Cravings as Constant as the Crashing Waves
It's their last year at college and the Sons of Ipswich are enjoying their Christmas Break at home, together again, with plans to keep each other warm through the cold New England winter. But, there's a killer in Ipswich who threatens the life of not just the towns' people, but every member of the covenant. And sometimes you can't tell friend from foe until you feel the tip of the blade at your throat. Can the boys unravel the mystery of the Ipswich serial killer and stop the murders? Or, will the search for the truth reveal things about their own complicated relationship and the future of the Covenant that they aren't prepared to face?
The bitter wind whipped around him, the edges of his coat slapping at the fabric of his jeans as the dirty snow crunched under his shoes. Down below, in the ravine, the cold blue lights from cop cars danced on the black walls of the cliff face. He couldn't hear the chatter of activity below, muffled because of the wind and the distance. But, he could clearly see the body bag being hauled into the back of a medical van and officers combing the bottom of the cliff and the stretch of rocky beach beyond.
Caleb took a deep breath, stepping back from the edge in case one of the cops down below got the idea to glance up. He doubted they'd see anything distinct enough to ID him, but he didn't want to risk being caught up in this business in a legal way. He was already bound much more inexorably than he had ever wanted to be. He turned away with a suffering sigh and walked back to his car, parked inside the tree-line where the old dirt road ended.
Five murders in as many months; that was something in a small town like Ipswich. Throwing the car into drive Caleb hit a speed dial number on his phone.
Pogue picked up on the first ring, "You know it's only been a few hours? I literally just got in the door?"
Caleb smiled at his friend's teasing tone, "What, I'm not allowed to miss you?"
Pogue snorted, "Not like a freakin' girl, you're not."
Caleb frowned, "I am not a girl."
He could hear Pogue laughing, "And don't I know it."
"Did you remember to turn everything off and lock the door before you left?"
"Oh my God, yes! Plus, if I didn't it doesn't matter because my ass isn't driving all the way back to fucking Cambridge to check."
Caleb laughed, "Ok, ok. I just worry and stuff."
Pogue's voice was much more affectionate than usual when he replied, "Yeah, you do."
Caleb smiled even though Pogue couldn't see it, "you think Reid and Tyler made it in yet?"
"Probably, Tyler had his last final this afternoon and then they were heading down. New Hampshire's not that far away. They should be here by now."
Caleb felt a familiar thrilling feeling shoot down his chest to bounce around his stomach, "I can't wait."
Pogue's voice had dropped a bit when he replied, "me either."
Caleb gripped the steering wheel tighter and decided to change the subject, "Look, I also called because we need to have a, um, team meeting anyway. Can you call Reid and Tyler, and tell them to meet us at my place?"
Pogue got serious real quick, "what, dude?"
"There's been another one."
When Caleb slung his car to a stop in front of his house Pogue's bike was already there, as was Tyler's hummer. There was something to be said for giving your friends a key to your house, and the security codes. His mother wasn't home; she was away in the Caribbean somewhere for the holidays. She was never home these days, out living her second life or whatever she called it. All Caleb cared about was that she had stopped drinking.
He bounded up the steps, pouncing precariously on the ice patches that gripped the sharp corners of the brick stairs. He threw open the front door and headed straight for the kitchen in the back of the house. The large warm room was always the first stop his friends made when they got to his house. Reid appreciated how stocked the Danvers' housekeeper, Jody, kept the fridge.
Despite his earlier mood and the lingering feelings of worry he had gnawing his stomach, Caleb felt his entire body thrum with joy at Reid's boisterous laugh coming from behind the kitchen door. Like a vibrating tuning fork synced to a particular wavelength, being near his brothers made Caleb's heart feel full.
He burst through the door and smiled as heads turned, warm welcoming smiles that matched his own greeting him. Pogue was perched on one of the barstools, his entire body relaxed and his hair in the middle of cascading back into his face from where he had just pushed it behind his ears. Tyler was leaning up against the refrigerator, his gaze flitting from Caleb to Reid to Pogue and back like he couldn't get enough.
Reid was sitting on the counter on the far side of the kitchen, his legs splayed open and his hands tapping out a beat on the open counter in the space in-between his thighs. Caleb didn't even slow down as he entered the room and they called greetings to one another. He pressed a quick kiss to the top of Pogue's head as he moved towards Tyler, pressing the smaller man's body even closer to the cool false metal door of the fridge with his own form.
Tyler tipped his face up slightly to meet Caleb's lips as they descended on his own and the two of them relearned how their mouths felt moving together. Caleb got lost in the feel of Tyler's tongue pressing against his and the muscles quivering under his touch where he gripped Tyler's arms.
Finally, a voice broke into his haze, "… I mean, you could at least say a proper hello to me before you go tongue fucking Baby Boy here. Like, how was your week Reid? How did exams go?"
Caleb came up for air, pushing back from Tyler and turning to take a few steps towards Reid. He moved in between his legs, their eyes almost even and their noses almost touching. Caleb smirked and Reid narrowed his eyes.
Caleb leaned in just a little further and let his lips press up against Reid's. He felt Reid breathe into his mouth and then he was kissing back.
Caleb muttered in between kisses, "I'm sorry you're jealous."
Reid mumbled, "No, I'm not."
Caleb smirked into the kiss, "of course you're not."
Reid pulled back, adding a playful nip to Caleb's bottom lip that made him want to skip the entire conversation he had planned and get the fuck upstairs right now.
Caleb moved back and smiled, "I missed you, jerk."
Pogue cleared his throat, "are we supposed to be discussing something?"
Caleb nodded, moving to take a seat at another one of the bar stools, "yeah, actually, there is a reason I told you guys to get here ASAP."
Tyler laughed, his voice sarcastic, "You mean it wasn't just to make-out with us up against appliances?"
Caleb laughed, but shook his head no, his face getting more serious, "no, I'm worried about the recent string of murders. I don't have any proof yet, but something seems off about the whole thing and I think we need to talk about it."
"Whoa, whoa," Reid waved a hand in the air in a hold-up sorta motion, "murders? In Ipswich? Like as in plural?"
It was Pogue who spoke up, "as in like, serial."
Tyler stepped forward, placing his hands on the bar and leaning forward, "how do you know?"
Caleb glanced at Pogue, "it's been happening for a few months now, bodies turning up on the beach. I've been following it for a while in the paper. Murders like this don't happen often in Ipswich and I think they've called in Boston PD for help. Anyway, like I said, it made it into the Boston papers."
Pogue cut in, "Caleb thinks it's something magic related."
Reid scoffed, "what, like Chase? We took care of him."
Caleb shook his head, "no, not like Chase. I don't know who is doing this, but I have a really bad feeling about it, that this isn't your typical serial killer."
"What do the papers say?"
"All men, all young, and all found on the beach. The papers keep mentioning things about markings on the body and mysterious causes of death. Cops are keeping most of the details close to the vest though."
Tyler frowned, "why didn't you call us?"
Caleb shrugged, "I didn't think anyone of us was in danger, at least, not yet. We were all out of town at school and the murders were local, so I didn't see any need to raise the alarm bells."
"Except now we're all in town," Reid slid off the counter and moved to stand beside Tyler as if to protect him.
Caleb nodded, "yeah, and there was another murder. Body was discovered on the beach this afternoon. I went out to the bluffs when it got dark to see if there was anything I noticed or felt, but… nothing."
Tyler sighed, "So, we stick together, check it out from a distance, and be on the lookout for anything that looks fishy?"
"That's basically all we can do," Caleb glanced around at his three brothers, "and, hey, I may be just paranoid thinking that anything wrong or strange is automatically supernatural related. But, if Chase slipped past the notice of the blood-line, then who knows what else is out there that the book doesn't mention."
They all nodded in agreement.
Pogue smiled, "in the meantime though, how about we enjoy the fuck out of this break!"
Reid smiled, "cheers to that my man, let's go to Nicky's!"
Nicky's was packed. The bar hadn't changed in the years that they had all been away at college. Of course, now when they hung-out at the local dive on school breaks they could actually drink. Lots of Spencer's students still showed up and some of the local drunks.
Caleb smiled at the new bartender at Nicky's, she was a blond bombshell with a rough edge and a glint in her eye that said you didn't want to see her bad side. She looked to be a little older than Caleb and he liked the way she smiled at him when he ordered a beer. As she leaned over the bar to set his beer down he caught the glimmer of metal and saw a beautiful pendant hanging on a chain around her neck.
He glanced at it, a trident with three sharp, pointed, spear tips and an intricately designed staff. He handed the cash for his drink over to her and the soft skin of her hand brushed his as she scooped it up. He felt a tingle, like a surge of energy running down his spine. It felt like, it felt like using power.
Caleb jerked his hand back and stared at the bartender with a frown on his face. She raised an eyebrow at his kneejerk reaction and her expression clearly stated that she thought he was strange but her eyes were shadowed.
Caleb nodded at her necklace to cover his confusion, "nice necklace."
She put a hand up to touch it gently and smiled at him again, "thanks, family heirloom."
He nodded, "have a nice night."
She nodded back, already giving half her attention to another custom ready to order.
He walked back over to the pool tables where Pogue, Reid, and Tyler had their heads together staring at the left side of the bar at a lanky chick leaning over the top to signal the bartender. They each had a hand over a pile of twenties on the green felt surface of the table. Caleb smiled, of course, the panty game.
Reid nudged Pogue with his pool stick, "you always guess commando… you do know that some women actually do wear underwear, right?"
Pogue shrugged, "my experience is that those women don't come here."
Reid's eyes flashed black before returning to their normal blue and a sudden breeze caught the back of the woman's skirt. The flimsy material was lifted into the air revealing a pair of black, lace panties. The woman yelped and moved quickly to push the skirt back into place.
Reid was already crowing with laughter and Pogue had tipped his head back, eyes scrunched closed, in defeat. Caleb laughed and pounded the fist that Reid held out to him. Tyler just shrugged and went to rack another game of pool.
Caleb watched out of the corner of his eye as Pogue gave another glance towards the lace-panties chick at the bar. Pogue's tongue darted out to lick his lips subconsciously as she sifted weight and tilted her hips and ass back even more, curving the line of her spine slightly. Caleb moved to stand right beside Pogue, their arms touching.
He leaned in as if discussing pool strategy, "you know she'd totally go for you right? You could chat her up, smile that winning smile I know you're capable of when you want to get into a woman's pants, and she'll probably invite you back to her's."
Pogue glanced sharply at Caleb, his face turning to the side for a split second before he looked away, "that's ok, I'm not really in the charming mood tonight. Plus, she looks a little young."
Caleb laughed and shrugged, "She's fucking hot dude, I'm just saying. And she doesn't look that much younger than us. She ordered a beer so she's probably twenty-one at least."
Pogue glanced back over at the girl and then back at Caleb, keeping eye contact this time, "I'm really not interested."
Caleb smiled and nodded, "I'm just saying that if you were, you could totally go for it."
Pogue smiled, "I know."
Caleb shoved into Pogue playfully with his arm, "ok, you break… and remember that I like stripes."
Reid and Tyler had their heads together discussing something and they both glanced at Caleb and Pogue before separating to watch Pogue line-up to break.
Caleb smiled at Reid, "so, what are you guys wagering?"
Reid tried to look offended, "what makes you think I would ever gamble?"
Caleb just raised an eyebrow at the blond, who huffed playfully, "ok, yes, we have a little bet going on."
"And what is it?"
Tyler moved to walk around him to get on the other side of the table for pairs. Caleb felt clever fingers dance along the base of his spine and he twitched in response.
Tyler glanced back at him as he moved away, "doesn't matter, we'll all go home together."
Caleb sucked in a breath, remembering for the thousandth time that this was his. They were his brothers, his secret, the thing he got to hold close. Every time they all got to be together he was pinching himself remembering what they were together.
Caleb smiled wickedly at Reid, "so you're betting who gets to bottom for me first?"
Reid let out a startled laugh and rolled his eyes, but he gave a rebel wink in Caleb's direction that probably meant that was what they were betting about. Caleb had to stand very close to the pool table and stare at the ceiling for a minute before he could take his partner shot to Pogue's.
When he looked down at the table and to the pockets he noticed that Pogue had managed to land them stripes on the first shot.
Caleb stumbled into his room, followed by the other three. None of them had had that much to drink, but he was in a hurry to be in his bedroom right now. He was in a hurry for all of them to be in his bedroom right now. Caleb started pulling his clothes off as he made his way to the bed. He felt the rustle of clothing behind him; heard Reid cussing and Tyler mumbling about layers. He heard the heavy whispering thump of Pogue's leather jacket hitting the floor.
Caleb was shimmying out of his jeans as he tore the covers down his bed, falling onto it as he kicked his jeans off onto the floor. He watched as Pogue tumbled onto the bed, crawling to the side away from Caleb and smirking at his evil plan. Caleb realized that Pogue was giving Reid and Tyler no choice but to get in the middle. He smiled at Pogue admiring his devious nature but wishing he was close enough to kiss.
Tyler made it onto the mattress next, his muscles flexing as he did a little creative twisting dive between Caleb and Pogue, rolling towards the biker and coming up flush against him. Caleb's pulse pounded harder when he heard their twin groans as their bodies' connected, warm skin to warm skin. He saw Pogue's hands come around to cradle Tyler to him and he heard their mouths meet as they opened to each other.
He turned to see Reid crawling onto the bed, boxers already on the floor somewhere. Caleb's entire body flushed in appreciation, his temperature rising in anticipation. Reid smirked like he knew, always so proud and confident in how good he looked. Caleb grinned when Reid gave Tyler's ass a playful pinch through his boxers before he laid himself out beside Caleb.
Caleb didn't waste any time, moving in to claim Reid's lips in a scorching kiss. He moved his body into Reid's, his hands reaching, grasping, and stroking everywhere. Reid shuddered at the touches and moaned when Caleb deepened the kiss, delving his tongue into Reid's mouth to taste him. He had needed this so bad. It was different, better, when it was the four of them. He could feel the craving in his stomach growing to a crescendo as their individual powers hummed in the heavy, warm air of the room.
Caleb kissed down Reid's neck, who obligingly tossed his head back to expose his throat. He could hear Tyler and Pogue's quiet groans as he bit at a sensitive spot near the juncture of Reid's throat and collarbone. He rocked his hips forward, teasing both of them with the friction created by the motion and the thin cotton of his boxers.
Caleb needed more suddenly and he pushed and rolled, forcing Reid onto his back so that Caleb could look down at him. Reid's legs fell open to make room for Caleb's frame and he looked over to see that Pogue had similarly pinned Tyler beneath him, their movements and thoughts in sync.
Caleb reached for his bedside drawer and tossed the lube onto the bed between them. Reid smiled up at him, his blunt nails scrapped lightly over the soft skin at Caleb's hips. Reid's hands snuck under the band of his boxers, gripping Caleb's ass and pulling him forward as Reid swiveled his hips up. Their cocks rubbed together just right and Caleb needed his boxers off now.
Caleb could see Reid's eyes flash black for a split second before he heard a ripping noise and his boxers were pulled away from his body and tossed into the air. He can hear Pogue chuckle as Reid smirked up at him, pleased with his handy work as their bare cocks touch with naked heat. Caleb wanted to be pissed about the boxers, but he could mend them later. He decided on getting revenge by attacking Reid's chest.
Caleb delved his tongue into Reid's belly-button, his thumbs brushing over and squeezing hips bones as Reid moaned and arched into him. Caleb spared a glace towards Pogue and Tyler and his mind froze for a second. Pogue is deep-throating Tyler and the youngest has his head thrown back, his entire body arched with pleasure and his hands buried in Pogue's long hair.
Caleb moved up Reid to kiss him again as he grabbed the lube. He pulled away from Reid, swiping his tongue across the blonde's lush lower lips one more time, and nodded at Pogue and Tyler.
"Keep watching them," his voice is a silken command as he crawls back down Reid's body.
Caleb's entire body was alive and his cock was heavy between his legs, but he wanted to drag this on as long as possible. He squirted some lube onto his fingers and nuzzled the inside of Reid's thigh as he inserts one finger into Reid in a smooth motion. He heard Reid suck in a breath and felt his muscles flutter and adjust to the intrusion.
Tyler gives a long groan and Reid echoes it, the sweet symphony of pleasure filling the room. Caleb added another finger and smiles when Reid presses into him, his hips canting back and forth and his breath speeding up. He heard Pogue reach for the lube and then the slight change in Tyler's noises that signal Pogue stretching him with his fingers.
Reid growled at him, getting pushy, "More Cay, I need it now."
Caleb gives a rewarding bite to the other thigh and then adds a third finger as he licks away the sting, ignoring Reid's cock to drive him mad. Caleb wanted him on the edge; pleading and begging and writhing. He twisted his finger, pushing further to find the sweet spot and was rewarded when Reid cried out and his hips thrust up and back down searching for friction of their own accord.
He turned his head to see Pogue pushing Tyler over onto his side and Caleb smiled with a thought. He moved off of Reid who grumbled at the loss of Caleb's heat and warmth and fingers. He climbed back up Reid's body whispering for him to rollover closer to Tyler. Reid went without complaint; he shifted over across the soft sheets until he was in front of Tyler, looking into the youngest covenant member's lust-blow eyes with his own.
Caleb settled behind him, stroking a fingertip up Reid's spine and grazing his shoulder with his teeth. He peered over the two men in the middle to see Pogue's deep brown eyes looking at him with light humor and dark need. He could feel the power growing, sweeping through the air and curling around all four of them tangled on the bed, like invisible currents of electricity.
Reid reached out to grip Tyler's hand with his own, smirking at him as the other smiled back. It was these moments, Caleb thought, that Reid couldn't hide the warmth he felt towards all of them. Tyler moved forward to connect his lips to Reid's their tongues touching first to dual as they breathed the same air. Pogue glanced at Caleb one more time before he shifted to lie flush with Tyler's body.
Tyler and Reid moved back from kissing, though their hands stayed clasped together. Each of them threw a leg up, their knees touching and calves intertwining to give Pogue and Caleb better access. Reid pushed back against Caleb, his ass rubbing against Caleb's groin and arousing him further. He groaned and gripped Reid's hips to still his movement so that he could regain his control for a second before he could continue.
Caleb lined himself up and slowly pushed past Reid's resisting muscles. His panting breaths matched Reid's and stirred the light blond hair at the nape of Reid's neck as Caleb slowly pressed forward. He heard Tyler's slow moan that broke into a sort of whine in the back of his throat and knew that Pogue was entering him.
Reid and Tyler's grip tightened on each other's hands and they continued to stare at each other between the moments when they weren't closing their eyes, lost to the sensation of being filled. Caleb stilled when he was all the way in and he licked the light sheen of sweat on the back of Reid's neck, giving him time to adjust to the feeling of Caleb deep inside him.
Caleb couldn't help the whispered words that spilled out of his mouth and into Reid's ear, "I missed you. I missed this."
Reid huffed out a breath and pushed his body back even more into Caleb, like he was trying to make them one entity.
"I missed you too. Now, fucking move."
Caleb laughed at Reid's growled command but obeyed, setting up a quick rhythm that had him racing towards the edge of the cliff he wanted to dive off of. Unconsciously he and Pogue matched each other, pulling back and slamming forward with equal intensity into Reid and Tyler. The younger two men could only moan and push back, rocking and crying out every time Pogue or Caleb hit the spot.
Caleb could feel how close he was, every slide into Reid bringing him that much closer. He sucked a mark onto Reid's skin, his fingers biting into Reid's hips as he pistoned his hips to drive up into Reid, hitting the spot over and over again.
Caleb's voice was thick with desire and heavy with exertion when he spoke into Reid's ear again, "touch Tyler."
Reid untangled his hand with Tyler's immediately understanding and wanting, he reached down to wrap his fingers around Tyler's cock. Tyler cried out, fucking into Reid's hand and then back onto Pogue who slammed into him again. Reid did it again and answered with his own broken moan when Tyler's hand reached down to squeeze his own neglected erection.
The room was filled with the sounds of skin on skin, heavy breathing, and cries of pleasure as all four of them spiraled higher towards some peak. Caleb heard Tyler break first, his shout crashing over all of them like the snap of a rubber band as it rebounded back from a tight stretch. As Tyler's climax swelled Reid followed him, his loud groan bursting out from somewhere deep in his chest and his body shuddered against Caleb.
Caleb grunted as he felt Reid's muscles spasm against him and he pushed Reid onto his stomach, using gravity and a death grip on the sheets to thrust down harder. He felt his orgasm grip his body and mind, his nerve endings sparking as his body tightened and he tried to breathe and moan through the pleasure.
Distantly he heard the hitch in Pogue's breath that meant he was cuming and Reid chanting below him, "yes, yes, yes."
Reid was still thrusting up into Caleb's hips even though his own orgasm was fading. Caleb finally stilled, collapsing on top of Reid knowing he could take the weight. Caleb took deep calming breath as he came back to his body, feeling where he and Reid pressed together with their chests rising and falling in tandem.
He turned his head to see Tyler lying with his eyes closed his face blissful and his tongue flicking out to touch his lips as if he were checking that he could feel them. He saw Pogue's arm draped over Tyler's torso, his perpetually tan skin in contrast against Tyler's pale creamy skin. Caleb smiled and rolled off of Reid, falling into the small space in-between him and Tyler. Reid mumbled and shuffled over to make room and Caleb reached out to run his fingers through Tyler's hair.
Caleb leaned in to slant his mouth lazily against Tyler's who pushed his tongue forward to slide against Caleb's own as their kiss kept a slow pace. He felt Pogue's fingertips, he thought they were Pogue's, brush his hip bone and trail up to the curve of his waist before they disappeared. When he pulled back he sat up, reaching for the covers to pull them over all of them. He felt all the places where his skin touched theirs and he smiled as he felt asleep to their combined steady breathing.
Sometimes, though, he just couldn't sleep through the night. Caleb stared at the Christmas tree in the corner of the room. He had explained to Jody that she didn't have to put a tree up, but she had insisted since he had come home for Christmas. He had to admit that it was nice to feel the spirit of Christmas in the house. Caleb didn't really have a string of childhood Christmases that he could remember his house being a happy place, especially when his Dad had started declining. But, he could remember a lot of holidays that he had shared with his friends and they had made them special just by being there.
He remembered the summer after high school graduation and how it had led so inexorably to where they all were now; this wonderful place of being together without fear or worry or judgment- at least between the four of them- completely understanding of each other and all their needs.
Caleb hadn't wanted to start his summer on a sour note, but he hadn't really been given a choice. Sarah had promised to keep his secret, but she'd also taken off to go Ivy League at Yale. Her insistence that she didn't want a long distance relationship sounded an awful lot like she didn't want a long distance relationship with him. Normally, short lived flings were sorta his style. But, he had really opened up to Sarah and her exit from his life hung like a dark cloud over his thoughts of the future.
How could he ever find someone who would understand the power, the legacy, the curse… this, covenant that tied him to his brothers? How could any of them find wives, who could accept the inheritance of their ancient family bloodlines; who would willingly have children with them knowing the gift that awaited the eldest son?
It was no wonder that by the time it was Tyler's turn to ascend, Caleb felt his nerves being frayed by the constant buzz of power. Until Tyler ascended they would be at an imbalance, which meant that every time all four of them were together there was tenseness. Caleb, Pogue, and Reid could feel the unrestrained power that hovered around Tyler and their own tightly leashed magic tried to respond in return. It sucked.
They hadn't really been spending a lot of time together and so Caleb wasn't just depressed, but also bored. He had almost been thankful that Tyler had wanted them all to stay away during his ascension; they had all done it alone. After Caleb had been truthful about how painful it was, they had all kind of silently agreed to suffer the pain alone without an audience.
Except that, the night of Tyler's birthday, as Caleb had sat alone in the living room reading the stupid freshmen summer reading requirement for Harvard, he had been jolted out of his concentration. One minute he was reading and the next he was crying out, curling inward, the book slipping to the floor as the unexpected, agonizing pain racked his body.
Caleb knew it wasn't the full pain of ascending, nothing compared to what Ty was feeling, but it hurt and he couldn't understand why he was feeling it. None of the others' ascensions had bothered him. He flipped off the couch onto the floor and made a grab for his cellphone on the coffee table, dialing Pogue's number.
Pogue picked up on the third ring and all Caleb needed to hear was his harsh breathing to know it wasn't just him.
He heard Pogue gasp and then grit out, "what's happening Caleb?"
"I don't know."
Another grunt of pain, "Jesus fuck, it hurts."
It hadn't lasted that long, maybe a minute or two, but it had seemed an eternity to Caleb. He stayed on the phone with Pogue, curled up on the carpet and biting his lip bloody to keep from screaming. When it was finally over he had heaved himself into a sitting position to talk to Pogue and to then call Reid and finally Tyler. It had seemed like a good idea at the time to meet at Caleb's old family home to see if the book held any answers about what had happened.
Except none of them had had an inkling of what awaited them, hidden in the depths of the covenant library, or what just the mere presence of each other would mean with the final ascension.
The closer he had gotten to the house, the more uneasy he felt. By the time he parked his mustang next to Pogue's bike he was sweating, his heart was beating rapidly, and his chest was burning with a warm, aching, tingling sensation that was distracting as hell.
A short walk into the house and down to the chamber confirmed that his brothers weren't faring much better. They all looked like they'd ran a marathon and Tyler looked like he hadn't slept in days. Ascending wasn't a walk in the park. Reid was hovering over Tyler like a mother hen, a side of Reid rarely prevalent. Pogue was in the corner with the book out on the center diesis as he scanned through the pages with concentrated speed.
Pogue didn't even look up from the book, knowing Caleb had arrived, as he started to speak, "it doesn't say anything more than what I remember reading about ascending; nothing about sharing the experience or anything significant about the last son ascending."
Caleb looked down at the book, flipping through the pages as the rest of them stood behind him waiting. Caleb was reading quickly, trying to concentrate but he was suddenly hyper aware of the others around him. Tyler was tired and still sore from ascending, Pogue was anxious, Reid was twitchy. He's never been this aware of their feelings before.
Caleb read the last sentence again, the covenant is completed anew as each new generation completes their ascension, binding their magic to their life force and binding the circle more fully. Well, they already knew all that. He flipped the page and kept reading. In order to harness the power without dying each son must decrease the amount to which they use. Right.
Caleb noticed a note written into the margins, up and around the page and he followed the spindly writing that he hadn't bothered to notice as a kid; it looked a lot like a weird boarder for the page. A fully bonded coven of witches can use without fear of death as the power is drawn not from their life forces, but from the collective energy of their bond. Though, beware the consequences of the bond, with the last ascension comes the full symptoms. Ignore the symptoms least the coven complete the bond.
Caleb read the riddle-like notation out loud and then turned to look at the others. He noticed immediately how close they were standing and he felt the air grow thin and the burning in his chest increase. He pushed out of their tight circle to go sit down.
Reid broke the silence, "well, that's fucking helpful."
Tyler looked up groggily, "does anyone else feel like they wanna jump out of their skin?"
Caleb nodded, "yeah, I haven't been feeling so hot since you ascended Tyler."
Tyler gave him a look that clearly dared him to complain about it.
Pogue looked at the book again, his finger following the scrawling letters, "why would the book have an obscure reference on a bonding something-or-other that would help us use without getting old too soon, and then warn us not to do it?"
Reid frowned, "yeah, that makes no fucking sense at all."
Tyler winced as he rubbed at his temples, "Can we worry about it later? I want to go sleep for ages."
Reid laughed, "Come on, Baby Boy, let's get you back home."
Reid went to help Tyler stand and make sure he didn't topple down the stairs. As Reid's hand slid onto Tyler's lower back a spark shot down Caleb's spine causing him to gasp. He heard his gasp echoed by the other three boys in the room.
Reid jerked his hand back from Tyler and stared at the tips of his fingers. He flexed his fist a few times like he'd lost the feeling in that hand, "what was that?"
Caleb looked over at Pogue who was glancing between Reid and Tyler, "I don't know."
Caleb was thrown out of his thoughts as he felt a presence in the room; a tendril of magic curling around him curiously examining those of his feelings that it could sense out. He looked at the doorway and saw Pogue standing there, shirtless, a pair of Caleb's sweatpants swung low on his hips.
Caleb smiled at the way the soft white lights on the Christmas tree illuminated Pogue's skin and hair and eyes. He looked beautiful standing in the doorway and as he smiled back at Caleb, Caleb sent another silent thanks to the powers that be for the bond that had brought them all this much closer.
Pogue walked over and sat down beside Caleb on the couch, "what are you thinking about?"
Pogue laughed, "You know, normally, those two things have nothing to do with one another."
Pogue leaned in and pressed his lips against Caleb's, they were dry and warm. Caleb moved forward, his mouth opening as Pogue's did and their tongues slid together to tangle.
Pogue pulled away as he placed a hand on Caleb's knee, squeezing, "come back to bed."
How could Caleb say no to that? The fire in the hearth was dying anyway and it was finally starting to feel chilly in the room. He could see the goose-bumps starting to form on Pogue's arms. He nodded and stood to follow Pogue back up to his room.
One of the first things Caleb had done the summer after their senior year, when they had been caught up in the madness of the bond and ascending and dealing with all the uncertainty, was to get a new bed. He hadn't known at the time consciously why he needed a bigger bed, he just did. He had spent many nights after his own ascension, awake and wondering why his bed felt too empty and yet too small.
Now, he had a full California King. It was a bed as big as they come and all four of them could fit in it pretty comfortably. Reid had moved in their absence to curl around Tyler. Pogue and Caleb climbed back into bed, the other couple still sound asleep even as the bed moved. Pogue pressed his back up against Reid's and Caleb moved in to pull the covers around them, his head finding Pogue's chest so that he could listen to the other man's steady heart beat as he fell asleep.
Caleb was still a little out of it from the night before when he walked into the drugstore downtown the next day. Pogue had gone to visit the garage to see all his old buddies, Reid and Tyler had gone home to work on homework they had been assigned over the holidays… yeah, right, thought Caleb. So, he had gone to the drugstore to pick-up a few things and get out of the house for a while.
With his thoughts turned inward he didn't notice the woman coming towards the door as he came in. He felt her hit his chest and bounce backwards though and he instinctively reached out to catch her. Her wrist slipped a little in his grip, but he got a hold on her and managed to keep her from falling. He held her gently as she regained her balance.
She looked up at him and smiled, "sorry about that, I can be a little absorbed sometimes. I didn't look where I was going."
He smiled back, "not a problem, I seem to being having the same issue today."
She looked down where her arm was still being held captive by his hand; he dropped it immediately, "sorry."
She laughed, and her bright green eyes caught the sun filtering in through the glass store-front. Caleb realized how beautiful she was and he felt the old stirrings of desire kindling to life in him. It had been a while since he had felt that kind of strong, immediate attraction for a woman.
She said goodbye and moved out the door before Caleb could think about saying anything but, "see you around."
He wiped his hand on his coat absently, only then did he notice that her skin had been wet. Was she a hyperactive sweater? Had she been wearing exercise clothes? He couldn't remember. He just remembered her eyes and her laugh.
He shook his head and went towards the back to say hello to the elderly pharmacist who had always filled his father's prescriptions for him. He was halfway down the aisle when someone came around from the other aisle, headed towards him. When he looked closer he noticed it was the bartender from the previous night. She smiled at him and waved in recognition; he smiled back and kept walking, content to pass her by without having an awkward stilted conversation.
She seemed of the same mind frame as she breezed past him towards the checkout. He made it to the pharmacy counter and called over to the pharmacist, also the store owner. By the time he was done catching up with the older man it was time for him to be heading out, he needed to get to the grocery store so he could get home and get cooking.
He remembered lube as he was walking out the door and made sure to purchase it at the front. As he made his way to the grocery store he started cataloguing what he'd need and forgot all about the green-eyed jogger and the aloof bartender.
Later that night Caleb found himself staring at the inside of his fridge and wondered why he thought he needed to go to the store. He wondered if Jody fed armies of people while he was away at college. Did she get bored and invite people over to cook for? Was she afraid that a plague of locus would suddenly descend on the house? Surely his mother didn't demand that this much food be kept on hand?
Caleb knew that the pantry would be just as stocked and he wondered if maybe Jody just seemed to know what Caleb would want or need when he came home for break. Or she just understood that the others always crashed at Caleb's and she wanted to be ready with plenty of supplies on hand. He saw diet coke for Tyler and there were cookies for Reid, plenty of vitamin water for him and Pogue and all the fixings to make pasta. Caleb smiled, Jody was like Santa Claus.
Caleb got to work making spaghetti. He had the sauce perfected and the noodles boiling by the time he heard Pogue's bike zoom up the front drive. Seconds later he heard the front door open and close, the sound of it bouncing around the large interior of the house.
Caleb stirred the sauce again and turned the heat down so that it would simmer without burning. He heard Pogue stalk into the room and drop his helmet onto the bar.
Caleb felt warm breath on his neck, "you know I love it when you cook for me?"
He turned his head to smile at Pogue, "who said it's for you?"
Pogue leaned in, kissing Caleb firmly on the mouth and moving his lips restlessly against Caleb's own. It seemed like Pogue's way of saying 'I missed you' and it made Caleb's chest tight when he wondered if Pogue ever gave these kinds of kisses to girls and if they appreciated them the way Caleb did.
Caleb licked at Pogue's bottom lip and then pulled back to hold the sauce spoon up to his lips, "try it, I toned down the garlic."
Pogue's pink tongue slipped out to flick along the edge of the spoon to catch some of the red sauce. He looked thoughtful for a minute before replying, "It's really good."
A familiar voice broke into their moment, "This is so adorable; you're having a domestic moment."
Reid's comment startled Pogue and Caleb who jumped and turned towards the kitchen entrance. Tyler and Reid stood grinning in the doorway. Caleb had been so absorbed he hadn't heard them arrive.
Caleb rolled his eyes at Reid's teasing.
Tyler grinned wider, "aw, don't let him pick on you. When Reid decides to have a domestic moment he just lets me lick whip-cream off his…"
Whatever Tyler was about to say was muffled by Reid's hand, Reid had jumped on Tyler and slapped his hand over Tyler's mouth. Caleb and Pogue could only guess what Tyler had been about to say and they were both super amused and turned on by the mental image.
Reid was glaring daggers at Tyler who just wiggled his eyebrows, his mouth still obscured by Reid's palm. Reid removed it but Tyler just grinned, apparently content to let his sentence go unfinished, damage done.
Caleb set plates out and put Tyler in charge of making a salad while Reid attempted to eat all of the croutons. He let Tyler taste the sauce too and he got a light kiss on the side of his neck as a reward the next time Tyler breezed by to put something on the table. Caleb drained the noodles and dinner was served.
The conversation flowed easily around the table as they ate; talking about parties or classes they were taking in the spring to finish up and thoughts about grad school or law school or possible careers. None of them wanted to think too hard about after college and what each of their futures meant for the group as a whole- their bond.
Pogue talked about a guy in one of his classes who had a Ducati and Caleb talked about how much he hated his required art course that he'd waited till the last minute to take and how boring it was. It was so easy to be around each other, Caleb thought, with complete trust that the people around you knew you better than you knew yourself.
When the plates had been cleaned and cleared Tyler brought up the newest problem on all their minds, "I've looked at all the articles on the string of murders. I think we should check the beach out."
Caleb hesitated, "could be dangerous."
"Oh, come on Cay, we can handle it. What if we can find something that the police missed? What if this is something to do with the power or something else? We have to at least try to see if we can assist the police."
Reid nodded, "yeah, but without telling the police that we'll be assisting them."
Caleb set the empty sauce pan in the sink to soak, "I had considered combing the beach one night. I don't think that the police are monitoring the scenes once the bodies are gone. But, that place where we used to have the beach raves in high school is pretty much where all the bodies have been winding up. We can check it out tonight once it gets a little later."
The icy spray off the ocean was freezing the side of Caleb's face, but he couldn't seem to care or move or yank his coat collar up. Caleb could only stare at the man in the sand, his expression lifeless and his skin as pale as the cold, white clouds hanging low over the bay tonight.
They all stared down at the body in silence. This guy looked to be younger than the other victims, late high school or early college, a short life. The kid was wet from what Caleb could tell, like he'd been swimming, and he had a faint blue shade to his skin and lips. Caleb looked up at the others, the face of the guy etched in his brain.
Tyler was the first to speak, "we were supposed to find clues, not another fucking body."
Pogue shrugged, "this doesn't change anything."
Caleb nodded, "We still need to split up and search the beach for any clues. Be alert for cops too, we don't wanna be caught with the body."
Reid grimaced, "who wants to search him?"
Pogue swallowed, "I will."
Caleb heard the splashing of waves crashing onto the rocky shoreline behind them and he felt the first tendril fear wrap around his spine.
He pointed a finger at each of them, "don't go any nearer the water than you have to."
Reid looked out at the dark, churning water, "why?"
"Because I have a bad feeling, ok? The water isn't safe," Caleb motioned with his hand to the vast expanse of Ipswich Bay, "it doesn't feel right."
Reid looked at him dubiously for a moment and Caleb thought he was going to be a shit about it but he only gave a mocking little shrug and said, "Well, ok."
Caleb walked a ways down the beach, combing the sand and searching the shoreline for anything useful. He wasn't sure what they were looking for, maybe anything out of place or weird. He looked up to see that figures of the others walking along the beach in the moonlight semi-darkness of night. Reid was the farthest away, down by the water, looking out into the bay.
Caleb felt the anger in him rising up. Why the hell did Reid always have to be so fucking stubborn? Just because Caleb had warned them all not to go near the water, Reid had to go stick to toes of his boots at the tideline. Caleb tried to curb the anger, yelling at Reid never helped. He would just ignore him. Maybe Tyler would yell at him.
Caleb was about to turn back to the task of searching, but he stopped short as he watched Reid's body language change. Anyone not as intimately familiar with Reid as Caleb was wouldn't have noticed. But, Reid's shoulders relaxed and his body swayed forward towards the water as his feet moved forward into the cold surf.
Reid always carried himself with purpose, ridged when he was stressed or angry or worried, loose when he was happy or calm. But, his jerky and uncoordinated motion towards the water wasn't either of those things and Caleb was running towards Reid, yelling at the others before his brain could consciously process the information.
He could hear Tyler yelling at Reid to get the fuck out of the water. Pogue was moving forward too, yelling out at Reid about hypothermia and what the fuck was he doing. Caleb was already running back down the beach towards Reid, halfway there, when he followed Reid's line of sight and glanced into the water. The surface of the black water just off shore was churning, as if something below the surface was casing a commotion. Caleb wasn't sure what was happening, but his instincts told him it was bad, he knew that he had to get Reid out of the water.
He felt the magic gathering in his body, in his mind; his eyes were blacker than the night sky. As he ran Caleb kept glancing at the spot where Reid was staring and where he seemed to be trying to get to. He kept getting staggered back by the waves, but he seemed very determined. Tyler and Pogue's screams didn't seem to have affected Reid at all, as if he were in a trance.
Both Pogue and Tyler seemed reluctant to enter the water without understanding what had caused Reid's foray into the ocean in the first place. Caleb skidded to a stop beside them and started walking forward. However, before he could take more than three strides into the water Reid stopped, waist deep, and out of the water in front of him emerged a woman. She simply rose from the water, her long hair spilling wetly around her and her upper body naked.
Suddenly that woman looked past Reid to Caleb's face and her eyes glowed with an eerie green light. She looked familiar to Caleb, but so unfamiliar at the same time, everything about her looked strange and cold. Caleb felt the freezing water bite into his ankles where it swirled around his shoes and his heart seemed to freeze as he heard the woman hiss and raise her hand in the air. He saw the long razor sharp claws that she had for nails and she was aiming for Reid's chest.
Without thinking, Caleb reacted, lashing out with his magic towards Reid. Reid was tossed into the air and jerked backwards; he yelled in surprise and landed behind Caleb on the beach in the sand. Tyler and Pogue raced to his side to make sure he was alright and Caleb watched as the woman screamed at him and flipped backwards into the turbulent water. The piercing sound scrapped at his eardrums and Caleb winced. Caleb's mind reeled in shock when he saw a large, bluish-silver fishtail splash out of the water and back in with an angry, quick motion before disappearing completely.
Caleb stepped back, surveying the water one more time before turning his back to check on Reid. He was lying on the sand, shivering while Tyler and Pogue spelled his clothing dry and warm for him. He seemed a bit dazed and his eyes were still slightly unfocused.
Pogue stood up when Caleb approached and gave him a disbelieving look, "what the fuck just happened? What was that… she…" his arms flailed a little bit, "thing!"
Caleb shook his head, "I have no clue man, but I think we just found the killer."
It wasn't until later that they had settled into Tyler's car and were driving towards the house that Caleb asked them if they had seen anything clue related.
"I think I know what the marks on the body are, the papers had it right," Pogue said, "that guy had a symbol carved into the side of his neck."
Tyler turned around in the passenger seat to look at Caleb and Pogue, "do you know what it looked like?"
Pogue nodded, "yeah, it looked like a trident."
Caleb startled, "a trident? Are you sure?"
"Because I know where I've seen that before and I think I know who and what our killer is."
Caleb tapped on the back of the driver's chair, "Reid, head to the old Danvers' place, we need to see the book."
Pogue turned to look with worry at Caleb, "she saw you use."
Caleb shrugged, "I think it's a moot point right now."
Caleb's nonchalance didn't seem to ease the look of worry on Pogue's face.
Reid had insisted he was fine and that he could drive, though Tyler had thrown him a few looks on the way to Caleb's family's ancestral place. Reid had finally gotten tired of the looks and in grand Reid style made a comment.
So, Tyler and Reid were fighting as they all trooped down to the chamber that housed their families' most ancient secrets.
Tyler sighed, "Can you seriously give me one alternative, reasonable, non-magic explanation for what just happened?"
Reid shook his head, "Not right now, no. But, are you seriously telling me all of you believe that the woman in the water had a tail?"
Tyler rolled his eyes, his pupils flashing in the soft candle light that illuminated their underground meeting chamber.
His voice bounced off the curved stone walls as he scoffed at Reid, "she had the tail of a fish and she was going to rip you to shreds, probably drink your blood or something and toss you on the beach like those other guys!"
Reid's tone was exaggerated, "oh, you make it sound so dramatic."
Tyler's smaller frame was practically humming with anger, "So, we're witches, who can do magic, and you're saying that you think magical sea creatures is too speculative and farfetched for you to consider believing. That's really narrow-minded."
"I said that I believed in the possibility of the supernatural as it exists outside The Covenant. As in, I can do magic and maybe there are other people out there that can do magic too. I didn't say I believed in vampire mermaids. That sounds like a horrible comic book!"
Tyler just kind of looked at Reid in a way that clearly said he needed to shut the hell up.
Tyler mumbled something that sounded a lot like, "you believed in her enough to try and make out with her in the ocean…"
Reid's entire body was tense as he exploded at Tyler, "Oh my God, that's really why you're angry, because I walked towards a woman in the ocean?"
Tyler shrugged angrily, "I'm just saying that if you're so starved for the female form that you wade out into freezing water towards a half-naked stranger… then, maybe, you should just go out and fuck a woman! You can, you know? Don't feel like I'm stopping you!"
Reid's voice was a deadly whisper, "I don't want to fuck a woman right now. If I did, I'd tell you. So, would you let it go already? I'm sorry! She was singing and it sounded…"
Tyler looked confused, his anger dissipating slightly, "she wasn't singing, she was just there in the water."
Reid shook his head, "no, she was definitely singing. It was the most beautiful music I've ever heard, like the sound of a thousand choruses and an army of symphonies flowing into my ear and through my blood…" Reid trailed off as if he realized how ridiculous he sounded.
Tyler shook his head, "the only thing I heard was the roar of the waves and all three of us screaming at you."
Tyler turned to Caleb and Pogue to get their take on the phantom singing Reid claimed to have heard; but Caleb was too busy flipping through the Book of Shadows, Pogue pressed up behind him and glancing over his shoulder, to take much notice of their couples fight, Reid's ranting, or Tyler's silent signals.
Caleb bolted up, an exclamation springing to his lips as he found the passage he was looking for. Only Pogue's quick reflexes kept him from a bloody nose.
Caleb pointed to the text, "I told you I remembered something. Listen. In the time before the word was written and the pages of power were bound for the generations, there was a time of history which was heard."
"God, who talks like that anymore?"
A chorus of, "shut-up Reid," echoed around the room and Caleb continued reading.
"As the power exists, so others wield a similar power and creatures both dangerous and fair roam this earth. Any witch should beware a stranger who feels like ice, a sharp howl on a bright night, and a voice that comes from the sea."
Caleb looked up at each of them, his eyes serious and knowing.
Tyler repeated softly, "a voice that comes from the sea? Like a siren or a mermaid, a creature that lures it's victims with song. So, obviously, our ancestors were familiar with the legend of the mermaid."
He turned to Reid, "that explains the singing maybe, though I don't know why only you heard it."
Reid crossed his arms over his chest, "I told you I heard her singing and I had to go to her, like compulsion or something."
Caleb sighed, "So, mermaids…"
Pogue grimaced, "and obviously vampires and werewolves too."
Caleb shook his head, "I think she can come out of the water too."
Tyler frowned, "what makes you think that?"
"The other night, when we were at Nicky's, the bartender had a necklace with a charm. I remember because I complimented her on it. It was a gold trident. Just like the marks carved into the bodies."
"So what," Pogue looked at Caleb, "you think she comes into town, swims around a bit, gets out of the water and then walks around, gets a job at a bar, kills some people in her spare time, and leaves a calling card symbol?"
Tyler rolled his eyes, "well when you put it that way, we obviously don't have all the pieces in place."
Caleb looked down at the book and then back at his brothers, "so, how do we kill it?"
Reid stepped closer to the other three huddled around the book, "whoa, we're killing her?"
Tyler threw up his hands, "What? A second ago you didn't believe in this thing's existence! Now you're concerned for her wellbeing?"
Reid shrugged, "I'm just saying we don't normally kill things as a rule, so let's make sure here. She's killing people, just like Chase, and we're probably the only ones who can stop her. But, we're still killing something."
Caleb scrubbed his face with his hands, "Look, I don't have to feel good about it, but, yes, this creature killed six people. I'm not sure what brought her to the waters of Ipswich Bay, but we can't let her go on killing. We have to stop her."
Pogue sighed as his eyes continued to skim the book, "well, this looks like the only mention of the voice that comes from the sea. No mention on how to kill it."
Tyler nodded, "I can take care of that. If she is a mermaid then we'll just have to research mermaid lore, including sirens and selkies. That should help us figure out why she's here…"
Reid laughed humorlessly, "You mean, besides brutally murdering people?"
Tyler continued as if he hadn't heard Reid, "… and how to kill her."
Caleb nodded, closing the book with a thud, "ok, tomorrow we start researching. It's late, let's go home."
Caleb moved over to stand in front of Reid, checking again to make sure he was ok. Reid tried to bat his hands away but he eventually submitted himself to Caleb's examination. He wanted to be sure that Reid wasn't in shock or had somehow been sliced with those sharp claws Caleb had seen the siren raise.
He felt a mild echo of panic in his body again at the memory of her raising those knife-like talons to slice Reid to bits. Caleb had been so fucking scared. Suddenly he pulled Reid to him, covering his mouth firmly with his own, needing to taste and touch and affirm that he was safe and unarmed. Reid opened to him immediately, his body going pliant for a second against Caleb's own and he hummed softly when Caleb stroked his fingertips up and down Reid's neck.
Finally he pulled away and Reid smirked up at him. Their eyes met and Caleb wanted to say so much about how he loved Reid; loved all of them. How he needed them in his life; needed them like he needed the energetic life of the power thrumming through his veins. But he knew that Reid could see that in his eyes and that he didn't need to say it.
So, instead, he said, "you smell like seaweed."
Reid scowled at him and punched him in the shoulder.
They all trooped back to the car silently and this time nobody argued when Reid tried to drive again and no one protested when Reid drove them all straight back to Caleb's house. No one was going home alone tonight with that siren-thing on the loose.
Caleb jolted awake, his senses striving towards alertness and his power humming to life. What had woken him? A sound? He looked around the room, no darkling. He looked to the side; everyone was in bed and accounted for. Reid was lying on his back, his arm curled loosely under Tyler and a slight snore emitting from his open mouth. Pogue was curled around Tyler's side, his hand resting softly on the younger boy's lower stomach.
Caleb reached a hand out to brush his fingers through Reid's light blond hair. Caleb could feel where his leg touched Reid's under the sheet. He laid back down, sighing and closing his eyes and willing his mind back to rest. He heard a creak from somewhere within the house, near the door to his room. The backstairs? A stranger wouldn't know that the stairs leading up from the kitchen had a creaky fifth stair.
Caleb jumped out of bed, trying not to wake the others. He picked up some jeans from the floor; they were tight as he pulled them up his thighs and hips. They must be Reid's. Caleb creeped out of his room, knowing how wide he could open the door before its hinges complained.
His eyes flashed black as he pushed his power down the hall both ways until he found something that wasn't supposed to be there. Caleb sucked in a harsh breath as his power hit another power source. It wasn't familiar like his brother's power, and they were all asleep behind him. But, it didn't feel malignant either; the power didn't push back angrily at his power. Both forces merely flexed against each other.
He frowned, slinking quietly down the hall, halting at the corner and literally holding his breath. Someone was standing at the top of the stairs. Caleb spun suddenly, lashing out with a bullet of power as he rounded the corner. He was prepared for the possibility of an attack as he found himself facing a slight figure, clad in black, standing at the other end of the hallway. As the figure ducked to avoid his blast of power he had enough time to see it was a woman. Her hair fanned out as she spun away from him. In the semi-darkness of the hallway he couldn't tell much more.
Caleb watched as his burst of energy slammed into the wall behind the intruder. He winced at the fuss his Mom and Jody would make over the charred burn it left on the plaster. He braced himself, ready to face the answering magical attack. The figure, however, leaped forward and ran at Caleb, hurling her body weight into his in an attempt to topple him to the ground.
He curled inward as she hit him, using the backwards energy to swing his body around. He grabbed her upper arms and flung her away from him, slamming her up against the wall. She grunted in pain, but kicked out at him, her booted heel glancing off his sternum and forcing him to stubble back into the opposite wall. They were well into the hallway now, near his bedroom door, and making thudding and bumping noises and they vied in the dark.
Finally Caleb got ahold of her hair, playing dirty by grabbing a handful of it and yanking her backwards. As he pulled he swept his leg out, knocking her knees out from under her. She landed flat out on her back and he threw himself onto her, pinning her to the ground and placing his forearm at her throat. He heard the metal slide of a blade being pulled from a holster and felt cool, sharp metal being pressed against his throat.
He looked down, breathing hard, their fight at a standoff, a smile on his face despite the apparent danger. His confusion doubled when he finally got a good look at the girl, the bartender from Nicky's. He glanced down to see the same silver, trident necklace resting on her chest as it rose and fell rapidly from exertion.
Caleb narrowed his eyes, "You're the one killing those men."
She shook her head, "No, I'm trying to catch the killer."
Caleb looked skeptically from her earnest face to her necklace, "I have seen the mark on the victims."
She nodded, her face looking determined and fearless, "I have been marking the victims, but that's only been to save them."
Caleb scoffed and he felt his skin scrape lightly over the blade pressed at his throat, "They still seem pretty dead to me."
The bartender rolled her eyes, "it won't save their lives, but it will protect their souls…"
Caleb heard commotion from in his room, cussing and yelling and movement. He and the bartender's hallway brawl must have woken the others and they were preparing for an investigation. Caleb hoped to God they put clothes on before they rushed out to rescue him.
"How do I know you're not the siren?"
She looked genuinely surprised for a second, "how do you know what she is?"
Caleb wasn't sure if she was lying to him or not, but he played along anyway. She had the knife, after all.
"We have… resources. How do I know you're not her?"
She shrugged, "because you know I'm a witch, you can feel my power."
Caleb frowned, "we've never met anyone outside our circle before."
She smiled this time and it actually looked real, "aw, I'm glad I'm your first."
Caleb's voice was still steely when he spoke, "Your power proves you're a witch, it doesn't disprove you're a siren. Why don't you remove the knife from my throat and we will discuss why you broke into my house."
She narrowed her eyes, but pulled the knife away from his throat, slipping it silently back into the inside of her jacket, "I came to tell you to stay the hell out of my way. You're messing up my hunt and I don't need newbies getting in my way. You're all obviously inexperienced."
Caleb didn't remove his weight from her body, but he eased up on the arm he had across her throat, "that's exactly what you'd say if you were the siren and you wanted us out of your business."
The bartenders face turned stormy, "if I was the siren I would already have sucked your life force out of your body through your fucking mouth."
Caleb opened his mouth to reply when his bedroom door was thrown open and Pogue, Reid, and Tyler spilled out into the hallway in various states of undress.
Reid blinked in the dim light of the hallway, "Caleb? What the fuck is going on?"
Tyler still looked half asleep, "why are you lying on the floor?"
Pogue crossed his arms over his bare chest, "Who the fuck is she?"
The bartender- witch, if she could be believed- looked from Caleb to the other three to his bedroom door and back to Caleb.
Her eyebrows slowly rose towards her hairline and he could definitely see that her smile was more humor than anything else now, "this is interesting… maybe not as inexperienced as I thought."
Caleb groaned, this was not what he needed right now. He barely trusted… actually, no, he didn't trust this chick and now he had to explain this. Great.
Caleb leaned up against the counter and stared at his coffee in the silence of the kitchen. He looked at Pogue over the rim of his coffee cup. Pogue gave him a look that Caleb just sort of shrugged at, because he really didn't feel like explaining how he knew his midnight house guest when she was perfectly capable of doing so. Besides, he had a million other things to occupy his thoughts that weren't Pogue's assumptions about his relations with strange women.
Said, houseguest was currently sitting at the bar stirring an alarming amount of sugar into the coffee Tyler had handed her and glancing silently around the room at the four of them. Her eyes held the same shrewd look that Caleb had gotten a peek at when she served him at the bar. He cleared his throat and set his coffee down, looking across the kitchen island at her.
"You started a conversation in the hallway a little while ago that I would like to finish."
She focused on him, "why don't I just tell you the whole story?"
Caleb smiled tightly, "that would be great."
Reid held his hand up, one hand still hovering around his mouth in a loose fist- a nervous gesture, "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name."
She tossed her blond hair, "It's Aliona, but just call me Ali."
Caleb glanced at Reid and then back at Ali, "ok, Ali, what's your story?"
"Well, I'm a witch," she took a sip of coffee, "and I hunt sirens. I've tracked one here to Ipswich and I'm trying to kill her, but your presence here is complicating the matter. I should have foreseen your being here, but it has been a long time since I've been on the east coast and I forgot about the very ancient roots the power has in New England."
Caleb was weary of portraying too much ignorance, but he needed her to be more specific, "we weren't aware," he glanced at his brothers as he spoke, "that there were others out there like ourselves."
Ali didn't seem surprised, "most covens with ancient bloodlines aren't aware of the existence of others. The families who held the power split centuries ago and many chose not to record the existence of other witches once they resettled. Most witches believed that secrecy existed only in small numbers and that it was better for all witches if we were strangers even to each other. The only reason I know of other covens is because I travel so much."
Tyler glanced sideways at Caleb before speaking, "you talk about this siren as if you have dealt with them before."
Ali nodded, "because I have. I've killed about five of them since I ascended a few years ago. That's the legacy of my coven, we hunt sirens. Some of the covens still maintain a purpose, mine is one of those covens."
Pogue frowned, "a purpose?"
"A mission of sorts handed down through the generations. We aren't just trained in power, but in combat skills, and the knowledge and lore of sirens. There is a similar coven, but they hunt vampires."
Reid laughed, "Vampires? For real?"
Caleb looked at Ali, "so if you've ascended and yet you continue to use magic as a hunter, won't you age and die eventually? Our experience is that without a bond to another witch the power will ravage your body eventually, especially with excessive use."
She frowned, "I'm not sure what sorta bond you're talking about, but, yeah, I'll probably die an old lady in two or three decades. That's the sacrifice of our coven. Of course, I'll be expected to have children by then to carry on the line."
Reid made a face at the idea of children and Caleb noticed that Pogue seemed just as unsettled as he was that Ali didn't know anything about the bond and seemed to have no problem with her certain and untimely death.
Caleb gestured towards Ali, "so the legacy of your coven is to hunt sirens? Our coven doesn't have a legacy per say. We have been in Salem since it was settled, some of the sons were more successful at abstaining from using power once they ascended and others were not."
Ali frowned, "if your coven has no legacy than how do you know about the siren?"
Pogue spoke up, "we didn't. Caleb had a hunch about the murders and then we sorta had a run-in with her on the beach."
Ali smiled, "yeah, I saw that from the rocks up the beach. You managed all right for amateurs."
She frowned, "but, you still exposed yourself to her by using your power. I had managed to stay off her radar, but my job will be a lot harder now that she knows there's a whole coven of witches in town."
Reid's voice was tense, "why not just leave town if she knows she's being hunted."
Ali turned her head to lock eyes with Reid, "because you've dangled an enticing treat in front of her. What do you boys know about sirens?"
Caleb was still loathe to mention the book to her, "those resources I mentioned earlier were helpful, but brief."
"Well, here's the short and sweet of it. Siren's feed on power, not just the power of a human life, but also the harnessed power of a human soul. Sirens can walk on land, meeting potential victims. They then use musical enchantment to draw their victims back to the water. Once a victim is in the water the siren pulls them under the water and steals their life force. That's why the papers keep harping on about mysterious causes of death, all those men where dead before they drowned and no M.E. is going to be able to give a solid answer for actual cause of death."
"But, why have you been marking the victims?"
"Because that's the other things a siren feeds off of. Once the body has expired, a siren can lure the victim's soul, or spirit out into the sea to consume it so that she can continue to live. Carving the mark of the trident into the body soon after death gives the victim's spirit power to repel a siren's compulsion."
Ali looked down at her necklace, "I can't know her intended victim before she takes their life, but if I can get to the body fast enough I can save their souls."
She looked up and at all of them, "now, I know exactly who her next victim will be. She will most definitely try for Caleb, she has sensed his strength. The soul of a witch is a rare find for a siren. If she kills you and consumes your life-force and your soul, she will be able to harness your power."
Ali looked into Caleb's eyes, "the need to drain you now will be three times as alluring as any human soul to her. She will crave you, she won't be able to resist, and if I know she'll go for you then I can anticipate her next move. I've got to stick around to finish her off."
Pogue growled, not liking the idea of the siren getting too close to Caleb, "She won't be able to touch us. Not when we know what to look for."
Reid nodded, "we'll just have to kill her before she gets a chance."
Ali held up her hands, "whoa, whoa quick-draw, this is not a we type of thing here. This is a type of thing where I do my fucking job and you four sit tight and try not to get yourselves into the kind of trouble you can't get out of. Ok?"
Caleb shook his head, "No can do Ali, in for a penny and all that."
She sighed and crossed her arms, "you couldn't make it easy for me, could you?"
Reid smiled, his tone mocking, "Did you actually think we'd listen when you busted in here tonight to tell us to cool our jets?"
"I had hopes. Not high ones, mind you, but…"
She sat back in the bar stool and silently appraised each of them. She seemed less rushed now that she had said her peace about the situation.
She had questions about them, the four of them, and she wouldn't be afraid to ask. Caleb could see the inquiries jumbling together on the tip of her tongue. He would have to muddle his way through explaining it to her. But, so much of it was unexplainable. So much about the four of them was made of puzzles they hadn't pieced together yet, questions they couldn't answer themselves. Almost four years into their bond, their relationship, and it was still as wonderful and fragile and different and scary as it had been the summer before college when it had all happened.
She took a sip of coffee, "you said something about a bond?"
Caleb watched as Pogue mouthed the words, "covenant of silence," at him behind Ali's back, but he just shrugged. What the fuck was he supposed to do? Ali had been pretty forthcoming, and he believed her story. It was only fair to tell her their own.
Caleb cleared his throat, "our resources mentioned that after the last son ascends the collective power of the group…"
"You mean coven?"
Caleb made a gesture with his hand, "we really don't think of ourselves as a coven, but, yes."
Reid huffed, "A coven? That's like fucking Hocus Pocus man."
Ali made a face at Reid and Caleb just rolled his eyes and continued, "Anyway, so we could bind the circle and the power would be sustained through our connection and not through our life-force. From what I gather, from what we gathered, when witches bind themselves to one another it makes them more powerful and it creates a tangible, magical link between them. If an entire coven were to bond then the energy sustaining that bond would feed their individual and collective powers, thereby saving them from aging… unnaturally."
Pogue spoke up, "apparently, after the ascension of the last member, most covens have the option of binding themselves together. In fact, you display physical symptoms over the effects," Pogue grimaced, "trust me when I say it is not pleasant."
"Over time the symptoms fade and each individual witch is left with the traditional option of dealing with the power," Caleb nodded towards Ali to indicate her coven's sacrifice, "you either stop using or you die quickly."
Ali frowned, "then why wouldn't each coven bind their magic? Why would past generations hide the binding?"
Caleb grinned, "well, because the binding has… adverse effects?"
Ali nudged her cup towards Tyler who dutifully got up and poured her more coffee, "why do you say it like a question? What adverse effects?"
Reid grinned to match Caleb's, "well, it depends on who you ask about the effects."
Tyler smiled to and set the full cup of coffee down on the bar in front of Ali, "if you had asked us about the results of the bonding a few years ago we would have used the word adverse with a capitol A. Now," he shrugged, "I think we all find the effects pretty manageable."
Pogue snorted, but didn't comment and Ali looked confused. She took a sip of coffee, "does this have anything to do with what I saw in the hallway?"
Caleb looked to each of his brothers and then back to Ali, "it does bind you… in every way."
Ali was silent a minute and then her eyes got a little wider and Caleb saw on her face the confirmation she had been looking for since the other three had come flying out of his bedroom door, "so you don't all sleep together for warmth?"
Reid snickered and Ali shrugged, "yeah, didn't think so."
She took another sip of her hot, new cup of coffee, "so, bonding. How'd you figure that one out and when did you discover that the whole binding the circle deal was an all or nothing thing?"
Caleb opened his mouth to speak but Reid interrupted, "I would just like to make it clear that it isn't carved in stone… we can sleep with other people."
Ali raised an eyebrow at the overt, appraising look Reid was giving her, "duly noted."
Tyler walked over to stand beside Reid, slapping him smartly on the back of the head. Reid grumbled and Pogue smiled.
Caleb shook his head, "like Reid says, we do all sometimes pursue relationships outside of the coven. We were all, well, not into guys when Tyler ascended and everything started. But, the bond does keep us all very close. Our families, because of the covenant, raised us to be pretty tight, so we had assumed that the bond would be an extension of that. It took us a few weeks after Tyler's ascension to really understand what bonding would mean and why maybe generations before us had chosen another way."
Ali waited patiently for Caleb to start the story; it was clear she wouldn't be happy with the abbreviated version.
Caleb's phone beeped and he pulled his head out from under his pillow like an ostrich removing itself from the sand. The afternoon light streaming in from his bedroom window stung his unadjusted eyes and he winced and fumbled a hand towards the bedside table. He glanced at the text on his phone.
Pogue: when the fuck does this end?
Caleb sighed and dropped the phone on the mattress beside him; he needed to lie here in abject misery for a few more seconds before he could muster up the energy to comfort Pogue. Caleb huffed out a breath to suck in another lung full of the vague hint of laundry detergent and must coming from his pillowcase.
Caleb thought of Pogue lying in his own bed, staring at the ceiling and his own cell phone waiting for Caleb's reply. He felt the burning in his stomach return, faint while he had been sleeping. Sometimes the feeling was a low heat, in the center of his body. It was like falling asleep on a heating pad. Sometimes it was a roaring fire that felt like it consumed his entire being until he knew people around him could sense it, the burning man he had become.
Caleb knew it was worse when his brothers were near. Every single time they had tried to hang out since Tyler's ascension, they were all uncomfortable around one another. It felt right to be together, they had always had a comfortable and solid friendship. But, now it felt like they were all teetering on the edge of something that they were supposed to go over together.
Except, none of them knew how to take that leap, or if they should. And every single one of them just ended up fleeing the others' presence. Caleb rubbed at his bare chest where it felt tight, a light sheen of sweat already breaking over his skin.
His phone beeped again.
Pogue: this bonding shit has to be better than feeling like this!
Caleb groaned and called Pogue.
He picked up halfway through the first ring, "I'm serious man, this is ridiculous."
Caleb tried not to grind his teeth, "I know dude, I know. But, we don't understand all the angles of this bond thing. All we do know for sure is that these symptoms will go away and then we can all go back to normal and go to college and…"
Pogue snorted, "… and never know what might have happened if we had done this whole bond thing and we could use without killing ourselves and this stupid fucking burning would stop?"
Caleb huffed, "we don't even know how to actually bond. There isn't a spell or ceremony or incantation anywhere in the book."
Pogue groaned and griped some more about how horrible and uncomfortable he felt.
Caleb just lay there and let Pogue yell at him. If it helped, then Caleb would let him shout for hours. Pogue seemed to have gotten his short tirade out though because he ended abruptly and just sort of panted into the phone in aggravation while Caleb failed to find words.
Caleb mulled over what he had thought about last night before falling into a fitful sleep. It was crazy and stupid and all kinds of wrong. But, his gut told him it was also probably the answer to a lot of the questions they had about their ancestor's unhelpful hints.
Finally he spoke up, "Look, why don't you call the others and tell them to meet me here in an hour. I'm going to jump in the shower."
Pogue groaned, "You know what happens when we all try to fit in the same room now."
"Yeah, I know, but I've got an idea I think. It's about the whole bond thing."
He heard rustling on Pogue's end, probably him getting out of bed, "alright, see you in an hour."
When Caleb had finally dragged himself out of the shower and down to the library he grabbed the book he had been looking at last night from his family's old collection along with some notes he had made. He made his way down to the kitchen and put the stuff down on the bar before going to make some coffee. He didn't care if it was almost dinner time.
Reid was the first to arrive. He took a mug down from the cabinet and poured himself some coffee before sitting up on the counter across from the bar to look at Caleb.
"I'm worried about Tyler. I don't think he's been sleeping and I can't check on him every day because I can't be around him without… feeling funny."
Caleb nodded at Reid's concern for the youngest member of their group, "I know, but I think I have some answers, at least, well, it will be a start, lets us know all our options."
Reid frowned, "are we going to like it?"
Caleb shrugged, but his jaw was clenched tight and Reid's frown deepened. He remained silent though as they heard Tyler and Pogue approaching the kitchen.
Pogue literally fell onto a bar stool and swiveled around to look at Caleb and Reid while Tyler poured some coffee for himself and leaned against the counter next to Reid, being very careful that their bodies didn't connect at all.
"So, Caleb, lay it on us. What did you find?"
Caleb glanced at Pogue, "I've been combing my family's library here in the house, hoping to find something that would help us. I finally found a book last night; I almost didn't bother to read it. It's on the tradition of witch marriage ceremonies."
Reid laughed, "what? That doesn't make any sense."
Caleb ignored him, "used to be, when a witch got married, they called it binding. The two witches would have a normal ceremony, but upon consummating the marriage they would bind themselves in the eyes of the coven. Their powers would be bound together… and some believed that their souls were also bound."
Caleb flipped through the book until he got to the chapter on binding, "this would have originated when covens were larger. There would have been no need to bind an entire coven, just witch to witch through marriage. But, then less and less female witches were born and witches started to marry non-magical humans and the bloodlines got murkier and many covens came to the new world."
Pogue looked from the book to Caleb and back to the book, his eyes glazed with shock, "are you actually sayin' what I think you're sayin'?"
"What if covens before ours knew that the same binding ceremony used between two betrothed witches, would work between all the members of a smaller coven? What if the power instinctively senses the key to its own life after ascension is this bond and it's pushing us in that direction?"
Pogue ran a hand through his hair, "that doesn't make any sense, we're all male."
Caleb shrugged, "I don't think the bond is gender specific, I think it binds power sources. It says in the book that the binding is an extension of the marriage, but it doesn't diminish or alter free will. It won't prevent a bonded pair from adultery, for instance. So, I don't think that binding ourselves will prevent us from wanting other people or having girlfriends or children. The binding is really meant to be between two powerful witches, and I don't think the number of or sex of those witches matters much… "
Reid held up his hands, "Whoa! Whoa! Who said anything about children?"
Caleb glanced back over to Tyler and Reid before looking back to Pogue, "I just think it would bind our power together, maybe make us more aware of one another and allow us to use more."
Tyler spoke-up, "but, didn't you say that traditionally the two witches activated the bond by sleeping together?"
Caleb rubbed at the back of his neck; he felt his skin flush, "well, yeah. I think that's what the riddle meant by energy; instead of drawing from our life forces, the power would feed off of the emotional energy of the bond: passion, love, lust."
Reid jumped down from the counter, "are you fucking insane? You want us to sleep together so that we can bind ourselves and then all four of us can be married? Should we buy matching towel sets now or later? How the hell are we supposed to have girlfriends if we're all together?"
Pogue looked up from skimming the book Caleb had brought in, "Reid…"
"No, no, I will not just act like this is ok…"
Caleb got defensive, "of course it's not ok, none of this is ok. I didn't even think I liked guys! But, look at what's happened the last few weeks, the way we've all felt around one another. It's called sexual tension! It all fits! The words in the book about the bond, the warnings, the shit I found about binding ceremonies, this fucking aching in my stomach and the burning that never goes away!"
Pogue nodded, "and we have to weigh the other perk of not dying a little bit faster every time we use. This bond assures that it won't happen."
Reid crossed his arms, his expression growing shrewd, "ok, Pogue, are you telling me that in order to use for the rest of your life whenever you wanted, you would fuck Caleb?"
Caleb's voice was harsh, "Reid, you don't have to be vulgar about it. I didn't say we had to do this, I said we should understand every angle and then decide what to do."
Reid shrugged, "Well, then we should talk about our ability to go through with this. I, for one, doubt my ability to sustain a long-term, sexual and or romantic relationship with three guys."
Reid sneered, "how's that for introspective?"
Tyler shrugged, taking a sip of his coffee, "I think you're all pretty hot or whatever."
Reid whipped his head around to look at Tyler as Caleb and Pogue stared dumbstruck at him too, "you like dudes? No way man!"
Tyler shrugged again, "I haven't put a lot of thought into it until right now. The girls at our school are so fucking easy and I go for the low hanging fruit, you know? But, I'm trying to think objectively about sleeping with you guys and I don't think it would be that bad."
Reid shook his head, "I can't be here right now. It's weird and it's awkward and my chest is burning again."
Reid made a swift exit even as the others tried to get him to stay and talk it out. Caleb let himself slump forward onto the bar so the cool marble surface could chill his heated forehead.
He groaned, "Well, that went well."
Ali was staring at Caleb, her attention focused on him and her cup of coffee forgotten on the bar.
Caleb shrugged, "so, yeah, we did freak out a little…"
Tyler laughed, "except for Reid, who freaked out a lot."
Reid mumbled something that sounded a lot like fuckers.
The next time they had all met in Caleb's kitchen, a week later, Reid still looked a little cagy. A week wasn't a long time to make decisions that would affect the rest of your life; and it certainly wasn't enough time to work-out all the many ways they had to deal with the preferences each of them had towards relationships. But, they didn't have a lot of time.
The book had said the symptoms would eventually dissipate and Caleb had a hunch that the opportunity to bind the circle would also be lost. They might never get the opportunity again to do something about their biggest fear of aging when they use. Plus, the constant cravings to be near each other, to touch, were unbearable. Caleb's entire body itched, his skin crawled and his muscles twitched with the strain of being still.
Caleb spoke into the dead silence of the kitchen, "I know it's awkward, and it's going to be for a while. But, binding the circle gives us an advantage and it helps us preserve our lives, our future. There isn't anything I wouldn't do for you guys, to protect you, and if this works then it will have been worth it to me."
Pogue nodded, "I agree, but I have wondered, why haven't other covens bound the circle?"
Tyler answered, "Cultural traditions? Personal hang-ups? If this is hard for us to accept in the semi-enlightened world we live in, how difficult would it have been for them? Death might have seemed like the better option. Maybe they thought they could keep their using under control and that binding the circle wasn't needed. I'm pretty sure that men having sex back then was a no-go sorta thing."
Reid gazed at the floor, "what happens if we bind the circle and then we can't keep… you know? What if we aren't feeding the energy of it? Will the power go back to feeding off our life-forces? What if something happens to one of us?"
Caleb shook his head, "we can't know everything. All we can do is make inferences based on the traditional marriage binding descriptions and faith. The binding book says that the death of a spouse doesn't kill the other witch in the bond. From what I can tell, it is the act of being together both figuratively and literally that creates the bond and continues to sustain the bond. As long as we are doing that, then we're home free."
Caleb rubbed at his eyes, "However, if one of us dies or we stop having…," he swallowed, "sex then the bond is no longer being sustained and the power starts wearing down our bodies again."
They were all silent again for a few minutes. The kitchen seemed to hum in eerie stillness.
Reid sighed and looked up at the ceiling, tapping a rhythm out on the counter with his finger, "ok, I'm in. Let's do it."
Caleb looked to Pogue and Tyler, "are we all in agreement?"
The others nodded their heads, their glances darting to each other's' faces.
Ali made a face, "so you're not going to tell me about the actual binding? Well, that's just disappointing."
Caleb smiled, "I'm sorry to disappoint your deviant nature, but I'm not going to share our sex life with you."
Reid winked, "although, I personally would love to share my sex life with you."
Ali laughed, "That's ok; I have a good imagination."
"I'm sure none of us would mind sayin' that it was fucking weird," Caleb felt a little wary just thinking about the eggshells they had all walked on for months.
"The ties that the binding created between all of us was an expected leap outside of our close friendship, but it still took us the rest of the summer and even a good while after that to really get it together."
Caleb thought back to that tenuous time. With college looming around the corner, they had laid down some ground rules and tried desperately to cling to some sort of structure in their new rule-bending relationship.
Thankfully, their already decided college choices had helped with their new relationship. Reid and Tyler were off to Dartmoor, they had decided to get a dorm room together. New Hampshire was out of state, but it wasn't too far away from home. Pogue had gotten into MIT and Caleb had gotten into Harvard, they were renting an apartment in Cambridge.
He didn't think he'd ever forget the first fight he and Pogue had about dating, the first month they were in their new apartment. Caleb had come home from a night class to find Pogue making-out with some chick on the couch. Pogue had been so flustered that he'd asked the girl to leave and had immediately stated yelling to defend himself to Caleb. So, Caleb had started yelling back and they screamed at each other until hoarse.
They had finally calmed down enough to talk about it and Caleb had insisted that he wasn't even angry. He and Pogue had agreed to pursue women leisurely, since they were both still attracted to women. Caleb had amended that if a real connection ever evolved out of a non-serious relationship that they would be open and honest with one another, discussing it instead of yelling. Reid and Tyler had formed very similar rules.
They had each focused on strengthening their relationship in private while alternately chasing all the Daddy's Little Girls that college had to offer. During school breaks they all came back to Ipswich so that all four of them could spend time together.
Ali looked at Caleb, "well, it looks like you got it all figured out now."
Caleb made a non-committal noise, "we'd all like to think so."
"Well, thank you for the coffee. I'd better be going," Ali slid off the bar stool, "this conversation has been enlightening."
Tyler took her cup and placed it in the sink, "what are we going to do about the siren?"
Ali smiled winningly, "you sure I still can't convince you to let me handle it?"
They all shook their head in the negative and her face fell, "well fuck, I tried."
She thought for a moment before speaking, "how about I come back here tomorrow night and I'll tell you more about sirens and we'll work on a plan or something?"
Caleb smiled, "sounds great, how about you even use the front door this time?"
Ali smiled slyly, "yeah, thanks, I'll work on my entrance between now and then."
They all went back to bed, still tired and cranky that their late-night visitor hadn't called at a better hour. Caleb fell into bed beside Pogue, who curled up around him and trailed kisses along his neck until they both settled into a dreamless sleep.
When he woke-up to Reid's light snoring, the morning sun trying it's hardest to shine through his curtains, Caleb thought about how safe he felt in Pogue's arms, how comfortable. Then he thought about Ali and her slighter frame, thrumming with energy against his own as they wrestled in the hallway. She would be a hellcat in bed probably. She was a witch. They would have powerful children.
Caleb sighed. How could they ever hope to have both? There was this bond between all of them and then there was the prospect of marriage and family and carrying on the bloodlines of the families bound in their Covenant. Before, in the first few years of college women had been a side business to their relationship inside their friendship. If one of them had a thing with a girl then that was fine.
But, now that college was coming to a close and real-life was creeping in, Caleb wondered how they would manage. Dating, weddings, separate jobs, separate houses, separate families. Like ink bleeding outside the lines, their boundaries were fading into nothingness and their answers only birthed new questions.
They would have to talk soon.
He didn't want to.
Caleb felt Pogue stirring behind him and he finally turned around to kiss him good morning, their morning breath mixing in their mouths as their tongues explored lazily.
Caleb pulled away, "… need to brush our teeth."
Pogue just grinned and mumbled, "… make coffee."
Caleb laughed and got up to do both.
He was in the kitchen making eggs and half way through his first cup of coffee by the time the rest of them tumbled downstairs. All three of them lined up at the coffee maker and then collapsed onto bar stools clutching hot mugs like lifelines. Caleb smiled; none of them had ever been morning people.
Reid finally spoke up, "So, Ali is pretty smokin'…"
Tyler rolled his eyes, "she seemed really into Caleb."
Caleb grinned into his coffee cup, "can't say I didn't enjoy our little fight in the hallway. She is feisty."
Pogue looked thoughtful, "and she's a witch. I never considered marrying a witch before. I didn't know it was an option. But, when I think about it, it would make at least one part of the truth easier to tell as far as getting married goes…"
He and Caleb shared a look and then they turned to look at Tyler and Reid.
Reid groaned into his coffee, "This is going to be one of those serious talks isn't it?"
Caleb huffed, "yeah."
There was silence in the room for a moment, each of them thinking their own private thoughts before Caleb started talking, "we didn't really have the future in mind when we did this," he gestured with a sort of swirling motion between the four of them.
"Well, I guess we did," he corrected, "but, it was about not dying quickly and not letting the magic consume us. We were thinking of our individual futures."
Pogue nodded, "but we weren't thinking about wives or families. We were just concerned about still being able to fuck women…"
Reid scoffed, "we were fucking eighteen."
Caleb shrugged, "except we aren't eighteen anymore. When we graduate in a few months we're going to get jobs or go to grad school. We are gonna to have to go out into the real world and eventually we will have to get separate houses… four grown men, or hell even two grown men, can't go on living together forever. Especially, if we want to find wives and have children."
He continued, "If we want the names of Garwin, Danvers, Parry, and Simms to continue, if we want our sons to make-up the next covenant, then we have to have children. If we want to have children, then we will have to all find women and get married and have babies."
Reid looked nauseous, "Caleb, we're 21 man, we're not 30… don't we have a little longer?"
Tyler spoke-up, "of course we do! But, Caleb is right. When we started this it was to get by so that we could keep using. The bond was the goal, and the idea of us as intimate was a consequence we all had to deal with."
Tyler looked at Reid, "now though, the bond is what matters and we've gotten ourselves into this weird relationship where we feel a certain amount of possession for each other. How are we ever going to let each other go off and have wives, or even find wives? I'm still very much attracted to women," he looked around at all of them, "we all are. But, now that we're not just friends sharing a secret, now that we're lovers, and there is so much more to this than ever before..."
Tyler looked thoughtful and then shrugged, "… well, now, at least for the time-being, I'm not sure I could fall in love with another person, with a woman…"
Reid sighed, like he was resigning himself to talk about how he felt, "we all know the unwritten code about pursuing women and we try our best," he cut his eyes at Tyler, "at least some of us do, to respect that and allow for hook-ups every once and a while…"
Pogue shrugged, "… but that could change."
Caleb shook his head, "not if we want to have children and carry on the family bloodlines. Plus, how are we going to explain this…" he searched for a term, "modern relationship to everyone, everywhere we go."
Reid's fingers were back to tapping a beat on the bar, "how about we wait four more years and then have this talk again?"
Caleb scoffed at Reid, "nice try,"
Tyler mumbled something but his voice trailed off like he lost the courage to get out what he wanted to say. Caleb leaned towards him over the bar, encouraging him to speak up.
"I said," Tyler's voice got stronger, "why don't we try it without the girls. You know?"
Reid sat back, "you mean like the four of us in a relationship?"
Pogue narrowed his eyes, "I think we're already in one Reid. I'm with Caleb, you're with Tyler, and we're all together!"
Reid countered, "We haven't discussed putting labels on it!"
Tyler cut in, "we're more than half way there though. We don't have to tell anyone yet, but maybe we should consider this for the long-term. We can worry about children later. If, later, one of us decides that they want a wife… or we decide that wives are the only way we want to have children, then we can reconsider."
Reid laughed, "How else do you have children Tyler?"
Tyler made a face, "people who aren't married or dating have children all the time Reid."
Caleb winced a little at the thought, "I don't really like the idea of knocking some girl up with my kid without making her fully aware of the… situation."
Pogue inhaled deeply and blew out a breath, "this is getting really complicated."
"Tell me about it," Reid stood up, his restless energy refusing to sit down any more.
Tyler shrugged, "we talk about women and we flirt with them because we're all still attracted to women, and we've all slept with them since we bonded. But, the women clause in this… in our relationship, is an out that we all keep in place to feel better. Maybe we don't need it anymore. Maybe we should all just be fucking mature about this and realize that all we really need right now is each other."
Pogue shrugged, "I'm not jealous that you guys sometimes sleep with women. I still like a nice pair of tits in my hands every once in a while."
Reid gave a hell yeah but Tyler shook his head, "I realize that, but this isn't about jealousy. This is about our bond and how much a part of our lives we want to make it. I mean, when is the last time any of us actually slept with a woman?"
No one spoke for a while and Caleb walked over to put his coffee cup in the sink, "let's drop it for now guys, maybe Reid is right and this is not the time to be freakin' about the future. But can we all agree to keep things between the four of us for a while? Give up women for a bit."
Pogue shrugged but he looked nervous, "I uh, I actually haven't been with one in a few months and," he exhaled loudly, "I'm not missing it too much."
They all nodded in agreement except for Reid who pretended to think about it for a second. Caleb noticed how his eyes trailed over Tyler though and Caleb could see right through Reid's womanizing façade to the place deep inside where Reid cared more deeply for all of them than he'd ever admit.
Reid shrugged, "Tyler and I haven't been with anyone but each other for a while now and I suppose we're practically fucking dating. It doesn't matter to me. I guess we can all be boyfriends."
Tyler looked a little shocked that Reid had been so blasé about it. Caleb knew that Reid and Tyler had partnered up in a way, just as he and Pogue had, living and going to college together. But Reid was the one who shied away from labeling anything they did as gay. It was easy for Reid to show affection to his brothers, but out of all of them he had the hardest time vocalizing how he felt; as if talking about it out loud would cross some weird boundary he had in his head.
But he seemed to have finally taken a tiny step in the right direction. Caleb suspected that Tyler's patient and understanding persistence had something to do with that. Tyler has always been the one least affected by the sexual labels that they had all struggled with when they started this.
Pogue laughed at Reid's statement, breaking the silence, "That is the most romantic thing that you have ever said."
Reid scowled, "shut up."
Tyler laughed and Caleb joined in, happy for the moment that they had found solid ground once more.
That afternoon Ali had shown up, at the front door, as promised. A plan had been formulated and they had all made a unanimous decision to act as soon as possible. That's how they had all found themselves on the sharp end of Ali's dagger.
Caleb winced as he felt the blade scrap across his skin, slicing shallow wounds into his shoulder. Ali didn't hesitate at his sharp intake of breath. She drew the blade across his skin again to complete the trident, carved into his skin and oozing small drops of blood.
Ali wiped the knife off and turned to the others, "who's next?"
Tyler stepped forward even as Reid and Pogue stepped back.
Ali smiled as Tyler removed his shirt and presented his shoulder to her, "don't be such babies you two. This will protect you from her compulsion."
Her eyes became suddenly guarded, "and if worse comes to worse, it'll protect your souls."
Caleb frowned as he slipped his sweater back on, "I don't like this plan."
She signed in frustration, "of course you don't, but it will work. You have to be close enough to her that you can touch her and she won't allow that if she doesn't think she has you under complete control."
Ali finished with Tyler and gestured to Reid who grudgingly came forward, "Right now, all we have is the element of surprise. She knows you're all witches, but she doesn't know how much you know about her and she doesn't know about me."
Ali moved from Reid to Pogue; she didn't wait for Pogue to pull off his shirt, just ripped up the sleeve on his black biker-t and started cutting, "when we get to the cave, you guys go in like you stumbled upon the place, dusk is the best time so we have a few hours before we can act. Then, stall, pretend to be under thrall, and give me time to get in place at the top. When I did recon on the place I saw an opening at the top, on my mark, make your move and clear the hell out of the way. Got it?"
Caleb nodded, "yeah, perfect," but he didn't sound thrilled.
By the time they got to the beach and parted ways with Ali at the top of the cliff a few hours later, Caleb didn't feel any better about the plan.
Ali reminded him again as she walked away, "remember that you have to grab her necklace if any of this is going to work. Her jewelry is her power. It has to be separated from her for her to be vulnerable."
When the four of them got near the cave Caleb insisted on going in first, which the others mumbled about, Reid especially. The cave was damp and eerie, the waning light of the setting sun casting shadows on the rough walls that echoed the crashing noise of breaking waves.
The sandy floor was dotted with shallow pools and Caleb stopped in his tracks when he saw a woman kneeling by one of them. Her hand was making swirling motions in the water as though she were mesmerized by the way the water flowed over her skin. She looked human, legs and all, her naked skin glowing faintly in the dimness of the cave and her eyes flashed an inhuman green as she stood and turned to look at them.
Caleb felt a shock zing through his body as he studied her face. In her human form she looked just like the jogger he had run into at the pharmacy, the one with wet skin.
She smiled, "You seem shocked. I had you pegged from the minute you touched me in that store the other day. But, my suspicions were confirmed when I saw you on the beach. All that power Caleb."
Her silky voice rippled out towards him like water washing over the shoreline, "I wanted to taste you then. Suck down all that delicious power and feel it thrumming under my skin and not just over it. But I was patient, attacking you in the middle of a store in the middle of town would have been… foolish."
Caleb shrugged, "you knew I'd find you eventually."
She seemed completely unaware and unashamed of her nudity. Did she not keep clothes around for when she shifted from one form to the next? He couldn't help but glance at her exposed pearly skin as she continued to talk, "and now you have. Such a good little witch, you can't just stand back and let other people die. Typical."
She glanced at Pogue, Reid, and Tyler, "and you brought friends, or," her eyes closed briefly, "more than friends… I can feel the power flowing between the four of you."
Caleb took a step forward, but kept his distance from her, "you will not hurt them."
She simply laughed, her eyes flashing. Her silent stare pinned him as he moved towards the back wall of the cave, needing to be in front of her yet distanced. He never broke eye contact, trying to look determined but dazed, wondering when she would start to command him.
"Come here, witch."
Caleb took a step forward and Pogue gripped his arm, trying to hold him back, "Caleb, no."
Her voice was sharp, his hair stirring in a phantom wind, "control them, they will not stop you from giving your power to me."
Reid and Tyler stepped forward to hold him too, playing their part and yelling at him to stop.
The siren seemed agitated, "if you don't hold them back, I will kill them."
Caleb said a silent apology in this head and flung his hand up, his eyes going back as his brothers were tossed backwards into the cave wall by an invisible force.
The siren smiled, "Good witch, now come here."
Her eyes glowed and her skin sparkled with frightening power, "come to me and I will spare them."
Caleb knew that the trident carried some protection, but her voice was still rather convincing. He didn't want to move towards her, but he knew he had to and he could feel his resolve crumbling as her voice crooned in his ear. She was standing 10 feet away from him, but he felt her soft whisper like it was right next to his ear; or even issuing from the very center of his own heart.
"Isn't that what you want Caleb? To keep them safe? All you want is to make sure nothing happens to them, that you can hold together this bond you've forged for yourselves. The only family you've ever known that's really cared about you."
Caleb wondered if she could read minds or sense feelings. He nodded, looking around at the rest of his brothers. Tyler was pinned to the damp, craggy cave wall; Pogue was slumped on the sandy ground beside him with blood trickling down his temple. Reid lay prone on the ground a few feet away, his eyes closed. They were all held in place by his power, all of them struggling to lift the weight of his magic. But Caleb thought he saw Reid's lips moving and his fingers twitching.
Caleb looked up at the small opening in the top of the sea cave. He thought he saw a brief flash of light, but he couldn't be sure. He had to believe that Ali had made it up there by now. He inched closer to the siren, pretending to be persuaded by her offer, pretending to fight her a compulsion he didn't really feel.
"You promise that if I allow you to claim my power that you'll allow the others to go free?"
The glow around her intensified, as if she were pleased that he seemed to be agreeing, "Of course, I promise. You have my word. I just need your power witch; I'll have more than enough."
He didn't believe her. But, that hardly mattered. He took a few more steps, close enough that she could reach out and touch him. Her hand came up, fingers dancing along his cheek like a cool sea breeze, Caleb shivered.
She leaned in and her pale lips ghosted over his own, she tasted overwhelmingly of salt; like making out with a margarita. He felt a sharp tug in his chest, his power being pulled from his body and he tried not to fight it as he ever so slowly reached up towards the large turquoise medallion hanging on a corded necklace around her neck.
Suddenly, he wrenched himself away from her, ripping the necklace off her throat and propelling himself backwards into the sand. The siren screamed and the shrieking sound echoed off the walls of the cavern like a high-pitch alarm that wouldn't die. Caleb jumped when the siren shot her hand out and seaweed wrapped around his neck, choking him.
He felt the seaweed give as it was cut from around his throat. He looked behind him to see Pogue, Reid, and Tyler back on their feet, eyes black and throwing power at the siren to keep her distracted while he scrambled up of the wet sand and ran over to them.
The very nature of their bond meant that their powers wouldn't work in opposition to each other for very long. So, even if Caleb had truly wanted to command the others against their will they would only be bound solely by his magic for so long.
The siren likely had no concept of the workings of the bond and so she would assume Pogue, Reid, and Tyler were immobile as long as she held Caleb in thrall. All they had to do now was keep her occupied. He watched as she dodged their attempts to knock her on her ass. Caleb whistled and the guys stopped, their eyes returning to normal.
The siren was taking deep breathes; her anger was like a shimmering haze collecting around her and her voice was a screech, "you will give me back my necklace."
Caleb smiled as he saw the red dot appear on her forehead and move down; she had just enough time to look confused over his humor before a resounding crack echoed around the cave. The silver bullet pierced her skin, entering her chest from a high angle, ripping through her heart and shooting out into the sand behind her. They watched as she crumpled to the ground, her tail reforming as her eyes glazed over.
Slowly, they made their way over to her body, lying in the sand. Caleb still thought she looked beautiful, as the dying rays of the sun refracted into the cave and danced over the silver and blue scales of her tail. Suddenly her body shimmered and as they watched her form began to melt into clear water, sinking into the sand beneath her. In a few seconds all that was left of the siren was a puddle.
They heard a voice from the top of the cave, "from the ocean, back to the sea. That happens to all sirens when they die."
Reid whistled and looked up at the top of the cave. Caleb followed his glance; Ali was looking down at them, a sniper rifle in her hands and a smile on her face, "took you long enough," he yelled up at her.
She smiled and yelled back, "I told you I was working on my entrance."
They had said their goodbye to Ali at the cliffs. She hadn't wasted anytime in getting out of town. They had driven in silence back to Caleb's house. Christmas Eve was just a few short days away and as they pulled up to the huge brick mansion, soft whit snowflakes began to fall from the dark night sky.
Caleb led the way into the house through the back door, everyone pulling their coats off and pilling them up on the table in the back entryway.
Reid smiled as they made their way into the kitchen, "guess what I got you guys for Christmas this year?"
Pogue grinned, "Is it upstairs?"
Caleb smiled, "… in my bedroom?"
Reid smirked, "just maybe…"
Tyler hit the stairs first and the other three were right behind him.
As Caleb bounded into his room and started throwing clothes into a pile with Tyler's he marveled at the craving he felt when he thought of being with one of them… or with all of them. Some days he wondered if it would ever fade, this ravenous feeling of need that assailed him when he thought of their skin touching his. Most days he hoped the cravings never faded, that the constant and familiar pull they all felt for each other would never weaken.
Caleb soon found himself spread out naked on his bed. He threw his head back and let out a long groan, his eyes screwed shut trying to block out everything that wasn't the exquisite pleasure coursing through his body. Tyler's mouth worked up and down his cock as Caleb tried really hard to be still. Pogue and Reid stood in the doorway to Caleb's bedroom, playing a losing game of Who Can Hold-out the Longest. They were watching Tyler work with ardent interest and both of them were hard in their pants.
Tyler glanced up from between Caleb's legs to watch Caleb's face as he pleasured him. Caleb grabbed the sheets that were under him on the bed and moaned again when Tyler pressed his tongue to the underside of Caleb's cock.
Reid broke first, "fuck this."
He slammed Pogue up against the wall inside the door, kissing him with intensity and nibbling at his mouth.
Reid grinned as he dropped to his knees in front of Pogue, "by the way this isn't what I actually got you all for Christmas. I did actually buy something this year."
Pogue laughed even as his breath hissed out as Reid pulled his zipper down, the blonde's hot breath ghosting over his crotch. Caleb looked up from the bed in time to see Pogue's head drop back against the wall with a thwack as Reid swallowed him down.
Caleb jumped and gasped when he felt clever fingers pressing against his entrance, teasing him with passing strokes. Tyler pulled off long enough to get some spit on his fingers before continuing his ministrations, sinking one digit deep into Caleb. The intrusion was a fan to the flames, his skin flushing pink as his body reacted to what Tyler was doing. Caleb's hips thrust forward into the tight heat and arched back onto the wonderful pressure that sent flickers of pleasure up his spine.
He heard Pogue groan like he was dying and then shout in surprise and he thought maybe Reid was employing some of his own tricks. Caleb could taste his release as he fought not to fuck his hips up too harshly into Tyler's mouth. He was definitely going to need some recovery time after this, but he figured Tyler definitely wouldn't mind fucking the daylights out of him for a change. Caleb wanted it too, Tyler pushing into him strong and slow, hard and fast, he didn't fucking care.
Tyler twisted his fingers at the same time that he gave a particularly hard suck and Caleb was gone. He closed his eyes as he came, seeing yellow bursts of light bloom across his eyelids. He barely heard himself yell through the rushing of blood in his ears. When he could open his eyes again he reached down and pulled Tyler on top of him, kissing his taste out of his mouth and whispering to him, "Fuck me."
Tyler groaned his body stilling like he needed a minute, pushed to the brink by just the words. But he didn't need to be told twice and he simply shot out his hand towards the bedside table, his eyes flashing black as the lube zoomed into his hand. Tyler made quick work of stretching Caleb even more as he threw the lube down on the bed.
Caleb welcomed Tyler into his body just as Reid was pushing Pogue down onto the bed beside them and practically ripping the biker's jeans off to get to his ass faster. Reid pinned Pogue beneath him and reached for the lube. In no time they were racing Tyler and Caleb to the finish.
Reid made a noise somewhere between a laugh and a growl when Pogue's strong legs wrapped around Reid's waist and squeezed, pulling Reid deeper into his body. They all climbed again, searching for the ecstasy the only existed when they gathered together. Caleb felt the power collecting around them, pulling from the energy that flowed from each of them as they strove to find pleasure for themselves, find pleasure in each other.
Caleb felt the expansion in the back of his mind a split second before the recoil, like the lash of a whip or the crack of lightening. The power snapped back, having taken the energy it needed and they all felt the swift reverberation as their bodies came alive. The tingling that they all usually associated with using, and the bond, swept through all of them and suddenly they were all reaching orgasm.
Caleb whimpered at the familiar and overwhelming situation, moving his body restlessly against Tyler's until they were both spent. Caleb didn't have to turn his head to know that Reid and Pogue were lying beside them spent and motionless too.
Finally he heard Reid snort and his muffled voice came from where his face was buried in Pogue's neck, "well, I guess I'm going to have to take what I got you guys back to the store… it isn't nearly as good as what I just gave you."
They all suddenly burst out laughing, throwing jokes at Reid and each other and cracking-up, their naked and sweat soaked bodies shaking together in shared humor. Caleb felt the invisible band around his chest, the one he called responsibility, untighten and his heart expand. What he felt now, and not for the first time, was happiness and a sense of peace that he knew instinctively was home.