There is really nothing worse than a welcome home party.
It’d taken a week for Alessa to dig up some people to welcome Rob home. They were a mixture of Rob’s old friends from years before combined with Eric and Alessa’s new friends and various family and business relations. It had just taken the direct intervention from his stepmother to get him away from his former reality TV producer, since no one else was interested enough in him to put him out of his misery.
“Alessa went a little over board, didn’t she?” Lisa said guiding him to ‘someone he just had to talk to’.
Rob gave a noncommittal shrug, “She texted me a warning about thirty seconds before he cornered me. It’s not terribly bad. I’ll need a get a job somehow and I kind of missed high school.”
“You’ll make it up somehow.” Lisa said, grabbing a passing wine glass.
“Get my GED,” Rob replied bitterly, “Ric’s the genius, remember.”
Lisa glowered at Rob. He had given her much the same response about his time away as he’d given Eric. All anyone in the family had deciphered was he hadn’t left of his own free will and he hadn’t expected to return.
“You can set this house on fire with a thought and without harming a single party guest, I think you can work your way around some standardized testing. Maybe even go to college.” She said attempting a hopeful, encouraging, motherly tone.
“And what would I do then? I don’t think they offer degrees in exploding houses yet.” he muttered, too quietly to be heard by anyone other than his stepmother, who mastered the art of hearing whispers.
“Give it another year,” Lisa said, her expression softening, “meanwhile, maybe you could listen to your brother’s plans for the future.”
Rob smirked, “What’s that? Getting drunk? Going to raves? I was half expecting him to cut out before tonight, take some random vacation to a European ski resort or surfing in Australia.”
Lisa rolled her eyes, “No. He’s been working on how to better the world through sorcery. He has an idea for storing arcane energy for later use. He thinks he could use it to power generators.”
“Huh,” Rob said, “That was his idea? I said that before I left. I was trying to figure out what I was burning when I set shit on fire. It would take forever to make any sizable amount. You’d need mechanization and you’d need a… good spot to set up in.”
“Yeah, he said that. Somewhere where energy converges.”
“Finding that spot. A) would be impossible, and B) would be expensive. It would be downtown somewhere.” Rob replied, “When did he start thinking about this on a serious level?”
“A year or so after you left. Right around the time he really seemed to gain control over his powers. It was New Years,” she said counting to herself, “Twenty twenty seven. He woke up and was just so … animated. I swore Alessa had slipped him something, but it never wore off.”
“So he just woke up one day a completely different person,” There was a note of concern in Rob’s voice.
Lisa sighed, “I think he just made a decision to control his gift and not let it control him. For the first time he put his own needs before those of the dead, like a normal person. He had to overcome this on his own, none of us knew what he was going through.”
“And I just left him in the middle of it all.”
She put an arm around him, “I don’t want to make you think we blame you for anything. It just might have hit Eric hard. It hit your father hard, too. He connected to you more than he ever connected to your brother.”
“Oh, I know the whole story,” Rob said, “I’ve had time to think about that. Eric is Dad, back when he was our age, I’m what Dad thought he was. I think he still has that problem and he can’t admit he and Eric have more in common.”
“I never really noticed that.” Lisa said.
Rob shrugged, “You never met him back before Mom died. He would do the same things Ric would do. You know, pretend to be someone else to impress people. Act a lot happier than he really was. He stopped doing that before he met you. That’s why he isn’t here tonight. He can’t fake being happy to see me.”
“Rob! He was happy to see you!”
“Happy yes, but he’s pissed I wouldn’t tell him anything else.” he paused, “There was this one moment he wanted to slap me and I he just realized he couldn’t. I’m as tall as him, I’m an adult, and I don’t even look at him like he’s my father.”
She sighed, “Rob it’s been tough on us. We missed you and we missed out on your life. You’re a stranger who walked back into our lives.”
“I…” he hesitated, struggling to find the words. “missed it too. I …. didn’t have a … normal experience. Please don’t cry.”
It was too late. She had tears streaming down her face, smearing her make up.
“Why can’t you just tell us?” she begged.
He turned away, “Because it wouldn’t change anything.”
He flinched as he heard her storm away. He looked around the room where no one had noticed the guest of honor get in an argument with his stepmother.
How easy it was to feel alone in a crowded room. He closed his eyes and debated leaving when he felt a familiar twinge. He opened his eyes and scanned the crowd. Locked on target he slid through the groups of revelers. No one stopped him or even looked at him twice. He was heading for the woman in the black gown, the only woman who was wearing anything resembling a gown.
He would have loved to stealth up behind her, but that wasn’t going to happen. He hadn’t exactly chosen a discreet color.
“Crimson,” She said, watching him approach, “Where did you even get a crimson suit?”
“It was on sale, I have no idea why,” he said, straightening his jacket. The button down shirt was black to provide contrast, along with a silver tie, which had been more along the lines of ‘what goes with red and black?’ “I’m glad you came, Helena.”
Helena stared at him searching, before walking over and gripping him close, “I am so sorry. I didn’t want to-, I mean, I regretted sending you.” she said, her voice breaking as she stumbled through her apology.
“It wasn’t just you, there were other forces at work you couldn’t have foreseen.”
She looked up at him like she could find an explanation on written across his forehead, “I swear I saw you die.”
“What can I say, I’m a superhero. If you don’t find a body, I’m probably alive.” he grinned, his hands idly sliding to her sides “and even then don’t count me out.”
She pulled away before he could encircle her with his arms, “You probably hate me.” She quickly wiped a tear away before Rob could notice it.
“Sometimes. I was able to spread the pain around a bit. Usually, I wasn’t thinking of you with hate. I had other emotions when it came to you.”
She blushed though it was barely visible through her makeup , “That’s how I knew I did something wrong. I- we, never should have done that.” she stammered out.
He shrugged, “Then I’d still be a virgin.”
“What? No pretty girls wherever you were?” she said, a note of sarcasm tinging her voice.
“None I was willing to touch and were willing to let me touch.” Rob said, he paused, attempted an innocent gaze, “I was pretty lonely while I was gone.”
“Rob, that was one night.” she replied, taking a not-so-subtle step back.
“Does it have to be?” he asked, hopefully, “I’m not saying anything tonight. I’d like to see… you know. If maybe there was something more.”
She considered him for several moments, “It depends. Where have you been?”
“Around,” he answered, “Does it matter? I’m home now.”
She edged further away, “Yes, it does. I know what’s out there, I have ideas of where you might have been and what you might have done to get back here. I need to know.”
He hesitated for a moment longer, “Wales, tenth or eleventh century, I’m not really sure.” he stepped closer to her, “They weren’t particularly up on dates and I couldn’t really communicate for the first year I was there.”
Helena simply stared at him in disbelief, “That’s impossible.”
“I wish it was, but I was there.”
“There’s no way you could have gone there – then – and returned, There is no one alive could could have crafted such a spell.”
“Alive today, not then.” Rob replied, closing the distance so he could keep his voice low.
Helena was silent while she thought through what he was saying, shook her head, “If you’re saying who I think your saying, he was supposed to be active in the fifth century.”
“Nephilim.” Rob said as if that explained everything, “Who else would be allowed to guard it?”
“You saw it?”
Rob shook his head, “Never. I knew it was there though.”
“God hates the nephilim.”
“Angels hate the nephilim.” Rob corrected, “they’re kind of racist. God doesn’t care enough to hate.”
Helena shook her head and tried to make sense of what he was telling her, “But why would he-.” she began, but she was cut off by Rob kissing her.
He held her long, drawing out the event and holding her tightly. He finally released her when he thought she wouldn’t immediately continue speaking, “I told you, does that at least get me a date? We can talk more later.”
“I guess,” she replied ruefully, “that kiss would have been inappropriate if I’d said no.”
“I felt like I deserved at least that,” he glanced around to see if anyone had been paying attention, “did you come alone?”
She frowned, “I brought my brother along as a bodyguard, but he seems more interested in other bodies than mine. He disappeared with a pair of twins.”
“You need a bodyguard?” Rob asked.
“I don’t think so, the others have different ideas,” she replied, trying to catch sight of where she’d last seen her brother, “our policy is to never travel alone.”
“How long are you in town?”
Helena glanced back at him before returning to her scan of the room, “A few weeks. I made up some reasons to be here beyond just coming here. I have to stay and complete them.”
“You’ve graduated high school?”
“I was tutored, tested out over a year ago. So, effectively, yes. Though I’d like to attend college. My duties have so far prevented that.” she said.
“What would you study?”
“I have no idea. One of the more important reasons I’ve never taken the leap.” she shook her head, “I need to find Gabriel.” She said pulling away.
“It’s like you’re trying to get away from me or something,” Rob said wryly, “There’s a risk you’re going to hurt my feelings.”
“No,” she said, “I don’t mean to. It’s just they’ve really gotten it into us to have our bodyguard,” she paused, twisting her mouth into a half pout, half frown, “and they’re paying Gabriel for the honor of escorting me.”
Rob nodded, “Ah, so you’re just looking out for the corporation.”
“We’re a council. Completely different.” she replied, haughtily.
“I’m sure the government disagrees.”
She rolled her eyes, “What government?”
Rob’s brow arched slightly at the statement but let it pass, “Anyway, I shouldn’t let you go until I have a date confirmed.”
Helena nodded slowly, “Right. I have a mild, I don’t know the exact phrasing, exorcism seems like too strong of a word, with Josh’s son, Ethan, tomorrow.”
“That still an issue?”
“Only on alternating Tuesdays,” she continued, “but that won’t take too long and we’ll be right next door to The Forge and neither of us will have to pay for lunch.”
Rob nodded, “Right, And how hasn’t Josh gone out of business?”
“I don’t know. Good investments?” she kissed him on the cheek, “Now, I really do have to hunt down my brother and kill him.”
Gabriel was a bastard. He had two beautiful women, possibly twins, who wanted to be with him and he could not remember their names. They weren’t identical, but they were close. Maybe they were sisters. Most importantly they really wanted to do things to him he’d never considered doing before tonight.
They’d pulled him into one of the spare bedrooms and began undressing him. One, her name might have been Lara, was intent on his mouth, preventing him from even thinking of resisting, while the other (Lia?) pulled down his pants.
Lara unbuttoned his shirt, tore it off and shoved him down onto the bed. She straddled him as Lia finished pulling off his pants, shoes, socks.
Lara seamlessly slid herself on to him and nuzzled his neck. There was a sharp pain, and he jerked up and shoved her away – in his head. In reality she was still there, riding him as she licked the spot she bit on his neck.
He was lost in ecstasy, unable to move save for motions to increase his enjoyment. His sight was becoming unfocused as he felt Lara and Lia switch. He was completely disconnecting with what his body was doing. There was some pride in how he was lasting so long, but he was sure that wasn’t his doing. He was merely a living doll the women were using to pleasure themselves. He’d be finished when they wanted him finished.
Lia then slid off of him, back to laying on her side cuddling him. He lay between the two women shivering at the edge of an orgasm that wouldn’t come. He didn’t know what was happening, he opened his eyes, but his vision was limited to shapes and outlines. Like the outline of another individual in the room.
She walked over to his right hand and caressed it, before lifting it up. A flare of pain signaled the new cut where she began drinking. She didn’t take much, but suddenly his entire world was her.
“What are you doing here?” this new woman asked, sliding her hand up the inside of his leg. His body screamed in agony everywhere she touched him.
“I’m protecting my sister.” he said, the words torn out of his being, “I’m supposed be protecting her.”
Her hand slid mercifully around his groin and up onto his chest, “Who is your sister?”
“Helena Oliveira. Don’t hurt her,” He gasped, “I’m supposed to protect her.”
She was reaching across Lara now to his face, “Does she always travel with protection?”
“Yes, she had to. It’s one of their rules.”
“Whose?” the woman asked.
“The Gatekeepers. She’s a Gatekeeper. Please don’t hurt her,” he realized he was sobbing, “I’m supposed to protect her.”
Her hand was gone, “Why would I hurt your sister … what was your name?”
“Gabriel.” he replied nervously. The general state of his body hadn’t changed. He needed release, but now Lara and Lia wouldn’t satisfy him. He needed her, whoever she was.
“Now, Gabriel. I’m not here to hurt you. I’m here to recruit you” she said as she climbed on top of him, “You see I have a job opening and I think you’d be perfect for the position.”
And then they were having sex. The disconnection he’d experienced with Lara and Lia had vanished and he regained full range of motion with his mystery date. His vision was clearing up, but the desperate need to copulate was still raging through his body. He was surprised when she allowed him to switch to the top. The other girls had moved, giving them room.
It felt like it only took seconds for him to get into a perfect motion, ending the nightmare he’d been in. He collapsed against her, breathing heavily.
Slowly, he rolled off of her and looked back to finally get a look at her face, barely registering that it probably was a terrible idea to know who she was.
Alessa gave him an affectionless smile as he tried to figure out if this was a good or bad development.
“Do you feel better now?” she asked.
“A little,” he said, steadying his breathing before continuing, “what happens next?”
She stood up in an unnaturally fluid motion that reminded him of new combat training classes which introduced the use of sorcery with the traditional combat skills. She walked across the room and picked up a case from atop the dresser.
“Next, I’m going to draw some blood from you. I’m going to give that vial to your new master and he’ll decide whether he wants to keep you or drain you.” She said calmly walking over and picking up his arm.
“I’ve lost a lot of blood tonight.” Gabe edged, “Not sure how much more I can lose.”
She looked into his eyes and he felt his arm tighten like a blood pressure cuff had just been inflated. “You haven’t lost as much as you think. I’m taking more now than any of us took before.”
He swallowed, ignoring the needle piercing his skin, “You said, ‘he’. He’s not going to want to … you know,”
“He’s not homosexual. That was the problem with his previous assistant, who was.” she answered.
Clinically, she took the blood and with barely a thought healed the venipuncture on Gabriel’s arm. She put away the case and redressed quickly, checking her hair and make up before leaving the room without a word.
He slowly stood up, feeling slightly woozy from the blood loss, and began picking up the strewn about articles of clothing.