," Ashley told him. "When we first started experimenting with healing, he'd spend days running around and alleviating the minor aches and pains that crop up. If someone stubbed his toe he was there with a kind word, a helping hand, and some clandestine pain relief. It lasted about, oh, a month or two before he just... stopped. He spent a couple of days locked up, alone in his room, and then he came out, changed."

"Changed?" Jason asked.

"I think someone, I don't know who, smacked him upside the head. It was the four of us back then, but then Ronan started actively recruiting," Ashley smiled pleasantly. "He moved from simply doing, to being more, to leading."

"Four of us?" Jason asked.

"Me, Lara, Frank, and Ronan. Best friends through college, the 'five musketeers', and when Ronan found the Arch he showed it to us."

"Five?" Jason asked.

Ashley froze, and a tear fell from her eye. "Alfred," she whispered. "I'd almost forgotten him. He'd have wanted that, in a way."

"Wanted to be forgotten?" Jason asked.

"Yes," Ashley smiled. "He never..." she swallowed, looking away as more tears fell. "He always said he didn't ever want to cause any of us any pain," she told Jason. "'Let my wake be a celebration of my life, not a mourning of how it ended'," she quoted. "He'd never want us to be stuck, remembering that god-awful scream as the arch simply sucked the life out of him. It was a long time ago. The arch was weaker then, it couldn't simply rip his soul from his body. It aged him," she moaned in horror. "We just stood there in shock as it ripped the years from his body. In a minute he was a fifty year old man. By the time we could drag him out of the room, still screaming, he looked to be over a hundred. He screamed for two days before... the hospital tried, but they had no idea how to fight what was happening to him. He just kept aging. His heart and liver and lungs just wouldn't give out as he withered away before us."

"Eventually," Ashley finished, "we severed the link that was draining his power from him. He smiled at us, thanked us, told us to remember... remember him as he was, and then he died."

"I can't stand the thought of anyone dying because of that thrice damned thing, but to date seven people have fallen to it. Seven people have died in unspeakable agony," Ashley shook her head. "I could hate you, you know. I have nothing left, you pulled the rug right out from under me. ... About one in ten die. One in ten, Jason!"

"He won't," Jason assured her. "He will grow strong, and powerful, and will survive horrors beyond imagining. He will live to see joy, and he will die not at the arch, but doing something brave, heroic, and utterly stupid. Something to be proud of, something to honor and remember. He will be remembered as a savior and hero by hundreds of children."

"Like that's much consolation," Ashley told him, "and you can't possibly know that!"

"Actually," Jason told her, "I can. You've heard about my intuition?"

"Your... I heard about it," she agreed, shocked, "but I never imagined... Are you sure?"

"Beyond a doubt," Jason told her firmly. "He will not die at the Arch, and while there is no certainty in life, his Destiny -- the plan powers beyond anything you or I can imagine have for him -- is to die protecting children, years and years from now."

Ashley closed her eyes and cried. "Thank you for that. Can I... is there anything I can do to save him from that?"

"Plenty," Jason told her, "just don't ask me what."

"What?" Ashley asked, confused.

"Right at the moment, I think the phrase 'I'm just the messenger' is appropriate," Jason said thoughtfully. "I've told you what I know, and all I know is what I've told you. His fate isn't set in stone, it can be changed. It's what is most likely to happen, what... for lack of a better way to describe it, it's what God has planned. But the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray, Ashley, and there are more powers out there than God."

"But God is the most powerful," Ashley smiled. "Beyond a doubt," Jason agreed. "But human free will can set even His plans astray, and His foes harry us at every turning."

"You sound like a preacher," Ashley laughed.

"I suppose I do," Jason said thoughtfully. "It certainly fits in with what Ronan has implied," he added with a laugh. "Well, this particular font of wisdom is about dry. Right at the moment, I wish I could get some sleep but I'm not going to get it."

"Sorry, no," Ashley agreed. "How about some nice conversation?"

"Sure, what do you want to talk about?" Jason asked.

"How about that kiss?" she asked, scooting closer.

"Sorry, not much to tell," Jason told her. "First one. Well, actually, I think it's just the first one to count," he corrected himself.

"First one to count?" she asked.

Jason blushed, scrunching his eyes in embarrassment. "That's not a tale I particularly care to tell," he told her.

"Sounds like the best kind!" Ashley exclaimed, eyes gleaming.

"Well..." Jason temporized, mind racing. Did he or didn't he... "Actually, it's just the first one. I didn't actually kiss him then."

"I gotta know this story," Ashley grinned.

"Sorry, wild horses couldn't drag it out of me," Jason told her.

"I'm not wild horses, and I don't play fair," she warned him. "Come'on, tell already!"

"Sorry, not gonna- Hey, wait!" Jason grabbed the covers as Ashley tried to sneak a hand under them, but didn't really succeed. "No fair!" he screamed, thrashing away. "Help! Help!" he screamed, laughing.

"What's going- Oh!" Tommy exclaimed from the door. "Well, two can play at this game!"

"Rescue!" Jason exclaimed... a little too early. Having one person tickle you was bad enough, but with two of them he couldn't possibly hope to buy himself even a moments reprieve. "Uncle, uncle!" he cried.

"You going to tell me?" Ashley demanded, continuing the onslaught.

"Not a-" Jason began. A few more moments of 'persuasion' changed that to, "Alright, alright! I'll tell!"

"Good!" Ashley sat back down, laughing.

"That wasn't fair!" Jason complained, pulling the covers around himself.

"Distracted you rather effectively, though," Tommy commented.

"Distracted..." Jason's eyes widened and he glared at a grinning Ashley.

"Strong emotion can't bring you back, but it can keep you from drifting. At least, that's what Ronan said," she answered the unasked question. "Now, tell, or I resume my dastardly assault!"

Jason sighed, and looked away. "It was right after I met Ronan," he told her. "I wasn't exactly in a good frame of mind... I tried to 'pay' him for rescuing me, and he was rather... upset by it."

"Huh?" Ashley asked. "Jason, you're not making much sense!"

"No, I imagine I'm not," Jason caged. "It isn't a time I really like to think about much," he added a little bitterly.

"Ashley, why don't we drop this?" Tommy asked. "I'm sure we can come up with other things to talk about."

Ashley nodded, "Sorry Jason, I guess I didn't realize that, well..."

"I understand," Jason told her. "Lets just talk about something else, please?"

"So, Frank was just standing there, covered in the stuff," Ashley began to wrap up her joke, "and Ronan tells him that 'if that's what you wanted, you should have just told me! I'd have been glad to throw shit at you barehanded just to save myself the repair bill!'"

The three of them laughed at Ashley's reminiscence of the 'early days' of the Guardians until Jason suddenly broke off and looked away. The other two stared at him, confused by his sudden shift in demeanor. "It's done," Jason whispered, relieved.

"What?" Ashley asked, confused by the non sequitur.

"Ronan, he's finished. It's quiet down there," Jason told her.

"Tommy, go check?" Ashley asked.

"Be right back," he answered.

"Jason," Ashley began, "you made a promise a little while ago to me."

"I've already told you everything I know," he told her.

"How can you be sure, though?" she asked. "You said nothing is certain, but then try to say that it's certain he won't die?"

"Is an asteroid going to come crashing down out of the sky and smack him in the head, killing him instantly, tomorrow at 4:32 PM?" Jason asked.

"What?" Ashley blinked at the absurdity of the question.

Jason repeated himself, affecting a slightly annoyed air, "Is an asteroid going to come crashing down out of the sky and-"

"I heard you the first time," Ashley cut him off.

"Then why make me repeat it?" Jason asked with a small grin.

"Now is not the time to be funny," she told him angrily. "And while I suppose it could happen, the odds are so small... it's absurd to even think about it!"

"The odds are so small, it's absurd to even think about it. It won't happen, even though it might," Jason said smugly.

"What does that have to do with... anything..." Ashley glared at Jason. "You," she said with mock anger, "are far to clever for your own good!"

"Why thank you," Jason smiled. "I'm glad to hear my wit is appreciated!"

"Appreciated my..." Ashley cut herself off and started grinning. "You know, I'll be right back... I'm sure the kids will love to hear that you're going to do a stand up comedy routine for them!"

"Hey, wait a minute now!" Jason told her, worried.

"Oh, no," she replied, getting up, "I've got to go spread the word and good cheer!"

"Alright, alright, you win!" Jason begged.

"Hrm... did I really?" she asked, eyes gleaming. "I didn't realize we were in a competition!"

"You don't play fair," Jason accused.

"No, I don't," she agreed with a laugh, then cut off as Ronan walked into the room. The moment hung, awkwardly, for a few long moments, no one knowing what to do.

"Hey," Ronan said softly, before dropping into the chair Tommy had dragged in earlier.

"How ya doin', Ronan?" Jason asked, concerned.

"For some odd reason, I feel like crap," he answered, voice listless.


"Don't," Ronan interrupted him. "Just... don't. I don't need false sympathy, I don't need... just don't go there."

Jason decided he knew exactly what to do, awkward or not. "Ronan," Jason said strongly as he flipped the covers up, "get your ass over here."

"Jason, I don't think sex is the answer to this problem," Ronan told him.

"No, neither do I. But thanks to the orders you gave, I can't get out of bed," Jason reminded him. "So if I want to give you a hug and hold you close, I have exactly one way to do it. So, I'm making this an order: get your ass over here!"

"An order, huh?" Ronan asked.

"Disobey at your own peril," Jason confirmed with a small grin.

"No sex?"

"Not so much as a kiss!" Jason assured him, then paused.

"I'll hold you too that," Ronan agreed before kicking his shoes off.

"Wait now, lets not be too hasty!" Jason protested.

"Too late," Ronan told him, slipping in beside Jason. "No kissing."

"Fine, no kissing," Jason agreed. "How about moving a little closer though?"

Jason took Ronan into his arms and held him tight. After a few moments, Ronan relaxed into the hug and started crying. "Shh," Jason told him, "I've got you. Let it all out..." Ashley left the room to give them a little privacy as Ronan sobbed, almost silent.

"I love you, Ronan Koken, and I won't let you fall," Jason told him. Eventually the tears faded, and Jason felt sleep begin to claim Ronan slowly, stealthily.

"I need to get going," Ronan said.

"You need to sleep," Jason told him.

"I've got things I need-" Ronan started.

"You need to sleep," Jason said firmly, cutting him off. "Don't make me make it an order."

"First rule of command, Jason, never give an order you know won't be obeyed," Ronan told him as he started to shift around.

Jason held on tighter and smiled. "No, that's the second rule. First rule is if you have to give an order the guy won't take, make certain he doesn't have a choice. Sleep, Ronan, sleep."

"What do you think-" Ronan broke off with a yawn. "What do you think... you're... what do you..." Blinking, Ronan shook his head and tried to break loose. "How?"

"I think Lara mentioned it the other night," Jason told him with a smile, "Chemical A meets chemical B in your blood stream and you puke. Chemicals C, D, and E make you sleep. So, sleep, my beautiful, wonderful, awe-inspiring hero. I'll be here to ward off bad dreams. Sleep, and dream of better days. Sleep."

Ronan tried to fight, but slowly fell under the spell Jason's soothing words were weaving.

"Shouldn't have... taught you... so... well..." were his final words before Jason finally put him under.

"But you did," Jason smiled, and kissed Ronan's forehead gently. "Oh, sorry! Still... just one kiss," he said after, "and you won't even know about it."

Jason shifted around to sit up against the headboard, Ronan still held in his arms, and smiled as he rocked his...

Jason blinked as he realized. You couldn't call Ronan 'mentor', not now. He wasn't lover, yet. More than a friend. What could he call Ronan?

Jason smiled, and nodded his head. Yes, he would hold his man through the night, and ward off bad dreams. Jason smiled and closed his eyes and waited.

And waited.

And began to want to curse as he waited some more. How long did it take to fall into fucking REM sleep? It had already been four hours! It was like Ronan was just refusing to fucking dream!

Jason blinked. Refusing to dream? "You idiot," he swore, and started pressing in with his mind. There, and there, and there, and... yup, idiot was right. It was a brilliant, complex, and incredibly sophisticated piece of work, and Jason didn't have the first clue how to deal with it.

Of course, if Ronan was to be believed, maybe he didn't have to know...

"Lord," he whispered, "I don't know if it works like this. I don't know how it works. But Ronan says I derive some of my power from You, and I can't believe prayer isn't involved. This is beyond my ability, beyond my knowledge. You are a kind and merciful Lord, and this is hurting him. He's done it to himself, I know, but..."

Jason paused, tears in his eyes, as he tried to figure out what to say. How...

"I want to heal him, I want to protect him from even... even from himself. I don't know why he fears dreams so badly, but men need dreams. For tonight I can ward off nightmares, I will remain awake through the night if that's what it takes, but he needs to dream. He's tired, bone deep tired. I don't know how I've missed it for so long, but he's beyond exhausted. He needs sleep, he needs rest. I'll ward off bad dreams, but with this spell he's put into place-"


Jason blinked as the idea bored it's way into his mind with all the subtlety of a jackhammer. If Ronan hadn't been resting on him, he would have thrashed around, but somehow something stopped that -- for Ronan's sake.

"He's important, he leads people. He does good things-"


Jason again blinked as the idea bored in with even less subtlety than before.

"Not why should You," Jason whispered in understanding. "Why do I want this."

Jason thought about it for a while. Why did he want this? "I love him, but You know that, so that's not what You're after. I'm not sure I understand the question, but I'll try..."

Jason thought. He loved Ronan. Wasn't that answer enough as to why he wanted this? Apparently not, so... Go back a level. Why did he love Ronan?

He saved him, sure, but that wasn't enough for love. Oh, not this kind of love. Not the kind that made his heart ache and his body yearn. This love set his blood boiling and cast his mind adrift, made his stomach do back-flips and made this man the center of his universe.

"I guess I can't answer that question," he whispered. "I love him, just... because I love him. I love the way his thoughts run deep and sure, the way he snaps at someone when their exceptionally stupid but always forgives. I... love him because he's him."

"Ronan Koken, I love you," he whispered, looking down at the man resting on his chest and smiling.

And that was the answer, he understood. That was the 'why' he was being asked. That was what the Lord was after.

Please, Jason thought as he laid a hand on Ronan's forehead, directing the thought as a prayer. Not just that one thought, but what he wanted and why. Jason offered up his love for this man, his belief that he deserved better than he was allowing himself, his earnest desire to provide it in the one way he could.

The Lord knew the answer; the point of asking was for Jason to know it. And more, acknowledge the answer.

Slowly, with infinite hesitation the power began to flow, gently, oh so gently wrapping the spell Ronan had wrought in gossamer threads of unimaginable power. Just one night of good dreams.

Jason smiled as the power caught him up as well, effortlessly burning out the remaining traces of the toxin as it dragged him to his slumber. For every request there is a price, and for this night's good sleep, the price was rest of his own. He would ward Ronan's sleep...

Jason felt the naked flesh of his lover pressing against his own, and smiled into Ronan's eyes before kissing him, deeply. Chest against chest they ground against each other and enjoyed the company as Jason warded Ronan's sleep from within. "I love you, you great big lug," he told Ronan.

"I love you," Ronan whispered back. "Oh, how I wish I could say that for real, but this is just a dream. It's been so long since last I dreamed but I know what a dream feels like. I've yearned for it for so long... ever since that day..."

Jason felt it, digging at the edges, and glared into the darkness that surrounded them. Other times, other nights, other lifetimes that horror would drag Ronan into a nightmare. Not tonight! He felt the darkness reach out, and twisted around, placing himself between that darkness and the one he loved.

And against that love, the darkness could find no purchase.

Ronan woke up with a start, jerking himself out of Jason's arms. "What the hell?" he swore before rolling out of bed.

"I hope you slept well," Jason yawned out as he stretched, awoken by Ronan's reaction.

"Not this again," Ronan swore. "At least this time I don't have a mess in my pants!"

"No, I figured that would be rather disturbing, that's why I didn't let things go that far," Jason told him. "I've heard of lucid dreaming, but I don't think last night was quite what they mean by that!"

Ronan froze. "You..."

"This isn't the first time we've done this," Jason told him with a laugh. "Just the first time you've been 'awake' for it."

"Fuck!" Ronan swore.

"So, you great big, handsome, wonderful, beautiful lug," Jason said dreamily, "tell me again, please?"

"I..." Ronan's voice failed after that one, sorrow filled word, and he grabbed his shoes before running from the room.

"Shit!" Jason swore, then started hunting for some clothes of his own. Ronan was not running out of here that fast, like that! No way in hell!

"Hey Jason," Ashley poked her head in.

"Where are my clothes?" Jason demanded.

"Well excuse me!" she complained.

"Ronan just ran out and I need to catch up!" he told her. "Now, clothes?"

"Oh, well, if you're in a hurry..." she grinned. "Ronan managed to run right into a bunch of kids wanting some time and attention, almost as if someone decided they didn't want him running off so quick and decided to see to it."

Jason blinked. "What?"

"Don't ask me how Tommy set it up so quick; he's a miracle worker!" she grinned. "I'll get your clothes, you'll have plenty of time." Jason paced around the room while he waited for her to return.

"Here," she said, tossing him clean clothing. It wasn't Jason's, but it fit well enough. "Thankfully, I just 'happen' to have some spares in your size."

"Please tell me it isn't an ex-boyfriends," Jason asked as he pulled it on.

Laughing, Ashley denied it. "No I keep spares in pretty much every size," she told him.

"Good, now where's Ronan?"

"Bogged down near the front door," she laughed. "I think the kids know the idea is to lock him in place, because that is exactly what they are doing."

"That's helpful!" Jason laughed.

"Yeah, Tommy does a great job with them," Ashley agreed. "I'm the mother, and in theory I'm in charge, but... It's Tommy who really keeps them going, and keeps them together."

"Well, I guess I owe him," Jason admitted as he tied his shoes. "Be back soon" he told Ashley as he ran out the door. Front door was doubtlessly blocked, so backdoor it was. Running around the house, he slipped into the car and waited. Concentrating, he tried to make himself invisible but it just didn't work. Giving up, he decided to simply wait. Perfectly still, barely even breathing. If he was really lucky...

Ronan came around the corner, glancing over his shoulder, and entered the car without a second glance. Moving to start the engine he froze, then glanced over at Jason. "Shit," he swore softly.

"Didja miss me?" Jason commented, grinning.

"I'm not ready to talk about it," Ronan warned him.

"Fine. We'll just drive home, not talking the whole time," Jason told him.

"How did you know I had the car brought over?" Ronan asked.

"Ve haff ways ov making you talk," Jason recited with a full-blown, and rather corny, accent. "Or, in this case, ve haff our ways ov making Tommy talk, da?"

"I forgot to tell him not to mention it," Ronan said softly.

"Pretty much," Jason told him.

"Well, at the time I wasn't really expecting... this," Ronan said unhappily.

"We decided not to talk about that, remember?" Jason teased. "You aren't ready!"

"True enough," Ronan agreed. "True enough..." he repeated in a sigh as he pulled out into the street.

"So, how do you want to deal with those protesters?" Jason asked.

Ronan slammed on the brakes and starred at Jason.

"Um... what?" Jason asked, confused.

Ronan closed his eyes and sighed for a moment. Hitting the gas, he pulled over to the side of the street before stopping -- legally, this time. Having done that he turned the ignition off and started to softly hit his head against the steering wheel.

"You forgot about them, didn't you?" Jason asked after a few moments thought.

"Yes," Ronan moaned in frustration. "Other than just walking up to them and kicking their asses, I can't think of any way to deal with them."

"Well then," Jason said wickedly, "let's do just that."

"Jason, I don't think violence is going to work," Ronan warned him. "Mind you, the idea has a certain degree of appeal, but-"

"Who said anything," Jason grinned, "about violence?"

"Well you're the one who said we should just kick their asses!" Ronan pointed out.

"Oh, yes, we will... just not physically," Jason grinned evilly at Ronan. "I've had an idea, and I don't think they're going to like it one bit."

"Oh?" Ronan asked.

"Yup," Jason grinned. "The only question is just how dirty you want to fight..."

Jason grinned as they pulled up near the gym that had become home. The demonstration was still going strong, but the newsies had moved off. Perfect; Plan B was good, sure, but Jason much preferred Plan A. Either would work, but the lashings of trickery, deceit, and blatant outright lies involved in Plan A tickled his sense of humor just a little more than was probably healthy.

Half a year of living with Ronan had clearly contaminated Jason's sense of humor, but right at the moment he didn't care. This was going to be so much fucking fun!

Jason grinned over at Ronan. "Game time!"

"Game time," Ronan agreed, voice filled with grim amusement. He didn't particularly like the idea of lies and deceit, but he did find the plan uproariously funny.

Jason pulled his cross out from under his shirt and kissed it. Hopefully God wouldn't be too terribly-

Jason blinked. "One moment," he asked Ronan as he bowed his head.

He was so used to framing his prayers in words and not the pure ideas that seemed to be the new link between him and the Lord, but tried.

Grinning he lifted his head to meet Ronan's amused gaze. "Well, He approves," Jason commented. The startled flinch he got from Ronan set Jason laughing. "He even has a few... call them 'requests' for how we go about this."

"He... requests?" Ronan stammered.

"Nothing major," Jason drawled out. "A little of this, a little of that, and a quick call to Quentin."

"A call?" Ronan asked.

"Oh, yes, mind giving me his cell number?" Jason asked.

Soon the details were all set... again... and none too soon as some of the demonstrators began to notice them. "Aright, show time," Jason told a rather perplexed Ronan.

"I thought we'd agreed how to do this, but those 'minor changes' of yours sound almost like a complete revision!" Ronan complained.

"Well, the biggest revision is the one your missing," Jason laughed. "The one where we aren't using trickery to try and pound an original thought through their stone skulls."

"Jason, what do you... mean..." Ronan's eyes widened as he abruptly understood.

"Heathens!" one of the demonstrators screeched, as the entire group began to approach them. Cries of 'fag', 'queer', 'murderer' and the like followed suit.

Jason waited a few heartbeats, gazing into Ronan's eyes as he prepared himself for the battle ahead. Turning to face the crowd he walked forward, silent, until the crowd stood, screaming, less than ten foot away.

"Enough," he ordered, unheard beneath the crowd. "I said," he announced louder, "that's enough!"

Having augmented the strength of his voice with his powers, he expected to sound a bit different. He hadn't expected the deep, resonant, almost bell like tone that emerged with a rumble from his chest. It cut through the babble and noise quite effectively, exactly as desired, but also had the unexpected side effect of echoing off the buildings lining the street. "Thank you," Jason told the stunned crowd once the echoes died out. "Now, if you'd like to engage in reasoned, civil discourse, I am more than willing."

"Murderer! Monster! Queer!" one of them used a bullhorn to announce.

"Please, sir, once it was no longer necessary to speak over the noise of the crowd I had the common decency to regulate my volume. It is, after all, the polite and mannered thing to do," Jason scolded the man.

Jason felt more than saw Ronan hide a snicker behind his hand, and while most of the crowd missed the insult, a few glared at Jason, and two of them quickly hid smiles of their own.

"Polite? Mannered?" a woman sneered, pulling herself to the front of the crowd. "You don't even know the meaning of the words, Jason Dustin Bester! Not after the shameless way you flaunted your perversion in front of your family!"

OK, that much was not in the plan. "Aunt Krystal," Jason said with exaggerated pleasure, "what an unexpected... pleasure." The deliberate pause before pleasure, coupled with the flat, almost expressionless quality of how he said the word, said quite a bit. "I might have expected your presence with these... individuals; it certainly suits what I've heard of your... habits."

Aunt Krystal flinched back, and Jason made careful note. He'd clearly hit something without even realizing, or aiming for it. He was tempted to use his Sight to dig in, but right at the moment was hardly the time to indulge his vendetta against the thrice-damned bitch, however fun he might find it.

"Murderer! Seducer of innocents! Faggot!" the man with the bullhorn took the opportunity to cut in again, this time from close enough that the volume hurt Jason's ears.

"I think I made my opinion on the matter of your volume quite clear!" Jason raised his volume and put a slight edge in his tone.

Thank god that he'd gotten enrolled in that speech course! Professor O'Connor was annoying, but at the moment Jason was enjoying every 'vital' skill the man had drummed into his skull.

"Murderer! Fiend! Rapist!" the loud mouth continued, close enough that Jason had to suppress the urge to yank the thrice-damned bullhorn from him and smash it into a billion teeny, tiny pieces.

"Who am I accused of killing?" Jason cried, "who have I raped? Throw facts, not titles, at me or I'm going to just walk away. I will walk away, never to be found again, and you can't stop me!"

The man behind the bullhorn gaped for a moment, and then his face grew hard. He raised the horn and took a deep breath and then hesitated.

"Well?" Jason asked angrily. "Do you even know what you are talking about or are you just shouting meaningless accusations because you were told to?"

He flinched at the accusation. Jason's brow furled as he considered the man in front of him. Yet again, Jason had touched a nerve without-

"Greetings," a melodic, polite voice announced from behind Jason. "I apologize for the unruly nature of my flock in my absence."

Jason turned and nodded politely, "Reverend Williams, what a... surprise."

"Indeed," the 'good' Reverend responded. His hair was crisp and face clean, as if he'd just come out of a makeup trailer. Jason noticed, rather absently, that the man with the bullhorn was backing up as if he'd done what he'd set out to do. "I'd almost given up hope of meeting you. Why, some of my people thought you had simply cut and run rather than face us! I assured them, there was no more chance of you doing that than of any decent person doing so! Facing ones accusers is, after all, at the heart of the system set down by the Founding Fathers, an American tradition!"

"Tradition is a wonderful thing, isn't it?" Jason agreed. "At least, taken with a little moderation. It wouldn't do to uphold a tradition that cultural or technological change had rendered an unnecessary and meaningless drain, or a tradition that was morally wrong if once culturally acceptable."

"Indeed," the Reverend agreed, affable smile never wavering even as Jason saw a recognition of his counter-sally in the man's eyes.

OK, so plan B might have been fun too, but now that Jason had met the opposition, a direct theological 'assault' seemed like a much poorer idea. They hadn't touched on the Bible yet, but Jason had a sinking suspicion that this man would be clever enough to not simply rest on his pre-existing knowledge of the Bible and how it supported his position -- a knowledge that was sure to be impressive -- but had actually bothered to research the points Jason might make.

No, a 'fair' theological battle was not a winning proposition, at all.

"I imagine you'd like to have a word with your flock," Jason said, matching the Reverend's smile with his own. "I'd hate for them to go from... unruly, was it... to completely out of control."

"Oh, there is no need," the Reverend said, "they are good, Christian men and women." Jason didn't like the slight emphasis on 'they': point to the Reverend.

"Well," Jason said, carefully glancing over his shoulder, "I guess I just have to take your word for it." The emphasis of 'have' was even more subtle than the Reverend's on 'they', but Jason felt the slight shift in his favor. Jason didn't know how, but clearly he'd scored. Again without meaning to or knowing how.

If this was a side effect of his new-found powers... well, Jason liked. And if it was 'merely' chance, well thanks be to the Lord!

"Yes, well, if it makes you more comfortable I suppose I could have a few words with them," the Reverend answered Jason. "But to everything a time and season, and with you here it seems a... waste not to focus on the opportunity for meaningful dialogue."

"Indeed," Jason agreed. "If it's possible to open such a dialogue, well it's been my experience that such has always been helpful to bring the truth to light."

"Indeed, bringing you to the truth is most desirable," the Reverend sneered.

Got you, you bastard!

"I would hardly dare to presume that either side had a monopoly on truth," Jason said affably. Reaching for the cross that lay, gleaming, on his chest he continued, "But if I were to dare, I have every reason to believe that the truth lies on my side of the equation."

"Oh really?" the Reverend sneered, "some perverse interpretation of the Bible based on a hundred years of deliberately changing it?"

"No, on an authority above even the Bible," Jason told him.

"Above the Bible?" the Reverend scoffed, "preposterous!"

Jason grinned. "So sure, are you? Tell me, does not God himself have absolute, limitless authority?"

"Of course!"

"Then doesn't He have the power to designate messengers, whose word then outranks even the Bible?"

"And you just happen to be one of those messengers?" the Reverend sneered.

"No, better," Jason said smugly. Trickery, deceit, and outright lies...

Unless, of course, you get permission to do the unthinkable.

OK, so these idiots had ticked Jason off; apparently he wasn't the only one peeved!

"Lord," Jason called, raising his cross up to the sky, "let Your power be known!" Jason almost dropped his cross when the gold went from simply reflecting light to glowing like a sun in his hands. That was not part of the plan, and Jason sure as hell wasn't the one doing it. Or... was it sure as Hell not the One doing it?

The light suddenly gathered itself and shot upwards, into the sky, and Jason felt himself change... the power flowed through him, filling his body with the brilliant, golden radiance as it passed through him to another. He became, for a short while, a bridge through which the unimaginable could occur.

'Exactly' as planned, Quentin jumped off the roof of a nearby building. What was not planned was him being inside a ten foot creature formed of golden light, wings -- that's what they had to be, even if they looked nothing like birds wings, or bat's -- catching the air with an almost metallic glint. They stretched outward for dozens of feet, even cupped to catch the air (and avoid clipping the buildings on either side of the road). As the angel slowly drifted down, it gradually pulled it's wings up to avoid hitting those below it. They didn't move like flesh blood and bone, but flowed, rippling and twisting as they continuously reformed in a display of liquid grace.

The ten foot high creature landed several yards away from the various players in the unfolding drama, and Jason gaped. This wasn't just outside the plan, this was completely outside anything he'd even remotely expected. This was... this was...

"Fear not," the angel intoned, voice almost bell like as it rang out. There was nothing, nothing of humanity in it. A visceral fear struck deep to the core of Jason's guts. This was real. He'd called on the Lord, and the Lord had answered by sending him an angel.

Not completely, no, Quentin was somehow acting as a channel for the being so it didn't have to emerge fully into human reality, but an angel.

"Fear not," the angel repeated, "for this day I come bearing not the sword but a message."

Around him Jason felt more than saw people fall to their knees in shock and awe. How he kept his feet he couldn't begin to guess. But he had to stand. He was not to fear, and it was fear that was weakening his knees. The angel told him not to fear and by God he would do his best not to show it!

The angel smiled at Jason as if hearing his thoughts, and inclined it's head in a gesture of respect.

"I come bearing a message from the Lord on High, He who is Prince of the Morning and King of Kings, he who is Lord of the Dawn and thy God," the angel told them. "And these are His words: What was, is no longer. Commands should not be followed once their reason has passed and they become harmful. Love thy neighbor, that is My command, not hatred for that which is different. Face the darkness with My love in thy heart and thou shalt not fail. And listen. Listen to this one, into whose hands I have placed power beyond mortal ken, wisdom beyond his years. In the hours of darkness he shall be My voice, the sword with which I shall strike. He is Mine, My sword and My shield to shelter you in the dark times that shall beset you. He shall face the Betrayer, and set right the balance. Look for his return when the forces of the Deceiver strike anew, for his power will come then in new form."

"Thus spake the lord, when he sent me to this place. Listen to the one known to mortals as Jason Bester, for he shall be the Lord's hand in the coming darkness."

"Trust him as you would the Lord, for he is the Lord's own," the angel finished.

The Reverend glared at the angel and pulled from beneath his shirt a large, ebony crucifix. "Begone deceiver, in the name of the Lord above! Deceive us no more!"

Jason felt the dark energy of the Reverend's faith build and grow, and deep inside him something snarled in rage. Without realizing it he placed himself between the angel and the Reverend, his cross raised to ward off the darkness. "Begone!" Jason called out. "Take the darkness that stains your soul and leave, for you are not welcome here!"

The Reverend screamed and shoved the Crucifix at Jason, a terrible, terrible mistake. Jason met the blow with his own cross, driving it before him as shield and weapon alike. When the golden metal of his cross touched the Dark infused wood of the Reverend's crucifix a flash of light erupted as the golden brilliance shattered the darkness gathered by the Reverend's perverted faith.

The Dark which had infused the crucifix could not be so easily undone, however, and struck back with a vengeance. For a moment the two powers hung in balance, then Jason pushed with his heart and his will instead of reacting on instinct.

His power flooded down the connection and reached into the crucifix, purifying the object by burning out the Darkness within. Alas, however, the Dark had dug in too deep, too long. The hand-carved wood couldn't have survived the powers dueling within it under any circumstances, but with the Dark so deeply embedded it too had to be purified.

Still in the Reverend's hands, the crucifix burst into flame. Screaming in pain, he drove it forward in a desperate attempt to fight back, but Jason stood firm. The flame burned brilliantly for an instant longer, and then died. The ashes of the crucifix fell from the Reverend's hand, and he pulled back a charred and blistered mess that had once been a functional, human appendage.

The Reverend fell to the ground, howling like an animal as the pain of his hand wracked at him. Jason stood, triumphant and filled with sorrow at the pain before him. He would have knelt down and healed the man, but the angel placed one of his enormous hands on Jason's shoulder. "No," the angel warned. "He has chosen the Dark, and until he repents you shouldn't heal him."

"He had no way to know what would happen," Jason argued. "Had he tried it against anyone else..."

"He tried to turn a symbol of the Lord against a servant of the Lord; he attempted to invoke the Lord's power for Darkness and twisted his own faith to the Dark. He earned his fate." The angel's voice was measured, even, and reasonable.

"The first duty of a servant of the Lord is to love. He is far from a threat, there is no purpose served in leaving him in pain. Let me heal him," Jason begged.

"My authority here is that of the Lord's, but I have delivered his message and that authority is spent. I may not order you, only advise."

"Lord, my wisdom does not encompass this," Jason prayed aloud. Taking the ruined hand between his own he looked up. "I cannot leave this man in pain, but if it be Your will I must. Send me a signal, send me a sign, let Your will be known, or else I must act as my conscience requires and heal him. Please, oh Lord, guide me."

Jason felt his hand began to burn, and watched as the Reverend's hand slowly healed, burns fading and charred flesh closing over with the healthy pink of a normal hand. Jason's own hand slowly, oh so slowly, took on the injury he was healing.

But where the Reverend was merely human, Jason was a Guardian. His powers had run slow at first but now they approached maximum and he could heal with a speed and rapidity that made a mockery of bed rest and hospital stays. The injury faded slowly enough from the Reverend that even as the healing came to a close, Jason barely hit third degree burns. And even those rapidly faded into nothing. "Remember," the angel whispered in Jason's ear, "that tests such as these are not to confirm your worth to the Lord, but to remind you that you are indeed worthy. To assure you in the dark times when your soul is heavy that you are the right person, at the right place, at the right time."

"Not so fast," Ronan snarled. Jason turned just in time to see a gun discharge into the air, Ronan wrestling for control. Predictably, he gained it quickly.

"Aunt Krystal, a gun?" Jason said lightly, "I'm shocked!"

"Bastard! Fucking faggot!" she snarled, struggling against Ronan.

"Feel lucky, bitch," Ronan snarled, placing a hand against her belly. "I don't kill those who are with child, however much they've earned it."

"Child?" she said, going limp as her eyes widened.

"You didn't know?" Ronan said, disgusted. "It's at least two months in, you've missed your last period, and you didn't know?"

"How did you- How could you..." she stammered.

"I curse you," Ronan whispered. "For trying to kill the one I love, I curse you. I curse you with a blessing." Ronan looked at the hand he held against her belly, and Jason felt his own power answer the power gathering there, forming a link with deadly results.

"Ronan-" Jason tried to warn him.

"I curse you with a child who shall know the truth," Ronan whispered, "I curse you by blessing your child to know right from wrong, good from evil. He shall know the truth of your twisted heart and reject you! I bless him with protection from harm and the power to act on his knowledge. One day, he will reject you. One day he will turn from you. And on that day, you will know why he has done that."

"Ronan!" Jason snapped angrily. "Enough!"

"He shall-"

"Enough!" Jason snarled, ripping Ronan's hand away. "Go, now!" he ordered his aunt, as he forced Ronan back. White faced and horrified, she ran. She ran for a very, very long time.

Jason could care less. "You idiot!" he swore. "What the hell were you thinking?"

"I wanted to scare her. It's not like I really can do those things," Ronan told Jason.

"Yes, you can," Jason snarled. "My powers aren't like yours, and sometimes they jump in whether I want them to or not, and they did."

"What?" Ronan answered, confused.

"Your words were taken as vow, your blessing made real!" Jason whispered hotly. "There is a bond between you and the unborn child, and your power works upon him!"

"No, not possible!" Ronan protested. "All I did was infuse a mild amount of power into the unborn child, to give it strength and health, it won't even last very long!"

"Wrong," Jason said flatly. "You changed reality by making a vow which will shape that child's life, forever. He will know the difference between right and wrong, and he will turn against his parents, because of you."

"What? But that's... that's impossible!" Ronan protested uselessly.

"I have Seen, Ronan!" Jason hissed. "The boy will be born, and he will live, miserable, until the time comes for your prophecy to come true in full. He shall know good, he shall know evil, and for that difference he shall do things he would have thought unthinkable. He will be a force of good in the world not because he chooses it but because you made him one. Because you forced him to be so."

"I... I..." Ronan stammered.

"It was an evil act, Ronan! You stripped the right to choose from him!" Jason snarled. "Just... just stay out of my way!"

Jason whirled around and marched off towards the gym. Ronan glanced at the angel, who shooed him on. The demonstrators had already scattered, so there was no one left to deal with. "Quentin?" Ronan asked.

"He'll be fine. He and I... shall have a few words," the angel told Ronan.

"You can talk to him?" Ronan asked.

"He is completely conscious and aware," the angel told Ronan. "And he can make his thoughts known to me, and I to him. We'll be fine. Go." Ronan turned and chased after Jason.

"You ass!" Jason swore, shoving Ronan against the wall. "Couldn't you feel the difference?"

"Jason, please-"

"Shut. Up." Jason snapped. "I'm not done chewing you out. I'm not even close to done!"


"Shut the fuck up already!" Jason swore. "What the hell where you thinking, Ronan?"

"Is that a rhetorical question?" Ronan snapped back.

"Yes!" Jason screamed, "because clearly you weren't thinking at all!"

"Jason, how was I to know something was different?" Ronan protested.

"You should have felt it, Ronan! And beyond that, you should have fucking listened when I tried to warn you!"

"Oh please," Ronan snarled, "like you couldn't have stopped it at any moment. Our powers work at our will, you could have stopped it just by-"

"Idiot!" Jason snarled, "in case you forgot, my powers are different. My powers are different!"

Ronan's eyes widened. "Oh shit!"

"Yeah, oh shit!" Jason agreed, sarcasm dripping from his voice like venom from fangs. "Whatever you were doing, my mere presence was enough to change it. It was like... like witnessing an oath. Only somehow, I made your oath real, I made it binding. On both parties."

"What does that mean?" Ronan asked.

"I don't know," Jason told him, "but I sincerely doubt it's going to be good. You are bound, Ronan, just as much as that child is. If I close my eyes and reach out I can touch that bond, between you and the unborn child. Your powers reach out to him, and he to you. God only knows what the results of that are going to be!"

"Jason, I didn't know, I swear, I didn't know!" Ronan told him.

"And that's the only reason I haven't kicked you into next week yet," Jason told him. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes and Looked again. "I think -- think, Ronan! -- that the change is for the better. The boy is going to have a miserable childhood, but you and your power will shape him to endure it, and blossom into something... something..." Jason shook his head. "I can't See that far. I know it's good. He's going to become something, do something, but... there's a great big blind spot around twelve years from now. I can't see into it. It's... dark. Cold. Shrouded. I can See no more."

"Well, there's that much at least. All's well that ends well," Ronan said bitterly. "And no, that's not an excuse, this shouldn't have happened, you have that much right. But there's not much we can do about fait accompli, is there?"

"No, there isn't," Jason said sadly. "You really didn't feel it?" he asked.

"I had no clue," Ronan swore, taking Jason's hands in his own as he stared into his eyes.

"I believe you," Jason said softly. "I almost wish... I almost... I don't know what I wish!" Jason looked away, but didn't pull his hands out of Ronan's.

"Jason," Ronan said softly, "about what I said earlier-"

"Ronan," Jason cut him off, moving closer. Jason felt the breath start to catch in his chest for some reason he couldn't define. Then with a 'click' he felt like an idiot for being confused. He was less than three inches from Ronan, breathing the same air that had just been in his lungs. Smelling the man's sweat, practically feeling the heat of his skin. "Ronan," Jason tried again, "I'm sorry I pushed you."

"It's alright, it's my fault..." Ronan forced out, distracted. "I just... Jason, we can't. We just can't... be together."


"No buts," Ronan said softly, placing a finger on Jason's lips to silence him. It was all Jason could do to avoid kissing the finger... or sucking it in, sensually... Or... or... "Jason, I'm in a position of power over you. I have been for a long time. Maybe... you've taken a lot of that power back, yes, but not all of it. Not yet, anyway," Ronan chuckled, eyes locked on the finger he still held on Jason's lips. Quickly he pulled it away, as if burned. "I'm sorry, anyway," Ronan shook his head, as if to clear it. "Anyway, I hold power over you. A relationship... a relationship like you want must be one of equals, and we aren't exactly equals. You... ever since your rape... a relationship between us just couldn't work out. Never. I'm sorry, but... but..."

Jason stared up into Ronan's eyes, heart breaking. "You love me," he stated.

"I... I..." Ronan stammered, before looking away. "I dare not... please, Jason, don't make this any harder than it has to be. This isn't about... love... it's about... power... and... self-determination... and..." Ronan swallowed convulsively. "Please, Jason!" Ronan begged.

"I'll leave this be," Jason told him, "if... and only if... you can tell me you don't love me. Love is powerful, Ronan, you know that. It's the greatest healing force imaginable, and a leveler beyond repute."

"Jason, this isn't about love, it won't work, it can't work. I... I want it to," Ronan admitted, "but it can't. It just... you and I can't!"

"Fine then," Jason said softly, bitterly, "I will hurt, and you will hurt, and we will both suffer. In silence. Is that how you want it?"

"I... I don't want it that way," Ronan told him, "but it's how it must be. We can't... we just can't, Jason!"

"Fine then," Jason said, raising a hand to Ronan's shoulder. "If that's the way it has to be, I will wait."

"No, don't wait," Ronan protested. "Find yourself someone. Someone you can be with." Ronan's eyes glistened with unshed tears, Jason noted. He almost couldn't see it himself, his own sight was blurred by tears.

"If that's what you want, then I'll wait," Jason told him. "But... not forever, Ronan. Love must be watered, and fed, and nourished. Don't throw away your chance for it. Not again."

"Jason... I..." Ronan started. "I..." Ronan licked his lips. "Please, don't," Ronan begged.

"I love you, Ronan," Jason told him. "And I will wait. And I will wait for a very, very long time. Until our love grows cold and dead, until you have truly murdered it."

Ronan flinched. "Jason, please, don't... don't do that to me."

"I love you, and for now, I will wait," Jason said flatly. "That cannot be changed save by your giving in, and admitting what we both know to be true." Jason's hand rose to touch Ronan's cheek, three inches from his own face. "I love you, and you love me."

Ronan swallowed again, and stared into Jason's eyes. Jason wondered what was going on in his skull, but very deliberately kept himself from looking. That wouldn't be fair that wouldn't be right. But with all of two inches between them it wouldn't be difficult at all to just slip inside and see... see what words would crack this shell and break the barriers between them. Oh, it was so tempting.

But even though that single inch... single inch... Jason's train of thought collapsed as Ronan's lips pressed against his, lightly, gently, insistently, firmly, surely demanding response... Jason felt his knees grow weak and and slipped his arms around Ronan for support, pressing back, demanding more. The kiss lasted hours, the kiss lasted years, the kiss lasted all of five glorious, almost orgasm inducing seconds. Jason panted as their lips broke their seal. "I'm sorry," Ronan whispered, "I shouldn't have... I shouldn't..."

Jason smiled. "Say it," he ordered.

"I love you, Jason Dustin Bester," Ronan whispered, and Jason took that as all the invitation he needed and returned the kiss.

Again, let me remind you that your e-mails are the only payment I recieve, and please do send them in to me at -- I enjoy the positive responses, and negative responses are invaluable for a chance for me to develop my skills! All it takes is a simple one line e-mail telling me I did a good job to make my day for a good five minutes, so please take the time to send it in!

This story is also available at Castle Roland, courtesy of 'Lord' Roland, and additional stories by this author can be found there, not all of which will make it to Nifty. I also maintain a presense at GayAuthors, and additional stories may be found there not available elsewhere. You can also visit my website, for information and a selection of my works. If you wish to purchase a copy of this work, provides both a print and e-book edition, and you can find additional copies of my work through various other self-publishing websites. Thanks to my editors for helping sort out all the many typos and other stupidities that creep into my writing!