Destiny Never Dies (Only People)
Pairing/Characters: (Kevin/Ambrosius, Kevin/Van/Ambrosius [sort of—hard to explain], Toby/Kevin, Toby/Adam)
Spoilers: through Season 2
Summary: picks up at the end of Season 2 – what happens to Kevin, what Van and Toby do about it, and how Grace gets involved
Notes/Warnings: intimations of sexual abuse, major character death and oh yeah, sex
She couldn’t move forward. Something blocked her, a wall she couldn’t see. Kevin yelled, “I won’t,” his eyes and voice panicked, at the same time pulling away from them. Not really pulling—more like he was dragged away—and Toby screamed as if his heart was torn from his chest, watching, unable to do anything against Ambrosius. Again.
Ambrosius stood with arm out-stretched, waiting for his chosen one.
Kevin’s terror reached out to Van, unexpected in its strength, then overwhelming, slicing into her brain as cleanly as a razor. They’d always had some connection, something mystical, dark. She’d sensed it the first night she met him, but this was the first time she’d felt it so powerfully. She staggered.
Kevin tucked his face down against Ambrosius’s shoulder and his fear disappeared into a blank nothingness that scared her even more.
And then they were gone, and the day was as bright and beautiful as it had been before. A breeze blew over her and Toby, lifting their hair from their necks as they stood on the drive. As if nothing had happened.
“He was dead, Van! Grace killed him! I saw it!” Toby yelled. “I’ll get the son of a bitch, I swear it!” His face flushed angry red except for the skin around his eyes, which was dead white. Van wrapped herself around his unyielding body, putting an arm around his neck while he raved. “He won’t fucking leave us alone! He won’t ever leave us alone!” Van hugged him harder, burying her face in his hair, one hand rubbing his heaving chest. It felt like rubbing a block of wood.
She felt him rake a hand through his hair, and suddenly his body collapsed down into itself. She straightened, trying to hold both of them up.
“God, why won’t he just leave us alone?” His voice cracked. The words sounded like a prayer.
“We’ll find him,” she whispered into his hair, saying a prayer of her own.
Van pounded on the door, then rattled the doorknob furiously. “If Ambrosius wasn’t killed by all the shit that went on at the solstice, you can bet Grace wasn’t. She’s in there, I know it,” she said, and Toby balled up a fist and smashed it through the window. “That’s two of Grace’s windows down,” Van muttered. Blood flowed down Toby’s hand, but when Van reached out he brushed her away and reached inside to open the door, then wiped his hand on his jeans. It left a dark maroon smear. The blood welled again almost instantly, leaving dime-sized drops on the floor before finally slowing.
They’d broken into Bro’s house and searched it earlier, and this was a near repeat of that earlier search, their footsteps echoing throughout the empty rooms. “Now what?” Van asked. She banged a fist on Grace’s bedroom dresser. “We need her! She’s the only one who can help us.”
“If she will,” Toby said.
“She will,” Van said, touching Toby’s arm. She nodded her head for emphasis and tugged his hand playfully, trying to cheer him up.
Toby smiled briefly. “Okay, she will. Next we try Diana. Maybe she’ll know how to find Grace, or how to help.”
They stood on the porch, the palm fronds on either side of them waving in the breeze. Diana let them in, then turned silently and led them into the living room. She sat, ignoring that they chose to remain standing.
The air smelled stale, and the plants drooped. All the windows were closed.
“Are you all right?” Van asked after the silence stretched on.
“I’m fine,” Diana said, and smiled tightly. “If you don’t count the fact that everything I’ve worked for my whole life is just . . . gone. Beyond my reach.”
“Your father?” Van asked, her voice gentle.
“My father . . . ” Diana said, trailing off. “And more. We could have changed the very course of Tresum.”
“You have to know that what you did was the right thing,” Van answered.
“Was it?” Diana asked, her voice distant. “Are you sure?”
“Of course I’m sure! Michelle is alive. She’s getting help.” Van’s voice rose as she spoke.
“None of this is over yet.” Diana looked at her instead of through her for the first time since they’d arrived. Her blonde hair gleamed in the light from the window. “It’s never over.” Her eyes asked for understanding. Van stared at her, confused.
Toby interrupted. “Bro has Kevin, and we need Grace to help us find them. Unless you can help us.”
Diana was shaking her head before Toby had finished. “Ambrosius was my pupil for over one hundred years. He’s of the sun power. I won’t help you defeat him.”
“He has Kevin against his will. Does that even matter to you?” Toby asked.
“Kevin went willingly or he’d never have become Ambrosius’ aspirant,” Diana corrected him.
“He did it to save me!”
“Yes,” Diana nodded evenly. “His choice.”
“You call that a choice?” Toby’s voice was disbelieving.
“Can you at least help us find Grace?” Van asked impatiently, and Diana turned back to her.
“Grace always takes care of herself first,” Diana answered. She stood and walked to the bookshelf, brushing the book spines with the tips of her fingers. “If you haven’t found her yet, it’s because she chooses not to answer your call. Though I doubt she’ll keep you waiting long. She’ll want the services of her aspirant soon.
“Funny thing, though—she doesn’t realize how your powers have changed since you and I combined powers at the Libra Solstice. I felt them. You’re too strong to be bound to her anymore if you don’t want to be. She just doesn’t know it yet.”
“I promised her. That hasn’t changed.”
“Things have changed,” Diana said, her voice a whisper. “Irrevocably.”
As Toby and Van turned to leave, she called out, “Do you feel the strength of your power yet, Van? Do you even realize it’s changed?”
Van turned and looked at her, saying nothing. Her face looked very young.
“It may very well help you in your fight with Ambrosius, but you can’t begin to know how to use it. Remember Cory. Remember what happened to Michelle.”
“Do you think I’ll ever forget?”
Diana shook her head. “The control will come in time, but time is exactly what you don’t have. Be careful.”
She watched the door shut behind them, staring at it a long time after they’d left.
“You don’t have to tell me this,” Toby had told him, but Kevin knew better. He was after all the avoidance king, right? He wouldn’t have told Toby unless it was all he had left.
But dammit, he wasn’t lying—he didn’t know how to be in a relationship. It was time to let Toby in or let him go, time to show his boyfriend what kind of shit he’d been into before he knew him. To let Toby know what kind of shit he’d invited into his life at the Cove.
But it had been so fucking hard to lie there in the dark and feel Toby’s smooth skin beneath his fingers and remember what it felt like with his mouth wrapped around Toby’s cock, eyes closed so he’d feel every pulse of him in his mouth, to remember Toby’s hands clutching his hair and moaning while he came. To know that he might never feel that again after he told him.
Fuck that. Toby loves me.
Still, he’d felt a little sick to his stomach. He’d held Toby’s shoulder and clenched his eyes shut, and without warning a memory had crashed over him, strong, coming from fuck knew where inside—lying in a tight ball on his old twin bed, his skin shrinking against the dreaded touch, so cold, so scared but sweating anyway, his pulse pounding hard enough in his ears that it almost felt like blows.
He’ll see me!
For a moment panic had almost overwhelmed him, and he’d frozen for a second or a moment or an hour. He’d never know how long exactly it had taken to come out of it. He only knew that Toby waited for him when he did.
Yes, he’ll see. Let him, Kevin had thought at the curled up child he had been, and he’d opened his mouth and rolled the dice. His voice had quivered and he’d barely held his shit together, but he’d told Toby what he’d done. Not the details. Just the tip of the iceberg, really. That he’d done a lot of stuff. That he’d taken money for it. Enough for Toby to see what he’d really invited to into his home.
One day Kai had asked him whose boy he was, and not so long ago that depended on how bad he’d gotten into it with his step dad and how wild it made him feel that night. Regardless, the answer was nearly always a different one. A new guy never asked questions, never complicated things.
But then came Toby, and the things Kevin did to cope didn’t work anymore.
Toby wasn’t ashamed of him or their relationship. Toby asked questions, looked inside him, saw him and still wanted him with a stark, fierce, honest intensity that bewildered Kevin, made him open up like a desert plant to water, strongly, almost against his will, all the while fighting the strongest urge of his life to run.
Which eventually had led to that night when he’d climbed into Toby’s bed, clutching Toby’s shoulder, rubbing his skin as if a talisman against all the darkness. And Toby had turned over, facing him, and listened. Told him he understood. He ran his fingers through Kevin’s hair, put his lips to the shorter, sweaty hair there at the hairline and kissed him, told him they didn’t have to fuck. But Kevin still had that one thing to give him, to show him that he loved him and wanted him before it was too late. Before he screwed up again.
He hadn’t wanted to hold back anymore.
All the masks had come off that night, layers peeling away, leaving him exposed and defenseless. He’d had to close his eyes to it, but Toby would have none of it, insisted on seeing everything he felt—the fear,
the need to run. The love.
Kevin had never felt so raw and stripped and in love in his life. It was terrifying. It was incredible.
That night was over now, though Kevin would never forget. He opened his eyes in the dark and stared upward.
He was some place else now.
Lying down. He was lying down.
“Toby?” he asked, hoping.
Hot hands grasped his own, pinning him against the mattress. Panic surged through him. His chest rose up and down like a bellows, already knowing, trying to pull away from the hands. He couldn’t move.
The last thing he remembered was standing in front of the Dante with Toby. And then . . .
“Toby will never have you again,” said a voice at his ear. A voice that he both feared and was intrigued by.
Lips trailed over his shoulder, hot as the hands, and suddenly he didn’t want to remember.
Please don’t let him see me.
The boy on the bed came to life again in Kevin, squirming, pleading to God or to anyone who’d listen. But it never did any good. His father had left and the bastard had taken his place, fumbling hands all over him, whispers in the dark, telling him how despicable he was. Little faggot, pretty-assed queer. He was always seen and found and touched, back then. Hated.
Kevin opened his eyes and Ambrosius’ mouth was on him, the furnace was all around him, and he cried out, arching his back, convulsing. Coming. It felt good. It made him sick. He remembered exactly what he’d felt like back then.
He’d told himself a hundred times he’d never have to be that boy again, but a part of him had known it for the lie it was.
He was the same.
Oh God. Toby.
He curled into a ball, clutching his stomach.
But at least Toby wasn’t here with Ambrosius. Kevin remembered the mindless way that Toby, on his knees, had moved to unzip Ambrosius’s pants. Like a robot. Kevin would have done anything to keep him from having to kneel before Ambrosius again. He’d never have been the same afterwards.
But Kevin, he’d knelt before, and he knew how to shut himself off.
Once, after the shit with his step-father had started and he’d gotten a little older, he’d went out, done his thing and took the money. Because he knew how to do it. Because he knew his step-father would hate him for it.
He remembered the first man—older, gray-haired, well off. He honestly didn’t know why he did it. It only affirmed that cringing, worthless feeling in the bottom of his stomach.
But maybe it did something else, too. It proved that none of it mattered. It proved he could survive it for as many times as he needed to.
He could survive anything.
And now he was here in the dark with this man who’d forced Kevin to want him. Or fuck, maybe he just wanted Ambrosius anyway and the magic was just some sorry-ass excuse to keep him from having to finally, squarely face the fact that he wasn’t nearly good enough for Toby. Maybe all the wishing in the world wasn’t going to change that. Kevin squeezed his eyes together.
Shutting out, shutting down. Concentrating only on what he needed to focus. He knew how the game was played.
He’d tried to make his stepfather regret ever laying a hand on him. He’d tried to make his mother regret ever marrying the bastard. He’d failed on both counts.
He wouldn’t fail this time.
He uncurled himself and rolled over, looking at Bro. He smiled at him. The boy lurked beneath the surface, watching.
Van lay in the dark, listening to Toby breathe, knowing neither of them were going to get sleep anytime soon.
She’d insisted on staying with him. They’d curled up on Toby’s bed, hugging, trying to find some measure of consolation in each other and succeeding in a small way. But they weren’t sleeping. Even if she could, she didn’t want to leave Toby to the darkness.
Toby slid his legs from under the sheets and stood. Van sat up and reached a hand out for him. “Where are you going?” she asked, looking up at him.
“I can’t just lie here. Kevin’s out there somewhere with that bastard—I keep thinking about what’s happening to him, Van,” he said, his voice becoming more uneven with each word. “I can’t—I don’t know how—”
Van stood up and put her arms around him. “Stop, Toby—”
“Kevin went with Bro to save me, and
what am I doing? Nothing. Fucking nothing. He’s everything to me, Van.
How am I gonna find him? I’ve got to find him!”
“You’ve got to try to rest. How can you help Kevin when you’re totally wiped? Listen to me—Toby, listen. We’ll find Grace tomorrow. I know I can get her to help us. We’ll get him back.”
“What if he’s hurting him? What if he’s—he’s—”
“You’re making yourself crazy over something that might not happen, Toby, please. Don’t do this to yourself. Don’t do it to me. I love him, too. You guys are my family.”
Toby nodded. He held her tightly and didn’t speak.
Adam lay in Kevin’s hospital bed. He opened his eyes and smiled sleepily.
Adam? What’re you doing here? Van looked at him a minute, then around the room, making sure of her bearings. When she looked back Kevin watched her from the bed. She blinked at him, confused.
I’m not Adam, he said, and smiled an exasperated smile at her—the smile that made him look like a superior twelve year old.
Van shook her head. She couldn’t help but smile back. She handed him the toy she’d bought him for a present, and he spun the wheels slowly, considering the happy clacking sounds they made. You’re a freak, he said, watching her face, and she grinned and told him they had that in common.
His own smile faded and he pulled away suddenly, the toy falling, clattering over the cold hospital floor. He scrabbled back against the head of the bed in a panic, breathing hard. His arms circled his knees and he buried his face in them.
Kevin? What’s wrong? she asked, bewildered, looking around the room for the threat. She found nothing.
Toby, Kevin said into his knees. His back hitched. Oh please, I need Toby. Where is he, Van?
He’s with me, baby. In his room, Van tried to soothe. Don’t worry.
Kevin slowly raised his face. He’s with Adam, isn’t he? His face was the color of paper. His eyes were hopeless.
What—? No, of course not! He’s going crazy, trying to find you. We’re going to bring you home—
A voice in her head cried out. Young, but familiar. She jerked upright, startled.
He’ll see me!
She reached out for Kevin and he cringed, his shoulders sinking further toward his knees, shaking. Make him stop, he said, his voice small, and in that moment Van knew everything Toby feared for Kevin was happening. Her heart tore into small, bleeding pieces.
Kevin sank down into the bed, his face growing white and still. His eyes fixed on something she couldn’t see.
Kevin! Van cried out, touching his face. What can I do? Let me help you! He stared at her, his eyes wide, sweat popping out on his face. His mouth opened but no sound came out. Breathe! she screamed at him, and his fingers scrabbled for hers, panicked.
Ambrosius appeared from nowhere, his hands on Kevin’s throat. You won’t get him back, he said. He’ll die first.
Let him go, you fucking psycho! she screamed at him. Bro raised an arm as if to strike. His arm blotted out the world. Everything went black.
Van was terrified, more than she’d ever been in her life, and the terror surged into her chest and ignited something there, immense and powerful and electric. She felt it building inside her. It was unstoppable. Uncontrollable.
Light blazed from her and outlined the two men, cold white against the blackness. Ambrosius stood stock still, as if stunned, his hands falling from Kevin’s throat.
Kevin sat up slowly from the hospital bed, his eyes black, charred holes. He reached for her.
She threw all of the light at him.
“It’s okay, Van. It’s going to be okay,” Toby said, but Van couldn’t stop screaming. She couldn’t wake up. She couldn’t get away.
“It’s not okay,” she sobbed. “He’s dying. Oh my God he’s dying and I can’t stop it.”
“Wake up, Van. He’s not going to die. It’s a dream.” Toby pushed her hair gently off her sweaty forehead. “It’s okay, it’s okay,” he said, and kept saying it until her dark eyes finally opened. “I’m here. It’s going to be okay. I don’t care what we have to do, we’re going to do it. We’ll get him back. Do you hear me, Van?”
Van’s eyes opened wider and she sat up in the bed.
Toby’s eyes locked on hers, a hand wrapping around hers. “I don’t care what we have to do,” he repeated. “Use magic. Do anything we need to get him back. Bro is not going to win.”
Van wiped her eyes and nodded. She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. “Okay. Okay, then. I’m going to try scrying for Grace.”
“Scrying?” Toby asked.
“It means to devine. Predict. Maybe I can sense where she is if I scry. Can’t hurt to try, anyway. But I need a crystal. I have a necklace with a crystal in my room. On the dressing table. Will you get it for me?”
“Would it be better to just go to your room?”
“No. I don’t want to leave here until we’ve got something to go on. It’s like . . . I found Kevin here. In my dream,” she said and shrugged. “ I feel him here. With you. I can’t explain it, it’s just instinct. I’m learning to listen to it, lately,” she said, managing a small smile.
Toby brought the crystal, and Van hung it from the corner of the mirror on the wall. The early morning sun sparked off it. Van squinted as she looked into it, grasping Toby’s hand and drawing closer.
“Grace,” she breathed. The crystal glittered brightly. “Where are you? I need you, Grace. Your aspirant needs you.” Another step closer. Van leaned in. “She’s somewhere close. I feel her. Toby, I feel her!”
She looked at him, excited. And then she disappeared.
Toby’s fingers grasped air, his hand falling loosely by his side. He took a step back, blinked, took another step back. He whirled, looking around the room. “Van!” he called. There was no answer.
From behind him, a hand fell on his shoulder, and Toby’s heart jerked his chest. It was Bro. “Everything’s going to be fine,” Bro crooned. “Kevin is coming home to you. I’ve decided to let him go.” Bro waved his fingers over Toby’s face. When Toby tried to move, he found himself helpless.
“What’re you up to, Bro?” Toby asked, his voice strained. He struggled to move.
Bro smiled. “I’ve seen that destiny can’t be denied. You and Kevin belong together.” He sighed. “However much I want him won’t change that fact.” He frowned mockingly. “Doesn’t that make you happy?”
There was a knock on the door. Adam stepped through it. “Toby—” Adam started. Bro disappeared by the time the door was fully open.
“You’re really here,” Toby breathed.
Adam raised a brow and smiled. “Yeah, I live here, same as you, remember?”
Toby walked to Adam, putting a hand on the back of his neck. And then Toby’s mouth was on his, forcing Adam to open to him. Toby pushed him backwards to the bed.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Adam said, stuttering, then lunged forward, kissing Toby back. Toby took control, his tongue meshing with Adam’s, his hands on either side of Adam’s face.
“Man, you’re driving me crazy. One minute you’re into me, the next telling me how much you love Kevin . . . ” Adam panted.
Toby smiled. “I do love you, Kevin. More than I’ve ever loved anyone in my whole life.” He leaned into Adam again, but Adam pushed him away, hard.
“Make up your fucking mind! I can’t take this!”
Toby cupped a hand over his cheek. “I have. I want you.”
Adam stared at Toby for a moment, his eyes uncertain. With a groan, his body went limp. He fell back onto the bed, and Toby rolled on top of him.
Kevin twirled the wheels on the toy Van had brought him, listening to the happy mechanical sound it made. He looked at Van, giving her a long, considering look. You’re a freak, he said.
She smiled. We have that in common.
He watched her. He liked being with her. Somehow the world opened up when they were together. He perceived more, felt more, but he still felt . . . comfortable. Safe. They’d clicked since the moment they met.
Kevin frowned. There was darkness beyond Van’s shoulder where darkness shouldn’t be. Out of it, something formed.
Two people, on a bed. It was as if a spotlight shone on them. He squinted.
They were naked. Making love. He heard their quickened breath, the low groans. Smelled the tang of their sweat.
He knew that muscled, gleaming back, writhing under another man’s fingers. Knew it as if it were his own. And he knew the man lying below the other, mouth opened in ecstasy.
Toby. Toby and Adam.
No! No way!
They belong together, Ambrosius said, appearing from nowhere, and Kevin whipped his head around and snarled at him wordlessly.
Van shook her head, pleading with him not to believe. Not to give in. Kevin put his head on his knees and tried not to die. Tried to imagine Ambrosius dead instead, but felt his own heart slowing. Struggled to breathe.
No use. His heart beat slower. The room went pitch black.
Energy filled the space around him, the hairs prickling upright all over his body. He looked up. Van glowed like some mystical ancient. She was beautiful. Her skin gleamed like smoothest silver in the cold white-blue light. Her chest rose and fell rapidly.
She couldn’t contain the light. It spilled out from her.
He reached out for her and Van pushed the light out. It crashed into him. So bright. Too much. He thought his skull would crack in two. The light crackled, dancing over his skin.
Then the pores of his body opened, sucking it all inside. His body arched off the hospital bed.
His eyes flew wide open, blinking. Bro looked down at him, smiling tenderly. Kevin’s stomach knotted sickly.
“It’s true,” Bro said.
“What the fuck—are you in my head now, too?” Kevin asked, trying to regain his equilibrium.
“I know what you saw. Toby and Adam. They’re meant to be together. They’ve always been.”
“Toby and I are meant to be together. Forever!” Kevin yelled.
“Yes, so you’ve told me before. You’re trying to bend your destiny into what you want, but the truth is that Toby and Adam have been destined for each other all their lives, even though Adam fought it. Much the same way as you and I are destined to be together.”
“What you showed me was a trick, Bro. A hallucination and a bad one at that. You should probably expand your repertoire if you’re going for impressive.”
Bro frowned at him. “You’re sweating. You don’t look well. How do you feel?”
“Fine. I feel fine. Forget it,” Kevin answered, determined to banish the past back to where it belonged. It’s all over with. I’m not that young anymore, no matter how bad things get. No matter how it feels, I’m not going to die from it.
“So, you think I’m trying to trick you. But what if you were to see it for yourself?” Bro asked.
“Yeah, right. Like you’d let me go,” Kevin scoffed.
Ambrosius smiled. “I’ll never let you go, but the truth will set you free—isn’t that what they say?” He stood and offered a hand to Kevin. Kevin stared at him a moment, his teeth clenched together, muscles in his jaw bunching. He let the breath he’d held out and nodded, standing. Taking the offered hand, he closed his eyes.
His stomach dropped out from under him. It felt a little like riding an elevator. Displaced. There and yet not, moving to somewhere he couldn’t yet see.
He opened his eyes. He was in Toby’s bedroom, standing at the foot of the bed.
Toby’s back arched over Adam’s body in a perfect curve upon the bed. His mouth traveled down Adam’s chest, fastening on a nipple.
The room went white, the air electric, charged. From out of nowhere, a wind gusted. The men on the bed were oblivious.
No! Kevin thought he screamed it but made no sound. His head broke apart into little pieces. He fell to his knees, memories crashing over him, quick, hard, blows:
—the guy from Kai’s construction crew, kissing him, pulling his pants down in the shed—
—his old boyfriend Derek’s mouth on his, his body pressing hard against him in the kitchen—
—rolling away from Toby in bed when Toby wanted more—
My step dad.
I lost Toby the moment my step dad touched me, didn’t I?
Don’t know how to be with anyone.
Good enough to fuck. Just . . . not good enough. Not for Toby.
Ambrosius looked around, felt the wind moving through his hair, surprise transforming his face into someone younger. He looked down. For a moment there was regret on his face. Pity.
Kevin looked up at him but didn’t see him. The vision of Adam and Toby seared into his brain. Like looking at a light. Close your eyes and the pattern persists on the inside of your eyelids.
Only this one would last forever.
Kevin buried in head in his hands and sobbed, his voice raw. The sounds were caught up in the strengthening wind. Toby and Adam remained oblivious, moving against each other as if in a dream. Slowly, Kevin took his hands away from his face. His eyes were red, his face desolate. He watched.
Ambrosius’s hand drifted to the back of Kevin’s neck and rubbed gently.
I remember, Kevin thought, and his hand moved to Bro’s cock, squeezing. His hand and Bro’s cock glistened with lubricant. Bro groaned, pushing up against him. Nothing’s changed. Except I don’t get money for it now. His mouth lowered, slid over the tip, then closed over the shaft. The lube was slick on his tongue, and he pushed his tongue harder into it and rubbed. His hand was at the base of Bro’s cock, and he pumped it up and down twice, quick and rough, bumping all the way up and over the crown. Bro’s breath caught in his throat, the red sheets rustling as he moved.
Bro had made him come first. Said he’d never get enough. Kevin had obliged, coming in Bro’s tight ass, his thoughts somewhere so far away even he didn’t know what they were. It made Bro happy, and in a corner of his mind, Kevin thought it’d at the very least be convenient if Bro were happy. Less bother.
Kevin pulled back from wherever his thoughts were when Bro tried to spread his legs and crawl between them. Kevin shook his head and pulled away, his fingers curling around the cool wrought iron of the headboard.
But Bro wanted in. He wanted all of Kevin. Kevin froze, staring at Bro for a long moment.
Then he shrugged and rolled over, and Bro didn’t see his face break apart as he did. It was just for an instant.
But even that wasn’t enough. Bro wanted him—wanted it—face to face. Like it made a fucking difference if he saw what was in his eyes when he came. Like it ever would with him. There was nothing there to see.
It hurt a little when Bro entered him. He was still pretty virginal back there. But what the fuck. He’d survive, right? He could survive anything.
The problem was, he’d only ever had Toby inside him. I don’t want anyone else. His mind tried to shut that thought down, but too late. He squeezed his eyes shut, and his body tightened involuntarily. He remembered all too well how Toby made him feel.
I’m sorry. I loved you so much, Toby.
His thoughts were interrupted by a fragment of a memory. He was bent over, one hand clutching the back of a loveseat, the other a seat cushion. Someone fucked him, held him, close, tight, hot. It was heaven.
Someone he truly loved.
The problem was, it wasn’t his memory.
Kevin’s eyes opened, his breath a panting question, and Ambrosius smiled at him sadly. “Old loves are hard to forget. For both of us,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper.
Bro’s mind offered up the name to him. Raymond.
And all at once, Kevin knew Ambrosius drew some crazy parallel between his situation with Raymond, all those years ago, and Kevin and Toby’s situation. And remained blind or maybe just uncaring of the fact that he was responsible for what happened this time around.
It made Kevin furious. All his senses tingled, roaring open. He let himself groan, arousal and heat flooding over him, all the barriers against feeling gone, anger overwhelming him. He curled his fingers into Bro’s back and dug his nails in, slamming his body against him and pulling with heels dug into the back of Bro’s legs, urging him in deeper. “C’mon,” he taunted. “You can do better than that.” His eyes were wide and fixed on the face above him.
You want Raymond back? I’ll be Raymond for you. I’ll own your soul. With your last breath you’ll wish to fuck you never met me.
Time blinked, and Van stood in Grace’s hallway, Grace by her side. She swayed a little, catching her balance. “Where the hell have you been?” Van asked, and Grace smiled her tiger shark grin.
“You’ve been caterwauling for me, haven’t you? You should be happy. I’ve brought you to me.”
Van rolled her eyes. “I haven’t been caterwauling for you. We need your help.”
“Obviously I haven’t been available. We have newcomers coming to the cove, some of them very interesting, and I intend to be prepared. Since I know you’re a very determined girl with no intention of stopping until you get what you want, I’ll just have to teach you a lesson, won’t I?” Grace waved an arm and Van found herself standing with her wrists folded one over one another.
“You’re tying me up?” Van shouted.
“Do you see any bindings?” Grace asked archly.
“You’re unfucking believable!”
“It’s only for a short while, dear,” Grace said. “Ta-ta for now.”
“Wait! Grace, we need—”
But Grace was gone. Van watched the dust motes swirl in the light from the window and listened to the silence until she couldn’t stand it anymore. “Toby! Kevin! Somebody help me!” she screamed, giving into frustration.
Nothing. She sighed.
And then the room darkened.
Except it wasn’t the same room. She wasn’t in Grace’s house anymore.
No, that wasn’t right. Her mind was somewhere else.
Candlelight dotted the darkness. She felt completely submerged in it. Her legs gave out and she fell to the floor.
Someone was with her. She was with . . . Kevin?
And Ambrosius? She felt him, burning with desire and excitement. Her skin crawled. She tried to push him away, into the background.
A tidal wave of feeling slammed into her mind. Her spine stiffened and she cried out, something closer to a howl than anything else.
No, Kevin, it’s me. Van! You don’t hate me. Not me!
She felt his surprise. The flaring hatred left her, and she almost cried in relief.
It’s me, she answered, trying to hide her shock at the raw power she felt from him, the razor edge of emotion he’d flung at her.
What the fuck are you doing in my head? he screamed out suddenly. On the floor in Grace’s home, Van’s body arced in shock.
What’s he done to you, baby? she cried out in sorrow. She tried to reach out. Her hand burned, and she screamed.
No! No! I’m sorry! The panic in his thoughts knocked away the burning sensation as if it’d never been. I didn’t mean it. It was for him.
I think . . . maybe I heard you, somehow. Knew you were in trouble. Kevin, what’s happening to you? she asked the darkness, already knowing.
I’m . . . I’m with him. He thinks I’m his. Just like he’s wanted ever since I set him free.
The hatred ballooned, and Van clutched her head. It felt like it would explode.
Please stop! Kevin, you’re hurting me!
Why the hell are you in my head? How many more? The fear and the grief nearly sent her over the edge.
I don’t KNOW! None, no more! she screamed back. Stop hurting me!
There was nothing. The absence of emotion was like a cold slap.
Van, leave. Just go.
I’m not leaving you.
He’s going to be hurt. You will be, too, if you stay.
What do you mean? What are you going to do?
I’ve . . . changed. There’s something in me. Some power. It’s always been there. I didn’t know. But he’s going to pay for what he’s done.
No, you can’t—listen to me, Kevin. Toby and I, we love you so much. You’re going to destroy yourself trying to bring him down.
Don’t. It’s too late.
Van, I’m done. I can’t—
You can. You can’t hate him to death. You can’t kill him with it. And she touched him. She couldn’t see him, not in the physical sense, but she saw him in her mind, and she felt him, solid and warm beneath her fingers. Her palm flattened, rubbing a slow line over his smooth chest and down. His breathing quickened.
Don’t! Van, what the hell are you doing?
I’m loving you. Her fingers felt the indent of muscle at the middle of his belly and trailed downward to the fine hair below.
Feel me, she said. Not him. Not what he thinks love is. He doesn’t know. It’s been so long he’s forgotten it. All he knows is control, domination. Pity him, don’t hate him. I love you. Toby and I.
And then his cock was in her hand, hot, pulsing in her grip, and her mouth covered his slowly, wet and sweet. Her tongue caressed his as she stroked his cock. He moaned and rolled over onto her, body molding to hers, and she thrust her hips upward, pressing his cock hard into his belly. His mouth moved down to her throat and sucked the thin skin there in between his teeth gently as he entered her.
Love you, he breathed, sinking inside, and Ambrosius was outside of them, unimportant. She wrapped her legs around his waist and met his thrusts with an even, matching rhythm. She held the back of his head, stroking the short hairs at the neck, and he raised himself to fasten onto a nipple with lips and tongue, working it as she shuddered against him.
Sliding his hands in under her ass, he rolled them both over, then sat up, lifting her with him into his lap. She draped her arms around him and ducked her head, breathing in the warmth and smell of him.
You okay? he asked, pulling back to look at her. His dark eyes were uncertain.
Better than that, she sighed. He reached down to touch her, sliding a finger over her clit, rubbing back and forth. She threw her head back and he held her, kept her from falling as she impaled herself on him over and over, faster, the feeling building inside her, cresting, pulsating around his cock.
His hand rubbed over the curve of her shoulder as she came down, fingers moving to the nape of her neck and stroking through the hair there gently.
No wonder Toby loves you so damn much, she whispered. He smiled a little, his eyes filling. He rubbed his face against her cheek.
Will he still? After all this?
She felt the moisture against her face and turned to kiss it away.
We both will, I promise. Just hold on.
She woke lying on the floor, her hair in her eyes and her hands still held together by Grace’s spell. She got on her knees, her hands before her, shaking. Her legs were weak.
She wondered if she should feel guilty. She didn’t. She’d done what she wanted—shown Kevin she loved him. That he was worth loving. She’d never met anyone who needed it more. Ambrosius had nearly destroyed him.
And now Kevin was out to return the favor, no matter the cost.
She crawled to the couch and rested her arms and head on it, waiting for Grace. After awhile, she got up and walked out the door towards home.
The bedsprings creaked, and Van leaned forward, eyes widening. “Toby!” she yelled from the doorway of Toby’s room. She flung her arms up in the air. “Adam! What the fuck are you doing?”
“Adam?” Toby grabbed the sheet and pulled it over him. “What are you talking about? Are you okay?”
Van looked up at her hands, lowering them slowly. She was free. The spell might have worn off—she doubted Grace had intended to restrain her for long. But she had a feeling she’d somehow broken it. She looked from her hands to Toby again, considering.
“Van! Are you okay?” he repeated.
She was so angry with him that she had to turn away, looking at Adam instead. “You care to explain, Adam?”
Adam sat up on the bed, naked. He didn’t bother to cover up. “What’s it look like?”
“I get what it looks like, dickwad. But why?”
“Toby wants me, and I want him. Finally, after all this time,” Adam said, and then smiled, “and at the same time.” His smile faded. “I know how you feel about Kevin, Van, but I didn’t start this. Toby did. This was meant to be.”
Toby shook his head. “What the shit are you saying? What the hell’s wrong with you guys?”
Van leaned against the doorframe, studying him. “Looking at your face, I’d guess if Bro figured he couldn’t convince you to be with Adam before, even with a spell, he’d try something else. Like making you think Adam is Kevin.”
Toby wrapped the sheet around him, then came to stand over Van. He put a hand on her forehead. She jerked away.
“I’m not sick! Look at him, Toby!”
Toby looked at Adam, then back at Van. He looked confused. “I don’t understand.”
“Have you seen Ambrosius?”
“No. What makes you think I would have?” But there was something uncertain in his eyes.
“Are you sure he hasn’t been here?”
Toby looked at Van, and she saw the confusion there. “I . . . I don’t understand . . . don’t remember.” His eyes narrowed, looking off in the distance. “But . . . I think he might have been.”
Van snorted. “You think he might have been?” She held a hand out to him. Toby looked at it. Van sighed and grabbed his hand with her own, then pulled him with her to where Adam stood. She touched Adam with both their hands where they joined.
“Tresum, lend me your eyes,” she said. “Let him see through you.” Toby looked at Adam, then back at Van. Van sighed again. “Open yourself to it, Toby. It’s important. Trust me.”
Toby stayed where he was, staring at Adam, unmoving, except for his eyes, which seemed to grow larger and darker by the second. “What—Adam?” he said at last. He took a step back. “Shit!”
Adam tried to smile. “Now that’s a reaction I haven’t heard in a while,” he said. His face crumpled, just for a moment.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it that way,” Toby said, reaching out. His hand dropped before he’d touched him. “Adam . . . I can’t believe it! This is some kind of trick! Where’s Kevin?”
“He’s gone. He’s been gone, and you’ve been busy fucking it up with your best friend!” Van shouted. She looked at the floor, her fingers toying with her black choker, and tried to calm herself. “I’m sorry, really sorry. Sorry for both of you.”
Grace materialized into the room. “You think you can just pop in anytime, do you?” Van snapped.
“You called me, dear. Remember?” Grace asked. She took in Toby and Adam’s dishabille and laughed. “I’ve always said you can’t change your destiny,” she said, and laughed harder. “What will your precious Kevin say?” Toby looked stricken.
“We need your help,” Van said, ignoring her needling. “Ambrosius has Kevin.”
“And this concerns me how?” Grace replied, arching a brow. “Ambrosius will stop at nothing. He’s obsessed by the little twit.”
“You bitch—” Toby started forward.
Van grabbed his arm. “This is not the way to get her help.”
“No, indeed,” Grace agreed. “Though he looks rather fierce, doesn’t he? I’m quite petrified.”
“Why the hell didn’t you die?” Toby yelled.
“Die—oh, you saw us fly off into little pieces at the Libra Solstice and thought that was the end of us!” Grace laughed. “We can’t get rid of each other quite that easily.”
“Are you going to help or not?” Van asked.
Grace threw her a scornful look. “Why on earth would I? And why are you towing this lovesick fool around? Get rid of him.”
“Now what makes you think I’d do that?” Van asked, keeping her voice calm.
Grace looked impatient. “We’ve an agreement, silly girl. You’re my aspirant. You must obey.”
“I was your aspirant, Grace. But now, I think I’m . . . more.”
“I don’t have the patience for foolish games. You gave me your word and it’s binding,” Grace said, raising her hand in a threatening gesture. Van raised hers as well, and Grace’s brow rose. “You’d challenge me?”
“Diana joined her power with mine at the solstice. It turned back time and saved Michelle’s life. Powerful stuff. And I’m nobody’s slave. But I don’t want to sever our ties. What do you think, Grace? Wouldn’t I make a helluva ally?”
Grace considered Van for a long moment and then smiled, the planes of her face turning to hard, sculpted ivory. “I’ve said it before: you do learn quickly.”
“So where would Ambrosius go to hide out?”
“He’s always had a fondness for that horrible lighthouse. But surely he’d know he’ll be found there.”
Van paced the room. “One night when my girlfriend and I were walking past the lighthouse, we thought we saw Kevin. But it couldn’t have been him. He was in the hospital.”
“Are you so sure? How long has he been in Ambrosius’s thrall?” Grace asked, tapping her chin and looking thoughtful.
Van stared at her. “No. I’m not sure.”
“That’s not possible,” Toby said. “He died, remember? He couldn’t have been out at the lighthouse.”
“It happened. Everything fits, Bro had him before we ever knew he existed,” Van argued, but Toby still looked unconvinced. “There’s no time!” She grabbed Toby’s arm and started for the door.
Grace cleared her throat. “And how are you planning on getting there? Walking?”
Toby looked at her. “What, are you planning on hitching us up to your broom?”
Grace tapped her foot. “So predictable, aren’t you? What exactly does that brainless little blond of yours see in you?” Van grabbed Toby’s hand, forestalling any retort, and Grace continued. “Of course I’ll take the both of you. After all, why would I want Ambrosius to live happily ever after with his new little twit?” Her hand encircled Van’s wrist, and in the next instant they were gone.
The room was quiet. Adam sat on the bed, staring into space, wiping his eyes absently and wondering how he was supposed to learn how to forget Toby again.
Ambrosius was deep inside him.
He’d managed to roll on his stomach, not wanting to look into those lovesick eyes and maybe feel some compassion or empathy he’d rather have died than feel, instead holding onto the flaring wrought iron of the headboard and slamming his body back onto Bro’s savagely. Bro panted against his back as if his last breath couldn’t be far off. Kevin felt drops of sweat fall onto his back and shoulders. Once he’d turned his face and caught a drop, licking it as it rolled onto his lips and groaning as he did. Bro had almost exploded then and there, but Kevin stopped him until he was in control again. Every muscle in his body strained against Bro’s, fucking him.
Looking for a way to annihilate him.
Van had stopped him the first time, but she was gone. Ambrosius was still here, and he couldn’t get enough of Kevin. Couldn’t stop touching him. Starved for someone’s touch.
The thought lessened Kevin’s rage to something nearly manageable. Not acceptable.
Who are you seeing? Is it Raymond beneath you? Or me?
Kevin concentrated on being Raymond, and Bro’s hand shook, sliding up and down Kevin’s cock. It made Kevin glad. Raymond, yeah. You’re fucking Raymond. The man who died because of you. Yeah, that’s it. Kevin’s stomach tensed as he grew closer to orgasm. His eyes closed.
Bro pounded into him. At least it made him feel. It hurt. It felt good.
He reached back and up, pulling Bro’s shoulder closer. The loss of the arm to prop himself up nearly brought him down, but he managed to stay on his knees. His mouth closed on Bro’s shoulder and he bit down hard, screaming between his teeth and tipping over the edge, exploding, coming like a freight train. Bro screamed with him, but in pain.
It felt good when pretty much everything else from here on out was guaranteed to feel like shit. Kevin wiped the blood off his mouth on the bed cover.
“God,” said a trembling voice from behind him, and Kevin’s mind shut down rather than listen to the pain in it.
Grace, Van and Toby had materialized at the foot of the small white steps leading into the lighthouse. The door was locked, but that was no problem for Grace. They climbed the winding, rusted steps inside the building, the sounds of their passing echoing against the walls. They looked upward at dim light emanating from a doorway above them as they climbed. Reaching the doorway, they stepped out into the room.
A bed. Red brocade covering. An iron headboard with slinking shadows cast by the flickering candles around the room.
And there they were, on the bed, sketched in night strokes contrasted with candlelight: Ambrosius’s powerful frame moving in the yellow glow, crouched over Kevin. Kevin, dark shadows pooling in the curves and hollows of his body, straining muscles highlighted orange and yellow. Head thrown back against Bro’s shoulder, blond hair shining.
Sweat. Deep, groaning breaths. The sounds of their bodies slapping together.
And so much pain, raw, not seen but felt. It was heavy in the air.
“God. Get off him!” Toby rushed to the bed. Grace laughed and Bro looked at her, his face a tight snarl. Kevin felt every muscle in the body against his tightening. Saw the rage on Bro’s face and saw Raymond, on the ground, writhing, burning up. Grace’s face as she killed him.
Nearly two hundred years of remembering. Of being alone. And then, freedom. A second chance.
What if the person Ambrosius wants to spend all of eternity with now is murdered in front of him, too? But this time, by Ambrosius’s own hand?
What if, instead of owning Bro’s soul . . . I kill it?
Kevin’s mouth twisted. He bowed his head and took a deep breath, concentrating.
I’m Grace. Grace with the pretty flowing hair and the long lovely body. The hag, the witch, the bitch. I am her. I am your worst nightmare, Bro. I’ll rip your cock off with my teeth when I’m done with you.
And you’re inside me. You’re about to come inside me.
Bro’s eyes went wide. His thighs trembled against Kevin’s ass. He threw back his head and came, jerking hard against Kevin. Kevin clung to the curving iron of the headboard, head down as if in prayer. Felt the beating of his own heart. Felt Ambrosius pulsating inside him. On and on, forever.
But it did end. Bro opened his eyes. “Grace,” he said, soft and deadly, but his eyes were on the bowed head beneath him.
“No!” Van screamed. “Kevin!”
Kevin convulsed beneath Bro, a fish jerked up on a line. It wasn’t sex, wasn’t ecstasy. It was the furthest thing from it. It was brutal.
It was death.
The room began to brighten with a cold light, and Kevin opened his eyes, collapsing to the bed. He stared at Van, at the power and the light coming from her. So beautiful.
The dream. How did I forget? “No!” he cried out. “Don’t! Not for me!”
He tried to hide from the light, but she thrust it at him anyway. He felt the impact, felt it dance over his skin until it was finally sucked inside.
When he came back to himself, Ambrosius had disappeared. Toby was on the bed and had pulled him to his lap, kissing his face, his hands, anything he could reach. Kevin wanted to hold him more than anything, but he couldn’t. He felt dead inside.
“I love you, love you,” Toby said, over and over, still kissing him. “I’ll never let you go again.”
“Van’s dead,” Kevin whispered into Toby’s ear. His voice broke. “She did it for me. It’s my fault.”
“No,” Toby said, pulling back. “She drove Bro away. She beat him.” He stared down into Kevin’s eyes. He shook his head slowly. “No,” he breathed.
Grace knelt, her movements oddly jerky. “Van?” She reached out for Van’s outstretched body on the floor. Her hands shook. She touched Van’s face, still and smooth as a child’s.
And then Grace sobbed.