Tuesday, November 24, 2015

fic: Santa Clarita: Frozen Heart 1/1

Santa Clarita: Frozen Heart: End of the Arc
by Max

disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing.

Note: Oh my goodness... this whole Santa Clarita storyline... from the moment Duo got kicked back in time, raising the cow, learning where meat comes from, raising the Aztec, so many little silly stories - I always thought this story was going back to Heero and Duo’s science center... that they’d come waltzing in victorious and that would be that. In then... I guess that’s not what’s happening. Took me completely by surprise... but this story was always more about my own therapy than entertaining others. I’m deeply grateful for those of you who gave me feedback over the course of this story. I can’t express my gratitude enough.  The last couple years have been very formative and occasionally dark for me, but you all kept me company like the best of human community - so thank you :)

Frozen Heart: End of Santa Clarita

Duo stared at himself in the mirror, toothbrush in his mouth, just paused there as he studied his face. Everything was fine. His grades were good. The therapist they sent him said he was fine. Okay. So that morning he couldn’t really get it up. He moved the toothbrush a little more, working over his canine, pointy as it was. He didn’t think Heero minded. He shrugged. After all, he finished Heero by hand, and well, everything was good. He went back to brushing, eyes still looking into his own violet eyes.


It wasn’t good.

Something was wrong. Deeply wrong.

In fact, as he looked back over the last two years, the last time everything had been okay was when they’d been in Rio.  That shitty apartment in that favela - he’d been okay. He’d loved Heero and Heero had loved him.  

Right there with a toothbrush in his mouth, paste hanging from his lip, violet eyes staring at himself in the mirror.... he tried to find the error... where things went to shit.

Well, of course, they’d gotten arrested and tried. Fuckers.... fuck those fuckers who found them guilty. And then foster homes, really?  He spit, rinsed, broke the toothbrush in half, just holding it in one hand, staring at himself, trying to understand. Everything he’d done.... so many stupid little things... being a cheerleader in high school? Laughing over sandwiches at a lunch table... fucking with dead bodies to try to bring them back to life... like that had some value? Really? He dropped the broken brush and put his hands over his face.

He felt like a whole life had gone by... there were so many things.... bits of life that happened that couldn’t have happened. He’d lived a huge life in the last two years, but it was all disjointed and crazy.

He caught Heero in the bathroom doorway, watching him. Looking at Heero, really looking at Heero, caught his breath.  Smooth body, pale honey skin, those fucking blue eyes. He was smart, cunning, strong, brave... and it hurt, the waking back up after having been in a haze for so long.

“I love you.”

“I know,” Heero said, head tilting slightly. “Tell me your thoughts?”

“Is there any chance you might wear a pigeon feather in your hair?”


“Have I been insane for a while?”

“Please provide parameters for how I should come to that conclusion?”

Duo turned away from the mirror, boosted up onto the bathroom counter. He pulled one knee up and rested his chin on it. “I think... I’ve been delusional. I feel like I’ve just woke up.... I have this whole story in my head though... you going into Native American stuff, wearing this feather I left in your room, time travel, life this whole other life....” Duo pressed his hands to his face. “My god. It’s so complicated. Have I been going to high school?”

“You have not left this campus in two years. I just arrived last night. After I evaded their custody, it took me a long time to find you. I believe we are in a virtual reality that functions with incredible fidelity to the physical world. I don’t know how long we have until the intelligence overseeing this world notices this conversation.”

“Fuck me.” Duo said, running a hand through his hair, his heart beating faster, panic trying to take him over. A chill went over his shoulders, settled in the pit of his stomach.  It made sense. The Heero he’d been sleeping with for the last year hadn’t really been... Heero.  He reached out to touch his reflection in the mirror.

Here he had family. He was safe. He had love. He had everything he’d always dreamed of having. He was a doctor. He was a child. Wufei was his best friend.

What had he had before.... fear and pain, endlessly, and war and death, so much war and death. His fingers lingered on the smooth surface of the mirror. It felt real. It did. His friend Jazz felt real. His daughter Poppy.

But... he couldn’t remember the names of the other children who lived on the ranch. The days didn’t play out in order, really, everything was a jumble and the more he thought about his experiences, the less... real they felt.

When he turned to look at Heero, it was like seeing in high resolution, but the rest of his life was blurry. “Heero.... why are you here?”

Stiff shoulders, recently healed abrasions on his jaw that still discolored the skin, calloused, almost bony fingers.... the kind of hardness that was rough, tough, shouldering the world, and Heero looked nothing at all like a seventeen year old boy. There was something in those blue eyes though, like a storm of chaos, many answers being true at the same moment, love and irritation, need and weakness, strength and arrogance, and so many complicated layers made the color in those eyes, the mind beyond.  “I came for you because I want you with me. My world is not complete without you. You are the most vibrant person I’ve ever meet. You deserve more than this.”

When Duo blinked, the world changed and he was in an apartment that he and Heero shared, in their first year of college. He remembered every day between that broken toothbrush and this one. He remembered when he and Heero got married. He remembered .. but the details were... fuzzy.. and the more he thought about them, the fuzzier they got.

“Heero,” he called wandering into the study room. Heero sat there, typing away, the familiar pigeon feather in his hair and Duo felt a sudden rush of pleasure, of being home and safe.

Heero turned and smiled at him, blue eyes gentle and peaceful. “Duo. You’re home. I made dinner. How are you?”

“My god,” Duo said, crossing the room to touch his cheek, the feather in his hair. “You’re so beautiful.”

“What’s wrong,” Heero asked, standing up, hands moving to cup Duo’s face.

“Do you remember the day I broke the toothbrush? In the bathroom? That day we were making love, and it was my turn to top, but I couldn’t get it up?”

Heero made a face like he was thinking about it, but then shook his head. “No. Is it important?”

“Yeah, kinda,” Duo said, feeling a ball of dread in his stomach, his throat tightening.  There were two Heeros. This one, who he loved as much as one could, was not the man he had been in Rio with. This was not the man he’d fucked while half dead from a gunshot wound.

“What’s wrong,” Heero asked, arching an eyebrow. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“Kinda did.”

“I’ll put toothbrushes on the shopping list, then?”

Duo wanted to go hug this Heero, to be grateful, to something, to ask if he were even fully real.  Would he miss him after he was gone?  Was he real enough to feel pain?

“I have to go call Martha,” Duo said. “Don’t worry about the toothbrush.”

“Okay,” Heero said, smiling peacefully as he went back to the art he was drawing.

It made the entire world feel like a moldy sweater, like something he could bear to keep next to his bare skin any longer. He backed away, pivoted, walking away with as normal a gait as he could.

His entire understanding of his world shifted sideways, like sand so fine he could barely see it, let alone hold it. He didn’t want this to be the case. He didn’t want his family to go away. He didn’t want Poppy to never have been real. He didn’t want any of his life to change - but yet - he did.

He wanted the Heero Yuy who would never wear a pigeon feather. He wanted the Heero Yuy who would search for him. He wanted... truth.

So he was out of the apartment, running, barefoot, his braid whipping behind him, and the concrete under his feet feeling no more abrasive than air. All the details in the world that weren’t really there felt more like paper and his head hurt, stabbed, and his stomach flipped and whirled and then he was in the same ravaged down where he’d met Allen, the buildings ruined, the stench of rotting flesh in the air with gunpowder and the oxidation of afterburn.

He ran his hands in to his sweaty, tangled hair, and did his best not to puke up food that wasn’t real. Slowly the world turned around him, as if he were on a display, a doll in a trophy case, and he hurt so badly, everything hurt - his heart, his feet that now felt all that running with his soles on the concrete, his heart which had been so numb during this battle, but so numb in all the days after Rio too... his hand grabbed his chest, as if he could reach his heart, to restart it, to feel again and he dropped to his knees... and he remembered.

Allen was dead.

The glass didn’t just take Allen’s eyes in that battle. The man who’d made a home for him, cared for him, stood up for him, protected him, read him stupid bedtime stories, taught him to play, to live, to love school, to cook pizza, to love stupid TV, who promised never to leave him, to always be his father - that man was dead before he’d ever met him, and dead in a battle that Duo had been fighting in.

“NOOOOOOOO! Oh god! No! This isn’t real!”

Martha sat down next to him in the rubble of that town, sipping coffee, her white lab coat untouched by the dirt and debris in some surreal fairytale of existence. “It’s real and I hated you for it.”

“I’m sorry!” Duo sobbed, falling forward, his face on his arms, sobbing, “I’m sorry! I tried to save him! I did! Oh god! I just... I just wanted to save the people in the town! I didn’t want anyone to die!”

She sipped her coffee. “I know. I understand now. I was going to torment you. I was going to make you love him and then live in this ruined city for the rest of your life. I wanted to drive you insane.”

“But,” he said, violet eyes wide with horror, “You’re my mom!”

She rolled her eyes, sipped her coffee. “I am now. It’s really disturbing.”

He sat up, wiped his nose on the back of his arm and squinted at her. “You’re telling me. You’re my mom.. adopted, but my mom... Do you hate me?”

“No. I love you. I didn’t then, but as I watched you live... here in my world... I came to love you, just as I loved Allen, though not sexual, like it was with him. I rebuilt him, here... in large part because of how he interacted with you. You saved him. You saved me.”

“Is Joel real? What about Heero? What about everyone else?”

“Joel is real, the fucking bastard. Yes, you saved him too.”

“What happens now? The real Heero was here... like years ago.”

“He penetrated the system twenty-three seconds ago. I wasn’t ready to let you go.”

“Did you hurt him?”

She pointed to a small table on the ground next to them. “Drink. You’re going to need the energy. Your physical body is weak. It’s going to sting when I let you go.”
“I don’t understand. So you didn’t hurt Heero? He’s not really here?”

“No, Sleeping Beauty. I didn’t hurt him. He loves you. That love is so bright in his mind.” She smiled at him, a tight small smile. “You are chaotic and wild and you will never be anything else. You can always come home, Duo. Because of you, there will always be a home to come home to. If you decide you are tired of the meat suit, come back to me.”

“Martha... was anything real?”

“Everything is real, Duo,” she said, “Just real in different ways. Our emails will still work. Joel and Allen will not know you’re not here. Be careful what you say. If you see Joel in the physical world, be very careful. He’s very dangerous.”

“I’m sorry I hurt you,” he said. “You’re my only mom.”

“I am your mother,” she said sternly, “In all the ways that matter. I expect an invitation to the wedding.” She reached out and touched his cheek. In that motion, the ruined city turned back into her lab, in the house, the place he’d done so much homework, cooked up so many schemes. “Also, you didn’t really think you could raise the dead or that some strange Aztec hybrid woman would throw corn flakes all over you, did you?”

“It seemed real at the time,” Duo admitted, face long. “When she punched out the middle of my hand, that hurt like a bitch.”

“As well it should. Don’t put your hands where people can stab them.”

“That’s a little cynical,” Duo said, drinking his coffee because she said to.  “If this is just a virtual reality, why don’t you come with me? Everyone.”

“Having a physical body is exhausting and I have a lot of work to do. You dreamed up the clan... going to make them real so that Allen and Joel can live forever and spread across the universe.”

“Was Poppy real?”

“She was real to you. Real children are much more difficult.”

“How many real children do you have?”

“Just you. I was never dumb enough to get pregnant. You’re my only child. After I stopped hating you, I tried to be a good mother. Do you think I did a good job?”

“You’re the only mom I’ve ever known, Martha.  Right now it’s really hard to decide what’s real and what’s not real, but I’m different than I was when I fought this battle, for hating my guts, I think you did a great job. Thanks.”

“Allen would have really loved you. He would have given his life for you. He would have been proud to have been your parent, Duo Maxwell. I still can’t believe you didn’t know where meat came from.”

“Hey! Circumstances,” Duo said shoulders hunched, and then, he wasn’t a high schooler or a college kid, but a 600 year old doctor who had watched his daughter die. He’d lived all that life, no matter what the physical facts were.  “I came from a poor background! I was just a kid, so don’t give me shit.”

She rolled her eyes and sipped her coffee. “It’s going to be a little hard at first,” she said. “Your body is still only fifteen. Trust me on that. I’ve looked through your mental files more than anyone else ever could.  You were thirteen at the end of the war. Your body is fifteen now. I’ve vaccinated you to everything I can, but you will start aging again. Come visit me and I’ll make you a new body in a hundred years or so.”

He reached out to take her hand, which felt so real in his, smiling, a hint of the boy what was never going to leave the man. “I’ll stay in touch.”

“Good. I’ll take care of your Pigeon Feather Heero. Now, get out, before I change my fucking mind, Brat.”

He gasped, hair like sand in his lungs. Pain lanced through his body, arms and legs, and then he was falling. The room was too bright, too cold. Coughing, thick fluid burned it’s way out of his throat. Hard points caught him, pressed to his shoulders, then his back as he rolled. Up and down was so were so hard assign. For a moment, he thought he was dying, that something had gone wrong and he was dying. The image of Heero’s vivid blue eyes, the cunning, acidic, brilliant personality behind them, that image formed in his head and he accepted, that if he died getting back to the real Heero, he’d rather die trying than give up.

“I’ve got you,” that beautiful, rough and mostly unused voice said, impatient and expressive all in the same moment.

The next moment he felt straps on his wrists, legs, across his waist, beeping, lights, uneven floor... they were in flight.  Tightness in his chest... dry mouth, pain in his fingers, and his mind raced... Martha hadn’t dissolved his body like she did hers... she’d kept his actual body in sensory deprivation for two years. “Fucking bitch,” he breathed, his own voice rough, cracking. Fucking actual puberty... he did not want that again.  “God damn.”

“Duo,” Sally said calmly, “Please relax. We are evacuating you now. You’re going to be fine.”

He blinked at her, at the patronizing calm tone, her smile... passive and fucking patronizing, but god, “It’s good to see you, Doctor. I’m potassium deficient and I’m likely going to need you to restart my heart in under five minutes, unless you give me a shot of adrenalin.”

“Just relax. I’m going to take care of you.”

“You’re gonna do what I say on my care or I withdraw my consent for treatment.”

“You’re not rational right now, Duo. You’ve been held for two years. Try to be calm. I know what I’m doing.”

“Fuck if you do, arguing with a patient. Heero! Unstrap me.”

“Acknowledged,” Heero agreed, moving to release the straps.

“Don’t listen to him, Heero! For heaven’s sake!”

“Adrenalyn, now,” Duo said, head going light, heartbeat going irregular.

Heero scanned the medical kit, picked up what Duo seemed to be asking for.

Duo grabbed it, hand shaking, pulled the needle cover with his teeth and put the long needle deep in his naked thigh. After a moment he leaned his head back, groaned, “Oh fuck. I love adrenalyn! Out of my way, doctor,” he said, slipping to his knees in front of her kit, rummaging through it for several other things. The sensors on his vitals showed them stabilizing. The color in his face normalized as he scooted over to Heero. Heero wrapped him in a blanket, put a nervous arm around him and there they sat on the floor of the medical chopper.

“How... how did you know what to do? No one has ever recovered from... that experience? We’ve lost three other victims. How did you know what to do?”

“Martha... she... I had to do it to her once. She,” Duo pressed against Heero, soaking in his heart beat, the chill in the air, the real in all the world. “She... must have known she’d let me go. She trained me. Besides, I’ve fucking been to medical school twice. I’ve been a trauma surgeon, delivered a hundred and nineteen babies, and I fucking know how to sort a trauma issue.”  He smiled, to soften his words. “Thanks, Sally. I appreciate all you’ve ever done for me.”

Shy, Heero touched Duo’s hair, the sweaty bangs on his face.  “You okay?”

He smiled at Heero, a grin as wide as all the wild in his blood, as bright as all the good intentions in his soul. “Yeah, Baby. I’m fucking fantastic. It’s good to see you.”

Note: These characters will continue... I might even find another Santa Clarita story from time-to-time, but it’s got a finish now.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Shadowed Wish 1/?

The Shadowed Wish
by Max

copyright 2015, all rights reserved

Story Statement: Taylish Morgan relives his life as a way to prevent his death and be reunited with his husband.

Note: So I’m going to write it out, then edit for a paperback version. This should be a whole novel. :)

The voice is soft, a nice tenor voice, a little smoky, and it whispered so close that breath seemed to caress chill skin, exposed cheek, chill burned ear, “Wake up you sorry mother fucker.”

Taylish’s eyes snapped open, cloudy green staring at the ceiling of the morgue. The cold in his bones was as if they’d turned to stone, heavy and dark. Moving his fingers hurt, tweeking nerves all the way up his scalp, but the desire to move was too strong to resist.

Sense of smell returned next, thick and sweet to him with the addicting scent of his favorite cigarettes. Returning life hit him hardest when the memory of his husband spilled into his thoughts, one detail at a time, like some field of wildflowers opening in time lapse film - the red of his hair, fine and lifting on the breeze, eyes like twilight, but the part of the sky that was holding onto the day as if it would never let go, dark amethyst and full of secrets, and  even though he watched Daniel smiling at him, the breeze lift his hair, he could smell the warmth of his skin, familiar and sweet, and fuck, being alive was worth any price.

“You’re wrong,” another voice snarled, “you stupid boy, and you’re weak and you’re stupid on top of it.”  Kai growled, the puffed another small cloud of Taylish’s favorite imported cigarette smoke from thin pale lips.

Taylish forced himself to sit up. The cold metal slab he lay on was about as forgiving as everything else in his life. Stiff sheet fell to his lap and he took a deep shuddering breath that felt like bits of granite exploding in his lungs, ripping throbbing headache over his scalp, and then, without further warning, all the color came back to his vision like a laser to his brain. “Oh. shit.”

“Yeah, yeah, resurrection hurts like a bitch, stop whining. If you get your ass dressed, I'll buy you breakfast. Coffee always helps me.”

Taylish arched an eyebrow. What ever was in place of his stomach didn't fucking want food, ever. “Who the hell are you?”

“I am Kai. I'm your biological father, much to my deep surprise. It has brought me much educational humility.”

“You made me insane.” Tay accused as he grabbed the tee-shirt from the foot of the bed. “I've been in the mental hospital for six years! I don't know what the fuck you are, but I am going to find out?”

“You really are stubborn and stupid Taylish Morgan.” Kai sighed and took another drag on the cigarette. “Who or what I am doesn't matter.”

Taylish grabbed the jeans, glaring angrily at the other man. “Are those my cigarettes?”

“Yeah, but you were dead, so I figured you wouldn't mind. You're gonna want to wait another couple minutes before you stand up, sweetie.”

The last thing Taylish wanted to do was anything this jerk wanted him to do, but on the whole, his legs felt worse than his stomach. His memory was in bits and pieces and he thought he was more zombie than miracle recipient.  “So how did I get into the morgue?”

“Heart attack. You were in here for a week.  My beloved declared a hunt and I didn’t pick up my messages for a few days. Sorry about that.”

“Oh yeah, no problem,” Taylish said, trying to figure out how any of this fit together. “I didn’t mind being dead at all, I don’t think,” he said, sarcastically, which oddly enough helped him feel the edges of himself, of his identity, like slowly making his way down the hall in the dark. Then feeling came back to his hand like some nerve spasmic hangover and he doubled over the bunched up denim. The weight of a whole life pressed down on him, maybe like some perverted hangover where his life was vomited up over his nerves, back out his soul and all he could hope was that he had a fucking good time getting this god damn fucked up. He actually looked at his hand then, at the bent fingers, wrinkled skin, skin that was too big for his bones, and he forced himself back up and stared. His poor broken mind could see the same hand reaching out to brush red hair back from Daniel’s face, strong and young, a wedding ring silver on his finger, but then at the same time, there was this old man hand without even a suntan line from a ring that must have been gone for a lifetime. “What the fuck happened to me?”

“Well,” Kai said, sounding more apologetic and less like the arrogant asshole he probably was, “I tried to save you. I really shit at it. The only person I’ve ever been any good for is Dorian and he’s not like anyone else. Look, get dressed, Tay. You’re going to need some breakfast.”

Shaken, he turned so his legs hung over the metal slab and shook out the jeans. “What year is it?”

“2054. a nice number over all. Two and four is six, which is one more than five. Nice pattern.”

Taylish cocked an eyebrow and glared for a moment for jumping off the slab like he was a twenty year old not fucking old zombie man. “I thought it was 2010.”  His lips went numb and he leaned against the slab as he fastened his jeans. The cold of the morgue floor against his feet actually felt good, grounding, as if he could somehow just pull 44 years out of his fucking ass. “44 years... where’s Daniel.”

“He died in 2010,” Kai said, and he continued to talk.

Whatever he said after 2010 couldn’t make it past the roar in Taylish’s ears. “Daniel.” The tears that slipped down his face followed hot tracks, but felt empty to him, and nothing made any kind of sense. Broken, he turned to the other man, the man who looked like he was 19 and yet claimed to be his biological father and for a moment, Taylish wanted to promise himself it was all a dream, just a really shitty shitty dream. “Why the fuck did you wake me up,” he asked, voice breaking.

“I,” Kai said and he paused, his own history and choices conflicting in his eyes for a moment, “I want to save you. I was born a man of Earth. My heart lies elsewhere. I belong to my king through my soul and bones, but you’re my only blood and I love you. I have a way to fix this, but it’s just once chance and your chances of saving him are obscenely small. The dead are supposed to stay dead.” Kai reached inside his pants pocket and pulled out a small black coin, holding it up between his middle and pointer fingers as if that was supposed to mean something.

“What do I have to do?”

“I don’t really know,” Kai confessed, “But I can send you back to when you met him so you can figure it out. Don’t think this was cheap or I’ll be able to do it again. If you get it wrong, you and he are both dust and I can’t bring you back again. Do you understand that this is one shot?”

“I don’t understand anything,” Taylish said as he pushed away from the slab. He ran his hands over his head, expecting long blond curls and finding only wrinkled skin. He stood proud though in a ruined body, “But I’ll do what I need to to figure it out. What do I need to do?”

Kai jumped up, winked, and shoved the coin back in his pocket. “Well, first there will be breakfast, then I’ll send you back in time. It’s gonna hurt like a bitch. You deserve it, just so you know.”

“You are too weird to be my biological father. My dad’s a preacher.”

“I love Peace. He’s a good man,” Kai said, holding open the door, motioning for Taylish to come along.

“Shoes? Did you bring me shoes?” Taylish asked wincing as he padded across the cold floor.

“I brought you back from the dead. I forgot the shoes. I think I’m more ahead than not. I’m ready for my thank you now.”

Taylish thought that serious disdain ought to look at least more significant on an old face. He did his best to scowl with the gravity that a bald old man ought to have.

“Waaaa,” Kai said, pointing at one of the morgue doctors, who was slumped over a desk, sleeping with his mouth wide open. “He’s about your size. Take his shoes.”

“I’m not taking some poor dude’s shoes!” Tay wrinkled his nose looking around the office space. There was the one doctor stretched out on his desk, a woman on her back on the floor, her coffee congealing around her head and another woman who seemed to have slid down the wall, her phone still clutched in her hand. “Did you hurt these people?”

Kai spun walking backwards with grace and charm, a huge grin on his face, “I was about to wake the dead. I needed them to leave me alone.”  He made a dismissive wave with his hand batting the air above his head. “Don’t worry, they’ll wake up in a couple of days, and my goodness! You are so fucking picky. Insane for 40 years and dead of a heart attack for a week and you’re still more cop that not. I got gangster in my blood and so did your mom. I don’t know how you run to tenth degree cop.” Kai spun back around and strode towards the exit.

“What do you know about my mom,” Taylish yelled, running to keep up.

Once outside, the night was even colder and the concrete made the linoleum seem really kind. “Fuck it’s cold!”

Kai rubbed his forehead, staring out the side of his eyes, as if the idea of cold was just the strangest thing and he couldn’t really respond. “My car will be here in a moment. I’ll order you some shoes. Fuck me, mortals are pathetic.”

“Like you’re not mortal, you fucking psychopath!”

The movement was like smeared ink and suddenly Kai was in Taylish’s face, eyes obsidian black, polished and cold, “The cold doesn’t bother me, but other things in this world bother me a lot. I just brought you back from the dead, boy. Watch your mouth.”

The hair Taylish didn’t have stood on end and his heart felt tight as he leaned back a little. The face, inches from his, was not human. “I’m sorry.”

Immediately, Kai was back in the place he’d been, looking like a slightly sketchy slouch. “Great.  I don’t like you old. I liked you better young.”  When his fingers flicked, for a moment Taylish saw them as long and black, with claws, almost like living wands.

The air left his lungs and he went to one knee, face twisting up and a headache like twenty hangovers in one hit him. When breath came back, he coughed, going down on all fours. His hands were young. They were the hands he remembered. Blond curls brushed his cheeks and in that moment, he could see the likeness between himself and this surreal otherworldly wizard. Things that had never made sense, now somehow did, even if all the puzzle pieces were scattered and tumbled. The worst though was the hunger like his stomach had become the Oroboros and there was never going to be enough food.

A black Mustang rolled and Kai gestured at it. Both the front and back doors opened, revealing and elegant black leather space that looked more like a living room than any care Taylish had ever imagined. Kai grinned brilliantly, eyes sparkling playfully. “Come on, I’m hungry.” He held up one hand, fingers spread. “So much magic use! I’m going to be drained for a decade.”

Whatever else was true... this man had power. Taylish found strength, and rose. He settled into the car. His truth was that while he didn’t understand everything. He knew he’d do what he needed to to make sure he found his way back to Daniel and that Daniel was safe. In the privacy of his thoughts, he whispered his love to his husband as the car doors shut.  Whatever he needed to do. He’d find his way home.